Thursday, September 26, 2013

Five Enthusiastic Stars for Aleks Sager's Daemon

I  love the arrivals & departures theme of this new book by Lucinda Elliot, one of my favorite UK writers. It is original  and densely crafted, a suspenseful, contemporary (80s and 90s) paranormal romance that dips into demonology and the distant literary past. I recommend it to literary and genre readers alike.

Initially I was so turned off by Charley, the shallow human who is on and off with our heroine Natalie, a lovely, voluptuous London model hooked on sausage rolls, that I was eager to meet the competition. He is a daemon. And what a daemon! Aleks Sager is vivid, complex, likeable, and even vulnerable as a struggling writer, which doesn't make him any less paranormal. Is he dangerous?
Smitten with Natalie's Pre Raphaelite looks and fluid mind, Aleks finds himself literally and figuratively chasing her through the dark  streets of their desperately fashionable demi-monde world, which is inhabited by  wannabe models, agents, writers, and actors, who  run into each other, hit on each other, and leave each other at parties. The setting never slows the pace; it is gorgeously cinematic.

Lucinda handles all characterization with sure, deft touches. When we first meet  Aleks, he is agonizing over his hate mail and his love life. Demonic physical traits are dropped in subtly. "As he buttons his shirt over the mat of hair on his chest, leaving the two top buttons undone – if you’re as hairy as he is then the only thing to do is to flaunt it – he pulls a wry face, glancing down at those long nails."

The archaic spelling of "daemon" and references to Pushkin make me want to know more about demonology and the author who was the Russian equivalent of Shakespeare. My curiosity is satisfied by elements of synchronicity, a character who comes alive, and helpful ending notes.

Lucinda also has an original way of handling the language. Take the capital letter in these  sentences, which describe a human's foreplay that fails to do the job. "'There? How about There? Is That It?' He doesn’t see the humour in the situation. His tone of irritation just held in check guarantees that it isn’t There or There or Anywhere."  Ingenious and hilarious.

Is Aleks Sager's daemon bad or good ? The paranormals and humans get sorted out. The tension escalates on several fronts, and my interest in the twists and turns in the relationship triangle never lets up.  I read the book in one day, and  my mind was  blown by the ending. Next stop for this book should be a London or Hollywood screen treatment.

I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rings of Passage by Karla Tipton: Review by Anne Carlisle.

I'm proud to say that Karla Tipton is a fellow author at Lazy Day Publishing.
Anise Wynford is playing the king's wife in Shakepeare's play THE TRAGEDY OF RICHARD III at a Massachusetts summer stock theater.  The  22-year old falls on the porch step of her  dead father's farmhouse  after finding  a mysterious journal and an ancient gold ring. Suddenly she's in armor and on a bucking horse, in the middle of a medieval battle. She has slipped out of time through the magic of the ring, and next she appears as a mysterious  lady in the dream of Richard III, who is suffering from depression, guilt, and loneliness  following the deaths of his wife and son. Despite his proven ability as a warrior, he is doubting his ability to face Henry Tudor.  

History is written by the winners.  Shakespeare wrote in the age of the Tudors, who owed their throne to Henry Tudor's vanquishing of his cousin, Richard III, in 1485.  In Karla Tipton's version of the last few months of Richard III's reign, Richard was no crookback, nor did he have a withered arm, and he was anything but an ambitious butcher incapable of love. If anything, he was love's fool, refusing to take off his wife's ring after her death and therefore exposing himself to the sorcery of  a wizard, a former Welsh monarch bent on revenge.

The book's title brings to mind  rites of passage, wedding rings,  and even Lord of the Rings. In  this case, it refers to a set of rings creating a passage out of  time.   They were forged from the Philosopher's stone by the Welsh sorcerer, who, as the story unfolds,  hovers between worlds, waiting for another necromancer to  bring him  back to life and crown Henry Tudor.

The author  went to England to research the truth about Richard III, the much maligned king who was toppled from the throne after only two years. The time-travel romance between  a modern-day, American drama student  and a  medieval English monarch who is about to die on the battlefield  seems doomed from the start. But the author deftly weaves revisionist history and a fantasy  plot, moving toward an ingenious HEA . The events take place over several months prior to the battle of Bosworth Field in August, 1485. They are covered in scrupulous detail as the action zooms  from the fumbling sorcerers to  the traitors and loyalists in the king's retinue to the heroine's 21st century family history,  connected, through the ancient ring, to the story out of time.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review by Anne Carlisle
A Fast  Five Star Read!

I became an instant fan of Michele McGrath when I gobbled this book at one sitting. It is a historical romance blended with suspenseful  police action set in post-Revolutionary France, and  a thumping good read! It would make a terrific movie. All the characters are multi-dimensional, even the cameos, such as the feared Minister of Police, a Jacobin regicide.  I'm totally hooked  by the unassuming hero and first person narrator, an injured French soldier returning from service in Germany with only a letter of reference to secure his future.  Alain Duval's mother is dead and  he is estranged from his father. Duval longs to  be away from  the  violence and putrid smell of Paris, but  because of a connection, he gains a position as  a Ministry agent,  a job he manages with courage, common sense, and generosity. He soon finds himself at the center of a high-profile  case. The Infernal Machine, which is how Parisians describe the primitive bomb that barely missed killing Napoleon en-route to the Opera, has left few traces, which are the focus of  a carefully executed hunt.  The pace escalates into nail-biting action and a deadly confrontation, followed by the enticing  prospect of  romance for our hero . Meanwhile, as Duval's efforts  bring him closer to rounding up all the ringleaders in the Royalist plot, a friend  is turning out to be different from how he appeared.   New adventures unfold. Michele McGrath knows how to tell a great story, from beginning to end!