Aug. 28th, 2018

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MarkedNinth in an ongoing series. I have every respect for Mr Jacka. Sustaining this length of series is a marvelous achievement, especially to keep characters developing. This time Alex is sitting on the Junior Council (as a Dark Mage) in Morden's place while Morden is in jail awaiting trial/punishment. No one quite knows what Morden is up to. It's certainly not like him to sit back and wait to be executed, but whatever it is has left Alex once more in the shit. It seems that half the council wants him dead and the others are only keeping him around because he's being useful, reclaiming some of the missing imbued items that were stolen in the last book. Assassination attempts are a regular occurrence. Alex is beginning to realise that if he's going to protect his friends he needs to a) play the council game and b) acquire more power. Is he beginning to want power for power's sake? Are there elements of Dark Magery he's gravitating towards? Dark is not necessarily evil… but there's a fine line between the two. Alex is also finally admitting to himself what we've known for several books… his feelings for Anne. About time Mr. Verus. These books are a buy on sight for me. My only problem is that now I've caught up with the latest, I have to wait for Number Ten. Highly recommended, but start at the beginning.
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Matrimonial AdvertisementJustin Thornhill, lately Captain in the army in India, needs a wife, someone to smooth the way for him with locals, to manage his bleak household and to occasionally warm his bed. An advertisement seems like just the thing. Helena Reynolds is desperate to escape London, even if it means marrying a complete stranger and moving to a remote estate in North Devon. It's a business arrangement, right? No one was meant to fall in love. But Helena's past is catching up with her and Justin is obliged to protect her. Or is it more than obligation? This is one of those books where both partners are hiding secrets that could have (or maybe should have) been revealed earlier, but where's the fun in that? A 'clean' Victorian romance with a touch of sexual tension.
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Hidden SunJaine Fenn has a gift for building unusual and fascinating worlds. The pockets of shadowland are protected from the deadly sun and exist as autonomous city states. Between the city states the skylands are deadly. Exposure to solar radiation is lethal for non-adapted humans. Only the skykin – bonded with a symbiote – can survive there, and even then everything about it (the lands and the wildlife it harbours) is deadly.

Rhia is a noble of Shen, one of the Shadowlands. She's a Natural Enquirer, the closest thing to a scientist Shen has, but it's not a seemly task for a woman. Her feckless younger brother is missing, reportedly having crossed the skylands to another shadowland, and a girl has been brutally murdered. Is there a connection? Rhia hopes not, yet when the Duke sends three soldiers to escort him home she feels compelled to join the party.

Dej is destined to be a bonded skykin, but we first meet her in a shadowland crèche where she's a little troublemaker. Imperfectly bonded to her symbiote, she's no better off in the skylands, ending up clanless. Meanwhile a priest is carrying out illicit experiments with recovered skykin symbiotes, seeking the secret of immortality. Viewpoint shifts between these three complex characters, but it isn't until the last third of the book that the Dej and Rhia strands mesh. The story resolves, but there are still many unanswered questions about the world that Ms. Fenn will hopefully answer in the next book. Highly recommended.
(Reviewed as a ARC from Netgalley.)
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LancasterThis is a straightforward (clean) romance. Not much happens, except the two protagonists, each with a total lack of self-esteem, finally get over their self-doubt and see what's been right under their noses since the beginning of the book. Not terribly exciting, but it's sweet. It's #4 in a series, but can easily be read as a standalone.

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