Blog Tour+GIVEAWAY: The Last Necromancer (The Ministry of Curiousities #1) by C.J. ArcherThe Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer
Published by Createspace on August 11, 2015
Pages: 268
Format: eARC
Source: the Author
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Victorian London: For five years, Charlotte (Charlie) Holloway has lived as a boy in the slums. But when one theft too many gets her arrested, her only means of escape lies with a dead man. Charlie hasn't raised a spirit since she first discovered she could do so five years ago. That time, her father banished her. This time, she brings even more trouble upon herself.

People are now hunting Charlie all over London, but only one man succeeds in capturing her.

Lincoln Fitzroy is the mysterious head of a secret organization on the trail of a madman who needs a necromancer to control his newly "made" creatures. There was only one known necromancer in the world - Charlotte - but now there appears to be two. Lincoln captures the willful Charlie in the hopes the boy will lead him to Charlotte. But what happens when he discovers the boy is in fact the young woman he's been searching for all along? And will she agree to work for the man who held her against her will, and for an organization she doesn't trust?

Because Lincoln and his ministry might be just as dangerous as the madman they're hunting.

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You can find my reviews of C.J. Archer’s Freak House series HERE and her stand alone novel, Surrender, HERE. Don’t forget to ENTER to WIN at the bottom!

Victorian London 1888 (1)victoriandress1111889 London slums

Victorian Era London, England

ATTENTION POLDARK FANS: You will LOVE the dynamic between the Female and Male protagonists in this novel.

I wish I could buy stock in C.J. Archer.

Once again, she’s blown me away with the start of another great series, The Ministry of Curiosities. When I read C.J.’s books, I imagine her conducting her research in wonderfully dusty libraries and some mystical, greenish light shooting up from the pages, illuminating her face and filling her with magical writing powers. I have always enjoyed how C.J. filters her love for history and all of her historical research through such addicting and entertaining novels.

The Last Necromancer has a scandalous start and immediately threw me into the reality of slum life in 1889 London. C.J.’s world building falls out of the pages and properly transports the reader to whatever setting our protagonist, Charlotte Holloway, is occupying.

Charlotte is like a mix of Eponine, from Les Mis, and Demelza, from Poldark. Her fighting spirit, sense of self-preservation and boldness was a nice departure from the quiet and helpless Victorian women so often portrayed in novels of this era. Charlotte has an edge to her, sharpened by experience, and she is a protagonist that I enjoyed from the first page. Charlotte Necromancer

Alexandra Dowling– My Charlotte Holloway

Without a word, he padded back to the casket and placed the weapon inside, then returned to the bedroom. He re-emerged after ten minutes wearing nothing but a towel around his hips and carrying another that he used to dry his hair.

His lack of attention to me allowed me to take in the sight of his chest and shoulders, the left one with a bandage covering it where I had shot him. The youths in the gangs I’d been in had never had bodies like that. Fitzroy’s shoulders were broad, with bulges of muscle rippling down his arms and across his chest. The sprinkle of dark chest hair tapered off before reaching his rigid stomach.

If Charlotte reminded me of Demelza, then Lincoln Fitzroy, the dashing and disturbing male protagonist, one-hundred percent reminded me of Ross Poldark. Lincoln is described as looking darkly handsome, like he could fit in with Gypsies. The below image is what instantly came to mind when his character was described in the book. By God, he is a likable character and I just *die* with anticipation every time I read a C.J. Archer book while waiting to be introduced to the male MC. She just gets them SO RIGHT every time. There are undercurrents of Heathcliffe from Wuthering Heights and Rochester from Jane Eyre in Lincoln Fitzroy and, of course, we all know that is an intoxicating combination.

Aidan Turner- My Lincoln Fitzroy

Aidan Turner– My Lincoln Fitzroy

The Last Necromancer is creative and has a unique twist with the pleasant familiarity of classic romance novels. This book was as spellbinding as C.J.’s other novels and thank goodness she writes faster than I can read because the second novel in the series, Her Majesty’s Necromancer is already out! So, basically, if you love reading, history, romance, and the paranormal and superhuman, then YOU WANT TO READ THIS BOOK. And can I just say, aren’t the covers AMAZING?!

Her Majesty's Necromancer cover

 

Aaaand just for fun:

There were some things about The Last Necromancer that reminded me about the Tooth and Claw Doctor Who episode. If that ep. was one of your favorites (as it was mine), then I think you will enjoy The Ministry of Curiosities series.

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Seared With Scars (Book 2 of The 2nd Freak House Series) by C.J. ArcherSeared With Scars by C.J. Archer
Published by Self Published on July 1, 2014
Pages: 229
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
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With the Master's spirit still haunting London, Charity must remain at Freak House. But the peace is shattered when Samuel's father is brutally slain by a demon on the estate. Who summoned it and why?

As some questions are answered, yet more secrets about Samuel emerge that send him hurtling toward madness. Secrets that terrify Charity and draw her inevitably closer to him. As the lies are peeled back to reveal the truth, will she be able to conquer her fears and give Samuel what he craves?

You can check out my reviews for the first Freak House Series HERE:

Freak-House-Series

and for C.J. Archer’s The Medium trilogy HERE:

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My review of The Memory Keeper, The 1st book in the 2nd Freak House series can be found HERE.

memory

C.J. Archer is my go-to-author for Historical Romance and luckily for me, she puts out books faster than I can keep up with. Especially concerning the Freak House series.

The second book revolving around Charity and Samuel drove me ABSOLUTELY MAD. Like I needed to faint and be slapped awake with butler gloves only to faint again from a temper tantrum mad.

I wanted to slip into Charity’s skin and possess her thoughts and make her do naughty, naughty things….Like take Samuel up to the nearest hay loft and ravish him.

There’s a lot of romantic tension and a whopping dose of suspense added to this installment of the 2nd Freak House Series. I really enjoyed the cat and mouse game between Samuel and Charity, and was ever so wonderfully tortured by the cryptic clues that are sure to lead up to something BIG in The Edge of Darkness about Charity and Samuel’s past.

This book also left me very curious about what’s to become of Sylvia and Tommy’s ”Upstairs, Downstairs” relationship. I’m as invested in the secondary characters of this series as I am of the main ones.

Once again, C.J. Archer is a master of her craft and vibrantly captures the culture, fashion, and rhetoric of the Victorian era. Mixing the paranormal and historic with a wonderful cast of characters does it for me every time. I really enjoyed Seared With Scars and will be jumping into Edge of Darkness immediately. (C.J. likes to leave her readers on the edge of their seats…mad and drooling for the next book.) 😉

 

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The Memory Keeper (1st book of the 2nd Freak House trilogy) by C.J. ArcherThe Memory Keeper by C.J. Archer
Series: The 2nd Freak House Series #1
Published by Self Published on May 2014
Pages: 216
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
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Charity Evans wants nothing more than to leave her troubled past behind and start afresh. The teacher at a London school for orphans is encouraged to have her memories blocked by hypnotist Samuel Gladstone, but when they experience visions with an unknown third person, they realize the past can never be truly erased.

Now her past is returning to haunt Charity all over again.

Samuel is determined to help her, but how can a woman who trusts no man trust a hypnotist? And what dark secrets changed the charming gentleman into a desperate man who'll do anything to keep those secrets buried?

The Memory Keeper is the first book in the second Freak House series, which I love fiercely. You can check out my reviews for the first Freak House series, here.

The Romance and Mystery continue at The Frankingham Estate aka Freak House:

freak-house

The Memory Keeper picks up with Samuel and Charity’s story right where we left off at the end of the first Freak House trilogy. I was SO ATTACHED and IN LOVE with Jack and Hannah’s story in the first series that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to properly ”get into” The Memory Keeper.

But I was wrong. (What’s new?)

The Memory Keeper was enthralling. It was full of suppressed attraction and pulse-pounding games of cat and mouse. The menacing thread of mystery throughout the story kept me completely captivated. Samuel and Charity’s story has a much darker edge to it than Jack and Hannah’s from the previous Freak House books, and The Memory Keeper made for a chilling Victorian-era read.

I kinda imagined Sara Gadon as Charity, though she isn’t my perfect match. These pictures of her are not Victorian-era, but it’s all I got.

Charity has a scandalous past. Orphaned at an early age, she was forced to fend for herself by any means necessary- even if it meant becoming someone’s mistress. WE meet Charity in the first Freak House trilogy because she was child-hood friends with Jack Langley. The Memory Keeper focuses on Charity’s internal struggles with the dark memories that haunt her and her desire to be rid of them once and for all so she can move on with her life. It was both heartbreaking and intriguing to be privy to Charity’s painful past, and ultimately frustrating because of how these experiences have scarred her. We also witness the unfolding of a sinister plot that involves people from Charity’s past that threaten to ruin the new sense of self and career she has made for herself. All of this was exciting and intriguing, but I was left with one question at the end of the book: Will Charity ever be able to love a man again, let alone trust one?

I always imagine Alex Pettyfer as Samuel.

SamuelUNF.Yes, please.

Samuel. *SIGH*. Sweet, seductive, sensitive Samuel. My heart definitely beats a little faster for Samuel, but he cannot replace my love for Jack Langley. Maybe that’s because Jack from the first Freak House trilogy is just the right amount of domineering and dashing. But Samuel is debonair as ever in The Memory Keeper and he about charmed the pants right off me- no hypnotizing required. He is the same enticing character he was in the previous books, but layers of mystery and depth come together perfectly to flesh him out in this novel. I enjoyed learning more about his life before he met Charity or entered the Freak House world of characters.

As learned in the previous Freak House trilogy, Samuel has a special skill- he’s able to hypnotize people on demand just by using his voice. In The Memory Keeper, Samuel uses this skill to help Charity cope with her past but it triggers something dark in him.

The Memory Keeper felt more character driven than the previous Freak House books to me, therefore the pacing was slowed down to match this shift. Samuel only has eyes for Charity and desperately wants to be the man in her life. But as one might guess- things are complicated.

Once again, the paranormal, romantic, and mysterious combine to create an attention grabbing story. C.J. Archer’s books are ones to be savored and shared with the historical fiction and paranormal fiction lovers in your life. If you haven’t read them already, please check the first Freak House trilogy before starting The Memory Keeper.

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12 Days of Reviews and Giveaways: The Emily Chambers Spirit Medium Trilogy by C.J. ArcherThe Emily Chambers Spirit Medium Trilogy by C.J. Archer
Series: The Emily Chambers Spirit Medium Trilogy
Published by Self Published on April 24, 2013
Pages: 556
Format: eBook
Source: Amazon
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Seventeen year-old spirit medium Emily Chambers has a problem. Actually, she has several. As if seeing dead people isn't a big enough social disadvantage, she also has to contend with an escaped demon and a handsome ghost with a secret past. And then there's the question of her parentage. Being born an entire year after her father's death (yes, a year) and without the pale skin of other respectable English ladies, Emily is as much a mystery as the dead boy assigned to her.

Jacob Beaufort's spirit has been unable to crossover since his death several months ago. It might have something to do with the fact he was murdered. Or it might not. All he knows is, he has been assigned by the Otherworld's administrators to a girl named Emily. A girl who can see and touch him. A girl who released a shape-shifting demon into the mortal realm. Together they must send the demon back before it wreaks havoc on London. It should be a simple assignment, but they soon learn there's nothing simple when a live girl and a dead boy fall in love

Today, I’d like to highlight another one of my favorite C.J. Archer trilogies. The Emily Chambers Spirit Medium trilogy was how I first met C.J. Archer’s writing, and I’ve developed quite a love affair with it since. C.J’s tales of Victorian Era England never fail to sweep me away in grand fashion. If you are planning to read C.J.’s Freak House trilogy, then reading her Medium trilogy before hand will make Freak House that much more enjoyable. There are some fun tie-ins. You can read my short and sweet shout out to The Emily Chamber’s trilogy below, and enter to win the trilogy in E-book format. This review was originally posted here. Enjoy!

 

This is a short and sweet shout out to C.J. Archer’s Spirit Medium Trilogy published last year. It’s been a while since I read these books, but felt like they deserved a rec since I will be reviewing her latest book, The Wrong Girl soon.

I’ve always loved the idea of Mediums and things of the seance sort whether in books or film, so last October I went searching for something with that theme in mind. I wanted a lite, easy read that had a spooky element to it. As if on queue, the Emily Chambers Medium trilogy materialized on my Goodreads recommends page. I started the book not expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised.
C.J. Archer takes us to Victorian era London in this series and paints everything from the seances, attitudes, fashions, to the maids in BBC style detail. I could feel soot on my skin while reading her description of the houses and chimney smoke atmosphere. C.J. Archer paves the streets of London in such detailed historical accuracy, that I found myself committed to the trilogy simply for the pleasure of her settings and descriptions. After the first few chapters, I discovered her characters were equally as enthralling and enjoyable.
This series has sleuthing escapades, dark secrets, action packed demon hunting, and plenty of carriage rides steeped in sexual tension to talk about, but I’m just going to introduce you to the two MC’s. Emily Chambers is a 17-year-old beauty with skin the color of coffee and cream. She lives with her spinster sister hosting seances for society women. Unlike her sister, Emily can really communicate with the netherworld and uses her gifts to make a living. She also employs her talents to help her ghostly visitors pass from Limbo and resolve unsettled issues.
Bianca Lawson would fit Emily's character description nicely.
Bianca Lawson would fit Emily’s character description nicely.
Near the beginning of this trilogy, we meet Jacob Beaufort. Jacob is dark, mysterious, handsome and DEAD. He has been  assigned to Emily from the netherworld and has an agenda of his own. In romantic other-worldly fashion, Emily feels drawn to Jacob, but doesn’t know if she can trust him. What if helping him means hurting others? Thus, the “Murder She Wrote” ride and intrigue begin.
I use Ian/Damon Salvatore for most of my male casting in C.J. Archer books, so I thought Henry would be a nice change, and quite fitting for this character.
I use Ian/Damon Salvatore for most of my male casting in C.J. Archer books, so I thought Henry would be a nice change, and quite fitting for this character.

 

This series was fun and  suspenseful, with just the right amount of propriety to keep the romance interesting. I found myself casting actors from the CW’s The Vampire Diaries as characters in these novels, and couldn’t help but enjoy it. I’ll end this review with the paragraphs in book one that made me decide to keep reading:
A man stood on the landing, leaning against the door, his arms crossed over his chest. He looked older than me but not by much, tall, with short dark hair and a face that was a little too square of jaw and sharp cheek to be fashionable. It wasn’t a beautiful face in the classical statue sense, but it was certainly handsome.[……] He wore black trousers, boots and a white shirt but nothing else. No hat, no necktie, jacket or vest, and scandalously, the top buttons of his shirt were undone so that his bare chest was partially visible. [….]“There you are”, he said. I dragged my gaze up to his face and was greeted by a pair of blue eyes….
And maybe you already guessed it, but YES. Jacob screams Damon Salvatore to me. :)

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12 Days of Reviews & Giveaways: Heart Burn (Freak House #3) by C.J. ArcherHeart Burn by C.J. Archer
Series: Freak House #3
Published by Self Published on December 2013
Pages: 232
Format: eBook
Source: Amazon
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Time is running out for Hannah. With her life hanging by a thread and Tate trying to kidnap her, she finds help in an unusual quarter - the man who put the narcoleptic memory block on her as a child. Yet the powerful hypnotist may not be all that he seems. It's difficult to trust a man who regularly hypnotizes his wife against her wishes, and who is much too interested in Jack's unnatural abilities.

With so much at stake, the last thing Hannah and Jack need is to be apart. Yet they cannot touch each other if they want to stay alive.

This thrilling conclusion to the 1st Freak House Trilogy will take you on an emotional roller coaster full of twists, turns, highs and lows that you won't want to end.

 You can check out my reviews to the first two books in this series here, and here.

 

Jack Langley is going to BURN. IT. UP.

I’ve been carrying a torch for Jack Langley, and he set my heart ablaze in this last book of the 1st Freak House trilogy.

The race to find a cure for Hannah has emotions and tempers running high. The situation is dire. Tempers aren’t the only thing heating up. Time is running out.  Jack and Hannah’s desire for each other has reached fever-pitch. Will they be able to quelch the fire in Hannah’s veins before it consumes her?

Frankingham House, a.k.a Freak House is on edge. Heart Burn picks up right were Playing with Fire left off, and Hannah’s life is still in danger from Reuben Tate. After Hannah escaped unharmed from Tate’s attempted kidnapping of her, Jack’s resolve for keeping Hannah safe is the fuel that drives him through this story. If only that were the end of Jack and Hannah’s problems. Unanswered questions still linger about August Langley’s friendship turned sour with Rueben Tate, and Jack cannot desist about discovering his own origins. August refuses to give Jack answers, and wants to smother the flame that burns between Jack and Hannah, but why? August wants to push Samuel and Hannah together at all costs, but Hannah is on to his plan and takes things into her own hands.

Why so glum, Jack?
Why so glum, Jack?

The fire that circulates in Hannah’s veins has begun to ravage her from the inside out. Something is wrong, and Reuben Tate might be the only one who holds the key to the cure for her condition. Against Jack, August Langley’s, and Sylvia’s better judgement, Hannah has to consider working with Tate if she wants to survive. Samuel, our handsome hypnotist, may be the only one who can see things Hannah’s way.

Hannah watching Jack take a dip in the lake.
Hannah watching Jack take a dip in the lake.

I was sentimental going into this last book of the 1st Freak House trilogy, but C.J. Archer has a way of pulling you into a story, and making you forget yourself. I was dazzled by sleuthing escapades, dangerous encounters, dalliances, and dances. There is a lovely scene where all of our characters attend a ball, and I felt as though I attended it myself. Such careful and elegant detail is given to every aspect.

I don't want you to dance with other men, Hannah.
I don’t want you to dance with other men, Hannah.

 

Heart Burn is rich with seductive moments that pass between Jack and Hannah and mysteries involving the supporting cast. Every detail of a character’s appearance and demeanor has been branded on my brain because C.J. develops them so fully. The stock characters that rub elbows with our MC’s take on a life of their own, giving the story depth and never leaving a lull in the conversation.

The Ball
The Ball

As if I wasn’t in love with Jack enough already, he proves his loyalty, fidelity, and love to Hannah in the most attractive ways. I fell in love with him all over again in this novel and not just because of his dashing good-looks. He is truly Hannah’s knight in shining armor in Heart Burn, and will break a long-standing promise he made to himself to help her. His ardent love for Hannah knows no bounds, but does Hannah feel the same way after learning the story behind Jack’s parentage?

C.J. Archer keeps it classy in this last installment to the 1st Freak House trilogy. They’ll be no consummating in carriages for Jack and Hannah but they seal the deal in a way that’s sure to keep them out of scandal’s path. Most loose ends are tied up in this last book but just enough is left unanswered to pave the way for the next trilogy in the Freak House series. A devilishly clever secret is revealed at the end that utterly caught me by surprise.

This final novel in the trilogy was as lovely and lyrical as it was dark and mysterious.  Please check out C.J.’s wonderful website and subscribe to her newsletter to receive updates about the Freak House series. You can continue to enteract with the colorful characters from this series via C.J.’s tumbler blog. I adore this series and want to share it with EVERYONE however, only one person will win the full trilogy in e-book format. Enter below, and spread the word about the Freak House series.

 

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12 DAYS of Reviews & Giveaways: Surrender by C.J. ArcherSurrender by C.J. Archer
Published by Self Published on January 25, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
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Gentleman spy, Alexander Redcliff, murdered his colleague. It's an event he can't remember, except in his nightmares. Suppressing them is the only way to keep his sanity, but forgetting is no longer an option.

Only one woman can save Alex from himself.

Georgiana Appleby is a most unconventional lady. Prejudice shadows the physician and scandal is never far away. Forced to take Alex as her patient, she must not give into the rogue's advances or she will risk losing her career and her heart.

Will Alex's fierce longing for Georgiana be enough or will he surrender to the darkness inside?

 

Ladies, you will Surrender your heart (as well as your skivvies) to Alexander Redcliff.

A tall, broad shouldered and strikingly handsome gentleman filled the doorway. Striking in that his good looks hit her in the chest and stole her breath. Dark hair curling at the ends framed a strong, lean face. A wide mouth was saved from being overly generous by the sculptured, defined lips. The square jaw could have been hewn from marble and wouldn’t look out of place on a classical statue. He was perfection…

 

Gah! I thoroughly enjoyed this stand alone novel by C.J. Archer. I wanted to reread it as soon as I finished. I find I feel that way often when it comes to C.J. Archer books. The author took what was a common predicament in the mid 1800’s, opium addiction, and built a steamy and satisfying romance around it.

Pretty sure the attire is off, but Ian is the perfect Alex in my mind.

Tall, dark, and handsome doesn’t even cover it. Alex is not your regular 19th century playboy. He’s a seasoned spy for the British Army, and his good looks could effectively render a battalion of women useless. He is currently relieved from active duty due to Post Traumatic Stress. Alex has been nursing his PTSD with opium. Just enough to get him through the night, and keep the nightmare’s (of what he believes is all too real) at bay. Alex’s superior in the ranks suspects his opium addiction is surpressing important information that will uncover the facts behind Alex’s friend, and fellow spy’s disappearance. Enter, lady physician Georgina Appleby.

I think Emily Blunt would make a lovely Gerogina Appleby.
I think Emily Blunt would make a lovely Gerogina Appleby.

Georgina learned her trade from her father who is now deceased. She’s a skilled female physician when it comes to matters of opium, and she’s a diamond in the rough when it comes to appearance. Georgina has carefully crafted her physical presentation to be one of a mousy nurse maid, but her tenacious disposition, and warm good-looks do not hide well. Her meeting with Alexander gets off to a rocky, if not stimulating start. Alexander is determined he doesn’t have an opium problem, but Georgina’s reputation depends on curing Alex of his ailment. Georgina may feign innocence, but she has a scandalous past she is trying to keep buried, and she fears Alexander Redcliff will be her undoing.

Might there be a female in Alexander's past that Georgina has to compete with?
Might there be a female in Alexander’s past that Georgina has to compete with?

The dynamic between  Alexander and Georgina during Alex’s bouts of opium-imposed lunacy gave Surrender a very Beauty and the Beast-like vibe. This story is paced as brusquely as a waltz, and gets down to the good bits in record time. It’s a story fit to read on or near your fainting couch because the verbal games of cat and mouse, and steamy scenes will buckle your knees. Surrender appealed to the historian and romance lover in me. Alexander is an irresistible character, and so well written! All of C.J. Archer’s male MC’s have the pull of Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. There’s just something primal and magnetic about them that charms the ever-loving pants off of me. Georgina’s character is equally enjoyable. She’s no pushover, and her approach to Alexander, her past, and her work were a delight to read. Surrender was hands-down one of my favorite, quick and steamy reads of 2013. I will leave you with one more teaser for good measure. Enter below for a chance to win a digital copy of this seductive story.

He took a step closer to her. He pressed both palms against the oak panneling on either side of her head and dipped his face so their eyes were level. In that pose, she could neither move nor open the door.

“Scared you, have I?” he whispered in her ear.

“Yes” she said, seeing no reason to lie. “But I am used to the tantrums of opium users. You will not frighten me into abandoning my commision.”

Pretty sure Alex has to take a lot of cold showers in this story.
Pretty sure Alex has to take a lot of cold showers in this story.

 

 

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BOO!ks for October: Playing With Fire (Freak House #2)  by C.J. ArcherPlaying With Fire by C.J. Archer
Series: Freak House #2
on September 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Amazon
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Hannah Smith thinks she's safe now that Reuben Tate is set to face trial. But when an unusual creature is let loose on the Freak House estate, everybody is in danger, including Jack. To hunt it down, the household must take risks, but the greatest risk is to Hannah's heart. She's in danger of falling deeply in love with Jack, a man whose very touch can kill her.

Jack Langley won’t just melt your heart in Playing With Fire, he’ll melt your knickers as well.

The cold, crisp night air nipped at my skin like cat teeth, and the warmth stirring inside me only made it feel colder in contrast. I hurried towards the edge of the woods where Jack requested I meet him after the house was settled in sleep. I hugged myself, and rubbed my hands up and down my arms quickly, more to ease my nerves than to keep me warm. What could Jack possibly want with me in such a clandestine meeting? 

As I grew closer to the clearing, I could see a warm glow illuminating Jack. Fire light was flickering over his features, making hypnotic crackling sounds as he stared, transfixed, into the burning logs. His dark hair hung softly around his face, as if it had  just recently dried by the heat of the fire and cold autumn air.  He was leaning back on one arm, with the other propped on his up-turned knee. He teased the embers of the fire with his outstretched leg. His white linen shirt hung carelessly  open around his chiseled chest, and my breath hitched in my lungs. I moved towards him, leaves crunching beneath my feet, giving me away. I blushed, sure that he knew I had been admiring him in secret. 

“Hannah, I”m so glad you came,” Jack said as he stood, and brushed off his trousers. Despite the fire on the ground and in our veins, I saw a faint shade of rose make its way across Jack’s features, and knew he was blushing for the same reason I was. It wasn’t the heat from this unpredictable element that rouged us, it was our desire for each other…and the possibilities that the blanket of night suggested…

Be prepared to buy a bodice simply for the pleasure of RIPPING. IT. OFF. once you have read this book. Playing With Fire (Freak House #2) sizzled from cover to cover. I was so satisfied and pleased with this sequel to The Wrong Girl– I found myself giddy- a blathering school girl. I wanted to run and tell all my friends about Playing With Fire like it was my new crush. When I finished the last page, I wanted to find C.J. Archer and hug her while begging for the next book.

Trust me, ladies. This is how you will want to imagine Jack.
Trust me, ladies. This is how you will want to imagine Jack.

What you just read in italics, above, was my attempt to tease you with my dream. YES. This is the kind of book that inspires dreams. Luckily for me, I didn’t dream about the creepiness that gives this novel such a Halloween-esque feel. Playing With Fire inspired dreams of the dangerously romantic sort! It was my dream-world after all, so of course I was playing the role of Hannah. Sorry I didn’t let you get to the juicy part but you can guess where it was headed. After you read Playing With Fire,  you can have some delightful dreams of your own.

Playing With Fire picks up a couple of weeks after The Wrong Girl left off. The story opens up with a creepy and horrifying mystery. Something sinister has been found under Freak House, and it’s going to take more than Jack’s fire abilities to destroy it. On top of this new threat to everyone’s safety, Reuben Tate, our villain from The Wrong Girl, has escaped from prison. Hannah’s life is at stake if Mr. Tate is not found, and Jack will stop at nothing to protect her.

Gemma Arterton could make a lovely Hannah with some red added to her hair.
Gemma Arterton could make a lovely Hannah with some red added to her hair.

Samuel, our suave and seductive  gentleman, is now residing with Jack, Hannah, Sylvia, Mr. Langley and the servants at Freak House. We met Samuel towards the middle of The Wrong Girl, and he quickly became a threat to Jack’s budding affections for Hannah. Under the guise of scholarly research, Samuel makes himself at home, but he might belong there more than everyone thinks. He’s been harboring a secret, and his success in school and business hasn’t been purely coincidental.

Alex Pettyfer could play Samuel. Just lighten his hair up a bit.
Alex Pettyfer could play Samuel. Just lighten his hair up a bit.

Playing With Fire was just what I needed from C.J. Archer’s Freak House characters. The creepy and diabolical premise to the story was wonderfully played out, and the chemistry between Hannah and Jack was positively EVIL. I’ve never felt more deliciously tortured with two main characters. The tone of this novel was as inviting and engaging as The Wrong Girl and The Medium trilogy. C.J.’s prose is charming and clever, with a hint of deviance.  I enjoyed EVERY WORD of this book and I absolutely loved that The Beauforts from The Medium trilogy had a brief appearance in this novel. The X-men-like twist set in the Victorian era that C.J. has dreamed up is nothing short of genius. This trilogy would play out magically as a BBC series. I wouldn’t want to see it in the hands of any other studio.

Playing With Fire has amazing characters, action, adventure, depth, and romance perfectly pieced together to create a curious masterpiece. You can check out my review for The Wrong Girl here, and The Medium trilogy here. Since I teased you with my dream at the beginning of this review, it is only fitting to tease you with an excerpt from the book. Enjoy!

When Jack didn’t answer, I glanced over my shoulder at him. Our gazes connected in the reflection of the window glass. He’d been watching me the entire time. It was impossible to tell if he blushed, but his eyes widened upon being caught and he turned away quickly. My own face blazed like a torch. [……….]

I put on my dress with Maud’s help and sat at my dressing table so she could do my hair. “You may turn around now, Jack.”

 

You will just have to buy the book to read the rest of this DELICIOUS scene. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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ARC Review: The Wrong Girl (Freak House #1) by C.J. ArcherThe Wrong Girl (Freak House 1) by C.J. Archer
Series: Freak House #1
on June 1, 2013
Pages: 219
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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It's customary for Gothic romance novels to include a mysterious girl locked in the attic. Hannah Smith just wishes she wasn't that girl. As a narcoleptic and the companion to an earl's daughter with a strange affliction of her own, Hannah knows she's lucky to have a roof over her head and food in her belly when so many orphans starve on the streets. Yet freedom is something Hannah longs for. She did not, however, want her freedom to arrive in the form of kidnapping.

Taken by handsome Jack Langley to a place known as Freak House, she finds herself under the same roof as a mad scientist, his niece, a mute servant and Jack, a fire starter with a mysterious past. They assure Hannah she is not a prisoner and that they want to help her. The problem is, they think she's the earl's daughter. What will they do when they discover they took the wrong girl?

When I saw the cover of this book, I gave my imaginary friend a high-five.  An ominous looking house with a stylishly Gothic girl standing in front? Yes, please!

Hannah Smith, a fiery, auburn haired 18-year-old, has been living in an attic as the companion of Lady Violet Wade for the past 15 years of her life. Hannah and Lady Violet both have ”conditions” that have kept them tucked away as outcasts and shunned by Violet’s family and society. As an orphan of servants, Hannah has had no choice but to accept her position and endure the recluse life imposed upon her. Their only freedoms come from daily walks on the grounds of the manor which they reside.
Frankingham Manor aka Freak House
Frankingham Manor aka Freak House
Our male lead, Jack Langley, first appears as the mysterious gardener of Wade Manor, and Hannah experiences her first taste of subtle attraction and curiosity while observing him under lowered lashes. Jack has that dash of Damon Salvatore that I adored in C.J. Archer’s male MC from the Emily Chamber novels. This green-eyed, brunet bachelor feels a foreshadowing pull to Hannah, but relishes it from afar. From the beginning of this novel, I had the feeling that this dashing gardener was planning more than the landscaping of Wade Manor, and I couldn’t wait until his schemes were revealed.
C.J. Archer takes us through a tale of Victorian scandal and self-discovery as Hannah is ripped from the life she has grown attached too and is thrown into a palatine house with residents as different as herself. We see some sparks between Jack and Hannah in this book, but the ending foretells future fireworks. The X-men like bones of this story show promise and passion for the novels to come. The story’s pacing is in the vein of Victoria Holt or Jane Austen. I LOVED this novel and recommend it to those who enjoy Historical Mystery or books like Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.
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The Emily Chambers Spirit Medium TrilogyThe Emily Chambers Spirit Medium Trilogy by C.J. Archer
Published by Oz Books on April 24,2013
Pages: 556
Format: eBook
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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Seventeen year-old spirit medium Emily Chambers has a problem. Actually, she has several. As if seeing dead people isn't a big enough social disadvantage, she also has to contend with an escaped demon and a handsome ghost with a secret past. And then there's the question of her parentage. Being born an entire year after her father's death (yes, a year) and without the pale skin of other respectable English ladies, Emily is as much a mystery as the dead boy assigned to her.

Jacob Beaufort's spirit has been unable to crossover since his death several months ago. It might have something to do with the fact he was murdered. Or it might not. All he knows is, he has been assigned by the Otherworld's administrators to a girl named Emily. A girl who can see and touch him. A girl who released a shape-shifting demon into the mortal realm. Together they must send the demon back before it wreaks havoc on London. It should be a simple assignment, but they soon learn there's nothing simple when a live girl and a dead boy fall in love.

This is a short and sweet shout out to C.J. Archer’s Spirit Medium Trilogy published last year. It’s been a while since I read these books, but felt like they deserved a rec since I will be reviewing her latest book, The Wrong Girl soon.

I’ve always loved the idea of Mediums and things of the seance sort whether in books or film, so last October I went searching for something with that theme in mind. I wanted a lite, easy read that had a spooky element to it. As if on queue, the Emily Chambers Medium trilogy materialized on my Goodreads recommends page. I started the book not expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised.
C.J. Archer takes us to Victorian era London in this series and paints everything from the seances, attitudes, fashions, to the maids in BBC style detail. I could feel soot on my skin while reading her description of the houses and signature smoggy Victorian era London atmosphere. C.J. Archer paves the streets of London in such detailed historical accuracy, that I found myself committed to the trilogy simply for the pleasure of her settings and descriptions. After the first few chapters, I discovered her characters were equally as enthralling and enjoyable.
This series has sleuthing escapades, dark secrets, action packed demon hunting, and plenty of carriage rides steeped in sexual tension that I could talk about, but I’m just going to introduce you to the two MC’s. Emily Chambers is a 17-year-old beauty with skin the color of coffee and cream. She lives with her spinster sister hosting seances for society women. Unlike her sister, Emily can really communicate with the netherworld and uses her gifts to make a living. She also employs her talents to help her ghostly visitors pass from Limbo and resolve unsettled issues.
Bianca Lawson would fit Emily's character description nicely.
Bianca Lawson would fit Emily’s character description nicely.
Near the beginning of this trilogy, we meet Jacob Beaufort. Jacob is dark, mysterious, handsome and DEAD. He has been  assigned to Emily from the netherworld and has an agenda of his own. In romantic other-worldly fashion, Emily feels drawn to Jacob, but doesn’t know if she can trust him. What if helping him means hurting others? Thus, the “Murder She Wrote” ride and intrigue begin.
I use Ian/Damon Salvatore for most of my male casting in C.J. Archer books, so I thought Henry would be a nice change, and quite fitting for this character.
I use Ian/Damon Salvatore for most of my male casting in C.J. Archer books, so I thought Henry would be a nice change, and quite fitting for this character.
This series was fun and  suspenseful, with just the right amount of propriety to keep the romance interesting. I found myself casting actors from the CW’s The Vampire Diaries as characters in these novels, and couldn’t help but enjoy it. I’ll end this review with the paragraphs in book one that made me decide to keep reading:
A man stood on the landing, leaning against the door, his arms crossed over his chest. He looked older than me but not by much, tall, with short dark hair and a face that was a little too square of jaw and sharp cheek to be fashionable. It wasn’t a beautiful face in the classical statue sense, but it was certainly handsome.[……] He wore black trousers, boots and a white shirt but nothing else. No hat, no necktie, jacket or vest, and scandalously, the top buttons of his shirt were undone so that his bare chest was partially visible. [….]”There you are”, he said. I dragged my gaze up to his face and was greeted by a pair of blue eyes….
And maybe you already guessed it, but YES. Jacob screams Damon Salvatore to me. 🙂

 

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