Pandora’s Box: The Last Hour of Gann

The Last Hour of GannWendy Clyde here. Dabney Grinnan and I are discussing R. Lee Smith’s The Last Hour of Gann, which was released in September.

While Dabney had read Ms. Smith, this is my first book by her and I was very pleasantly surprised by the book’s quality and complexity. When Dabney suggested we have a Pandora’s Box discussion I leapt at the chance, because The Last Hour of Gann is a thought-provoking, emotional book that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. It’s difficult to provide a brief synopsis for such an epic book, but the basic premise is the story of an earth woman, Amber Bierce, who, seeking to leave her bleak life on Earth behind, signs on for interplanetary colonization, dragging her reluctant sister along. Their ship crashes on an alien planet with thousands of human lives lost. Chances for the few survivors to flourish are slim to none until the party meets with an indigenous lizard-man, the warrior-priest Uyane Meoraq. Meoraq is on a religious pilgrimage when he encounters the flat-faced, soft-skinned humans. Deciding that there are lessons to be learned from this alien species he agrees to help them survive and allows them to travel with him to the temple he’s seeking. He finds Amber the most intriguing of all the humans and the two soon develop a friendship that deepens into attraction.

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Pandora’s Box: Run to You by Rachel Gibson

runtoyou Today Haley and Jenna have fan favorite Rachel Gibson up in Pandora’s Box with her latest release, Run to You Here’s the basic set-up: Former Marine turned security professional Beau Junger agrees to do his buddy Vince a favor – drive to Miami and locate Stella Leon and let her know that her half-sister is looking for her. What he doesn’t promise to do is to embark on a road trip with Stella from Miami to Amarillo, Texas. As they make their way across the south, Beau and Stella drive each other crazy, but in the very best of ways.

Note: This discussion may contain some slight spoilers

JENNA So, Haley, this is my first ever Pandora’s Box, and I can’t think of an author I’d rather read than Rachel Gibson.

HALEY Same here! I have really loved her hockey-based books – and I don’t even like hockey that much.

JENNA Well, I’m a huge hockey fan and both my husband and son are hockey players, so her hockey books are right up my alley. But I’ve also enjoyed her other titles. Run to You doesn’t feature any hockey stars, but it still has one of her larger than life heroes. Continue reading

Pandora’s Box: Soul of Kandrith

soulofkandrith Last month we were talking about historical fiction in Pandora’s Box, but this month we turn to the realm of fantasy romance. This month we’re doing a Pandora’s Box discussion on Soul of Kandrith, conclusion of the Kandrith duology by Nicole Luiken.

Sara had once been a great lady, daughter of the Primus of the Republic of Temboria. She still has her legendary beauty but lost her soul in an epic battle to save Kandrith, a nation that serves as sanctuary to runaway slaves. Her beloved Lance is a healer of the goddess Loma, a user of the slave magic which demands great personal sacrifice. While he is able to heal any affliction of the body the creation of a soul is beyond his powers. The two are traveling through Kandrith, hoping that familiar places and faces will restore Sara to her former self. However, instead of help they find fear, and in place of friendship they most often encounter hostility. Sara is a frightening shell of the woman she once was, zombie-like in her lack of emotions, but ruthless when it comes to defending herself and Lance. She has also become addicted to pain, since it seems to be the one thing she can feel. Lance’s devotion to the shadow of the woman he once loved concerns his family but there is little they can do to separate them.

When Lance is charged by his sister, the ruler of Kandrith, with a mission to encourage a budding rebellion within the territory of Gotia, it is with the hope that he will leave Sara behind. Instead, the two embark on the dangerous journey together, with uncertainty facing them along every step of the way. Will they be able to perform the mission and gain Sara a soul?

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Pandora’s Box: Garden of Stones

gardenofstones This month, we’re jumping into Pandora’s Box with Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield Here’s a bit about the plot: On the surface, fourteen year old Lucy Takeda seems to have a charmed life. Her father Renjiro is the well-respected owner of a prosperous business packaging and shipping dried apricots worldwide. Her mother Miyako is revered for her breathtaking beauty and elegance. And Lucy looks just like her mother. Their home is one of the nicest in the community. Still life is not always serene. Miyako is delicate and suffers from mood swings, spending some days in her darkened room, and then others with a surplus of energy. The high energy days, though, almost always end with Miyako in tears, as Lucy’s elderly father tries to comfort her.

But with the war, the pattern of Lucy’s life is changing. For the first time, her status as a wealthy man’s daughter doesn’t prevent her from being judged by the color of skin and slant of her eyes. Teachers bypass her for class positions, and friends ignore her presence. But nothing prepares her for the changes in her life on December 7, 1941. In a little over two hours, Japanese bombers almost destroy America’s navy and air force plus kill two thousand citizens and injure over a thousand. After the attack, Americans of Japanese ancestry are viewed with suspicion and distrust. Within weeks, Lucy and her mother are ripped from their home, and sent to Manzanar War Relocation Camp, located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California’s Owens Valley. Conditions there are harsh and dismal but Lucy’s spirits are buoyed by her youthful optimism.

Maggie has talked often about War World II stories, so as soon as I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. Since Maggie is more familiar with this time period, I asked if she would like to do a Pandora’s Box together. Continue reading

Pandora’s Box: Shadow Woman

Imagine if you woke up one morning and the face in the mirror did not belong to you. How would you react to that? For Lizette Henry, the thought that all is not as it should be triggers violent headaches and bouts of vomiting. When she makes the obligatory call to tell her boss she’s ill, she gets another surprise. Her boss mentions that Lizette hasn’t been sick for the whole three years she has worked for her. Lizette thought she had worked there for five years. Slowly, she realizes that she is missing two years of memories.

Even as Lizzie becomes aware of her missing memories, she realizes she has instincts she has no business having. For example, she has the certain knowledge that her cell phone is being used to spy on her. Slowly she becomes aware of a whole host of things that seem out of place: her unnaturally quiet life style, the neighbor who pays too much attention to her, her growing sense that she is being watched wherever she goes. Small changes in her routine seem to be a trigger to have people start following her. Is she slowly going crazy? Or are people really out to get her?

For Xavier, it has been three long years of waiting to see if Lizzie ever woke up. Now she is doing so and some small part of him hopes the wake up will be complete, that she will remember him. And yet he realizes that her returning memory could actually cause a much darker outcome. For the return of her memory will mean the activation of their enemies. And that could mean the end of them both. Sound intriguing? Then follow Leigh and Maggie into Pandora’s Box to see what they thought of Shadow Woman, Linda Howard’s latest release. Continue reading

Pandora’s Box: A Lady Never Lies

ladyneverlies And Pandora’s Box is back again! This time around, Blythe Barnhill and Jean Wan are taking on a European historical by debut author Juliana Grey. In A Lady Never Lies, Lady Morley has fled to Italy to escape creditors and there she meets inventor Phineas “Finn” Burke. Each of the two, and their traveling companions, are staying in a remote castle in Tuscany. With an unusual setting and a backstory involving the invention of motorcars, this book stood out among recent historical romance offerings.

Blythe: I chose A Lady Never Lies by debut author Juliana Gray for two reasons: 1) she was a brand new European Historical author I’d never tried and 2) I happened to have two copies on hand. Well, from my end, it was a happy accident. I really loved the book. I had no idea that it was set in 1890 – in Italy, no less – and featured a hero who designed electric cars. I am predisposed to like novelty, so this suited me down to the ground. Then I ended up liking the hero and heroine as well. But what did you think?
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Pandora’s Box: Rake With a Frozen Heart

kayebook We’ve been having a lot of fun with Pandora’s Box lately here at AAR, and this month Lynn Spencer and Dabney Grinnan are taking a turn there. We decided to go for a European historical this month, and chose Harlequin Historicals author Marguerite Kaye’s latest release Rake With a Frozen Heart. The plot centers on an innocent governess, Henrietta Markham, who is rescued by a reputed rake, Rafe St. Alban, the Earl of Pentland. She remembers an attack by a thief, but little else, and after finding herself suspected of a crime, she ends up on the run with her rescuer. Henrietta has no intention of falling in love with Rafe and after the loss of his first wife, Rafe has no interest in marriage. However, Rafe does feel moved to help Henrietta clear her name and as they go about it, something about the way they deal with one another starts turning into attraction. This is shaping up to be a great year for historical reading, and with such a crowded field, it can be hard for one book to stand out. And as you can see, Dabney and Lynn have different takes on how this one fared.

Note: The discussion of this book contains some spoilers.
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Pandora’s Box: About That Night

9780425246955_AboutThatNig_CV.indd We’re back with another Pandora’s Box, this time featuring About That Night by Julie James. We have lots of Julie James fans here, so we thought it would be fun to get two reactions to her latest release. This time, we’re featuring Maggie Boyd and Heather Stanton in the box.

So, what’s happening in the latest installment in James’ FBI/US Attorney series? Due to events beyond his control, Kyle Rhodes skipped out on his first date with Rylann Pierce. He discovers the chemistry between them still in full force, though, when he finds himself face-to-face with her nine years later in a Chicago courtroom.

Rylann hadn’t expected to have to face the infamous Twitter Terrorist in court. It was, after all, someone else’s case. But when fate throws her once more into the path of the force of nature known as Kyle Rhodes, aka the Twitter Terrorist, , she is pleased with how she handles things. Cool. Professional. Totally over being stood up. She’s glad they had this moment of closure so he could see just how thoroughly she’d moved on.

Then she finds herself having to work with Kyle on another issue and starts to feel her detached manner being slowly eroded away by his charm. Does life really hand you a second-chance at love at first sight?
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Pandora’s Box: Hidden Summit

hiddensummit He needs to get out of town so the murderer he is testifying against doesn’t get the chance to kill him too. She needs to get out of town so she doesn’t have to trip over her ex and his blushing bride everywhere she goes. When they both land in Virgin River the scene is set for love.

Hidden Summit is the 17th book in the popular Virgin River series. When we begin the story we join Brie Valenzuela (from Whispering Rock) as she meets a tall dark stranger in a frou-frou coffee shop out of town. No, she isn’t cheating on Mike, but she is meeting another man. Conner Danson is the sole witness to a crime and it is clear the man he is testifying against will go to any lengths to keep him from testifying. He has already burned Conner’s business down to the ground and made threats against his widowed sister and her boys. The end result is forced relocation for Conner, and Virgin River, remote and with a small population, seems like the ideal place to hide. Brie, a former ADA, is Conner’s bridge to a whole new life. Conner’s not happy about the situation but he is determined to see this thing through to the end. He heads up to the hills and goes to work for Haggerty Construction.

Leslie Petruso’s ex-husband seems determined to kill her – with kindness. Even though he cheated on her, robbed her of her half of the communal property and left her heart in tattered pieces, he expects them to be the best of buds. He has done such a good job of painting himself as an angel that even her parents think she should just forgive and forget. Anxious to get away from it all, Leslie takes a job with her old friend Paul Haggerty (Second Chance Pass) and moves to Virgin River. There, she hopes to find a place to heal and get to know what life is like on her own. She doesn’t think she will ever be able to love or trust again. Then she meets Conner.
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Pandora’s Box: Deliciously Sinful

sinfulTake one plucky orphaned heroine assuming the family business; add one bad boy who’s hiding his romantic heart; mix with food, food, food; and a large dollop of sex, sex, sex.  We’ve seen it before, but somehow, while we hope these everyday ingredients will produce a culinary masterpiece, we more often get tepid leftovers.

In Deliciously Sinful by Lillie Feisty, Phoebe is spread too thin trying to run both her organic farming business and the family’s organic restaurant The Green Leaf Cafe. Since she can’t cook, in order to maintain the café’s sterling reputation she hires down-on his luck Nick Avalon.  Nick plans on staying a year, then bolt back to L.A. to reclaim the fame and recognition his talents demand.

Leigh: As a fan of Pandora’s Box, whenever I can I try to convince another reviewer to join me. After reading Deliciously Sinful I immediately thought of you, Pat.  Thanks for joining me. So what did you think?

Pat: Since I’ve read your reviews and often thought we have the same reading likes and dislikes, I was surprised you thought I might like this one.  What was it about this book you thought would appeal to me?

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