29 April 2009

Bar Cynster Challenge: The Promise In A Kiss

~click on cover to buy a copy~
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Avon (November 5, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061031755
ISBN-13: 978-0061031755


When a handsome man literally fell at her feet while she was walking through a moonlit convent courtyard, Helena knew he must have been there for a scandalous liaison. Yet she kept his presence a secret from the questioning nuns -- and for her silence the stranger rewarded her with an enticing, unforgettable kiss. What Helena didn't know was that her wild Englishman was Sebastian Cynster, Duke of St. Ives ... and that this dashing, dangerous nobleman was her destiny.

Seven years later, Sebastian spies Helena from across a crowded ballroom. This heiress is dazzling London society with her wit and beauty, tantalizing all the eligible men with the prospect of taking her hand in marriage. But Helena is not looking for just any husband. She wants an equal, a challenge -- someone who can live up to the promise of that delicious, never-forgotten kiss.


I can still remember going to the library in my early twenties, hoping for new arrivals in one of my favorite genres: the historical romance. When I went in one afternoon my first glance was at the table of new arrivals and I noticed the gleaming bright cover of the Dutch version of The Promise In A Kiss, shining like a new penny and beckoning me. My heartbeat increased in anticipation as my hands wrapped around the book. “Mine all mine” I thought and since our library only buys one copy of every book it was quite my lucky day. With a grin wider than the Grand Canyon I went to the desk to check it out, this was eight years ago and it seems like a lifetime!

I don’t think that I re-read this novel since that fateful day but the feeling lasted, imbedded in my memories and with my Bar Cynster challenge I wondered if I could be enchanted again with the romance of Helena and Sebastian. The matriarch and patriarch of a regency clan so well known within the genre it knows its equal in only a few other series.

I got my Dutch copy of the top shelves where only my most treasured Dutch historicals remain as the rest of my shelves is occupied by my English romance novels. And for the first time, in perhaps a year, I started reading in my native language again…


With a heart for true romance Stephanie Laurens created a worthy story for Sebastian and Helena. Since my first time reading this book I have changed and grown as a reader, still they symbolize for me the beginning of the series while this was not the first book written.

While I was still adjusting to reading the Dutch language again I got to the page where Sebastian and Helena met for the first time, I feel that their whole destiny is wrapped up in this scene. Their lives may have been very different if Sebastian wouldn’t have fallen from that tree, flat on his stomach, peering at Helena’s feet. I can’t help myself but I just love that scene, he is al brawn and confidence, she innocent but fiery, one look, one kiss, and subtly everything changed in that moment for the both of them.

When I was taken to a date seven years later Helena has grown in to a confident woman who was yearning to get some measure of freedom and control over her own life and she would do just about anything to obtain that. With a written promise of her guardian Fabien she travels to England and there, with the splendor of the ballrooms attended by the Ton, it takes a singular look onto a man to remember his kiss in the garden of the convent.

Sebastian has outgrown his days of climbing trees to steel an object for a dare as he has come into his power as the Duke of St. Ives. He stands at the head of a warm, loyal yet very curious and interfering family which is immediately felt throughout this novel. With his tall, muscular frame he looked around the ballroom and found the girl he never forgot in the face of a woman. This is where the present story begins, with one look across a ballroom they are inevitably drawn to each other but that wasn’t to say a happily ever after was on the next page. No, a hot-blooded game begun between two high-born people who were innate smart, commanding and bent on getting their way.

I don’t think that the Dutch language allows itself to be used in conveying the exact sentiment of a word or phrase which sometimes got me to laugh out loud at the translation. Still it is Helena and Sebastian who know how to capture my attention with an all consuming passion burning between them. A passion which is well matched by their headstrong personalities and they both play a high risk game.

There is a group of characters surrounding them and getting a degree of more or less attention but it is the deepening of Sebastian and Helena’s feelings that comes first and foremost. It is rich in its display, sensuous, vibrant and a tenacious connection that is as undeniable as the need for air. Because if there is one thing Stephanie Laurens displays in this novel is that a good kiss can be very hot and capitulating for both parties. I had forgotten how Laurens can steep her historical with this need, this absolute hunger for one another yet make the road to the moment of ‘I love you’ intriguing with scheming on the background and colorful personalities.

Though I have read the translation I feel that Stephanie Laurens has an easy going writing style yet passionate enough to draw me into the story. I can’t say that the story-plot stands above anything else, it is the Bar Cynster family with its multi-faceted personalities who attach me to this series and the desire to the see them happy. I love to celebrate love. To have two people struggle together but also find each other in alcoves for heated moments. Together in the end, with a fierce bond between their hearts, shinning like a new penny and knowing they will get through all life can throw at them.

A Promise In A Kiss is one of those stories you can utterly entertain yourself with. It is wealthy in enigmatic characters and contains a love that will sweep the reader to regency England! Feelings of the past mixed itself with this renewed reading experience and at the bottom line all I can say is that I got a lovely start in my Bar Cynster challenge.

Dutch quote Sebastian:
Zijn ogen waren heel blauw toen hij haar aankeek. ‘Ik wil dat het simpele antwoord dat je me uiteindelijk gaat geven, jóuw antwoord zal zijn, mignonne. Niet een antwoord dat logisch voortvloeit uit het afwegen van de voor tegen de nadelen, maar een antwoord dat echt voortvloeit uit jouw verlangen!

Dutch Quote:
Twee helften van dezelfde munt, samengesmeed door een macht die zelfs geen machtig man zou kunnen verbreken.

post signature

24 April 2009

Column: Leontine's week reviewed

My week has been good with DM getting me interested in Twittering. Now I was already registered there and thought; crap another thing to maintain but it turned out to be fun with short messages. The only problem is that I’m not short in the things I want to say so they kind of sound like: Love Saetan, Daemon and Lucivar. Stop. I am not to be disturbed. Stop. Dorothea is getting the evil eye, the bitch. Stop. Anyways, I was twittering away and found a new author for me: Tessa Dare, trotted to her website and saw her awesome covers for her trilogy. The cover junkie in me is in utter bliss…yep, total kudos to the cover artist!

~click here to go to Tessa Dare's WEBSITE~

In extension of discovering books this week my man-love cheerleader can speak up again. I am not reading it in masses but some undeniably get my devoted attention! These two obtained that attention this week with Transgressions already ordered and False Colors for later since they do not come cheap. I read the excerpt of Trangressions at the authors site and wanted more, so much more…the bookie-monster was in full rage and it wasn’t a pretty sight I tell ya! So now I'm counting the days until a copy of Trangressions hits my mailbox...

Website Erastes ~click here~

Website: Alex Beecroft ~click here~

Excerpt: Transgressions ~click HERE~

Next to finding my way to Twitter and discovering new books I had a conversation with my brother who has been corrupted by three sister and a mother…he actually knows what to do in case of PMS LOL Do not touch the chocolate, let the lady have her way with movies such as Dirty Dancing or any hunk-view-fest going on and stay a mile away in the morning when PMS enraged woman is prying her eyes open.

So, he often changes his message on his msn and this week it said: Loving me some Poon-tang pie! I was all: What the hell is poon-tang pie?? So I opened a window and this is the conversation that followed:

Leontine: J…what the hell is poon-tang pie and do you have the recipe?
A couple of minutes later:


Minutes later again:

Leontine: Have you finished laughing now?

J: poon-tang pie is slang I heard The Rock use, just like strudel.

Leontine: Gawd, your talking in code J…do I need my bro-sis dictionary here?


Apparently he thought I was funny, which doesn’t happen all that often since I am the one to have a disturbed and slightly wacked off humor in the family.

J: since he {the Rock} can’t say words like *edited out by me and insert text:* reproductive genitals for the male and female, he replaces the words with poon-tang pie and strudel.

Leontine *getting J’s msn message in context*

Leontine: J!!! There are certain things a sister doesn’t want to know about her brother iieeeuuuwww

J: You asked *devil smiley*

So I had to look up strudel en poon-tang pie and this is what Wikipedia came up with:

Wikipedia says: A strudel is a type of sweet layered pastry with a filling inside that became well known and gained popularity in the 18th century through the Hapsburg Empire.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about poon-tang pie

Slang dictionary says:
· female genitalia.
Honey, gimme some of that poon-tang pie.

So this is where I added another useless word to my vocabulary LOL

Wednesday Twitter came through for me again with a link to information about Dan Brown’s new book. Since I read Angel’s And Demons I have read every book of his hands and have long waited for confirmation on his new work. To hear that in Sept/2009 his novel: The Lost Symbol will be released was news received with a squeak of joy from my side. I will most definitely have that one on pre-order!

And last night I was completely swept away by the movie Dreamgirls, those women have got screamers that move me to tears. Such stories were told with a song…spectacular and one who will be bought on dvd. I saw the movie on my local network and forgotten how much I enjoyed this film and the flamboyant clothes!!

Last but not least I just wanted to mention that

Pearl @ Pearl’s world of books added a review of Michelle Styles to her blog.

~click here to read it~

And DM @ Dream-Mistress’ book lair added a review of Jean Johnson’s The Flame to her blog.

~click here to read it~

The weekend promises a family gathering at my grandma’s for her 82nd birthday and can’t wait to see her again. She can be a stubborn duckie but we all love her to pieces!
Have a great weekend y’all!

post signature

18 April 2009

Column: Sister Love

Sister Love:

At the moment I am busy with reading/reviewing ARC’s for Realms On Our Bookshelves so the personal book pile has been put on the back burner for a few weeks and hence, I haven’t many reviews to post on my Blog. So you’ll get a few columns from me with small talk and some man and cover candy. Not too shabby either I suppose LOL The reason for this post is the fact that on the ROOB forum boards we have a topic which loosely translated is something like this: “Who can leave breadcrumbs between your bed sheets in the morning?”

I came across a drool worthy picture of a hunk reading the newspaper in bed and since I have a weak spot for man-candy and an inquisitive mind I opened a topic. And what does my sister give as her option *hangs head in disappointment* a Dutch comedian, famous for his great sense of humor. Now, I am all for a man who can make a woman laugh but I want the lickable abs, the firm butt, the killer smile and the bad boy look when it comes to man-candy. I know it is also reflecting personal taste but at least give me the abs and ass and the “come devour me pose” and I am usually a happy camper of the offerings in the guy department.

Since it isn’t the first time my sister pulled a stunt like this *god loves her* I made a desperate plea:

Ash, please, give me a hunk as in a fine tuned, picture perfect, hunk-a-liscious, hubba hubba, get over here, man-candy. Let me see you are not lost to the concept of man-candy...awh, come on Ash, I know you can do it!!!

She came with these two at first and I thought: “Nice” and “Great bike” but then she came with a winner in my opinion under the title: Going Wet & Wild, which sneaked its way into the topic as well.

With this picture I had the shower gel and brush in my hand to do some skin on skin action!! She made me so proud again *wink* She definitely got some sister love from my side and I have another picture to lurk at when I need a perk-me-up moment.

I am convinced Ash’s taste will not take a 180 degree turn just because her big sis wants her too but my faith has been restored and all is okay again in Leontine’s world ROFL


In extension of man-candy… a while back I was enthralled by the idea of a man-sandwich. Who would be your perfect man-sandwich and while this thought occupied the vastness of my brain LOL I had to get creative and made a banner named “Aussie-sandwich”
See here and look your fill:

Okay, the female body is "wishful thinking" on my part but a gal can dream can't she LOL

Some cover love from my side:

Kim Lenox – So Still the night: Available May 5, 2009

Karin Tabke – Master Of Craving: Available June 2009

Alyssa Day – Atlantis Unmasked: Available July 7, 2009

Lora Leigh – Bengal’s Heart: Available August 4, 2009

Jessica Andersen – Sky Keepers: Available August 4, 2009

Sharon Page – The Last Seduction: Available August 25, 2009

I hope you all have a blast this weekend, I’m going to celebrate my stepsister’s 25th birthday *looking green with envy* It is soooo good to be 25! *wink*

post signature

14 April 2009

Column: Archangels invading my reader’s world

Archangels invading my reader’s world:
Is it me or is 2009 a year where Archangels are the hottest new guys in town to write and read about? They especially make furore in the Urban Fantasy genre with a triad of authors who are, or will, dominate my bookshelves with these winged men:

Nalini Singh with her Angels’ Blood: A Guild Hunter novel.

S.J. Day with her back to back release of Eve Of Darkness/ Eve Of Destruction and Eve Of Chaos: Marked series novels.

J.R. Ward with her novel Covet: A novel of The Fallen Angel’s.

Is it because well known authors tackle a theme that it grabbed my attention? For it always makes me wonder where this sudden surge comes from. Is it that the muses of certain authors congregate together and invade authors simultaneously with the same inspiration? Or is it that the publisher asks the author to create a new series within a specific genre and use certain key elements in them? The angels I have read about so far are no “holier than thou” creatures and they are shrouded in celestial mysteriousness, oozing a power not from this earth and also not unimportant, are an integrated part of our world.

Is it the saint versus sinner conflict what makes these Angelic men so hard to resist? Because for some reason I think that those who love to read Paranormal/UF will have a hard time ignoring these seductive men and the courageous women in their lives. It will most likely take each author with their novels to the bestsellers lists or has already done so. It has been a while for me since the variety in warrior groups has flooded my book scene that such a strong character has risen and demanded my time and money! In extent of this, I have also found out about a series of Kathryn Caskie that features the Seven Deadly Sins in a historical setting:

Katheryn Caskie with her novel Sin With A Stranger:
Lachlan (lust), Grant (excess/gluttony), Sterling (greed), Siusan (sloth/laziness), Killian (anger/wrath), Ivy (envy), and Priscilla (pride).

But it is S.J. Day who captured my attention at the moment, she combines archangels, sin, redemption and two brothers from the bible; Cain and Abel to mix it up into a heady cocktail with her Marked series. As I am ARC reading the first two novels for ROOB I already got myself a taste of Cain and Abel *insert blissful sigh* The novels of the Marked series are one of the reasons why I am taking notion of the divined theme and when I subsequently stumbled on to information about J.R. Wards: The Fallen Angel’s series, that I had to give voice to my thoughts.

It can be that it is just my notion of Archangels invading the Paranormal/UF genre since I am known to sometimes run behind on what is hot and not LOL So please feel free to leave a comment with other novel/trilogies or series which have prominent angelic characters in them!

10 April 2009

Review: Pamela Clare - Extreme Exposure

~Click on cover to buy a copy~
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley (August 2, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425206335
ISBN-13: 978-0425206331

It's been years since her child's father dumped her, and since then investigative reporter Kara McMillan has kept men at bay—although every day she aches more for a lover's touch. But to get that, the hard-boiled journalist must become vulnerable—a feeling she vowed never to have again.

With his dangerous good looks, charm, and power, Senator Reece Sheridan could have just about any woman he sets his piercing eyes on. But he’s intrigued by only one. This Kara, this gutsy investigative reporter, has a sensuality that arouses him to no end. If she’s a firebrand in print, he guesses, she must be just as fiery in bed…

But this is no fling. A sudden political scandal—and attempts on Kara's life—could very well drive them apart. Or maybe, just maybe, adversity could draw them into a bond even more intense than their steamy sexual embraces…

My Review: I sometimes read about the importance of a first chapter in a novel to capture the reader’s interest and I can tell you, while pondering between three novels to read, I opened Extreme Exposure and was drawn in from page one. The choice was made when I read the scene where Kara is in a bar with a friend. She is described as a woman with stretch marks on her belly from her pregnancy, she never got boobs bigger than a b-cup and she personally thought her best features were her hair and perhaps her eyes. Sitting in the bar she still has her friend’s advice ringing in her ears:

Quote Holly:Just go up to a guy who turns you on and start talking.

Easier said than done and I immediately found Kara McMillan likable and her thoughts at certain moments hilarious. I mean, some sex-talk with one of your best friends and a margarita or two, three to accompany it can give you a situation where model gorgeous Senator Reece Sheridan walks up to your table and mingles in the conversation at hand. I smiled and laughed as the scene unfolded before my eyes and I could only give Pamela Clare two thumbs up for a first chapter that inevitably invited me to read on.

Kara is juggling with her professional life as an investigating reporter at the Denver Independent and being a single mom with a non-existing sex life. She has humor, she has a profound love for her four year old son, she has an eccentric mother and a passion for her job that takes time away from her son more often than she wants. I think Kara is the kind of female lead character who is very recognizable for so many women and easy to relate to. While there are definite humorous tones in Extreme Exposure the suspense got up to speed in the next few chapters, right alongside with the romance as Reece and Kara have a dynamite chemistry together!

Senator Reece Sheridan is at first sight a well-dressed, handsome and smooth politician, and since he is a politician you first think he is there to double cross you. Nothing is further from the truth, he is the real deal with incredible ideals and a man who is willing to work hard for his voters. While he is all business in the Capitol in his scarce free time he is the kind of man you want around the house. He cooks divine, is spontaneous with children and creates a heat between the sheets that almost scorches the pages. He sounds almost too good to be true and though I usually go for the dark natured bad boy I couldn’t help myself and I just fell for him.

As Reece and Kara created a heated tension that rocketed from the pages they both had troublesome events going on at work. Now Pamela Clare worked the plot like a pro, where separately Reece and Kara discovered and worked on environmental issues it was all interconnected. The discoveries which were gradually revealed and the suspicion cast on various characters, the plot compelled me to find out the how, why and most important who was behind some if these atrocious actions. Because the whodunit factor was hard to ignore!

As the danger increases a notch I was going back from Capitol Hill to the newsroom at Denver Independent and the home of Kara where most of the personal moments took place. The romance story heightened the suspense and vice versa with a well represented account of how a story is being researched and investigated. In entering the newsroom for the first time I got to meet the I-Team: Tom Trent, editor in chief and a blunt jerk at times. Joaquin Ramirez, the photographer, I didn’t get to see him much but he seems to have a good sense of humor and excited to do his job. Syd Wilson, managing editor seems a very grounded person and then there are Sophie Alton and Tessa Novak, both like Kara investigating reporters who are competent and have a passion for their specialism. I got to get more of a feel for Tessa and Sophie in an off-duty girl’s moment with Kara and they triggered my interest almost immediately.

Extreme Exposure also has the sharks in suits and some very dangerous minds bent on more power, more money and they want to gorge in it with no regard for the consequences. If the plot taught me one thing it is that everyone is suspect and I was caught off guard by the ending, I just did not see it all coming and I thoroughly enjoy such a revelation for shock value. It makes me wonder where the daylights that came from, why didn’t I pick up on it sooner and it increases the suspense factor nearing the ending. I just had to find out how it all ended, nothing could keep me from it, so lunch got skipped and I got myself a juice with the book in my hands.

Weeks ago I ordered a historical and romantic suspense from the hand of Pamela Clare and I was absolutely taken by her historical and with Extreme Exposure she has proven to be an author who can tackle multiple sub-genres within the romance genre. She hits all the right notes, this novel is rife with the emotions of a romance and the intensity of a suspense plot keeping me bound to the pages. Clare has become an auto-buy with her I-Team series and her MacKinnon trilogy!

Quote Kara:
“Tantra for singles? What is that – masturbation for Buddhist?”

Quote Reece:
Caves. Neanderthal sex. Babies. That’s what he wanted.

09 April 2009

Review: Chris Owen - Natural Disaster

~click on cover to buy a copy~
Paperback: 268 pages
Publisher: Torquere Press (August 7, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934166634
ISBN-13: 978-1934166635

Sequel to Bareback - Summary:

Jake and Tor return in this long-awaited sequel to the bestselling Bareback! Having bought the ranch they've worked on for so long, they're now the proud owners of a spread of their own. There's more than enough on their plate coping with their new responsibilities and their arguments over ranch management, and it's not long before even more trouble hits. When he learns his sister has died in an automobile accident, Jake is crushed. His grief is tempered by Tor's loving support, but they're forced to be apart while Jake deals with the family. When they bring Jake's nephew back to the ranch, things stretch to the breaking point. From the day to day difficulties of running the ranch to dealing with a teenager who's just lost his mother, Jake and Tor wonder if they'll be able to survive. In the fury of the storm, the two men fall back on the one thing that can get them through. Each other. Can they keep it together when everything seems to be falling apart around them? Chris Owen gives Jake and Tor a triumphant return, bringing back a cast of characters that are as well-loved as they are in love with each other. Settle in against the storm and read Natural Disaster today!


~possible spoilers if you haven’t read Bareback~
Natural Disaster is the sequel to Bareback and once more took me to the ranch of Jake and Tor. After six years their relationship is still going strong, they bought the ranch from Doug Gillain and preparing for a family gathering. Life is good for both of them until one phone call sets their world spinning on its axes…

The moment I found out Bareback had a sequel I was in ecstasy because I felt that Jake and Tor’s story wasn’t fully told in Bareback. I couldn’t get my hands fast enough on a copy of Natural Disaster to find out what was happening between these two men I came to cherish so much. So when it arrived I was rapidly immersed in the day-to-day life of Jake and Tor and it was written in the down-to-earth writing style of Chris Owen that fits the cowboy and ranching backdrop to perfection. I found myself in ultimate bliss getting myself reacquainted with them when Jake and Tor’s world comes crashing down and I had to reach for my tissues again.

A death in the family sets the two cowboys up for a major change in their lives, namely the responsibility for their nephew. Chris Owen gives the feelings of loss such rawness that it reverberated with me throughout the novel. I was so moved by the effect it had on Jake, the way he tried to hold strong for everyone and the way Tor tried to support and comfort him. Loss can cripple a person emotionally and to see this play out between two men was so beautiful to see. Yet their actions also contained a head-on approach to deal with the situation which is typical for them.

Much of what I loved so much in Bareback was felt and read in Natural Disaster but I would’ve enjoyed the story even more if the author had more pages to tell the tale of these men in morning. The emotional rollercoaster of becoming a guardian over a teenager and the journey of coming to terms with the loss is not given the depth I came accustomed to in Bareback. Jake, Tor and Jacob need to adapt to a new situation and while it was all given to me with sincere feelings the months sped by in short chapters and it lost a bit of its impact.

With 228 pages it is still a heartthrob of a gay romance with erotic elements in them. The erotically charged need between Jake and Tor was as much a physical one as it was to find comfort and reaffirm the love between them. However, there were more pressing matters to attend to for them and while the eroticism didn’t have the same high-octane factor as in Bareback it was unmistakably present. I don’t feel it is fair but at the same time it is inevitable for me to compare the two stories and say that Natural Disaster is a delightful addition to the original tale but is unable to reach the same level. Simply because it missed the pages to unfold and deepen each characters emotional stirrings and development. I would say Natural Disaster adds another layer to Bareback that gave me the absolute well-rounded feeling I was looking for upon closing their first story.

This second novel may not have the full impact I had when reading Bareback but I did get to experience again the great love Jake and Tor share. It is so real, not shying away from the fact how hard it can be to nurture a relationship. It is a delicate balance and needs must be spoken out loud for the other to take it in consideration. I can’t get enough of how this gay couple communicates together, how essential their physical relationship is and how natural it feels between them. It is like witnessing the real deal between them, attaching me to them and feeling all their ups and downs. It is why I wanted that glorious, almost over the top, happily ever after for them. What I got was a real one and my heartbeat went up a notch in romantic ecstasy creating that moment where every reader wants to leave there leading couple.

Natural Disaster was about loss, grieve, hope, love and new beginnings which also needed Jacob, Elias and Cath to tell the tale and though it was a small it also was an important secondary cast, their presence was adding an intimate feel to the novel. If they already weren’t a cherished person they became one in this novel. Especially Jacob got a bigger role, he is teenage stubborn, he is endearing and he is coping with the new situation. He also presented change within the relationship of Jake and Tor and I enjoyed the effect from a dramatic point of view. For where can true romance soar? Only when it is challenged and ever changing to become stronger. This is definitely what Natural Disaster is all about and only for this fact you should catch up with this incredible set of ranching cowboys!

Natural Disaster contains the true essence of a happily ever after that makes me say that Jake and Tor are my true first love in Gay Erotica Romance and will forever be treasured on my shelves.

Tor owned him, body and soul, and there wasn’t any way Jake would change that. He breathed the air around them, and drew Tor into his lungs, into his blood, and it was better than right, it was living.

4 stars

01 April 2009

Column: How did I get myself challenged?

How a phone conversation with Dream-Mistress turned in to a reading challenge:

Leontine: I think it was mid-day on a Monday when the phone rang and it turned out to be Dream-Mistress (henceforth known as DM). Now, I am a true phone person and can chat for hours at a time so I grabbed a glass of juice to keep the throat smooth and settled on the couch to catch up on the latest with DM. We talked about all the challenges out there in Blogging land and if we were going to join any because there was also a personal TRP to consider. So out of the blue DM said: “I would like to challenge you to read the Bar Cynster series from Stephanie Laurens.” Well I can tell ya my jaw dropped to the floor because this was a dragon of a series, I’m talking 16 books and ongoing!! I moved to my bookshelves and looked, I had a portion in Dutch translation and a portion in English paperback version and probably a third which I still needed to buy. Anyone who knows me a bit is aware of the fact I loved the Historical genre as a teenager and in my twenties, but when I started to read in English it became a snowed under genre which didn't hold that enormous appeal to me anymore. So I thought: “Oh my gawd!!”

16 books, all in what I call “Regency England” with balls, soirees, Dukes and damsels in distress. Would I, Could I, Should I??? Then I looked at all the books I wanted to read and knowing I have some ARC reviewing coming up as well, I didn’t think I was going to make it, 16 books in the remaining of the year. That would mean 1.7 book per month!! So as I was stuttering my protest to DM I also felt challenged, mainly because it isn’t my favorite genre anymore, but there was no way in the heavens above that I was going to make 1.7 book per month. So she said – she-devil that she is – “Ok, one book a month, one Laurens, one Cynster novel, one review.” She didn’t back down now, knowing it would be quite a feat to get me to read Historicals on such a frequent basis. Then she said: “Because you have much of the series on the shelves but part Dutch, part English, you can also compare the impact of the original and translated written word and that’s when she got me – I tell you she secretively has horns growing from her skull and glowing eyes – and I caved.

This would mean I’m committing myself to a challenge of about one and a half years *heart skips a bit*

Dream-Mistress: OK. I still regret phoning Leontine on that now memorable Monday, I just wanted to chat and Leontine and I can chat for hours discussing literally everything that crosses our minds. It is just girl talk. So reader challenges seem to be quite popular in Blog land and before I knew it I was looking at my bookcase and right at eye level I saw all my Cynster books from Stephanie Laurens, 16 in total. And I hear myself say to Leontine, well you are not really into the Regency genre these days so go read all Cynster books, now that is a challenge for you! I personally love the Regency genre, but I know that Leontine cannot stomach too many classic Regency novels in a year.What was I thinking??? I should have kept my mouth shut, I really should have. There I hear her say with a sugar sweet voice: “Well, if I have to read Laurens then you are going to read Anne Bishop's Black Jewels series. One book, one review every three months.” Now when this witch uses that sugar sweet voice you know nothing good is coming for you, just trouble! If there is one thing that my friends know about me is that I am basically a sort of a Cookie Monster when it comes to books, I like most genres except for… Fantasy. So, OMG!! Six parts in a Fantasy series… and of course six reviews. The wicked witch actually challenged me with the one genre that I absolutely do not find tempting…. Fantasy! Six books with roughly 350 pages each, I already dread the extensive world-building and lengthy descriptions of things and of course the lack of intense passion and romance. My worst nightmare is coming true, but I will survive!! I will conquer this genre and show that wicked witch I can do this, of course she already knew that I would take the bait, she goaded me into this challenge. And then before I knew it I hear myself say to her: “We have a deal! Grrrr…”Now you might think that it is not fair that I only have to read six books and Leontine has to read 16, but my free time is much more limited than hers. I basically read one book a week while she can read three stories, and then we also have to write reviews. She just knocks them off while I have to wreck my brains to put something decent on paper, it just does not come natural to me. Not much later I hung up the phone and then it hit me: “What the hell was I thinking, how did I let this happen? Leontine wanted a reader challenge for herself, I did not!” So now I am stuck for 18 months with a Fantasy challenge but giving up is no option! And hey, who knows maybe I surprise myself and actually like this series… *sigh*At least I can comfort myself with the fact that I goaded her into reading 16 classic Regency stories! *Big grin!*

Leontine: So we hung up after some more chitchat and with this conversation I was saddled with a challenge I wasn’t aiming for but am very interested in doing nonetheless.

My goals to reach with the Bar Cynster Challenge:
* To reacquaint myself with one of my late teenage loves for a Regency family.

* To hopefully give an in-depth view in comparing the Dutch translations versus the original language editions of the Cynster novels.

* To finish an extensive, double figured series.

Each month a book must be read and on or before the 30/31st of every month a blogpost must be written about it, whether this is a review or column. As long as it relays the reading experience of the particular book read that month.

Anyone is of course welcome to participate in this endeavor, is free to use the Bar Cynster Reading Challenge images to display participation on their own blog, myspace, livejournal and so on. You can link back to this post to let me and others know but this is all up to you! I hope you will come back from time to time and see the progress in my attempt to tame the Cynster men *wink*

Read Dream-Mistress' blogpost at her Lair: ~Click Here~

THE PROMISE IN A KISS Sebastian & Helena's Story ISBN 0-06-018888-X

DEVIL'S BRIDE Devil's Story ISBN 0-380-79456-X March, 1998

A RAKE'S VOW Vane's Story ISBN 0-380-79457-8 October, 1998

SCANDAL'S BRIDE Richard's Story ISBN 0-380-80568-5 March, 1999

A ROGUE'S PROPOSAL Demon Harry's Story ISBN 0-380-80569-3 October, 1999

A SECRET LOVE Gabriel's Story ISBN 0-380-80570-7 July, 2000

ALL ABOUT LOVE Lucifer's Story ISBN 0-380-81201-0 February, 2001

ALL ABOUT PASSION Chillingworth's Story ISBN 0-380-81202-9 September, 2001

ON A WILD NIGHT Amanda's Story ISBN 0-380-81203-7 April, 2002

ON A WICKED DAWN Amelia's Story ISBN 0-06-000205-0 May, 2002

THE PERFECT LOVER Simon's Story ISBN 0-06-050571-0

THE IDEAL BRIDE Michael's Story ISBN 0-06-050574-5 March, 2005

THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE Gerrard's Story ISBN 0-06-050575-3

WHAT PRICE LOVE? Dillon's Story ISBN 0-06-084084-6

THE TASTE OF INNOCENCE Charlie Morwellan's Story ISBN 0-06-084086-2

TEMPTATION AND SURRENDER Jonas Tallent's Story ISBN 978-0-06-124340-0