What I've been reading: mini reviews

I was in the mood for romance and read:

The Next Best Thing, by Kristan Higgins
This is one of my favorite comfort-food-type romances: an engaging story, likable and well-drawn characters, fast-paced but not rushed, and plenty of romantic chemistry. Not over-the-top and not overly cheesy.

The Iron Duke, by Meljean Brooks
Brooks has built an interesting world in this book. It's an alternate history, somewhere between Edwardian and Victorian, but vastly different than the 17th and 18th century that we know about. The Mongol Horde has conquered Europe and England through the use of nanoagents -- tiny, mechanical bugs that can control a person's emotions and actions (although not their mind, which is doubly horrible. You're aware of doing the things you don't want to do). Although England is now free of Mongol rule, they are struggling with finding freedom after hundreds of years of oppressive rule. The story follows Mina Wentworth -- a detective with the Metropolitan Police Force in London as she solves a murder and unravels a conspiracy plot. Her duties force her to work with Rhys Trahearn, the Iron Duke and the man who effectively brought the Horde to destruction in England; and as they work together the two share a very intense romance. I'll admit, a bit too intense for me at times; I ended up skipping a few sections because things got a little too...vivid. And while the story and the setting were very interesting, the book was a bit too dark for my mood at the time.

Wise Man's Fear, Patrick Rothfuss
The second in a fantasy trilogy by a very gifted story-teller. Kvothe is telling us his life story, a story that is at times joyful, fantastical, hilarious, heartbreaking, angry and irreverant. If you like good stories, interesting characters and fantasy (or if you've thought about reading a fantasy novel but weren't sure where to start) do yourself a favor and go get Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear. And block off a couple of days in your schedule.