Sunday, November 29, 2009

Review: My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy

A wild west heiress, Summer Wine Lee knows that she's not an acceptable bride for her fiance's knickerbocker family. She grew up in an Arizona mining town, cares more for critters than people, carries a knife under her skirts, and, worst of all, she has a highly improper secret from her past. But she also has high hopes that a real English Duke can teach her how to be a lady...

Were it not for his father's gambling debts, the Duke of Monchester would never have stooped to civilize Summer. But the more time he spends with her, and the more social scrapes he has to rescue her from, the more he finds it impossible to change her into a proper lady. How could he, when he's falling in love with her just the way she is?

I chose to read My Unfair Lady because both My Fair Lady and Pygmalion are favorites. This book looked to be a fun twist on those two stories and it was.

Summer is an improper young lady from the Colonies with too much money and no pedigree. She is in love with Monte, a young man from New York's high society, but when they become engaged and she is introduced to his family they are definitely not impressed. Her answer? She travels to London with a companion and decides to hire the best person available to help her become a lady. She wants to be good enough for Monte and his family.

The person who she and her companion Maria decide hire for the job is the Lord of Monchester. He is not only an arrogant duke, but he has Prince Albert's ear and he's broke. All of these facts qualify him for the tutor position as far as Summer is concerned. But Byron has nothing but contempt for the new wave of American heiresses invading England with their newfound wealth and greed for noble titles. He makes a living entertaining the Prince with his sharp tongue and his wit. He especially enjoys ripping these American heiresses to shreds. He is about to find his match in Summer.

I truly didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book. It turned out that this is really a fun story about two very different people who fall in love despite their differences. Acceptance is a theme that prevails throughout and one Ms. Kennedy develops beautifully. Summer's improbable adventures and unorthodox social behavior, and Byron's reluctant admiration and growing love for Summer make My Unfair Lady a fun, fast paced read. One I enjoyed enough to finish in one sitting. 

My Unfair Lady releases December 1, 2009
Review based on ARC copy received from Sourcebooks. You can read an excerpt here.

Other books by Kathryne Kennedy you might enjoy:
Enchanting the Lady (Relics of Merlin #1)
Double Enchantment (Relics of Merlin #2)
Enchanting the Beast (Relics of Merlin #3)
Beneath the Thirteen Moons

Originally posted at Musings of a Bibliophile November 29, 2009

Mini-Impressions: Demon Angel & Demon Moon by Meljean Brook

Demon Angel by Meljean Brook (The Guardian Series)



For two thousand years, Lilith wrought vengeance upon the evil and the damned, gathering souls for her father’s armies Below and proving her fealty to her Underworld liege. Bound by a bargain with the devil and forbidden to feel pleasure, she draws upon her dark powers and serpentine grace to lead men into temptation. That is, until she faces her greatest temptation Heaven’s own Sir Hugh Castleford…

Once a knight and now a Guardian, Hugh spent centuries battling demons—and the cursed, blood-drinking nosferatu. His purpose has always been to thwart the demon Lilith, even as he battles his treacherous hunger for her. But when a deadly alliance unleashes a threat to both humans and Guardians in modern-day San Francisco, angel and demon must fight together against unholy evil—and against a desire that has been too long denied…

Who will be the first to succumb?
Interesting and complex world building -- Guardians (half angels/half human), nosferatu, vampires (made by nosferatu or other vampires), demons and humans. Demon Angel started back in the 1200s and ended in modern times San Francisco. The first part of the book felt disjointed and a bit confusing with Lilith and Hugh meeting each other throughout time, making references to people and places that hopefully will be addressed later.

This story of Hugh the Guardian and Lilith the Demon, turned out to be quite the complex and touching romance. I fell in love with Lilith's character who turned out to be a tough, wicked and sexy heroine with a vulnerable side I quite enjoyed. There were so many twists and turns in Demon Angel I couldn't put it down until it was finished. I enjoyed it to the end and it definitely hooked me on the series.



No one would call vampire Colin Ames-Beaumont kind, but they would call him unnaturally beautiful. For two centuries his tainted blood has kept him isolated from other vampires, sustained only by his beauty and vanity—bitter comforts, since a curse has erased his mirror reflection, replacing it with a terrifying glimpse of Chaos.

Savi Murray’s insatiable curiosity had gotten her into trouble before, but she’d always escaped unscathed. Then came Colin. In the midst of Heaven, he gave her a taste of ecstasy—and of Chaos. Deadly creatures from that realm herald the return of an imprisoned nosferatu horde, and Colin and Savi’s bond is their only protection—and their only passion…
In some ways I liked Demon Moon more than Demon Angel. I thought this book was better in that the worldbuilding was tighter and it didn't have that disjointed feel to it. The plot was just as complex as in the first book with twists and turns at every corner keeping my interest, while the romance and sexual tension with its almost "mission impossible" outcome made it a nail-biter.

I loved the hero, Colin, a vampire who was super hot and I fell for him hook, line and sinker. I liked Savi, the heroine too, although I didn't love her the way I did Lilith (Demon Angel). As a couple Savi and Colin had great chemistry and that made the romance part of the book just as good as the rest of the story. Demon Moon had a good balance between the growing worldbuilding, the plot and the romance.

I already have the next book in this series and I can't wait to keep reading! Hooked! I'm hooked! :)

You can visit the author here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks...



for a loving & supporting family,

for old friends,

for new friends,

for love, romance & all it brings to my daily life.

My cup (in this case horn-of-plenty & it's a BIG one) runneth over!



Wishing all those celebrating this weekend a

Happy, Loving & Plentiful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mini-Review: Joe's Wife by Cheryl St. John



Memories...

Tye Hatcher returned to Aspen Grove to find that life in the sleepy Western town hadn't changed much. The townspeople stubbornly refused to see the man he had become. That is, everybody but Meg Telford. Meg definitely took notice of the reticent rancher and gave him a chance in life when no one else would. Still, Meg clung to the memories of her late husband, afraid of the feelings Tye aroused in her heart. And though Tye vowed to proved his worth to the town, could he ever prove to Meg that he was worthy of her love?


Joe's Wife is my first book by Cheryl St. John. I saw a beautiful review for this Harlequin Historical romance at Leslie's Psyche and I just had to read it. This is an older book, 10 years old, but in my opinion worth searching out to read. I'm so glad I read it.

Tye Hatcher recently returned to Aspen Grove from the war. The same war that took the life of Meg Telford's husband Joe. As a bastard and the son of a saloon girl, Tye had a tough time growing up in a small town where its people always treated him like a pariah. He is a good man who is not judged by his character, but by the circumstances of his birth. Joe has dreams and something to prove to the people of Aspen Grove.

Meg Telford is a sweet, beautiful young woman who loved her husband. She wants nothing more than to continue the dream she and Joe began when they bought their ranch together. Even though the ranch now belongs to her, she's a woman and alone. This fact makes it tough for her to continue what Joe started. Meg finds herself fighting Joe's family and the bank to fulfill their dream. But Meg's sweetness hides a spine of steel, she'll do what it takes to keep Joe's ranch and what is hers. Meg's answer is to take a husband and Tye Hatcher is the perfect man.

I loved the way Cheryl St. John developed this story and the characters. The slow, tentative way in which these two people get to know each other and their love blooms. I fell in love with Tye and the subtle way in which he showed his love, as well as his passion for Meg. And, I couldn't help but admire Meg. Their guilts, self-doubts, jealousies, sexual tension and needs are realistic and understandable. Both Meg and Tye have issues and baggage that they bring to this unexpected marriage and the way they handle them, themselves and the town's reactions make the story in Joe's Wife.

This was a quick read for me and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Cheryl St. John has an extensive backlist and recent releases and you can be sure I'll be reading more of them.

You can visit the author here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Review: It Happened One Night by Lisa Dale


Lana Biel longs to leave her family’s Vermont wildflower farm so she can travel and see the world. And her sister Karin wants nothing more than to put down roots and conceive the child she and her husband just can’t seem to have. When a lighthearted fling with a mountain biker leaves Lana expecting, she finds herself tumbling headlong into motherhood while her sister Karin can only look on.

For help, Lana turns to Eli Ward, a professional meteorite hunter and her best friend for the last ten years. But Eli’s keeping secrets that could turn their friendship on its head. As the Vermont seasons change and the flowers in the wildflower meadows begin to fade, Lana must make some meaningful decisions about her family, her friendships, her love life, and her dreams.
Back in June I read and reviewed Simple Wishes by Lisa Dale, it was her first book and one of my random picks. Although I found that story a bit unbalanced, I really enjoyed Ms. Dale's writing and thorough character development. At the time I said I would look for Ms. Dale's next release and I'm so glad I did.

In It Happened One Night, I found the beautiful turn of phrase that I liked so much in Lisa Dale's first book, the thorough characterization I enjoyed, interesting and arresting secondary characters that contribute to the story, and a romance worth reading. The balance is there in this book. All these ingredients make for a story that pulled me in as it unfolded and ended with a beautiful, sweet epilogue that ties up all the loose ends.

When we first meet Lana we get the sense we're meeting a free spirited woman trapped in a small town by the love she feels for her only family, her sister Karin. Lana almost seems like an airy, flighty woman whom everyone loves for her positive, cheerful spirit. She loves two people: her sister Karin and her very best friend of ten years, Eli Ward. Lana has been waiting for Karin to start her own family, so she can begin to realize her dreams of traveling.

Karin's insight on Lana (page 32)
Some people thought Lana said kind things because she was angelic. But Karin knew better. Kindness was Lana's way of rearranging reality so it became more bearable. It was always sunny in Lana-land.
Lana's plans are thrown for a loop when she accidentally gets pregnant after a fling with a mountain biker. She doesn't want a child and doesn't feel prepared for motherhood. In the meantime, her sister Karin is trying to start her own family but can't. This makes Karin not only a desperate woman but also an obsessed one. Their estranged father Calvert, a man neither one of them wants to ever see again, shows up in town and all these events place the sisters on a collision course with each other. This is where Dale excels again in characterization by letting us discover these women -- peeling back layers one at a time until we reach the true Lana and the real Karin.

Lana's thoughts about her life (page 35)
And now even as an adult who lived among flowers, she still felt humbled to think that a wild flower could coax the most iridescent purples or fierce magentas from the most inhospitable soils. She wanted her own life to be like that, to grow something worthy from hardship and strife.
But this story would be nothing without Eli. Two days after I finished the book, I'm still thinking about Eli, so his is the character that seems to have impacted me the most. I think it's because of the way he loved so persistently and without reservation.

Eli (page 42)
Sometimes, you hit the jackpot.

And sometimes, you got a woman who was perfectly nice, pretty, and conversational, but who, in the end, was little more than a diversion -- not a fireball that turns night into day, and certainly not the wish of someone's heart, hidden in Kansas farmland, deep underground.
Lana and Eli have been best friends for 10 years. He is a teacher and meteorite hunter for the local museum, so he travels around the country quite a bit. When we first meet him, Eli is coming home from one of his trips after being away for 8 months. While away, he came to the realization that he loves and wants Lana, not as a friend but as a lover. He arrives home to heartbreak, and believe me my heart broke for him. Dale then takes us on a journey as Eli goes from doubts to self-confidence and from despair to elation.

This is a beautiful story of two friends who have been there for each other and on the surface know one another well, but who have allowed their true selves to be buried by fear and self-deception. They are joined by Karin on their journey and struggle to self-awareness and joy. A journey where dreams can still come true.

Dreams (page 99)
"Dreams are tricky things. They ebb and flow. They change as we change, you know? It's not... it's not a matter of right dreams and wrong dreams. I mean, sure, choosing one sacrifices another. But it's not about what you give up. It's about what you get."
The story begins when Lana gets pregnant and ends after she has the child with a beautiful epilogue, so expect some lovemaking while she is pregnant in this book. This didn't bother me at all, as I thought it was very well done. There's a combination of the predictable and unpredictable in the storyline, but enough of a combination to keep it interesting. I truly enjoyed Lana and Eli's romance, it took a while to get there but I thought it was worth the wait. I loved their love scenes and I even bookmarked the page where they kiss. Eli's internal dialogues, where he thinks about Lana and his love for her, were just beautiful.

This is a lovely book by Ms. Dale and I'll be looking for her next release.

You can visit the author here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

M/M Meme

I was tagged by Renee over at Renee's Book Addiction for this M/M meme, created by Kris at Kris ‘n’ Good Books.

This is the first meme I participate in and I think it's fitting that it should be about Manlove, especially after I went down memory lane/road this week. :) So, here are the rules as set by Kris.

Rules:

1) Answer all the questions below in either the comments here or post it on your own site. If you post it on your own site you have to come back and give the link here so I/Kris can mosey on over and see if you answered correctly have a sticky beak.

2) You have to tag two other people once you're done and pester them relentlessly until they do the meme too.

3) Instead of a meme image thing you have to post a cookie, preferably a twofer. It is an m/m meme after all.

Here is my cookie, one romantic twofer. Enjoy.


Questions:

1. How long have you been reading GLBTQ fiction?
About two years.

2. What was the first book you read in this genre?
The Assignment by Evangeline Anderson

3. Are you ‘out’ as a reader?
Yes, I'm out of the closet. ;P

4. Ebooks, print or both?
Mostly ebooks, but I have some of my favorites in print.

5. Do you buy direct from publishers or from secondary sellers?
I prefer to buy directly from the publishers, but will buy from secondary sellers sometimes.

6. Prove you’re a Book Slut. How many books would you say you buy a week?
I’m currently trying to make a dent on my M/M TBR pile. I don't really keep track, some weeks I buy more than others. I'd say average 3-5 M/M books per week, probably more.

7. Are you a cover, blurb or excerpt buyer?
Blurb.

8. Yeah, you read reviews, but do you actually take notice of them?
If I'm going to read the book, I skim the review & go back to read it after I'm finished. I don't like spoilers and like to have a fresh approach when I pick up a book. But yes, sometimes I'll read a review and it will make me pick up a book I would otherwise not have read. It depends on the story and the reviewer.

9. Who’s your fave publisher?
I don't have a favorite publisher, I have favorite authors. Although I love the quality coming out of Blind Eye Books.

10. What about authors? Your top two only!!
This is a tough one to answer. I have more than two because of the different sub-genres I enjoy reading. But, I'll choose Chris Owen for romance and Sean Michael for gay lit.

11. Is there a sub-genre you particularly dis/like?
Yes, M/M historical romance. Can't read it, although I've tried.

12. Short or long?? *rolls eyes* And, no, I’m not talking about cocks.
I'm not particular and enjoy both. In my experience, long, full and fat is quite enjoyable, but a good short one can be just as fulfilling. *g* (Books, of course I'm talking about books!)

13. Anything turn you off about m/m or is all just glorious smut to you?
Yes. None consensual sex scenes that attempt to pass as hot in BDSM, or badly done light BDSM. I do love smut though... it's glorious.

14. Finish this sentence. You know it’s m/m twu wuv when…
...a top who has never bottomed is willing to switch anytime, anywhere.

15. What trope or theme are you heartily sick of in m/m romance?
In romance it has to be insta lurv.

16. If you could choose any 3 characters for a m/m/m who would they be?
Jake (Bareback by Chris Owen)/Rig(Jar Heads by Sean Michael)/René DuBois (Samantha Kane’s Islands)

17. What new GLBTQ release are you most hanging out for right now?
Lord Foster's Devils by Ginn Hale.

18. What GLBTQ book has completely blown you away this year?
Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale.

19. What do you think we’ll see more of in m/m romance in 2010?
Steampunk & Yaoi will continue.

20. Don’t you agree that author Josh Lanyon should kill off arsehole character Jake Riordan?
Nooooo, Jake can't be killed. At least NOT until I start reading and catch up with this series, lol!

I tag for this M/M meme:

Indigene (aka/Cowboy Junkie)
&


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mini-Impressions: Latest M/M Reads #3

I recently re-read the following four M/M books. The Assignment was the first M/M erotica book I read and the one that started the whole M/M "research" obsession on my part. Yes, "research"... *g*.

I read quite a few other books in between this first book, Out of My Mind by M.L. Rhodes andThe Tin Star by J.L. Langley, but I remember these were the books that made a difference to me. These were the books that kept me reading M/M and looking for more. With time, much reading and continued research, my tastes have evolved and changed, and I've discovered many wonderful and favorite authors. However, these books continue to hold a special place and I suspect they always will. After all they were the ones that introduced me to a whole new genre I now love and can't stop reading. :)

The Assignment by Evangeline Anderson
Detective Nicholas Valenti, tall, dark and stoic, has been best friends with his partner, Sean O’Brian for six years. The two men have seen each other through divorce, disaster and danger and saved each other’s asses more times than Valenti can count. Exactly when he started seeing his blond, intense partner in another light, Valenti isn’t really sure. He only knows that he wants O’Brian in a way that had nothing to do with friendship and everything to do with possession. It is a desire he will have to hide forever because O’Brian is undeniably straight.

Just as Valenti is coming to grips with his new, unacceptable feelings for his partner their police Captain puts them on a new case that could blow Valenti’s cover once and for all. He and O’Brian are going undercover at the country’s largest and most infamous gay resort to bust a notorious drug lord and stop the shipments of poison cocaine that are flooding the gay bars all over the city.

Now Valenti will have to make a choice between friendship and desire. He and O’Brian will play the roles of gay men that will push the limits of their relationship to the breaking point. Will their time at the RamJack forge a new bond between them or destroy their partnership forever?
I always think of The Assignment as the ultimate "double gay for you" story. As I was going down memory lane as this was my first M/M book ever, I remember falling in love with O'Brian and thinking these were two HOT cops (I mean WOW, I was blind sighted by M/M!) and wanting to read more about them. At the time, I went ahead and gobbled up the follow up stories, I'll Be Hot for Christmas and Fireworks. :)

As I re-read the book, I remembered that I was frustrated by Valenti's attitude throughout, and that was still the case this time. He was so centered on his own feelings that he was oblivious to O'Brian's. The other thing that hit me was the fact that I didn't buy the fact that O'Brian's feelings came to the forefront during their undercover gig... I always thought his feelings were there waaaayyyy before then and he knew it. It seems to me that's the way it was presented throughout the book. What I found and enjoyed again was the sexual tension in the story and the encounters between Valenti and O'Brian. I enjoyed them during this re-read just as much as I did the first time. :)

Out of My Mind by M. L. Rhodes
For four years Rafferty Jones and Nick Tucker have worked side-by side as police detectives in their small Maine town. But lately, Rafferty’s imagination has been creating fantasies about Nick—more specifically, about Nick and him together—that have shocked Rafferty. Detailed erotic scenarios a thirty-something, set-in-his-ways straight man shouldn’t be imagining. He’s been struggling to keep them secret, afraid that if Nick discovers the truth it will end their friendship. But with each passing day it’s getting harder and harder to pretend Nick is “just” a friend. And harder and harder for Rafferty to come to terms with the possibility he might not be as straight as he’s always believed.

Nick’s always known he’s gay and he’s had deep feelings for Rafferty for years. But after a difficult experience at his former police precinct in Boston, he decided when he moved to Maine to keep his sexual orientation under wraps on the job. He wants to be acknowledged at work for what he can do, not who he’s doing. And with Rafferty being straight, there’s always been a clear-cut line that Nick’s known he can’t cross with his unsuspecting partner and best friend. And yet...for the past few months it’s become difficult to remember that line. He’s not sure why, he just knows that for the first time in four years his heart and his body are urging him to go for what he really wants...Rafferty.

When a stormy weekend trip on Rafferty’s boat gives birth to an unexpected night of passion, will it be the spark they need to forge a new and deeper relationship? Or will Nick’s past and Rafferty’s fear drive a wedge between them that will destroy not only their barely-begun love affair, but their partnership and friendship as well?
Out of My Mind by M.L. Rhodes was the second book that made a difference for me. This is another "gay for you" story that was both frustrating and sexy. When I first read it, I fell in love with both characters. I loved, loved Nick and thought Rafferty was just wonderful. Raff's angst and indecision felt real and raw, and Nick's love felt real and painful. Their love scenes, although few, were great.

I still love that Rhodes didn't make the change easy for Raff, even though I was bleeding with Nick when he was suffering through Raff's indecision about their relationship. And, I still wish Rhodes would write a follow up to this story. I loved Out of My Mind this time just as much as I did the first time.

The Tin Star by J. L. Langley
James Killian learns the hard way that smaller towns are full of bigots. When he comes out to his father he is not only kicked out of his home but off the Quadruple J where he works as the ranch foreman. With nowhere to go and little money, his savior comes in the unlikely form of his older brother’s best friend, the man he’s been in love with for over half his life.

Ethan Whitehall is a successful rancher and a well-respected man in his community. His ranch the Tin Star has been in Ethan’s family for generations and affords him a certain prestige and power in the small town he calls home. Ethan knows without a doubt that all of that could shatter if his sexual orientation were to ever become public. But when he learns his best friend’s younger brother’s banishment and the reasons behind it, Ethan can’t help but get involved. He’s always had a soft spot where Jamie Killian was concerned, and it may very well be his downfall.

The Broken H by J. L. Langley
Sheriff Grayson Hunter hasn’t felt like he belonged for a long time. Once he loved The Broken H, his ancestral home and Shane Cortez with all that he was. Now he tries to stay as far away from the ranch and the man as possible until an accident brings them together.

Shane Cortez has been the Broken H’s foreman for going on twenty years, he’s lived on the ranch for even longer. Because of a rocky past that sent him fleeing his home and seeking refuge on The Broken H, he’s kept himself from the one thing that has always been dear to him…Grayson.

Now Shane has let go of the demons that haunted him for so long. And he wants Gray. They'll have to mend what's broken to make a life together.
I also re-read The Tin Star by J.L. Langley and then just had to go ahead and re-read The Broken H following that. It's been a long, long time since I read these two books. I still feel the same way...

In The Tin Star, I thought the back story about intolerance in the community was the best part of the story and it was well done. Being a newby, at the time I remember loving the fact that I was reading an M/M book that had something important to discuss... it was not just about the sex, lol. Not that I didn't enjoy Ethan and Jamie's scenes, I did -- they are hot. I especially enjoyed Jamie's character and the way he loved. But, I never quite bought Ethan's sudden attraction and love for Jamie. Yes, Jamie was Ethan's best friend's "little brother," but Ethan was never attracted to Jamie until he came out of the closet, and then it was BAM, "OH, there you are... you're hot... I love you"...

There are other questions that were raised in this book that were not answered, and because a book about Jamie's brother John was never written, these issues were left dangling. So yes, plot holes. I always thought that John's actions in The Tin Star were questionable and we never really received good enough reasons for those. I still enjoyed reading it and it was great to re-visit with Ethan and Jamie. I always loved Jamie and never questioned where his love came from, so it was a great nostalgic re-read.

On the other hand, I still think The Broken H is better than the The Tin Star, when it comes to the relationship part of the story. I do believe it's because Gray and Shane knew and loved each other for such a long time and that relationship didn't just pop out of nowhere -- it was established. I thought theirs was a passionate and believable love...

We meet Gray in The Tin Star and quite a few of the characters make an appearance in this book. There is a contrast here between Jamie's coming out of the closet to his father (in The Tin Star) and Gray and Shane's coming out to the parents... an important one, as everyone doesn't have the same experience. I thought this story was better balanced and complete with the erotic romance maintaining the focus, while still bringing in secondary characters into the mix.

So, upon finishing my trip down memory lane, I still enjoyed all of them, but out of the four, my favorites are: Out of My Mind by M.L. Rhodes and The Broken H by J.L. Langley.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mini-Review: A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash


When a girl with no family meets a guy with too much.

For Tori Morgan, family's a blessing the universe hasn't sent her way. Her parents are long gone, her chance of having a baby is slipping away, and the only thing she can call her own is a neglected old house. What she wants more than anything is a place where she belongs, and a big, noisy clan to share her life.

For Nick Santangelo, family's more like a curse. His nonna is a closet kleptomaniac, his mom's a menopausal time bomb and his motherless daughter is headed for serious boy trouble. The last thing Nick needs is another female making demands on his time.

But summer on the Jersey shore can be an enchanted season, when life's hurts are soothed by the ebb and flow of the tides and love can bring together the most unlikely prospects. A hard-headed contractor and a lonely reader of Tarot cards and crystal prisms? All it takes is A Little Light Magic.
A Little Light Magic by Joy Nash is a contemporary romance with a 'hint' of magic, although that part is really quite understated. The hero and heroine are very different people. Tori believes in Tarot cards and magic spells and Nick is as down to earth as you can find them. Yet, this couple had great chemistry -- you will find excellent sexual tension and some really hot moments in this story. Their characters are well developed, their backgrounds explored and the reasons behind their actions and reactions are clear to the reader. I especially enjoyed Nick's conflicts and the way they were complicated by his family.

I loved the way Nash introduced us to and developed the great cast of characters in this book. The Santangelo family members jumped out of the pages, including the brothers and specially Nick's grandmother and his teenage daughter Leigh. The setting is a familiar one for me as this book is set in the Jersey shore -- Atlantic City boardwalk to be exact -- and it was fun revisiting, if not the place, the atmosphere. I could almost taste all that greasy food I enjoyed during my summer visits to the boardwalk.

The heroine did have the "I want a baby NOW" mindset. This theme prevailed throughout the story and that part of it took away some of my overall personal enjoyment of the book. I must confess this is not my favorite device; therefore it's a pretty subjective problem and not a problem with the book itself. Having said that, I hope Ms. Nash writes more books featuring the Santangelo family. Nick's brothers -- Alex, a divorced detective and Johnny, a sexy soap opera actor -- were great characters and I would love to read their story.

I found A Little Light Magic to be an enjoyable contemporary focusing on the romance, and give it a plus for the excellent secondary characters.

You can visit the author here.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Review: Deathwish by Rob Thurman

I read this book back in September and I'm very late posting this review! I just didn't want to let it go by the wayside as I reviewed the other three books in this series. So here it is (better late than never, I say, lol!) Deathwish by Rob Thurman. :)


Half-human Cal Leandros and his brother Niko are hired by the vampire Seamus to find out who has been following him -- until Seamus turns up dead (on un-dead). Worse still is the return of Cal's nightmarish family, the Auphe.

The last time Cal and Niko faced them, they were almost wiped out. Now, the Auphe want revenge. But first, they'll destroy everything Cal holds dear...

Deathwish is the fourth book in the Cal Leandros urban fantasy series. Rob Thurman begins Deathwish exactly where the last book ended. This series has a wonderful continuous feel to it, but as Madhouse ended with a cliffhanger it is understandable that this particular book would pick up with the exact same scene.

One of the first things we notice in Deathwish is the change in point of view. The first four books are seen strictly through Cal's eyes. In Deathwish, Thurman uses both Cal and Nick's points of view alternating every other chapter to tell the story. This change gives this book a richness that was missing from previous installments and in my opinion makes the series finally feel complete.

I reviewed the first three books in this series with Nath at Breezing Through, and in those reviews she and I discussed the characterization in this series in depth -- it is the characterization I think is its strongest draw. However, by the third book in the series, Madhouse, I thought Niko had started to become a bit stagnant as a character. By adding Niko's thought process to the mix, Thurman makes him an even more compelling character and adds a different dimension to this wonderful series.

One of the things we gain by this added point of view is that now we get to experience Niko and Cal's relationship through Niko's eyes for the first time. Through flashbacks, we have answers to questions previously left unanswered. We now know both brothers are important to each other's growth -- Niko could not have been who he is without Cal, just as Cal might have been a different being without Niko. The relationship is a balanced one.

The plot is multi-layered and our wonderful cast of characters have more than a few impossible challenges to battle in this installment. For starters the Auphe are back and this time they don't want to kill Cal, they want to take him with them. The reasons behind this are enough to make Cal go mad... or make him suicidal -- Niko is not about to let that happen. But the Auphe don't just want to take Cal, they're determined to kill everyone he loves first and Niko is their primary target -- Cal is not about to let them that happen either.

While all this is happening, Promise, Niko's vampire girlfriend and business partner, finds them a gig as bodyguards to Seamus. He's a vampire and an old friend who needs protection from an unknown entity who is stalking him for no apparent reason. However, Promise has been keeping secrets and as they are revealed things start to snowball as the danger escalates for all of them. Here we meet Cherish, Promise's daughter, a selfish and self-absorbed young vampire who places everyone in danger and who doesn't seem to care about anyone but herself.

Promise is placed in a precarious position with Niko, and he in turn becomes weary of her as he finds out she has been less than honest in their relationship. I liked that there is growth in Promise and Nick's relationship at this point. They experience adversity and we see from their reactions how both characters grow and change. Niko in particular is not as black and white in his approach by the end and that made me like him more.

The worldbuilding continues to grow and in this book Thurman weaved it seamlessly with the plot and the characterization. In particular, a new entity is introduced that I think will be important in the future, the Vigil. This is an organization comprised of humans who are aware of these "otherworldly" creatures and who have been keeping tabs on them for an unknown period of time and have detailed knowledge of them. They've been acting as a sort of clean-up crew and spin stories in the media when there are killings throughout the city. Their purpose is supposedly to maintain the human race safe, but mainly I see it as keeping humans oblivious to this other world. This organization is powerful and has access to weapons and government facilities. There was a hint that this group could be a danger to Cal and Niko in the future.

The rest of the characters, Robyn, Delilah, Georgina and Ish all either contribute or make appearances in this installment. As always, Robyn's character is a central one, as Delilah, Georgina and Ish continue to be peripheral characters with the potential for further development.

The plot builds to a crescendo as it all comes together and Thurman ties up all the loose ends to this exciting installment. Deathwish was a well rounded book and the best addition to this series so far. It has everything, the plot is well constructed, the characterization continues to be excellent and to grow, as does the worldbuilding. I hope Thurman continues to use Niko's point of view in future installments, as I think this makes a big difference to the series. I graded the other three books and if I were grading this one, I would give it the highest grade.

You can visit the author here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mini-Impressions: Latest M/M Reads #2

Okay more Mini-Impressions! These are four M/M books I really enjoyed and recommend every single one of them. They are different types of books, you'll find an excellent paranormal, a raw gay lit anthology, a contemporary erotic romance and a contemporary romantic western. My favorite in this foursome is Tabula Rasa by Tory Temple, but then I'm admittedly a cowboy junkie. :)

Damn Gorgeous by Jaye Valentine
Spencer Patterson writes "news" reports on paranormal phenomena for The Weekly Harbinger, a national tabloid magazine. He's had a lifelong love affair with all things supernatural, and having failed at serious news reporting, he eventually merged his hobby with his journalism degree and embarked on a tabloid career.

On assignment in the sleepy Massachusetts town of Fall River, home of the infamous Lizzie Borden axe murders, Spencer meets and falls for sexy Virgil Slade, lifelong resident and owner of a nearby bed-and-breakfast. Things are not as they seem. Virgil, with his hot body, sexy dreadlocks and unusual tattoos, harbors a tremendous secret that turns Spencer's world upside down.
Damn Gorgeous by Jaye Valentine is a book I highlighted as a new release I was looking forward to reading in September. It was not a disappointment. I thought Valentine was very creative when putting together this excellent paranormal piece, but then that's not a surprise. The McLeod/Valentine team seems to have the golden touch when it comes to creating edgy, unique, dark characters and situations for the M/M paranormal sub-genre. If you've read their StarCrossed series, then you already know what I mean. I do hope this is the start of a new series, Damn Gorgeous has that feel to it and lots of potential for some great future installments.


Reckless Behavior by Amanda Young
After six months with his lover, Cody yearns for monogamy. The threesomes he and Dante engage in are fun, but he needs more from the man he loves. Although Cody longs to tell Dante how he feels, he fears love and fidelity are two words missing from his older lover’s vocabulary.

The discovery of a naked man in Dante’s apartment confirms Cody’s worst fears. The cliché Dante uses as an excuse for his betrayal further clouds the issue at hand. Cody doesn’t know whether to trust the word of a man notorious for screwing around, or believe the worst and walk away from love he wants more than anything.
I'm sorry it took me so long to read Amanda Young's Reckless Behavior. This book caught my attention when it was released and then it got lost in my M/M TBR pile during the M/M Reading Challenge. I loved both characters and, although short, it was one hot, sexual read. I love that we get both character's points of view, so we know their feelings from the get go. The older man (not so old) / younger man relationship here worked for me, as did their dilemma. Great read.


How the West was Done Anthology
Men on horseback. Men in saloons swilling back shots of whiskey. Men alone on the trail. Men with desires unfulfilled. Men with an unstoppable passion for each other. This isn't just the retelling of how the old west was won, it's...HOW THE WEST WAS DONE!

In these eleven steamy stories, the archetypal image of the cowboy is given a fresh new spin as the virile man who shares his mind, his passion...and his body with other cowboys. Whether it's a story set in the Wild West of the 1800s or an exploration of the modern-day cowboy, each author takes the cowboy fantasy to new erotic heights. Contributing Authors:Gavin Atlas, Adam Carpenter, M. Christian, Curtis C. Comer, Ryan Field, Michael Luongo, Neil S. Plakcy, Cage Thunder, Jeff Wilcox, Kelvin Williams, Zavo
I finally finished reading How the West Was Done, an Anthology I started during the Challenge. I reviewed Gavin Atlas' story, but didn't read the whole anthology at that time. Boy, oh boy! This anthology was one of the dirtiest! rawest! anthologies I've read so far... you want to talk about the smells and tastes of M/M sex? Well... you'll find them here, some of them are dirty and not pretty, and some of them are touching and unique. So, if you want some raw, dirty, cowboy sex read this anthology. I know I love this type of book once in a while and absolutely enjoyed the heck out of it. If you're squeamish... well... you've been warned.


Tabula Rasa by Tory Temple
Rodeo cowboy Teagan has inherited his father's ranch, and it's in a bad way. He needs to work the rodeo circuit hard to make enough money to pay the bills, so he starts looking for a rodeo partner.

Team roper Cash is just the ticket. He's not the friendliest sort, but he has a good seat and a better roping arm, so Teagan takes Cash on, and as they get to know each other, things start to heat up fast.

Maybe too fast. When Teagan finds out he's not the only one Cash has in the saddle, things go bad, and Teagan thinks he and Cash are over for good. When he gets the call that Cash has had an accident, though, he knows he has to go and see if he can make good. He cares too much about Cash to just let it go.

Like any good rodeo ride, Teagan and Cash have ups and downs, crashing and burning as often as they blaze bright. Can they work through all of the deception and stubborn pride to find a love that works as smoothly as their roping?
Tabula Rasa by Tory Temple is a contemporary western erotic romance that just moved up to the top of my list in this category and is already a favorite. This is a story that I definitely recommend if you like M/M cowboy stories. I fell in love with both characters, Cash and Taegan. There's something so touching about this story, yet it's pretty down to earth, as are the flawed characters. It's sweet and hot, touching and raw. Loved it!