Showing posts with label Catherine Spangler. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catherine Spangler. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Featuring SFR: Minis - Shielder Series by Catherine Spangler (Part 2)

Yesterday I began a new series of posts highlighting science fiction romance -- "Featuring SFR"-- with an overview of the Shielder series by Catherine Spangler (click here to read overview). Today, that same feature continues with Part 2. As promised it consists of information, and some quick personal notes on all five individual books.

I can NOT end this post without making a comment about the covers! This is definitely a case of "don't judge the book by its cover."As you can see, they are... well... quite dated and the first four definitely don't reflect the genre or content of the books.  The fifth book does have more of a sci-fi "feel" to it, although it still doesn't reflect content except for the somewhat pink moon. Ummm, but hey they are quite colorful, aren't they? ;P

SHIELDER (Book #1)

Outcast Heart
Unjustly shunned by her people, Nessa dan Ranul knew she was unlovable—but when an opportunity arose for her to save her world, she leaped at the chance, disregarding her own life. Setting out for the farthest reaches of the galaxy, she had one goal: to elude capture and deliver her race from destruction. But then she found herself at the questionable mercy of Chase McKnight, a handsome bounty hunter whose hard-muscled arms both captured and protected. Suddenly, Nessa found that escape was the last thing she wanted. In Chase’s passionate embrace she’d found a nirvana of which she’d never dared dream—with a man she could never dare trust. But as her identity remained a secret and her missions incomplete, each passing a day brought her nearer to oblivion. Nessa knew the truth could save her, but could she risk trusting her heart?
The first book in Spangler's Shielder science fiction romance series, this book is an excellent beginning to one of my favorite, older SFR series. Nessa was brave, vulnerable and relentless in her journey and Chase was sexy, brave and compassionate. I loved their romance and adventure. This book will hook you into reading the rest of the series.

SHADOWER (Book #2)

The Hunter
Sabin had been in every hellhole in the galaxy. In his line of work, hives of scum and villainy were nothing to fear. But Giza’s was different, and the bronze-haired beauty at the bar was something special. Not only could she sweep a man off his feet, she could break his legs an steal his heart. And though Moriah wasn’t what Sabin had come for, she was suddenly all he desired.

His Heart’s Prey
The man was a menace, what with his dark good looks and overwhelming masculinity. Worse, Sabin was a shadower, a bounty hunter, which meant he was only one step removed from the law. He was dangerous to a smuggler like Moriah, to her freedom. Yet he drew her as a moth to a flame, and even as she pledged to stay cool, her senses caught fire. Then, in his arms, Moriah realized that this bounty hunter was different. His touch was gentle, and his kiss sweet. And his love led to a fantastic freedom she’d never known.
The second book in the Shielder SFR series, Shadower is my favorite book. A smuggler, Moriah is one of the strongest heroines and my favorite female protagonist all around. Sabin is both sexy and intriguing, plus he also gets my vote for favorite male protagonist of this series. I loved both the action and the romance in this book.

SHAMARA (Book #3)

In a universe of darkness and depravity, the Shielders battled to stay one step ahead of the vengeful Controllers. Their survival depended upon the quest of one man.

To Live
Jarek san Ranul had found evidence of a wormhole, a vortex to another galaxy; escape from those who sought the destruction of his race was at hand. But when his search produced the most intriguing woman he’d ever met, he found he wanted something more than duty and honor.

To Love
On the run from a mighty warlord, Eirene Kane had to protect her identity. She was an Enhancer, one of a genetic few with a powerful gift. Then her flight hurled her into the arms of Jarek, a man who both stole her heart and uncovered her perilous secret – and though she knew she should flee, Eirene found herself yearning for both the man and the one thing he claimed would free them forever.
I just re-read Shamara in September. I wanted to do this post and needed to refresh my memory. This book is key to the overall storyarc because this where Jarek fights to find a way out for the Shielder race, unfortunately this is also the biggest disappointment of this great series. The problem? Characterization and lack of focus. The overall storyarc seemed to lose focus in this installment and went in circles centering more on the romance and the weakest and most frustrating female protagonist of the series. For me, this was the weakest book of an otherwise excellent (classic) sci-fi romance series.


Celie Cameron spent her youth as a smuggler, skirting the law. But though she's given that up, she misses the adrenaline rush of danger. Then a routine delivery goes haywire, throwing her into the arms of a handsome pilot—an android, or so she thinks—and Celie suddenly finds herself embroiled in a galaxy-spanning intrigue and deception. Rurick is a miracle creation. But though he attracts her as no human ever has, his secrets threaten all Celie has ever believed. She resists his allure...until she learns to trust her heart. Then they will challenge the evil that threatens the Verante quadrant, and love will bring light to the dark expanse of space known as Shadow Crossing.
The fourth book of the series was a definite a winner! And especially pleasing after reading Shamara (3rd Book), which was a disappointment. Celie, Moriah's younger sister and partner in her smuggling business, is another strong heroine, and Rurick was an excellent romantic pairing for her. Their adventures through space were exciting and the inclusion of the human-like android added to the story. Deceipt, fast paced adventure, romance, strong characters and lots of space time. Who can ask for more?


In the relentless heat of the wild Sauran desert, Jenna and Arion wage a battle of wills until they discover that the heart is mightier than any weapon-and that love will forge shadow and fire together.
The fifth book in the Shielder series, this is the FIRST book I read in 2005 and the one that later on (2007/2008) got me to read the rest. This is the most alien book of the whole series as it focuses on a Leor male protagonist -- a reptilian-like race -- and a female Shielder as the romantic central figures. The whole story takes place on the Leor planet. The romance itself is well developed, and I give the author high marks for making me fall in love with a reptilian-like hero. Spangler is quite creative developing this alien world.

After reading the series in order and re-reading this book, I found some inconsistencies in the heroine's personal conflicts, plus the fact that the Controllers become a factor here gives the overall storyline a predictable feel. Having said that, the creativity factor still ranked high when I revisited Spangler's alien world, and I couldn't forget how fresh it felt the first time I read Shadow Fires.

Genre: Science Fiction Romance
Series: Shielder Series
Published: 1998 through 2004/Love Spell
Grade for Series: B+

Visit Catherine Spangler here. Find out more about her SHIELDER series here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Featuring SFR: Overview - Shielder Series by Catherine Spangler (Part 1)

If you visit this blog, you know I love science fiction romance. Every so often I review a book or mention a favorite author, however to date I've not gone out of my way to highlight this genre. It's about time.

A shoutout to Heather from The Galaxy Express, one of my favorite science fiction romance informational blogs. Recently, Heather put together a list of blogs that review science fiction romance books. You KNOW I'll be visiting them! Here's a link to that list in case you're interested.

I'm beginning this feature by highlighting Catherine Spangler's SHIELDER series, a classic science fiction romance favorite. Published by Love Spell beginning in 1998 and ending in 2004, the series is labeled as Futuristic Romance and consists of five titles: Shielder, Shadower, Shamara, Shadow Crosser, and Shadow Fires.

World building: The world building in this series is excellent. Catherine Spangler certainly gets high marks for creativity. The Shielders are a humanoid race who are born with a natural mental shield. The Controllers have taken over most the galaxy by using their mind control abilities and brutal violence against those who oppose them. The Shielders' natural skills makes these two races enemies. The series begins when the Shielders, who have long battled the Controllers for survival, are almost decimated. The Controllers are systematically committing genocide against their race and colonies are being erased from the galaxy by deadly chemical viruses. The series then continues with the battle for survival of the Shielder race by taking the reader through different adventures, planets and ends with Book 4. Shadow Fires, Book 5, is related and involves a Shielder but it's focused on another alien race, the Leors.

Characters: Throughout the series, Spangler doesn't restrict herself to introducing Shielder and Controller  characters. Instead, she mixes it up and the reader gets a wonderful view of the different beings and creatures that inhabit this galaxy that she created. Her male protagonists range from ship captains and doctors, to bounty hunters, leaders and aliens. The female protagonists also have different backgrounds and come from different planets, there is a brave Shielder, two smugglers, an Enhancer and a Seer.

Romance vs. Science Fiction: The romances in these books are central to the stories, more so than in most science fiction romance books today. Spangler combines all the ingredients I love in this genre and balances them quite well: the romance, science fiction details and space adventure in this series. The books are older and so is the style and some of them might feel bit dated. For example: the "absolute kick butt" space heroine is not there yet (although you'll find some of that in the books). The first book was published in 1998 and the last book in 2004, so you must take this into consideration when reading the series.

Issues: Spangler addresses different issues throughout her stories. You'll find a feminist thread as well as others through the whole series: how societies treat those who are different and the consequences of ignorance; male centered societies and how they affect females; the struggle for independence and validation, and of course there's more. She takes all of these issues, places them into a science fiction setting and weaves them into her great adventures.

There's plenty of "rescuing the female protagonist" in this series, yet... you'll find that, with the exception of one, most of the females do plenty of rescuing themselves and two of Spangler's heroines are smugglers -- not exactly the "come rescue me" type.

Conclusion: Most of the books have a great balance between the romance and adventure with excellent science fiction details. For the most part they are fast paced reads and the world building is easy to understand and follow. With the exception of one book, this is an excellent science fiction romance series -- a classic.

This is a two part post -- tomorrow's post will have pertinent information on the individual books: the series in order with covers, summaries and some quick personal notes on each book.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Touched by Light by Catherine Spangler

WARNING: You'll find some spoilers in this long review.

Touched by Light is the third installment in Catherine Spangler's Atlantis based paranormal romance series. I liked the first two books in this series, Touched by Darkness (Book 1) and Touched by Fire (Book 2), they kept me interested enough to continue reading -- both of them were B to B- reads for me.

Spangler introduced us to a world based on an Atlantis that existed millions of years ago and was destroyed by evil Atlantians. The souls of the good Atlantians, or warriors are reincarnating into "Sentinels" and it takes place in contemporary times. The souls of the evil Atlantians or Belians, those who destroyed Atlantis, are also reincarnating and committing terrible crimes. The "Sanctioned" supervise Sentinels and are more powerful, older and not altogether human. Over them, are the "Highly Sanctioned" -- spirits or lights who don't reincarnate, at least not so far. Sentinels track down and capture the souls of the Belians who are actively committing crimes. Once they have the evil/corrupted soul, it's dispatched to Saturn where it is restricted to do penance until purified.

Of course there's a catch, Sentinels cannot sense Belians unless they find a "Conductor." Usually a Conductor is from the opposite sex, and he/she can help the Sentinel find the Belians best by having a "sexual conduction"-- although not necessary, it's the best way. The reason for this? Sentinels are spiritual beings who can only see psychically through the "upper chakras." Belians are earth bound and use the "lower chakras." Conductors allow Sentinels to use those "lower chakras" and that is how they have visions to pin point the Belians. This is where lots of the fun can be found in these books, especially if you like the erotic mixed with the paranormal.

Touched by Light focuses on Julia Reynolds and Adam Masters.We met Julia in Touched by Fire and we know some of her history. We know she was raped twelve years ago and as a result, and by choice, she has become a bitter, lonely woman. Her main focus are her career as a professor at the local University and making sure her sister Marla, who is also a Conductor, is safe and happy. She wants nothing to do with her psychic abilities, Sentinels or visions -- especially if Adam Masters is involved.

In the last book Adam, a Sanctioned, figured out that he and Julia are perfectly matched. Something that is unheard of as the Sanctioned are celibate and don't have mates or perform conductions -- that is something left to the Sentinels. Now, however, Adam needs Julia. One of his Sentinels is missing in San Antonio and there have been violent Belian activities in the area. He suspects that Matt, who lost his wife recently to a Belian attack, has fallen to darkness. The danger is unimaginable and unprecedented, and only someone very powerful can take down a Belian who is siphoning off the powers of a Sentinel.

Talking Julia into helping won't be an easy task for Adam. She just found out her rapist will be released from prison within a few days and memories of the horrible event drive her to loose control. Control has been Julia's long-term companion and loosing it does not a pretty sight make -- especially after too many drinks and a confrontation with Adam. After more than a few tiring confrontations and manipulations by Adam, Julia finally agrees to help and off they go.

I'm afraid I lost patience with Julia early in the book. I understood that because she was raped, she needed to resolve more than a few personal issues. However, in my opinion, Julia had a huge case of the nasties. One minute she was gloaming Adam in her mind and the next minute she was hitting him with her cane -- she limps due to the attack by the rapist. Her back and forth, yes/no, I want him/I hate him, went on and on throughout the whole book (almost to the end) to the point where it just frustrated me. She was supposed to be a strong heroine, yet she allowed herself to be manipulated into almost everything.

Adam manipulated Julia into helping him, he even manipulated her into an engagement-- not because she didn't want to help him or because she didn't have the hots for Adam, but because she would not admit that she wanted both. Julia acted as if she resented Adam's manipulations, yet she would not make the necessary decisions to stop them. She accepted them grudgingly and waited for the last minute when there were seemingly no other alternatives left open to her. One of the most annoying heroines I've encountered in a book in recent times--even with her terrible history, I couldn't make myself sympathize with her.

As a Sanctioned, Adam is super powerful. His responsibilities encompass all the Sentinels and Conductors in Texas. He is like a GPS unit who can feel every one of these people who are under his care. A super alpha, Adam is supposed to be cold, brilliant, ruthless and manipulative. He really wasn't all that overly alpha or cold or ruthless, although he was plenty manipulative -- he at least showed warmth and I liked him for that. He attempted to show Julia some tenderness. I don't think it was his fault that she was unprepared to accept it. Although, the whole idea of Adam being celibate all that time sounded like a really great set up for the book, it doesn't seem to have panned out. Their sexual encounters were okay, but personally I didn't find them all that erotic when compared to the other books.

Spangler's world also suffered in this book in my opinion. During the Touched by Fire, Julia was supposed to have these super-conductor powers and used them effectively. In this book she was less than effective, more like a left zero in that respect. Adam was also less than effective -- his powers just didn't hold or live up to expectations.

As a Sanctioned, Adam is supposed to "feel" and "know" where every single one of his Sentinels is at every single moment-- yet when at different times, Matt surfaced from being possessed by the Belian (some intervals longer than others), Adam attempted to contact him by cell phone. Cell phone? What happened to his internal GPS system? He could tell where Julia was having lunch, but could not pin point Matt when he resurfaced for longer periods of time? Sorry, that just didn't make sense to me.

Another thing that did not make sense? The Sanctioned are supposed to be celibate and not/never paired with a Conductor. Throughout Touched by Light, we are told over and over again how rare this pairing between Adam and Julia is in their world. Yet, the reasoning behind it is never explained. There are no consequences for Adam either... I mean, I kept expecting for something to happen to Adam because of this pairing, or for there to be some sort of meaning behind it-- but nope, nothing.

There are a couple of secondary characters in this book that were well developed and worth a mention. I'm concentrating on Miriam, Julia's student. She turns out to be a psychic and a legitimate Gypsy. For me, Miriam was one of the most interesting characters in this book. Not only because her background and her abilities are totally different from those exhibited so far by the women in these stories, but she was a breath of fresh air compared to Julia. Her psychic abilities were strong and I found myself wanting to learn more about her. I loved her personality and her relationship with her father. Her background is a bit of a mystery and it just made me want to know more. This is her second appearance in the series and her development in this book was excellent.

As you can see, Touched by Light is definitely not my favorite book in this series. This was a tough review for me, especially since the book is by a favorite writer. I give this one a C-

You can visit the author here. You can read an excerpt for Touched by Light here.

Originally posted at Musings of a Bibliophile June 23, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hilcia's Weekly Reads

I'm a happy camper this week. Yes, I'm reading again! Not as much as I would like to, but hey... I know I'm greedy when it comes to books. Some of the reads I had on my list were pushed back due to new releases I just HAD to read right away or other reads that came along. I do that a lot, but I'll get back to them this coming week. You wouldn't think with my list of books I would start my week by re-reading, right? But that's exactly what I did. *g*

I started by skimming the historical romance Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale and couldn't help myself -- had to continue reading. Did I enjoy it? You bet. Talk about an angst-riddled plot with great characters that you love or just love to hate! The story of Christian, a brilliant Duke who after suffering a stroke is unable to communicate verbally -- his hateful family ships him off to an asylum where he meets Maddy, a Quaker and daughter of a mathematician whom he knew before the stroke, and our tale really begins.

I thought Kinsale did an amazing job of keeping her characters true to themselves and to that period in time. I loved everything about the story, even the hero's hated family members. I liked the way Kinsale gave the heroine enough character that even after falling in love, betraying her religious beliefs was a conflict for her. I thought it made their coming together tougher but sweeter in the end. And Christian? He deserved his fortune, his Maddygirl and anything else he wanted. This re-read was worth it for me.

Continued my week by reading Dial Emmy for Murder by Eileen Davidson, a soap opera mystery. I reviewed this book here, so I won't repeat my impressions of it, except to say that I'm glad I read it this week as it was a fun, light read. I really needed it and it provided a wonderful break from the other books on my list.

Ashes of Midnight by Lara Adrian was released and I wanted to read it immediately. I loved Veil of Midnight and I was very curious about Reichen's character. Adrian's paranormal series follows the Breed vampires and their Breedmates. At this point in the series, the Order -- a small group of warrior vampires -- is fighting more than just the bloodthirsty Rogue vampires. Dragos, an evil vampire, has resurrected one of the Ancients and is creating
a new breed of super strong Gen One vampires. In this book, Adrian focuses on Andres Reichen and Claire as the main romantic couple, plus the ongoing fight against Dragos continues.

I was quite disappointed with Ashes of Midnight as a whole. I found the romance to be nice, but quite predictable. Although I liked Andres Reichen's character and understood him and his motivations, I didn't connect with the Claire, the heroine. I found her character to be contradictory. I also had a few questions about the world building. I truly couldn't understand why Claire had no clue as to her husband's, Roth, true nature. Shouldn't she be able to feel his reactions through their blood bond? How could she not have at least an idea of who this man was?

A few unanswered questions that bothered me... Definitely a case of not connecting with the heroine and finding plot holes in the world building. Not my favorite book in the series, but as I said before, this series has not been a consistent one for me.

Finished the week the way I started it, by reading a historical romance about a hero with a disability, this time it was The Madness of Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley. I'm just going to give you my impressions today.

I had a problem with this book before I read it. I became curious as soon as I heard about it a while back. See, I wasn't sure the premise would work. I was told it involved a hero with Asperger Syndrome and my immediate question was, how is Ashley going to make someone who can't empathize with others (in this case the heroine) a hero in a "romance" novel? Hmmm....

Well my friends, what can I say? By the time I finished the book, I could have cared less about the premise. I just wanted Ian and his Beth to get their happy ending. I became wrapped up in the "romance"-- the romance I thought I wasn't going to buy--bought it hook, line and sinker. Were there contradictions? There would have been if the name of the disease was mentioned in the book, but it wasn't -- Ashley does use the symptoms -- and frankly it became a mute question for me. I enjoyed the book for what it is, a beautiful romance with a gorgeous hero and his wonderful woman.

There were a few moments of frustration for me while reading the mystery and with the hateful Detective Fellows. The man is not the most likable of characters, but then I don't think he was meant to be. Loved the Mackenzie brothers -- yes, even Hart -- and I'll be right there waiting to read their happily ever afters.

I read two books for the M/M Romance Reading Challenge. I better hurry I only have a couple of months to finish my list. I'll be reviewing those next week, so I'll leave my comments for later.

What am I reading? I have three books going at the moment. Continuing with Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready, although it has been placed on hold for a few days.

Started Touched by Light by Catherine Spangler, third on her Atlantis mythology based paranormal series. I read the first two, Touched by Fire and Touched by Darkness and liked them both. I became a Catherine Spangler fan by reading her Sci-Fi/Romance "Shielder" series, one of my favorites to date. You know this one will be devoured.

And the third book I started is Perdido Street Station by China Miéville, a Fantasy book that has been gracing my TBR pile for a while and one I've really been looking forward to reading. I have The City and The City, Mieville's latest release, but really want to read Perdido first.

That's it for me, a very productive reading week. How was yours? Any good ones?

Originally posted at Musings on June 6, 2009