Showing posts with label Paranormal Romance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paranormal Romance. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Minis: Ilona Andrews, Gordon Andrews, Meljean Brook

Magic Dreams (Kate Daniels Series - Hexed Anthology) by Ilona Andrews

Jim and Dali's story... I've been waiting for this one. Tigress Dali, hear her roarrrrr.... lol! She was the best character in this short story... smart, sassy and determined to save the man she wants but thinks she can't have. Geeky Dali with her thick glasses and supposed lack of skills doesn't think she's beautiful enough to get a strong, hunky alpha beast like Jim. She doesn't know that he's half-way in the bag already before this adventure gets going.

This wonderful novella by Ilona Andrews features these two characters and weaves in some fascinating myths in the process. The action is just what you would expect of a Kate Daniels installment, exciting, full of dread and fun at the same time. The villain in this one is a disgusting spider woman and I loved her demise. The dialogue between Jim and Dali was snappy and sarcastic, and that combined with the action made this story a fast-paced read. Although Jim's character playing the "damsel in distress" didn't quite fit my view of him from the other books, Dali's rescue of him was worth it. The romance itself is on the mild side of the scale and I wish Jim's side of the equation had been portrayed with a bit more passion, but I did love the way it ended.

Overall Dali made this story for me and I really enjoyed it. I can't wait to read more about these two, even if it is between the lines, in future Kate Daniels installments. (Urban Fantasy) Grade B+


Fathers and Sons: Companion to Magic Series (Curran POV Vol II) by Gordon Andrews

Well, I really enjoyed this short story where events that took place after Magic Bleeds and before Magic Slays are narrated by Curran. We all know that His Fussiness the Beast Lord was furious when he found out that the Pack challenged Kate while he was down for the count for a few weeks. He demands an explanation from his Alphas but is not quite satisfied. He is especially furious with Mahon, the Bear who became a father figure to him, for allowing it all to happen. Curran is going to teach them all a lesson they'll never forget.

This was such a wonderful story. It's free at the Ilona Andrews' website for those interested in reading it. I thought this novella was better than Vol I and loved the interaction between Kate and Curran, as well as Curran's viewpoint of his relationship with Mahon and his love for Kate. It was quite emotional at one point and I thought it a perfect little story to read for father's day. That's when I read it. :D  (Urban Fantasy) Grade: B


Paradise (Wild Thing Anthology) by Meljean Brook

Okay, so Paradise is a re-read for me. I first read this whole anthology when it released back in May, 2007. However at that time I was not following the Guardian series and didn't relate this story to anything and let it stand on its own. As a stand-alone I remember that, along with Marjorie M. Liu's short story Hunter Kiss where she introduced her urban fantasy series, this was a favorite story. Once I began reading the Guardian series, however, I wanted to re-read it, except... I had given away the book! Well, I just recently got it back through Mariana and re-read it immediately.

Selah is a favorite Guardian character and I remember that I loved Lucas, a nosferatu-made vampire that falls in love with her while they're trying to save his Oregon-based vampire community from a demon. Lucas is an emo vampire and Selah is a no-nonsense Guardian who believes in doing what she has to do while on the job. Poor Lucas didn't have a chance once he met Selah. I totally enjoyed the fact that he fell in lust with her shoes! Ah... yeah. As part of the series, I would say that this is a good solid addition as it gives an in-depth look into Selah's character, while giving the reader a peek at some events that occur in between novels. I fell in love with Lucas and Selah all over again. (Paranormal Romance) Grade: B

Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: Never Cry Wolf (Night Watch #4) by Cynthia Eden

Lucas Simone is not the kind of guy you mess with. He's big, he's strong, and his eyes hint at a wilder side most women can't handle. Of course, that's because his predatory instincts are no metaphor-he's a genuine Grade-A top-quality werewolf, tough enough to fight his way to dominance over the scariest pack on the West Coast. There's only one chink in his armor. Unlike most alpha dogs, Lucas has a reputation for protecting the weak and innocent.

Sarah King is counting on that protective impulse-it's the only thing standing between her and certain death. There are only two problems: one, she's not quite as innocent as she'd like Lucas to believe. And two, if he doesn't stop stoking Sarah's animal lust, it's only a matter of time before her own wild side gets unleashed...
Never Cry Wolf is the fourth book in the Nightwatch Series by Cynthia Eden, but stands on its own quite well. I've not read the other books on this series and had no problems following the story.

Sarah King is on the run and she's counting on Lucas Simone to protect her. Sarah is a charmer whose gift allows her to read wolves's thoughts when they're in animal form, and Lucas is the big tough Alpha of the West Coast pack. She can be an asset to him and figures if anyone can save her from her ex-boyfriend Ralph, it is Lucas .

Lucas can't resist the beauty even though he knows she's not trustworthy and offers her the protection of his pack. Sarah does give him valuable information about a planned coup to take over his territory. According to Sarah, the coyotes are about to break their pact with Lucas and Ralph is at the heart of it all, and the circumstances prove her right. But Sarah is full of secrets and lies. Can he trust her, even though he can't resist her charms?

This was a fun paranormal romance, full of shifters, action and hot, sexy moments. Lucas is the typical alpha's Alpha, with the overprotective instincts and macho attitude. Of course when he falls, he falls hard and that makes it worth it. I always love it when an alpha falls hard for a girl. Sarah is sexy, smart, and she also falls for Luke, but she's a liar and it takes most of the story to redeem her character.

In the meantime, there's lots of action, both in and out of the bedroom. They must prepare for an upcoming war, but that doesn't stop Lucas from claiming Sarah as often as he can, or Sarah from giving in as easy as pie, even though she previously experienced abusive sex with a shifter. But hey, this is Lucas and he's hot!

There are two distinct sections to the story. The first is the shifter section with the set up for the romance where Sarah and Lucas begin the bonding process and both the pack and the upcoming danger are presented to the reader. However, that takes them to the second section of the story. Lucas' life is in danger after he is shot with a silver bullet and he's rushed to a voodoo priestess in the hopes that she'll save his life. This is where the story itself shifts when Eden introduces a different atmosphere by expanding the setting and adds urgency to the situation. I enjoyed this section of the story much more than the first. The action is non-stop, the twists and turns are fun to follow as new characters are introduced, and they all ran around trying to figure out how to save their own lives and that of the pack from the villain.

Never Cry Wolf is a mixed bag -- a pretty standard shifter paranormal romance in that first half of the book, an exciting suspense, action-filled story with new, interesting characters on the second half, and Sarah being the mystery that needs to be solved throughout the whole story. Overall, although the beginning of the book felt like a traditional paranormal romance and my interest wavered a bit, I ended up getting caught up in the story and read it in one sitting. Now I'm curious about the rest of the characters. I hope Ms. Eden will write Josette and Piers' story. And what about Caleb, will he be redeemed? I hope so.

Category: Paranormal Romance
Series: Night Watch
Publisher/Release Date: Brava/July 1, 2011
Source: Kensington Publishing
Grade: B-

Visit Cynthia Eden here.

Eternal Hunter, Book 1
I'll be Slaying You, Book 2
Eternal Flame, Book 3
Never Cry Wolf, Book 4

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Minis: Somebody Wonderful by Kate Rothwell and Under Her Skin Anthology

Somebody Wonderful by Kate Rothwell

Well... this was such a fun book! It was a different historical romance read, not only because the setting and time period felt fresh to me, but because the characters also felt rather unique in their own way.

While visiting New York City, Timona Calverson is kidnapped and taken to a brothel. After a daring and rather improbable escape, she is rescued by Irish cop and recent immigrant Mick McCann. Mick takes Timona to his small tenement apartment and although he thinks she's a prostitute and doesn't believe her story, kindly nurses her back to health. Timona, however, is from a prominent and eccentric family and known the world over for her wild escapades and extensive travels.

I love that Somebody Wonderful is set for the most part in the late 19th Century New York City slums, and that it's both a romance and an adventure. What type of adventure? Well, I absolute agree with the book summary which states that, "Timona's adventures formed the blueprint for the Perils of Pauline." The central characters certainly made this an entertaining read, and the secondary played their roles quite well. As far as the romance goes, I really enjoyed Timona's "slyness" and determination, especially when it came down to making Mick her man, as well as Mick's initial prudish attitudes toward women and almost too perfect personality. However, the fact that Mick and Timona communicated, minimizing misunderstandings between them, was a big plus. Somebody Wonderful is a romance that left me with smile. Grade B+

Under Her Skin with Jeaniene Frost, Meljean Brook and Ilona Andrews

This was a good paranormal romance anthology with three good stories by favorite authors. All three of these stories were previously published in the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, which I've not read. However, I'd already read Meljean Brook's story "In Sheep's Clothing," so in reality I only read two out of the three stories in this anthology.

Jeanine Frost's "Pack" is a short story about a hiker who gets lost in the woods and is attacked by wolves, bitten, and turned into a werewolf against her will. Although the premise for this story is not quite unique, I found Frost's werewolf "pack" quite interesting. Most of all I liked the fact that the woman in this story didn't accept her situation readily. The length of the story didn't affect its impact and the story feels complete. Grade B

"Grace of Small Magics" by Ilona Andrews is another short story with a familiar premise. This one is about a woman who must repay a family blood debt to another magical clan by providing a service. I like the world building in this short story and would love to read more in this setting. Andrews uses tension, fear and action to showcase the characters. I particularly enjoy when Grace realizes she has more to offer than her paltry small magics. The weaknesses in this story are the romance, which is underdeveloped, and the lack of details within the story, probably due to its length. In this case, a longer version would have been a plus. Grade B-

Saturday, May 21, 2011

ARC Review: Kiss of Snow (Psy/Changeling, Book 10) by Nalini Singh

Kiss of Snow is one of my most anticipated books of 2011! I would like to thank KMont for indulging me and my love of this series by forward her ARC, just so that I could devour this book early. As you'll see below, I loved it!

ARC review with no spoilers

Since the moment of her defection from the PsyNet and into the SnowDancer wolf pack, Sienna Lauren has had one weakness. Hawke. Alpha and dangerous, he compels her to madness.

Hawke is used to walking alone, having lost the woman who would've been his mate long ago. But Sienna fascinates the primal heart of him, even as he tells himself she is far too young to handle the wild fury of the wolf.

Then Sienna changes the rules and suddenly, there is no more distance, only the most intimate of battles between two people who were never meant to meet. Yet as they strip away each other's secrets in a storm of raw emotion, they must also ready themselves for a far more vicious fight…

A deadly enemy is out to destroy SnowDancer, striking at everything they hold dear, but it is Sienna's darkest secret that may yet savage the pack that is her home…and the alpha who is its heartbeat…
Ohhh, Hawke and Sienna! What can I say about their story? For me, it was most definitely worth the wait. Hawke is as delicious an alpha as I expected him to be and Sienna turns out to be a great match for him. I loved this pairing much more than I expected to, but perhaps I should have known better by now. After all, this is Nalini Singh and she knows how to write an excellent paranormal romance. In Kiss of Snow you'll find tension, lots and lots of sexual tension, plus the romance and more than a few of those hot, sizzling moments that Singh is known for.

We all know by now that Hawke has been trying to avoid Sienna like the plague for years. Hawke thinks he's too old for her, and well... he kind of is! Sienna makes him feel things he doesn't want to feel, and since his mate died at a young age, Hawke believes he can't bond with Sienna. Sienna on the other hand has been fascinated and emotionally affected by Hawke from the moment she joined the SnowDancer pack with her family. These two have been pushing each other's buttons for years, but now that Sienna is 19 years old and back at SnowDancer full time the tension between them is off the charts. Hawke decides to find a female to soothe his wolf, and Sienna decides it is time to get her man.

This is a May-December relationship and the story must be well crafted to make the connection between the characters believable. In Kiss of Snow, Singh uses a fine touch while further developing Sienna's character and her relationship with Hawke. Sienna's character growth can be measured from beginning to end by her actions and reactions, as well as in Hawke's reactions to Sienna.

Sienna is a 19 year old young woman, and toward the beginning of the story that shows both in her uncertainty and actions, but from a young age she also suffered torture at the hands of the Psy and in many ways is older than her years. This aspect of Sienna's character is believable and that for me turned out to be key in making this relationship believable. I love the way that Sienna just blooms once she decides to take control and goes after her man. This is where her incremental growth and self-confidence can be measured as the courtship progresses. It's lovely and very well done.

Sienna is both vulnerable and strong, but Hawke is a delicious alpha and acts accordingly. He's stubborn, possessive, protective, bossy and more... but as always what makes him and his alpha attitude acceptable in this situation is the fact that Sienna calls him out on it and, young or not, takes a stand. I love that Hawke doesn't necessarily back off either, but instead modifies his approach. Smart wolf!

There's a secondary romance between Walker Lauren and Lara, the SnowDancer healer. I loved this romance! Walker was ohhhh so tender and unexpectedly hot! Go, Walker! The segments that told their story did not take the focus away from the main couple's romance, but instead served to break up some of the tension at key moments, plus it was wonderful to get to know this quiet character.

And yes... I loved all the action within the overall story arc. The overall story line moved along, and although in the end it seemed almost like a slow move, many small details are revealed along the way that make an impact. In Play of Passion we saw the Psy Council split, with Anthony and Nikita teaming up to protect their territory against the Scots. In Kiss of Snow, the story arc continues as we see Henry and the Pure Psy make their move against the San Francisco territory and more specifically, SnowDancer. Sienna's powers are revealed in all their agony and glory in these segments which are quite cleverly weaved into the romance.

The whole pack is involved in the action and characters from previous stories are highlighted with key contributions. I particularly loved Judd in this story as he continues to grow in depth and breath as a character. The cats from the DarkRiver pack also play key roles in the romance and battle. There's a lovely thread involving the kitties that I won't spoil, but look for it! It is lovely.

I enjoyed the last few books of this series and remember loving Play of Passion. However for me, Kiss of Snow ranks up there with my very favorites of this series Slave to Sensation, Caressed by Ice and Branded by Fire. I love the way Singh extends the courtship between Hawke and Sienna throughout the story to make it a believable one, the sexual tension is off the charts and the payoff is worth it! The Psy/Changeling series is ten books long and for me it's still going strong. I'm still in love with the Psy and the Changeling characters in this series and can't wait to read that next book.

Category: Paranormal Romance
Series: Psy/Changeling, Book 10
Publisher/Release Date: Berkley, May 31, 2011
Source: ARC received from KMont Lurv a la Mode
Grade: A

Visit Nalini Singh here.

My Psy/Changeling series reviews:
Mine to Possess, Book 4
Branded by Fire, Book 6
Bonds of Justice, Book 8

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Impressions: Dragon Bound (Elder Race, #1) by Thea Harrison

Half-human and half-wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful–and passionate—of the Elder Races.

As the most feared and respected of the wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they’ve ignited in one another.
So yes, I picked up Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison and had tons of fun reading it last week. Fun! This was a fun, solid paranormal read. I loved the overly alpha dragon and the banter, plus it was hot and sexy.

In the beginning I didn't think the world building was anything to write home about, what with the Fae and Goblins, the older than old, bored-to-death dragon, the half-breed Wyr young woman who captures his attention, and the whole New York setting that reminded me a bit of Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter's world for about a second. However, quickly enough I began to really enjoy this world Thea Harrison created with its different Elder races, magic, humans and all the struggles that go along with those tricky relationships.

The best part of this fast-paced story for me was the dialogue between the two characters. The banter that developed between Dragos and Pia was excellent. Dragos was such a beast! He was portrayed as an over-the-top, uber alpha dragon who just didn't know how to filter what came out of his mouth. Pia was no better. She called it the "lunatic in her," and it made for some great dialogue between these two.
"Pia." He spoke like the words were ripped out of him. "Don't you dare leave me. I swear to God, I will follow you into hell if I have to and drag you back by the hair."

One corner of her mouth lifted. She put her hand over his on her cheek. She said, "You say the most god-awful things."
And he did. He really did say the most awful things throughout the book! As old as he was, the beast never learned the meaning of the words finesse or romance, and Dragos was "born along with the solar system" -- that's old. Twenty five year old Pia, whom Dragos refers to as "a baby, nothing but a moment, a heartbeat," teaches him a thing or two along the way. Talk about a May-December romance!

Dragon Bound turned out to be a great read for me with a few niggles here and there. There were a couple of open-ended threads and unexplained events within the story line, as well as one big thread to do with Pia's shifting that just kind of fizzled at the end. And although Pia held her own against Dragos, I thought she tended to be more submissive than strong. But none of these niggles were enough to spoil the fun for me. I also really enjoyed the secondary characters in this book, particularly Rune, Graydon and Tricks, so you know I'll definitely read the second book in the series, Storm's Heart.

Category: Paranormal Romance
Series: Elder Race, #1
Publisher/Released: Berkley/Penguin, May 3, 2011- Kindle Edition
Grade: B+

Visit Thea Harrison here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

... On my current read: The Demon's Librarian by Lilith Saintcrow

I'm currently reading Lilith Saintcrow's The Demon's Librarian. I've had this book in my TBB list since 2009 and became interested in reading it again after reading her novella in the Dark and Stormy Knights anthology last year. Oh well... I do get to the books on my lists sooner or later.

Anyway, I couldn't help but come back here to share a couple of snippets with you all. Chess, the Jericho City Public Library's head librarian, had me in stitches throughout the beginning of the book with her personal ruminations about her joys and frustrations.

With libraries closing left and right around the country at this very moment, this first quote (from a book published in 2009) is the first one that caught my eye:
While the good citizens of Jericho City would pay
thousands yearly for plastic surgery and to pad the pockets of
the mayor's friends, they simply would not vote a couple of
measly bucks onto their property taxes to take care of her
library. Lovely. Remind me to spit in a city councilman's
coffee cup the first chance I get.
Page 4
And after killing the demon, this one made me laugh because yeah... it just sounds so easy in the books, but imagine how tough it would be in reality. Plus, that last line! The bold lettering is from me:
She coughed and gagged again, trying not to lose
everything she'd ever thought of eating in the last week. The
books always make this stuff sound so goddamn easy. They
don't mention the smell. Or the way getting hit in the face
with a tentacle as big around as your thigh hurts.
Her eye
was puffing closed, she could feel it throbbing and swelling to
almost the size of a baseball.


Chess swallowed dryly, pleading with her stomach to stay
down. The smell of garbage coated the back of her throat,
and she probably had gotten some of the slimy water in her
mouth. I don't think it's good for my image to blow chunks all
over a ... what's this thing called again? Either a skornac or
just plain Demon-With-Many-Arms. Particularly allergic to a
fire-consecrated demon-hunter's knife. One more case where
an ounce of research is worth a pound of "oh fuck."
Page 5
Later Chess has to deal with Mrs. Pembroke, an older lady who seems to think almost everything in the library contains "smut" and should be removed from the shelves. Here "the Indignant" comes in to demand that "Huckleberry Finn" be removed from the library's Young Adult section:
"Won't you sit down, Mrs. Pembroke?" Chess inquired
sweetly. "It's so good to see you. May I offer you a cup of
tea?" Or a face-to-face with a tentacled demon in the sewers?
I think that would be just up your alley, Pem.

Pembroke clutched her small purse to her solar plexus as if
strangling a small pet dog against her cardigan. "No ... no
tea." She sounded shocked. Relations between Chess and the
Indignant had been icily polite ever since the great Barbara
Cartland fiasco, with no détente in sight.

After dealing with an octopus-looking demon, Pembroke
the Indignant didn't rattle Chess nearly as much. Page 14
I've always been envious of librarians... working with all those books on a daily basis. *sigh* Of course, Chess is not your everyday librarian since she's out fighting demons, but I'm enjoying this aspect of her character.

Friday, April 1, 2011

March 2011 Reads & Minis

April already! Nature is playing a joke on us on the eastern US... it's supposed to be Spring, but instead we had rain mixed with snow on the first day of the month. Can you believe it? No Spring for us yet.

March might have been cold, but my reading and blogging picked up and I'm quite happy about that. The reading month was not as spectacular as February, but then those months don't come along too often. However, it was a good solid month for me when it comes to quality.

Unfortunately I did have one DNF, and that was the book I chose to read for my 2011 The Women of Fantasy Book Club, Prospero Lost by L. Jagi Lamplighter. I won't review it, but I'll just say that neither the story nor the characters engaged me long enough for me to want to read the whole book. I hope my next choice is a better fit for me.

Here's my March 2011 recap:

Total Read: 11
Contemporary Romance: 4 (includes Erotica:1 & Contemporary w/Paranormal Elements: 1)
Historical Romance: 2
Fantasy: 3 (includes LGBT fantasy: 1)
Urban Fantasy: 1
Sci-Fiction: 1

A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear is a gorgeous fantasy story and easily my favorite book of the month. There were so many aspects that I loved about it -- first and foremost the writing and then of course there's the interesting plot and characters that populate this absorbing tale. This is an interesting study of bonding between man and animal, social structure within a group, and man's outward civility vs. his raw basic side. I also found some very interesting threads on the female role in a book that is full of male central characters. (Upcoming Review) Grade: B+

Chimera (Book 1) by Rob Thurman was the second book I read by this author this month and another highly enjoyable read. This one is a science fiction thriller that took me for a ride on a road trip with two brothers. The story included good science fiction details in a contemporary setting. It was full of danger, angst and brotherly love. I cannot wait to read the next book, Basilisk, which is told from Michael's point of view. Grade B+

Blackout, Book 6 in the Cal Leandros Novel by Rob Thurman was initially a disappointment that turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me. I enjoyed this urban fantasy installment and the way it focused more on characterization than on action. It felt different and it worked. I can't wait to read the next book to see where Cal and Niko go from here. Grade B+

My Lord Scandal: Notorious Bachelors by Emma Wildes: B
Upcoming Review

The Bargain by Mary Jo Putney: C+
Upcoming Review

The Shattered Gates (The Rifter, Book 1) by Ginn Hale was a solid beginning to her 10 episode serialized fantasy series. I was engrossed with the world building and intrigued enough by her characterization that I can't wait for the next episode to come out in April. Let's see how that develops. It's a different way to read a book, isn't it? Grade B

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman is the basis for the film with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman (1998). I really enjoy that film whenever it pops up and was curious about the book, so I picked it up. Well, it turns out that the book is different but... better in many ways.

First I'll say that Alice Hoffman's writing is definitely a plus -- not flowery or abundant in details that bog the story down, but lyrical enough to catch certain moments and situations beautifully. The characterization is excellent and in-depth. The story is really about three generations of Owens women and how they deal with their special "magic" throughout their lives. Magic is lighter in the book than it is in the film and the interaction between the sisters, aunts and young daughters, plus the romances are actually better! I loved that Sally's young daughters, who are teenagers, feature largely in the story and give the book a touch of YA without making this a young adult read. The story had a couple of slow moments throughout, but I still read it in two sittings. Grade: B

The Last Goodbye is Sarah Mayberry's latest category romance release. Although this is not my favorite book by Mayberry, she again delivered a complete story and compelling characters. I particularly enjoyed the depth of character found in Tyler and the way his issues were resolved. The romance worked for me, although I thought that Ally's character needed a bit more depth for a better understanding of her actions at the end. Grade B-

Saddled and Spurred is the second book in Lorelei James' Blacktop Cowboys series. I always enjoy James' writing and her erotica details in a book are quite hot! This story focuses on the two main protagonists and doesn't include a threesome, as some of her other works do, however it is still quite steamy. Having said that, I'm not quite enjoying this series as much as I have enjoyed her Rough Riders series in the past. Let's see what the next installment brings since I'll definitely read it. Grade B-

Here Comes the Groom is the first book I've read by Karina Bliss, and although it was not at the top of my list, it won't be the last book I'll read by this author. The story itself was enjoyable with a friends-to-lovers trope and some highly amusing moments in the midst of some pretty serious issues. I enjoyed the combination of all of these, plus the characterization. Unfortunately the transition from friends to lovers didn't quite work for me. Grade C

Of Wine and Roses was a free read at Ilona Andrews' website for a while and it's now going for about 0.99 cents, so it's worth reading! Andrews' is one of my favorite writing teams, so why not? I enjoyed this short fantasy story and although the story was amusing and cute, I found the world building to be average and as a result did not find it engrossing. Grade C


Well that's it for March! It didn't turn out to be such a bad reading month at all... plus, I noticed that there's progress this month and I reviewed more of my current reads, so I'm getting back on the blogging horse. My favorite book was A Companion To Wolves. What about you? What book did it for you this month?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Minis: Garcia Marquez, Kresley Cole, Rick Riordan

Today, I have three of my ini-mini, short first impressions for you. These are books that I've read, or attempted to read, but didn't share with you at the time.

In a Latin American port city during colonial times, a young girl named Sierva Maria de Todos los Angeles the only child of the ineffectual Marquis de Casalduero is bitten by a rabid dog. Her father, who has shown no interest in the child, begins a crusade to save her life, eventually committing her to the Convent of Santa Clara when the bishop persuades him that his daughter is possessed by demons. In fact, Sierva Maria has shown no signs of being infected by rabies or by demons; she is simply being punished for being different. Having been raised by the family's slaves, she knows their languages and wears their Santeria necklaces; she is perceived by the effete European Americans around her as "not of this world." Only the priest who has reluctantly accepted the job as her exorcist believes she is neither sick nor possessed but terrified after being inexplicably "interred alive" among the superstitious nuns.
A couple of months back I picked up Del Amor y Otros Demonios by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Of Love and Other Demons) again, Marquez' last work of fiction written in 1996. I've attempted reading this short work twice before and haven't been able to get past the 30th page. This has nothing to do with the quality of the writing, instead I'm affected negatively by the content because of personal baggage. This time I got as far as half-way through the book before going to bed and had nightmares. I didn't have the heart to pick it up again the next day. Maybe later on I'll see if I can finish it, get rid of that baggage, just give it a push, have one more nightmare and see how it all ends. LOL!


Malkom Slaine: tormented by his sordid past and racked by vampiric hungers, he’s pushed to the brink by the green-eyed beauty under his guard.

Carrow Graie: hiding her own sorrows, she lives only for the next party or prank. Until she meets a tortured warrior worth saving.

In order for Malkom and Carrow to survive, he must unleash both the demon and vampire inside him. When Malkom becomes the nightmare his own people feared, will he lose the woman he craves body and soul?
Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole was an interesting mix for me. I loved the hero, Malkom, in that book. He was just so darn sweet! I don't even know how to say it, but he's hot and sweet at the same time. There he was, a Vemon and considered an abomination (even in his own mind), and after all that time alone considering himself a monster, Malkom's heart and goodness were pretty much intact. I hurt for him and for a while I couldn't stand the heroine -- Carrow -- because she knowingly used him and was going to hurt him. He didn't deserve it. Malkom's character made this story enjoyable for me. The plot was interesting and it did move the overall storyarc forward slightly, so I'll definitely read Regin and Aidan/Chase's story, Dreams of a Dark Warrior. I can't wait to read how Cole redeems Aidan. :)


Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.
One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.
Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe - a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan is another book I read a while back. A buddy review with Nath is on the works for Breezing Through. This is definitely a fast paced adventure and quite exciting. A story about a brother and sister of mixed ethnic background who lose their father and suddenly find themselves in the center of a battle between worlds and gods. There's magic, Egyptian-based mythology, gods, and enough creepy crawlies to make this a really fun read. The premise is similar to the Percy and the Olympians series, but that's about it. The rest is quite original and I didn't feel as if I were reading the same books. The kids are great and different. The situations and villains are dangerous and the action and pace make this 516 page book seem short.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review: Rising Moon by Lori Handeland (Re-read)

Over a city of wicked pleasures and dangerous passions...

Denizens of The Big Easy know its steamy nights can hide any number of sins and secrets. Private-eye Anne Lockheart is counting on it. Her life has been in a holding pattern ever since her sister Katie disappeared without a trace...but when a leads Anne to a jazz club in the French Quarter, everything changes. Rising Moon's proprietor, John Rodolfo, is mysterious in his own right, a gifted musician who reaches deep into Anne's soul and whose mere presence taps into desires she can't afford to indulge...there's a bad moon on the rise.

By going undercover at the Rising Moon, Anne can get close to people who know what goes on after dark--people like John, whose nocturnal disappearances are more than a little suspicious. But unlocking John's secrets is harder than Anne had anticipated. What's far too easy is surrendering to him. And now someone--or something--is stalking the innocent and the guilty, and waiting for Anne's next move...
I read the entire paranormal Nightcreatures Novels series by Lori Handeland a while back and of all the books, the three novels set in New Orleans (Crescent Moon, Midnight Moon, Rising Moon) are my favorite, and Rising Moon (Book 6) is at the top.  I remember writing the following note the first time I read this book back in February, 2008:
Rising Moon. I loved, loved, this book. I have to say this is my favorite of all the books set in New Orleans. The romance was great. John was great! The mood of the book was the best and the monsters were excellent because well... that whole gray area again -- good/evil -- who knows?! Will we meet (some of the characters) again? I wonder....
In that little note my reasons for loving this book were sketchy at best, although the meat is there. In Handeland's hands New Orleans becomes more than a setting, and as I re-read this story I again felt transported and through her writing experienced the music, the dark streets, the tastes and smells of the city, the fun and danger. The place attracts and repels the reader, it's both dangerous and beautiful. This sets up an atmosphere that is perfect for this mystery thriller / paranormal romance -- and this story is both.

The characters in this story are just as dark, dangerous and ambiguously attractive as the city itself. Even Anne, from whose perspective we see the events unfold, is not a black and white character. She's conflicted and lies when she has to to accomplish her mission -- that of finding her missing sister. Anne is a private PI with no life, a woman, who by her own admission, is not physically attractive and has no time for sex, men or relationships -- at least not until she finds her sister. That all changes when she walks into the Rising Moon club and meets jazz musician and club owner, John Rondolfo.

John's music is mesmerizing, his looks are hypnotizing and Anne can't seem to keep her eyes off him. But there's something wrong with John. He's beautifully dark and brooding, but he's also obviously deeply hurt and suffering, he's blind but not helpless and people around him and the Rising Moon disappear. Anne goes undercover as a waitress at the Rising Moon, hoping to find her sister and to help police Detective Sullivan find out information about the other mysterious disappearances. Soon Anne finds herself involved with John. He seems to be attracted to her in an almost desperate way, and her attraction for him grows by the minute no matter how dangerous the situation. The hot and steamy sexual scenes between John and Anne are as sultry and sensual as the setting itself.

As the plot moves along, and it moves along at a good pace, it's tough to figure out who is good and/or evil. The secondary characters are just as ambiguously gray as the central ones, making them excellent additions to this story. The reader never knows who to trust, or what twist or turn will come around the next corner. There are dark, scary moments that made my heart beat faster, Anne's TSTL moments (there are always some of those) gave me anxiety attacks, and although there were hints along the way I couldn't wait to figure out who was who by the end. There are all types of legends and monsters: voodoo, werewolves, loup-garou, and of course the Jäger-Suchers (Hunter-Searchers) make a brief appearance.

I enjoyed Rising Moon this time around almost as much as the first time. Anne's decisions (TSTL moments) frustrated me a bit more during this re-read, but not enough to make too much of a difference. This book really is a spooky and steamy read. I enjoyed the twist at the end and what I thought was an excellent resolution. Great read.

Category: Paranormal Romance
Series: Nightcreature Novels (Book 6)
Release Date: January 7, 2007
Grade: B+

Nath's 2010 Re-read Challenge - October Review
Complete series:
Blue Moon
Hunter's Moon
Dark Moon
Crescent Moon
Midnight Moon
Rising Moon
Hidden Moon
Thunder Moon

The good news for me? After two years, Lori Handeland is again writing Nightcreature novels. A new installment Marked by the Moon is releasing on November 2nd, and I'll definitely be reading that one. :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Review: Bayou Moon (The Edge, Book 2) by Ilona Andrews

Last year I fell in love with Rose, Declan and the boys when I read On the Edge and was quite curious about William the Wolf, as well as life on the Edge. Bayou Moon continues two years with William's story and takes the readers to the Mire, a swampy bayou on the Edge that's full of magic, great characters, family feuds, evil, and life and death situations.

Bayou Moon is a long book and I must admit that it didn't grab me from the beginning with the same force as On the Edge, yet I liked it just as much. Andrews' well-defined and fascinating worldbuilding continues in this story. The Mire, a place within the Edge, is detailed and described so well you can almost smell it, taste it and feel it. Ugh! There are creepy crawlies and characters in that bayou that will definitely make your skin crawl, and they fit the story and the setting perfectly. The Mire is on the border with the Weird's Dukedom of Louisiana, becoming a natural dumping ground for exiles and criminals alike. Magic flows strongly, not only from the new criminal and villainous element, but also from the exiles' families and descendants.

This is the world that William walks into and he hates it -- all the damp, mud, rain and weird creepy crawlies, he just wants dry socks lol! For the past two years he has been living a boring and lonely life. He's reading a letter from Jack and George and talking to his action figures (yes, action figures) when Mirror agents, the top Andrianglian spies or special ops, show up at his doorstep. William agrees to spy for them again once he finds out that his archenemy Spider is at the Mire seeking a weapon hoping to start a war between the Louisianans and Andrianglians.

While the Mirror is recruiting William, Cerise Mar is having troubles of her own. Her grandparents home has been taken over by a feuding family and her parents have been kidnapped by the Hand, a criminal gang feared for its powerful and dark magic. Until her parents return, Cerise is head of the vast Mar clan and needs to make some quick decisions or none of them will survive, but first she must go into the Broken. On her way back, she meets William.

William and Cerise embark on a dangerous journey through the bayou as strangers and soon become allies through necessity. William hates the bayou and Cerise knows it and can't help but use it against him. He hates being dirty, the mud, the dampness, the strange creatures -- his internal thoughts on the subject had me laughing and agreeing with him through much of the story. I enjoyed Cerise and William's dialogue and loved the combination of acerbic comments with light banter and fast paced action, as this couple begins by taking each other's measure and not liking what they see, moving on to admiration, then lust and later on to love. The development of their relationship is not an easy one, as they're quite busy fighting evil or often ruthlessly interrupted by Cerise's vast family, but the Andrews team manages to do it quite well.

I liked William in On the Edge and I liked him even more as Bayou Moon unfolded. He's a man full of contradictions -- a natural born killer, ruthless, cold, loyal, loving, tender, and also a man attempting to recapture a childhood that was stolen from him. I also loved Cerise as the strong and powerful leader of her family clan, with her uncertainties, vulnerabilities and vast responsibilities. She carried it all quite well. Cerise was ruthless when necessary and I loved how she used her powerful magic, and her absolute belief in her abilities. The way Cerise fell for William fit her character perfectly too. She was passionate about him and fell in love with eyes wide open -- no rose-tinted glasses for our Cerise.

I could go on and on about the secondary characters, they were all excellent. Kaldar and Richard, Cerise's cousins stand out in this story, as does her sister Lark. I hope that the Andrews team will write their stories in the future. I did have a question about the family in the end that was not answered and that was a bit of a disappointment.

With Bayou Moon, the Andrews team continues the outstanding worldbuilding they began with the first installment of this series, as well as with excellent central and secondary characters that carry a fast paced story full of romance, action, creepy villains, battles, victories and deaths.There were a couple of interesting open-ended threads that I'm sure will be addressed in the next installment (no cliffhanger). And believe me, I can't wait to read the next book.

Category: Fantasy Romance/PNR
Series: The Edge, Book 2
Released: September 28, 2010
Grade: A-

Visit Ilona Andrews here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: Burning Up with Angela Knight, Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra, Meljean Brook

Burning Up is an anthology with Angela Knight, Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra and Meljean Brook. I've enjoyed books by all four of these writers and looked forward to reading their short stories.

"Whisper of Sin" by Nalini Singh is a short story related to her Psy/Changeling series. This prequel features Ria and Emmet's romance. Ria is attacked in Chinatown where she lives with her family and DarkRiver changelings, including Emmett and Dorian come to the rescue. Upon meeting Ria, Emmett immediately becomes protective and defying her family, he becomes her personal bodyguard. An outside gang is in San Francisco challenging DarkRiver's right to their territory and the changelings are sure Ria and her family will be targeted again.

I enjoyed Ria and Emmet's romance, it was quick and although their attraction was the instant kind, Singh took her time developing their characters and the relationship. Ria's family plays a large part in the story and as secondary characters they give depth to this short tale. Singh features Ria's dual Chinese/American culture in this installment, giving her female protagonist family situations focused on her culture. I loved the way Singh showcased the passion as well as the differences and commonalities between Ria and Emmet. I also enjoyed the glimpse we get as readers into the changeling world before DarkRiver's power was established. This was a lovely romance full of delightful characters. Grade B+

Angela Knight's "Blood and Roses" fits the anthology's title quite well in that it's hot, and more erotic than a straight romance. It's a story about vampires, magic and monsters. The vampire Raniero is a knight and the king's Chief Investigator. He's traveling with his men to Lord Korban's lands to investigate rumors that he is cooperating with the Varil monsters. Waiting to ambush them is the evil Vampire Tannaz, two Varil and Tannaz' Blood Rose daughter Amaris. Blood Roses were created to mate with vampires and to keep them happy enough not challenge their king. Raniero is captured and taken to the castle where he's kept unconscious through a spell. Meanwhile, Lord Korban uses Amaris' three year old sister as hostage and blackmails Amaris into seducing Raniero, hoping he'll send the king a message stating that all is well, buying him time to complete his evil plans with the Varil.

This story was a page turner and the worldbuilding was actually quite detailed. However, the relationship between Raniero and Amaris, although quite erotic, began and was based on sex and it never really moved from there into romance. Everything in the story happened quickly and there didn't seem to be time for any real development. I do enjoy Knight's erotic tales and this story qualifies as one, so I'll say I enjoyed the world, fast pace and the erotic part of this story. Grade C

Virginia Kantra's "Shifting Sea" was a prequel to her Children of the Sea series. This story takes place in Scotland in 1813 as Major Jack Harris, a soldier and survivor of a siege has recently taken over an unexpected inheritance. While out on a horse ride by the sea, he finds sexual solace with a beautiful woman. At first he thinks she's the town whore, but when they meet again his feelings change and soon Jack finds he loves Morwenna, one of the finfolk. This was a well told tale, full of the selkie myth atmosphere that Kantra weaves so well. However although the romance was enjoyable and pleasant, I found it lacking in impact. Grade B-

The novella "Here There Be Monsters" by Meljean Brook serves two purposes, it's the introduction to her new Steampunk series and it's the story of the pirate Eben "Mad" Machen and Ivy Blacksmith. A desperate Ivy needs to escape London and goes to Mad Machen for help. He refuses to take her aboard his pirate ship and when she offers herself as payment and he accepts, Ivy realizes she's over her head. Unexpected help arrives just in time and she flees from both London and Mad Machen. Two years later, we meet Ivy again as the relentless and furious Machen finds her hideout.

This was actually the story I enjoyed the most in this anthology. I love the way Brook takes her time to build the relationship, sexual tension and trust between Eben and Ivy. Theirs is a both a romance and an adventure. This story is not only full of the wonderful mechanical inventions and Victorian details that make Steampunk such a treat to read, but it's also full of action, passion and romance. I thought Brook did a wonderful job of combining all of these elements and introducing the worldbuilding to her new Steampunk series. Of course, all is not explained in this novella, there's still a lot of worldbuilding to do and I expect to see that in her upcoming release The Iron Duke. However, now I'm really excited and can't wait to begin this series. Grade A-

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: None - Anthology
Release Date: August 3, 2010 - Kindle Edition
Overall Grade: B

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review: Demon Blood (Guardian Series, #6) by Meljean Brook

Long before she was transformed into a Guardian and trained to fight demons, Rosalia knew darkness all too well. Raised by a demon, Rosalia learned to guard her heart—and her soul—until she found a man worthy of her love. Once, she thought that man would be the powerful vampire, Deacon…until he betrayed the Guardians.

After losing everything to the lies of a demon, Deacon lives only for revenge—and is taken aback when Rosalia offers to help. A vampire who has nothing—who is nothing—isn’t worthy of her attention. But Rosalia wants to do more than just look, and the explosive need between them can’t be held in check. And when Deacon’s vengeful quest creates a dangerous alliance of their enemies, she will be his only hope…
Well... and my love for Meljean Brook's Guardian series continues. I loved the last book in the series, Demon Forged, where the overall storyarc moved forward quite spectacularly. In Demon Blood, Brook slows down the pace and focuses the story on the central couple's romance. Rosalia and Deacon turned out to be a great couple and I loved their story.

As in all the Guardian series installments, the plot in this book is quite involved. Brook develops the romance as Rosalia and Deacon agree to go after a group of Belial's demons that are infiltrating Europe's vampire communities in an attempt to exterminate them. They work as a team and in the process discover a more sinister plot involving Anaria and the nephilim. In the meantime, Taylor is not adapting well to sharing her body with Michael's consciousness. There are some horror-like moments as the dual personalities inside Taylor fight for control. I was happy with the way things ended because quite frankly for a while there Michael was not in my good books.

Throughout the centuries as a Guardian, Rosalia's spends her time among humans and vampires, not Guardians, and as a result she often pushes boundaries and comes close to crossing lines. Initially Rosalia seems to be a straightforward woman with a plan, instead she turns out to be a strong, complex character. More than once I thought her actions throughout this story were questionable, if not downright rule-breakers for Guardians. Her capacity for love and sacrifice are immeasurable. However, she's no sacrificial lamb, she's the type of woman who takes action and does whatever becomes necessary for those she loves. A strategic genius, Rosalia has great talent for manipulation and she uses that talent to her advantage. The more I read Demon Blood, the more I liked Rosalia.

As for Deacon, well... I liked him as soon as he was introduced. Though he initially appears complex, unlike Rosalia, his is a more straightforward character. Deacon is a vampire who loses everything -- his loved ones, his reputation and his self-esteem -- survives, and has nothing left to lose but his life. His plan is to take revenge against the demons that exterminated his family and lovers, or to take as many of them with him as he can before he dies. As far as he's concerned, no matter his positive actions in the past or the present, the fact that he failed to save his community makes him unworthy of love or admiration. Deacon wasn't counting on Rosalia.

My first impression of Demon Blood was that the story was all about the love. Rosalia and Deacon's love for their communities, love for the human race, love for vampire communities, mother love, and love for each other -- and of course sacrifice. Both characters, but particularly Rosalia, are willing to sacrifice a lot for those they love. But don't get me wrong, it's not all about love and sacrifice, this story is also quite sexy! Meljean Brook knows how to create sexual tension and chemistry between the couples and there's plenty of that going on in Demon Blood, as well as some sizzling hot sexual scenes between Rosalia and Deacon.

By the end, my qualms about Rosalia's questionable actions and how they affected Brook's worldbuilding were pacified and I was content with the resolution to the overall storyarc, although I do wonder what will happen with Anaria now, but we'll see how that plays out in future installments. I loved both the romance and the characterization in Demon Blood, and as always I can't wait to read the next book in this series.

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Guardian Series, Book 6
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Grade: B+

Visit Meljean Brook here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Catching Up with some Minis!

Summer's craziness finally caught up with me. So far July has been a month chuck-full of distractions -- the World Cup, my brother's huge birthday bash, preparations for my mother's upcoming 82nd birthday on the 16th, plus the walks and the BBQs and the fun.

The down side? Both my reading and writing have suffered, I'm too distracted and happily tired by end of day to read much or write, although of course I've read a bit -- can't go without some reading. Since I haven't finished any of my reviews, I decided to share a few mini-impressions of some books I read these past months but never reviewed.

Blaze of Memory (Psy/Changeling series) by Nalini Singh

The story of Dev Santos and Katya Haas, this is not my favorite book of the series. I enjoyed the overall storyarc and discovering details about the Forgotten. However the romance itself was not one that kept my interest. Dev was not a character that I loved and Katya didn't make much of an impact. Although for me the romance was lacking, I thought that with this installment, Nalini Singh continued to keep the worldbuilding tight and intriguing, added newness to it and answered questions along the way. Grade B

Stroke (Psycop), Thaw (Psycop), Kindred Spirits by Jordan Castillo Price

Stroke and Thaw are very short stories and part of the popular M/M Psycop series by Jordan Castillo Price. One is a Holiday story and the other is a moment in Victor and Jacob's lives. They are both self-contained short stories that make you want to know more about both the characters and the series. I was certainly curious. Both stories Grade: C+

Kindred Spirits is an amusing encounter between two men at a party. Adam thinks he has developed the ability to see into other people's souls and he thinks John might be a kindred spirit. I had a good laugh at the end of this story when after the encounter Adam seems to have been both right and really quite wrong. :) Grade: B-

Moonstruck by Susan Grant

I had Moonstruck on my pile of books to be read for almost a year. I can tell you up-front that this was a great sci-fi/romance read. The sci-fi plot and details were there, but so was the romance -- we're talking one hot couple here! I loved that Britt Bandahar was a strong, tough, kick-ass captain who didn't take crap from anyone. She fell in love, despite incredible prejudices, with a man who was her enemy. And Finn? Finn, being the male in this tale and an alpha male at that, was one of the best parts of the book. Why? Because HE was the one who was Moonstruck! He fell for Britt hook, line and sinker and I loved it! I had some slight problems with the way the world was presented, but there's no question that I truly enjoyed the romance. Grade: B+

I have a few more first impressions to post, but for now I'll leave you with these. Hope you're enjoying these summer days -- mine are hot, humid and hazy! Keep on reading!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: Bonds of Justice (Psy/Changeling Series) by Nalini Singh

It is no secret that the Psy/Changeling series by Nalini Singh is one of my favorite paranormal romance series. As with all the installments so far, I was anxious to get my hands on this book, so I would like to thank KMont from Lurv a la Mode for being a absolute sweetheart and sending me her ARC copy. Thanks Kenda!

In Bonds of Justice, Nalini Singh highlights Max Shannon, a human Enforcement detective she first introduced in Mine to Possess, and the best detective New York Enforcement has to offer. Born with natural mental shields that protect him against mental invasion from even the most powerful of Psys, Max is able to work his cases with a clear conscience. When Psy Council member Nikita Duncan's advisers begin dropping like flies, Max's mind and his status as an outsider make him the perfect man to investigate the murders. Unexpectedly, Max finds himself working for the deadly Nikita, but not on his own.

Nikita assigns Max an intriguing Psy partner, Sophia Russo a J-Psy whom Max previously met while working his last case. As a J-Psy, Sophia's job is to shed light on the guilt or innocence of those accused of the most heinous crimes. As a telepath, she can both retrieve memories from criminals and then project them to others. However, the job and all those dark memories have taken a toll and Sophia's time is almost up -- her shields are severely fractured and complete rehabilitation is around the corner.

I was so surprised by Max Shannon! For some reason I didn't expect to like this human cop as much as I did. Max is attracted to Sophie when he first meets her but not just for her beauty. He appreciates the whole person, understands her abilities and sees through the Psy coldness she attempts to project. I love the way Singh develops this relationship, there is an instant deep attraction but it doesn't translate into "insta-lurv" for humans. Max is hot, hot, hot... but because he cares for Sophie and takes the time to understand her, he's not just passionate, but unselfish and tender as a lover from beginning to end. The man won me over.

I really liked Sophie too. We get to know her when her shields are already severely fractured and she has broken Silence. A damaged and desperate woman with little time left, Sophie is direct with Max when it comes to wants and needs. Max is a direct man himself so there's no game playing in this romance, making Max and Sophie a great couple. Singh uses Sophie's circumstances to build up the sexual tension between the two to a fever pitch, making even a simple touch an erotic experience. Have I mentioned before that I love the way Nalini Singh writes this type of romance? I do.

As in all the Psy/Changeling books, the storylines in Bonds of Justice are multi-layered. As Max and Sophie investigate the murders of Nikita Duncan's advisers, they're also simultaneously following up on the case of a human sociopath, Gerard Bonner. A serial killer already behind bars, Bonner is still quite dangerous. As a character, he is chilling, cold and evil seems to ooze from his pores every time he appears on the page, making him an excellent villain. This is a device previously used by Singh and a bit repetitious, however this time the sociopath is human instead of Psy. I ultimately liked the way this particular thread was dealt with -- Bonner's humanity didn't make him less of a monster or a danger to Max and Sophie.

Secondary characters are well used, as always. Kaleb Krychek is highlighted in this installment and plays an important role. More information about him is disclosed making this character even more intriguing than before. The Psy Council continues to jockey for control and power, and the PsyNet continues to deteriorate and split affecting the Psy as a whole. Changelings play a secondary role with Sascha taking central stage and Faith making key appearances.

The resolution to Sophie's dilemma is interesting, if not surprising, and I do wonder how Singh will use it in the future. There's an underlying theme of bad/good motherhood and hope in this book that I found quite interesting. Not surprising, Singh maintains her tight worldbuilding and introduces some great changes for future installments -- I can't wait to read more about them! Bonds of Justice was a winner for me and keeps the Psy/Changeling series at the top of my paranormal romance list.

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Psy/Changeling Series, Book 8
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Source: ARC copy received from KMont - Lurv a la Mode
Grade: B+

Visit Nalini Singh here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Review: Mine to Possess (Psy/Changeling) by Nalini Singh

I chose Mine to Possess as my re-read this month in preparation for the new release in Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling series, Bonds of Justice. This is the book where Max Shannon is introduced and I wanted to refresh my memory.

I remember thinking what an interesting couple Clay and Tally made the first time I read this book. Clay seems like your typical DarkRiver changeling sentinel, possessive and protective, but there's more to him. Clay is half human and grew up as a human, depriving him of a healthy changeling environment, and except for Talin's, he did not have the touch and affection so necessary to changelings throughout his childhood. He killed to defend Tally and lost her with that one act of violence. His experiences during those formative years were traumatic and shaped him into a man with dark spaces, a loner in danger of going rogue.

Talin was abused and terrorized as a child and although she has come a long way and is now a determined woman with some strengths, it is clear that she's still traumatized by her past. She is a fragile and damaged woman, both physically and emotionally. Talin is a social worker with the Shine Foundation and as her children begin to disappear, twenty years after their separation she decides to approach Clay, the one man she feels is strong enough to help her. A man she both fears and loves, a man she lied to.

I must admit that Clay was always one of those changelings I found intriguing. His love for Tally from the beginning, his tenderness, passion, possessiveness, protectiveness and what he is willing to do for her had me at hello. On the other hand, it took me a while to like Tally. She rationalized her reasons for lying, fearing and rejecting Clay, and it seemed as if in every other chapter Tally changed her mind as to those reasons or came to a new realization. This was used to build up the sexual tension, but for me it became frustrating after a while. However, there is character growth for Talin and eventually she did grow on me.

I thought that as a couple they were both hot like new lovers can be, and sweet and comfortable like friends who have known each other forever. I loved that they were so jealous and protective of that friendship and wanted to keep it intact.

Mine to Possess is where Nalini Singh introduces the history of the Forgotten and the Shine Foundation with its director Devlin. I loved this part of the story and how Singh continued to expand the history of the Psy to include those who did not accept Silence, something that made absolute sense. Devlin had a small part in the book, but one that made an impact. Max Shannon, the human Enforcement detective with the impenetrable mind shield who is helping Talin track the missing children is also introduced and plays a smaller part. Ashaya, the M-Psy who is running Protocol One experiments for the Psy Council and her assistant Ekaterina play key roles in the outcome of the story.

This is a solid installment to the Psy/Changeling series that focuses on the romance while addressing the overall storyarc. Quite a few key characters are introduced in Mine to Possess, as Singh expands her worldbuilding to include the Forgotten and the human race as an important part of that world.

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Psy/Changeling, Book 4
Released: February 5, 2008
Grade: Solid B

Nath's 2010 Re-Read Challenge

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mini-Impressions: Demon Forged by Meljean Brook

Four centuries ago, Irena and Alejandro would have succumbed to the need smoldering between them — if a demon and a monstrous bargain hadn’t shattered the possibility of love. Torn apart by shame, Irena avoided Alejandro for centuries — until a vampire’s call for help throws her into his arms again.

Alejandro can control fire, but he’s never been able to control — or quench — the flames between him and Irena. And he knows Irena, hardened by her hatred for demonkind, will never accept that he now works at a demon’s behest. But even as he fights for a second chance, a shocking betrayal and a deadly prophecy shake the foundations of the Guardian universe, and all Hell threatens to break loose…
I began and finished Demon Forged by Meljean Brook in one sitting. Well... holy angels and demons, I'm really loving this series, it just gets better and better! This book was great. Brook doesn't hold back when it comes to the action in her world or with moving the story forward within the series. She answered some old questions, took some of the new threads started in the last book, Demon Bound, followed through and further developed them in Demon Forged; as a result this book exploded with action. I'm loving the way Brook closes those threads and opens new ones in this world, leaving no room for gaping plot holes. Plus, you know there's so much more coming too.

Irena and Olek (Alejandro) were wonderful as the main couple. Irena wasn't exactly the belle of the ball when introduced in Demon Bound, personality-wise, but she is developed slowly in Demon Forged. She's no wilting flower, that's for sure, and I liked her! There's lots of tension and sexual tension between Olek and Irena and Brook really works developing the relationship -- something she's really done throughout the series with all the couples. The sexual encounters are hot, but it's not just about the sex between them, it's about the tension. Olek and Irena went 400 years wanting each other, so there are some really explosive scenes in this book.

When it comes to this series, I'm loving the way Brook develops and moves her world forward as well as the plotting. To that I'd like to add that while she introduces fascinating new characters in each installment, Brook really knows how to use already established characters in a meaningful and productive way. I'm loving that aspect of this series. When it comes to Demon Forged as a whole, the storylines, the ongoing battle between the Guardians, demons, vampires, etc., are all really engrossing and she accomplishes this while maintaining the couple in the center of all the action. I can't wait to find out what happens in Demon Blood.

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Guardian Series, Book 5
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Grade: B++

Visit Meljean Brook here

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: The Moonlight Mistress by Victoria Janssen

It is the eve of the Great War, and English chemist Lucilla Osbourne finds herself trapped on hostile German soil. Panicked and alone, she turns to a young Frenchman for shelter. Together they spend a night of intense passion, but their dangerous circumstances won't allow more than a brief affair.
Even with the memory of Lucilla's lushness ever present, scientist Pascal Fournier is distracted by his reason for being in enemy territory—Tanneken Claes has information Pascal could use against the enemy but, even more extraordinary…she's a werewolf.

After entrusting Pascal with her secret, Tanneken and her mate, Noel, are captured. Suspecting a rogue scientist rumored to have a fascination with werewolves is behind the abduction, Pascal knows he must act fast to save them. He's all too aware of Professor Kauz's reputed perversions and lust for control….

As war rages, Pascal and Lucilla combine efforts to stop Kauz, struggling with danger, power and secret desires transformed by the unyielding hunger for the beating of a lover's heart.
I picked up The Moonlight Mistress by Janssen thinking it was erotica with paranormal elements and a bit of a historical background, especially after reading the above book description. Instead I found much more. The story begins in Germany right as they invade Belgium and WW-I explodes and introduces the reader to Lucilla and Pascal -- the core couple. However, most of the story takes place in France after the Germans invade that country and as war rages on.

There are multiple protagonists in The Moonlight Mistress and some of them are part of an English battalion fighting in France. The war is not used as background, instead Janssen thoroughly develops the plot and cast of characters while incorporating well-written historical details and making the war part of the story. The reader is right there with those men as they dig ditches, sleep in the mud, and as they experience battles, hunger, losses and small victories. Janssen cleverly integrates the historical details into the paranormal aspect of the book; an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

The erotic scenes are great and don't overwhelm the story, although there are plenty. The couples are all likable and their relationships are thoroughly developed. There are M/F, M/M and M/M/F erotic scenes to go with the storylines Ms. Janssen weaves into The Moonlight Mistress. The M/F scenes start on the warm side with Lucilla and Pascal and get hotter as the story goes on. In the beginning sexual tension is used to develop the M/M relationship, however the sexual encounters are hot from beginning to end as is the M/M/F. You will find that all the female protagonists in the story are either strong women or women with a defined path.

The Moonlight Mistress is a well-written, enjoyable adventure with well-developed characters, hot, erotic encounters, and thorough historical details cleverly incorporated into the overall story.

Genre: Historical Erotica/Paranormal
Series: None
Release Date: Harlequin Spice - December 1, 2009 - Kindle Edition
Grade: B+

Visit Victoria Janssen here.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Review: Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortals After Dark Series, Book 9) by Kresley Cole

Lucia the Huntress: as mysterious as she is exquisite, she harbors secrets that threaten to destroy her—and those she loves.
Garreth MacRieve, Prince of the Lykae: the brutal Highland warrior who burns to finally claim this maddeningly sensual creature as his own.
From the shadows, Garreth has long watched over Lucia. Now, the only way to keep the proud huntress safe from harm is to convince her to accept him as her guardian. To do this, Garreth will ruthlessly exploit Lucia’s greatest weakness—her wanton desire for him. . . .
I was pleased to read Pleasure of a Dark Prince (Immortal After Dark Series, Book 9) by Kresley Cole. I enjoyed it. This is another paranormal series that I'm still enjoying, although some books in this series work better for me than others. I'm so glad Garreth and Lucia's story didn't let me down after waiting for it for so long. Garreth was such a wonderful werewolf character... not brooding or damaged like Lachlain and Bowen, he was fun! Lucia didn't stand a chance, lol! He was also tender and boy did he know how to persevere... not only because she was his mate, but because he learned to love her.

I thought it was interesting that in this story the dark chararacter, the character with the baggage, and I mean dark, drooling, and evil baggage, was Lucia. I liked that, and thought it made for a nice change. As a heroine, Lucia was brave and sexy, but more than a bit frustrating. I could understand her reluctance to trust, but after a while I thought it took her too long to do so. Through that lack of trust, she placed both herself and Garreth in danger and that poor judgment almost caused Garreth his life. However, I understood some of the reasons behind her hesitation and my frustrations with her character did not outweight the fact that I liked her.

The story is full of erotic, hot, sexually charged moments, and lots of sexual tension... and an adventure ala Tomb Raider/Raiders of the Lost Ark, taking place for the most part in the Amazon jungle. Lucia and Garreth's romance develops slowly on their journey up the Amazon river and that works -- they have some wonderful moments together.

Cole introduces some very interesting secondary characters in this installment and I wonder if she'll bring them back and how she'll work them into the storyarc. Cole did an excellent job of working the timeline of Pleasure of a Dark Prince into the overall story. The epilogue turned out to be the beginning of the next book and ended in one big cliffhanger.

Overall an enjoyable paranormal romance with lots of sexually charged moments and a couple with great chemistry, Pleasure of a Dark Prince is a great addition to this series. I do love the way Cole writes her werewolf characters. :)  I'll be reading Demon from the Dark, the upcoming installment in this series releasing August 31, 2010.

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Immortals After Dark Series, Book 9
Released: February 16, 2010
Grade: B+

Visit Kresley Cole here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mini-Impressions: Demon Bound by Meljean Brook

Among the Guardians, Alice Grey is known as the Black Widow—a woman trapped in a web spun by the demon Teqon. To save her soul, she agreed to deliver to Teqon the heart of the oldest and most powerful Guardian of all, or else be damned for eternity. After more than a hundred years, Teqon is calling in his debt.

Jake Hawkins is a novice Guardian whose gift of teleportation could be invaluable to Alice in determining her next move. But in aligning himself with her he never expected to fall in love. Now, their passionate flight to escape Alice’s damnable bargain is threatening both their souls. For they’re about to discover a hellish secret about the Guardians—something that will change their universe forever.

Demon Bound by Meljean Brook was a solid addition to this paranormal series. The hero Jake and the heroine Alice "the Black Widow" were both likable characters that at first didn't seem to fit together. Jake is an extrovert who doesn't think before he speaks. He comes off as young and exhuberant, but there's more to him than just his runaway tongue. Alice, is an introvert and a repressed woman... both sexually and socially. She uses her Gift, that of using spiders, to keep away those around her and has done so successfully throughout the centuries. She can come off as more than a bit creepy at times, and Brook handles that very well through Jake's perspective.

Although this installment is not as sexually explosive as the previous ones by any means, there is a definite connection between Jake and Alice. The best part of the book is that through Alice and Jake's slowly developing romance, the overall storyarc really moves forward in Demon Bound. Brook introduces new intriguing characters that we'll be seeing in future installments, and there are significant revelations as well. The resolution to Alice's conflicts will definitely have a huge impact on all the Guardians and their future. This is a key book in this series that should not go unread.

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Guardian Series, Book 4
Released: November 4, 2008
Grade: B

Visit Meljean Brook here.