Showing posts with label Sci-Fi/Romance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sci-Fi/Romance. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October 2011: Reads + Minis! Lee Thomas, Ilona Andrews, Logan Belle

Hope you all had a great Halloween!!

I indulged this past October and read quite a few spooky reads. Well, I read lots of books period. Earlier this month I posted some recommendations from favorite Halloween reads I either read during previous months or previous years, but this last month I could not stop myself and kept on with the same theme. I also read a couple of great Christmas books. However what you will notice when you see the grades, is that I read quite a few good books. So my reading wasn't only on the plentiful side, it was also quite enjoyable for me for personally.

Here's my summary for the month:

Total Reads: 23 (+1 Re-read): Print Books: 5  ebooks: 19
Contemporary Romance: 4
Historical Romance: 3
Urban Fantasy: 1
Science Fiction: 2
LGBT: 13 (Spec Fic: 1  Mystery: 6  Gay Romance: 5  Young Adult: 1)
Young Adult: 1

Favorite Reads in October:
  • Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3) Elizabeth Hoyt: A
  • The German by Lee Thomas (LGBT Thriller/Mystery): A-
The German captured my attention with its bone chilling prologue set in Germany and once begun, I couldn't put it down. However, this fantastic thriller by Lee Thomas is set in a small town in Texas during WWII where two young men are found skinned and disemboweled with snuffboxes stuffed in their mouths and inside them, notes written in German. You can only imagine how the townspeople react, particularly since there is a small German community residing among them. However, it is when young Tim Randall and his friend Bum spy on Ernst, the German, see him having sex with another man and become convinced that he is the killer that things really turn ugly.

The German is an unforgettable thriller with plenty of tension, excellent pacing and characters. Thomas uses the small town's paranoia to build some incredible tension and keep the reader guessing as to who the killer is, giving The German that great edge that all good thrillers require. However, with its bone chilling prologue and a terrifying torture scene, there is also a strong horror edge to this story. Most importantly, through this suspense/thriller Thomas deeply explores individual and group reactions to different types of fear. Highly recommended.
Lots of Excellent B Reads:
  • Real Men Will (Donovan Brothers Brewery, #3) by Victoria Dahl: B+
  • Tis The Season To Be Sinful Adrienne Basso: B+
  • Silver Shark (Kinsmen #2) by Ilona Andrews (Sci-Fi/Romance): B+
I've been waiting for a continuation to this world ever since I read and loved the first novella Silent Blade back in 2009, and the Ilona Andrews team rocked it! I love the world building, the characters and the stories they've created for this science fiction romance set so far. 
In Silver Shark they continued as they began, with a strong female character who is equal to the male protagonist in strength, excellent plot, pacing and sci-fi details with romance and a passionate interlude that fits in with the story. In this second installment the only weakness for me came with the rather abrupt ending which then goes to an epilogue that doesn't include the two main characters. However, this sci-fi world just became better and even more intriguing. I can only hope that eventually a full length novel will come along. Now, that would really rock my world. :)
  • Coming Home by Victor J. Banis: B+
  • Flawless by Carrie Lofty: B
  • Sex, Straight Up (Those Sexy O'Sullivans, #2) by Kathleen O'Reilly: B
  • Unwrapped by Erin McCarthy, Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell: B
  • a+e 4EVER by Ilike Merey: B
  • The Back Passage by James Lear: B
  • Mummy Dearest (The XOXO Files, #1) by Josh Lanyon: B
  • Sort of Stranger Than Fiction (Petit Morts) by Josh Lanyon: B
  • Cherry Pie by Samantha Kane: B
  • Angels of Darkness by Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Sharon Shinn, Meljean Brook: B-
  • One Less Stiff at the Funeral (Petit Morts ) Sean Kennedy: B-
And Some Interesting C Reads too:
  • Fallen Angel by Logan Belle (Erotic Romance): C+
Fallen Angel is the second book in Logan Belle's erotic romance series Club Burlesque. I did not read the first book Blue Angel, so I can tell you that I was a bit lost when it came to some of the characters and  exactly how they fit into the story, at least toward the beginning. However, Fallen Angel mainly focuses on Mallory after she decides to give up going to law school to concentrate on a burlesque career, and to earn extra money takes on a paralegal job during the day working for sexy Gavin Stone. In this installment, Mallory's unhappy with long time boyfriend Alec because he keeps pushing their sexual boundaries to include a third party. In particular Violet Offender a new performer in the club. In the meantime, Violet is really interested in Mallory (I mean really, really interested), and she plays the role of a manipulative, vampy, villainous dominatrix to a "t"!! I kind of liked Violet!

Mallory on the other hand is quite frustrating as a character. She doesn't really know what she wants! She goes back and forth between burlesque and law a few times, and yes it's frustrating -- the woman is worse than a weather vane. She's upset with Alec because she suspects that he wants to continue having threesomes, but she'll have a go with another woman and constantly lusts after her boss. Hmm... yeap! So, what did I like about this book? Well, I love the burlesque world that Belle pulled together in this book. It really is intriguing, plus the secondary characters and circumstances had me going throughout the story. There's no way I will miss the next book in this series, if only to find out what Violet will do next and what's going to happen with the clubs! (Aphrodesia - Source: Kensington Publishing)
  • Critic's Choice (Petit Morts) by Josh Lanyon: C
  • Private Dicks by Katie Allen: C
  • Happy Endings by G.A. Hauser: C-
  • Clouds and Rain by Zahra Owens: C-

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Featuring SFR Review: Children of Scarabaeus (Scarabaeus 2) by Sara Creasy

Edie Sha'nim believes she and her bodyguard lover, Finn, could find refuge from the tyranny of the Crib empire by fleeing to the Fringe worlds. But Edie's extraordinary cypherteck ability to manipulate the ecology of evolving planets makes her far too valuable for the empire to lose. Recaptured and forced to cooperate - or else she will watch Finn die - Edie is shocked to discover the Crib's new breed of cypherteck: children. She cannot stand by while the oppressors enslave the innocent, nor can she resist the lure of Scarabaeus, the first world she tried to save, when researchers discover what appears to be an evolving intelligence.

But escape - for Edie, for Finn, and for the exploited young - will require the ultimate sacrifice...and a shocking act of rebellion.
Children of Scarabaeus picks up where Song of Scarabaeus left off, with Edie in need of neurotoxin and the Crib fast on their heels. Edie and Finn are captured again, except this time it's the Crib and Natesa that take them and some of the same problems previously faced by these two are reprised. The Crib uses Finn's leash against Edie and she will do anything to keep him alive, even if she has to give up her dreams of freedom.

Natesa is working on Project Andra and soon Edie discovers that the Crib is using children from her home planet of Talin to work on the project. But as this project begins to falter and other massive scientific failures throughout the galaxy come to light, Scarabaeus once again becomes the focus for the Crib and Edie and Finn find themselves on their way to that planet.

The repetition of events, the capture and the way Finn is used against Edie, was disappointing to me. That whole story line just felt too familiar, too soon, even though the events take place on a different ship and this time it's the Crib instead of rovers that do the torturing.

Slavery is a thread in this story, as Finn, Edie, the children and even Natesa are portrayed as nothing more than slaves to the Crib in one way or another. Of the children I loved Galeon, a 7 year-old boy who steals every scene where he appears. Even though he's brilliant, he acts like a child and humanizes this story and in the process does the same for both Edie and Finn. This little boy manages to touch Edie and even the too practical Finn.

I still loved the planet Scarabaeus and how it evolved by the time our protagonists' return, and of course the creepy-crawlies that still abound there. The sci-fi details are carried through in this installment from the last book and the world building continues at a slower pace. The romance does permeate this story more so than in the first installment, although again it is slow going and more on the realistic side of things. I liked that the romance doesn't take the focus away from the sci-fi storyline and yet the connection between Edie and Finn can be felt throughout.

The final resolution takes place in the planet of Scarabaeus and it's both exciting and climactic. I liked the way Ms. Creasy works all the world building and character details into the ending. Although again as in Song of Scarabaeus, the secondary characters don't have the depth I prefer to encounter in such stories, the main characters do make up for that flaw. There are sci-fi and plotting details galore in this book, however the plot meanders a bit and is not as well defined as that first book.

Children of Scarabaeus is definitely worth reading, there are no plot holes, the world building is tight and all ends on a satisfying note, even though there's also a feeling of deja vu at that point. The romance aspect of the book is well integrated into this story, as Ms. Creasy uses a combination of sensual tension, yearning and a realistic touch to build on the already established relationship. This is another solid science fiction romance installment by Ms. Creasy and, although I wish the end of this two-book series had been more exciting for me, I definitely look forward to reading her future works.

Category: Science Fiction Romance
Series: Scarabaeus #2
Published/Released Date: Harper Collins, March 29, 2011- Kindle Edition
Grade: B

Visit Sara Creasy here.

Song of Scarabaeus, Book 1
Children of Scarabaeus, Book 2

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New Releases: March 2011

It is time to highlight a few of the new releases I'm planning to read next month! I can't believe February is almost over and March is almost here. Well, I'm actually featuring one late February release, but since I just finished the first book of the trilogy and plan to read books 2 and 3 in March, why not, right? Here they are:

Grail by Elizabeth Bear
Jacob's Ladder Trilogy (Book 3)
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Rife with intrigue and betrayal, heroism and sacrifice, Grail brings Elizabeth Bear’s brilliant space opera to a triumphant conclusion.

At last the generation ship Jacob’s Ladder has arrived at its destination: the planet they have come to call Grail. But this habitable jewel just happens to be populated already: by humans who call their home Fortune. And they are wary of sharing Fortune—especially with people who have genetically engineered themselves to such an extent that it is a matter of debate whether they are even human anymore. To make matters worse, a shocking murder aboard the Jacob’s Ladder has alerted Captain Perceval and the angel Nova that formidable enemies remain hidden somewhere among the crew.

On Grail—or Fortune, rather—Premier Danilaw views the approach of the Jacob’s Ladder with dread. Behind the diplomatic niceties of first-contact protocol, he knows that the deadly game being played is likely to erupt into full-blown war—even civil war. For as he strives to chart a peaceful and prosperous path forward for his people, internal threats emerge to take control by any means necessary.
Okay, I just finished Dust, Book 1 in the Jacob's Ladder space opera trilogy by Elizabeth Bear and am totally hooked! I'm reading Chill next and have GOT to find out what happens to the Jacobites when they get to Grail. This book is going to be a definite read for me during the month of March.

A Lesson in Secrets (A Masie Dobbs Novel) by Jacqueline Winspear
Release Date: March 22, 2011
It's the summer of 1932 and Maisie Dobbs has been wondering lately whether she is descending into the doldrums. Those bracing fears are jolted away when she receives an official request to begin undercover work probe activities "not in the interests of His Majesty's Government." After accepting a position as a junior lecturer in the Cambridge philosophy department, she begins observing as students and faculty members vie for political dominance. Matters reach a flash point, however, when her college's controversial pacifist founder and principal is murdered. As officials fumble on with their investigation, Maisie focuses on the Nazis in her midst. A breakthrough book for an award-winning British author whose popularity has grown steadily with each new release.
Besides fantasy and science fiction, I seem to be in the mood for mysteries! This series is set in the UK during the post World War I era, and it looks really interesting. I'm picking up the new release first (this is the 8th book in the series), and if I like it, I'll get the backlist. I DO love the cover, don't you?

It Happened One Season Anthology
Release Date: March 29, 2011
We asked our readers what story they would most like to see from four bestselling authors. They responded . . .

A handsome hero returns from war, battle-scarred and world-weary. But family duty calls and he must find a bride.

A young lady facing yet another season without a suitor never expects to find herself the object of his affections.

It Happened One Season

Four amazing talents: Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D'Alessandro, and Candice Hern have come together to create one of the most unforgettable events of the year. The results are spectacular—each story is as unique as a lover's first kiss.
Ohhh, and I've been waiting for this book for a long time! Did you see that first line? We asked our readers... ? Well, they did! They asked readers to choose a story and the authors would write the romance. Our own blogger friend Phyl from Phyl's Quilts and Books, a Balogh fan, won that contest! I was very excited for her and am really looking forward to reading all of these stories, particularly the Balogh. :D

Children of Scarabaeus (Scarabaeus, Book 2) by Sara Creasy
Release Date: March 29, 2011

The crib is everywhere . . .

Edie Sha'nim believes she and her bodyguard lover, Finn, could find refuge from the tyranny of the Crib empire by fleeing to the Fringe worlds. But Edie's extraordinary cypherteck ability to manipulate the ecology of evolving planets makes her far too valuable for the empire to lose. Recaptured and forced to cooperate—or else she will watch Finn die—Edie is shocked to discover the Crib's new breed of cypherteck: children. She cannot stand by while the oppressors enslave the innocent, nor can she resist the lure of Scarabaeus, the first world she tried to save, when researchers discover what appears to be an evolving intelligence.

But escape—for Edie, for Finn, and for the exploited young—will require the ultimate sacrifice . . . and a shocking act of rebellion.
Children of Scarabaeus is the conclusion to the story that began with Song of Scarabaeous, a science fiction romance book I read and reviewed this month. The first book was highly enjoyable and I can't wait to find out what happens to Edie and Finn in this second book!

The Sweetest Thing (Lucky Harbor, Book 2) by Jill Shalvis
Release Date: March 29, 2011

Two Men Are One Too Many . . .

Tara has a thousand good reasons not to return to the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington. Yet with her life doing a major crash-and-burn, anywhere away from her unfulfilled dreams and sexy ex-husband will do. As Tara helps her two sisters get their newly renovated inn up and running, she finally has a chance to get things under control and come up with a new plan for her life.

But a certain tanned, green-eyed sailor has his own ideas, such as keeping Tara hot, bothered . . . and in his bed. And when her ex wants Tara back, three is a crowd she can't control-especially when her deepest secret reappears out of the blue. Now Tara must confront her past and discover what she really wants. If she's lucky, she might just find that everything her heart desires is right here in Lucky Harbor.
And last, but certainly not least, I finally, finally, read Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis. The first book in the Lucky Harbor series about three very different sisters who end up in a small town, and really enjoyed it! The Sweetest Thing is the second book and I have a feeling I'll be enjoying it just as much, if not more, than the first one.

I'll definitely be reading other new releases, and I might add more later if something else catches my eye! How about you? Anything you absolutely have to read in March?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Featuring SFR Review: Song of Scarabaeus (Book 1) by Sara Creasy

Trained since childhood in advanced biocyph seed technology by the all-powerful Crib empire, Edie's mission is to terraform alien worlds while her masters bleed the outlawed Fringe populations dry. When renegade mercenaries kidnap Edie, she's not entirely sure it's a bad thing . . . until they leash her to a bodyguard, Finn—a former freedom fighter-turned-slave, beaten down but never broken. If Edie strays from Finn's side, he dies. If she doesn't cooperate, the pirates will kill them both. But Edie's abilities far surpass anything her enemies imagine. And now, with Finn as her only ally as the merciless Crib closes in, she'll have to prove it or die on the site of her only failure . . . a world called Scarabaeus.
Song for Scarabaeus is Sara Creasy's debut novel and the first of two books that follows the exciting space adventures of cypherteck Edie and her bodyguard Finn. I love the "kick-ass Captain" as the female protagonist just as much as the next reader, but that's not Edie. No, Edie is a geek and I loved that about her. Now, don't think that because she's technologically brilliant Edie doesn't kick ass. Technologically speaking, she does.

Edie is a half-breed and she grew up as an outcast in the backwater planet Talas. At age 10 she was picked up by the Crib for what they saw as her potential abilities to work with biocyph (biological and cypher technology). By way of computer chips implanted in her brain and body parts, Edie is able to program and decipher complex computer (dry teck) and biological (wet teck) technologies.  Her abilities are rare and valued throughout the universe and she's kept under wraps and well guarded by the Crib. But rovers (space pirates) kidnap her with the aid of serfs who have been promised freedom in return. Finn is one of those serfs.

Finn's serf or slave status doesn't change when they reach the rover's ship, the Hoi-Polloi. The rovers place a boundary chip or leash on him that ties him to Edie. In other words, he can't stray away from her or the explosives implanted on his brain kill him instantly. Also if she dies... he dies, so he has no choice but to guard her with his life, as they are both forced to carry on with the rovers' mission. The mission takes them on to Scarabaeus, a planet that the Crib attempted to terraform years earlier and Edie's secret obsession.

Song of Scarabaeus is not heavy sci-fi. Instead it's an engaging, well-written story with the main focus on those sci-fi details and a touch of romance. I enjoyed Ms. Creasy's sci-fi world building including the space terms that differ a bit from others I've read, but are easy to follow. The action and pacing are excellent. The story begins with action, slows down to build on the plot and picks up to an action-packed finish. I was never distracted from the story and finished the book in two sittings. Some of my favorite scenes take place on the planet, Scarabaeus. There are creepy, eerie as well as action-packed and intense moments. There's nothing like space creepy-crawlies to light my fire when I'm reading sci-fi, lol!

The plot is quite interesting with the overall storyarc detailing how the powerful Crib empire creates a monopoly out of terraforming new planets, populating them and then enslaving Fringe worlds through their dependency on technology. Yet, there are many grey areas presented by the author through Edie's own personal conflicts about the different entities involved, the technology itself and how it's used, as well as characters introduced. Are they good or evil, or are they a bit of both depending on their agenda?

The characterization is well done, especially for a first book where some characters are highlighted more than others. Edie is well developed and a thoroughly likable character. Although not a physical threat, Edie uses her technical abilities, but better than that she also makes great use of instincts by exhibiting good insight and judgment. I love her humanity and the way she chooses to become independent and to go against the odds to achieve her goal. Enough is revealed about Finn for this story's purposes, but he is still a mystery by the end. He's definitely the most intriguing character so far. The other secondary characters are interesting for their "grey" areas with some better drawn than others.

There is a touch of romance and I enjoyed the way that developed. It's not too fast or too blatant, instead the emotional connection and building chemistry between the characters seems like a natural progression. As it turns out, there is a cliffhanger at the end of this book and those usually bother me. However although you can tell there's a continuation coming, the story is not cut off at an awkward moment and it ends well enough. Having said that, I'm glad I don't have to wait long to read the next book, Children of Scarabaeus, Book 2.

The best recommendation I can give Song of Scarabaeus? I couldn't stop reading the book and couldn't wait to finish it. I recommend it to readers who love sci-fi and sci-fi/romance. I think this is an excellent debut novel for Ms. Creasy and will definitely look for her books in the future.

Sci-Fi Romance
February Read
Category: Science Fiction/Romance
Series: Scarabaeous
Published: Harper Collins; April 27, 2010-Kindle Edition
Grade: B

Song of Scarabaeus, Book 1
Children of Scarabaeus, Book 2 - Releasing March 29, 2011

Visit Sara Creasy here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Featuring SFR: Review - In Enemy Hands by KS Augustin

The Republic had taken everything from Moon—her research partner, her privacy, her illusions. They thought they had her under control. They were wrong.

Sirin, Moon's new research partner, is a chemically enhanced math genius whose memory is erased every two days. He's also a charming, fascinating man who is attracted to her anew after each memory loss cycle.

Escape from the regime that treats them like tools is impossible. There are too many walls around them, too many eyes watching. But when you've got nothing left to lose, running becomes the only option.
I'm always looking for new sci-fi romance and new-to-me authors, and when I saw In Enemy Hands by KS Augustin, it looked like the type of story I would enjoy and I was right.

Moon's life changed when unbeknown to her, her trusted research partner turns out to be a rebel against the Republic -- a Republic she's always been loyal to. She's taken in for interrogation, endures years of imprisonment and torture for crimes committed by her partner and to Moon, it seems as if her research, career and dreams have come to an end.

After all that suffering, Moon's life takes another turn when the Republic gives her a chance by allowing her to continue her research in a new lab they've built specially for her on a moving vessel. Her research is important enough that they've even given her a unique working partner. Srin is not a scientist, but can accurately solve the most complex mathematical calculations in his head and is considered a biological, human computer. The catch here is that Srin's memory is erased every two days. Eventually Moon and Srin realize that they are being used by the Republic and are left with no recourse but to attempt an escape.

Moon and Srin are attracted to each other and during those first two days after they first meet, they bond. But because Srin's memories are erased, every two days it's as if they've met for the very first time. Srin is attracted to Moon every single time and for Moon it becomes a joy and a heartbreak. There was such chemistry and sweetness between this couple, that I couldn't help but love them both. Because of the circumstances and Srin's lack of memory, Moon takes the lead when it comes to their predicament and she makes a wonderful female protagonist, but in the sensual department they are definite partners.

As the story moves along, their sensual scenes are more on the erotic side and not the usual for sci-fi romance fare. This didn't detract in any way from the rest of the story for me. If well written and well placed, I happen to like erotic and sensual scenes with my romance, no matter the genre or sub-genre.

KS Augustin doesn't skimp on sci-fi details either. She establishes her world, how the Republic works firmly at the beginning and continues to develop it throughout the story. The research for the technical parts of the book is extensive and will satisfy science fiction fans, although I suspect that it might be a bit much for others. It worked quite well for me personally, although there were some sections where I wish the technical and the romance had been better integrated with each other.

In summary, I enjoyed In Enemy Hands for the most part. The characters were well drawn, the worldbuilding was firmly established and the science fiction technical details were excellent. Frankly, I fell in love with Srin as the male protagonist in this story -- he was just too sweet for words -- and by the end I admired Moon's strength and determination. On the other hand, this book is obviously part of a series and unfortunately the ending was a bit too ambiguous for my taste. I was left frustrated, looking for the next page, wondering what I had missed and searching for the end to this wonderful story. I can tell you this, I enjoyed In Enemy Hands enough that I'll be reading the next installment.

Category: Sci-Fi Romance
Release Date: June 7, 2010
Source: NetGalley/Carina Press
Grade: B-

Visit KS Augustin here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Minis: White Tigress by Jade Lee, I Love This Bar by Carolyn Brown, Holiday in Death by J.D. Robb

So what's everybody reading? I've had one of those great, lucky months so far where almost everything I pick up I either love or like with very few disappointments. Those months don't come too often, so better enjoy it, right?

I haven't been doing my Weekly Reads posts this month because well... there have been quite a few distractions for me. But I would like to share some quick impressions from this month's reads including my post for the In-Death Challenge.

White Tigress by Jade Lee
Englishwoman Lydia Smith sailed to the Orient seeking her fiancé. She found treachery. In seedy Shanghai, she was drugged, sold, made a slave—to a dark-eyed dragon of a man. But while her captor purchased her body, was that what he sought? He demanded not her virginity but her Yin—the essence of her ecstasy—and there seemed no choice but consent. What harm, Lydia wondered, was there in allowing him to pleasure her, to teach her, until she could flee?

It was the danger—and reward—of taking the first step on a journey to heaven, and her feet were already on the path to becoming a radiant and joyous White Tigress.
White Tigress by Jade Lee was a free erotic ebook and not quite the thing. Set in China, this story just didn't deliver. The author uses Taoist philosophy as the basis of the story but frankly the whole thing doesn't turn out to be erotic -- at least it didn't work for me. The characters, particularly Lydia is a study in contradiction. She is English and shows up in China to meet her fiance, is kidnapped and sold into slavery and used by the main male character for erotic purposes. This woman is submissive and lost one minute and smart and resilient the next, back and forth -- you never know what you're going to get with her, or indeed out of this story. The ending is highly improbable too. Grade D

I Love This Bar by Carolyn Brown
Funny, sexy, and sure to appeal to the huge audience of country music fans, this new trilogy features the Honky Tonk beer joint and its succession of lovelorn owners. Serving two counties, one wet and one dry, the Honky Tonk is the gathering place for every hothead, thirsty rancher, and lusty lady looking for a good time. Owner Daisy O'Dell vows she'll run the place until they drag her cold dead body through the swinging doors. That is, until the day Jarod McElroy walks in, looking for a cold drink and a moment's peace from his ornery Uncle Emmitt. The minute Jarod sees Daisy, with her hot looks and smart mouth; he knows he's met not only his own match, but Uncle Emmitt's as well. Now, if only he can convince her to come out from behind that bar and come on home with him…
An ode to Toby Keith's song, country music, honky tonks and country living. I Love This Bar was full of great characters, fun moments, music and good lovin'. Don't expect detailed bedroom scenes in this book although they're there, do expect good romantic moments. I loved all the down to earth characters from Daisy and Jarod to the secondary cast: Chigger (boy, oh boy!), Momma, the Walker triplets, Tinker, Merle and cousin Cathy. There were a couple of threads left dangling that I'm sure will be picked up later in the series, but that really made no sense in this book. If you like ranchers and country music, you'll enjoy this one. I did. Grade B

Holiday in Death by J.D. Robb
No one likes to be alone during the holidays. For New York's most posh dating service, Personally Yours, it is the season to bring lonely hearts together. But Lt. Eve Dallas, on the trail of a ritualistic serial killer, has made a disturbing discovery: all of the victims have been traced to Personally Yours. Eve soon enters an elite world of people searching for their one true love--and one killer searching for his next victim.
Holiday in Death had a good criminal investigation going with sexual crimes committed by a man dressed as Santa Claus. The victims were all people who had signed up with Personally Yours, a love-match agency. The villain used the 12 days of Christmas as a theme for his crimes. I enjoyed the criminal investigation in this book.

This story has the most sexual scenes between Roarke and Eve in the series so far. Wow! I began skimming them after a while, I think because I'm not used to them in these books? I particularly enjoyed the byplay between Peabody and McNab and Peabody and Eve in this story. Eve's judgment continues to get clouded by her past experiences while she's solving crimes and her psychological problems interfere with her work. I wonder if or when this will be addressed by her superiors? She's relentless in this story and borders on self-destructive by not taking care of herself, but isn't wonderful the way Roarke is there to bring her back and make sure she does? A good read. Grade B

Christine's In-Death Challenge - October Review

Okay, so I didn't mention above what I was reading! I just finished two books -- The Indiscretion by Judith Ivory and A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh, both were historical romance and quick reads. Right now I'm re-reading a paranormal romance, Rising Moon by Lori Handerland. It's spooky and great for Halloween. :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Minis: Linnea Sinclair, Jennifer Crusie, Josh Lanyon

I haven't been reading as much in October as I did in September, but so far the books I've read have been highly enjoyable. Here are Minis on three of them.

Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair

The universe isn’t what it used to be. With the new Alliance between the Triad and the United Coalition, Captain Tasha “Sass” Sebastian finds herself serving under her former nemesis, biocybe Admiral Branden Kel-Paten–and doing her best to hide a deadly past. But when an injured mercenary winds up in their ship’s sick bay–and in the hands of her best friend, Dr. Eden Fynn–Sass’s efforts may be wasted.

Wanted rebel Jace Serafino has information that could expose all of Sass’s secrets, tear the fragile Alliance apart–and end Sass’s career if Kel-Paten discovers them. But the biocybe has something to hide as well, something once thought impossible for his kind to possess: feelings . . . for Sass. Soon it’s clear that their prisoner could bring down everything they once believed was worth dying for–and everything they now have to live for.
I loved Games of Command. I stayed up until 2:00 am reading it and finished it off the following morning! It's a Sinclair ride, that's for sure... Kel-Paten, the hero, had me at HELLO. That biocybe is just the sweetest thing I've seen as a romantic scifi hero in a long time. I sighed and melted when our heroine Tasha read his personal logs (that's all I'll say about that). Tasha's a classic Sinclair heroine -- she's tough and takes no prisoners, she doesn't fall easily but when she falls, she falls. I enjoyed all the action and the secondary characters, Jace Serafino and Dr. Eden Fynn (who are actually quite central), are also arresting.

Games of Command was definitely a winner for me. I was not disappointed in the plot or characterization. The pacing is excellent -- the action keeps the story moving along -- and the romance, while slow on the build-up, was satisfying. Kel-Paten's yearning for Tasha made that part of the story both sweet and angsty. I loved the slow way Sinclair developed trust between Tasha and Brendan, plus their interaction and dialogue just got better as the story progressed. The final outcome to the overall storyarc was quite complex with twists and turns from beginning to end. Grade: A

Visit Linnea Sinclair here.

Strange Bedpersons by Jennifer Crusie

Tess Newhart knows her ex-boyfriend Nick Jamieson isn't the right guy for her. He's caviar and champagne; she's take-out Chinese pot stickers. He's an uptight Republican lawyer; she was raised in a commune. He wants to get ahead in business; she just wants…him. But there's no way Tess will play second fiddle to his job.

Yet somehow she finds herself agreeing to play his fiancée on a weekend business trip that could make or break Nick's career. And while he's trying to convince Tess that he needs her in his respectable world, Tess is doing her best to keep her opinions to herself and her hands off Nick.

I couldn't wait to read Strange Bedpersons by Jennifer Crusie, a gift from Nath. I liked this book. It's the pairing between a yuppy lawyer and a free-thinking, liberal, hippy-like female. The very 80's political style -- even though it was released in the early 90's -- with references to Nancy Reagan and the Quayles dates the story. I loved the whole crazy relationship between these two very different people, with their prejudices against each other, their love and compromises. My favorite scene? The absolutely crazy scene in the restaurant.  I'll continue reading Crusie's backlist and know I'll enjoy it. Grade: Solid B

Visit Jennifer Crusie here.

Somebody Killed His Editor: Holmes & Moriarity (Book 1) by Josh Lanyon

Thanks to an elderly spinster sleuth and her ingenious cat, Christopher Holmes has enjoyed a celebrated career as a bestselling mystery writer. Until now. Sales are down and his new editor is allergic to geriatric gumshoes. On the advice of his agent, he reinvents his fortyish, frumpy, recently dumped self into the sleek, sexy image of a literary lion, and heads for a Northern California writers conference to try and resurrect his career. A career nearly as dead as the body he stumbles over in the woods. In a weirdly déjà vu replay of one of his own novels, he finds himself stranded in an isolated lodge full of frightened women—and not a lawman in sight. Except for J.X. Moriarity, former cop and bestselling novelist. The man with whom he shared a one-night stand—okay, maybe three—long ago. The man who wants to arrest him for murder. A ruthless, stalking killer, or a hot, handsome ex-lover. Which poses the greater danger? It’s elementary, my dear Holmes!
This is a mystery, a good who dunnit with a large cast of characters, but for me the best part of the book was Christopher Holmes. Christopher or Kit, the main character in Somebody Killed His Editor: Holmes & Moriarity, Book 1 is one of those characters that no matter how many bodies he finds, or how bloody the situation, will make you smile. This story is told in first person point of view and I just loved Christopher's voice... talk about a sardonic, sarcastic, insecure man with a flair for drama. I loved his internal dialogue and every single impulsive word that came out of his mouth.

He finds a dead body as soon as he arrives at the conference, winds up meeting J.X. Moriarity, an ex-cop, ex-lover and young(er) "successful" writer, and this mystery caper takes off from there, as does the rather interesting relationship between JX and Kit. We follow Christopher as he becomes the main suspect, uses less than great judgment (has some great TSTL moments), and gets involved without even trying. A favorite quote, and I had many:
"I jumped up and started yelling, "Help! Help!" I never said I was the hero of this story." 
Somebody Killed His Editor was fun, funny, sexy, full of snark, somewhat touching and I loved it! I heard there's a sequel coming out soon and I can't wait to read it. Grade: B+

Visit Josh Lanyon here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Review: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (The Iron Seas, Book #1)

First in an all-new series where seductive danger and steampunk adventure abound in the gritty world of the Iron Seas.

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power-and fear-of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.
In Brook's fascinating alternate world, she alters world history as well as England's Victorian society, although the reader will recognize some of the ton's societal values, attitudes, dress codes and politics. In The Iron Duke, the Mongol Horde successfully conquers all of Europe, Africa and Asia as well as other parts of the world. Two hundred years prior to our story the Horde used previously unknown technology to control populations in whole continents, first through war machines and then by infecting them with nanoagents or "bugs" introduced into the blood by different means, and then controlling the nanoagents by remote control or a Tower.

When the Horde first attacked Europe, many English aristocrats escaped to the New World, and now that England is free of the Horde, their descendants have returned -- they are called “bounders.” The descendants of those who stayed behind call themselves "buggers." Buggers and bounders see things from different points of view.

Brook begins her story with a ball and a murder. Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth is also the daughter of an Earl and a Lady, and she's attending a ball fraught with tension between buggers and bounders when her assistant Newberry arrives to inform her that a body has been found at the Iron Duke's property. Rhys Trahaearn is England's savior -- the pirate who destroyed the Tower and liberated buggers from the Horde and became a Duke.

Mina and her assistant Newberry arrive at the Duke's residence to find that the unidentified body of a dead man was apparently dropped from an airship on to Rhys' doorstep. The reader is immediately caught up in the tension and attraction between the two characters. Mina is unsure if hers is real or if it's part of her hero-worship for the man, and Rhys is surprised that he wants a woman at all. This is only the beginning, Mina now has a delicate investigation on her hands and Rhys is not about to stand behind the scenes.

Mina has other problems. She "wears the Horde on her face," that's how Brooke states it in the story. Mina's mother was raped by the Horde during a controlled sexual Frenzy and she's the byproduct. Being the daughter of a Countess doesn't make it easier, it makes it tougher for herself and her family -- her Asian features are a reminder of "bugger" slavery. As an inspector her job takes her through the seediest parts of London and Newberry acts not only as her assistant, but also as her bodyguard to prevent personal attacks. The aristocrats are no better. These experiences make Mina both strong and vulnerable, cynical and sensitive and I enjoyed all aspects of her personality -- even her insecurities. She yearns for normalcy and will sacrifice anything for a family that has always shown love and support.

After a visit to the Blacksmith, the body is identified as that of the captain of Marco's Terror, Rhys' beloved ship. As information begins to fall into place, Mina and Rhys find themselves on a train to Chatham and soon after an airship, as they race against time to save the lives of those aboard the Terror including Mina's youngest brother. But there's more... this adventure takes our protagonists on a battle against krakens, nanoagent infected zombies, the Black Guard, traitors and more! Brooke doesn't skimp on action, twists, turns, friends or foes and I loved every single moment. And she doesn't skimp on steampunk details or atmosphere either. There are mechanical monsters and beautiful clockwork objects integrated throughout this exciting story.

The romance between Rhys and Mina is developed throughout their adventure. Rhys first sees Mina as someone that he would like to possess, and pretty quickly his lust turns to admiration and slowly to love. His willingness to do whatever it takes to keep her in his life goes a long way, especially after my initial impressions of him. Mina's admiration for Rhys suffers, she must take him down from the pedestal where she placed him as a hero, to then admire him as a man. Her personal situation, doubts, and society's bigotry play a major role in her decisions and the romance. I loved every nuanced moment between these two.

There are quite a few secondary characters in The Iron Duke that play key roles. Yasmeen, Lady Corsair is one of the most prominent and fascinating characters and I hope we'll see her featured in the future. Scarsdale as Rhys' drunken, fun friend with his secrets, loyalty and sad history was a favorite, as was Newberry. And I couldn't help but be intrigued by the Blacksmith! I want to know more about him, his past and what makes him tick.

I loved The Iron Duke. It's a fast paced adventure with intrigue and excellent worldbuilding. I loved all the characters, both central and secondary -- heroes and villains -- the steampunk details and atmosphere. This is not a perfect book. I had a few niggles, there were a few details about Rhys and Mina that I wish had been explored, but frankly these niggles were quite minor and overridden by my overall enjoyment. I didn't stop reading this book until that last page was turned and recommend it highly.

Genre: Fantasy Romance/Steampunk
Series: Iron Seas Series, Book #1
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Grade: A-

Visit Meljean Brook here.

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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Two-Fer Reviews: Ceremony In Death & Vengeance In Death by J.D. Robb

In Ceremony in Death, Eve is confronted with a few personal dilemmas after the death of a fellow police officer indicates he might have been dirty. While IAD requires the investigation, Eve becomes primary on a secret investigation where she must place Eve the cop before her personal feelings or loyalties. The investigation that takes her into an underworld filled with magic, a Satanic cult and the Wiccan religion.

I had a tough time getting through this book and was "stuck" at a certain point for a few months. I finally began re-reading it (again) and finished Ceremony in Death this month.

In Ceremony in Death, J.D. Robb explores the Wiccan religion, witchcraft and psychics in a futuristic world and I really enjoyed the way this particular part of the story was crafted and some of the secondary characters introduced - young Jamie, who loses his grandfather and sister to the Satanic cult, was a favorite.

The story itself takes quite a few twists and turns. Eve doesn't believe in magic or psychic powers and she is confronted with things she doesn't really want to understand. Roarke becomes her personal guard as she unknowingly places herself and others in danger while discovering the differences between white and black magic. Eve's personal loyalties are also questioned when she's asked to keep Feeney out of the investigation due to secrecy, placing her in an untenable position. This story had a few surprises for me. One of them was Eve's over-the-top treatment of a suspect while she was interviewing him. Sometimes I find that as an investigator, Eve can be purposefully blind when it suits her and the results are not always pretty.

Ceremony in Death ended up being a very good read for me, although not a favorite in the end. Although I enjoyed some of parts of the story, I was frustrated with Eve's lack of "vision" and her inability to consider other people's perspectives. J.D Robb highlighted Eve's weaknesses in this installment as an investigator: Eve's narrow views don't allow her to process facts and ideas clearly. Hopefully there will be further growth for her in future installments.

Genre: Sci-Fi Romance - Futuristic Police Procedural
Series: In-Death Series (Book #5)
Grade: B-

Vengeance in Death

In Vengeance in Death the title is perfect. Roarke's past comes roaring back with a vengeance as a killer starts by dismembering and disemboweling a man in a hotel room and calling Eve to solve a puzzle and the murder. Soon, as the bodies begin to pile up, Eve and Roarke come to the realization that all the dead are Roarke's old friends from his murky childhood in Ireland. What becomes quickly clear, as Summerset becomes the main suspect, is that Roarke is meant to be the killer's crowning glory in this game of revenge and murder.

One of the most violent and horror-filled books to this point, Vengeance in Death is also the book where Roarke's childhood and part of his past in Ireland is explored. This is a story full of tension and emotions, not only for Eve and Roarke, but also for their butler and Roarke's friend Summerset. In this story, Summerset's character is explored, as well as his relationship with Eve and Roarke.

This was an emotional read. There were moments when I didn't know who upset me more, Eve or Summerset -- they are both so stubborn, hardheaded and emotionally stunted, it's still tough to choose. Throughout this story there are times when Eve goes too far in her role as a cop, as does Summerset with his uptight prejudices. Neither gives an inch, no matter how much they hurt each other. At times, it was tough to read and to like or sympathize with either one of them. Instead, my sympathies went to Roarke who is clearly in the middle of two people he loves and who love him. That is not to say that J.D. Robb doesn't balance the scales. She does. Both Eve and Summerset work through tough issues in Vengeance in Death, as does Roarke, and all three make this an exciting read.

Great new secondary character introduced in this book? McNab, the new EDD computer geek who has the hots for Officer Peabody. I love the competitiveness between the two and McNab's easy way with both Eve and Roarke.

Vengeance in Death is my favorite book in the series so far. I really enjoyed the roller-coaster emotional ride the characters go through, while Eve and her team race to solve the mystery. The suspense in this book kept me involved throughout and the final outcome fits perfectly with the overall story. Eve and Roarke have some highly charged scenes in this book as well and those were not lost on me either. The fact that some light was finally shed into Roarke's past is a definite plus. And last, but not least, I love the way J.D. Robb continues to weave the futuristic aspects of her world into this series seamlessly, including them without overwhelming the story with too many details.

Genre: Sci-Fi Romance - Futuristic Police Procedural
Series: In-Death Series (Book #6)
Grade: B+ 

Visit J.D. Robb here.

Christine's In-Death Reading Challenge - September Reviews

Monday, September 6, 2010

Minis: Linnea Sinclair, Loretta Chase, Lorelei James

I read the following books during the past month that I didn't get the chance to review them. One has been in my TBR for quite a long time and the other two are new releases, but all three are from favorite authors. Since I'm behind all my reviews, I figure it's time for a few mini-impressions. :)

The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair
In this steamy, suspenseful new novel from RITA Award–winning author Linnea Sinclair, a dangerously sexy space commander and an irresistibly earthy Florida police detective pair up to save the civilized galaxy . . . but can they save themselves from each other?

Bahia Vista homicide detective Theo Petrakos thought he’d seen it all. Then a mummified corpse and a room full of futuristic hardware sends Guardian Force commander Jorie Mikkalah into his life. Before the night’s through, he’s become her unofficial partner—and official prisoner—in a race to save the earth. And that’s only the start of his troubles.

Jorie’s mission is to stop a deadly infestation of biomechanical organisms from using Earth as its breeding ground. If she succeeds, she could save a world and win a captaincy. But she’ll need Theo’s help, even if their unlikely partnership does threaten to set off an intergalactic incident.

Because if she fails, she’ll lose not just a planet and a promotion, but a man who’s become far more important to her than she cares to admit.

I finally read The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair -- scifi/romance. This was definitely different from her other books. Most of the story is set on Earth, not out in space. It's actually quite an amusing story... and if you're a Trekkie, you'll recognize the tongue-in-cheek basis of the story. The zombies are NOT the type of zombies we think of... they're bio engineered space-monsters. There's a female commander, who with her team, comes to save the earth from zombies and in the process meets a male detective from earth who unwittingly becomes involved in the saving. There's lots of action, and of course a romance develops between the two main characters. Although there's romance, don't expect an excess of erotic scenes, the action/adventure takes precedence in this story. There are other Sinclair books I've enjoyed much more, however as always I did enjoy the action and romance and the subtle humor is a plus in The Down Home Zombie Blues. Grade B

Last Night's Scandal by Loretta Chase
After surviving the perils of Egypt, Peregrine Dalmay, Earl of Lisle, is back in London, facing the most dire threat of all: his irrational family . . . and Miss Olivia Wingate-Carsington. A descendant of notorious—but very aristocratic—swindlers, the delectable redhead has the ability to completely unhinge him and a long history of dragging him into her scandalous schemes.

Olivia may be Society's darling, but she's aware a respectable future looms menacingly. And so when Lisle is forced to go on a family mission, she sees this as the perfect chance for one last adventure—even if it is with the one man in the world she can't wrap around her finger. But really, she only wants to help . . .

Which is why Lisle and Olivia find themselves in a gloomy Scottish castle inhabited by spiteful ghosts and craven murderers . . . and a shocking secret: the greatest peril of all may be burning within their own stubborn hearts.
Last Night's Scandal by Loretta Chase is another book I read and enjoyed. Although not outstanding by any means, it turned out to be a fun read after all. Olivia and Lisle were a nice couple -- friends first... actually friends always, and then lovers. I liked the way this couple ultimately came to realize that despite the differences in their personalities, they couldn't keep their hands off each other because they couldn't live without each other. I enjoyed their fights and the dialogue, which switched back and forth from being mature to immature throughout the story. Olivia was quite DRAMATIC and Lisle definitely needed her and some of that drama in his life. This was a book I enjoyed, but not one that wowed me in the end. Grade B

Corralled: A Blacktop Cowboys Novel by Lorelei James
Sports therapist Lainie Capshaw has been rehabilitating injured cowboys long enough to know that a charming western drawl combined with a fine physical form doesn't mean you fall for the man.

So no one is more surprised than Lainie when she finds herself involved with not one, but two different men: Hank Lawson, a bullfighter, and Kyle Gilchrist, a bull rider. Lainie feels guilty about her two-timing, but it doesn't keep her from doubling her fun-that is until Hank catches her with Kyle.

She's shocked that Hank isn't mad. But she's more shocked to learn Hank and Kyle are hometown buddies. But when the men offer to share her-in every way-she knows that she's going to have to choose the one man who can give her the ride of her life...
Corralled is the latest release by Lorelei James, and the first book in her new Blacktop Cowboys series. This is the story of Lainie, Hank and Kyle -- an M/F/M -- and pretty much a threesome that takes place while on a road trip, with a "happily ever after." Hank and Kyle are with the rodeo and Lainie is with the medical team that attends to the rodeo cowboys when they're injured.

I usually love the way James writes threesomes because she doesn't make them feel like triangles and nobody gets left out, plus she writes really sexy and erotic scenes with a story behind it all. However, with this story the relationship between the three DID feel like a triangle. Although Lainie was ready and willing to go into the threesome and didn't seem to prefer one man to the other, the men themselves were competing for her affection. Their true purpose in entering the threesome was to gain her love and have her choose one of them in the end. There was jealousy and a push and pull to this story that didn't sit well with me. So, although Corralled is not my favorite story by Lorelei James, I do think it's a good beginning to her new series as it introduces some great characters and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Grade B-