**spoiler alert** Aftershock offers a trio of short novellas with the theme of near deaths being somewhat blessings in disguise. I never read these au...more**spoiler alert** Aftershock offers a trio of short novellas with the theme of near deaths being somewhat blessings in disguise. I never read these authors before so it was great to dive in to check out their writing as well as their eye catching storylines.
The first offering is Penance by Sharon Sala. After Nicole Masters survived a gunshot wound to the head during a random pharmacy store robbery, she is struggling to pick up the pieces of her life. Words don't come easily to her, as she sometimes mistakes one word for another that sounds like it but means something else, minor depression, staggering movements and a hint of self consciousness since she lost her hair due to surgery. On top of that she begins to head sounds like a rush of wind, and soon a startling vision accompanies it.
Right on the announcement of movie star Lyla Dane's daughter's kidnapping, Nicole "sees" the violent kidnapping right on her tv screen. Soon she is struggling with this new power and finds out she is the only one who can help stop the kidnappers and save the life of the little girl.
This was a great suspenseful read with characters that felt real. Ms. Sala offers a look into each character's lives so you know what they were going through and what dilemma's they faced around the kidnapping and the realization of Nicole's ability. I really liked Nicole's cop boyfriend Dom as he as sincere and as much in love with her as ever despite her change in appearance. He was always there for her showing how much he loved and cared for her and I really liked the dialogue they had between each other.
Nicole was a great heroine who was really trying to put her life back together and the read gets her struggle with finding a comfort within herself and her home again. I liked that she didn't look like the typical romance heroine and I could really feel her strength as she tried to do all she can to understand her gift as well as use it enough to help the little girl.
There was a scene before the HEA that I really liked as it showed how sensitive and affected Dom was after seeing his love in danger once again. It made the HEA all the more sweeter. An entertaining blend of urban fantasy and suspense with a hearty dash of paranormal romance. 5/5
After the Lightning by Janis Reams Hudson is the second novella which centers around jogger Hailey Cameron. After being struck by lightning after a tornado, Hailey is rushed to the hospital where she becomes the roommate of coma patient LaShonda Martin who's son is missing. LaShonda's spirit soon combines with Hailey's after an incident with an oxygen tank and soon the mystery begins--with the help of Special Investigator for the D.A. Aaron Trent-- to find LaShonda's son before it's too late.
I liked how this story started right off the bat with the strike and soon jets into the hospital where Hailey and LaShonda meet. During the course of the investigation, Hailey gets closer to Aaron including meeting his Aunt who (literally) sees dead people. Ghosts to be exact and with her knowledge, Hailey doesn't feel so alone anymore.
The romance between Hailey and Aaron is slow building so that it's believable before they consummate their love. I would have liked to have seen an HEA between LaShonda and Hailey because they seemed like they were building a nice friendship as Hailey was helping her. The name LaShonda kept calling Hailey got a little old but I did think it was cute how Hailey said it towards the end to remind her that she was there for her.
A sweet paranormal offering with a harrowing action oriented climax. 4/5
The final story is Seeing Red by Debra Cowan which has probably one of the most eye catching openings in a story.
Cass Hollister's problems began the day she died.
Cass is a firefighter carrying on the tradition set by her well respected father. After being struck by a beam, she dies on the hospital bed only to be revived past the thirteen minutes pronounced death. Not long after, Cass starts having visions of fires before they happen. Soon her fire investigator ex-boyfriend Ben Wyrick is on the case trying to figure out the connection between Cass and the fires as they slowly rekindle the relationship they once had.
This was a great story that focused on the too hot to handle relationship between Ben and Cass with the suspense as the backdrop and a rocky sibling relationship that may be the answer to all the arson happening in the story. The relationship didn't seem too rushed and I liked that the characters had a history that was left open until now.
A great romance with some interesting paranormal moments. 4/5
If you're a paranormal fan looking for more than just vampires, weres and other beasties, I'd recommend this a great collection of stories which focus more on the relationships both romantic, familial and friendship wise with paranormal elements. (less)
Vampires of the Scarlet Order reads like it belongs alongside the offerings in the Penguin's Book of Vampire Stories. Right alongside the greats of cl...moreVampires of the Scarlet Order reads like it belongs alongside the offerings in the Penguin's Book of Vampire Stories. Right alongside the greats of classic vampire literature.
There are a few wonderful twists and turns in this book that I'll try not to give away. I'll just say what I really loved about this book. I love the diary-like entries that allow each character to tell their story from their POV. As one reads on, they see how each character is connected down the line and the awesome history that dates back earliest during the Spanish Inquisition gave the book a timeless feel especially with the amount of real life figures placed in the story.
I love that Summers gave each character their own personality along with their backgrounds. It really made them stand out from each other. Being a fan of books from vampires and 'others' POVs I loved seeing the world through ancient eyes throughout the ages.
One thing about this book is that it was also so original. The vampire mythos is tied to various cultural mythologies which explains their origins. Summers definitely takes the tried and true vampire lore and makes it his own. The vampires within are complex characters that may do bad things but one is sympathetic to their lives and the trials they go through which makes them shades of grey.
Vampires of the Scarlet Order is a horror novel, a sci-fi novel, a paranormal novel and a historical novel all rolled into one awesome read. I bought this in eBook but I'm definitely snapping this up in paperback format for my keeper shelf. Right next to my Anne Rice collection and my Penguin Vampire Stories classic anthology. :-)
If this wasn't published 4 years ago, this would definitely go on my Best of 2008 list. But alas, it'll probably go on my Best Reads of 2008 List. :-)(less)
Wow. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is very rich in scenery, language, world-building and characters. It kind of reminded me of Vampires of th...moreWow. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is very rich in scenery, language, world-building and characters. It kind of reminded me of Vampires of the Scarlet Order in that it deals with a group of vampires throughout the centuries but there in lies the only similarity. Sort of Anne Rice's vampire world-building with the language of Gabaldon's Outlander presenting a new addition to classic gothic literature. I mention this because I love books of this kind that takes vampire lore and creates a whole world around it. A world seen through their eyes as they live parallel to humans. In the world of Blood Tears, vampires are called the Dark Kind.
It's hard to pinpoint the exact storyline. It's not a high concept one where 'a and b meet c and therefore d happens' but it's more along the lines of 'there are these characters living in this particular world and this is their life through the ages'. Azrar is the Dark Prince of a small country called Isolann and he takes in a young mind reader named Khari. The story unfolds as Khari grows into her powers and learns of the world while offering her gift to help Azrar keep one step ahead of his enemies as the threat of 20th century technology and WWII is on the horizon. I really liked the dynamic between Azrar and Khari. Although he offered her a home and somewhat raised her, she falls in love with him and I had to say I was kind of rooting for them to get together. Although the end was contrary to this, it worked as Khari ended up with someone who shared her mutual love (although the Epilogue raises some interesting questions that may deter that possibility). Another Dark Kind, Eshan, also fell in love with Azrar and tries to warn the young girl that Dark Kind don't fall in love as humans do. Once Azrar did and suffered greatly for it.
There's a certain poetry within the characters because they feel like they are living and breathing. Garan, a Dark Kind who defies Azrar and choose to live by his own rules, is ruthless, a bit arrogant and rebellious but he is likeable at the same time. Sandor is the young abused worker with whom the story opens and his kindness and love for Khari and her mother figure Ileni is infectious. There's also a few side characters that have an agenda of their own amidst the Dark Kind and Ms. Dane takes great care to explore their desires, dismay and complexities as well.
I loved that Blood Tears took place in across the centuries throughout the large world wars and big events that really tie into historical reality. Every time I cracked open the book to read just a little bit I would find myself entranced in the story and the characters. I'm definitely going to check out the rest of the series to see what happens after the events of this book.
Although this was published in 2006, this is definitely going on my best reads of 2009.(less)
This is my first crack at Silhouette Romantic Suspense and it did not disappoint. Normally I stick to Intrigues and Nocturnes, but the gorgeous cover...more This is my first crack at Silhouette Romantic Suspense and it did not disappoint. Normally I stick to Intrigues and Nocturnes, but the gorgeous cover and characters caught my eye and I had to check this one out.
I like to pay attention to first chapters particularly in how the author sets up the conflict and characters for the rest of the story. This one was done beautifully as we got to know the backstory toward hints of the scandal of the title and how it ties in with the hero and heroine. HQN doesn't do many interracial books featuring this pairing and they definitely need to especially if there are more written like this one.
The story centers around Anamaria Duquesne who has returned to her home in small town Georgia to learn more about her mother who died when she was younger. Anamaria was brought up with her grandmother and along with a special gift of foresight about people that seems like a curse at times. While researching about her mother and the possible scandal, she meets up with Robbie Calloway, a hard edged attorney who is hired to keep an eye on her. He doesn't believe a lick of Anamaria's powers and is wary of her, but also very attracted to her. Sparks are immediate but Anamaria keeps on her guard knowing how the women in her family are prone to losing their hearts to men. Soon Robbie and Anamaria's attraction grows as they dig deeper into her mother's mystery and Robbie grows protective of her while battling over centuries of his family's teachings to marry a certain woman.
I loved the author's opening notes in her description of the characters. Two people who seem completely different yet deep down are very similar and good for each other. I loved that Anamaria could hold her own against Robbie's gruffness and often he reflected on this himself as he was admiring her as a person. She makes an assortment of lawyer jokes and Robbie's reaction (or lack thereof) made me giggle even more. Both characters are strong not only in mind but in temperament and their stubbornness toward each other. The way the differences in races were handled here was wonderful and at the same time identifiable. The experiences felt real in the tensions an interracial couple would face today and the reactions of the world around our hero and heroine were handled in a believable yet subtle way that still had an impact.
The character's backgrounds were given and although they did come from different cultures and upbringings the themes of wealth, family and professions are explored in how it frames the characters even down to the little descriptions of the houses. One particular scene I liked was prior to Anamaria visiting an old friend of her mothers. While one family was poor and worked in serving the other very wealthy family, the poorer family ended up very rich in the love and compassion shared between each other that was lacking in the more wealthier family.
Robbie, like Anamaria notes, is very much a product of his upbringing and class structure. He's a complex hero who battles with his mind constantly about Anamaria while his body and heart are battling the other way. Normally I would be bugged by his reluctance to be with a woman because of the color of her skin but the way the author handles is more than just a trope. He's been taught a certain way and has grown up being irresponsible, somewhat lazy, headstrong and used to just breezing by in life getting by on his looks, charm and wealth. Not very admirable qualities but the way Robbie is written, it's believable and how he cares for his family and especially Anamaria, it makes him sympathetic and complex. While he's constantly saying he needs a certain type of woman to fit in with his family and friends (one that he's envisioned most of his life), his heart and body desires Anamaria because of who she is and how she appeals to him, body, mind, heart and soul.
The same thing with Anamaria who comes from a family used to loving and leaving them. She knows what type of man Robbie is and she stands up to him, never asks him for more than she knows he can give although a part of her may want more. She knows his limits and her destiny and continues to stand strong for what she wants and believes in.
The characters felt like humans rather than figures and I like that the author wasn't afraid to dig down deep and explain the differences in cultural upbringing without being heavy handed with it. It really added some nice flavor to the characters and made their inevitable union all the more sweeter.
I was a little skeptical at first about the Duquesne women not marrying and each having a different (unknown) father. I winced at first because it felt a little stereotypical but after the explanation, I felt it was apart of who Anamaria was as she was brought up in this particular family within the world-building based on how they handle their gifts. It was an interesting way of exploring the Duquesne power structure and, interestingly enough, it somewhat mirrored Robbie's background in how he relates to his family.
The suspense is at a minimum and knowing how Silhouette Romantic Suspense usually weighs more toward romance than suspense, the focus is mostly on Anamaria and Robbie's relationship than the overall mystery at hand (and a dash of some small town family drama thrown in). But it worked. I would have loved to have seen more worldbuilding a deeper look into the Duequesne family's history involving their powers and to maybe explain more about their "business arrangements". How it started, how it was passed down, what each family member thought about it. I'm sure the info would be enough for a massive epic family saga which wouldn't be a bad idea. I'd certainly love to read it. But at it's length it's a nice category that fits within the line's guidelines.
Scandal at Copper Lake mixes interracial romance, a little bit of paranormal and mystery for a wonderfully written novel I'm more than happy to add to my keeper shelf. I'll probably be rereading this one again as its going on my keeper shelf. I hope HQN pays attention and bring us IR readers and lovers more well written books with various themes that explore what the lines have to offer. (less)