I had taken a bit of a break from reading romance and this was a wonderfully welcome change from the usual "boy meets girl, they bante...moreLoved this tale!
I had taken a bit of a break from reading romance and this was a wonderfully welcome change from the usual "boy meets girl, they banter for pages until they finally hit the sack and then argue and then get together again" type of stories. This packed an emotional punch from the get go as we dive into psycho-therapist Melita's mind as she ventures to the secluded meeting place she will be placed with her stranger of the night. Our hero Alex is another good character. I loved how he was mysterious with a past that was slowly revealed through his emotions and actions. I was thankful it never felt like the story was holding something back but instead offered something to reveal.
Although the characters were meeting for one thing and one thing only, the tension between them sparked the moment they met. I'm not a fan of explicit porno style love scenes and Ms. Owens definitely delivered on bringing a sexy, sensually steamy scene to life between Melita and Alex. Both have something to gain and nothing to lose during the night but this reader got the sense that they needed each other in more ways than just a romp in the hay. Make no mistake, the romp definitely helps bring their defenses down and solidifies something that has been missing (as we notice in Alex's expression after the act), but there is a certain something missing from each other that only the other person can offer.
I've always wanted to go to Malta and reading about the landscapes and the mouth-watering food made me dash for a Maltese cookbook. There's a certain melon delicacy I'm eager to try and I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! I loved the cultural aspects of this story which not only brought the characters to life but also the setting.
This short fiction offering packed a punch in its short pages and the eventual twist in the story that connected our hero and heroine was a welcome addition. I'm a fan of short stories and novellas that can really weave an intricate tale and bring the emotion. Something to Live For was an easygoing, relaxing read and definitely delivered on all accounts!(less)
This was another sweet romance from Inkspell that I really enjoyed, with the extra goodness of being an interracial romance (squee) and a friends to l...moreThis was another sweet romance from Inkspell that I really enjoyed, with the extra goodness of being an interracial romance (squee) and a friends to lovers story (woo hoo).
Like Always You, this book dealt with secrets and moving on. My heart went out to Liese who is the one carrying the guilt in the novel. Her best friend Frey has been there from the beginning before her marriage and eventual loss and is there to pick up the pieces afterward. Also like the previous novel, there is a sense of mystery throughout the novel as 'the secret' is known by the hero and heroine but later revealed to the reader. Liese is a complex character. Suffering from depression, she tries to move on despite the nightmares, the deep melancholia affecting her not only emotionally but also physically and mentally.
Frey is a completely sweet and strong hero. Some romance readers may find his beta tendencies a bit jarring if they are used to reading alpha heroes, but I love how he would be so caring of Liese and also very protective of her when someone is hurting her. The romance is low key, sensual and yet very hot when the reader's tension is relieved with a kiss. My hats off to Ms. Roberts for steaming up my reader with the most sensually hot kiss I've read recently! The later scenes between Frey and Liese prove that with the perfect description, a kiss and some tension can go a long way in place of hardcore sexually explicit scenes.
At novella length, Truly Madly Deeply You offers a quick and very satisfying read for those looking for an easy going contemporary romance to relax with.
I'm extremely glad I was able to read these two books back to back. With such gorgeous soft pastel covers that look amazing side by side, a theme of secrets, truth and renewal, both Always You and Truly, Madly, Deeply, You go hand in hand for a wonderfully romantic dual read. I must say I'm rather impressed with Inkspell's launch reads. The stories were sensual and sexy without being over the top and in your face with its sexual nature. Many readers I've spoken to have been missing the tension in romance books today where most have replaced characterization with sexual metaphors (and moving body parts) and unresolved tension with hardcore sex every page. I will be sure to mention these titles next time I speak to them because if they are like me looking for some great stories to relax with, lovely romantic tension to get your heart beating, sensual descriptions and characters you want to fall for, they will be in for a lovely treat. :-)
I'm looking forward to reading more of Inkspell's book selections! (less)
**spoiler alert** Deep in the caves of Guatemala, a secret ancient ritual takes place opening up a gateway to the Mayan underworld. Months later, Dr....more**spoiler alert** Deep in the caves of Guatemala, a secret ancient ritual takes place opening up a gateway to the Mayan underworld. Months later, Dr. Jaid Merritt receives the video feed only to find out her father was the man leading the ritual. Despite her fear of going on dig sites, Jaid must decide whether to face her fears and find her father at the Mayan temple, or risk losing him forever.
Bloodgate Guardian was awesome! I really enjoyed this book filled with action, adventure, a little bit of romance and a lot of suspense. One of the many strengths of this book was the characters and story pacing. I loved that Jaid is not a generic kick butt heroine who rejects all feeling except her libido to do whatever needs to be done. She has a weakness (she injured her knee as a child during a dig with her parents), and although she shows signs of strength, she isn't afraid to break down with vulnerability when the weight of the world falls on her shoulders. She's a realistic heroine who shoes genuine fear and hesitance before going into a situation but when the chips are down, the girl's got moxie and will do what needs to be done. In other words, she's a great 3 dimensional character.
I also loved the hero, Ruin (especially his and his brother's name), and going into the book I tried to stay away from any spoilers or too much blurb info so it was a surprise to see how he ties into the story and not only serves as a gatekeeper in the temple but also a bridge for Jaid and her father as it ties into the story. Ruin is an appealing hero, but make no bones about it, he is also a ruthless killer with an edge. I love dangerous heroes and Ruin definitely qualifies as he teeters between killing Jaid or saving her at times. He makes no excuses for who and what he is and still there are qualities that make him redeemable so that the reader cheers him on.
Another thing I really liked was the tension that was built over the course of the story. Sometimes romances feel manipulated in that character's bodies react to one another within seconds of meeting each other instead of allowing the tension and need to grow naturally over time. In Bloodgate Guardian the characters reacted to more pressing matters and only later in the story did they start finding each other attractive. Even then, it slowly took its time while they focused on what was important which added to the "will they get together or won't they" that also added to the suspense in the story and made the actual consummation all the more rewarding after what they've been through. I love it when this course of action is taken because it keeps me guessing and flipping pages to find out how things unfold and how (or if) they will be together after the last page.
Another thing I really liked about the story is the dialogue. The story started out with a bang of an opening line: "He never hated his magic until it compelled him to kill" and just kept floating from there. Another fave of mine is "If men were as easy to decipher as Maya glyphs, then perhaps Jaid would have been able to translate "beware" carved in her boyfriend's handsome forehead and saved herself the trouble." Jaid often referred to herself as the Un-Indiana Jones which I thought was cute and during her revelation to how she hurt her knee and carries guilt due to her mother's death, there's a lot that's revealed through clever dialogue.
"Do you know what they call me in the archeology circles? The Un-Indiana Jones."
Head tilted, he studied her, a small smile flickering on his face. "I have no idea what that means, but it amuses you."
"Yeah," she admitted, nodding. "But it's embarrassing too. Indiana Jones is a movie archeologist, an action-adventure hero. I've built up ruins and archeology in my mind, believing I had to be a great risk0taker, an action-adventure heroine of my own."
"Deep down your heart you're still the little girl trying to impress her father."
Ouch, but oh so true."
Not only is there a great overall conflict, there is also a great inner conflict as evidenced in the dialogue above. Jaid's relationship with her father has been strained ever since her mother died at the dig where Jaid injured herself and ever since then she's stayed away from digs while her father became well known for his. There's a lot she has to overcome outside and within herself that was a joy to explore.
One last aspect out of many I really enjoyed about this story was the world building and the history of the Mayan culture. I have to admit, I didn't know much about it going in but after reading this, I'm eager to read more about the ancient civilization. I love how it was weaved into every aspect of the story and it helped drive the story at every turn. I also got to learn a lot about the belief systems and mythology, all of which was very interesting.
I have a few Joely Sue Burkhart books in my TBR that I've been collecting from Drollerie Press (one of my fave publishers) and after reading Bloodgate Guardian, I'm eager to dive into them. Ms. Burkhart has a way of writing a great story with snappy prose and dialogue to accompany such well rounded characters. I'm jazzed that Bloodgate Guardian was my first taste of her work and I can definitely say it won't be my last.
Bloodgate Guardian is now available in ebook format from Carina Press and other online bookstores. This is a review based on a book galley from Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher.
**spoiler alert** Ric Thornhill is on an assignment from the Queen of Fae herself, to find the missing half Fae heir. Artist Meagan Kelly is his targe...more**spoiler alert** Ric Thornhill is on an assignment from the Queen of Fae herself, to find the missing half Fae heir. Artist Meagan Kelly is his target and he must bring her back to the queen to help stop keep the delicate peace between both human and Fae that hangs in the balance. As soon as they meet, sparks fly. Meagan is confused about the power the mysterious blond stranger has over her and Ric is enamored by Meagan's beauty and energy. Can he put his feelings aside to finish the mission that will safe their people?
Being a Fae fanatic I had to have this book. With the gorgeous cover (which appeared more urban fantasy than the actual paranormal romance story itself), enticing blurb and being eager to try out Carina's new books, I jumped at the chance to read this galley (thank you Carina for no DRM and changeable formats).
Unfortunately, I had a hard time connecting with the characters and the world within Motor City Fae. The hero and heroine's feelings at their first meeting had a 'hit the ground and start running feel to it rather than allowing for tension and chemistry grow between the two. This would have nicely built up a way for the reader to root for them and also would have given the reader time to get to know the characters rather than constantly be told explicit descriptions of how body parts were affected by the other. There is an explicit sex scene towards the beginning that pushes this into erotica territory for me and the characters couldn't make a move without getting turned on or thinking about sex. Plot seems to have been thrown aside at this point in the story. I would have loved to have gotten to know the characters more and had the tension build until a later love scene which seals the deal between the two so it doesn't feel like a gimmick to keep the reader interested.
As mentioned before, the world building could have been more established early on to bring the reader into the plot. There were many instances of long expositions where Ric would tell Meagan who her family was, what the Fae were all about and how she tied into the Fae realm. In other instances, there were short cuts where some good description would help this reader imagine the uniqueness of the land and its people (for instance, the court members were described as "looking like a character from Lord of the Rings"). The story mainly spends its time laying things out via a road trip and other excursions despite the rush to get Meagan to the Fae realm before it's too late. Once the characters would attempt to go in a direction to move the plot to the next level, they would make a detour to a club or party which seemed to come out of nowhere. While good for establishing the setting and character backgrounds, the exposition scenes broke the flow of the story just when we're getting somewhere good.
Shortly after the halfway point, I finally started to get into the story and have a chance to enjoy the world of the Fae. There were only instances where I was yanked out of the story by modern curse words but it was still enjoyable to see more action with Meagan taking out two Fae assassins (with a baseball bat no less!) and having her identify with Ric on a level that didn't involve the physical.
Ms. Pape has the beginnings of a interesting world and I'm curious to see how and if she tackles it down the road. After reading similar favorites in the genre, I can't help but notice how the territory feels traveled but not quite changed enough to make it unique from the others.
All in all, even though the book doesn't break any new ground for the paranormal genre, readers who are looking for an erotic light paranormal romance will enjoy Motor City Fae, the first in the Urban Arcana series.
Galley reviewed via Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher.
The Iron King was a book that came way out of left field and took me off guard. I'm a recent fan of Young Adult books, especially of the speculative v...moreThe Iron King was a book that came way out of left field and took me off guard. I'm a recent fan of Young Adult books, especially of the speculative variety, and being a fan of practically anything fae related I was quick to jump on the book. Julie Kagawa's intro into the world of the Iron Fey was addictive and after finishing the first, I couldn't wait to dive back into the world to see what the cast of characters was up to in their next adventure.
Just like I hoped, The Iron Daughter turned out to be another wonderful visit with a couple of old friends. While reading this, I would always promise myself just to read a chapter or so before bedtime. I never kept up that promise because I would always get sucked into an obstacle that seemed like all hope was lost or a threat of losing one of the characters. Ms. Kagawa has a way of keeping the pace going while putting her characters through the hardest of times and making them suffer. My hats off to authors who can do this because it adds a real sense of danger and keeps me flipping pages.
Although the first book didn't lead itself to a love triangle, quickly becoming a new go-to trope in YA fantasy these days, this book fully explores it. Although I'm biased and already have a favorite of the two, I wish the story would have focused on said character and Meghan's developing relationship as they work through trying to be together despite coming from different worlds. In the end, there was enough to satisfy this wish and even the ending was more than I could every hope for. (Thank you, Ms. Kagawa for that ending.) Looking back, I can definitely see shades of A Midsummer Night's Dream in how the setup between the three is presented.
This story picks up right were The Iron King left off and there are some awesome revelations that come to a head in continuation of the groundwork that was set in the first book. We get to know more about the fae courts and how they work, there are characters who are introduced and there's an interesting twist in the revelation of what memory Meghan lost to the Oracle in the previous book. I was hoping we'd find out eventually and I was excited to see how it ties into the story here. There's also an interesting twist to the mean girls situation that Meghan faced in the first book which is paralleled in the Fae world. I'm hoping we see another visitation of that situation with a stronger and wiser Meghan the second time around especially after the school events in this book.
I was sad to some characters go after I had grown attached to them and I commend Ms. Kagawa for creating great characters to incite such feeling from this reader; all the while putting them in mortal danger at each turn. The story lulls a bit in the middle during a making up sequence but quickly picks up toward the end to bring another obstacle in the fray. There's also a new array of awesome characters including a zombie corporate clone army in an office space setting, a viral fae and a cheery fae with a royal disposition and a fondness for pet names. I love the voices that come from these characters and being a big fan of audio books (which is how I fell in love with the first book in the series) and I can't wait to hear the narrator bring her and the other characters to life.
Fans of Fae political intrigue, adventure and fantasy YA works will love this series. You can tell Ms. Kagawa is inspired by a lot of different classic fantasy literature from Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll but she clearly makes these characters and situations her own within this world. What I love about each of these books is that they have clear endings. Each book has it's own set of problems and a main conflict which is solved by the end but is left open enough for more stories within the world. The Iron Daughter is no different in that we end on a wonderful note with Meghan completing her missions and also leaving it open enough for another story to see what happens due to the consequences of their decisions. I loved it. I highly recommend this series and this book which is also going on my fave 2010 best reads list.
FTC Advisory: This review is based on a galley received by NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. (less)
Wow! What an excellent debut from Julie Kagawa. The Iron King is the first in the Iron Fey trilogy and I must say I am addicted to this series right o...moreWow! What an excellent debut from Julie Kagawa. The Iron King is the first in the Iron Fey trilogy and I must say I am addicted to this series right off the bat.
Ms. Kagawa opens the book with our heroine Megan Chase dealing everyday teen life battling wits with her parents, caring for her baby half brother Ethan, a jokey best friend and her crush on the most popular boy in school she is sent to tutor. Amidst all of this, there is something otherworldly in the air. Things move out of the corner of her eye, her best friend is acting strange and strange creatures seem to overtake everyday people. Soon the world of the Fey opens up and Megan is called to save her baby brother when he is switched by a vicious changeling and puts her family endanger. Megan's journey sends her through a maze of strange creatures and customs, numerous bargains and debts and a secret revealed about her family history and ultimate future.
I LOVED this book! Although I lament the fact that current fantasy writers have overused the European mythologies to the point of cliche, The Iron Fey takes these myths and breathe new life into them. I loved the idea of the Iron Fey seeing the old courts as the past while they, purveyors of iron, current and advanced technology are the future. The characters are fully developed with Megan being a down to Earth character who is a bit of an outcast in our world but soon finds her footing and strength in the Fey world. She never becomes overbearing to the point of arrogant, she always keeps her head even though her choices aren't always the best ones. I sympathized with her plight and loved her sayings. I was rooting for her to find her baby brother and survive each obstacle that was thrown her way.
I also loved the way the potential romance was handled here. Not to spoil too much but I had a feeling that someone close to her was more interested than he let on. Although that was left unsaid here, I have a feeling it'll be making head way again. I was torn between this character and princely one who is completely and utterly swoonable in the romantic sense. By the end, I was rooting for this character and gasped every time something happened to him. I hate to biased but I'm rooting that she ends up with the latter character. And if she doesn't want him, pass him on over to me!
The Iron King is one of those novels that you hate to put down. There's always something happening and always something about to happen that keeps the action and plot development well paced. It's a good and bad thing because I get to see what happens (good) but the fun is over faster (bad). It's also a bummer because I'm hoping my next read is just as satisfying. Kudos to Harlequin for presenting this in their new Teen line of books. I'm a new fan of Ms. Kagawa and while I'm clamoring for the next Iron Fey entry (August 2010, counting down the days!) I'll be checking out other books in HQN's line.
The Iron King is the first entry into my Best of 2010 Reads.
If you liked The Iron King and are looking for similar books. Might I suggest the following with similar themes and Fae mythology: