On the night Firebird Wilder learns she isn't a true Wilder (at least in blood), something stalks her family's ranch. The scent investigation by her b...moreOn the night Firebird Wilder learns she isn't a true Wilder (at least in blood), something stalks her family's ranch. The scent investigation by her brothers doesn't exclude a Varinski, but deep down Firebird knows who paid her family a visit.
State patrolman Douglas Wilder is determined to find his birth family who's abandoned him in the desert at his birth, leaving him to die. The family who's passed onto him the terrible gift of being able to turn into a cougar at will.
His search is temporarily detained by the sudden appearance of his former lover, the girl who left without an explanation three years ago. Firebird has a secret she can no longer keep, three years ago, Douglas has fathered a son, but the night she planned to tell him, she saw him change and fled for her life. After the news of her true heritage, she knows she's made a terrible mistake and is determined to right wrongs committed by her and by whomever tore the true Wilder son from his family.
But she isn't the only one keeping secrets and Doug's could be the most deadly of them all.
This book heralded the time of reckoning. The back story was heart wrenching, the peril palpable, the final battle wonderfully drawn, yet I couldn't help but feel there was something missing...This was definitely the weakest book in the series.
As with the first book in the series - Scent of Darkness - there was no *real* feeling between the two leads. Sure, lots of nice, sweet words and inner monologues about their feelings and betrayal yadda yadda, yet I didn't *feel* it. I'm all for second-chance-at-love, yet Firebird and Doug were a little too cold to make it believable. The only time the emotion was real was when Firebird discovered Doug's (other) secret. Doug on the other hand was a little cold throughout the story. One again it was explained by his childhood and youth as an abandoned child, but still, I wasn't convinced.
Also the two were pretty bland compared to the couples from the previous books, the tidbit about Doug working as a cop at such a nearly age (16) was iffy, and the Varinskis have lost a little of their demented charm in this installment, yet the final battle was still amazing.
Even the final confrontation and resolution between Doug and Firebird, which should've been...I don't know...great was lacking, so the only reason this book even got such a high rating was for the older Wilder brothers (they're always a hoot to read - grownup men acting like complete idiots), their wives/mates, and of course Zorana and Konstantine.
It was lovely how the whole story came full circle and ended where it began - with Konstantine and Zorana happy and in love.(less)
At day Karen Sonnet is building another hotel for her father's hotel chain deep in the Himalayas, at the foot of the "Evil Mountain", at night she's v...moreAt day Karen Sonnet is building another hotel for her father's hotel chain deep in the Himalayas, at the foot of the "Evil Mountain", at night she's visited in her tent by a mysterious lover. When the enraged mountain one day enacts her revenge on the construction site, nearly taking Karen's life in a rock slide, it is her lover that rescues her...Then promptly kidnaps her, whisking her off as his little wife-slave.
He is Warlord, leader of a band of mercenaries, a thorn in the side of the Chinese army. The Chinese army that's hired a ruthless Varinski to get rid of the Warlord problem. When the camp is attacked, Warlord sends Karen to safety with an ominous promise he would one day find her again.
Two years later Karen has finally put the traumatic experience behind her, when handsome and enigmatic Rick Wilder, baring an uncanny resemblance to Warlord, waltzes into her life. Presumed dead by his family, Adrik has emerged from the pit of Hell a new man, his soul saved by the woman who's captured his heart, the woman he promised he would find once again.
But can Karen forgive him? And if she can, will they stay alive long enough for him to savor it?
This was the darkest story in the series to far, and the most compelling one.
With Adrik Christina Dodd has created a wonderful character. He's dangerous, rotten to the core, violent, deadly, literally walking at the edge of the precipice, yet still beautiful and redeemable. He encompasses the two extreme poles of the human psyche, the black and white. At the beginning of the story he's so brutal, so uncaring to anything but his own desires, yet there's something skirting just below the facade that makes him impossible to despise fully. And when, coming face to face with the fact he isn't invincible, the realization of having let everybody down and faced with the love for an incredible woman, he finally transforms, redeems himself in his eyes and the eyes of those around him, the feeling is still bitter-sweet, for he knows he has to face the most ruthless enemy of all - how to gain the forgiveness of the woman he loves.
Karen, compared to her rather immature predecessors, was a breath of fresh air in this series. What she's suffered (though not of the same magnitude as what Ann and Tasya's ordeal) has shaped her, lent her strength, resilience, and determination. She's stubborn when it comes to forgiving Adrik, but rightfully so, considering what he put her through. But eventually she realizes what he's been through, how he suffered and how he's won, and knows he's truly changed. This is also thanks to the fact it was mostly because of her and what woman wouldn't find that balm for the ego.
The suspense was yet again wonderful, the action escalating into the final battle, with the just victory incredibly short-lived. I was crying like a baby at the injustice of it all, but thanks to Ms. Dodd's writing genius and a little help from the icon, I quickly found myself smiling through the tears.
This was an amazing book, a wonderful story of redemption in the face of love, and highly recommended by this reader.(less)
Rurik Wilder is determined to break the curse on his family and save his father's soul. He knows he's close to finding the missing piece of the holy i...moreRurik Wilder is determined to break the curse on his family and save his father's soul. He knows he's close to finding the missing piece of the holy icon that can accomplish all that. All clues point to a cave, an ancient warrior's grave, on a small Scottish island, but Rurik isn't the only one adamant on finding that icon.
Photographer and writer Tasya Hunnicutt wants to find the icon to provide irrefutable proof on the Varinskis, the family that killed her parents. Unfortunately for her, Rurik, her lover, is also a Varinski.
The two embark on a perilous journey across Europe in hopes of locating the icon, dodging the Varinski assassins along the way. They're a little too resilient, but Tasya refuses to believe the rumors of the family's supernatural abilities, until Rurik is forced to give her a demonstration in order to save her life.
Now Tasya is forced to make a life-altering decision. Is it possible for a man of Varinski descent to feel any kind of tender emotion? And can she really trust him enough to place her life and heart in his hands?
Yet another winner—and an improvement from the first installment in this wonderful series.
Rurik is an easier character to relate to, compared to his brother Jasha. Rurik is scarred from a past accident when he was still an Air Force pilot. It was that accident that spurred him into denouncing somewhat his ability to change into a predator. He's also gentler than Jasha was in Scent of Darkness, yes, still using sex to bend his woman to his will, yet doing it with more "style and class". Rurik is also a lot quicker to admit his feelings, which is another plus.
Tasya...What to say about Tasya. Two immature, emotionally-inept, bitchy heroines in a row is almost too much to take, but at least Tasya came around a little quicker than her predecessor Ann. Which has mostly had to do with Rurik's behavior toward her. Still, I found all that secret-keeping a little tedious, when everybody with half a brain could figure the part of the story about her origins just by examining her name. Duh!
Ms. Dodd heightened the action and peril another notch in this one and expanded on the main story-arc, dealing another tidbit about the possible unraveling of the pact with the Evil One. The conflict between Tasya and Rurik was a beauty of behold. From the beginning they never were on the same page and as soon as a truth was told, another secret sprouted out, and the two constantly skirted on the edge of betrayal.
There was also another great cliffy at the end, unfortunately I have the entire series, so it didn't create the desired effect, but still...Oh, boy. It made me itch to pick the next book immediately. As the series progresses the stories get more and more engaging and complex, so this series is definitely highly recommended by this satisfied reader.(less)
Scent of Darkness (Darkness Chosen Series #1) A thousand years ago a vicious warrior made a deal with the devil for his soul and the souls of all his...moreScent of Darkness (Darkness Chosen Series #1) A thousand years ago a vicious warrior made a deal with the devil for his soul and the souls of all his descendants. Thirty-five years ago, one of "the damned" defied the Evil One and his pact, fled, and married.
It is this family's destiny to break the curse by restoring the four missing pieces of a religious icon, or suffer eternal damnation.
It is the eldest son, Jasha, that's called first. With his ability to turn into a wolf, he's a predator to be reckoned with. But little does he suspect that when he returns from his wild run with his brethren, that a woman might be waiting for him in the privacy of his secluded home.
Ann Smith, Jasha's administrative assistant has had a major crush on her gorgeous boss since she's started working for him four years ago. When she finally musters enough courage to pursue him, she sees a huge wolf turn into the man she lusts for, and inadvertently stumbles smack in the middle of the dark prophecy.
For when Jasha pursues his terrified assistant into the woods in the middle of the storm, a lightning spits a tree, leading Ann to a piece of the missing icon.
One of my favorite authors, Christina Dodd never fails in delivering a great read. This is her first venture into the paranormal, but what a start!
The best part of this book, besides the back-story of the ancient deal with the devil and prophecies to go with it, was definitely the Wilder family. Their close-knit relationship, the fact Zorana, instead of her bear of a husband was the head of the family, how the two of them quickly quelled any argument from their children. A good old Slavic family, drinking vodka in the evening, loud, boisterous, utterly and completely loving. I adored how quickly and easily they took Ann under their wing, though the suspicion it was so solely thanks to her finding the icon remained throughout the story.
Jasha was pure alpha (in human and wolf form) with a heart of gold, completely dedicated to his family...Yet I found his pursuit of Ann a little to animalistic, regarding what we learned about his father and his discipline throughout the story. I know all men are animals at heart, but still, I couldn't blame the woman for not believing his feelings toward the end...And as with all alphas, it took quite a shocker to wake him up and realize his Ann was a complete contradiction, and utterly frustrating in the second part of the book. Her "secret" and resulting angst of bad people coming was a bit childish and immature for an astute business woman (that Jasha said she was). Also her "love" for Jasha soon seemed to be merely an infatuation. After all the lengths she went through to "get him", all that strong love quickly evaporated when she learned of his secret. Isn't love supposed to conquer all?! And then her stubbornness toward the end. Insecurities reared their ugly heads. It could be safe to say everything stemmed from her childhood circumstances, but still, the whole God-fearing thing got boring after a while, when all could be resolved quickly just by a simple, honest, open conversation.
So the romance was almost nonexistent, and even what there was between Jasha and Ann was overshadowed by the brief glimpses of the love story between his parents, Zorana and Konstantine. Now, that's love!
Yet, the absence of romance didn't deter from the story, although it is the romance that is usually needed in stories about breaking a curse (again, love conquers all). It was the "history" that drove this plot forward, the intense, fast-paced, keep-you-at-the-edge-of-the-seat action, and brief, yet belly-clutching moments of humor.
Even though Jasha and Ann were flawed, they were superbly flawed, so different, both in character than in background, that despite it all, I couldn't help it but root for them. Ms. Dodd's strength is her characterization, and though the two might not come off as extremely likable, the reader still feels strongly about them. All their flaws and deficiencies is what made this couple so real and why this book was still such a pleasure to read.
And make me giddy for more...Because the cliff-hanger at the end—oh, boy!(less)
**spoiler alert** This book suffers from short-storiness, if you ask me. As we all know it's tough writing short stories, since you have to cramp up a...more**spoiler alert** This book suffers from short-storiness, if you ask me. As we all know it's tough writing short stories, since you have to cramp up a plot, believable characters and their development, romance, and the resolution in approx. 100 pages, give or take a page or two.
And though some anthologies are pretty decent (at least parts of some anthologies), this is not the case with Once Upon A Pillow.
The four stories revolve around a famous bed - The Bed. Which is pretty nifty if you ask me, if it weren't all botched up.
The first story, set in the Middle Ages, about how The Bed came to be was pretty sweet, with a battle-scarred hero that is still a decent, piece-loving guy despite having "served time" in a Saracen prison. The heroine though comes through as a blood-thirsty wench on her way to sainthood. Throw in three blood-thirsty monks, a young would-be suitor and you have Connie Brockway's story.
There is not much background for the characters, no development whatsoever. One day they're married by proxy with her hating his guts and him just calmly taking it all in stride and the next they're madly in love with each other and making master's sons.
Christina Dodd takes the quill next for an Elizabethan era would-be-romp, which is just plain weird, if you ask me. The hero kidnaps the heroine thinking it's her cousin, that in reality set the heroine up to be "ruined" because she hates her. So the heroine, trying to make the best of things, turns the hero's castle into a well-run household and his battle-weary men into gentlemen in a day.
The two resist their attraction, because he must marry a heiress to keep his castle and his lands, but they end up in The Bed anyway, because her friend and his friend set them up. But even after they did the deed he still needs an heiress and she leaves only to fall into the clutches of her uncle that tries to kills her, but the hero saves her, she turns out to be an heiress and they all lived happily ever after.
The third story, once again by Ms. Brockway, is a little too similar to Ms. Dodd's story in My Scandalous Bride. There are smugglers, a suspected brother (though he's alive), a huge misunderstanding between hero and heroine, and the hero ending up chained to the bed. The only difference is the fact that they use chains and the heroine ends up in the same predicament.
At least this one had a semblance of a backstory to it.
The fourth, wrapping up The Bed saga is a contemporary by Ms. Dodd, and it just freaked me out. Up to a few months past the heroine had apparently been one of the rare twenty-something virgins in England, the hero "deflowered" her and in a bout of chivalrous behavior immediately asked her to marry her.
That which would have worked nicely for a historical, is just a right-hook into the teeth for a twenty-first century romance. What the heck?!
The plot basically leaked like a barrel after a rundown with Al Capone's men. Besides the obvious ludicrous backstory of a one night of passion ending up in a marriage proposal, there are some more smugglers and Interpol agents thrown in the mix, with the final revelation of the hero's true heritage.
All in all, I give it four stars for the welcome workout my eyes underwent with all the rolling.(less)
I admit to buying this book because the cover bore Christina Dodd's name, but her story The Lady and the Tiger was a huge disappointment. Don't get m...moreI admit to buying this book because the cover bore Christina Dodd's name, but her story The Lady and the Tiger was a huge disappointment. Don't get me wrong, I love steamy scenes, but there were too many crammed up in a novella. Instead of exploring the spy plot more fully, Ms. Dodd concentrated on the lead couple's sexapades at times plunging the plot into weak chick-porn.
Stephanie Laurens's Melting Ice was a pleasant surprise. There was still enough steam to boil Chinese dumplings, but at least she gave her characters an extremely believable back story that made the reader root for the two to finally clear the humongous misunderstanding and have their deserved HEA.
Celeste Bradley's Wedding Knight was a delight to read. Though the premise was quite outrageous to begin with, the plot was charming, the two leads at first glance complete opposites, yet so similar. Maybe the "mystery" took a little too long to unravel, resulting in a hasty, rather patched-up ending, but still, this story was an endearing one. It most definitely put Ms. Bradley on my map.
Leslie LaFoy's The Proposition is another little gem in this quartet of novellas. It's a bittersweet and poignant take on "the second chance" everyone deserves yet few get. Rennick's words "I'll wait for you, Julia. For as long as I must." give additional emotional weight to the already deep story of second chances and the difference between forgiving and forgetting, yet ending up doing both.(less)
Seven years ago the Prescott siblings were separated after their parent's tragic death.
Hope, the oldest, is still searching for the others, while earn...moreSeven years ago the Prescott siblings were separated after their parent's tragic death.
Hope, the oldest, is still searching for the others, while earning a living working for an answering service.
Zachariah Givens, a wealthy businessman, hires her service, but Hope foolishly mistakes him for the butler. Charmed and tired of being treated like royalty because of his wealth, Zack doesn't correct her.
Their quick friendship blossoms into love and Zack is willing to do anything to keep Hope at his side. But that is the least of his problems when Hope discovers the truth.
Zack knows that the only way for her to even think of forgiving him is to try to solve the mystery of her past.
Reading this book made me smile, though Zack's predicament of trying to find someone who loves him for himself and not his money is as old as time.
There is enough mystery involving Hope's past and the strange separation from her siblings, to pull the sometimes slowing plot forward.
Since this is a series which I haven't yet been able to finish, I'm looking forward to a final resolution in the last book.(less)
Since she was a girl Celeste Milford was in love with Ellery Throckmonton. But a gardener's daughter has no chances of winning the heart of one of the...moreSince she was a girl Celeste Milford was in love with Ellery Throckmonton. But a gardener's daughter has no chances of winning the heart of one of the England's most desired men.
After receiving her polish at the Distinguished Academy of Governesses, Celeste returns to her childhood home, a refined, beautiful lady about to get her dream man, Ellery, but his brother gets in the way.
Garrick Throckmonton had no intention of letting anyone interfere with his brother's wedding, least of all the gardener's daughter, ravishing as she might be, and though Celeste finds his meddling and constant presence infuriating, she cannot help but wander just how scorching the passion she sees in his eyes might be.
The resemblance to Sabrina cannot go unnoticed, but there is so much more going for this story, you'll soon forget the minute similarities.
There is even a spy thrown into the mix to keep you at the edge of the seat, though there is no need to worry that this book will keep you awake at night. It's a prefect epitome of a light beach read.(less)
Enid MacLean is finally at peace with herself and her life when her husband, the man she hoped never to lay eyes on again, is wounded in an explosion...moreEnid MacLean is finally at peace with herself and her life when her husband, the man she hoped never to lay eyes on again, is wounded in an explosion and she has to nurse him back to health.
Unfortunately, he's forgotten everything. Grateful for his wife's presence, he reaches out to her, seducing her anew, rekindling her love... and his.
Despite her reservations, Enid give in to the temptation, but things are seldom what they seem.
Another wonderful historical romance by Christina Dodd. At first the story might appear predictable and been-there-done-that, but the extraordinary plot twist in the middle completely shifts the plot, the characters, and their perception of what is real and what not.
Miss Samantha Prendergast is on a mission. She's to be the governess of six little girls. Though not an easy task at first, she quickly charms the lit...moreMiss Samantha Prendergast is on a mission. She's to be the governess of six little girls. Though not an easy task at first, she quickly charms the little tykes, but their father is another story altogether.
Tall, dark, and handsome, Colonel William Gregory is all about order and discipline, until the new governess challenges everything he believe in. She's distracting, has absolutely no regard for authority, she's witty, and breathtakingly beautiful.
Despite their differences, the two are inexplicably drawn to each other, up to the point when the Colonel is contemplating marriage.
The only problem is the little secret Samantha's been keeping from everybody, a secret too dangerous to ever be revealed.
When her past emerges, will Samantha and William still have a chance for a happily ever after?
And the ending will bring a smile to the face of even the most disgruntled anti-romantic.
Though this book was a little too similar to The Sound of Music for comfort, it was still a refreshing little gem to be savored.
Ms. Dodd has an uncanny knack to bring her characters to life before the reader's eyes. So much in fact that, despite the predictability of the plot, one cannot help but avidly turn the pages to discover just what will happen next.(less)