**spoiler alert** Although this isn't near my favorite book by Catherine Anderson, it was a very good. I loved Tucker and Samantha. Even though I felt...more**spoiler alert** Although this isn't near my favorite book by Catherine Anderson, it was a very good. I loved Tucker and Samantha. Even though I felt that the balance was a bit off between the mystery/suspense element and the romance development, I did feel their connection and the love between them. Tucker, like most of Catherine Anderson's heroes, is just wonderful. He falls pretty hard for Samantha and does a great job of showing it, although he does something that momentarily feeds into Samantha's residual insecurities from her divorce and bad marriage. Otherwise, a girl couldn't ask for a better hero. Samantha felt true to life, and was a woman that I would admire in real life and possibly become friends with, if we traveled in the same circles. I liked that although she came from money, she was very grounded and a kind, warm person. She loved her horses very much, and it was abundantly clear.
I also loved how Ms. Anderson showed family interactions. That's always a good part of a book to see characters with loving families, although things are not always 100% perfect. Although Samantha's father and brothers were controlling and meddling in Samantha's eyes, you could clearly see that they cared about her and were trying to watch out for her. I could see how Samantha felt stifled and wanted to make her own decisions. I am the youngest daughter and I have family who think loving is telling people what decisions they can make and how to live their lives. It can be frustrating, but this book reminded me to consider that these people are showing love, perhaps in ways that may bother, but love all the same. I was actually pretty envious of Samantha having all those protective older brothers. I always wanted that. Another enjoyable aspect for me, seeing Tucker with this close-knit family. It was nice to catch up with Jake and Molly from Sweet Nothings.
I think that some readers will have issues with the significant degree of the narrative that was focused on the horse aspects. I actually enjoyed that. Although I am a surburban girl who was never around livestock until I went to college, I have become horse-mad later on in life. I think they are beautiful, fascinating animals. It broke my heart to see Samantha's horses poisoned and how they suffered from that. I can't imagine doing something like that to animals for any reason. I cried when she had to bury her horses that died. I loved the medicine aspects, finding it very interesting. With my background in animal medicine, it was sort of a no-brainer that I'd like that, but I could see the descriptions of the medical care that Tucker administered possibly being dry for some readers who are not interested in horses or medicine. I think he was an exceptional vet, really caring and devoted to doing a good job for his patients.
Although I think this could rub a non-religious person the wrong way, I actually liked that Samantha was a person of faith, and you could see evidence of that in her daily life. I think it's important to show a person of faith who does walk the walk, instead of professing something that is not evident through her behavior. I don't feel that Ms. Anderson was too heavy-handed in this book with it. I haven't read many books were the characters were devout Catholics, so that was interesting for me.
I wouldn't rate this book as a five star because of the intrigue plot being a little too much of a focus. I would have liked to see a little more romantic moments between Tucker and Samantha, although I enjoyed what was there. Also I had a little pet peeve with a small part of the story. I am hugely against declawing cats, which is the removal of the last digit of their toes. I find it cruel and unnecessary. It can be done painlessly, but it does cause residual soreness and effects on animals when it's not a crucial surgery. I think it was a little jarring for a major message of this story to be against cruelty to animals, but mention Tucker performing a procedure that I feel is not beneficial and necessary to most cats. I am not saying that a caring, conscientious veterinarian cannot perform this procedure, but my personal beliefs against declawing made it hard to swallow in a story that seemed to speak so strongly against animal cruelty. Most likely, this would not bother most readers. But, it did bother me. I mean no offense against Ms. Anderson, but it's food for thought that I felt necessary to add to this review. Most laypersons do not really understand the mechanics of this procedure, and that it's not necessary, and that was one of my things I tried to educate clients on. I learned to do this procedure, but made a decision not to do it in practice, based on my personal beliefs against it. Sorry for the PSA! This is a subject close to my heart, so I couldn't leave that out of my review.
Another issue I had was how they kept referring to one of Samantha's employee's Carrie, as mannish and homely. Her attempts to pretty herself up were made to seem clownish. That just felt mean to me. I realize this was tied in heavily to the overall story, but it seemed shallow. Not all women are going to be small, delicate, and drop-dead gorgeous. Beauty comes in all shape and sizes. It's hard for me to see people treated badly because they don't fit the popular modes of beauty. Carrie did something truly awful, and I don't let her off the hook for it. But the judgment of her shouldn't hinge on her looks or lack thereof. I wasn't quite comfortable with how that was handled, to be honest.
Despite my issues, and all in all, this was a very pleasant read, and one I will be adding to my keeper shelf with her other books. I love Catherine Anderson's stories because they are full of heart. I was glad to be able to reconnect with the Coulters and to meet the Harrigans. I look forward to reading more of the stories in this series. (less)
The Wedding managed to make its way up into the ranks of Garwood books that earned a five star rating. Why? Because this book took me from laughing hy...moreThe Wedding managed to make its way up into the ranks of Garwood books that earned a five star rating. Why? Because this book took me from laughing hysterically, to being angry enough for my blood pressure to shoot up (or so my throbbing temples testified to), to being so sad I wanted to cry. Also, it's just darn entertaining.
I've read many, many romance novels in my thirty-some years, and Julie Garwood has a way of writing singular heroines, like no other author. On first glance, they seem too sweet to be believed. But, their sweetness is completely genuine. Her heroines are so kind and loving, that you'd have to be a big jerk to hate them. As for me, I love them. Brenna certainly was no different. The poor girl. She really went through the wringer in this book, and Connor contributed significantly to her suffering. At times, I did want to take a frying pan to his thick skull. Of course, I realize that he's emotionally stunted from the tragedy of his father's betrayal and death, and the murder of most of his clan. His deathbed promise to his father was what drove him, and marriage was only a secondary concern. He's a hard man, and it took him sometime to realize that his husband skills needed improvement. You cannot put wives away on shelves to gather dust until you want to play with them, man! Thankfully, love conquers all.
This was a very good book, and I didn't want to put it down. Brenna won my heart, and I was very glad that Connor got a clue. I loved the secondary cast of characters, such as Connor's men Quinlan and Crispin, and his people, Father Sinclair, her family, and of course, Laird Alec and Lady Jamie. I'm not sure if medieval Scotland in any way resembles this book, but I almost want to go there just to enjoy the ambience (despite the lack of indoor plumbing).
I don't have it in me to write a long review right now, so this will have to suffice. How does Ms. Garwood do it? Write such brilliant comedy, but scenes that are ripe with emotional anguish? Those diametrically opposed tones shouldn't go together, but she manages it. Although some parts wrenched at my heart at what poor Brenna went through, I felt that things worked out very well. I know that Connor will never, ever take her for granted again. He'll realize just how precious the love he has with Brenna, and how that was more important than the vengeance his father swore him to. She snuck her way into his heart, just like she did mine.
Darn! I wish I had time to go back and read all her historicals again!(less)
Summer Knight starts with Harry in a very dark place. He is reeling from the fact that his girlfriend has left him, and she's been changed into a near...moreSummer Knight starts with Harry in a very dark place. He is reeling from the fact that his girlfriend has left him, and she's been changed into a near-vampire by the Red Court of Vampires. He feels personally responsible, and is desperate for a way to help her. This despair has affected him to a deep level, and he's barely functioning, living in a pig-sty, and not even taking cases or taking care of himself. It was very hard to see him like that. And things don't get better for Harry. Because he's facing judgment by the White Council of wizards, who are out for his blood, and he has to prove that he's not a troublemaker or they're going to deliver him signed and sealed to the vampires, who won't sit him down for tea and sandwiches. They'll kill him, and make it hurt. His only way out is to prove his allegiance to the White Council by opening up routes into Faerie so they can get away from the vampires. In order to do that, he has to make nice with the Faeries. Luckily, or unluckily, the Winter Queen Mab shows up at his office, 'asking' his help to solve the case of who killed the Summer Knight, thus stealing away some of the Seelie's Court's power and upsetting the power balance between Seelie and Unseelie Courts. Trust me, that's not a good thing, and could very well lead to the end of the world. By asking Harry, that means he doesn't get to say no, since his faerie godmother sold his debt to her to Queen Mab. Complicated? Yes it is. But that's par for the course for Harry.
Harry Dresden doesn't get it easy. He just gets it not as hard, sometimes at least. Life for him seems to go from one battle to the next. And he has plenty of battle-scars. But, he doesn't give up. He keeps on trucking. I couldn't love him more for that. Harry is at his snarkiest in this book. The man's mouth is a sharply-honed instrument, and he knows how to use it. And, he shows that he's definitely an alpha male, with his take charge, 'try to stop me' attitude, despite his endearingly self-deprecating manner. He might seem like a ne'er do well, but he's resourceful, strong-willed, and at heart, definitely a white knight.
Summer Knight wasn't an easy read for me. The print in my book was way too small, and Mr. Butcher has a very descriptive, detail-oriented writing style. But, it was a fantastic read. Mr. Butcher takes faerie and concocts a delectable story around it. I've read quite a few faerie stories, and he still managed to bring some new images and concepts to the table. I love what he does with Faerie. And I loved the Faerie smackdown at the end of this story. I felt like I was right there, with a ringside seat on the action. I was cheering for Harry and his gang of werewolves and faerie changelings, and wincing as he takes his share of licks. And if you've ever read a Dresden novel, you know that Harry is always, always getting hurt. But, he just keeps on going. Gosh, I love this man!
Mr. Butcher really took me on a nonstop ride. I was feeling all Harry's pain. I didn't enjoy seeing him suffering the way he does in this book, and I hope that he does find peace over Susan. Even still, with all his personal anguish, he manages to save the day, yet again, and give me more than a few laughs in the process. It was great to see tough as nails Karrin Murphy, the Chicago Police Detective that he consults on 'weird' cases with, fight at his side against an ogre, chlorofiend (plant monster), and ghoul assassin at the local Walmart. Hats off to Mr. Butcher for yet another grand adventure with Harry Dresden. I better rest up so I can be ready for the next one!(less)
This was a great anthology. I enjoyed each story, and I breezed right through it.
My thoughts of each story:
Spellbound by LA Banks. This was a fun sto...moreThis was a great anthology. I enjoyed each story, and I breezed right through it.
My thoughts of each story:
Spellbound by LA Banks. This was a fun story about two star-crossed lovers who happen to be part of voodoo/root-practitioner families who hate each other. The Hatfields versus the McCoys, except they are Black. I laughed a lot, and some of the characters reminded me of some family members on both sides (minus the voodoo-practicing part). Both the hero and the heroine were virgins. This is probably my favorite story by Banks now, although I do love her other short stories that I've read. Five stars.
Something Borrowed by Jim Butcher. I just love Harry Dresden. In this story, he is helping his friend Billy the Werewolf get married. Too bad a miffed faerie stole his bride and decided to take her place. But Harry is on the case, with a little help from Detective Murphy. Five stars.
Dead Man's Chest by Rachel Caine. What a pleasant surprise. A bride gets talked into getting married on a pirate ship by her fiance. It turns out the pirates are all dead and under a curse. And her fiance had some nefarious motives. But, true love conquers all. Between the erstwhile bride and the pirate captain. Great fun. It helped that Captain Lockhart reminded me of an Anne Stuart hero. I'm so easy that way. Five stars.
All Shook Up by PN Elrod. This was an interesting story. I think Elvis fans would really love it. There is a wedding singer who has an uncannily perfect imitation of Elvis going on, and an ability to help the wedding couple along their course of true love. An ability shared by the caterer, who is the main protagonist. I'm not a big Elvis fan (although I like a lot of his songs), so it was weird how the hero was sort of possessed by the spirit of Elvis, but I still enjoyed it. Four Stars.
The Wedding of Wylda Serene by Esther M. Friesner. This story made me laugh. I enjoyed the whimsical feel, and the slyly ironic narration. A bastion of upper class entitlement is plagued by mythical creatures, in time to 'spoil' a sweet, young debutante's wedding. This is a must-read for Greek mythology enthusiasts. Four and 1/2 stars.
Charmed by the Moon by Lori Handeland. I haven't read any of the books in her Nightcreature series, and this is a follow-up story about Jessie and Will from Blue Moon. They are getting married, but Jessie is having cold feet, not sure if their feelings are true for each other. They go on a spirit journey to find that out when they find a love charm in Will's ceremonial wedding gear. I really liked this story. The magic and the mysticism hit the right note with me. It has a bittersweet feel as their HEA is not my ideal, but I can understand the choice they made for the dangerous world they live in. Four and 1/2 stars.
Tacky by Charlaine Harris. When I read Ms. Harris' stories, I usually teeter on the edge of sincere admiration for her imagination, amusement, and a bit of cheesy overload, all at the same time. I sort of like the goofy approach she has to the paranormal world, but sometimes it feels too goofy. I like the way she pokes fun at Southerners in a goodnatured way. I must say this was an unusual wedding, with the bride being a vampire, and the groom being a werewolf, and human fundamentalist assassins attacking the wedding party. For some reason, the main protagonist, Dahlia, kept making me think of Pam from the TrueBlood show, although she's hetero. Four stars.
A Hard Day's Night-Searcher by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Yay. A Black Dark-Hunter paired with a Black female Squire. Thank you, Ms. Kenyon. This is about Rafael Santiago, who was a pirate in his mortal life, and OCD Squire Celena, who's afraid to lose yet another Dark-Hunter to the ongoing battle with the Daimons. They end up crashing an Apollite wedding teeming with Daimons. This was a really good story, but it felt way too short to me. Sort of an abbreviated version of a full-length Dark-Hunter novel. Everything was resolved, but I felt like I wanted more. Four stars.
"...Or Forever Hold Your Peace" by Susan Krinard. I liked the Victorian paranormal feel of this story. This is a paranormal mystery in which Olivia and Kit, a crime-solving duo, work to find a bride who was kidnapped from her wedding, using their Talents. This is an alternate England called Albion, where most people have some sort of magical Talent. Olivia can see inside a person's body to see their anatomy, and Kit can change into a large Black Dog. It was fun and had the pulp fiction, neo-Victorian vibe I love. I felt the tone could have been a little more vibrant for maximum enjoyment, but I'd love to read more of Kit and Olivia's adventures. Four stars.
I really want to give this collection five stars, mainly based on the first three stories and the overall appealing vibe it holds, despite the preponderance of stories not reaching five stars. So I will. Recommended to fans of humorous paranormal/supernatural fiction, be it urban fantasy or paranormal, with a little gaslit Victorian mystery thrown in.(less)
I love you, Susan Napier. This is why you're my favorite Harlequin Presents author. What's wrong with being a career-oriented woman? What's wrong with...moreI love you, Susan Napier. This is why you're my favorite Harlequin Presents author. What's wrong with being a career-oriented woman? What's wrong with being highly educated and working in the business world? What does that do for your dating chances and what sacrifices will you have to make?
Emma faces this situation and I cheered her along. I could understand what she was going through. Just because she liked children, could cook, and had an earth mother vibe didn't mean that was all she wanted in her life. I could understand the armor she used in a world where men are so comfortable calling the shots and forcing women to jump through hoops or prove they belong there. You have to be very careful about every word you say, every step you take. And yes, you do become paranoid. And better yet, Emma didn't have to give up anything to get her happy ending. She could be a career woman and she could love kids and want a family. Yes, you can do both.
I liked Frazer a lot. He had that teasing, arrogant in a good way vibe that Napier handles so well with her heroes. He only made me mad one time in this book for what he says to Emma about when Tom (his son) got sick. But I sure did cheer when Emma got him told. And he knew he was wrong for it and apologized and owned up to his vulnerabilities. He loved that Emma was a fierce woman who stood up for herself and knew how to handle herself. His courtship is a bit sneaky, but I didn't find him manipulative or undermining of Emma because of what he wanted with her or wanted her to be. He wanted her to be with him and be happy with who she was. The power plays don't have to dictate this relationship and I appreciate that they don't. Parity is so desirable in a man/woman relationship, and I love seeing this dynamic in a romance novel. Yes, yes, more HP books like this. Please write more, Ms. Napier.
I like the message here. Womanhood is not one thing. Womanhood is many things. A woman who handles her business doesn't have to be a Sex and the City heroine to be modern. If that shoe doesn't fit, then not every woman has to buy a pair and force herself into it. If her values don't fit that model, she is doing herself harm to force it onto herself. On the other hand, a woman can't suppress who she is deep inside because others want her to. In the office, be a professional, but be your own woman all the time. That's what I liked in this book, Emma coming to embrace who she was and not worry about what she wasn't. To me, that is the message behind feminism. Women having the ability to decide for themselves what they want in their individual lives, even if that doesn't look like the woman standing next to her, and especially not what men tell them they should want.
This was a very good book. Fun, enlightening, sexy, inspiring. I had read this before years earlier, and I appreciate it more as a woman in my 30s who has experienced some of those challenges in the career world that Emma deals with. This will definitely go on my faves list by this author and as a Harlequin Presents reader overall.(less)
I was glad to come back for another visit with the Blaylocks. I love the atmosphere in this book. The modern Western feel. Small town life. Family and...moreI was glad to come back for another visit with the Blaylocks. I love the atmosphere in this book. The modern Western feel. Small town life. Family and friends, and everything in between. The strong, tough Western hero. Rio might not make a habit of wearing his heart on his sleeve, but he feels deeply and woos Paloma with every bone in his body. Works for me! I felt the language was a bit repetitive at times, but I did love the physical and emotional bond between Rio and Paloma, and how Rio slowly showed Paloma that she could open up to him and have a home and family with him. With her sad childhood with a mother who used her and neglected her, she needed to be shown rather than told that she could be safe in a relationship with Rio. To know that she was worthy of being loved. I think he did that.
Although not a technically perfect book, there was enough substance here for me to say I really liked it. Paloma is a survivor, and strong enough to overcome demons of the past to believe in and invest in a future with Rio and in Jasmine, Wyoming. As for Rio, he was yummy. The song "Where have all the cowboys gone?" by Paula Cole comes to mind. If only he was real!(less)
I love reading anthologies, so I never really got why a lot of romance readers don't care much for anthologies. Well, I tend to read fantasy and horro...moreI love reading anthologies, so I never really got why a lot of romance readers don't care much for anthologies. Well, I tend to read fantasy and horror anthologies for the most part. This is probably one of the first bigger romance ones I've read. I get it now! It gets pretty dull to read sex scene after sex scene. The only thing that broke the monotony were the paranormal elements, and seeing how each author created a story out of that starting point. Some authors did a better job than others of engaging me. Overall, I would say I'm leaning towards being mildly disappointed with this anthology, but it's really for the reasons of what appeals to me. I love romance. I love the tension and the emotion of seeing a couple meet, fall in love, and decide they want to spend their lives together. It's kind of hard to do that in a very short story, especially the ones that are supposed to be very steamy. I either ended up feeling like the couples had some hot chemistry, but not really buying the true love, or wanting more because things ended too quickly. In general, the stories that leaned towards urban fantasy made more of an impression on me, because the focus was on the plot and the worldbuilding.
I'll give a basic recap of my feelings on the stories.
"Music Hath Charms" by Tanya Huff. Quite interesting. Not a romance. More of a sexy urban fantasy story. I wanted a different ending than the one I got, but I'd give it four stars because she used the Greek sirens myth to such good effect.
"Minotaur in Stone" by Marjorie Liu. I absolutely loved this story. It shows the potential of a well-done paranormal romantic short story. All the mythic aspects, the longing, the feeling of a couple falling for each other and striving for their happy ending. It was unique and really took a different spin on the Greek minotaur myth. What a joy to read. Five stars.
"Demon Lover" by Cheyenne McCray. I have mixed feelings about this story. I thought the use of incubus lore was well done. The language was too raunchy for me and it was too focused on the sex acts. However, I have to admit this was a romantic story at its heart. The theme of self-sacrifice moved me. More than anything, I don't go for this kind of steam level, I think. Readers who like more erotic fare would enjoy this one more than I did. 4 stars.
"Equinox" by LA Banks. I've found I tend to enjoy LA Banks' short stories very much. But, I think this is my least favorite. It didn't quite come together very well. I couldn't tell if she was going for a humorous tone or not. I liked the concept, Artemis coming to the modern world with her nymphs to punish those who destroyed the environment. She drew in the story of Artemis and Acteon, the human she changed into a stag for watching her bathe naked, and shot full of arrows as punishment. In this case, she changed executives of companies that were raping the environment into stags. It was a very good idea. I liked the hero, who was a special forces guy. It was great seeing black characters in this setting. Who said Artemis couldn't be Black? Kudos for that. This story had a lot going for it, but it just felt a little unpolished and hurried in the execution. All and all, I'd say this was a four star story.
"Ride a Dark Horse" by Susan Krinard. Being horse-mad, I did appreciate that aspect of this story. However, it felt kind of ho-hum, like a hundred other paranormal romances. The ending was a bit rushed as well. Three stars.
"To Die For" by Keri Arthur. I could see readers loving this story. I liked the horrific/dark fantasy elements. I didn't think it was romantic. It was more of a "we're hot for each other and have been for a while, so let's see where this is going" kind of execution. I don't like the whole HFN thing, so that left me cold. Plus the love scenes seemed disruptive in the sense that they were in the middle of finding their boss's missing nephew and hunting a very scary, evil killer. The sex interludes seemed unwise and disruptive. Ms. Arthur is a good writer, and it was a pretty scary story, so I'd give it a four stars on those terms, even though it failed as a romance for me.
"Curse of the Dragon's Tears" by Heidi Betts really left me with a blah feeling. I think her writing doesn't work for me. It was very standard paranormal romance story with cursed hero and heroine determined to save him with her love/lust. Let's have lots of hot sex and maybe we can figure out how to reverse the curse. It didn't do much for me. 3 stars.
"Brother's Keeper" by Lilith Saintcrow. This is my first story by this author, and I like her imagination. This story had very hot chemistry, and it was dark and kind of disturbing. The only thing that made the execution flawed was the internal monologue of the heroine. Selene would talk to herself in her head, and because it was 3rd person, it just seemed intrusive. I really think this should have been a 1st person story. I loved Nikolai. He was yummy! I'd like to read more of these characters. 4 stars.
"(Like a) Virgin of the Spring" by Susan Sizemore and Denise Little. Great premise muddied down by too much sex. Pretty cool how they worked time travelers into the King Arthur lore. I think if there was less sex and more story, this would have been close to five stars. As it was, more of a 3.5 star story.
"Life is the Teacher" by Carrie Vaughn. This woman can write. She took the paranormal premise and created a literary feel to this story that sucked me in. Emma's a fledgling vampire who is going on her first hunt. You feel all her sadness, the impasse she faces as she confronts her old life, where she doesn't belong anymore, and embarking on a new life as a creature of the night. It was poignant and also evocative. The sensuality was well-incorporated and fit the mood of this story about Emma's awakening to her life as a vampire. 4.5 stars.
"Moonlight Becomes You" by Linda Winstead Jones. This story had a humorous element, as a young woman investigates her neighbor, who she believes to be a vampire. It helps that he's sexy, and seems interested in her. I liked the twist in this story. 4 stars.
"Dirty Magic" by Kim Harrison was a beautiful, yet disturbing story. Mia the Banshee deals with her forbidden love for a young musician. His love is an irresistible lure to a creature who is drawn to and who feeds off the emotions of humans. I didn't really like the way this ended, but it was superbly-written. 4 stars.
I was tired after finishing this volume. I definitely needed a break from the paranormal sex motif. As I do with most anthologies, this would have worked better if I read it on and off. But, reading the stories back to back made some of the lesser-involving ones a chore to read.
Overall rating: 4 stars. Nothing truly bad, just some that didn't work for me. Marjorie Liu's story definitely was the shining star in this collection.
Heat Stroke begins chronologically almost immediately after Ill Wind. It starts out rather like a paranormal romance. A lot of time is devoted to Joan...moreHeat Stroke begins chronologically almost immediately after Ill Wind. It starts out rather like a paranormal romance. A lot of time is devoted to Joanne's relationship with David, who has made her into a djinn, since she died horribly in the last book. Although they don't come out and say it, there's definitely a strong emotional tie between them that I'd call love. David seems a little more committed than Joanne, and I'm not sure how I felt about that (Joanne is still sorting out her feelings). They spend a lot of time getting to know each other, with the major objective of David trying to teach her to be a djinn.
Joanne loves her connection with David, and likes being a djinn, although it's very intense--their perceptions are a lot more intense than humans, and it throws her for a loop. Rahel, a djinn that Joanne had a few run-ins with in Ill Wind shows up. Her task is to escort Joanne and David to David's friend, and the most powerful djinn in the world, Jonathan, where she finds out the enormous price David paid to save her life. Jonathan is not too happy with Joanne, but out of his loyalty to David, he gives her one week to learn to exist as a djinn without drawing on her connection to David. If she can't adjust, then her number is up.
Unfortunately, learning to be a djinn doesn't turn out to be the biggest of Joanne's problems. There is a huge imbalance in the forces that control the weather, fire, and the earth, causing potentially major catastrophes to occur. With some odd anomalies in the aetheric, which is sort of an intangible layer in the upper spheres of the atmosphere where the Wardens and djinn manipulate the earth forces to control them, that turn out to be very dangerous, especially to the djinni. And then, there's a very wicked woman who wants control of David, and is willing to use Joanne to get that control. Yikes. Things get pretty wonky in this book.
Admittedly, Heat Stroke started out slowly. Don't get me wrong. I love my romance, but not as so much of the focus in an urban fantasy book. Frankly, I was starting to wonder when the action was going to start. I suppose that Ms. Caine planned it that way, because I was thrown for a loop with what happens next. Joanne finds out the hard way the worst part about being a djinn, when she gets claimed by a very troubled teenaged boy, under the guidance of the stepmonster from Hell, a woman that David hates with a burning passion.
Ms. Caine manages to skillfully weave this story with a rich mix of action, angst, sensuality, and the power of loves lost and found. Joanne is a good protagonist. She has some aspects that lend her narrative voice to chick lit, but at the same time, she has the credibility to be a good action heroine. She's quick thinking, and courageous, dealing with some pretty hairy situations, and trying to work around her new master, Kevin, who inspired a complex combination of sympathy and disgust within me (he has very poor hygiene, but it's for a reason which made me very sad).
I really liked the djinn aspects. It brought to mind the sly wit of "I Dream of Jeannie", but also the origin folklore of djinni (which I appreciate even more). The humor is good, and I liked the biting sarcasm, wry humor, and fashion-oriented voice of Joanne. Of course, I love David. He's quite a co-star in this book--with the potential to steal the show. Lewis (who I also love), Joanne's old flame and friend, and the most powerful Warden on Earth, has a big role, which looks like it will play out heavily in the next book.
So, despite the slowish start, and the fact that some of the atmospheric lingo and physics went over my head (although it was kind of interesting at the same time), this turned out to be a very good read. Ms. Caine more than delivers the goods with this second installment in the Weather Warden series. I'm not quite sure where she'll go with this story, but I'm definitely invested. The next book is definitely going to deal with some huge implications, based on the crazy cliffhanger in this book. I like the science and folklore aspects, and the message about how great power has even greater consequences, both in the right and wrong hands. I'd recommend this book to urban fantasy fans, but don't give up if the beginning drags a little.(less)
Belle Jamison is quite the heroine in this superhero-themed paranormal romance. She’s very ordinary, a working stiff like most of us. Sailing from men...moreBelle Jamison is quite the heroine in this superhero-themed paranormal romance. She’s very ordinary, a working stiff like most of us. Sailing from menial job to menial job (keeping none very long), with good intentions. She wants to take care of her ailing dad who sacrificed so much for her. One day, she literally runs into a mad scientist who doses her with a special formula in her mocha latte. A formula that makes her able to harness all the elements: earth, wind, fire, air and water. That puts her on the map for two vying supernatural agencies, one bad and one that works to protect the world from scrims (supernatural criminals). She meets super-sexy PSI agent Rome, and sparks fly, literally. Rome is sexy and lights a fire in Belle’s heart, but she can’t afford to let her libido make decisions for her now. Rome might be hot for her body, but his priorities are elsewhere. Can suddenly super Belle save herself, and maybe even the world?
This was a fun book. I love superheroes, and I liked the idea that Belle started out so normal. She has been fired from most of her jobs, she doesn’t have the best temper, and her luck with men is so-so. But deep down, Belle finds her destiny, and that’s not something you can run from. Along with the fun superhero elements, there is sexy, sizzling romance between Belle and Rome. Rome has some interesting secret powers of his own, and that was fun to discover. I also liked Tanner, the young man who Belle befriends, who turns out to have some abilities of his own. The superpower scenes are exciting, well-written, and often very funny. I could visualize this as a movie very easily.
This is classic Gena Showalter: fun, flirty, hilarious, and sexy paranormal romance, with a kickbutt heroine that you can’t help loving, even in all her snarkiness. I definitely recommend this book to readers who like superheroes, and want a tough (and mouthy) lead female who gets to do a whole lot of the saving and buttkicking herself. (less)
Unlawful Contact is another example of Pamela's Clare's ability to write top notch romantic suspense that satisfies both the heavy-duty romance fan wh...moreUnlawful Contact is another example of Pamela's Clare's ability to write top notch romantic suspense that satisfies both the heavy-duty romance fan who wants a true love story and the analytical reader who looks for realism in her fiction. In this case, her story is about Sophie and Marc aka Hunt, who met in high school, parted for twelve years, and came back together in a very explosive fashion.
Incidentally, I couldn't help but think about Arrested Development as I read this, since that is a very hilarious recurring joke on the show since Bluth Sr. is in prison.
There's a scene near the end of the book where I laughed out loud because it was such a reminder of this.
Okay, back on point!
I can't say I'm a fan of underage sex, fuddy duddy that I am. However, I think that Pamela Clare made their teenage encounter very romantic, and I felt the lasting and powerful bond they formed and why it was so meaningful. I'm glad she did show this, because it makes their later interactions and relationship have an added depth.
Sophie is both a sweet, caring person, but also tough and incisive as a character. Clare shows the integrity that journalists have and seem to largely lack in the public image we get from the media. I am glad that I had friends who strongly recommended that I read Extreme Exposure despite my dislike of journalists and politicians because Clare has caused me to re-evaluate my negative closed-mindedness of journalists by showing what they do, how seriously they take it, and how many sacrifices and risks that are involved in making sure that the news is fairly reported. I can't say I view the news media favorably over all still, but I am sure there are plenty of true believers with integrity in the industry.
Certainly, I've not walked Sophie's life journey, but I felt like I grew to know her and love her with each page I read. I can see why Hunt never forgot her or got over her. I can understand her willingness to trust and believe in Marc, and her determination to help him, even though she was torn after he kidnapped her.
As for Hunt, Oh my!!! I loved him. He is very tortured and his life pretty much sucked. It's sad to say that the best years of his life were when he was a military sniper in Afghanistan, and the short night he spent with Sophie. The burden of guilt he carried made me want to cry for him. Even though he is shown in a violent way early in the book, I knew that wasn't truly who he was. I knew that while prison turns many people into the basic, most animalistic parts of their natures, Marc managed to maintain that core of dignity despite six hard, hellish years inside. I loved him for that. I am afraid of prison, let's be honest. (Only my sister is more afraid of prison, which is strange since we are fairly upstanding citizens). I can't imagine how horrible it would be to have a life sentence, especially as ex-law enforcement. The reveal near the end made my jaw drop, that Marc would be willing to do that! Of course, I already adored him, but my adoration quotient when up even more.
The storyline was intense and really disturbing that such an injustice would occur and would go on so long. I was freaking angry about it. I did a huge amount of yelling at the book near the end. My sister's cat was looking at me like I was crazy, in fact. I wanted blood. I could see why Marc was willing to take the risk to break out of jail. I couldn't blame him. Let me just say, a girl couldn't have a better older brother!
Ms. Clare captures the reality of the wrongs that are inherent in a man-made system of justice. It breaks my heart to know that women/girls can be abused in such a way by people in the system. I'm not much of an Old Testament justice kinda girl, but I really wanted to see these guys get sentenced to castration for what they did!
The love scenes were hot, hot, hot, and I do mean hot. I love that Clare can write such hot love scenes without going over the line into kinky/ick factor. You could see that poor Marc was 1)making up for lost time (since he was celibate 7 years), 2)taking the opportunity to get his true girl, 3)living a short amount of life he could before they put him back into the pen. The love scenes showed the intensity of the feelings between Marc and Sophie and cemented my feeling that they had loved each other for that long time apart, even if it was an embryonic sort of love. It touched my romantic soul. That's a good thing.
I read this book slowly and savored it. I have gotten into a bad habit of reading fast because of deadlines, and I appreciated the opportunity of allowing a book to sink in and to digest the words, allow the scenes in the book to play on the movie screen of my head. This was a great book to do that with.
Excellent from beginning to end. Each book in the I-Team series tops the preceding, which is something! I definitely recommend it to romantic suspense fans and fans of misunderstood/bad reputation but true blue heroes and heroines who are truly likable.
In preparation of the November release of Striking Distance, The Pamela Clare Fan Group will be hosting a group read of the series, starting with this book! If you haven't yet read Pamela Clare's I-Team series, you're missing out on some truly fantastic stories.
**spoiler alert** I added this book to my All Things Summer Challenge because it's been sitting on my tbr pile for a long time. The few books I've rea...more**spoiler alert** I added this book to my All Things Summer Challenge because it's been sitting on my tbr pile for a long time. The few books I've read in the Cynster series were pretty good, but it's not one of my favorite historical series.
Scandal's Bride turned out to be a nice surprise. I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into enjoying this book. I get really bored with Lord Rake who finds himself reluctantly drawn into marriage-type storylines, and the Cynster series is ripe with those. And, Catriona wouldn't be my ideal choice of a heroine. But, I was pleasantly surprised.
I ended up liking Richard, aka "Scandal", quite a bit. I vaguely remember liking him in the other Cynster books, but that was years ago. His past rakish deeds aren't really rubbed in my face, so that helps. I like that he wasn't extremely averse to marrying Catriona, if that got her in his arms. He's actually a pretty nice guy, smart, and kind. He was willing to play second fiddle as the consort to Catriona, who is the official lady of her lands. He was open minded about Catriona's religion, which involves worship of The Lady. I really respected him for being a strong, dominant man who was able to take on that kind of role, and do it with grace, because that was what being with the woman he loved entailed.
At times, Catriona was a bit too arrogant for my tastes. I do realize that it was a necessity to be so, with all the responsibilities she held. She started growing on me pretty fast. By the end of the book, I liked her quite a bit.
The whole aspect of neither wanting to reveal the strength of their feelings for each other really got to me. I could feel the pain on both sides. Catriona didn't want to hold Richard hostage in her valley, if he wanted to go to London with his family; Richard felt like he didn't matter and wasn't important to Catriona. All he needed was for her to say so. I thought my heart would break when he got ready to leave. Fortunately, he comes to his senses.
This book has a lot of steamy scenes--which seems to be Ms. Laurens' writing style. Overall, I liked them. I didn't really need that many, but no biggie. I could feel the connection between Richard and Catriona, so it wasn't just unnecessary sex filler to me. Thus, they didn't get into the way of the storyline--they fit this novel.
I think this book was a trifle too long. I started thinking, "Is this book going to be over yet?" A significant portion was spent on seeing the Cynster family interacting when they come to visit, and a lot of "Cynster males do this, and Cynster females do that." It was almost a little bit much. Not quite though. I think I have to be in the mood for this sort of book, and it went down easy, since it made the time pass in an enjoyable fashion.
In short, this was a good read. I think it's a weak four due to the somewhat excessive length, and the whole eye-rolling aspects of the Cynsters do this and the Cynsters do that. The suspense plot wasn't that compelling, but I don't really read historical romance for mystery/suspense. In fact, it can be somewhat disruptive. What helped this book was the fact that Richard was a very appealing hero. He's a man that is able to compromise without feeling like that makes him less of a man. I really liked that about him. I liked seeing the family interactions of Catriona's people. Inside, there is a farmer/rancher/live-off-the-land girl in me, so I like reading those kinds of settings in books. This was a book I enjoyed even more than I expected. For that reason, I'd recommend it to a reader in the mood for this sort of thing.
Content warning: Catriona drugs Richard so she can have sex with him to conceive a child. Some readers might see that as a form of rape.(less)
Carla Kelly writes gold. Out of three books I've read by her, I've loved all of them. Summer Campaign makes her three for three now. This was a great...moreCarla Kelly writes gold. Out of three books I've read by her, I've loved all of them. Summer Campaign makes her three for three now. This was a great story, with a heartwarming, beautiful romance. The perfect mix of humor and angst, and two characters that I loved, both as people, and as a couple. Jack is fresh from Spain, tortured by what he did and saw as a soldier. His dream is to get home again. On the road home, he encountered a woman about to be raped by highwaymen. He saves her, but also gets shot, and its up to her to protect them both, which she does. Then this young woman has to nurse him back to health from his gunshot, pretending that they are man and wife. That's how Onyx and Jack meet, and a beautiful friendship develops. But also a bond that allows them to see each other through eyes of love.
I felt for Onyx, her having been rejected for something that wasn't her fault. Constantly berated by everyone, forced into marrying a man who is nowhere good enough for her. I was urging her to run off with Jack from the beginning of the book, and fearing how thing would unfold, knowing she was too honorable to seize her own happiness that way. I have to say I really like the way this story concluded. There was a purpose to the painful journeys that both Onyx and Jack take.
This is a sweet love story, yet you know that there is plenty of passion between Jack and Onyx, and they will have a very happy life together. Even though I was sad about some parts, I ended this book with a happy smile on my face.(less)
1)Do not go on a cruise for your vacation...There might be vampires aboard. 2)Be aware of childhood rivals that...moreLessons learned from reading this book:
1)Do not go on a cruise for your vacation...There might be vampires aboard. 2)Be aware of childhood rivals that you go on family vacations with...They might be evil witches. 3)Never spend your vacation in the French countryside, and by all means, avoid striking up a conversation with a garrulous Frenchman...It could very well be deadly to you and yours. 4)If you go to Jamaica, avoid the strange house with mirrors on it...Just take my word for it. 5)Never, ever take a backpacking trip through strange European countries with even stranger names like Necratul. Trust me on that!
This turned out to be a very good short story collection. I was kind of worried at how the first story, "Cruisin'", by Sarah Mlynowski, started. I thought, "Crap. This is like the CW teenie-bopper shows I avoid like the plague. Young girls out to get laid, 17 going on 35." I'm glad I kept reading. Just when I was about to give up, it got interesting. I have to admit that she threw me for a loop with the unexpected twist. Nicely played, Ms. Mlynowski. 4 stars.
"I Don't Like Your Girlfriend" by Claudia Gray took an interesting look at childhood rivalries between two girls whose mothers are both initiating them into their lives as witches. Cecily is a by-the-book girl, following all the rules of the Craft faithfully. Kathleen, her nemesis, has no problem breaking one of the first rules of witchcraft, not using your power to influence others. And to make it even worse, she's using it over her sweet boyfriend, Scott, who Cecily has a crush on. Cecily is out to see justice done. This was a pretty good story. Not really a subject I'm that interested in, but it kept my interest. 4 stars.
"The Law of Suspects" by Maureen Johnson struck me as such a well-done story. It starts out so funny in a completely sarcastic way. I was laughing out loud at Charlie's observations of her trip to France. And then, suddenly this story became as creepy as heck! Imagine being stranded in a country where you barely speak the language, and there is a weird French guy telling you an incredibly unsettling story. You know something is Just Not Right about this guy. Then, there's a very cute French guy who shows up. He tells you that you and your sister's lives are in danger. What do you do? What do you do? Man, this was a suspenseful story. I had no idea how it was going to end. Was Gerard telling Charlie the truth? Argh! I was holding my breath! When it ends, there's still this lingering fear. Is it over? What a good story. 5 stars.
"The Mirror House" by Cassandra Clare unnerved me, enthralled and riveted me. Ms. Clare used her prose very skillfully, creating a story that was beautiful and sinister. Despite the sunbleached brightness of the Jamaican beach, there was a dark undertone to everything. Along with Violet, I feared for young Evan. I had no clue initially what the threat was, but when I found out, I really liked the direction that Ms. Clare took. Brimming with atmosphere and intensity, this was a 5 star story for me.
"Nowhere is Safe" by Libba Bray. Man, oh, man. I'd rather have the most boring summer on earth than have the vacation from you know where that this group of friends had. I couldn't believe how scary this story got. Imagine going to a town where the townspeople had a pact with the Devil, sacrificing their children for prosperity for many years. They haven't done that in over one hundred and fifty years. But, some traditions aren't easily forgotten. I loved that the main character was half-Asian. He was subjected to prejudice because of his heritage, but he is heir to a special ability that may very well be the saving of his friends. He's sweet on his best friend, Izzy, whose parents were Haitian refugees, and who understands very well being a stranger in one's own land. Can he and his friends survive the nefarious plans of the villagers on their last Feast before their village is uprooted to build a power plant? Boy, this was not an ideal story to read before bedtime. Although the ending was a bit rushed, I still give it 5 stars for really scaring me, and for the hidden themes of prejudice and identity that I think it handled very well.
I was very happily surprised with this story collection. It was a quick but fulfilling read. I didn't expect these stories to be quite so scary, but it was, and in the best ways! Although this is a young adult collection, I think a lot of older readers would enjoy it too.
Kate Daniels, could you be more awesome? Nope. This book rocked my world! I loved the first book, but I loved this one even more. Kate Daniels is such...moreKate Daniels, could you be more awesome? Nope. This book rocked my world! I loved the first book, but I loved this one even more. Kate Daniels is such a cool heroine. She's not only kickbutt, independent, and snarky, but she's utterly likeable. She's down to earth, and one of those heroines I think a guy or a girl could get along with equally well. I like her quick thinking and her ability to get out of some pretty nasty spots. And her willingness to do the right thing, even at personal cost to herself. And she's so funny! I think her one liners are hilarious, and her internal dialogue really puts me in the action and gives me an identification factor.
The action in this book was fantastic. A little bit gory and gruesome, but the fast pace allows you to tolerate that aspect fairly well. It's like watching a really good movie. The climax was one heck of a battle. I can't say I've read many other urban fantasy books where the conclusion had me so riveted. Ilona Andrews really knows how to write action, and that's coming from a very picky reader when it comes to action scenes.
The use of magic and the ugly and beneficial aspects fit very well with this particular story. The descriptions of the freaky version of a modern day Atlanta that has been morphed by magic into a sort of dystopian future setting, rife with deadly and mystical creatures were very vivid and iconic. I think this is such a great idea for an urban fantasy series.
I thought the Celtic mythology elements were very well done. The whole use of Morrigan and the Formorians. It tied in so smoothly with the overall plot. There wasn't boring periods where info dump slowed down the story. There was a huge element of risk here where you really worried if everything was going to be resolved well.
To be honest, I didn't really think of Curran as much of a love interest in the first book. There was a bit of potential, and he had me intrigued, although I wasn't sold. But, I could really see the attraction between Kate and Curran, and I was digging Curran pretty hard. He's...well, he's the Beast Lord, with all that applies. I like the back and forth between Kate and Curran. How she's attracted and kind of scared of him (because he's pretty scary, let's face it), but she won't allow herself not to stand up to him. It's pretty clear that Curran has it bad for Kate. I loved his courtship ritual that she didn't pick up on (it had to be explained by a few members of the Pack). I love the slow build of their relationship, with all the nice 'flirting moments'. I can't way to see things progress with this couple.
Kate's sidekicks were cool. Derek is adorable but a tough fighter. I loved Julie. I hope to see more of her. All the contacts and the acquaintances that Kate has stand out in my mind, each adding to the story in crucial ways. And then there was Bran. A very interesting character with a complex relationship with Kate.
Man, oh, man. I had no idea how much I would come to love this series. It just keeps getting better and better. I was so pumped after reading this book, it took me a whole hour to calm down. Magic Burns is highly recommended to the discerning urban fantasy reader who likes a great heroine, kickbutt action, wonderful world-building, and intriguing secondary characters. I'm going to try to keep myself from devouring this series back to back. I need to have a guaranteed read in my pile for that 'rainy day', and the Kate Daniels series is definitely that!(less)
Skinwalker was a good introduction to the world of Jane Yellowrock, skinwalker. She knew little about her past, only that she was part Cherokee, and t...moreSkinwalker was a good introduction to the world of Jane Yellowrock, skinwalker. She knew little about her past, only that she was part Cherokee, and that she could shift into the form of animals. And that she shared her consciousness with the soul of an animal, who she called Beast. Jane makes a living as rogue vampire hunter, and she's very good. Now she's in New Orleans, hired by a prominent vampire who happens to run a prostitution house. And this job is going to a very complicated one.
Jane is a very likable main character, which is a real must in urban fantasy. You want someone who you will want to come back to visit with in a series, who can kick some serious butt, but isn't annoying. That's Jane. She's tough and a smart aleck, but she's also soft in some ways. I liked how she felt so warm and fuzzy toward her friend's daughter, and how she cares about people. She has her strong opinions, but she is open-minded enough to think outside of her prejudices. I also liked that while she doesn't sleep around, she can appreciate a good looking man, and there are quite a few of them in this book. I have to say I am not enamored of Rick, who Beast seems to like just fine. I liked Bruiser (Jane's nickname for George), who is the blood servant for one of the most prominent male vamps (and he wasn't shabby either). Yeah, there was a lot of man candy in this book. (Reflects back on reading this book with a silly grin on her face) Where was I? Oh....
I am a bit bored with vampires, although I do and will read a good vampire story. I actually liked the vampire elements in this book. I do like the whole vampire society and politics aspect, and it was well-done here. I actually learned the difference between a blood servant and a blood slave, right along with Jane. I thought the vampire ritual that was enacted upon a gravely wounded vampire was very interesting. I liked that the vampires in this story respond to Christian holy symbols, such as the cross and holy water, along with silver.
Along with the vampire mythology, and more importantly, the shapeshifter aspects struck me as very interesting. Jane actually has to think about scientific concepts when she shifts. She has to account for her mass in comparison with the animal she is taking the shape of. She also has to eat a lot of food to fuel her shifts, even raw meat in animal form (yuck). As a scientist, I appreciated this. I thought Beast's viewpoint added an intriguing element to this story. At first, it was hard to read, since her thoughts are very simple sentences, conveying sensation mainly. After a while, I got the hang of things, and I really liked seeing the world through Beast's eyes. It's also interesting how she sometimes wrestles Jane for control of her body, and the reasons for that are complicated and add another layer to this story.
New Orleans as a setting never fails to enthrall me. It's such a fascinating, mysterious city, rich with history, and ripe with uncanny energies that make it a great place to set a supernatural novel of any type. It's clear that this Ms. Hunter loves this city, and she brings it life with a loving touch in this story, showing both the elegant beauty, the rich cultural aspects, and the seediness that lurks below the gaudy exterior. I can almost believe that New Orleans is run by ancient vampires, with their own intricate society, forming an intrinsic foundation for the infrastructure of this old, beautiful lady of a city.
By far, my favorite element of this story was Jane's Cherokee heritage. I found this very fascinating and I feel like Ms. Hunter did a good job bringing this to life. I liked that Jane is a heroine who is of color, of an ethnic heritage we don't often get to see in a main character. And it adds necessary depth and texture to this story, since that forms a very important part of the overall plot, part of Jane's journey, and a significant part of the mystery element in this novel.
I was very satisfied with Skinwalker. I will definitely be following this series (which is good since I have the next two books). I think Jane is a great main lead, and I like pretty much everything about this first book in the Jane Yellowrock series, the skinwalker elements, Beast's personality, Jane's Cherokee heritage, and the action and sometimes horrific urban fantasy elements. They all combined to make a very enjoyable read that distinguishes itself nicely from the other urban fantasy novel series. Recommended.(less)
This was a decent read. It was not appreciably that much steamier than a few of the mainstream historical romances I've read. I admit I am pretty bore...moreThis was a decent read. It was not appreciably that much steamier than a few of the mainstream historical romances I've read. I admit I am pretty bored with the oversexed rake, and I think that Anne Stuart did them a lot better in her Rohan series.
What I liked: *I found myself really liking and respecting Miranda. She was a good person. I like that she is honest about her needs as a person, and she is also generous and giving to take care of her family, even when they have been so ungrateful and cruel to her. She has a lot of heart and integrity, and she did endear herself to me for those reasons. *I liked Ethan's proposal at the end. That really did show his feelings for Miranda. I hope he is truly able to stay faithful to her. She deserves a husband who adores and cherishes her and sets her on fire in the bedroom.
My Overall Thoughts: Regency romance lacks a lot of tension and punch for me, and the tortured elements of Ethan and Miranda's characters didn't really come to life for me. The love scenes were good, but not especially steamy for an erotic read. I'm not asking for kinky, mind you, but I thought that they would be more descriptive than they were. Having said that, this is not a bad read. I can see many readers enjoying it a lot. Especially readers who love the Regency setting, with the Marriage Mart, and the jaded rake hero. As I said above, rakes leave me cold, unless they are done really well. Ethan didn't really inspire me to overcome my dislike of the rake storyline, so I can't really endorse this book wholesale. I think the thing that makes it shine is Miranda. She made the book more worthwhile to read, and Jess Michaels writes smoothly enough to make this book a pleasant few hours' read.
Sadly, this is a very weak three stars. It was sooo hard to read this book. It just didn't keep my interest. My attention kept wandering, until there...moreSadly, this is a very weak three stars. It was sooo hard to read this book. It just didn't keep my interest. My attention kept wandering, until there would be an appealing snippet that caught it, and then it would be off again.
Honestly, this is not a bad book. It's just underwhelming to a die-hard paranormal fan who has some favorite series that Bring It. I know that it's First Book Syndrome, because there are some ideas that I like about this series, that will make me keep reading (which is a good thing since I bought the subsequent books). I know some of my friends who have similar tastes enjoy this series, so that makes me hope I will find the next books appeal better.
What I liked:
*I liked Abby a lot. She has had a tough life, and she's very down to earth, adaptable, and strong-minded without being annoying. She has an everyday, regular girl appeal that I liked. She is the type of woman who can take it on the chin and doesn't throw herself into a sobbing heap when things get hairy. I admire her for what she overcame with her abusive father and two parents that were alcoholic. And she didn't stay in denial too long when her life got weird. She saw the evidence and adjusted her worldview accordingly. *Dante was also likable. He had that sexy old world vampire vibe that I liked a lot. I appreciated that he really cared about Abby and had been half-way in love with her since the book started. *Viper. Oh my! I really liked him. I can't wait to read his book! I liked that he was Boy Scout prepared. He had a solution to most situations, and that made it fun to see what relics he had to deal with various situations. And I liked his loyalty to Dante. He was a good friend.
What could have been better:
*The worldbuilding felt...unfinished to me. There were some mildly tantalizing elements that made my interest perk, but they teetered off too often. I do think she introduced some interesting characters in the PNR world of this story that make me want to keep reading, so that's a plus. *Paper Tiger villain. The main villain was lame....He was the type to get others to do his dirty work and he just didn't impress me. I did like that she turned things around and gave a more intense climatic situation. But things still fizzled a bit on that score. *Although I felt that Abby and Dante had good chemistry, the love scenes didn't really enthrall me. I guess I just have high standards for paranormal. I don't want to compare, but when you read some of the other top series, you do have a benchmark that you expect from books in that genre.
I admit I was disappointed with this one. It was so hard to keep reading at times, but I persevered. At the end, I was glad I finished it, not just because I hate dnf'ing books. At least I got to meet some pretty cool characters like Abby, Dante, and Viper (who is kinda droolicious) But I still have hope that the next books can turn it around.(less)
*Listened to audiobook from 6/23-6/29/11* My thoughts:
*I thought the narrator was pretty good. I think she tried to vary her speech to signify that di...more*Listened to audiobook from 6/23-6/29/11* My thoughts:
*I thought the narrator was pretty good. I think she tried to vary her speech to signify that different people were talking. Her Russian accent was pretty good. Sometimes her female voices (for Rikki's 'sisters', particularly Blythe) sounded a little hokey. But overall I was happy, because she brought the characters to life. I could easily picture them in my mind as I listened. She made Rikki adorable and fierce and loving. Lev was the sexy, awesome lethal man I know and love! *I have never listened to an audiobook with sexual situations, so I admit I giggled on some of the love scenes, hearing the descriptive words. I admit they were pretty stirring as well (blushing). I'm glad I was not in mixed company while I listened. *Although Ms. Feehan has a tendency to use three words when she can use one, I am a stone cold addict for her books. Being able to listen to this during some pretty heinous commutes was a blessing from God. I am definitely appreciative. *I still like reading books more than audiobook, but I admit this kept my interest and kept me awake even when I was driving at 4am in the morning and after a very long day yesterday with a nearly 2 hour drive home to deal with.
I'd rate the audiobook as 4.5 stars, but the book still stands as 5 stars. I'd recommend this audiobook to Feehan fans or for newbies looking for a good book to listen to on CD.
Original Review Below:
Ms. Feehan, you've done it again. This is now one of my favorites by you.
This was such a beautiful, gorgeous book. Ms. Feehan's descriptive writing brings things to vivid, lush, captivating life. Seeing the world through Rikki's eyes was like nothing I've seen. People tend to think of autism as a liability. It does make it harder to integrate into the usual world. But, being in that place of beauty that belongs only to you, how wonderful that must be. I appreciate Ms. Feehan for the time she took to write this story and open my eyes to Rikki's world.
I've always been a water person, and I felt the affinity and love of water that Rikki felt. Since she was an outcast in many ways, it was good that she had the ocean, the water to be her home, to be her safe place that settled her.
Rikki is probably one of the most special and unique heroines I've encountered. She was created with such love and devotion that I can't help but love her. I liked that she is so complex, and has such a strength to make a life for herself, despite the many obstacles she faced. She knew that Lev had a past as a cold-blooded killer, and was a dangerous man--but she looked into his heart and saw the true man that he was. She was never afraid of him. She was willing to give him a chance to be the man who he yearned to be. She didn't realize that to Lev, she was his chance.
The love story in this book affected me deeply. Rikki and Lev found that connection that I crave in romance novels. The scene where they are under water, and their eyes meet, and it keeps Lev from succumbing to the fierce anger of the ocean. Her eyes anchor him. For the first time in his life, he feels like he has a home. Rikki might disturb or upset others because she doesn't know the social cues, with her piercing black gaze, but she gives him peace when she focuses those eyes on him. The way in which their love story unfolds has won this book a place on my keeper shelf as an all-time favorite romance. The intense love between Lev and Rikki shouts off the page. The sensuality is so powerful, as Rikki and Lev explore that magic that unites them as soulmates. The way that Lev would take care of Rikki, and vice versa. Their humorous exchanges. How they could be real with each other. It all comes together to make an unforgettable love story. Utterly sighworthy! This sappy girl was in heaven.
I loved how Lev didn't try to change Rikki to fit him. He found his place in her life, and adjusted himself to hers. She needed constancy and routine, and he understood that. But he enhanced her life by giving her that emotional bond that she'd never had, even with her fiance. Their love was so mutual and so beautiful. Making something stronger and enduring through their union.
Lev is the dangerous hero fangirl's Christmas gift. But, he's also a gentle, loving man with Rikki. That's my kind of hero--completely lethal, but like a Golden Retriever puppy dog with his woman, unless she's in danger, then he's like an fierce wolf protecting his mate. I never thought I'd love you more than Ilya, Lev. But I do!
I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy this new series by Ms. Feehan. I think that each of Rikki's adopted sisters are interesting. They bring unique gifts and personalities to the table. I like their created bond of family for each other. How they accept each other for who they are. I'm dying to meet more of the Prasenkii brothers. What is it with me and dangerous Russian men?
I appreciated how Ms. Feehan touched on the issue with Lev being on the boat while Elle was being held captive. Jonas did exactly what he should have done. Yet, I could understand why Lev did what he did. He was in a really tough situation. No question there. There's going to be some fallout, but I have a feeling it's going to work out.
I wish that Sea Haven was a real place. I would so move there. It's a happening place with the Drake sisters and spouses, Rikki's adopted family, and the Prasenkiis. Yet another favorite by an author who has won my devotion, book by fantastic book. Thumbs way up!(less)
His at Night was a very clever, multi-layered story. It is about two people who live their lives while playing out a role, 24 hours out of the day. Bo...moreHis at Night was a very clever, multi-layered story. It is about two people who live their lives while playing out a role, 24 hours out of the day. Both Vere and Elissande have very good reasons for why they pretend to be someone that they are not. Vere does it to right wrongs, to exact vengeance when he could not save his mother so many years ago. Elissande does it for her survival.
I was quite impressed with how Ms. Thomas wrote this book that made me laugh myself giddy in some scenes, and feel a deep sense of sadness, frustration, and anger in other scenes. You see, Vere plays the fool, and he does it very well. He pretends to be what many called an idiot. I wonder how I would feel if I knew him. Probably, I would find myself loving him and wanting to protect him, since the world is cruel to people who are different and who don't live up to their standards. That's what his younger brother, Freddie did. Others simply treated him with contempt. I imagine that was really difficult for Vere. To be such an intelligent person, with so much to offer the world, and to be perceived by the world in such a negative light. Thus, he is a very lonely man. He has created a female companion, his perfect woman, who shares his life, and sees him as he truly is. That is his only solace, outside of his ability to see justice done, and taking care of his brother.
When Vere first sees Elissande, it's love at first sight, although he rejects this feeling. And when he sees that she is scheming to catch herself a husband, he becomes hardened against her. When she engineers being caught in a very compromising position with his brother, he arranges to be there instead, and his opinion plummets to an all time low--but he must marry her. Such begins their marriage.
Elissande turned out to be an equally complicated heroine. She's led a life of fear, living with her frail aunt and her cruel, wicked uncle by marriage. She learned to always smile and act as if everything is okay. Her sunny smile is a mask to hide her deepest fears and pain from the world. When she meets Vere and realizes that he's an idiot, smiling gets really hard. Physically, he's a dream come true. But, does she want to spend her life married to a fool, even if he represents freedom for her aunt and herself? Desperation leads to her trying to entrap Freddie, his younger brother, but she gets Vere in her clutches instead. She'll make do with him, make a marriage that helps her to gain her freedom.
Elissande doesn't expect to feel such passion with him, like she is coming home in his arms. He seems to be two different people: the idiot, and the demanding vital husband who will take all of her, or nothing. She comes to realize that being free from her uncle is not the only possibility from her marriage. Neither come to realize how much they will come to love each other. Watching their relationship unfold kept me riveted.
I must give Ms. Thomas my respect for capturing the late Victorian period so beautifully. Her prose is elegant and vivid. I felt like I was in the 19th century as I read this story. When I had to put the book down, it was with a sense of annoyance. I think this would make a wonderful movie.
The characters in this story are realistic, sometimes to a painful degree. The confrontational encounters between the characters made me wince, because it felt so real to me. I don't think Ms. Thomas is afraid of showing her characters at their ugliest, and I'm not sure that this would work well for every reader. At times, it was jarring to me, to see the cutting way Vere used words with Elissande, to push her away. How Elissande was not afraid to stab back with her own words. Conflict of this sort isn't comfortable for me. But, it felt authentic, which is something that I appreciate. I like a story that has elements of darkness, with characters that are flawed and struggling. His at Night does have this element in spades. But, it's also a fun, enjoyable book. I liked Vere's cleverness, his ability to stay in character and get the job done, even when it was so hard for him. I liked seeing his covert capers. He stands out as a crusading hero who fights the good fight, and that endeared him to me. He is a strong, vital man--my favorite kind of hero in that regard. His willingness to make personal sacrifices for the good of others only made me love him more. If only he realized how well Elissande complemented him. She really wasn't so different. I wish he hadn't tried so hard to push Elissande away, afraid to let himself love her because it wasn't comfortable for him. I was glad that he came to his senses and realized that an honest relationship isn't always comfortable, that true love hurts. But some hurts heal us deep inside.
It was hard to say what I thought of this book, but to put it simply, I valued my reading experience with His at Night. This was my first book by Ms. Thomas, and I look forward to reading more books by this talented author.(less)
Disclaimer: I am in gushing mode, which means I have lots of clunky metaphors and a bit of unwise hyperbole. Don't hold it against this book or its au...moreDisclaimer: I am in gushing mode, which means I have lots of clunky metaphors and a bit of unwise hyperbole. Don't hold it against this book or its author. It's all me!
I make no apologies for my deep love of this series. It rocks. This series is premium when it comes to paranormal romance. Hands down. With Demon from the Dark, I felt that intense love grow like a rose bush on Miracle Gro fertilizer.
Ms. Cole has written a flawless book here. She wrote a hot, hot romance with two characters that I loved, flaws and all. She also had me believing that these people could fall in love with each other, even though they couldn’t speak the same language initially. I didn’t expect to be such a huge fan of Carrow when I met the party girl witch in Dark Desires After Dusk. But I do love her. It took me about five minutes into reading this to think, “I like her a lot.” Actually, the scene at the end of Pleasure of a Dark Prince had me feeling positively towards her. Now, I have to think she’s my favorite heroine in this series. Sorry Sabine!
A huge theme of this story is feeling abandoned/rejected/unwanted, like no one in the world truly loves you and accepts you. For Malkom, this was illustrated in a much more violent, heartbreaking manner. Malkom made my heart bleed. I could understand why he was such a violent, untrusting person who felt that being alone was the best option for him. I won’t go into all he suffered because I feel that this book needs to be read. You have to get to know Malkom the best way, by reading his story. But suffice it to say, no kid should go through what Malkom did. I so wanted him to have a beloved wife and a family. I wanted him to have that with Carrow and Ruby. Oh man, I just loved him. I was glad that Carrow ends up proving that she loves him and is worthy of being his fated mate.
In the case of Carrow, she finds herself in an untenable situation, and she is going to have betray the male that she falls deeply in love with. Normally, I would be raring at the bit, foaming at the mouth at what she did, because I hate deception. In this case, I could understand her dilemma. She ends up becoming the adoptive mother of an orphaned daughter of a friend murdered by Carrow’s human enemies. The thing about it was, Carrow acted like a parent. Parents have to make tough decisions. Their primary responsibility is to care for their children. She was over a barrel, and I respect that she stayed true and did what she had to with the intent to protect Ruby. And this decision almost cost her true love, putting her in that same situation of having love and affection denied to her, as she suffered as a materially privileged, but emotionally-starved young girl.
This situation shows what a masterful writer Kresley Cole is. She takes a scenario where you’re like, “This can’t end well,” and keeps you glued to the pages as she proves that it can, and has you enjoying the ride so much, you feel desolate when the book is over. That was this book (and all her books) in a nutshell. Also, did I mention, this woman knows how to write hot, hot, hot, really hot romance. For me, this was the hottest of her books. I think part of that was because I felt the intense pull that Carrow has on Malkom, and vice versa. They were like two powerful magnets exerting forces of attraction on each other (and pulling the reader along because the energy is so powerful). Ms. Cole manages to use every amorous moment to build the steam up until it’s about to explode and turn the book into a fireball. I really needed a fan as I read this book, and not just because Oblivion is like Yuma, Arizona with the thermostat turned up several degrees.
I honestly can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this book. Well, except that I wanted to find out what happens to some of the other Loreans who got abducted by the Order. I am gnawing on my knuckles to find out what happens between Melanthe and Thronos, and I really want to know more about Declan and Regin. Good thing I am reading Dreams of a Dark Warrior next month.
Kresley Cole, you kick paranormal romance butt and take names. You and the WARDen usually go neck and neck for this reader, but this book puts you in first place now. I’m not just being flattering when I say that my life is so much richer since I started reading your books. I have so much love for the Immortals After Dark series! (Off to fondle my copy and add it to my bookcase with my other beloved IAD books). (less)