I had heard really good things about this author and this book. I must say that all praise was well-deserved. If you like Scottish heroes, you have to...moreI had heard really good things about this author and this book. I must say that all praise was well-deserved. If you like Scottish heroes, you have to read this book. Iain has made an impression on me that will make it very hard for future Scottish heroes to live up to. He is fearless, honorable, capable, manly, beautiful and loving. He risks his life many times for his brothers and men, and for Annie, the woman he had no obligation to save, but did, even though it brought misfortune on him and his men. The adventure in this book is incredible. I am as much a fan of adventure as I am romance. If a book can wrap both up in an appetizing package, I am won over. I don't typically seek out books set in colonial America, but this book has gotten me interested in this period. I loved that although Iain and his brothers faithfully maintain their Scottish identities, they are also seasoned frontiersmen and adopted into the local Indian tribe that we would more easily recognize as the Mohicans. Anna is a compelling heroine who shows strength and honor. She has suffered greatly, but her heart is still huge and capable of love. After reading this book I would definitely call myself a fan of Pamela Clare's books, and find myself very happy that I have accumulated all of her historicals. I may also have to branch out to her contemporaries. Surrender is a must read.
--------------------- If you're already a Pamela Clare fan, or interested in learning more about her and her books, be sure to stop by our Pamela Clare Fan Group here on Goodreads! (less)
**spoiler alert** This really should be a five star book, but it had a few issues that make it hard to give it a five star rating. Fundamentally, the...more**spoiler alert** This really should be a five star book, but it had a few issues that make it hard to give it a five star rating. Fundamentally, the secondary love story takes up way too much of this book. I believe that McKenna and Aline's beautiful love story deserves more time than was spent on it in this story. I have nothing against Gideon and Olivia, but seeing their relationship unfold at the expense of McKenna and Aline was frustrating to me. It was almost like LK was finding it too painful to delve into the angst of their story and switched the camera away to focus on Gideon and Olivia. If I had my way, I would have introduced G and O in this story, and continued their relationship in a short story. Instead, we see them go from strangers to lovers to in love (in my opinion in a manner that is much more convincing than the main couple's story).
But what about the characters that I read this book for? Well, there is the beginning of their starcrossed love: John McKenna as a 'lowly' stable groom, and Aline as a shy, quiet teen who was in love with McKenna from the get go. They were close friends who were on the cusp of being lovers and more. Unfortunately, Aline's awful dad finds out and kicks McKenna off the estate, and he's forced to make his way in the cold, cruel world. He thinks that Aline didn't love him and easily forgot about him, so he has driven himself to get revenge against her by making himself into a very rich, powerful man, no matter what the cost is. Little did he know that his leaving broke Aline's heart, and she is badly injured in a kitchen fire, which makes her unmarriageble in her mind. So life has not been great for Aline after all.
When they reunite, Aline is determined to enjoy her summer (in every way she can) with McKenna and watch him leave with no regrets. All McKenna's thoughts of revenge fade as he is reconfronted with the woman he never stopped loving. Powerful stuff. McKenna is an incredible hero. He is strong and driven. I loved him. Aline was convincing and sympathetic as a heroine. You can understand why she tries to keep secrets from McKenna. She doesn't want him to be burdened with an invalid wife. So she gives herself only sexually to him. How could I not love this story? If there was enough time spent on it. It was so frustrating to see this book barely scratch the surface of all the longing and anguish between them. Not to mention that they go off to America to start their happy marriage and we never hear from them again.
So I can't help feeling down about the way this story unfolded. Normally I love an angsty romance. So long as the end is fulfilling and I am fully convinced that the couple has made it past the pain and will have a happy, loving future together. In this case, there wasn't enough payoff. Deep down I still feel this uncertainty about McKenna and Aline. Are they truly happy? Is all well?
This book about forbidden love has a poignancy that is almost painful. It stays on your mind and you hope that Aline and Mckenna are having a very happy life together. They earned it. But I needed more of their story to be content with this book.(less)
This is a truly lovely romance story about two scarred people who find each other. There are parts that made me so sad to think about how Gillian was...moreThis is a truly lovely romance story about two scarred people who find each other. There are parts that made me so sad to think about how Gillian was treated by her family. I was pretty curious to see how Ms. Kurland would handle a blind hero in a medieval romance. Think about it. How difficult that would be for a blinded knight? How could he run his keep, and keep what he earned by blood and sweat, in a world where might means right? I think she did a great job of dealing with the blindness issue. There's a part that is very realistic, although those who dislike heroes who are not 100% physically capable probably won't like it. But it made sense the way things happen.
I thought the emotion and love between Gillian and Christopher was so touching and poignant. The power of it transcended the words on the paper and went right to my heart. There are no love scenes in this book. And to be honest, they are not necessary. Yes, I love a good love scene, but a book that has a powerful love story doesn't need one.
This book was also good for the way you see scared, shy Gillian grow into a strong, beautiful woman. She was described as being unattractive, but part of it was because of her lack of self-esteem and belief that she was unworthy. There is no magical makeover. You see Gillian's inner beauty bloom as she is carefully tended and loved by Christopher. It brought tears to my eyes.
Christopher is a wonderful hero, thoughtful, intelligent, kind, and strong. He's been in a funk because of his loss of vision, but you don't hold that against him. It's perfectly understandable.
The humor was the perfect balance to the often dark subject matter. Colin, who has his own story in From This Moment On, is Christopher's best friend and companion. Christopher always knows when Colin is around because he can smell him. Colin's not too fond of bathing, so he has a characteristic odor. Despite my being a stickler for good personal hygiene, Colin won me over for his kind heart behind a gruff exterior. I loved his back-handed matchmaking for Gillian and Christopher.
This was a great medieval romance. Highly recommended.
I can definitively say I have never read a romance novel quite like this. Ms. McCarver really accomplished something with this wonderful story. Sauda...moreI can definitively say I have never read a romance novel quite like this. Ms. McCarver really accomplished something with this wonderful story. Sauda is a heroine that you will come to admire, will laugh with, and will cry with. Her journey is unforgettable. Ethan is a hero that will steal your heart away. What I really loved about this story was how three-dimensional Sauda and Ethan are. Their love is tangible and poignant. It reaches off the page and into your mind and heart. It doesn't matter that Ethan shouldn't fall in love with a Blackamoor assassin who is clearly not a suitable wife. It doesn't matter that Sauda is a foreigner whose freedom is not her own, and thus shouldn't even consider falling for the golden, beautiful lord. It happens anyway. And the development of this affair is incredible to read. At times, I felt like I would be overwhelmed with despair, knowing in my heart that this couldn't end well, but hoping that Ms. McCarver would manage to pull off the happy ending I craved. Well, we do get our happy ending, but you should read it to see how it unfolds.
Prejudice is an ugly thing. This story shows how a worthy, incredible individual can be judged and maligned for the simple characteristics of being of another faith, dark skin color, and having hair that is curly instead of straight, despite traits that show her to be an excellent person. Her good heart and her sense of honor mean nothing when someone cannot look past what is so different. The great thing about this story is that from the first moment, Ethan looks at the outside and the inside and has a moment of clarity that this is the woman that he loves. His heart had been broken by the loss of his young wife in childbirth and his subsequent slavery in a Turkish prison, in which unspeakable things were done to him. Life means little to him, other than the freedom of sailing the seas, although he knows he will have to eventually marry to ensure his family's earldom secure. When he sees Sauda, it's like he comes alive again. From that point on, he is very focused on having her, in any way he can.
Sauda sees the beautiful Englishman and knows he's not for her. Her life has been nothing but death and discipline. She is a very skilled assassin who has had to seduce men to get close enough to kill. Her heart is merely an organ that pumps blood through her body. Love does not enter into the equation for her life. But love finds her, and a passion that she had never known.
This is a very raw and earthy romance, but at the same time, sublimely beautiful. Set during the Elizabethan period, you are privy to the very raunchy natures of Elizabethans, and not spared some of the less pleasanter aspects of living in the 16th century, but it works very well. It felt so authentic, and Ms. McCarver does a great job with the language and the terminology for this period. It is more than clear that she has done careful research and has a love for this period. As a lifelong reader of historical romances and a woman of color, It was great to see a heroine of color living and finding love within this time period. I was drawn into this story and I felt like I was right there in the late 1500s during Queen Elizabeth's reign.
The love scenes were tender yet vivid and very raw. The powerful chemistry between Sauda and Ethan really blazes in their private moments. There is an element of time slipping away from the starcrossed lovers as Ethan will have to marry soon and Sauda must leave to stay one step ahead of the hunters who want to take her back to her owner. I hated that aspect, but it brought dramatic tension and poignancy to the storyline. I wanted them to run away into the sunset together, but I could see how that would be a selfish thing and not feasible for either of them.
Sauda is very convincing as a formidable female warrior and assassin. She shows the discipline and skill of a woman who was heartlessly trained from the young age of eight to kill and to kill effortlessly. She has no moments that cause a lapse in her credibility as a warrior woman. Yet at the same time, she shows a humanity and a capacity for love that gives her the depth that I want to see in a romance heroine. She is definitely a great heroine for those readers who like to see a woman who can handle herself.
Although Ethan's friend Lucian annoyed me with his narrow-mindedness for some time in this story, I began to see why he was so fixated on his view of what was good for Ethan (and thinking that Sauda wasn't it). He got my attention and make me anxious to read his story and see him conquered by love in the most unlikely of packages. I also enjoyed seeing the interactions with Thomas, Ethan's younger brother, as well as Sir Nichols, and Mary, Ethan's former nursemaid.
This book took me away and seduced my senses. It kept me guessing, as I truly didn't know how things would end. There was a complexity to this plot that really did challenge my thought processes to see where things would go. The action scenes were well done, mixing swordfighting and martial arts. I loved that you did get to see Sauda show her abilities. Yet you also see that Ethan is a warrior in his own right. I am so glad that I got the opportunity to see this beautiful love story unfold between two people that are so very different, yet are soulmates in every way. Bravo, Ms. McCarver. (less)
**spoiler alert** I ended up rebuying this book after I gave it away because the hero was married while he started a relationship with the heroine. Ad...more**spoiler alert** I ended up rebuying this book after I gave it away because the hero was married while he started a relationship with the heroine. Adultery is one of my pet peeves. However, I regretted it, because this was a very good book. The heroine has scarred vocal chords, and is very self-conscious about the way she talks. She bonds with the hero's son, who also has a disability (I believe he is deaf). This was a very intense, emotional book. I wish that the hero had fessed up that he was still married, but otherwise, I really enjoyed it. So I had to rebuy it. That is a lesson to me. That's why I don't get rid of books that I love or like very much. In the long run, it ends up costing more because a lot of my old favorites become hard to find, such as, Desire Has No Mercy, which I finally got another copy of. This is vintage Susan Napier, and she's always good.(less)
This was a solid outing as my first book by Shannon K. Butcher. I know it's probably not fair to her, but I decided to read Ms. Butcher because I just...moreThis was a solid outing as my first book by Shannon K. Butcher. I know it's probably not fair to her, but I decided to read Ms. Butcher because I just adore the Harry Dresden books by her husband, Jim Butcher. But nepotism can only take a writer so far. And Ms. Butcher has proven that she can stand on her own two feet.
I know I was reading this book with a critical eye (I couldn't help it, because I knew going in that she has some literary relations who in her own words 'taught her how to write'), and I think that she did a great job.
In No Control, we meet two characters who have suffered in ways that most people can be thankful they won't have to. Lana was horribly beaten and tortured at the hands of would-be terrorists, for no real reason other than for them to 'earn their chops' in the terrorism world. Practically every bone in her body was broken by the time they got through with her and were about to kill her. Caleb suffered in some ways that might even be worse, because he had to stand by and watch her be tortured so that he didn't break his cover. It was a matter of the greater good, in this case, saving children from being blown up. Caleb comes through and extracts Lana as soon as he can, but it's not soon enough for either of them. And he sits by her side in the first harrowing days as she lingers on death's edge in the hospital, pushing her to fight to survive.
To start with, this is a compelling storyline. At first, I must admit, I wasn't quite as drawn in as I wanted to be. But I do have to say that I felt the writing was crisp and professional, even from the beginning. As far as character likability, there is not question that I did like and care about both Lana and Caleb. I admired Lana for her strength and grit. At times, she frustrated me the way she pushed Caleb away, because he was there to help her, and as a Delta Force operative, no one was better equipped to deal with the threats she was facing. Yet I tried to look at things from her perspective. She had been living immersed in fear so long, and after her ordeal, it would be very difficult to trust anyone. And the complicated nature of her relationship with Caleb probably made the trust factor even more dicey.
Caleb was a character I loved early on in this book. He is so well-drawn, honorable, but I feel, realistic. He's a warrior and he struggles with his sense of inadequacy that he had to stand by and watch this poor woman suffer. Now his boss has ordered him to push his way back into her life and get answers about what she knows about the terrorist cell that she hadn't told, by any means necessary, even seducing his way into her bed. He started to care for Lana when he sat by her hospital bed, urging her to keep living. I think he probably fell in love with her, although he didn't feel he had the right to. I don't want to romanticize him, but I think that all he wanted to do from the beginning was to take care of Lana, even if he didn't think he could have her for forever. That is always a compelling story for me, the hero who wants nothing but to love and care for his heroine. Also Caleb is described as a big, brawny, hard-bodied man with black hair and eyes. Can I just say yum right now? I think he is definitely my type. For some insane reason, I could picture him with a kilt and nothing else on, a claymore swung over his shoulder. Don't ask.
So the more I read this story, the higher my rating got, although I thought for a while this would top out at a solid three stars. When I went to bed last night, it was 3.5 stars. This morning, I realized this is a four star read. She pulled everything together. The love story was rich, and the attraction between Lana and Caleb was vivid but emotional. The love scenes were steamy and hot, but they didn't give me that 'low-down' vibe that I get nowadays with a lot of contemporary mainstream romances that are trying to push the erotic envelope (This is a matter of personal taste. It may not bother some readers, but sex in a romance should be romantic to me, even if it is at sometimes on the raw side. It shouldn't be tawdry. Personally I have low tolerance for sleazy). Ms. Butcher doesn't use really dirty words for the male and female parts. She uses the proper words and the milder slang for the male part, yet they don't come out sounding clinical. Caleb is a tender, yet intense lover, and I liked that Lana takes the initiative and is fully participating in their lovemaking. I think that Ms. Butcher writes some great love scenes (I couldn't help picturing her going over them with the writer of the great Harry Dresden novels, and I'd start grinning. I'm sorry. I know I need therapy).
I think what pushed me over the edge was how Caleb embraced his love for Lana. He told her he loved her in a romantic moment, and he meant it. It might have been too soon, but he couldn't help loving her. And not just that, he showed his love for her. He would have moved mountains for Lana. Lana was the hesitant one. I liked that Caleb's friend and coworker (and serious ladies' man) Grant advised Caleb that he was moving too soon. Part of me was struggling with Lana rejecting Caleb, because love just makes everything better. But the realist in me who has been wary to commit my emotions to situations, could clearly see why she was hesitant to have an emotional entanglement (although it was clear that she was already emotionally involved).
The suspense plot in this story took a while to come to full flower, but I thought it was well-done and it doesn't let up until the very end. Although I still wonder what the major motivations were of the mastermind terrorist, I can easily chalk it down to being a lowlife and move on.
All in all, this was an excellent book, that slowly but surely hooked me into loving it. I will definitely be adding Ms. Butcher to my roster of authors. And I thank her for reintroducing me to contemporary military romantic suspense, a genre I had drifted away from for the past few years after gorging myself on NAVY SEAL (love those guys) romantic suspense. (less)
I love this book. One of my all time favorites by Diana Palmer. It's got a tortured hero and heroine who are separated by a misunderstanding, but come...moreI love this book. One of my all time favorites by Diana Palmer. It's got a tortured hero and heroine who are separated by a misunderstanding, but come back together and find a stronger love.(less)
This book sparkled from the first sentence. Love the lead-in with introducing Sabine's character. I finished this book yesterday and I loved it. It wa...moreThis book sparkled from the first sentence. Love the lead-in with introducing Sabine's character. I finished this book yesterday and I loved it. It was dark in a way that the others weren't quite dark. The usurped kingdom of Rothkalina has some murky happenings under the helm of Omort the Deathless. I believe this is also due in part to the fact that the heroine is supposed to be evil in this story. I wouldn't exactly call her evil. I'd call her pragmatic. She's had a rough life that taught her to look out for Number One and her sister. She died several times, and faced enemies out for her blood innumerable times. She was raised in a environment where kindness was considered weakness, and where she always had to be on guard. In that context, she didn't come off as evil. But juxtaposed to virtuous King Rydstrom, she probably does seem amoral. I admired Sabine for her survivor traits and for being down to earth about who she was. She was a sensual being, she liked her gold, and she liked to dress dramatically. And she was do what was necessary and wouldn't hesitate in the doing of of it.
That is the great thing about this story. Rydstrom and Sabine are soulmates. They may not view life the same way, but I felt they were a great pair because their strengths complemented each other. And although Sabine is not exactly what Rydstrom thought he wanted in a queen, it turns out she is exactly what he needed, and vice versa.
I hesitate to call this story a redemption story, because I don't believe that Sabine is actually redeemed all that much. She does learn to let others into her heart and to allow herself to care, but she was never a person who killed for no reason or went out of her way to hurt others. Merely, she was a person who was hardened to others. And we see that she does grow in her ability to feel for others. It was nice to see her bond with the demon orphan Puck, despite the fact that she has no use for children, and her kind is raised to look down on demons. She will always be a bit of a wild card, who has moral flexibility, yet it is clear that she won't harm innocents, and is devoted to her King and would do anything for him. I truly believe she will be an excellent Queen for Rothkalina.
A purist would find some of the happenings in this book somewhat objectionable. This story has a lot of bondage, control, and captive themes. The script get flipped around and the captive becomes the captor. I didn't have issues with the way things unfold because it was very true to the characters and the storyline. Although Rydstrom is a boy scout type hero, every person has their limits as to what they will take, and he is also a Rage Demon who has been under lots of stress for millenia. So it made sense that he would explode or implode at some point. And Sabine was following through to her nature as an extreme pragmatist of a morally flexible disposition. Considering what Sabine did to Rydstrom in the first part of the book, I felt that it was fair what Rydstrom did to Sabine when he got the opportunity. The term parity was used. I believe there was definitely parity in his treatment of her. The great thing is the huge lie that he told Sabine was actually laughed off by her and she was proud of him for doing it. It was an interesting moment to read, as I was expecting the stuff to hit the fan, but Sabine laughs and says that she is proud of him for doing what he did. So in the end, they were a very interesting couple with a unique dynamic between them for a romance.
I really liked how the relationship issues were resolved between Ryd and Sabine. He didn't feel that he could trust Sabine to stay with him, and he had to learn that she would stay with him out of choice, so he had to learn to trust her love for him. Sabine had to learn to do what she said she would instead of lying all the time, which she did. She had to learn to trust someone to take care of her, as she had always taken care of herself or her sister, and vice versa. And she had to learn to allow herself to be loved and to trust in that love. She wanted a strong man, but then she had to realize that a strong man would want to protect his woman. For a woman used to being in control, surrendering control must have been extremely difficult. I can understand having those issues, because I don't like depending on others or being under someone's control. So in that way I could identify with her, due to my own trust and control issues.
The world-building and fantasy elements in this story were excellent. It was exciting to keep reading and to see more of the Lore world that Cole has written. Fundamentally, this is a very steamy paranormal romance, but it is also just as good as fantasy on the sword and sorceror side, if the readers doesn't mind lots of steamy, descriptive sex scenes. The humor is also excellent, and I found myself laughing out loud many times. I really admire the way that Cole can combine humor and intensity in her books. She is the queen of great one liners. This along with the sexy men and their devotion to the women they love, is what keeps me coming back to her books, and the Immortals After Dark in particular. Not to mention the wonderful, mythical world she has created, using her imagination, and the old folklore and myths that I grew up reading. And I love that her heroines are strong and real-life, with their share of flaws and admirable traits.
It was great to get inside of the Demon King's head and to see his conflict with Cadeon from his viewpoint. To see what his struggle has been. And his loneliness waiting for his true female. You feel for him because all along, having a woman to love was probably just as important as regaining his throne, but he couldn't wear his heart on his sleeve since he was a King. Thus issues are deeper than it seemed on the outside. Yes, Ryd was upset that his kingdom was lost, but he also was upset with the way he felt that Cadeon was wasting his life. I was glad to see the brothers make up and come to an understanding of each other. Rydstrom turns out to be a three-dimensional character with a good and a bad side, and with scores of passion locked inside of his methodical demeanor. He is as intense as they came, and boy do I love the intense heroes. I loved his fixation on Sabine, although at times, it seemed quite out of control, but then Sabine was a pretty maddening heroine to deal with for a man/demon like Rydstrom. I was glad that in my opinion, he never truly hurt her or did anything beyond the pale, based on their unusual relationship.
It's also great to see appearances by other members of the Lore, such as Nix, who always has a rather pivotal role, Holly, fighting off some massive morning sickness, and a brief appearance by Regin. It's like seeing old friends again, and catching up. We also get to meet some new characters that I hope to see more of. I feel that there is much to be resolved between Sabine's sister Melanthe and Thronos, who is out for her blood. Future couple? I think yes. I am also intrigued by Lothaire, a Fallen vampire, who seems like he may not be as evil as one would think.
So when this book ended, I was sad. I wanted to read more, and experience more of this universe. But I enjoyed every moment of the reading. I hope that Cole continues to write these books long into the future, and I can't wait to see how the Ascension goes down, as we see the formidable Lore being paired up and forming the force for the good.(less)
While this was a good book, it didn't really touch me on a deep level. I enjoyed reading it, but no huge impression was made. I'm a little disappointe...moreWhile this was a good book, it didn't really touch me on a deep level. I enjoyed reading it, but no huge impression was made. I'm a little disappointed by that, because normally I enjoy reading Ms. Leclaire's novels very much. Maybe it just wasn't a good weekend to read this one. Having said that, I look forward to reading the book about Joc's sister, Ana, who marries a Prince.
Things I liked about this story:
Honesty between the hero and heroine--neither of them played any games. They were straightforward with each other. An issue came up but I could totally see why Joc made the choice he did. He didn't lie about it though.
Although Joc was a bit of a cutthroat businessman type, I liked and respected him. I also liked and respected Rosalyn. I must say that's a big plus when you're reading a romance novel. You really don't care if the characters have a happy ending if you despise them.
The motivations of the characters made sense to me. It wasn't one of those books where I was left scratching my head about the way either character was acting.
Yet I felt disconnected and not emotionally-stimulated by this book. Reading is a calming, pressure-releasing activity. This book took my mind off a situation going on, but didn't really do much more than that. So all in all, a good read, but not great. I have loved books by this author much more. Thus, my rating is a 3.5/4.0 stars.(less)
This series remains one of my all-time favorites. I love this concept and the characters. The suspense/action...more*****Reread May 3-7, 2012**** My Thoughts:
This series remains one of my all-time favorites. I love this concept and the characters. The suspense/action elements are easily as strong as the romance, and it satisfied my multi-faceted reading nature with both.
Ryland is one of those sneaky alphas who acts like a beta towards his woman. He was adorable at how in love he was with Lily. But don't be fooled. He is a lethal, fierce man. Very droolworthy. Even though I love some of the GhostWalker men more, it's a relative thing, because I realize on reread how much I love Ryland. I think for a nine (soon to be ten) book run, having only mildly disliked one hero (Mack) and loved all of the others, that's saying something.
Lily is a multi-faceted heroine who I love and admire. She is wicked intelligent, with a highly cerebral scientific nature balanced by a fiercely loyal, caring, passionate and loving heart. I liked her in this book a lot, and it's great to see what a lynchpin she is for the GhostWalkers in the later books.
Together, their chemistry is sighworthy and hot! If you like plenty of love scenes, Feehan won't let you down.
I adore all these guys. I love their strong bonds and their loyalty to each other. Not to mention their soldier bad*ssedness! They know how to joke around, but they also know how to take down the bad guys. It's great to see each one with their women. Going back and rereading this makes me even more excited for Sam's book. (big smile)
I never find Christine Feehan a quick read, but I love her books all the same, particularly this GhostWalkers series. I am glad I did a reread and was able to dive deeper and appreciate things I may have missed the first time around, or just to immerse myself in this book world I love so much. Mind Game is next and I am so looking forward to it! Glad to get GhostWalker fix. I an a stone cold addict for this series.
I gave this book five stars because I enjoyed it so much. I have heard that it is not the best of the series. I am happy to say that if this is not the best, then it will be a pleasure to read the rest of the books. Right from the start, I knew I would like Ryland, the hero. He came off as a principled, caring person, although with a dangerous edge (which I like in a hero). I liked his immediate attraction to Lily, and how he saw the beauty in her although she never thought she was beautiful. Lily is a good heroine with some qualities that make her stand out from other cookie-cutter heroines. I like that she has the tendency to be a nerd/brainiac type and is very cerebral. She can get sucked into her research and be cranky at times. It's refreshing to read about heroines who aren't goody-goody all the time, although they are good people all the same. It is clear that despite being a very scientific person, she also cares about people and about doing the right thing. I definitely saw the chemistry between Lily and Ryland and hoped that they would get together. I loved that they had a psychic bond that helped each other, when either was feeling pain or anguish. By the time the love scenes came, there was already a deep emotional connection that made the love scenes that much better.
I also liked the premise of the story. It's cool to read a paranormal with humans who happen to have enhanced mental powers. I loved how the Ghost Walkers could tell someone to look away and not see them, and persuade them to do things, yet they never used these powers in a cruel way. I thought the science was plausible, although clearly Feehan made an effort not to bog the reader down with it. The romance and the relationships were the strong focus, yet set in a world that is very exciting and interesting.
I also liked Ryland and Lily's relationships with the other Ghost Walker men and also with Lily's family of employees that have been with her since she was a small girl. I would say that Feehan has a skill at writing about relationships and the intricacies of those interrelations with people. She shows the turmoil that Lily had about her father and her discovering that her father did do some less than ethical experimentation on her and other young girls in his quest to develop psychic powers in human subjects. All the characters in this book were interesting, and I had quite a few good laughs as they joked with each other.
The action scenes were exciting and well-written, showing that this was another area that Feehan is good at. I love reading about tough people who can kick butt, and this book has this in spades. Also I liked seeing the Ghost Walkers and Lily use their powers when they got into fights and went on missions. It reminded me of the X-Men movies, comics, and tv show.
I can heartily say that this book was enjoyable and I am adding it to my keeper shelf. I am eager to read all the books in the series.(less)
Dark Destiny has a very tormented heroine. She takes the Carpathian books in a different direction where we see the heroine needing the hero more in s...moreDark Destiny has a very tormented heroine. She takes the Carpathian books in a different direction where we see the heroine needing the hero more in some ways than he needs her. There is a mutuality to their relationship, without any doubt. His finding her has kept Nicolae from turning into a vampire. And reaching out to Destiny, saved her. Poor Destiny fell into a vampire's trap as a very young girl, and was forced to watch him murder her parents and many others. Not only that, she was made to drink his tainted blood and violated. Nicolae allowed her to share his mind, and taught her how to kill the vampires, which allowed her to destroy the vampire who had enslaved her, and to get free.
Since then, Destiny has been on the run. She doesn't trust easily and doesn't seek companionship from others, but somehow becomes emotionally attached to the people in the neighborhood she watches over from vampires, particularly MaryAnn Delaney, whose life she saves.
When this book begins, she is evading the beautiful voice in her head, that she has heard for many years, since she was enslaved by the vampire. Although this voice has helped her through some truly horrible moments, she can't allow herself to believe in its goodness, because of falling for the lure that the vampire who destroyed her family set.
Nicolae has followed his lifemate from place to place, doing everything he can to help her, yet trying to keep his distance, knowing her issues with intimacy. But things soon come to a head, and he makes himself known to her in person.
From there, this story unfolds slightly different from the other Carpathian books. Nicolae is a very patient, gentle suitor. He doesn't rush Destiny or force her into their relationship, although he does make it clear that she is his Destiny and his future. Things are complicated, because Destiny is tainted by the vampire. She doesn't know that the Carpathians are not evil and are not vampires. Her whole existence has been hunting and killing vampires, using her ability to sense them because of the shared blood of the vampire who enslaved her. She believes she is wholly evil and cannot be a suitable mate for Nicolae. Nicolae has to convince her that she is wrong, but also get her healing for the vampire blood that damages her body and causes her terrible agony.
It goes without saying that I enjoyed this book. It has a lot of the things that make Feehan's Carpathian books what they are. But it also has some new elements that make it different to read. I like the mix of magic and science, how the tainted blood of the vampire turns out to have a malignant infective lifeform in it that destroys the host from the inside out. I love seeing the battle scenes and the healing moments. There is wonderful humor in these books. Destiny is a real smart aleck and says some outrageous things to Nicolae that he never lets get to him. He's very wry in his humor, and Virkinoff, his older brother, is the type to say what he thinks and let the cards fall where they may. So I had many moments when I was laughing to myself as I read this book.
I think Ms. Feehan really has an appreciation and a touch for showing human relations. She shows the good and the bad about people, and how they come together to form families that have nothing to do with blood. Such is the group of people in the neighborhood that Destiny has ending up adopting. It was hard to see how there were good people who were doing bad things to each other, and no one was sure why. And this ties into the fact that there are monsters in the world that are of the very human variety.
I had to take time to write a review, because I didn't want to say the same things I've said with the other books. I hope that I did a good job talking about this book as a separate entity from the other Carpathian books, because each one is different. I can see how some readers might get bored with the series, but I haven't. I look forward to reading each one, to continue exploring this very interesting and different vampire world. (less)
Although this seemed to drag at times, I quite enjoyed this installment of the Carpathians series. There is something very compelling and irresistible...moreAlthough this seemed to drag at times, I quite enjoyed this installment of the Carpathians series. There is something very compelling and irresistible about the Carpathians. It's very romantic but in a dark and gothic manner.
I liked Byron a lot. He made me laugh at some of his antics, how he would let Antonietta's annoying cousing Tasha see his red eyes and fangs when she was being a pain. He was a bit of a rascal, but in a good way. I think that he was quite romantic and courted Antonietta beautifully. She was the more aggressive personality for the most part, although Byron was plenty manly. I think they were a good balance for each other, since she was pretty Type A and Byron is Type B, don't worry about it, just fix the problem so we can move on personality.
There were a lot of steamy love scenes in this book. I did like how Antonietta was very sexually free, since she was a woman in her thirties and knew what she liked, and was very attracted to Byron. (who could blame her).
Josef's (he is Byron's sister Eleanor's adopted son) antics kept me laughing like crazy, especially hearing about his rap phase, how he rapped for the big guy, Prince Mikhail, and how horrified Mikhail was. Josef really got on Byron's nerves, but you could tell he loved the kid.
Sometimes I got a little sick of Antonietta's family, except Don Giovanni. However, I did like how close her family was, dysfunctional and all. She was the glue in that family, and they would be in trouble without her. It was cool that Byron understood that and didn't try to separate her from her family. He embraced Antonietta for everything that she was, which is great in a hero. The jaguar aspect was interesting, and I liked how that was a bigger part of this story than the fight against the vampires (Carpathians who become evil and vicious murderers).
Although there are similar elements present in every Carpathian books, Ms. Feehan manages to keep it fresh, because each couple's courtship is different. I like how the heroine is the one who's commitment avoidant in this series. The hero is usually like, let's get married right now (in the Carpathian fashion and otherwise). Antonietta is more aggressive and worldly than the typical Carpathian lifemate (and I think she has a passion and an energy that feels very Italian to me), and I think it suited Byron. I liked the fact that she was very laid back about the whole Carpathian deal. But, I guess as crazy as her family was, she was kind of used to a high weird quotient.
I ended up giving this a 4.5 star rating because it made me laugh so hard, and I just really liked Byron a lot. There was a lot to like about this one, and I adored the Borzoi dog, Celt. I want one!! Antonietta isn't my favorite lifemate, but she ain't bad. I like that she's a strong woman and doesn't let her blindness hinder her. Oh, and it was neat to see Jacques acting sane after the hot mess he was in Dark Desire.
Casting options: I pictured Monica Belluci as Antonietta. I didn't really picture anyone as Byron.
Goodness, this was a tough book to read, for a number of reasons. First of all, this was one of the first books I read after my exhilirating experience...moreGoodness, this was a tough book to read, for a number of reasons. First of all, this was one of the first books I read after my exhilirating experience of reading a book I'd been waiting for a long time and loved. Secondly, the first two stories weren't terribly exciting. I'll break down my review by each story.
Rocky Mountain Courtship by Jillian Hart: This is actually a good, sweet story. Joseph and Clara are adorable. I like that Joseph fell in love at first sight, and he didn't care that Clara was just a maid. She was the woman for him, and he was going to claim her heart. Clara had misgivings because of her rough life, and having had her heart played with by another man. But love conquers all. And as a nice little bonus, the hero is a virgin! If I rate this story merely based on its quality, and not my mindset at the time (I'm a very moody reader), it's a four star story.
Courting Miss Perfect by Judith Stacy: I really hate to have to do this, but I didn't care for this story. I tried, hard. I had to pick it up a few times. I'd have moments where I thought, I can like this story, but they got swallowed up by my annoyance of the foolish actions of the heroine. Brynn worked my nerves. She should have told Travis about the jewels that someone stashed in her bag. But, no, she had to lie about it. He was a freaking Pinkerton agent. He was there to help her, and going out of his way to do so. I realize that her past thoughtless actions had caused a social nightmare for her, leading to her being extra-cautious of her reputation, but that didn't warrant making such a bad decision in this case, to cover up for herself. She wasn't guilty. She should have just come clean. So, that's a major reason I didn't care for this story. I spent most of the time wanting to yell at her to tell him about the jewels. Also, I didn't like that they slept together, even though she was so careful about her reputation that she didn't even want to be alone with him for more than a few seconds, for most of the story. Completely inconsistent behavior. Also, Travis slept with a proper virgin and was about to put her on a train to back East. Yeah right. The climax just furthered my dislike for the book. You can know a man enough to have relations with him, but you don't want to marry him right away because you need to get to know each other. Okay, maybe that would work for a modern woman in the 21st Century, but not a woman in the 19th Century who was worried about her reputation, and went on tour with her aunt who wrote etiquette books. Sorry, I couldn't buy that. So, I'm sad to say this story got a rating of 1 star.
Courted by the Cowboy by Stacey Kayne: I really liked this story. Ms. Kayne has such a way with words. I like how she managed to get quite a bit of western action in this short story, but it didn't get in the way of character development or a believable romance. I could understand Constance's insecurities after being badly burned, on top of a life as an orphan who had to go from place to place to make a living for herself. Oh, I loved Kyle. What a man. He was partly responsible for the fire that burned Constance, and did right by her, arranging for her to get the best care for her burns, and seeing her settled in a convent as she healed. Matchmaking relatives set things up so that she got hired to be the schoolteacher in the township that Kyle ran, and this couple met again. I was rooting for them to find their way together, and deal with a horrible man from their mutual pasts. This was too short, but it was really enjoyable. 4.5 stars.
I was so disappointed with the Judith Stacy story, although I normally like her books. And I had trouble reading the first story (I was too jittery), although it was very good. These factors kept this book from being highly rated. It just came along at a bad time for me, I guess. Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.(less)
I had never read Nancy Butler before this book, although she is quite well-loved in traditional regency reading circles. I can see why she is admired....moreI had never read Nancy Butler before this book, although she is quite well-loved in traditional regency reading circles. I can see why she is admired. The stories of people who have suffered grievously both physically and mentally never fail to touch me when written well. This is one of those books.
Initially I didn't think I would care for Morgan Pearce. He is upset because he'll have to put off his affair with a very married woman and leave London for the country, out of a debt to a friend who supposedly saved his life on the battlefield. I was thinking, how honorable is that to be having an affair with a married woman? This is one of those books where you need to keep reading and put your robe and gavel away. For soon, it is clear that Morgan has many times more honor than most men.
He goes up to his friend's family home to help his friend's retired General father write his memoirs. At first he is quite impressed with the family of his friends, the Palfreys. They are very friendly, have a beautiful and perfect home, and seem to be a warm, affectionate family. Even helping with the memoirs of General Palfrey is going well. Then one day his eyes lay on a very sad figure out in the garden. A thin, broken woman who is clothed head to toe in heavy wool, and abandoned in a Bath chair.
Morgan can't look away. Having fought in the army for years, he has seen his share of wounded soldiers, and his best friend lost a leg in the war, and has yet to recover emotionally or physically. He knows he has to help her. This is not one of those love at first sight books. Miranda is a shadow of her former self. She is very debilitated from barely eating,and her muscles are atrophied from disuse. Not only that, her face has been slightly disfigured on one side, with scarring and flattening of her cheekbone. Morgan doesn't see her as the monstrous figure that she believes herself to be, or her neglectful cousin and his family have deemed her to be. He sees a woman that he can help to recover (and he feels the desire to do so because of what his own friend has been going through) and go on to lead a productive life. It becomes his mission to do so.
As this book progresses, we see Morgan pushing and goading Miranda on to care about herself and to want to get better. Initially Morgan uses the tools of somewhat harsh words and saying things designed to get a woman's goat. It works, as Miranda is so angry she is empowered to fight back, to push this meddlesome do-gooder away. Gradually a strong chemistry develops between the couple. Morgan sees the attractive woman that Miranda is despite her infirmitites. He admires her spirit and intelligence, and her beautiful blue-grey eyes that sparkle with anger towards him. Miranda falls in love with the man who has pushed and prodded her to get better. She doesn't think anything can come of it, but she loves him anyway, and will enjoy the time they have together before he leaves to go back to his life as a publisher in London.
Prospero's Daughter succeeds in being a sweet but passionate romance at the same time. The action never goes past kisses, but you don't doubt the desire and longing that Morgan and Miranda feel for each other. Morgan was a very masculine, vital hero, but he was also a gentleman. Although he was not without his flaws, he was a really good person. Although he had an affair with a married woman and availed himself of courtesans and prostitutes in the past (two of my pet peeves in a hero), I couldn't hold that against him, because he really showed with a good person he was. He was honorable and kind, and he was the kind of person who did the right thing, even though it might cost him something. He was perfect for Miranda.
I loved Miranda as well. My heart was breaking for her. Not only had she lost her mother and father, she lost the dreams for a normal life and a future. She was not quite at the point of suicide in this book, but it was clear that fairly soon, she might consider taking that option. Miranda wasn't that kind of person who would give up easily and take that way out, but she was such a vital, strong-minded person, trapped in a feeble body, and treated like a burden and a monstrosity by her family, even though she had her own means and property. It must have been awful to be in her situation and to be so neglected and abandoned by those who were supposed to love her.
I was very glad that Morgan called her family on their selfishness and their shallow natures. It was awful that they lived in the same house with her, but never took the time to visit her, and reassure her. She lived a separate life, and wasn't even included in Christmas celebrations or dinner with the family. That kind of neglect was beyond criminal, and it probably added to Miranda's feelings of despair.
Miranda had a very wise thing to say to Morgan that he needed to hear. He had pretty much given up on helping his friend who had lost a leg in the war. She told him that he needed to tell his friend that he was okay the way he was, even if he never walked or got out of bed again. Morgan had to struggle with that, because he was used to feeling like he had to fight to be the best and to strive for excellence due to his troubled relationship with his father, who felt he married beneath him by marrying a daughter of a publishing family. His mind interpreted that as failure. But it turned out to be excellent advice that does help Morgan to accept Miranda as she is and not fixate on improving her if it's not meant to be, and he and his sister to deal with Phillip's condition. His sister Kitty is in love with Phillip but has finally given up and decided to marry another man. Miranda helps to get the two lovebirds back together, showing the intelligence and strength of will that she never really lost. It was just locked away in a feeble body and a heart starved for love and the acceptance of others.
This book really touched me and kept me reading. It is a wonderful story about caring about someone enough to put oneself out there in the emotional danger zone, basically putting your money where your mouth is. Being a person of principles means nothing if actions don't back it up. Miranda's family thought they were good people, but it was clear that it was just a facade when it was really obvious how much they had neglected Miranda (despite having people to care for her most basic needs and nothing much above that). It's about doing the right thing, and reaching out to others in need, and how you will be blessed when you do take the time to open your heart and care for others. Morgan stepped up to the plate and discovered a treasure in Miranda, and a great love that will continue to reward him for the rest of his life.(less)
Wow! Max, you sure know how to seduce a reader, I mean woman. I just fell in love with you. They should put a 'Dangerous' label on you. You are not at...moreWow! Max, you sure know how to seduce a reader, I mean woman. I just fell in love with you. They should put a 'Dangerous' label on you. You are not at all intimidated being a plain old human (snorting when I write that), even though you are surrounded by folks who could rip you to shreds or melt your brain. You are confident enough to claim a formidable 'J' Psy as your very own woman. How could you not become one of my favorite heroes in this series? Not to mention the fact that you are gorgeous and part-Asian (drooling on keyboard). Again, I wonder if this author is actually a Psy and is extracting data directly from the dark corners of my mind.
Bonds of Justice moved up the list of books in this series, and to near the top of my favorites list. Unlike many fans, I actually enjoy the Psy-focused storylines. Something about these people of formidable mental abilities, and their struggle to stay in control. Control is a theme that hits me hard. Control of oneself, control of others. Escaping control, gaining control. Different aspects of control as a concept resonates deeply with me. I like stories in which the protagonists wrestle with control issues. I like to see the ice cold walls come down, or for them to loosen enough to let that character love and be loved.
Max and Sophia are a perfect pair. They are both wounded on the inside (and for Sophia-also on the outside). Both of them look deeper to see their soulmates. Max was one of the first people to actually 'see' Sophia. To want to take care of her, and to know her. She was thrown away by her parents because she was deemed 'unfit' after she was nearly destroyed by a psychotic Psy as a child. She took the only option available for a Psy of her talents, that as a J-Psy. They have a notoriously short lifespan because of the stressors of their job. They have to work with the worst of humanity, extracting ugly memories to help to solve the most heinous of cases. Eventually all that ugliness destroys them from the inside out. When Sophia meets Max, she knows her days are numbered. But, because she was never subject to Silence, she feels an attraction to him that she decides to pursue, to allow herself to feel that way before her life is taken from her by the Psy (or face total rehabilitation). Close proximity to Max on a case in which they are trying to determine who is trying to kill powerful Psy Councilor Nikita Duncan reveals that he's a man she cannot resist. And Max is more than willing to pursue her. I cared about Sophia, loved her. I wanted her to find that chance of happiness with Max. I think she's deserved it, with her lonely, selfless life. No one should feel so isolated and unloved.
Max has all the traits I love in a hero: keenly intelligent, possessive, strong-minded, a good sense of humor, an infallible sense of justice, and the insight to see the beauty in a wounded Psy like Sophia. Max had some very deep scars. His mother was very cruel to him, abusing him and showing her hatred in every way. He never felt worthy or loved growing up. As an adult, he became dedicated to seeking justice for people, and became one of the most relentless and formidable cops in the Enforcement system. I just adored him. I wanted him to see how worthy he truly is.
I was rooting so hard for Max and Sophia to find their happy ending. I like the way that Nalini Singh worked things out in this book. She broke a pattern and found a resolution that progresses the Psy storyline in a way that makes my interest even more keen.
Big changes are coming for the Psy, that have the potential to affect all three races: Psy, Changeling, and Human. I am excited to see where things go from here.
Gosh, I am so addicted to this series, and this book only made it worse. Ms. Singh tantalized me with glimpses of one of my favorite supporting characters, Psy Councilman, Kaleb Krychek. She has me drooling here. What a sexy, scary, cool, dangerous character here. He's terribly enigmatic. The man has one heck of a siren call going on for this reader. She has to write a book for him. I insist.
I can't speak for anyone else, but I loved this book. There was quite a bit going on, but the romance was lovely, and the Psy elements were awesome. There was even a good mystery thrown in. It was cool to catch up with some of the characters from past books, and to see that they were doing well. I liked how Ms. Singh intertwined Sascha's ongoing storyline so well into this story. There are layers and layers of subtext going on here that balance the Psy-Changeling storyline beautifully. Yup, this is definitely in my top three books in this series. Max, you are giving Hawke, Dorian, and Dev a run for their money, and you have surpassed Judd, although I love that man too. What a major feat for a mere human!
Great story here. Loved it!!! Check out this absurdly-addictive series if you haven't yet. It starts with Slave to Sensation.(less)
If you're looking for a science fiction yarn that will suck you right in, and keep your interest engaged at max warp speed, then this should work. Gri...moreIf you're looking for a science fiction yarn that will suck you right in, and keep your interest engaged at max warp speed, then this should work. Grimspace takes the concept of interplanetary travel, and integrates the idea that specific people have a gene that allows them to navigate the points within space to decrease the travel time and go to places previously impossible to travel in a reasonable distance. Sort of like a wormhole, but not really. This inner space is called Grimspace, and Sirantha Jax is such a person.
This book was just what I've been wanting to read. I love science fiction with a heavy dose of adventure, and that doesn't dwell too heavily on the tech and science explanations. It's not that I don't like science (I love it in fact), but I don't want a story bogged down with that. I want a character-driven, action-oriented, tightly written story in a science fiction universe, and that's what Ann Aguirre delivers.
The weary, scarred, nearly broken character archtype never fails to appeal to me, and such is Jax. She lost her lover and was accused of killing him and 79 souls on their last flight together. Her future is looking decidedly bleak, since the corporation she works for (think Umbrella Corporation in space, or somewhat like the Alliance for Firefly fans) has taken her into custody and are submitting her to psychological manipulation that is sure to turn her into a walking zombie. A mysterious man shows up in her room and breaks her out, and she's off on a trip across the known and unknown galaxy.
This is one of those stories where the author doesn't give you much time to start feeling comfortable and safe about any character or scenario as you read. She lulls you into a sense that things are starting to make sense, and then she pulls the rug out from under you. This was smart although not always comforting storytelling, because it puts you very much into Sirantha's shaky boots. It felt her confusion, her fear, and her almost consuming sense of loss at the terrible choices she had to make, what she had lost and could lose, and that feeling of constantly having one's back against the wall, surrounded by enemies.
Sirantha is a tough, prickly, not terribly friendly woman, but somehow she is lovable for all those traits. Her heart is deeply human and capable of unfathomable depths of feeling. She knows what needs to be done, and might inwardly balk, but goes ahead and does it, and counts the cost later. March, the man who breaks her out, turns out to be an interesting counterpart, first uneasy ally, and sometimes verbal opponent, but the person with whom Jax finds a kinship and a deep level of communication she's never known.
This is and isn't a love story. I think that those that enjoy romance will like Jax's relationship with March, but you don't have to be a romance fan to enjoy this book. Aguirre has the elements that make for a riveting love story, but she can also be ruthlessly unsentimental, and unfraid to play around with the usual romantic conventions. This adds to that uneasy feeling I got when I read this story, because I didn't really trust that anything was safe, even supposed fated love.
As far as science fiction, I like the sparse but effective scene-setting that Aguirre has done here. She has enough tech for me to buy in, but not excessive amounts that would make my eyes start rolling trying to visualize it all. This aspect again brings to mind Firefly, which is a very good association for this devoted fan of that short-lived but briliant series. The rustic elements of the space that Jax explores, the interesting characters, and juxtaposition of cynical and homespun values, not to mention the philosophical/spiritual questions that its inhabitants face, reminded me strongly of the show. However, Ms. Aguirre effectively builds her own sci-fi universe here with some unique and characteristic elements that stake her claim in the niche of space opera/sci-fi adventure.
If I had any complaint, I just wish the action sequences were more effectively paced and more expansively described. They seemed to go by way too quickly, with lost opportunity to establish themselves with memorable panache in this highly visual reader's mind. I think for a space adventure, this element really needs to shout out to the reader, but it doesn't. Don't mistake that I am implying that the action elements are poorly written (not at all), they just could have used a little more. That was really the only reason I couldn't give this five stars. On all other levels, Grimspace comes in first place. The characterization is poignant and fierce, and I deeply empathized with everything that Jax, March and crew struggled against, inner demons and outer enemies alike. I experienced this book as if I was in this corner of space, eking out my existence, and staying one step ahead of the gray men, bounty hunter, Corp bullies, and opportunists. And that made for one fantastic read. Highly recommended.
It's hard to say exactly what I felt for this book without rambling. First of all, let me say, I think this book has one of the most tormented heroine...moreIt's hard to say exactly what I felt for this book without rambling. First of all, let me say, I think this book has one of the most tormented heroines I've ever read about, both in adult and young adult literature! How much crap can one girl go through? As I listened, I kept thinking how morose this story was. But I had to keep listening. Hoping that Plain Kate would find joy and a place to call home.
This is a novel that shows the destructive effects of prejudice in an interesting way. In this book, anyone who is different or odd has to be a 'witch.' Everyone is so busy blaming everything that goes wrong around them on witches (who are more than anything just anyone who sticks out), they don't even have the sense to go after the real cause of the problem. Even those who are outsiders don't show nearly the amount of tolerance that they should. That makes for a very bitter pill to swallow.
What I loved about this story, what kept me reading was Kate. It was not easy to walk alone, and to keep walking after all she had lost. But she does. And I admire her for that. Also her cat, Taggle. Talking about a scene stealer. I loved him. The author knows cat behavior very well. I would laugh at Taggle's antics and what he would say. He's charmed so that he can talk, but he expresses himself in very much the way I can imagine my cats talking. I definitely give the author brownie points for that.
Although it's never stated, the setting is very Russian. Even the folkore gives this story an indisputible Russian stamp. Russian elements always work for me!
The tone of this story was hard to handle at times. It's very grim in a way. There are spots of brightness and joy like a ray of sunlight shining through a cloudbank. But for the most part, this story has a very downcast feel to it. That sadness that permeated this story grabbed at me. I was glad that Taggle was there for needed comic relief. As an optimist, I looked for evidence of hope for Kate, another thing that kept me reading, even when one event had me sobbing out loud. I mean really crying. I was thinking how much can this one person suffer?
Although definitely the most depressing young adult book I've read in a long time, Plain Kate was a very good book. It's not one of those books that you put down with a smile, though. Instead, you feel a sense of moody reflection. If only to convey how ugly prejudice is, this book succeeds on that point. Substitute any class of people for the 'witches' as the persecuted group and you have a powerful story told in an imaginative way, and the lesson will get transmitted to an audience who I hope will take this lesson very seriously. I think that one should think hard about these issues. Thinking clearly might help a person to see that hatred of others because of their differences is just wrong. And a world that condones that kind of injustice makes for a cold, cruel world for all of us. If I have to read a book that's not so sunny and happy to get that message, I guess that's a good thing in the end.(less)
Crystal Hubbard has delivered a great story of a woman trying to start a new life, and break free from the prison of fear that her abusive, controllin...moreCrystal Hubbard has delivered a great story of a woman trying to start a new life, and break free from the prison of fear that her abusive, controlling ex-husband held her captive to. For readers who enjoyed movies like "Sleeping with the Enemy" and "Enough", this book will strongly invoke memories of those stories, but Ms. Hubbard has put her own spin on that storyline of an abused ex-wife on the run from her crazy, stalker ex-husband.
Ms. Hubbard teaches me as an aspiring writer how to use language to tell a story. She always stimulates all the five senses when she writes. She beautifully describes colors and imagery, that give this novel a three-dimensional feel. I liked how she uses the language of color to describe how different Cinder's relationship is with Gian to her painful marriage to Sumchai Wyatt. Whereas everything was grays, blacks, and whites with Sumchai, there is a dazzling array of colors, each vibrant with Gian. Her descriptions of food were so scrumptious, I wanted to jump into this story and start eating. And the love scenes are very descriptive and evocative, making me think about sex and how it can express the feelings that a couple has for each other to a degree that I usually don't when I read a romance. Also, I appreciated how she wrote Gian as a hero in an inspiring, appealing way, but also showed that he was just a man, not a superman. In this case, Cinder didn't need a champion in the traditional sense. She needed to find her inner champion, and Gian helped her to do that.
The characters in this story came to life, fully realized. Cinder was a deep person, not perfect. A real woman. It's really easy to cast judgment on abused women, and say, I'd never let a man do that to me. However, it happens more than not that a woman ends up in a relationship that starts out good, and then finds that her life is completely controlled by a man who doesn't know what the meaning of love is. In this book, I could see how Cinder went from point A to point B, and woke up one day realizing exactly the extent of the control and games her husband had over her. Some of his cruel tactics made me so angry, and I couldn't imagine being in that situation. Yet, I didn't feel the need to judge Cinder, because being in love with someone does give them a control over you that allows you to put yourself in situations that can be just as unhealthy as Cinder's, and there is a large component of psychological damage, steadily inflicted that allows a person's will to be weakened to the extent that they feel that this is the norm. There is also that fear and shame of speaking out and telling others what is going on. Fear for oneself, and fear that this person might hurt them as well. As with the slow procession from lover to victim that unfolds with Cinder, we see her slow healing and the psychological breakthroughs that allow Cinder to come back from that edge and reclaim her sense of self, her identity, and control of her life. I think this was written brilliantly, and unlike film media, I could see deeper into the abused wife scenario. I admit that this was a harrowing journey at times, too. You think in your mind, how could someone associate this with love. How could you deliberately hurt your wife that way. It was clear that Cinder's ex-husband was a deeply mentally ill person, but not one that I ever felt sorry for. Not when he truly didn't want to get better. At the end of this story, I was cheering loudly for Cinder, having gone along the way every step with her and seeing how hard she worked for her emotional/mental/physical victory.
Gian was a hero that I just adored. He was a very good man--a lovely mix of oh-so delicious masculinity, stability, honor, sweetness, and gentleness. Not to mention sexiness. I liked how he was a man with a military past that had colored him, but he had some conflicted feelings about the violence he had to commit as a soldier. When he told Cinder why he ran a martial arts dojo, it was a very profound thing. I know I've heard it before that martial arts helps a person to empower oneself on a level that makes it easier for them not to kill someone, but it made even more sense from the vantage point of a man who had to kill people for a living, and was subjected to the violent acts of others. There wasn't anything I didn't love about Gian. He was a fully-realized kind of hero. The one that you can drool over and respect, and think how much you'd admired and be drawn to him in real life. It wasn't that he was perfect, and no man or woman is. He was just perfectly lovable.
I loved the integration of martial arts styles and philosophy in this story. It was clear that Ms. Hubbard did her research, and she built a beautiful story around it. I never felt subjected to 'info-dumping'. Instead I found the facts and descriptions very intriguing. Of course, being a long-time fan of Asian martial arts, in the real world, and in the cinema, that gave me just one more thing to like about this story.
As one of my friends on GRs touched on, I loved the diversity in this story. You have such a beautiful mix of ethnicities, which is how I see the world being. Not one palette, but so many colors, coming together to make an intriguing society, each contributing to the world in which they live. I loved the scenes of Gian's employees at the dojo, Cinder and his mutual friends, and their trash-talking and playing around. Also how they helped each other and stood up for each other. I even liked how things worked out with one employee who really acts like an idiot over the course of this book.
This is my third book by Crystal Hubbard, and my praise for her is well-earned. She is such a good writer, and she delivers a beautiful love story, one that is more than just romance. It's fiction that hits on many cylinders, and gives the reader even more than they expected. Burn is a book I'd highly recommend.
Sadly, I was pretty disappointed with this book. If it was written by another author that I didn't have higher expectations for, I would have liked it...moreSadly, I was pretty disappointed with this book. If it was written by another author that I didn't have higher expectations for, I would have liked it fairly well. But for Gena Showalter, and what I know she can write, this one didn't quite measure up. I think it's the Harlequin Nocturne curse. I've found that these books don't have enough content to make this PNR fan happy. Ms. Showalter seemed to have some issues with the word count restrictions. I think she did the best she could, but I felt that the storytelling wasn't as cohesive, and some aspects were less concrete that I would like. I think as a 400 page book, this could have been an awesome story. For a 281 page book, it's rather half-done.
I wanted more world-building and stronger characterization. The world seemed a bit like a Saturday morning cartoon as far as the fairy land stricken by dark magic. I was left wanting more on that front. The bad guys were kind of cardboard. I love a wicked witch villainess, and this could have rocked in that sense. As is, the players were too sketchy for my tastes. As far as the romance/sexy bits, that was very well done as it was, although more time spent on Nicolai and Jane getting to know each other wouldn't have come amiss.
On the positive side, I really liked Jane as a heroine. Nicolai didn't impress me, but I wasn't necessarily disappointed. He was just okay. He was the standard rakish hero who happens to be a vampire. He didn't strike me as particularly tortured, but yes, he was sexy! I didn't mind the monosyllabic/neanderthal speech as much as some of my fellow readers. It fit Nicolai's character to me, so it didn't stick out. He's an elemental, primal kind of guy, and I would expect that of him for the woman he fell in love/felt a strong bond with. As far as the sex slave to beat all sex slaves angle, I think The Pleasure Slave has a somewhat similar scenario in some respects, but done much better, because there was more time for the story to ripen and bloom fully.
As much as it pains me, I can't give this one more than 3.25/5.0 stars. Ms. Showalter, you still rock for me, and I am still a loyal fan. I blame this more on the short format than on a lack of writing skills on your part. My fingers are crossed that I enjoy the following books in the series a little more. I'm not giving up on Harlequin Nocturnes yet, darn it!(less)