Deadly Angel was an entertaining read, and it definitely had plenty of tension and emotion to it. When I read Harlequin Presents, those are some of my...moreDeadly Angel was an entertaining read, and it definitely had plenty of tension and emotion to it. When I read Harlequin Presents, those are some of my biggest criteria, so the book scores in that way. However, I couldn't give it high marks because of some issues that were too serious to overlook. Let's discuss those first.
Nick is a bully. He is used to throwing his weight around and using his sinister reputation to get what he wants. I like tough, scary heroes, but I don't like bullies. I thought he was way too physically intimidating with Olivia. He forces her to kiss him and pushes her around in a way that felt uncomfortable to me. He does not rape her, Thank God. However, his behavior was still hard to swallow. I think I would have flung the book against the wall if Olivia hadn't been a courageous woman who didn't bow to his intimidation (any more than she could avoid). I don't quite understand why she fell in love with him though. He wasn't nice to her. He didn't treat her that well. He didn't show her much gentleness. Even with the scary, sexy, cool literary men I love, I need to see and feel that he is a man the heroine could love. I didn't quite feel that with Deadly Angel. Yes, he's sexy if you like a domineering, rough, demanding hero who threatens her constantly.... But all of a sudden, she realizes she is deeply in love with him? Huh? I did appreciate his loyalty to his family and that he worked hard to bring his family business back from the edge of oblivion. Some of his methods, not so much.
Another aspect I struggled with is the almost stereotypical presentation of Sicilians as violent, dangerous people. Maybe I don't know much about Sicilians, but I don't think it's right to label a group of people some way. People have done plenty of that with black people, and I'm not having that. I really dislike movies/books about the Italian/Sicilian mafia, and this book sort of took me too close to that perception. If I was Sicilian, I think I'd be a bit offended. I'd be curious to see what a person of Sicilian ancestry thinks about it. Maybe I am taking it too seriously....
I liked Olivia. I felt for her situation. You can't help if you don't love someone, and what Greg did was not her fault. But she did was right in that she went to him to help him when he was in the hospital and recovering. I didn't quite get her actions towards the end of the book though. Why would she get in the car with that slug? I would have kept on walking and I probably would have started screaming to draw attention to myself. But I guess it gave Nick the chance to be protective....
Anyway, I give some points for dramaticism, emotion, and the fact that this book kept my interest, but I have to subtract points for Nick's brutish nature and the stereotyping of Sicilians. I think 3.5/5.0 stars is a fair rating.
Changes is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we can...moreChanges is a wonderful example of what historical romance can accomplish in giving us a spotlight into history. History is alive and vivid, and we can learn so much from it. Why not wrap that history lesson in a human story about two people who are very different, but connect through the love they share, and in the process learn that humans are all the same deep down?
Crystal Gardens is for readers who enjoy their historical romance with strong paranormal elements. In this case, a huge part of the story is the conce...moreCrystal Gardens is for readers who enjoy their historical romance with strong paranormal elements. In this case, a huge part of the story is the concept of 'psychical energies.' Both Evangeline and Lucas have paranormal abilities, and they are drawn to Crystal Gardens, Lucas' deceased uncle's estate by no accident. In the case of Lucas, he comes to investigate his uncle's murder. Evangeline comes to soak up the atmosphere and work on her series of serial novels, and also to investigate the place that her father (a man who studied psychical energies and invented machines that ran on these energies) was obsessed with. Evangeline is also fleeing a murderer and ends up running right into Lucas' arms, which is a very good thing! Lucas is just the knight in tarnished armor to keep her safe.
I enjoyed listening to this book on audio but it did fall short overall. The narrator has a very dramatic way of reading it. Sometimes, her voice sounded a little odd (especially when she narrated the male characters), but I loved her British accent, and that each character sounded distinctive. I think that Quick's books lend themselves very well to audiobooks. Her style is very focused on the mystery components, and the romance seems to take a bit of a back seat at times. This would probably bother me more if I was reading than when I listen to books. That is not to say that the romance wasn't good. It was. I just could have used more than I got. I do feel that she emphasized the paranormal elements too much. She used the term 'psychical' excessively. I think that the reader gets the point about the paranormal energies and she could have spent time on building up the story in other ways. I do think Quick excelled in her descriptions of the Gardens and its otherworldly atmosphere. I felt like I was there in the Gardens, which might be a very strange experience indeed.
Unfortunately, the characters didn't feel as well-developed as I would have liked. I found Evangeline and Lucas likable and intriguing, but I don't feel that I knew them as well as I wanted. I feel that Quick did more telling about them than showing. Maybe she could have caused their characterization come to light more organically if she had spent more time on revealing who they were than explaining about the paranormal elements of the Crystal Gardens. At the end of the story, I could feel their attraction and feelings for each other, but I didn't get to explore this powerful love that supposedly had developed between them. Since this is a romance, that is crucial. I found the love scenes well written and passionate, and I really liked this about the book. I did feel the attraction between Evangeline and Lucas, although Quick sort of stole its impact by implying it was related to the psychical energies. Lucas is the kind of hero I love, strong, intelligent, compelling, and dangerous in an appealing way, but something was missing from his portrayal. Evangeline was a good person, a sweet woman who is independent and intelligent, and I wanted things to work out for her, but she wasn't distinctive as a character. The secondary character were barely fleshed out. I did like Evangeline's friends Clarissa and Beatrice, as well as Lucas' siblings, Beth and Tony. I also like Molly, Evangeline's maid, and Stone, Lucas' manservant, but they weren't as vivid as I would have liked. Judith, Lucas' stepmother seemed more lively in her characterization, especially with her feelings of antipathy towards Lucas and the reasons for them. The way Lucas treated Judith endeared me to him. He was respectful and he took his responsibilities for her very seriously even though she had never treated him well. The villain was quite cardboard, and his motivations were shallow. He shows up just in time for a thrilling climax, but he spends very little time in this book overall.
I guess it's clear I wanted to like this book more than I did. I liked it, but I think that this author is capable of writing a better book than this. I say that with all respect for her. I hope that the next books in the Ladies of Mystery have the spark that this book was lacking, because I think this series really has potential. And I am a sucker for the Victorian Gothic romance! (less)
Another hilarious installment in this series. I love spending time with IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway, who can't seem to stay out of trouble in the...moreAnother hilarious installment in this series. I love spending time with IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway, who can't seem to stay out of trouble in the line of duty.
I enjoyed this book. It has a lot of heart and humor, and the characters are fun and likable. For those who would like an older couple romance, you'll...moreI enjoyed this book. It has a lot of heart and humor, and the characters are fun and likable. For those who would like an older couple romance, you'll find a great one here with the secondary couple.
Leopard's Prey is Remy Boudreaux's story and he lives up to the anticipation he built when he entered the scene the first time in Savage Nature. It's...moreLeopard's Prey is Remy Boudreaux's story and he lives up to the anticipation he built when he entered the scene the first time in Savage Nature. It's been a year since I read a Feehan book, so Remy's book is a great way to break my fast. I knew Remy would be 'something else,' the kind of hero only Feehan can write. With Bijou, he gets the story and the heroine that I wished for.
I will freely admit that the GhostWalkers is my favorite series by Feehan, and the others pale in comparison, so I make sure my expectations reflect the fact that all the redoubtable Ms. Feehan's writing gets measured against this series, because of my inestimable love for it. However, I am always very happy to get my hands on another book by her, since I just plain enjoy her writing. She has some interesting stories with characters I fall for and burning hot and emotional love stories. That's what this romance fan loves.
Anyway, Leopard's Prey is steeped in Louisiana bayou atmosphere. The characters are almost all natives of this region, and based on my short visits to this part of the United States, I felt like I was taking another trip down there and enjoying it, taking in the sights and sounds. Additionally, the feel of family is strong in this novel. The Boudreaux clan of brothers and sister, along with the larger Leopard Clan, are tightly bonded to each other, loving and teasing each other, sometimes in mean ways (but it's all in fun). Bijou, who had just about the most dysfunctional childhood ever, needs a family like this, full of people who watch out for each other, even as they give each other a hard time.
Bijou is the daughter of a notorious, yet beloved rock star. This is very important to the story because it affects everything in Bijou's adult life and all her relationships. He failed her beyond measure as a parent, scarring her self-esteem and sense of confidence, despite her incredibly beautiful looks and formidable musical talent of her own. I really liked her character. Despite her awful start in life, she's grown into a wonderful woman with a generous heart and a strong core, despite her insecurities. Remy and Bijou have a long-standing and deep bond from an event a long time ago, when he saves her life as an eight-year-old, but their lives go in different directions. Remy is quite older than Bijou, but in some ways, she has as much to teach him and he does her. Remy needs to learn the language of love that Bijou speaks. He takes it for granted that she night not understand how special she is, when she doesn't have that frame of reference at all. Growing up the way she did, how could she? Remy knows intellectually that Bijou is clueless on their shared leopard heritage. However, he doesn't get that she might interpret the strong sexual attraction they share as merely a function of the Leopards' sexual needs and not any higher bond between them, or that she is special to Remy. So a good chunk of the book is about them exploring their relationship and coming to understand just what it means on both sides to be together (paired to the murder mystery).
Bijou and Remy had great chemistry. The love scenes are quite scorching. Feehan makes a big deal about the leopard's need for rough sex, and it does veer in that direction, but nothing too out there or tasteless, in my mind. I do roll my eyes a bit at the whole 'dominating' aspect of the love scenes, 'cause that's not my thing at all. There is no question that Remy is a sexy beast though! I like how Feehan uses the love scenes to show the different aspects of their relationship: primal, affectionate, deeply emotional and fiercely intimate, and even playful. I also appreciated how Feehan presents the leopard nature. She gets the aspect of this big cat right, and it fits in with this story of human leopard shapeshifters. In some ways, this story reminded me of the film Cat People, but with a much happier ending that I always wished for.
I can only give this in the four stars region because I feel like this story could have been longer. I felt like I missed something when it ended. Maybe I am just very rapacious when it comes to books by this author. She gets me hooked and I hate when the ride is over too soon. The story moves along at an expansive pace, and before I knew it, things were wrapping up. For those who are following the Leopard storyline, this doesn't add a whole lot to the overall Leopard shapeshifter species arc from the beginning. It focuses on the Boudreaux family and the specific group in the Louisiana bayou. Some of the original guys show up in cameos, which was cool. As far as the storyline, it was more of a murder mystery/romantic suspense with paranormal romance, and lacks as much action as some of Feehan's books. I did think the mystery was quite suspenseful and the aspects of the murder was kind of gruesome and disturbing. The killer was not the person I expected at all (Well, I got this sick suspicion later on in the story and was hoping I was wrong). The reasons were very chilling for that person's actions, although there could be no palatable reason for what the murderer was doing.
Although not a five star book, it was higher in the four star range, because I enjoyed reading it immensely, and I tried to savor reading it. I could have done with more book, as I said earlier, so that takes off from my rating. I couldn't subtract too much because of the high enjoyment factor. I have so much fun visiting with Feehan's characters in the various series, and I admit the Leopard series did sneak up on me. I loved Bijou as much if not more than Remy, which is saying something. She's a sweet woman, and you just want her to have her happy ever after. I'm glad that her prince is Remy and she's going to be a part of the Boudreaux clan and will get the family she missed out on. I'm curious to see what Feehan comes up with next in this series.
Stormdancer has such a distinctive feel that impacted me as a reader. The mix of rich Japanese-like culture and folklore with a dystopian twist. The m...moreStormdancer has such a distinctive feel that impacted me as a reader. The mix of rich Japanese-like culture and folklore with a dystopian twist. The main character is a brave but troubled young woman who earns my loyalty and encourages me to stand up for what I personally believe in.
But the one thing that really won me over was the connection between Yukiko and the arashitora, who she names Buruu. I’ve been an animal person since I was a wee lassie, and the bond between humans and animals is very important in my life. To see the love and trust that grows between Yukiko and Buruu, and their devotion almost brought tears to my eyes, because I am a true sap about stuff like that. Buruu is a majestic and beautiful creature, although fiercely lethal and untamable, as a legendary creature should be. I loved that although Buruu doesn’t tame down or change in his essential nature, he grows as the bond with Yukiko develops. They teach each other things important for their journey.
The world of the Shima Isles is a dark one. The place hovers on the brink of ecological disaster, and many crimes against humanity occur daily. The Shogun is clearly mad, and his power without limitation. On top of that is the Guild, which strives to make more of their poison lotus, despite its cost to their world and the people within it, and burns people who they view as heretics, probably all of which are innocent. In this kind of world, it’s hard to have hope, which is why Yukiko begins this story as a sullen and miserable young woman. She’s lost more than she can reconcile, feels the personal sting of betrayal daily, and it’s wounded her emotionally. What a good time for Buruu to come along, although their connection is not without anguish for them both. But in this world, personal sacrifice is necessary to right the terrible wrongs occurring. In the end, they are healing and comfort and safety to each other in a dark place. Together, they will not be defeated.
Stormdancer is a very good book. While it took time for me to get into the flow of terminology and world-building, I appreciate the author’s efforts to create such an immersive, fascinating world. The Japanese cultural elements appealed highly to me. Of course, I loved the strong young heroine, among many strong capable women who fight for their world just as the men do. The action scenes brought to mind some of my favorite martial arts/fantasy movies. I admit I am a serious fan of swordplay, and this book has some beautiful and bloody evidence of this martial art, along with others. I could see this is a gorgeous anime-style film, but I hope that it is made in live action, with its all Asian cast. I would definitely pay money to see this on the big screen.
While I agree that is definitely for young adults and for older readers who enjoy young adult fiction, I like that Kristoff doesn’t curtail his writing merely to fit in the current YA trend. The violence is quite descriptive and there is some sensual content (although fade to black). The storyline is quite dark, with the ecological sabotage for power and money, the cruelty and violence against so called enemies of the state, and the disregard for the welfare and needs of the citizenry. I think there are good lessons in here, although I don’t think Kristoff ever strays into PSA territory. It’s inherent and beautifully integral to this novel. Personally, I think this book is fine for readers 14 and older. However, I would recommend a parent reading it first. This one is very close to a five star rating, but since some scenes lacked clarity, I ended up giving it 4.5/5.0 stars. Despite that, I highly recommend it to dystopian, fantasy, and Asian folklore fans. (less)
I was excited to read Shadow and Bone because the story seemed to have some Russian elements, and I love just about anything Russian. While the story...more I was excited to read Shadow and Bone because the story seemed to have some Russian elements, and I love just about anything Russian. While the story does not take place in Russia, but in a fictional world, it does have prominent Russian cultural elements, which I enjoyed. The folklore seems to be a distinctive one envisioned by the author, and not recognizable as Russian in my inexpert opinion.
At first, it took a while for this book to engage my interest. I was a bit bored initially. I had to get a feel for the vernacular and the world, and not much seemed to be happening. I wasn’t sure I felt the connection between Alina and Mal. I understood they grew up together, but I didn’t understand why Alina was so fixated on him and Mal didn’t seem to feel the same way.
While I appreciated the world-building and the concept of the Grisha, I think that it needed more texture. I felt like the narrative scratched the surface and was rather vague. It also took a while to get invested in Alina’s character. I liked the concept of her power and how suppressing it had affected her body detrimentally. I loved seeing her gain a sense of confidence and for her self-esteem to grow. I appreciated The Darkling’s character. I was always waiting for him to show up. Sadly he was more developed in some ways than Mal was. I found the resolution with him predictable. I would have liked to see it go in a different direction. Maybe he didn’t have to live up to everyone’s bad opinions of him. As for Mal, even at the end, I can’t say I grew to like him that much. I wanted to like him because Alina loves him so much. I just didn’t. I liked Alina’s character, but I wanted to feel for her more and know her on a deeper level.
At first I was going to give this four stars, because I liked the Russian elements so much and it’s an interesting idea, but I realized the execution wasn’t quite as good, and I had to adjust my rating accordingly. I feel that the writing needed to do a better job of drawing me in and conveying intensity and I think the descriptions of the places, specifically the concept of the Fold, could have been more fleshed out. With this kind of idea and subject, this story really could have had more impact than it did. In the end, it was a diverting, interesting read, but it didn’t set me on fire or get to my heart like I would have liked. If my library gets the rest of the series, I will definitely check it out, because I’d like to follow Alina’s story.
Holly Harrison meets kind, good-looking, if very overweight Jess Colton when they are stranded in the elevator in their apartment building. He helps h...moreHolly Harrison meets kind, good-looking, if very overweight Jess Colton when they are stranded in the elevator in their apartment building. He helps her to get through her attack of claustrophobia and fear by praying for her, and shows what a nice guy he is. Once they are rescued from the elevator, Jess invites her to go to church with him. Holly became a Christian years ago, but she listened to her sister's insistence that God wouldn't forgive her for the sins she had committed while in college, so she stopped going to church, praying and reading her Bible. Jess's encouragement and spiritual counseling helps Holly to get back in a close relationship with the Lord, and she starts to fall in love with the gentle, beautiful man. His weight doesn't matter to her. She sees the loving person inside, and is drawn to him for his love for God and the warm friendship he shows her. Even though she knows that he probably wouldn't want damaged goods like herself.
Jess falls in love at first sight with Holly, but more importantly, he reaches out to the lonely, unhappy young woman with the love of Christ. While others seem repelled and critical of his weight, she shows him loving friendship and support. He knows that no woman would want him with his large body and his addiction to food. All he can do is take comfort in their friendship, even if he wants more in his heart. But what can he offer to her when it turns out that with his weight issues, his health is a ticking clock getting closer to eternity?
Give Us This Day was a very touching novel about the relationship between two lonely people who felt deeply unworthy inside, despite their relationship with Christ. I appreciated that God brought them together so they could help each other through their mutual issues with feeling loved and accepted. Additionally, it was refreshing to read a book where the couple falling in love aren't drop dead gorgeous or without flaws, and they love each other for what they see inside, as well for their mutual love for Christ.
The story touched me deeply, both from a spiritual and emotional perspective. Jess was a very good man, and it was painful to see how people treated him because of his weight, as if he was disgusting and inferior and undeserving of respect. Foster ably conveys the message about God's love for all people, and that he accepts us as we are. Jess's struggles with an alcohol addiction that he substituted with food because of feeling a lack of acceptance from his hypercritical father resonated with me. His process of turning that addiction over to God and seeking his help to recover from it, was a powerful message to me of God's ability to heal all our wounds and to be our sufficiency in a fallen world. In the case of Holly, I was reminded that God's love is unconditional, that there is no sin he won't forgive and that we don't need to feel unworthy of his love and fellowship because of mistakes we make, past or future.
At times, I feel as though Christian fiction can be all about a message with no story to go with it. With Give Us This Day, I felt that the message was seamlessly intertwined with an involving story. I rooted for Jess and Holly to find their happy ending together, even as I appreciated the spiritual truths and insights given in this novella. I loved how in the midst of their struggles, these characters were able to find comfort in each other, and from the people in their lives (both Christian and non-Christian), but also to help those who didn't know and appreciate God's unconditional love as a gift available to all.
There are very few, if any romance books that feature an overweight hero or even a hero who struggles with weight issues, so this book serves as a very good trailblazer for a needed genre today. I found that I loved Jess for his whole being as I read this novella. While I felt pain for his emotional issues that led to his obesity and worried about his health, his weight didn't diminish his attractiveness to me as a person. It wasn't hard to see why Holly fell in love with him. I definitely see this as being realistic, because many people don't just look for the perfect physical specimen, either because they have gone down that path and been disappointed or because they know all along their soulmate won't come in that package. They look to the heart for a person who they feel safe and loved with. Give Us This Day is the book for those readers. And for readers who want a great romance with an effective and non-preachy Christian message. I recommend reading it.
Fated is a fantastic debut novel. This is what urban fantasy can accomplish, taking fantasy concepts and giving them a new spin in a modern setting. J...moreFated is a fantastic debut novel. This is what urban fantasy can accomplish, taking fantasy concepts and giving them a new spin in a modern setting. Jacka uses the concept of an age-old war between Dark and Light Mages and sets it in contemporary London. While many will think of Dresden and recommend this to fans of that great series, I don't even think it's fair to compare them outside of the fact that they are both male POV urban fantasy novels with magical protagonists. Jacka writes his own book here, and I loved him for it. Yes, it does have the somewhat smart-alecky, down on his luck magical protagonist, but actually Alex Verus and Harry Dresden couldn't be more different.
While I am not a big fan of witchcraft themes in urban fantasy, I love the idea of modern-day mages and magic-users. This book is for those who like to see the magical battles without all the spellwork and spellcasting along with it. And the one thing that felt so refreshing and delightfully distinct was the fact that Alex is a Diviner. His main ability is to see the future and shift through possible outcomes and choose the best one for his situation. This makes Alex more of a thinking man hero as opposed to a reactive/shoot first and ask questions last hero. His strength is his ability to assess the situation and choose wisely. He will be the first to admit that he's often out-numbered and our-powered by his adversaries, but that just makes me more loyal and root for him all the more. Because of the fact that he has been the punching bag, Alex has a lot of humility and grace for those who aren't strong. I respected his sense of right and wrong, even if he's not exactly what you'd call a Boy Scout.
Luna is an interesting secondary character. I felt for her situation, and I have a feeling that her relationship with Alex will continue to be pivotal in this series. In some ways, they aren't that different. Both isolated and ostracized for being different. They have a strong connection, even just on that level.
I found the storyline very interesting. Alex having to navigate through shark-infested waters of political and physically violent power struggles between Dark and Light Mages. Jacka endows his world with a lot of weight and texture. He takes the urban fantasy genre is a much needed different direction. Instead of treading on the overtrodden territory of vampires, werewolves and even faerie, he focuses on magic users and not the kind you usually see in urban fantasy novels. I found his insights into the social dynamics of Dark Mages quite enlightening and it felt very realistic. Although he doesn't dwell on it, there are some very disturbing and dark (no pun intended) aspects to their concept of power and how it's obtained and used.
This took a while to read because the print in my copy was tiny! But that doesn't mean I was bored. I was too sucked in to feel boredom. Urban fantasy is one of my favorite genres, so I do have high expectations, but this one exceeded those nicely. I was drawn into this world whenever I picked up the book to read, and I will definitely read more of this series.
I highly recommend this to fans of urban fantasy, especially those looking for something different!(less)
While this was slow-moving at times, it has a depth, complexity and richness that called to me. I was immersed in the time period, and the sensuality...moreWhile this was slow-moving at times, it has a depth, complexity and richness that called to me. I was immersed in the time period, and the sensuality and veracity of the complex emotions the characters felt.
This book is a storyline about two people who end up starting a marriage under less than ideal circumstances. Arabella is pregnant by a man who lied t...moreThis book is a storyline about two people who end up starting a marriage under less than ideal circumstances. Arabella is pregnant by a man who lied to her, used her, and abandoned her. Leaving her pregnant. She tracks him down to find he has died, and gains an audience with his younger brother. Elliot has fought to find his own path instead of living in his brother's shadow. And he's done a spectacular job. While Rafe lived a dissolute, selfish life, Elliot sought a productive one, full of physical activity and meaning. When a bedraggled, plain young woman comes to his home and claims to be pregnant by his brother, he knows it's upon his honor to do the right thing and marry her, even she did not demand this of him. He is determined to do right by her, and in the process cultivate a decent marriage, raising his brother's child as his own. Haha, the great plans we make! Soon, both Arabella and Elliott realize a comfortable marriage is not enough for either of them.
What I liked:
* I found Elliott to be a good hero, but also quite realistic. I liked that he was troubled by the fact that his wife wasn't carrying his own child, and insecure enough to resent the fact that his brother's child might inherit his title. It was only to be expected, since he's a normal human being, not a saint. I couldn't blame him. We don't always have the most unselfish feelings about things, and I would expect no less of him to struggle with this, in light of the fact that he had never been close to his brother, nor had his brother treated him well as an adult, despite his overtures. In the end, he realizes how much he cares for the child Arabella has, more than he even though possible. I liked how he was there for Arabella, despite his misgivings. I liked that he never even considered betraying his marriage vows, despite the fact that Arabella wasn't his chosen bride. Elliott was a very admirable man and I liked him a lot as a hero. * Arabella came a long way in this book. I could understand her insecurities, uncertainties and misgivings. Going from an overbearing, unloving father, being mistreated by a man who pretended to love her only to get laid, and then dealing with the guilt of a pregnancy out of wedlock and a marriage to that man's brother in order to give her child a family. She had to come to realize she was worthy of love, and that she had the right to demand more. She bloomed beautifully with some security of a good marriage, and that's a good thing. * I liked the development of love between Arabella and Elliott. It made sense that they had to work through a lot of the issues they faced to find love. I could see their feelings change to something more over time in the way they treated and interacted with each other.
What could have been better:
* I felt a bit emotionally detached from this story. I would have liked more of a sizzle in the story, and I'm not talking loving scenes. The love scenes actually were nicely sensuous, but I didn't feel as drawn into this story overall as I would hope. I merely felt an affection for the characters, not a strong pull towards them.
This was a good romance novel. I liked the handling of the theme of the heroine carrying another man's child, specifically the hero's brother. The fact that Arabella had been intimate and taken advantage of by Elliott's brother wasn't minimized as an issue, but neither was it handled in such a way where I felt like I couldn't get past that to believe in them as a couple. Instead, I felt as though Rafe (the dead brother)'s actions might have resulted in something good in the end, two people finding true love together. At least something worthwhile came out of his selfishness, other than his child. Overall, I was satisfied with this story.(less)
Even though there were some things that I wasn't fully pleased with execution-wise, on the feeling level, this is a five star book for me. I'm going t...moreEven though there were some things that I wasn't fully pleased with execution-wise, on the feeling level, this is a five star book for me. I'm going to be thinking about the ending for a while. It's been a crazy ride with this series!
**spoiler alert** ***Bigtime Spoiler Warning. I can’t write this review without them. Sorry! ****Super-duper Long Review Disclaimer! I have so much to...more**spoiler alert** ***Bigtime Spoiler Warning. I can’t write this review without them. Sorry! ****Super-duper Long Review Disclaimer! I have so much to say!
When I started reading this series back around 2005 or 2006, I was drawn into the dark, seductive, dangerous world of JR Ward’s vampires, and something took root in me. I knew I would come back for more when I finished Dark Lover, and so I did. Again and again. Every year, I look forward to a new book in this series, and rightfully so. I believed the culmination of my love for this series would be Lover Mine, since John Matthew and Xhex are two of my favorite characters. While that book will always have a special place in my heart, I am happy to say that I still believe this series has more to offer me with every book.
I knew I would enjoy Lover Reborn, but I had some anxieties about it because it’s a pivotal entry, and a difficult storyline to read about (and to write about, from Ward’s perspective). So many expectations! I am happy to say I believe that Ward has stayed true to who she is as a writer with this book.
Tohrment always seemed like the most grounded, stable, mature member of the Brotherhood. When this series began, he was a family man, happily mated to Wellesandra. He was the voice of reason in the Brotherhood, and many looked to him for advice, leadership, and moderation. All that disappeared in a single act of violence, one that tore his beloved shellan and their unborn son away from Tohr, leaving a broken wreck of a male behind.
The opinions are varied. Many feel that it was too soon for Tohr to find another mate. Some believe he never should be mated again. Some want Wellsie to come back. As much as I love Wellsie, the realist in me didn’t expect her to be brought back. I feel that this would be way too fairy tale a resolution for this quite dark series. Personally, I would rather someone who had lost their wife/husband to move on and find love again. If I died, I would want my husband to be happy in this life. I believe Wellsie definitely felt the same way. Although I’m not a widow and I haven’t lost my soulmate, I have lost people that I loved, and grief is a part of life. It hurts like nothing else, and the loss makes a void in one’s life that cannot easily (nor should it be) be filled with anything else. Yet, over time, you feel those horrible claws of loss easing their way out of your soul and psyche, and you feel the healing begin. I for one feel that Ms. Ward did a very good job at portraying this with Tohr’s journey in this book.
There is no question whatsoever that Tohr loved Wellsie. But I loved the message that part of loving her was letting her go, and allowing her to go to her eternal resting place, and moving on and living his life. It felt right to me how the storyline showed that Tohr was actually keeping Wellsie from going to the Fade by his horrible, wrenching, unchanging grief. Although this is fiction, I do believe in the message about healing from grief being so integral to the process. And that felt so real to me.
My other concern was how Tohr and No’One’s relationship would develop. I didn’t want the whole book to be about how No’One would never measure up in his eyes, and that she was just a consolation prize, since Wellsie was gone. On the other hand, I didn’t want Wellsie to be forgotten about like being gone meant she didn’t matter anymore. That makes a very hard path to walk for a writer. For me, there was a lot of symmetry in how Tohr and No’One came together. It was naturalistic to the story, and I was satisfied with the outcome. Like most of the courtships in these books, there was a rocky road; but both Tohr and No’One both learn and grow from the experience.
No’One Many readers have speculated on her, and how she could end up being Tohr’s mated shellan. In Lover Mine, I learned enough about her to think that there could be a foundation between her and Tohr.
Although Tohr spent many years with Wellsie, and their love was the cornerstone of his life, he also had a very crucial relationship with No’One in his formative years. As a young vampire, he helped to save No’One when she was kidnapped and abused by a sympath male. He nursed and cared for her through her pregnancy, and he buried her when she killed herself, with his dagger. From a spiritual perspective, an unbreakable bond formed between them that is pivotal to the healing that is necessary for both. So it made sense for them to come together for me. She wasn’t just a random female that dropped out of nowhere.
Regardless, Tohr doesn’t make it easy for No’One to claim his heart. He is truly mean to her a couple of times in this book, and I wanted to slap him upside the head. And she hates herself so much, that she doesn’t feel she has the right to be loved. So No’One has to go through a sea change to claim her happiness in this world, this time around. It was painful to see how she hurt herself emotionally, how she denied her right to happiness, but that too was realistic. How often do we blame ourselves for the mistakes we make and the bad things that happen to us in this life, which aren’t our faults? We feel that we have to claim that misfortune and assume that we deserved it. No’One had an elephant’s weight of guilt sitting on her back, and until she divested herself of it, she could be no freer to love than Tohr was. There was balance in that.
Tohr and No’One Tohr is a really good guy. Despite all the horrible grief he suffered, he still tried to be courteous and to make sure that No’One had what she needed, as far as he could give it. Other than his two freakouts, which were pretty nasty, I think he treated her well. He didn’t make any false promises. I loved how he gave her a new name that he felt was worthy of her because she refused to go by her name when she was a young member of the Glymera. Autumn is a very fitting name, and I loved it. I liked how it tied into the cover so well. And it also ties into the whole storyline. People think of Autumn as the harbinger to the darkest part of the year. Autumn is a time of transition. It has a beauty all its own. It’s the season when the bright beauty of summer edges into the crisp purity of winter. Autumn is like a time of rest for the earth. To me, that is representative of what Tohr is going through. He is learning to live without Wellsie and to find joy and beauty in what had promised to be a very dark future.
The love scenes between Tohr and No’One/Autumn were very good. It showed that although Tohr’s first shellan had died, his heart didn’t have to die with her, nor his body and his capacity to feel desire for another woman. I liked that they eased into it over several months. I also liked how Autumn was able to see that she could have joy in a physical relationship with male. Being kidnapped and assaulted by the sympath male had made her feel disgust for males. With a gentle, loving male like Tohr, she was able to embrace the physical side of being a female. It felt right to me.
No’One and Xhex I loved the bonding moments between No'One and Xhex. They were able to meet as adults and to see each other outside of the fact that Xhex was conceived in a horrible way for No’One, and she had given up Xhex. Xhex realized how much her mother valued and felt pride in her, even though she didn’t meet the Glymera’s standards for beauty and success for a woman. These bonding moments made me happy because Xhex didn’t have a lot of people in her life to open up with and feel acceptance from, and she was going through a rough time with JM and how the Brothers tended to have a sexist viewpoint of her abilities in the field. They could meet on equal ground as women in love, and be there for each other. Those parts warmed my heart. I’m glad they found each other again.
Tohr and John Matthew Since Tohr views JM as his son, and vice versa, this was a crucial part of the novel to see them come together again. JM was able to help Tohr with his grief, and Tohr was able to give JM advice on his relationship with Xhex. Together, they faced the unresolved pain of Wellsie’s loss, and those moments affected me deeply. Their relationship is so important to this series, so I’m glad Ward came through in this manner.
Xhex and John Matthew I was kind of frustrated with the issues in their relationship. They had been through so much, I wanted them to have smooth sailing. Regardless of my discomfort with their relationship troubles in this book, I have to say it made sense. JM had to learn to deal with his issues with his mate going out in the field and risking her life, and how that affected his bonded male emotions. I like that he did get past those issues and respect the fact that the female he’d fallen in love with wasn’t the stay at home type. She was a warrior in her own right (actually for many years before JM). That was why he loved her, because she was a tough, strong, independent woman. Who was he force her to turn her back on that? From Xhex’s standpoint, I don’t think she was being unreasonable. She had the right to be herself, even if she was JM’s mate. And it was annoying how the Brothers and even Rehv weren’t taking her seriously because JM wasn’t dealing well with the idea of her being in danger. I felt bad for her, because she really does love JM, and wants to be with him, but doesn’t want to deny who she is, and she’s been through too much to let go of her sense of identity just because she was in love. I could also understand JM’s fears, especially seeing how Tohr losing Wellsie destroyed him. He didn’t want to go through that by losing Xhex, because she is his life. I’m glad that they were able to get past this. Since they are my favorite couple in this series, I loved seeing a lot more of them, even if there were some troubled times in their relationship.
Band of Bastards I wasn’t sure how things would go with the new storyline of the BoB. I have to say it was very interesting. I don’t view them as villains. I think that things will turn around for them to be allies with the Brotherhood, but it will be hard going. Xcor is a right b*stard, but he has grown on me. I hurt for him. I hope that he does find a female who finds him worthy, and hopefully that will be Layla. We’ll see. I was glad to get to know the other BoB, who now have names! Throe is still my favorite. He reminds me of Phury, in that he is a courtly male. That ain’t a bad thing at all, since I love me some Phury.
Qhuinn and Blay Honestly, Qhuinn has gotten on my nerves a time or two, but overall he is a worthy male and I do believe that. In this book, I really liked him. He has matured beautifully. I felt bad for him that he had to see Blay with Saxton, but in some way, the eating his heart out has been good for him. I think now he will fight for what he could have with Blay, and I’m looking forward to that.
Lassiter He cracks me up! I want to see more of him. I liked how he was a huge influence in getting Tohr and Autumn together and in helping them get past their issues. I want to see what this guy will be up to in the future, so I’m glad he’s sticking around.
Assail I have a feeling I will like this character. More please!
Where is Murhder???? I need some Murhder!
Now…..If there was one thing I hated about this book….. Why did Layla and Qhuinn have to sex because she went into her needing? It just felt all kinds of wrong to me. I am really unhappy about this outcome. If Qhuinn is going to be with Blay and Layla might end up with Xcor, what is the point of them having a child together? I just don’t see the blended family scenario working well in this series. I could be wrong. Maybe the WARDen will work it out. As for now, I am very unhappy about this! Sob! (Danielle admits that she thought about this all night‼)
Overall Thoughts Unlike some fans (and former fans) of the series, I wasn’t worried that this book would suck. I knew I’d enjoy it because I truly love JR Ward’s writing. I feel that she truly wanted to give Tohr a good story, and the end results show it. I’m sure it was a hard book to write, with many emotional struggles for Ms. Ward in the process of putting it on paper. Even though I don’t always like some twists in the stories, the whole package works for me.
This book touched me in so many ways. It had me laughing outrageously. It had me so sad that I couldn’t even cry. It made me happy. It was smoking hot as far as the plentiful love scenes, but it was also romantic. I felt she had given me resolution on some issues that were hanging out there in the air for me. I loved seeing some of my favorite characters who don’t get enough page time, like,….Phury. Too bad I didn’t get to see much of Cormia or Mary. I ain’t gonna lie, I would love more Rehv, but at least he was around in this book. It was great seeing Marissa again. I always feel great when I get to revisit my favorites, but part of me wants more! Heck, I think Ward tries. If she had pages of each of the characters, these books would be 1000 pages long, so I am not hating on her about it. I loved seeing all the Brothers stand up in support of Tohr in his difficult time. That was so necessary to this book. It warmed my heart big time.
So, for this reader, the magic is still there. I am afraid of the book slump I see coming since I have finished this latest BDB book, and the countdown begins for the next book. Next year. I can make it! I know I can!
The Chosen Ones is really shaping up as a paranormal romance series. And this one is my favorite so far. It has the 'right stuff' to be a good read fo...moreThe Chosen Ones is really shaping up as a paranormal romance series. And this one is my favorite so far. It has the 'right stuff' to be a good read for me.
*I loved John. His powers. His wounded heart. His passion. His goodness. I loved the whole outcast/hermit/mountain man thing he had going on. He was rocking the dreds, overgrown beard, animal skins, and cowboy hat. I know it sounds goofy. But he totally was. And his abilities, the awesomeness!!! How he can control energy and use it to manifest force fields, and make a woman happy in an intimate moment with those powers. I think it's readily apparent that John is one of the most powerful of the Chosen Ones thus far. And he'll make a great leader. I really liked Genny too. She was a good woman, coming out of her overbearing father's shadow. I like that she decided to take control of her life, and she didn't settle for less than she deserved from John or anyone else. *The storyline was good. How John was once on a team of Chosen Ones with Gary (the dude who was in a coma the first two books). Gary turned out to be a glory-hound loser who got his team killed, although he blamed it on John. But before that, he just had to sleep with John's wife. What up with that? So when John finds out, he's not a happy camper, but he still tries to save both his wife, Gary and the rest of the team on an ill-fated mission. When he fails to save all but Gary, he becomes a dropout, and goes back to the place of his birth, the rasputye in Russia. That's where he meets Genny. Genny's father signed a deal to pay for Genny's trip to Russia to study the endangered lynx cat, something she's always wanted to do. To make up for that, she has to try to recruit John to come back to the Chosen Ones. She really doesn't want to do it, but she doesn't have much choice. When she meets the illusive John Powell, sparks fly. Not only that, she really liked John. He's a nice guy, gentle despite his fearsome reputation and in harmony with the natural world that she loves so much. But the town doesn't trust or like John, because of their fear of the rasputye and those strange folks that come and go from the area. They do the Frankenstein thing, and John and Genny have to flee into that magical world between worlds. And John isn't the sweet guy she thought she knew when he finds out she came to recruit him back to the Chosen Ones. He turns into a real wild man then! That wasn't all bad though. (grins) *This story felt a lot more linear and coherent than the first two books, although the second one was a lot better than the first, with a better romance story. The romance in this one really shines. I liked that the beginning of the book shows the development of Genny and John's relationship, and the last part of the book shows how they relate to the group of the Chosen. At this point, I am a lot more invested in the team of Chosen, and my mind is speculating on where the storyline will take them. *The paranormal elements are nicely different from some of the other paranormal series. I particularly like the mythos of the Chosen Ones and the Others. Both children coming from a background of being forsaken/abandoned children with abilities. If they are lucky, the Abandoned Ones get the chance to have a good life, and form bonds that allow them to use their powers for good, becoming the Chosen Ones. If not, they end up on the dark side, serving evil as The Others. And evil is a demanding boss. (view spoiler)[ An interesting development that the Big Bad in this series is the Big Bad. You know who! Those parts are very creepy, especially how he controls and tortures his minions. (hide spoiler)]
Final Thoughts: Yeah! This series won't have universal appeal. But I really like it. I like the way Christina Dodd writes romance. I must admit that I love her heroes. Her heroines are women you like. And together they are magic. I wasn't sure how well this series would work, but I must say it's working very well. So, five stars for this one from me.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Dragon Bound was an extremely hard act to follow, but I think Thea Harrison did a good job with her second book in the Elder Races series. I wondered...moreDragon Bound was an extremely hard act to follow, but I think Thea Harrison did a good job with her second book in the Elder Races series. I wondered how she could top Dragos, because he is so VERY! I am glad she didn't try to do that. She gave us a distinct hero with Tiago, and I like his differences, although he had the crazy/dangerous/possessive/jealous/fierce vibe of Dragos. Honestly, I would have missed that part...a lot. Tiago held his own as a hero, but not quite as compelling as Dragos. Having said that, how many heroes would be? Overall, I felt that he had some nice layers to his character. Lethal but also very caring and loving. The best kind of PNR hero! He reminded me of a mix of a Mack truck and a Golden Retriever.
Niniane, I liked her a lot. She was sort of the anti-urban fantasy heroine in all the best ways. She was soft and needy and vulnerable in a realistic way. But she was also very strong-minded, determined, in her force of will, which speaks to me more. Considering what happened with her family and her exile from the world of the Dark Fae, she definitely put on her big girl panties to go back to reclaim her throne. And that took some serious chutzpah. I liked that along the way, I was able to see an organic reaction to this process. Who wouldn't be scared to death, uncertain, and conflicted? I know I've felt that way even in much less dangerous situations. I could identify with her insecurities in that way, and it made her more lovable and admirable to me. I loved her warm, friendly way with people. I was glad that the betrayal she faced early in her life didn't destroy her capacity for that. I can see her being a very effective, beloved ruler.
Niniane and Tiago as a couple was something I couldn't quite get my mind around after I read Dragon Bound and knew they were next. But they worked together very well. Tiago is at heart a male who needs someone to fight for, someone to protect. Niniane has that softness to her personality that is a very good contrast to Tiago, and they complement each other very well. I would have enjoyed a bit longer book for their courtship in all honesty. But what I got was very enjoyable. Definitely some hot, sexy loving times for this couple! Talking about lightning striking, the earth moving, and seeing stars! I loved that they worked past the issues in their relationship and faced some serious obstacles as a united front.
The storyline was interesting, focused on Niniane's process of assuming the throne of the Dark Fae. A mix of fae politics, but a focus on the main characters and a few intriguing secondary characters. So far, I love me Aryal, the harpy sentinel. I know I said it in my Dragon Bound review, but she reminds me of Xhex from the Black Dagger Brotherhood books by JR Ward in the best ways. Looking forward to more of her. Some interesting chemistry between Rune and Carling, the Queen of the Vampyres.
Ms. Harrison is a very good writer. She provides a compelling story that kept me reading, with some sexy, swoonworthy romance that keeps a PNR fan more than happy. I feel her world-building is a star element in this series, so along with the aspects of PNR I can't resist, it makes her a safe bet for this fan. I do have to say I was a little disappointed at the very rapid climax and denouement, and not too happy about the fate of a character I liked and hoped to see more of. I wasn't as satisfied with the ending because of those issues. That's why I couldn't quite give this five stars, although it is very close.
Overall, a very satisfying follow up to Dragon Bound, and more validation that Thea Harrison is a PNR author to follow. 4.5/5.0 stars(less)
Magnificent Folly was a quick, pleasing read from back in the day by this prolific author. It continues the story of the Clanad, a group of people wit...moreMagnificent Folly was a quick, pleasing read from back in the day by this prolific author. It continues the story of the Clanad, a group of people with powerful telepathic abilities who have found a refuge in the Middle Eastern country Sedikhan. This story is about Andrew, who is the brother of Mariana, from A Tough Man to Tame. Andrew donated his sperm so that Lily could have a child, only she doesn’t find out that he’s her daughter’s father until he finds them nine years later. Andrew bonds with their mutual daughter, Cassie, telepathically. Although Cassie is considered latent, she is able to communicate with Andrew, who she says, “Brings beautiful music to her.” Cassie is a musical prodigy, and the main focus of Lily’s life. Lily resents Andrew’s appearance in her life for a number of reasons. First of all, she hasn’t trusted or desired a relationship with a man since she was betrayed by one before she got pregnant with Cassie. Also, she can’t believe that Andrew has these special gifts. Lily is a realist, only believing what is tangible and real to her eyes and senses. Other things are as evanescent as sand castles. And then there is the fact that she has to share Cassie now with her father. However, Cassie is in danger from the people who want to track down and experiment on the Clanad and their descendents.
I loved Andrew. He is such an adorable, warm, loving, and sexy guy. I kept thinking of Spencer Reid (played by Matthew Gray Gubler) from “Criminal Minds”, who I have a lustful crush on, even though Andrew doesn’t look like Spencer. He just has that brilliant but sweet vibe that I love about Spencer. Andrew is steadfast in his love for Lily, who he saw on campus (where her doctor was) and fell in love at first sight, even knowing that it was hopeless that he could have had a relationship with her. If he could help her by donating his sperm for her to get pregnant, at least he could be in her life in that way. Andrew stays out of her life for nine young years (since he was in his teens at the time he first saw Lily, and only seventeen or eighteen when she got pregnant by him via artificial insemination). But when he realizes she and Cassie are in danger, he can’t stay away. He also realizes that he needs to take the chance to convince Lily that they belong together.
I found Lily frustrating for the majority of this book. Her past issues made her way too distrusting. She refused to see that Andrew was the real deal, although he was always as honest as he could be, and very genuine. Plus, Cassie trusted and had bonded with Andrew early on, which was good evidence that Andrew was a good person worthy of her trust, at least in my book. I can understand trust issues, but she took hers too far, and said some very hurtful things to Andrew, which seemed like shooting fish in a barrel, because he was so sweet. I did like the gesture she made at the end. It was perfect and poetic.
Although Lily’s character was annoying at times, I did like this book quite a bit. I was in a dark emotional place when I read it, and the book helped me to focus on something else other than my issues. So I appreciate that. Plus, I was glad I got to meet Andrew. (less)
Allie’s Moon is a love story with two lonely people who carry heavy weights on their hearts from the past. Althea Ford had been told for most of her l...moreAllie’s Moon is a love story with two lonely people who carry heavy weights on their hearts from the past. Althea Ford had been told for most of her life that she was responsible for her mother’s death. She focused her existence on making amends for her lapse by taking care of her father through his long illness, and her sister who has emotional problems and ‘fits’. She sees no other life for herself other than the narrow, lonely one she inhabits.
For the past two years, Jeff Hicks has drowned his past anguish in whiskey, becoming a homeless alcoholic, when he was once sheriff. He doesn’t think of the future, only the present. When he’s arrested for stealing an egg, his friend Will, who took over as sheriff, arranges for Jeff to work on Althea’s farm for a month, doing odd jobs that she needs a handyman for. Jeff doesn’t want to spend a month in jail, so he agrees to working on Althea’s farm.
The best part of this story was how these two sad people find peace and solace in each other. It was good to see Jeff stop drinking and heal from the pain of knowing he killed a boy. Even though it was in self-defense, he could never forgive himself. Although not as much time was spent on dealing with Jeff’s alcoholism, I believe Ms. Harrington made an effort for that to be realistic. Allie, as he starts to call Althea, gives him a reason to get through the day, purpose, and joy in anticipating every moment with her. In essence, she is a very good and positive substitute for alcohol, giving him the succor he needed, and helping him get his life back on track. That made his ability to kick his alcohol dependence so smoothly feel more realistic for me. Allie felt as though she deserved nothing more than to be a dogsbody to her sister to pay her penance for her mother’s suicide. But Ben sees the sweet, beautiful, loving woman she is under all her starch and propriety, and he wishes he was good enough for her, wanting to share the heart he thought was dead and incapable of feeling with her. At first glance, Allie does feel that the downtrodden, dirty alcoholic had something about him that draws her eye. When she sees the man he is after he gets cleaned up and finds purpose and peace working on her farm, it doesn’t take very long for her to become attracted to and to fall in love with Jeff. She realizes that he is an honorable, gentle, loving man, and wishes that he could be her happy ending, although she can’t see a future outside of her duty to her sister.
The worst part of this book was Allie’s horrible sister. She was such a mean, self-absorbed, evil person. She treated her sister terribly, manipulating and taking advantage of the kind woman that Allie was. I think the depths of her ugliness kept this from being a higher rated book for me. Olivia’s antics were too much for me, I think. I didn’t feel fully satisfied with the book after what she put Jeff and Allie through before it was over. I feel like she worked them over a little too easily, even though Jeff was onto her early on in the book. (view spoiler)[ The fact that she was willing to let a man hang for something he was innocent of put a bad taste in my mouth (hide spoiler)]. I do regret that this was enough to knock this book from five stars to four, but it just affected my enjoyment too much.
Overall, I really did enjoy this book. I read it in one day, which says a lot. Allie and Jeff are two characters that I wanted to find peace and happiness. They both deserved to be loved. I appreciate that Ms. Harrington gave us characters who had a lot of anguish and issues to deal with, giving them a happy ending together. Those are my favorite kinds of romance stories. I haven’t been reading many western romances lately, which is a shame, since they are favorites of mine. This is my third book that I’ve read by her, and I can say that Alexis Harrington is one to reach for when a western romance fan wants a emotional read. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
With Scoundrel, Ms. Archer takes us adventure-loving romantics on a splendid journey around the Aegean Sea on the hunt for mystical treasure. Readers...moreWith Scoundrel, Ms. Archer takes us adventure-loving romantics on a splendid journey around the Aegean Sea on the hunt for mystical treasure. Readers who enjoy Indiana Jones will get a kick out of this book, with its very real magic and a dash of steampunk-like adventure.
London is an admirable heroine. Despite the way she was raised, she wants to live her life, and have something grand to contribute. It took a lot of courage for her to break free from her family's expectations and restrictions, to realize that she was essentially orphaning herself. I loved that she was three-dimensional. She is both beautiful and intelligent. She is womanly and strong. What she isn't good at, she strives to improve. While loving a man like Bennett was a huge risk, she took the chance.
Bennett isn't my favorite type of hero. While I love a dangerous and edgy hero, I just don't have a taste for womanizers. I did like that though Bennett doesn't have a problem with loving and leaving women, he really does respect women and cherish them in his somewhat shallow way. When London comes into his life, he learns what saying "I love you" truly means. She doesn't force him to change. Instead, his love for her changes his feelings about his life with one woman in it. I liked how courageous Bennett was and his exploits help to make this book incredibly fun and exciting.
The romance between Bennett and London was good, but it's hard to me to get excited about a supposedly dead end/finite relationship in which sex is the main component. With that expectation that nothing would come of their time together except some good sex and companionship, I felt kind of sad for Bennett and London. What I did like was that each time they came together, it got harder for Bennett to hang onto his beliefs about love and forever afters.
I liked the secondary love story between Athena and Kallas. They challenged each other in pivotal ways and forced each other to reevaluate their own preconceived notions.
I like this world of magic where each culture has objects that are vital to them. There are a few 'wow' scenes in this book that I ate up. Let me say that if you are a Greek Mythology geek, you will too.
This book has some interesting things to say about Imperialism, the belief that one nation should forcibly ensure their superiority over others. I can't get behind that, even if I do have my share of patriotism simmering within. I could understand how Bennett and London and some of the other English Blades must have felt.
All in all, a very good book. While Bennett isn't my favorite hero in this series so far, I did like him. He was fun and exciting. He knows how to kick butt and he showed how much he did love London in the end.
Looking forward to the next two books, Rebel and Stranger, particularly my geeky darling, Catullus!(less)
This was a good start to a new to me series. Although it does have that standard male UF feel (which is not a bad thing), there were a few things that...moreThis was a good start to a new to me series. Although it does have that standard male UF feel (which is not a bad thing), there were a few things that nicely distinguish it from the others that I read and enjoy:
1. The lead--Jesse James Dawson (don't call him JJ) is pleasantly angst-free. I like angst as much as any other reader, and probably more, but it's nice when the character doesn't stoop over like a 90-year-old from the weight of sorrows on his back. I think a huge factor in this is my second point.
2. Jesse is a happily-married family man! It was so refreshing to have a hero who is not a loner who avoids women or just uses them to fulfill his male needs, or both, but is deeply in love with his wife. The moments of intimacy and married people exchanges caused many 'aww' moments or smiles as I read. It's clear that Jesse doesn't take his wife for granted. He respects her as an equal with formidable strengths that balance him out. He knows his wife doesn't take crap, and he doesn't shovel any her way. At the same time, he is protective of his family in a way that I think a guy should be with his family. I loved how much he values his wife and his little girl. I have a big soft spot for a hero who is a father or has a fatherly vibe to him, so I dug the scenes in which Jesse plays with/takes care of his daughter. I can see why Jesse has the empowerment to go out and fight the good fight like he does.
3. Jesse is a modern samurai. He follows the bushido code. Let me make it clear that I am a huge ninja/samurai/Asian martial arts fangirl. Although I lack the discipline for the Way of the Warrior, I had mad respect for Jesse's adherence to this philosophy. Although he is not a religious man, he has a code which directs his behavior, instead of drifting through life aimlessly. It rounds him out as a character in a solid, but not over the top way instead of this story being about his A)determination to get vengeance, B)leftover childhood issues, C)being a happy-go-lucky ne'er do well that merely stumbles into heroic situations.
4. The concept of Jesse working as a champion--fighting demons to win back people's bartered souls was very cool. I like that there was rules to be followed, and I admit that the demonic aspects were a bit chilling, although not in a macabre, in your face, way. It felt very real-world and entirely possible. A nice foundation for world-building in this series.
5. The conversational narrative was good. Jesse has enough snark to put me in the wise-cracking UF male mode that I like, but it's not forced or obvious. It was interesting seeing Jesse interact with his co-workers at It, a trendy store that I would equate to the real-life store Hot Topic. They are very much of the new generation, and Jesse is in his thirties and a grown man with grownup responsibilities. They call him Old Guy, which I found hilarious. It may not seem like a huge age difference, but as a woman in my thirties who has worked with people in their teens and early twenties, it can actually be a fairly large gap at times. Long story short, Jesse gets cred as a realistic character who I can buy into for a series. I liked spending time in his head and I would come back.
This was a pleasant, relatively quick read. I think it's a great start for a new series, and there was enough hooks here to get me coming back for more. I liked the story, the characters, and the concept. The action parts were good and the humor had me laughing and nodding along. That makes this a thumbs up book for me. Four solid stars, and my recommendation to fans of male lead UF along the lines of Harry Dresden or Atticus O'Sullivan. In other words, both fun and meaty. (less)