Wow. I love this series. Miles has such a duality to his nature: sweet, loving teddybear, and steely, ruthless warrior. Definitely worked for me. Ador...moreWow. I love this series. Miles has such a duality to his nature: sweet, loving teddybear, and steely, ruthless warrior. Definitely worked for me. Adored Lara and the psychic storyline too.
Tennyson Wells learns the hard way that Jasper Greon is not to be trusted when he abandons her when they run off together to get married. Cale...moreSynopsis
Tennyson Wells learns the hard way that Jasper Greon is not to be trusted when he abandons her when they run off together to get married. Caleb Cameron is there to pick up the pieces, rescuing her and taking her back home. He also encourages her to change her life, to put behind her past thoughtless behavior and to pursue her dream of helping others. He encourages her to mend bridges with her sister Mauranie, and facilitates her mission to help Theron Barnes, who ends up with a crippling injury after he comes to her aid the night Jasper abandons her. Slowly, Tennyson's feelings for Caleb grow into something more than friendship, but will Caleb be patient enough to wait for Tennyson to notice how much he has loved her from afar?
Substitute Lover is the follow up to the previous book in the Place in the Heart series about Tennyson's sister Mauranie, Breaking Point. In this book, the reader is able to see Tennyson's evolution from a self-absorbed, immature person to a woman in charge of her own destiny. Tennyson is very sympathetic, which was not evident in the previous story. I learned more about her, that while her actions seemed frivolous, she was actually a deeper person with more honest motivations than she seemed. Tennyson is a sensitive and caring young woman who feels compelled to help others, which gets her into trouble at times because she can also be gullible. I came to like her very much. I could see why Caleb fell in love with her, despite the fact that he almost makes a career out of keeping her out of trouble, due to her association with no-good Jasper Greon.
I enjoyed this story for its heartfelt exploration of relationships and realistic people with troubles they are working through. As a shortcoming, the relationship between Caleb and Tennyson could have used more romantic tension, but I did enjoy their friendship and how they genuinely seemed to like each other. Caleb is a real sweetheart, very chivalrous and caring towards Tennyson, even when he doesn't always support or understand her actions.
I feel that this story could have benefited from being longer, giving more room to develop the romance and also the suspense storyline. Additionally, I would have liked to see more interaction between Tennyson and her sister, considering how acrimonious their relationship was in Breaking Point. Despite its shortcomings, Substitute Lover was a very readable and involving book. It touched my heart and made me happy to see Tennyson come into herself and for her to find a good man to call her own in Caleb.
I truly loved this book. I was worried, because all my friends raved, and I didn’t want to be disappointed. But I can truly see why this is a hit. The...moreI truly loved this book. I was worried, because all my friends raved, and I didn’t want to be disappointed. But I can truly see why this is a hit. The depth of character, the intensity and emotion, the freshness, and the humor. I loved how this romance unfolded, the manner in which Jolie and Cole come back into each other’s lives as adults and get the chance to make a go of a relationship together. Their relationship wasn’t just about sex. It was about two people who met each other’s emotional needs and wanted to be loved for who they were, not who everyone assumed they were.
I loved that Cole and Jolie were so nuanced. Both of them suffered blows from their parents’ affair, twelve years’ worth. Both cast in the roles of villains because of the fact that they were the children of an adulterous pair. I thought I’d dislike Cole after what he did to Jolie when they were teens. He seemed kind of cold and arrogant at first, but pretty soon, I could see that he had to make a show of being tough to get through years of what his father had visited on his family. I have to say I loved him. I especially loved how he took a stand for Jolie numerous times. He turns out to be her Shining Knight and he slew more than a few dragons for her. And his proposal was gorgeous! As for Jolie, she’s my favorite Harlequin Presents heroine now! A real woman in every way. A woman I admired and cared about. I loved that Jolie set Cole straight and faced him head on. He scared her, but she was brave enough to say what needed saying. I was telling her “Bravo” loud and clear. I knew I adored Jolie at that point. I identified with her shyness, but her ability to do what needed doing. Sometimes you don’t get to choose to hide. You have to stand tall and fight. At the same time, I could understand how things got too much, and she had to run back to her corner. The process of Jolie going through her epiphany about her relationship with Cole was so beautifully written, my heart completely engaged. I think it took a lot of bravery to go to the party with Cole, and to face Hannah and call Christina the way she did.
I think adultery is about one of the worst things a married person can do to a family. I hate it, and I have personal reasons for doing so. I find it very hard to deal with this plot element, and I really hate when adultery is trivialized, brushed off, or rationalized. It’s wrong to me, end of story. I like that Kelly Hunter doesn’t try to justify Rachel or James’ behavior, but neither does she demonize them. Instead they are portrayed are humans with frailties, and hopes and dreams. And Christina Rees, the wife that was cheated on, isn’t just a martyr. She does her share of hurting others as well.
I honestly can’t find a thing wrong with this story. It made for an involving, entertaining, emotional read. I fell in love with Jolie and Cole as individuals and a couple. I felt their pain, and their joy. And that makes for a five star read for me! (less)
I thought this was a cute book. Ben is clearly bonkers over Tara, although she doesn't realize it. He does his best to play it cool like he isn't craz...moreI thought this was a cute book. Ben is clearly bonkers over Tara, although she doesn't realize it. He does his best to play it cool like he isn't crazy about her, but I know better! It takes Tara a little longer to get a clue, but it was good reading seeing her realize that Ben loved her.
I also liked that Tara is a valued employee with an important job. She's not just arm candy. She isn't just the future mistress/wife material (who is temporarily employed just long enough to meet and snag the hero). And even though Ben is her employee and he pays for her mom's surgery, it's not like she's the oh so over-utilized Harlequin Presents downtrodden heroine. She is actually very skilled and reputable in her field, and when she looks for another job, she pretty much has it sown up. I did a fist-pump at that!
I think that the aspect that really won me over is the sweet relationship between Ben and Tara, how they take care of each other. Their relationship transcends employee/employer, and Tara is valued on all levels by Ben. Things get a bit angsty when Ben seems to reject Tara in a private moment and Tara's emotions and self-esteem spiral out of control as a result, but I could accept his explanation. I liked his show of jealousy towards the end.
(view spoiler)[Some readers won't like how the fact the guy Tara is dating strangles her enough to give her bruises, and instead of getting put in prison, he gets sent off to Brazil. I think he should have been arrested for it, even if it was a heat of passion reaction to finding out that Tara was at Ben's flat (innocently in this case). (hide spoiler)]
I tend to associate Patricia Wilson with uber-alpha, borderline jerky heroes, but Ben definitely isn't a jerk. He's actually a nurturer, a sweet guy, with a very soft heart, although he does his best to hide it under a tough, bossy, businesslike facade. That kind of hero never fails to make me smile.
Well, that was a nice change from my last book! I did enjoy this quite a bit, but I would not recommend this book if you don't like men with Stone Age...moreWell, that was a nice change from my last book! I did enjoy this quite a bit, but I would not recommend this book if you don't like men with Stone Age era ideas about women. The hero in this book actually believes all women should be at home raising their babies and taking care of their husbands. Yes, really!!!! I had to read the paragraph out loud to my sister in which he laid down the rules with his new wife, our intrepid heroine. He told her that he needs to be in charge and call the shots. There would be no career for her, ever! She would be at home, taking care of his kids. Here is the great thing about fiction: I don't have read a book that mirrors my life. I am glad for that, because I would not have liked this book if I felt that way.
I liked Eric, for the most part. He was gentle and loving with Abby. In general, I didn't care for how he interacted with women, although I didn't think he deserved the sexual harrassment suit a 'crazy' woman corpsman filed against him. His attitude about women not belonging in the military rubbed me the wrong way. But, I respect that he was honest about his feelings. He didn't go out of his way to mistreat the female sailors under his command. He mainly avoided them. I have to be honest and say that I don't think I would like him much in real life. Let's just say we have the opposite ideas of womens' roles in society and wifehood. I'll leave it at that. I wish the author had delved more into his past so I could better understand his thing about women. He wasn't a misogynist, per se. He just tended to compartmentalize women and didn't have much to do with them. It was interesting how quickly Abby worked her way into his heart. It made sense, because she was just the kind of woman he was looking for. She softened the rough, lonely places inside of him. She saw him as her hero. He needed that.
Abby needed a protector and a man who would take care of her. She was totally fine with his dictate about his expectations for her as his wife. She said all she'd ever wanted was to be a wife and mother, and to take care of her husband. I have always wanted to get married and have kids, but I definitely had a lot more goals than just that. So, I can't identify. Despite that fact, I liked Abby. I thought she was a strong woman, for what she'd been through. She was also very loving. She didn't let Eric walk on her, but I think she's somewhat submissive, at the same time. That works for their relationship.
As far as writing, I thought some of that was a little rough. I felt that it could have used a couple of revisions to make the writing flow a little better, because some of the phrasing and word choice seemed awkward. Having said that, this was a pretty compelling story. Ms. Eckhart was able to convey the powerful connection between Eric and Abby very well. I think that the plot involving the man who had bought Abby and was the father of her child was left as a pretty big loose end. I think that Abby probably should have had a little more reticence about sexual intimacy after her experience in captivity. I would have liked to see a little more closure with that whole situation. Also, I felt like I didn't really get to see why Gail Carruthers, the sailor who filed the sexual harrassment charge, was so loony. I would have liked more insight into that. Additionally, for those who don't like 'head-hopping', there is a lot of that in this book. But, all in all, this was a good read. It was interesting and a good love story.
If you want a quick read with a hero who has some very antiquated ideas about women, but is a pretty nice guy in most of the ways that count, I think you'd like this book. With my bizarre fascination with the Navy, I enjoyed the views of life on a battleship. I thought the secondary characters were pretty interesting, although not heavily developed. But then, this was a short romance.
In summary, this book came along right when I needed it. It was enjoyable and interesting. I thought the love story was good and believable. That's why I'd give it four stars.(less)
It was great to finally read Reynold's story. I love him even more after seeing him find his way to his own happy ending. Reynold really made his leg...moreIt was great to finally read Reynold's story. I love him even more after seeing him find his way to his own happy ending. Reynold really made his leg more important than it was. He thought that it was all that anyone ever saw about him, and felt bad because it made him feel different from his brothers. He needed to strike out on his own and find himself. Fortunately, his pilgrimage brought him to a group of people badly in need of a hero. Sabine and her remaining people believe they are being preyed upon by a dragon. They entreat Reynold to protect them from the dragon. Reynold doesn't really believe in dragons, but his knight code requires him to protect those in need. Plus, Peregrine, the squire appointed by his kooky l'Estrange aunts by marriage, insists he needs to do this because it's preordained as his knight's quest. Reynold agrees to help them, and finds himself falling for the blonde beauty Sabine, even knowing she can't feel the same for him because of his infirmity.
I felt that Reynold was somewhat too mopey about his leg. It makes sense, to a certain extent. Being in a family of larger than life men, it must have been hard to be born different. This mission really gets Reynold to see himself and his 'lame' leg different. It doesn't have to be something that requires him to be alone and unloved by a good woman. It doesn't have to define him as a person. He begins to see himself through others' eyes for the strong, intelligent, capable man that he is.
Sabine adores him from the beginning, although she feels he's too good for a simple Sexton's daughter. Plus she's got her own secret cross to bear that she feel makes her unworthy of a man. Reynold is drawn to her, but thinks that she just wants his skills as a knight and not him. Reynold was somewhat frustrating in how he continued to push Sabine away because of his lack of self-worth. He was the only one who didn't see how wonderful he was. He had a habit of comparing himself to his brothers in a way that wasn't favorable for him--although having read the other de Burgh books, I could see that all the brothers have their weaknesses, no less than Reynold's. I was glad that he gets a wakeup call and comes to realize how much he's indulging in self-pity.
Although I thought this was a really good book, I was disappointed on how it was way too focused on the intrigue and mystery of the dragon. I wanted to see more about Reynold and Sabine's relationship. There are no love scenes. Okay, I admit that bothered me, because all the other de Burgh books did have some nice love scenes. I felt like Reynold should have gotten some good love scenes too. I think this book would have been five stars, if it had been a touch more steamy and if the romance was more of a focus. As it is, it's still a very good book, and I am so glad that I got to read Reynold story. I love this man!
Wow, this book had a sucker punch! Laurel seems so normal when it starts, but she's kind of an emotional mess. I can understand why, and it made me sa...moreWow, this book had a sucker punch! Laurel seems so normal when it starts, but she's kind of an emotional mess. I can understand why, and it made me sad that she harbored so much hate in her heart for a person who had only wanted the best for her. And because of those deep wounds from childhood, she had closed her heart to love and caused herself to be manipulated by the man who she selected to marry just because she didn't think her heart was at risk.
There were some fierce emotional parts in this book. I was so surprised at just how commitment-phobic Laurel was. And what really hit me was how Reece was so patient with her even though she threw his freely-given confession of love back in her face in a very hurtful way.
(Sound of record scratching loudly)
What? A Harlequin Presents hero freely admits love way before the heroine does? Yes. He does! It was refreshing. Even though I felt bad for Reece, I was glad that he persisted in his love for Laurel. She had felt unwanted and unnecessary, rejected for so many years. It was good to know she had someone in her corner.
I liked the fact that Reece lives up to the name of the book. He truly is a Knight. And he takes the chance to go after Laurel when the opportunity becomes available. Also, this pursuit is much like a game of chess. Calculated moves to capture the queen. I'm no chess expert, but at least I know that.
For a short book, there's a lot going on in this book. I liked the textures of it. Not only a good romance, but delving into complicated family relationships. A study in guilt, harbored anger, and the need to forgive and move on. Laurel is as much a victim as a perpetrator in the family drama, but I love that she does own up to her part in the rift with her mother, and realize that Reece is the man for her and she can't afford to let him go.
Good book! I'm happy to explore more of Carole Mortimer's backlist.
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)
Lifeblood is a rich and well-written story that makes for a delightful read. Mr. Lind's prose is erudite and elegant. His characters are vivid, each u...moreLifeblood is a rich and well-written story that makes for a delightful read. Mr. Lind's prose is erudite and elegant. His characters are vivid, each unique and realistic. Most of all, Ana is a heroine that will break your heart. For readers who appreciate a repentant creature of the night, Ana will be completely irresistible. Reading her backstory and the challenges she faces as a reluctant vampire made my heart ache for her. Ana enters the life as a vampire against her will, tricked into her conversion by an unscrupulous male who turns her for his own selfish desires. She spends the following years trying to find a safe place in the world. She has never fed on human blood and won't ever do so, valuing human life. Even though she is now unable to even say the same of God, or enter His holy places, she still honors Him through her conduct. She is a really good person, even if some would consider her a damned creature of darkness.
Joshua is an excellent counterpart to Ana. He is a decent young man, who works hard, honors his family, and treats others with respect. When he meets the tall, beautiful young woman with the odd manner of speech, he is captivated, and he wants to help her in any way possible. He cannot even consider the possibility that she is a vampire, because how can vampires be real? As evidence stacks up that there is indeed a vampire in the area, he still supports and stands by Ana. Even though Joshua doesn't have a fraction of Ana's strength and power, he still manages to be a wonderfully protective knight to her. The sacrifice that he made for her brought tears to my eyes.
I liked how Mr. Lind preserved and respected the older vampire folklore, but gave it a twist that I appreciated. His theory of vampirism is that not all vampires are necessarily evil. What they are in life is magnified in death. In the case of Ana, her goodness as a human being is still preserved and evident in her afterlife. I also liked how he demonstrates the fact that evil is not just found in supernatural beings. In this case, the most evil character in this novel is a human being. One who is devoid of human decency, honor, and respect for life. Although the extremes of good and evil are presented, it is not done in a mealy-mouthed fashion. The characters are human and well-developed, with layers to them.
For readers who enjoy a clean romance and dialogue free of bad language and objectionable material, I think this book will more than suffice. Although the world here is presented in a family-friendly fashion, it is not unrealistic. The social ills of modern life and Ana's past, shown through flashbacks, are presented realistically, but there is nothing vulgar about this novel.
I have been wanting to read this story for years, because I have maintained a friendship with Mr. Lind on Goodreads, and I do respect him tremendously, and I have always been impressed with his demeanor, his writing and his knowledge of folklore and supernatural fiction. I can honestly say I was in no way disappointed, and everything I had always respected about him as a person is evident in this novel. I am very happy I finally had the opportunity to read Lifeblood. It was a very enjoyable experience. This novel is both poignant and humorous. The underlying spiritual message is evident to those who are seeking it, but never shoved down the reader's throat. I think the vampire fiction genre is a better place for this story having been written.(less)
About twelve years ago, there was a little girl named Danielle who read a book called Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton, and was seduced into th...moreAbout twelve years ago, there was a little girl named Danielle who read a book called Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton, and was seduced into the dark, enchanting world of urban fantasy. She went on to read more urban fantasy than she could shake a stick at. Over the years, she lost touch with Anita Blake, and mourned the loss of a tough-as-nails, kickass, urban fantasy heroine to join for exciting, dangerous, and magical adventures.
Recently, she finally picked up a book called Magic Bites, which had been sitting on her bloated, embarrassingly large tbr pile. She read it to find out who this mysterious "Beast Lord" was, and why everyone thought that Kate and Curran were the best urban fantasy couple. That young girl is a very happy camper.
Magic Bites is a hard book to describe. If you are a genuine, die-hard urban fantasy fan, you will like this book. At 260 pages, it appears deceptively slim. However, there's a lot of information, adventure, description, and incredibly good writing in that relatively small amount of pages. I will admit that this book made being confused and baffled fun for me. I had a lot of questions as I was reading. Still do. But that's kind of nice.
Kate Daniels is one of the best urban fantasy heroines I've had the pleasure to meet. I've said before that I don't care for arrogant, braggadocious, posturing characters. She doesn't posture. She simply is a bad-ass, but down to earth, at the same time. She doesn't run around in bustiers, low-riding leather pants, and stiletto heels, climbing out of bed with some random guy long enough to kick-butt. She wears clothes that facilitate her ability to kick ass and to keep herself alive. Being cute is all good and well, but in her world, being cute might get her killed. Her only vanity is her long hair, which she keeps in a braid most of the time. Lethal abilities aside, Kate is very feminine. She can appreciate a cute guy, and she had flaws and weaknesses just like the rest of us armchair kickbutt heroines. I like her no-nonsense view of the world, her snarky sense of humor, and the fact that she likes to pull the lion by the tail, sometimes literally. I thought she was an interesting character. She has some emotional wounds that she is dealing with, and tends to keep her own company. It's nice to see a thoughtful, almost brooding heroine in this genre.
Ms. Andrews earned my respect. The Atlanta that she has created is a very fascinating place. I still don't understand all of what occurred to make Atlanta very much like a dystopic wastleland, but I didn't have to understand that to enjoy this book. I do know that magic plays a huge hand in the catastrophe that hit this fair Southern city. It seems to surge and ebb, like the electricity brownouts that were hitting California when I lived out there. For all the importance that magic plays in this story, Ms. Andrews is never heavy-handed with the use of magic. In fact, she lightly and skillfully builds a storyline that is credible and interesting around the tendrils of magic power wielded in different ways by many of the characters in this novel. And better yet, she was able to create a female magic-wielder who wasn't a witch. I believe there are far too many witch urban fantasy and paranormal heroines. It's gotten to the point where it's almost cliche'. Her use of folklore is clever and well-placed. She takes a different direction with vampires, shapechangers, and mages. I must say I've never seen vampires described in the manner in which they exist in this story. They are quite gruesome and almost pitiful in Kate Daniels' world.
I have to say that Ilona Andrews writing is high class. She sets the scenes very well, using language in just the right way, to keep the story flowing forward. She employs the noir elements that I enjoy in urban fantasy and occult detective novels very well. Better yet, she treats the reader with respect, understanding that popular fiction readers like to be challenged and fully engaged. She seems to understand that just because we enjoy fantastic, escapist material, it doesn't mean that we want to read something meaningless and without substance. In fact, I felt as though I was reading a police procedural with magical and horrific elements (a sure sign of a good occult detective novel). I thought I had figured out who the killer was fairly early on (and was about to be disappointed), but I was way off. When the reveal happens, it comes at you in such a manner that you cannot help but admire how skillfully the red herring and clues were laid out.
As I read this book, my brain, which always tries to make order and sense of things, tried to think of a way to categorize and classify this book and the world within it. I never came up with a concrete classification. But that's a good thing. It's nice to find something new within a well-loved genre, and to encounter a novel reading experience at the same time. This book delivered that to me.
If I were to make any literary allusions, I would consider this book to have incorporated the story traditions of the tales of medieval knights, with a modern and often horrific spin. If I could describe Kate in any quick way, I would call her a knight-mercenary. She has the requisite sword, although she lacks the steed that usually goes with the package(To my pleasant surprise, there is quite a bit of horse-riding in this book, but Kate doesn't have her own horse). Unfortunately, we didn't get to see her wearing her armor. Maybe in the next books. Slasher, her blood-thirsty and sentient sword, reminded me of Stormbringer, the vampiric sword owned by Elric of Melniboné, written by Michael Moorcock, whom I became acquainted with earlier this fall.
Any urban fantasy heroine has to have a potential spark, if you will. That's where Curran, The Beast Lord, comes in. He's impressive, let's leave it at that. He's not just a potential love interest, but a powerful ally. These two butt heads in the most delightful ways. As the Beast Lord, and a lion shapeshifter, Curran's used to being in charge, and Kate lives by the 'you're not the boss of me' philosophy. I look forward to more fighting alongside, and flirting with Curran in the next books.
This book is quite dark. Blood (and blood magic) and guts aplenty, dark deeds, dark magic, dark creatures. This is a book for a reasonably mature reader, in that regard. Being a big fan of Magic Noir (thank you, Brad, for letting me steal your fantastic term), I enjoyed those aspects. But I did wince at a few particularly gruesome scenes. The villain is a very disturbing individual, in more ways than one. Everything in this story has an edge to it. That's not a bad thing to this reader, since she enjoys a little darkness in her fiction. But if you tend to enjoy the lighter urban fantasy stories, you'd want to be prepared when you read this one. Now there is humor, but it's of the drier, more wry, and grimmer variety. If you like the hero to get banged up and injured quite a bit, you'll enjoy that about this novel. Kate definitely faces jeopardy, again and again. The stakes are particularly high in this novel, in ways that you need to read to find out.
So, after so much rambling, I have to say that this urban fantasy fan has found a new series of which she intends to fully avail herself. Kate Daniels is my newest knight in shining armor. Let the adventures continue.(less)
I put off reading this book for years. Let's just say, when I thought the heroine was the Lilith (of Biblical infamy), I wasn't sure I could wrap my m...moreI put off reading this book for years. Let's just say, when I thought the heroine was the Lilith (of Biblical infamy), I wasn't sure I could wrap my mind around her being a heroine in a romance novel. Well, I'm glad that I finally did read this book. It was a very good story. And, by the way, she isn't that Lilith.
I think Ms. Brook did a great job of writing this story about a love affair over eight hundred years in the making. Two people who should have been mortal enemies, who ended up falling in love and finding their soulmates in each other. The die-hard romantic in me couldn't help but be enthralled with this concept. And that pull between Lilith and Hugh kept me reading, although this is a story that requires the ability to wait for delayed gratification. That, in itself is not a bad thing. Instead, it was appealing to see the back and forth between Hugh and Lilith through the years. Watching their verbal foreplay, and the fact that although they often went head to head as opponents on opposite sides of a war, but didn't treat each other as the mortal adversaries that they were.
This is a very character-driven book. The good thing about it, is the character are very interesting. Although Lilith is correctly thought of as a 'bad girl,' she has aspects that show that she really isn't all bad. In contrast, Hugh is definitely the white knight type of character. But he has some gray areas too. I loved that they were each other's weaknesses. Hugh was a very chaste, righteous man, but Lilith was the one woman who had the power to utterly seduce him, and he had to work hard not to show it. Hugh made Lilith want to defy her father, Lucifer, even though it was a great personal cost to her. Ms. Brook did such a great job at laying the groundwork for this great love story, and the execution was very good.
Now, this is one of those books that I had trouble rating. The reason why is, well it's a very good book. However, it had a tendency to be quite slow-moving. It was character-driven, which is good, but I think the action sequences needed to be more vivid. There was great potential for rip-roaring, intense battle sequences, and that didn't come to fruition. I think there needed to be more showing and not telling in that arena. Since this is the first full book in the series, I suspect that the further books have expanded in this area, because this story has all kinds of potential. Another issue I had, was sometimes I got lost with some of the aspects of the worldbuilding. I didn't always get what the objective was of everything, with the nosferatu, and the inscribing of symbols, and the drinking of blood with the murders of Hugh's students. I will probably need to reread this book to gain a better understanding of all that.
On the positive, I was really impressed with this story: the guardians versus the demons. The eternal struggle between the forces of light and dark. The worldbuilding had a uniqueness that spoke to me. The scenes describing Hell sent shivers down my spine. I loved Sir Pup, Lilith's pet hellhound. I thought it was awesome how the guardians, nosferatu, and demons could store weapons and other items (even bodies and evidence) in what's called a 'cache,' which I interpreted to be a psychic storage area. That was very cool. What made me uneasy was the parts where Lilith called Lucifer father, and talked about obeying and serving him. I'm a devout Christian, which means he's the bad guy to me, so it was just really odd to have the main character in allegiance to him. But, I liked the interesting dynamic of it all; after all, Lilith knew she was playing for the wrong team.
The best thing about this story was the love story. Hugh and Lilith were made for each other. They had sizzling chemistry that made the slow-moving story worthwhile for staying tuned into. I really wanted things to work out for them. I loved all the love scenes, because they were sizzling hot, and the passion between them really burned. You definitely got the feeling that this was a fire that had been stoking for almost a millenium. Hugh is a sigh-worthy hero. I loved that he was such a good guy, a virgin, with strong principles. Yet, he was not a supercilious, self-righteous plaster saint. He was very much a man, with a man's flaws. He was determined to save Lilith, even when she didn't seem to want saving. He was even willing to sacrifice himself to do so. And Lilith was a great character. I love a complex heroine. She's dark, but has a strong sense of doing what is right to her. She put herself in jeopardy several times, out of love for Hugh, and didn't take the many opportunities she had to destroy him, and make a mockery of his principles. I liked her, and I wanted her to get her man, and for things to work out for her. Because of their strong bond, that made them both stronger and complete as people, and a powerful unit together, I was seriously rooting for their happy ending. And I liked how Ms. Brook pulled it off.
Demon Angel is a book that I was pleasantly surprised with. It has a fresh spin on the ancient battle between heaven and hell. It gave me something to ponder, but I didn't feel like I was compromising my personal beliefs in reading this book. The love story was rich and involving. I definitely want to continue this series, and see how this war between the Guardians, the nosferatu, and the demons unfolds.(less)
I read this book very quickly and enjoyed it very much, although some might get annoyed at all the misunderstandings between Charles and Heloise. I th...moreI read this book very quickly and enjoyed it very much, although some might get annoyed at all the misunderstandings between Charles and Heloise. I thought it was kind of endearing how they both wanted the regard of each other, but feared that it would be denied because of each person's emotional vulnerability. One of them would do or say something with the best intentions, and it would be interpreted in the wrong fashion. It was an interesting dynamic.
Another atypical element was the fact that Heloise was very French. She tried very hard to be demure and composed because that was what she thought her very composed husband wanted, but she would tell him off or say what she was thinking when she felt like it needed saying, although it didn't seem to clear up their misunderstandings.
Of course, my ears perked up when it was mentioned early on that Charles' brother was horribly scarred and wounded in the war because of my love for scarred/wounded/less than perfect heroes. It was really cool how Heloise immediately made a connection with Robert, and helped him to get back in the land of the living.
This book doesn't have the intrigue/mystery component that is often used in regencies. The central conflict of this book is two people getting to know each other, and learning to not allow their emotional issues get in the way of having a happy marriage.
Annie Burrows is a new author for me, but she has a refreshing voice that makes me want to read more of her books. I'd give this book 4.5 stars if I could. I can't give it a 5 because the misunderstandings got to be a bit tedious after a while.(less)
Good book, although it dragged in parts, and I felt like it took Caterine a bit on the long side to come around, although I did understand her issues...moreGood book, although it dragged in parts, and I felt like it took Caterine a bit on the long side to come around, although I did understand her issues with what she has suffered in the past. I really liked Marmaduke, and his insecurities about his scarred face endeared him to me and made him more realistic. As a fan of medievals and Scottish romances, I will definitely read more by this author.
****** Reread from June 3- June 6, 2012 My thoughts:
This book series sets me on fire. I know I talk about these books way too much.I can't help it. I j...more****** Reread from June 3- June 6, 2012 My thoughts:
This book series sets me on fire. I know I talk about these books way too much.I can't help it. I just adore them so much! First of all, I find the idea brilliant, and I love the interactions between the characters. The heroes and heroines complement each other, and the passion is fiery. And the action and kick*ssery freaking awesome! The elements of family, both blood and by choice make these book shine, and make me wish I was a GhostWalker (yeah, I know that's crazy, but I kinda do).
Although I loved the first two books, Night Game definitely moves faster, and the chemistry between Gator and Flame keeps the story flying. As I loved it the first time, the banter is just wonderful. Humor is used perfectly, to keep a story that has dark undertones from being excessively dreary.
--Flame: Flame is an outstanding heroine. Life has shaped her into a strong and intrepid woman. She truly is kick*ss. I honestly love all the GhostWalker heroines, and it's hard to choose my favorites, but she might be in my top three. She has very deep scars that keep her from easily giving her heart to Gator, and that is utterly understandable. However, she has a very loving, warm spirit that makes it hard to cut herself off from others. Near the end, when she is so angry at Gator, I could see why. But I am glad she comes to realize that he had his reasons and his love for her will cause him to make choices that she might not always agree with. However, she needs that kind of man, and she knows it.
--Gator: A complex mix of qualities. I love his charm. He has seen the worse in life and has sins on his soul, but he still manages to keep a smile on his face and a positive outlook. But the guy is highly lethal! Loved him in the first book books, and adored him early in this book. I didn't think I'd be as drawn to him because he's the laid-back, carefree GW, but boy was I wrong. Gator snuck up on me, and on the reread, I smile at how irresistible he is. Flame doesn't stand a chance. Neither did I!
The action in this book is off the charts. And I love that Flame is in the thick of it. The suspense elements are quite dark, since they are looking for a young woman from the bayou that was kidnapped and run into a group of men who hate women. I like how they handle those men. I like it very much.
As usual, another well deserved five stars. So glad I took the time to reread this series!
Another outstanding book for the Ghostwalker series. It was awesome and unputdownable. I loved Flame and I loved Gator. They had a special relationship, and were made for each other. The banter was wonderful. I loved how Flame totally fit into his family like a missing puzzle piece. Loved how Gator wanted to take care of Flame, but also respected that she was a tough woman and could take care of herself. Flame is an alpha heroine, but she was never annoying and didn't get herself into scrapes she couldn't get herself out of. The bayou was another character that seduced me. I don't think I'd like the humidity, but I'd love the animals and the tranquility of the swamps. Again, it was great to see the other Ghost Walkers and to enjoy the camaraderie between them. What Flame suffered ripped a hole in my heart but filled me with admiration. She was an incredibly strong woman, and I loved that Gator got that and never tried to change her or mold her. He was happy with her the way she was. The action was incredible and intense. I was happy on all fronts as I love action/adventure to accompany my beloved romance story. I am so in love with this series. Please keep writing many more, Ms. Feehan.(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)
Oh my goodness, I just loved Cory. He is my dream of a cowboy. He's a really good guy and a knight in shining armor. He's good-looking but very down t...moreOh my goodness, I just loved Cory. He is my dream of a cowboy. He's a really good guy and a knight in shining armor. He's good-looking but very down to earth. He thinks he's no good with women, for all the things. If he was real, I'd be chasing him down. He takes in a woman and her child who are obviously running from someone, and his heart recognizes his true love in her. He also falls in love with her young child. Race doesn't even factor in. I just love how Shara Azod manages to write a very steamy read but doesn't leave the romance and the true love story by the wayside. I wish that more modern cowboy books had this feel to it, and that more cowboys were like Cory in real life. Cory is a sexy cowboy, but he's not a womanizer who takes advantage of his rodeo skills to bed saddle bunnies. I really like that about him. I guess my pet peeve is that too many romance novel heroes are portrayed as womanizers who'll sleep with any woman who's willing. That's really not sexy to me.
I liked Stephanie, also. She's the vulnerable type, having come from a bad home and having low self esteem, but found the strength to leave behind the really bad guy who was using her and hurting her, and to get her child away from him. She knew a good thing when she found Cory, and didn't let her baggage cause her to walk away from the man who is the love of her life. Some of the things her ex-boyfriend did to her were just horrible. Her ex was a lowlife, and Cory didn't hesitate to give him what was coming to him. I didn't feel any sympathy for the man considering how lowdown he was.
This is a short read, but everything's there that would make a romance novel fan happy. I am so glad that I took a chance and downloaded this gem of an ebook.(less)
I loved this romance between Adam and Cammie. He is the family lawyer who marries her so she can keep her grandfather's home away from her greedy cous...moreI loved this romance between Adam and Cammie. He is the family lawyer who marries her so she can keep her grandfather's home away from her greedy cousins. He is self-conscious because of his burns and doesn't think she can love him, but Cammie has loved him from afar for years.(less)
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I think Claudia Dain is a great writer, but the plot of a woman who had been married four times prior...moreI was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I think Claudia Dain is a great writer, but the plot of a woman who had been married four times prior was not to my taste. I ended being pleasantly surprised. I felt deeply for Nicolaa, having been wedded, bedded, and rejected four times over by men who wanted to marry up. How scarring that must be to a person's self-esteem. And the King just keeps giving her to loyal knights or subjects as is his so-called right. When he gives her to Roland, she expects things to be little different. Except Roland has decided he wants to woo his emotionally-distant wife into loving him as she should love her husband.
Initially his motives are selfish. He doesn't even plan to stay around (although he will stay married to her). I thought that was asking a lot for him to want a loving, devoted wife that he wasn't even going to commit to living with. But he gets entrapped by his own plan. He begins to fall for the strong, yet inwardly vulnerable woman who he has been wed to. When she relies on her priest and confidant (who happens to be in love with her and doesn't want her married again) to get an annulment since their marriage hadn't been consummated, Roland forcibly consummates the marriage, determined that she won't be able to find a way to end it. I didn't like that. I suppose I could understand why he did it, but it wasn't a very nice thing to do.
However, Nicolaa doesn't let it faze her. She has dealt with four other husbands of varying temperaments and has trained herself to endure and give them what they want (or lip service) until they go away. Except Roland doesn't seem to fall into the usual pattern. He refuses to be ignored and tries to be everything that he feels she needs in a husband. His efforts start to chip away at the frozen wall around her heart. She finds herself falling deeply for the serious, godly knight who spent the several years prior to their marriage celibate after the loss of his dearly-loved wife who begged him to take her on the Crusades with him. He had determined he would not love again, but he falls deeply for his reluctant wife.
As is typical for a Claudia Dain book, the characters are complex, yet the writing style is poised yet simple. You feel immersed in the medieval period, and get to experience the everyday trials and tribulations of people who lived in that time. But fundamentally, she tells a good love story about people who have suffered in their lives, yet manage to find true love where they did not expect it to be found. (less)