I'm loving the Hellequin series even more after reading this book. Nate is a Grade A Kickbutt Artist. The magic is pretty darn enthralling. Sensitive...moreI'm loving the Hellequin series even more after reading this book. Nate is a Grade A Kickbutt Artist. The magic is pretty darn enthralling. Sensitive readers will find aspects of the storyline hard to read at times, but I am glad that Nate is there to deliver some hard justice to horrible villains in this book. This series is not to be missed if you're a fan of urban fantasy.
It was great to read the story of how Gideon and Savannah met. I must say that they are one of my favorite Breed couples, and I always wondered how th...moreIt was great to read the story of how Gideon and Savannah met. I must say that they are one of my favorite Breed couples, and I always wondered how they got together. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I didn't like it quite as much as I wanted to though. I think that was because Gideon is so sex-bombalicious nerdtastic in the other books, I wanted to see more of his oh-so alluring geekiness. Instead, he was much like the other Breed males in his demeanor although there was a cool part about him creating a precursor to the laptop we know and love today (cause guess what I'm typing this review on right now?). Thus, this book didn't really stand out that much from the other books. That was probably my biggest issue and why this wasn't higher rated. Also, I didn't like (view spoiler)[how Gideon promised not to fight in the field because of Savannah's fear of it. To me, it makes her into the bad guy to take that away from him. Fact is, they live in a world with a lot of violence, and I think that Gideon's status as a warrior is honorable and something to be proud of. Yes, there is risk, but he's very good at what he does. I wouldn't want to take that away from him. It does answer why he doesn't fight, but since he had a bullet stuck in his head, that was just as good a reason for him not to fight (hide spoiler)]. Even though Gideon wasn't as geeky, I still liked him a lot. I love his typical British colloquialisms, which we see in this novella as well.
What I loved was getting to know Savannah. I really, really like her. She's very young, but she has a maturity that I respected about her. She's a very intellectual person with a keen mind, and I could see part of why they were drawn to each other. Also her strong sense of right and wrong, and that traditional heroic urge, which is addressed in the novella. When she gets a vision of Gideon by touching his sword, you could instantly feel that bond begin between them, and when they meet, the rest is inevitable.
One thing that stood out to me was that Adrian stays grounded in the 70s setting throughout this book. The scene when Gideon tells her to call the Order, she has to grab coins out of her purse and run outside to a pay phone. That was really well done. At first, I expected her to pull out her cell phone, and I would imagine that would be Adrian's gut instinct to write that, but she remembers that they don't have cell phones at that time. I was instantly reminded that this is set about thirty-odd years in the past. She didn't have to keep hitting me over the head with descriptions of bell-bottoms and stuff like that either.
Ultimately, if you're a fan of the Breed series, I don't see why you wouldn't like this. It has the same feel and intensity of the other books. I think the biggest draw was getting to see Gideon and Savannah's backstory on paper, and although it was a short novella, it was well done and I believe in their love, past, present and future. Of course, it was awesome to see more of Tegan, 'cause I just love him!
And I'm really happy to see a popular paranormal romance novelist who is upfront and comfortable with depicting a loving, committed interracial relationship in her books. Kudos for that, Ms. Adrian.
A respectable four star read for me. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
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)
Oh man! I loved this book. Baldacci took the firm foundation he built in The Innocent and kicked it up sky high. It was like he asked, "How can I real...moreOh man! I loved this book. Baldacci took the firm foundation he built in The Innocent and kicked it up sky high. It was like he asked, "How can I really do something interesting with Will Robie in the next book?" And he did. He introduced Jessica Reel. Jessica Reel is the female counterpart to Will, and that is something indeed. Jessica is Grade A, high level lethal kickbutt to the extreme. Her life is as edgy as you can image, just like Will. I love bonafide tough women characters, and it's kind of hard to find the well done ones. But Baldacci has impressed me, because that is definitely Jessica.
I liked her so much, I really didn't want her and Will to be adversaries. Good thing that Baldacci resolves that very well in this book. Because if you have someone guarding your back, you'd want someone like Will or Jessica. And you definitely wouldn't want them gunning for you!
As far as the action, this book is high level. Yet, the plot and a workable story isn't sacrificed just for a good action scene. Everything holds together, and if it served the story better not to have an onscreen action scene, Baldacci wasn't afraid to do that. This book is a good combination of action and thriller/suspense. I don't love a lot of political conspiracy-type storylines because I just find it dry, but it's well done here. Not too much to bore me, but sufficient for the story. With characters like Will and Jessica, you have understand what their motivations are and what would push them over the edge, and that was here in the novel.
The pacing was excellent. I never got bored. Any downtime between action sequences progresses the story and allows us to learn more about the characters. Actually one of my favorite parts of this book was seeing the way Will and Jessica's minds worked. It's uncanny how their minds seemed to click. That was the fun of this book. Had Baldacci decided to take it in another direction, it still would have been a fantastic book, but I liked it better the way it was done. And I have high hopes to see more of this dynamic duo, or at least see Jessica pop up again.
I did get my other wish for this book, I did get to see Julie again. She wasn't in this book as much, but it fits the story. It was just good to know that she and Will are still in each others' lives and they know they can count on each other. Also great to see Nikki Vance and Blue Man again.
I can't say enough good things about this book. Just adored it. I definitely want to get copies of these books for my collection, because Will is definitely on my list, and Jessica as well. Please write more books about Will, Mr. Baldacci!(less)
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.
This is a very good start to a male-lead urban fantasy series. The concepts were familiar, but the author gives them all his own distinct spin. McHugh...moreThis is a very good start to a male-lead urban fantasy series. The concepts were familiar, but the author gives them all his own distinct spin. McHugh touches on some very recognizable figures in fantasy and folk legends and mythology and in a way that made me go "Hmm!". It's pretty gritty and quite violent. I'm not sure I was in love with the sexuality expressed in the story though. However, this book definitely keeps your eyes glued to the pages, and the magic was fascinating and darkly alluring and repulsive in parts. I am thrilled I am able to read and review this series, since I do love my urban fantasy.
The Innocent is perfect for fans of the enigmatic, laconic, capable action/thriller hero. Will Robie has already been added to my list of kickbutt art...more The Innocent is perfect for fans of the enigmatic, laconic, capable action/thriller hero. Will Robie has already been added to my list of kickbutt artists. Robie kills people for a living on behalf of the US government. He’s very good at it. He has never failed a mission yet, until he is hired to kill someone who clearly doesn’t need killing. He has to flee the scene to stay alive, and ends up on a bus out of DC with another runaway, a young girl named Julie. When he observes that someone is trying to kill her, he takes out the assailant and gets Julie off the bus, seconds before it explodes. Normally Robie is a loner, but this time he has to take on a partner, a person to keep safe while he figures out why their paths have crossed and people seem to be gunning for them both.
I enjoyed this book a lot. Baldacci develops a story of obvious complexity with great skill. He makes it look simple with his straightforward writing. However, layers keep getting pulled away to reveal something very multifaceted as the two various characters' lives intersect in a way that seems random initially. I liked how he conveys Robie’s expertise at what he does. He’s the real deal, Robie is. He’s very observant and skilled, but understated about it. I loved the dialogue between Robie and others, particularly Julie. This book had me laughing a lot. A big, tough guy like him finds out just how mouthy a teenage girl can be (and they can be very mouthy). She’s almost like a chip off the block with her own set of survivor skills. She’s had a tough life and is just as much a survivor as Robie is himself. Although this game they are in is high stakes and playing for keeps. She needs a protector who knows a lot about getting the bad guys dead and keeping alive.
I’m really glad my library had this book. I practically devoured it. I would love to read more books about Will Robie, and hopefully Julie will show up as a cameo. I can’t believe they will see the last of each other.
Definitely recommend this to fans of literary tough guys. Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars. (less)
One Rough Man sounds like a strange title on first glance, but it fits the character of Pike very well. Pike is a tough guy who went through a very ho...moreOne Rough Man sounds like a strange title on first glance, but it fits the character of Pike very well. Pike is a tough guy who went through a very horrible personal tragedy that made him even more rough around the edges. He's kind of like John McClane, with added military training. He's the guy who's there at the right time (although not exactly your first choice), and the one who has to save the day.
Initially, this was a slow start. The author gave us a lot of intel into running surveillance operations and some inner operational lingo and dynamics that were a bit sluggish to read, and one might be tempted to think this was going to be a military/spy procedural. But once you keep reading, you realize there is plenty of action. I think that's par for the course when you read a new author and learn their way of telling a story.
We get an inside look at terrorists and their methodology, which I appreciated, because it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. However, in their mind, there is a twisted method behind what they do, and at least I got a glimpse into that. And it seemed plausible. It gives me shivers that folks like that are walking around planning to unleash chaos all around us.
Reading the afterward was enlightening. Apparently Taylor took some ribbing from friends in the military over this book, but at least they read it and told him what he had gotten wrong, which was good. Since I have no military background, I don't know enough to catch errors, so it's good to know that an author does his best not to make them. And better yet, no military secrets were exposed in the making of this book! I hate when I see stuff on tv that could affect US operational security and I always worry if terrorists are taking notes!
As far as Pike, he isn't always likable. Well, he's grumpy. I like grumpy heroes, but I know that doesn't work for everyone. He had lots of reasons to be surly and unfriendly, considering what he was suffering. I like that Jennifer kept it real with him and told him he was a jerk when he needed to hear it. Pike is a bad@$$, a man with a well-deserved reputation, and seeing him in action was great. I had some good laughs and some fist pumping moments. Yet despite his tough guy nature, he had moments of doubt and fear, believing he was a dead man a time or two. But at least he kept his cool. He was able to handle his fear and work through it. His sense of honor might be shaky, but it never abandoned him, and that made me love him even more.
I really liked Jennifer. She was pretty well-developed, with her own inner turmoil and angst. Boy was she brave. I liked that she was a companion that more than held her weight with Pike, even after she had met her obligations to him and vice versa. They made a good team, communicating well and looking out for each other's back. I liked how they had a meeting of minds and while there was a connection, their actions made sense for their situations.
The villains were interesting. Not just the expected villain, but someone who should have been doing the right thing. I was kind of shocked at some of the things the villains did. I can't imagine turning off one's morality like that and doing something so awful as was done in this book, especially when you were part of a group that had such high moral expectations. Maybe I am just naive.
The action was great. Not just shooting, but some good hand to hand combat, and a good sense of risk along the way. While Pike is definitely all over it, and Jennifer turns out to be a budding action heroine, they didn't have it easy. There were some moments I was on the edge of my seat, reading as fast as I can.
All in all, a very good read. I would definitely like some more Pike and Jennifer adventures. Not to mention the mega loose end. I can't wait to see Pike rip open a can of you know what on that person.
Recommended to fans of tough guys with the training, smarts and attitude to get the job done.(less)
I probably would have rated this higher if I hadn't been so strung out from sleep deprivation and just feeling so tired and worn out this past weekend...moreI probably would have rated this higher if I hadn't been so strung out from sleep deprivation and just feeling so tired and worn out this past weekend. I feel bad about that, because that's the reason why I hoard my favorite authors' books for when I am in a good/receptive mood. Even with my beloved books, I can set the bar high and being moody can interfere with my reading experience. I guess it seems silly to qualify a four star rating. But Anne Stuart/Kristina Douglas is probably one of the authors I will have near my dying bedside, other than the Bible. That's how much I love her books. Anyhoo, let's get to the review.
I was looking forward to Michael's story because he seemed more light-hearted and jocular than the other Fallen. Lo and behold, he is a moody grump in his book. I can sort of get why. He's forced to get married for a prophecy to a woman who will die after he mates with her. He's chosen celibacy and the warrior life over sex, love and marriage (the Fallen variant). It's not that he didn't like sex. He gorged himself on it shortly after falling, and it was just empty for him after a while. He decided he likes his monastic warrior lifestyle better. Plus, he's repelled by the fact that Fallen are blood-eaters. Because of their curse for falling, they must ingest the blood of human women to sustain their lives. Fortunately, Michael can take just enough blood from the Source, the wife of the Alpha of the Fallen, to sustain his bodily needs. Other than that, he's not tempted in the least by women, neither for sex nor for blood. Until Victoria Bellona.
Now I thought the concept of Tory being a goddess was kind of weird. This story is based on Judeo-Christian legends of the fallen angels, although Douglas takes an extreme right turn with some of her theology. I can't say I love some aspects of that, which I have mentioned in my reviews of the first two books in this series. At any rate, throwing in the Roman pantheon just felt weird. She had a good explanation for it, and since it's her book, oh well. Having accepted who Tory was, I got over that, and just experienced her character. I liked Tory a lot. She's feisty and independent, especially considering the way she was raised. She could hold her own against Michael, and often kept him off balance. I loved seeing how she conquered her warrior angel with her personality and just being herself. He had no chance against her! I loved her silly names for him, like "Your Impeccable Angelic Magnificence." I mean, how does a stoic warrior angel confront that? He just has to give in.
While the world-building isn't award-winning (fairly basic), I love the interactions between the characters. How Douglas shows hate turn into love so well. She writes love scenes that evolve as the relationship between the characters evolves, which is the way it should be. You see these hardened heroes turn to slush before they even realize it. You smirk and say, "I knew it!", and enjoy the ride. I also love the description of the angels with their wings unfolded and their majestic beauty. I just love angels! Although Douglas is not a wordy writer, she conveys the heavenly beauty of even the fallen angels with words that say so much and paints such a vivid picture.
In the end, I didn't think much of the suspense elements. I don't care for the idea of Uriel being both the ruler of heaven and the big bad. Nor did I like the concept of Dark City and Beloch. But I did love the angelic romance on display. The interactions between the Michael and Tory, as well as catching up with the other Fallen make up for any world-building/suspense shortcomings. Had I been in a better mood, I would probably have been more forgiving. But four stars isn't bad at all.
Despite the things I don't like about this series, I do love the angels, the snarky heroines, and the romance, dark, although love always wins out, and I am excited for Rebel, because Cain looks to be a very bad boy indeed! Since I know who his love interest is, this should be very interesting!(less)
I'm eternally grateful to Hugh for turning me onto this series. There was a Pike-shaped hole in my life that I didn't even know was there prior to lis...moreI'm eternally grateful to Hugh for turning me onto this series. There was a Pike-shaped hole in my life that I didn't even know was there prior to listening to this book. Now, I can't go back to that Pike-free universe. In all seriousness, I really enjoyed this book. I totally loved Pike and Cole. They definitely have a great friendship that allows them the freedom and the support to be themselves. That's definitely a blessing.
First and foremost, as I said, I dug Pike. I love the strong, silent type. I like that Pike is so utterly dangerous, but also very honorable, and really a Boy Scout in the way that he truly will go to HELL and back for something he believes in. He's a real protector, but he spares no sympathy for those who pose a thread to others he feels honor bound to protect. He's very taciturn, yet I felt like I grew to know him in the important ways via flashback and by the way those in his life regard him. A man like him has a way of scaring people, but those who know him well, truly, truly respect him, and his well-chosen words and physicality. Pike has this killer edge, but also this lonely, hurting boy aspect that makes me want to give him a hug, make cookies for him, and tuck him in and read him a bedtime story. I loved the way he handled Larkin. He had a way of getting her to behave, because he saw through her games, and he gave her what she needed. To be seen and to be cared for. I can totally see why she fell for him. I did too, Larkin. Although this wasn't a hugely actiony book, I definitely got the feel that Pike was a formidable guy. He doesn't play. And I tell you, that's what I want in an action hero. Although you are scary Pike, I might call you in real life (and I don't say that to most of the guys on my dangerous hero list).
Elvis Cole has a great sense of humor. And I am a sucker for a guy with a sense of humor. In the book world, my book boyfriends are the dangerous, scary types, the truly honorable men, and the guys who make me laugh (out of that list, the last two make a guy very appealing to me in real life). So, although Pike is definitely in my dangerous hero book boyfriend list, I could see me liking a guy like Cole in real life a little more. He's also very smart and perceptive. I liked the way he handled Larkin. Her ATTITUDE didn't faze him in the slightest. And although he doesn't always get Pike, he has Pike's back for sure! He's a great friend. And I can't wait to read his books.
Larkin should have annoyed the crap out of me. She reminds me of a real heiress that I really don't think much of. God tells me I shouldn't judge, and this book helped me to deal with that, because I really don't know what it's like for the heiress girls who act crazy and are famous for being rich debs. I don't walk in their shoes. This book helped me to see what life was like for a girl like Larkin. I felt for her. I could see that she was wearing armor and that armor made her prickly and compelled her to act 'stupid.' I never would have thought she'd be a good match for a guy like Pike, but she is. I have to say I'm pretty fond of Larkin. Hope to see more of her.
Yeah, I like bodyguard stories. Especially with a hero like Pike. I liked that there was a heavy suspense element moreso than action. It wasn't just about Pike keeping Larkin safe from the bad guys, but him trying to figure out why they were trying to kill her. I think some of the plot was a bit thin in places, but I still enjoyed it, and I felt it was well-done overall. The pieces came together, and I didn't feel like I predicted what was going on. The story progression took me to a conclusion that made sense to me. I liked that although Pike has the loner vibe, he really does use his connections and rely on people he trusts to get the job done.
Crais' Writing Style:
I thought that this book was written in a very visually appealing way. Mr. Crais writes a catchy, stylish story. Not overly noirish, but a contrast between gritty and beauty and naturalism in an unexpected way and in unexpected places. Pike comes off as very iconic. Instead of being described completely, I was given enough to get an image of him in my head. His sunglasses that hide his cold blue eyes. The way his mouth twitches when he expressed the small bit of emotion on his face. His brisk, economical way of speaking. The gentleness he shows Larkin. The violent moments aren't drawn out, but quick, yet no less brutal when needed. Usually an author might over-describe these parts to intensify these moments, but Crais doesn't do that. He writes them speedy, like they happen in real life. I don't think his approach is one of action, but more of suspense, and that comes through.
Los Angeles isn't the most beautiful place to this reader. I don't care much for the city, frankly. But Crais finds the beauty in this place, but also exposes the seamy aspects that I associate with the City of Angels. The place of both exorbitant wealth and extreme poverty. Where starlets and heiresses are just a few block away from brutal gang-bangers and the ugly taint of urban decay. This place comes to life in his capable hands. If I ever miss LA (which is unlikely), I can read his books and get my fix.
I gave this one 4.5 stars because I felt some of the pivotal aspects wrap up too quickly. I wanted more page time on a few aspects that I didn't get. But overall, this was a fun ride, and Pike is my baby boy now. I want some more!
This book was so good!! I loved Coburn. What a man!!! You can tell I was a happy reader by the number of exclamation points I've used thus far. Honor...moreThis book was so good!! I loved Coburn. What a man!!! You can tell I was a happy reader by the number of exclamation points I've used thus far. Honor was a good heroine too. Very intense and awesome suspense. Very close to five stars. Rating: 4.5 stars.
My paranormal bar is pretty high, especially since the GhostWalkers rocked my world when it comes to enhanced soldiers. I hate comparing books, but th...moreMy paranormal bar is pretty high, especially since the GhostWalkers rocked my world when it comes to enhanced soldiers. I hate comparing books, but the GWs continually came to mind, and this just didn't satisfy the way those books do. Nevertheless, the ideas were interesting, and this series does have some promise. I will definitely give The Storm That Is Sterling a try.
As my second book in the Jack Reacher series (although #16 in publication and a prequel in sequence), The Affair wasn't a shabby audio read at all. Th...moreAs my second book in the Jack Reacher series (although #16 in publication and a prequel in sequence), The Affair wasn't a shabby audio read at all. The narrator Dick Hill has a terse, noirish delivery that adds to the story. He sounds a bit older than I would associate with Reacher, but he definitely has Reacher's 'you ain't the boss of me' attitude and conveys his ruthless, efficient approach to solving injustices. I think he is a good choice to narrate for the Jack Reacher books. I do have to admit that I was giggling like a schoolgirl on the love scenes. I can't help it. Audiobook love scenes always strike me that way, and especially with an older male narrator who sort of gave them a 'dirty old man' vibe!
It's interesting. This seems like a simplistic storyline, but when everything came together, it wasn't. The Affair is the story of small town secrets tied in with the bigger and murkier waters of powerful people who feel the impunity to do whatever they want. Child kept me guessing. I went back and forth about what was going on and who was behind it. He really had me going and thinking that the killer was someone I really didn't want it to be. In the end, I was like, "So that's not the killer?" That was well done.
Child has an interesting way of being very brisk about describing some aspects of his narrative, but descriptive in a vivid, emotive way about others. I felt immersed in this small town with its racial divisions, brutal poverty and a seething sense of injustice that comes from the eternal 'haves versus the have nots'. As it does to Reacher, injustice sits heavy on my stomach, so even though Reacher can be highly ruthless, in a way it's a rewarding thing to know that there is an avenging angel out there at least in the fictional world to fight for those who have been disenfranchised and denied of their rights and their voices. I suppose that's why Reacher is around. When you have these kinds of situations with so much brutality and casual discarding of lives, it makes you want a meaty fist of vengeance like Reacher who is there to clean up the mess. His descriptions of Army/military life also grabbed my interest. I don't know if he got all that right, but it sounded plausible to me. At least some of the governmental parts struck a familiar note.
Reacher is an interesting character. He's really kind of a basic sort. His view of life is so simple and without the extra qualifiers that most characters seem to have. He understands authority, but he also has a habit of doing what he thinks is right even if that's against the dictates of authority.
Sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux was an intriguing character. Ex-marine and sheriff of Carter's Crossing, the daughter of the long-term sheriff. She's a bit of a study in contrasts. The romance between Reacher and Deveraux was fairly basic, although Child effectively conveys the attraction and mutual respect between them. Neither is a good bet for a long-term relationship, but I still wished that things might work out in that direction (view spoiler)[(even knowing this is a prequel so that wasn't in the cards) (hide spoiler)].
The Affair was a good book, but I felt an emptiness when it ended. I don't know if it was just the stripped down nature of the overall plot or that I felt unsatisfied with the overall nature of things that went down. It bothered me to see those people die like that and how it was handled. And while Reacher did what he could to make things right, it doesn't bring those people back, or prevent it from happening again. And Reacher pays a heavy price in the end to do what he did, or maybe for being the kind of man he is. Was that a deliberate thing on Child's part? Maybe. Overall, a pretty good book that I'd recommend to fans of thriller/suspense and kickbutt heroes.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
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)
I loved this book! This was worth waiting for, even though it was a long wait for it to come out in paperback. I can say that the hours spent reading...moreI loved this book! This was worth waiting for, even though it was a long wait for it to come out in paperback. I can say that the hours spent reading it were truly enjoyable. It's true that I am a huge fan of this series, but it never gets old for me. I do believe this is one of the best paranormal series out there, hands down! It has a lot of sex, so I wouldn't recommend it to a fantasy fan who doesn't like sex, but I feel that the world-building stands up to muster for a fantasy novel as well. I think that this story keeps expanding in ways that intrigue and fascinate me. I am happily surprised at all the twists and turns Cole gives this storyline.
Lothaire totally lived up to his potential. He is all that and more. I think that Cole did a great job of giving this character a romance without compromising who he was. Lothaire will always be a bad guy. He is just a bad guy who sometimes does the right thing. Kind of different and it worked for me! I have a sick fascination weakness for villainous/antiheroic types, and Lothaire is the top of the list!
Things I loved about Lothaire *Lothaire stays true to his character. He doesn't become a Stepford Hero just because he finds his true love. He is always going to be Lothaire, just Lothaire in love. *He cracks me up. I know he's not trying to be funny. He's just being him, but his way of twisting his words to get around his physiological demand to be truthful, and his sheer arrogance, results in some laugh out loud, snarkalicious comments. I can imagine Ms. Cole cracked herself and her editor up reading as she wrote it. I know she cracked me up. *I love a wickedly intelligent guy. My Achilles' heel. Lothaire is such a calculating dude. Always working all the angles. It was interesting to see how others reacted to him. Many hated him, some were scared witless by him, and some admired him (in a "I hate him" kind of way). No one was 'meh' about him. *Lothaire actually wants to be faithful to his Bride.
Things I loved about Elizabeth *She's very tough considering all that she went through. (Shudders) I can't imagine having that awful thing taking over my body committing those horrible acts with it. And then, where she spent five years! That was so dark! *She's so down to earth. I love a down to earth heroine. She's very proud of her humble root, loves her family, and is unshakably loyal. *She holds her own with Lothaire. Maybe she doesn't have thousands of years of experience or his incredible, immortal strength, but she has a snarky tongue, plenty of intelligence, and a big heart.
Things I loved about this book *Kresley Cole never tries to sell this as a normal people/functional romance. From the beginning, it's clear that this is not for the faint of heart. Lothaire is not a kind, loving, good-hearted boy next door. He is the Enemy of Old. Ellie is not the normal girl next door with a sweet, happy existence. Her life was tough since she was young, and it turns into a living hell when she's eighteen, and things just get worse. Despite that, I found it to be a sigh-worthy romance. I don't want a Lothaire of my own, but I sure did like reading about his romance with Ellie! *Lothaire has met his match in Ellie. Although he tried to walk all over her, he finds out the hard way that's not going to fly. Ellie proves to be a dangerous woman in her own right. If you have read this, you'll find out. *I didn't find this to be predictable. I had my ideas about how things would work out, but I was wrong! In fact, I was thrown a loop a time or two. I love how Cole turns all the endgame goals of Lothaire on their heads. *Freaking hilarious. Despite the very dark beginning and dark subject matter, there is much to enjoy and laugh about this book. *Smoking hot love scenes. I mean, wow! (thinks about the scenes and wipes forehead) *This world is endlessly fascinating and entertaining. All the different characters and how their immortal lives intersect. I like seeing the plots come together and overlap. With each book, I just want more.
Over five hundred pages of fantastic goodness. And when it ended, I was sad. I want to read it over again, but no time. Good thing I am planning on an Immortals After Dark series reread early next year!
Dragon Bound was an awesome book. I loved just about everything about it. I'm not even going to pretend that my favorite element wasn't Dragos, 'cause...moreDragon Bound was an awesome book. I loved just about everything about it. I'm not even going to pretend that my favorite element wasn't Dragos, 'cause it was! I have an unnatural attraction to possessive, jealous, stalkerific heroes who are scary as heck, and Dragos is going on my list of favorite heroes of this type. I liked that although Pia started out as a thief who dared to steal from him, she became his own personal hoard. He acted like a dragon of old, used to having his way in all things. Even though he came on kind of strong, it was clear that he wouldn't do anything to hurt Pia. He cared enough to make sure that Pia was happy! He brushed her hair all the time! He was actually a softie underneath all that hard scaly dragon armor! Ms. Harrison knows how to write this kind of hero very well!
Dragos is like a Harlequin Presents hero done well (with an intensity times one hundred). He is unbelievably wealthy, prominent and gorgeous. He is also immensely powerful. And he was done so well, there was never that incredulity factor where I have this sarcastic cheerleader moment in my head: "Yay, he is so awesome!" (rolls eyes). Dragos truly was awesome! Sick girl that I was, I liked that even though Pia found him hot and fell in love with him, she could still see he was a scary guy. Who doesn't like a guy who would give you the world, but he could also slaughter a whole army of enemies for you? Who's so jealous, he doesn't even like his crew touching you? (PSA awareness moment: Not okay in real life, but I like it in books. So shoot me!)
I thought the world-building was really good. I loved the fact that this book has a strong fantasy element, equal to the romance. It wasn't just a backdrop for paranormal loving (which was verra nice, mind you). There was a lot of thought put into creating this world in which humans live alongside Wyr (shapeshifters) and Faerie folk of all kinds, and old magic is alive and well in this world, and into the adjacent magic realms. It seemed eminently plausible that one of the most powerful economic figures could be an ancient dragon. Don't I wish?
Dragos is an awesome hero, and Pia is an equally awesome heroine. She is gutsy, intelligent, funny, and sweet. She never gave me the urge to ignore her and focus on the hero because I didn't like her. I loved her a lot. I could see myself having similar reactions to the strange circumstances she faces. I loved how utterly fearless (although inwardly quaking) she was when faced with the very scary Dragos, and especially at the end when she finds herself in a very rough situation. I loved her self-deprecating, humorous way of looking at the world, very down to earth and resourceful. I loved her secret heritage, and how Dragos cherished that part of her, and all parts of her. I felt tears brimming when she discovers what she truly is. (You have to understand that I was the little girl who was in love with Pegasus, Unicorns, and all mythical creatures. It was a sweet moment for this little girl who has never truly grown up inside).
I loved Dragos' crew, especially Graydon (who reminded me of Butch from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward), and Tricks (a very hip elf who works as Dragos' PR rep and happens to be the true heir to Throne of the Dark Fae). How cool was it that his sentinels consisted of four gryphons and a tough female Harpy (she reminded me of my girl Xhex from the Black Dagger books). It was funny how Dragos came to life when Pia came around, and seeing how his crew reacted to the new Dragos.
I don't think my review can really add anything because there are some great reviews out there of this book. I really did love everything about it. It was just hip enough (but not annoyingly so), the story and the fantasy elements were fantastic, there were many laugh out loud moments (this book was really funny), and some poignant moments. I loved the relationship between Pia and Dragos, and how they had to work at some things, but they weren't going to give up on being together. (view spoiler)[ And my being a romance reader who likes babies, I was so happy that she even had that element. Not enough PNR books have pregnancy and babies in them for me (I know some readers hate that, but not me!) So I was glad she did have that in this book, and it was so cool how she did it. Definitely some 'aww' moments there. (hide spoiler)]
I know I want to hug this book tight to my book-loving heart. I will put this out on my favorites shelf for a frequent reread. I can't wait to see what Ms. Harrison does in the next Elder Races books. She has a fan in me!
My friends who said I would love this were right. High five!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Devil's Kiss is the first in the Hellraisers historical paranormal romance series by Zoe Archer, and she has created an interesting world and an intri...moreDevil's Kiss is the first in the Hellraisers historical paranormal romance series by Zoe Archer, and she has created an interesting world and an intriguing storyline that will keep me coming back to this series.
I loved how immersive this story was. I felt like I was in the Georgian period, where anything goes, if you have the money, power and status to make your own rules. With this background, the character have validity and their choices and motivations make sense. Whit is a hero that really sucked me in. He is not a good man, but he is a man that you want to be good, to make the right decisions in the end. I have to say that force of his personality pulled me right into this story. I found Whit very magnetic. Ms. Archer does an excellent joy of portraying the tug of war that Whit has between his good nature and his darker one. I don't think gambling was his vice in itself, but the desire to control fate and have power to manipulate fate and circumstances. Losing his family so young and becoming an Earl so early in his life gave him this vacuum inside, this feeling that he is being buffeted by fate, so that living on the knife's edge became the only valid lifestyle for himself. It's probable that he might have been a thrill-seeker, explorer or adventurer if he hadn't inherited his title. I found him quite fascinating as a character. I could see why Zora found him so irresistible and fell in love with him even though he's not a good man by any stretch. This aspect of the story, as well as the manner in which Archer establishes her story in the Georgian period reminds me of Anne Stuart, and that's always a good thing.
Zora was a great character. I loved her strong personality, her determination, her independent spirit, and that she doesn't give up on what is important to her. She always felt strange and disjointed in her Romani family and life, although she does value it. When the giorgo men show up in her camp, her eyes are drawn to Whit, and she can't look away. He compels her in a way no other man has. His obsession with her isn't one-sided at all. And she becomes the only means through which he can regain his soul back from the devil. Zora is a good woman, but she's also a vital, primal woman, not a plaster saint. It means that much more when she stands up for what is right when it is so easy to choose self and do what is wrong in the process.
When I read romance, I want the bond and the relationship between the characters to be meaningful, real, and deeply emotional. I felt all that with Whit and Zora. Although they share a very primal sexual attraction, there is also an intellectual connection, and an emotional bond. Zora could have walked away and left Whit to his fate, but she cared for him and wanted to help him get free from his devil's bargain; or she could have destroyed him when she realized that his actions might bring on the end of the world. But love kept her with him. As for Whit, although his actions towards Zora weren't honorable initially, he shows that she is very important to him, her love and her light keeps him grounded and gives him the strength to fight for his soul and to do the right thing. The love scenes are very sensual and well-written, and they fit very well into this intense story about dark passions and desires.
This series has gotten me hooked, probably from the first page. Ms. Archer promises to deliver forthcoming books that avoid being predictable, and where the main character could perhaps be the worst villain of all, if he chooses wrongly. I like that kind of risk-taking when I read a story, especially when it's well-written as Devil's Kiss is.
For this very enjoyable, well-written book, I have to give a rating of 4.5/5.0.
Fast-paced, hard-hitting, and quite disturbing. Connolly pulls no punches with this latest in his very hard-edged magic noir series. I hope that someh...moreFast-paced, hard-hitting, and quite disturbing. Connolly pulls no punches with this latest in his very hard-edged magic noir series. I hope that somehow he is able to continue this series.