Pamela Clare has lived up to the high standards she set for herself with the first two books in the MacKinnon's Rangers series with Defiant. Connor se...morePamela Clare has lived up to the high standards she set for herself with the first two books in the MacKinnon's Rangers series with Defiant. Connor seemed immature and lacked the intensity of Iain and Morgan to me in the prior books, but he has definitely come into his own. If anything, Connor carries a more weighty burden due to his guilt over his actions in the aftermath of Morgan's abduction by the French. This burden has made his soft edges iron-hard and razor sharp, but it has not blunted the integrity that is such an intrinsic aspect of the MacKinnons. Readers who love Scottish heroes will adore Connor, although many of them have already read this book and don't need me to tell them that. Connor is delicious. While I don't really care for ladies' men, Connor's way with women is part of the texture that makes him the hero he is. I feel that his character grows and evolves even over this book, and things he thought didn't matter to him become readily apparent as his love for Sarah grows. This is a book for die-hard romance fans, as the reader is treated to a intimate view of Connor and Sarah falling deeply in love even though that seems impossible when this book begins. Their relationship is both sweet and very steamy, and that balance is very hard to achieve without sacrificing something. Ms. Clare definitely hit on both cylinders with this book.
Sarah was a very appealing heroine. My heart was won over by her sweetness and courage and her integrity. It was painful to read about how her family betrayed and turned their backs on her by not trusting and believing in the person she was, even in light of the terrible scandal that unfolded. Especially from people who supposed to be believing Christians. They showed little of who Christ is and stands for in the way they treated their daughter. It was interesting that the one family member who stood by her and truly loved her was Wentworth. Now many will say awful things about the man, but even at his worst, I still find him to be a fascinating and magnetic character. And since I do like bad boys, I can honestly say I have crush on him. His behavior went both to new heights and depths in this book, but ultimately, he won my allegiance in how he showed true love for Sarah. I cannot wait to read his story, so I hope that it comes to fruition and soon! But I know I was talking about Sarah, so let me get back to her. Sarah is also a complex character. She is a noblewoman, but deep down, her heart is very heart-to-earth and genuine. Her love of music touched me because I can identity with that joy of music, although my own musical talent is much more limited. While she experiences some terrible events in this journey to the New World, I believe it was her destiny to come here so she could be the person she was intended to be. England was way too small for her. She is a powerful, brave and capable woman. She was born to be Connor MacKinnon's woman. No doubt about it.
Ms. Clare shows impeccable research and a sense of the period in this novel. She doesn't tiptoe around the savagery and the violence that was an integral part of this period in colonial history. Her portrayal of people shows a lot of depth. There are no stereotypes in this novel. The natives have the same potential to be noble and honorable as the whites. Both show equal potential for acts of brutality. For a lifelong student and a fan of history, books like this bring home that reading about these events provides a safe distance that those who lived back then did not have the luxury to experience. This draws me into the story and makes me feel things as I read. Not always positive, but very impacting, making for an unforgettable reading experience.
While Defiant is an excellent read, it's not a book to gobble down. So much happens and the small details are crucial and should not be rushed through. As an avid reader, there is a tendency to read with an eye towards finishing a book and moving onto the next one of the pile. Pamela Clare is an author that you don't want to do that with. You want to sit and savor her writing. I was glad that I took the time to do that with Defiant. This series is a fantastic example of the high quality of writing available in the writing genre. I definitely recommend it to readers who want a larger-than-life historical adventure rife with passion and incredible detail.
--------------------- If you're already a Pamela Clare fan, or interested in learning more about her and her books, be sure to stop by our Pamela Clare Fan Group here on Goodreads! (less)
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)
Tears of Heaven was a very moving romance. It made me cry in several scenes. The devotion between Heaven and Sergei really hit home with me. I felt fo...moreTears of Heaven was a very moving romance. It made me cry in several scenes. The devotion between Heaven and Sergei really hit home with me. I felt for Heaven, all that she had gone through, and her emotional anguish, and then her fear to open herself up to loving. And Sergei never grew impatient with her, his love steadfast, gentle, and protective--the balm to heal her wounds.
Although this is a short novella, the progression of the love affair between Heaven and Sergei felt right. They started out as respectful strangers, Sergei initially just Heaven’s employer. As Sergei taught Heaven that she could trust him, their relationship became a deep, understanding friendship and bloomed into a profound love. Sergei’s proposal made me cry. It was very romantic! I guess I was really in the mood for a sweet, emotional love story, and this definitely sated my need. I wish that there were more sweet, romantic interracial romances out there like this. If you know some, point me in the right direction. I know that Jewel Adams definitely writes these kinds of stories, so I will be reading more of her. Although the love scenes are hinted at, not described, she managed to capture the passion that was a part of Heaven and Sergei’s relationship excellently, and I didn't feel cheated that there weren't more details. And this is perfect for readers who actively seek out clean romance.
The inspirational aspects of this story are readily apparent, and make this story even richer. Heaven’s relationship with God, and her faith as a member of the LDS Church is a part of her that gives her a lot of strength. It felt realistic and natural that she would pray and let her faith dictate the lifestyle she pursued. Readers who are in the LDS Church will appreciate these elements, but those who don’t share those beliefs can still appreciate this story, as Heaven and Sergei’s faith are well-integrated aspects of their personalities, and the spiritual elements were not presented in a preachy manner.
Heaven’s issues with her abusive ex-boyfriend were well-handled. It was clear that Heaven had her reasons for staying in the relationship as long as she did, but her self-esteem and strong beliefs had give her the strength to leave. She still suffered from fears and anxiety as her ex-boyfriend stalks her, but I liked how Sergei stood by her and protected her, and that she didn’t let those stand in the way of having the relationship of her long-cherished dreams with Sergei.
I could probably go on, but I want the future readers to get to enjoy this book without me revealing too much. Tears of Heaven is a wonderful story. I am thankful to Ms. Jewel Adams for the opportunity to read and enjoy this story. She has made a loyal reader out of me.
I was listening to 'Halo' on the way home, and it fits this book perfectly. (less)
It's very hard to top a book like Water Bound, but this is a very good follow up. I think that Lev and Stefan managed to feel different although they...moreIt's very hard to top a book like Water Bound, but this is a very good follow up. I think that Lev and Stefan managed to feel different although they are brothers, both very dominant, possessive, dangerous, edgy, and surprisingly passionate men. I'm not going to lie and say that I wouldn't have liked Stefan even if he was too much like Lev. I just have no resistance to this kind of character. But, I am glad that I liked him in a different way. Lev started out very rough and turned into, not a puppy dog when it came to Rikki, but a lethal guard dog, who loves her and her sisters so much that he can be soft for them. Stefan is still learning how to be soft. He undoubtedly loves Judith very much, but he's not going to soften the way Lev did in that way. Instead, his strength and his hard core are given to protecting his beloved and her family, her way of life. It should be interesting to see how Stefan adapts to being part of the family of sisters and husbands in Sea Haven.
Christine Feehan does have the tendency to be long-winded, so it makes her books a bit harder to read than a more concise author (my favored writing style). But she utterly worth the effort. She does passion, danger, dark love in a captivating, distinct way. It's interesting how her and Anne Stuart (my #1 author) write the same genre of romance, but do it very differently. And each one is obligatory in my reading regimen. When I want the domineering (which isn't my favorite except how she does them, go figure), possessive, lethal beyond belief hero who falls head over heels for a woman, along with an interesting intersection of mystery and paranormal, friendship, familial love, and an appreciation for the important things in life, I run to Feehan, because it's her trademark.
Okay, rambling aside. I really liked this book. It didn't move me like Water Bound, because that's just a one of a kind read. But there was a lot to offer in this book. I loved Judith. She has an effervescence, and a strange air of the zen in the middle of a swirling wind of chaos. That's not really easy to convey, but I get that from her. Stefan is the right man for her, because she can handle the things about him that make him a very tough sell for other women, and she touches his heart, makes him feel like a man, not a shadow. And for Judith, Stefan is the one. He calms her in ways she needs calm, opens her up and encourages her to be at peace with her abilities and her emotions, the good and the bad, and he meets her head on with the fiery passion she craves in life. Plus, he appreciates the importance of art in her life.
I thought long and hard, and I have to give this five stars, because even without being perfect, it meets my needs. As a emotional reviewer, that's five star criteria.
Man, these books don't help my Russian fixation at all!(less)
This was truly an incredible book, in my opinion. Ms. Ryan captured the fear and the isolation that a person who is in a harrowing situation and who i...moreThis was truly an incredible book, in my opinion. Ms. Ryan captured the fear and the isolation that a person who is in a harrowing situation and who is trying to do the right thing feels. I cannot even imagine what it must have been like for Jack and Katarina, trapped in an environment where evil is fostered and rewarded, and the slightest mistake could end up with one's horrible demise or failure in a mission to save lives.
What I truly appreciated was how the author wrote a fictional story that spoke to my spirit, my heart, and my intellect. It seems like a coincidence, but it's not. I read this book right when I needed. I am in need of being reminded that I am not in control, and better yet, that's not a bad thing. It's hard to accept that, but there is such a freedom when one does. For a control freak like myself (and Jack and Katarina), acknowledging that you can't control everything is one of the hardest things you must do, but you have to do it all the time. This past week at work was not good, and I tried to do my best in that situation, but I couldn't control all the situations I faced. I had to accept that, and seek God's will in that situation and trust that He would take care of me. So, I could feel what the characters in this book struggled with. But the good news is, that God is in control, and His will is done. It doesn't mean things will always go our way. But the truth is, when God leads you into situations, He will not abandon you or forsake you. I loved how Renee Ryan illustrated this so eloquently. How she had Jack and Katarina recalling scriptures from their childhood (since both had lost faith due to the horrible things that happened to them prior to this book) that reminded them of God's protection. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit will do that, and give the believer peace even in the worst of circumstances. As I read, I could deeply identify with that feelings that these characters I came to love experienced. How things looked so bad, but God's spirit promised His protection and His guiding hand for His children, even those who forgot that He will fulfill His promises. Yes, I read this book right when I needed to, and it helped renew my faith that God would take care of me.
Another thing I loved about this book were how charismatic and powerful the characters of Jack and Katarina were. Their magnetism reached off the page at me. Jack is a true alpha male in the best sense. He is unafraid to put himself on the line for others, always seeks to protect others, and uses his considerable assets of intelligence, training, and adaptability to maneuver in some truly dangerous circumstances. He is also tortured because he has left behind his godly ways after he ended up being forced into the life of a spy, and what his calling has forced him to see and to do. He believes he is doomed for his actions, although he does them for the right reasons. Katarina is an actress whose role lasts twenty-four hours a day. She is playing the role of an empty-headed Russian princess who earns a living on the stage, but has a penchant for getting involved with dangerous men. Deep down, she is a woman who is working for the British as a spy with the goal of protecting her mother, whose heritage could send her to the death camps. I loved the ice cool natures of these characters, and how they handled challenges that came their way. And I loved their vulnerabilities. Both had believed that God abandoned them and that they were on their own, but they learn that God never abandons His children. Sometimes we don't look hard enough to see His guiding hand, even though it's there in the dark. I loved how they found each other in the seemingly forsaken, evil environs of Nazi Germany, surrounded by men who seemed bent on world domination and annihilation of peoples who they felt beneath them, including the Jews, devout Christians (those who didn't follow the new religion of Germany based on nationalism and Nordic/Teutonic paganism), and people who spoke against their regime. Their relationship had real chemistry. I could see that they found something worthwhile in each other on every level. They saw something powerful in each other, that spoke to them. And God worked through both of them to bring them together and back to a knowledge of His love and protection.
This book has some very powerful scenes that made me cry. The scenes in which both characters seem at the end of their strengths, but manage to pull through because of their will, their newly rediscovered faith in God, and His steady hand of protection. I am not one for praying in a group (it makes me feel awkward), but I loved the scene where Jack and Katarina pray together. It made me cry because it was something they both needed and it gave them strength to face the dark circumstances that they needed to confront.
Ms. Ryan did a great job with this period. Although I am an not expert on this period, I have read up on it, and I could see that she did her research, and used that knowledge to write a powerful fiction story set during this horrible time in history.
I am so blessed to find another Christian romance that spoke to me. I had long feared that I wouldn't find any that ministered to me in a deep, powerful manner, and also provided an intense, edgy story that wouldn't leave me wanting more. Dangerous Allies definitely did this for me. Dangerous Allies shows a part of history that breaks my heart and makes me soul-sick. The good thing about this book was that it reminded me that although Nazi Germany seemed like a godless, evil place, and it seemed as though the Lord's presence wasn't there to protect the innocent from the terrors of the Nazis, that wasn't true. There were people of faith there working to end the reign of terror and horror that the Nazis had over Europe during this period. I couldn't ask for more in a book.
Dreams of a Dark Warrior is a story about an undying love that a man had for a woman, a long time ago. Of course, the man is a berserker, a warrior wh...moreDreams of a Dark Warrior is a story about an undying love that a man had for a woman, a long time ago. Of course, the man is a berserker, a warrior who harnesses the spirit of the lean winter bear--angry, fierce, powerful, and possessive; and the woman is an immortal valkyrie. This is a book about the danger and sacrifice of love. Love causes you to give yourself away, and there is no guarantee that you'll get anything back. But that is what love is.
CS Lewis wisely said:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Regin had to learn that if she truly wanted to have her love endure and last forever, she had to let it go, and expect no guarantees. The man she was always afraid to give herself truly to--her heart, not just her body--refused to take the little she could give. He kept coming back to her, doomed to die, again and again. Until he was reincarnated as Declan Chase. Declan is the one man who seems least deserving of her love, but he is the one man who is strong enough to demand it, to fight for it with every inch of himself, and to dare her to love him. And he is also her enemy.
This was a hard love story to write, I imagine. I could see that, because, for all its excellence, it was hard to read. Kresley Cole had to start at the beginning, and let the pieces come together until the full story was unfolded. You see the golden, shining perfection of Aidan and Regin’s relationship, and you see how she loses that. And then you see her in the modern times and the man who is the reincarnation of her lost love. Reading this, I just didn't see how it would work out. There’s such a gulf between them. Such a war to be won. I looked hard at Declan, and he was so wretched, so lost. My heart wrenched in my chest for him. Having this yawning hole within him that made him do something horrible to feel whole, to cope. And to have lost his family that way, and to have suffered torture by his inhuman enemies. It gave birth to great hatred within him, fostered by an unjust father figure. Seeing Declan as Regin's reincarnated, long, lost lover seems like a losing proposition. But things always happen for a reason. Even really bad things. Because of what Declan went through, he was the one man reborn of Aidan's soul who was strong enough to fight against the curse that bore down on these star-crossed lovers that always intervened to separate them. I love how he always reminded Regin, "Nothing keeps you from me!" It makes my knees week. Ah, Declan, for such a cold, scary man who wanted and needed nothing but vengeance, you turned out to be a real romantic.
Yes, Dreams of a Dark Lover was a strange, dark love story. But it touched me, because although I don't believe in reincarnation, I do believe love never dies. I believe that love does conquer all. Nothing destroys love. It's eternal. That was a very strong message of this story, and I got it, loud and clear.
As you can see, I loved the romance part of this book, but I also found myself riveted with the story elements. The progression of the situation which arises in Pleasure of a Dark Prince, which promises to turn the Lore on its ear. I am a die-hard fan of this series, and that goes without saying. But I feel increasingly invested with this story with each book, because Cole brings it to a new level. She doesn’t keep me at a comfort zone where I know I’ll get a guaranteed good read. She escalates all the things that make these books such a ball to read, and keeps me yearning to see what she’ll come up with next.
PS. That Lothaire is such a scoundrel! I’m in love! (less)
I loved this second book with Team Three! This is one family I would want to have at my back. Bei...moreReread from 7/28-8/3/12
I loved this second book with Team Three! This is one family I would want to have at my back. Being a sappy person who loves babies and gets jazzed with the inclusion of a pregnancy into the storyline, I was a happy camper with this book. And to think Ms. Feehan was able to successfully integrate this into a high-octane action romance, even better. The storyline takes the Whitney GhostWalker conspiracy to a different level, and it's kinda twisted with the creation of super-soldiers the hard way. I'm really glad that Kane and Rose loved each other and were able to get their baby free of that mess.
I adore Sebastian. His uncanny intelligence and awareness at a young age really worked for me. Reading about him was one of my favorite aspects of this book, along with the camaraderie between the Team Three family. I know, broken record.
Kane-- Such a great mix of tough alpha hero and sweet, loving hero. I love a guy who can kill the bad guys but also deliver his child and take care of the baby's mother so lovingly. Sigh! Kane has so much integrity and that shines through. I can see why Rose didn't want to give him up!
Rose-- Rose is tough and sweet. She's a mix of vulnerable and fierce. I loved her protectiveness of her child, but also the fact that she had a soft-hearted love for Kane, despite being raised only for being a soldier. She's one of my favorite women in this series, but that's saying a lot because I love them all.
I will keep this review short to avoid the Broken Record Syndrome. Anyway, loved my third reread, and super-excited to continue this series. This brings my epic Summer 2012 reread of the GhostWalkers series to a conclusion. Now I can read the next installment, Samurai Game, and keep my fingers crossed that Ms. Feehan will get to Javier and Rhianna's book sometime soon. That's going to be outrageous!
************************************************************* Addendum to Review for Audiobook--Completed 8/28/11:
Although I really dislike the narrator's voice (the same one as on Predatory Game), especially the manner in which he does the women characters, I couldn't resist checking this out from the library. I loved Kane and Rose's story the first time, and loved it this time as well. It took me forever to finish because I would listen to this at bedtime. Of course, I'd fall asleep, and the next night I'd have to rewind it to get to the part where I'd fallen asleep. My prior review of the book stands, but for the audiobook, my rating is slightly lower, because the narrator made some parts sounds cheesy, unfortunately.
I am a huge fan of Christine Feehan, although I can totally see why she wouldn't work for some readers. She is a bit repetitive in some of the language. That's something I can get past, because pretty much everything else works very well for me in her stories. I admit I would get really excited as I listened to some parts. The action was great in this book, so was the interaction between the characters, romantic and otherwise. The parts where Kane helps Rose have the baby and takes care of her just turned me into a molten pile of goo. When he cries as he holds the baby.... I was sighing like crazy. That's how I roll!
The book reminded me how excited I am for Javier and Rhianna's story. I hope that Ms. Feehan is working on it even as I write this review. I adore this series so much, and I will always snap these books up as soon as they come out. Even a less than satisfactory narrator can't ruin them for me.
Audiobook Rating: 4.25/5.00 stars My advice is to read these books first. Don't do the audiobook. You will think they are totally cheesy and that is so not the case when reading them. Book love rating: 5/5 stars
Original Review Below: ************************************************************************
Oh, dear! My jones for the GhostWalkers is much, much worse after this book. I love how each of these books is different. It makes sense, since people are unique, and therefore, each relationship would have different nuances to it. However, you would think when it comes to military men and the women they love, there would be a sameness to these books. To me, there wasn't. Each couple stands out differently to me. I had really high expectations for Kane and Rose's story. It's such an intriguing idea, since Kane and Rose were paired in "Mad Scientist" Whitney's GhostWalkers breeding program, and last we heard, Rose was pregnant and on the run. Poor Kane was clearly tortured about his part in that situation. I knew there was going to be some built in angst and tension. I loved the execution here. Instead of Kane and Rose being adversaries, at each others' throats, they were a united team. Pretty much from the beginning, it was clear they would stay together, come hell or high water; the problem was getting through a sea of adversaries to find their safe place together. But Kane knew something that Rose didn't. He had a team of men and women who would die to protect them and keep their child safe.
If you are a fan of pregnancy and baby storylines in romance, you will love this book. I certainly did. I especially loved how Ms. Feehan still managed to write a fantastic action-adventure story, but incorporate the heart-melting moments of mother, father, and child bonding. Kane is such a good daddy. He even delivered his child, even though he felt that being a rough soldier with no idea about parenting made him the least likely candidate for the job. All those bonding moments between Rose and Kane, Kane and the baby, and Rose and the baby, and the three of them, made this book for me. I loved Kane's discussions with his baby, regarding being a good soldier and taking out enemies, and how great Mommy was! Okay, this is probably not going to work for readers who don't like the whole happy family vibe. Kane and Rose and their child form a beautiful family, and it's not even in the traditional way that sometimes gets shoved down our throats by the conservative voice of the media.
I loved how Kane and Rose made sense together. It was great how their pairing turned out well for both of them. In a sick and twisted way, that Whitney is quite the matchmaker. He might have paired the GW couples for his own agenda, but the results turned out fantastic, nine times in a row. They had an intimacy that wasn't just about physical attraction. Kane is a very caring, gentle, loving man. He doesn't see himself that way, but I was glad that Rose saw that in him every early on, and it turned out that she choose him as her breeding partner for that reason, along with his formidable warrior prowess. They are both so loveable, and multi-layered people. Rose is totally kick-butt, but sweet at the same time. She might be pint-sized, but she is an incredible warrior in her own right. She totally earned my respect in how she handled herself in numerous dangerous situations her and Kane found themselves in.
As always, Ms. Feehan delivered high-octane, fantastic action sequences. I loved those parts of the book just as much as the romance and the family moments. Kane and Rose have more enemies than they can count on one hand. For those who have an interest in the escalating situation with the Mexican drug cartels, I think Ms. Feehan did a great job of integrating that into this story. I wish there were really GWs who could deal with those cartels and teach them what it feels like to deal with someone who won't stand for their bullying and terrorist tactics.
Of course, I was sold on the GhostWalkers books even after Shadow Game, but I was a little apprehensive when the story seguewayed over to a new team. However, I am eating my words. I love the Urban Warfare team. In a way, they are even more bad@$$, because they do their magic in environments that are fraught with obstacles. I am already loving the members of this team! Mack wasn't quite as abrasive in this book, and Javier really gets the spotlight. I am glad that we get to see Rhianna more in this book, and I am telling you, Javier and Rhianna's book is going to be smoking hot. I can already see the formidable chemistry between this pair.
I freaking love this series, and this book has made me love it even more. I was sad when I finished Ruthless Game. I just wanted to keep reading. I even reread a little of it last night when I should have been going to sleep. There are a lot of sigh-worthy moments in this book, and the action is crazy in all the best ways. I loved how Ms. Feehan didn't create conflict by breaking up this wonderful couple, but made the major source of conflict about them adjusting to their family life in a very dangerous world, where the GhostWalkers will always have powerful enemies, but nothing that they can't handle. None of those forces can prevail against the teams and the families that these unique men and women have formed together, and the powerful bonds of friendship, love, and unity. I can't say anything more without spoiling, but Ms. Feehan could write these book well into the future, with all the fascinating layers and story threads that are unfolding with each book. Let's just say that the world better look out for the next generation of GhostWalkers!(less)
Just a disclaimer here: This will be a very difficult review to write. In order to truly review this book, I have to talk about my own views on things...moreJust a disclaimer here: This will be a very difficult review to write. In order to truly review this book, I have to talk about my own views on things and how books affect me personally. I am opening myself up here, which always makes me squirm. If you are reading this review and you don't agree with my beliefs on things, that's totally fine. But, I am not going to deny how I feel, because that is very important to me when I review a book, since I read books emotionally and not from a detached standpoint. Having said that, let's get this show on the road.
I can think of a list of reasons why I should not have liked this book, and I will start there:
1. I really dislike long books. As I told a friend on here, I am a 'hit it and quit it' reader--meaning, I like to read shorter to moderate-length (and occasionally longer) books, get them read, and move onto the next book. This book was a massive 901 pages!
2. Prostitution and paid sex is something that I absolutely detest the thought of. It squicks me out that someone would pay for sex or have sex for money or financial support/livelihood. I generally avoid this content like the plague, although a big part of my nature is to occasionally challenge myself and my perceptions of the world. It's good for me, even if the process is painful at times. This book has a heroine who is a courtesan, although she is called more ugly terms that I don't use. Not only that, her prostitution is a form of worship and honor to one of her dieties (if you want to call Fallen angels dieties).
3. I don't like books where the main characters sleep with a lot of people during the book. Promiscuity and sleeping around is another area that I am just not comfortable with. I especially don't like reading about sex with no love/emotional bond. This book was kind of interesting in that Phedre's sex is a form of worship. She didn't love most of the people she was intimate with, but she loved Elua, Naamah, and Kushiel, and that was expressed through her sex with her patrons. The genesis of the sacred nature of sex in this culture relates to the fact that the angel Naamah would lay with strangers to support Elua and the angels as they traveled through the Terre D'Ange. It's probably necessary to mention that the patron can be male or female. Elua's dictate is Love as thou wilt, which eliminates any stigma to same sex relationships. Although I am more of a male/female romance reader, I don't necessarily dislike same sex interactions, so that wasn't a huge issue for me.
4. I am very vanilla about sex. Meaning, I don't like reading about kinky, dark, twisted sex at all. I especially don't like reading about sadomasochistic/painful/humiliating sex. I don't understand that need and it's not something that I personally feel okay about. The main character in this story is a masochist. She was pricked by Kushiel (who is the angel who is the keeper of Hell and punishes the lost). That punishment is out of love to save their souls. Phedre possessing Kushiel's Dart marks one of her dark brown eyes with a dash of red, which is a visible manifestation of her being favored or cursed to have a physiology which made pain pleasurable for her, including emotional pain (which means that she got sexually aroused by being humiliated or forced or treated badly by her partner). I'm not going to go into detail here. I think you could use your imagination. I'll just leave it with two words to express my feelings: Ick Factor! Most of the sex scenes were very uncomfortable for me to read. In the author's defense, this book has very elegant sex scenes (for the subject matter). Somehow, she managed to avoid them coming off as repulsive and tawdry. My repulsion was based on my own comfort zones being exceeded, instead of deliberate acts of prurience on the author's part.
5. I typically don't care for stories with a lot of political intrigue and situations. Surprisingly, I found that I really got into that aspect of this story, and I was quite enthralled with the tangled web of conspiracies against members of the royal family and nobles. I believe it was because Ms. Carey did a great job of entwining Phedre into this Gordian Knot in a very intimate manner through her adoptive father, Anafiel Delaunay. Phedre becomes Delaunay's bondservant, and is trained to be a master spy as well as courtesan. Her skills aid him in his secret avocation to the royal family, hearing and seeing all, in the line of her duties as a courtesan.
6. The whole cultural set up of this story is very different from what I am used to. Surprisingly, this part was the easiest thing to get past. When I read fantasy, I expect that the author will build her own world from the ground up, and that might include other religious beliefs. It's easier for me if the author founds a whole new religious world divorced from the real world. I can easily separate myself from what I know and accept the concepts from the story and read it with a fresh mind. In this book, Ms. Carey takes a left turn from Christianity, and creates a world in which the main diety worshipped, Elua, is the son of Jesus' blood from when he was wounded on the cross and its union with Mother Earth. The other members of the pantheon are angels that chose to fall to accompany Elua in his exile. In other words, turning their back on God to follow Elua. The people with these beliefs are called D'Angelines, because they live in the country founded by Elua and his Angels called Terre D'Ange (Land of the Angel in French). Christianity still exists in the world, and its practitioners are called Yeshuites, after Jesus' Hebrew name of Yeshua. I believe there are also Muslims, but they are called Akkadians. The people who correspond to the Celts and Picts of Alba (Britain) and Eire (Ireland) have their own beliefs, and the Skaldi, who are like Norsemen, worship the Norse pantheon. Even though it was pretty different, I thought it was a pretty creative cultural genesis that Ms. Carey accomplished in this story.
Yes, that's a lot of reasons why I shouldn't have liked this book. Despite these things, I loved this book. It was fascinating. It kept my interest. I cared about the characters. Phedre was a heroine that I loved. I didn't like her assignations, and I would sort of roll my eyes when she took another one, much like Joscelin did. But, I liked her as a person. I could see that she was being true to herself, and I couldn't fault her for that. I loved how she came from very humble origins and made something wonderful of herself. I loved her loyalty and her caring heart. I loved how clever she was. She used every thing she had been taught and all her assets to accomplish what needed to be done. Even though I didn't always like what she did, I respect why she did it. It was profound to see how her view of herself and her place in the world changed. People looked down on her for being a 'whore', but she was a great spymaster, a diplomat, and an incredible tactitian. I cheered for her to find her rightful place in her world, because she earned that after all she'd suffered and lost. I loved Joscelin as well. Although he was a bit judgmental at times, so was Phedre towards him, but in a different way. It was very clear how devoted to her he was, and he was very true to his beliefs, following Cassiel, the angel who still loved God, but felt that he had to follow Elua out of loyalty. I admired that he made sacrifices to follow his beliefs, but his love for Phedre often caused him to break his vows, which in a way showed how true to following Cassiel he was. Even though he was not the main character, my mind always went back to him, wanting to see what he was doing and how he reacted to the situations around him. All the characters were real and lifelike, some in a good way, some in a bad way. But, there weren't any disposable characters in this story, even if they played small roles. And when some of the characters I grew to love got harmed and died, it made for painful reading.
At first, I had a lot of trouble with all the names of the characters and people, and countries. But, after a while, it started to make sense, and I was able to connect them to an existing frame of reference pretty well. I think it was pretty brilliantly conceived. The various peoples were extremely culturally distinct, and I really appreciated the time that Ms. Carey took to explore their cultures. It was interesting how the D'Angelines had a lot of cultural superiority that they had to get past, in order to face a huge threat from within and from the warlike, intimidating Skaldi race.
What surprised me was that I found the military aspects very fascinating. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, because I've always had an admiration for warriors and the culture of warriors. I thought that seeing the battles and war unfold through Phedre's eyes was very interesting. I liked seeing how she used her particular skill set to aid her country in winning the war. The sacrifices she made for her country were very admirable. She showed that although she wasn't a warrior in the traditional sense, her heart was that of a warrior, willing to give everything to win and prevail, even if that involved personal sacrifice and surrender.
This was a deep book. It took me through a gamut of emotions, many not comfortable at all. It truly was epic, and I really didn't get bored, surprisingly considering its length and complexity. There were some very unpalatable aspects to this story, and the values seemed very alien to what I feel I hold sacred. However, underneath there is a commonality. Love is sacrifice, love is giving. When something is important to a person, one devotes herself to it. Even though the creeds of the people in this book seemed alien, I could identify with the idea of holding something sacred in life, and that dictating one's actions.
As one can imagine, it's not easy to sum up my thoughts on a book that is so long and rather complicated. I think I have done as best as I can, and I won't make this review any longer than necessary. I have to be honest and say I highly doubt I'll keep reading this series. It's a huge investment of my time and energy when books are this long. And since it took me to some uncomfortable places, I'm not sure I want to go through that process any more with the following books. In my mind, I want to think of Phedre and Joscelin being happy, able to find a compromise that works for both of them, and having a great love. I want to leave things that way. The good thing is, this book is a keeper, and will have fond memories of these characters who came to mean so much to me. Perhaps I will reread this book one day to revisit this fascinating world of the D'Angelines. (less)
It's very true that if you do something well, people will notice. That's how I feel about this book. Zoe Archer did a fine job with Warrior. If I were...moreIt's very true that if you do something well, people will notice. That's how I feel about this book. Zoe Archer did a fine job with Warrior. If I were to imagine a dream book based on my favorite historical action/adventure movies, with the romance ramped up, then this is a very good example.
Warrior has a couple that I totally loved. Gabriel is a man's man, and I adored him for it. He's not macho and overbearing. Nope. He's just a rough and tumble guy who's spent his life as a soldier, and it's made one heck of a man of him. He worries about his lack of social polish--but his worries are groundless as far as I am concerned, and Thalia too. I adored him. I liked his confidence as a warrior, his ease with dealing with very hostile situations, his deep sense of honor. I liked how he committed himself to protecting Thalia and seeing her fulfill her mission. He was willing to stand up for a cause that didn't even make sense to him. And he showed a remarkable ability to adapt and to react to the very strange situations he found himself in. I loved how he adored Thalia for who she was, and didn't feel the need to change her into the average Englishman's ideal woman. She was his ideal, instead. Gabriel might consider himself rough and unpolished, but he definitely knew how to take care of his woman.
Thalia was an awesome heroine. I liked that she wasn't the typical English rose. She'd been raised in Outer Mongolia, and was a woman of that world. She'd yearned most of her life to take up her father's work with the Blades, and when she got her chance to prove herself, she was determined to do so. Thalia respected Gabriel for who he was, admired his strength, and the innate essence of him. She realized that he was the man she'd been waiting for, but couldn't believe that he'd want her and not a perfect English lady. Seeing their love affair unfurl like a blooming flower was such a pleasure. This book is very steamy, and wildly romantic. A perfect combination. There are many sigh-worthy scenes between Gabriel and Thalia. I was very invested in this couple, and I was cheering for their happy ending together.
On top of the great romance, this is a fantastic historical adventure. I loved the setting and the way that it was as much an integral part of this story as the romance. I think Ms. Archer did a great job of bringing this rollicking, good old-fashioned (in the vein of Indiana Jones and Stephen Sommers' the Mummy movies) story to life. Ms. Archer showed a respect for the Mongolian culture and its people. Before this book ended, it felt so familiar to me, I could have been on the Mongolian steppes myself.
The action and adventure aspects were fantastic. There is a sense of risk throughout this story, right from the beginning. I loved the fact that although Gabriel was a formidable warrior, he was not blood-thirsty. He respected life, but was more than willing to fight and kill for a worthy cause. Conversely, he went out of his way to save others. (Sigh break required) I liked the fact that Thalia could more than defend herself. I loved how things unfolded in the final confrontation in this book. Thalia didn't get shut out of the action, just because she was a woman. In fact, she plays an integral role in fighting the Heirs.
I think that Ms. Archer handled the multi-cultural aspects deftly. There is no preachiness here, but she addresses the imperialistic drives of the British Empire, using it as a backdrop in which there is a struggle between two groups who differ in their attitudes about how the British Empire will succeed. One group, The Heirs, wants to use the magical treasures of various cultures around the world to expand Britain's influence. The Blades of the Rose want to protect the cultural heirlooms and preserve the heritages of the various countries. I loved the fact that there were major players of various ethnicities in this story, and none stereotypically portrayed. I am already enamored of Catullus Graves, who is the intellectual giant of the Blades, constantly inventing nifty instruments to assist them in their endeavors. And the best part is he's black (and very British). I love to see the breaking of cultural stereotypes that portray people of color as intellecutally inferior (when the truth is that people of black heritage have been responsible for many scientific advancements in society although they typically remain unacknowledged for it). I remember talking to Ms. Archer on an Amazon forum about multicultural characters in urban fantasy. She posted about Catullus having a book of his own, and I put this series on my wish list right away, not just for that reason, but because I love historical adventure, especially with fantasy elements. She is my heroine!
The magic was very grand in this novel. There were some very novel elements, and I loved how the magic of the Sources was such an intrinsic, naturalistic force, tied to the people and their lands. It was beautiful. Ms. Archer has a great imagination, and she put it to very good use in this book.
I must say that the praise for this new series is well-earned. I had to think long and hard about what I was going to say in this review, because I hate being repetitive. I want my words to count here. A great book deserves a well-written review. It's the best tribute to an exceptional author and her work. I am a huge fan of Ms. Archer now, and I cannot wait to read more of her books. (less)
Let me start this review of Lover Unleashed with a letter to Manuel Manello, MD.
Dear Dr. Manny: Ah, Manny....more**spoiler alert** Warning: Very Long Review!
Let me start this review of Lover Unleashed with a letter to Manuel Manello, MD.
Dear Dr. Manny: Ah, Manny. Why did you have to go and steal my heart? You are such a darling man. Just perfect for the daughter of the Bloodletter, Payne. You even gave her a horse as an engagement present. You truly know the way to a woman’s heart. And, did I mention that you are a fantastic doctor? The Brotherhood is very fortunate to have your services. So you found a long-lost brother, and boy do you have some things in common. Namely, you are both tough guys who are sweet as molasses down deep, and know how to take care of your women. And you’re both hot! (Clears throat and wipes glow away from brow.) Anyway… You really took all the vampires are real stuff in stride. And you have exquisite taste in women. You love a strong woman who can kick some serious butt, and a beautiful woman who glows (and I do mean glows) when she’s happy. It’s clear that you’d give her the blood from your veins, and all the sexual healing a woman needs. (yeah, you’re really good at that) And when you apply your doctoring skills to your patient, you really go the extra mile. And then there’s the fact that you are not at all scared of a six-foot, six inches tall brother who thinks his twin sister is too young to have sex, not to mention, doesn’t think any male is good enough for her. You more than proved your worth to him and the rest of the Brotherhood, in the trenches, and otherwise. Manny, Manny, Manny, can I add you to my ranks of favorite heroes, just because you are super-duper awesome? I had a feeling I would like you as the hero of your own book. Turns out I was right. Thanks for giving me such a fantastic story. I’ll have you know that your book is displayed with pride on my shelf with John Matthew and Rehvenge’s books. That’s a real honor. You deserve it. I hope you will be very happy with Payne. Love, hugs and kisses to you.
Your adoring fan, Danielle
Now Here's My Official Review!: Well, if you didn’t notice by reading my letter to Manny, I really loved this book. I admit I was a bit apprehensive because of some of the rumors I heard. But I was a happy camper in the end. The WARDen handled some tricky issues (for me) beautifully.
Vishous and His Relationships With Jane, Butch, and Payne I love the intimate, intense, multi-faceted relationship between Vishous and Butch. However, I am not one of the people who think that they are a better couple than Vishous/Jane and Butch/Marissa. I think Jane is absolutely perfect for Vishous. She understands him deeply, and loves him for who he is. I loved that Jane made some tough choices out of her love for Vishous, and she never resented Vishous and Butch’s close relationship. That’s a confident, strong woman for you. The right woman for Vishous. Hi Five to Jane for being awesome!
This book was a good chance to see deeper into the complicated world of Vishous, son of the Bloodletter. I loved Vishous in his book, and I love him even more now. He is one wounded guy. He doesn’t wear his pain on his sleeve like some heroes. Instead, he has buried most of it, and the other part comes out in his need for dark, twisted sex and in his formidable fighting skills against the Lessers. Since he found Jane, he realized that sex could be about love, and he put that (dark, painful sex) aside, although he still likes a little kink in his sex (which is okay with Jane). However, with his issues he faces in this book with finding out he had a sister that his mother kept from him, and with Payne’s injury and her despair about not getting better, he needs an outlet. How can he do that without betraying his vows to Jane? Also, why does he feel like he didn’t give all to Jane and show her exactly how much she means? Can this son of the Bloodletter, a dark soul who was completely rejected by both mother and father, really be worthy of a loving relationship, and still be true to who he is? All those issues were dealt with. At one point in this book, I was truly worried. I thought that V and Jane were going to fracture down the middle, and I really didn’t want that, because I love them together. I needn’t have worried. The WARDen came through for me. I was foolish to think she wouldn’t, for I know she loves these characters even more than I do.
It’s really hard to put my feelings into words here. There was something so touching about the bonds that V shares with Jane and Butch. I loved that he was able to be close to Butch without betraying his marriage bond with Jane. V and Butch have a fantastic, one of a kind relationship. I was worried about what needed to happen for Vishous at Butch’s hands, but Butch knew exactly what to do. He got right to the heart of the matter, and gave Vishous the release he needed (get your mind out the gutter).
The thing I love most about JR Ward’s writing is on evidence here. She does the interplay of emotions within and between her characters so well. She doesn’t go for the easy answer. She makes things tough for her creations, just like life is full of hard spots and crappy situations. But somehow, even though things can be bittersweet, she always gives us hope. With Vishous and Jane and Butch, I know that there is so much hope there. They will always have each other, just as Butch has Marissa (who also understands the bond between Vishous and Butch). And now, Butch and Vishous have a bond with Manny, very much about ‘brotherhood.’ In fact, this book shows that bonds of blood and friendship are what life is all about, because no man is an island. Bravo, Ms. Ward for bringing this theme to light so eloquently. Payne and Manny: I haven’t known Payne that long, and I met Manny briefly in one of the earlier books. But I liked what I saw of them as characters, and I liked the idea of them together when I heard that the WARDen had paired the two. I wasn’t sure how their relationship would play out, but I have to say that their courtship strikes me as one of the more romantic ones in this book series. There was a sweetness there, both characters star-struck by each other. To Manny, Payne is a beautiful woman not of his world, and way too good for him. He’d do anything to see her healthy and happy, even knowing he has no place in her world. To Payne, Manny is her beloved Healer. He is a gorgeous, worthy male, who has given her a new life. She doesn’t want to say goodbye to him, even though she knows he’s not of her world. Manny is such a gentleman, a hellren any female would want. Payne is a tough girl, but also elegant and beautiful, even if she doesn’t see herself that way. They both have insecurities that they have to deal with in order to find their way together, but they come to realize that love can make allowances for pretty much any shortcoming. I loved the sweetness of their relationship, but also the spicy sexuality of it. Talking about hot! Their short courtship steamed up my room as I read. I knew that there had better be a way for them to be together. Thankfully there was. I know that they are a couple that I want to see more of in the forthcoming books, but I also got to see them get their happily ever after, which was just what I wanted.
PS. I also like Manny’s relationship with Jane. They were both isolated people, dedicated to their professions, but they found a bond with each other in their past lives. It was good to see that this bond was renewed and strengthened in this book. Qhuinn/Blay: I like Qhuinn, but he annoys the crap out of me with his slutty ways. I realize it was a tremendous defense mechanism, but it got old for me. To be honest, I was glad to see Blay move on with Saxton, and stop eating his heart out over Qhuinn, although the romantic in me wanted to see these two souls get together. However, Qhuinn needed to do some growing up, and Blay needed to live his life not weighted down by his enormous unrequited love for Qhuinn. Once again, I feel the WARDen comes through here. Although there is not yet a HEA for this couple, Qhuinn is on his way to recovery. His eyes are open now. He understands that he can’t find what he was looking for in his destructive ways. He can’t hide behind the slutty, careless, Goth, playboy image, because the truth will hit him in the face eventually. Now, he has shed this hurtful façade that made it hard for me to like him, and is ready for a real relationship. However, he is willing to put his beloved’s needs before his own. This was the breakthrough I was waiting for. Now, I am eager to see these two get together. I know their book is going to be very awesome. I liked that in this book, Blay is the one who finally has someone. I think that Saxton knows exactly what’s up, and he’s okay with what he has of Blay, for as long as he has it. At the same time, he’s not unaware or unsympathetic to Qhuinn’s feelings for Blay. Sax is a good guy. I like him. It was interesting to see that Blay is the one who’s a little bit near-sighted here. He knows he still loves Qhuinn, but he also feels strongly for Sax. He feels at peace with what he has, even though his heart still beats for Qhuinn. Things are as complicated as ever, ala JR Ward! This chapter of the Qhuinn/Blay romance was very bittersweet, but I do feel optimistic for their future…finally! The Advent of Xcor and the Band of Bastards: Okay, at first I did not like Xcor. He’s not a nice guy…at all. And yet…..I’m drawn into his story. It’s my darned weakness for dark, dangerous guys. It gets me everytime. Already feel like the dude needs a love prescription. My mind is wondering where the WARDen will take this guy. I do like Throe quite a bit. He has the gentlemanly vibe I can’t resist. His sense of honor and justice is strong, and I like that about him. He might also be Xcor’s conscience. I like the loyalty he shows. And it’s clear that Xcor values him and the rest of his crew. He demands loyalty implicitly, but he shows that he is worthy of it, in his rough way. I definitely want to see more of these guys. Okay, a moment of honesty here. I admit, I don’t go for ménage in romance. It’s just not my thing. But let me tell you that the three way between Xcor, Throe and the prostitute was sizzling hot. Um, wow! Let’s keep that between us, okay. I don’t want to ruin my pristine reputation here. (very big grin)
Final Thoughts: I always worry before I start the newest book by one of my favorite authors. What if my high expectations for their writing are let down? What if the story and I don’t get along? I shouldn’t have worried here. I didn’t feel let down at all. In fact, If I had one complaint, it’s not even a fair one. If only these books could be longer. Even though I’m happy with what I get, I just want more. More romance, more magic, more everything, because she does it so well. I felt as though I only got teasing glimpses of the rest of the gang. It’s not enough. I just want more! That’s how she keeps us hooked, with the teases and the shots of her awesomeness. But that’s okay with me. I’m a loyal customer, and I can’t wait for the next book!
I have to hand it to Meljean Brook. She created a wonderfully-detailed and fantastical world in this book. If a reader is wondering what 'steampunk' i...moreI have to hand it to Meljean Brook. She created a wonderfully-detailed and fantastical world in this book. If a reader is wondering what 'steampunk' is, I will definitely point them towards this book. I was very impressed how she integrated nanotechnology into her world-building, and the nanotech fit very well in this universe. There are some aspects that seem rather dystopian, despite the fact that this is a Victorian-like setting. The use of robotic technology has some great applications, but some are rather horrific. In this story, a large degree of the world, particularly Europe and associated continents, has been subjugated by the Horde, which I intepreted to be the Mongols (as in Genghis Khan). Many of the major cities of Europe are under occupation or have been razed to ruins. Zombies roam the unoccupied territories, humans who were infected by nanobots that caused them to become vicious, cannibalistic monsters. However, many regular humans are infected with nanobots that enhance them in many positive, and some negative ways. The problem is that the Horde can control those humans, called buggers, with radio signals. In this world, the Horde are hated and despised, which creates a lot of problems for the heroine, Mina. She is the product of a Horde "frenzy" in which control of her mother's body (via control of the nanobots by radio signals) was overtaken by the Horde, and she engaged in a Horde orgy, resorting in Mina. She was so horrified at the sight of her half-Horde baby that she gouged her eyes out. Yeah, right away, I knew this story was going to be kind of dark.
I was very impressed with the meticulous world-building and attention to detail in this story. In addition, there are several major players who all want a say in the future of England, and the rest of the world, grabbing any kind of power or edge they can to gain that. This book has everything: mechanically-enhanced humans and animals, pirates, zombies, giant sea monsters, airships, you name it. However, it was so well-done, it never came off as over-the-top. While this book probably wouldn't work for straight romance fans, or even some fantasy/science fiction fans, I loved it, because I got a kick out of how imaginative and unique this Victorian world was. Despite my enjoyment, this wasn't an easy read for me. I often had to reread certain passages to make sure I was getting a clear understanding (that's not due to Ms. Brook's fault, but to my inexperience in reading a lot of science fiction-type literature and not having a head for political intrigue storylines). That's okay, because I wanted to get a full grasp of this book, and it certainly enhanced my enjoyment.
In my opinion, Ms. Brook didn't let her romance fans down. The love story between Rhys and Mina is equally important. I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Iron Duke when I started this book. When he showed up, I was not disappointed. He's a very unique character, which some aspects that I had not encountered in a hero thus far. I loved his vitality, his ruthless nature, his determination. Mina has a pull on him that compels him throughout this book. He is the kind of man who will move mountains to get his woman, which definitely works for me. Even outside of that, I respected him for his strength in enduring a very rough past, his determination to do what was necessary and to protect others. He might have seemed self-absorbed (he put importance on protecting what was his, whether it was his ship, the sailors, on it, or his properties and subjects as the Iron Duke). He didn't really like the ceremony of being a Duke, but he took the responsibility seriously, because that was the kind of man he was. He wasn't a smooth, refined character, which is fine with me. When he considers his feelings for Mina, they are described in a very rough way, but the emotions behind them are pure, and he definitely shows his love for her, not just physical infatuation.
As for Mina, I couldn't have liked her more as a heroine. She's tough, really tough. But she's not hard or frustrating. Any armor she has, I can't fault her for it. Because of her heritage as half-Horde, she is despised by many in London. They try to attack and harm her physically, so she has to have a bodyguard at all times, the hulking but gentle Constable Newberry. Those who don't hate her, fear her because her features remind them of the Horde. This aspect of the story hit home with me. Prejudice of any kind always does. Being judged by your features, your heritage, the color of your skin is wrong. Even if there are many of your heritage who are bad, that doesn't mean that you are. Because of being a woman and half-Horde, Mina has to work four times as hard just to be respected for her abilities as a Detective Inspector, and she's not afraid to do that. Rhys determined pursuit is a huge problem for her. She knows that their involvement is just going to cause more fodder for the distrust and lack of respect that the public holds for her. Even if she's very attracted to him, and he reaches her carefully guarded heart.
The relationship between Rhys and Mina develops very well. They start out as untrusting allies, with a reluctant attraction. As the story progresses, they come to respect and understand each other, and the love blossoms between them naturally. And their passion is red-hot. Rhys is a primal, demanding lover. However, he doesn't force Mina. Understanding what her issues are about being in control of her passions, he patiently works past those issues, and it's a beautiful thing to read. He won't be the kind of guy who whispers sweet, elegant words in a woman's ear. But he shows and tells a woman how much she means to him in simple, but effective ways. That definitely speaks to me. As for as Rhys and Mina getting their HEA, just being in love wasn't enough. They had to deal with the issues that they faced with their enemies, and the society they lived in. Although the romantic in me loves when a couple can easily surmount obstacles and be together, the realistic knows that's not always a simple thing. I like that Ms. Brook didn't allow their problems to just blow away in a puff of smoke because Mina was a "great person" and Rhys was the powerful "Iron Duke." However, I was completely satisfied with the romantic conclusion in this story, which I am very glad to say.
My experience with steampunk is fairly limited, but I love the ideas and the concepts of this genre of fantasy/science fiction. I highly recommend this novel to a reader who wants to experience this genre. Although this is not a simple world, there's a very fascinating world here that Ms. Brook created. The complex textures--Victorian setting, science fiction, fantasy, pulp fiction, adventure, romance, seafaring/pirate elements--just made this an even better read for me. This was a thoroughly enjoyable, engrossing book, and I will be looking out for the forthcoming books in the Iron Seas series with great expectation.(less)
Best book of the series thus far. And better yet, it has built expectation for future books. I loved Nika even more than Madoc, which is saying someth...moreBest book of the series thus far. And better yet, it has built expectation for future books. I loved Nika even more than Madoc, which is saying something. Nika might seem frail and in need of protection, but she is a tough little woman. Just the woman for Madoc. I loved the symbiosis of their relationship. Their relationship wasn't about one taking too much from the other, but an equal exchange between them both. I liked how things worked out with Madoc's lifemark and his dire situation as far as his soul. I loved the fact that Nika wasn't willing to give up on him. And her determination paid off beautifully for them both. Nika managed to be a determined, stubborn heroine without ever being annoying about it. She just didn't give up on what was important to her, and that was a good thing. I was glad she powered through all those obstacles that stood between her and Madoc and finding her lost sister, Tori. Now you need to know I loved me some Madoc. He's adorably fierce and grumpy, but so marshmallow for Nika. Just the way I like my heroes! It should be interesting to see how Madoc progresses as a character since he will now be happily bonded. Looking forward to it.
Can I say that the Sanguinars have me the most intrigued? I love me some Tynan. He is a brilliant mix of cunning, beauty, intelligence, and manipulative nature. He reminds me of an Anne Stuart hero. That's a great complement. I like Logan too. The part near the end with the kids had me all warm and fuzzy! I like the whole Sanginar angle, and it makes me so eager to keep reading to see what they have up their sleeves.
The secondary storylines as usual, were compelling. Some made me sad, and some very hopeful. But all curious about what happens next. There is a lot of intensity, anguish, and suffering in these books. I don't feel any sense of disconnection when I read, which is a very good thing. I love how Ms. Butcher builds excitement for the following books without making it into annoying cliffhangers. Those drive me crazy. It's more of an, "Oh, can't wait for the next book" rather than shaking one's fist and spewing bad language out of frustration.
It's official. I've found another addictive, highly explosive paranormal series to follow. Works for me!(less)
This is a sweet, yet sensual historical that features the love story between a Chinese man and a Negro woman in the days of the Gold Rush in Californi...moreThis is a sweet, yet sensual historical that features the love story between a Chinese man and a Negro woman in the days of the Gold Rush in California. I was gleeful when my friend told me about it, since I love historical westerns, and I would love to read more with people of color. I was not disappointed.
I love the time and the detail that Ms. Cullars put into writing Chiang's viewpoint, and describing what it was like for Chinese immigrants in this time in history. Like blacks, they were horribly persecuted, treated as less than whites, given dangerous jobs for less pay, and subjected to violations of their basic rights. Despite that fact, Chiang is a man of great honor and dignity. I loved him immensely.
I thought that the courtship between Chiang and Leah was so sweet and captivating. It is nearly a love at first sight type scenario, although both take the time to examine their feelings and determine if they want to pursue a life together. Their chemistry is wonderful and it made me smile and have a warm heart as I read.
If I had any problems with this story, I would like it to be longer, and for there to be more of a physical description of Leah. Otherwise, this was just lovely. Man, I hope to read more stories about blacks and Asians in the west. That is surely my favorite historical setting, and I would like it be clear to all that the West was not just settled by whites. But don't me started on that.
I recommend this book to readers who enjoy a sweet but sexy story historical western with lovable characters, and a multicultural viewpoint that is typically left out of the history and fiction books.
I want to give this five stars, but since the last book I read was so much more profound, I will have to go with 4.5/5.0 stars, which is nothing to shake a stick at.(less)
I don't even know what to say! I loved this book so much. I savored it, stretching it out, not wanting it to...moreDo What Thou Wilt, But Don't Fall in Love!
I don't even know what to say! I loved this book so much. I savored it, stretching it out, not wanting it to end. I was completely immersed in this book. I was no longer in Texas, modern day. I was in France in the 1700s.
I don't know how Ms. Anne Stuart does it. She can take the most objectionable type of hero, and make me fall in love with him. Let me say, I am a devout Christian. I can't even imagine even pretending to worship the devil, or to hold orgies in which one does things that are unspeakable, just because you can. That should have turned me off of Lord Rohan. But, with Ms. Stuart's incredible writing skill, it wasn't even an issue for me. I am very glad that she didn't dwell on those aspects, although they were there in the background. This is a book about a rakehell who was the leader of festivities along the lines of the real Hellfire Club, so that aspect had to be present. But, I didn't have to see him doing any of that. I was fine that I didn't. Now, he definitely did some fornication (even after he met Elinor). I was okay with that, because that was who he was, before he fell in love. Once, he had Elinor in his heart, that was over for him, even if he didn't want to admit it to himself for her. And I was gratified that he didn't allow anything to go on there that wasn't between consensual adults.
No question about it, Elinor and Rohan are one of my favorite couples now. Anne Stuart-wise, and period. There was something so delectable about their interactions, the by-play between them. Even though Francis was sixteen years older than Elinor (old enough to be her father, and he was quite active at that age, in his own words), Elinor was able to hold her own with him. Elinor had some serious pluck. I love a heroine who is strong, and no question about Elinor's strength. She is no Xena, and she didn't have to be, in order to captivate Rohan, and to make me love her. She is true to herself, forthright, and brave (in ways I can't even fathom). Francis was a very bad boy, but he had a core of him that was good and decent. He did things for Elinor that he really had no reason to do. He showed her love even before he knew what the word meant. How could I not love him for that? The sexual tension in this story was off the charts, and the love scenes aren't even until near the end. That's talent to me. I felt the sizzle through every conversation, the exchange of glances, the way Rohan pursued and Elinor fled. It was magic on the page.
Yes, I know. It's clear that I love Anne Stuart so much, that some may doubt my objectivity. But, I will say it if I don't think a book by a favorite author is my favorite. But, with Ruthless, there is no question that this one is a stellar read. I wish that Ms. Stuart released books every year. When she doesn't have books out, I mourn the dearth, and I pine for her books. I have especially longed for her historicals, because she writes them so well, with the dark aspects, the multi-faceted characters, the writing subtlety that conveys so much, the intensity that I crave in a romance story. I am happy to say that this book truly makes me happy. I am still replaying the scenes in my head. The skillfully nuanced courtship of Rohan and Elinor, and the powerful love story here. The sad, heartbreaking things in their pasts. I got choked up a few times. I was touched on such a deep level, I feel it right now as I write this review. I think that readers who enjoy meaty, intense, darker historicals with strong, vibrant characters will be very happy with Ruthless. I foresee myself rereading this book soon and often. Bravo, Ms. Stuart.(less)
I read this out of the On the Prowl anthology. I am so glad that many of my GR friends encouraged me to read this one sooner. Charles is an unforgetta...moreI read this out of the On the Prowl anthology. I am so glad that many of my GR friends encouraged me to read this one sooner. Charles is an unforgettable character. It's hard to put into words how I feel about him. If could clearly elucidate all the traits that I like in a hero, then it's like Ms. Briggs took many of those qualities and created Charles. I am crazy about a quiet, yet deadly hero. That's Charles! He's really sigh-worthy. I know I will have to read this story again, so I can define my reaction to him.
Anna is another one of those characters I like to read about. Not every woman of value is kickass all the time and full of sarcastic, pithy phrases. I think that's an insult to womankind to neglect to tell the story of women who have suffered terribly, often due to things beyond their control. Are they not worthy because they have been victims in life? Absolutely! She's a very observant, intelligent, and deep person. She's a survivor to me. I can't help loving her. She proved that she will be a formidable mate to Charles.
Briggs has really impressed me with her conception of werewolves. I am very picky about them, and she fires well on all cylinders. I wish that female weres could have children, and that's the only thing I don't like about her world-building. But from a physiological standput, I conceded it makes sense. Although I know that Anna and Charles will never have children together, I still think they are going to be a great pair. They just click together in a way that makes sense. I loved Charles's sense of knowing that she was his mate, his possessiveness and protectiveness towards her. And he was so resolute about it, so carefully calm about it. I loved his banked passion for Anna (sigh). He is seriously an alpha guy, but he smashes the perception of alphas as brash brutes full of posturing and throwing their weight around with punches and outrageous and obnoxious shows of strength. He exudes power, and he is powerful. Yes, I love Charles. I still love Adam, but I have room for both of them in my heart.
I got the feeling that this story wasn't long enough. Because I wanted more of Charles and Anna, and more of this world. Fortunately, I have two more books in this series to read. Thanks so much to Patricia Briggs for bringing this series to life.(less)
Note to the author: Ms. Nelson, I am in awe. How did you know I wanted to read a book like this? Maybe we are on the same wavelength here. You see, I h...moreNote to the author: Ms. Nelson, I am in awe. How did you know I wanted to read a book like this? Maybe we are on the same wavelength here. You see, I have a thing for Russian guys. It developed slowly over time, and this book has not helped me get over my fixation. Now, I think I will be much, much worse. But the thing is, how many books after this one will have a hero like Dmitry Medlov?
I don't care that he's seven foot tall. He didn't need to be a giant to be larger than life in my mind. It was the sheer force of his personality, the many textures to him. He is an utterly ruthless crime boss, but he is a gentle, adoring lover and friend to Royal. How did you conceive of this man? Well, you did such a great job here.
This book: It was so many things. I love a book that gives me a seven course dinner in one story. This was a beautiful love story, and an intricate crime drama. And I don't even like crime dramas! I love how it started out as a glittering fairy tale. A girl meets her prince who saves her and sweeps her off her feet. Their love is perfect and pure. And then, the pages turn, and you see the other side. You see how Dmitry is a man that is feared by many, and for good reason. I was riveted to the page. I couldn't believe how well Ms. Nelson integrated these two. Her portrayal of this Russian mafia gang was so intricate, I completely believed what I was reading.
I do have to admit, I couldn't understand how Royal didn't see what Dmitry was. But, as my sister suggested (when I was gushing about the book to her), and as it is soon revealed, she trusted Dmitry implicitly. She loved him with all the power of her innocent heart. She didn't believe he could ever hide such a thing from her. Yet, even though Dmitry kept such a massive secret from Royal, he never lost my sympathy. You see, Dmitry was who he was. He wanted to be a different man for Royal, and he was. He was the sweetest guy to her, a dream lover. He didn't lie to her or do her wrong. He just didn't tell her everything.
I'm not into all the bling and the designer clothes. There's a lot of that in this book. Dmitry pulls out all the stops. I mean, he showers Royal with all the material things her heart could desire. Reading Ms. JR Ward really helped me to be somewhat immune to designer name-dropping, and it was part of the scenery here, so it wasn't terribly off-putting. Royal had a queen's equivalent of jewels and ice, and all the fancy clothes she could want. She liked that, but what she really loved was Dmitry. He was her family, her home, her present, and her future.
This book really made me think about shades of gray. If someone told me Dmitry was a bad man, I couldn't argue with that. But, at the same time, I would attest that he is a good man. What makes a person good? What makes a person bad? It's hard to say, and we would all have different answers. It was interesting how Dmitry saw Royal as a sweet innocent, even though she told him her deepest, darkest secret, which is not so innocent. Dmitry loved Royal so much, cared for her so well, that I couldn't see him as a bad man. He protected his men and made sacrifices to see that they could have good lives. He was a good father to his son. And he had limits about what he'd do to make money. For me, that made him a better person than some men who have less shady jobs than his. It's a dicey thing to hold others in judgment. This book gave me some food for thought when it comes to that. I firmly believe in the scripture that says, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." And, as I read this book, I could see a lot of people making choices that could easily be judged, but I had to look at why they did what they did, and not that they did it. Because, in the end, we are all just humans. Some of us do more bad deeds than others. But, we're all human beings, with all the accompanying failings.
As for Royal and Dmitry, I could really believe in their love. Even when things started coming down around them. The scene where she confronts Dmitry was very powerful. I felt like the world was ending. I didn't want to believe that anything could come between these two lovers. My heart stopped at the thought. And things just get worse. But, Ms. Nelson doesn't let me down. The fairy tale essence of this story holds true. And here's the thing about fairy tales: the young maiden always suffers. She has to be strong and persevere to get her happy ending. She might lose a lot along the way, but her love with her handsome prince will stand the test of time. That's what I believe about Royal and Dmitry.
My heart is still stuttering as I have just read the first chapter for the next book, Dmitry’s Royal Flush: Rise of the Queen. Of course, I will have to read this sequel, holding my breath the hold time, most likely. Until then, I can only hope that the future holds much joy for this couple. I think they have earned it.(less)
William's story lived up to my expectations. He is a very cool character that more or less stole the show from the hero in On the Edge. Not that Decla...moreWilliam's story lived up to my expectations. He is a very cool character that more or less stole the show from the hero in On the Edge. Not that Declan wasn't a perfectly good hero. Well, he was a bit more 'golden boy' than I like my heroes. But he worked for Rose. As for personal taste, I go with William!
What can I say? I like 'em edgy. I appreciated how the Andrews shaped Williams character and showed all his textures and layers. One would think that a changeling would be a pretty basic guy, all id. Not William. He has a dichotomy, although he does aim for simplicity in his actions and thought processes. And wonderfully self-controlled, considering. He had to learn it the hard way, which is organic. I think he was very true to his nature. He had that primal, violent aspect, but also a loving, sensual (and not just in an erotic) nature. Although he had never been part of a family, you could see that he valued and treasured the concept of family. I especially liked how he reacted to Cherise. Just on a primal level, he fell for her and 'knew' she was meant for his. Even with that instant feeling, nothing was guaranteed in the story. There was a long journey for them, and that love story adds to but doesn't take away from this distinctly gritty fantasy read. Although I will put this on my urban fantasy shelf, I guess it really isn't UF. It's more like rural fantasy. Hey, would love more books in this sub-genre!
Speaking of rural fantasy, I loved the local color. With On the Edge, that was a major appeal of the story, the down-home Southern ambience of the story. This story goes even deeper. This is about swamp people. It felt very authentic and real. I think we can all identify with having an interesting family. How we have various relations that are just kind of odd, but we love and accept them because they are family. That's this book in a nutshell. Cerise's family was full of characters, each one distinctive. They gave her a headache and sometimes a heartbreak, but they were blood, and blood is thicker than water. So what if her family has some folks that aren't strictly human? Every family has quirks. I loved Cerise's loyalty to her family, and better yet, that William could respect that and realized that his Mate's family was his family now.
As far as adventure and action, this book has it in spades. As with other books by Andrews, it can be gritty and gory. The whole storyline about the scientific/magical adaptations was rather stomach-churning! If you're squeamish, you might not want to eat while reading some parts. William is seriously awesome as far as his warrior skills, and Cerise more than holds her own. In fact, she rocks the house. She's a tough, strong woman, the kind of woman you want to high five. Despite being tough, she has some vulnerabilities that give her a realistic portrayal. I could identify with her love of family but her feeling of being trapped by obligations. I liked her a lot. On top of her emotional and mental fortitude, Cerise is an incredible swordswoman, which definitely works for me, because I love swordplay. I also liked that her family is full of tough guys, of both sexes. Particularly, liked Kaldar and Aunt Marid, and little Lark. Let's not forget Gaston. But all in all, quite a brood, the Mars!
This was a long book, for sure, but there wasn't filler. I think moreso that there was a lot of story to be told, and no need to cut some of it out. We got William's fully-fleshed story and I loved it. Although I fully adored On the Edge, I love this in a different way. I think that's a great progression for a series, that each one feels different, although it captures what I love about Ilona Andrews' writing and stays true to their voice.
Now I'm wondering what these folks can get up to next in the Edge, Weird, and Broken, or all of the above! Glad there are more books in this series to read!(less)
When I picked up an urban fantasy novel by this author called Nightlife, I had no idea then how big a fan I would become of her writing. Since then, s...moreWhen I picked up an urban fantasy novel by this author called Nightlife, I had no idea then how big a fan I would become of her writing. Since then, she’s been an autobuy for me, because of my love for Cal and Nik Leandros, and how Ms. Thurman managed to show the depths and the power of the relationship between siblings. With Chimera, she does it yet again. One might be encouraged to dismiss this book about a man’s quest to find his brother who was stolen from his family ten years ago a rehash, but it truly is not. Because there are so many stories of siblings to be told. No two brothers have the same relationship, and in this story, she has conveyed a completely different relationship between Stefan and Lukas/Michael-- with depths that are equally fathomless, but one that is utterly distinct from the brotherhood between Cal and Nik.
Stefan Korsak is a young man who has lived for one thing for the past ten years, to find his younger brother, and bring him home. He has literally given what was left of his soul to this quest. He has even entered the family business. Stefan’s father is a big Russian Mafiya boss, and now Stefan works for one of his dad’s ‘friends’ as a byk, a bodyguard. He doesn’t do the enforcer dirty work, much, other than having to beat people up occasionally. But he’s a lethal guy all the same. He has acquired lots of skills that will help him in his quest to find his brother. When his source for information on his brother, Saul, finds out that there was a boy in a field trip at the mall matching Stefan’s brother’s description, Stefan gets a ray of hope for the first time in ten years. With Saul’s help, he breaks his brother out of the strangely prison-like medical facility that his brother has been living. But that’s only the beginning. He has to keep himself and his brother safe from a very scary man who runs the facility, the mob faction that are on the hunt for Stefan, and convince Michael that he is his long-lost sibling.
I can easily visualize this as a movie. It has that feel, with clear images and a story that draws the eye and the focus of the reader. Stefan is damaged, fascinating; a character who inspired a lot of loyalty and devotion in this reader. In his mind, he doesn’t think much of himself. He feels that his potential for a good life is over, since he failed to protect his brother so many years ago, and has sold his soul in the family business. But he’d do just about anything to give his brother a second chance. This book reminded me very strongly of the TV show Supernatural, with the relationship between Dean and Sam. Dean is much like Stefan. He has little self-worth, and all his love is for his brother. He was raised from a very young kid to always watch out for his brother, and if he does nothing else in life, he will complete this mission. Other than that, they aren’t that much alike. But I saw that cord of recognition in Stefan, and the author builds a very different man from this foundation.
What I liked about this story was being inside Stefan’s head, and seeing what he views himself as, but knowing that he is much more than that. I totally fell for him. I loved seeing how having his brother back healed the broken parts of his soul, and gave him hope, a four letter word that was alien of his vocabulary for a long time. I liked seeing how much of a survivor he was. He’s a street-smart, clear-thinking young man, who has his own moral compass. Not purely black and white, but more focused on the greater good, which is taking care of his brother. If he has to steal a car to do that, no problem. He doesn’t want to be a killer, but if it takes that, he’ll do it. I wanted Stefan to be happy, and I hope that he will be. I hope that he will have more to his life, so much more, than he turned his back on. He certainly deserves it.
Michael’s character was also great. He was raised in this facility for one purpose, to kill. Every lesson learned focused on making him the optimal assassin, and nothing more. However, Michael found out the hard way that he didn’t have the heart for it. His days were numbered as the ‘program failures’ tended to disappear in the middle of the night. Fortunately, a man claiming to his brother (a fact he doesn’t believe) takes him away. Given the choice of going with this man or staying in the facility, it’s a no brainer. Now, Michael has to learn to be a normal human being, which is somet hing he has little experience with. Although Michael has a lethal ability, an incredibly intelligent brain, and enhanced healing abilities, he’s still a seventeen-year-old kid. He acquires a serious junkfood habit that Stefan indulges although worries enough about him to buy vitamins. He is curious about sex and girls, and he purchases a ferret. And along the way, he becomes attached to this guy who is determined to convince him that he is Michael’s long-lost sibling. The love he develops for his ‘brother’ scares him, because he could one day lose Stefan, and he has nothing in his short life that belonged to him for keeps, if at all.
I liked the view of the United States through a windshield and roadside motels. The mundane which is very fascinating when one takes the time to look at it. If you have ever taken a road trip across America (or any small part, you know what I mean). Every state and even parts of the same state has a distinct feel, but the overall flavor is “This is America.” This motif reminded me of Supernatural, as the Winchester brothers spend their lives on the road, going from hunt to hunt. In this case, Stefan and Michael are running for their lives.
Another refreshing aspect to this story was the inclusion of Stefan and Michael’s Russian heritage. Although Stefan’s Russian is the colloquial, everyday, user-friendly version, he retains a very strong sense of the culture. His dialogue is realistically seasoned with Russian terms (which is great since I am learning Russian right now), and his values reflect those of a second-generation Russian-American, with a background in the Russian mafiya thrown in for extra flavor. Miss Thurman showed the daily life of a man born into this crime life very authentically. Stefan had a father who was cold enough to order men killed at the dinner table, and his job as a Mafiya boss was the elephant in the room for Stefan growing up. All his uncles were associates in the family business. Clearly, it was difficult for him to divorce himself from that life and to yearn for something better. But Stefan would have willingly left it behind, if he could have found his brother without those resources. Because his true family is his brother, especially with Daddy Dearest gone underground to elude the Feds on his case.
This is a deeply personal story. It is one of those speculative fiction stories that throws you a loop, because it’s really about people, and the relationships we have with those we are related to by blood, and obligation. There is enough of the sci-fi element to earn its place in that genre, but moreso it’s about humanity and relationships, one in particular. I became deeply involved with this novel, and I found that I came to regard Stefan and Michael as real people. I really appreciated that about this story, and the lessons it contained. Love doesn’t give up, ever. Love sacrifices. And love recognizes what is lost. What is family? It’s not always what we believe it is. It’s a lot more than we can imagine. (less)
Disclaimer: I am in gushing mode, which means I have lots of clunky metaphors and a bit of unwise hyperbole. Don't hold it against this book or its au...moreDisclaimer: I am in gushing mode, which means I have lots of clunky metaphors and a bit of unwise hyperbole. Don't hold it against this book or its author. It's all me!
I make no apologies for my deep love of this series. It rocks. This series is premium when it comes to paranormal romance. Hands down. With Demon from the Dark, I felt that intense love grow like a rose bush on Miracle Gro fertilizer.
Ms. Cole has written a flawless book here. She wrote a hot, hot romance with two characters that I loved, flaws and all. She also had me believing that these people could fall in love with each other, even though they couldn’t speak the same language initially. I didn’t expect to be such a huge fan of Carrow when I met the party girl witch in Dark Desires After Dusk. But I do love her. It took me about five minutes into reading this to think, “I like her a lot.” Actually, the scene at the end of Pleasure of a Dark Prince had me feeling positively towards her. Now, I have to think she’s my favorite heroine in this series. Sorry Sabine!
A huge theme of this story is feeling abandoned/rejected/unwanted, like no one in the world truly loves you and accepts you. For Malkom, this was illustrated in a much more violent, heartbreaking manner. Malkom made my heart bleed. I could understand why he was such a violent, untrusting person who felt that being alone was the best option for him. I won’t go into all he suffered because I feel that this book needs to be read. You have to get to know Malkom the best way, by reading his story. But suffice it to say, no kid should go through what Malkom did. I so wanted him to have a beloved wife and a family. I wanted him to have that with Carrow and Ruby. Oh man, I just loved him. I was glad that Carrow ends up proving that she loves him and is worthy of being his fated mate.
In the case of Carrow, she finds herself in an untenable situation, and she is going to have betray the male that she falls deeply in love with. Normally, I would be raring at the bit, foaming at the mouth at what she did, because I hate deception. In this case, I could understand her dilemma. She ends up becoming the adoptive mother of an orphaned daughter of a friend murdered by Carrow’s human enemies. The thing about it was, Carrow acted like a parent. Parents have to make tough decisions. Their primary responsibility is to care for their children. She was over a barrel, and I respect that she stayed true and did what she had to with the intent to protect Ruby. And this decision almost cost her true love, putting her in that same situation of having love and affection denied to her, as she suffered as a materially privileged, but emotionally-starved young girl.
This situation shows what a masterful writer Kresley Cole is. She takes a scenario where you’re like, “This can’t end well,” and keeps you glued to the pages as she proves that it can, and has you enjoying the ride so much, you feel desolate when the book is over. That was this book (and all her books) in a nutshell. Also, did I mention, this woman knows how to write hot, hot, hot, really hot romance. For me, this was the hottest of her books. I think part of that was because I felt the intense pull that Carrow has on Malkom, and vice versa. They were like two powerful magnets exerting forces of attraction on each other (and pulling the reader along because the energy is so powerful). Ms. Cole manages to use every amorous moment to build the steam up until it’s about to explode and turn the book into a fireball. I really needed a fan as I read this book, and not just because Oblivion is like Yuma, Arizona with the thermostat turned up several degrees.
I honestly can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this book. Well, except that I wanted to find out what happens to some of the other Loreans who got abducted by the Order. I am gnawing on my knuckles to find out what happens between Melanthe and Thronos, and I really want to know more about Declan and Regin. Good thing I am reading Dreams of a Dark Warrior next month.
Kresley Cole, you kick paranormal romance butt and take names. You and the WARDen usually go neck and neck for this reader, but this book puts you in first place now. I’m not just being flattering when I say that my life is so much richer since I started reading your books. I have so much love for the Immortals After Dark series! (Off to fondle my copy and add it to my bookcase with my other beloved IAD books). (less)
I don't have much to say about the first two stories, except that they were good. Both the Balogh story and the Cornick stories are reformed rake stor...moreI don't have much to say about the first two stories, except that they were good. Both the Balogh story and the Cornick stories are reformed rake stories (it's fairly clear if you read my reviews that rakes are not my favorite types of heroes by far). I felt that the metamorphosis of Ms. Balogh's rake was a little more convincing. When I read a story about a rake, I really have to be convinced that he has depth, or he's just another one of far too many in historical romance. He's really got to stand out to get my regard. I felt that both rakes did have depth, but the brevity of the Cornick story didn't really allow me to buy into his redemption quite so well. On the other hand, the rake in The Season for Suitors had more reason for why he acted as he did, and he had a tortured past, but I think this story would have been better executed as a longer novella, despite the obvious excellence of Ms. Cornick's writing. Ms. Balogh's story was a reread for me. I liked it the first time, and the second time was just as good. However, I am a bit jaded with the theme, so I can't say I was blown away. I did like Verity quite a bit, and loved the aspects of Christmas, and the effect it had on the participants in this story. For A Handful of Gold by Ms. Balogh, I would give the rating of 4 stars. The Season for Suitors is a 3.5 star story.
The best story in this collection was by newcomer, Courtney Milan, This Wicked Gift. This story was like a refreshing drink on a hot day. I loved everything about this story. Ms. Milan's writing has an intensity and a depth that really enthralled me. It brought to mind some of my favorite historical romance writers who have a facility with the written word, and the beauty with which they employ it, such as Laura Kinsale and Judith Ivory. I believe that Ms. Milan has quite a career ahead of her. There is also the fact that William Q. White utterly seduced me. His intensity, his focus, his obvious feeling for Lavinia. I love that kind of hero. And then there's the fact that he's a working man. There's nothing I love more than a hero who works hard for his money, who pulls himself up by his own bootstraps. Out of all three of the stories, this is the hero that got my attention. I could care less about lazy heroes who have nothing better to do than spend their family's money. What's endearing about that. I'd take a man who made himself from nothing over a man who was born rich and is about nothing, any day of the week. That is not to say that I don't have favored heroes who were born in wealth, but they have to a drive, an inner intensity, to gain my appreciation. William is a man who has made my favorite hero list. His urgent need for Lavinia almost made me cry. He would have done something awful to keep her, but his integrity won out in the end. He made a very wicked proposition to have her for one night, but his reasons for doing it endeared him to me. And his remorse was very obvious and poignant. Lavinia also makes this story stand out. She is a very good person, and an extremely intelligent woman. She is easily as captivated and as in love with William as he is with her. She sees right through his wicked proposal, and takes him up on it for her own reasons. She's a heroine that goes after what she wants (him), and won't give up on it despite the odds against her. As I said above, this story was distinct and refreshing. It showed characters that we don't often get to see have a happy ending in historical romance. They aren't rich or titled. They are working class people, albeit extremely educated. I rooted for them to have their happy ending, hoping that their lives would not be dimmed by the blight of extreme poverty, despite their obvious devotion to each other. Thankfully, Christmas has some blessings in store for this wonderful couple. If you are a fan of historical romance, do yourself a favor and read Courtney Milan. I think you will find a wonderful reading experience when you do. This Wicked Gift earned five stars from this reader.
This was my last Christmas read for 2009, and the last book I read this year. I have to tell you, reading Courtney Milan's story in the last few minutes of 2009 was a great pleasure, and I look forward to spending more time with her (and hopefully more captivating heroes like William) in the new year and years to come.
Overall rating for this collection is 4 stars .(less)
This was a total impulse buy that paid off. I loved this book. It was one of those stories that I couldn't put down, and I was compelled to read, even...moreThis was a total impulse buy that paid off. I loved this book. It was one of those stories that I couldn't put down, and I was compelled to read, even though I had already started some other books. It couldn't believe how fast I read it, within about four to five hours.
I love medieval romances, so that helped. And I'm a sucker for the broken/scarred/hurt hero. Well, Roderick is all three. He comes back from the Crusades a broken man, although he had lots of baggage before he went there, with a father who did nothing but torment and treat him poorly and had driven his mother to suicide. Thankfully, his good friend that he makes during the Crusades saves his life and gets him medical attention, and the word that his father has died and he must find a bride to keep his land, gives him the strength to fight to get better and to come back to England.
There were times when Roderick descended into self-pity. I suppose this might not work for all readers, but it was realistic. If if a man had always been talked down to and ridiculed by his father, I wouldn't expect him to have the healthiest self-esteem. Yes, he might annoy some readers the way he pushes his son away and doesn't want to let Michaela in, but I loved Roderick from the first page. He's one of those heroes I really wanted to see happy. I could understand why he kept those he loved and who loved him at a distance, feeling he wasn't worthy and would fail them.
I adored Michaela as well. She had some moments of self-interest, but at the same time, I could see why she was motivated in such a fashion. She had been picked on her whole life because of her mother insisting that she had gotten kidnapped by The Wild Hunt. They called her Devil's Child and stuff like that. She was clumsy and tended to trip and run into things. Plus she grew up poor, although very much loved. One night at a party at her overlord's manor, she gets his attention by her bond with his daughter, Elizabeth, who hasn't talked since her mother died. Also her beautiful singing voice makes Michaela stand out. He invites her to come live with them as Elizabeth's companion. Because of this attention she gets from him, she fell in 'love' with her overlord, and he made some gestures like he was going to marry her, but married her arch-nemesis instead, humiliating her. So she decided to marry the Beast, who was the lord over the man who spurned her, a move motivated out of revenge against this man who spurned her, since he won't inherit the properties of Roderick, his cousin.
She goes to his rundown castle, determined to fulfill the required ninety days of residence before the marriage. When she finally sees The Beast, she is instantly attracted to him, scars, limping, and surly demeanor and all. She falls into his beautiful and bright green eyes, and likes his large, sculpted body, despite the fact that it's clear that his leg and arm are crippled. Their dance around each other made this book worth reading. There was an intense attraction between Roderick and Michaela that sparkled off the page. At times, Michaela was very much put into the role of the "Chaser," but it worked for me, because Roderick had never been loved in that way, so it was nice to see someone working for his affections. It was cute how Roderick was somewhat bewildered by his strong feelings for Michaela.
Another thing I loved was the toddler Leo. He was so cute. I just wanted to take him out this story as my own baby. I loved his baby talk, and how loving he was. As Roderick's acknowledged son by a prostitute in the Crusades, he had a big role, since he was Roderick's heir. Also, the interplay with Roderick as he tries to keep his distance out of fear of destroying his son the way his father destroyed him was pivotal in the evolution of this story. Just reading the scenes with this cute little boy made this book so much more enjoyable. I'm so serious. This kid was so adorable. I liked the way Michaela bonded with him and helped improve the relationship between Roderick and his son. Like any baby, Leo loved his father unconditionally, but was somewhat kept at a distance that was somewhat confusing for the toddler. I was glad that this changed significantly over the course of the book.
Hugh was also a great character. His steadfast friendship and aid to Roderick. His love and care for Leo. His flamboyant tastes in clothing. His potty mouth and irreverent humor. His bad advice to Michaela about how to snare Roderick's affections. It gave this book another appealing layer.
There is a thread of the paranormal that runs through this book that intensifies at the climax. I thought it was very interesting, and also unnerving. It was very cool. Now I have to read the short story in Highland Beast, which is about a character who shows up in this story.
I really, really liked this book,and I would highly recommend it to fans of scarred/wounded heroes,and heroines who are determined to get their man, but aren't obnoxious about it. I'm glad I was able to spend a few hours with Roderick, Michaela, cute little Leo, and Hugh, who made me laugh, and also choked me up with his devotion to Roderick. It was time well spent.(less)
Well that was an interesting introduction to Oliver Queen in the DC Comics. You might know him as Green Arrow. I got to know him the backhanded way, t...moreWell that was an interesting introduction to Oliver Queen in the DC Comics. You might know him as Green Arrow. I got to know him the backhanded way, through watching the Justice League Unlimited, and drooling. I love a guy who is a master at an art. For Oliver Queen, it's archery. And it takes some bravery to walk around wearing a Robin Hood-like costume in modern times.
I like Queen's wit, ably handled by the oh-so witty Kevin Smith. But there was also some real angst and philosophical moments in this story. Queen had lost a lot, and he didn't even know how much. In this graphic novel (ten chapters), Queen has forgotten ten years of his life. I won't tell you why. Suffice it to say it's complicated. You need to read Quiver to discover the whys and wherefore.
I will definitely be reading more Green Arrow. He's moving up the ranks in my list of favorite superheroes. Okay I guess I'll lose some comic book geek cred by saying this, but Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow is hot! He just is. It's so sad when you're drooling over a comic book drawing. I totally was. And he's got great genes because his son, Connor Hawke, is just as hot! He's ripped, very skilled in various ways, and he has a great sense of humor. I don't even mind that he's broke in this book. Billions don't substitute for other qualities. :)
Wow, you do get your money's worth with this graphic novel. It's quite, long. Not that I'm complaining. On the downside, I have to admit that the art was not always to my taste. I loved the way Green Arrow was drawn, but I didn't really like the look of some of the other JL greats, with a few exceptions. I really liked the writing though. I enjoyed all the inside references Mr. Smith threw in (even though I haven't read any JL comics--some I picked up through my study of the characters via Wikipedia and other comic book websites). I liked that there were footnotes for the comic issues that the references came from, as well.
This book has some of everything in it. Do read it, if you're a fan of the Justice League, as some of the pivotal characters show up. Not to mention some of the more interesting characters in the DC Universe, such as Dead Man, Spectre, Etrigan/Jason Blood. I think if you've been introduced to the Justice League via the Cartoon Network show, you'll do just fine, and likely you will feel the need to delve deeper into the DC Universe. I think you will become a fan of Green Arrow, if you weren't already. So.. When are they making a Green Arrow movie? Animated or otherwise??? I'll be waiting, not so patiently.(less)
Wow! Max, you sure know how to seduce a reader, I mean woman. I just fell in love with you. They should put a 'Dangerous' label on you. You are not at...moreWow! Max, you sure know how to seduce a reader, I mean woman. I just fell in love with you. They should put a 'Dangerous' label on you. You are not at all intimidated being a plain old human (snorting when I write that), even though you are surrounded by folks who could rip you to shreds or melt your brain. You are confident enough to claim a formidable 'J' Psy as your very own woman. How could you not become one of my favorite heroes in this series? Not to mention the fact that you are gorgeous and part-Asian (drooling on keyboard). Again, I wonder if this author is actually a Psy and is extracting data directly from the dark corners of my mind.
Bonds of Justice moved up the list of books in this series, and to near the top of my favorites list. Unlike many fans, I actually enjoy the Psy-focused storylines. Something about these people of formidable mental abilities, and their struggle to stay in control. Control is a theme that hits me hard. Control of oneself, control of others. Escaping control, gaining control. Different aspects of control as a concept resonates deeply with me. I like stories in which the protagonists wrestle with control issues. I like to see the ice cold walls come down, or for them to loosen enough to let that character love and be loved.
Max and Sophia are a perfect pair. They are both wounded on the inside (and for Sophia-also on the outside). Both of them look deeper to see their soulmates. Max was one of the first people to actually 'see' Sophia. To want to take care of her, and to know her. She was thrown away by her parents because she was deemed 'unfit' after she was nearly destroyed by a psychotic Psy as a child. She took the only option available for a Psy of her talents, that as a J-Psy. They have a notoriously short lifespan because of the stressors of their job. They have to work with the worst of humanity, extracting ugly memories to help to solve the most heinous of cases. Eventually all that ugliness destroys them from the inside out. When Sophia meets Max, she knows her days are numbered. But, because she was never subject to Silence, she feels an attraction to him that she decides to pursue, to allow herself to feel that way before her life is taken from her by the Psy (or face total rehabilitation). Close proximity to Max on a case in which they are trying to determine who is trying to kill powerful Psy Councilor Nikita Duncan reveals that he's a man she cannot resist. And Max is more than willing to pursue her. I cared about Sophia, loved her. I wanted her to find that chance of happiness with Max. I think she's deserved it, with her lonely, selfless life. No one should feel so isolated and unloved.
Max has all the traits I love in a hero: keenly intelligent, possessive, strong-minded, a good sense of humor, an infallible sense of justice, and the insight to see the beauty in a wounded Psy like Sophia. Max had some very deep scars. His mother was very cruel to him, abusing him and showing her hatred in every way. He never felt worthy or loved growing up. As an adult, he became dedicated to seeking justice for people, and became one of the most relentless and formidable cops in the Enforcement system. I just adored him. I wanted him to see how worthy he truly is.
I was rooting so hard for Max and Sophia to find their happy ending. I like the way that Nalini Singh worked things out in this book. She broke a pattern and found a resolution that progresses the Psy storyline in a way that makes my interest even more keen.
Big changes are coming for the Psy, that have the potential to affect all three races: Psy, Changeling, and Human. I am excited to see where things go from here.
Gosh, I am so addicted to this series, and this book only made it worse. Ms. Singh tantalized me with glimpses of one of my favorite supporting characters, Psy Councilman, Kaleb Krychek. She has me drooling here. What a sexy, scary, cool, dangerous character here. He's terribly enigmatic. The man has one heck of a siren call going on for this reader. She has to write a book for him. I insist.
I can't speak for anyone else, but I loved this book. There was quite a bit going on, but the romance was lovely, and the Psy elements were awesome. There was even a good mystery thrown in. It was cool to catch up with some of the characters from past books, and to see that they were doing well. I liked how Ms. Singh intertwined Sascha's ongoing storyline so well into this story. There are layers and layers of subtext going on here that balance the Psy-Changeling storyline beautifully. Yup, this is definitely in my top three books in this series. Max, you are giving Hawke, Dorian, and Dev a run for their money, and you have surpassed Judd, although I love that man too. What a major feat for a mere human!
Great story here. Loved it!!! Check out this absurdly-addictive series if you haven't yet. It starts with Slave to Sensation.(less)