Well, if you're going to have insomnia, this is one heck of a book to have handy. It took me a long time to finish this book because I had so many iro...moreWell, if you're going to have insomnia, this is one heck of a book to have handy. It took me a long time to finish this book because I had so many irons in the fire towards the end of last year. I am so glad that I did pick it up now, because it turned out to be a very rewarding read.
Just a few of Danielle's Late Night Review Observations:
1) James Rollins writes detail-oriented, science heavy action/adventure. It took me a bit to get used to his writing style, but I have to say it really worked for me. Since I am a self-admitted science nerd, I found the scientific aspects quite interesting, and it usually didn't go too far over my head. I loved Coral Novak's character. A tough as nails special forces operative, who is also a serious brainiac. Which leads me to my next point. 2) I think Mr. Rollins really loves and respects women. Painter Crowe and Omaha Dunn are strong, pivotal characters in this novel, but the women really carry the show. This novel is underscored and wrapped in the depths and characterization of women, from the shy, introverted, scholarly, tortured Safia, to her more outgoing adoptive sister, Lady Kara, who is equally tortured, to the seriously twisted villain character (a major spoiler) if you haven't read the book, and then there are the mysterious women of the Ubar descent who trace their origins back to the Queen of Sheba. Although I thought that Lady Kara could have been more fleshed out, I think overall Rollins did a great job of rounding out this book with incredible women. 3)Painter Crowe and Omaha Dunn surprise you, because they are a lot more emotional than I would expect tough guy action heroes to be. Painter actually gets choked up a few times. It was sexy. And I loved the image of him running around in his boxers. (I'm a bit boy crazy, I freely admit) I like a man who can be free with his emotions. Omaha is in the Indiana Jones vein, but with a soft-hearted depth that Jones doesn't quite show with women; he's never fallen out of love with Safia, even with the bad mistakes he made. That's another plus with this novel that Rollins is unafraid to stray from gender conventions, and dare I say, stereotypes. 4)Going back to point 1, (forgive me, it's almost four am, and my brain is muzzy), I like that Rollins does his research to write a story that is about the possible and the plausible. I loved the fact that he built this imaginative science/fantastical adventure on a foundation of real life facts. 5)The action in this book is hot and heavy. When I said it was detailed in the science facts, don't let that scare you away. Mr. Rollins doesn't let his readers down when it comes to things blowing up, characters in serious jeopardy, and yes, violent, gruesome deaths. Nothing gratuitous mind you. If you like all the hardware and high tech action meeting the ancient treasure hunting motif, you'll be a happy camper with this novel.
Wrapping my wobbly thoughts together, I thought this would just be a four star novel because of the fact it took a while to get into the book. However, I have talked myself into a higher rating during this review, actually as I read the incredible imagery in this book at its climax. I was mentally reading with my mouth wide open. A guy who can write with this kind of depth and imagination is a man I want to read more of. I have to give this book 4.5 stars at the minimum.
Looking back at this book, I can't believe how much I came to love Team 3. They are firmly entrenched...more***Reread from July 17-July 19, 2012
Looking back at this book, I can't believe how much I came to love Team 3. They are firmly entrenched in my heart. Initially I felt sort of thrown and betrayed that Ms. Feehan had left my beloved Teams 1 and 2 and went to a bunch of folks I didn't know. I am eating my words. These guys (and two girls) rock! A different feel and relationship with this group. All the teams are a family, but these folks grew up together, and that bond is many years in the making. I could feel that family tie between them and it makes this book shine.
Jaimie and Mack--
This couple is very complementary. Mack is hard and decisive. Authoritative. Jaimie is warm and welcoming. Her strength is in her mind and in her heart. She is thought and intellect. Her mind is kind of scary and beautiful at the same time. Mack is acting and moving. Jaimie is pondering and mental exploration and examination. That is not to say that Mack is not intelligent and Jaimie isn't decisive. But in those areas where one abounds, the other benefits. I liked that about this book.
I liked Mack more this time around. I could see that he loves deeply and strongly, but that's not about declarations, but about doing. He did learn a lesson when he lost Jaimie the first time, and it has impressed on him that he needs to give her what she needs, the affirmation. We can take people for granted, assuming they know how important they are. But Jaimie didn't know how important she was to Mack. She thought that she was an add-on to his life, easily replaceable or forgettable. She didn't know that his life more or less fell apart without her. When he comes back, she can't understand his anger. But the thing about a man like Mack is that if he can't change or fix something, it makes him mad. When Jaimie left him, he couldn't fix that. So now he is angry at her for taking something so precious away from him and not understanding how important she was. She thinks she's the one who has more of a grudge to bear against him.
Their job now was to find that way of giving each other what they truly needed. I liked seeing them come to this point of understanding that one was not too hard or the other too soft, but perfect for each other. Together they were complete and full, making something even stronger as a unit. It was also funny seeing how the family worked through and around their issues with each other, because their relationship affected the whole group and the guys loved them both. I liked how integrated the romance aspect was into the overall group dynamics.
Overall Thoughts: I didn't think this was a favored romance in this series, because Mack is so pushy in some ways. In the end, and even moreso on the reread, I loved it so much. It's different from all the other books (as each one is). While Mack isn't my favorite GhostWalker, I have come to love him for who is. There are some people who challenge you in a way that no one else does. And that's good. Because their presence in your life makes you well-rounded in ways you lacked before. I am taking Mack this way. He is teaching me to deal with the kind of guys that get on my nerves, and teaching me understanding. I do need that.
A different installment, but great in its own way. Love Team 3, love all the characters, and I loved the escalation and expansion of the conspiracies.
Another thumbs up. Yes I am hopelessly in love with this series!
To express my powerful feelings for the GhostWalker series, I would like to borrow the words from Oliver by its namesake: "May I have some more please?"
Street Game takes the GhostWalker series to a different level, but captures everything that I loved about the preceeding books. I love how this series is so intricate, with different storylines that intersect. There are familiar things here that continue to light my fire for this series, but this story is also unique as Mack McKinley and Jaimie Fielding get closure on their past relationship.
Street Game focuses on the Urban Warfare team led by Mack McKinley. He loves his job and what he does. He even loves the enhancements that Whitney's program has given him. This is slightly different from the heroes in the prior books, because they generally felt betrayed that their bodies had been manipulated in such a fashion. Mack takes it all in stride, enthusiastic that his enhancements enable him to do what he does best, fighting the bad guys and protecting his country.
Mack is very much an alpha hero. In fact, he almost comes off as nearly unlikeable at times. He is the macho type, not one to express his feelings unless it involves putting his fist into something, giving orders to his men (and girlfriend), and expecting them to be followed, or having a bout of energetic sex with his girlfriend. He is blown away when Jaimie leaves him. He tells himself that she'll come back, because she needs him much more than he needs her. However, he finds that to be far from the case. Jaimie was his everything, and every day without her is like a gaping hole in his life. When a mission leads him to Jaimie's doorstep, he's determined to get her back, still baffled that she left him.
I said that Mack nearly was hard to like at times. Well, this would be be the case without Ms. Feehan's masterful handling of him. Hugely surprising to this GhostWalker fan, but Mack is probably the most alpha hero yet in this series. He is aggressive and intensely male, take charge, and used to giving orders. At first, it's hard to see his vulnerabilities, because he's quite adept at keeping that part of himself concealed. He's not a man who likes feeling helpless or wounded, and doesn't know how to express himself emotionally. Being in control is crucial for him. Before, this was something that Jaimie was used to. Mack was the one who kept their self-formed family together. They met when Jaimie was an eight year old genius who was already in high school, and Mack took care of her from the very beginning, protecting her from bullies and watching over her, along with the rest of the guys and girl they grew up with in their Chicago neighborhood. Over time, their relationship became a romantic one. For as long as he could remember, Jaimie was his, to protect, to watch over, and to come home to, loving the fire that they had together. Mack always admired Jaimie's intelligence, and was proud of her, but he didn't like her expressing doubts about the GhostWalker program, especially on a botched mission, and his way of dealing with it turned out to be the last straw for Jaimie.
Jaimie never stopped loving Mack, although she knew they couldn't be together, because they were too different, and she didn't like the violence of what their GhostWalker abilities allowed them to do. She didn't trust their superiors when they went into a mission that could have led to the death of some of their team members. When she tried to express her doubts about it, Mack doesn't listen. Instead he dismisses her concerns. She's devastated that he doesn't trust her or take what she's saying seriously, and knows that she has to leave him. Two years later, Jaimie has made a new life for herself, but plans to set up her business so she can take care of her brothers. She knows she can't be with Mack any more that way, but she still cares about him. When Mack and his team end up on her doorstep, she isn't surprised, knowing that she's being set up to be taken out because of the information she had recovered about the conspiracy behind the GhostWalker experimentation.
This book delves further into the conspiracies behind the GhostWalker program, going above and beyond Whitney to the power players that have ties with the White House. Jaimie is a thinking woman's heroine. Her phenomenal brain and analytical skills are used to follow the trails of information to find out who is setting up the GhostWalker teams and why. This installment of the series flows seamlessly into the other books, although the only returning characters are peripheral ones, or characters we only got an intriguing glimpse of in past books. Instead, we meet a whole new group of men, who managed to claim their place in my heart. What I love about this series is that each book makes me want more.
Christine Feehan really knows how to write characters that you become attached to, and yearn to read about. You see their flaws and their pain, and you want them to be happy. This book challenged me, because men like Mack tend to rub me the wrong way. I'm not a big fan of chest-thumping type men. But I was allowed to peel back the layers to see that Mack is a simple, yet complex man who takes his responsibilities very seriously. He has to be brash and confident, because he takes the lives of his team as a powerful responsibility. His way of taking care of others is leading and protecting them. For him, his feelings for Jaimie couldn't be described with mere words. Yet, Mack had to learn that Jaimie needed more from him that he was giving her. He thought that she saw his devotion and adoration, but she felt as though her only place in his life was as his hero-worshipping, cheerleading, brainy, and nurturing girlfriend.
This book has some moments that really strike me with their emotional intensity. These moments show the profound nature of the feelings between the characters. My favorite is when Mack is finally able to express into words just how much he loves Jaimie. I love how that scene is written, and how unexpected it was. She's blown away by it, and so am I. You know that Mack will never be the type to say the three words all the time, and freely, but it's more than clear how much he does love Jaimie. The steamy sex in this novel is pretty awesome, but the emotions behind it are what really enthrall this reader. You feel the fire between Mack and Jaimie, and the powerful bond between them that goes beyond the bedroom to the deepest parts of their heart and minds.
As usual, I love all the interactions between the GhostWalker team. I already love the new characters introduced in this installment, and look forward to seeing more of them. Each character brings something different to the table. I am impressed with the incredible storyline that Ms. Feehan has created with this series. I love reading about the abilities of the different characters, and how they seem imminently plausible, but fantastic at the same time. The action scenes are well-done, and I feel that this book would appeal to a fan of techno-thrillers as much as paranormal and romantic suspense fans. But what I love about these books is how you get the octane moments, the well-thought out and often mind-boggling plot involving the GhostWalkers, the steamy love scenes, the funny and heartwarming moments, and the three-dimensional characters that you cannot help but love, all fashioned together into a beautiful package. This book ends with the evidence that there are more adventures ahead, as the groundwork is laid to follow up on some important storylines introduced in the preceeding books, and touched on in this installment. And all I can say is, I Can't Wait!!(less)
I read this book out of curiosity, with no preconceived notions. Merely because I was curious what kids would do in a world with no adults. I admit I...moreI read this book out of curiosity, with no preconceived notions. Merely because I was curious what kids would do in a world with no adults. I admit I was blown away.
Mr. Grant told me a story that I couldn't put down. From the beginning, my mind was full of questions about how this happened, how the kids would survive, what could prevent the same thing from happening again....So many questions.
Sam is the kind of boy you want to have around when the world goes crazy. He's definitely the reluctant hero type, but usually they come through for you like no other. Because they do what needs to be done, simply because it needs to happen. Not for glory, not for recognition. Sam doesn't want to be 'the guy', but he knows that no one else is going to do it. And when Caine and his posse come down from Coates Academy, taking over and making things mostly worse, someone has to step up to the plate to stop him.
This book is intense, violent, and sometimes sad. Some of these kids die. A lot of them get hurt pretty bad. I'm not a mother yet, but I love kids, and I hate to see them suffering. It was a bit painful to watch. Even harder was seeing the cruelty and potential for evil that some of these children showed. Drake, who is basically Caine's bully boy, is a psychopath. He loves hurting people, and he feels no remorse about doing it. In my mind, I was weighing the options, even thinking that they needed to kill him, because he was like a rabid animal, bent on destruction. I felt horrible doing that, but he's a loose cannon, and he's only going to get worse. I don't think saving this boy is an option.
One of the take home messages of this book is the consequences of a social structure that is pretty familiar to most of us. The dynamic that we see in a group of kids where there are bullies who find the 'weakest' people and torment then, doing everything they can to make life miserable for those kids. And this causes a lot of fallout, because people forget ethics and what's morally right so that they can have peace from the bullies. In essence, they become part of the problem, contributing to a micro-society in which children get hurt because everyone is afraid to speak up and stand up against the bullies and the ones who are 'running things' for their own twisted, self-absorbed reasons. It made me shudder to see what these children did to each other, because they thought it was the easiest option to keep control of things. I'll be honest. I was bullied and picked on big time. It made me hate seeing the so-called 'weak' or 'different' people get targeted and treated that way. I'm no fighter, but I made a promise that I'd stand up for someone who couldn't do that for his or herself. I was glad that the kids like Sam and Edilio (what a sweetheart) were more than willing to do that.
I had some issues with the decisions that were made by the kids. They had no real sanitation rules. They didn't use their resources effectively. They had very poor nutrition, unnecessarily, because there was a supermarket full of healthy things like fruits and vegetables, proteins, grains. They ate mostly junk like candy, ice cream, soda pop, you name it. I guess I was looking at things through 'grown-up' eyes, which did cause me some discomfort. I was glad that they did organize care for the babies and kids too young to watch out for themselves, because Mary and her brother took on that job. I was also glad that Dahra worked as the medical provider. Albert took over the McDonalds and provided food for the community. Even so, I see some problems ahead, unless the kids set up a civic structural system in which every person is accountable (over-thinking this, I know!).
I loved the relationship between Astrid and Sam. They had an innocent love but also a strong friendship and support system in which they watched out for each other and did what they could to help everyone through this situation. Astrid was the brain, very smart, but also very kind. She had to take care of her younger brother, who was autistic, and extremely gifted with powers. I'll get to the powers part later. Give me a minute. Not an easy task for a young girl, but she did it. I was rooting for things to work out for these two!
Another character who turned out to be a favorite was Lana. Lana is in a very bad position when the 'event' happens--the one in which all the people over fourteen disappear. She ends up getting horribly injured and is about to die, when her power to heal manifests. Oh, I was on the edge of my seat, seeing her stranded, wounded very badly, with only her dog to protect her from the wild animals in the desert. I was so glad that she was able to get out of that situation. Of course, she ends up in a worse situation that ties in with the kids in town, and in a big way, as this book culminates. It might seem like a deus ex-machina to have a character who can heal even the most grievous wounds, but I was glad that she did have the power. These kids have a lot stacked up against them already. They need all the advantages they can get.
Now, lets talk about the power. Some of the kids, Sam included, have supernatural abilities that start manifesting. I thought this part was very cool. How Caine approaches this, with his evil little posse' made my hair stand on end. I can't even conceive of children being as cruel as that lot were. The powers end up playing a pivotal role in this story, and I am sure that this will continue to be a very strong element in the forthcoming books. I liked the "X-Men" sort of element it brought to the story, and how kids that were often bullied and felt useless, got to play important roles in the fight against Caine and his Posse' of Evil.
I wanted to give the author a nod of thanks for making the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) a multicultural environment, with children of all races. Everyone is important, and it was nice to see that there was a rainbow represented here. That speaks highly to me!
If you're an adult and you don't think you could enjoy young adult books, this is one I'd recommend. If you're like me, you will be riveted to this exciting story. It has a lot to offer as far as entertainment, but also stimulates the brain, as you are confronted with this bad situation that this young kids have to face. I cannot stop reading these books. I'm way too invested now!(less)
**spoiler alert** My sister has talked about how much she loves this book for years. I can see why she likes it. It was thoroughly entertaining!
My Th...more**spoiler alert** My sister has talked about how much she loves this book for years. I can see why she likes it. It was thoroughly entertaining!
My Thoughts: *Ms. McKenna is a very good writer. She uses words very elegantly and beautifully. This book surprised me with its imagery. I liked the motifs of Seth as the cold, dark knight who wanted badly to win the sweet, beautiful princess locked in her tower. He wanted to save her from the darkness around her, and even herself. I think that this fairy tale theme illuminated what could have been a very dark story. *Seth is a one of a kind hero. There were times I thought he was a real jackass, pardon my French. He is rude, rough, domineering, and unforgiving. Other times, there was a scared, lonely little boy inside of him so in need of love. That's what made me like him. I love stalkerific heroes, no question about it. But, it was pretty edgy how he was recording Raine, bugging her house and her person. Also, he was pretty rough in bed sometimes for my tastes. I liked that Raine seemed to know how to deal with him in a way that made the dark, cold brute go away, and the sweet boy come to life. I liked how she would touch and pet him, her gentleness knowing how to calm him like a animal that had turned vicious out of abuse. I liked how much he needed Raine. He didn't know how to love, or how to express it, but he somehow managed to do that anyway, with her help. His declaration of love was so sweet, it brought tears to my eyes. I can't say that Seth is one of my favorite heroes, but I did come to like him and understand him. I understand how a hard life like his could turn someone cold and isolated. I think that Ms. McKenna did a great job of showing how Raine's love broke that permafrost and freed the man inside. I loved that Seth is a tech-geek. He really knows his stuff. I didn't mind his social awkwardness, for the most part, although I disliked some of the rude things he said to Raine (and his lack of trust in her at times). Although Seth is definitely an uber-alpha (very domineering and kind of mean about it), he turned out okay in the end. I saw him grow and I saw his pain and yearning for love and peace, which is what I needed to like him. *Boy does this author know how to write steamy love scenes. I could do without the frequent use of the 'c' word for the female anatomy (I hate that word), but otherwise, she managed to write the encounters between Raine and Seth as volcanic-hot, but also deeply romantic (even though I thought some of the encounters were a bit on the rough side, it helped that Seth would back down when Raine showed him that he was coming on too strong). At the same time, it was clear that he wanted to please her and for her to be wild and free in her sexuality (which was something she wanted too). I think the love scenes furthered the story beautifully, showing the dynamic between Raine and Seth, and how it changed as their love connection blossomed. Also, there was real communication there, a lowering of barriers, something that was not easy for either character. *Raine was an adorable heroine. I didn't expect to find one in a romantica read. I have this impression that the heroines would be more jaded and hardened, which is not something I prefer in a heroine, unless it is well done and fits the story. Raine was a very sweet, gentle, loving person. At times, I thought maybe too good for Seth. But, I realize that she is the perfect woman for Seth. She really saw his heart and wasn't afraid to be vulnerable when needed, but also showed backbone and stood up to him and showed she was no pushover. I liked her journey to find her strength and to conquer her tormented past. Seth was willing to kill her dragons, but she did most of that on her own. And she tamed the biggest dragon of all--Seth. I really liked her. *The suspense elements were pretty dark, which is okay with me, although there was some sexual stuff that was a bit out of my comfort zone, and thankfully not a huge part of the story. And I was glad that wasn't in Raine and Seth's relationship. Victor Lazar was an interesting villain. He had depths that made him very intriguing, and he showed that even a bad man can love. His dynamic with Raine was quite fascinating. I ended up feeling sad for the guy. However, Novak is a piece of slime, and I think he got off lightly, considering.
I really enjoyed this book. It was my backup/gym book, but I ended up devouring it, because I couldn't put it down. I am glad my sister and some of my other friends talked this one up. Because I was quite impressed with this book, I'd give it 4.5/5.0 stars. I will read more of Shannon McKenna, although I appreciate my sister's warning that her other heroes are more dominating and overbearing than Seth. I know I will have to be in the mood for that. Even so, Connor's book is calling my name....(less)
I found the hero Cal a little too harsh for my tastes. He represented what I don't like about pro sports players and that whole macho vibe that they c...moreI found the hero Cal a little too harsh for my tastes. He represented what I don't like about pro sports players and that whole macho vibe that they can give off. It was wrong what Jane did to him,however he was in the habit of using women, so in some ways it was his karma coming back on him, in my opinion. My issue is that didn't treat her very well after the fact. I can understand him being angry but I feel he should have treated the woman who was pregnant with his child better than he did. That bothered me. (less)
This was a relatively quick read for a non-romance (since they are my favorite I usually zip through them). I guess I finished it in about 10 days but...moreThis was a relatively quick read for a non-romance (since they are my favorite I usually zip through them). I guess I finished it in about 10 days but I also read a few books at the same time. I guess romantic books get read quicker because of the pull of the romantic relationship. Having said that, maybe that is why I finished this quickly. Tinker is a great heroine, smart, likeable, human, and interesting. The world is an interesting one: Pittsburgh with a twist. In this book, Pittsburgh goes from Earth to Elfhome every 28 days because of a gate between the worlds. Hence, it's not quite considered Earth. This book is immersed in a world of magic meets science. The elves live in a world of magic, but on Earth magic is linked to and explained by science. Tinker, a mechanical genius, is able to exploit the link between magic and science. The book opens with a bang: Tinker saves a beautiful, aristocratic elf from large, carnivorous creatures trying to kill him when they barge into her salvage yard. It turns out they have a link because the elf Windwolf saved her life as an eight year old, and cast a spell that linked his lifeforce to hers. He is badly injured and needs her mechanical/magical expertise to keep him alive until they can get him back to Elfhome. He is very impressed with her and falls for her as a result. Tinker spends some time wondering how an elf like Windwolf, rich, high-born, and perfect to her, could be interested in her. It turns out that she has been crushing on him since she was eight years old. I won't spoil you, but let us say that Windwolf is not about to let Tinker walk out of his life. Their romance unfolds in a very fascinating, enjoyable manner, with some good action and magic as well. There is also another potential love interest that I spend a few moments wondering if Tinker wasn't more likely to end up with him. If you like magic and elves, but also credible science with fiction thrown in, this book will do it for you. I must admit some of the quantum physics went over my head, because I'm more of a biological scientist. But I don't consider that an impediment to enjoying the book. Also if you like kickbutt heroines, you will also love this book. As a matter of fact, I am adding Tinker to my list of favorite, unusual, and in her own way, kickbutt heroines. She definitely earned it as, she saves the day more than a few times. Few heroines make this list, so this is quite a compliment. Some may find Tinker's internal back and forth about her relationship with Windwolf annoying, but since she is an 18 year old with no romantic experience, I found it realistic. I know I certainly wouldn't have recognized my true love at 18 years of age. Windwolf is dreamy and intriguing, and although he is not in the book as much as I would like, you know that he's waiting in the background and is a significant part of the storyline, and that definitely is satisfying. I like the premise of the book and the memorable characters, although some seem to drop off the page. I wonder if they reemerge in the sequel. One thing for sure, I am rooting for Tinker and Windwolf to have a long, loving life together. I heartily recommend this book to urban fantasy, romance, and magical book fans, with a good bit of science thrown in. (less)
I felt the irresistible urge to sneak this read in. I'm read it out of the Lover Beware collection. Nice start to the Drake sisters' series. I enjoyed...moreI felt the irresistible urge to sneak this read in. I'm read it out of the Lover Beware collection. Nice start to the Drake sisters' series. I enjoyed the interaction between Sarah and Damon. Their coming together was fated, and not just by a prophecy. They seem to meet each other's needs. I loved the fact that Damon was a bit of a nerdy scientist (I have a weakness for nerds), older (in his 40s), nicely tortured (from his experiences with his assailants and guilt over his friend's death), and had a bad leg (love the wounded/less than perfect heroes). It was a nice change of pace that Sarah was the one doing the protecting, since she was a security expert. It was very well-done as Damon doesn't come off as being weak or less than masculine.
This book is ripe with magic and mysticism. Some of the happenings are borderline scary, especially when Sarah sees the dark shadows grasping at various characters, particularly Damon, throughout the story. The house itself is a character in this book. It's pretty weird and kind of eerie as well. It protects the Drake family, welcoming them home, and opens its gates freely to Damon even from the beginning of the story.
It was nice to see the seeds of the relationship to be between Hannah and Jonas in this story. A lot of tension and sparks already. Kind of weird how the house isn't very nice to Jonas at first, but then it welcomes him openly in Safe Harbor. Maybe because of the antagonistic relationship between Hannah and Jonas (the house is picking up on Hannah's negative energy towards Jonas).
I have heard complaints about this story being weak, but I really enjoyed it and had no issues with it. I loved Damon and Sarah, and felt they were a wonderful couple. I got a kick out of the sisterly interactions, and as a fan of scary/eerie/supernatural fare, I enjoyed the paranormal moments intensely although I don't think I'd want to live in a house that was quite so alive.(less)
It doesn't take much for me to enjoy a Susan Napier book. I think she's a fantastic writer. I like the way she creates her characters. Luc and Veronic...moreIt doesn't take much for me to enjoy a Susan Napier book. I think she's a fantastic writer. I like the way she creates her characters. Luc and Veronica were no different. I do want to take exception to the cover, because it doesn't reflect how the characters look. Luc has almost shoulder-length black hair that he keeps in a short ponytail, and Veronica has reddish-brown hair and is very abundantly curved. When I read the book, I ignored the cover, and formed my own image of them.
Luc and Veronica get together on Bastille Day in Paris (a spontaneous decision on normally very cautious Veronica's part), and ended up enjoying a night of steamy passion. Veronica sneaks out of Luc's apartment while he is sleeping, thinking a one-night interlude was all that was in the cards with a sexy Frenchman that she went home with on an uncharacteristic whim. She jumps on her train headed for the South of France, and keeps seeing Luc along the way on her journey. Is he following her? It turns out he thinks she's following him, and she's some sort of paparazzi. He then tells her something extremely rude, which I won't repeat. It floored me a little, since Ms. Napier's heroes are not usually mean like that. A little later on, I found out why he had that reaction, and I forgave him, and so did Veronica. Veronica arrives at her destination, the vacation home of her sister's recently former employers, where she is staying for the remaining time of her holiday. To her surprise, Luc shows up, and it turns out he's the step-son of her sister's employer, Melanie. Veronica's feckless sister decides to ditch her sister (and their planned vacation together) for a chance to do a modeling shoot in the Bahamas, and volunteers Veronica to work for Melanie for her time at their vacation home. Veronica can't really get out of it, since her sister convinced Melanie that she'd be fine with it. So, she's stuck there with her ex-one night stand, who Melanie volunteers to chauffeur her around the area to check out the cuisine on Melanie's behalf (Melanie is a food writer), since she broke her arm and has limited mobility. Veronica is starting a gift-buying business, so that actually works out for her to investigate the local culture and crafts. The only scary part is hanging out with Luc, who she is still very susceptible to. And Luc is more than happy to pick up where they left off. Veronica might have been okay with a one-off one night stand, but she doesn't want to risk her heart on a sex-only affair.
I'll be the first to tell you that I don't particularly care for romances with one night stands or flings. Just not my thing. I don't find it particularly romantic. But, Ms. Napier writes this story so well, I was captivated. The emotions and the connection was there, and you could see that Luc pursuit of Veronica was about more than sex, and Veronica's feelings deeper than just the physical. Ms. Napier's beautifully-descriptive writing took me to the South of France, where the lush heat and surroundings immersed me into the story. I felt the strong attraction between Luc and Veronica, how they might have met casually, but something compelling will keep them together.
I liked that Veronica was a normal kind of woman, like someone you know, with a curvy body that Luc appreciated. And Luc was a sexy nerd who was inventing robots and selling them around the neighborhood as a boy (helping to finance his Oxford education), and is a millionaire in his late twenties, due to his financial savvy. He's very down-to-earth (not to mention sexy) and approachable, which causes him trouble when he gets into a situation with an old flame (who is presently married to a prominent man in the government) that is captured in the tabloids as a very sordid event, which explains his nasty behavior towards Veronica when they first meet again (since he thought she was trying to set him up). Pretty soon, Luc realizes that Veronica is the woman he's been looking for for a long time, and he's going to take measures to make her his.
There were many small, wonderful touches in this book, typical for Susan Napier. I wish she wrote more often, because she writes so well. I'll buy every book she publishes. She didn't let me down with this book. Public Scandal, Private Mistress was a great summer read, very enjoyable and a nice, quick read (a great way to wind down on a very hot Texas summer day).(less)
What can I say about this book? After reading the last pages of this novel, at approximately 1 am, I set it down, knowing I couldn't possibly be ready...moreWhat can I say about this book? After reading the last pages of this novel, at approximately 1 am, I set it down, knowing I couldn't possibly be ready to write a coherent review. Reviews are like soups or dishes with tomatoes and hearty seasonings. They should sit and rest, letting the spices and the tomato paste mingle together, so that the flavor can be maximized. Accordingly, I let myself ruminate in a bovine fashion about what I would write in my review of the latest historical by one of my favorite authors, over the far too short weekend.
First and foremost, Ms. Kleypas wrote yet another wonderful book that cements her place on my keeper and favorite author shelves. Secondly, she took a concept that I thought I was familiar with, but managed to surprise me, and keep me on my toes as I read. I thought I had this story all figured out, by some of the comments from my Goodreads friends, and in Amazon.com romance forum discussions, and my own preconceived notions based on the blurb, and what I know about how Ms. Kleypas writes books. But, I was still surprised.
Harry Rutledge: This is a hero that is very hard to define. At times, frankly, I disliked him. I thought, he's not a nice man. He's very cold, and he's ruthless. But I loved him, at the same time, for being all the things I mentioned. He is definitely a standout for me because of the complexity of his nature. And I loved how Ms. Kleypas was unstinting in showing Harry in the worst light possible. She didn't go the heavy-handed route, in steering us into loving him because he was the hero of the story. And I respect her for that. In fact, I am glad for the naturalistic approach she adopted. Because, as I read this story, the man that Harry is, deep down, the man he wants to be, shows through. And for that, I have to give this author a high five. Harry is a carefully engineered survivor. What he went through in his childhood is not even close to the worst I have read about in fiction. However, for this admitted idealist who believes children should be loved and cherished, valued and tended carefully like the creations of beauty and worth that they are, it was pretty awful for a child to suffer that way. Harry grew up priviledged, but he was neglected in all the ways that count. If that wouldn't make a social maladroit out of a person, I'm not quite sure what would. But, at the same time, Harry managed to make something of himself. He didn't become a shiftless dilettante who did nothing but drinking, fornicating, and spend other people's money. He became a brilliant inventor, businessman, and empire-builder. Even a few of his enemies respected him enough to name their children after him. To be able to do that, I have to respect him. He was a monolith of admantine will, but so vulnerable in some ways, that few were privy to. In truth, only Poppy, that I could perceive, reading this story.
When Harry Met Poppy: We all have defining moments in our lives. Harry had several. But the one that would change the course of his life irrevocably, was when he encountered Poppy. Ever wanted something so very much, the fierce desire for it burns like thirst in a parched throat? That's how Harry wanted Poppy. And that motivated him to do some very lousy things. In his mind, it was okay because Michael Beyning didn't deserve her. I think that he was right about the last part. Beyning didn't deserve a woman that he wouldn't fight for to all the heights and depths of his available resources. He barely even tried for her. And Harry's actions proved that. In medical terms, he performed an elective surgery that was more agressive than needed, but achieved results that no one could argue weren't successful. Yet, there were some significant side effects. For one, Poppy married him with the cold precision of a general going to war, and told him that she would never love him. Not the ideal way to start a marriage. Yet, in Harry's unfathomably analytical mind, he didn't care, because all he needed was her as his wife. The ends justified the means.
What does a man do with a wife? What does a wife do with a husband that didn't fit her expectations of the husband she always wanted? Harry and Poppy had to learn these things. He couldn't put Poppy into a little cubbyhole to take out and amuse himself at his limited leisure. He couldn't wind her up like an automaton. Poppy was a living, breathing, force of nature, that would settle for no less than what she deserved. At times, Poppy came off as immature, in a sense. Hanging onto a fairy tale dream of marriage. But, I had to admire her for sticking to her guns about what she would and would not tolerate from her husband. She needed to do that, because Harry was very used to getting exactly what he wanted, by using the powerful force of his personality, and threats, if necessary. And Poppy did show that she could compromise and surrender in the ways that were important to make a marriage work. It's about meeting each other half-way, and they both had to learn to do that. I liked the dynamic between them, how they danced around each other, getting to know each other as husband and wife. Although the circumstances are purely out of romantic fiction, I think that aspect of marriage is very true to life. A young couple has unrealistic expectations of what they will experience in marriage, and the first year is a wakeup call, as they realize that real life isn't as cut and dried. Marriage takes compromise, time and energy, and lots of communication. You could see this being played out between Poppy and Harry. This is one deeper level that took me by surprise, although, knowing Ms. Kleypas, it probably shouldn't. She writes extremely romantic stories, but there is always some degree of realism in the intricacies of interpersonal relations that play out in her stories. I think she writes married stories very well, but then, she's been married for a long time, so she probably draws on the bank of that experience to develop such a rich narrative.
Family, the Beauty of it: I realize that the Hathaway books aren't high on the list of some of Ms. Kleypas's fans. But, I love this series. It was like going to visit some friends in their family home, and seeing their family interactions, reading this book. So intensely familiar, and heart-warming. I was immersed in the love and the chaos that is the Hathaway family, which is ever-expanding. I got the opportunity to visit with some characters that I easily grew to love in prior books: Cam (he is such a show-stealer), Amelia (the mother hen), Beatrix (how adorable she is with her animals, and her sharply- perceptive understanding of human nature), Kev (intense and forthright, as always), Win (sweet, loving, and peaceful), Leo (who is really coming into his own, has a wonderful sense of humor, and a surprising strength of character that I love), and Catherine Marks (she is shaping up to be a very tortured character who has me very intrigued).
Rounding up my thoughts: Tempt Me at Twilight turned out to be a very satisfying but hard to define read for me. There is something seemingly basic about it, compared to some of Kleypas's other books, but complicated at the same time. This book really is a book about marriage, and about letting the fairy tales go, and embracing the beauty in what is real, and accepting that your destiny doesn't come in the pretty packages that you shop for. Also realizing that the pretty possession that you wanted so bad, comes with a cost, and takes an emotional price in return. I feel that this book presents a deeper message about how your destiny comes exactly the way it's supposed to, although it may take growth on your part, and the partner that fate has decreed for you, to fully realize the potential that is there. As usual, Ms. Kleypas nails the Victorian period with the beauty of an Impressionist painting, not heavy, bold strokes, but with a light, careful, bright, and dreamy touch, that is all the more captivating to me as a reader. The end of this book marks the beginning of the next arc of this story. I am full of some reservations, and fears that my gentle heart is going to face some anguish ahead. I have questions and theories that have been brought to life by the conclusion of this story, if you can call it that. I suppose I will have to remember the adage to all readers of series: Keep Reading. I trust that I will be in for another delightful reading experience if I am able to do exactly that.(less)
I was so jazzed when I saw this book. A romance with an Asian hero, and Kentaro is some kind of yum. He's a baseball player from Japan who needs a cra...moreI was so jazzed when I saw this book. A romance with an Asian hero, and Kentaro is some kind of yum. He's a baseball player from Japan who needs a crash course in English. His tutor is bookish, scholarly Claire. Their attraction is immediate, and Kentaro does some chasing although he knows he probably can't marry her. Poor Claire doesn't know what hit her. Never fear, all turns out well. I don't typically care for playboys, but it was so neat to see the aspect of a ballplayer who is famous in Japan that he has all kinds of groupies, and various glimpses into the cultural phenomenom of baseball in Japan. Do read this if you like Asian heroes.(less)
Review Disclaimer: Danielle is not actually insane. She is fully aware that Syn is not a real person. (What a shame!)
Syn, would you please marry me? I...moreReview Disclaimer: Danielle is not actually insane. She is fully aware that Syn is not a real person. (What a shame!)
Syn, would you please marry me? I would hold you to my breast, and soothe you. I would wipe away the tears you will not allow yourself to cry, that is after I kick your ex-wife's butt all the way to the next galaxy for being such a piece of work not to realize what the precious jewel she had in you. I would kiss you every day, and make sure you understood just how much I adore you. I could care less that your father was a psycho and the worst person in all the nine worlds. Each person is accountable for his own actions. And your actions fully show what a wonderful man you are. Can you please tell your friend Nyk, that I am sorry? Our love affair is over, because you have stolen my heart away from him. He has Kiara, and I'm sure he will get over me, now that I have found you. I know that Shahara is your dearest love, but she cannot possibly love you like I do. There is no way!
Okay, the madness is over, I think. Now I can talk about how much I loved this book, and how Syn has changed my life.
I cannot believe that the stupid publishers did not want to publish this book. Were they insane? Clearly. This was a fantastic story. I thought I loved Born of Night, and I still do, but ah, Syn's story, I love even more.
Syn is one of the most awesome heroes ever written. Okay, you might dispute that, but this is my review, so if you are reading it, I attest this to be my truth. He is so tortured. I cannot believe what this poor man suffered. I wanted to slap every person who ever hurt him. I definitely wanted to go buy a pair of boots (since I don't own any except for work galoshes) and kick his ex-wife's butt so far out of the known galaxies that it would require a search party to find it. How can you hold a man's parentage against him? A man is judged for who he is individually, and Syn never let me down. I could see why he had the shell around his heart, so many times was it broken. And what he suffered, as a boy. Imagine putting a young boy through that. Hard to even conceive of. It's incredible what he accomplished, and that alone showed that he was far beyond what his father and mother were. I just wanted Syn to be happy. I wanted to love him to pieces as I read this story. I still do. There is so much I love about Syn!
Okay, Shahara. I did have a couple of moments that I wanted to slap the taste out of your mouth. But only a couple. You turned out to be a good heroine, although you had me frothing at the mouth initially. But, I could see your issues after what you suffered. You are definitely Ms. Kenyon's most tortured heroine. And, I must admit, you proved yourself to be a worthy match for Syn. The way you made his heart feel to know that someone really loved him....I'll tolerate you just for that. But, it was also pretty cool how you went to bat for Syn, more than once, in this story. And, you are a badass. I do love badass heroines. (pardon my French). You know how to take care of yourself and your man. And, you're a pretty good sister, too. I wish you well with my man Syn, since he's not real, and I can't be with him in real life. You better take very good care of him, because I'm watching you, very closely!
I predict I will have a new addiction, books set in space and on other worlds. If you know of some good ones, please recommend them. Only, they must have fantastic heroes to die for, buttkicking action, lots of angst, and wisecracking galore to make up for the moments that break your heart. I don't know if too many books will meet the high standard that this story has set for me. It's too scary to contemplate. Did I tell you how much I love Syn? There are no words Thumbs way up for this book.(less)
Although this wasn't perfect (but what is perfect in life?), I enjoyed it a lot. I liked the messages here, about grabbing onto love, even if nothing...moreAlthough this wasn't perfect (but what is perfect in life?), I enjoyed it a lot. I liked the messages here, about grabbing onto love, even if nothing is guaranteed; facing your fears head on; choosing to do the right thing, even when walking away or being selfish is easiest; and finding value in something you might have overlooked. I could go on.
I feel that Ms. Dodd is finding her feet in the paranormal genre. I thought the first in this series, Storm of Visions, was rather awkward, the world-building taking precedence over the romance. I did not feel that way with this book. I felt there was a smooth integration of romance and paranormal storytelling here. Some things are still a bit shaky, but I think this series will become more solid with each book. Even still, I like the different sort of story she has here. The Chosen Ones, banding together to fight the Others. The pervasive presence of evil that the Chosen Ones face (both in human and supernatural form). I like how they were abandoned and unwanted, but have incredible gifts that can tip the balance of power. I'm still coming to know each Chosen One, yearning to know what their role will be, and that will keep me reading. I want the answers, and I want to see who they end up with!
Aaron was infectiously likeable as a hero, despite the fact that he didn't always come off as favorable in the narrative. He burned with raw intensity, but had a confidence, an urbane polish that allowed him to be utterly at home in high society and academia, even if he looked like a warrior in his GQ finery. However, he had some self-knowledge to face in this story. His beginning was heartbreaking and horrifying, and the path of his life wasn't an easy one by any stretch. He had to fight for everything he had in life, not always making the right choices. Aaron had to come to like and respect himself, and that journey made him so loveable. His chemistry with Rosamund was very appealing. Rosamund also did a lot of growing in this book, as well. I was glad that Ms. Dodd tricked me a little. I have some issues with makeover stories, and I was kind of worried this would turn into one where the heroine has to become a glamorous swan to be worthy of the hero. Not so. Long before her makeover, and long after, Aaron noticed the real Rosamund, the one he fell in love with, and it was kind of funny that he was annoyed that she seemed able to overlook him. Rosamund is a real, 100% bonafide nerd. I loved her for it. She is so immersed in her work and studies that she forgets about things like buying new clothes when her old ones get faded and frayed, she has no clue how to flirt, and I like how Aaron has to fight to earn her attention. It's a nice change. Deep down, though, Rosamund did notice Aaron, but it scared her, because her attraction to him had the power to rip away the barriers against hurt she had built when her mother and father died. It was easier to bury herself in the past, and to avoid love and emotions, but Aaron made that impossible for her. I love to read about intelligent, learned heroines, and that's definitely Rosamund. However, she is clueless about real life, and it was very endearing, others having to help her with the normal stuff, even though she is extremely smart about antiquities and ancient history. I liked that Aaron liked her knowledge and her intelligence. He didn't want to throw that away just for the outer package, although he did recognize the unpolished beauty she had from the beginning. So, with both the hero and the heroine in this book, I loved them, flaws and all. Like people in real life, I was able to care about them, even if they did things I didn't like. I thought they were a great couple together.
Dodd has a way of writing a delicious hero for this reader. Aaron wasn't so different. His layers appealed to me. I loved how protective he was of Rosamund, how she confounded him, how he was completely jealous of the other men who were all over her. He knew the real Rosamund, and that was the woman he wanted, and he wasn't afraid to fight for her. When Rosamund comes to accept how much Aaron means to her, in a pivotal, heartbreaking moment, I was completely plugged into this book, waiting to see what would happen next.
It's nice to read concise, straightforward writing, and that's Ms. Dodd's writing style. Even for its simplicity, the deeper levels were here. The mythology/lore was intriguing, and a little horrific at times. The story of the prophetess, and her ugly journey, where it led; the Sacred Cave, and how that related to Aaron from his birth, very fascinating elements. The people that Rosamund and Aaron encounter on their quest, and the dangers they faced. It kept me reading, even though the romance also appealed.
Although the paranormal aspects still need some polishing and developing (in my opinion), I thought this was a very enjoyable read, and the romance was wonderful. It's just short of five stars (because I am pretty picky about rating paranormal romance), but it definitely earned a 4.5/5.0 star rating.(less)