I loved this book. I had heard many criticisms about it not being as good as the others, and Phury not being as fleshed out. I have to say that I have...moreI loved this book. I had heard many criticisms about it not being as good as the others, and Phury not being as fleshed out. I have to say that I have a real understanding of Phury now. His torment is very much internal and revolves around his sense of failure, his not being able to "get there on time", as my mother so wisely said as we discussed the book last night at dinner. He failed in helping his parents, he failed in getting his brother back faster. Boy does he have a whopping case of Survivor's Guilt.
I went through the whole gamut of emotions as I read this book: anger, sadness, joy, rage, helplessness, you name it. I was right there next to Phury every step of the way. And most of all, I felt his isolation. I firmly believe that he is the least understood of the brothers, and in some ways has been given less understanding. I would never justify drug abuse, but pretty much all the Brothers, possibly excepting Wrath, have had some pretty destructive habits.
I hurt for him when he was kicked out of the Brotherhood, but at the same time, I knew it was for the best. He could not grow if he didn't leave that safety net behind. And in my understanding of addiction, you cannot enable the addicted person. Zsadist said some harsh things to Phury, and maybe they needed to be said, and at the same time, I am so glad that Phury confronted him on never saying thanks. It needed to be said. Phury has been in a vicious cycle, as my sister said. He always feels the need to play the Knight in Shining Armor, yet continually goes without having his own needs met. It has taken a toll on him and I believe, lead to him seeking solace in drugs.
These Brothers are very highly sexed individuals, so I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to spend many, many years celibate, and Phury did not have Zsadist's issues with sex to lessen his sex drive. The red smoke was a coping mechanism that started to consume him. But what is most telling is that when Phury gets the chance to have all the sex he wants, as the Primale, he is tormented about it, and hedges at doing his duty. I interpreted this as Phury being a romantic, pure and simple. Also it tied into his Savior complex issues. He was just burned out, and the last thing he wanted was to be responsible for forty more people, and their offspring. Plus, he wanted one woman, Cormia.
Once again, I am utterly impressed with JR Ward's ability to tell a story. This book shone from the first sentence. I love how she starts the book from the Omega's perspective, showing a little of his side of things, and showing some vulnerabilities, and what seems like 'humanity' in him. It leads so well into a major shift in the storyline. And what a shift it is.
I read this book late compared to other reads. I did that on purpose. I wanted to stagger my reading of the wonderful series because I did not want to go a long time before a new installment came out. Since I am very active in the romance novel fan community, I have heard many comments about this book, a lot of them less positive. Another area of major complaints was with Cormia. I don't understand why. I adored Cormia. I think she is PERFECT for Phury. They are both innocents in some ways, and their coming together could be nothing but destiny. I was quite annoyed that Phury wouldn't yield to this destiny, but understanding his Savior/Failure complex, he felt his was not worthy of her, and would only destroy her if he gave into his love for her.
Cormia was not a doormat, as has been implied. She is a soft, sweet woman, with a backbone of TITANIUM. This is made clear in how she steps up and is not afraid to tell off the Primale. I can't blame her for being intimidated by a houseful of enormous, formidable warriors. Going from a world of white and blandness to a world full of color, textures, emotions, and sensations. In fact, I loved seeing her immerse herself in this world. I enjoyed her innocent childlike enjoyment of simply running around on the lawn, and swimming naked, smelling roses, and watching movies for the first time. If anything, I wish that Phury had spent more time with her enjoying these moments. Whenever Phury was off "lighting up" I was telling him, go "play" with Cormia. However I did like that we got to see John Matthew interact with and be attracted to Cormia and to realize that his destiny lay in another direction as far as mates, a tough, strong woman that makes his heart beat faster. That person being Xhex.
It was nice to see Cormia and Bella interact and become friends. Cormia picks up right away, that Phury is mooning over Bella. She feels that Bella is a rival for his affections, because right away, Cormia feels possessive of Phury. He is her man, and she does not want to share him with anyone, much less her Chosen sisters, or Bella. But soon, she realizes that Bella is a true friend, and that Bella wants Cormia to win Phury. I loved their girl-bonding moments.
Cormia did help Phury in ways that the other characters could not. Her love and peaceful nature helped him to deal with his demons as he detoxed from two hundred years of drug abuse. That was a grand moment for me. I love Phury and I hated seeing him on that awful downward spiral. The scene in the bathroom was one of the most painful scenes in a book I've ever read (and since we are talking about the Black Dagger Brotherhood books, that's saying something.) It made the final triumph of Phury so much sweeter. That is not to say that Phury doesn't have a hard struggle ahead, but he is not alone in it, as he soon finds out.
It was painful to see Phury and Zsadist so at odds in this book, but I realize that this had to happen for their relationship to evolve and to heal. I was so glad at the scene near the end where Zsadist comes and sings again for his brother, accompanied by the other Brothers. I was practically crying, but also smiling at this. In fact, had this not been in the book, I would have been severely disappointed. And we also find out that although it seemed that Zsadist washed his hands of Phury, he never did abandon him. That was also great to experience.
I loved seeing Cormia and Phury interact. There was chemistry and fate in their interactions, although neither really seemed to grasp it. I think their relationship is one of the sweetest, most innocent in this series, and for that, it earns a special place in my heart.
Now for the other character's in the book. It was so great to see more of the triad: John Matthew, Qhuinn, and Blaylock. I wish there was more of Blay's viewpoint, but maybe that will be in the next few books. I just love John Matthew so much. I am happy that he is healing, slowly but surely. Not there yet, but he's going in that direction. His sense of shame for what happens to him, should not be a burden he has to bear, but I was so glad that he knows that there are people there to love and support him. His heartbreak about the loss of Tohr is readily apparent. And his joy at his return was sweet.
Qhuinn is such a complex character that we are just getting to know. He is a tortured guy just as much as the other brothers. I don't like his habit of picking up any person who's interested, but it makes sense in light of his self-worth issues. I cannot believe how callous his family was. It hurts to see "a male of worth" treated in such a way. And it shows the deep decay and rot in the society of the Glymera that a terrible person like Lash is lauded, whereas a really good, worthwhile person like Qhuinn is disparaged because he happens to have odd-colored eyes. Come on now. His relationship with Blay is so moving to me. I wish I could wave a magic wand and work things out for them, but that's not meant to be. Time will tell how things resolve in their case.
Now onto Rhev. Goodness I am fascinated and attracted to his character. He is complex with a capital "C." I loved how Ward seemed to put Phury and Rhev forward as contrasts to each other. The interesting thing is that they are like different sides of the same coin. The interesting thing is that Rhev is the "dark knight," whereas Phury is the "white knight," yet in some ways Phury might be more tarnished. I don't like that Rhev is a drug-dealer and pimp. Basically he is a smooth criminal. But he is also a really good person with valid motivations. This book only made my appetite for him grow. There are so many questions about him I want answers to. I can't wait to see him find his shellan to love him. His loneliness is heartbreaking, although he does have his good friend Xhex. But even with Xhex, he has to maintain a distance that leaves him in the solitary wasteland of his own inner sorrow.
Xhex has just a small part in this book, but it makes me hunger for more. She is a really cool, interesting character. I am dying to see her and John Matthew get together. They are made for each other, although one might shake her or his head at the thought of it. The bathroom scene with them was short, but WOW! Chemistry!
Other great moments: Qhuinn finding his place in the world of the Brothers. That was so cool. Go Wrath! Also loved the advent of the oh-so intriguing Lassiter. I can't say the evolution of Lash was a great moment, but it made for good reading.
I feel I could write ten pages about this book, but I won't belabor the point. I love this book. My life has been enriched in the reading of it. And although not all the moments I experienced in the reading were fun, I have no regrets in following these characters on their dark journey, with the hope of light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, it was some of the most enjoyable hours I've spent in the past several days.
Another example of how romantic fiction is not fluff. This book was deep as the ocean. I loved how this book brought together two people who had been...moreAnother example of how romantic fiction is not fluff. This book was deep as the ocean. I loved how this book brought together two people who had been hurt or damaged by life, and helped them to find peace and love.
The Rake is an excellent portrayal of a person suffering from alcoholism. And coming from a family where both side has members who were alcoholics, I can testify to this. Reggie reminded me of a few of my uncles. They could have been better men had they not been under the influence of the drug that started as something they indulged in for fun, but became their lives and helped to destroy their lives.
The great thing about this book is that it was so well written that I couldn't turn away because I had seen too much of that behavior. Instead, I wanted to read more about Reggie's journey to sobriety.
Alyx also has issues. She is odd-eyed, meaning her eyes are different colors. She is also tall and buxom. In her mind, she is unattractive. And she heard a man that she adored dismiss her, so she ran off and gave herself to the first man who asked. Of course, he didn't want her for more than one night. Lesson learned, she retires to the country and gets a job as the steward to an absentee landlord.
This turns out to be the recently inherited property of Reginald, who is running away from London to try to get his life under control. This is how these two souls meet and find a love that helps them both to heal and gives them a hopeful future.
It's been a while since I read this one, but it is destined to always have a space on my keeper shelf. For the beauty of the storytelling, the compelling and realistic hero and heroine, and for the excellent handling of the tough subject of alcoholism.(less)
I am really sad to see this series concluding, although I am happy to see everyone get a satisfying ending. To be honest, I wasn’t that enamored with...moreI am really sad to see this series concluding, although I am happy to see everyone get a satisfying ending. To be honest, I wasn’t that enamored with either Sin or Con when I met them in Ecstasy Unveiled. I didn’t like the closet hookup, and the uneventful sex; and I wasn’t sure I could buy them falling deeply in love in their book. But, I figured that Ms. Ione would have something up her sleeve to turn things around. And she really did.
Sin is a hard person, toughened and disappointed by life. I can totally understand why. It’s bad enough to be a man who is a slave to his desires, but for a woman, that’s probably even worse. Especially when you have inbred trust issues from having a mother who hated you and wanted you dead. Sex requires intimacy. Intimacy requires trust. Imagine having to have sex daily without being able to trust anyone? That’s Sin’s life. And you know how hypocritical men are about women who ‘sleep around’. It’s fine for a guy, but a woman who does it is a slut, and she doesn’t deserve their respect, and they show it, even though she chooses to share her body with them. I think that sucks. So, yeah, I get Sin’s issues. Surprisingly, I liked her early on in this book, and loved her by the end of the book.
As for Con, I really didn’t like him after the bet he made with Luc. Talking about callous. I think he did have some reason to be unwilling to get involved, but not as much as Sin. Even still, it was good to see him learn to love a woman more than he loved his freedom, or holding onto his belief that he could move on, and change out things in his life at will. Even though he was being Mr. Double Standard by pushing Sin to open up and allow her to feel, but not wanting to commit to anything out of a deep-seated fear of loss. But Con has to learn the hard way that you can’t close yourself off from people out of fear of loss.
I really like how Ms. Ione writes these books. They are highly sexual, but that’s just a layer of the story. Although she writes sex very well, she doesn't leave the romance behind to be forgotten; and there’s so much more going on and to be interested in. This series is about family, about realizing that one has a place in this world, connections. That what you thought about the world being black and white truly doesn’t represent the world very well. The world is so full of shades of gray, and even more, colors. It’s more about perspective than there being one answer, and one path. And love isn’t denied to anyone.
When I read the first book, Pleasure Unbound, I was pretty fascinated with this world of demons that Ms. Ione put on paper. After five books, I am still impressed. The world-building in this series is out of this world, and it only expanded with each book. That’s part of why I’m sad to see it ending, because I think there are a lot of stories to tell in this world. However, I am glad that she’s going to take things in a different direction in this same world with the Lords of Deliverance, and I am intrigued with how she introduced that series in this book. Sin Undone successfully fed my paranormal addiction and left me yearning for more. That’s five for five, Ms. Ione! (less)
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)
Maisey Yates takes the Beauty and the Beast story and twists it on its side with this book. Is the heroine the beast due to her unsightly scars, or is...moreMaisey Yates takes the Beauty and the Beast story and twists it on its side with this book. Is the heroine the beast due to her unsightly scars, or is the gorgeous prince with his decadent lifestyle really the beast?
Disclaimer: I didn't put this review in spoiler tags, although there might be some borderline spoilerish elements. I endeavored not to give too much away, that wasn't necessary to expressing my thoughts of the book.
As I read this novel, it struck me that this is a very serious book. I didn't feel much levity, not that I always expect it, but it was noticeably lacking. Layna and Xander have some serious hurts in their past and their present situations. Xander went off the rails big time and the author wasn't afraid to keep it real in describing Xander's depredations. No Xander did it all in his checkered past (recent and distant). He was notoriously promiscuous to the degree that he doesn't even know how many women he's slept with (and doesn't even remember some of them), abused drugs, and was a hard drinker. In my mind I couldn't help wonder how healthy his liver is. I have alcoholics in my family on both sides, and through them I have seen the effects of long-term alcohol abuse on a person. I was glad that Layna doesn't let him off the hook when she agrees to marry him. She demands fidelity from him, and I was so glad that she required that he get STD tested. It was judicious, considering the circumstances. As for Layna's scarring, it's not just confined to a thin line that barely disfigures her face. She has significant scarring and the tabloids/newspapers say some truly awful things about her. That part was heartbreaking. I could completely understand her fears about going back to the public life she escaped from ten years ago. Going from a shallow, spoiled socialite with impeccable looks to a scarred woman in her near to mid-thirties who is marrying a good-looking future king would be heart-wrenching for any woman. Even with her training that vanity has no place in her life from the convent, that was difficult to weather. Although Xander is clearly the worse bargain, they make it seem like Xander is being altruistic in honoring his promises and marrying Layna.
Yates definitely brings the reality to what seems like a storyline straight out of the fairy tales. I can't say I would be eager to marry Xander with his abuses on his body (and it's not out of judgmentalism, but because you can't just click a finger and erase the effects of such a lifestyle from his body). And I think that it's clear that Xander has a ways to go before he breaks fifteen years of bad habits. I think this is evident when they are first intimate. Xander's lovemaking style while accomplished, does show a certain degree of selfishness and callousness about sex. He doesn't understand why Layna is conflicted about the experience, even though she enjoyed it. This is telling and I think realistic for a man who has spent fifteen years sleeping around with random women he meets as he frequents the casinos where he parties and makes his living gambling. I also liked how Xander's perception of Layna changes. He never thinks she's ugly, but he sees the scars through a harsher lens initially. As he falls in love with her, the scars become a part of her, and he loves the character of her features, because that's who she is. They cease to stand out to him.
Layna isn't portrayed as a perfectly good, pure woman either (other than what she appears to be on the surface). While she retired to a convent for ten years, her actions did have a certain degree of self-motivation. The convent was an escape, although she does realize how much she loves helping others and that her faith in God is real to her, in the process. At the root, it is running away, from the exposure she suffered as Xander's rejected fiance who was horribly scarred by an angry protestor, and also from her own emotional breakdown.
Yes, as I wrote earlier, this is a very serious book. Despite the fact that one would consider this storyline fertile ground for a dramatic, glossy style Harlequin Presents, there is a deep emotional core to this book that refuses to allow the reader to dismiss this book as a light read.
I gave this four stars because it was a intense, layered, well-written, and emotional novel, and I think that Yates handled this dicey subject matter very well.(less)
Holly Harrison meets kind, good-looking, if very overweight Jess Colton when they are stranded in the elevator in their apartment building. He helps h...moreHolly Harrison meets kind, good-looking, if very overweight Jess Colton when they are stranded in the elevator in their apartment building. He helps her to get through her attack of claustrophobia and fear by praying for her, and shows what a nice guy he is. Once they are rescued from the elevator, Jess invites her to go to church with him. Holly became a Christian years ago, but she listened to her sister's insistence that God wouldn't forgive her for the sins she had committed while in college, so she stopped going to church, praying and reading her Bible. Jess's encouragement and spiritual counseling helps Holly to get back in a close relationship with the Lord, and she starts to fall in love with the gentle, beautiful man. His weight doesn't matter to her. She sees the loving person inside, and is drawn to him for his love for God and the warm friendship he shows her. Even though she knows that he probably wouldn't want damaged goods like herself.
Jess falls in love at first sight with Holly, but more importantly, he reaches out to the lonely, unhappy young woman with the love of Christ. While others seem repelled and critical of his weight, she shows him loving friendship and support. He knows that no woman would want him with his large body and his addiction to food. All he can do is take comfort in their friendship, even if he wants more in his heart. But what can he offer to her when it turns out that with his weight issues, his health is a ticking clock getting closer to eternity?
Give Us This Day was a very touching novel about the relationship between two lonely people who felt deeply unworthy inside, despite their relationship with Christ. I appreciated that God brought them together so they could help each other through their mutual issues with feeling loved and accepted. Additionally, it was refreshing to read a book where the couple falling in love aren't drop dead gorgeous or without flaws, and they love each other for what they see inside, as well for their mutual love for Christ.
The story touched me deeply, both from a spiritual and emotional perspective. Jess was a very good man, and it was painful to see how people treated him because of his weight, as if he was disgusting and inferior and undeserving of respect. Foster ably conveys the message about God's love for all people, and that he accepts us as we are. Jess's struggles with an alcohol addiction that he substituted with food because of feeling a lack of acceptance from his hypercritical father resonated with me. His process of turning that addiction over to God and seeking his help to recover from it, was a powerful message to me of God's ability to heal all our wounds and to be our sufficiency in a fallen world. In the case of Holly, I was reminded that God's love is unconditional, that there is no sin he won't forgive and that we don't need to feel unworthy of his love and fellowship because of mistakes we make, past or future.
At times, I feel as though Christian fiction can be all about a message with no story to go with it. With Give Us This Day, I felt that the message was seamlessly intertwined with an involving story. I rooted for Jess and Holly to find their happy ending together, even as I appreciated the spiritual truths and insights given in this novella. I loved how in the midst of their struggles, these characters were able to find comfort in each other, and from the people in their lives (both Christian and non-Christian), but also to help those who didn't know and appreciate God's unconditional love as a gift available to all.
There are very few, if any romance books that feature an overweight hero or even a hero who struggles with weight issues, so this book serves as a very good trailblazer for a needed genre today. I found that I loved Jess for his whole being as I read this novella. While I felt pain for his emotional issues that led to his obesity and worried about his health, his weight didn't diminish his attractiveness to me as a person. It wasn't hard to see why Holly fell in love with him. I definitely see this as being realistic, because many people don't just look for the perfect physical specimen, either because they have gone down that path and been disappointed or because they know all along their soulmate won't come in that package. They look to the heart for a person who they feel safe and loved with. Give Us This Day is the book for those readers. And for readers who want a great romance with an effective and non-preachy Christian message. I recommend reading it.
Devil's Kiss is the first in the Hellraisers historical paranormal romance series by Zoe Archer, and she has created an interesting world and an intri...moreDevil's Kiss is the first in the Hellraisers historical paranormal romance series by Zoe Archer, and she has created an interesting world and an intriguing storyline that will keep me coming back to this series.
I loved how immersive this story was. I felt like I was in the Georgian period, where anything goes, if you have the money, power and status to make your own rules. With this background, the character have validity and their choices and motivations make sense. Whit is a hero that really sucked me in. He is not a good man, but he is a man that you want to be good, to make the right decisions in the end. I have to say that force of his personality pulled me right into this story. I found Whit very magnetic. Ms. Archer does an excellent joy of portraying the tug of war that Whit has between his good nature and his darker one. I don't think gambling was his vice in itself, but the desire to control fate and have power to manipulate fate and circumstances. Losing his family so young and becoming an Earl so early in his life gave him this vacuum inside, this feeling that he is being buffeted by fate, so that living on the knife's edge became the only valid lifestyle for himself. It's probable that he might have been a thrill-seeker, explorer or adventurer if he hadn't inherited his title. I found him quite fascinating as a character. I could see why Zora found him so irresistible and fell in love with him even though he's not a good man by any stretch. This aspect of the story, as well as the manner in which Archer establishes her story in the Georgian period reminds me of Anne Stuart, and that's always a good thing.
Zora was a great character. I loved her strong personality, her determination, her independent spirit, and that she doesn't give up on what is important to her. She always felt strange and disjointed in her Romani family and life, although she does value it. When the giorgo men show up in her camp, her eyes are drawn to Whit, and she can't look away. He compels her in a way no other man has. His obsession with her isn't one-sided at all. And she becomes the only means through which he can regain his soul back from the devil. Zora is a good woman, but she's also a vital, primal woman, not a plaster saint. It means that much more when she stands up for what is right when it is so easy to choose self and do what is wrong in the process.
When I read romance, I want the bond and the relationship between the characters to be meaningful, real, and deeply emotional. I felt all that with Whit and Zora. Although they share a very primal sexual attraction, there is also an intellectual connection, and an emotional bond. Zora could have walked away and left Whit to his fate, but she cared for him and wanted to help him get free from his devil's bargain; or she could have destroyed him when she realized that his actions might bring on the end of the world. But love kept her with him. As for Whit, although his actions towards Zora weren't honorable initially, he shows that she is very important to him, her love and her light keeps him grounded and gives him the strength to fight for his soul and to do the right thing. The love scenes are very sensual and well-written, and they fit very well into this intense story about dark passions and desires.
This series has gotten me hooked, probably from the first page. Ms. Archer promises to deliver forthcoming books that avoid being predictable, and where the main character could perhaps be the worst villain of all, if he chooses wrongly. I like that kind of risk-taking when I read a story, especially when it's well-written as Devil's Kiss is.
For this very enjoyable, well-written book, I have to give a rating of 4.5/5.0.
Stormdancer has such a distinctive feel that impacted me as a reader. The mix of rich Japanese-like culture and folklore with a dystopian twist. The m...moreStormdancer has such a distinctive feel that impacted me as a reader. The mix of rich Japanese-like culture and folklore with a dystopian twist. The main character is a brave but troubled young woman who earns my loyalty and encourages me to stand up for what I personally believe in.
But the one thing that really won me over was the connection between Yukiko and the arashitora, who she names Buruu. I’ve been an animal person since I was a wee lassie, and the bond between humans and animals is very important in my life. To see the love and trust that grows between Yukiko and Buruu, and their devotion almost brought tears to my eyes, because I am a true sap about stuff like that. Buruu is a majestic and beautiful creature, although fiercely lethal and untamable, as a legendary creature should be. I loved that although Buruu doesn’t tame down or change in his essential nature, he grows as the bond with Yukiko develops. They teach each other things important for their journey.
The world of the Shima Isles is a dark one. The place hovers on the brink of ecological disaster, and many crimes against humanity occur daily. The Shogun is clearly mad, and his power without limitation. On top of that is the Guild, which strives to make more of their poison lotus, despite its cost to their world and the people within it, and burns people who they view as heretics, probably all of which are innocent. In this kind of world, it’s hard to have hope, which is why Yukiko begins this story as a sullen and miserable young woman. She’s lost more than she can reconcile, feels the personal sting of betrayal daily, and it’s wounded her emotionally. What a good time for Buruu to come along, although their connection is not without anguish for them both. But in this world, personal sacrifice is necessary to right the terrible wrongs occurring. In the end, they are healing and comfort and safety to each other in a dark place. Together, they will not be defeated.
Stormdancer is a very good book. While it took time for me to get into the flow of terminology and world-building, I appreciate the author’s efforts to create such an immersive, fascinating world. The Japanese cultural elements appealed highly to me. Of course, I loved the strong young heroine, among many strong capable women who fight for their world just as the men do. The action scenes brought to mind some of my favorite martial arts/fantasy movies. I admit I am a serious fan of swordplay, and this book has some beautiful and bloody evidence of this martial art, along with others. I could see this is a gorgeous anime-style film, but I hope that it is made in live action, with its all Asian cast. I would definitely pay money to see this on the big screen.
While I agree that is definitely for young adults and for older readers who enjoy young adult fiction, I like that Kristoff doesn’t curtail his writing merely to fit in the current YA trend. The violence is quite descriptive and there is some sensual content (although fade to black). The storyline is quite dark, with the ecological sabotage for power and money, the cruelty and violence against so called enemies of the state, and the disregard for the welfare and needs of the citizenry. I think there are good lessons in here, although I don’t think Kristoff ever strays into PSA territory. It’s inherent and beautifully integral to this novel. Personally, I think this book is fine for readers 14 and older. However, I would recommend a parent reading it first. This one is very close to a five star rating, but since some scenes lacked clarity, I ended up giving it 4.5/5.0 stars. Despite that, I highly recommend it to dystopian, fantasy, and Asian folklore fans. (less)
Allie’s Moon is a love story with two lonely people who carry heavy weights on their hearts from the past. Althea Ford had been told for most of her l...moreAllie’s Moon is a love story with two lonely people who carry heavy weights on their hearts from the past. Althea Ford had been told for most of her life that she was responsible for her mother’s death. She focused her existence on making amends for her lapse by taking care of her father through his long illness, and her sister who has emotional problems and ‘fits’. She sees no other life for herself other than the narrow, lonely one she inhabits.
For the past two years, Jeff Hicks has drowned his past anguish in whiskey, becoming a homeless alcoholic, when he was once sheriff. He doesn’t think of the future, only the present. When he’s arrested for stealing an egg, his friend Will, who took over as sheriff, arranges for Jeff to work on Althea’s farm for a month, doing odd jobs that she needs a handyman for. Jeff doesn’t want to spend a month in jail, so he agrees to working on Althea’s farm.
The best part of this story was how these two sad people find peace and solace in each other. It was good to see Jeff stop drinking and heal from the pain of knowing he killed a boy. Even though it was in self-defense, he could never forgive himself. Although not as much time was spent on dealing with Jeff’s alcoholism, I believe Ms. Harrington made an effort for that to be realistic. Allie, as he starts to call Althea, gives him a reason to get through the day, purpose, and joy in anticipating every moment with her. In essence, she is a very good and positive substitute for alcohol, giving him the succor he needed, and helping him get his life back on track. That made his ability to kick his alcohol dependence so smoothly feel more realistic for me. Allie felt as though she deserved nothing more than to be a dogsbody to her sister to pay her penance for her mother’s suicide. But Ben sees the sweet, beautiful, loving woman she is under all her starch and propriety, and he wishes he was good enough for her, wanting to share the heart he thought was dead and incapable of feeling with her. At first glance, Allie does feel that the downtrodden, dirty alcoholic had something about him that draws her eye. When she sees the man he is after he gets cleaned up and finds purpose and peace working on her farm, it doesn’t take very long for her to become attracted to and to fall in love with Jeff. She realizes that he is an honorable, gentle, loving man, and wishes that he could be her happy ending, although she can’t see a future outside of her duty to her sister.
The worst part of this book was Allie’s horrible sister. She was such a mean, self-absorbed, evil person. She treated her sister terribly, manipulating and taking advantage of the kind woman that Allie was. I think the depths of her ugliness kept this from being a higher rated book for me. Olivia’s antics were too much for me, I think. I didn’t feel fully satisfied with the book after what she put Jeff and Allie through before it was over. I feel like she worked them over a little too easily, even though Jeff was onto her early on in the book. (view spoiler)[ The fact that she was willing to let a man hang for something he was innocent of put a bad taste in my mouth (hide spoiler)]. I do regret that this was enough to knock this book from five stars to four, but it just affected my enjoyment too much.
Overall, I really did enjoy this book. I read it in one day, which says a lot. Allie and Jeff are two characters that I wanted to find peace and happiness. They both deserved to be loved. I appreciate that Ms. Harrington gave us characters who had a lot of anguish and issues to deal with, giving them a happy ending together. Those are my favorite kinds of romance stories. I haven’t been reading many western romances lately, which is a shame, since they are favorites of mine. This is my third book that I’ve read by her, and I can say that Alexis Harrington is one to reach for when a western romance fan wants a emotional read. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
What do you do when you feel like a stranger in your own land? That’s the question that Zora and Nicky face. They both grew up in the church, children...moreWhat do you do when you feel like a stranger in your own land? That’s the question that Zora and Nicky face. They both grew up in the church, children of ministers. Their whole lives were about living and walking in the footsteps of Jesus. But when did it become a matter of trying to please their fathers more than Jesus? When did this require the sacrifice of their entire identities?
Both Zora and Nicky are adrift. Nicky is the prodigal son, returned to the fold to try to rebuild his troubled relationship with a father who never showed him the loving embrace that a dad should show his son, like Jesus loves His church. Nicky wants to be a writer, but the words won’t come. He feels so alone and trapped. His girlfriend is the perfect girl for the life that his parents want for him. But not for Nicky. And Nicky is dealing with three years of celibacy and sobriety, after wild teenage years of leading church maidens astray when he was asking for help from a family who left his cries unheard. When he goes to a bible study held by his boss, he encounters the beautiful, dark-skinned Zora, and feels a mix of emotions that do not strike him as healthy with everything else on his plate. Is it just lust or he could he be in love?
Zora is the daughter of a minister who preaches prosperity to those who can proclaim God’s word with faith. He has no tolerance for poor Christians or those who just want to get by. Although he gives her everything material she could wish for, designer furniture, clothes, and a Lexus, he controls every aspect of her life, and seems blind to the true unrest in his church. Zora walks out of church one day, praying that God would show her how to be poor in spirit. She goes to a bible study full of white people and feels that intense emotional connection with God that she feels like has been absent, but she’s embarrassed by the way she breaks down in front of the other bible study members. And then there is the gorgeous blue-eyed, blond rogue that she’s been warned about although they truly love Nicky. How can she be drawn to a troubled and rascally white man when she doesn’t even love the perfect black man hand-picked by her father, and groomed to be the future minister of his church? What does she do when her father takes everything away because he feels she’s in rebellion just by trying to be herself? And to her surprise, the white folks from her bible study, and the roguish Nicky, come to her aid when her family and most of her church turns a blind eye.
Zora and Nicky is a very moving romantic story, but it also strikes at the heart of a reader who grew up in the Christian faith, but is trying to find out where she or he fits into the flock of God’s church. I loved how Ms. Burney wasn’t afraid to get real. She showed how church is full of people who do one thing and say another, but it’s also clear that there are many who love God so much, but they just don’t know how they are supposed to go about doing that. I just loved both Nicky and Zora’s characters. Not because they were perfect, but because they were real and hurting and damaged. They both had a genuine love for Jesus, and they wanted to be wrapped in His arms in all their wounded, flawed selves. Not only that, they wanted to have fathers who knew how to love them, and accept them for who they were. Their troubled relationships with their fathers clearly affected their relationships with God, because they didn’t know that unconditional love that Jesus has for us, unused to feeling that in the model for His love that one’s father and minister should show.
The racial issues in this story are pertinent and handled well. Ms. Burney addressed the ugly things that normal people think and do on both sides of the racial issue. Although the way Nicky’s grandfather and father act about Zora was absolutely chilling, Ms. Burney also shows that black folks can be just as racist in their thinking as white folks. And neither is okay. Because humans are just human. And no person should be seen as the stand-in or representative for their race. It isn’t fair, because you can only be you. And Christians of all people should know better than to judge someone for the outside, the mere difference in melanin that means nothing to God. Although it was clear how powerful the bond was between Zora and Nicky, they had to work out their own issues about race so that they could see each other with the love that God put in their souls for each other.
Even with the sometimes mean things they said to each other, I loved how they seemed to get who each other was deep down, and supported that, even when people who should have loved, supported and understood each other didn’t. I loved that their relationship was passionate even with no sex taking place (just very passionate kisses), how they talked to each other, fought for each other, and dreamed together. I loved that they both shared a powerful love for Christ that was another thing that bound them together. They had the makings of a relationship I could truly see flourishing fifty years in the future.
Zora and Nicky was a book that made me cry. It made me angry in some scenes. It affected me deeply, and probed into the hurting places that I have regarding my own walk in the Christian faith; dealing with that feeling that you don’t fit into the body of Christ the way you should. That even though Jesus loves you the way you are and wants the best for you, others don’t think you measure up. Also seeing the superficial Christianity that seems okay for most, and how you want something deep and true and it feels like you can’t find it. I could identify so well with those aspects of this book. And the romantic in me loved the beautiful story of love found between Zora and Nicky. I felt that God did bring them together, and He was working in both of them for their good and for their emotional wholeness and healing.
I didn’t much care for either Nicky or Zora’s father. Actually, I think they failed in very profound ways. I did feel that at the end of the day, their mothers did show the love that both Zora and Nicky needed, even though it wasn’t enough to balance out the pain that each father caused them. I also liked Zora’s relationship with her friend MacKenzie. They stood by each other through tough times, encouraging each other to reach for their dreams.
I really appreciated the characters of Linda, Rick, and Billie, who are members of the bible study. Also Ms. Pamela, one of the members of Zora’s congregation. Who all represent Christians who are filled with the love of Jesus, and have made it their mission to show it, even though some Christians wouldn’t find them fitting or good enough to represent the faith. However, they represent Jesus in the purest way. Jesus was the despised, rejected man who owned nothing but the robe on his back, was born in a manger, and died on a cross. And He is the one who is able to save and love everyone. So that’s alright with me if a shabby person shows me Jesus in my everyday life. And they were there to show that love when Nicky and Zora needed it. Just writing this review is making me cry. I just loved this book. It was so meaningful to me. I can’t recommend it highly enough. (less)
I really, really liked this book. The main characters were real and three-dimensional and very likable. The romance is sweet and nicely sexy. Ms. Hart...moreI really, really liked this book. The main characters were real and three-dimensional and very likable. The romance is sweet and nicely sexy. Ms. Hart's depiction of the members of the basketball team added another layer of flavor to this story. I found myself cheering on the game scenes. I will definitely read more by this author. This is supposed to be a mini-review, so I better stop now.
Thoroughly enjoyable contemporary romance between two people who never thought they'd end up being instant parents to the orphaned children of their r...moreThoroughly enjoyable contemporary romance between two people who never thought they'd end up being instant parents to the orphaned children of their respective best friends. Very sweet and surprisingly sexy at the same time. I need to read some of Jo Goodman's other books, many of which I have on my to read shelf at home.
A historical mystery that seems tailor made for fans of Sherlock Holmes, but are looking for a more edgy character and different angle on the relation...moreA historical mystery that seems tailor made for fans of Sherlock Holmes, but are looking for a more edgy character and different angle on the relationship between the detective and his sidekick. The mystery was pretty well developed and the story has some nice twists.
**spoiler alert** The hero in this book was too cruel to the heroine. He was a mean drunk and he didn't deserve her. I have read and liked books with...more**spoiler alert** The hero in this book was too cruel to the heroine. He was a mean drunk and he didn't deserve her. I have read and liked books with heroes who were on the cruel side, but there is a point where I turned off. Also he committed the no-no of sleeping with another woman after they were married. Granted, he married her to get revenge, picking a scrubby, uneducated tavern maid as his bride. But he showed her no kindness and abandoned her to his mean-spirited family. I could not like this hero and that ruined the book for me. It's unfortunate, because it was well-written otherwise.(less)
This book really ripped me up inside, with its depiction of child abuse. It made me cry. The writing was very good, and I liked the way she showed cha...moreThis book really ripped me up inside, with its depiction of child abuse. It made me cry. The writing was very good, and I liked the way she showed characters who were Christians and trying to live their lives and deal with some very dark aspects in their job and around them. I will definitely read more by this author.
As always, I enjoyed this book by Ms. Thomas. Her writing is warm and sweet and beguiling. Her characters are distinct with interesting layers. I feel...moreAs always, I enjoyed this book by Ms. Thomas. Her writing is warm and sweet and beguiling. Her characters are distinct with interesting layers. I feel like I am an honorary member of Harmony, Texas. I am always happy to go back there for a visit.
This book kept me up late this Saturday as I found I could not put it down without finishing it. How I feel about the book is complicated. It was a ve...moreThis book kept me up late this Saturday as I found I could not put it down without finishing it. How I feel about the book is complicated. It was a very good romance with elements of realism that added to its appeal. The hero was not a goody-two shoes titled hero with no dark past or issues other than chasing women, drinking, and gambling. He does indulge in those sports to various degrees, though. Instead he is self-made and comes from the lowest of the lower class. He had grown up extremely poor in the worst of conditions, dirt poor. His father was a terrible man who abused him, his siblings, and his mother. He gets into trouble with an Earl's wife and ends up being shanghaied off to India where he develops an addiction to opium. He never hears from his family again as they simply disappear. Despite all this, he manages to become a respected and admired military man. Lucian was a complex character who I did not always like. I have a strong aversion to substance abuse so I know that this was a major issue for me. However, I really do like flawed heroes, so that was also an advantage. I struggled with whether I felt his reasons for falling into opium addiction were valid. In the end, there is definitely some credence for him seeking solace in the drug, although it wasn't a wise decision for his life. He was a honorable man in many ways, but at the same time, he did not always do the right thing. I liked that he was irresistibly drawn to the heroine, Fancy, who he finds out later is his ward. Initially he thinks she is a thief and a working-class woman who is available to be his short-term mistress. The initial draw is lust, but soon he finds that she brings him peace. When he finds out late that she has been pretending to be someone other than his guardian, it makes things a lot harder for him, because he knows he must give her up. The reasons why Lucian is Fancy's guardian stems from his time in India serving as the commanding officer for her brother. Even that situation turns out to be very complicated. This book is a very complex one to read, but very readable at the same time. It deals with issues of addiction, poverty, guilt, forbidden love, and also delves into the wrongs of imperialism. Although you could pick it up to have a nice romance novel read, be prepared to have your intellect and your heart involved, as this book does delve deep as the hero finds his way out of the morass of drug addiction and a tortured past into a bright future with Fancy.(less)
One of the first romance books I read that realistically portrayed an alcoholic. This hero falls of the wagon, but it's not the end of the world, beca...moreOne of the first romance books I read that realistically portrayed an alcoholic. This hero falls of the wagon, but it's not the end of the world, because Mary loves him and is there to help him, although the hardest part is his. (less)