Okay. How to write this review without the whole thing turning into a Hardy Cates droolfest. It's going to be very hard, because I love the man!
One UpOkay. How to write this review without the whole thing turning into a Hardy Cates droolfest. It's going to be very hard, because I love the man!
One Upon a Time, There was a Guy Named Hardy Cates...: I met Hardy Cates in Sugar Daddy, and I have to say that I sure did fall hard for him. Big time! Hard as a young Liberty Jones did. I could see that beneath that mind-numbingly sexy bad boy veneer was a sensitive, loving, good-hearted person. My feelings never changed for him. (view spoiler)[ As much as I loved Sugar Daddy, I truly did take exception with the fact that my beloved author Lisa Kleypas was taking a shortcut to her happy ending by making Hardy seem like a bad guy so Liberty would have a reason to choose Gage. I don't think Hardy deserved that. Am I putting him on a pedestal? Nope. But Hardy could have been the guy who didn't win Liberty simply because the older Liberty knew that Gage was the man she wanted. Not because of the dirty trick he pulled. I was so disappointed with that! Naturally, I was exceedingly thrilled to see Hardy get his day in the sun in this book. And boy does he shine. (hide spoiler)]
Oh, No! Danielle's Reading a Chick Lit Book! Not Again! : Although this book is still a lot more chick lit-oriented than I normally would prefer, I found myself taking it in with an effervescent fervor that I found surprising. Although maybe that's not surprising at all in the sense that I never doubted Lisa Kleypas' ability to write a beautiful, enjoyable book. I am familiar with LK's experimental spirit that causes her to try different elements in her stories, and I admire her for that. And for this chick-lit non-fan, she did a bang up job. This is a nicely-done hybrid of chick lit and romance and it's successful on both counts.
There is much time spent on Haven's life apart from Hardy. Not too much, thankfully, but necessary all the same. Page time is spent on a marriage that turns out to be nightmare for Haven. As I read about Haven's marriage, I felt this strange kinship with her. I've never been married, nor have I been in a bad relationship like her. But I have been in situations where I felt like the intrinsic person I was didn't seem valued, like I was being absorbed and eaten away until nothing remained. I loved how visually this is illustrated with Haven's dream about being a Barbie doll whose body parts slowly fall off until nothing is left. That feeling is so real for people who have been in those toxic relationships where your identity is nothing but a reflection of that other person's. A sounding board for their brilliance, glamor, perfection. For what I call 'go with the flow' people who don't need to be the center of attention, and who often sacrifice their own needs for others', because they attract the emotional energy suckers like a vacuum. I wanted to cry bitter tears for Haven. And I did cry. I cannot get over how traumatic it was to read about the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her husband. How he took everything of value from her, and it wasn't enough. I yelled at Haven to get out, to say no. I wished that she had ran off with Hardy that night of Liberty and Gage's wedding. Unfortunately, she didn't. On the other hand, how can we skip through the bad parts of life that help us to be who we were meant to become, that make us strong, so we can get to the good parts? Life doesn't work that way. Would Hardy and Haven have lasted (as the people they were then) if they started their happy ending that night, or is their love stronger for what they experienced in the two years apart? I think the latter. Unlike my so savvy romance reviewing sisters on here, I didn't mark quotes, but I loved what Haven thinks about herself and Hardy together. That their respective broken areas make them fit together so much better. I truly believed that to be the case.
Haven was a beautifully layered character. She might have come off as the spoiled little rich girl, if not done so well. I didn't get that from her. I did see her insecurities and her desire to be loved, feel worthy, and special. I hurt for her that this led her into such a terrible situation with her husband. I hurt for her that she didn't get the love that she needed from her mother or father. Their version of love worked okay for her brothers, but it didn't really satisfy the little girl who had never felt valued by her parents. I could identify with Haven's tendency to want to make others happy, often at her own expense. I loved seeing her grow as a person. I loved her for her having the courage to confront some truly scary situations and take control of her life from the fear that held her back and caged her. She was a wonderful heroine. Liberty is a hard act to follow, but I think Haven did a really great job of claiming her own place in my heart as a heroine.
Back to Hardy:
Oh, what a man. Once again, Ms. Kleypas hits the mark in crafting her characteristic self-made hero. There is something so enduring, so distinct about Hardy's essence. He shows up the oh-so prevalent stereotypes about trailer park/small town/good ol' boy guys (I won't use the less nice terms). What others might consider unworthy, I can't help but love about him. He's down to earth, honest, real, vital, and not afraid to be a rough, real guy. That appeals to me big time, even if I didn't think I would necessarily go for that type of guy. A man who came from nothing, and pulled himself up painfully. A man with an inner drive and ambition that actually embarassed him. Like Haven, I totally didn't think he needed to feel shame about that. A person cannot choose where they come from, but they can choose what kind of person they will be in the future. Hardy chose to be about something. He had a reputation for being twisted, (view spoiler)[ and what he did to Gage in Sugar Daddy was wrong, (hide spoiler)] but I felt that Hardy had honor. He was a man that would fight and work for what he valued. And he treats women with respect and consideration. That's really important to me as a person. Although I think Hardy is one of the most physically sexiest heroes ever written, I also love his capacity for gentleness, how he loves all of Haven and values everything that she is. Haven thought that Hardy just wanted to use her to get back at her family. But I never saw it that way. Hardy wanted Haven for the unique person she was, that drew him to her like a moth to a flame, and he showed how much she meant to him through his actions. Deep down I think she believed that about him. (view spoiler)[ The fact that she calls him when she's stuck in the elevator when she could only call one person is very telling. (hide spoiler)] Even when he didn't always do things the right way or say all the fancy words, he showed it. And I was glad that Haven could see that there was something of value to Hardy even though everyone warned her away from him. I have to tell you, I am not saying this lightly. Hardy is one of my favorite heroes of all time. He's definitely going in my top ten list, and near the top five, I think. And that's an honor. I don't know how you did it, Ms. Kleypas, but you hit solid gold here.
Blue-Eyed Devil is a book that came to mean so much to me, despite its brevity. There is so much in this book that calls to my book-loving soul. Lisa Kleypas writes so beautifully. She's a very funny, and insightful person when it comes to human nature. The way in which she shows the interactions between people is very true to life. Although I love her historicals, I do feel that she has convinced me of her skill as a contemporary writer. She shows me what there is to be appreciated about the present, when I tend to be more captivated by the past and the fantasy worlds, which seem so much more tantalizing. The conversations and the confrontations that the characters have in this book are real to me. I often felt like I had been there, both in situations with my family, friends, and with co-workers or bosses. That as much as the soul-stirring, heart-melting romance won me over in this book. I loved Sugar Daddy, but I have to say that I loved Blue-Eyed Devil even more. I give this book the highest recommendation. You might not like it, and that's okay. But I love it enough that I wish you'd give it a try.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
City folk have a distinct misconception about small towns. We tend to believe that they are tranquil and innocent. That the denizens are wholesome andCity folk have a distinct misconception about small towns. We tend to believe that they are tranquil and innocent. That the denizens are wholesome and full of family values. But, we don't see the hidden rot that lurks beneath the sleepy facade.
Stephen King does a lot to shatter that myth with 'Salem's Lot. This a horror novel about a vampire who destroys a town from the inside out. This is a horror story about the darkness that we don't see clearly (or maybe we ignore) about our friends, families, and neighbors.
What was the most horrific part of this book for me? You're going to guess wrong. It wasn't the horror of the vampires. It was seeing a woman punch her ten month old baby in the face because he was crying. Yes, that bothered me more than any of the actual supernatural horror. I say to Mr. King that you know what fears lurk in our hearts. The dark is full of potential evil that can possess us, take over our bodies, and turn us into monsters. But, the truest monsters are the human ones. With this novel, Mr. King showed me both kinds of monsters.
Do you believe that there are no true secrets in a small town? You'd be right if you said yes. You'd be equally right if you said no. The townspeople of 'Salem's Lot know a lot more than they want to know about their neighbors, but they overlook it, ignore it, sweep the sins under the rug until the rug starts to bulge in the middle, and it won't hold those secrets back.
For example, 'Salem's Lot harbored an ex-mobster who had a penchant for devil worship. He lived in a scary house on the top of a hill, the Marsten House. It was a house that haunted Ben Mears after he went there as a nine year old on a dare. He went there, and saw something that was from his worst nightmares, but he believed even in his adulthood to be true. The evil that Hubie Marsten brought into existence never died. The house held it as a battery holds a charge. It was the perfect place for a vampire and his evil minion to set up shop in this little town.
I read the introduction to this story with interest. I love knowing how an author came to craft his or her story. Mr. King was a fan of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and he wrote 'Salem's Lot as an unofficial homage to that classic vampire novel. In my inexpert opinion, I think he did a great job. I feel that Mr. Stoker would probably nod in approval, even if he didn't get all the modern references. Mr. King wrote his idea of a vampire story, and it holds his individual stamp on it. Yet, the aspects that make Dracula such an excellent vampire novel, at least to this vampire aficionado, are clearly represented. Mr. Barlow could give Count Dracula a real run for his money as far as being a completely evil, despicable, and formidable being. His minion, Straker, could give Renfield some lessons in evil. And Matt, Ben, Jimmy, Susan, Father Callahan, and Mark could compare notes with Van Helsing, Harker, Mina, Holmwood, and Quincy. But, if Mr. Stoker would forgive me, I think that Mr. King ramped up the fear level significantly, because his world is not sentimental and endowed with as many basically 'good' people. His world is full of flawed humanity who have really nasty proclivities, although I still feared for their safety and didn't want them to succumb to the evil of the vampire that infected this town.
In this story, we learn about the heights and depths of the human condition. How a person can bounce back from despair, face his/her worst fears, and quite possibly wrap his mind around events that cannot be real to an empirical mind. We learn about what a person's limits are. Can you go into that house and do what needs to be done? Do you have the nerve? Or will you turn away and pretend it's not happening, as some members of this town do, for their own sanity? Can a thirteen- year-old boy show the bravery that a seventy-year-old man in the twilight of his life lacks? Can a non-believer trust in the symbols of a faith that held no relevance to him, in the face of an evil that defies scientific explanation? All these questions are explored in this story, with answers that might surprise you.
I deliberately read 'Salem's Lot during the day, because it is quite, quite scary. Even still, I thought about a pair of red eyes haunting me in the night. Feared for the scratching of a lost loved one against my window pane as I tried to sleep at night. Some part of me hoped that I had not inadvertently invited the wrong person into my home. If that is what makes a successful vampire novel, I'd say Stephen King has succeeded in a big way....more
This is one of those books that instills a good feeling in the reader throughout the reading, and once the last word has been read. I was cheering forThis is one of those books that instills a good feeling in the reader throughout the reading, and once the last word has been read. I was cheering for Dane and Olivia to consummate their marriage, and I was laughing and rather surprised in a good way at the reasons for Dane's virginity. I liked that Olivia was the one pursuing in this book, instead of Dane. This book was fun and exciting to read. It has some rather nontraditional sensuality elements for a mainstream, non-erotic historical romance (in general), but I liked the way it was done. Very well written as typical for Bradley. She's really great at combining humor and pathos in her books. A sure keeper....more
I was torn on the rating for this book, because it was a little dry in some points, but it really won me over by the end of the book. I loved the connI was torn on the rating for this book, because it was a little dry in some points, but it really won me over by the end of the book. I loved the connection between Hannah and Jonas. They truly are soulmates. Their lives are enriched by each other and strengthened by the bond that they share.
Both Hannah and Jonas suffered horribly, and yet still believed in their love for each other. In the end, this made the book a winner for me.
I really appreciated the intense bond of sisterhood that the Drakes share. They are different and unique but share a love and devotion that resonated with me because of my love for my sister. It's a theme that never gets old for me.
The mystical, magic aspects were intriguing. I'm not a big fan of witch books, but I do like what Feehan does with the theme. The parts with the house protecting the sisters were pretty creepy. I was sitting in class, reading my book illicitly and I snorted out loud on the part where Jonas gets a little freaked out at how the house deals with the assailants that come to attack Hannah, Jonas, and her sister.
One aspect of Feehan's writing that always impresses me is her ability to write action and have the violent aspects really impact me as a reader. Yet at the same time, they are seamlessly integrated into the plot, and don't overwhelm or repel me. The part where Hannah is attacked was very visceral and really affected me. Yet, the aftermath, and how it brings together Hannah's sisters and family, and Jonas, along with the deliciously enigmatic Ilya Prakenskii, to help to save her life balanced it so well because it showed the power of love in the face of the evil and horror in the world. It was quite well written.
I really liked Hannah and Jonas both as characters. Neither was perfect, but they were people that you cared about and rooted for. I liked that they didn't play emotional games with each other. Although initially they didn't grasp the fact that their future lay together, despite deep inside rested the knowledge that there was no one else for either of them, once they did come to realize that was the way the wind blew, they didn't act silly and do the makeup and breakup thing that drives me crazy in too many romances. Although I like a romance to be above the everyday annoying and mundane aspects of life, I enjoyed how this couple faced the obstacles that life threw at them united. They worked through the fears and anguish that each of the other faced together, and didn't turn their backs on the unique and wonderful love they shared.
Reading this book and seeing the interactions between Joley and Ilya makes me want to reread Turbulent Sea to revisit their relationship. I just love Ilya. He gives me the shivers. Joley is so passionate and outrageous, you can't help but love her. Similarly I want to read the other sisters' stories and see them meet and fall in love with their future mates, particularly Elle and Jackson's.
A deep, involving, and emotional story about the strength that lies in each of us despite the obstacles we encounter, as well as a story about the bonds of love between a man and a woman, and the invaluable connection that we share with family. There was no way I couldn't give Safe Harbor five stars....more
I am sad that this series is over, but it ends in such a satisfying way. I do think that this series is required reading for those who like fairy taleI am sad that this series is over, but it ends in such a satisfying way. I do think that this series is required reading for those who like fairy tales and especially clever retellings. Each volume ups the ante on the grim aspect of fairy tales. Each book seems less appropriate for a younger audience. I'm torn on that. Mr. Gidwitz is obviously a teacher, and he understands the young minds he writes for. I mean, he has to in order to teach them. I'm going to trust that he knows what they can handle, but my personal limit would be 12 or older for these books. There is way too much dark violence and subject matter for kiddos younger than twelve, to my thinking. Also, the cruelty of adults against children in this book is highly disturbing.
I also think this is the saddest out of the series. Wow, the things that our young protagonists are faced with really tore at my heart. And how the cruelty and neglect they experienced warped something inside of them. Gidwitz deals with the psychology of abused/neglected children in a poignant way without getting too soapboxy.
There are some great life lessons here. Family, loyalty, honor, integrity, kindness, and making moral decisions. These kids have to raise themselves and that leads to some issues when they are faced with adult moral decisions. Along the way they make mistakes and have to learn from them and 'face the music.'
This book breaks the 4th wall in a way that the other ones in the series did not. At first, I really didn't like that about the book, but then I saw how integral it was to the story. It was also good because Gidwitz doesn't follow the predictable pattern I expected.
Johnny Heller truly is an awesome narrator. If he didn't win an award for narrating this series, then he was cheated. He deserves it. He was all in, and you would have to wonder how he didn't get emotionally affected by this book as he read. Not just in horror or sadness, but in hilarity, because this book involves all those emotions.
I am biased. I love fairy tales a lot. Yet, I think that increases my standards for fairy tale retellings. Gidwitz is a writer who clearly loves fairy tales just as much as I do, if not more. He respects the genre, and it clearly is a huge creative influence on him in crafting these marvelous books that add very much to the cultural relevance of fairy tales.
If you have not checked these out and you like fairy tales, what are you waiting for?...more
I started this book on a Saturday and finished it the same day. This book was incredible. It has the great elements of an authentic western setting, eI started this book on a Saturday and finished it the same day. This book was incredible. It has the great elements of an authentic western setting, engaging characters, sensual romance, humor, and danger. You will love Skylar as she is an incredible woman with a sense of honor but also the grit and determination to do what it takes to make a life for her younger brother. She was forced from a young age to suppress her feminine side and to work and to live as a cowboy, and nobody would question her abilities. Skylar ends up accidentally married to playful, but dangerous former bounty hunter, Tucker Morgan. He's gorgeous and tempting, but having a home for her brother is her first priority. The end goal is to get to Wyoming, get paid for her mustangs, and get an annulment. She just has to keep her hands off him, and his hands off her. Tucker wasn't looking at getting married ever, but he has one heck of a bride on his hands. She's willing to pull her weight and then some, and earns his respect. And she's beautiful. He finds it harder than he thought to keep from taking his wife to bed, and soon finds that he wants her forever. I really enjoyed this book. It was fun, it was intense, and I felt like I was there on the trail to Wyoming, with dust in my mouth, the cold wind blowing on face, hearing the mustangs neighing, and dodging bullets, along with the characters. If have been feeling at a loss as less and less western romances are being published, I highly recommend picking up this book. It will keep you entertained for hours indeed. Stacey Kayne is a new go to author for me when it comes to western romances. ...more
This reads like an interracial romance for Diana Palmer fans (which I am). This book is a keeper for me because of the sheer pathos and angst within iThis reads like an interracial romance for Diana Palmer fans (which I am). This book is a keeper for me because of the sheer pathos and angst within its pages.
This book is a merry-go-round emotionally. Years of two people fighting their feelings for each other. Again, I say if you like the Diana Palmer-type "I Don't Want to Fall in Love" hero, Storm Hyde is your kind of hero. He does have motivation, having been raised by a seriously mysoginistic father who filled his head with junk about all women being whores and out for money. This dialogue keeps playing in Storm's head when he meets the woman he falls in love with, Syleena Webster,who is the roommate of his considerably younger sister. Storm is an affluent businessman/cowboy whose average relationship lasts about six months. He's definitely not the ideal man for inexperienced Syleena to fall in love with, but she falls hard and never recovers, even though Storm doesn't treat her well from the beginning (again, think Diana Palmer hero pushing away the woman he loves).
One of the cool things about this story is, race is so not the issue. Storm is a White guy, and Syleena is a Black woman, which we know, but that's as far as the racial issues go. Instead the issue in this book is both characters' fear of trusting someone enough to give their hearts to them.
Syleena does her best to overcome her past of having a mother who was a heartless, uncaring, promiscuous sometime-prostitute who treated her father like crap and goaded him into suicide. She has spent years paying off her mother to leave her alone, and her mother is a big secret that she tries to keep. This secret blows up in her face, when Storm realizes that she lied about both parents being dead. The diatribe against women echoes in his head, and conquers his determination to give his heart to Syleena.
The way that he gets back at her is a scene that will linger in the reader's mind. I found it exceptionally well-written, and I must say that it is one of the cruellest things a hero has ever done to a heroine. (Nothing physical but very emotionally-wounding). So why did I keep reading the book? I wanted to find out how this couple could find happiness together. And Rochelle doesn't cheat the reader, as is done way too often. Storm has to work very hard to win back Syleena's love (thankfully). And Syleena ends up in a very bad place that really shows you how desolated and heartbroken she is by Storm's betrayal. Thankfully Storm is there to act as her self-appointed knight in shining armor, even though Syleena is far from ready to forgive and forget.
There are some editing errors and a few areas where the writing was awkward, but they don't detract from this story. All you can do is keep reading to find out how things turn out. I probably would have finished this book sooner, but I am pretty lazy about reading ebooks. Had this been in paperback, I am sure I wouldn't have been able to put this book down until it is done.
I definitely recommend this to the interracial reader who is tired of the race issue being the prominent conflict in the interracial romance they are reading. It's so not the case with this one. Also it's a breath of fresh air from the often oversexed interracial ebooks that an avid IR fan cannot help but come across. Yes there is sensuality and lovemaking scenes, but they are not overused, but definitely add to the romantic story unfolding.
You should check this one out for a back to basics love story....more
This is my favorite book of all time (well, tied with Jane Eyre). Great hero, heroine, story, humor, romance, angst. Perfect except I didn't want it tThis is my favorite book of all time (well, tied with Jane Eyre). Great hero, heroine, story, humor, romance, angst. Perfect except I didn't want it to end.
I fell in love with Dain from the moment of his birth. He was an ugly baby, loved only by his dearest mother, who was taken away from him. He was horribly treated by others growing up because of his half-Italian heritage and his large nose and ungainly features. Not knowing love, he felt he was unworthy of being loved. As an adult, he lived a life of selfish pleasure, spending his time with women who he could pay for his pleasure, thinking no woman would want him voluntarily. How could I not want to know and fall in love with a hero who is so tortured?
Enter Jessica, the best heroine ever written (other than Jane Eyre). She is ruthlessly intelligent, and knows just how to handle Dain. And she pretty much loves him the first time she sees him. Although others think he is ugly, he is perfect to her. There's a statement made by Jessica where she thinks or says she cannot resist him, and he is baffled that she would feel that way, used to being considered ugly as sin. I am like Jessica. To me, Dain is gorgeous.
The chemistry between Dain and Jessica is better than any other book I've read, and I've read a lot. I've read books that were much more sexually explicit. The love scenes are not at all descriptive in this book. But they are incredibly effective, because of the passion between Jessica and Dain, and the deep caring and love they feel for each other. She knows of his flaws, but cares about him anyway, although she doesn't let him get away with anything. She even shoots him when he compromises her in the eyes of the ton but doesn't offer marriage. How cool is that? Dain cannot resist her, even knowing that she is much too good for him, and will change his life irrevocably.
The scenes between Dain and Jessica are so delicious, it's like eating a banana split with a cheesecake chaser. And I have read few books that could manage poignancy and humor so well. There are scenes that make me cry every time I read them. Yet other scenes cause the biggest smile to spread over my face. One of my many favorite scenes is when Dain acknowledges his illegitimate son, knowing he loves him, even though he is just as ugly as Dain was as a child, and is filthy and covered in vomit. My heart wept, and tears flowed from my eyes.
At the end of the day, it's really hard to describe why I love this book so much. But I do. I have absolutely no reservations in saying, this is my favorite book of all time (or at least tied with Jane Eyre for favorite, which is nothing to sneeze at). If I ever meet Loretta Chase, I will thank her from the bottom of my heart for writing this book that has so enriched my life....more
This is in my top ten books of all time. I love Wolf and Mary. They are one of my romance supercouples. This is a book to read when you are feeling jaThis is in my top ten books of all time. I love Wolf and Mary. They are one of my romance supercouples. This is a book to read when you are feeling jaded about romance novels. When I read it the first time, I immediately turned around and reread it. I still have my first copy but I bought another copy since the first one is a little worn....more
My faith in Loretta Chase was firmly restored with this book. It was a grand adventure with an unforgettable hero and a strong, independent, intelligeMy faith in Loretta Chase was firmly restored with this book. It was a grand adventure with an unforgettable hero and a strong, independent, intelligent heroine, and it was set in Egypt. I do love adventure romances with exotic settings. The dialogue sparkles, as Rupert always knows the most outrageous things to say to shock Daphne. He comes off as being a loser, but he's a very sharp, resourceful guy, and he comes to Daphne's aid multiple times. In fact, he is just what Daphne needs as she is suffering from "Premature Aging Syndrome." Her deceased husband was older than her and very stodgy, and so she's a bit stiff. Yes, she's a bit on the stuffy side, but she's spunky and sharp-tongued, more than able to keep up with Rupert. Her one and only passion (prior to Rupert, of course) is her love of deciphering hieroglyphics, a talent she had to keep hidden because of her husbands beliefs against educated, passionate women. If you like movies like "The Mummy" and "Indiana Jones," you'll like this. I think Daphne and Evie from "The Mummy" have some things in common. There are not many love scenes in this book, but Chase makes them count, and you never doubt the emotions between Rupert and Daphne. Although Lord of Scoundrels, The Last Hellion, and The Mad Earl's Bride are still my favorites by her, this book is an excellent addition to my keeper shelf....more
There is something to be said for rereads. I read this one more slowly this time, savoring the language and the scenes. I love dessert. It's my favoriThere is something to be said for rereads. I read this one more slowly this time, savoring the language and the scenes. I love dessert. It's my favorite meal. And I always eat my dessert very slowly. Sadly, I read this so fast the first time, since Ms. Stuart hadn't put out a book a while before this one, too fast to truly take in and appreciate all the nuances. This time, I tried to treat Black Ice as if it was a dessert to be savored. And indeed, it was like the most seductive, decadent kind of desserts. And, I love it even more this time around.
Can you fall in love with a ruthless killer? A man who cares nothing for life and has absolutely no sense of right or wrong? A man who will use violence, sex, or lies, in whatever way is necessary to get the job done? In real life, I hope never to find that out. But, in this book, I could totally believe that Chloe would fall in love with the covert operative who goes by the name of Bastien, among many.
Can love change the bleakest, darkest heart? I do believe it can. As she often does, Ms. Stuart did a great job of showing me exactly that.
Black Ice won't be for everyone. Not every reader will fall in love with a hero who is as ruthless as Bastien. I couldn't help but fall for him. Ms. Stuart knows how to write this kind of hero--like no other author that I've read. There are so many layers to the man who goes by Bastien Toussaint. I love how each layer is peeled away to reveal the man that Chloe (and I could love). He's a physically beautiful man, one of sinuous grace. He's completely elegant, even when he's doing unspeakable things. He's absolute, complete seduction. And then there's the way he risks life and limb, and wreaks all sort of havoc to protect Chloe. Like the woman in his past, and Chloe, I could not resist him. Funny to think I felt he was a bit too hard the first time I read this. Silly me. Now I realize that he's just what this Doctor ordered. Maybe I've come to appreciate this kind of hero more as I've aged. I'm glad for that.
Dark romance it might be, but Anne Stuart writes luscious, sensual romance like no other author for me. The love scenes--fantastic. Worth rereading again and again. So much to savor here.
The suspense and action elements were awesome. Nothing like a little danger with my romance to get my heart pumping. I am a sucker for a sophisticated setting-something about European locales for spy/suspense stories for me. I felt as though I was there in Paris on a wintery night. Seeing the dark, twisted deeds that the Committee did to keep the world safe, even if they had to sacrifice a few innocents along the way, looking so stylish and elegant in their black designer wear all the while. Watching the shadowy games and the more shadowy players. I could see this as a movie, and a great one, in the right hands. Maybe Luc Besson?
At the beginning of this story, Bastien seemed like he could very well watch a defenseless woman like Chloe, in the wrong place at the wrong time, die, and not shed a tear. But, something changes in him after he meets Chloe. By the end of the story, it's clear that he'd do just about anything to keep her alive and safe, even if he can't be with her. How could I not see his love for her? I found I didn't need the words. He's not a man to wear his heart on his sleeve, and by his own words, he normally feels nothing for no one; so when he tells her he loves her, it is that much more poignant. I could feel the ice break, and my heart with it.
I could go on. I get like that about Anne Stuart. But I won't this time. I'll end by saying this:
I think this book is going to be like fine wine. It will get even better with age; it will go down so smooth and then hit you with the fiery reminder of its potency after the fact--better and better each time I read it.
In my later reviews of this series, I used edged weapons analogies. I think of Bastien as a Bowie Knife. Brutal, deadly, beautiful.
I had a feeling I would like Darius' story when I read about him in Dark Challenge, and I did. He is a powerful, charismatic hero. Seeing who he endsI had a feeling I would like Darius' story when I read about him in Dark Challenge, and I did. He is a powerful, charismatic hero. Seeing who he ends up with was a particular pleasure, and I must say that Ms. Feehan chose the perfect heroine for him. This book was good from beginning to end. Tempest and Darius had the magic chemistry that makes romance novels so delicious. Also, I just plain liked Tempest. For the hard life she had lived, she was a bright person, with a great sense of humor. She didn't let people get too close to her, but it was clear that she was going to be part of the family when she takes the job as mechanic for Desari's musical troupe. Darius sees her and it's love at first sight. Sigh. Okay, I'm a sap. The thing I like about these Carpathian books is how the switch is flipped. The Carpathian males are the ones wanting the bond, and the heroines are usually running away. I like that so much better than the pining heroine who is throwing herself at the hero (with a few exceptions). If you like action and adventure, this is a great book for that, because Tempest cannot seem to stay out of trouble, and then she'd have to get out of fixes or get rescued. It didn't bother me although I am sure some readers would be annoyed. It was just impossible not to like her. I loved the back and forth between Tempest and Darius, adding a light-hearted element to a story that easily could have been dreary due to the fact that Carpathians live a very desperate, edgy existence, staying one step ahead of their enemies, and hunting the vampires who were their kin who turned to the dark side. I liked that Tempest wasn't a pushover, and would tell Darius where to stick it in a second. I also liked how she made a very tough decision to help save Darius' life. This couple really showed what love is supposed to be (IMHO). I also enjoyed seeing Julian and Desari again, as well as Barack, Syndil, and Dayan. Although it was nice to see Barack and Syndil get together, I wish I could have had a little more resolution. The way this story ends, you know they will be together, but they haven't exactly worked out how. I would have to say that this is my favorite Carpathian book so far, but there are more to go....more
If Bastien Toussaint is like a bowie knife, brutally destructive, sharp and vicious, then Peter is a stiletto. They are both dangerous men, efficientIf Bastien Toussaint is like a bowie knife, brutally destructive, sharp and vicious, then Peter is a stiletto. They are both dangerous men, efficient weapons for the Committee. It's amazing how they could be so different, but still embody the ice cold, ruthless hero.
Peter starts out as a bland, gray ghost (as Genevieve calls him). He is deceptively mild-mannered in his role as assistant to billionaire philantropist Harry Van Dorn. Genevieve doesn't think much of him, except that he's annoyingly perceptive. However, that is an important tool in his arsenal: to be anywhere and everywhere, to blend in and do whatever it takes to get the job done.
On the second reread, it still took me a while to get a fix on Peter. He is so in the bland character that I underestimated him. Before I knew it, he had slipped under my skin. I can see why he drives Genevieve crazy. He is designed to be a woman's fatal flaw. I had to wonder how someone so bland could use sex as a weapon, but that was before he showed who he really was. The real man could probably seduce the panties off the most virtuous of nuns. The real man, well he's someone that is not to be underestimated.
Genevieve is a frustrating heroine. For a smart girl, she can make some stupid decisions. It's like she's almost all id. Her emotions seem to govern her intellect, which makes her an interesting counterpart to Peter, who analyzes and calculates every decision, until his well-buried heart makes its desires known. Still, his sharp mind maintains admirable control of the man.
Frankly, Black Ice is a hard act to follow. Bastien is so striking a ruthless hero, Peter throws you for a loop. However, that's good that he is so different. I found that although he didn't have that blatantly sexy edge of Bastien, I still loved him. He was the insidious kind of seduction that winds its way into your senses. If Bastien is a fine, potent wine, then Peter is like a tart, subtle dessert that you think you aren't impressed with at first, but the more you sample it, the more heady its taste becomes. Kind of like sherbet. I am an ice cream girl. Love its richness. But sherbet is something I always enjoy immensely when I eat it. And then I end up craving more.I read this book when I was tired out of my skull, and that's probably not a good time to evaluate a book, so it took me a while to feel his effects. However, I found that I enjoyed the sharp mind of his, the sensuality that he uses so effectively as a tool. I was very intrigued with how fast he fell for Genevieve, and once I thought about it, it made sense. Genevieve was not a woman easily dismissed, like the women in his past. He couldn't kill her or let her be killed. She meant too much to him. Although she was a very annoying woman, he had a way of getting her to do what he wanted, eventually. He kept her on her toes, made her alive with feeling, and killed her with his powerful, heady seduction.
Please forgive me if this review is incoherent. I am highly sleep-deprived right now. Although Cold as Ice just doesn't have the bite of Black Ice, I find that I still loved this book. Peter is in his own way just as irresistible as Bastien. His difference has an appeal of its own. Genevieve keeps things lively, and the plot moving, with her tendency to make stupid moves, and her complete inability to resist Peter. But who can blame her for the tendency to succumb to Peter?
Anne Stuart is an author who manages to keep me reading and never fails to lure me into her seductive web of dark romance and passion. Her tart humor is always appreciated. And no one writes a hero like this woman. It's rare that I don't enjoy her writing, and this story can't get less than five stars because what I love about her is here on offer. And Peter makes up for any shortcomings I might have seen as far as a villain that was more petulant child than anything else, and too quick a resolution on the suspense. Plus, the reappearance of Bastien and the advent of sexy Takashi O'Brien can definitely sway this reader's positive opinion.
The third book in the Ice series gives us the beautiful and deadly angel, Takashi O’Brien. His mission is to secure an ancient Japanese urn and to eliThe third book in the Ice series gives us the beautiful and deadly angel, Takashi O’Brien. His mission is to secure an ancient Japanese urn and to eliminate a young woman who knows how to lead a group of doomsday terrorists to a shrine where they plan to start Armageddon. But the man who never fails to carry through on his orders ends up falling in love with the woman he’s supposed to kill.
Honestly, I didn’t like the whole doomsday cult aspect. The bad guy was a loser, and I don’t like lazy, ineffectual bad guys. I can’t stand a villain who gets others to do all his dirty work and mainly stands around posturing. That’s definitely Shirosama. However, I loved the Japanese aspects, and this is the book where I meet my delicious bad boy Reno, who is Taka’s cousin. Taka takes a while to get a handle on. He’s all business, and he seems almost robotic at first. However, it becomes apparent that he can’t maintain that demeanor around Summer. For some reason, she just finds the chinks in his armor. And the more I read, the more I wanted to lick Taka, beautiful scoundrel that he was.
Anne Stuart doesn’t always write the most likable heroines. I don’t hate them, but sometimes I just kind of overlook them and focus on the heroes. Maybe she does that on purpose. I do like that she writes flawed, ordinary girls, because you can relate more to them, then the perfect angel heroines (if any author can get away with those, it’s Julie Garwood). I admit I liked Summer the most out of the heroines in the first three books. She was a reasonable girl, and her reactions and decisions make sense, considering. I think that she’s more mature than Chloe and more logical than Genevieve, but honestly, all the heroines fit their heroes in different ways. I couldn’t see Taka falling for any other heroine the way he does Summer.
If I continue my analogies from the first two Ice books reviews, I’d have to say that Taka is the katana. No, don’t think I’m just saying that because Taka is Japanese. When I think of deadly edged weapons, the most beautiful to be found is the katana. So, if Bastien is the Bowie knife, and Peter is the stiletto, then Taka is the katana.
See and admire:
I searched my heart and asked myself if I could give this book five stars if I didn’t really like the whole bad guy scenario, and if I felt a distance from Taka initially. Ultimately, I feel that this one is a five star book for me. I guess I just go there into ‘the zone’ when I read these books, and even if I have levels of five star-ness in comparison to other books, I can’t give it less. Let’s be honest. If I could imagine being trapped in a scenario with a guy who initially was going to kill me, and still might if the mission requires it (although he’d feel bad about) and still find it hot, I guess I have to say I bought this story, so that’s five stars for me.
Review of 1st Reread completed May 18th, 2013 on Kindle Version
I have finally gotten the time to start my reread of Ice Storm. It’s taking me forever Review of 1st Reread completed May 18th, 2013 on Kindle Version
I have finally gotten the time to start my reread of Ice Storm. It’s taking me forever to get through this Ice series reread, but I am enjoying it immensely. It’s nice to be able to savor the writing of my favorite author this way. I usually read books faster than I would like the first time, and you miss the nuances when you do that.
I loved how I was kept guessing on Killian. Is he really the cold-hearted murderer his reputation suggests? Then why the acts of unselfish chivalry when he thinks no one is paying attention?
Once again, it struck me how much Killian truly loved Isobel. He was a man on a mission and he had to complete it, and his love for her was inconvenient and unadvised, but he couldn’t make that go away. Even though he did leave her life, she never left his heart, and for someone who apparently could care less about Isobel, he sure did keep track of her over the following eighteen years.
There is something about a hero who is so lethal and capable like Killian. Gives me happy shivers. I liked that Isobel knew her stuff as well. She was realistic for a woman who had been an intelligence operative for many of her adult years. Yet I also liked that it troubled her, what she had to do in her job as a Committee operative. While Killian seems to wear his heart on his sleeve less, he too is an honorable man in an elemental way. Not afraid to get his hands dirty to do his part to make the world a better place. I think that out of the Ice series so far, they are the most perfect match. Two soulmates, even if they don’t believe in the concept. For a dark concept, this book is rather blissfully romantic. Although don't expect the overt heart and flowers. That ain't Stuart's style and I'm glad she doesn't write that way and does it so well. I know when I read one of her books, she will surprise me with a romance that challenges the norm but truly gives me what I want in a romance novel.
I enjoyed catching up with the other Committee operatives: Bastien, Peter (who has an extended POV), and of course, my darling Reno. Happy to see these lethal men blissfully conquered by love, and waiting to see Reno get his own Cupid's Arrow to the heart, although there are signs already. The excitement level is rising to finally reread Reno’s book after something like four years. And of course, Mahmoud was both hilarious and a source of organic pathos, a child who is the symptom of a flawed, war and turmoil damaged world. How fitting that his surrogate parents would be two world-weary, dangerous spies. I cherish this book and this series.
Killian is a Saber. A sharp, deadly weapon made for efficient use.
Guy Pearce as Killian
Ruth Wilson as Isobel Lambert
***Original Review Below****
Anne Stuart does not disappoint. This book has all the things I love about Anne's books. And it has more. The characters are heroes on the edge, both the hero and the heroine. They live in the black heart of night, but fight for good the best way they know how. As much as I love Anne's heroes, Killian really sunk into me. His battle to do what must be done, and the fact that he never really got over Isobel in eighteen years. Isobel is convincing as a cool, competent leader for a covert organization. She suffers when she sends men out to their death, but she does it because it's the right thing to do. You want these two people to find peace. You want them to be together. In the hands of a master like Anne Stuart, you get what you want and more. ...more
I loved this book. I know a huge part of it was the Japanese hero. What can I say? I absoutely adore Asian men, and Reno is such a interesting guy. HeI loved this book. I know a huge part of it was the Japanese hero. What can I say? I absoutely adore Asian men, and Reno is such a interesting guy. He's not a nice guy, but boy is he sexy and in the heart he is a decent human being. He is one reluctant to fall in love hero, but deep down I think he fell for Jilly at first sight. He makes her pay for loving her though.
This book is action-packed and you don't get much down time. But it added to the almost Bonnie and Clyde appeal (without the overt criminal elements).
Boy the sex scenes are probably the steamiest I've read in an Anne Stuart. You really get the tension and the fire between Reno and Jilly. Jilly has no ability to resist Reno, and she knows it. Heck, I'm not sure I'd do better resisting him. I'm still trying to figure out Jilly's failed sexual experience. I'm scratching my head over that one.
For some reason I wasn't digging Reno's red hair. That bothered me a lot. I could deal with the tattoos, which has shown how I've changed in the years. But the red hair just didn't sound attractive to me. Probably because I love the glossy black hair of Asian men. Yum!
I have a secret fascination with the Japanese Yakuza, which was delightfully indulged somewhat with this book. I loved the tidbits about Japan that Stuart throws in. Not like a person who researched Japan, but truly loves the city and its inhabitants. This book made me want to jump on a plane and go to the country.
I was a bit worried about Jilly being so young, but it really didn't ruin the book for me. I think the way Stuart dealt with her young age was appropriate. She wasn't always certain and didn't always react the right way to situations, but who does at the age of 20. Reno also shows that he is a twentysomething and somewhat rebellious type, and so his actions were fitting.
I love the Ice series, although they definitely go there for romances. This book is no different. I think this one is my favorite because Reno is not as machine-like and completely apathetic about morality as the other heroes were (Don't get me wrong, I still love Bastian, Peter, Taka, and Killian for all their ruthless killerness). In fact, Reno has to work hard not to feel anything, particularly for Jilly. It's clear early on that Jilly is his Achilles' heel, although he makes her believe he can't stand her. If you're looking for a nice little romance with normal people who always do the right thing, and no body count, don't read this book. If you want an adrenaline ride with two characters who passionately love each other, even though they know it's folly, I think you will love this book. I adore Anne Stuart, so I was along for the ride. I thought the frenetic, intense, crazy adventurous theme of the book juxtaposed with glimpses into Japanese culture were thoroughly enjoyable. The book even ends with a wild climax that makes you wonder what these two will be up to in the future, but you don't doubt for a second that they will stay together because they are soulmates....more
Manly Wade Wellman is a master storyteller that has managed to stay very underrated in the weird fiction/horror/pulp genres. Yet reading his prose isManly Wade Wellman is a master storyteller that has managed to stay very underrated in the weird fiction/horror/pulp genres. Yet reading his prose is very captivating. There are things that stand out in his writing, and they shine through in this collection of stories:
1)His tendency to have optimistic endings where good prevails over evil. Personally, horror that has evil prevailing has no appeal. I enjoy reading stories where the good guys win. This is usually the case with Wellman's stories. It is true that some of his stories are morality tales where the wrong decision leads to bleak consequences, but that doesn't bother me nearly the way that stories with good people suffering horribly and evil triumphing do. You get the impression that this ill-fated people had many opportunities to abandon the wrong path and get out with their lives intact.
2)His feel for local Southern customs and folklore. Reading his stories is like stepping through a doorway to places where time has stopped. Even in the stories that take place in the 20th century as far up until the mid 50s (at least in this volume), there is a element of the characters having been forgotten by the future, and living their lives the way they have for many years. I love the rather eerie presence of legends that have pervaded the hearts and minds of people of isolated Southern areas that inhabit Wellman's stories. Nothing like knowing that this old man living in a shack in the Appalachian mountains knows how to keep you from having an old witch woman steal your soul, or what songs you don't want to sing to avoid a Behinder getting you. He also takes more prevalent legends and gives them a backstory that has you thinking, 'Well now I know.'
3)His ability to build up suspense and fill his stories with sense of dread that keeps you on your toes. Several time, I was gasping out loud, feeling that anticipation as I saw that the 'thing' was there and the protagonist was in grave danger. There are no cheap thrills, or shock value in his stories. It's a sustained tension that abates when the story meets its rightful conclusion. Yes, there might be some violence in his stories, but it's never gratuitious.
4)The aspect of faith having power to save the person in jeopardy. This is an element I find absolutely necessary in my favorite horror fiction. Although I do enjoy reading some HP Lovecraft, I dislike his feeling of dread and despair. That humans cannot possibly hope for a good resolution because the elements of the dark are so much more powerful, older, and beyond our comprehension, and we will never understand or defeat them. This is nice to read at times, but I get rather jaded with this pessimistic cosmicism and yearn for old fashioned stories where faith still has value. Wellman doesn't try to superimpose his religious beliefs on the reader. But I get the impression that his stories have this element because it's an important part of his psyche, and it flows naturally into his storytelling. I do feel that a nonbeliever can enjoy and find something worthwhile and relevant in his stories.
There are a lot of Civil War stories in here. I'm not much for Civil War fiction, but I found it intriguing the way Wellman took true events of the war and gave them a supernatural explanation and basis. They tend to be told from the Southern side, but that makes sense as Wellman is a Southern writer. At any case, it's an interesting look into the past.
He also has a couple of stories that delve into Native American folklore. They were very well done and did not have those aspects of pulp fiction in which non-whites are betrayed in a derogatory or exploitative manner.
Wellman also have several witchcraft stories. In his stories, there are bad, scary, malevolent witches. Not of the sort that are earth-worshippers, but those who worship the Dark One, and use their powers to bring evil into the world and to destroy others. And they are scary stories.
I started this volume almost a year ago, so I can't remember every story in detail, but there are no stories that I did not enjoy. I thoroughly recommend this to fans of weird fiction, supernatural fiction, dark fantasy, and horror. I hope that many more readers of my generation and beyond are able to discover the rather hidden gems of this great writer....more
Rafael is something else. He's definitely a 'I want, I take' kind of hero. This book plays out like a tug of war. He sees Colby and knows he has to haRafael is something else. He's definitely a 'I want, I take' kind of hero. This book plays out like a tug of war. He sees Colby and knows he has to have her as his lifemate, and then proceeds and taking control of her life. But Colby isn't down with that. She's attracted to him, quite fiercely in fact. That makes the physical part easy for Rafael, but there is not a more stubborn woman on earth, at least in this book. Colby has had to be stubborn to survive her life, and keep a roof over the heads of her brother and sister and herself. She works from dawn and past dusk doing so, running the ranch, and training other people's horses. She doesn't even allow herself to think about a life for herself and meeting her own needs.
She's scared to death when the De La Cruz brothers arrive with the Chevez brothers who are the uncles of her half-sister and half-brother. They are going to take her family away to Brazil, and she'll never see them again. So her defenses are up against the admittedly gorgeous and unbelieveably attractive Rafael, despite the pull he has on her.
Rafael is pretty underhanded in his seduction of Colby. In his mind, having her as his lifemate is a foregone conclusion, so he proceeds full-steam ahead. He seduces Cobly while she is dreaming, and when she realizes what happens, she is devastated. At this point, had Rafael not been remorseful, I would have thought he was a complete jerk. He really does feel sorry for taking away her choices, yet at the same time, he's not going to give her up.
As a Carpathian, Rafael doesn't have the same understanding of man/woman rules that a human male would follow. All he understands is that she is his other half and he can do nothing else but claim her. Yes, he's pretty arrogant, but he also shows genuine caring and love for Colby and her half-sister and half-brother, protecting her from the menace terrorizing her, and helping them to shoulder their burdens.
I couldn't help but like Rafael, despite his flaws. I liked him because his heart was in the right place. I think that CF did a good job of fleshing him out and giving him all the vulnerabilities that put his arrogance into perspective.
I really liked Colby. She's a tough, strong woman. She doesn't back down. I admired that she managed to keep the ranch going and to deal with macho guys and put them in their place when they tried to get into her business. She could have walked away from her siblings and lived her own life, but she stuck it out of love. I liked the way Colby handled Rafael and was honest with him about how she didn't like the way he had manipulated her. And when his life is in jeopardy, she does all that she can to save him. In my mind, they are a great couple.
The menace of the vampire was very apparent and creepy. CF showed it in various ways, and makes each book feel different, although it's a similar basic storyline. This book straddles the line between paranormal and horror, in my opinion. There are some moments are very thrilling and have the ick factor of a full-on horror novel. The action scenes were awesome, and the descriptions of Rafael and Virkinoff, another Carpathian, hunting and fighting the vampire Kirja were exciting. I think that Christine Feehan is a fantastic author. Yes, she tends to have her favorite words and motifs, but what author doesn't. I have to say that this is another one of my favorites in this series, and I am so glad that I discovered Christine Feehan this year, and for the recommendations to read this series. ...more
Despite a slow start, I ended up loving this book. There was much to love in it, after all. If you read this book, hang in the past the helicopter sceDespite a slow start, I ended up loving this book. There was much to love in it, after all. If you read this book, hang in the past the helicopter scene, which was filled with a bit too much technical information. You might like it, but I found it was a little dry for me. Shortly thereafter, things really take off.
Ty Derrick isn't your typical hero. He is extremely intelligent. So intelligent that he isn't very good at doing the normal life kinds of things. He has poor social skills, and will say exactly what he thinks. Ty is a nerd. He's a delicious nerd. I am so happy that Ms. Feehan was brave enough to write a hero who was without any doubt a big nerd. Now Ty is also gorgeous and built from his extreme sports. But the cool thing is Libby has loved him from afar in large part because of his brilliance. Although most things of normal life cannot keep his interest, Ty was always interested in Libby, but hadn't worked up the nerve to pursue her until this book starts. It's good that he finally decided that she was the woman he wanted. Ty is not an easy man to love or to live with. So it's great that Libby understands and accepts him for who he is (in ways that no one ever did, including his cousin, whom he is very close with). He's so abstract in his thinking, so absent-minded, in the ways that truly brilliant people are. However, as the book unfolds, it is clear to see the change that Libby's love makes on him, and it is realistic. Ty will always be the absent-minded professor, but Libby has become one of his major fixations, and she'll always take number one spot in his life. Ty might be a braniac, but he makes a formidable hero in pursuit, and definitely makes my possessive/jealous heroes list.
I loved seeing Libby's story. She's truly a gentle, loving person. Her gift for healing is incredible, and she uses it with profound cost to herself in this book. I am a big fan of heroines who are educated and have careers in the scientific and technical fields. I loved how she was able to meet Ty on his level, although he is more on the analytic side of science, and she is on the applied, humanistic side. Their discussions on science and medicine were interesting to me (since I am in the medical science field), and it was an excellent way to show that this couple were made for each other.
Ty and Libby is one of those couples I root for. They are very good together. They seemed to complement each other. Ty finds it hard to feel, and Libby feels maybe too much. Instead of it being the case of Ty walking all over Libby's feelings (although he seemed to say cutting things to her in school that hurt her, he didn't mean it from a cruel way, but didn't know how to talk to this girl he was in awe of), he finds the ability to open up to her and love her in ways that he never could love anyone. Ty did frustrate me how he was determined to believe that the Drake family was a bunch of shysters, but it made sense for a man so rational and used to applying the principles of science to everything, and breaking everything down to its fundamental level, would have trouble reconciling the powerful magic of the Drake family. When Ty begins to pursue Libby, he is determined to save her from her family. I am really glad that this was not dragged out too long. I like how Ms. Feehan resolved Ty's doubts about the magical abilities of Libby and her sisters. I like how Ty came to find himself the family he always felt he was denied with the Drake sisters. He becomes part of their circle of love and protection.
Ty and Libby had excellent chemistry, but also a love for each other was gentle and strong in equal measures. They cared for each other and wanted each others' happiness. The love scenes are pretty sizzling, and show that their bond is deeper than just physical. I really love how Ms. Feehan wrote the perfect hero for each sister, intensely compatible and right for these wonderful women.
I never realized how much I would come to enjoy the theme of this series. I don't want to belabor a point about my usually avoidance of witch stories. But these books really show the elemental nature of these incredible young women, how good they are, and how natural what they can do is. I truly love the scenes in which the sisters are spending time together, how deep their love and support for each other is. How much they are willing to sacrifice for each other. They really show how strong family can and should be. I liked that Jackson and Jonas were in this book a lot. They are great characters, and I can't get enough of them. You can see how important they are to the Drake sisters, although they haven't found their happy endings with their respective Drake sisters quite yet. Only brief appearances by Damon and Matt, alas.
Again, I was laughing out loud with this story. Christine Feehan is really funny. I love the humor in her books. It's just as good as all the intense passion, steamy love scenes, and tortured angst, and it's a great counterbalance to the darker, more serious and emotionally-wrenching moments.
This book had less of the supernatural darkness aspects than some of the books. It was more of a crime/mystery type plot underlying the love story. The resolution of this story was rather heartbreaking in some ways. There is a happy ending, but the betrayal that Ty faces is astounding.
I am so glad that I picked this book up again after laying it down a couple of months ago, because this time I could barely put it down. It just goes to prove what a mood reader I am. It was a bittersweet read for me, since this is the last Drake sisters book that I can read for the first time (I ended up reading this series out of order). But I have a feeling I will be rereading this series sometime in the future. And there's always Ilya's brothers' books to look forward to. Thanks for writing another excellent book, Ms. Feehan. ...more
I knew I was going to love Graham’s story when I was introduced to him in his brother’s book, The Cobra and the Concubine. He was angry and isolated,I knew I was going to love Graham’s story when I was introduced to him in his brother’s book, The Cobra and the Concubine. He was angry and isolated, but he had an inner sadness that called to me. I have been excited to read this book for a while, but I put it off. I’m so glad I finally read it. It was a wonderful book, and it made me cry.
Graham was everything I hoped for, and more. I love him dearly! He’s fierce and deadly, tough and masculine, but sweet and gentle. His loneliness and anguish called out to me, and made me want to soothe him. His inner battle with despair and rage at his past, and the progression to peace and contentment was not an easy thing to read about. Like Jillian, I suffered, longing to see this man gain some inner tranquility. However, his journey was realistic. The wounds that a man like Graham carried would not be easily lanced and healed. It was a struggle for him, and for Jillian, and Ms. Vanak illustrated this process beautifully. I liked how she wrote Graham going full circle, back to the desert that had created the man he was. The Khamsin men say that the desert will strip a man bare of all pretense, leaving only the essential man, and some are driven crazy in the process. Jillian watched as the civilized English duke that she knew and married became a fierce, cold desert warrior. She railed at the gulf that separated them, and as Graham's friend Ramses had told her, she would need all her strength to save Graham and to bring him back across that void and into her loving embrace.
The passion and love between Jillian and Graham was thrilling. I loved their tender moments together just as much if not more, the way their hearts reached out to each other. They were like two lost souls who found each other, even though their circumstances and the fate that binds them were not ideal. In a way, it felt like their destinies were to love each other, so that their wounds (caused by the same man) could be healed. I loved how Graham encouraged Jillian to emerge from the gray cocoon her father had imprisoned her in. He admired her intelligence, finding it attractive. He coaxed her to be free and to embrace her wild inner spirit. Jillian had to tame the wild animal within Graham that had been terribly abused, teach him to open up and to love and to trust. I loved that they were both virgins, and had the rare privilege to explore passion for the first time together. Both of them were nervous their first time, but felt a connection, a powerful attraction that drew them together. The love scenes were enthralling, enticing and fiery—-the way good love scenes should be.
This book was a success on so many levels. The courtship of Jillian and Graham, the resolution of Graham and Jillian’s pasts, the beautiful and sometimes harsh depiction of life for the Bedouin in Arabia. The majestic and treacherous nature of the desert. This is what I long for in historical romance. Ms. Vanak wrote a fantastic book here. It has definitely earned its five star rating and a spot on my keeper shelf. I treasure the time I spent reading Graham and Jillian’s deep, emotional, beautiful love story.
Here are the actors I pictured as Graham and Jillian: