**spoiler alert** Romance and redemption kick off this first sortie in a winner-takes-all endgame between angels and demons with the final outcome det...more**spoiler alert** Romance and redemption kick off this first sortie in a winner-takes-all endgame between angels and demons with the final outcome determined by seven battles for seven souls. The only thing that stands between those souls and damnation is Jim Heron - a man whose own soul is gray enough to make him an acceptable advocate for both Heaven and Hell.
The first soul up for grabs is Vin diPietro's. Vin is a rich and powerful man who is never satisfied with what he has even though everything he has is the very best. A man who started with nothing, did whatever it took, and bent whatever rules he could get away with to make it to the top. A man who has `lost' himself in a fog of avarice somewhere along the way, teetering on the edge of damnation, until the night that he catches a glimpse of Marie-Terese across a crowded dance floor. Seeing the beautiful and somehow familiar Marie-Terese is like a wake-up call for the soul Vin doesn't even realize that he's been loosing.
When Vin enters Marie-Terese's life she too is at a crossroads. The job which has meant her survival for Marie-Terese has been eating away her soul bite by bite. The wealthy and handsome Vin is everything Marie-Terese finds attractive in a man, but she's been there done that and paid a steep price for that mistake.
Little do the pair realize that Vin is a playing piece in a cosmic game, with points awarded based on whether or not Vin takes that final step towards damnation. But Vin is not alone on the game board, he has a champion in the form of Jim Heron - the sole person who has been chosen by both sides to help Vin with his choice. But of course Team Hell is cheating and trying to push Vin over the line. Still, even with Jim's help, it is Marie-Terese who is the key to Vin's salvation. But if Vin and Marie-Terese can't break free from the ghosts of their pasts and Jim can't head off the demon working to keep them ensnared by said ghosts, the world will be literally one step closer to Hell.
I really liked the romance between Vin and Marie-Terese and the development of both of these romantic leads. As cold and detached as Vin starts out, author Ward does a good job of transforming him so that it is easy to root for his redemption. Ward also does a great job of fleshing out Marie-Terese, a character that we've glimpsed as the lead prostitute from Zero Sum in the Black Dagger books. The back stories that Ward develops for Marie-Terese and Vin are detailed enough that there is a really good sense of not only who they are but who they were and the choices that lead them to this point. But I really like the way that they are the catalyst for each others redemption and I liked the tenderness which augments the attraction between the pair.
Okay this is the question that all of Ward's fans want answered, "Is this as good as the Black Dagger Brotherhood series?" Ward's style is pretty distinct - which means that the f-bombs, slang, and brand name dropping which irks some readers are present here - but I enjoy her style and it gives Covet the flavor of the BDB books without the fangs. What fans will appreciate - and this is what adds the icing to Ward's other books for me - is that she is already starting to setup for the strong male friendships which will carry through the series. Another plus is that the demon who is Jim's nemesis is a better adversary than the BDB's the pre-Lash-Lessers. Also fun, since this series is set in the the Brothers' home town, it looks like there will be some crossover and future development of some characters from Ward's other books - in addition to Marie-Terese, Trez and Detective De La Cruz appear - and there is a very very brief "nudge-nudge-wink-wink" drive-by cameo which will give fans a chuckle.
So the answer to the question for me is that I think that it will be as good. I say `will be' instead of `is' only because - even though I really enjoyed the romance and what we've learned about Jim so far - the fallen angel angle is not explored much here in this first book which it makes it hard to compete with the fully established series that BDB is after seven books. Personally I would have liked to have seen just a little bit more explained this go round - I was asking myself whether Jim was or wasn't a fallen angel through most of the book. Even with my lack of patience, my only other nit with Covet is I didn't much care for Jim's heavenly pep talks. Still my nits are minor and didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story. There is enough promise in what's been laid out for the series so far that I liked everything else about Covet -- there is no doubt that I will be reading the next book.(less)
An 'I liked it' for variety - Lots of Little Bits Of Love With Just A Hint Of Fang,
Editor Trisha Telep has done it again, she's used her connections...moreAn 'I liked it' for variety - Lots of Little Bits Of Love With Just A Hint Of Fang,
Editor Trisha Telep has done it again, she's used her connections - and apparently her cyberstalking talents - to amass another BIG batch of vampire quickies - 25 in all. If you are a short story fan looking for a whole bunch of little reads perfect for squeezing into even the busiest of schedules, this is the book for you. Unlike its predecessor The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance (Mammoth Books), not only are the majority of the stories presented here actually romances, but a good number of the authors successfully delivered in their small number of allotted pages, a tale complete with back story, hookup and at least the promise of a `happily-ever- after'.
Most of the stories here avoid the darker side of vamp romance but there are a few that shun the light. If you are an avid urban fantasy and paranormal romance fan like me, you'll recognize most of these authors, but even I discovered a few I hadn't read before. My favorites stories were the ones by Bacon-Smith, Stein, Trent and Aguirre. And though there didn't seem to be as many connected stories in this incarnation of the 'Mammoth Book' - quite a few of the authors seemed to be breaking into new territory - Ione's Demonica short was good too.
So here's just a few words each to give you an idea of what's lurking within MBofVR2's 556 pages. (2 stars - didn't like it ; 3 stars = ok; 3.5 = pretty good; 4 = liked it; 4.5 = really liked it; 5 stars = loved it)
1. Jordan Summers - "Paris After Dark" - A NYPD cop broken by the loss of her partner, finds a new life in Paris after a run in with a vamp serial killer - While the heroine gets a resolution, I liked that Summers didn't try to force a HEA on the starring pair. She just delivered a romantic connection complete with hook-up and left the HEA to the readers imagination. (4 stars)
2. Deborah Cooke - "Coven of Mercy" - An oncologist who refuses to ever quit the fight, learns of mercy from an unusual `angel' - The hero had potential but his part of the story was too brief to make up for the fact that I just didn't connect with the heroine, although she was fairly well developed. (3 -stars)
3. Karen MacInerney - "Le Cirque de la Nuit" A circus aerialist whose performance stirs a hidden watcher, wants to go solo in the spotlight, but is she willing to pay the cost of succumbing to the dark allure of Le Cirque de la Nuit? - Not a romance, even though there is a sensuality to the woman's performance, vampire fans who like their vamps with bite will appreciate the dark HEA. (3 stars)
4. Caitlin Kittredge - "Perdition" Doc Holiday's a vampire slayer in the old west - The romantic elements of the story are told in flash backs, but for some reason this one just didn't grab me. - (3 stars)
5. Dina James - "Deliver Us From Evil" - A fake psychic eases a vampire's hunger - I was hoping for a continuation of Jame's story from the Mammoth Book of PNR, so that may have colored my reaction. (3 - stars)
6. Camille Bacon-Smith - "Blood and Thyme" - The owner of vampire catering company, whose servers are also the hordeuvres, needs to find a chef when human food is required on the menu for a special event - I just really liked this one, mostly because I liked the starring pair. Even so, I would have loved for this story to have been novella length, so that I could have seen more interaction between the leads and I would have loved to have seen a bit more of their HEA, there is just the promise of it here - (4.5)
7. Rosemary Laurey - "Into the Mist For Ever" - connected to her `Forever' Vampires series - A roman soldier/medic falls for a warrior woman on the brink of a battle between her people and his - we finally get Gywlth and Justin's story ( 3.5 stars)
8. Patti O'shea - "Blood Feud" - A vamp enforcer is teamed up with her old demon lover to stop a war between their races - I liked this one and wished there was more (4 stars)
9. Angie Fox - "Love Bites" After her 879 year marriage finally ends, a vamp princess looks for love on a dating game show, only the sexy bachelor she chooses has other plans for their dream date - this one was fun, and who can resist a hero in a kilt - no brogue though, boo hoo. (4 stars)
10. Caitlin R Kiernan -"Flotsam" this story was previously published as "Not One of Us" - a man heeds a monthly call to attend an ancient one as she rises from her watery resting place - Keirnan's style is poetic, but not enough actually happens here to satisfy me (3 stars)
11. Jamie Leigh Hansen - "The Murder King's Woman" - A Vampire's 'pet' pulls off a daring rescue - the rescue was really well done, and I liked the heroine's plan for getting what she really wants. I'd read more vamps stories by Hansen if she decides to write more. (4 stars)
12. Carole Nelson Douglas - "Butterfly Kiss" -- When tomcat Midnight Louie stumbles on a vampire at the edge of true death, Louie needs to call in someone with hands, and he knows just the someone - fellow PI Delilah. - This short brings Douglas' Delilah Street and Midnight Louie series together, the cat's eye view initially put me off of this one but story turned out to be cute and humorous. Though whereas I might checkout the Delilah books, this was more than enough of Louie here for me. (3.5 stars)
13. Diane Whiteside - "Crimson Kisses" connected to her Texas vampire series -- A young woman arranges to run off with her vamp lover, little realizing that the meeting place she has chosen will force her lover to violate a powerful vamps territory - if you are used to Whitside's Texas vamps, you are going to find this one very tame (3.5 stars)
14. Jaye Wells -"Vampsploitation" -- Sabina is on first assignment as an assassin - This is a prequel to Red-Headed Stepchild, and sets Sabina on her solitary path (3 stars)
15. Stacia Kane - "Trust Me" -- A woman becomes mistress to a mysterious man whom she suspects of being Jack the Ripper - this story fit the space and managed some steamy stuff along the way (4 - stars)
16. Jennifer Ashley - "The Scotsman and the Vamp" -- A vampiress leaves behind her betrothed to become a silent film star - I liked the flapper filmstar idea but the romance was just sort of generic (3 - stars)
17. Justine Musk - "I need More You" -- A vampire suffers from the continual abandonment of her angel lover but can't resist when he calls her to him once more - I read this one twice, mostly because I hit this part of the book when I was really tired and it required more careful reading than many of the others stories in the book. The story here is layered under the texture of the setting and there was much that I missed the first time through and I did actually end up liking it (4 stars)
18. Jennifer St Giles -"Point of No Return" -- He has watched from the shadows and fallen in love from afar with the woman who is equally smitten with the statue which bears his likeness. - There was much that I liked about this story, but I would have liked to have seen what St Giles would have done with this in novella length and more space to develop the leads and establish their connection a bit more gradually (3.5 stars)
19. Dawn Cook (aka Kim Harrison) - "With Friends Like These" -- Hey what are friends for if not to help you with those pesky relatives? - This was not at all a romance, instead it features a vamp and his roomie bud, (3 stars)
20. Nancy Holder - "Blood Gothic" reprinted story -- A teacher dreams of a vampire lover who will offer her eternity - Not only is this reprinted but this is second anthology containing this story in the last month or so (By Blood we Live) - Is the vamp real or not? I didn't find this one engaging or like the ending when I read it in either of the anthologies - (2 stars)
21. Larissa Ione - "Eternity Embraced" - a Demonica short -- An Aegis vampire hunter embarks on a rescue mission knowing that `saving' her lover from a fate worse than death will likely require a stake - since vamps tend to 'turn' captured hunters - I really like Ione's series and this was a nice little tidbit not connected to the main series arc. This short works because of the already established connection between the leads and the fact that Ione doesn't try to force the ending which leaves the reader with the promise of more than could be delivered in this short space. (4 stars)
22. Jeanne C Stein - "The Ghost of Leadville" -- A vamp remembers the one that got away - this is the second Doc Holiday story in the collection but it was my favorite of the two and one of my favorites in the anthology. This is a short story that really works, Stein told the complete story effectively and even brought a few tears to my eyes ( 4.5 stars)
23. Tiffany Trent - "The Vampire, the Witch and the Yenko" -- Disguised as a mechanic, a witch who is undercover on a mission to take out a Mafioso magic theif who drains witches of their power, crosses paths with a male vamp who is being stalked by a female vamp in heat determined not to take no for an answer. But even though the witch's cover is blown, she just may have the solution to both of their problems - This is my first story by Trent but I thought story worked pretty well as a short, but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't have liked more. (4.5 stars)
24. Ann Aguirre - "Circle Unbroken" - Fascinated with her prey, a vampiress gets caught in her own trap - A slightly different take on vamps from Aquirre who manages to deliver a story and a romance that feels complete. (5 stars)
25. Devon Monk - "Skein of Sunlight" - A `Yarn' about a cancer survivor and her chance to make new memories - I like Monk's writing and the hero and the attraction between the starring pair made this one work for me - (4 stars)
Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance - BIG Book, Big Name Authors, Short stories - not all are romances
Yes, the Mammoth Book of Vampire Romances is truly...more Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance - BIG Book, Big Name Authors, Short stories - not all are romances
Yes, the Mammoth Book of Vampire Romances is truly MAMMOTH containing 25 short stories. You'll recognize the names of the most of the 23 well known authors as the writers of your favorite paranormal romance and popular urban fantasy series. Despite the title, only about half of the stories in the book are `romances' though most have some sex, but they do all have vampires and most all have a key element of the story associated with the vampire's bite: bringing a transformation, granting immortality, unlocking or stealing memories, sealing a bond or, with the refusal of the acceptance of its offer, breaking a heart. Together the stories pretty much cover most of the niches of the PNR and UF genres, one little tidbit at a time.
Since these are truly short stories some of the endings are a bit abrupt. A few of the entries tied into the authors' existing series, Gleason's and Arthur's read like deleted scenes from early books, and Devlin's, Holder's, Raye's, Chance's and Saintcrow's (the first of her two) explore other characters/pieces of their worlds. It's my first time with authors Kiernan, Devlin, Hart and Walker, but I suspect Walker's was a connected story too. My favorites were the ones from Chance, Black, Devlin, Emrys, and Morgan, they did the best with their characters and stories in the very short space. My least favorite were both of Kiernan's entries and Pettersson's - the vague poetic style of these stories left me unconnected to their characters. (1 star- I hated it; 2 stars - didn't like it ; 3 stars = ok; 3.5 = pretty good; 4 = liked it; 4.5 = really liked it; 5 stars = loved it)
*** "Fade to Black" - Sherri Erwin - A professor's tryst with a gorgeous student brings a whole new meaning to `unsafe sex' when he infects her with the `vampire' virus. (3 stars - This one was pointless and not a romance, it was all set up and then a too abrupt ending.)
*** "Ode to Evdard Munch" - Caitlin Kiernan - A man shares his blood with a mysterious vamp for a piece of her dreams. (3 stars - no romance and the connection between the leads was odd)
*** "Fangs for Hire" - Jenna Black - When a vampire hit woman finds her oh so sexy prey is not what he seems, she just might have to consider rewritting her `contract'. (4 stars - both the leads were interesting and I like the way they found to feed their hungers)
*** "The Righteous" - Jenna Maclaine - A sorceress and a King put events in play to establish a group of vampires to police their own, which is the catalyst to bring a vampire and a woman who stakes them together in Paris. (4 stars - I liked the huntress and the vamp - added 12/6 this is a prequel to MacLaine's Cin Craven series)
*** "Knowledge of Evil" - Ravent Hart - An ancient vampire with a passion for learning meets a gorgeous professor who shares his thirst for knowledge. (3.5 stars )
*** "Viper's Bite" - Delilah Devlin - A solitary vampire and a lonely woman connect but he must steal her memories to keep her safe. (5 stars -the story was bittersweet but hopeful )
*** "Dreams" - Kerri Arthur - Arthur's Riley Jensen and her sometimes lover vampire Quinn share dreams and danger. (4 stars - seemed like deleted scene from an early book but has the feel of the series)
*** "Love Bites" - Kimberly Raye - From her Dead End Dating world, a hereditary vampire slayer flunks her final test when instead of finishing off the vampire she's staked she takes him her home to heal. (3.5 stars -humorous but a bit on the cutesy side)
*** "What's at Stake" - Alexis Morgan - A legal enforcer must either prove the innocence of the vampire she's secretly loved or she must put him to death. (4 stars - more on the fantasy side, I liked this one a lot)
*** "Coming Home" - Lilith Saintcrow - Dante Valentine's foster daughter Liana is hired by the Nichtvahren who broke her teenage heart to kill his maker. (3.5 stars - Even though the heroine is Liana, her internal dialog feels very much like Dante - who make a brief appearance. Though with Saintcrow's writing style, it took two reads to understand everything that was going on.)
*** "To Ease the Rage" - CT Adams & Cathy Clamp - A police officer will join with her undead partner to find the strength to protect her city from vamps that threaten the peace. (4 stars - good chemistry between the leads)
*** "Dancing with the Star" - Susan Sizemore - A vampire's dreams of a dancing movie star may signal the end of her loneliness. (3.5 stars - a long dream sequence, not a fan of those, and the italics bugged me after a few pages)
*** "Play Dead" - Dina James - A vampire finds his soulmate and challenges the leaders of his clan for the right to choose his own bride. (3 stars - okay, but the most interesting character was not one of the leads. But well enough done that I would check this out if it were the start of a series.)
*** "In Which a Masquerade Ball Unmasks an Undead" - Colleen Gleason - Gleason's vampire hunting debutante Victoria tries to persue her attraction to Rockley while fighting off vamps at a masquerade ball with a little help and snide remarks from Max. (3.5 stars - One of the few historicals, this felt like a deleted scene from the first book, but missing the more serious events from the books which play against lighter scenes like this one)
*** "A Temporary Vampire" - Barbara Emrys - A vampire discovers a captivating `vampire' actress in New Orleans. (4.5 stars - Liked the vamp & it had a nice feel to it, but it should have been longer since it offers the promise of romance but ends before it can be fulfilled)
*** "Overbite" - Savannah Russe - A vampire patient gives a dentist a chance to expand his practice to the undead and to pursue his secret fantasies. (4 stars - Almost humorous)
*** "Hunter's Choice" - Shiloh Walker - Seems like a spinoff from her series the leading man is a vampire and a 'hunter'. A grieving/vengeful woman turned vamp-slayer must reexamine her beliefs about vamps to keep the star of her passionate dreams when they meet again. (4.5 stars - I liked the hero and because these two had an established connection from a previous tryst the romance worked even as a short. )
*** "The Sacrifice" - Rebecca York - A princess becomes a willing sacrifice to a `monster' to save her father's kingdom under seige and gains not only her kingdom's freedom but her own salvation. (4 stars - beauty and the beast theme, with a brave heroine and the noble sacrificing hero)
*** "Remember the Blood" - Vicki Petterson - Two vampires are reborn without memories each year but strive to bring forward clues to `remember' each other and their love. (2.5 stars - didn't like any of the characters and the style was too vague to be engaging)
*** "The Midday Mangler Meets his Match" - Rachel Vincent - An ordinary everyday vampire teen and her younger sister discover a use for their vestigal fangs when they have a run in with a killer. (3 stars - on the humorous side but a bit overboard on the `normal vamp' slice of life bits)
*** "The Music of the Night" - Amanda Ashley - A phantom of the opera obssesed woman gets a chance to star in her favorite fantasy when she meets her own phantom. (4 stars - I like the tragic phantom theme in this pleasant story)
*** "The Day of the Dead" - Karen Chance - From the Cassandra Palmer series, vampire Thomas seeks to rid the world of his evil former master and to aide a magical mercenary with a forbidden power to save her missing brother from the evil vamps yearly human hunt. (4 stars - Thomas is a favorite of mine and it was fun to see a bit more of him)
*** "Vampire Unchained" - Nancy Holder - A return to Holder's House of the Blood/Shadows/Flame/Phoenix world. Vampire Liam's secret negotiations with the House of Phoenix cause him to be accused of treason against his clan, his punishment is imprisonment with his human lover as the only source of blood, but their love holds the key that may free them. (4 stars - a nice little carve out from her series, Holder does a good job of developing Liam and his history)
*** "A Stand-up Dame" - Lilith Saintcrow - A soft touch for a dame in danger, this PI returns from the dead to solve his case. (3 stars - Sort of a Bogart with fangs, this one was okay but didn't feel very original, sort of like a P.N Elrod knock off.)
*** "Untitled 12" - Cailtlin R. Kiernan - A sick woman searches until a vampire finds her. (1 star - I detested this one. More on the horror side, the vampire and the turning were truly icky, though I debated giving an extra star to the author for inspiring such strong negative feelings with so few words.)
'Short' on romance, but lots of entertainment with a paranormal twist.
The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, should really be called the Mammoth Boo...more'Short' on romance, but lots of entertainment with a paranormal twist.
The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, should really be called the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Stories. If you are a romance purist coming in with the expectation that you are getting a whole slew of romances written by a group of your favorite authors, you might be disappointed. But even though there were only a few stories in this collection that I would actually call `romances', there were quite a lot good stories with paranormal entities and most had a touch of romance (or at least some mild sex).
Out of this bunch, far and above the rest, the story by Holly Lisle was a stand out, I've never read anything she's written before, but with the emotional depth she brought to her short, I am going to have to check out what she can do in a full length novel. My other favorites were by Eve Silver, Ilona Andrews, Maria Synder, MelJean Brook, Jean Johnson and Allyson James - a few of whom are old favorite authors and others are new to me. There were very few stories here that seemed to be connected to the authors' existing series, only Caine's relied on the reader knowing her characters and the Weather Warden world, the rest all worked as standalones.
Here's a quick summary to give you an idea of what to expect..... (2 stars - didn't like it ; 3 stars = ok; 3.5 = pretty good; 4 = liked it; 4.5 = really liked it; 5 stars = loved it)
*** The Temptation of Robin Green - Carrie Vaughn - A zookeeper to the paranormal, diligently follows the rules until she finds herself entranced by her newest charge. (3 stars - This one just kind of meandered and wasn't very romantic, I liked the vampire supporting character the best of all and he only had a bit part)
***Succubus Seduction - Cheyenne McCray - Succubus Lillin is assigned to seduce Archer and steal his soul, but there is just something different about the powerful muscular Archer that thrills Lillin like no other, and Archer is no easy prey. (4 stars - I enjoyed this one almost as much as her incubus short in the Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance, leaving out the heavy sensuality of her regular novels, this short romance really works)
***Paranormal Romance Blues - Kelley Armstrong - A night out clubbing at a cheezy vamp bar, ends a dry streak for a sassy half demon. (3.5 stars - not really a romance, just the promise of one, but the sassy heroine left me with a smile)
John Doe - Anna Windsor - A `John Doe' with the body of a warrior, `changes everything' for a lonely Psych Doctor. ( 3 stars - this one was okay, but if you like your heroes with wings ... )
***Taking Hold - Anya Bast - A human nurse searches for a lost shifter child and makes a forbidden connection with her lone wolf search partner. (4 stars - I liked this one and the forbidden relationship)
***How to Date a Super Hero - Jean Johnson - A lonely super heroine with the power of foresight, is offered a steamy glimpse at her future. ( 4 stars - this was amusing and the glimpses of the future connection between the hero/heroine, made the romance work in the short space)
***Daniel - C.T Adams & Cathy Clamp - Under a death threat, a woman takes her friendship with a vamp to the next - forbidden - level. (3.5 stars - I liked the heroine and her ability to outsmart the deadly immortal)
***Light Through Fog - Holly Lisle - Tragedy separates soul mates, but love transcends boundaries in a magical place - (5+ stars - Wonderful and poignant, a complete and moving story, I am amazed how much Lisle fit into her contribution.)
***The Tuesday Encounters - Mary Jo Putney - It's love at first sight when the mage meets the enchantress. ( 3.5 stars - this is supposed to be a `Guardian' short, )
***Trinity Blue - Eve Silver - An immortal demon hunter, fears his love will again be rejected, when his dark secret is discovered. (4.0 stars - The hero just really appealed to me, this work fine as a short but I liked the leads enough that I'd have liked more)
***The Grace of Small Magics - Ilona Andrews - A powerful mage stakes his life on a woman with small magic but a large indomitable spirit. (4.0 stars - I really like the Andrews' writing style, and I enjoyed this one a lot - loved Grace who didn't meekly accept her fate. If you enjoyed this one check out the authors' website they have more short stories there)
***Once a Demon - Dina James - An ancient immortal shares the tale of his loss, a perfect love that changed his destiny. (3.5 stars - Not really a romance, James delves into the characters she introduced in her story in Mammoth Book of Vampire romance, and again left me wanting more of the enigmatic Kyle, this one only whet my appetite)
***Night Vision - Maria V. Snyder - A woman with an affinity for the dark, lives in solitude and fear until a midnight ride, a handsome stranger in peril, and a brush with death inspires her to step into the light. (4.5 stars - this one wasn't really a romance either, but I really liked it. I liked the heroine's transition and the ending that promised more for the starring pair)
***Pele's Tears' - Catherine Mulvany - Pele's tears and a sacrifice, brings thwarted lovers together and gives them a second chance at happiness. (3 stars )
***Pack - Jeaniene Frost - A lost hiker's encounter with the supernatural may cost her life, either literally or figuratively - (4 stars - Another strong heroine, I would like to see more of Frost's shifter pack.)
***When Gargoyles Fly - Lori Devoti- A woman's magic touch releases a gargoyle from his stone prison. ( 3 stars - the set up for this one was good, but the resolution and the `love' was just too rushed to work as a romance)
***The Lighthouse Keeper and His Wife - Sara Mackensie - A Lightkeeper is freed from purgatory in order to right a wrong and win a second chance at love. (3 stars - I felt the love, but the ending just made me ask why bring back the Lightkeeper at all?)
***Blood Song - Lynda Hilburn - Music has the power to soothe the savage .. vampire.(3.0 stars - There were some interesting ideas here, but this. one just needed to be longer)
***The Princess and the Peas - Alyssa Day - The elvish lord meets the lovely Lucy and desperately wants her as his .... friend? ( 3 stars - not at all a romance, but I found the back and forth between the elf and the possessive warrior at the end a bit amusing)
***At Second Bite - Michelle Rowen - A vampire tells a woman she's his reincarnated soul mate, but she just doesn't `feel the love'. (3.5 stars - a bit of Rowen's trademark humor, you just gotta love a vampire named Henry)
***Blue Crush -Rachel Caine - A little sun, a little sand, a little surf - and a whole lot of trouble - Joanne and David go to the beach. (3.5 stars - I am a fan of Caine's series, and this is a nice little adventure and hook up for the pair, but nothing earth shattering)
***The Wager - Sherrilyn Kenyon - " It's been a long cold Millennium" for Thomas - (2.5stars -This one just did not work for me at, it's a rambling discourse and not a romance - it's supposed to be a Lords of Avalon short so maybe you've been waiting for Thomas' story.)
***In Sheep's Clothing - Meljean Brook - A werewolf goes home, and back to the man she left behind, and runs into a serial killer. ( 4.0 stars - I like the friends who have always wanted more finally taking it to the next level, and I am a shifter nut, so this one worked for me)
***The Dream Catcher - Allyson James - In a society where passion is shunned, woman longs for love, if only in her dreams. - (4 stars - James does a good job with the world building and her heroine, though this one worked fine in the space I would have liked more, I'd have liked to get know the hero as well as we got to know the heroine.)
On the whole I enjoyed the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance and if you are at all a fan of short stories, the 24 stories here will keep you out of mischief for a good long time. And if you're like me you just may discover a new favorite author. (less)
The fourth book Magic Slays was soooo good that I decided a reread of the series was a good idea, especially since I keep hearing people who recommend...moreThe fourth book Magic Slays was soooo good that I decided a reread of the series was a good idea, especially since I keep hearing people who recommend Kate Daniels saying the first book was just okay (I gave it a "really liked it" the first time through, so we'll see how it holds up to a second read. I am two chapters in and I am not remembering anything (except for the wierd Mscan), which is the beauty of being memory challenged sometimes - "everything old is new again":)
Since I don't normally 'keep' much, I even shelled out the $$ to rebuy the first book as an ebook - gasp(!) my cheapie self actually spent full price for a book I've already read.
Below is my review from the first time around....
Great new series, looks like I am the last to know., September 15, 2007 Magic Bites is a great addition to the growing urban paranormal fantasy genre. If you are looking for someone new to read because your old favorite author's series and characters have taken a turn for the dull or icky, Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniel's Magical Mercenary will make your day. Without rehashing all the other reviews, I personally really liked the way that Kate's backstory has not been fully revealed yet. And also that in her world the supernatural creatures are not drawn in black and white, but that there is something innately disturbing about them to Kate who is basicly human and senses the leashed power of the shifters and what's lurking behind the veneer of civilization of the vamp controllers.
This was a quick entertaining read with a good build up to the satisfying battle, which actually had some substance to it instead of the quick resolution many less talented authors would have provided. I've already put Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, Book 2) on my wish list. (less)
I am a huge fan of Laurenston's more recent books, including the ones she's writing as G.A. Aiken. I like Pack Challenge but it is definitely an earli...moreI am a huge fan of Laurenston's more recent books, including the ones she's writing as G.A. Aiken. I like Pack Challenge but it is definitely an earlier effort, Laurenston uses a heavier hand, crazier meaner women and lots more sex and language. It still is worth reading, since the next two books (Go Fetch and Here Kitty Kitty) are set up here and Laurenston's style matures significantly by the next book.(less)
I really liked it! Sexy and Funny, it will make you want to roar!
Mane Event is one of those guilty pleasure kind of books but somehow Shelly Laurenst...more I really liked it! Sexy and Funny, it will make you want to roar!
Mane Event is one of those guilty pleasure kind of books but somehow Shelly Laurenston manages the erotic content while telling two connected stories that are romantic and funny. This is no neat feat considering that the couples spend most of their time getting hot and sweaty and some people may be uncomfortable with the sensuality level and language here. But where a full length novel might have gotten repetitious, these short stories didn't have that problem.
In Christmas Pride - Mace a gorgeous ex-Seal Lion-shifter is back in town and determined to have the one women he's always loved Desiree. Back in high school they were best bud's but now they are all grown up and nothing is going to stand in his way. What I liked about this story is that there was the leftover crushes from when Mace and Dez were kids to build on. Mace has always been in love with this women and never doubts for a minute that she will be his. Dez is a great strong character, and when she ends up in a face off against some nasty shifters, she is tough and smart enough to handle it on her own. No damsel in distress here, definitely a worthy mate for the king of the beasts.
In Shaw's Tail - The way that Lion-shifter Shaw falls so completely for Ronnie Lee, a former wild child wolf-shifter, is really appealing. Their courtship is a dance: Shaw stalks and pounces and then retreats so that Ronnie Lee won't feel trapped and flee. Both characters have a great sense of humor, and are playful both in and out of bed. Who says cats and dogs don't mix?
There are also some good supporting characters pulling the strings to get these couples together. I am not familiar with Laurenston's other Pack and Pride stories but it looks like she has a great setup for some follow-on books, starring Dez's former military friends, and the Smith wolf pack (including the sweetly manipulative Sissy Mae and her brother Smitty) who have joined up with Mace to form a security company. And some obnoxious Lionesses that need to meet their mates.
Mane Event was sexy and funny. A great read if you are looking for a light romantic and steamy paranormal read with fur and fangs. (less)
Laurenston continues to deliver humor and heat both, with her sexy shifter series
Beast in Him is a great follow-on to Laurenston's The Mane Event (Pri...more Laurenston continues to deliver humor and heat both, with her sexy shifter series
Beast in Him is a great follow-on to Laurenston's The Mane Event (Pride, Book 1), it's fun combination of humor and spicy romance with an abundance of sexy Alpha shifters both male and female.
We met 'Smitty' Bobby Ray Smith, werewolf and former Navy SEAL, who was both buddy and business partner to Lionshifter Mace the lead in the last book. Smitty is sexy confident and cocky about his skills with women, he hasn't had to do much more than smile and crook his finger to keep his bed filled. But its just not going to be that easy when he runs into Jess former geek and now millionaire owner of a tech company and alpha to her wild-dog shifter pack. Smitty and Jess have a history, they both escaped from the same backwoods Smith-Pack run town where they spent their childhoods -- Jess trying to avoid being beaten up by the bigger she-wolf teens and Smitty running interference for Jess until the day he abandoned her for the navy. Now when their paths cross 15 years later, Jess has payback in mind, she's going to show Smitty just what he missed out on by leaving her behind -- she's gonna get him panting and leave him drooling while she grinds him beneath her stillettos as she makes him eat her dust. But a Smith is nothing less than doggedly determined and Smitty will coerce, cajole and generally run roughshod over Jess until she succumbs to the sparks that sizzle between them.
The first couple of chapters were tough for me since it's been a little bit since I read Mane Event and Laurenston jumps right in with characters from the first book so I was a little confused until those brain cells kicked in. But after that it was a fun read chock full of alpha personalities, and even though the men were strong and sometimes scary, in the packs it is the women who have the real power. One scene where Smitty's momma steps in to 'set things right' was a lot of fun and watching Jess getting a bit of payback from Smitty's sister who was one of Jess' main tormentors as a child will win a cheer from former geeks and square pegs everywhere. But while all of that adds depth to the Pride/Pack world, the real meat of the book is the relationship between Jess and Smitty. Laurenston does a great job of building the tension and setting enough obstacles between them that is really satisfying to watch Jess and Smitty work for their happily ever after. (less)
This sexy shifter pair will make you howl with laughter and purr with satisfaction
With a hefty reward offered for his death, undercover cop and lion s...moreThis sexy shifter pair will make you howl with laughter and purr with satisfaction
With a hefty reward offered for his death, undercover cop and lion shifter Mitch is badly wounded by a would-be assassin's bullet just days before he is to deliver the testimony that will bring down a powerful crime boss -- then he's off to witness protection. In order to keep Mitch safe from others looking to cash in, wolf shifter Sissy Mae Smith bundles up her bleeding buddy and takes Mitch to the one place where she know she can make a stand - the one place Sissy avoids when ever possible - she takes him home to Smith Town. But as Mitch recovers, Sissy Mae and Mitch start seeing each other in a whole different way and soon they are taking their relationship to the next level with lots humor and plenty of heat.
I am really becoming a fan of Laurenston's shifter romances. These are a steamy and fun with all kinds of crazy family relationships, fun little side bits like the `great race' and let them eat pie scenes along with a handful of other subplots to stir into the mix. I loved both Sissy's and Mitch's uber-alpha mamas, the Aunts, and all the dynamics of the large extended southern werewolf family of Smith Town.
There was so much that was fun and funny and Mitch's whole 'I am a pampered puddy cat, feed me now' lion attitude was a crack-up. The humor, the banter, and the playfulness between Mitch and insane alpha Sissy Mae also serve to build the sexual tension between the pair since Laurenston holds off on the consummation until well into the book. Along with the tension building, Laurenston continues to do a great job of managing the steamy stuff - giving us a couple of healthy doses of spicy loves scenes and then just giving us sensual snippets to keep things hot while avoiding being repetitious.
After meeting bad-girl alpha Sissy in previous books, I wasn't so sure that I would be interested in seeing her as a leading lady -- she was truly evil to Jess. But I really did end up enjoying both Sissy and her story. Even though Sissy is still very alpha here, we see a surprising amount of vulnerability in her as she finally finds in Mitch the shifter who can match her appetites and challenge her `boundaries'. Can't wait for the next one.
For fans of the series, there are decent cameo appearances by past leading ladies Dez, Jess and Ronnie. Which means that this book will be more fun for you if you've read the previous two in the series.
Laurenston's Pride The Mane Event (Pride, Book 1) The Beast in Him (Pride, Book 2) (less)
I liked Laurenston's more recent pride and dragon (as G A Aiken) books so much that I went back and acquiredly these oldies from her Magnus Pack serie...moreI liked Laurenston's more recent pride and dragon (as G A Aiken) books so much that I went back and acquiredly these oldies from her Magnus Pack series. This one is still rougher than her newer stuff, which, but there are definitively glimmers of the future here. I liked Go Fetch so much more one than the first book, Pack Challenge. Go Fetch has a cameo of Irene and Van who star in a more recent story that Laurenston contributed to When He Was Bad, so that made it fun for me too.(less)
**spoiler alert** Howling or Purring, these 'Furry' Bad boys are oh so good
I just recently discovered Laurenston and her shapeshifter romances, whic...more**spoiler alert** Howling or Purring, these 'Furry' Bad boys are oh so good
I just recently discovered Laurenston and her shapeshifter romances, which have humor, heat, oh-so-alpha males, and females who are strong, sexy and even more dangerous than the males. Her heroine here, though human this time, was very original. It was fun to see the almost robotic ruthless ice queen, Irene -- who was so cerebral and lacking in her social interactions that she has to think carefully before she acts to come up with an acceptable emotional response -- turn to a puddle under hero wolf-shifter Van's sensual assault. I also enjoyed seeing Van squirm when in "marking" Irene to save her life he discovers the hard way that `marking' a woman isn't just a quaint old wolf shifter tradition. Instead, much to his surprise and dismay, he finds himself really and truly hooked to a woman that wants nothing to do with him and his rampant libido, and he's tied forever to a woman that hates sex and thinks it's a germy waste of time. Van's pursuit and eventual capture of Irene was also good, even though Van and his courting style did feel pretty familiar -- his attitude and steamroller approach to dating reminded me very much of Smitty's in Laurenston's previous book. Maybe it's a wolf "thing". -- added 9/2009 Now that I've read Laurenston's earlier pack books, it was fun to see that Irene and Van had parts there.
But even though I bought When He Was Bad for Laurenston's contibution, it was Eden's that ended being my favorite of the two stories. In Eden's story, Miranda's sexy new neighbor comes to the rescue when her date with the awesome guy she found on the internet turns into a brush with death at the fangs of a vampire serial killer. But Miranda savior is also more than he seems, there is an almost unbelievable reason for his sensual feline grace and animal magnetism. I liked the way that school teacher Miranda comes quickly to grips with her new view of the world and finds the courage to not only pursue her attraction to the sexy Sam, but to also take on her vamp attacker and make sure that he doesn't get an eternity to indulge in his lethal sadistic hunt. But what I really loved about Eden's story, was that the way Eden portrayed her hero jaguar-shifter Sam - Sam really had the feel of someone who was not quite human and someone who was often more animal than man.
I definitely recommend When He was Bad, even if you don't normally like anthologies, both authors pack a lot of romance in this shorter space with a nice balance of steam and story. If you like Laurenston's contribution here you might also want to check out The Mane Event (Pride, Book 1)with Lionshifter Mace and The Beast in Him (Pride, Book 2) with wolf-shifter Smitty, and I'll be looking for more of Eden in Everlasting Bad Boys. (less)
Edge of Dawn, third in O'Shea's Light Warriors series, has a nice balance of story, action, and roma...moreAnother action packed magical romance from O'shea
Edge of Dawn, third in O'Shea's Light Warriors series, has a nice balance of story, action, and romance all topped off with a healthy dose of magic.
Unknown to Shona, magical Light Warrior troubleshooter Logan has been assigned to protect the lovely but shy Shona from dark mages. After Logan rescues her from an attack, Shona decides to risk stepping out of her comfort zone to pursue her instant attraction to her kind and gorgeous savior. Logan thinks that dating is a good way to stay close enough to Shona to protect her, but Logan doesn't bargain on Shona's hidden passionate nature or his growing need to get close to the entrancing woman which is nothing about protection and all about the desire that sizzles between them. But when Logan discovers the reason why his enemies are after Shona, he may be forced to either betray Shona or break his vow to his magical race - either choice carries a cost that Logan just can't bear.
There was a lot that I liked about Edge of Dawn. Both of the leads were extremely likable, and bookish me was rooting for the shy contained Shona who overcomes the extreme caution with which she's live her life, and the truly nice guy Logan who is unable to keep business separate from pleasure. I liked Logan's careful pursuit of Shona, even though the chemistry between them is apparent from the start. And I liked that both of the pair are unable to maintain the control that has been so much a part of their lives when they are around each other. It leads to some nice steamy moments - as long as one doesn't stop to think of the reality of the location of their first tryst. Add in conflicts which force the hero to choose between love and duty, some dragon magic and a villainess who is not all bad and I thoroughly enjoyed the book and can't wait for more. Couldn't find anything on O'Shea's website yet about the next book in the series but I am hoping for Logan's twin Kel and Shona's conflicted friend. (less)
**spoiler alert** The action starts this off with a bang, but the relationship is the star in this new paranormal romance series
I just loved the lead...more**spoiler alert** The action starts this off with a bang, but the relationship is the star in this new paranormal romance series
I just loved the leads Ryne and Deke in this first installment in Patti O'Shea's Light Warriors series. Even as we get a great action packed introduction to this new world in the opening scenes of the book, it is building the tension and the relationship between the hero and heroine in this one that takes center stage.
Rescued from a curse, Deke is put in the untenable position of being in need of Ryne's help and protection as he is brought back to this world to find out that not only does he no longer have a place in the world due to his four year absence, but also that the world is a much more complicated place than he'd ever imagined. Even though as a former policeman turned PI he's more than capable of dealing with most human threats, his skill set is just not quite up to snuff for dealing with magical threats. While there's so much about his situation that stinks, there is one major perk his savior and protector magical troubleshooter/hotshot Ryne.
Deke likes everything about fiery stubborn capable beautiful Ryne and Deke especially likes how he can push her buttons intensifying the sparks that sizzle between the two of them. Deke drives Ryne crazy and the lure of forbidden fruit is undeniable even though Ryne has reasons far beyond the custom that Gineal, her magical race, and humans stay separate. Ryne walks the gray magical line trying to avoid the lure that pulled her mentor Anise into black magic, forcing Ryne to hunt her former teacher. Ryne is sure that somehow Deke is the key to defeating Anise, now it is up to Deke and Ryne to figure out how to defeat Anise and how to keep Deke from being pulled back into the curse. But time is short and the stakes are high as the pair seem no closer to finding the answer but they are drawn together so powerfully that failure may cost them both their hearts and their souls.
I loved the characters that O'Shea created in Deke and Ryne, they were well matched both needing a strong and intelligent person to challenge and their relationship builds with sexy banter, both of them giving as good as they get. Yet both are vulnerable enough to appreciate the connection that develops between them, and as soulmates they seemed well matched. I really enjoyed watching the relationship evolve as the time limit for preventing reinstatement of the curse and issues from Ryne's past push Deke and Ryne together and then pull them back again in a dance that builds the tension between them.
While Ryne's past and her mentor's foul treatment of men was a major reason to keep Deke and Ryne from connecting sooner in the book, I think that O'Shea could have left us with Ryne feelings on the subject and avoided the creepy voyeuristic flashback showing her mentor enthralling and using human men as her playthings. While this bothered me (I dropped half a star for this) and I think that cutting that scene would have detracted little from the book, I can see where O'Shea might have thought it was necessary to understanding Ryne as she works through her issues to discover that she has been manipulated and is not as tainted as Ryne herself fears.
Other than that, O'Shea avoided one of the major pitfalls of a first book in a new series, somehow she manages to weave her world building into the story without bogging it down, we learn about the Gileal and the hidden magic world along with Deke and it works well. I look forward to seeing more Light Warriors from O'Shea. If you are looking for something to tide you over until Ryne's sister's book, In Twilight's Shadow (Light Warriors, Book 2), comes out, I enjoyed O'Shea's contributions to the Crimson City series which was a melding of futuristic, paranormal, urban, fantasy romantic suspense. Her contributions were Through a Crimson Veil (Crimson City) and a short in Shards of Crimson (Crimson City). (less)
Dark Slayer twists the series' formula into Something different but something good
Deviating a bit from the normal formula of her other 'Dark' Carpa...more Dark Slayer twists the series' formula into Something different but something good
Deviating a bit from the normal formula of her other 'Dark' Carpathian books, Feehan's Dark Slayer was a unique entry into the popular long running series and ended up being one of my favorites of Feehan's more recent offerings. Though fans who live for Feehan's uber alpha males may be disappointed, I really liked long time series villain Razvan as he takes a turn in the spotlight. Razvan is no less powerful for being an atypical Capathian, and he is a good fit with his vampire Slaying mate, Ivory Malinov, whose independant streak would be a challenge to even the most domineering and arrogant of the Carpathian males. Both of the starring pair have had enough pain and suffering in their interesting backstories, and in their experiences with family members turning to the darkside, to make them empathetic to the other's struggles and to make them both cherish the gift of a Lifemate.
Other things I really liked: Lots of cameos of old starring pairs are worked in thoughout the story and there are some really cool aspects to Ivory's wolf pack and her magical connection to the wolves. I also liked that Feehan waited longer to consumate the physical part of Razvan and Ivory's pairing, allowing Razvan and Ivory to work through some issues instead of forcing it - and, after a gazillion other books in this series, I had been starting to feel I feel like I had read all of the love scenes many times before, so having less of them here than normal worked better for me and in them Feehan uses a lighter touch with Razvan which made them feel fresher too.
My nits: Yet another chauvinistic stubborn effort to `protect' a `helpless' woman by Gregori. I found his attempt to force Ivory's acceptance of the Carpathians' aid when she had no reason to trust them frustrating - though once Gregori comes to understand Ivory's power, he does give her the respect she deserves and he even gets a few chuckles when other Hunters make the same mistake of underestimating her. I realise that some readers enjoy them, but there are way too many spell-poems for me (I mostly skipped over these and the Carpathian dialog too, I just had to find out what happened next). It also bothered me that Ivory seems a bit diminished when she discovers her feminity - she starts out as a really strong independant character, a true survivor and she is more than competent at slaying ancient vampires and unraveling the evil mega-villain Xavier's spells - and I didn't like that she ends up doubting herself with Razvan. But even with that nit, she is still a great heroine.
So is anyone besides me wondering how long is Feehan going to be able keep this series going? There still several stories I've been waiting for, in this book even more potential leading men hunters are introduced, and I really don't see the overall story arc building up to a big finish. But hey, I'm not the only one still willing to shell out the big bucks and preorder the hardbacks, so who knows - if we're lucky maybe this series will be as immortal as Feehan's Carpathians themselves. (less)