The cliffhanger ending irritated me, though technically, since it's the setup for a series, I guess I should have been expecting it? *shrugs* I guessThe cliffhanger ending irritated me, though technically, since it's the setup for a series, I guess I should have been expecting it? *shrugs* I guess I didn't realize it was a series in the making until the last chapter and nothing was wrapped up other than Luca and Chloe's relationship.
I really like Linda Winstead Jones' addition to the Raintree series (Linda Howard's was good, but left me wanting -- again with the cliffhanger lol), so I was really looking forward to their collaboration.
I liked the premise with the whole revolution/warrior/witchy/spell.. thing... Luca was cool -- a 2000 year old vampire that nobody could remember (except, of course, for our heroine).. I was a little disappointed he never told Chloe how old he was, though that was a very minor point...
It was sweet (though mayhap a wee bit insulting?) how protective of Luca Chloe became lol Itty bitty little human girl thinks she's gonna protect big bad uber-vamp. Mmhmm. Sure.. But, the thought behind it was sweet :)
Anyway, it dragged a bit at times, and all the jumping around with the various conduits became a bit tiring at times.. Overall though, I was pretty pleased with it, and am interested to see how the series plays out.
Holy cow! There's a good reason that Ava Gray is firmly on my "auto-buy" list!
Ok, I lovedSkin Game, and I do suggest reading that one first, just becHoly cow! There's a good reason that Ava Gray is firmly on my "auto-buy" list!
Ok, I lovedSkin Game, and I do suggest reading that one first, just because it's an awesome book in its own right. However, I do think that Skin Tight could easily stand on its own. While you're only given vague references to Kyra's ability from the first book, she's not actually present enough that you need to know anything other than the fact that she's "different"..
So, slight spoiler for the first novel, the hero of Skin Tight does something to Mia (the heroine of this novel) towards the end of the book which leaves her spitting mad at him (and rightfully so). Thinking they'll never see each other again, they end up working together at the same office, and whooboy Mia is not one to live and let live.
I don't want to give too much away, because the masterful Ava Gray (who also writes as Ann Aguirre and Ellen Connor, btw) does such a delicious job of slowly unraveling details and I'd hate to ruin it for you.
That said, I LOVE THIS HERO!!! Good heavens he was just all sorts of delicious with his "curse" and his revenge plot and his attraction to Mia and all the delicious angst that comes with the combination of the three.
I'm dying to read Skin Heat (book 3 in the Skin series), and will be gnawing on my fingernails until January. Arg!
Final verdict? A very easy, VERY solid 5 Stars...more
**spoiler alert** Seeing as how much I adored Grimspace, it really came as no surprise that I'd be head over heels for this book as well.
It had every**spoiler alert** Seeing as how much I adored Grimspace, it really came as no surprise that I'd be head over heels for this book as well.
It had everything I desire in contemporary romantic-suspense novels:
A not so innocent heroine who is being pursued by...
An assassin (with standards) who has been hired to kill her by...
An evil (or is he really?) villain out for revenge on aforementioned not-so-innocent heroine because she publicly embarrassed him as part of her own revenge plot.
Throw in the agendas of other characters throughout the story, a pinch of hot, rough sex, and a dash of paranormal ability on the part of our heroine, and you've got the makings of a deliciously complex and compelling novel.
I was actually hesitant to mark this one as a PNR, simply because it didn't have the "whole world" of paranormality -- as far as Kyra and the reader know, she's the only one of her kind, rather than a part of an entire underground group of psychics or mages or shifters or any other group that typically goes hand in hand with the PNR genre.
While the paranormal aspects definitely added to the story and were key to moving the plot along, I think I would have enjoyed it even without them, which is saying something since I'm not typically one for straight up contemporary romances. The relationship between Reyes and Kyra was simply fantastic to follow. They were both working with trust issues (for good reason obviously!) and the pacing felt perfect for their relationship -- any faster and it wouldn't have been believable, but any slower and the readers would start getting impatient.
There were only a couple bits that kept it from getting a solid five stars, and that's due to my own hangups as a reader rather than any defect in the writing. Having Kyra actually kill people felt wrong to me. Sure, she's no angel, and that fact was established literally from page one onward... She's a con artist, and she was out for revenge, but it didn't seem to fit into her character, at least not the second time. The first time could be attributed to the "power" she'd stolen just prior, rather than an ingrained part of her personality. I suppose that the second time could just illustrate an evolution of her character, but tt just took me aback for a moment. Then again, that's part of what I like about Ann Aguirre/Ava Gray's writing -- she certainly manages to constantly keep me on my toes.
I'm really looking forward to Skin Tight, due out this summer.
**spoiler alert** Wow. This book had a LOT of sex lol
There was not one, not two, but THREE distinct "romantic" storylines (though only the H/H officia**spoiler alert** Wow. This book had a LOT of sex lol
There was not one, not two, but THREE distinct "romantic" storylines (though only the H/H officially got their "HEA"). Every time you turn around, someone's got their pants down or skirt lifted or down on their knees or... Yeah..
Honestly it started to take away from the story after a while. I realize that sex was a very important plot device (just glance at the official description to see that), but some of it seemed gratuitous rather than plot-driven. I didn't mind any of the encounters between Dev and his partners or between Creed and Annika (*hot*), but there was just one or two too many encounters between Remy and Haley.. I got to the point I practically skimmed, and that's never a good thing.
The magical tattoos thing just really didn't do it for me, either. *wrinkles nose*
And while we're at it, go ahead and smack me for this double standard too -- I don't care for female protagonists who use sex as part of a spy job. Total double standard because, as anyone who reads my reviews knows, I adore me some Anne Stuart and she's the cliff-hucking queen of the sex-and-seduction-as-a-means-to-an-end plot device. For some reason though, it doesn't sit well with me when a female does the same thing *shrugs*
Despite all that, I did enjoy it. I was a bit disappointed that Remy didn't push the "what happens if I say no" issue, just because I'm a sadist and wanted to see what they'd say (*evil laugh*), but overall it was a good story. The emotional relationship between Remy and Haley seemed well paced, despite their sudden dive into sex right after they met, and I really enjoyed Creed and Annika's.. er.. "relationship". I was hoping that they'd get their own book, but from reading the descriptions of the next few, it doesn't look like that's the case. I wonder if they continue the trend of secondary (and tertiary) romances in future books.
I'm finding myself withdrawing from the more erotic romances lately, so do keep that in mind when you consider my rating -- it's entirely possible that I'm being unfair to the novel simply because my own personal tastes are changing :)
**spoiler alert** *whew!* What a crazy ride this book was!!
I'm going to try hard not to spoil anything but I'm putting the warning up in case I get ca**spoiler alert** *whew!* What a crazy ride this book was!!
I'm going to try hard not to spoil anything but I'm putting the warning up in case I get carried away lol
Carrow, powerful witch mercenary slash party animal extraordinaire, gets kidnapped by a secret human group hell bent (no pun intended) on capturing, torturing, and subsequently exterminating all members of the Lore. Once there, she discovers that not only have these humans captured several of her friends, but they've also captured her young (8 year old) cousin, Ruby.. Ruby is now an orphan because her mother was murdered by this organization, and according to how things are done in the witch community, as her closest living relative, Carrow finds herself thrust into the position of adoptive parent.
Talk about a culture shock -- Carrow is a party chick, intent on living it up while she's still young, so to suddenly have the responsibility of caring for a young girl, as well as being the one who has to try to help get her free from the members of this organization is enough to make anyone's head spin.
Sooooo this evil organization bargains with Carrow to go and seduce, beguile, threaten, or otherwise fetch, this big bad mofo known as Malkom, who is, in fact, a vemon (vampire demon).
Malkom, being a vemon (which is considered to be an abomination in both the demon and vampire communities), is a complete loner, living in a cave in the realm of Oblivion (the name of which totally makes me want to pull out the XBOX, but I digress), which is a really nasty desert hell plane full of all sorts of nasty critters and other random enemies...
Carrow is sent to Oblivion and has 5 days to convince Malkom to return with her or the organization will abandon her there and, well, vivisect Ruby. Ew.
What worked for me: * Good bloody hell I adored Malkom. That poor bastard had been through so much in his life, and y'all know how much I adore a tortured hero *dreamy sigh*
* I loved that Carrow the party chick was thrown into the role of surrogate parent, and wholeheartedly embraced it. She could've gone all sulky and woe-is-me or even refused to accept her responsibility, but instead was determined not to be the neglectful C U Next TuesdayS that her own parents had been to her
* Loved loved loved loved loved the language barrier between Malkom (who hadn't spoken anything but Demonish and a wee bit of Latin for a looooong time), and Carrow, who only spoke English and a few *ahem* choice phrases of Demonish that some of her party friends had taught her. I also enjoyed the difference in social mores that resulted from two people from very different worlds trying to overcome communication issues, such as the misunderstanding about the ghoul head..
* As with the other books in the series, the humor is such a wonderful bonus. I quite literally LOL'd at several points in the novel; for instance Carrow's description of one of the nasty critters in Oblivion as "ManBearPig" :P Some readers not up on pop culture might find a few of the references a bit confusing, but I say just like with J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, you may just want to keep Urban Dictionary on hand.
* The angst! Oh the angst!!!! Arg! Bad childhoods, abuse, neglect, social disdain, physical and emotional torture, trust issues, and catch 22's abound. There were actually several points during reading that I got teary eyed, which really threw me for a loop because I associate Kresley Cole with humor, action, hot smexin, and a bit of good old fashioned angst, but never before have I ever dreaded what was coming next because I knew how heartbreaking it would be for everyone involved.
What didn't work for me: * ........... gimme a second, I'm thinking ..... Okay I got one -- new readers to the series might be completely lost on some points, such as what the deal is with La Dorada and Lothaire, and the history/relationships between some of the more minor characters who've starred in previous books... I'll be honest though -- I'm not so sure that's really too bad of an issue, because with the exception of keeping straight which Wroth brother ended up with which female, I can't say I was all that confused (though I did have to stop and remember who the eff La Dorada was even though that was from the last book -- oops!), and it's been quite a while since I've read the previous novels in the series.
* Another thing that might give some readers pause is the squick value... While most of the horror and gore is off-screen, there are multiple references to vivisection, torture, sexual abuse of a minor, and a few cases of gory retribution. And keep in mind I said "most" -- there are definitely a few scenes that involve quite a bit of gore and ick factor. Like I said, it's not like it's in the realm of Stephen King or anything, but definitely not for some of the more sensitive readers.
Yeah. That's all I got lol I think some fans of her earlier stories might think it a bit too smutty, but while it's most definitely not a YA read, it's not like it's delved into the erotica genre either.. I, for one, thought it was just the right level of hotness (and can I just say *guh* at the tattoos and body piercings? *swoons*)
It's a strange feeling for me to read a book that's more UF than PNR.. I've always been a Romance Reader -- that is, I typically want a strong romantiIt's a strange feeling for me to read a book that's more UF than PNR.. I've always been a Romance Reader -- that is, I typically want a strong romantic storyline in my novels, with a clear "hero" and "heroine", possibly some steam, definite monogamy, and a clear Happily Ever After (HEA)
And yet, despite the fact that this book had none of those save the bit-o-steam, I adored it.
Kara Gillian is definitely one of my new favorite heroines. She's kick-butt awesome (I mean, she is a cop y'all) without being all Xena-Warrior-Princess.. She's able to hold her own with the Good Ol' Boys she works with, but still shows just the right amount of vulnerability -- emotional and physical -- to keep her real without making her a pathetically delicate little flower always in need of saving.
Rhyzkahl. Is awesome. *falls over* I absolutely adored how scary sexy cool he was and was so thrilled to see Diana Rowland throw in a nice tasty reminder that HELLO! HE'S A DEMON LORD! DON'T F*** WITH HIM! lol He kind of reminds me of an Anne Stuart hero *snickers* Y'all AS fans know what I'm talking about here -- the man (er.. demon) is not a traditional "hero" -- rather he's completely self-serving, and while he does have distinct moments of being super awesome to the heroine, you can NOT forget that he's not only a demon, but a demon lord and as such you shouldn't try to manage him or treat him as you would a human because he will f*** you up!
When I started the book, I was absolutely Team Rhyzkahl, but as I continued to read, I started to understand why so many people are Team Ryan (gah. I'm getting flashbacks to my Twilight days :P). Ryan is.. *dreamy sigh* Yeah. Ryan's great.
I'm actually about a third of the way through the next one, Blood of the Demon.. It's going to KILL me waiting for Secrets of the Demon (the third book in the series) which is still being written. I typically try not to start a series until there are at least three or four books in already out because I'm not a very patient person. At all.
I would recommend this one for fans of police procedurals (Law & Order and CSI fans for example) who also enjoy a healthy dose of the arcane, and don't mine a few mildly explicit love scenes thrown in for seasoning.
"Whisper of Sin" by Nalini Singh - 5 Stars But let's face it, I'm a huge Nalini Singh fan so she would've pretty much had to fill a hundr 2/4 ain't bad!
"Whisper of Sin" by Nalini Singh - 5 Stars But let's face it, I'm a huge Nalini Singh fan so she would've pretty much had to fill a hundred pages with the technical manual from her new DVD player for me to not like it ;)
This is a prequel of sorts to her Psy/Changeling series, starring Ria and Emmett and how they got together. I admit sometimes I kept forgetting it was a prequel and kept getting confused as to where the hell Sasha was ;) No seriously though, set around the time the DarkRiver pack was just setting up their construction company (and before DarkRiver and SnowDancer had an official treaty, though that doesn't really weigh into the action), there's an organized crime gang moving into town and terrorizing the folks in Chinatown. Ria, who is of mixed Chinese and American heritage, was attacked just prior to the beginning of the story by one of the thugs who was going to teach her family a lesson for not paying the "protection money" that was demanded of them by raping her. Said thug of course gets his arse handed to him by DarkRiver, but it sparks the interested of Emmett, one of the shifters in the DarkRiver pack. Fans of the series will appreciate the typical humor, especially with Ria's overprotective family, while those new to the series shouldn't be too confused as the Psy (being the most confusing of all the species in the series) are a minor side note in the story. One thing I did not like was the whole bit with Tom. While I understand the need for a rival, things just seemed tied up too neatly as far as that whole situation was concerned. I find it hard to believe he was such a shite all along and nobody noticed until some other guy comes sniffing around Ria and she decides not to just go along with the assumed betrothal.
Overall though, a sweet story typical of the Psy/Changeling series and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Amaris is a Blood Rose -- a mage of sorts whose blood is coveted by vampires due to all the power it contains. Unfortunately for her, she's been badly hurt by vampires in the past (both a previous lover and her abusive, estranged father), and so of course doesn't trust them any further than she can throw them. Raniero is a vampire (the King's lead investigator) who doesn't trust Blood Roses any further than he can throw them, because of his experiences with both his traitorous step-mother (a Blood Rose) and some of the others that he's come across over the years.
Sounds great, right?
Well, maybe not so much. Amaris' sister is being held hostage by the big baddie (who is also working with her jerkwad daddy), and she's forced to help them capture Raniero. If that's not enough, they then decide she needs to seduce him, and so she does -- all in the first few pages of the story.
Now don't get me wrong, some of my favorite stories involve vampires chained to a bed while someone else has their way with them lol However, I am a big fan of Unresolved Sexual Tension (UST) -- it's like a roller coaster in that the buildup is just as much if not more of a thrill than the ride itself.
This story has zero UST. It's like "oh hai I'm gonna jump on your junk now kthxbai" *shakes head* Add to that how their trust issues are rather glossed over, and I'm going to have to say this was my least favorite story in the book. Perhaps I would've enjoyed it more as a novel rather than a short story/novella, where there would've been a chance to watch the characters grow past their prejudices and maybe even ease into the sexual relationship a little more slowly.
“Shifting Sea” by Virginia Kantra - 4 Stars Set in the 1800's in Scotland, Major Jack Harris recently inherited some land he had no idea he was in line for, and has just arrived to set the estate to rights. He's badly scarred on his body from the war, and has a lot of trouble with his leg.
He comes across Morwenna walking along the beach, and within a few minutes has secured an invitation back to her cottage (and her bed), which of course lends itself to the idea that she's the local whore (though unlike one might expect, he doesn't treat her badly because of this assumption)..
Again, not a big fan of just jumping directly into a sexual relationship within a few minutes of laying eyes on each other.. Other than that, I did enjoy this story. Morwenna is a child of the sea, which is an immortal (and very old lol) creature that.. well honestly it's never really explained -- she insists she's not a mermaid but that seems to be the closest explanation. She comes to the land on occasion to experience a different life, and is unprepared for Jack's affection -- the children of the sea don't "love" like humans do, so it's a big adjustment for her, and there are a lot of hurt feelings and misunderstandings between Jack and Morwenna before everything is said and done. Angst fans will definitely enjoy this story, and though I didn't really care for the sudden onset of their sexual relationship, I have to admit it was pretty hot ;)
They definitely saved the best for last! This was my favorite story out of the whole anthology, and since that includes a Nalini Singh story, that's really saying something.
This is apparently the beginning of a new steampunk series for Meljean Brook and it had pretty much everything I love -- a scarred, scary-ass pirate (whose reputation of course covers up a big softie, but ARRRRR! Nobody knows that!), a tough (yet virginal) heroine who is smart and uses her talents and cunning to get out of all sorts of tight scrapes, a creeptastic enemy (who actually has the powers of mind control o.O), and gobs of UST. GOBS. *fans self*
UST aside, the worldbuilding in this novella is simply amazing. It's a Steampunk Romance, set in England seven years after the defeat of the Horde (which as best as I could determine is the Big Baddie which originated somewhere in Asia, and enslaved Europe by infecting people with Nanites called "bugs", which allowed them to control the people using a radio tower for lack of a better term). Ivy, our heroine, is a member of the blacksmith guild which today would make her a computer nerd meets engineer -- she is brilliant at creating automata and pretty much anything having to do with prosthetic limbs (which are greatly needed in this world) and other machinery. She herself has prosthetic arms (as she lost her arms to the Horde), which are covered with mechanical flesh and skin which allows her greater precision and sensitivity in her arms.
In desperation to leave London, she approaches Mad Marchen (the big baddie pirate with a soft spot for our Ivy) because she'd witnessed him showing compassion to his friend as his friend endured the extremely painful procedure of being fitted with his own prosthetic.. Well, he scares the ever-luvin crap out of her, and yet in a fit of stupidity and desperation, she offers up her virginity to pay for passage out of London. Unbeknownst to her, Eben (Mad Marchen) would actually never hurt her, and had actually planned to return to London soon to attempt to court her... One of Eben's frenemies offers Ivy a chance to escape London without sacrificing herself in Eben's bed, and she takes the offer and goes into hiding for two years. .... and then he finds her lol and she's absolutely terrified of him, because of his ferocious reputation.. She of course doesn't realize he has no intention of raping her and instead really respects her and wants to be with her.
Everything in this story just sucks you in -- the tales of slavery under the Horde, the technology exhibited everywhere you turn, the relationship between Ivy and Eben, everything. I SO cannot wait for the first full-length novel in this series, The Iron Duke, due out in October....more
I have two main things to say about this book. First, this book was awesome and has landed Gail Dayton a solid spot on my AutoBuy list from now on. SeI have two main things to say about this book. First, this book was awesome and has landed Gail Dayton a solid spot on my AutoBuy list from now on. Second, it's not steampunk. Or, at least, it's not steampunk as in what I envision when I think of steampunk. To me, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and The Iron Duke are steampunk, with things like airships and nanites and whatnot. The only thing that this book (and its sequel) had that, to me, screamed "steampunk" were the critters (which were metal, and that's all I'm going to say so's not to ruin anything).
If I had to classify this book, I'd say it's an Historical Fantasy (I'd say Victorian Fantasy, but I'm not 100% sure of the timeframe lol)
So, even though I first picked up this book because it was labeled as "steampunk", and even though in reading it I kept waiting for something that was more... well.. steampunkish, I still loved it.
What worked for me:
*Tortured hero just coming out of many many years of servitude to a cruel sorceress, and convinced that his ownership has been transferred to our heroine, who most decidedly doesn't want it. Freaking Awesome :D
*Average looking woman who only dabbles in magic (since the big stuff is illegal for womenfolk to use), who finds out Holy Crap -- She's a Blood Sorceress who will be totally badass once she figures out what the hell she's doing ;)
*The worldbuilding and the descriptions of how the magic worked, as it worked. Made you feel as though you were the one weaving the spell :)
What didn't work for me: *The cover. It's ugly. lol Okay that's mean -- I like the idea behind it (with the old font and such), but just really, REALLY not my thing. Thank goodness for Kindle, amirite? lol
*The beginning bits in the camp were boring. I realize they were giving a lot of background information not just on Amanusa but on Jax and the magic as well, but still, it got tedious there for a hot minute.
*The critters (which do have a better name, but I can't say since it's a spoilerrrrrr) -- at this point (having read both this book and the sequel, Heart's Blood), I still feel as though they're a bit pointless. I'm HOPING that book three will flesh out that bit of the plot a bit, completely making me eat my words :D
*Crenshaw annoys the pie out of me. I want to smack him. With something heavy. Repeatedly.
*Guild Secrets were annoying as well, even though I understand and agree with the reasoning behind keeping them. It's just frustrating when keeping those secrets only makes the prejudices and misogyny in the populace worse, but hey, that's part of the story development, right?
What was kinda iffy for me:
*the sex scenes. I don't want to say why as it is a possible spoiler, but even though they were beautifully done I didn't care for them. lol I may have to come back and check the spoiler box and just flat out say what I mean, but we'll see.
*Not really a "cliff-hanger" ending, but definitely left open-ended. I have mixed feelings about these types of endings. While I definitely like to keep stories open for sequels, I don't like going to turn the page and saying "wait, what? that's it?? what about ____??".. It's not so bad in this one because, hey, I had Heart's Blood already on my Kindle waiting to be read. But still.
Overall, I really loved it :) Solid 5 Stars...more
**spoiler alert** Ahhh this book was SO much better than I was expecting it to be!
I admit, it got off to a bit of a slow start, but once Lina met Deme**spoiler alert** Ahhh this book was SO much better than I was expecting it to be!
I admit, it got off to a bit of a slow start, but once Lina met Demeter, things definitely picked up.
Hades. *fans self* Oh my. *fans self some more*
Hades was delicious! How I adored him! He was absolutely everything a romantic hero should be - dashing, tender, sexy, wealthy, compassionate, and above all, willing to own up to his mistakes, all the while maintaining his powerful aura. He was the perfect blend of alpha male, full of the natural arrogance of a god, and a closet romantic who was compassionate and fair (well, most of the time lol).
I also thoroughly enjoyed the liberties that Cast took with the original myth, including that of Orpheus and Eurydice, Minthe, and of course, Persephone herself (including the bit about the Pomegranate)...
It was also refreshing to have an "older" heroine -- in her early 40's, though obviously for the majority of the story, her outward appearance didn't reflect her mortal age.
The ending was sweet (but left me slightly confused for a moment -- nothing major, just a question of dates really), and throughout the entire story was a nice "chick lit" undertone of loving people for who they are inside and not for their outer appearances. While this theme was pervasive, however, it was definitely subtly done, unlike some other "chick lit" stories where you feel that the author is lecturing you the whole bloody time.
The bathing scene annoyed me.. Granted, it was hot, but I have this.. aversion, I guess you could say, to heroes in romance novels seeing the heroine naked without her knowledge or consent. While she never discovers that this took place, it still irritated the bejesus out of me. Blech.
Other than that, though, it was a thoroughly enjoyable, sweet and romantic story, and I would highly recommend it (and boy did it make me want some authentic Italian pizza lol)