I usually enjoy twisty-turny stories with unreliable characters, and the set up for this sounded interesting, but this one didn't really work for me....moreI usually enjoy twisty-turny stories with unreliable characters, and the set up for this sounded interesting, but this one didn't really work for me. I'm not sure if the pacing was too fast or there wasn't enough character development or both, but moments that I think were meant to evoke *gasp* and *angst* mostly just made me go "Wait, what?" and then question the heroine's decision-making skills.
I do see potential here and would be willing to try this author again after she gets a few more stories under her belt. I wouldn't really recommend this one though.(less)
A twisty-turny storyline and interesting leads made this a really enjoyable read. It's smart, funny, steamy, with lots of action, a surprising amount...moreA twisty-turny storyline and interesting leads made this a really enjoyable read. It's smart, funny, steamy, with lots of action, a surprising amount of tenderness, and solid worldbuilding. One thing to note, though, is that the phrasing (with its frequent parenthetical asides) may not work for everyone.(less)
Light-hearted, well paced and humorous. It manages to combine benevolent, super-powered aliens exiled to Earth with themes of domestic terrorism, xeno...moreLight-hearted, well paced and humorous. It manages to combine benevolent, super-powered aliens exiled to Earth with themes of domestic terrorism, xenophobia, interracial and interfaith dating, and the ways in which loving families can be unintentionally cruel. And it all makes sense and is fun, which is the lovely thing about this series.
There were a few scenes towards the end that I didn't care for--the scene with Chuckie at the reunion seemed unnecessary and the scene with Reid was unexpectedly gross. Fortunately, neither lasted very long.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed reading this and am looking forward to the next one.(less)
Wicked Lord "You can't rape the willing." --- I really, really hate that phrase. A lot. It's such a mix of dysfunctional sexual politics, victim blamin...moreWicked Lord "You can't rape the willing." --- I really, really hate that phrase. A lot. It's such a mix of dysfunctional sexual politics, victim blaming and physiological inaccuracy that not only does it make me feel stabby, it also sets my analytical side on overdrive, which makes it really hard for me to 1) ignore it and 2) enjoy the rest of the story. I mean, seriously, fully revved left brain and an erotic romance about shape-shifters from space? At best, that's going to be MST3K-style reading. Other than that, I mostly liked the characters and it's not the first time I've run across that particular canard in this genre... but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Carnal Empress In the previous story, Jana sacrificed herself to save Kyber. While it was a noble gesture, it was also strategically stupid. After getting coerced/raped by the villain for her efforts, her mystical bond with Kyber was severed. (I think. Both characters said it was broken, but Jana was still the Empress and sometimes they talked about the bond still being in place, which was a little confusing.) Anyway, while and after Jana was being raped, Kyber was being tortured by said villain. As a result of his torture and Jana's choices, when Jana finally rescues Kyber, he turns into Angry Boner Man. As a rule, Angry Boner Man is not my favorite character type, but he ended up being the perfect complement for Jana's self-hatred. sigh. (Yes, I know there was a HEA-style resolution, but by that point I was more concerned with their mental/emotional health than with their romance.)
Overall, disappointing. I want my fluff to be fluffy, dammit, not depressing. I can't see myself re-reading this book and am sorry I bought it. (less)
Normally, I find these stories compelling enough to ignore the (many) inconsistencies. This one, however, had too much makes-no-sense for me to get in...moreNormally, I find these stories compelling enough to ignore the (many) inconsistencies. This one, however, had too much makes-no-sense for me to get into it at all. On the plus side, I didn't pay for it and it took very little time to skim (which is the only reason it wasn't a DNF).(less)
The world-building of this dystopian future was solid and the primary characters were sympathetic and believable.
The incredibly beautiful, brainy and...moreThe world-building of this dystopian future was solid and the primary characters were sympathetic and believable.
The incredibly beautiful, brainy and kind virgin heroine was a little more Mary Sue-like than I generally prefer, but her back-story made all of that make sense and she was overall quite likable. I liked the hero quite a lot--he was on a quest for redemption before he met the heroine and their relationship development included a nice mixture of angst, trust, respect and sensuality. One of the villains indulged in some scenery chewing, but given the way that character was developed as a whole it made sense.
Some of the plotting for the overall series story arc was a little confusing, but that's probably because I didn't realize it was the second book in the series when I started.
I could see this appealing to fans of Ava Gray (and vice versa).(less)
I really adored the Nightwalkers series, thought the Shadowdwellers series was ok, but found Frank's last series both boring and kind of creepy. So, I...moreI really adored the Nightwalkers series, thought the Shadowdwellers series was ok, but found Frank's last series both boring and kind of creepy. So, I was both hopeful and slightly apprehensive when I started this one. Unfortunately, I only got about 100 pages into it before deciding that it's a DNF.
The good: when Bronse and Ravenna are in scenes together, they have a really strong chemistry that reminds me of the sweet sensuality that made me like the Nightwalkers so much.
The bad: everything else
It starts off with 30 pages of world-building and character-developing via massive info-dumps. All telling, little showing. I will admit that I found Bronse's rapturous descriptions of his male team-members' physical prowess kind of entertaining in a "is Frank going to add m/m elements?" sort of way, but with the amount of head-hopping that went on I'm not sure it was intentional.
There's also the poorly done creative morphology - in addition to building worlds, Frank also builds words. Unfortunately, those words are along the lines of "nutria-treated water" -- because yes, having rodents involved in water treatment seems like a good idea. (Seriously, did this book have an editor?)
What finally made me give up, though, were the descriptions of Ravenna's physical abuse and sexual molestation by her captors. I fully admit to being squeamish, but honestly, I don't want to read about that garbage in my escapist literature - there's enough of it in real life. I'll tolerate it from a few authors, but here it just seemed exploitative, grotesque and physically unlikely (that Ravenna would live through it without extensive damage/medical treatment, I mean).
Anyway, I'm glad this was free (LTER program) but I'm sad that an author I used to adore is now going on my to-avoid list.(less)
After I laughed out loud during the author's introduction, I had high hopes for this story. I know not everyone likes fated mates stories, but I enjoy...moreAfter I laughed out loud during the author's introduction, I had high hopes for this story. I know not everyone likes fated mates stories, but I enjoy them so long as the author spends time developing a caring relationship between characters (in addition to the irresistible physical connection).
Unfortunately, the author seemed to struggle to find her voice. It gets better once you get past the first part of the story, but like many other books in futuristic or magical settings, some of the prose gets a little... faux-Ren Faire at times. (A tip: read it out loud. If it sounds campy and it's not supposed to, edit.)
In terms of story, it's heavy on telling and light on showing. For example, Anaria and Kalil are leaders on worlds that have been at war for decades. Not counting the glowing scene, their first meeting is after Kalil kidnaps her, at which point they're going to sleep in the same bed for some reason (it's not discussed) and Kalil thinks they should have some sexy time. Anaria responds along the lines of "hell no, but why should I expect better behavior from someone like you?"--which prompts Kalil to storm off in a sulk. A little later, Anaria thinks that Kalil is way nicer than she had expected and then wonders if he was going to kill her. Cue the next scene and Kalil thinks about how he's breaking down her defenses. As a reader, my honest response to this was: ?!? I see what the author was trying to do here, but while reading I was very confused about how each character came to those conclusions; it didn't match what was going on in the story.
Fortunately, after Anaria and Kalil complete the initial mating, the story starts to come together a bit more. If nothing else, they start talking to each other, which is always helpful.
At the end, I see and appreciate where the author wanted to take the story, but it could benefit from more critical editing and more... authenticity? I'm not sure how to describe it, but if the humor and vivacity that shined in the introduction were incorporated more into the story as a whole, I think this would have been a lot more fun.
As a final note/plea -- there were a lot of really sloppy copy mistakes (Spellcheck is not always your friend.) I know when you're writing/editing, it's easy to get to the point where you don't see those things anymore--that's why having a copy editor is so important.
This review is based on a digital ARC received via NetGalley.(less)
This book is somehow really smutty without being very sexy. It could be all of the exposition! or at-times annoying 1st person narrative from the hero...moreThis book is somehow really smutty without being very sexy. It could be all of the exposition! or at-times annoying 1st person narrative from the heroine's POV! which is frequently focused on the sexual traits of the aliens she encounters! which have descriptions that are more clinical than sensual! Or it could be the rampant exclamation points--if you had a drinking game where you took a drink every time you saw an exclamation point, you'd have alcohol poisoning before the end of the first chapter.(less)
I think this was my first exposure to Morgan Hawke and the reason I became a fan of hers. Cyborgs, aliens, telepaths, and Japanese spirits set in a fu...moreI think this was my first exposure to Morgan Hawke and the reason I became a fan of hers. Cyborgs, aliens, telepaths, and Japanese spirits set in a futuristic world. The pacing is good, the plotting is elaborate for a novella but it holds together and the characters are well-developed. It's an odd mix of funny, erotic, tender and scary. Has ties to the stand-alone novel Hungry Spirits.(less)
Prequel to Victorious Star. The story is shorter and less... rich? than the others in the series -- especially given how rushed Seht's and Aubrey's de...morePrequel to Victorious Star. The story is shorter and less... rich? than the others in the series -- especially given how rushed Seht's and Aubrey's declarations of love seemed -- but it was still very enjoyable watching Aubrey Ravnos grow from a young man to an adult, especially as his relationship with Seht changed over time. It's dark, but not as much as I had feared it would be-- actually, in some places it was quite light and humorous. I think you would get more from this if you've read the others in the series, but it's certainly not necessary. Now that the prequel is out of the way, I would love to see a sequel featuring Seht, Aubrey and Victoria.(less)
I've enjoyed the author's other stories enough to keep reading her, but if she's new to you, I wouldn't start here.
There's heaps of potential here, bu...moreI've enjoyed the author's other stories enough to keep reading her, but if she's new to you, I wouldn't start here.
There's heaps of potential here, but it wasn't fully realized. It's a reunited lovers story, but the reasons for the lovers to have been separated is really glossed over and the heroine's fear that she'll again be abandoned by the heroes is taken care of in one sex scene. That's it, problem resolved. Except that (1) that's not how humans really react to things and (2) the lack of trusting communication comes up later in a way that had the potential to destroy them all. But still, it wasn't really addressed, it was just glossed over. There are elements here that made me really want to like this story, but the lack of believable character interactions really ... eh, I know it's erotic romance, but I need a story I can believe to make me care.
I really need to stop reading these. They're so bad but, like Cheetos, it's hard to stop once you get started. Like the others in the series, it's not...moreI really need to stop reading these. They're so bad but, like Cheetos, it's hard to stop once you get started. Like the others in the series, it's not written well and makes very little sense, but it's strangely compelling. Neither the best nor the worst in the series, it seems kind of like a filler episode, but if you're a fan of the series you'll probably enjoy it.(less)
Despite not knowing what was going on half the time, I found this story interesting enough to finish.
In a post-apocalyptic Earth, where huma...more2.5 stars
Despite not knowing what was going on half the time, I found this story interesting enough to finish.
In a post-apocalyptic Earth, where humans and their cities have taken on names from Greek mythology, Marshal Isabella Thanatos is charged with killing "contaminants", people who have turned into ravening monsters after exposure to a virus brought to Earth by aliens called Macedonians and Thracians. One such alien is Hades, who has been working both with and against Isabella's father (Zeus) in the hope of eventually claiming Isabella and defeating Kleopatra (she's kind of like the evil alien overlord who exiled Hades to Earth). Zeus is... well, he's not going to win any father of the year awards.
Isabella and Hades' relationship is full of passion and angst (and biting). I liked Hades and at times liked Isabella, but she was so self-indulgent in her prejudice against the aliens and her bitterness about her life that even though I understood it, it was kind of frustrating.
While the cast of characters was close to being well-developed, I never really got a good feeling for the geography of this new Earth, which is important to the storyline. It did kind of remind me of Ergo Proxy, though, which was neat.
This was close to being good in a lot of ways and the author has a compelling enough voice that I'll look for more by her. There's enough potential here that with more experience and a better editor, I think she could put out some really good stories.(less)