I loved this book so hard. I've been following the Brides of Prophecy series since the beginning, and if you haven't read them yet, you should go fixI loved this book so hard. I've been following the Brides of Prophecy series since the beginning, and if you haven't read them yet, you should go fix that. They're fun, sexy, fantastic stories with a new take on vampires, elves, magic, and other fun critters you'll see along the way. However, I think you could jump in with this book, and not lose too much. There are hints at events and a brief mention of previous characters, but this feels very much like it can stand on its own.
On that note, in this third installment, we finally get Xochitl's story. I hardly know where to begin!
Xochitl is the lead singer of a metal band--you might notice Brooklyn Ann has a thing for those in her other books--who knows she doesn't fit in. She can conjure purple fireballs at will ("Oooh! Dem special effects!" her fans and bandmates think) and has never felt completely at home around humans. Bullied and harassed when she was young, she formed a core group of friends who all happened to have musical talent. Thus, the band Rage of Angels was born.
When she meets the intriguing sorcerer, Zareth, he whisks her away to another world locked in a state where they are cursed with a blanket of darkness over the land, never to see the sun--until the prophesied Lioness of Light (guess who) unleashes her mighty roar.
As the one destined to end that eternal night, Xotchil does an admirable job of tackling every new challenge thrown in her path. Her relationship with Zareth, though it may have started in dreams, progresses into a sweet, sensual romance that is both sexy and believable. It's also quite fascinating how there are unexpected consequences to their actions, and this leads into Ann showing her writing chops as she deftly introduces new cultures and beliefs along the way.
That is probably the one thing I liked best about this story. Aside from being about the romance, there was a great deal to be seen about this new world and how the people in it lived. They were not just there for story support, there were actual challenges and politics involved which delved beyond more than just surface fantasy magic wand-waving.
The villain, Stephan/Steve, seems like an incompetent jerk on the surface, but by the end of the book he becomes far more of a threat than I would have credited given his bumbling attempts to capture Xochitl earlier. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that it is deeply satisfying to finally see him get his comeuppance.
Brooklyn Ann has created a rich, fascinating new world in this story, and I am excited to see where she takes it from here.
This is the story of Kinley Black, a woman who runs the a blog dedicated to the heavy metal music scene. When she has the opportunity to do an interviThis is the story of Kinley Black, a woman who runs the a blog dedicated to the heavy metal music scene. When she has the opportunity to do an interview Quinn Mayne, lead singer of Kissing Vicious and the man of her dreams, some pretty wacky hijinks lead to her becoming a roadie and getting far closer to Quinn than she might ever have expected.
This is a fun romance with some bite to it. I liked the way the relationship built between Kinley and Quinn, and man, was that some hot stuff once they got down and dirty. *fans self*
However, I felt like there was too much repetition of the "Ehrmahgerd, Quinn Mayne! <3 <3 <3!!1!" theme. I might be completely off base, but rather than being so starstruck for so long, I would have expected the crush to evolve into something having more to do with him as a person rather than him as a public figure.
On the other hand, everything else was spot-on to me. I felt like the roadie life and information about how the technical aspects of how the band functioned were all believable and interesting. The way Kinley had to be "one of the guys" and pull her weight (and then some) was so familiar that it made me want to cheer every time she managed to thumb her nose at the naysayers. She worked so hard over the course of the story to be where she was that it truly was a joy to see her realize her dreams coming true.
Not to mention it was fantastic to see Kinley sticking to her guns when it really counted. There were times when Quinn got some serious side-eye on my part, but man, Kinley did a good job of staying true to herself no matter the circumstances. She is, in every sense of the word, a strong heroine.
This story was sexy and fun, and even though I know it sounds like I have some reservations about it, this is a nice little bit of escapist fiction that I recommend if you have any interest in the music scene or in contemporary romances. I'm looking forward to digging in to the sequel, WITH VENGEANCE, and seeing Kinley's best friend get her own rock star-studded HEA!
Did I read someone else's book? I look at the reviews on Amazon (all 5*) and Goodreads (4.7) and start to think perhaps I am too jaded or picky.
The coDid I read someone else's book? I look at the reviews on Amazon (all 5*) and Goodreads (4.7) and start to think perhaps I am too jaded or picky.
The cover drew me in. It's unique and interesting, and it certainly matches the content in style, but is of far higher quality than what is behind the cover.
I'll be honest. I thought the story was good but had a very hard time with this book primarily because of editing errors and a couple of moments that had me scratching my head.
On the one hand, this gets a solid 5 stars for creativity. The style and thought that went into building the folklore was undeniable. I applaud the author's nods to some existing fairy tales and folklore, and putting his own spin on them. He had a deft, clever had when it came to crafting the meat of his story.
Honestly, that was the best thing about this story. I quite enjoyed how, between each chapter, there was a brief deviation into a historical tale told in a very Brothers Grimm style that had some bearing on what was going on in the main story. Each mini-tale built a better understanding of Lonan's world and how the peoples in it came to be as they are.
On the other hand, the book had numerous errors that threw me right out of the reading experience again and again. "Alright" is a nonstandard word that might be fine for use on Facebook or Twitter, and I've certainly thrown it around in casual conversation myself, but it should never be used in a published novel in place of "all right". There were frequent missing commas before addressing a person, and a scattering of somewhat jarring homonyms ("an orgy of blood and grizzle" is not quite the same as "gristle," for example). The repetition was tiresome, and most of the female characters were cardboard and flat, existing only as foils for the main character or his rival, with little personality to show for it. I only wish Patrick had spent as much time on characterization and attention to editing as he obviously did on crafting his world.
Also, I gave a serious side-eye to a scene where Lonan sets the cottage on fire to save the people in the basement. No injuries from a collapsing, burning ceiling? Nobody dead or passed out from the toxic gases and lack of oxygen? ...well. I don't know, I'm no firefighter, but that seemed more than a bit off to me.
The ending was also a little rushed, but the journey to get there was satisfying. Choosing a traditional not-so-happy-ever-after fairy tale ending was a good choice for this book. I actually quite liked how it all turned out, though I thought the final battle could have used a little more attention to clarifying details.
It's not the usual high fantasy fare, and I think it's worth a read despite the flaws. It's got action and intrigue a'plenty, and as I mentioned, a great deal of creativity went into creating this world and its history. Discovering the magic and beauty and danger of it was truly a pleasure.
Despite my rating and my criticisms, again, I want to point out that this is a good story--good enough that I am open to reading the next book. There is a lot to like about the world that has been built. If you don't get jarred out of a story easily by editing errors, you may find yourself more immersed in this one than I was.
It doesn't cover much in the way of new ground, aside from a heroine who is somewhat unusual from the usual UFThis story was so much fun!I loved it.
It doesn't cover much in the way of new ground, aside from a heroine who is somewhat unusual from the usual UF wizards and witches. Femi is a Sekhmet--a descendant of the Egyptian warrior goddess Sekhmet.
[caption id="attachment_3760" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Sekhmet Statue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art NY - Source (Used Under Creative Commons License)[/caption]
I didn't really see much in the way of her abilities reflecting her lineage, but I loved how true she was to her cat-like curiosity throughout the entirety of the story. Some things were repeated a little often, such as the info about her extra lives and yes, we get it, she's a Sekhmet--but she had a spunky personality that she stayed true to throughout the book.
That doesn't forgive her very foolish actions in the beginning of the story (signing a contract to solve a case you know nothing about with dire consequences for some very major things--like going to your other supernatural buddies for help--is far too TSTL in my opinion) or some characters acting in a way that doesn't fit their profession (I don't buy Detective Dempsey ignoring the blood so early in their relationship) but it still kept me engaged and wanting to know more.
One thing I really wish had been given more personality was the setting where the bulk of the story took place. I love New Orleans with a passion and with urban fantasy in particular, it's often important to make the setting as much a part of the story as the characters. Much of the time, when they were in the city, it honestly felt like it could have been Anycity, USA. The swamp scenes were described just fine, but specifically when they were in town, I didn't get much of a NOLA feel.
Also, Femi's continued attraction to and trust in Thomas made no sense to me. Aside from the little gaffe in the beginning, she seemed like a reasonable woman. Considering everything else going on, there were some things later in the story that really didn't make much sense but I suppose had to be done to further the plot since three people snarking at each other in a confined space can only be entertaining for so long, I'm guessing.
My last nit about this is that it could have used a closer eye on the editing. There were few typos, but there were three or four times where something in the sentence structure was out of place, like an incomplete or changed thought that got twisted around into something meaningless or was apropos of nothing. Also, a phone call was made to Corbin when he was at a location where he should not have had cell service according to a statement made earlier. The little things...
That didn't kill the experience for me. This book was just what I needed when I read it, and even though it's clearly making nods to things that happen in other books from other some other series by this author, there is enough information not to get lost along the way. If anything, it intrigued me enough to want to look into the other books by this author.
I don't want to ruin it, but if you can turn your brain off and enjoy the action, it's a fun ride with a great twist. I liked it a lot, and I recommend it if you're looking for some action, snark, adventure, and a few chuckles along the way.
Short version: If you like vampire movies like From Dusk Till Dawn, or enjoy work by authors like James R. Tuck, you need this book in your life.
LongShort version: If you like vampire movies like From Dusk Till Dawn, or enjoy work by authors like James R. Tuck, you need this book in your life.
Long version: This book. THIS BOOK.
I had so many things I meant to do the day I started reading it. All those things? Not done, because I could not put this sucker down. *rimshot*
Alex Rains is a new kind of cowboy with a Southern drawl, a way with guns and swords, and a hero complex that drives him to seek and destroy any vampire that crosses his path. His Pleasantville-esque obsession with old music and kitchy Americana knick knacks is as charming and quirky as his penchant for wearing cowboy boots and Stetsons with his ridiculous Hawaiian shirts.
His good ol' boy nature clashes with the cold, heartless killer he becomes in an instant when on the hunt. It's delicious. I love it.
The story starts with a bang. A young girl, trying to reach her older sister in America, hires a coyote (a person who specializes in smuggling people across the border from Mexico) to help her. Turns out this guy is in cahoots with a ring of vampiric human traffickers who use the coyote to find them slave labor and food who won't be missed. Too late, the girl realizes just how much trouble she's in when the vampiric driver of the truck that was supposed to deliver them to their new home decides to have a little snack before hitting the road.
Meanwhile, Alex, the vampire hunter, is on a stakeout. He's forced to intervene when his prey gets a visitor--a woman named Carmen who is searching for her missing sister--and the vampire attacks.
Thanks to a lovely new scar on her neck, Carmen now believes that vampires are real. With Alex's help, the two go on an epic adventure to save her sister.
There is so much to like about this story. So much.
These vampires are not cuddly teddy bears with fangs. They are brutal, vicious creatures--and yet, they are not simple caricatures of evil. Seeing how they draw humans into working for them is presented in a believable manner. The unfolding of the layers of greed, corruption, and secrecy surrounding the horrible deeds these creatures and their cronies have been committing is fascinating.
Yes, there is a great deal of violence and bloodshed (which is very well wrought, by the way), but there is also a lot of attention to detail. Despite the story having that summer blockbuster movie feel to it, the plot threads all flow together seamlessly.
The characters--even secondary ones--are all distinct personalities and voices. They all have clear motivations, even if it doesn't seem like it in the beginning. In most cases, the characters are not simply parodies of themselves, and even when they do something stupid, they (mostly) walk into it openly acknowledging that they know they're not making a wise choice. No matter what decisions they make or actions they take, all the characters stay true to their own personalities, as presented. Their ideals and quirks don't just come and go to serve the plot, which might seem like a given, but often isn't in a novel like this. It's damned refreshing to have bad guys who are not just villainous to be villains, but because they have genuine flaws and motivations that make them stand out as people instead of cookie-cutter Bond villains.
Maybe they're a giant walking bag of dicks, but even if you don't empathize with their reasoning, at least you can understand why they're such raging assholes.
Aside from the characterization, there is also a tremendous amount of detail that goes into every other aspect of the plot. From how Alex and the other vampire hunters network and get the tools of their trade, to how the vampire behind the human trafficking ring has had his fingers in every political and social pie since the Spanish conquest, there's a rhyme and reason to it all.
The range of descriptions were also beautifully immersive and I really liked the little touches. For example, a scene where Alex and Carmen taste some wine--which sounds like a silly choice of scenes for me to talk about, I know, but is actually very important to the story--and how the flavors are described, as well as the bit with the raccoons later, is just so perfect. I might be completely off base, but to me, that--among many other things--was a sign of just how much care and thought and research went into crafting this novel, which I deeply appreciate.
The onion-like layers to this story as you unfold the secrets of the vampire network and Alex and Carmen's past are brutal and delicious. It's a fun, fascinating puzzle to watch unfold, and there's a lot to like here. While there are a few typos and grammar errors that are knocking half a point off for this book for me, it's still very much worth the read. It's clever, fun, and action-packed, and as I mentioned earlier, it's easy to get sucked right in. I strongly recommend it, and I'll be keeping an eye out for future books by Kincade.
**spoiler alert** Short version: Can't recommend this book, will not be reading the sequel.
Long version: I blame myself for not reading the back cove**spoiler alert** Short version: Can't recommend this book, will not be reading the sequel.
Long version: I blame myself for not reading the back cover blurb to get an idea of what this story was about before I picked it off the pile of books I got at a convention. I don't usually read erotica, and probably wouldn't have started it if I had realized this was another 50 Shades riff.
At first, the story was intriguing and very engaging. The path of self-discovery through sex with total strangers fulfilling a waitress's deepest, darkest, distressingly vanilla fantasies, all arranged by a secret society, felt a bit... erm... hard to believe. Still, in the beginning, the writing sucked me in.
From the start, I didn't like that Cassie, the MC, was crushing hard on her boss, Will, who owns the cafe where she works. The boss/secretary (or similar) trope squicks me out, and it was even worse because he was in a relationship with another waitress who worked for him. Note that Cassie explains in the narrative that he had asked her out first, but she turned him down--which doesn't make me think very highly of Will, considering he uses his employees as a dating pool. It's a point in favor of the author's skill that she intrigued me enough to stay with the story despite my issues with that type of plot-line and the love interest being in a committed relationship with someone else.
The sexual fantasies were, at first, titillating, but at some point I felt like skimming them because it felt like more of the same. For being fantasies, there wasn't much particularly daring or unusual aside from the fact that Cassie was getting down and dirty with perfect strangers. Once the shock and initial "tee hee!" wore off, most of the time I worried more about whether her partners had been tested for STDs before the hookups than what new aspect of her personality would shine after the latest unlikely scenario.
In the latter third of the book, the writing felt weaker and rushed, the characterization of the MC and a few of the side characters seemed inconsistent with the rest of the book, and the "rival" for the love interest's attention became too cartoonish to take seriously. Which was a shame, because it was off to such a promising start, and there was a great deal to like about the book, such as the diversity, the descriptions of New Orleans, and the main character's decision to take control of her life and sexuality.
Then I hit the "surprise" ending--maybe 5 to 10 pages left--and threw the book. Then picked it up and tossed it in the trash. Hence the DNF. Read below the spoiler alert line if you want to know the specifics.
Once Will breaks up with his girlfriend of 3 years and has sex with Cassie, it seems like all is well and we get the requisite HEA with no unsightly strings. However, the morning after, Cassie goes to work and Will's ex shows up to announce that she's pregnant and Will offered to marry her.
Enjoyed this one quite a lot more than expected. Great, smart UF with a mystery that kept me guessing up 'til the end.
Only niggle was that I didn't bEnjoyed this one quite a lot more than expected. Great, smart UF with a mystery that kept me guessing up 'til the end.
Only niggle was that I didn't buy the culprit who was committing the murders. That might seem huge, but compared to the rest of the book and the ending, it wasn't that big a deal. Recommended if you like UF....more