Favorite Quote: ”If you come into these mountains with open hands, I will welcome you. If you come holding a sword, you will die by it.”
Pirates, and sea monsters, and princesses…oh my!
Kate Daniels and her mate, the Beast Lord, find themselves once again putting their life on the line to save an innocent. When two pack teenagers start to go loup, Kate and Curran have to negotiate with the European packs for access to the herbal medicine that can save the teenagers from certain death. The Europeans agree to a trade which requires Kate, Curran, and some of the pack to travel to Europe. The Europeans want Curran and the pack to protect an important pregnant shifter until she gives birth. Then and only then will they release the formula for the medicine. Soon Kate and Curran realize there is much more at stake than simple bodyguard duties. Someone wants Kate and Curran separated permanently and are willing to destroy whoever and whatever gets in their way.
Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series remains one of my top urban fantasy series picks to date and I frequently recommend to anyone who'll stop and listen to my fangirling. Often rereading this series multiple times per year, I find comfort in this dynamic duo’s writing. While the familiar draws me in, it’s the ever changing world and vibrant characters that keeps me returning. I find their style of writing addictive and I await their new releases with barely concealed impatience. This series is the perfect urban fantasy with its balance of power and vulnerability. We are not overburdened with emotional angst or ridiculous unbelievable feats. Plot action and ripe tension is tempered with snarky humor and everyday life.
A strongly character driven series, we share an intimate connection with our protagonist, Kate Daniels. Her pain, sorrow, triumphs, and defeats are also ours. It has been a thrilling ride as we have watched her grow from a solitary lonely figure hiding herself and her power to having friends, family, and a lover who is more than able to handle Kate and all her idiosyncrasies. Her growth shines through more and more with each book. She is still scared but she is learning how to trust in herself and others. The world building stays fresh and exciting with constant evolution as we travel throughout an alternative magical version of our world.
Magic Rises is an emotionally dark and weighted story that opens up new doorways for both the arc and the romance. Centering almost exclusively around our protagonists, the storyline(s) explode in multiple directions, using our lovers as the catalyst.
Kate and Curran are one of my favorite urban fantasy couples. Enemies to lovers has always been a favorite trope of mine and these two have led us all on a merry chase. Starting from book one, they have slowly and somewhat antagonistically carved out a relationship, obliterating anyone and anything that dared to stand in their way. Secure now as Liege and Consort of the Southwestern Pack, Kate and Curran are beginning the delicate process of trying to sustain their love. Jealousy, anger, and sorrow fill this installment as Curran’s over protectiveness and Kate’s insecurities rear their ugly heads.
“I’m so used to watching people for swords, I never saw the knife. You were too close.”
Kate and Curran’s relationship has provided plenty of entertainment throughout the series. It’s not the main focus, but it is a large part of it. Especially as the series has progressed. The plot and romance blend so effortlessly now, it has become a major component of the series without corrupting the genre. I enjoy the dynamics of their relationship and the challenges that they face. Curran admits he is more dominant than most; but he tries so hard to achieve a balance of give and take. Kate is still unsure of how to proceed in this relationship (or any relationship) but she makes remarkable advancements. She still doesn’t understand (or refuses to believe) why Curran loves her. She constantly builds walls to keep him away only to tear them down in her rush to get back into his arms. Curran’s ability to effortlessly and unwittingly hurt Kate, often in his need to protect her, still catches her off guard. That’s not to say Kate is a pushover in her love for Curran. She carries a big sword and fought over twenty two shapeshifters for her right to stand by his side. She gives as good as she gets and is one of the few people who can make Curran second guess some of the decisions he has made concerning her. Curran’s biggest fear is losing her yet by his own actions he pushes them straight towards that conclusion.
“You still don’t get it [...] I trusted you and you used it against me [...] We are not okay.”
Our cast of supporting characters are still a vivid and dynamic group. I’m amazed by Ilona Andrew’s skill at characterization. Each one has a distinctly separate personality that continues to evolve and grow with each new installment. Andrea, Kate’s very first and bestest friend, has always had Kate’s back. Even when Kate pushed her away. She has proven time and time again her loyalty to Kate and their friendship. She and Kate work well together on paper and I always find myself laughing out loud at their playful banters. Andrea is the type of friend who would help you bury a body-no questions asked.
“I hate her already,” said Andrea. “George hates her too, don’t you, George?” “I think she’s adorable,” George volunteered. “We should give her cookies and milk and if she promises to keep quiet, she can sit at the big peoples’ table.”
Kate’s entourage, Barabas and Jezebel, started out as her advisers but are now willing to challenge anyone in their quest to keep her safe and happy. And I do mean anyone. A firm solidarity is presented by the pack towards Kate, which was delightful to see. They can insult and be rude to Kate but anyone else who does it gets their arses kicked. New characters are introduced without any confusion. They fit in as if they were always present. We get plenty of scene time with various other favorites who keep the dialogue hilarious and the story flowing smoothly. There is a scene that may shock readers. Not the event itself as much as the character it concerns. *sad moment*
The main conflict of the story is a whirlwind of intrigue, tension, and heart stopping action as Kate finds herself in the middle of a political catastrophe where being the Beast Lord’s consort works against her. Multiple sub stories race though the book, twisting and turning to close previous open storylines while giving us hints to new ones. Kate learns more about Roland’s end game while being introduced to possible allies who, like her, are not impressed with daddy dearest. Villains galore run rampant through this installment; from hilariously vapid to down right scary. There is one scene that had me giggling like a fiend as they all play “who’s the biggest monster here.”
“You are trapped with us. Give money!” “You have it wrong, dear. We are not trapped with you. You’re trapped with us.”
A series of diabolical events set in motion by the villains ends in a climactic finale that guarantees the final coming battle against Roland and his army will be brutal and deadly.
Magic Rises more then rises to the occasion in this delightfully funny, dark, high octane action packed installment that addresses love, loss, and choices. This series just keeps getting better and better. I honestly can’t think of one single problem I had about this book. The storylines and direction they take are top-notch. The way it ends opens up a new future, and I am sure a new set of troubles for Kate to drag Curran and the pack into. Sure to appeal to all fans of urban fantasy and the mythological world and characters Ilona Andrews has created in their bestselling Kate Daniels series. I do not recommend starting the series here. The arc is long reaching and the characters and storylines bleed over without much recap.
Not sure where to start. Reflected In You disappointed me. I expected more growth and development character wise from our MCs. Instead, we see more je...moreNot sure where to start. Reflected In You disappointed me. I expected more growth and development character wise from our MCs. Instead, we see more jealiousy, obsessiveness, lies, and sex. I wasn't convinced of their romance in Bared To You but gave it the benefit of the doubt as it was the first book, an introduction and set up. Yet in here, there is still no viable reasons as to WHY they are even together. A strong sexual attraction is understandable but why are they falling in love? What attracts then to one another beyond sex? I don't think Day addresses that in a realistic fashion. There is nothing I have seen in either book that can convince me this couple should be together.
The constant emotional barrage they subject themselves and each other to is exhausting. They are both drama queens. Everything is !!!!!!! for them. Even if I can't understand it, I would have still enjoyed had their story shown some advancement but all I felt was relief when it was all over. While Im still convinced this is merely another version of 50 Shades, I enjoyed 50 Shades more because I actually liked Christan and Ana. There is nothing likable, to me, about Gideon and Eva. (less)
This was a hard book for me to rate. I wrote a post on Smexybooks after reading this-Must I Take The High Road-that addressed a lot of my feelings on what happened in here character wise and the problems I have with this particular trope.
On one hand, I love the world and the characters in this series. On the other hand, this particular storyline left me worried, upset, and angry. I can see where Briggs may be heading but the entire plot line was an exercise in foreshadowing. In my opinion, nothing was done to expand the arc. We see some new characters introduced but no reasons were given or even hinted at for Briggs choosing this path to follow. And I refuse to believe it was only to add relationship conflict between Adam and Mercy.
Adam, the alpha and Mercy's husband disappointed me. And I took it personally. While he's always been a bit underhanded in his dealings with Mercy, it's always been done to protect her. In here, we see a change in him and the reasons shown is his ex wife. Perhaps if I had gotten his POV, he wouldn't have seemed so callous and disregarding of Mercy's feelings. It was if she couldn't be jealous and upset that another woman was invading her home, life, and coming on to her man. She has to take the high road, be the better person. Meh. But, I can guarantee this would have never been the case if Adam would have been upset (and he was) when another man showed interest in Mercy. The over all problem for me was Mercy would have never done anything to make Adam feel inferior but now Adam can't say the something.
Also, some of the pack is starting to irritate me. Sometimes you need to be the voice of reason to keep that many people happy and inline. And sometimes you need to be the hammer of doom and let people know this isn't a democracy.
I did enjoy spending more time with Coyote (crazy nut) and getting hints to the fae situation. I see war coming and that will prove to be an interesting story. Also, I liked seeing more beta members of the pack step up and verbally let the rest of the pack know they weren't falling for Christy's "woe is me" tricks. The conflict in here was action packed and violent per usual but again what was the point of it all? As I stated earlier, this is a book of foreshadowing.
I am positive the next installment will open new pathways and offer more in the way of much needed explanations. Also, we have a new Alpha/Omega book coming which may give offer an outsiders POV to the whole situation. (less)
Favorite Quote: “This is America. We’re entitled to our opinions.” “Wrong. This is Texas. And my opinion is the only one that counts.”
No real spoilers h...moreFavorite Quote: “This is America. We’re entitled to our opinions.” “Wrong. This is Texas. And my opinion is the only one that counts.”
No real spoilers here but quite a few of my favorite quotes.
Call Me Irresistible is Ted Beaudine’s book. Ted (Fancy Pants & Lady Be Good) is all grown up and the ultimate catch. Good looks, money, famous parents, and a high IQ. Ted is getting married to Lucy Jorik (First Lady). But Lucy’s best friend, Meg Koranda (Glitter Baby & What I Did For Love) doesn’t like what she sees in Ted and feels Lucy deserves better. So Meg, unintentionally, stops the wedding and Lucy hightails it out of town. Meg tries to follow but circumstances have slowed her getaway. Her parents, tired of waiting for her to grow up and become responsible, have cut her off. That leaves Meg broke, homeless, and the most hated person in town. Enter the residents of Wynette.They completely blame Meg for breaking up Ted and Lucy’s wedding and are determined to make Meg pay. And pay she does. But Meg is made of sterner stuff. After all...she IS the offspring of the famous Glitter Baby. So Meg takes everything and then some that the town dishes out so she can get home. Now all she has to do is resist Mr. Irresistible. But that’s easier said then done.
I have been a HUGE fan of Susan Elizabeth Phillips for years. My first foray into her world was Fancy Pants. In Fancy Pants we meet the parents of Mr. Irresistible and learn how they came together. In later books, the Beaudine’s make appearances and we watch Teddy grow up. I was thrilled when I found out that Teddy, or Ted as he is called now, got his own book. Following her previous sets ups, we are once again transported to Wynette, Texas (which I’m convinced is actually inhabited by aliens because these people are above board hilariously strange).
Ted and the town do their best to make Meg pay for ruining his wedding. From almost getting arrested to being forced to play “nice” with a potential town investor, Meg has her hands full trying to survive from day to day. As Meg integrates herself into the town and becomes mildly accepted (which is not a compliment by the way) she begins to see that Ted is indeed irresistible. But Ted holds back emotionally and she wants all of him or nothing at all. When mild harassment turns to danger for Meg, Ted’s rigid control finally breaks and his world begins to race out of control.
He had gone wild and she wanted to race into the unknown with him. He was a fallen angel, consumed by darkness, and he took no care with her at all.
The characters of this story do a fabulous jov of keeping you laughing and groaning throughout the story. Well written with an abundance of personality and wit; you find yourself sinking deeper into their lives and becoming heavily invested in their outcomes. Filled with human flaws, Ms. Phillip’s characters are real and react as you or I might. The well plotted storyline entertains and exhilarates as the conversational style dialogue keeps the book flowing smoothly and has you thanking your lucky stars these people don’t live next door to you.
Francine Beaudine says it best:
“Did you know Ted was nine years old the first time he came to Wynette? Can you imagine how many of the local peculiarities he’d have picked up if he lived here from birth?”
I adored Meg from the first time I met her. Even if she is a screw up, her personality and exploits are hilarious and her gift of snark endeared her to me. Everything Meg does is from the heart and that is apparent from the beginning. You’d expect her to lay down in the face of everyone anger but her true nature takes hold and soon she pulls her self up and out from beneath the town and Ted’s thumb. Watching her grow in self respect & assurance is a joy to watch and had me doing quite a few “fist pumps”. She just needed to learn that she is every bit as glamorous and important as her parents.
Ted is an enigma. He comes across as the perfect man. Heralded for his business sense, looks, and talents in bed, you can find nothing wrong with him.
“Lucy neglected to mention that you’re also the mayor of Wynette...in addition to being its patron saint.
He’s a people pleaser, but like Meg, you don’t see any real emotions from him. In the beginning, I didn’t like him very much. Some of his actions come to light and his blasé attitude disgusted me. But as I got to know him, I sensed that there was far more to him then what you see. It’s only really towards the end that the real Ted breaks through and you hear, in his own words, how he’s felt since the beginning. It’s an emotional outpouring that moved me. I did feel though that the story and his characters would have been better served by allowing more of his POV to be seen.
He wanted to make her smile. Laugh. Make her love him again as deeply as he loved her.
The chemistry between Meg and Ted is apparent from the beginning but the romance is slow going. Ms. Phillips lets them realistically fall in love through out the entire book. Watching these two snark at each other, I learned exactly what the phase, “Hate is merely the flip side of love,” really means.
How could Ted and I have a future? He’s the Lamb of God and I’m the town bad girl.
Two things about this book bothered me. One was Lucy. She ran away and left Meg to handle the fall out. I would have liked to have seen more of her then what we did. The other problem I had was how Ms. Phillips chose to humiliate Meg. This is a common theme in her books; usually deserved because the heroine is either phenomenally selfish and self absorbed or like Meg, needs a kick in the pants to grow up and accept the responsibility of their actions. But there were times when the humiliation went too far and went from being funny to cruel. Many times I wanted to reach through the book and pop someone hard in the head for some of the things they did to her.
The ending is predictable but the path to it is emotional. Ms. Phillips never gives her hero and heroine an easy HEA and you find your self crossing your fingers and toes as you watch these two stumble through some pitfalls.
Call Me Irresistible is a hilarious, riotous, engaging romantic contemporary that will have you laughing, crying, and begging for more once the last page is read. I look forward to the next one in this series which is Lucy’s story-currently untitled.
Wylde takes no prisoners as she tempts readers back into the dark and volatile world of the Reapers Motorcycle Club. A p...moreOutstanding 4.5 Top Pick Stars
Wylde takes no prisoners as she tempts readers back into the dark and volatile world of the Reapers Motorcycle Club. A potent mixture of love, anger, lust and redemption all collide to form a bomb that explodes as Wylde wraps up a long, ongoing storyline in the series and sets up her bad boys for more exploits steeped in mayhem and chaos. Wylde’s powerful voice and dynamic characters keep this series fresh, addictive, and filled pure unadulterated fun.
Favorite Quote: “It was my fantasy come true. A Stuckey’s that served shots.”
Mo Wenstein has moved to Grundy, Alaska to escape her over bearing but well meaning mother and an ended engagement. While she expects the snow, the cold, and the eccentric population, she never expected a werewolf. A sexy werewolf at that.
Cooper Graham is an Alpha werewolf living in self exile from his clan. It’s love at first sniff for Cooper, but something is stalking and killing the inhabitants of Grundy and Cooper fears it may be him.
Mo might not know all that much about werewolves...but she knows her man. And her money say someone else is snacking on the fine folks of Grundy. Now all she has to do is convince Cooper.
I adore Molly Harper. From her contemporaries to her paranormals, Ms Harper writes rich snarky hilarious stories filled with strong willed females and prickly smexy alphas. How To Flirt With A Naked Werewolf is a delightful light hearted paranormal romance that uses dry humor, endearing characters, and some crazy plots to write enjoyable stories you won’t want to put down. Her characters are hysterically eccentric and provide much eye rolling and snorts of laughter as you slip smoothly into their lives. The storyline is relatively simple and fast paced with an enjoyable conversational writing style.
Mo is wickedly funny with her calm manner and dead on one liners. Raised by somewhat domineering hippie parents; she has strived her whole life for capitalism, government regulations, and processed meat products. She comes to Grundy to “find herself” after her fiancée dumps her and instead finds her place in a quirky town filled with interesting people, a job, and a new love interest. With her quick mind and even quicker mouth, Mo had me rolling with laughter from page one. Her way of dealing with everything is through sarcasm, expensive lingerie, and plenty of fattening desserts.
Cooper is the perfect male Alpha. Over protective, smexy, and exasperating. Gruff and snarly he acts like a 5 year old who shows his love for a girl by pulling her hair and calling her, “poo-poo head.” The laughs just keep coming when Mo discovers Cooper’s secret and decides she can deal with a little furriness and howling in a man. The slow evolution of his and Mo’s relationship is a delightful journey filled with humor, snarkiness,a nd lots of hawt sexy chemistry.
As Cooper sauntered to the door, I saw he was about to make one of his patented oh-so-clever parting remarks, so I beat him to the punch. “You’re still naked!” I called, smiling nastily. “It’s cold outside. Expect shrinkage.”
The supporting characters-from the wild and crazy town inhabitants to Cooper’s insane pack members- add life and non stop humor to the story.
Please, Lord, let me never hear the words “Jager ‘n’ eggs” again. Breakfast should not burn going down.
The ending surprised me as I wasn’t expecting the villain to be who it was. Ms. Harper kept me in the dark very well on that issue.The romance flourishes and ends predictably but with a few twists that adds to the overall thrill.
If your looking for a wickedly funny and sexy paranormal romance that will having you laughing out loud then I highly recommend picking up Molly Harper's How To Flirt With A Naked Werewolf.
Favorite Quote: “Nose or cookies. Hard choice. But in the end, the cookies won.“
Meg Corbin is a cassandra sangue. A blood prophet who is able to see prophecies through the cutting of her skin. Held hostage and used for profit, Meg plots her escape from her cruel owner and finds herself in the clutches of an even bigger threat, Simon Wolfgard.
Simon Wolfgard is one of the “others.” A shapeshifter who rules his territory with sharp claws and teeth. He is not comfortable with having an unknown human in his territory, but Meg’s smell and secrets invoke his protective nature, so against his better judgment, he hires her as a human liaison for his people.
Meg soon ensconces herself into the other’s lives and hearts, but when Meg’s secrets come to light and Simon learns exactly what she is and the lengths some will go to control her again, he will need to decide if she is worth the war between themselves and the humans that she has brought to his door.
Anne Bishop has once again shown herself to be the Queen of fantasy with Written In Red. A deceptively complex urban fantasy that takes the sensitive issues of racism and abuse and wraps them in a vibrantly magical world with a realistic core. Teeming with intrigue, suspense, and hints of romance, Ms. Bishop’s world building skills continue to astound and enchant. I found myself unable to put this down once I started. While the story reads fast and the writing style easy to follow, the actual arc is complex with its multiple story lines and background information. The vivid descriptions and rich details drew me in and made me part of this world. Bishop’s writing style is like a fine wine that slowly releases its bouquet as it slides down our throat. The underlying tension ratchets up the suspense in the story, building to a climactic finale that left me satisfied but ready for the next installment.
I absolutely fell in love with Meg. She is not your usual Urban Fantasy heroine. Meg has none of the qualifications we are used to seeing. She is not a dangerous warrior, more than able to hold her own against greater odds. She doesn’t carry a magical weapon nor use a prickly attitude to warn everyone off. She is, however, courageous, forthright, and intelligent. Her greatest attribute and flaw is her caring nature. She would die to save someone she cares for. Having been raised in a secluded lifestyle with only pictures and lessons to teach her of the outside world, she is human in birth only. She has an innocence to her that gives this story a bit of a YA feel. She had me laughing with some of her reactions and the decisions she makes, trying to adapt to her new life and fit in with those around her.
Simon was a genuine treat to get to know. He is quite a surly and grumpy wolf. Meg appeals to him on many levels yet he is unable to rationalize it in human terms, so he is put out by what he cannot explain. Bishop’s take on shapeshifter culture is unique and unexpected. Bishop takes great pains to integrate their hierarchy, thought and speech patterns into the story. Especially concerning humans.
“It was so much easier when all we wanted to do was eat them and take their stuff.”
The others are just that; another species. Shapeshifters. Animals first with the ability to shift to human. They look at the world and its human inhabitants through the eyes of predators. Yet, there are sparks of humanity in them; more so in some than others. Due to their predatory nature, they choose to live in their own areas with limited interaction with humans. This is definitely for the safety of humans.
Meg’s interludes with the others is interesting, scary, endearing, and heartfelt at times. They are predators and it shows. Humor and horror walk hand in hand as Meg gets to know everyone and becomes an important part of their lives. In here we meet many secondary characters, both supernatural and human, who are all rich in personality and emotion. Their development and inclusion into the storyline is so flawless and smooth, I soon became involved in all of their lives. Sam has to be the most adorable (with the horses coming in a close second) and I both laughed and cringed at some of his and Meg’s adventures. Meeting the seasons was enlightening and vampires become even scarier when described by Bishop.
While there is a attraction between Simon and Meg, Bishop doesn’t push for an instant romance. The differences between Meg and Simon are just too great right now to allow for that and I don’t believe either of them quite understand the concept or even the emotion of love beyond being protective of a friend. Their attraction builds slowly as they get to know one another and learn to first trust, then become friends. It will be interesting to see where Bishop takes them in the series.
"He kissed her forehead and found the act pleasing for its own sake. And, he admitted as he licked his lips, it was enjoyable for other reasons. Meg wasn’t biteable, but he really did like the taste of her."
There were a few aspects I would have enjoyed seeing more of. Meg’s life before running away. Her reasons for cutting herself and the emotional and physical responses behind it are extremely interesting as were her flashbacks to living in almost slavery. I would have also liked to see more of the villain who held Meg all those years.
The ending is a dramatic, bloody affair that evolves the others from their previous way of life as they give way to their true nature and show us all what happens when one of their own is threatened. I wholeheartedly recommend Written in Red to everyone who enjoys a dark humorous Urban Fantasy that focuses more on the world building and plot lines rather than romance. Word of warning, you will race though this book and want more but unfortunately, the next installment (Murder of Crows) doesn’t release till March of 2014. You have been warned.
Cordelia (Cordie) Kane was raised by her father and has always had a crush on her best friend’s brother, Aiden. When her father dies unexpectedly, lea...moreCordelia (Cordie) Kane was raised by her father and has always had a crush on her best friend’s brother, Aiden. When her father dies unexpectedly, leaving Cordie devastated not only by his death but with the news that her mother is alive and didn’t die in a car accident as she was told, she decides this is the perfect opportunity to let go of the past (her crush on Aiden) and move forward with her life. Her first goal is to find out why her mother left her and her father so many years ago.
Aiden Madison is a workaholic. Main controller for his family’s chain of hotels, Aiden is forever wheeling and dealing with his cell phone glued to his ear and his laptop always open. He has known Cordie for years and firmly placed her in the friend zone. An impromptu and very steamy kiss shocks Aiden into opening his eyes and seeing the beautiful woman standing before him.
When Cordie tracks her errant mother to Sidney, Australia, Aiden is steamrollered into going with her and soon the two of them find themselves involved in a mystery involving a wealthy family who will do anything to keep their secrets buried. Multiple attempts on Cordie’s life send Aiden into a tailspin and makes him realize that he may lose the one person he never knew he wanted.
I have always been a fan of Julie Garwood’s historical and romance suspense stories. Her wonderful balance of humor and structured chaos has kept me entertained for years. I was pleased to see Cordie and Aiden getting their own story after seeing them in Murder List (2007). Recently though, I’ve noticed her last few books haven’t had the same spark and enthusiasm they previously held. The romance seems one-sided and the conflicts lack depth, action, and intrigue.
Fast Track is a friends to lovers story that starts out with high intentions but falls short of the mark. I saw a lot of similarities between this book and an earlier release, Sweet Talk. Both books contain a beautiful, loyal, intelligent woman who fall for an emotionally constrained alpha who treats her like a booty call. Also, similar to Sweet Talk, the hero’s work/family comes first. In fact, in Fast Track, our hero spends approximately 85% of the book working. The other 15% is having sex with the heroine and trying to keep her safe from her mother’s vindictive family.
A large part of my dissatisfaction with the story is that we don’t see any real interaction between Cordie or Aiden growing up. Yes, they did appear in previous books but that doesn’t help new readers or those like myself who don’t exactly remember what happened seven years ago. In here, we see one scene showing when Cordie first meets Aiden and decides “he’s the one” but beyond that, everything starts in the present. We don’t know why Codie is attracted to Aiden or what happened in the years leading up to this point to facilitate her crush lasting so long.
The beginning of their present day romance promises much but fails to deliver. A steamy kiss that makes Aiden notice Cordie and then we begin to see some jealousy on his part. But beyond that we are never given any hint to how Aiden feels about Cordie. Even he muses a few times that he’s not sure what he feels for her; brushing it aside as an inconvenience. We never hear him say anything that would clue us that his feelings for Cordie go beyond physical attraction. Their love scenes are like random hook ups. They look at one another, have sex, and then Aiden disappears for a few days on business. They don’t date; a one time “lunch date” actually ends up being a business meeting for him with a roomful of associates.
The fact that Cordie makes excuses for Aiden’s behavior; never calling him on his “hit it and quit” it attitude, frequent disappearances, or lack of communication made me lose respect for her quickly. Especially since she is so fierce in other aspects. She just continues to talk about moving on with her life though she doesn’t really do anything but make feeble motions.
The main conflict surrounding Cordie’s mom also fails to engage. Her father tells her not to wait on love and that she is finally safe as everything is in Cordie’s name; yet we never see any indication from her mother’s actions that she would want access to the fortune Cordie’s dad left to her. Her mother is worth millions. We meet her mother in Sidney and are assured that her mother wants nothing to do with her. As Cordie attempts to get on with her life, an accident proves to Aiden and Cordie that someone wants Cordie out of the picture. An interesting concept, especially once we learn the reasons behind the attack, but as the ‘romance’ makes up a majority of the story, the mystery gets interjected at random stages, leaving this reader rather ambivalent about the whole thing.
Two small subplots concerning Aiden and his family provide some relief from the drudgery of the story. We get clues to Aiden’s younger brother’s coming story and what looked to be a contender for the main conflict-the land acquisition-fizzled and resolved in lackluster fashion.
The ending is overly dramatic catch all that wraps everything up neatly with no loose ends. Love is instantly realised and we have our happily ever after. I would have liked to have seen more development all around as I felt the entire story stayed on one level without any real emotional depths. I think I have come to my breaking point with Ms. Garwood. While I’ll continue to read and reread her older releases, the new ones just aren’t for me.
**spoiler alert** I just...can't. The blurb was confusing enough but once I started the book, it went from confusion to straight out "are you serious?...more**spoiler alert** I just...can't. The blurb was confusing enough but once I started the book, it went from confusion to straight out "are you serious?"
First off- I despise euphemisms for sex organs. A penis is a penis-not a sword, love sausage, throbbing hot member, a velvet sheathed lead pipe. It's a penis. Call it a penis. I can only seem to handle the nicknames in historicals.
Second-A pregnant virgin?? What is THAT? How can that even be? Is this an immaculate conception? The whole biological improbability is astronomical. And to have it happen TWICE in one family? Oy vey.
Third- I'm sorry but stupid over the top dramatic characters aren't appealing. I understand fiction grants leeway but there has to be some grounding in reality. None of these characters should procreate. NONE.
I feel it's just best if I and this book part ways. (less)
Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance by Penny Reid Penny Reid has certainly proved she is no one trick pony with the release ofFriends With...moreFriends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance by Penny Reid Penny Reid has certainly proved she is no one trick pony with the release of Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance, book two in her Knitting In The City series.
Reid blends outrageous humor, eccentric characters, and sexy, crazy plots to produce an addictive story you won’t want to put down. Her characters are delightfully flawed and contain a sense of realism that has you thinking, “I know someone like that.” An engaging battle of wits between our protagonists will keep you in stitches as fast paced action, sweet emotional revelations, and some smoking hot chemistry kept this reader hooked to the very end.
Elizabeth Finney has given up on true love when she finds that everyone she loves seems to leave her. When she is reunited with her childhood nemesis, celebrity talk show host Nico Manganiello, she finds herself unable to maintain the "no boys allowed" wall around her heart
Nick has always loved Elizabeth but his way of showing it involved making her miserable growing up. When a series of circumstances place them in long term proximity of each other, Nick realizes this may be his only chance with her. But Elizabeth has already run once so Nick is going to have to be extra sneaky this time around.
I’m a huge fan of Kristen Callihan’s dark PNR series so when I learned she was writing New Adult series, I jumped at the chance to read. Though I love...moreI’m a huge fan of Kristen Callihan’s dark PNR series so when I learned she was writing New Adult series, I jumped at the chance to read. Though I love NA, there are few authors who I can honestly say write it well. To often they follow a formula that is plagued by redundancy in both characterization and presentation. Callihan writes a fresh and invigorating romance in the first of her Game On series-The Hook Up-featuring two intelligent, humorous, and sexy protagonists who, while they have issues, aren’t emotional black holes that suck the life out of each other and the story. A well plotted storyline gives readers a sweet, funny, steamy, and realistic romance with all the ups and downs that relationships entail. Dynamic dialogue will have you laughing one minute and melting in another. A cast of all star characters is headed up by a star college athlete (Drew) and his smart snarky classmate (Anna) with whom he has a crush on. A chance hookup reveals some powerful chemistry between these two, but Anna doesn’t want a relationship regardless of that powerful connection. Luckily for the both of them though, Drew is no quitter. Fans of Callihan’s will be thrilled by her newest venture. I myself am looking forward to the second novel in the series-The Friend Zone- which is scheduled to release in the Spring of 2015.(less)
Welcome to the roaring twenties. Illegal booze, speakeasies, and sexual/economic freedom made for golden times as the world prospered after Word War One. Gangsters and G-Men battled in the streets as the public turns a blind eye to the law of prohibition.
Aida Palmer, a beautifully freckled hot tempered spirit medium, works at the popular nightclub, the Gris-Gris, where she entertains crowds with her gifts. Aida is not a fraud or charlatan. Her gifts are true and because of this, she finds herself helping one of the top bootleggers in the city, Winter Magnusson. Winter, a handsome giant of a man, has come to see Aida’s boss, Velma Toussaint, a known witch, when he finds himself overrun with ghosts. Velma sends for Aida and between the two of them, they discover he’s been cursed. Aida gets rid of the ghosts while Velma un hexs Winter but it leaves him still with a huge problem. Who wants Winter out of the way?
Winter hires Aida into helping him rid his home of more ghosts and soon they find themselves entangled in more than just a mystery. Attraction sparks between them and the flames only get hotter as this pair of unlikely lovers chase clues from the seedy underbelly of Chinatown to the glittering homes of the Pacific Heights upper crust. As they get closer to discovering the root of Winter’s problems, they discover that they each have their own personal demons to exorcise if they want a relationship in this world.
Bitter Spirits is the first installment in a historical PNR series by Jenn Bennett. Set in the 20’s, Bennett pays homage to the roaring twenties while adding a unique twist by introducing ghosts, zombies, and magic to the era. Luscious world building paints an intriguing portrait of San Francisco’s landscape during the 20’s while strong well defined characters and an intriguing action packed storyline engages the reader to the end. Humorous banter and a sweet sexy romance blends well with the hint of danger that permeates the story. Our protagonists, Aida Palmer and Winter Magnusson, control the story from the start and our journey begins with a bang.
I thoroughly enjoyed Bitter Spirits. A fun book whose pacing and tempo is spot on. The beginning starts out a little slow but the set up of the storyline and arc holds your attention. Though touted as a PNR, I felt the storyline was decidedly stronger on the romance side than the paranormal. The paranormal aspects are used more as plot devices and elevate the story rather than hold equal footing. What makes the story for me are the characters.
Aida, a profitable medium, doesn’t define herself by her gifts. She is independent, modern, and generally content with life. Her life is filled with friends though she keeps herself emotionally distant at times. She has some personal baggage she carries but it doesn’t weigh her down. Orphaned at an early age, she learned along time ago that the only one she can really depend on his herself. Winter is the same as Aida in some ways. His scarred face hints at a dark past which he hides with his gregarious personality and business. Born into a rich family with strong ties to bootlegging, he continues the family legacy, even allowing them to make some decisions for him which weren’t in his best interest. This causes him to harbor guilt and a distrust of people in general; especially women. But Aida intrigues him from the get go and he finds himself having to do something he hasn’t had to do in a while. Chase a woman. Both are opinionated, jealous, stubborn, fanatically loyal, and will give their lives for the right person. Their scarred imperfections only endear them to the reader.
Their romance builds slowly, allowing for a believable journey and resolution. I enjoyed that Winter and Aida get to know one another and enjoy their time together before becoming intimate. Their playful bickering was fun to watch and made for some laugh out loud moments. As they become more intimate, Bennett writes some wonderfully sensuous and subtly erotic scenes that had me wanting a bootlegger for myself.
A cast of viable well defined secondary characters only serve to further endear you to the story. Velma, Aida’s boss and owner of the Gris-Gris is a bit of a mystery with her magical powers. I do hope Bennett has a book planned for her. Winter’s man servant Bo is a wonderful side kick and I look forward to seeing exactly what parts he will play in the future. Meeting the various other crime bosses and bootleggers makes the era seem even more alive, especially the integration of the Chinese tong. The mystery of Winter’s curser resolves fast and furious with some interesting subplots. My only wish was that the villain had been integrated more into the story. As I stated earlier, the romance is heavy in here and maintains a strong presence, regulating everything else to a distinct second place.
Bitter Spirits is a wonderfully entertaining story in bribed with magic, history, and a charming romance. I look forward to the second installment, Grim Shadows, set to release June 3, 2014, which is the story of Winter’s brother, Lowe.
Natalie Porter has been searching for her birth parents for years. Thinking the expert she hired to locate them has skipped town with her money, she is shocked when she is approached by a sinister sexy man who claims to be an employee of her father’s and that he wants to meet her. In Russia. He basically kidnaps her and whisks her away on a private jet.
Aleksandr Sevastyan, the Siberian, is an enforcer for Natalie’s father. He has been charged with watching her but when the family gets wind the her father’s enemies have learned of Natalie’s existence, his orders are to get her to Russia through any means possible. And what Aleksandr wants-Aleksandr gets. And he wants Natalie.
The sexual tension is at defcon ten between these two. Aleksandr is a dominant highly sensual man whose dark needs war with his loyalty to the family. He knows he can’t have Natalie all the ways he wants her but she pushes all his buttons and he finds himself unable to resist what she offers.
Natalie is surprised to find herself so attracted to a man she just met but her intrigue at the dark sexual desires Alek hints at has her contemplating doing things she never imagined. Though Alek wants, needs, and demands his rules be followed at all times, Natalie is prepared to show him that sometimes breaking the rules is the ultimate fantasy.
The Professional: Part One is the first installment of a serial by Kresley Cole. Each installment is slated to be approximately 120 pages. The premise is a young woman’s search for her birth parents brings her to the attention of the Russian mob. Lust and loyalty battle for ultimate supremacy as these two travel the world and find that the even the most forbidden fantasy of all can be had if you’re willing to submit.
Cole is a gifted writer whose ability to balance humor, romance, and engaging plot lines is what made her a best selling author. The Professional carries all the elements that Cole has mastered but I felt there was disconnection within the story and the characters. The storyline sets up the premise, giving us the cliched good girl and the anti hero who will save her. Cole tries too hard to convince us Alek is a dark damaged individual and Natalie will be the one to free him from the chains that bind him to the past. We are only given the bare bones in their backgrounds so there was no justification to validate any of this. We aren’t shown how bad Alek is or how good Natalie is. We’re just told.
The sexual tension is off the charts and Cole writes some incredibly hot erotic scenes but I didn’t feel any real chemistry between them. They barely know each other and I couldn’t rid myself of the feeling that their connection was merely a plot device. Even knowing the next installments will probably build their relationship emotionally, I found myself unsure of their ability to go long. Alek’s emotional blockage became annoying, especially when he gets jealous after repeatedly telling Natalie they have no future. I did enjoy that Natalie isn’t a pushover though I wish she wasn’t so perfect. Beautiful, rich, a hard worker, ect…she has no flaws that we see as of yet. She is a strong, happy passionate, and not prone to overwrought emotional whining. Her humorous internal /external monologue added some laugh out loud moments.
Regardless of my reservations, I enjoyed the suspense and drama Cole weaves into her story and meeting Alek, Natalie, and the secondary characters. Natalie’s relationship with her father is well done and I enjoyed the easy camaraderie Cole builds between them. I have always been a fan Russian mob stories and I enjoyed the details and description that Cole incorporates into the storyline. I look forward to reading part two and seeing if Cole can convince me that Natalie and Alek really do have a future together.
Favorite Quote: His feelings for her were as complicated as the history between Heaven and Hell.
Some tiny spoilers from book four.
Reaver, father of the Four Horsemen and bad boy battle angel has a problem. He recently found out that Harvester, a fallen angel, isn’t the evil entity she has been acting like for thousands of years. She did not betray Heaven but was actually involved in a complex mission that required her to act as though she was still working for her father, Satan. After helping to stop the Apocalypse, Satan dragged her to Hell to be tortured for eternity.
Reaver has also been regaining bits and pieces of his memories. Memories that involve his and Harvester’s past. When Reaver makes plans to go to Hell and rescue Harvester, he is in direct violation of Heavenly orders. Getting caught could cost him his wings…and possibly his life.
Harvester knew that betraying Satan would cost her but she had hoped maybe Heaven would intervene. When no help comes, Harvester resigns herself to her fate. She is amazed and disconcerted when Reaver comes into Hell, intent on bringing her out alive. They haven’t had a very congenial relationship-both hating the other for a myriad of reasons.
As Reaver and Harvester struggle to escape Satan’s domain and dealing with the onslaught of memories resurfacing for both of them; they realize that they have been nothing but pawns in the dangerous game between Heaven and Hell. Now, Reaver and Harvester must work together to save the world once again and issue the ultimate smack down to everyone who thought they could bring them to heel.
I am a HUGE fan of Larissa Ione and her wickedly dark, dangerous, and sinful Lords of Deliverance series. Fans have all waited impatiently for Reaver’s story and will be ecstatic with this latest installment. Reaver gives us answers to most that has plagued readers since book one and wraps up the arc’s major storyline while opening the way for a brand new ones.
A true PNR that delivers well crafted characters, machiavellian plots lines, and engaging dialogue that rivals most offerings out there. I love the balance Ione achieves between the high octane romance and the heart pounding action. Though you know the happy ending is coming, the path that you follow is fraught with peril and pain. Ione doesn’t make it easy and all you can do ride it out as Ione weaves her magic around you.
Reaver is filled with anger, betrayal, redemption, forgiveness, sacrifice and love. It holds you hostage from page one and doesn’t let go till you reach the last page. Incredible world building only continues to expand and evolve; allowing for easy comprehension of it’s rather convoluted landscape. Filled with intense action, dark violence, humorous snark, and some amazingly poignant scenes, you will find yourself devouring each page, leading us to a stunning conclusion that will have you cheering for joy.
Ione has given us two extremely damaged protagonists in Reaver and Harvester. Betrayed by those they vowed to serve with their lives, your heart breaks as you learn of the pain inflicted upon them by others and each other. Reaver and Harvester have suffered tremendously in their service to Heaven and they are repaid time and time again with deception and betrayal. That is not to say they are purely angelic. *wink* Both are predisposed with nasty tempers and willful natures that lead them straight into temptation time and time again.
“Only a fool would merely consider entering hell without a plan. Only a fucking idiot would seriously intend to saunter into the Prince of Evil’s living room in the very center of hell to kidnap his little girl. Against orders. And without a plan.”
Intense and seductive sexual tension and chemistry saturates the storyline. Reaver and Harvester have a history together that spans the centuries. Hate and love often ride in tandem and that is certainly true in their case. Watching Reaver and Harvester change and grow in this book was heartbreaking at times. Both fighting their own demons and slowly accepting love and help from others was an emotional journey that required sacrifice from both. As their past becomes clearer, Reaver shoulders quite a bit of blame for the pain Harvester has suffered. His actions towards her in the past were selfish and cruel and these revelations hurt him more than any physical pain that he has ever endured.
The pain in her voice flayed him to the bone. [...] All he knew was that he was the source of Harvester’s pain. Every single stitch of pain she’d endured for the last five thousand years could be laid on his shoulders.
An engaging personable cast of secondary characters only serve to further elevate your enjoyment. Each one is fully developed and more than capable of holding their own story. We see so many old friends in here (from this series and the Demonica series) and meet some new and interesting ones. Clues are given to the next hero and heroine and they look to promise much mayhem and laughter.
“I neither work for you nor am I mated to you, so I don’t have to respond to your rudeness. And if I was mated to you, I’d respond with a blade to your balls.”
Nothing and nobody is ever what they seem in here and that becomes glaringly evident as the story progresses. As I stated earlier, this book answers so many questions and contains some rather shocking news. It’s very hard not to spoil so forgive my lack of information.
The multiple story lines are filled with extreme tension and emotion yet flow evenly and smoothly to merge together for a climactic ending that had my heart stopping quite a few times as Reaver defies the heavens to save those he loves. Larissa Ione once again produces a gold medal winner with Reaver. As I stated in the beginning, I am a huge fan of this series and will continue to recommend them to anyone who will listen to me. Though this story has a fully resolved main conflict, I do not recommend reading out of order, as it also resolves a long standing arc that you will miss out on by not starting from the beginning with Immortal Rider.
Favorite Quote: “The next person who tells me to hurry up before I finish my cup of coffee gets a bullet in the ass.”
Police officer Jenna O’Connor has spent her whole life hiding from what her mother called the Others – supernatural beings. Repeatedly told they would kill her because of her hybrid status, she has spent her life staying under the radar, letting no one but her family into her life. No more though. In an attempt to live her own life, she moves to Wilmington, NC and lands her dream job on the SWAT team. She never expects her cover to be blown the first day when she meets Adam McPhee. She instantly knows he’s not human, like her, but figures she can handle anything he throws her way.
Adam McPhee, the smoking hot Alpha of the NC pack, is more wolf than human and now has his sights set on the sexy little SWAT agent who stepped between him and his prey. He knows Jenna isn’t human but can’t figure out exactly what she is and his curiosity to find out more about her, could get them both killed if he isn’t careful.
When a group of violent shifters who are part of an elitist pact that views humans as cattle, storm the town, threatening humans and Others alike, Jenna finds herself knee deep in a world her mama told her to always avoid. As Jenna tries to find her footing, learning new and unbelievable things about herself and the Others, she begins to wonder if her mama wasn’t right.
Fans of Shelly Laurenston’s Pride series will enjoy this. Similar in makeup, Lane has created a world where supes are a normal part of society and plenty of humor, snark, and action play alongside crazy, engaging characters. Heavily character driven, the story is told mainly from our heroine’s POV, Jenna O’Connor, though we have enough dialogue from other characters to get a healthy mixture of multiple POVs. I enjoyed the crisp, fast paced writing style that flows smoothly through the story. Within the pages, humor, action, suspense, and romance all mix together for a laugh out loud story that keeps you hooked to the very end. It’s not completely lighthearted though. Some intriguing subplots balance well against the humorous situations to reveal a serious side to the story.
Lane’s world building is a solid though we only learn what directly affects Jenna. I do love Lane’s unique view on how shifters came to be in existence. Magic aside, she digs deep into the evolutionary chain and gives us a fantastical but almost believable tale that starts with the dinosaurs. *g* T Rex shifters. RAWR!!!!
Jenna is a refreshing protagonist. She is a kick ass heroine with a smart mouth and the skills to back it up. Not to say she comes across as butch or bitchy, she is as girly as the rest of us, but she is an engaging and funny blend of femininity and “take no crap” warrior.
Alex answered her. “You do know that it’s disturbing that you know all that, right? We thought you were some go hard, take no prisoners, don’t-look-at-me-or-I’ll-bust-a-cap-in-your-ass warrior.”
She balled her hands up by her hips and barked in annoyance. “Well, I wasn’t raised on G.I. Joes you know! Mama raised me on princesses and fairy tales, and I just happened to like the swords more than the shoes in the stories. Okay?”
Though kept in the dark for most of her life about her past, the Others and their politics, she jumps head first when a plot is revealed that affects shifters and humans alike. She makes plenty of mistakes and wrong decisions yet doesn’t get emotionally mired down by them. She learns from them and moves on. When pressed to make a very, very important decision affecting her future, I liked that she stood her ground even when battered and insulted on all sides. She wouldn’t let her mind be swayed just because of the good of the pack. She’s loyal and dedicated but not a martyr.
Adam. Nom Nom Adam. An alpha of the first degree. He’s large, in charge, and takes protectiveness to a whole new level. When he meets Jenna, his wolf batters at the tenuous hold Adam has on it, desperate to get to her. To claim her. To make her his in all ways possible. This causes problems for Adam and between Adam and Jenna. Even while being over bearing as only a true alpha can be, he does his best to keep his courtship easy and safe for Jenna. He wants to court his way into her life and bed and I have to admire the restraint he places on his nature in order to achieve that.
Due to this, the romance progresses a slow steady pace. The chemistry between them is apparent from their first meeting, but chemistry isn’t enough for Jenna to throw away all her past lessons for a quick roll in the hay. Especially since everything indicates this will be anything but a one night or even two night stand. The banter between them is hilarious and I like that they both take the time to get to know one another; even if Adam does constantly push the envelope. I do like humorous romances between two strong protagonists. One thing I didn’t like is everyone knows she was raised ignorant of the Others ways, yet they treated her as if she should know everything being thrown at her. They get mad at her for not knowing things but don’t always offer up information until past the time she needed to know.
The secondary characters are just as vivacious and compelling as our protagonists. Adding depth and dimension to the storyline, each holds enough personality for them to have their own stories. Jenna’s uncle provides her with a much needed male father figure while her mother takes mama bear syndrome to a whole new level. We meet two tigers whose slutty antics and snobby attitudes will have you howling. And we can’t forget their grandmother…You will all die when you meet their grandmother. Her new best friend Kent has some secrets hiding behind his cavalier attitude and I look forward to learning his back story.
The conflict is an interesting premise but unfortunately stays deep in the background, overshadowed by Jenna’s introduction to the Other way of life and her romance with Adam. We only get glimpses of what the villains are up to and no resolution. I can only hope that since this was essentially a ‘meet and greet’ set up book, the next one will focus equally on the H/H and the continuing conflict. All in all, Big Bad Bite is steady and action packed with plenty of twists and turns that delighted me. I enjoyed the light and dark aspect that is brought into play-they blend well together. I enjoyed Big Bad Bite and look forward to reading the next installment-Walk On The Striped Side-which releases in 2014. Jessie Lane is definitely an author to watch for those who love zany, adventures, romantic PNR.
Peregrine Island is Anna’s last chance. With no job and nowhere to live, Anna comes back to the island that made her life miserable as a teenager. Trapped there by circumstances, Anna is dismayed to find her childhood tormentor is also on the island. Anna has no inclination to forgive and forget and vows no matter what happens, she will stay the sixty days required and then go back to the city and try to repair her life.
Theo Harp, the prodigal son and gothic novelist, is back on the island to finish his second book and hopefully exorcise some demons from his past. He regrets how he treated Anna as a child but he is older now and wants to let bygones be bygones. He also wants Anna off the island but not for the reasons she thinks and when it looks like someone else wants her gone too, Theo goes from being her villain to her hero.
I have been a HUGE fan of Susan Elizabeth Phillips for years. My first foray into her world was Fancy Pants and from there I devoured everything she ever wrote. Strong, crazy heroines, annoying over protective alpha heroes, drama filled misconceptions, and some of the most insane secondary characters and towns kept me laughing and cheering for years. Her past few books haven’t quite held the same spark as her earlier works. The characters seem harder and more brittle while the storylines tell more than they show.
Ms. Phillips’ writing takes a noticeably darker turn in her newest work, Heroes Are My Weakness. A romance suspense with a gothic flavor whose base is centered on family and touches on abuse and mental illness. I have to say my expectations were not met in this book. The writing, tone, and characterization all felt so different from her previous works. It’s not a bad thing for authors to branch out but there is an uncomfortable struggle in here, made evident by the stumbling storyline, fast switching scenes, and characterization. Ms. Phillips changes the overall tone of her writing with this book but seems to have trouble changing her style to fit.
Anna is a puppeteer. Growing up with a famous and critical mother left Anna always struggling to be accepted and loved. This has lead Anna to invest in a series of relationships that left her with little to no emotional and physical fulfillment. Having spent her life savings on taking care of her dying mother in her last year of life has left Anna broke and in frail health. All she has is the cottage her mother received when she divorced her last husband, Elliott Harp. A cottage that has a cordil attached to it. Anna must live in the cottage 2 months out of the year or it reverts back to the Harp estate. Anna’s mother assures her that the cottage holds something of value that will make her life complete. Only, Anna doesn’t want to go to Peregrine island because that is where her step brother, Theo Harp, tried to kill her when she was 15 and she has avoided the island ever since.
Anna screams victim in the beginning. She is a walking version of Murphy’s Law. If it’s bad and can happen, it happens to her. A typical Phillips heroine, only in this case, I was more annoyed than amused. She has a martyr complex; she makes excuses for everyone in her life but Theo. She spent her entire life savings in an attempt to make her mother love her though she uses her mother’s sickness to justify it. She makes excuses for her loser boyfriends, and when she helps a friend do her job. I also had issues with the consciousness aspect that has Anna “hearing” her puppet’s voices during times of indecision and trouble. It was a frivolous aspect that didn’t match the tone of the story or Anna.
As the story progresses, Anna begins to settle on the island and put down roots. She becomes more confident and assured (again, a familiar growth pattern all Phillips heroines go through). She and Theo strike up a tentative truce when Theo asks to “borrow” the cottage to write in and Anna uses him to sharpen her wit on. Attraction from their teenage years comes back full force and soon she and Theo soon embark on an affair though Anna tries to keep it un emotional. This is her finally taking a stand in her life. She feels she and Theo will never have anything permanent with his secrets and her life being back in the city.
Theo was harder to get to know as the entire story is from Anna’s point of view. His actions in the beginning seems to back up all the reasons behind Anna’s antagonism towards him. As we get to know him, you sense that there was far more to him then what you see. Both he and Anna hide their feelings behind sarcasm and witty comebacks. If Anna has a martyr complex, then Theo has a white knight complex. His backstory is revealed in layers as Anna uncovers every one of his secrets and you honestly can’t help but feel for him once you learn everything. It’s only really towards the end that the real Theo breaks through and you hear, in his own words, how he’s felt since the beginning. It’s an emotional outpouring that moved me. I did feel though that the story and his character would have been better served by allowing more of his POV to be seen.
The chemistry between Anna and Theo is apparent from the beginning but the romance is slow going. Ms. Phillips takes her time allowing them to fall in love; needing them to work through their issues before committing. Watching these two snark at each other is funny, especially when that humor enters the bedroom. The scenes are emotionally sexy but physically chaste and most occur off scene.
The mystery is intriguing though at times seemed to be overwhelmed by the multiple subplots intertwining with it. There is lot going on and Ms. Phillips does an admirable job of resolving them though it all happens rather fast. We learn the answer to Anna’s legacy and phantom prowlers and Phillips leaves us with a nice epilogue that assures us that Anna and Theo are happy.
Overall I found the book easy to read and amusing in a dry way, but the struggles I mentioned in the beginning didn’t make this new venture of Ms. Phillips an altogether comfortable read.
Hundreds of years ago, the Psy decided the only way for their race to survive was to silence their emotions—by whatever means necessary. Throughout Nalini Singh's series (Shield of Winter is the thirteenth full-length Psy-Changeling book), we have watched as this decision has come back to haunt them with horrific results. Severing their emotions only served to breed sociopaths within their race, sociopaths who were allowed to prey on one another as well as other races. As evil began to taint the race, infecting and spreading its lethal contagion, we learn that Silence has completely fallen and now the Psy must disregard everything they ever learned if they are to survive.
The Silence Protocol has been the defining aspect of the Psy race for over a hundred years. Conditioned not to feel emotion from childhood, members of the Psy are known for their icy practicality, acute mental abilities, and adherence to strict codes of behavior. It is all they know and all they’ve been since the inception of the Protocol . . . until now.
Fans have begged for Vasic’s story since his introduction and Singh more than delivers here. Vasic is a Psy Arrow who was brutally taught from childhood to bury every single emotion he had through pain and torture.
To be an Arrow is to be an island, devoid of attachments that create vulnerability.
He is winter. Cold, forbidding, and unstoppable. One of the more powerful Psys in existence, he is the crowning glory of his race. But he is tired. He has struggled for so long; his conscience has been constantly at war with his orders. With the fall of Silence, Vasic knows he will stand on the front lines, once again giving his all to save his people. But if he survives, he may finally be free of the constraints holding him.
“...knew exactly how close Vasic was to the edge, that the destruction of, or damage to one more innocent life could snap the razor-fine thread that bound him to the world.”
Ivy Jane is an Psy empath, a very strong empath. As a child, when her shields began to fail and her emotions all but destroyed her, she was brutally rehabilitated and almost made a vegetable. Her parents, seeing what was done to her, quietly disappeared, erasing any and all information that could lead the Arrows or their deadly masters to them.
No one would ever again strap her down and attempt to break her.
She knows when the cold and deadly Arrow shows up that her breach of protocol has been noticed. But instead of dragging her in for a reconditioning, Vasic offers her employment. A chance to stand with other empaths to work to stop the deadly infection that is spreading and killing their race.
“An innocent could not be here, could not attempt to do what you must. For this, the Net needs a warrior.”
Singh’s Psy/Changeling series is one of my top ten favorite paranormal romance series. I absolutely adore the world Singh has created and foften reread this series in its entirety. This glorious alternative world of shifters, humans, and the Psy is ever expanding and evolving with nonstop action, suspense and mystery yet balanced nicely with deliciously steamy romance and light-hearted moments. Its perfect blending and consistency is what makes Nalini Singh a best-selling author.
Shield of Winter, the thirteenth installment in the series, is as intoxicating and engaging as the first. More so, in fact, because in Shield of Winter, Singh is able to impart heartfelt emotion into a love story centering around two people who, for all intents and purposes, have surrendered their emotions long ago to appease a race that deemed them unacceptable.
Singh does a fantastic job blending the suspense of the story with the sweet and sensual awakening of Vasic and Ivy. The plot was remarkable, but while there is a lot going on, Singh’s clear and concise writing style leaves little confusion. With each scene we watch Vasic and Ivy learn to open themselves up to the unknown.
Now it was too late, his soul pitted and shredded, his hands instruments of death. Still, he could do one thing, he thought, his eyes dropping to the gauntlet that was an outward reminder of his inhumanity.
They face their fears and overcome obstacles while dealing with external factors that might stop them. Neither plot nor romance is sacrificed. They balance and complement each other through the entire arc.
He’d watched her as if she was the only thing in the entire universe... As if he wanted to devour her whole.
He was so beautiful, she thought. All hard lines and strength and a strange, unexpected vulnerability. Of the latter she had no evidence, and yet her instincts insisted.
The supporting characters are intense, well developed, and intertwine with our protagonists to give us a rich, full bodied story. Complex and convoluted, we see good and bad characters are merely defined by degrees of separation and much that has played out behind the scenes comes into the light. Everyone here has an agenda and does not always play by the rules. I found each one to be a satisfying addition to the story. Alliances are made as enemies come out of the woodwork, threatening the well being of all involved.
Their brethren deserved the same happiness, the same steep learning curve anchored in pleasure rather than pain.
Once again, Singh leaves me both satisfied and wanting. Shield of Winter builds a seemingly impossible relationship and gives readers a romance for the ages while continuing to entice readers to join her in her paranormal world. Fans of Singh’s will definitely be adding a new book boyfriend to their already overflowing lists.(less)
Favorite Quote: “May feel like you’re fallin’, Tabby, but remember, I’m at the bottom, waiting to catch you.”
Tabitha (Tabby) Allen, princess of the Chaos Motorcycle Club, has always had a family of brothers to fall back on, but she has always wanted more from one brother- Shy Cage. Fate has conspired through the years to keep them apart until a tragedy brings them together and Tabby intends to make Shy realize that he is the one she was born to love.
Shy has always been aware of Tabby’s crush but thought nothing of it until one fateful night when he decides to teach her a hard lesson and in her goodbye to him, she kisses him and the taste of her permeates his skin and remains on his tongue for years. When she makes it known to him that he is the biker boss for her, Shy considers himself the luckiest man on the planet, but Tabby being the Club president’s daughter makes her off limits. Shy is ready to take on the world and his brothers to claim Tabby for his own, but will fate allow them this ride or will they crash and burn?
From the first introduction in Motorcycle Man, fans have glommed on the possibility of a romance between the reigning princess of the Chaos MC, Tabitha Allen, and the sexy Chaos biker, Parker “Shy” Cage. When it was announced that the first of a spin off series, Chaos, would give the readers just that, a happy squeeeee was heard around the fandom of Kristen Ashley.
I wasn’t sure at first how this would work because both were rather young in Motorcycle Man (Tabby is 17 and Shy is 22) and I wasn’t looking forward to watching Tabby continue to have her heart broken by a VERY promiscuous and seemingly clueless Shy as we saw in MM. However, I should just learn to trust Ashley because it does work.
Own The Wind picks up with Tabby in college, working towards her nursing degree. We watch as her and Shy’s life intertwine through a series of events that spans approximately six years. The story is told in increments, skipping a month or so through time, bringing us back each time at pivotal moments. Fast paced with a solid story line and well plotted scenes. The focus of the story remains solely on Tabby and Shy’s romance. We watch as they go from dislike to friendship to eventually love. It’s not a perfect love story. Shy and Tabby bring plenty of baggage with them to the relationship and their personalities are a guaranteed fight waiting to happen. Also, Tabby’s crush on Shy was seen through rose colored glasses. Once she gets to know the real Shy, she realizes that while she may be a princess, he is not her white knight, and this is not a fairy tale. Both have some maturing to do and the journey is rocky for them.
There is a genuine sense of realism in here that isn’t as prevalent in the previous books. What makes Ashley’s books so cracktacular is the overall fairy tale sense of romance and the dreamlike men incorporated into her contemporaries. She has given us the alpha hero. Strong, gorgeous, intelligent, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. He takes what he wants and gives his all to the woman he loves. It’s swoon worthy romantic. It’s panty wetting romantic. It’s also not real and most of us would bury a man who acted like Ashley’s heroes in a shallow unmarked grave in real life. Tabby and Shy are a realistic couple in that Tabby was raised in Shy’s world. She knows his lifestyle as well as he does. There is no introduction or training of the heroine to accept the man and the world she has chosen to enter. She is his equal and there are not a lot of Ashley’s heroines like that. Dusty, Nina, and Sylvie are a few who are also equal to their respective mates.
Tabby and Shy’s relationship is slow and steady as they struggle with preconceived notions and outside negativity. One impressive point in this story is that their romance is used to facilitate a new generation of bikers. We see some of the stereotypical biker attitudes being challenged. Shy doesn’t hold to the mentality of controlling his woman as some of his biker brethren does and makes that quite clear.
“Tab and I don’t play that way. You want to order your old lady around, do what you do, not for me to say. I asked her to go, she didn’t go. Not gonna make her. But you try, you’ll deal with me.”
“You’d give up your brothers for a woman?” “ Abso-fucking-lutely.”
Tabby is also dealing with being seen as a woman and not a child. I have to say her day of reckoning was epic and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing some arses get spanked, by her, for the way they reacted to her and Shy dating.
“You don’t get to think. Dad doesn’t get to think. Big Petey. Dog. Brick. Boz. Natalie. All you all…don’t get to think. I live my life, no matter how much you or Dad or anyone loves me, or how much I love you all, you don’t get to live my life for me, tell me how to live it or judge me for the decisions I make.”
The growth in here is evident, both character and arc wise. The secondary characters are as vivid and personable as her protagonists.We see many old friends from the Chaos world and meet a couple of new ones who guarantee that we haven’t seen the last of our beloved MC. As with most of Ashley’s books, we are given our HEA and a glimpse into the future to assure us that our couple is truly happy.
As with Raid though, I did find the missing additional external sub plots and descriptions to be discouraging. In her early books, the individualism that Ashley imparts to her characters was one of the reasons I fell in love with her stories. Each character had a life that existed beyond the romance. We are given a look into the mundane and it gifted her characters with a four dimensional aspect. We learned Tyra liked yoga and movies in Motorcycle Man. We learned, in depth, about Tessa’s baking ability in Wild Man. Gwen’s romance writing in Mystery Man was a large part of the story line. In here, it seems that Shy and Tabby had very little individualism. Very few scenes do we see Tabby or Shy alone, doing something that doesn’t involve each other. There is very little interaction from other series characters. I was very surprised in one scene where Elvira appears and tells us that she knows about a fight between Tab and Shy. In an earlier book, we would have seen a scene involving Tyna and her crew, giggling and discussing Tab and Shy’s romance and the fight. We don’t even know what kind of car Tabby drives. That was disappointing. While I’ll always love Ashley and the different worlds she has opened up to me, the mainline streaming of her work is cutting into the very aspect that made her stories so different and addicting.
Regardless of my misgivings, Ashley continues to be an auto buy author for me and I dread the day when everyone’s story has been told and we reach the end.
Favorite Quote: “What is a Max?” “She is…unique. And she is about to kill you.”
At the end of Crimson Wind, Max found and brought her family back to Horngate and is now fulfilling her obligation to the demi god that Gisele promised her to, Scooter. We open up with him ruthlessly forcing Max to open herself to a magical power she never knew she had. He needs her skills and magic to recover three vital parts of himself or he will die. Once they arrive in the Shadow City, Max finds herself fighting for their lives against an enemy of unimaginable evil. Losing is not an option. While Max is off helping Scooter, Horngate finds itself at the center of the apocalypse. They are slowly losing food sources, they are having to shelter orphaned witches and humans, a fury has risen, and they are being watched by something much larger and stronger than they. As they work to find away to defeat the fury, they suddenly receive some help from n unexpected source.
Shadow City embodies the reasons why I love urban Fantasy so much. Dark and gritty; the world building constantly evolves to offer new and exciting challenges within the arc without sacrificing the integrity of the story lines or the characters. Thrilling, fast paced action, ripe suspense, and charismatic characters keep you glued to the the pages as you watch these incredible personalities fight, love, and laugh their way to the end. This series personifies love, loss, betrayal, and sacrifice-driving the points home with a sledgehammer. Shadow City is an emotional roller coaster that turns a pivotal corner in the series. Max and Alexander are finally dealing with issues that have been eating away at them. Max begins to let go of her hatred and need for revenge. Not to say she has forgiven Gisele because that’s not going to happen any time soon-but rather she has decided to stop giving it so much control over her life and opens herself fully to the people who love her. The Blades are her family and Horngate is her home. We see growth in her character, especially towards Alexander.
“Why was it so hard for her to take what he was giving? What was she waiting for?”
Alexander also goes through some growing pains of his own. He and his Prime have been at odds since arriving at Horngate. He has never been accepted there and now the Blades need him to lead them since Max left but her leaving has emotionally crippled him. It takes a traumatic event and a new friend to break him down to nothing and then put him back together whole.
I love that the Blades and Gisele are in the forefront here. That was one issue I had with Crimson Winds-the lack of interaction we had with them. The supporting characters are still as vivid and dynamic as ever. Each one fully capable of carrying their own story. I like that each have distinct, separate personalities; ensuring they are never overwhelmed by our protagonists. We are privy to some personal emotional dialogue that allows us to see how deep the connection between one another is. Gisele is more “human” in here and while she is still the character I love to hate most, she is beginning to acknowledge and accept responsibility for the cruelty and betrayal she bestowed on Max.
“This is our new start. Phoenix from the ashes. Let’s do better this time. No, that’s wrong. I’ll do better this time. Like I should have done from the start. I always knew this place was suppose to be different, but I followed the old rules anyhow.”
We make some new friends and re visit with some old ones. I really want to see more of Valery and Holt and get their full story. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of humor in here. Max and the gang have grown into their snark and it balanced with the seriousness of the storyline beautifully.
There are two main conflicts that run simultaneously and interact towards the end. Each one a full bodied expose in tension, suspense, and action with multiple subplots running throughout: guaranteeing us that this series will only continue to get better. Our villains are appropriately evil and vicious which only further enforces the darkness of this series. The conclusion comes at us hard and fast with a climatic nerve racking finale. The ending is conclusive and satisfying yet leaves the door open wide enough to ensure we haven’t seen the last of our demi god nor his friends.
A splendid addition to this series and I look forward to spending more time with Max and Horngate in the future. I recommend this to every reader who enjoys a kick ass heroine and dark adventures set in a lush urban fantasy world.
When trouble comes to Atlanta, you can always guarantee Kate Daniels is smack dab in the middle of it, swinging her sw...moreJoint review by Mandi & Tori
When trouble comes to Atlanta, you can always guarantee Kate Daniels is smack dab in the middle of it, swinging her sword. And trouble is definitely come to Atlanta in the form of Hugh D’Ambrey.
Being consort to the Beast Lord isn’t an easy job. Between struggling to keep her business afloat and dealing with never ending pack issues, Kate has her hands full. During the monthly Conclave meeting, a master of the dead is murdered and the pack is challenged to find the culprit within 24 hours or the People will declare war. If Kate didn’t have enough to do, Curren is off doing business in North Carolina, the pack has a traitor in their mists, and Kate knows Roland is coming for her.
As tensions build, Kate will have to shuck off the last remaining shackles of her youth and embrace who and what she is if she is going to save her city, her friends, and the only man she has ever loved.
Tori: We here at Smexy Books love Ilona Andrews and their bestselling urban fantasy Kate Daniels. Basically, we love everything that comes from this dynamic writing duo and if they write it, we will read it. Often rereading this series multiple times per year, I find comfort in their writing. Each reread provides me with more understanding of this convoluted world and its constantly changing inhabitants. While the familiar draws me in, it’s the evolving world and vibrant characters that keep me returning. Equal parts of humor and horror merge together to form intriguing stories that drag me in and hold me hostage to the end. I find their style of writing addictive and I await their new releases with barely concealed impatience. Thisseries is the perfect urban fantasy with its balance of power, action, and vulnerability.
After the catastrophic breath stealing events in Magic Rises, the Andrews takes pity on their readers and gives us a story filled with love, laughter, tragedy, and hope. Almost everyone now knows who Kate is and all her reasons for hiding are out in the open. She must take the offensive if she hopes to have a fighting chance against Roland. I find the route Andrews is taking concerning Roland to be unique and also keeping within the theme that has permeated the series. No one in here is decidedly good or bad. There are multiple shades of gray and each person must make their own choices on the path they decide to walk.
I love the evolution of Kate Daniels throughout this series. In the beginning we met a sociopath whose versions of right and wrong are made more poignant once we are privy to her back story. Raised and manipulated by her “stepfather” Voron, Kate is one of the good guys because she chooses to be. Her internal moral compass, while skewed, is strong and generally points in the right direction. We have watched as this solitary young woman has taken chances and learned to trust and love. Though for every step she made she was forced back two…she fought, clawed, and struggled to become her own person and not the instrument of destruction Voron hoped to create. In Kate Daniels we see a woman who against all odds has become a hero. What do you think, Mandi? Has Kate’s evolution been to your satisfaction?
Mandi: Her evolution has trumped my satisfaction. I’m not sure I could ask more from a heroine. Kate is bad ass, strong, smart, and extremely talented. We can all agree. But she also accepts her faults. She knows she has a weakness for leaving those she claims as hers (pack, friends, family) behind. She can’t just say, ‘let’s sacrifice one for the good of the pack’ – she won’t leave anyone behind. This doesn’t always make a good leader though. And she knows this. She knows when to ask (or should I say finally give in) Curran for help. She is stubborn, loyal, brave and freaking sarcastic. I love her.
I think it’s safe to say that this book is the book we’ve all been waiting for. Ilona Andrews even wrote a note before the book starts basically telling readers to buckle up (and that there are more books to come). Kate has not one but two big, bad dudes after her – Hugh d’Ambray and daddy Roland. This book she gets tested. Big time tested, like never before. I love that this book (and series) is so violent, dark, gritty – but there are scenes like this that make me laugh so hard:
“Hey, Kate? Have you thought of walking up to Hugh and telling him that he’s got the biggest dick ever?” She spread her arms to the size of a baseball bat.
“No, you think it would work?” I asked
“It’s worth a try. Maybe he’ll be so happy you noticed his pork sword, he’ll forget all about trying to kill us.”
Tori, what did you think of the events that take place in this book as it culminates the overall arc this series has been leading to?
Tori: I went through an “evolution” myself as each event revealed itself. The path twisted and turned; once again proving the sheer talent possessed by the Andrews writing team. They plot a difficult emotional path to Kate’s destiny in here, changing the ongoing story line and showing us that regardless of what you think may happen…they have plenty more tricks up their sleeve. What thrilled me the most was the ease in which everything changed and settled back into place. Fans have spent six books with an expectation towards a certain conclusion only to find out, like Kate, that nothing is ever what it seems.
As always, Kate fights for the underdog and all those she feels are under her protection. Parallels between she and Hugh are expanded upon, showing us what she could have been and what she has chosen to become due to a series of events. Introducing new characters and their thoughts/actions gives readers a new “bone” to chew on as we are herded towards the series conclusion. Old plotlines are effectively wrapped up with realistic results while being used to nudge open new avenues for exploration. Violence and humor go hand in hand here to keep readers thoroughly engaged till the very end.
“The other day Andrea tried to explain to me that apparently I am suppose to have a new thing, an old thing, a blue thing, and something stolen.”
“Who the hell even makes up these rules?”
“Even Julie talked to me about it the other day.”
“What did she say?”
“She thinks I should wear black.”
Some events were almost stupefying in their outcome. I love that Kate isn’t omnipresent and gets caught in the crossfire quite a bit. Her ability to survive is half skill and half luck. I love that while Kate will do anything for the pack, she isn’t stupid enough to believe they will do anything for her.
“Honey, we can fill this place with what we know and you don’t.”
Mandi, you messaged me that certain things happened that you didn’t foresee. Did you find them overwhelming or the perfect introduction for the direction we seem to be going in?
Mandi: I was very happy with the way the big events turned out at the end of this book. Honestly, if I had been told what happens before I read it, I would have thought I wouldn’t like it – but as you read, it all falls into place. It’s like Ilona Andrews knows what they are doing or something! *wink* While this closes a large arc, it also opens up room for some new adventure. Very intrigued and excited to see where we go in the next book.
We also get a hot sex scene! Yeah Curran! And I laughed, I cringed, I held my breath – this author is by far the best storyteller out there.
A few of my favorite quotes/scenes:
“What the hell is this?” Desandra asked (Kate).
“This is Cuddles. She’s a mammoth donkey.”
Derek grinned, leaning on the fence. “Do you have any self-respect left?”
“Trapped by a horde of vampires in the middle of a snow-covered field, huddling around a tiny fire on thin blankets,” Curran said. “Drink it in, baby. All this luxury just for you.”
Tori: I second that ‘Yeah Curran!’ Though I was still a little put out by his actions in Magic Rises, I found my love for him hasn’t decreased. The romance, though limited in interaction in here (Curran is gone three quarters of the book) is still as hot and potent now as it was when it first started. This couple has been through the wringer, both externally and emotionally. They have fought their feelings for so long only to give in; which opened a whole new bag of problems. Not many want to see them together, starting with Curran’s own pack. But this couple truly loves one another with the kind of deep powerful that love not only embraces the good but also the bad. Neither Curran or Kate have any illusions to who they sleep next to every night.
“Hey, I warned you from the start it would be weird. I sat in that bathtub with you and told you that this was a really bad idea. You said you loved me and stayed in the tub. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve made your bed. You have to lie in it.”
“I’ll lie in any bed as long as you’re in it, but this is still weird.”
A menage of secondary characters, new and old, continue to expand in their roles, each a viable player in this high stakes game of life and death. I readily appreciate the different personalities that are injected through out here. As I stated earlier, no one is firmly “good and/or evil.” Each serve their own higher purpose that may or may not eventually come into contact with Kate’s purpose. I enjoyed seeing Kate and Ghastek interact on a more personal level. They have been frenemies for so long, it was interesting seeing them interact on a more personal level. Once again, the Andrews remind us that Kate has male friends (of sort) that exist beyond her relationship with Curran, further solidifying the growth she has undergone in this series. Of course, we see plenty of Andrea, Barbados, Ascanio, and the rest of Kate’s rag tag entourage who fight beside her regardless of what she says or does.
Ascanio shot me another brilliant smile. “I’m sorry for all this trouble. I honestly was just trying to help. But now that I’m here, I couldn’t possibly go back all alone and defenseless. Unless you want to condemn me to certain death. Alone. In the night. In the freezing rain.”
The main conflict is a multi layered concoction of intrigue, tension, violence, and heart stopping scenes as the rules are once again changed on Kate. Multiple plot lines race though the book, twisting and turning to close some long standing open storylines while giving us hints to new ones.Magic Breaks takes everything we have learned and turns it inside out, leaving this reader reeling with all the implications of what’s to come. This series just continues to get better and better. Magic Breaks is a another appealing installment into one of my top recommended urban fantasy series.
Angel Crawford has been given a second chance at life as a member of the undead and she’s determined not to blow it. The former junkie and delinquent is now drug and crime free, has a great job with the coroner’s office, and is dating hunky detective, Marcus Ivanov. But Angel’s been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it drops with a BANG when bodies go missing and an old enemy starts hunting again. Toss in her probation officer, a secretive boyfriend, and an over zealous scientist and Angel knows she’s going to need all the brains she can get her hands on if she’s going to survive this time around.
Even White Trash Zombies Get The Blues is a wickedly funny, action packed, urban fantasy with a healthy dollop of romance and suspense. A romantic suspense…with zombies. I love Diana Rowland’s Kara Gillan series and expected nothing but fantastic things in here as well. I wasn’t disappointed. Rowland finds the perfect balance of macabre humor and realistic soul searching in here with heroine Angel Crawford. Angel was a complete screw up but when an accident turns her into a zombie, Angel grabs hold of her new found “life” with both hands. No longer compelled to try and self destruct, she has a great job and access to her much needed choice of food-brains. She has become more accepting of her condition, made friends, and she’s dating the man who gave her a new lease on life, detective Marcus Ivanov.
Angel still has self esteem issues though and I like that Rowland doesn’t sweep those under the covers, making the zombie-ism a “cure all”. Angel is still cleaning up the aftermath from her arrest, she’s on probation, and is also trying to repair the relationship with her father. Dating a hunk like Marcus isn’t all rainbows and unicorns either. She sees the differences between her and Marcus, made glaringly apparent when she is introduced to his family and friends. There is also Marcus’s attitude. He is beginning to make decisions for her without consulting her and the new Angel isn’t going to put up with it. She may be white trash but she’s not stupid white trash. I adore the mixture of vulnerability and steel that is readily apparent in her hilariously snarky dialogue. You can easily visualize the head rolling and finger snapping when Angel feels the need to put someone in their place. What I truly like about this series is the realism of it all. This isn’t an urban fantasy about zombies…it’s a urban fantasy that just happens to have a heroine who is a zombie.
The secondary characters are just as personable and well developed as Angel and only adds to the fun of this story. Angel’s dad is making strides in here, along with Angel, and I enjoyed seeing her interaction with her friends. She’s a good person and it’s nice to see that validated by others. The mystery of the story is quite inventive as Ms. Rowland pulls from book one and builds upon that storyline to expand the world she has created. We learn more about the zombie-ism and the steps some are taking to make sure the food supply doesn’t become overtaxed. Angel shows quite an aptitude for investigative work when she is unfairly penalized for a situation at the morgue and decides to take her future into her own hands and solve the mystery. A couple of shocking twists and turns makes for some wide-eyed moments. I look forward to seeing what going to happen in book three.
Even White Trash Zombies Get The Blues is the perfect sequel to My LIfe As A White Trash Zombie and a must read for all fans of urban fantasy and zombies. And may I add that the cover is phenomenal. Dan Dos Santos rocks it out again.
Poppy Lane thought she was doing the right thing when she kept the secrets her mother forced upon her growing...moreFavorite Quote: “My life began with you.“
Poppy Lane thought she was doing the right thing when she kept the secrets her mother forced upon her growing up. When her husband is brutally attacked, she is forced to reveal her secrets and the consequences may be more than she can bear.
Winston Lane has loved Poppy from the first moment he saw her striding through the train station. Fourteen years of marriage has only deepened his love for her, but when he discovers that his wife has been living a secret life apart from him, he’s devastated at her betrayal and leaves her in anger.
After three months of separation, Poppy receives a note from an old enemy that hints at retribution through Winston. She swallows her pride and goes to him, intent on keeping him safe and attempting a reconciliation. But Winston isn’t ready to forgive Poppy. And when more secrets come to light, Poppy isn’t altogether sure he should.
Winterblaze is the third installment in Callihan’s Darkest London series. A dark, sensuous, paranormal romance whose world is built upon the past, set in Victorian England. Heavily character driven, it’s the sensuous evolution of our protagonists and the plot lines that make this series such a fascinating journey. Smooth writing and sharp descriptive detailing drew me in as Callihan further explores and reveals the supernatural wonders of her world. I continue to be impressed by the time and effort Callihan takes in developing her characters and their connections to the world and each other. Each new book offers more evidence of the ties that bind them all together. I don’t recommend reading this as a stand alone. Though each book revolves around a main hero and heroine and has a resolvable conflict, the longstanding arc continues to develop in each new story and the characters bleed over.
We’ve received glimpses of Poppy and Winston Lane throughout the series. They are portrayed as much older and staid compared to Miranda and Dolly. Solid and dependable, their story never seemed all that interesting. Boy, was I wrong. Callihan tells their story in the present with fascinating glimpses into the past, starting with the day they met. Winston was overwhelmed by his love and desire for Poppy then and it only deepens as time goes on.
He fell against the brick wall of the overpass as he cupped her cheeks with his hands and devoured her mouth, needing to touch her, taste her, more than he needed to breathe. This is what he had been missing. This was what made him feel whole.
It’s not often we get an established couple in romance and I found myself enchanted by them. The dichotomy of their relationship is carefully examined by Ms. Callihan’s method of telling the story in the present with glimpses into their past, starting with their first meeting. Passions ignite and personalities clash as they both try to fight their way through the anger and resentment that caused their separation. Poppy and Winston find themselves forced to reveal parts of themselves to one another that highlights their hidden vulnerabilities. Neither like to appear weak, so this is an enlightening and scary experience for both of them. Your heart will ache once you understand the full scope of what exactly led them to the point they are at now. Their dialogue is seductive and humorous. They are equally matched in temperament and the battles they wage are merely foreplay for them.
Secondary characters, both old and new, are revealed in ways that further develop the storyline and long standing arc, expanding its boundaries, and allowing Callihan to continue to develop this world and its players. Jack Talent, valet to Lord Ian, joins Winston on his journey and plays a large part in the story. Mary, the GIM we met in Moonglow, is also present, having been promised a job in the SOS. Alliances are made and betrayals revealed, along with revelations that affect all three of the Ellis sisters.
The story maintains a steady but fast pace with intriguing suspense, engaging tragedy laced romance, and tense action packed scenes. Callihan maintains the perfect balance between the romance and the conflict; allowing each to unfold in their own way, traveling side by side and intersecting when needed. The ending comes at you hard and fast, leaving you reeling and grasping for book four. Callihan continues to engage and tempt us with a strong paranormal romance with a delicious historical base that is sure to appeal to all those who love strong dynamic characters, intriguing storylines, and romantic journeys that speak to the heart.
Favorite Quote: “You don’t need anyone to show you how to be good; you’re so much better when you’re bad.”
Shane ‘Bax’ Baxter has just been released from prison after doing a 5 year stint for grand theft auto. Back in town and more dangerous than ever, he is looking for his best friend, Race, who he thinks set him up to take the fall. Bax doesn’t know what happened or why, but he’s going to find out even if he has to burn the town and everyone in it to do so. Unfortunately, there is another person looking for Race and she refuses to get out of his way.
Dovie Pryce is also looking for Race but for different reasons. A good girl born on the wrong side of the tracks, she does her best to keep her head low and herself off the radar. She needs Bax’s help though and dogs him till he gives in.
Bax doesn’t need or want the responsibility for Dovie’s safety but when she dragged into the war brewing in The Point, Bax will have to lay aside his visions of vengeance in order to keep her safe. But who will save Dovie from Bax?
Welcome to the Point is a new series by Jay Crownover. Different from her Marked Men series, this one opens up a world of crime, drugs, violence, and death with a ‘hero’ who is anything but a good guy. Dark and gritty, Better When He’s Bad is a bleak look at life on the streets where only the strong can survive. Teeming with deception and betrayal; no one is exempt from judgement. A cast of interesting and dangerous characters who casually walk the line between good and bad and demand you pay attention as they help to lay the framework for the story. Fast pacing intermingles with various subplots, creating a well rounded entertaining book. Alternating viewpoints between our two protagonists allows us to see both sides of the events taking place, overlapping just enough for comprehension but not reiterating the same scene over and over.
Bax is over six feet of dark, intense, alpha delicious, tattooed sexiness. He is the bad boy your mama warned you about. The one you’ll give everything to and when it’s all over and you are left with nothing, you’ll steal to give him more. Growing up with an alcoholic mother and an absent father, Bax was forced to take the role of provider at an early age. Thus, his career in thievery began. Starting out small, he eventually caught the eye of the local crime lord and began to pull bigger jobs, leading to more trouble. Having spent a majority of his adolescence in and out of jail, Bax knows deep inside that with his last stint, he only has two choices from here on out-get out of the game or let himself be submerged fully into it.
“Sacrificing five years of his life for a bunch of bullshite has a way of leaving a mark on a guy…”
Crownover doesn’t sugarcoat Bax to make him more presentable or appealing. Rather, she uses his experiences and relationships to slowly peel back the layers and reveal the potential in him. He has issues that foreshadow his actions though he isn’t immoral. He has a set of rules he lives by and won’t compromise to appease anyone…that is until he meets Dovie Pryor. Dovie is a hard working college student trying to keep her head above water. Born to a drug addicted mother, she was thrown into the foster care system only to be saved A picture of innocence with her curly red hair and pale freckled skin, Dovie is far more street savvy than anyone gives her credit for. She needs to find Race and will do whatever it takes, forcing Bax into the protector role against his will.
“Having Bax act like a buffer between me and all the bad things in the world was a potent aphrodisiac…”
Bax and Dovie are a classic example of “opposites attract” A criminal and a saint who are forced into reluctantly helping one another. Dovie is the perfect match for him. Someone who is intimately acquainted with the harsh demands of life and family. She is seemingly his direct opposite but her own issues mirror his in ways, she is able to understand his motivations but still questions his choices. Not looking at Bax with lust struck eyes or as a future meal ticket, Dovie gets to know Bax and from there learns there is so much more to him then what he shows the world. I really enjoyed that she doesn’t roll over for him. She holds him accountable for his words and actions.
“I never trusted their motivations and I had seen too many girls abandoned because of pretty words rattled off a talented tongue.”
The romance and the main conflict build slowly, outlining the tension and fear our couple live with everyday. Bax struggles trying to keep everything separate and compartmentalized, only to lose it all when his past and present collide and all his secrets are revealed. Bax is forced to take matters into his own hands and commit the unexpected if he wants a life beyond the expected.
“Heroes have no place in this kind of fight. It takes nasty to fight nasty…”
This entire book is a speeding out of control roller coaster filled with twists and turns that will keep you clinging to your seat. An intricate game of cat and mouse that ends with some shocking answers that left me blinking in surprise. Better When He’s Bad is sure to appeal to lovers of bad boys everywhere. I look forward to the second book in this series, Better When He’s Bold, slated to release in 2014.
The Shadow Reader (McKenzie Lewis #1) by Sandy Williams Urban Fantasy Paperback October 25, 2011 Ace
Favorite Quote: “I dedicated my life to my king. I should have dedicated it to you. “
McKenzie Lewis is a Nalkin-Shom-a shadow witch. She has a special gift that allows her to see and track the Fae by “reading” the shadows they leave behind when fissuring (teleporting). This gift has cost her family and friends; they believe her insane. From the time she was 16 years old till now (she’s 26) she has been in service to the King of the Fae, working to help track and capture the rebels who are bent on overthrowing the realm. She has also spent the last 10 years in love with the king’s sword-master; Kyol. She knows nothing can come of it, relations between humans and fae are forbidden yet she holds on against hope that someday they can be together.
McKenzie has been toying with the idea of retiring and begins taking collage courses to prepare herself for a normal life. When she is kidnapped by the fae rebel leader, Aren, that dream is shattered. He begins to show her the lies and half truths she has been told by the King. She finds herself starting to question everything she has ever known about the fae, it’s king, and her beloved sword master. When the war threatens to spill into the human realm, McKenzie has to choose who’ll she stand by during this devastating war for power.
Sandy Williams packs a powerful punch with her debut urban fantasy Shadow Reader. An energetic, explosive story that takes our world and intertwines it with fantasy. Our heroine McKenzie isn’t your average UF heroine. She has a gift but no special life saving powers or skills. She is an average human among a stronger and more deadly race. I admired her strength in the face of her gift. It couldn’t be easy to face the daily ridicule she experienced because of her ability to see the fae. The fact that Ms. Williams is able to develop her into an appealing protagonist instead of a victim says much about her characterization skills. The world building is fantastically complex with it’s political manipulations and geography make up. Though we only get a small sample of the territory, I look forward to peeling back the obvious layers and exploring what this world has to offer.
There are two story lines that run simultaneously and dependent upon one another. The main conflict and a love triangle. While I’m not a fan of love triangles, Ms. Williams does a remarkable job of setting it up in a realistic fashion and making it less an angst filled “oh who will I ever choose” and more a serious decision that will not only decide matters of her heart but also her future. Our two “heroes” are Kyol and Aren. Kyol is the king’s sword master. A serious warrior who’s loyalty to the king and his fellow fae is unquestionable. He loves McKenzie but the law forbidding them to interact romantically has him keeping her at arms length. We don’t see much of him till the near the end. Aren is the fae rebel leader. A charismatic, manipulative, chameleon of a man who at first sees McKenzie as a means to an end. He does not hesitate to use and lie to McKenzie but soon sees that she has been nothing more then a pawn in their war. Both men put the war first and use McKenzie in attempts to further their own goals. I will admit that I wasn’t impressed with McKenzie’s choice. I didn’t feel either of them deserved her.
The main conflict is a treacherous path filled with deception, misdirection, and betrayal. You never know who is telling the truth and just when you think you’ve figured it out, Ms. Williams changes direction and you are once again frantically trying to keep up. The ending felt like a roller coaster ride; relentlessly tossing me up and down, left and right as I screamed in both fear and excitement. This book will keep your emotions on overload till the very last sentence. Even though the book ends on a high note with an effective resolution; there is enough left open to allow for a second book.
I encourage all readers with a love of Urban Fantasy to run, not walk, to your nearest book store and get your very own copy. Ms. William’s Shadow Reader is a must read for 2011.
A sexy heartfelt romance between a inmate and a prison literary teacher. Uneasy emotions spill off the pages as our heroine tries not to fall for a pr...moreA sexy heartfelt romance between a inmate and a prison literary teacher. Uneasy emotions spill off the pages as our heroine tries not to fall for a prisoner in the prison she volunteers at. When Eric begins to court her through explicitly romantic love letters, Anne finds herself reluctantly falling in love. But when Eric is released and comes to find Annie, she discovers that the Eric in person is different from the one in the letters and soon falls in love all over again.
I liked that even though McKenna's heroines seem to look for reasons to be unhappy, this particular storyline realistically addresses and allows for the h/H to work through their issues and have a good chance at a future together. (less)
Favorite Quote: “..he was drowning in the need to be a better man.”
Stefan Prakenskii is working undercover in a French prison, trying to uncover the location of a secret microchip. He believes his cell mate, Jean-Claude LaRoux, stole the microchip but that’s not what interests Stefan. It’s the hundreds of pictures of a single woman that decorates the cell. A beautiful solitary woman who speaks to Stefan through the photographs. When his mission ends, he is contracted to find this woman and gain her trust in any way possible. His superiors believe that La Roux will contact her and led them to the chip. Stephan believes that his superiors want him in Sea Haven for another reason. Something to do with his brother Lev who died there. He comes to Sea Haven and begins to set his trap.
Judith Henderson lives with her “sisters” in Sea Haven creating her art. A renowned artist, she had an affair with La Roux until she witnessed a devastating crime and realized that La Roux was an insane dangerous man. Her talent over whelmed her,creating danger to all around her, so she fled to Sea Haven and begins to rebuild her life ruthlessly cutting out all emotion. When she meets a man who wants to purchase the gallery she can’t believe the connection she feels to him. Her senses come alive for the first time in years. A single glance binds her to him but she refuses to allow herself the fall.
Spirit Bound is the second in Ms. Feehan’s Sisters of the Heart series. This series is a direct spin off of her Drake Sister series and there is a strong character and arc overlap that is present in the background. You can start with the first of this series but you would get a better overall understanding if you started with the Drake Sister series. Spirit Bound picks up where Water Bound left off.
Judith Henderson is an elemental spirit. She is able to transmit and imprint her emotions on other people. She chooses to now ‘live’ through her art to avoid hurting anyone. In the beginning I found her to be strong and interesting character. I soon realized that she is easily influenced. Once she met and fell for Stefan it was like she was absorbed in to him and while she voiced her opinions and thoughts, he steam rolled right over her and she sighed like a love sick teenager. She doesn’t like conflict which made me want to bang my head on my desk as I watched her gloss over and ignore certain situations. She completely embodied the term that love forgives all.
I did like Stefan in the beginning. Stolen from his family at a young age, he was molded into the ultimate weapon-a human chameleon. He is frank in his thoughts about what he needs to do and why and I respected that. The problem came when he meets Judith. When Stefan acknowledges he has fallen in love with Judith but starts to make excuses for his continuing to lie, omit, and makes decisions for her, all justified because of his love and childhood, I got disgusted. I felt like his love was nothing more then a gilded cage that he builds around Judith. He violates her privacy, lies to her, omits things from her, and at one point does something that completely shocked and horrified me. But what horrifies me more is Judith just lets it go with a tiny slap on the hand and a minor sulk session.
The chemistry is very sensually written, Ms Feehan has a gift for making a trip to the grocery store an erotic experience, but there is a lot of emotional pontification in here that drags the story down. I felt like Ms. Feehan was trying too hard to convince me they were made for one another. Their dialogue, both internal and external, is almost bi polar in its revelations. The plot and main conflict suffer because of this. Both were underdeveloped and completely buried under the romance of the story. We see the main villain once in the beginning, then once in the end. With the build up in the beginning, I expected more of a fight out of him.
The secondary characters were better. Personable with deeply developed characterization, their presence helped to calm the story down and bridge certain areas allowing for comprehension. I loved seeing the sisters, especially Rikki and her husband. The ending comes hard and fast, leaving me feeling like I missed part of the story.
I think the main problem I have with this story and Feehan’s work in general is that her heroes fall into two groups. Always mega alphas, they will either be calm and view their females as an equals, or overly dominate and force their will upon their females. You never know which type you’re going to get from book to book and it makes for uneasy reading. This one fell under the second category of heroes and was disappointing.
Elijah Carter is a young man who is treated like a simpleton because he is deaf. Gay and ashamed of his sexual orientation and penchant for pain, he a...moreElijah Carter is a young man who is treated like a simpleton because he is deaf. Gay and ashamed of his sexual orientation and penchant for pain, he allows himself to be sexually abused by the owner of the local saloon, Harlan Crane.
Grady Mullins, a cattle rustler, wants Elijah too but unlike Harlan, he doesn’t want to control him. He gently pursues Elijah, trying to show him he has choices in life, but Elijah is unable to separate himself from the vicious cycle he is caught in.
When someone Elijah loves is taken from him, Elijah begins to spiral down a dark path towards vengeance and despair. Caught between love and hate, Elijah learns to take control of his own destiny and is forced to make a choice. A choice that could end his life or free him forever.
Sweetwater by Lisa Henry is a somber bittersweet coming of age story that addresses the stigma of homosexuality (both internally and externally) and the cruelty shown those with disabilities. Set in the boomtown-South Pass City- in the 1800s, Lisa Henry paints a vivid picture of life in a small western town that is only one step from extinction. You can taste the dirt and grit permeating your nose and mouth while experiencing the almost maniacal atmosphere that surrounds a town built on greed and gold. A fast pace and clear concise writing tells us a story that appeals to our sense of justice and innate need to champion the underdog. An interesting cast of characters reside here. Not all together likable but dynamic in the realistic roles they play in this town and in the hero’s life.
Favorite Quote: “I gave up on their dreams and the life we had all planned out. And now I was heading home to face the music.”
Liam left everything and everyone behind, without explanation, in order to pursue his own dreams. Known as the golden boy of Beaumont with a promising football career, Liam had his life all planned out by his family and girlfriend but he knew in his heart that music was his salvation and that if he didn’t leave Beaumont, he would die a slow death. Liam achieves his dreams and is now a famous rock star with the tattoos and the reputation to match…but he never forgot the town or the girl he left behind. When he receives word that his best friend has died, Liam knows that it’s time to head back to Beaumont and see if he can make his next dream come true…get the girl he left behind.
Josie knew that Liam would be coming home to Beaumont when he received news of his best friend’s death. When he left ten years ago, she was devastated. He gave her no reason why and she felt as if her heart and soul had been ripped out of her chest. She tried to call him for an explanation but he changed his number and for all intents and purposes, disappeared from her life. Josie picked up the pieces of her broken heart and eventually moved on with her life. She now has a successful business, a loving fiance, and a son whom she cherishes. She isn’t sure if she wants to see Liam or find out why he left her, but she has one very important reason that will force her to confront the man who changed her life with one single word-Goodbye.
Forever My Girl is a modern day love story that speaks of second chances with love, heartbreak, redemption, hope, and of course, laughter. This book stayed with me long after I read the last page. Emotionally plump with a well plotted storyline, we get a ringside seat as we watch Liam and Josie both try to understand and come to terms with what exactly happened to them ten years ago. You want to lay all the blame at Liam’s feet but as the story develops, you realise that you can’t. There were mistakes made on both sides. Extremely character driven, it’s very easy to submerge yourself into the town’s residents lives and develop affection for them. Josie is a wonderful single parent who has admirably dealt with the hand life gave her with humor, intelligence, and patience. She is scared, angry, and still harbors a deep vein of pain that time has not healed. Her life stopped on that fateful day he left and while she has gone on with her life, a large piece of her never got over him.
“You don’t get to come in here and demand answers, Liam. You’ve been off playing rock star. You’re the famous Liam Page. You left this…You left me. There’s no room for you here.”
Liam is wonderful in that he doesn’t roar back into town, intent on picking up where he left off. He knows he hurt Josie and accepts that fact that he may never get her back into his life as a lover or even a friend. He knows he needs to make amends to everyone, not just Josie, and explain why he did what he did. He too has hurt the entire time he was gone. His dream may have come true but he never forgot Josie and he never gave away his heart to another woman because she has held it since they were teenagers.
“I told her I’d love her forever. I said I love you first and promised to never let her go. “
I found that the story itself is pretty straight forward in it’s delivery. While I enjoyed this tale, it’s the characters who breathe life into this story and elevate it beyond a simple contemporary romance. Dynamic in development, Ms. McLaughlin has created real people who could be anyone we know. They are easy to relate to. Their joys, fears, wants, and needs are laid bare and we are allowed to share in their journey as they experience the hard lessons life sometimes hands us. The journey isn’t perfect and each person has issues that need to be resolved. The execution, each chapter alternates points of view between Liam and Josie, flows smoothly and offers a unique view into their mind set. Normally, I’m not a fan of this setup but in here it works. We aren’t inundated with previous chapter recaps as each character gives voice to their thoughts and feelings.
“I thought for sure we’d spend forever together. I thought our love was one of a kind. I would almost be okay if he had met someone else and fallen in love, but he didn’t. He just left. He said he was suffocating.”
Josie and Liam are wonderful together. The chemistry explodes between them from the first time they see each other again. Ms. Mclaughlin doesn’t use tired cliches, mind numbing angst, emotional whining to facilitate their romance. Theirs is not an instant re connection and I appreciated that. Their reconciliation is slow and realistic as we are given glimpses into their past together and try, along with them, to understand exactly what went wrong and where. There is something powerful about watching two people who are given a second chance. I really enjoyed how Ms. Mclaughlin doesn’t give us an easy fix to their relationship. The characters have to work hard to repair the damage to their lives and hearts. You can feel the anger, resentment, confusion, and hurt rolling off of them. It’s painful at times to watch as these two struggle to learn about each other again and find a way to forgive each other and themselves. Can they work past it all? Well, you’ll have to read to find that out.
Equally engaging secondary characters round out the story and add depth to Liam and Josie’s journey. Katelyn, good friend to both Liam and Josie, is the voice of reason as she doesn’t so much champion Liam as she softly encourages Josie to just listen. We learn more about Liam’s uneasy relationship with his parents and how they contributed to his leaving in the beginning. We are also gifted with a potential secondary romance and an intriguing subplot that could destroy them all.
The ending is wonderfully satisfying in that while we aren’t given a HEA, we are given hope for our couple. All in all, Forever My Girl is a must have for lovers of romantic contemporaries with sexy rock stars and the strong heroines they love and has me looking forward to the second installment of the Beaumont Boys series.
Favorite Quote: “We’d only known each other for a total of seven minutes “
How important was your first kiss? How long did the feeling last? A minute? A day? A Year? When seventeen year old Charlotte Davenport received her first kiss from carnival worker Vince Youngblood, nothing came close to replicating that feeling for 10 years. Now, Vince and the carnival are back in town and Charlotte is hoping that the second kiss will be just as good.
Charlotte Davenport never forgot her first kiss from a carny. Now 10 years later, she is still living in the same small town, running the family hotel that she doesn’t want, and has been left at the altar by her fiancé. Charlotte is just barely living until she sees her carny again and life suddenly seems interesting again.
Vince Youngblood has always been part of his father’s carnival but life pulled him in a different direction until his father disappears and Vince chooses to leave a promising medical career to help run the family carnival. When he arrives back in town, he sees Charlotte again and is shocked by this feelings towards her. Older and wiser now, he wants to see where this attraction between them can go.
Brooke Moss has a definite gift when it comes to romantic contemporaries. The Carny is a romantic, delightful, and heartwarming story about love, family, and second chances. Filled with plenty of humor, snarkiness, and eccentric characters; we get a ringside seat as we watch Charlotte struggle with her attraction to a man she only knew for 7 minutes while dealing with her dysfunctional family and their racism. Extremely character driven, it’s very easy to submerge yourself into the lives of these characters and the stories they have to share. Charlotte is a delightful person who has admirably dealt with the hand life gave her with humor, intelligence, and a lot of patience. Stuck in a home and career she hates, Charlotte’s inner monologue will have you chuckling to yourself as she tries to live her own life despite what her family demands from her.
Vince Youngblood is quite a swoon worthy hero. Gorgeous, sweet, and gentle; he’s an alpha hero with a heart of gold. He has lived a full life, and like Charlotte, has experienced loss and disappointment from his family. He too felt the connection with Charlotte but they were both young and the circumstances just didn’t lend themselves to exploring those feelings. Their romance starts out slowly, intertwining with the main conflict of the story. I love how each of them is intent on exploring and fanning the flames of their attraction to one another.
“For over a decade, I’d been comparing every kiss I ever shared with a man to the lone kiss Vin gave me.” Moss gives them more than enough time to get to know one another. They hit some bumps in the road and there are trust issues on Charlotte’s end and some secrets on Vin’s end to resolve but all in all it’s a wonderfully sweet romance that takes your breath away. The smexy times are off scene but that doesn’t take away from the sheer beauty of this relationship. The only part I didn’t like was Charlotte lack of trust. She jumps quickly to conclusions that could have been easily resolved with a simple question or two.
The secondary characters play their respective roles brilliantly. Charlotte’s family is absolutely horrible. Dysfunctional and racist; you can’t help but cringe every time one of them opens their mouth.
“It baffled me that Imelda continued to show up for work everyday. If my mother were my employer, I would have locked myself in the bell tower with a rifle a long time ago.”
Moss addresses their issues gracefully, allowing Charlotte’s family to slowly see the error of their ways in a realistic fashion. I really liked how Moss examines the issues through scenes to show us and Charlotte that racism is just as prevalent in this day and age. Just because you’re not wearing a white hooded sheet on the weekends doesn’t mean you can’t be racist. Charlotte’s best friend Kate is hilarious with her advice and defense of Charlotte. She is the type of friend we all need-someone who loves us just the way we are. Charlotte’s relationship with her mother and sisters is tremulous and their road to understanding and accepting one another is a poignant aspect of the story. I enjoyed meeting Vince’s family and it was enlightening to see racism from their eyes. I loved Vince’s step mother with her biting wit and sarcasm.
“I didn’t know we were having company tonight, I would have cleaned up, or burnt the place down, or something.”
The ending is heartbreaking yet gratifying as everything and everyone finds their place and settles beautifully. It wasn’t an easy road for these characters but it’s well earned. I love the tiny epilogue added that is told from Vin’s POV. It wraps it all up nicely and left me with a smile.
“Some people live their whole lives wondering about their first love-that person who held their heart when they were young….We got a second chance, and not everyone can say that.“ (less)