It pains me to give it 3.5 stars because I enjoyed the other two books so much. I did like this one but I wanted more. I wanted to see Tate and Lo3.5
It pains me to give it 3.5 stars because I enjoyed the other two books so much. I did like this one but I wanted more. I wanted to see Tate and Logan as a couple doing regular things. Movies, dinner, anything that didn't automatically have a sexual ending. Yes, I can't believe I'm saying this, but the sex was overwhelming. These guys couldn't take a leak with out making it a sexual experience. I was also disappointed in the resolution of the ex boyfriend conflict. All that hype and he basically goes away when told to. Watching Tate and Logan become a committed couple was very sweet and Tate resolving with his father and ex wife was heartwarming. I enjoyed their banter and genuine love for one another.
Favorite Quote: “It’s always blood with you people.” “To Mithrans. You are my people now.”
The European vampire witch council has always been a deadly threat to Jane and her boss, Leo Pellister, Head Vampire of the Southern Region, but when one of their strongest is let loose on New Orleans, the threat becomes a reality. Now Jane is tasked with bringing them in, alive, or risk an all out vampire war that could destroy everything and everyone Jane loves.
The 9th installment of Hunter’s epic Jane Yellowrock series continues to expand and elaborate on a particularly convoluted storyline that developed in her 7th installment, Black Arts. In Broken Soul, book 8th, Jane learns, unsurprisingly, that Leo has once again not been completely honest with her about why the European delegate coming or how he came into power and held it all these years. She told him his games would come back to bite him in the arse and they do…in here.
Though we are at the ninth installment, this world remains as fresh and innovative as it did when first introduced. Fast reliable pacing and well plotted storylines blend well with dry humor and dynamic characterization. Hunter continues to increase her character base, introducing new players while expanding on the older more established ones. Our protagonist, Jane Yellowrock, has matured from an insecure, guilt ridden, loner into a powerhouse with friends, family, a lover, and a sense of purpose. Though she will never truly exercise all her guilt nor her ingrained need to protect those she perceives need it (she is a born alpha warrior) she is beginning to accept she is more than a paid killer and acts accordingly. Her greatest achievement is her merging with her other nature. We have watched as Jane and Beast shared a body but existed as two separate entities; accepting one another begrudgingly. Over time they have become friends and now they have become one with one another, learning to trust the other and work together.
The arc itself is at a standstill as we are still looking for the arrival of the European Vampire Council. Everything that has happened in the last two books is a direct result of their impending arrival. Hunter has spent a considerable amount of time and skill creating an elaborate and complicated web of lies, betrayal, deception, and death that is slowly coming to light as Jane and her security team work their way to the center.The reasons behind past actions become clearer as the multiple plot lines intertwine, giving us an intimate view of the complicated politics of the vampire world and possible end games. Jane has some bad times as she wonders if the things she did early in her career may have led her to where she is now. The investigative angle still remains strong and gives the world a more modern vibe while reminding us of Jane’s humanity as it reflects starkly against the self involved nature of the supernaturals around her.
“Dear God Jane. What have you done?”
“I’m trying to fix a problem that’s been in the making for over a hundred years. Not everything is going according to plan. I’m not surprised about that and neither are you.”
Romance wise, this series has been frustrating though we have started to see some advancement. Hunter has chosen to keep it a very minor storyline, allowing it to flow beneath the main storyline without too much interference. A faint love triangle has flirted throughout the series as Jane found herself drawn and hurt by one man repeatedly. Recent events knock him out of her life though noises are made he may eventually come back. I love who is in her life now. George (Bruiser) romances and courts her; showing her that she matters to him; no matter what she is or does.
“Whatever my lady desires…”
Fans will love the continued evolution of Jane and her security team. Eli and Alex are Jane’s family and she seeks to keep them by her side. Like George, they accept and care for her unconditionally. No judgement for her actions or emotional punishment for what they deem inappropriate measures used. Eli and Alex have her back and woe to anyone who chooses to take them on.
“Is this what family does? All this conniving and arguing and keeping secrets? Cause I don’t like it.”
A new friend-Edmund Hartley- looks to be an interesting conquest. A master vampire himself that, through certain unknown actions, is now a slave to Leo has come repeatedly to Jane’s side when she needed him and I’m very curious to see what path Hunter chooses to take their relationship down.
The book ends on a positive note with a resolution of the conflict though the arc doesn’t really advance beyond some additional clues to help Jane understand better why the Europeans are coming. Hunter continues to up her game as she builds a heroine whose appeal is not only her strength and fearlessness but also her vulnerability and strong grip on her humanity. Jane can and does fail and it’s how she choses to pick herself up and keep going is what keeps me coming back for more. I look forward to seeing what Hunter has up her sleeve in the next installment, title and release date to be announced.
Favorite Quote: What do you want us to do? Write a Dimwit’s Guide to Blood Prophets?
Simon, Meg, and the collaborated efforts of the Others and sympathetic humans have broken the chains of benevolent ownership over the Cassandra Sangue, not realizing the potential harm in releasing the fragile seers into an unknown and frightening world. Meg tries to help her fellow seers adapt though she too still struggles with her new found freedom.
When rumors of a dark faction rising up again the others, sending whispers of malcontent and violence into the Lakeside Courtyard, Simon is once again forced to use Meg and her prophecies, even though he fears each cut hastens her towards possible death.
When the battlelines are drawn and an innocent is placed in danger due to the coming war, the Others and humans will find themselves unlikely allies against a common enemy who if not defeated, could end up destroying them all.
Anne Bishop reaffirms her title as the Queen of fantasy with the third installment in her epic and utterly captivating Others series,Vision of Silver. This multiplexed Urban Fantasy series takes the sensitive issues of racism, discrimination, and abuse wrapped in the disguise of caring, wrapping them up inside a vibrantly magical world with a realistic core. Teeming with intrigue, suspense, heartbreak, and hints of romance, Ms. Bishop’s literary voice continue to astound and enchant.
Using past and present political situations as inspiration, Bishop continues to build upon her compelling alternative world that takes its base from the first explorers to land on the North American continent and the subsequent ramifications of those who attempted to take what was not given freely. Bishop twists the stories and legends, adding a supernatural element that gives the stories more of a serrated edge and a very different outcome.
The story line reads fast and smooth Bishop continues to build and expand the complex arc and character development. Vivid descriptions and rich detailing draws the reader in effortlessly. A more somber and emotion based installment then the previous two, the underlying tension between the humans and the others explodes into the forefront, giving readers no choice but to acknowledge the darker aspects of humanity. Prior actions in book two are compounded upon as payment comes due and retribution is promised, paving the way for book four.
“Let it come. You monkeys have no idea what’s out there in the wild country. But you’ll find out.”
Friendship is the axis on which this story turns. The humans that have been slowly absorbed into the Lakeside Courtyard are beginning to feel the sting of their choices. Discrimination and bigotry has already shown an ugly face in regards to the Others but now it overflows on to the human who choose to associate with them. They soon find themselves being turned away from housing, employment, and some stores under the guise of a humanity saving faction called the HFL-Humans First and Last. This adds another layer to the already complicated relationship that has been building between the human ‘friends’ and the Others when the Others open their doors even wider to the humans they have chosen to befriend.
Meg Corbyn and Simon Wolfgard’s slowly evolving relationship remains a pivotal aspect with special attention continuing to be paid to their differences. Subtle sexual tension and emotional confusion underscores their struggles and is used to highlight the external conflicts affecting them all. Meg is an experiment, along with the other humans who have become under the protection of the Courtyard. The Others acceptance and ability to bond with her and the other humans may be all that stands between the humans and extinction.
“My cousin thinks humans will soon have the capacity to rise up against the terre indigene and lay claim to every corner of this other world. Do you think that can happen?”
“I think that if we were to visit some parts of the wild country, we would find the remains of great civilizations who once thought the same thing-and were wrong.”
Though Meg is free to live as she chooses now, her time spent in captivity still causes confusion as she struggles to understand how to be free. Especially as she now has other newly freed blood prophets counting on her to help their pave the way into this new and frightening world they have become a part of. Having been taught to crave the euphoria that the cuts produce, Meg finds that her new friends aren’t as understanding about her need to release through blood and chastise her when she inadvertently causes danger to the Courtside and some of its residents. She gradually understands their fears but tries to make them understand that she and the others must never have their choices taken from them again.
“She doesn’t want to die.”
“Neither do I, but I want to be the one who makes the choice.”
Simon continues to tentatively feel his way around his feelings for Meg and humans in general. As part of the Terre Indigene, he views himself an animal with the ability to become human. He must protect his pack foremost yet his feelings for Meg and her needs are beginning to change him and the Others around them; causing shifts in the social climate. Common relationship woes have no bearing on either of them as they have nothing on which to base it, yet as Simon’s concern and need Meg grows, it adds fuel to the possibilities of them.
He wasn’t human. Would never be human. And Meg didn’t expect him to be. But feeling her hand in his, maybe he could be human enough.
A dry and sometimes horrifying humor flows through the storyline, adding a nice reprieve from the overall seriousness. Bishop’s attempts to tease out the misconceptions and general differences between the Others and the humans and their efforts to understand each other are met with laughter.
Humans. Couldn’t be satisfied with being considered not edible, they also wanted to talk to him. And talk. And talk.
Personable secondary characters walk side by side with our protagonists; each more than able to hold their own against the powerful dynamics that make up Meg and Simon. Bishop adds new faces to the already eclectic bunch she has gathered. A group whose personalities and individualism only serve to heighten the appeal as Bishop digs deeper into their relationships with themselves, and those around them. We see more of the Lakeside Courtyard members acting as individuals and making more independent decisions; showcasing the growing humanity in them.
The ending isn’t a dramatic action packed undertaking but more of an emotional one. The lines have been drawn and one false step could spell the end for everyone. Once again Bishop has taken me on a journey that not only entertained but absorbed me to the point where I never want it to end.
Favorite Quote: “Congratulations, you’ve been granted the title of trusted singular. I suggest you refrain from wearing hats.”
For the past three months, Rachel has been providing security for Trent Kalamack while Quen is across the country, regulating Ellasbeth’s visit with the girls. When Rachel’s spells begin to misfire, Rachel thinks it’s a reaction to her deepening feelings for Trent. Soon, spells begin to misfire all over the city, creating chaos and weakening the already tremulous truce that exists between the humans and the supernaturals. As Rachel and her friends dig deeper, they discover a plan that will destroy the master vampires and throw the city into an all out super natural war. One thing will stop the catastrophe coming their way; invoking the wild elven magic. Only, that may do more harm than good where Rachel is concerned.
Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series (also known as the Rachel Morgan series) is one of the top selling urban fantasies series to date and with good cause. Appealing to readers of all ages and genres, Ms. Harrison’s unique blend of sharp wit and whimsical imagination (tomatoes, anyone) has created an alternative world that is filled with never ending magic and mayhem. Ms. Harrison has kept us laughing and weeping since her first book, Dead Witch Walking, released in 2004. Filled with intriguing suspense, non stop action, tense romance, biting humor, and some truly heartbreaking scenes; this intense character driven series continues to enchant readers.
The Undead Pool is the twelfth book and the second to the last book in this series. I am sad to see this series ending. Good urban fantasy is hard enough to find but good urban fantasy with a compelling female lead is even harder to find. And Rachel Morgan, for all her flaws and less than stellar decisions, is a fantastically dynamic and complicated heroine. Perhaps it’s because of those flaws that readers gravitate to the series. It isn’t often we get a lead character who, even gifted supernaturally, doesn’t always win. Rachel has suffered so much throughout this series. She has lost friends, family, lovers, and even her powers for a bit. She fails as much as she conquers and that makes it easy to like her and her band of equally dynamic sidekicks.
Those who have kept up with the series will be surprised and happy by the turn of events that occurred off scene between books 11 and 12. This installment finally addresses the underlying sexual and emotional tension that has existed between Rachel Morgan and Trent Kalamack since their first meeting. From the very beginning, Trent and Rachel have been at odds as they each strived to do what they thought was best for the city of Cincinnati and in Trent’s case, himself. Trent, the perfect anti hero, has used his money and power to thwart Rachel at every turn while Rachel has always managed to turn the tides and hold him off at the last moment.
“You’d better learn your history before you become part of it.”
Rachel and Trent have a long history together that goes back to their childhood. A history that is steeped in deception, betrayal, and violence that left them often on opposite sides of the battle field. We have watched their slow evolution from antagonists to actual friends and perhaps something more. Both Trent and Rachel have grown considerably throughout the series. Starting out as a untried and untrusted slightly flaky witch, Rachel has grown into a mature powerhouse who can more than hold her own against the larger than life players who populate her world. Her friend base has grown and she has finally begun to comfortably accept their help.
“You have amazing friends.” “I need them to stay alive through my amazing life.”
Trent, a rich elven CEO with a finger in every dark and shady pot the country has to offer, has gradually changed from an emotional void, hellbent on conquering the world through what ever means necessary to actually caring about people and how his actions affect them. Through his relationship with Rachel and others, he has finally learned the meaning of sacrifice and why some will give their all with no thoughts to their own mortality.
Though their animosity has gradually lessened and they are now at a turning point in their lives, Rachel doesn’t trust her feelings for Trent. She fears anything deeper between them will only lead to his downfall. And he has a lot to lose. Trent has some hard decisions to make in this book. Decisions that not only affect him, but also others who depend on him in so many different ways.
“You’re halfway to ruining him already.”
Sacrifice and friendship is the base on which this series is built and this particular installment pushes the envelope, acknowledging that Rachel doesn’t always have to be the one who has to sacrifice for those she loves. For the first time in a long time, Rachel decides to take a leap of faith and go with her heart and leave everything to chance.
“Most warriors think with their hearts,” I said, [...] “It’s what keeps them alive through the crap they have to deal with to keep the rest of you safe."
Through it all, Rachel has always had Ivy and Jenks at her back. They too have grown and evolved so much throughout the series; becoming much more than mere secondary characters. Rachel and Ivy have always had a deep loving relationship with hints of a romantic attraction; especially on Ivy’s part. I love how Harrison has never maligned or made this portion of the storyline seem like a dirty little secret. It’s an important aspect in their relationship as Ivy has always felt that Rachel saved her life when no one else cared.
“I almost quit a hundred times,” she said as she smiled at me, eyes beautiful and black. “But you thought I had it in me and I wanted to prove I was as good as you thought I was…”
Jenks. What can you say about Jenks but that he is one of the true highlights in this series. If Ivy is Rachel’s best friend, then Jenks in her soul mate in almost every way possible. They have loved, loss, laughed, cried, fought, and consoled one another. Only death will part these two. His sardonic humor and never ending protectiveness towards Rachel only serves to further entertain as he tells it like it is.
“Watch out, cookie maker, or I’m going to own you.”
Though we don’t get as much interaction with Al or the Ever After this time around, it’s what we do see that is very important and goes far in preparing us for the final book. Newt makes an appearance and as usual, gives us some needed clues in a mash up of gibberish conversation.
The conflict is an interesting action packed juxtaposition as we learn more about the wild magic and the effects it has on the city and it’s supernatural inhabitants. Desperate times calls for desperate measures as Rachel finds herself having to deal with the unfamiliar magic and the results of its unleashing. This has been a long time coming and Harrison lets loose as she strives to make us understand the path on which she has placed Rachel, Trent, and the Hollows. The Hollows are beginning to unravel, as is the Ever After, and soon both worlds will be forced to deal with one another…again.
The Undead Pool is an eclectic mixture of everything I have come to love about this series and Urban Fantasy. Action, suspense, emotional revelations, romance, humor, and heartbreak. I can easily see it becoming a much beloved re read in the future. Fans will rejoice in it’s reveals and revelations. My only qualm is now I have to wait a year for the last book. *shakes fist at the injustice of waiting*
Favorite Quote: “Hey, I could be your assistant. I’d be an Assistant Serial Killer Serial Killer. I’d be an ASS.”
Entering into the seventh installmentFavorite Quote: “Hey, I could be your assistant. I’d be an Assistant Serial Killer Serial Killer. I’d be an ASS.”
Entering into the seventh installment of Darynda Jones wickedly funny and smoking hot Charley Davidson series, Seventh Grave and No Body, picks up not long after book six-Sixth Grave From The Edge- ended. Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper in training and P.I. extraordinaire, is pregnastic and affianced by non other than the sex on a stick hottie son of Satan-Reyes Farrow. But if you think any of this will finally slow Charley down, you’d lose that bet. Already ready to kill due to lack of the exceptional goodness only highly caffeinated beverages can give her, Charley has to deal with twelve homicidal hellhounds, a series of suicide notes with no bodies, a misplaced father, and a fiance who had decided to stick extra close to her but not in a fun “let’s do some mattress dancing” kind of way. As the bodies and clues add up, Charley finds herself once again standing toe to toe with the good, the bad, and the stinky.
“You’re the reason I get up in the morning. That and I need to pee.”
Once again, Jones has left readers giggling and shaking their heads at the antics of her eccentric protagonist Charley Davidson and her band of strange and deadly cohorts. A strong character driven series, Jones kidnaps the reader and takes them on a crazy adventure teeming with solid storylines, multiple subplots, high octane action, unusual characters, and laugh out loud dialogue. A slow but steady advancement of the arc and world building keeps you entertained without the feeling Jones is trying to rush you along to the end.
Charley has a lot on her plate; the most important and dangerous being the twelve hellhounds sent to kill her. Hellhounds who can come and go like the wind so you never know where they are until they take a bite out of you. This places Charley in a predicament as she has jobs to do and refuses to sit at home waiting for the threat to be nullified BUT she is also carrying a very special child who will be the world’s savior in the future. She needs to slow down but Charley only knows two speeds…fast and super fast. Observations are made that clue us into the possible motivations behind Charley and her antics.
“You risk the wrong things for the wrong causes. You strive for perfection instead of taking pleasure in the imperfect.”
This becomes a serious point of contention between her and her fiance-Reyes Farrow. He is consumed by his need to see her safe and uses everything in his disposal to facilitate that. I like that we see a significant change in Reyes this installment. We are granted more insight into his thoughts and emotions, something that hasn’t been as evident in past books. His having a baby on the way and Charley’s life being in serious danger seems to be having a profound effect on him. He still growls and evades but he is becoming more honest and forthright not only in his actions but his words. He shows us a vulnerability that wasn’t there before.
“It’s like you can’t get away from me fast enough.”
Even with the added conflict between Reyes and Charley, Jones answers fans requests for more one on one time between this unlikely couple with well written and extra hot love scenes that will steam up e-readers. Add in the breakdown of Reyes’ emotional barriers and we finally get to see the intense connection that Jones has pushed towards in the series.
New and old characters are back in full force to help round out the story, move it along, and keep us in stitches. Osh, Garrett, and a ghostly cast of spies try their best to keep Charley alive. Amber, Quinton, Strawberry Shortcake, and more make appearances when needed. Cookie is still backing Charley one hundred percent though her time now is split between hooking Charley up with her “blood of Satan” while sharing snuggle time with Charley’s Uncle Ubie. Cookie and Charley’s relationship still remains one of my favorite aspects of this series. Friends, neighbors, and co workers, their strong connection never waivers. They are two peas in a pod and the love between them is epic. They have a wonderful friendship that shines throughout the series.
I scrutinized the mug in her hand. “What are you drinking now?”
“What we’re both going to be drinking for the next eight months. We’re switching to decaf.”
The horror that riveted through me, the absolute terror with a taint of nausea, stunned me speechless for three, maybe four seconds. I put the mug down and made a cross with my fingers, screaming, “Death before decaf!” as Garrett poured himself a cup.
“Oh, stop it.” She put down her cup and tried to give me mine back. “Just give it a shot.”
“I can’t. That’s like asking me to cheat on Reyes with Garrett.”
He scowled at me as he doctored his cup of devil’s blood with cream and sugar.
“Suit yourself,” Cook said, picking hers up and taking a long, lingering draw.
After a few agonizing moments, the aroma started to get to me. I almost caved because of that, not because of Cookie’s coffee porn. Really, who sucked on a mug like that? I leaned closer as she licked a drop sliding down the side and moaned in ecstasy.
It was so wrong and yet so very, very right.
My issues, which I have addressed multiple times throughout the series, are still alive and kicking. Charley’s immaturity, the increasing one liners, and her need to personalize things. It all becomes overpowering at times. Charley gives cutesy names to everything and I do mean everything. Re-naming her body parts is a little strange, but now she’s on to appliances and furniture. I found myself confused to whom or what she was speaking to. She also doesn’t seem to be “growing” emotionally anymore. Still treating life as one big Vegas act, she has tunnel vision when it comes to herself. While she’ll do anything for anyone, there were times I felt she was being purposely obstinate. Like a child, she tries hard to be an adult and taken seriously, but ends up running headlong into danger just to spite those around her. The direction the series seems to be taking shows readers Charley needs to grow up and think about how her actions endanger herself and everyone around her.
Multiple story lines twist and tangle around one another, offering clues to bigger dangers heading Charley’s way. Jones wraps up the main conflict, leaving just enough open to ensure we need book eight pronto. Fans will rejoice in getting a rare Reyes POV at the end-though I understand this is only available in print copies.
Favorite Quote: ”But trust me when I tell you, living in the past will bring you nothing but misery. Now is all that matters.”
Gideon Montrose has spent centuries mourning the loss of his one true love. Bound indefinitely to the Seelie King, Gideon serves without question or mercy; using his fairy powers and skill as a merciless warrior to carry out the king’s commands. When his king charges him with finding the person behind a recent rash of fairy dust thefts, Gideon obeys without question. But when he catches the culprit red handed, he can’t believe his eyes.
Known as Robin Hood back in the day, Arabella Locksley spent her days thieving from the rich and her nights in the arms of Gideon Montrose aka Little John. Having supposedly fallen to her death 500 years ago, now she’s back and with a multitude of secrets clouding her eyes and no ready answers for Gideon.
Gideon is duty bound to turn her over to his king but his heart demands answers. How is she alive? Where has she been all this time? And why did she never try to find him? As Gideon works to discover what happened so long ago, he finds himself involved in a series of mysterious thefts and deaths that all seem to lead back to Arabella.
Ever After is the fourth installment of SeRine’s Transplanted series. A series based on the premise of what would life be like if some fairy tale, nursery rhyme, and literary characters suddenly found themselves transported from fantasy to reality. Well-plotted and cast with strong and dynamic characters, Ever After is a paranormal romance filled with suspense, betrayal, dangerous antagonists, and a heavy dollop of humor and romance.
Strongly character driven, SeRine expands her world using her characters lives; adding dimension, personality, and some tongue in cheek dialogue. SeRine takes a very liberal route in the retelling of certain fairytales; giving us a modern updated version of what we all read as children. She twists the stories, giving her characters a voice to offer readers a different version of how events really transpired…directly from the source(s).
Though multiple storylines intertwine and expand, giving us a juicy mystery that is rather convoluted in it’s make up, this is still primarily Gideon’s and Arabella’s story. Gideon has been briefly mentioned in previous stories; the king’s right hand man, trusted advisor, and eventually best friend. An Unseelie warrior who is the last of his people and became bound to the man who helped destroyed them all.. Portrayed as a hard somewhat merciless man, ReSine explores Gideon’s rich backstory and we learn the events surrounding how he became bound into service and the love he lost so long ago.
Arabella’s backstory is equally heart wrenching and compelling. Intelligent, loyal, and quite spirited, Arabella has used her wits to triumph over tragedy throughout her life. Both she and Gideon are self sacrificing; willing to do whatever they can in order to help someone. You never doubt her love for Gideon, especially when you learn she has been shadowing him for years, only staying away when she saw he was in what appeared to be a serious relationship.
Second chance romance is a favorite trope of mine and SeRine does a beautiful job of setting the stage of Gideon’s and Arabella’s reunion. Even with the sparks between Arabella and Gideon instantly burning hot and bright, regardless of all the lost time between them, Gideon moves slowly, wary of Arabella and everything that seems to be happening around her. I do admit it took me awhile to like Arabella. She comes off slightly selfish in the beginning. She refuses to tell Gideon exactly what’s going on and only comes clean when he grows tired of her omissions and threatens to leave her.
I enjoyed the liberties SeRine takes with the legends of Robin Hood and Arthur Pendragon. We see plenty old and new friends; ReSine uses them to expand and wrap up some ongoing storylines from the series. The conflict and subplots are action packed and a bit nerve racking as the SeRine plays her hand close to the vest. The ending resolves itself perfectly and leaves just enough open so we have no doubts we will be seeing more of this couple and world in the future. Readers who enjoy an action packed retelling of fairy tales and the show, Once Upon A Time, are sure to enjoy SeRine’s version of “Happily Ever After.”
Favorite Quote: “It’s a message from the duty manager at the donut shop apologizing for the lack of long tasty phallic shaped éclairs. Apparently they don’t get baked until later in the day,” [...] “Since you failed to believe me when I explained this to you yesterday. I thought you might be more inclined to believe it if it came from a higher authority in the donut world.”
Jimmy Ferris, the gorgeous and unpredictable lead singer for the famous rock band, Stage Dive, is used to the world being handed to him on a silver platter. When his drinking and drug use gets out of hand, the band gives him an ultimatum…get clean and stay clean or he’s out of the band for good. A stint in rehab gets him on the right path but unresolved issues from his past almost guarantee he will backslide unless he has some help.
Enter Lena Morrissey.
Lena has issues of her own but one of them is not taking any crap for a certain overly entitled rock god. Lena has one job and one job only…to keep Jimmy on the straight and narrow. So what if all her girly parts tingle when Jimmy’s around, can she keep things professional?
As Lena and Jimmy spend more time together, the chemistry between them sparks like an out of control wildfire, bringing out the best and worse in both of them. When Lena decides to lay all her cards on the table and tell Jimmy how she really feels, Jimmy reacts badly and shoves Lena right out the door. Now Jimmy will have to bare his heart fully if he wants to get Lena back for good.
I adore Kylie Scott’s uber funny and sexy rockstar romance series-Stage Dive. Though each book focuses on one couple’s romance, the arc is on going and each book picks up where the last one left off. I would start with book one-Lick-to get the full experience.
While Mal is by far my favorite male character in this series, Lena takes the top female spot hands down. Lead is a feisty romantic contemporary that sings with snark and laughter yet holds a deep pocket of vulnerability and fear as a young woman who’s hired to babysit an out of control rock star falls in love with her difficult hero and struggles to try and keep their relationship platonic.
Fate shifting beneath your feet should feel big. For instance, mood lighting and dramatic music would be well within keeping. Instead, I got a cranky cold blue stare from a guy in a sharp suit. [...]The man was beautiful. Devastating in the way that only something so completely out of your reach that it doesn’t even occur to you to try and grasp it can be.
Lena left from home and family after she catches her boyfriend cheating on her with her sister and now they are getting married. She doesn’t want to deal with the drama so she applies for a PA job with Stage Dive’s manager only to discover he makes Courtney Love look sane. In the midst of being fired by him, Mal steps in and convinces Jimmy to hire her as his sobriety companion and assistant.
“You don’t seem very impressed by me, Lena. Am I not impressive to you?”
“Sure you are. I guess I’m just a bit busy getting fired right now to fully appreciate the magnitude of the moment.” Hands on hips, I looked him in the eye. “But, rest assured, later I’m going to freak right out.”
He leaned against the door frame. “I’ve got your word on that?”
“I’m trusting you here.”
“And I appreciate that, Mr Ericson. I won’t let you down.”
He gave me a huge grin. “You’re a bit of a smart ass, Lena. I like that.”
Jimmy, lead singer for the band, hit rock bottom in Lick. He and his brother, David had a hellacious childhood and Jimmy choose to go the self destructive route, causing even more problems between him, his brother, and the band. At the end of Lick, David put Jimmy into rehab in hopes of saving his life. Lead picks up at the funeral of Mal’s mother and Jimmy is clean. Lena has been with Jimmy for a couple of months and is beginning to see he is more than a spoiled over indulged man that the tabloids delight in writing about.
I laughed throughout this entire book. Lena is definitely the star of the show and her internal and external monologues concerning Jimmy, the band, and life in general will keep you in stitches.
“Britney Spears. Give me strength.”
I liked that Lana isn’t damaged or carrying any really heavy baggage. Her situation at home is a problem but not enough to pitch her into a never ending pit of emotional despair. Her strength, determination, and intelligence makes a perfect foil for Jimmy’s capricious nature. She and Jimmy get along fairly well until her crush begins to show itself and Jimmy starts to notice. Lena’s use of humor to diffuse the situation is at a premium as she struggles to keep her feelings in check.
“You are looking at me weird all the time.”
“No, I’m sorting your email. A different thing entirely.”
“Oh, look. Lingerie Girl has sent you another picture. A demi-bra this time. Hot pink with tassels. I think the tassels are a nice touch. She’s even attached a video of her making them swing. So thoughtful.”
“But what if she says something important?”
“She’s a complete stranger sending me pictures of herself nearly naked dancing and bending over furniture.”
“Yes, today we have a washing machine. Very sexy in a domestic erotica sort of way. A powerful statement about feminism, I think. This woman is deep.”
Jimmy is a trainwreck for much of the book. Though a virtual succubus on stage, once the lights go out, he becomes a rude and crude prima donna. His dysfunctional childhood and on going issues with his mother keeps him emotionally cut off from everyone. A mercurial man who despite his every attempt to chase you away, gradually reveals a softer side that wants what his brother and friends have but feels he doesn’t deserve. You eventually begin to see the many layers of Jimmy and the reasons Lena has fallen hard for him.
“The thing is, you’re never going to have much of a life being at my beck and call. You’re better off away from me, and I know that, and still I don’t care. That, Lena, is who I am.”
The romance is very slow to develop. Even though Lena readily admits to her deepening attraction to Jimmy early on, she never allows that to interfere with her job. She genuinely wants Jimmy to succeed in his sobriety. Scott gives Lena and Jimmy ample time to get to know one another on a personal level; first establishing a firm friendship before pushing beyond the boundaries and introducing the added intimacy of sex. The chemistry is outstanding, even when in it’s early stages. Sexual tension pulsates through the book as Jimmy struggles to keep Lena confined to the box he has placed her in. Jimmy’s answer to Lena’s crush in the beginning is to push her towards other men. Great in theory…terrible in reality. Jealousy rears it’s ugly head more than once much to readers delight.
Old friends join the fray to offer advice, laughter, and run interference between our lovers. The push and pull between Lena and Jimmy sizzles with taunt hostility and the band, especially Mal, offer comedic interventions to offset the drama that seems to naturally generate between these two.
"He held the pup in front of his face. “Killer, tell daddy where the bad people touched you.”
I absolutely adore this series and have found that each installment only serves to further cement my love for this band and Ms. Scott’s writing. A small contention with this story is I would have liked to have heard more from Jimmy. He was naturally reluctant to share emotionally so I felt at times that just relying on Lena’s POV didn’t always translate Jimmy’s feelings or the reasons behind some of his actions well for the reader. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed Lead and I can’t wait to read Ben’s journey to true love. I expect that will be a wild, wild ride; especially if he falls for who I think he will.
Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast—at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn’t plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn’t count on finding the one right girl.
Anne Rollins never thought she’d ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls—especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn’t end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?
Tori:Rockstar bad boys are a guilty pleasure of mine. The more intense and outrageous they are, the more I am attracted to them. I think it’s the combination alpha/beta personality and the usual secret that causes them to act the way they do. The push/pull relationship between the hero and heroine combined with heroes often self destructive behavior draws me in everytime. The emotional dialogue is often compelling but it’s what’s not said but implied that pulls me into their sphere.
Play is a sweet new adult romantic contemporary that focuses on the relationship between an out of control rock star and a down on her luck young woman. Ms. Scott uses her skills to paint an engaging, quite humorous,and at times heartbreaking picture of first love as she builds a swoon worthy romance on a false premise. Not a trope I normally go for; it works well in here. Though told from primary from Anne’s viewpoint, we do get in depth dialogue between both protagonists, enabling the reader to see both sides of the story.
Anne Rollins has just been royally screwed. She just discovered her roommate, her supposed best friend, has skipped out owning months of back rent. No one but Anne is surprised by this turn of events. Lauren, Evelyn’s (Lick) best friend, invites her to a Stage Dive party to help take her mind off what just happened. When Anne arrives, she meets Mal and the fireworks start. Anne has had a crush on Mal for years and has dreamed of meeting him but never quite imagined it like this.
“Your cheeks have gone all rosy. Are you thinking rude thoughts about me, Anne.” “No.” “Liar,” he taunted in a soft voice. “You’re totally thinking of me with no pants on.” I totally am.
Mal is having a rough year. Personal issues has him almost acting bi polar with his manic behavior. Drinking and partying too much, Mal knows he needs to slow down before he crashes and burns. Meeting Anne and feeling an instant connection has him invading her life and home, offering her a position of his pretend girlfriend. With Anne Mal doesn’t have to play the “rock star”. She brings him a sense of peace and tranquility he so desperately needs while he encourages her to take chances and have fun.
From there the laughs just keeps coming. Anne and Mal are fantastic characters whose personalities explode off the pages. Individually and together, they instantly steal your heart and you become heavily invested in their story. Both of them have some serious baggage that not only affects their relationship, but their lives in general. I liked that Anne wasn’t your average star struck groupie. She carries on with her life as normal…well as normal as one can with a 6 ft plus totally hot rock star living with her. She continues working and doesn’t take any crap from Mal. She knows when to push and when to back away.
What did you think Mandi?
Mandi: This book surprised me. I read and enjoyed Lick and I think as soon as I was done I tweeted Kylie Scott and demanded Mal’s book. What surprised me is the type of hero Mal really is. In Lick he was silly and made me laugh – and while in Play he is silly and made me laugh he also is not your typical rock star hero. He almost has an immature vibe but at the same time is very sexy. I honestly don’t know how this author played both sides so well. I laughed out loud so many times in this book, swooned at how sexy Mal is and yet felt deeply for him and what he was going through. Anne is great too – she gets Mal. She really, really gets him and that just made it all work. Even though he is a lot to take when they first meet (and yes I’m using Tori’s quote above just expanding)
“Are you thinking rude thoughts about me, Anne?” “No.” “Liar,” he taunted in a soft voice. “You’re totally thinking of me with no pants on.” I totally was. “That’s just gross, dude. A massive invasion of my privacy.” He leaned in closer, his breath warming my ear. “Whatever you’re imagining, it’s bigger.” “I’m not imagining anything.” “I’m serious. It’s basically a monster. I cannot control it.” “Malcom – “ “You’re pretty much going to need a whip and chair to tame it, Anne.”
Tori: I loved that this wasn’t an insta love romance. Though they have to play off they are in a committed relationship, Scott gives Mal and Anne ample time to get to know one another. The chemistry between them sizzles HAWT (limos for the win) but neither was pushing for sex. Mal and Anne’s witty banter gives rise to friendship and more as they spend more time together. Both are givers though Anne more so and that balance resonates through the book. From their first meeting, you know they are destined to be together. I also enjoyed that any misunderstandings were easily carified. Neither protagonists are true emotional black holes, wallowing in self pity and wanting to be the center of everyone’s attention. I seriously just loved them both to pieces. *laughter* I wish I could list all the scenes that made me laugh but then I would be pretty much retelling the entire story.
Mandi: I liked that Anne is honest with Mal. She calls him on his bullshit when she can tell he is bullshitting – with Mal it’s hard to tell.
“God, you confuse me. I don’t think my head has stopped spinning since you walked in the door.” “You can be confused later. But come on my face now, please?”
I liked how things play out with Anne’s good friend Reece too. Reece can’t decide if he has feelings for Anne, and the jealousy that arises plays out well.
And yes – I have about 50 quotes highlighted I want to share.
Tori’s favorite quote: “A biter and a screamer. And you seemed like such a nice quiet girl. I’m shocked”
Tori’s Grade: B+
Mandi’s favorite quote: “I’ll sleep with Anne.”
“No you won’t.”
“Yes, I will.” He raised a hand high. “For I am, Malcolm, Lord of the Sex!”
Favorite Quote: She’s died twice while protecting her city…and she’d do it again to save the people she loves.
Many fans including myself were not sure this particular book would come into existence after we were informed the series had been dropped by Meding’s publisher. I was pleased to see Meding decided to publish on her own and bring her fans book five-Requiem Of The Dead. Meding does a fabulous job of bringing readers up to speed with brief recaps from throughout the series and especially, book four, Wrong Side Of Dead.
Requiem Of The Dead picks up not long after Wrong Side Of Dead. One important aspect to remember about this series is that everything takes place in a relatively short time period. Only a few months go by between book one and now. Insane scientist William Thackery is dead though his experiments, Halfies (the goblin half breeds) are alive and well, multiplying at an unheard of rate. The Watchtower (an alliance group formed of supernatural clans and the hunters) is severely understaffed due to the vampire’s withdrawal of their support and the Assembly’s internal strife. Evy and Wyatt, along with various other enforcers and certain human allies are now responsible for protecting the entire city. When a rash of vicious goblin attacks begin to cripple the city, all clues circle back to Evy and her killing of the Goblin Queen in retaliation for her part in Evy’s torture and death.
As if Evy didn’t have enough on her plate, she is also trying to help Wyatt deal with his new half breed status, find some missing werewolf teens, and discover who has the cure for the vampire infection that is eradicating their race. Politics play hard and loose as Evy finds herself once again having to place her life on the line to save everything and everyone she loves.
I am a huge fan of Ms. Meding’s Dreg City series. A dark edgy Urban Fantasy filled with nail biting action, suspense, and intrigue. The originality of the world and it’s characters is what keeps me hooked in this series. The lines between good and evil are blurred; giving credence to knowledge that sometimes heroes and villains are only separated by a single action. Smooth writing, fast pacing, and engaging dialogue keeps you on your toes to the very end. A convoluted storyline engages us as we learn of the many supernatural factions and the human warriors who stand between them and us. Betrayal and redemption continue to be underlying themes as we watch our heroine navigate through her convoluted life.
Evy is a force to be reckoned with. She has learned the hard way what blind obedience can do and that colors every decision she makes from here on out. Ms. Meding has allowed her to grow within the storyline at a steady comfortable pace. Evy has accepted the body she now inhabits and her love for her former handler, Wyatt. Ms. Meding does a wonderful job of voicing Evy’s emotions for her boyfriend and the friends she had made along the way. Harsh betrayals by those she thought were friends left a vulnerability in Evy that she is still struggling to come to terms with. They were her family and she misses that security though she has begun to build another family unit filled with various human and supernatural entities. Courage and loyalty are her strongest points as she continuously tries to save a world that has done nothing but throw her to the wolves from day one. She’s not completely forgiving though. She will never trust those who betrayed her again and will show no mercy should they get in her way.
Wyatt, Evy’s ex-handler and current lover, has dealt admirably with the blows that continually strike Evy and him. Though their relationship is still feeling it’s way due to past events, they reach a sense of peace in here that offers a much needed break. They have more than earned it. Throughout the series Wyatt and Evy have both sacrificed much to be together. We see in here how Wyatt’s life has become much more complicated after being infected by a lupa-werewolf. Now considered a half breed, he finds himself an anomaly in a unknown long game. Regardless of his own issues though, he is a constant presence and we are left with no doubt where his loyalties lie.
There is a deep emotional aspect in here that began with book four and continues on in here. Evy is once again tested in ways that would destroy a lessor person yet she triumphs, not through supernatural means but through her strength and courageousness. One aspect of this series that never fails to astound me is the lack of fear Ms.Meding has in choosing to show the violence of an unsteady world and the huge risks she takes in regards to her characters. Chances are taken and while some bets pay off (within the story), others don’t and we are left to bear witness to the outcome. Some scenes in here take an emotional toil on your heart yet there is a ray of hope that lets you know things will continue to get better. I will say I missed Phin tremendously. He is such a large part of the series and Evy’s life. I’m looking forward to seeing him again soon.
The main conflict and events leading up to it’s climactic resolution are a stomach dropping rollercoaster ride of thrills and chills. There are some rough spots in here that had me jittery with nerves as I tried to figure out exactly how this would resolve itself. But Ms. Meding wondrous sleight of hand tricks allows us an acceptable outcome while leaving some issues open to ensure more exciting adventures for Evy and us are on the way.
Action, suspense, intrigue, and just the right amount of humor and romance makes Ms. Meding’s Dreg City series a must read for all noir urban fantasy aficionados.
Laurenston does it again with the ninth installment in her hilarious, sexy and action-packed Pride series. Bite Me introduces readers to a whole new breed of shifters — who have the rest of the shifters hiding their valuables when this new breed comes rolling in to town. A fun romance blends well with the engaging storyline and multiple subplots. Nonstop action and crazy antics keep this world delightfully fresh. If you enjoy laughter, witty banter and unforgettable characters in your paranormal romance, you’ll be addicted to Laurenston’s Pride series.
Hybrid shifter Vic Barniov likes his life to be quiet and orderly, but that carefully controlled existence gets blown to smithereens every time he comes home to find honey badger Livy Kowalski burrowing into his cabinets and eating his honey. Livy drives Vic insane in all the right ways, and Vic sets out to convince Livy that being in his bed and using the front door isn’t the end of the world. Livy enjoys her nomadic lifestyle, using it to avoid her criminally insane family. But she can’t avoid them forever; especially when her father passes away. When she discovers her father died under suspicious circumstances, Livy reaches out to her family — and soon chaos reigns supreme. But when someone wants Livy to stop asking questions and they almost succeed in silencing her permanently, Vic shows the world why you shouldn’t mess with hybrids.
William, The Duke of Lamont, wakes one morning only to discover himself laying in an unknown bed, covered in blood. Unable to remember what has happened, he finds himself accused of killing his soon to be step mother, Mara Lowe.
Forced to leave his birthright, a new man rises from the ashes of his former life of privilege. Nicknamed the Killer Duke, William, now calling himself Temple, along with three other disgraced men, operate a gambling hall named the Fallen Angel. For twelve years, Temple has reigned over the darkest parts of London; bare knuckle boxing in penance for his supposed crime. Money, women, and fame drip from his fingertips. But the only thing he wants and can’t have is redemption.
Until she reappears.
Mara Lowe never planned on returning to London but when her brother gambles away her fortune at Temple’s gambling hall, she is forced back into the world she ran from. She never expected Temple to be accused of her murder when she set her original plan in motion. And though she knows her actions caused his downfall, she is unable to feel much regret. With her new life hanging in the balance, she needs her money desperately. She approaches Temple with a proposition. She will reveal herself, letting London and the world know that he did not kill her, effectively restoring Temple’s honor and his place in society if he will forgive her brother’s debt.
Temple agrees but with conditions. He has suffered for twelve years and now he has his revenge in hand to do with what he pleases. Temple wants to humiliate Mara for what she has done to him. He wants her to suffer as he has. As Temple and Mara dance around the lies, pain, and attraction, Temple realizes that the circumstances that led to that night twelve years ago are far more complicated than he imagined. Now Temple must decide if vengeance is worth losing everything he never knew he wanted.
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished is a dark emotional historical romance that batters at the heart with harsh repeating blows. A story of betrayal and redemption that allows for a realistic journey from hatred to love. Heavily character driven, our protagonists are well defined with quicksilver personalities, passionate natures, and tragic shadowed pasts. MacLean digs deep into their psyches to show us what is really buried beneath the hard exterior they show the world. Two people who have survived the best way they know how.
Temple and Mara both were victims in this story. Born into luxury, you would think they had it all. But as their histories are revealed, you realize that the glitter often hides a rotten core. The wealthier you are, the less control you have over your destiny. Mara was a hard character to like. You can sympathize with her but the choices she made are hard to forgive when you see the impact they had on Temple. Part of the problem is she didn’t seem to show any real remorse for what her actions did to Temple. She knew what she did had been wrong and feels badly but what we see from her is an attitude that suggests that she cannot change the past so there is no need to dwell on it. Once she contacts Temple and offers her proposition, it seems, once again, that she is using him to her own benefit. Just as she did twelve years ago. As you get to know Mara, you realize that she did the only thing she knew to do and there were mitigating circumstances involved. Circumstances that pushed the situation further then it should have gone. Namely, Mara’s brother, Christopher.
Mara was only sixteen when she was essentially sold into marriage to Temple’s father. Sixteen and engaged to a man three times her age, whom we learn is as bad, if not worse, than her own father. Her actions to escape what she feels is a deal with the devil didn’t play out the way she had anticipated and Temple suffered for her decisions. She feels bad for everything that happened but she is honest to herself that she wouldn’t have changed what she did.
“She’d never meant for that charming young man-all muscle and grace and wide, smiling mouth-to become the unwitting victim in her escape. Not that she tried to save him. It was too late for apologies. She made her bed…now she must lie in it”
Mara did what she could as a young girl with absolutely no power or control over her life. She has grown much in her time away from London. She is not the scared little girl she once was. She has matured, gaining in strength and self assurance in her time on her own and that shines through as she now pays her own penance by running an orphanage for illegitimate boys.
Temple is an enigma. Looking like a hardened thug with his large muscular frame and inked skin, his heart is one of a gentleman. Regardless of what he has done over his lifetime, his honor has remained intact-no matter what he thinks. Your heart will break as you learn the extent of what he has gone through. Rejected by society, he was forced to survive on the streets of London, painstakingly climbing his way up from the gutter to the throne he now sits upon. All while having to listen to the whispers and feel the stares at his back…reminding him that the world sees him as a murderer.
“The whispers followed him through filth and sin, marking time. At first he had pretended not to hear the word, but as the years passed, he had embraced it-and the epithet turned honorific. Killer.”
Though he plans to ruin Mara as she ruined him, he finds himself balancing on a precipice as he gets to know her better. He sees her strength, compassion, and willingness to work hard for the sake of others. He cannot comfortably consign her to the role of villain. He wants her in his life but is unsure if he can trust her.
Undeniable chemistry singes the pages as these two engage in a battle of wills. Though no actual physical scenes till the end, the emotional dialogue sweeps you up and places you dead center into the turmoil that directs their lives. Anger, lust, vengeance, and redemption all serve as base to their burgeoning relationship. As their romance slowly develops, Mara shows Temple that she sees him for the man he has always been. She helps him reclaim his title and the life he had before and she also shows him that he hasn’t been as miserable as he professes. Temple, in turn, shows Mara that not all men are users and that he would give up everything to make sure she knows she is loved.
This was the greatest gift she could give him, even if it would take the greatest sacrifice she had ever made.
The one where she gave up everything.
Temple’s friends play a large part in the story. It’s a comfort to the reader that Temple had such strong friendships to lean on. They offer a deeper look into Temple’s life as they have been with him since the beginning and have seen the damage Mara caused. They believe Mara to be the enemy and treat her accordingly, especially as her brother keeps doing things to cast even further suspicion on Mara. It’s only when they see how Temple is beginning to feel for Mara that they start to hint to Temple that a lifetime of possible happiness is worth more than a single act of vengeance. They also provide some humor to help offset the bleakness the story holds. Mara’s boys are a delight and also offer insight into Mara’s emotional state and the reasons behind her actions.
The majority of the book focuses on Temple and Mara’s journey to forgiveness. It’s a dark story that highlights our protagonists internal demons and their subsequent ability to forgive themselves and one another. It’s not an easy story to read and MacLean doesn’t offer the reader any reassurances that either of them will make it out alive- emotionally or physically.
The ending is a series of climatic scenes that show us just how much Mara and Temple care for one another. Mara finally does what she should have done years ago but Temple realizes at the last moment that she is more important to him than his own life. If I had any qualms, it was Mara taking so long to tell Temple what really happened that night and her reasons for why she did it. We are made to understand why she held out for so long but it causes for some dragging in the story and also causes readers to hold on to their ire of Mara for longer. I was also never fully convinced that Mara would have ever made things right if she hadn’t needed her money back.
Regardless, I enjoyed Temple’s story and believe fans of Sarah MacLean and angst driven historical romances are sure to enjoy her latest offering. Temple may very well be her darkest and most romantic hero to date. Chase’s story is up next and I for one cannot wait.
Killer Frost is the sixth and final book in Jennifer Estep’s action packed mythological based urban fantasy series-Mythos Academy. A YA series that has followed high schooler, Gwen Frost, through her trials and tribulations as she is unceremoniously pulled into a secret war between the gods and goddesses. Heralded as Nike’s Champion, Gwen and her talking sword, Vic, learned in Midnight Frost (book five) that Gwen holds the key to defeating Lori and his band of Reapers. She just needs to figure out what that key is before Lori rises fully and destroys Gwen and everyone she loves.
TORI: So May, what did you think of Estep’s and Gwen’s finale? Overall I enjoyed the story though there were a few things that dragged it down for me. It starts out with Gwen having to use her gift to read some mythological artifacts. Rumor has it the Reapers are looking for one artifact in particular that will complete Loki’s transformation and everyone hopes Gwen will discover something that points them in the right direction. An attack by the Reapers pushes Gwen towards discovering the correct artifact but when the Reapers attack again, to close to home, Gwen takes matters into her own hands.
The book starts out slow in my opinion as Estep sets up the story line and places the players in position. There is still some uneasiness between Gwen and Logan and I liked that. In reality, he has let her down quite a few times and though she loves him, the trust is still trying to rebuild. Plus, it reinforces that for all that Gwen has been through, she is still a teenager with all the angst and drama that goes along with it. I also enjoyed her anger. Anger she is entitled to. She didn’t grow up in this world and she is unable to accept the unspoken adage that some losses are okay in order to win the war. Especially since she has lost so much to it. One aspect that did bother me was Gwen had a few to many pity parties in the beginning. She continues to bemoan being the Champion, her parent’s deaths, ect…What did you think, May?
MAY: I really hate to admit this Tori, but I had a hard time staying interested and actually reading this book. A number of times I actually had to force myself to not skim. I feel like I’ve known what the overall outcome was going to be of this series since the start and so for me I didn’t have a sense of urgency with this book.
Now don’t kick me out of the J.E. fanclub!! Seriously – this was a great series and I do think it was time for it to end. I liked knowing that there would be a set number of books and that when the story of Gwen battles Loki ended, the series would end.
Where to start talking about this book in particular? Well since I already admitted I had a bit of trouble being invested in it – let’s get dirty. I’ve gotta say I’m tired of the “Gwen the good girl who never puts out” squeaky clean bit. As a character Gwen has been getting on my nerves lately but I feel like she has this smugness to her – she’s so good, she’s such a champion, clearly she has control always. I wanted more darkness, more depth, and more raging teen hormones with Gwen! Get out of control, girl! Ok, so I know that we were not going to get any heat with this series (it is YA, after all) and I agree with Estep’s choice there. Annnnnnd now I’m dying to throw a “but” in here so I will stop typing and turn it back over to you!
TORI: I have to agree with you, May. As this is the last book in the series, the foreshadowing up till now pretty much tells us what’s going to happen and a little of the how. Similar to Midnight Frost, I felt this installment wasn’t as action packed as books one thru four. Once again, the focus is placed primarily on Gwen and her actions and reactions to events unfolding. I did wish for more darkness and depth. I do feel she achieves some of this towards the end but it resolves too easily to allow for any real sense of anticipation.
Since Logan and Gwen’s quintessential conflict which places them at odds, I too wanted them to have a special make up moment to solidify their love and commitment to one another. Of course, we weren’t going to get that. Sex isn’t on the table in YA that often and Estep uses Gwen as the first true love in Logan’s life. She changes him. I do feel his role went from an equal protagonist to a sidekick after they started dating and that bothered me a little. Rather, they conflict with each other until one needs saving, then all is forgiven.
Now on to the secondary characters. May, how did you feel their roles towards the end correlated with how they have been characterized through the series?
MAY: I think Estep was very consistent with her voice throughout the series – and with her characters as well. This is something I always love about her writing! I feel like if a character changes or develops in new surprising ways you can look back and see the reasoning or even realize you should have seen it coming. Love it when she surprises me.
When it comes to the secondary characters, I feel like some really developed nicely and others were always just filler. Nicomedes was by far and away the big surprise through this series for me – he added so much in his own ways, and he was a highlight of this book for me. Especially for a YA series – I really like seeing an adult character who is respected and who adds to the story as he did. Teenagers most certainly do not know it all – despite what they may think.
I did not find myself surprised, impressed, or otherwise happy with any of the other adults in this book of the series which was a disappointment. Grandma, Matis, Nike, and even Logan’s dad seemed like they all had more potential for Gwen’s story. How did you feel about them?
TORI: I agree with you across the board. Estep has a fabulous voice that does well for adult and YA. I never felt as though I was just reading the story. She easily drags me in and consumes me. Nicomedes had to be, by far, my favorite character. He was the most developed and dynamic of the secondary characters. I enjoyed watching him and Gwen go from frenemies to allies to friends. Was it just me or did you get the feeling that “Professor Snapes” finally got his happily ever after? I couldn’t help but compare the two as the arc progressed. As for the other characters, they were all pretty much were regulated to a standby position, used to reinforce and elevate Gwen’s character. I was deflated by their lack of action in this installment. Though, I’m glad someone finally got their moment in the sun. *grin*
The storyline was predictable but the journey was interesting. I think the path Gwen chooses to take is noteworthy in it’s undertaking but reflects back on what you mentioned, May. Her need to be “the one.” I was irritated by her all her secrecy though she does explain her reasons why in a way that is understandable. Loki’s appearance definitely amps up the action and drama in the storyline, adding a sense of seriousness and dread to the storyline that’s been missing, but it wasn’t delivered with the “punch” I thought it would have. Vivian and Agrona were good, but after Crimson Frost, they seemed to have developed a juvenile tone in their scenes. What did you think, May?
MAY: I totally agree with you. In fact, I was going to comment on the overall juvenile (great choice of words, Tori!) feel to the villains. Even Loki felt like a cheap punchline and not a real threat. I needed a lot more from the bad guys, especially since they were the entire focus of this book. We didn’t have Gwen learning, growing, doing other stuff – she was 100% kicking ass and finishing up with them. I think that hurt the strength of this book for me because I was waiting for her to deal with a worthy adversary instead of trotting around so easily.
For me, this hurt the power of her choices at the end of the book because while yes, she’s been through hell and back, in this particular book she really hadn’t. As it has been quite a few months since reading the last book the power of previous events wasn’t still with me as I read.
Reading this book actually has me wanting to re-read the whole series though. Mostly because I think this is a series that would read much stronger if done back-to-back vs over a number of years as we did.
TORI: Yes, that is a good point. It’s such a strong cohesive series with so many ongoing plot lines, the time between each book seems to dampen the edge. The internal drama that usually surrounded Gwen wasn’t there. Her choices aren’t really choices. The path in here is predetermined and there wasn’t room to maneuver beyond it. Regardless of my issues, I do feel Estep wrapped this series in an acceptable fashion, giving us a action packed ending and some clues to the Gwen and Logan’s future. Small clues hint that perhaps Estep may revisit this world again. All in all, I was happy with the conclusion and will miss this series now that it has ended. I don’t recommend new readers starting here. The series is on going with an evolving arc that doesn’t do an in depth recap.
Favorite Quote: “ I understand your reasoning. Really, I do. But don’t expect me to save you in return.”
MAY: While this wasn’t the strongest book in the series, it is a fitting conclusion. I really liked how she ended this series, giving us enough information and a leisurely last few chapters to draw our own conclusions and say goodbye to this cast of characters. Overall, sitting on my shelf the complete series will be an excellent read for my daughters in a few years but also as enjoyable for myself to re-read.
“You know how… clumsy I can be with things especially artifacts. Who knows? I might… lose it or something.”
“It’s a risk I’m willing to take Gwendolyn,” Nickamedes replied in a soft voice. “Even if others are not.”
The librarian stared at me again, and I saw the certainty blazing in his eyes, along with his faith- in me.
Friends Without Benefits: An Unrequited Romance by Penny Reid Penny Reid has certainly proved she is no one trick pony with the release ofFriends WithFriends 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.
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. ...more