Review to come. Some quick thoughts: - This is not a romance. - I'd have given this just 1 star for the WTF ending, but I added another star because itReview to come. Some quick thoughts: - This is not a romance. - I'd have given this just 1 star for the WTF ending, but I added another star because it makes the vomit AND the fart lists and, really, Megan Hart writes beautifully no matter how frustrating the story might be. - I'd like to swap the ending of this book with the ending of Broken. - This book has nothing to do with apples....more
Believe it or not this is only an excerpt of my review. You can find the full text at Book Thingo.
This is the book that most Black Dagger BrotherhoodBelieve it or not this is only an excerpt of my review. You can find the full text at Book Thingo.
This is the book that most Black Dagger Brotherhood fans have been eagerly anticipating ever since the Butch/V bromance turned out to be strictly platonic. Blaylock and Qhuinn have been best of friends even before they transitioned (the BDB vampire equivalent of puberty), but bad timing and some ill-chosen words have led them to believe that their more-than-friends feelings will never be returned by the other.
Qhuinn and Layla are expecting a baby, and Blay is in a committed relationship with Saxton, but they're all living in the Brotherhood mansion, and they keep running into each other. At the gym. Half naked. With bulging biceps. And rampant and spontaneous erections. (People prone to stiffies shouldn't really be going commando.) As you do.
Blay is probably one of the most well-adjusted BDB characters, so it's Qhuinn who has to undergo a big emotional journey in this book. Qhuinn's desire for a traditional family, to be a father, and his inability to reconcile this dream with a possible relationship with Blay is the biggest hurdle in their relationship.
As far as conflicts go, it's pretty tenuous and not easily sustained in a 600-page book, so it's not surprising that Ward spends a fair bit of time developing two separate subplots--one involving drug dealer Assail, and one involving Trez--and the continuing subplot around the Band of Bastards. These secondary plots and characters take up precious pages when all we really want is to see Qhuay in action.
And the action? It's pretty hot. One of my biggest concerns with this book is whether or not Ward will treat the m/m romance as well and as explicitly as she does her m/f couples. The answer is yes, it's explicit...but not without problems.
The sexual dynamic between Qhuinn and Blay starts off fairly aggressively, and although in theory this makes for hot, furniture-moving, lamp-breaking, omg-what-are-you-waiting-for sex, there is, I think, a danger that readers will find the sex fetishised. To be fair to Ward, this happens in her other books, too--the BDSM in Vishous's book, for example--so I can't say it was unexpected.
Ward revisits Qhuinn's history, and his past slutty behaviour is re-examined through the prism of true lurve--he had sex with everyone but Blay to keep him distant, and Blay participated to keep Qhuinn close. Well, oookay then! The two men also have very active and explicit fantasy lives, which plays out very well for us readers. That said, the tension between Qhuinn and Blay was far more interesting in previous books.
Ward's prose still exhibits her tendency to misuse punctuation--the question marks seem to have boycotted this book--and exaggerate to the point where it actually affects the narrative point of view. When a character thinks about 'a human male the size of an amusement park', the hyperbole serves to take the reader out of close third person and into the author's own perpective
When it comes to world building, the best advice I can give is to forget keeping track of canon and just accept the fact that all of Ward's rules are made to be broken. All of them.
I closed this book with a sigh and an 'aww', despite any issues I may have had with the story. And that, I think, speaks for itself.
This book isn't perfect by any means, but I can't help but celebrate that we're finally getting an m/m romance by a mainstream author through a mainstream publisher for a mainstream audience.
Who might enjoy it: Qhuay tragics
Who might not enjoy it: Homophobes
An advance reading copy of this book was generously provided by Hachette Australia. Click here for a round-up of all BDB-related posts on Book Thingo....more
If, like me, you’re frustrated by the lack emotional depth in many BDSM romances, I’d strongly recommend Remastering Jerna. Forget about any ick factoIf, like me, you’re frustrated by the lack emotional depth in many BDSM romances, I’d strongly recommend Remastering Jerna. Forget about any ick factors—if this book doesn’t help you see past those, I’m not sure anything will.
The book starts a little shakily as Somerville sets up the protagonist, Jerna Setiq, a devoted husband, teacher and father of two, whose contented life is decimated when he’s falsely convicted of child perversion. Once the stage is set for Jerna’s emotional journey, however, Somerville gets it just about perfect.
As a prisoner, Jerna endures a level of brutality that is magnified by the world in which Somerville places him. Although I was braced for some shocking scenes, Somerville’s narrative isn’t gratuitous.Jerna’s psychological turmoil, his sense of helplessness and hopelessness, and his attempts to make sense of his situation were at once terrible and beautiful to read. In despair, Jerna applies for a job at Winds of Paradise hotel, a high-end brothel ‘that catered to every legal sexual whim imaginable’ and one of the few residential positions open to prisoners. Despite the improved conditions, Jerna never manages to forget that he’s only one complaint away from being sent back to prison.
Somerville takes her time setting up the most intense sexual and emotional scenes in this book, and I’m telling you now: it’s worth the wait. Somerville cleverly sets up three contrasting situations -- humiliation at the hands of callous employers and guards, submission freely given, and ‘domination by numbers’ -- and their differences couldn’t be more obvious. This is no BDSM-lite story. Jerna’s pain -- and pleasure -- feels real, his emotional responses even more so. But Somerville is a skilful guide. She builds on each scene, adding a little more pain and a little more emotion, inviting the reader to trust her so that some of the most challenging scenes become not only tolerable but deeply romantic.
My main problem with Remastering Jerna is the ending, which is suspiciously convenient and somewhat rushed.
Nevertheless, Remastering Jerna’s plot and characters are carefully developed, and the book’s underpinning ideas of consent, submission, domination and, to some extent, love are explored from different perspectives, giving the story layers of meaning that I don’t feel I could fully appreciate from just the one read. This is definitely a keeper.
Jilted is an outback romance with broad appeal. The setting never overshadows the characters, and the romance follows a familiar path without being too predictable. It feels like an extended Australian Superromance. The plot navigates some very emotional territory and, yes, it made me cry.
This book is a rare species is a rare species—an outback romance that fits squarely into the romance genre without losing its character. The setting is familiar but not intrusive, and the story navigates some very emotional territory. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely a good read.
Who might enjoy it: Romance readers who like variety in characters and settings
Who might not enjoy it: Rural lit readers who prefer the outback to be centre stage...more
(The review excerpt below has no major spoilers for the external plot, but I go on a bit about the romance. I’ve removed all mention of the Ghost belo(The review excerpt below has no major spoilers for the external plot, but I go on a bit about the romance. I’ve removed all mention of the Ghost below.)
Readers eagerly anticipating this book will enjoy the way in which plot elements throughout the series come together in this book. It's amazing, then, that I believe you can pick this book up and enjoy it out of series order. But I don't recommend you do that, because this book is, I think, the climax of the series. The ending changes everything we know about the world that Singh has built.
There are two more books left in the Psy-Changeling series, and I think Singh will have to write the hell out of them to surpass this one.
The long version
Kaleb Krychek has always been billed as the ruthless Councillor who has had no compunction in assassinating those who stand in his way, but as the series progressed it's clear that he has his own agenda, which might not align with my first impression of him. After seven years, two week and two days, Kaleb has finally found the woman he has been searching for.
Except she's not quite right. Sahara Kyriakus, Faith Nightstar's long-lost cousin, has been imprisoned and tortured in an attempt to unlock a secret in her mind that could be used as very powerful weapon. When she was captured, Sahara triggered protective mechanisms in her mind to prevent her from accessing her memories—whenever she attempts to do so, her mind rearranges itself into a labyrinth.
Kaleb and Sahara are a perfect pairing—emotionally, psychically and physically. Kaleb's extraordinary telekinetic abilities, and the skills he developed as a serial killer's protege, enable him to protect Sahara as she attempts to heal. Her mind is unprotected, and Kaleb constructs an obsidian shield around it to segregate herself from the NetMind, where she would instantly be vulnerable. Sahara's vulnerability forces Kaleb to temper his responses, and it's gorgeous to watch Kaleb navigate emotion and Silence as he tries not to inflict any more damage on Sahara. His methods of helping her are not always predictable, and this provides a lot of delicious tension and, let's be honest, masterful alpha male behaviour of the best kind.
Meanwhile, Pure Psy's activities are escalating. Singh does well to keep Kaleb's agenda unclear for as long as possible, but given that he's the hero of this book, it's difficult to fall for some of the misdirection. (Good try, though. :D) If that's not enough for our dashing super hero, he's on the hunt for Sahara's captors—he might be a noble romantic hero, but he's not above seeking vengeance for the wrongs done to Sahara.
Any niggles I have about the worldbuilding are minor compared to the enjoyment I derived from the story. It's rare to get to book 12 of a series—particularly in romance—and still feel like you're reading something fresh and, I guess, carefully crafted. Singh does not do her fans a disservice here. The pacing, the tension, and the transitions between the romance, the internal conflicts and the external plot are seamless and make for a fabulous page-turner.
Heart Of Obsidian feels a lot more romancey than previous books—I think some of them are hotter and more explicit, but for pure romance, I think this book gives Slave To Sensation a run for its money. There's nothing more irresistible than an emotionally repressed hero who is just aching to be saved. There are some deeply romantic—and, yes, humorous—elements to these scenes. 'We've shared DNA,' Kaleb tells Sahara after their first time together. Later, she asks him where he learned 'what we just did' and he offers to share his porn stash with her. Heh.
It also amuses me that it would probably be very difficult for Kaleb to hide the fact that he's getting a hard-on if every time it happens there's medium-scale destruction around him.
I need to reread this book—probably the entire series—to absorb the nuances I no doubt missed because I was too busy trying to get to the last page. There are a million ways Singh demonstrates how perfect this couple is. But one of my favourite moments is when I realised that Sahara's defence mechanism—the labyrinth in her mind, which was triggered by instinct—could only be unravelled by Kaleb. He is her safe place.
After so many changeling romances, it's time for the Psy heroes to shine.
Advance reading copies of this book were generously provided by the author and the publisher....more
A stocking filler for any mum struggling to remember who she was before she had kids or who one day realises she has a brand preference for cleaning sponges. Anonymums reveals some of our unspoken insecurities and fears with charm, wit and honesty.
Who might enjoy it: Mums who sneak in a chocolate bar when the kids aren’t looking and when the kids ask, ‘What are you eating?’ replies, ‘Broccoli. Want some?’
Who might not enjoy it: Cloth nappy advocates
Anonymums doesn’t try to be more than it is, and that’s its charm. Mums A, B and C—they remain anonymous to us—do things that any woman with kids, a husband and a mortgage may be prepared to do. As mid-life crises go, theirs are fairly inexpensive, harmless and non-fattening.
I know this book is supposed to be funny, and it is. But I also found parts of it deeply sad. The emotional journeys these women go through are familiar and heartbreaking.
This book will mean different things to every reader. The underlying ideas behind each mum’s reflections are fairly universal. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a woman who didn’t sometimes feel invisible in the wake of motherhood, or wonder what life would be like if......more
Not a romance. (Apparently there's a bit of controversy about my vomit list. It's a list of books that include at least one vomit scene. It does NOT mNot a romance. (Apparently there's a bit of controversy about my vomit list. It's a list of books that include at least one vomit scene. It does NOT mean this book made me sick. Longer explanation here: Embracing the porcelain goddess - vomit in romance fiction. It kills my joy that I even have to explain this.)...more
If you haven’t read Slave to Sensation then you’re missing out on what I think will be a classic series in paranormal romance. It’s a big call—that’sIf you haven’t read Slave to Sensation then you’re missing out on what I think will be a classic series in paranormal romance. It’s a big call—that’s how much I love this book. Even if they’re not your usual fare, don’t let the science fiction flavour and shapeshifter characters dissuade you, because this book is first and foremost a thrilling romance.
The tension between Sascha and Lucas kept me turning the pages furiously to the end. Singh throws them into conflict again and again, sometimes with each other, and sometimes with their own nature. Lucas’s need for touch and Sascha’s need for a psychic anchor lead to a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.
I looooved the way Lucas and Sascha teased each other. Sascha’s tentative attempts to learn how to stand up to a changeling alpha, and Lucas’s attempts to help Sascha overcome her fear of emotion make for some damn good romance.
I’m tempted to gloss over the weaknesses of the book because I love it so much. Some of Singh’s prose could do with more refinement, particularly when it comes to metaphors and sensory descriptions. The serial killer becomes obvious fairly early in the story. These don’t detract from the beauty of the romance, but may bother those who are well--read in suspense fiction.
Also, I think the lurid cover does the book a disservice. I almost didn’t buy it.
I was tossing up whether or not to read this book, but I read JR Ward's Goodreads post, and that's it for me. I'm done with the BDB. My co-blogger GabI was tossing up whether or not to read this book, but I read JR Ward's Goodreads post, and that's it for me. I'm done with the BDB. My co-blogger Gabby gives all the reasons here: Disappointment in the BDB (Warning: Major spoilers!). Decadence will post her review and cheat sheet updates soon. I have no idea how she'll take this book, tbh, but I feel for all the dedicated readers who feel betrayed by what happens in this book....more
Tohr’s book hearkens back to the earlier books in the BDB series. It’s not without its faults, but in true J. R. Ward fashion, when she pulls out the angst, it’s very, very good.
I wasn’t expecting much from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. For the most part, J. R. Ward restrains herself from going overly over the top and delivers a story that is more layered and coherent—if not always believable—than the BDB has delivered for some time.
Tohr is still steeped in grief when Lover Reborn begins. Despite the irksome Ward-style writing, the story begins at a cracking pace, with the Brothers chasing stupid lessers—don’t worry, they don’t feature much in this book—and finding themselves face-to-face with the Band of Bastards.
Tohr’s romantic arc doesn’t intersect much with the external conflict. Lassiter, it turns out, is on a mission to save Wellsie and Baby Tohr from the In Between—the BDB version of purgatory, which didn’t exist before but does now. Oh, don’t be questioning the world breaking. Therein lies madness.
The book spans over a year of BDB time, which is a pleasant change from previous books. Certainly, Tohr and No’One need the time to sort out their issues and the build-up at the start of their relationship is wonderfully angsty, and Ward can write angst like nobody’s business.
But the pacing of the romance isn’t always perfect. When the external plot ramps up, sometimes Tohr’s story gets lost in the action. Lassiter fills us in on what’s been happening, which is convenient but unsatisfying. Nevertheless, Ward gives Tohr’s healing process a lot of page time.
The first feeding scene between Tohr and No’one is done excruciatingly well and brought me to tears. Their conflicts, however, are a mixed bag. Tohr’s declaration that ‘I want to fuck you. That’s why I went back home.’ is just so underwhelming, and on a few occasions he descends to unbelievable levels of arseholic.
My biggest problem with Tohr’s emotional arc is that Ward uses Wellsie to force Tohr’s romance with No’One. It’s as if Ward has to apologise to Wellsie fans for killing her off. What ends up happening is exactly the opposite of what I think Ward intended. To me, this plot does a great disservice to Wellsie.
Ward being Ward, there’s an extra special twist at the end for No’One that came as a surprise to me. I loved that I didn’t guess it (although perhaps it was just me). That’s how immersed I was with the story—I wasn’t thinking ahead at all. The resolution of the impossible-love-twist may not work for every reader, but at least it makes more sense than Ghost Jane or Monogamous Primale Phury or Scribe Unvirgin or…well, you know where madness lies.
This is also one of the few couples in the series whose happy ending feels secure, at least on an emotional level.
If I had to sum up the theme of Lover Reborn, it would be one of healing. Ward almost breaks John Matthew’s HEA to provide Tohr’s story with some parallel angst. Qhuaylock doesn’t feature much in this book, but Qhuinn does have his own arc. Layla’s story arc is the one that caused me the most anger while reading this book. To me, she’s one of the most victimised characters in the series and I desperately wanted her to end up with someone who deserves her.
My advice to readers is to do what they’ve been doing along: love the bits that are angsty and awesome and ignore the bits that aren’t. It’s the only way to keep enjoying this series....more
Notes (not a review): - Feisty heroine, unbelievably naive, but surprisingly charming - Sydney cabs are not yellow - Roman Holiday meets Mills & BoonNotes (not a review): - Feisty heroine, unbelievably naive, but surprisingly charming - Sydney cabs are not yellow - Roman Holiday meets Mills & Boon - Completely OTT plot - No sex before marriage! - Not sure why hero had to be Russian - this was either a line promise thing or a Marinelli thing, I haven't quite decided which - This should not have worked for me, but I cried buckets and was completely delighted by how the h/h get to their HEA...more