It felt like we got a more concentrated focus on Eve's feelings and attachments to certain people than we usually do. I liked the change up of Eve alrIt felt like we got a more concentrated focus on Eve's feelings and attachments to certain people than we usually do. I liked the change up of Eve already knowing who the bad guy was. I read this book mostly because I wanted to see the Christmas gift exchanges that we missed in Holiday in Death. I would have liked to see it in the moment, but hearing about it after the fact was better than nothing. I loved the bits with McNab and Peabody and liked that we got to see a lot of Mira. I'm not a huge novella fan, but this was a nice little short. It whet my appetite for the next book. ...more
Unfortunately, I did not like this book anywhere near as well as I liked the first book. I spent almost the whole read clenching my teeth and wishingUnfortunately, I did not like this book anywhere near as well as I liked the first book. I spent almost the whole read clenching my teeth and wishing I could reach through the book and strangle the heroine. I honestly have no clue why Kevin had the slightest interest in her.
Beth completely closed herself off and came off like a jerk--for ten months. She argued about every single thing the hero wanted to help her with, even though he was just trying to do his best by his baby and a woman that he liked (her). Her pride was completely ridiculous. I am all for pride, but it has to make sense. And nothing about this girl did. She felt claustrophobic and blamed the hero for trying to welcome her into his family. That kind of intimacy is just not okay for Beth. Sleeping together is one thing, but expecting her to eat Thanksgiving dinner with his family is quite another. Right...that makes perfect sense.
Beth's mom had quite a few miscarriages before having her, so she was coddled and smothered with love quite a bit when she was a child. Apparently her answer to this issue was to leave and bounce from town to town, never having an actual career or home. She'd rather live in shanty style apartments and get a job where she just barely makes enough to move to the next town. Yes, that makes perfect sense. Because being poor and living in crappy apartments is always preferable to acting like an actual adult and taking control of your life and setting boundaries.
Beth's fear of forming ties with anyone and setting down roots makes her come off like a complete hag the whole book. Every single time Kevin tries to help her or buy something for the baby, she blast him about trying to smother her. She argues about everything and is prideful to the point of stupidity. She closes the relationship door in his face again and again and the poor guy just takes it. Because he thinks she's worth it. I have no clue why, but he was stuck on her. I actually pitied him by the end of the book. He was such a nice guy and he deserved so much better than her.
The secondary romance was my favorite part of the book. I wouldn't have minded if Sam and Paulie would have become the main relationship focus. ;) ...more
I wanted to read for a little bit before I went to bed last night, so I opened this up. I had heard great things about this series from Sophia. She loI wanted to read for a little bit before I went to bed last night, so I opened this up. I had heard great things about this series from Sophia. She loved how the whole family was so important to the series and since I enjoy the same, I was eager to give it a try. well, unfortunately for me, I really got into the book. I say unfortunately because I had to go to work in the morning and I ended up staying up way too late because I wanted to read it all. I may be cursing myself today, but it was worth it. ;)
I loved the family dynamics and the fact that we got a glimpse at each couple. The family provided a comfy sense of fullness to the surroundings and helped me see--without having the author shove it down my throat--how connected the hero is to his family and why it would have been so hard for him to leave them. I also liked seeing the various reactions to Keri coming back into Joe's life. Having someone still resent her made it feel more authentic than if she had been welcomed by all with open arms. Especially after Joe's life crashed so completely after she left.
Speaking of Joe's life crashing, I was surprised to see how badly he took her leaving. I felt that he was a bit too casual about his past problem, but after having Kevin talk about it more seriously and seeing it handled at the end, I came to realize that it was more a symptom of Joe's character than of the author not handling the issue well.
Joe and Keri's reunion was pretty simple. Neither of were resentful or surprised to find themselves so attracted to each other after so long. The only real issue they had was the same one that originally drove them apart. Keri wants to have her life and her career, and Joe still wants to stay near his family. I liked that the issue was so simple--even though it was difficult for them both to compromise on.
This was a simple, fun read, and the only real problem I had with the book was how manufactured I found Keri's reasons for leaving Joe. I find it unrealistic that they wouldn't have even talked about the issue before she decided to dump him for his own good. ...more
I can't say that I read much Fantasy romance, but I was intrigued when I read the description of this book. It made it seem like the book would be fulI can't say that I read much Fantasy romance, but I was intrigued when I read the description of this book. It made it seem like the book would be full of uncertain politics and tense relations between two factions. The politics and twists and turns were one of the things I loved about the Tairen Soul series, another Fantasy Romance series I've read, so I was hoping for the same thing here.
Although I found the world idea interesting, it wasn't developed as well as I'd hoped. In the beginning we're introduced to Annika, a Na'Chi (AKA a Na'Reish/Light Blade halfbreed), Kalan, a Light Blade warrior (human), and the Na'Reish, the race of demons who captured Kalan. The plot develops from there, with Annika striking a bargain with Kalan to help him escape. They both initially distrust each other, and even occasionally fear each other, but they are forced to learn to rely on one another in order to successfully survive the escape.
Unfortunately, not much more development happens in regards to the world setup. The author developed the broad strokes of the world, like... There are demons and there are humans and they don't like each other. Halfbreeds are abominations that are rarely allowed to survive. The Na'Reish seem to have no religion, but the Light Blades believe in a goddess--who is indicated by the incessant use of italics and capitalization of the words "Her" and "She"--and their whole culture seems to be based around her, excuse me, Her influence. But that's about it for worldbuilding. At the very end more detail is given, but even then it wasn't enough. I needed more depth to the world and characters to truly become engaged.
One thing that I really enjoyed was the tension and wariness between Annika and Kalan in the beginning. Both of them took a big leap in trusting each other, but there was no other alternative. Their wariness was not cured in an instant, and they both spent a lot of time watching for betrayal. Of course, I didn't like that the heroine only proved that she was different from the other demons by showing her humanity. That seemed to translate into her showing her soft and caring side. Basically, she had to be emotional. This left the heroine feeling rather young and overly emotional, at least for me. Then again, I found the whole tone of the book flowery and overly emotional in general. Given that the Tairen Soul series reads the same way, I have to wonder, given my relative inexperience with the genre, if that's just the style of most Fantasy Romances.
The romance took its cue from the rest of the book and stayed underdeveloped. Kalan and Annika were likable characters, but their connection came too easily once they got past their initial mistrust. Love came way too quickly for both of them, and given Kalan's position and the responsibility on his shoulders, I expected more of a struggle over divided loyalties. The lack of it gave the whole Light Blade culture, and the romance, a superficial feel. Even at the end, when Annika is faced with the threat of an addiction she'd fought to avoid, we're still only given a bare minimum focus on it. It wasn't gone into at all, and I had to wonder why the author even felt the need to bring it up if she wasn't going to treat it as important.
I liked the book's focus on prejudice, and especially liked that the author wasn't afraid to play with who was to blame in the situation between the Na'Reish and the Light Blades, but I found the overall plot to be predicable and the conflict to be too easily solved. The situation lacked the intensity I was looking for and I was left feeling ho-hum about it when it ended.
"Hesia was right. The real test of a person is whether they can see past the names and labels." His gaze was steady. "I've seen you. You laugh, you fear, you cry, you love. You're as human as me, Na'Chi."
I have to admit defeat and give up on this one. I haven’t enjoyed it and am tired of struggling to become interested. I gave it a good go and mad*DNF*
I have to admit defeat and give up on this one. I haven’t enjoyed it and am tired of struggling to become interested. I gave it a good go and made it to page 176, but I don’t think it’s going to get any better.
The hero, James, comes to visit his fiancée, Louisa, and ends up getting to spend some time with her stepsister, Julia, while he waits for Louisa to come greet him. He is completely swept away by Julia and is chagrined to realize that he is so attracted to his fiancée’s sister. (This is by page 8, by the way) Julia’s charms seemed to be comprised of her nonstop chatter—which tends to border on socially unacceptable since she blurts out whatever is on her mind—and her appetite. This girl eats and eats and eats, sometimes even getting a third plate! The hero finds it adorable how flustered she gets after looking at her plate and realizing she’s ate it all. She also loves to have her younger sisters and brothers around (and kids in general), which seems indicate that she’s nicer and more down to earth than any other woman in the book. I mean, who else would take the time to crouch down and talk to the hero’s nieces on their level? Who else would go to a dinner party and ask that the children be allowed to stay so she can play with them? <--sarcasm
Julia drives a lot of the zanier aspects of the book. The other characters, except James and Julia’s aunt, tend to fade into the background, acting the straight man to Julia’s schtick. I think the author was going for something cute and funny, à la Katie MacAlister’s Noble Intentions, but it didn’t work for me. There has to be something more than just ridiculous situations and silly characters to make something funny. It just came off as irritating and ridiculous to me. If you read a sample of this book and find it funny, you’ll probably end up enjoying this more a lot more than I did. I could see what the author was trying to do, but for me it fell flat. The first chapter was incredibly silly and cutesy and that, unfortunately, set the tone for the rest of the book.
One thing I found confusing about the book was the way the tone seemed to change. One second it would be silly and the next it would seem like the author was trying to inject some seriousness as she had James struggle with his attraction to Julia and his determination to marry Louisa. The two tones didn’t mesh very well together, unfortunately. They felt out of place next to each other. One thing I appreciated about James was that his attraction to Julia stayed mostly internal. He was very friendly with her and occasionally slipped up by staring at her, but for the most part he didn’t reveal his interest to her whole family. The same could not be said for Julia. She would run up for a hug and then remember herself at the last minute and turn it into a curtsey, making the situation extremely awkward. She would push her sister to spend time with him and volunteer herself to go along as Louisa’s support, strictly to spend time with him. Way to be a crap sister.
Of course this was all made okay by the fact that Louisa was extremely disinterested in marrying. She snapped up James’s offer (I’m not sure why) in no time flat, but resisted any sort of affection from him and didn’t want to set a date for the wedding. You may think she had some compelling reason to resist him. Maybe a man she was pining for? Maybe she was pushed into accepting his offer? Nope. She just didn’t want to get married and leave home. She wanted to stay with her parents and books. That’s why it seems so odd that she would accept James’s offer so quickly. Maybe if the characters would have had more depth it would have been easier to understand some of their actions.
So, obviously this book was not for me. My advice for you is to try a sample. See if her humor works for you. If it does, snatch it up, because you'll probably enjoy this. But if it doesn’t, I recommend giving this a pass.
P.S. I liked the chapter titles the author included. They reminded me of the Parasol Protectorate books.
After reading the first book in this trilogy, If You Hear Her, I was very excited to dive into this book. The serial killer plot spans the*3.5 Stars*
After reading the first book in this trilogy, If You Hear Her, I was very excited to dive into this book. The serial killer plot spans the whole trilogy, the romances are the only things resolved in the individual books, so I couldn’t wait to see what came next. The first book was great! And the way it ended whetted my appetite to see what would become of Hope and how she and Remy would eventually hook up.
If you’ve read the first book, you are probably familiar with Hope’s past. She was abused by her husband for years. Not just physical abuse, either. She was cut off from everyone and lived in a small town that worshipped her husband. Her attempts to tell the truth about him were ignored, and he was eventually able to convince everyone that she was mentally unbalanced. After trying to commit suicide to escape him, he manipulated the system and had her committed. She’s been free of him for two years, but she has still not recovered. Her best friend, Law, finally got her to quit running and come stay with him. But things got complicated in the last book and now no one is sure what Hope will do.
****NOW’S THE TIME TO STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST BOOK****
This book picks up right after the first one left off. Hope is suspected of being behind the attack on Law and everyone thinks she tried to kill herself again. Remy is put in the uncomfortable situation of having to dig into her past to find out how disturbed she really is. He doesn’t think she’s guilty, but he’s afraid that his attraction to her might be clouding his judgment since the facts don’t support his belief. While working to find out the truth, he discovers more about her past and has to come to terms with how impossible a relationship between them might be. But the attraction between them won’t go away, regardless of any hesitation on their parts.
Jumping into this book, I thought that we would spend a lot more time on the serial killer plotline than we did. It was still there in the background, but we didn’t get to see any further investigation on it or find out anything new. I found that really disappointing. This book was all about Hope, her past, and her mental state—both in the past and in the present. I found her interesting, and liked the slow building romance between her and Remy, but I found myself impatient at the same time. The lack of suspense made the book feel like it was dragging by the end.
We had the development of a stalker pop up, which the serial killer got involved with, but it didn’t satisfy my craving for more development on the original storyline. I actually found it pretty unbelievable that the serial killer was tied into the stalker plot at all. I never understood why the woman he wanted to protect was different from all the rest, and I ended up feeling like she was different only because the serial killer had to be tied into the story somehow. I still found the story enjoyable to read, since I enjoy the way Walker writes, but I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that this will be my least favorite of the trilogy. It felt like a bridge book and that was just not what I wanted or expected.
Despite my issues with the book, I still enjoyed a lot of things about it. Hope, for one. The events of the last book were finally enough for her and instead of crumbling, she developed some steel. She finally gained strength and sass and started to recover from the abuse she had suffered. Remy was so nervous about spooking her that it was cute to watch him slowly try to woo her. I really enjoyed them together. I also liked seeing more development with Remy’s nephew, Brody. I felt bad for the kid and I hope that one day his dad will stop being a douche. I won’t hold my breath, though.
For all you Ezra and Lena fans, there are some parts with them in this book too! There was a development at the end involving them that made me grin. Unfortunately, Law lost some of my admiration in this book. I’ve always loved his rock solid friendship with Hope and his devotion toward her, so it was like a bucket of cold water in my face to see that shaken. And for such a lame reason! Hope may have taken steps toward forgiving Law, but I’m still ticked. Hopefully he’ll convince me he’s not such a thoughtless little turd when I start reading his book.
Once again, the author impressed me with her realistic characters and engaging writing. I may have been disappointed with the lack of development about the murders, but I guess that just means the author is saving it all up for the third book.
"You know, you didn't have any problem cussing last night around me."
He snorted and rolled out of bed. "There's a difference between cussing and talking dirty. And my mother would have my hide for cussing around a lady."
This was a fun read. It had a light suspense plot running through the background, but overall its tone was light and fun. Thanks, Tammy, for the rec!
TThis was a fun read. It had a light suspense plot running through the background, but overall its tone was light and fun. Thanks, Tammy, for the rec!
The hero and heroine of the book used to be childhood friends, but then things went a little far on prom night and their friendship ended. The hero, Matt, was completely uncomfortable with introducing sex into their relationship (although the heroine was all for it) and decided to deal with the issue by ignoring it. Unfortunately, that meant that he ignored the heroine, Carly, too, so it's no stretch to see that it spelled the end of their friendship.
Years later Carly is back in town and back to square one with Matt in no time at all. She's still pissed at him, which is demonstrated by hilariously childish snipes and outbursts, but he insists that they are still friends. Their interactions together made me laugh. Carly was childish and resentful, but it worked because the book had such a lighthearted tone to it. I thought it was hilarious how they kept repeating the same kiss-and-run pattern again and again.
There were quite a few times that I winced over Matt's obliviousness. He was determined to keep Carly in the friend zone and uncomfortable anytime sexual attraction came into the mix, leading him to be harshly honest with her. I didn't blame him at all for his stance, but his delivery and the casual way it beat down Carly's ego was ouch-worthy.
I liked the way everything resolved, but I needed more time spent in Matt's pov to be completely convinced of his turn around in regards to his feelings toward Carly.
"Listen, I know what I saw, and what I saw was hot." Sandra made a big production out of pretending to fan herself with her hand. "I practically melted where I stood."
"Give it a rest, Sandra, will you please?" Carly asked tiredly.
"Then you went and kicked him. Honey, men in general don't like that. Not unless they're kinky, that is. Is the that hunky sheriff kinky? 'Cause I want him if he is."
This book turned out to be quite the surprise. I can’t think of the last time I’ve gone from completely disliking a book to practically inh*4.5 Stars*
This book turned out to be quite the surprise. I can’t think of the last time I’ve gone from completely disliking a book to practically inhaling it. When I first picked up The Shadow Reader, I made it to page 30 before I finally gave up and set it aside. It was over a month before I picked it up again, and the only reason I did was because I wanted it off my reading queue.
I can’t say I was eager to dive back into it after disliking the beginning so much. One of my main complaints was the writing style. I was extremely turned off to find that this was in First Person, Present Tense, which was a huge strike against it. I know the POV is author’s choice, but I will never understand the draw of that style. It’s like nails on a chalkboard for me and the story has to be damn good to get me past that. The other thing that bothered me was how stilted and awkward I found the beginning. It was a little confusing being dropped into things like that, but I could have overcome that it if I had felt more of a spark. It just all combined into a generally bad experience.
And then something happened. I don’t know what. Either it got better or I was more prepared the second time around. I didn’t bother going back and rereading the first 30 pages—which I’m sure helped—I just jumped straight back in at Chapter Four. And I was hooked. The writing style still felt like a pebble in my shoe, but I found myself reluctantly intrigued by the heroine, McKenzie. I liked that she actually wanted to escape. To the bitter end this girl fought for her freedom. Even when she knew it was doomed for failure, she still got up and tried.
I have to appreciate that. Even when she found herself starting to question her loyalty to the Court and slowly becoming attracted to Aren, she didn’t stop. She knew that she couldn’t trust her decisions in a situation like that. When she started muttering to herself about Stockholm Syndrome I had to smile. It was refreshing to find a character that behaved in such a logical way. I don’t have anything against captive/captor relationships, but I find the willingness to trust someone who kidnapped you and who wants to use you pretty hard to swallow. Once they’re out of the situation and able to look at the situation objectively? Sure. But it’s hard to believe during the actual captivity since there’s such a big power imbalance between them. That’s why I loved McKenzie’s attitude. Even when she irritated me, I still liked her for being so believable.
When I sat and reflected on this book, I was pretty surprised to realize that it was not very action filled. It was actually pretty slow going. A lot of time is spent on the day to day of McKenzie’s captivity and Aren’s attempts to sway her to their side. But somehow it didn’t feel slow or mundane. The author packed too much emotion and conflict into the story for that. She was also smart to make her action scenes intense enough that they nicely balanced out the slower sections. Williams did a great job showing the disjointed, scattered feel of an actual fight. And she wasn’t afraid to give McKenzie some hard knocks. Quite a few times my eyes were like saucers, wondering if the author was actually going to go there. (The scene on pages 144 - 145 comes to mind) She made McKenzie’s captivity feel very real and uncertain, despite what was growing between her and Aren.
Speaking of the bond between them, I was impressed with how the author handled her feelings for both men in her life. I suppose it’s still a love triangle, but it was handled in a completely different way than UF’s usually do. I actually enjoyed it--*gasp!* McKenzie did not dance back and forth between the men, and when she made a decision she didn’t dither, despite how much it hurt. I completely respected the choice that she made. It may have taken her a while to gain the self respect she needed to take a hard look at what she deserved, but she did it. It was so refreshingly healthy! I’m hopeful that the author is going to stick with this and not feel the need to play the usual love triangle game with future books.
I am pleased to report that despite this being a series, the author resisted the urge to leave us on a cliffhanger. The plot of this book is resolved and so is the relationship, although there is still room for another book. Yay! I am really stoked about that. I am so sick and tired of cliffhangers. Besides, it wasn’t necessary to hook me into the second book. I am already wishing it was November so I could find out what happens next. If you haven’t given this book a try yet, I recommend you run out and get yourself a copy. :)
My eyes shoot open when Kyol grabs my arm. Aren holds on a moment more, his lips and hands lingering as if this is his last breath. As if this is the only breath in his life that has ever mattered. Then his eyes lock with the sword-master.
This was an interesting story. I really liked the characters and the intense focus on them learning each other and slowly changing. I felt out of syncThis was an interesting story. I really liked the characters and the intense focus on them learning each other and slowly changing. I felt out of sync with the emotions most of the time, but everything clicked into place in that scene where Max finds out what led Fallon to posing for him. I think it was the only time I was caught up in the passion and emotion of the moment.
I really, really liked the hero, and while I enjoyed the heroine for the most part, on the whole she was much less interesting. I wish the ending had felt more natural. Their build up was so subtle and evenly paced throughout the rest of the book, and then the ending was dropped into the story, which didn't feel at all natural to the previous development between them.
Overall I enjoyed it and am interested in seeing what else this author has out. ...more
Throughout the series there has been a creeping foreboding about Dirk & Steele. In the beginning they seemed like 100% pure, upstanding good guys,Throughout the series there has been a creeping foreboding about Dirk & Steele. In the beginning they seemed like 100% pure, upstanding good guys, but as each book adds to the series, we, along with some of the characters, start to question the people behind the organization. Another layer is added to that here.
After a unique gravesite is uncovered, Karr comes to the attention of the Dirk & Steele organization. He is taken and held by some of the employees while the boss, Roland, contacts Soria, a prior member, hoping that she’ll agree to help them again. Soria lost an arm and her faith in the organization she worked for, and retreated from the world. She’s still struggling to come to terms with the loss of her arm and finds herself occasionally frustrated and angry with the world. When Roland contacts her Soria doesn’t want to have anything to do with the assignment, but given that her ability to understand and speak any language is pretty unique, she reluctantly agrees. She never expected to find a man like Karr, a Chimera who speaks a language that she has never heard before, and one who everyone says is a killer. An attack leads Soria to take a leap of faith and release him, and together they go on the run, trying to work their way back to safety.
Karr and Soria are both broken souls. Karr wakes up, still alive, a thousand years after he sacrificed himself to atone for a wrongdoing. He is completely alone in the world and is further isolated by his inability to communicate with the world. It has been so long since his language was spoken that there aren’t even any derivatives of it so he could at least be partially understood. That kind of isolation is not something that most people consider in depth in a day to day setting, so seeing how much of a detriment that kind of isolation is was a bit of a revelation for me. Soria struggles to accept the way people now see her and to let go of the bitterness she feels toward Roland, her ex, for his unwillingness to face his fears and be there for her when she needed it. Neither of them are looking for love, but they can’t resist as they slowly come to respect, and then care for, each other.
I really liked that Liu took the leap into exploring what would happen if two shifters bred with each other. Unfortunately, things were not pleasant for their children, the Chimera. They had to deal with dueling instincts and some of them went mad or suffered from rages where they lost all control and became violent. They weren’t all like that, but the less controlled Chimera convinced the shifters that they were a danger. When Karr was first alive his people warred with the shifters. They wanted to wipe out their mistakes and were convinced that they were doing what was right when they hunted down and killed every Chimera they could get their hands on. It was nothing to them to kill the child before it could become old enough to be a threat. In addition to that, the shifters who dared to break the rules and mate were severely punished by their own people. Karr is shocked to find that most of the shifters Soria knows didn’t know about the past existence of the Chimera. As far as they’re concerned, it’s forbidden to mix their species because the child won’t survive. Who would want to risk that? But some people have long memories and Karr is hunted once again.
Although this romance didn’t have intensity to it, it did have a lovely sweetness that both Karr and Soria needed. Because they were on the run and not around other people very often, we got an excellent focus on them and their building connection. I liked watching Karr work through his past regrets and struggle to come to terms with the modern world. He is completely reliant on Soria and although I initially feared that it would make the relationship feel forced, it didn’t. They both learn to lean on each other and start to heal their past hurts. Although their future won’t be easy or perfect, we know that they’ll have each other.
I really liked that Liu brought Eddie back into play and gave us an update on how he’s doing. Not well, really, but he cared enough about Soria to make the effort. We also got to see more of Koni, Robert, and the quite frightening Ku Ku. I loved getting more information on Roland, although I was somehow shocked to learn that he had been in a relationship with someone. The truth about the treatment of the Chimera added a frightening grimness to the supernatural world that Liu has created. I guess all of the groups have a thread of darkness in them somewhere.
"Would you rather learn from me, or on your own?"
"If I chose the latter? Would you accept that?"
"Yes. I would call you stupid, but everyone has a right to be an idiot."
"My dear lady. I am a professional." He held up his cell phone. "I called ahead. We have an appointment. Though, if behaving in a law-abiding and civilized fashion is too much of an affront, I'm sure Ku-Ku would be more than happy to kick in the door and make Mr. Mulaney her bitch."
I know I’ve said in the past that the Dirk & Steele series is best read in order, but if you’re looking to jump into the middle of it,*4.5 Stars*
I know I’ve said in the past that the Dirk & Steele series is best read in order, but if you’re looking to jump into the middle of it, this is the book to do it with. It fits in with the overall world easily, but it doesn’t focus much on the actual Dirk & Steele members. The only ones we see are Koni and Rictor—my favorites! Instead, this book introduces us to a secretive race of gargoyles. They were first tied into the Dirk & Steele world in a novella called A Dream of Stone & Shadow. I have not personally read it, but I know that it showed a period of captivity that haunts Lannes to this day. I never felt like I was missing out by not reading it, though. Liu does an excellent job of providing backstory and motivation to explain Lannes’s fears.
Lannes is hands down the sweetest guy in the whole series. He is frickin’ adorable! I found it so cute that in a situation with a frightened woman who didn’t know who she was or whether he saved her for nefarious purposes or not, he was the more nervous of the two. He’d get antsy and flinch back if she got too close and avoided her touching him. He had a good reason for it, but it was more than just that. He was painfully eager to help her, to save her, but he was equally frightened of making another mistake by trusting the wrong person again.
I found it interesting how different the gargoyles are from the other creatures we’ve seen in the series so far. They’re not able to hide their differences under their skin the way that the others are. Their skin and features are different and they have to wear a glamour when out among humans. Lannes has always been the bookish, nerdy sort, but after being held captive he has become even more reclusive. He has to hide what he is to protect his people, but he also hides to protect himself from further harm. Opening himself up to the woman he finds--Lethe, as she is later called--terrifies him, but he can’t help himself.
Lethe is quite a fascinating character. For a long time we know her only as “the woman.” She wakes up in the beginning of the book to find dead men in a room with her and a note pinned to her clothes that says ”Run.” She has no memory of who she is or what she’s done, but she can feel that she needs to run. She has to stay away from “them.” So she does. One thing leads to another and she ends up with Lannes, but it takes a while for them to trust each other. Once Lannes gets a peek into her mind, he is horrified by what he finds. Her memories are not suppressed or hidden, they are gone. Someone has ripped them from her mind.
The relationship in the book was so sweet, but that was more because of Lannes than Lethe. I didn’t dislike her character at all, but it’s hard to really sink into a character that doesn’t have a good sense of self. That’s completely understandable, since the whole book revolves around her not knowing who she is, but it did impact my connection to her. I found her very interesting and her struggle with the person she used to be was great. Was she good? Was she bad? Was it better to just let it go and start over fresh? But Lannes was the one that carried the book for me. Watching him slowly heal and become more comfortable in his own skin was wonderful. He was such a great guy. So kiind and selfless and vulnerable. How can you not love a guy that says something like:
”If we do this,” he whispered. “You’re mine. And I mean that, Lethe.”
“Promise?” she breathed, beginning to tremble.
Lannes inhaled sharply. “Just like I’ll be yours.”
Lethe leaned in, pressing her lips to his ear. “Is this a gargoyle thing?”
“No,” he murmured. “I just love you, that’s all.”
The pace of the book was just as gripping as it usually is in this series. Liu always manages to grab me by the throat and keep me glued to the pages. The suspense of not knowing what was going on, who was after them, or even who Lethe was, was fabulous. I was surprised when I found out what had actually happened to her, but I shouldn’t have been. Liu is a master of twists and complications. Nothing is ever what is first appears in this series. When paired with getting more of Koni and Rictor, there’s no way I wouldn’t enjoy this book. And getting to finally see what Rictor is? Bonus! I can’t wait to see more develop with that. I was mighty intrigued by what we learned. I guess that just means that I’m going to have to dive into the next one soon.
"So," she said slowly, "you're...detectives."
"I suppose," Koni replied. "Though you could try not to say it like you're vomiting in your mouth."
This book was an action packed, thrilling read. The first chapter started the book out with a bang and easily captured my attention. Rikki, the heroinThis book was an action packed, thrilling read. The first chapter started the book out with a bang and easily captured my attention. Rikki, the heroine, is a virus hunter for the CDC. She's sent to Zaire on a hush-hush mission to identify an extremely dangerous virus. She goes in blind, with no clue about the particulars of the disease. She's just told that she must reach that village. Dangers are already high because of the worry of the rebels, but Rikki is given even more to worry about when she receives vague warnings about the mission she's assigned to. Amiri, Eddie, and Max find themselves sent to protect Rikki after their boss, Roland, has a friend call in a favor. Amiri is uneasy about returning to a place so similar to his home, Kenya, but he goes anyway. None of them expected to find themselves on the run in the Congo.
The Last Twilight brings back a lot of familiar faces from the second book in the series, Shadow Touch. Amiri escaped the Consortium alongside Elena, Artur, and Rictor in that book, and it's interesting to see the effects of that storyline bleed into this one. I wouldn't say that this book would be impossible to read on its own, but I firmly believe that the Dirk & Steele books are best read in order. If you skip around you'll miss out on seeing a lot of the character motivations, worldbuilding, and story arc complexity.
Rikki and Amiri were great protagonists. One of the things I love about this author is how real she makes her characters. She gives them a nice balance of strengths and vulnerabilities and although she doesn't make them superheroes, impervious from harm, she gifts them with a viscous will to survive. Rikki stays true to her human nature, being slower than Amiri and less capable in a fight, but she is not afraid to get her hands dirty. Just like Amiri, she has been a captive, and she will do anything to keep from going back to that.
The romance between Rikki and Amiri had a dreamy romanticism to it that I enjoyed. It built quietly, without any Big Misunderstandings or dramatic scenes to take away from the slow, sweet journey they took toward trust and acceptance. The uncertainty of their situation as they ran from danger added enough drama on its own. Anything else would have felt like too much. They both feared trusting each other and struggled to overcome their hesitance. I loved how natural it all felt. Their fear was understandable and that made their determination to overcome it all the sweeter. They didn't push each other to get over it, they both made the personal decision that they had to find a way to open themselves up. As Amiri said,
"For us both, it is hard. We are too used to hiding. But we cannot hide from each other. I could not live that way, and neither could you."
I really loved what the author did with Eddie and Rictor. Eddie has always seemed like the most vulnerable member of Dirk & Steele, so it was nice to see more of his personality here. I am curious, but worried, about what will be on the horizon for him after this. Rictor is a constant favorite of mine in this series. He walks a fine line between "good guy" and "bad guy," and I'm never quite sure which side he falls on, on any given day. I find him fascinating and continually try to guess what exactly he is. We finally got a peek inside him as he revealed a rarely seen vulnerable side. I'm sure it won't last for long, but I can't wait to see where the events of this book will leave him.
The pace of the book moves quickly, but the romance never suffers for it. Liu skillfully weaves the growing bond between Rikki and Amiri with the intense action, without making the reader feel shortchanged on either. The plot will keep your attention glued to the pages as you sweat over the safety of the characters right alongside them. Amiri, Eddie, and Rikki quickly find themselves on the run, and between the danger of the virus, the rebels, and the Consortium, you'll find yourself on the edge of your seat, wondering how they're going to get out of the situation alive.
If you haven't read this series, you're missing out. Liu combines the worldbuilding of a UF and the romance of a PNR. What's not to love?
Rictor grunted. "I can't believe you just quoted Shakespeare at me."
"It seemed appropriate."
"He was a mouth breather and his farts smelled like onions."
After discovering Anne Mallory last year I bought her backlist and have been working my way through them. Usually I would read them all imm*4.5 Stars*
After discovering Anne Mallory last year I bought her backlist and have been working my way through them. Usually I would read them all immediately, but this time I wanted to spread it out and savor it. This is the last book I had left to read and I'm glad to say that I went out with a bang.
I was a bit hesitant about reading this because revenge plots have to be handled a certain way for me to enjoy them. Luckily the revenge plot was nothing like what I expected. Indeed, I would be hesitant to say that this is even a "revenge plot" book. The back cover gave me the wrong impression on that.
I really loved how this book was setup. It put the spotlight on the bastards and younger sons of the nobility; an area that I don't often get to read about. It really highlighted how hard it can be for them, especially if they don't have a parent who cares for them. It's even worse when the parent plays the bastard son against the legitimate son, as is the case with Sebastian's father, the duke.
The duke warped Sebastian into a cold, hard man who had little regard for other people. His every move was calculated to put himself on top or to piss off his father. He didn't start out very likable, but I found him fascinating. I enjoyed watching him slowly change and fall for Caroline.
This was one of Mallory's heavier books, so the banter wasn't quite as pronounced as it usually is. The tension and the slow building emotion was just enjoyable as usual, though. The only thing that I would have changed about the book was the ending. I would have liked if it had been more drawn out and leisurely. The epilogue helped a bit, but it would have been nice to have more. ...more