Lately I’ve been trying to make time for the highly recommended books on my to-read shelf. TheThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Lately I’ve been trying to make time for the highly recommended books on my to-read shelf. The ones I bought on a friend’s recommendation and then got so busy with new review books that I didn’t sit down and, you know, read them.
The list of people who recommended Dragon Bound to me is long. I first purchased it after Kelly from Reading the Paranormal gave it her “you must, you must” push to me. Then associate VBC reviewer Candace said the most recent book had the hottest sex scene she’d ever read. I moved it to the front of the line. Really. My mom devoured the series and looked aghast when I told her I still had then on my Kindle waiting to be read.
Shame. On. Me.
Y’all were right. This is the kind of book I love and I’m not sure anyone can stop me from reading the whole series in rapid succession. I sure as hell loaded up the Kindle with the remaining books when I finished Dragon Bound.
The writing is spry and witty. Even when characters are in peril, there’s the equivalent of a wry smile in the prose. It’s enchanting. The characters are well-developed and refuse to fall into obvious romance tropes. This may be what impressed me most about Dragon Bound.
Here you have characters in the more common problem of we need to stay together to stay safe and the hero is the most alpha of alphas. Drogos only gives orders. Pia knows how to make him say please. His sentinels are floored. However, every time the plot starts to take a traditional course, Thea Harrison lets us get far enough to think she’d actually have her characters do the obvious then flips it on it’s head. Pia is smarter than your average paranormal romance heroine. Drogos is more adaptable than most alpha males, while maintaining the strength and masculinity that attracts us to him.
With such strong main characters it’s not really surprising the sex in Dragon Bound is epic. And plentiful. While it never it used just for sex’s sake, the romantic interludes draw these two closer and force them to drop barriers—magical and otherwise.
Paranormal romance that turns tropes on their heads? Hell yes. Sign me up for more.
Can someone please tell me why I didn’t start this series sooner? As a fan of the sexy/dangerouThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Can someone please tell me why I didn’t start this series sooner? As a fan of the sexy/dangerous mixture of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, I should have known she’d offer a one, two punch in a straightforward paranormal romance.
Slave to Sensation has a mental game of cat and mouse, shifters who are all about “skin privileges” and completely enthralling sex scenes. Really, Slave to Sensation in one word is enthralling.
The romance is heady. Lucas and Sascha fall into the enemies to lovers trope, but it’s more than that. They agree to work together on a business deal, both with ulterior motives. Sascha is a Psy. Her emotions are supposed to not exist. She is supposed to be clinical, detached and logical. (Kind of like Vulcans.) This makes her kind the opposite of everything the changelings value. Changelings, or shifters, are about nature and emotion. The best example of the difference is not that Psys avoid touch, but that they’d prefer to use science to make children instead of doing things the—ahem—old-fashioned way.
Here’s the thing, though. Sascha isn’t a normal Psy. She feels and it takes constant effort to keep up mental walls, to make sure no one knows. The consequences for feeling in her world are worse than death. Only Lucas makes her feel. He makes her question what she knows about her own kind. He makes her want something more, even if it only lasts a few days.
Singh was smart in the way she brought these two together. Sascha is so cerebral and so scared of anyone finding out the truth, she starts to open to Lucas in shared dreams. Dirty dreams where she tests the waters, imagines what it would be like to touch someone, to be touched back. It’s these baby steps that make her reactions to her first real kiss with Lucas feel genuine. We get pulled through their love story with growing tension that makes putting the book down near impossible.
While I clearly devoured this book, I wasn’t immune to some of the obvious points in the plot. Maybe I read too many angst-filled novels, but I felt like the big conflicts toward the end of the novel could have been harder on them both. I expected things to fall apart and have to be repaired, and it didn’t ever get that bad. That said, the characters were engaging and the writing super sexy.
I may have immediately downloaded Visions of Heat (Psy/Changeling #2) after finishing Slave to Sensation. The romance will keep me coming back to Psy/Changling again and again.
Jessica McClain could use more females on her side, and I’m game because after just one night wThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Jessica McClain could use more females on her side, and I’m game because after just one night with her—oh, Full Blooded was must-devour-at-once read—I need another book or three with her as the main character.
In Jessica’s world werewolves are par for the course. They’re also always male. Her dad is the Alpha of his pack. Her brother is ferocious, too. And, well, she grew up with them as the human sister. Werewolves aren’t supposed to have female children, but when she didn’t shift into a wolf at puberty, folk calmed down. She moved away, took an alias and became a P.I.
Apparently, she was just a late bloomer. At 26, Jessica shifted for the first time. The first female werewolf in existence. Maybe more. And it scared the crap out of everyone in the supernatural community. They need to try and hide it, because the supes think her turning is damn near a sign of the apocalypse. Only keeping that a secret isn’t all that easy, especially when you have a woman who fought so hard for her independence. Jessica’s not willing to be hidden away, and she craves the fight.
Quick writing and a heroine women will love make Full Blooded a delight to read. Jessica McClain manages to be one of the boys and fiercely independent. She’s at times girly, at others positively feral. The dynamic is engaging.
It doesn’t hurt that our Jessica might have a thing for a guy that should be sooooooo off limits. And readers will love him. I did. (See how I’m not telling you which guy it is? Spoiler-free review FTW!) Trust me, though, Jessica has excellent taste in men. Nom.
The plot thread opened at the end will leave you clawing for book two. Really. It may involve the aforementioned Captain Hottie. Despite that, the ending isn’t a burn the bridge cliffhanger, and I loved every bit of Full Blooded. You will, too. I know these things.
Sexual content: Sex and really epic kissing...more
J.A. Saare is at her best when she merges emotional turmoil with cutting action scenes. TheThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
J.A. Saare is at her best when she merges emotional turmoil with cutting action scenes. The latter half of Crimson Sunrise brings this repeatedly in fresh ways that make your heart break for some characters and want to hug others.
Crimson Sunrise picks up a few weeks after Crimson Moon. While Emma and Caleb are happily together, they haven’t had much alone time. The two are staying with Caleb’s parents and others in the werewolf pack are around … lots. Caleb’s wolf has claimed Emma as his mate, so this makes her family. And adjusting to their nature — and not being around her trueblood vampire parents — makes her a bit antsy.
A kidnapping puts the pack on high alert, and Emma is sure the trueblood vampires are involved. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are prophecies, trickery and our girl chooses to become either a vampire or a werewolf.
While the first half had me making Twilight illusions (only with the vampire being the one heartbroken and not loved ‘that way’ — poor Trent! — and the werewolf being the alpha asshole at times), this isn’t a bad thing. The romantic elements were elevated and the way Emma handled Trent and his feelings were far better than Bella’s stringing along of Jacob. That said, the second half ditched the love triangle bit and focused on Emma and Caleb working together to fight the big bad.
Saare manages to write eye-popping action scenes that evoke emotional revelations from her protagonists. It’s in these moments that we see Emma’s strength, her devotion to friends and family and just how much power this one woman holds. Really, once you make it halfway through this one, it picks up speed and intensity. The ending sets the stage for book three and some big-time drama while still giving closure. (Thank goodness.)
Sexual content: Sex, kissing, lots of interrupted making out...more
Vampire trouble. Werewolf problems. Fairy plotting. Relationship woes. A murder. It must be MayThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Vampire trouble. Werewolf problems. Fairy plotting. Relationship woes. A murder. It must be May, because we only get that mix when it’s time for a new Sookie Stackhouse book.
And, yes, the waitress from Bon Temps is caught in the thick of it again.
The main plot in Deadlocked focused on someone making trouble for Eric and Sookie — not in a romantic way. The vampire King of Nevada comes to chat with them about Victor’s death (the epic part of Dead Reckoning), and that means party at Eric’s house with humans for snacking. Through a few mixed signals, Sookie arrives late to find Eric indulging in a snack. A two-ey laced with fairy blood. Meaning she’s got a drunk boyfriend to deal with in addition to the emotional slap. But it all gets put on hold when the girl he drank from is found dead in the front lawn. Someone’s determined to make trouble for him on all fronts and make things more complicated for Sookie.
Charlaine Harris did the mystery in Deadlocked justice. I never would have guessed who was orchestrating the drama here or that person’s reasons. The murder mystery plot was twist-y and roped in more players than I expected. I’d been let down in the last couple novels on the main plot elements, especially the whodunit, and this time she delivered.
On the downside, it took a bit before the book kicked into gear. The first half is more a meandering through Bon Temps. The book checks in with just about everyone you know from the series — including phone call from Quinn, email from Amelia and even quality time with Jane Bodehouse. I love being in Sookie’s world, but it was a bit tedious at times. I kept thinking, aren’t we ever going to talk about that stupid Queen of Louisiana and her silly claim on our Viking, Sookie? Finally, a little over halfway through, that plot thread is picked up. I won’t say it was satisfying, but it moved forward.
If you’re into Sookie for the romance, you’ll be disappointed. Eric is rarely on the page, and when he is Sookie is being too stubborn to talk to him. She’s choosing not to tell him information out of spite. She hates him keeping secrets, but refuses to share her own. She recognizes the backwards nature there, but it’s hard to see Sookie so closed off. She used to be much more direct. Mostly her love life end of things frustrated me.
That said, the ending brought the “no way!” surprise and I finished Deadlocked with a smile. Is it as good as Dead to the World? No. Is it better than the last two books? Yes. If you’ve stuck with Sookie this long, keep with it.
This review was originally published at Vampire Book Club, where it was given 2.5 stars.
Right now you’re looking at that star rating and thinking whatThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club, where it was given 2.5 stars.
Right now you’re looking at that star rating and thinking what on earth happened. And that’s a fair question. I was over-the-moon excited for A Perfect Blood. The longer running the series, the more often we see waning character growth or tired plots, but I was sure The Hollows series was free of a shift into banality after reading Pale Demon. As a matter of fact, the last Hollows book was one of my favorites in the series and pivotal.
A Perfect Blood does not carry on the series growth in the way Pale Demon did. It misses the wry humor — though some of Jenks’ swearing is excellent this round — and Rachel has taken an emotional step back. Some of her inner turmoil is to be expected. She’s now a demon, and doing her damnedest to hide from the demon collective. By using charmed silver, she’s able to shut off her connection to their magic. Only that stunts her abilities, too.
Humans are being mutilated in ways that look to be demonic. Both Interlander and human agencies suspect Rachel, the only known demon on this side of the Ever After. They agree to let her, Ivy and Jenks in on the operations to catch the people behind it with the condition that if she doesn’t do so, they’ll just pin the whole thing on her.
The plot twists were clever enough. Quickly we learn a hate group is behind the acts, but that only further complicates things. Without the ability to use her magic to act, she’s getting beat up more and needing to rely on physical abilities much more. It’s nice to see Rachel kick some ass, but also painful to see her miss what a reader sees as obvious clues.
The book isn’t bad, but I more slogged through it than read it. Typically, Hollows books are a single-sitting read for me, but A Perfect Blood took a week. With identity issues and conflicted feelings about Trent (lots of thoughts about their one shared kiss juxtaposed to remembering Kisten) regresses much of Rachel’s recent emotional growth, especially in regards to Ivy.
I’m willing to call A Perfect Blood a breather book and keep my fingers crossed the next book will have her back on track, accepting her demon nature and maybe giving Trent a proper chance.
Sexual content: References to sex, lots of thinking about a past kiss
…and, no, I can’t believe I just had to give a The Hollows book less than three stars. ...more
I’m a bit of a reading masochist. Books that put my emotions in a constant upheaval tend to beThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
I’m a bit of a reading masochist. Books that put my emotions in a constant upheaval tend to be my favorites. Drama, angst, bad decisions all fuel this. There’s a reason I get anxious before starting the next book in a favorite series: nine times out of 10 it’s going to make me livid or cry. I bring this up because Kristen Painter has elevated the bar for tumultuous reading. Seriously, it borders on cruel.
Flesh and Blood jumps right back in where Blood Rights left us. Chrysabelle is living at her mother’s estate, avoiding Mal. He’s still cursed and is convinced she’s avoiding him. She is, but she’s still reeling from the revelation of having a mother, losing her and her newly found freedom. She has vials of her blood couriered over to Mal, but he’s not drinking it. Both are having trouble admitting — even to themselves — that they might care for or even love the other.
Tatiana is working her way up the vampire nobility food chain and to get more power she needs to recover the Ring of Sorrows. That means finding her ex-husband and that Comarré. And Doc is doing everything he can to bring back Fi.
Basically, everyone is in a heap of conflict and guilt and doing whatever is necessary to claw their way out. What makes this particularly gut-wrenching for the reader is the point-of-view switches. We’ll get progress on Mal and Chrysabelle with a big cliffhanger and switch back to Tatiana getting her conniving bitch on. Doc will do something dangerous and before we see the outcome, we move over to the new vampire slayer Creek and his serious crush on Chrysabelle.
The plot is intense and the pacing infuriatingly precise. If you can handle the tension and the emotional turmoil, you’ll make out of Flesh and Blood happy. I loved most of the twists — still not sure about potential love triangle aspect cultivated here — and the rich characters climbed into my head for the duration. Fans of Richelle Mead’s Dark Swan series and Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires are sure to love House of Comarré, if only for the story that will leave you gripping your chest in suspense. ...more
Sometimes you just need something a little lighter, a bit sexy and really fun to perk up your wThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Sometimes you just need something a little lighter, a bit sexy and really fun to perk up your week. Jessica Sims’ Beauty Dates the Beast did it for me.
Bathsheba works for a dating service for the paranormal elite. The patrons of Midnight Liasons not only are of the supernatural persuasion (shifters, vampires, harpies, fae, etc.), but they are wealthy enough to make some major demands. It appears there are more men than women in the supe community, and Liasons is happy to charge lots of money to make dates. Think Millionaire Matchmaker but many clients sprout fur.
Now, Bathsheba is human and forbidden — both by her boss and the rules of the Alliance (supernatural governance) — to date a supe. She’s just fine with that, too. She doesn’t have much time to date anyway, as she focuses on caring for her younger sister who shh! is a werewolf pretending to be human. But when a date cancels on Beau, he decides Bathsheba should take her place. With fear of losing her job if they anger one of the high-profile clients, she agrees to meet him once.
Turns out our boy is a were-cougar and the leader of the Alliance. Also: He’s gorgeous and they have oodles of chemistry. With danger nipping at both of them in the form of break-ins and missing pack members, Beau’s protective nature flourishes and, well, he does what’s necessary to keep Bathsheba and her sister safe.
It’s not a surprise that Beau would mark Bathsheba as his mate. It’s not a surprise that she will eventually cave to his teasing touches. He’s your stereotypical alpha shifter — animal magnetism, overbearing protective instincts and a drive for mark his mate. But, you know what, it’s ridiculously fun and I enjoyed watching as sparks flew between the two main characters.
This one doesn’t break the paranormal romance mold, but that’s a good thing. I powered through in a single sitting because I wanted to see Bathsheba and Beau get their happily ever after. And the fact that Jessica Sims also writes as Jill Myles, who I adore, is an added selling point here. The writing is cheeky, the romance toe-curling at times. In short, I’m calling Beauty Dates the Beast a win.
I was really nervous to read The Renfield Syndrome. The ending of the first Rhiannon’s Law bThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
I was really nervous to read The Renfield Syndrome. The ending of the first Rhiannon’s Law book, Dead, Undead or Somewhere in Between, was a jaw-dropper and a huge game-changer. I was scared about how I’d react to Rhiannon being zipped 101 years into the future. Would she have to lose all the progress she made at opening up to people? She’d just found love, and now she was going to be screwed over, right?
Totally. The demon who sent her into the future to deliver a message screwed her over royally. Rhiannon arrives to find that the city is near destroyed. The vampires, led by a half-demon, run everything. Humans are near extinct and those who do live are more like blood slaves than anything else. The world is dark and cruel. And she just wants to find Disco, her lover. Once she delivers him the demon’s message, the deal is complete and they’ll both be free of him.
But it’s not that simple. Lots of things have changed in the world, turning it into a hellish nightmare that Rhiannon can’t escape until she’s solved a few big problems. The plot takes one crushing turn after another, each more surprising than the last. I never knew what was coming next, but continued to get my hopes up on Rhiannon’s behalf. The plot was clever and new. I can’t call it refreshing, because it’s very dark, but The Renfield Syndrome took me over. Captured by a heroine I love forced to grow amid terrible circumstances, I found myself increasingly involved with the plot.
Now an important note. While I liked Dead, Undead or Somewhere in Between, for me Rhiannon was the star of that book. She’s what I liked most. Disco is great and all, but he wasn’t nearly as remarkable a character as Rhiannon. And maybe that’s part of why I adored The Renfield Syndrome so much. This is Rhiannon’s story. This is her life not on the context of interactions with a hunky hero, but the emotional end. It’s still about love, don’t get me wrong, but the shift is all heroine. The romance angle gets complicated as well, and come time for The Ripple Effect (Rhiannon’s Law #3) there will be some big decisions to be made. I say all this because if you loved the first book only for the delicious Disco, he’s not the focus of The Renfield Syndrome. The tradeoff is worth it, though.
I suggest clearing a weekend to read The Renfield Syndrome, though. Once you’re knee-deep, there’s no stopping.