This was a beautifully romantic, magically erotic novella that successfully manages to intertwine three distinct elements. The first is a fun and almo...moreThis was a beautifully romantic, magically erotic novella that successfully manages to intertwine three distinct elements. The first is a fun and almost bubbly tale of friendship between seven women – who just happen to be witches. I loved their banter and their bickering, and caught myself smiling time and time again at the perfection of their friendship.
The second element is that of romance and passion, leading to (dare we say it?) true love. Although their relationship is tentative and awkward at first, there are real sparks between Leonore and Jeff – the depth of their passion is such that it releases her magic to embrace them both, driving them to unheard of heights of sexual release, and ultimately transforming her power.
The last element is that of magical warfare. Leonore and her sisters are witches, preparing for a ritual that will take them to England in order to renew their magic and realise the circle’s destiny. Opposing them is a legendary order of dark sorcerers known as the Draiodoir. Sadly, for all the set-up, this is only briefly exploration of this element, with Leonore battling her foe in an exceptionally well-orchestrated scene in the hospital parking garage.
As a romantic read, this was a wonderful story. Hopefully, there’s a sequel coming somewhere down the line, one that will resolve the magical storyline and continue the development of true love.(less)
Stone Kissed is an interesting (at times wonderful) story that begins with a novel concept – that of a woman who can talk to statues. Such a simple id...moreStone Kissed is an interesting (at times wonderful) story that begins with a novel concept – that of a woman who can talk to statues. Such a simple idea, but it captured my attention from the moment I first began hearing about the book’s release.
As a lead character, Delia is great. I was so pleased to see that Keri avoided the usual cliché about a heroine being unaware of or uncomfortable with her powers. Instead, Delia knows precisely what she is. Through her unique talent, she’s not only able to restore even the tiniest flaws in the statues she preserves, but she actually bonds with them. It’s strange to talk of friendships with figures of stone, but Keri makes it work, and she makes us love the statues almost as much as we love Delia.
Although the book is promoted as a romance, I never really connected with the relationship between Delia and Grant. It was perfectly portrayed, and the sex scenes were undeniably hot, but I had a problem liking Grant. He did develop as the story went on, but I guess he’s just not my kind of guy, which is too bad. When it comes to relationships, I actually found the damaged relationship between Delia and her family the more interesting of the two. It’s unusual to see a romance spend so much time on secondary relationships, and even more surprising to see it handled so well (without ever becoming sappy and sentimental), but definitely refreshing.
As for our villainess, Cecily, I wasn’t impressed with her at first. She just seemed too dramatic, and too over-the-top, but her psychotic creepiness quickly grew on me. I never fell into the trap of secretly rooting for her (as, admittedly, I tend to do sometimes), but I absolutely looked forward to her scenes – as challenging as they could sometimes be to follow, given her absolute lunacy. She’s not only a sexy and seductive succubus, but a cruel and remorseless one as well.
While the book has a perfectly tidy little ending that pulls all the plotlines together, it does feel as if there’s more story to come, which is great. I’d love to learn more about the history of Delia’s family, and I have to admit I’d love some more time with the statues! Perhaps, given some more time together, I could even come to understand precisely what Delia sees in Grant, and allow myself to be won over by that relationship.
Recommended for lovers of paranormal romance who are looking for something a little different, and who appreciate a little humour in their love affairs.(less)
The lovely Giselle Renarde has done it again, first capturing my attention, and then completely surpassing my expectations - if this keeps up, I'm afr...moreThe lovely Giselle Renarde has done it again, first capturing my attention, and then completely surpassing my expectations - if this keeps up, I'm afraid my expectations for her work are going to become simply unreasonable!
This is another well-written story from Giselle with a strong transgender theme. In contrast to the deliberately grounded, realistic nature of her other work, however, this is very much an imaginative work of fantasy. Giselle dedicates this one to "those who believe in magical transformation" and it's as beautiful a sentiment as it is a story.
This is a story filled with humour, romance, and a great deal of heart. You cannot help but feel for Trysta's "female problem", for Professor Selyf's instant attraction to this beautiful woman who has intruded on his solitude, and for Bedwyn's steadfast dedication to seeing his partner through trials he doesn't need to understand to appreciate. The erotic elements are largely limited to the climactic solstice ritual near the end of the story, but it's a very pleasant journey that leads us to that final reward.
Very much like Giselle's Red Satin story, there were several passages here that put a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Giselle demonstrates a true understanding for the mental and emotional turmoil inflicted upon Trysta, and never once resorts to exploiting her secret for a quick thrill. Although I don't want to spoil the how and the why of it, I have to say this probably her happiest and most thoroughly satisfying ending yet.
**spoiler alert** First of all, let me be clear - I love Willow, Angel, Xander, Buffy, Giles, Spike, and Faith . . . generally, depending upon my mood...more**spoiler alert** First of all, let me be clear - I love Willow, Angel, Xander, Buffy, Giles, Spike, and Faith . . . generally, depending upon my mood, in that order. I was a huge fan of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel when they were on TV, passing up dates, missing appointments, and blowing off family gatherings to catch each new episode. I was a bit too old to have grown up on the Whedonverse, but it definitely shaped much of my teenage years.
I cried like a baby when both shows ended. Buffy, I thought, ended very well, wrapping up 7 years of television with an ending that was every bit as empowering as the show itself. Angel, I thought, ended even better (even if it was sadly before it's time), with a final few moments that still take my breath away.
So, you can imagine my insane delight when I first heard that not only would each show be getting another "official" season, but that Joss himself would be at the helm. It wasn't a new season of televised glory, and it wasn't the movie we all wanted, but it was something - and it was to be "canon" (rather than just somebody else playing in then Whedonverse).
Season 8 definitely had its moments but, sadly, they were in the first 3 volumes (Long Way Home, No Future For You, and Wolves at the Gate). From there, it's been an uneven ride that began going downhill with Twilight (Volume 7) and has mercifully ended with Last Gleaming (Volume 8).
Okay, if you haven't read Last Gleaming, then stop reading now because SPOILERS ABOUND!
Still here? You've been warned . . .
Let me sum up what was wrong with this final chapter:
1. Superhero powers, for both Buffy and Angel. Nope, sorry, just too much. 2. The failure to correct the mistake of revealing Angel as the Big Bad. Come on, really? It was an absolute cheat to have Twilight turn out to be Angel . . . with a twist that ridiculous, I'm sure another could have been manufactured to counter it. 3. Faith being wasted. This girl has potential! If you're not going to exploit it, then at least give her a great exit . . . don't just leave her on the sidelines. 4. The senseless death of Giles. Yeah, Xander and I both saw it coming, but it was still an unnecessary bit of drama. Giles is . . . well, Giles! If he had to die, then it should have meant something. 5. On that note, Xander being wasted. He had his shot at being a hero. He could have stopped Giles, taken his place, and turned a senseless death into a noble sacrifice. Instead, he stands by and watches. 6. Resurrecting The Master, only to neuter him by making him a pawn of some other force, and then giving him a quick death that accomplishes nothing. 7. Buffy saving the world by destroying the magic in it. This was huge. This was the classic no-win situation she faced so many times on TV . . . except she always found a way to create a third choice, one that usually involved her own sacrifice. Here, she picks the easy out, betraying Willow in the process, and does it without a moment of thought. Where's the angst? Where's the internal debate? Where's sense of sorrow and helplessness that have always accompanied those choices? This was lazy and it was wrong (even if it does erase a lot of mistakes and set us up for a return to normalcy in season 9). 8. Giles rewriting his will, leaving everything to Faith. Excuse me? WTF? Yeah, we know he's kind of taken Faith under his wing, but this reeks of just another betrayal. This whole season seemed to be about dividing him from his Slayer, and I don't like the implication that he's lost faith in Buffy.
As for what was right about it:
1. Spike was awesome. He looked like Spike, he talked like Spike, and he acted like Spike. He played a significant role and, despite all the hints, never did betray Buffy. 2. Um . . . really, that's about it.
At this point, I'm not really interested in a Season 9, but I suspect I'll give it a shot - if only because Joss himself owned up to some of the failings in Season 8, and admitted he has already changed his direction for Season 9 because of what we, the fans, have said.
All I can say is it better be good . . . at least Angel good, if not better. (less)
One of my pet peeves with the paranormal romance genre isn’t the fact that the darkest, most sinister monsters from mythology are so often defanged, b...moreOne of my pet peeves with the paranormal romance genre isn’t the fact that the darkest, most sinister monsters from mythology are so often defanged, but that the domestication is done so casually, and without comment. That’s where my love for Whatnots and Doodads – and, by extension, the shared world of Strange Hollow – begins.
Here, Stacey presents us with a paranormal romance full of mythological monsters, all of whom are fully aware of their outcast nature. In fact, the lovely little town of Strange Hollow exists solely to give these outcasts a home, a refuge from others of their kind who look down upon them for their domestication. With Whatnots and Doodads, she introduces us to the romantic pairing of an outcast witch who can’t control her magic, and an outcast demon who would rather save souls than steal them.
What makes this work so well is the fact that Bryanna is fully aware of what a mythological demon should be. Her initial reaction to Zeke is precisely what you would expect from someone, especially a witch, upon encountering a “spawn of Satan” – she demands he stop the car, afraid he’s going to eat her! It’s this reaction that so naturally opens the door for Jacinda, outcast Fae and founder of the town, to explain the paranormal sanctuary that is Strange Hollow.
The love story that follows is sweet, seductive, and oh-so-hot. Zeke may be a demon, but he may as well be a knight in shining armour. He takes Bryanna under his wing, helps her get settled, and makes it his mission to make her see that she’s different, not damaged. He wants her to love him more than anything else in the world, but only if he can first make her accept that she is as worthy of love and respect as any other witch. He is patient, kind, and gentle when he needs to be, but also completely capable of taking charge and ravishing his love.
As for Bryanna, she’s a delightful young woman, as different and as wondrous as the whatnots and doodads so eccentrically produced by her magic. Part of her revels in her outcast nature, as evidenced by her gothic manner of dress (which leads to a steamy scene in the dressing room involving a new corset and a black lace thong, all chosen for her by Zeke!), but she’s been raised to believe she’s damaged, an embarrassment to her family and her coven. When she makes the decision to give in to Zeke’s seduction, it’s initially as an act of rebellion, but she soon comes to revel in the feeling of being loved, rather than possessed.
The romance and the seduction here is just breathtaking, the kind of story that makes you feel warm and content all over. It takes a while for the spark of attraction to kindle into flames of passion – as it should – but when it does, the sex is absolutely magical. It’s light-hearted and fun, like first loves should be, and never takes advantage of Bryanna’s fragile emotional state.
A fun, sexy, altogether enjoyable read, Whatnots and Doodads is a book I’ve already insisted several friends read. I loved it, and I suspect you will too.(less)