~* 4.5 Stars *~ Beyond the Darkening is a very good novella - quite possibly the best of that length I've ever read. There's a lot here that Kerry Alle...more~* 4.5 Stars *~ Beyond the Darkening is a very good novella - quite possibly the best of that length I've ever read. There's a lot here that Kerry Allen could've made into a full-length paranormal romance (and still could at any time [hint...hint]), because her take on vampires and the world they inhabit is intriguing and TRULY fresh. My only serious complaint - though perhaps unfairly, I admit - and the only thing that keeps this being a full five star read for me is the length restricts the flow of good world-building and prevents a lot of development of character - and the romantic resolution seems rushed. I believe I read at the back of the kindle edition book that this was the first in a novella trilogy. I will be looking for those. 4.5 Stars overall and again, possibly the best novella I've read at this length.
He is one of the Eleven, ancient predators who have been brought forth by a godlike male after sixty-five million years, awakened to battle a group of...moreHe is one of the Eleven, ancient predators who have been brought forth by a godlike male after sixty-five million years, awakened to battle a group of immortals who are on the verge of scouring the earth of humans. She is his driver. Ty Endeka has a human body, but his soul is that of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Kelly Maloy is human. The attraction between them is primordial but the danger they face is unimaginable. Kelly is drawn deeper and deeper into a world she'd never known existed as she drives Ty around Houston, meeting vampires and otherkin, and battling werewolves. And coming face to face with the most soul-deep terror she could have ever imagined.
Bangs has offered up a unique concept - it's not every day you read about dinosaur warriors fighting immortal evil - and characters that had appeal. While some aspects are familiar in theme to Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series and others, I'm was thrilled to get away from the Greek pantheon which has proliferated into so many other series. I was charmed by the Eleven and amused by their soul nature. Other ancillary characters lacked a little depth, but there was a wide array of them introduced and they fleshed out the scenes nicely.
The problems I had with Eternal Pleasure weren't character-based, nor were they centered on the concept of the book. It wasn't even the plot itself, which I thought had some promise. Where this book broke down for me was the execution and delivery of the plot. There are lots and lots of paranormal romance series that are similarly themed (and I read most of them): a brotherhood of badasses fighting together against a seemingly unbeatable foe. Ward does it, Kenyon does it, Showalter, Adrian...and the list goes on. And on. It's a familiar and well-tread theme. Through them I've realized that the devil is in the details, and there just weren't many here - and those that were didn't make a lot of sense in this book.
I tend to visualize the worlds that authors create, the arc of their series, the plots of each book, and the characters that inhabit them all as deep, wide, dark lakes full of promising story in which I like to swim. In Eternal Pleasure, though, instead of been thrown deep into that story lake with the force and creativity of the exposition, narrative, and dialogue, it felt more like the author took a flat rock and skipped it across that glassy surface, and the book was the sum of the spots the rock touched as it danced across the top. I never felt submerged into the world, the plot, or the characters lives. Too many things went unexplained, or avoided, or danced around. Instead the focus was on the relationship between Ty and Kelly and a lot of repetition about Ty's struggle with his T-rex nature.
We're allowed to know that dino-boys aren't just dino-boys (that's probably a good thing, because...well...ew). Before that they were something else, and it's big and awful and crippling...but their memories have been wiped because of the trauma it would cause them or the distraction it would provide. That's convenient for a couple of reasons - not only to cue the dark, mysterious music and try to add a layer of threat and mystery (unsuccessfully), but also to provide danger for the women who love them, and who will have to enter their beast and join their soul to be their mates (apparently, verbal commitment and a ring just don't cut it with dinosaurs and PNR series with this sort of theme are all about the metaphysical connections). Unfortunately, all the potential for scary threat and "no human love can survive that" angst was ultimately unrealized when the story stone skipped its way across that part of the lake.
It was a problem that recurred throughout the book. Lots of teasers and hints and nudges towards a bigger picture than a bunch of dinosaurs stalking the night...lots of skips of that stone over what could have been a deep, dark, delightful lake of story...and no real moments of sinking in and getting any more than your toes wet. It was impossible for me to connect to the story or the characters more than superficially because of it, and in some places (most notably the scene where Neva disappears and the events that follow), make the characters concern even for each other seem false and unrealistic (hard to believe someone could be SO upset over a person's disappearance when they had only met that person once...in passing...and impossible to sustain belief in the bosom buddy attempt following it).
There's promise in the originality of the concept, there's comfort of familiarity in a favored theme, and there are characters and story I could care about...but if the next book doesn't do more diving than skipping, I think I'll be leaving the Gods of the Night shores.
Tabitha Garwood is Outcast. She stumbled into Halle about six months ago after eight years living mostly as wolf for survival. Since then, she's been...moreTabitha Garwood is Outcast. She stumbled into Halle about six months ago after eight years living mostly as wolf for survival. Since then, she's been stalked and harassed by Gary and his friends, pack wolves from New Mexico in town to attend school. When you're Outcast, you're at the mercy of the Pack and Gary's evil intent doesn't bode well for Tabby.
Alexander 'Bunny' Bunsun is a bear shifter from Oregon. He and his cousin are in town to check up on his cousin Chloe, a fox shifter who's been acting very oddly of late. Their close-knit family watches out for each other, which is why he and his cousin have traveled across country to check up on her. No sooner does Bunny reach town, however, than he catches a scent he'd never expected. His mate.
Tabby is a one of a kind wolf who takes one look at Bunny and thinks, 'Come to Mama.' She's quirky, fun, and trusts her wolf instincts. This gorgeous male with the funny nickname - but she's a wolf with a cat name, so who is she to quibble? - is her destined mate, and he seems like an all around nice guy, too. Bunny is a nice guy, but he has some anger management issues - what grizzly doesn't? Well, none quite so issue-laden as Bunny, but he does yoga and meditates daily to control it - history taught him that it's not a good idea to lose control of his temper. Finding out his mate is being threatened and his cousin Chloe viciously beaten and almost killed doesn't do much to help him control that temper, though. It's definitely not good to poke the big bear with that sort of stick.
What a fun story! If you're familiar with Shelly Laurenston's Pride and Magnus series (and if you're not, do not hesitate to become familiar, they rock) you may notice some similarities in theme and structure, and if you enjoy Laurenston, you're probably going to enjoy Bell's Halle Shifters series. No one does crass, bawdy humor like Laurenston, of course, and personally, I think her well-established series is a little stronger in character development, but Bell is definitely coming into her own after her Halle Pumas series.
Unlike that series of novellas, Bear Necessity is a full length book, and I'm excited by that fact alone, because Bear Necessity takes the time to introduce and develop characters and plot, and, building off the world of the Halle Pumas series, allows expansion and further detailing of the background and mythos. All of those developments go hand in hand with a nifty romance and seductive sensuality, providing a far more balanced and thorough story than in her series of novellas.
One of my favorite things about this series is that although the mating bond is mystical in nature and happens before characters necessarily know each other, Bell has allowed for development of the emotional side of the relationship, which gives readers time to learn and like the characters. Tabby's insecurities and her loneliness, her yearning for a home, her friendships with Cyn and Glory and her unique, quirky personality as well as Bunny's history, his issues, interests, and passions, the family bonds, and the mysticism of Bear were all able to come into play in delightful ways, and both characters are three dimensional and feel well developed because of it. Secondary characters and the depth of plot were also very well executed.
I had a few small issues, little things that didn't stop me from really liking the book, but the cumulative effect did prevent me from rating it five stars. There were some issues with pacing and transitions and some jumps in time that jarred the flow of the narrative. The large cast of secondary and ancillary characters was nice, but I would've enjoyed more time with Tabby and Bunny in scenes together beyond their sexual relationship, something more centered on them becoming a couple, not just mates. And about that sexual relationship... One major flaw in the book for me was how Bell dealt with Tabby's sexuality. At fifteen she had very limited sexual experience, then she was Outcast. She spent eight years as a wolf, then had a one-night-stand since rejoining civilization. I can understand her enthusiasm for sex with the smokin' hot Alex (Bunny), but I question her proficiency with certain techniques as described. It may sound nit-picky, but I have to admit, it strained my willing suspension of disbelief to such an extent that it drew me out of the story a couple of times.
All that being said, I'm excited about this series. I love the set up for the coming conflicts and issues, enjoy the humor that's been included, and while overall there are similarities to Laurenston's slightly more accomplished Pride series, there's definitely room for both to be totally awesome in the genre. I'm happy that Bell is writing full length novels and can't wait to see where this series leads. Hopefully soon.
Scottish warrior Kenzie Gregor has seen centuries pass, but after spending so many years as one animal or another, he's now back in full...and fabulou...moreScottish warrior Kenzie Gregor has seen centuries pass, but after spending so many years as one animal or another, he's now back in full...and fabulous...human male form. Along with his ancient friend, the Druidic priest Father Daar, Kenzie has moved to Midnight Bay to provide a safe shelter for his charge, William. William is a man cursed by a witch and stuck in dragon form. He's passed through time for Kenzie's help, desperate to regain his humanity.
As Kenzie is settling in Midnight Bay, he purchases a homestead he intends to turn into a working farm, accidentally displacing the beautiful Eve Anderson and her mother Mabel, a charming woman suffering from a progressing dementia. Kenzie is disturbed to find out he's bought the house out from under Eve and Mabel. He's drawn to Eve, friends with Mabel, and intent on making things right. He offers the women shelter and work, befriending them even as his attraction to Eve grows. His duty, though, and the risk of danger, keeps him from claiming her as his, until a magical attack by a vindictive witch stirs up a storm that alters the course of all their lives.
This is my first experience with Janet Chapman's writing, and there were good things about it. I was especially touched by the very genuine emotions and situations surrounding Mabel's dementia and all its implications. My grandmother suffered from non-Alzheimer's dementia in the last years of her life, and I found Mabel's condition and Eve's reactions and emotions instantly familiar and hauntingly bittersweet.
Kenzie was an anachronistic charmer. His character was well drawn and consistent, and I enjoyed the mix of confident warrior and befuddled man stuck in a time he can hardly understand. I wasn't quite as enamored of Eve, for while I understood her motivations and the varying stages of despair, hope, and acceptance she went through in relation to her mother, and the reasons behind her resistance to Kenzie, I didn't find her character to my preferences for a female lead in a paranormal romance. She was a little too closed off and bitter about men and a bit too smothering and close minded about her mother for me to enjoy her as a main character. Unfortunately, liking both characters is necessary for me to really enjoy a romance novel.
On a brighter note, this novel is richly populated by very appealing secondary and ancillary characters and I enjoyed them all very much, from the always hungry Daar to the man/dragon William, to Eve's best friend Maddy and all the rest. Especially Mabel. I loved her. Chapman creates quirky but real characters with individualism and depth.
I had some serious issues with the plot and mythos of the book, though. Moonlight Warrior is the first book in a series that is spun off from Janet Chapman's Highlander series and there was nowhere near enough exposition or world building for new readers such as myself. I spent most of the book completely lost as to what Kenzie is, why he's still alive, and what he's supposed to do as the soul warrior. Nor do I have a clue as to how he does it. Kenzie's past, as well as his family and friends, are introduced or referenced with just as little explanation.
While I was reading I felt like I got dropped into the middle of an existing series after missing the first few books instead of starting a new one. That's a significant problem. On top of the lack of exposition, Kenzie's current acts as a soul warrior were never explained and the scenes in which he battled the forces of evil were dealt with very perfunctorily and most were neither explained nor written out. Because of that, this book read more like a contemporary romance featuring a historical character with a paranormal life in the background than a true paranormal romance.
The strongest and most appealing aspects of this book were the varied and endearing characters. I have a sneaking suspicion that had I read Chapman's Highlander series, I would have thoroughly enjoyed this book, with only my issues with the character Eve as a detriment. As it stands, I'm unsure whether I'll continue with this series or go back and start the Highlander series first and hope it provides some answers and a more comprehensive world building. I enjoyed the characters and what I could grasp of the mythos enough to at least give one or the other a try.
I would be surprised if there was anyone familiar with Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series who wouldn't agree that for the genre, it's firmly e...moreI would be surprised if there was anyone familiar with Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series who wouldn't agree that for the genre, it's firmly entrenched in the top tier of paranormal romance series. Cole is an exceptionally talented author with an immense imagination and stringent attention to detail who writes intricate, emotional, sensual stories that hold the readers attention and provide hours of delightful reading. All that being said, for various reasons I haven't loved every book in the series, and Pleasure of a Dark Prince is one that I didn't love.
Lucia the Valkyrie is the Archer; the best in the world. The goddess of her religion both provides her skill and demands her chastity in return for saving her life when, as a willful child of sixteen, she made a mistake that dropped her into the clutches of an ancient evil. Garreth MacRieve is the dark prince, brother of the missing king of the Lykae Clan Lachlain MacRieve, and one of the few lykae who believe his brother is still alive. During a rugby match, Garreth catches the scent he's been hoping for nearly a millennium to smell, his mate. And so begins the dogged chase to catch, woo, and win the woman fate has determined is his destiny. The pursuit spans years and continents, and Garreth gives up everything to protect and pursue his lass, until he finally catches her at the mouth of the amazon river. He will brave the dangers of the green hell itself to keep her by his side and win her to his, but Lucia's secrets will haunt them both - and may lead to the destruction of everything and every one. Apocalypses are dangerous that way.
Pleasure of a Dark Prince is a good, solid read, but I had some issues with it on a personal level. I found the character-driven parts of the plot (the relationship aspect in particular) didn't mesh as well with the plot-driven parts (stuff dealing with The Accession and the entirety of the epilogue) as other books. I was a little thrown by the beginning of the book because it starts at a period back in time prior to, and then congruent with, the happenings in the first book of the series, A Hunger Like No Other. I know that this series has had several overlapping timelines in the books, but for some reason it bothered me more this time than it has in the past. This is not a critique, it's a personal issue - because I tend to be a very linear thinker, I have a problem with a series that doesn't follow a linear flow. I understand why IAD doesn't - and why, in fact, it can't, as the players of The Accession start to move into position - but it's still something I struggle with and it did, in this case, lessen my overall enjoyment of this book. I also generally dislike when the main conflict between a male and female lead in a romance novel is based solely on lack of communication and dishonesty. Again - not a criticism of Cole's choice to write it that way, but as a personal peeve, the absolute lack of honest communication between Garreth and Lucia through the whole of the book wore on me and made me feel like they were less interested in a relationship that would last through eternity and more interested in out-maneuvering each other to get the other to do what they wanted.
The other major issue I had was Lucia herself. I never fully warmed up to her. She had her good points, don't get me wrong, but I had a huge issue with her pride. I can understand being proud of yourself for accomplishments, and commend that sort of self esteem, but Lucia's skill with a bow was given to her by a goddess - she didn't earn it - so the way she wields that ego around because of it rubbed me the wrong way. Now, that issue is addressed satisfactorily late in the book, but that doesn't change the way she was from the first. I also found her to be a bit naive and selfish, which is what landed her in hot water to begin with, really, but after a few centuries, one would hope that would wear off a bit. It does eventually during this book, but again, it didn't sit well with me at first. And the cruelty she and Regin rained down on Garreth for a full year was a bit horrifying and left me wondering how he could possibly forgive her. I never felt I really got a satisfactory answer to that.
I firmly believe that the issues I had with Pleasure of a Dark Prince had nothing to do with the book not being great or Cole not writing well. Each issue I had was based on personal preference and I'm not criticizing, just sharing how I felt about it. I very much enjoyed the book as a whole, and found the entire Amazonian trip to be a lot of fun to read, with some very touching, funny, and gut-clenching moments. I would absolutely recommend the series (and have) to paranormal romance and urban fantasy fans alike, as Cole writes story and characters I totally groove on. And Nucking Futs Nix is now and will always be one of my favorite characters of all times in any book over every genre.
~* 3.5 Stars *~ I almost didn't. In fact, I'd deleted the free preview I'd downloaded to my Kindle after months of wavering back and forth as to whethe...more~* 3.5 Stars *~ I almost didn't. In fact, I'd deleted the free preview I'd downloaded to my Kindle after months of wavering back and forth as to whether I was going to continue the ACRO series by Sydney Croft (writing duo Larissa Ione and Stephanie Tyler). As much as I thoroughly enjoy Larissa Ione's Demonica Series (Pleasure Unbound, Desire Unchained, Passion Unleashed, Ecstasy Unveiled, Sin Undone), to say I was disappointed in Riding the Storm would be an understatement. I disliked it so much, in fact, on every front - from the scattered and confused plot to main characters I didn't like to a romance that was two dimensional at best - that even the sexuality of the book didn't redeem it for me. So I almost didn't.
Then, after seeing the rating and reading the reviews...and honestly, being bored with some of my latest reads...I did. I downloaded Unleashing the Storm and decided to give the writing duo that is Sydney Croft another chance. And for about the first 25-30% of the book, I was regretting that choice, because I had that same sense of surreal disassociation I had when reading the first in the ACRO series - that sense that I'd been dropped down in the middle of three different stories after missing all the exposition before it. The only thing that kept me reading was that in this case, I actually sort of liked Tom "Ender" Knight from the beginning, and that grew until I was very fond of him, and I liked Kira Donovan very much all the way through.
Then the story picked up...or smoothed out or something...and I was onboard for the ride. My favorite part of this book was the journey of Tom and Kira, but I enjoyed the threads with Annika and Creed (one of the only parts I liked about the first book, too) and the threads with Dev were okay. All in all, there was an increased complexity to the ACRO world and the different plot lines that intersect in this book, and I didn't feel quite as lost as I did in the first book as more was explained. Bottom line, though, I just never warmed up to the Remy/Haley pairing in book one of the series, and I never HAD to warm up to Tom/Kira - they were hot from the start. 3.5 Stars overall, and I WILL be continuing to Seduced by the Storm.
Cat's Cradle (String of Fate, #1) was my first foray into Bianca D'Arc's works, and I don't think it was a bad place to start, really. As shifter-them...moreCat's Cradle (String of Fate, #1) was my first foray into Bianca D'Arc's works, and I don't think it was a bad place to start, really. As shifter-themed paranormal romance goes, it has a wide and varied world that perhaps wasn't totally fleshed out in this book, but I certainly got the sense that the author has it fully realized, instead of developing it as she goes. I'm perfectly okay allowing world definition to clarify and build through the arc of a series, in fact preferring it to having it all in the first book, when it can bog down the flow and pace of a story. I also have to give D'Arc credit for managing to give her readers a female lead that is smart, capable, and secure in her abilities, while also willing to adapt to new circumstances and challenge herself without being a bitch about it, or bitter, or hardened. That was refreshing.
Ellie is a nurse and a green belt jiu jitsu who can take care of herself, yet still has room in her heart for the uber-Alpha pantera noir Cade, and when they run into each other - literally - one night while Ellie hurries away from a curious encounter with her shihan (jiu jitsu master), neither lives will be the same and their meeting may indeed be the catalyst (no pun intended) for change in both their races.
I liked this book - though perhaps not as much as I'd hoped. I was thrilled to have a lead couple with the ability to actually discuss their issues, instead of lurking behind layers of insecurities. I can't tell you the last time I read a paranormal romance that had that. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing, because Ellie and Cade actually over-talked in several places, when action would've been better served, or when it was just unnecessary. I think that hampered Cade's character more than Ellie's, though, because he seemed a little too in touch with exactly what he wanted and needed in a mate at all times. He was a wee bit too perfect in that regard. I'm probably being picky, but no big strong tough guy dealing with a potential cross-race mating living in a culture that doesn't take cross-race matings well is that well centered.
The other critical issues I had are two-fold - there were some errors (wrong name for a character, wrong gender usage, formatting issues at the beginning) of a technical nature and there were narrative issues. As I was reading, I noticed an almost choppy feel to the flow - like instead of wending together plot conflict and relationship evolution, the story focused on one...then the other...then back again, and that was a major distraction at one point in particular when Cade and Ellie are enjoying themselves for a whole day. I'm all for the enjoyment, believe me, but it went on for so long that the arc of the conflict got lost. When it picked up again, it was jarring and I had to think to remember what was going on around them. I also had some minor issues with the dialogue between characters. In some places it seemed a bit unnatural and stilted. Not all through the book, by any means, but on more than one occasion.
Overall, I liked the world, I liked the concept of the conflict very much, and I liked the leads, but the execution had some problems that dropped my rating down a little. I'd recommend for serious paranormal romance junkies with a blind eye for technical writing issues.
Atticus has walked the earth for a millennium and for so long he has searched for his One, the one woman in all the world meant to be his other half....moreAtticus has walked the earth for a millennium and for so long he has searched for his One, the one woman in all the world meant to be his other half. Now, after having resigned himself to not finding her, after debating the final sleep and turning further and further away from existence, he steps on a girls toes and his entire world changes.
Lissa was feeling apprehensive about taking the shuttle bus up the mountain, but she got on anyway. Slightly psychic, she's feeling very uneasy until she sees a man who literally robs her of breath and makes her heart race. Suddenly those psychic warnings are blaring conflicting messages and when he trods on her toes and looks into her eyes, Lissa knows she'll remember that fantastic stranger for the rest of her days.
A tragedy leads them to each other and dedication to each other will see them through to eternity.
It's not the premise to this short novella that I have a problem with. It's perhaps not the most original of stories, but it has a bunch of sexy male vampires in it, and that's pretty much all I need to enjoy a short story like this. Unfortunately, it was just about every other aspect of the story that made me wince.
I think D'Arc had some sizzling sex scenes in the book that are deliciously graphic and temperature raising, but that's where the good points end. The dialogue is so unbelievable, so cliched and trite and way beyond soap opera-ish that it actually hurt to read some of it. I totally don't get it. I've read D'Arc before and didn't have that problem with the book, but this one was quite literally painful.
The development (and I use the term loosely) of the relationship between Atticus and Lissa was nearly comical in its speed and lack of anything resembling realism, and the 'conflict' of the story arc was...just bizarre. If that wasn't bad enough, it ends with a cliffhanger, and I have a huge issue with cliffhangers. They're in my top three of reading anathemas. At this point not even a life threatening cliffhanger could prompt me to continue with this series, though I did like the interaction between Atticus' friend Marc and Lissa's friend Kelly. I just don't know if I would risk dialogue as horrible as it was here.
Amelia Elias has penned three books in the Guardians' League series (Hunted, Outcast, Chosen) and I can only hope that there will be more - I would es...moreAmelia Elias has penned three books in the Guardians' League series (Hunted, Outcast, Chosen) and I can only hope that there will be more - I would especially enjoy Ronin's story. I was incredibly surprised when I started out with Hunted. I don't know what I was expecting...well, okay, I do - and admittedly I was jaded by years of disappointment in books from less commercially credited authors. I expected a mediocre (at best) paranormal romance with probably a bit more eroticism than I'd find in mass market paperback titles.
What I got was a thrilling read with a strong yet endearing male lead, Diego Leonides, a vampire and member of the Guardians' League, a league that hunts down Outcast vampires - vamps who kill humans for their blood and for the sheer thrill of destruction and pain. Diego's life takes a turn for the odd when he's mowed down - literally - by former cop on the run, Sian Lazuro - a woman who saw something that would get her killed if the crime lord responsible finds her. The car crash knocks Sian out and does a fair bit of damage to Diego, too, and when Sian wakes up in Diego's bed, nothing will ever be the same for either of them.
Sian's a particularly pleasant surprise. A female lead who's strong, smart, and capable in her own right, and I enjoyed her reaction to Diego and her introduction into a world in which vampires DO exist. She's a damaged woman, alone in the world and feeling forced to keep it that way to protect others. She's a cop who tries to protect Diego from that same crime boss she testified against, even after accepting (though not truly understanding) that he's a vampire. Both Diego and Sian are fully developed and well written.
Is Hunted and the world Elias has penned it in the most original premise? Absolutely not. We've seen similar worlds and stories from authors with such mass market appeal as Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward, Lara Adrian, Christine Feehan, and others. This particular type of paranormal romance isn't new, but don't disregard Amelia Elias or the Guardians' League because of that. Elias doesn't have the following or the rep of those others, but she deserves to be there at the top, because while the premise isn't new, Hunted still seemed fresh - and remember, this is the jaded reader saying so.
The main characters are strong, secondary characters interesting, and the plot is tight. The twists in them aren't overdone or ridiculous. The romance evolves in a very realistic manner, and when it does, it's heart warming and erotic in turns.
All in all, Hunted is a strong first book in a series that I hope will extend beyond the three that exist so far. I highly recommend all three.
Outcast is Elias' second book in the Guardians' League series, and it raises the curtain on the story of Eli and Renee. I was just as impressed with i...moreOutcast is Elias' second book in the Guardians' League series, and it raises the curtain on the story of Eli and Renee. I was just as impressed with it as I was with Hunted - and this time, also a little flabbergasted. I wish I'd read this book when it was originally published. Why? Because had I, the when reading the similarities that exist between Eli's history and origins and Sherrilyn Kenyon's history and origins for Acheron, all the kudos for originality and brilliance would've landed in Elias' corner.
That being said, don't disregard Elias' Guardians' League if you've already read Kenyon's Dark Hunter series. It's not just a mimicry of others' works. It's fantastic, has it's own aspects of originality, and in some ways, is better than others in the genre. Personally, I think Outcast in particular is a better read than Acheron (sorry, Kenyon) in the romantic pairing area, especially when comparing the female lead in Outcast, Renee, and her relationship and its development with Eli. They fit together in a way that Kenyon's mate for Acheron didn't (IMHO).
And speaking of Eli and Renee...woah, wow, and holy heck. It started out rocky, and several of the Guardians don't exactly embrace Renee, as she was turned by an Outcast but sheltered by Eli. Eli has two choices - act as her Sire and protect her from potentially turning Outcast herself...or kill her. The conflict in him grows to titanic proportions as feelings for Renee that no sire would or should have for his fledgling start to grow beyond anything he's ever had any experience with. And Renee, a young woman who'd been the poster child for normalcy as a human, is suddenly not just a new vamp, she's an extremely strong fledgling with skills other vampires don't develop for centuries - if at all. And adjusting to those changes with limited info coming from Eli and even Guardians hating her violently is stripping anything "normal" from Renee's life with startling insistence.
It was fantastic, really. Only the fact that it's not the most original premise for the arc of the series is keeping these books from a five star rating for me. Outcast is, however, even better than Hunted, the first in the series, and I truly hope that Elias plans to continue the Guardians' League series after Chosen. It would be a true short-change for readers who enjoy quality paranormal romance if she doesn't.
Amelia Elias has penned three books in the Guardians' League series (Hunted, Outcast, Chosen) and I can only hope that there will be more - I would es...moreAmelia Elias has penned three books in the Guardians' League series (Hunted, Outcast, Chosen) and I can only hope that there will be more - I would especially enjoy Ronin's story. I was incredibly surprised when I started out with Hunted. I don't know what I was expecting...well, okay, I do - and admittedly I was jaded by years of disappointment in books from less commercially credited authors. I expected a mediocre (at best) paranormal romance with probably a bit more eroticism than I'd find in mass market paperback titles. What I got was an intriguing, interesting read with characters I truly enjoyed and a story I wanted to see continue.
So continue I did, to Outcast (which was extremely original when it was originally published, but there's been a best selling author that has similar major plot points and themes since then), then, after again being remarkably impressed, went ahead and got Chosen.
Chosen is the story of Gareth Ambrocio, patriarch of the Arachnid clan and Guardian Extraordinaire...who also enjoys leading vampire tours around his territory of New Orleans. While visiting a clan member at a bar, he runs into Alexa, a delightfully shy and rather innocent dhampyr...who has been dared and guilted and pushed into the rash action of commandeering Gareth for a body shot during the wild bachelorette party of a friend of hers. And Gareth, the big bad predator, is determined to keep her.
Gareth's story is full of humor and fun, and Gareth himself is a significantly lighter personality than Diego (Hunted) and Eli (Outcast). I enjoyed Alexa...even when she's stubbornly refusing to believe that vampires exist beyond all rational proof that they do. I also enjoyed seeing some of the old friends from the previous books.
Don't think of Elias' Guardians' League series as just another formulaic paranormal romance series. It's not just a mimicry of others' works. It's fantastic, has its own aspects of originality, and in some ways, is better than others in the genre. Only two facts are keeping these books from a five star rating for me: it's not the most original premise for the arc of the series and it's not as deeply plotted and layered as some of the masters of the sub-genre. I would like to say (again) that I truly hope that Elias plans to continue the Guardians' League series after Chosen. If she doesn't, it will be a grievous short-change for readers who enjoy quality paranormal romance.
~* 3.5 Stars *~ Vampire Samson Woodford is a rich, powerful, debonair male who owns a nationwide security company that has both vampire and human inter...more~* 3.5 Stars *~ Vampire Samson Woodford is a rich, powerful, debonair male who owns a nationwide security company that has both vampire and human interests. He also has a bit of a problem with erectile dysfunction and despite the psychiatric help he's reluctantly receiving, there seems to be no help in that area. To say he's frustrated would be a gross understatement on every level.
Forensic accountant Delilah Sheridan is an independent contractor from New York. She's in San Francisco auditing a private company's financial records and has been burning the candle at both ends since she arrived a few days ago, investigating some discrepancies she's discovered. Leaving the office late one night, she stops for some take out and gets caught in a downpour. She gets a little turned around in the rain in her rush back to the company condo in which she's staying, and before she can find her way, she's attacked by a scarred, hulking brute of a man that comes at her from a dark alley. Delilah manages to escape, racing to the nearest house she can find and pounding on the door before falling into the arms of Samson Woodford when he opens it.
Confusion and mistakes abound, and Samson, thinking Delilah is the stripper his good friends have gotten him for his birthday, takes advantage of the situation to kiss the wet and slightly bedraggled human - and is stunned when his body responds with much enthusiasm. He is stunned again when he realizes that Delilah is, in fact, not a stripper, but a woman in need of his help. Not the most auspicious of beginnings, for sure.
Focused on his body's response to her, and as it turns out, only her, he sets out to charm the human and release his sexual frustrations. But just when he realizes that his interest in the human extends beyond physical gratification and into something much deeper, he's beset by an old enemy out to take everything from him - including Delilah. Saving her life may come at the cost of her feelings for him when she finds out he's technically her boss...and not human.
Samson's Lovely Mortal has a decent, if slightly formulaic paranormal romance plot, but it is in the details that Tina Folsom's series starts to shine. I really enjoy what she's created with the vampires with issues - and impotence is one dastardly issue - and the glimpse into the various psychosis that draw them to seek therapy. She also adds a nice touch of humor (the shrink's couch is a coffin!) here and there that lighten up the tone of the book.
Samson is a strong romantic lead, with just the right touch of self assured arrogance overlaying vulnerability. I found him surprisingly layered with his insecurities about women and his inability to perform. His obliviousness to the depth of his feelings for Delilah was thankfully brief, and his mangled approach to it was at turns charming and cute. I was less pleased with Delilah, who I just didn't find all that interesting a character, but I'm used to favoring the alpha males over the female leads so that's not much of a surprise. I did like some of her development in the latter part of the book, and she didn't annoy me as so many do, so that's a plus.
The plot was well conceived and flowed nicely from point to point through the book after what was an extremely abrupt and awkward opening chapter. There were, however, several grammatical issues and some other errors that should have been caught. The narrative lacked a bit of polish as a result. Band Aid is a name brand for adhesive bandages, not what bandages themselves are called, for example, and fingernails don't have sockets from which they can be pulled. On the other hand, the dialogue had a nice conversational flow despite some word tense issues and some misplaced words.
The sex scenes were well written, and to my preference of being described with adult language as opposed to being couched in flowery euphemism. They were graphic, but not exceptionally explicit, in my opinion. There were several of them (that's information, not a complaint) but they never overwhelmed the plot or knocked the flow of the story off balance. At least not the sex scenes between Samson and Delilah. There was one between two secondary characters that, while well written, I felt seemed unnecessary to the plot and out of place in context. As a result, it seemed to serve a purpose only for titillation - especially considering the nature of the sex - and while I believe that has its place, it did nothing for me in this instance.
There are a lot of good points to Tina Folsom's series starter. I've purchased the second in the series, Amaury's Hellion, and as readers have been introduced to his issues in this book, I'm actually quite interested in seeing how they're worked out and who the lucky lady will be who will stir his emotions. Samson's Lovely Mortal may not have been flawless, but it was a solid start to a potentially very imaginative series, despite the issues. I'm quite glad I stumbled across it and look forward to seeing the series continue.