Interesting Concept Collapses Under Weight of Execution Problems Since Annie Simpson's husband died a year ago, she's been living a lonely, boring life...moreInteresting Concept Collapses Under Weight of Execution Problems Since Annie Simpson's husband died a year ago, she's been living a lonely, boring life. At first it helped her heal, but now her days seem empty and lacking purpose. One night, however, Annie enters her kitchen and is stunned and scared to see a large, gorgeous, naked man standing there. Before she can flee or call the police, James convinces her he's not going to hurt her. When Annie finds out he has come back to the past to flee the group intent on killing him, Annie thinks he's insane...at first. Then she starts to believe. Horrified by the grim picture of the future that James has painted, one of slavery and butchery, she offers to help. She's drawn to James in a way she's never felt before, not even with her husband, and when James is near her, she can't help but feel alive. When the full scope of the truth comes out, however, the question of life becomes a hotly contested topic, and Annie's previous blind faith may result in the death of everything she holds dear.
Never Love a Stranger is a difficult book for me to review. I didn't like it, but I can appreciate what the author accomplished and what she was trying to accomplish. I think the concept of the book was good. It was an interesting plot and Fisher's vision for the future was pretty comprehensive and impressive. There were a lot of layers and deceptions, ill intents and heroic actions that blended together in an odd, yet compelling way. I can understand how some readers would find some of the revelations in this book to be disturbing, even though I'm not one of them. Yes, there were things in this book that were difficult to accept and not something you'd find in a traditional romance novel, but I found those aspects to add a sense of gritty realism to the motivations of the characters.
That realism was appreciated, especially as I found it so lacking in other aspects. I had significant issues with character action and dialogue from the very first page. I felt neither were very believable through the whole of the book, and I can't imagine anyone with a modicum of self preservation acting as Annie did when she first saw James. The dialogue between the characters was often heavy-handed, trite, or cliched, and very little of it felt organic to the characters or the situations they found themselves in. The characters themselves, especially James, were inconsistent throughout and James' personality and vernacular fluctuated between believable for his backstory and situation to bordering on absurd. Any time a character who has supposedly traveled back in time from over three hundred years into our future, and has been shown to be perplexed by the identity and function of something as pedestrian as a bath towel may lose a lot of cred as future-guy when he starts uttering such modern colloquialisms as "Go to hell."
I appreciated the author's intent, but this book is also beleaguered by a large schism that splits the book into two parts and turns a slightly common but basically harmless time traveler romance into a quagmire of scifi frustration and implausibility. I acknowledge that my preferences in reading lie elsewhere, so I don't want to appear hypercritical of issues that wouldn't please me if they'd been penned by Asimov himself, but I can't help but feel that the material and plot were larger than Fisher's ability to translate the ideas to the page. I hope that doesn't sound like harsh criticism, because I love that Fisher tried. I just don't think that there are many authors who can do it effectively and believably to begin with - time travel is literally littered with paradox and confusion, and defining an entire futuristic landscape in the span of half a book is a mighty task.
Had Fisher's ambition for this story stopped at overcoming the...er...intrinsic differences...between Annie and James, I think I would have been okay with it, but all told, it was too big a concept and handled with too little sophistication to be enjoyable for me.
This all started with a Kindle freebie months and months ago. Oh how things change. Once, I was unaware of Karen Marie Moning as an author and blindly...moreThis all started with a Kindle freebie months and months ago. Oh how things change. Once, I was unaware of Karen Marie Moning as an author and blindly oblivious to either the Highlander or Fever series. Now, several months and a lot of happy reading later, I'm sitting in awe of the mind that has created and penned two series with delicately interwoven stories and building drama. I've never even heard of an author able to do what KMM's done here.
Starting with the Highlander series, a solid and thoroughly well written time travel paranormal romance series, KMM's fleshed out and delineated a world full of magick, mystery, danger, and hot highlander men. Completely entertaining narrative with delicious humor and mouth-watering sensuality that, when read one after another, winds you through a path of increasing danger and intrigue and Tuatha Dé Danann machinations leading straight to the front door of the Fever series. Each book in the Highlander series gets darker and darker, and the tone of Spell of the Highlander so closely matches the start of that decidedly urban fantasy series that the transition is virtuously seamless. It's all due to KMM's phenomenal talent as an author and dedication as a story teller.
Spell of the Highlander was perhaps not my favorite of the Highlander series, but that's roughly akin to saying dark chocolate isn't my favorite of the chocolates - it's all delicious, decadent, and delightful. I just grooved on Adam Black a wee bit more than Cian. Totally loved Jessi, though. And their story was taut, tightly woven, and rich with history - like all the Highlander stories. What elevated Spell of the Highlander to nearly iconic stature in my eyes was how deftly KMM wove in details of things that I'd wondered about in the Fever series. That's just totally kick ass, and earned ultimate respect. If I'd read the Highlander series first, I don't know that I'd have truly appreciated the attention to the most minuscule detail, so I'm glad I didn't...but I fully intend to go back and read the first four books of the Fever series now that I understand more of the Fae mythos and KMM's rich, detailed world.
I've never had a free Kindle download that worked out quite so well before, but back when the first book of Karen Marie Moning's Fever series, Darkfev...moreI've never had a free Kindle download that worked out quite so well before, but back when the first book of Karen Marie Moning's Fever series, Darkfever, was available, I downloaded it just to see what it was about. I've been a monster fan of KMM's writing ever since.
While vastly different than the Fever series (fantasy romance vs. gritty urban fantasy), KMM's Highlander series is actually exceptionally well written, extremely endearing, at times amusing, and so feel-good romantic that it just makes my heart swell some times. And they are all totally guaranteed feel-good reads, if you like the genre. That's important when you read as much as I do and can get into a slump of books that just aren't that interesting or captivating. I know, without a doubt, that if I want a bit of perfectly flavored brain candy, Moning's Highlander series is where to go for it.
And the story of Adam Black and Gabrielle O'Callaghan is, I think, the best of them that I've read so far. I've been a big fan of Adam's throughout the series, so I knew I was going to enjoy him, but I ended up being very impressed with how much I enjoyed Gabrielle, as I tend to be pretty critical of female leads in romance novels. She was a delightfully spirited and intelligent character who was just self deprecating enough to be easy to relate to. Hell, she had a heck of a lot more self restraint than I would've when first faced with the gorgeous Tuatha De, Amadan D'Jai (AKA Adam Black).
There was quite a bit of truly enjoyable humor in The Immortal Highlander, along with a decent plot that was tightly woven and paced quickly. Adam's being punished by his queen for restoring the life of Daegus, from The Dark Highlander, and has been made human and forced into invisibility for months. Gabrielle, however, is a sidhe-seer, and while she's spent her entire life hiding that ability from the Fae out of fear of death or capture, when she stumbles onto Adam Black, she can't help but stare at him (Oh, please, who could blame the woman?!). When he realizes she can see him, he sets about enlisting her help and correcting a lot of the negative (and - mostly - false) information she's spent her life learning about the Fae. Unfortunately, an old enemy is practically salivating at Adam's fall from Aiobheal's grace, and sets into motion a coup that will bring down the walls separating Faery from the human world, release the Hunters...and kill Adam Black.
Can a disfavored Tuatha De and a sidhe-seer save both worlds from utter destruction...but more importantly, can they survive each other long enough to even try?
The book is a fun, light read and it made me smile, and even tear up a bit here and there. It was completely pleasurable (and the scene in the car about the sheep on the road in Scotland was frickin' hilarious!) and rewarding. I can't say I was totally thrilled with some of the sentiment in the end, as I have a theological issue with one or two aspects of it, but not enough to dim my overall enjoyment of it. Very nice, and just the sort of pleasure reading I needed.
As a huge fan of Karen Marie Moning's Fever series, I thought I'd give the Highlander series a try. I knew going in that the two series are vastly dif...moreAs a huge fan of Karen Marie Moning's Fever series, I thought I'd give the Highlander series a try. I knew going in that the two series are vastly different, but hoped that some of the things that truly make the Fever series stand out to me would cross over. I was pleased that they did.
I won't bother with a synopsis of the story. What I will tell you is that while I used to be a large fan of historical romances and time travel romances, I've been out of that passion for at least a decade and only my love of Moning (and yes, my pining, gnashing, and wailing for Shadowfever) drove me back to one such book. I'm glad for it, too.
I found the characters to be compelling and Lisa Stone in particular to be a lovely protagonist. Circenn was sexy, totally alpha male, and wonderfully mysterious in his own right - and now I understand the reference to Adam that V'lane made in Dreamfever. I very much liked that particular Seelie. Lisa's emotional struggle with a mother dying of cancer struck a very real and true and grief laden chord with me, too. I thought the story was paced well and there was enough depth in the secondary and ancillary characters, as well as the plot, that The Highlander's Touch was a a full, rich delight to read. And there's never a disappointment in Moning's character's dialogue - it's always fun, witty, and sarcastic as each scene warrants. My only true criticism was the ending - I wasn't fond of the direction it went to get to a resolution and I thought it was wrapped up a little too quickly, given the care and thorough detail given to the first 80% of the book. Still, it's a light and engaging read without too much angst or misery and as always, Moning's attention to detail and her ability to embellish on Fae folklore is in fine form here.