I’ll be honest: after Hawke and Sienna’s book (Kiss of Snow), my interest in the Psy-Changeling series kiThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
I’ll be honest: after Hawke and Sienna’s book (Kiss of Snow), my interest in the Psy-Changeling series kind of waned. Don’t get me wrong–I wasn’t about to miss any book Nalini Singh chose to bestow upon the reading world–but KoS was the culmination of nine volumes of highly charged foreplay. There was no way that Tangle of Need could live up to that kind of promise. In a way, though, I appreciate the space that Tangle of Need gave me. It was the right kind of book to come after Kiss of Snow. There’s no way I’d have been able to appreciate Heart of Obsidian as much as I did if it had been book eleven instead of twelve. Which would have been a travesty because Heart of Obsidian is a fantastic read.
Hawke and Sienna’s book was nine volumes in the making, but I’ve been anticipating Kaleb’s story almost as long. The waiting was different, though, because I knew that Hawke and Sienna were meant to be each other’s HEA. In Kaleb’s case, it was more a matter of worrying that his heroine would be worthy of the character. Another difference was that, throughout the series, we’ve been privy to a moment or two of Hawke and Sienna’s perspectives, but never Kaleb’s. He was an enigma–and if you know anything about me, you know I love a man of mystery. I don’t usually worry too much about cover and blurb reveals, but the strip tease method of slowly revealing information about Heart of Obsidian had me checking Nalini’s blog almost every day. I agonized over how much information (if any) I wanted to know about the book before I read it.
In the end, all I really knew about HoO before I read it was that Kaleb was the hero and that the identity of the Ghost was revealed in the book. I knew I was getting a review copy from the publisher because I had participated in the tour, but when it didn’t come by the publication date, I was kind of relieved. I was more nervous about reading it than I had ever realized! Still, when it came, I didn’t hesitate to dive into what turned out to be a book to rival my love of Kiss of Snow. I’d thought KoS would never have any real competition–but how wrong I was! (Note: Hawke 4-Eva!)
Heart of Obsidian sizzles with romantic and sexual tension–this is a Nalini Singh novel, after all–but it’s also a game-changer for the Psy-Changeling series. Nalini packs so much into this one book that you’ll turn page after page until the end suddenly smacks you in the face. And, incidentally, makes you wail with despair because you have to wait so long for the next book. I, personally, want to kick the Guild Hunter books in the shins because I suspect they’re holding up the Psy-Changeling series. Except then I’d have to wait longer for Venom’s book. Unacceptable.
When I reflect on how much I love the Psy-Changeling books, I tend to focus on the romance. Heart of Obsidian does the romance stunningly well, but also highlights Nalini’s skill in world-building. I love (lovelovelove) series books with over-arcing storylines and Nalini Singh is the Queen, Empress, Goddess of that particular skill. HoO also puts paid to my preference for Changeling heroes. I’ve always liked them best, but after Hawke (*dreamy smile*), Kaleb is definitely my favorite. Complex, ferociously protective and on intimate terms with his dark side, Kaleb is a prime candidate for a Book Boyfriend. He’s also lucky enough to have powerful, passionate heroine that perfectly suits him.
In conclusion: I loved this book. I’d recommend the entire Psy-Changeling series based on the fact that it builds up to this one. Just think of it–if you start this series now, that’s twelve delightful books you’ll be able to read in a row. If you’ve already read every book in the series except Heart of Obsidian, don’t worry. It’s as good as your wildest dreams hoped it would be....more
At the end of The Restorer, Amelia Gray had reached an impasse with Detective John Devlin. Despite their obvious attraction, being around him wasn't sAt the end of The Restorer, Amelia Gray had reached an impasse with Detective John Devlin. Despite their obvious attraction, being around him wasn't safe for Amelia. In The Kingdom, Amelia punctuates her decision to stay away from the haunted Devlin by agreeing to restore a graveyard on an isolated island away from Savannah. The job--which is meant to be a distraction as much as a way to get some distance--turns out to be far from what Amelia was expecting.
Instead of a straight-forward job, Amelia learns that she's been summoned to Asher Falls for a reason. There's something nefarious going on on the island, and somehow it's tied to Amelia's past. Lots of questions are answered in this installment but, by the end, even more are forthcoming.
The Kingdom seems almost like it takes place in an alternate reality from The Restorer. Amelia thinks about Devlin a lot--even as she feels a spark of attraction to Thane Asher. There's a pretty large part of me that wishes that The Kingdom had come before The Restorer. But--it would have needed some pretty significant alterations to work. Still, the departure is pretty disruptive. But maybe that's because I just want to get back to Savannah (and Devlin)?...more
Eerie, awesome and utterly atmospheric, The Restorer is the Southern book I've been waiting for. I listened to the audio version, which means that I hEerie, awesome and utterly atmospheric, The Restorer is the Southern book I've been waiting for. I listened to the audio version, which means that I had the added pleasure of hearing the accents of the characters. Whether Khristine Hvam got them right or not, I don't know (though I noticed that she depended a bit too much on droppin' g's), but it tickled me.
The Restorer tells the story of lonely Amelia Gray, who makes her living as a graveyard restorer. It's not just a profession, though. Amelia can also see ghosts--a talent which comes at her peril. For the most part, though, Amelia has managed to keep herself safe from ghosts--until she meets Detective John Devlin.
The attraction is as immediate as it is unfortunate. Because Devlin is haunted by the ghosts of his dead wife and child. Too bad the dead body that shows up in the cemetery Amelia's been hired to restore means they keep running into each other.
With Gothic shades of Rebecca and a compelling mystery to boot, The Restorer captivated me. I listened to the entire book nonstop until I heard the last word. Then I headed back to Audible to get book two....more
Funny, but Charlie got a little grating after a while. I'm waiting on the rest of the books via interlibrary loan. Don't think I'll be shelling any moFunny, but Charlie got a little grating after a while. I'm waiting on the rest of the books via interlibrary loan. Don't think I'll be shelling any money out for them any time soon, but if the opportunity makes itself available, I'll be continuing with the series. Hero is undeniably hot. ...more
Only Thea Harrison could make me excited about a Fae story. I mean, seriously, the woman is a wriThis review was originally published on Ruby's Reads.
Only Thea Harrison could make me excited about a Fae story. I mean, seriously, the woman is a writing goddess. Her heroines kick butt and make me laugh and her heroes are alpha males capable of compassion and tenderness. So, when Ms. Harrison revealed the cover for Hunter’s Season, my feelings were mixed. Half of me was all, “Aw, man! What’s with the pointy ears!” And the other half sat back and pointed out that this was Thea Harrison. Fae or no, this was going to be a hero to swoon for.
I admit, though: initially, I was afraid that Thea Harrison had let me down. Hunter’s Seasonstarts off a little slowly. We’re treated to Xanthe’s return to the land of the Dark Fae in homey detail. It’s the kind of stuff that I’d love in a full-length novel. In a novella? Every word needs to count. I wanted to jump ahead to the action. The good thing about the slow beginning, though, was that we got to revisit Niniane and Tiago right away–which was fun and funny. Niniane’s proclivity for floofy lingerie makes an appearance and Tiago is as indulgent (and protective) of his “Faerie” as ever.
More so than the other novellas, Hunter’s Season is light on the action. There is a sort-of mystery, but it’s solved off-screen and not by the main characters. The resolution is neither forced, nor left unexplained. And yet…I was disappointed by it. The romance is sweet (okay, smokin’) and I wanted it for both Xanthe and Aubrey, but that’s all this story really was–a romance. I prefer the fullness of Dragon Bound and Oracle’s Moon. I don’t think I’d ever pass up an opportunity to read a Thea Harrison book, but for my money? The full-length novel is where it’s at....more
What with book twelve in the Psy-Changeling series being marketed as so epic that they can’t even giThis review was originally posted on Ruby's Reads.
What with book twelve in the Psy-Changeling series being marketed as so epic that they can’t even give us a real description (read: NAMES), I was sorely in need of something to take the edge off. What better than a nice little collection of novellas? As a Nalini Singh fan, I’d already read the second novella, so I was super excited about the first story and the last two. As it turned out, I probably enjoyed Stroke of Enticement and Declaration of Courtship the most, even if one of these was a reread. But, really, I enjoyed all of them because I like the way that each story gives us a little more insight on the nature of the mating bond, which is a big part of the series’ world-building.
Beat of Temptation, as the blurb tells us, is Nathan and Tamsin’s story. It takes us into the past, before the events of Slave to Sensation. This is fun because it allows us a peek at Lucas before he became the DarkRiver alpha. It also explores what happens when the mating bond ignites between a grown man and a teenage girl. Don’t worry, though. By the time the story begins, Tamsin is an adult, and frustrated that Nathan is still making all the decisions about their relationship. Namely, that she’s not ready to be intimate with him (when she totally is). It’s a light, sweet story, but not my favorite.
Stroke of Enticement was a better read. The hero is one of Nalini Singh’s signature alpha Changelings and the heroine is a–gasp!–human. We don’t meet too many of those in this series. I loved this one because I adore it when Nalini writes children into her stories. I can just picture their little faces in the scenes she writes. Stroke packs a fair amount into its small package. None of the stories in this collection satisfied me the way a Psy-Changeling novel does, but this one came the closest.
Declaration of Courtship stood out because of its exploration of the submissive wolf. Though submissive wolves are occasionally mentioned in the Psy-Changeling books, this is the first time we’ve had one as a main character and narrator. In a way, Declaration was the most important book in this collection. If Nalini was going to create dominant heroes, it was inevitable that the dominant/submissive pairing would come up. And if you don’t know that dominant heroes are wasted on submissive heroes, well, email me and we can talk about it. However, just because the heroine in this story is a submissive does not mean she is weak-willed. In fact, I think the fact that she has to struggle against her submissive nature in order to stand up to the hero (and figure out how to be in a relationship with him without losing herself) makes her incredibly strong.
Texture of Intimacy was my least favorite story in this collection, and here’s why: I didn’t particularly enjoy Walker and Lara’s story in Kiss of Snow. I was very much: “Get back to Hawke and Sienna!” And I was completely irritated by the fact that there wasn’t a single ounce of them in this story. Sure, there’s a reference or two, but we never get to see them together. Call me a bitter grudge-holder, but if they were going to take up so much of Hawke and Sienna’s story, shouldn’t they return the favor? Okay, you caught me. I wanted this to be Kiss of Snow: The Extended Epilogue and it wasn’t. Completely my own fault, but there you have it.
Down and dirty rundown:
Beat of Temptation: 3 Matryoshkas: I would have coffee with this novella. Stroke of Enticement: 4 Matryoshkas: I would make dinner for this novella. Declaration of Courtship: 4 Matryoshkas: I would make dinner for this novella. Texture of Intimacy: 2 1/2 Matryoshkas: I would glance at this novella through a store window. ...more
Ruby: I loved Seremela, and Duncan (especially his voice *swoon*), but I was neverThis joint review with Amanda was originally posted on Ruby's Reads.
Ruby: I loved Seremela, and Duncan (especially his voice *swoon*), but I was never really able to get over the snakes-as-hair thing. I realize that makes me shallow, but I couldn’t stop picturing the snakes emerging from her scalp. *Shudder* I tried really hard, because I liked the idea of Seremela’s snakes being an extension of her personality–specifically the way they expressed what she was suppressing. Also, they added plenty of humor. I loved the bits where they reached for Duncan or held on to him.
Amanda: I adored Seremela’s snakes! I thought of the snakes as dreadlocks, and I believe they were described that way as well. And, she’s a Medusa. I don’t think you can have a Medusa without snakes.
Ruby: I agree that you can’t have a Medusa without the snakes. All I’m saying is that the snakes for hair concept squicked me out. I guess I’m just thankful there isn’t a mythological character crawling with spiders. Thea Harrison is fawesome, but there are limits even to her powers. *shudders*
Amanda: *imagines what a black widow spider Wyr would be like*
Ruby: *GAGS* Thea Harrison never fails to make me fully believe in the attraction for her two leads, even in her novellas. She establishes attraction almost as thoroughly as emotional connections. But…Duncan and Seremela’s declarations of love was too fast for me. Bizarrely, I think the ending would have brought me greater satisfaction if they hadn’t said it.
Amanda: The beginning of the novella made it pretty clear that Seremela and Duncan had an established burgeoning friendship (and secret attraction), so I felt like we were jumping into their story after it had already begun. In that sense, they had already had time to build a foundation for a relationship. I wasn’t bothered by their declarations at all. I think it fit with the sweetness of their romance.
Ruby: I loved the way that Duncan and Seremela’s relationship had already begun prior to the novella. In fact, my heart gave a giddy little leap when Duncan showed up at Seremela’s door. I was as excited as she was, and I thought it was the perfect way circumvent the forced romance of some novellas. And I’m not saying that I didn’t buy the romance–I totally did–it was the declarations that came a little too soon for me.
Amanda: Is it too soon in our relationship for me to declare my love for you, Ruby?
Ruby: Ah, no. I’d say it’s overdue, actually!
Of the three Elder Races novellas, I think this was my least favorite. It’s still good, but it fell a bit short for me, in length, romance and plot.
Amanda: Natural Evil was my least favorite. I loved this one. Lurved, if we must get technical. Of course, I read this on a weekend when I had read two novellas before this one. I think when you read a lot of novellas, it’s easier to judge them on their merits rather than expecting them to be a full length book. There’s a lot to pack into a limited number of words. It requires reorienting your expectations, I think. Which is much much easier to do on a novella weekend.
Ruby: Hmm, that’s an interesting point. I don’t read a lot of novellas, really only the ones by authors I already love. I liked the story better in Natural Evil, but the romantic pairing in Devil’s Gate.
Amanda: I am fast discovering that novellas are a whole different ball game.
Ruby: Vetta’s retrieval made the whole thing seem more like a deleted scene from one of the full-length novels rather than its own story. Or a vehicle to introduce wazhisface (the djinn, Malphas). I actually blinked when it was resolved so quickly.
Amanda: It does get resolved pretty quickly, but it only made me pause because there was still a bit of the novella to go (and we hadn’t gotten to the sexin’ part, either, and the sexin’ part is important). It seemed like going to get Vetta was more of a way to throw Seremela and Duncan together for an extended period of time, which it does. Oh, and to reintroduce the tarot cards, which first made their appearance in Natural Evil.
Ruby: I loved that the tarot cards showed up! I think it would be awesome if they were the connecting factor in the novellas. It adds an episodic element that ties everything together. They made me get ridiculously excited to see where they pop up next (aka, in the next novella?).
Another shoe does drop, but it’s not much of one. Another thing that irritated me was the way that Seremela’s relationship with her sister (and Vetta’s recklessness and lack of appreciation for what was done for her) was never properly resolved. Why did she spend so much time setting the relationships up that way if she wasn’t going to follow through on them? Are they going to appear in another story?
Amanda: At that point in time in the story, I was ready for some sexin’. I didn’t really care what happened with Vetta or Seremela’s sister. That kind of experience would be enough to set Vetta straight, I suppose. Like I said, I wasn’t really paying attention to any of that, because I was focused on Seremela and Duncan gettin’ it on.
Ruby: Clearly there is something wrong with me, then.
Amanda: Less thinking, more sexin’. That’s my advice.
Ruby: I enjoyed the details about Rune and Carling. I love it when authors keep in touch with characters that have already gotten their HEA. And I eventually remembered that I’d seen the characters before, but it took a bit to refresh my memory. Was it that way for you?
Amanda: *shrugs* I just rolled with it. I knew that Seremela had made an appearance before (though I didn’t remember much of her) and while I didn’t remember Duncan, I figured we had been introduced to him at one point in time, so I didn’t bother trying to pull any of those facts out. I just read. For the sexin’. And… other stuff. *attempts to look innocent*
Ruby: Gah! I didn’t roll with things at all. I picked everything apart, which is what happens to me when I review an author I admire as much as I do Thea Harrison. Next time, I’m going to sit back and read for the sexin’, too.
I'm usually a sucker for "she was right under my nose the whole time" romances, but this waThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I'm usually a sucker for "she was right under my nose the whole time" romances, but this was one that did not work for me. I was pretty excited about it when I picked it up, but the disappointments kept on coming. First I discovered Big Bad Wolf wasn't the first in The Others Series. Then I discovered that it wasn't the swoony werewolf romance I was hoping for. It started out pretty bad and kept getting worse.
In the beginning, we meet the hero, Graham at a party. He's that romance standard--the playboy. As the novel opens, he's in a funk because he's been celibate for thirteen days. Although I'm not sure thirteen days qualifies for the word. Anyway, Graham's really bummed that his "different woman every night" philosophy hasn't been as appealing to him as it formerly had been. In fact, as his "beta" (his second in command) points out, there aren't many women at the party he hasn't already slept with. Charming, right?
While Graham and his beta (Logan) are discussing the few women present that Graham hasn't despoiled, the heroine shows up at the party. It's her turn to be "fixed". By which I mean that her friends have been setting her up on excruciating blind dates. Only they're not dates so much as assignations. That night's fix involves conservative Missy dressing up in a skanky, uncomfortable dress and high heels. Thus arrayed, Missy finally gets the attention of the one man she's been drooling after for six months. Only he's not a man, he's a Lupine (werewolf) who is known for his promiscuity and his "I don't date humans" attitude. One look at Missy's scantily clad behind, however, and all of Graham's objections to dating humans disappear. Graham literally carries Missy away from the party and into his lair (er, home).
I think that that all this was supposed to be romantic, but I should tell you that, although Missy and Graham have known each other for six months, Graham does not recognize Missy. At least, not until after they've slept together. Which brings me to another point: what self-respecting woman would sleep with a man who doesn't recognize her after six months of acquaintance? Oh, wait, dumb question. A major factor in this novel is Missy's low self-esteem. One thing that made me hate this book was that it was never resolved. Missy had some bad experiences in college, which lead her to hide herself behind the frumpy personality of a kindergarten teacher. Okay, it's time for me to take a deep breath. And write a HUGE aside.
I am a teacher. I don't teach kindergarten, but I work with kindergarten teachers and as part of my training, I worked in a kindergarten classroom. Warren's characterization of Missy as a stereotypical kindergarten teacher infuriated me. First of all, teaching kindergarten is NOT all about teaching five-year-olds to tie their shoes. It's an insult to kindergarten teachers--and how hard they work--to suggest that it is. Teachers work very, very hard. Working with five year olds is especially difficult and it takes a very special kind of person to do it well. It's not all fun, games and singing songs. And despite the short classroom hours, it's not a nine-to-five job. I don't know any teachers who don't take their work home with them in some way or another. The second thing I take issue with is the image of a frumpy kindergarten teacher. It's true that some teachers dress as though they are still stuck in the 1950s. But there's a lot of difference between dressing appropriately for working with five year olds and dressing in burlap sacks. I don't mind that Missy is a frumpy dresser. It makes sense given her history and her low self-esteem, but for god's sake, there was no reason to correlate it with her profession.
Okay, sorry. I had to get that off my chest. On to more book-related issues. Like, for example, Graham was a total jackwagon. He's the worst kind of alpha hero. He makes all the decisions, he lies to Missy, and conceals important information from her, he's controlling, he isolates her, he makes her participate in a disgusting, archaic tradition. He was a thoroughly repulsive hero. Here's one small thing that set me off: As a Lupine, Graham's body temperature runs warm. This means that he doesn't need things like comforters or blankets on his bed. Missy is a human. Most of the time she's in Graham's bed (I bed your pardon, when she's in bed and they're not, er, otherwise occupied), Missy is naked and cold. At no time does Graham try to make her more comfortable by turning up the heat. All he does is throw her one scratchy, inadequate blanket. Ah, God, that pissed me off.
But, wait, that's the not the worst of Graham's actions. He makes a decision in the novel that is indefensible. This part is spoilery, so beware: Graham has sex with Missy knowing that she will get pregnant. He does this without consulting her or even telling her after the fact. Warren tries to justify this by telling us that Missy desperately wants children. But that's not the point. If Missy's willing to take the risk, great. They can make that decision together. But Graham doesn't give Missy a choice. He makes it for her. And, in case you were wondering, yes, part of his motivation is that a baby will keep her by his side. Then, to compound matters, Graham brags about Missy's pregnancy to his archenemy in front of her. Missy takes Graham to task for this--but has already forgotten the whole "I slept with you knowing it would result in a baby. Sorry I told my archenemy before telling you" thing. Gah.
I don't even want to talk about the matehunt thing. If you read it, you'll see.
Missy, though, needs to be addressed. In the beginning of the novel, we learn that Missy has been hiding herself since a bad experience in college. We're never told what the bad experience was, though there are hints. Basically, whatever happened left Missy with some seriously low self-esteem. I think I mentioned that she sleeps with Graham while knowing that he doesn't recognize her? Yeah. That basically sets the tone for their relationship. It kind of seems like Missy's so amazed and grateful that Graham wants her--like, for life--that she's willing to put up with anything. He's sexy, he's hot, he's a scumbag--but he's all hers! Puh-leeze! Grow a spine already.
I also need to mention the pathetic excuses that Missy has for friends. None of them makes a single on-screen appearance. This may be because Graham is an abusive, controlling boyfriend. Or it may be because they're sucky friends. I mean, who wants to be friends with someone who makes you wear clothes you'd rather be caught dead in and setting you up for assignations you didn't want in the first place. I mean, dates are one thing--but Missy's fixes are meant to be more than that, if you know what I mean. Anyway, once Missy and Graham get together (which happens almost right away), Missy's friends pretty much disappear. That was okay with me--I didn't want to see any more of them anyway.
I feel like I could go on and on but I have to stop. I wish this book had been so bad it was good, but it was just bad. I won't be giving the other books in The Others series a try. At least, not if they're anything like this one....more
Boy, it's just not my week. I set aside Witch Heart so I could start on Big Bad Wolf and I gThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Boy, it's just not my week. I set aside Witch Heart so I could start on Big Bad Wolf and I guess I got what I deserved. The only thing is, I didn't like Witch Heart a whole lot more than I liked Big Bad Wolf. It's too bad, really. Enough to turn a girl off Paranormal Romance for a while. Kidding!
I knew going into this book that I wasn't reading the first book in the series. I was prepared for missing puzzle pieces and not being able to connect to certain characters in the novel. Unfortunately, that wasn't Witch Heart's biggest weakness. I think my main struggle with this book was that it suffered from the thing that turns most people away from Romance novels: the hero and the heroine go from zero to sixty in as many pages. I hate that. I like the instant attraction storyline--but I don't like it when the main characters hurry into bed together as though the author is chasing them there with a chainsaw. Sexual tension is at its most delicious when there's time for said tension to build. Bast doesn't give us that with Jack and Claire and that's the major flaw in this book.
Let me tell you a little about the plot. In Bast's world, there are witches, warlocks and demons. There's also a demon world. Occasionally, the two worlds intermix, and not with good results. Demons and warlocks are the bad guys. Witches are the good guys--and in Bast's universe, even males are called witches. I admit that tripped me up every time I ran across it. The hero of Witch Heat is Jack. Jack works as the bodyguard (I think) of Thomas, the leader of his coven. In what I assume was a previous book, Thomas was sent into the demon world, where he met our heroine, Claire. Claire's mother dragged her into the demon world when she was five. After Claire's mother died, Claire was never able to return to Earth--so she has lived the last 25 years of her life as handmaiden to the demon Rue. Claire met Thomas and developed a crush on him in the last book (again, I'm assuming) and helped Thomas escape back to Earth. Then, Rue (who had been tampering with her magick for years), forced something called an elium into Claire and shoved her through a portal that left her stranded on Earth.
The witches of Bast's world have powers that are linked to the elements: air, water, fire and earth. Claire is an earth witch, but because of Rue's tampering, she has access to the powers of the other elements. The elium inside of her is also a dangerous source of power. If extracted from Claire's "seat" of power, the elium could be used as a weapon. This makes Claire the target of some power-hungry demons. The main thrust of the plot is twofold: hiding from the demons trying to find Claire and figuring out how to extract the elium from her.
On Earth, Claire seeks the help of the Coven. Thomas, who is now married, brings Jack to rescue Claire. When the two meet, Claire still hasn't gotten over her infatuation with Thomas--but don't worry. A few more pages will take care of that little detail. It'll be forgotten like it was never there. Claire is supposed to be the outsider in the story. She's lived on another plane for most of her life. Her understanding of modern slang and pop culture comes and goes. She's also lived in an emotional vacuum. She lived among demons who did not much care for her and the only demon she thought did (Rue) forced the elium on her and shoved her, alone, through a portal to Earth. Furthermore, Claire's one and only romantic relationship ended in tragedy. So she begins the novel as a cold, closed off character.
It's the hero's job to "warm" Claire up. Jack is a playboy, or he has been since the death of his wife. Though he's slept around a lot since her death, Jack likes to keep it casual. Which is why his attraction to Claire goes unacted upon for about sixty pages. I personally never bought Jack's grief over his wife's death. He seemed like he felt more guilt than grief. She certainly never gets any personality. Jack professes to miss being married, but we never learn a single personal detail of their life together. Does he miss the way she took all the closet space? The fact that she never rinsed the sink after brushing her teeth? I don't know because Jack never tells us. The same goes for Claire's dearly departed ex. They're both faceless, personality-less and therefore, it's hard to buy into either Claire or Jack's grief. Who would miss two such nondescript people?
The other thing that I didn't like about this book was lack of follow-through and consistency. Characters were constantly contradicting each other and themselves. At first Claire doesn't want to endanger anyone. Then she's suggesting that the most expendable witches come with her. First she's in love with Thomas but then she remembers that he's married and, anyway, here's this hot fire witch who'll do just as well. Sometimes it's best if Claire stays away from the Coven. Then they're driving to get to it. Jack doesn't want to sleep with Claire because it'll feel too much like cheating on his wife. Then, in the next scene, they're doing it and all feelings of betrayal vanish in the afterglow.
Then there's the fact that this book is basically made up of three different kinds of scenes:
Claire insisting that she doesn't want to put anyone in danger. Thomas insisting that his wife, Isabelle, would kill him if he didn't save the woman that saved her husband. Jack insisting that he and the other witches can take care of themselves.
Claire and Jack having sex.
Claire and Jack fighting off demons with things like: the ginormous explosion of the elium, Jack's fire magick, the four threads of elemental magick that Claire the Amazing Anomaly can draw on, thanks to Rue's experimentation.
You could say I got tired of it. Especially toward the end of the novel, when Jack and Claire had sex almost every other page. I couldn't wait to finish this book, just so I could be done with it. I don't mind sex in my books. I wouldn't be able to enjoy Kresley Cole or Nalini Singh if I did. But Anya Bast goes way over the top. It's not the quality of what she writes--although I admit to skimming and rolling my eyes--it's how often she inserts love scenes into this book. I felt like Jack and Claire only ever connected on the physical plane, which doesn't give me much hope for their future. Which makes it a good thing, I guess, that I never became attached to either character. ...more
Okay, I've done it. I've finished a book when I said I would. It was rather like running aThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Okay, I've done it. I've finished a book when I said I would. It was rather like running a marathon. I'm not used to reading on a time schedule which, of course, meant that things I had to do besides reading cropped up right and left. And suddenly, I decided to take a spinning class instead of doing my regular workout. That lost me an hour of my usual reading time.
Although, maybe I would have made all the time in the world to finish Demon's Kiss if I had liked it more. I'll be upfront and say that I got this book at my favorite used bookstore but I only chose it after half an hour of standing in front of the Paranormal section picking titles up only to put them down again. I always try to be optimistic when reading something by a new author. There's nothing better than finding a new someone who writes the kind of books that really work for you--then you often have a whole backlist waiting for you to discover. Then, it's not just a matter of waiting until the next new book comes around--there's plenty of old stuff to keep you occupied!
Eve Silver, however, was not one of those authors for me. I knew that almost right away, due to this exchange between two of the books minor characters (and no doubt, heroes for the later installments in what is clearly a series) and the hero, Ciarran.
He sucked in a slow breath, narrowed his eyes. "So how is it that Asag, a demon of uncommon power walks unbound, unfettered by his summoner?"
"Not just Asag." Darqun leaned in close. "Yesterday I found a minor demon pawing through garbage in a back alley. It had no keeper."
"No frigging way." Javier slapped his palm against the table.
"Way," Darqun grunted.
I rolled my eyes when I read this exchange. Was I being asked to believe that the three guys who talk this way are bad-ass sorcerers who have lived for centuries and continuously work to save the world from demon kind? Really? They don't even use proper swear words, not to mention the high note of melodrama in their speech and a lot of alliterative adjectives. Heh. I mean, unbound was plenty--why clarify with unfettered? Does Ciarran doubt that his friend will understand him if he doesn't use lots of synonyms? If that's the case, then I better put on my happy face for all those demons 'cuz I don't think I'm gonna live all that long. And don't get me started on his use of "T'would" and "T'was". I'll just say my eyes practically rolled right out of their sockets and leave it at that.
Don't think I've forgotten the heroine! Her name is Clea. She takes everything in stride. I mean everything. At the beginning of the book, Clea is nearly attacked by a demon. She's a hot commodity because she is something called a conduit, which, as far as I can tell, means that she can steal Ciarran's power and, also open the portal between the demon and human realms. Ciarran thoughtfully shows up in time to save her life and he basically whips her away from her old life (which includes a job and medical school) but that's okay because her parents died years ago in a car crash and she's literally just buried her grandmother. So, no one misses her, really. I can't say I blame them. Never once does Clea lament the fact that she has been dragged away from the job that allows her to pay the rent, or her third year of medical school, for which she quite clearly states she is paying for through nose. I mean, duh, it's medical school. What boggles me is that, if I had finished three years of medical school and some demons came in and, basically, destroyed my life, I'd be a little pissed. But not Clea. According to Ciarran, she's brave and stupid. Oh, wait, that last one was me talking.
Okay, okay, that all sounds a little harsh. I really hope no one ever shows this review to Eve Silver. Although, I have a hard time imagining that will ever happen. The sad part is that I'm not done nitpicking. Almost as soon as Clea and Ciarran meet (or meet again, rather, since they did [albeit informally] twenty years ago) they have almost instantaneous sexual attraction. I'm not kidding. It's zero to sixty in sixty seconds. Or whatever the phrase is. I don't mind--in fact, I like it--when characters are attracted to each other on the spot. What bothers me is when the characters leap from "he's cute" to purple prose in the space of a heartbeat. It's not that I think such things never happen, it's just that it detracts from the deliciousness that is sexual tension.To be honest, I was bored with Clea and Ciarran's relationship almost from the moment it started. There were no surprises, no interesting elements and by the time they finally gave in to their urges, I was like, okay, already! That's enough!
Other niggling plot points: As I mentioned, Clea and Cirran (more alliteration) meet twenty years before story starts, on a particularly tragic night in the former's life. At one point, when Clea is forced to return to the event of the tragedy, she reflects that she has dreamed about a certain tree at the crash site often in the years since the accident. This makes me wonder: If she so clearly remembers the tree, why doesn't she remember Ciarran's face? If the events are so burned into her memory, then it doesn't ring true to me that she doesn't recognize him when they meet again.
Also, I mentioned that Clea is a medical student, right? Well, when Clea and Ciarran finally, er, do the deed, they have a brief interaction that all responsible couples have. Yes, the one about a condom. Which makes sense. As a medical student, Clea is probably well-informed about the importance of safe sex. But when Ciarran assures Clea that he can't catch any human diseases, she takes him at his word. This is, like, the paranormal version of a guy saying, "I'm totally clean. There's no way I could have anything." And then the girl finds out she's got chlamydia six months later. Not to mention the fact that wearing a condom isn't just about sexually transmitted diseases, it's about pregnancy. I don't know if it's possible for Ciarran to have children--maybe that particular part of his physiology is different--but Silver never brings it up. I thought, at first, Clea would be pregnant at the end of the novel, like it was intentional, but I was wrong. She isn't. And Clea never thinks about the possibility. Which just seems just plain impossible for a person who is supposed to be educated about the human body. But maybe they don't teach that stuff in medical school anymore. Maybe the classes are more along the lines of "Charging Your Patients the Most Amount of Money Possible" and "Making Patients Wait Longer (Advance Studies)". Who knows.
There is one thing that I can say that is positive about this book: the publisher gets props for a relevant book cover. Ciarran has one gloved hand in the book. So does the man on the cover page. Hey, don't knock it. It's not every cover page that bears some relevance to the story. Sometimes I'm convinced publishers put all the cover art in a big hat and let their children pick them out.
Bleh. I'm tuckered out. I didn't know I had so many thoughts about this book until I wrote them all down. I would like to apologize to Eve Silver for panning her book so severely. Maybe someday, a long time from now, I will pick up another one of your books and see how you have improved as a writer. I hope so. ...more
Night Pleasures My favorite of the series (so far), Night Pleasures tells the storyThese reviews were originally posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Night Pleasures My favorite of the series (so far), Night Pleasures tells the story of dreamy Kyrian of Thrace and his unexpected ladylove, Amanda. Though there is a story that occurs before this, Kyrian is the first Dark Hunter to get a book. Julian and Grace from Fantasy Lover make a cameo appearance, complete with babies. And, lo, it turns out Kyrian and Julian are old, old friends (whoda thunk it?). Kyrian may be a badass Greek warrior prince turned immortal vampire slayer, but he's really a big softy. Don't let his general air of menace, his ginormous mansion and fancy car fool you. He gives money to charity, is kind to children, and, you know, saves peoples' lives. Luckily for him, he's met just the woman to help him see that, just because Artemis has his soul, he's still got a heart. (How's that for cheeseball?) One of the most compelling things about Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series is the way she takes Greek mythology and turns it on its head. Without a doubt, she excels at molding and merging mythologies. She's also got a terrific knack for one of my absolute favorite aspects of series romances--the tantalizing buildup to specific characters' books. In this case--Acheron. I give her mad props for this. What I don't think Kenyon is as good as is the individual story. Kyrian was the more interesting of the two main characters in Night Pleasures, but that isn't saying much. Amanda didn't interest me. She's meant to be somewhat ordinary, but she's more than that--she's two-dimensional. I can't recall a thing that she liked, disliked, or was interested in. Well, besides Kyrian. Another thing that didn't work for me is that the sexual tension doesn't get a whole lot a time to build. This is a personal preference. I love it when the build up to the first kiss almost more explosive than the first time in bed together. (Chill out--I said almost!) Sherrilyn Kenyon is more a WHAM! The attraction hits the MCs upside the face kind of writer. I can't fault her for it--but I can't say I love it, either. For better or worse, Night Pleasures was a good introduction to a solid fantasy series. I don't think this is going to be a series that I'll love and try to #bookbully people into reading, but I have sought out as many other audiobooks in the series as I can. Being me, I'm definitely looking forward to getting to know the Were-Hunters a bit better. At the same time, I won't be upset if I miss a couple of installments in the series. 4 Points: I would make dinner for this book. Night Embrace Night Embrace tells the story of Talon, the Dark-Hunter who appeared oh-so-briefly to help Kyrian out in book one. Of the two, Talon and Sunshine's story was my least favorite. This is primarily because the sexual relationship between the two is consummated very, very quickly. There's a good reason for this, but I prefer it when the tension between the main couple has a bit more time to develop. Night Embrace works best for me if I think of it as a chance for us to get further involved in the series, and to better get to know our cast of characters. It also tells us a bit more about what it means to be a Dark-Hunter, how you become one, and what it means to be one. What it's not is a compelling love story. It has a twist that can be seen from a mile away, and an ending that is entirely too convenient and neatly wrapped up. Dance with the Devil Dance with the Devil picks up almost immediately where Night Embrace left off, and features Zarek, who was very nearly a villain in the last book. What's super duper, uber-compelling about this book is, again, the world-building. I didn't like Zarek, and couldn't look past his surly behavior. His actions were meant to speak louder than his words but for me they didn't. No matter how many good deeds Zarek did, he was still an a@%hole. Words count, and so does tone of voice. I don't care how much he'd been hurt and betrayed. He was a jackwagon. And that made it hard for me to like the woman that fell in love with him. However, this is the book where we really get to know Simi, whom I love. I love her obsession with barbecue sauce, the way she talks and the bizarre positions she sleeps in. We also get to see more of that dreamy Ash guy and that bitch goddess, Artemis. There are a few more compelling characters that we get introduced to and, frankly, that made this book worthwhile for me.
So, do I recommend these books as audiobooks? Absolutely. This is the way I think they work best. I'd totally recommend them to anyone who wanted to get started on a Paranormal Romance series that would keep them going for a long time. What I won't do is be putting them on my favorites shelf. 4 Points I would make dinner for these books....more
Last year, I waited for Kiss of Snow with baited breath. I was so anxious for Hawke and SieThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Last year, I waited for Kiss of Snow with baited breath. I was so anxious for Hawke and Sienna's story to live up to my expectations that I gave little thought to after. As in, "What's going to happen to the series after the penultimate couple has their moment in the spotlight?" "Will Nalini Singh be able to create a hero that will tempt me after dazzling me with Hawke?" I shouldn't have doubted Nalini. Adria and Riaz have the kind of sweet, complex romance simmering with alpha male-ness and female strength of will that always brings me back to this series, to this author. In addition, Tangle of Need has revived my interest in the world-building in this series. The romantic pairings are always scorching but, at this point, I'll keep coming back to see what's going to happen in the war between the Psy and the Changelings, and to be there when all the secrets are revealed. I will admit, however, that there was a bit of let-down for me regarding the romantic pairing in Tangle of Need. Riaz and Adria's push-pull, love-hate, yes-no relationship has its moments, but even the sizzling sex scenes didn't excite me as much as the most G-rated moments between Hawke and Sienna. Their tension has had years to build, so it makes sense that it would be a hard act to follow. The good news is that Tangle of Need has so much else going for it that it's difficult to mind much. It also has plenty of newly-mated Hawke and Sienna to satisfy anyone who wanted more of their story after Kiss of Snow. Tangle of Need's strongest aspect is the way that it draws readers further into the Psy-Changeling world, and begins the second arc of the series. It brings new characters into play--and even takes us on a little trip outside the San Francisco area where most of the action takes place. Singh's version of Venice will delight readers, and make them want to see more of the world she's created. I promise. Some secrets are revealed, but the questions are still coming strong. Your mind will be whirring by the end of Tangle of Need's last page. Ultimately, I think Singh made a good choice by making Kiss of Snow's followup about more than the central couple. All the books in the series allow us a chance to reconnect with familiar characters, but Tangle of Need goes a little above and beyond the usual. This gives us space to recover from Hawke and Sienna's story so we're ready to fully invest in the next couple. It's tempting to pester Nalini Singh to bring us the stories of highly anticipated characters (Kaleb, Vasic and now Alice) but she's a writer who knows how to make the wait worth every minute. The best part? Getting there is half the fun!...more
Delicious start to a new series. One doesn't have to be up-to-date with the Night Huntress books in order to enjoy this one, though it might help. HerDelicious start to a new series. One doesn't have to be up-to-date with the Night Huntress books in order to enjoy this one, though it might help. Heroine is spunky, and more than a match for the arrogant Vlad. The ending isn't a cliffhanger, but definitely leaves room for the series to evolve. ...more
Oh, Rune! How do I love thee? Enough to overlook your appalling dress sense, certainly. AheThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Oh, Rune! How do I love thee? Enough to overlook your appalling dress sense, certainly. Ahem. Sorry, this is meant to be a book review, not a hero review. Although... No, never mind. I admit that, when I heard who Rune's heroine was going to be, I was a trifle disappointed. I can't explain why exactly, but it's probably due to the fact that I tend to dislike world-weary been-there-done-that heroines. I should have known better. I should have expected more from the very awesome Thea Harrison. Because not only did she make me like Carling, she made me really like her--and root for her and Rune. I loved this book, but I have a confession to make. I'm still a little bit confused about the plot. It involves time travel, which is basically a big flashing red light that there's going to be something in it to confuse me. Time travel plots always make me go, "Wait...What...?" and "But, didn't...?" I think my brain shuts down in self-defense. I leave the physics to my brother and his Ph.D, and focus on the parts that interest me more. I.e., the hot heroes, the romance and the world-building. It's well-known (I hope) by this point that I'm a huge alpha hero fan. Also well-known? Thea Harrison absolutely knows how to create them. Rune is an alpha hero who Does It Right. He perfectly personifies that sexy-scary hero Thea Harrison describe in her Book Boyfriend post this week. He pushes Carling when he knows she needs it, and need it she does. It's a sort of role reversal. In Serpent's Kiss, Carling is the cold, closed-off half of the couple and Rune is the one that encourages her to feel by not kowtowing to her immense power. He's also the one that encourages her to relax and have fun--he plays the role usually reserved for the quirky, off-beat heroine. Harrison also continues with her fantastic world-building. I'm not going to touch on the time-travel plot (for the reasons mentioned above), but I will say that the trips back in time really worked for me in terms of expanding Rune and Carling's relationship. It happens at lightning speed, which is kind of the formula for Harrison's books. It really needs the extra connecting that happens during the time jumps. I also really dug the vampire lore, and how the concept of the serpent's kiss played into the world's concept of vampirism. The more I learn about Harrison's world, the more eager I am to visit the other demesnes. The last thing I want to touch on is Thea Harrison's talent for introducing new characters. We met Duncan and Khalil in Storm's Heart, but we get to know them better in Serpent's Kiss. I absolutely adore it when authors build up anticipation for characters stories. It's one of the things I love best about Nalini Singh, and I'm giddy with excitement to find an author who can do it with as much success. There's an excerpt for Oracle's Moon at the end of Serpent's Kiss, and it did miraculous things to whet my appetite. Thea Harrison can't write fast enough for me. 5 Points: I would move in with this book. ...more
The first Elder Races book, Dragon Bound, completely and utterly captivated me. And, as mucThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
The first Elder Races book, Dragon Bound, completely and utterly captivated me. And, as much as I have enjoyed each successive installment in this series, neither Storm's Heart nor Serpent's Kiss appealed to me the way that Dragos and Pia's story did. Oracle's Moon, I'm happy to say, ranks almost as high as Dragon Bound in my estimation. I could never say that Thea Harrison was back--because that would imply that her talent went elsewhere--and it has never done so. But, Oracle's Moon definitely has that extra something special that made me go absolutely mad for her writing in the first place. My love for Dragos knows no bounds, but Khalil is pretty awesome, too. He's arrogant, sexy, powerful and totally alpha. Just the way I like my paranormal heroes. And also like heroes of this type, he has some humbling to do. Because in his heroine, he's met his match. Grace-Oracle, grieving sister, mother-replacement, struggling single parent and recovering accident victim--is plenty ready to take this djinn down a notch or two. Whatever Khalil thinks of Grace in the beginning (and it's not in the least complimentary), she doesn't dawdle in setting him straight. Another brilliant aspect of the Elder Races books is that each successive volume does more than introduce a new cast of characters and a new romantic pairing. It also unveils a new layer of the Elder Races world. I learn some new trick, rule or aspect each time, often about a new demesne. How Thea Harrison manages to keep all of these details in her head at one time, I'll never know. It's awe-inspiring, and she deserves props for that alone. While world-building is certainly one of Thea Harrison's strengths, I think I love her characters most of all. Grace is fantastic. She's down-on-her-luck, but still kicking. True, a part of this is due to the fact that she has two small children to look after. She doesn't have the luxury of giving up, no matter how hopeless things get. But she's a take-charge kind of woman, anyway, and she's clear about her boundaries. With Khalil, and with others. You gotta admire that. Khalil, too, is a fascinating, irritating character. He may have great supernatural powers, but he's not omniscient, and to watch such a powerful being make mistakes? One can't help but be amused. He's also the only person (or being) that I buy being able to stand up to Dragos and get away with it. But best of all? The kids. I loved them. I adored little Max and spirited Chloe. I could picture them perfectly in my mind, down to the way Grace felt when she held them in her arms. Kids are awesome, and frustrating and wonderful. Harrison captured that beautifully. Oracle's Moon has been out for a while now, so I surely hope you've already purchased your copy. If you haven't, I tell you, you're seriously missing out. It's a fantastic addition to the series. But don't take my word for it. This is one you have to experience for yourself. 5 1/2 Points: I would have this book's babies....more
It's unlikely that I will ever hate a Nalini Singh book. My love of the Psy-Changeling bookThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
It's unlikely that I will ever hate a Nalini Singh book. My love of the Psy-Changeling books will carry me through any less than satisfactory tale she might tell. I don't mean to imply that Archangel's Blade wasn't a good book--it was. It entirely revived my interest in the Guild Hunter books, which have always taken a back seat to her other series. For me, anyway. In the first three Guild Hunter books, Raphael and Elena were center stage. But Raphael's right hand, Dmitri made appearances in all three books. He was the slightly malevolent but essentially good character you go all dreamy over because he's "the bad boy". And goodness knows we love a bad boy. Dmitri also houses another male cliche--he's that guy with the tortured past. Between these two characteristics, he's had a legion of (female) admirers since we first met him in Archangel's Blood. In the first three Guild Hunter books--and, indeed, in this one--Dmitri comes off as a cold-hearted you-know-what. Archangel's Blade being his book, we get the opportunity to delve into his psyche, and to learn what events are responsible for him having so thoroughly closed off his human side. The truths that are revealed are so devastating you begin to think of him as well-adjusted. Archangel's Blade also tells the story of a Guild Hunter named Honor. On the surface, this vampire and this hunter have very little in common--except, of course, a mutual attraction. Furthermore, Honor was abducted and tortured by some vampires not so long ago, and so she's understandably wary around Dmitri. He may be good-looking, but he has a reputation for mixing pain and pleasure and Honor, scarred as she is, wants no part of it. In typical Nalini Singh-hero-fashion, Dmitri doesn't see this as an obstacle and commences pursuit. What evolves between these two is more than either of them bargained for, and because this is a Nalini Singh book--that's a wonderful thing. While I enjoyed my reading of this novel, I guessed the twist fairly early on in my reading. Which would have been fine, except that the hints felt clumsy instead of like admirable foreshadowing. And then, when all the details came to light, I wanted a better ending for these two. Spoiler:(view spoiler)[Specifically, I was upset that they won't be able to have children, after what they had lost. (hide spoiler)] I also got really worked up over the fact that (view spoiler)[Honor had to go through rape and torture twice! (hide spoiler)] In the end, though I whizzed through Archangel's Blade, the love story didn't completely satisfy me. I did enjoy seeing Raphael and Elena from another perspective. I'm also greatly looking forward to Venom and Poison's book--I'm going out on a limb here, but I think they're meant for each other. I know I'm going to have to wait for it, but hey--I've learned that with Nalini Singh, the waiting is definitely worth it. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I spent a lot of time at the bookstore this past weekend looking longingly at book three ofThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I spent a lot of time at the bookstore this past weekend looking longingly at book three of the Shadow Keepers, When Wicked Craves. I really wanted to read it. But my conscience kept piping up to remind me that I had made a vow to read series books in order. It's a good thing I don't have a well-developed wild side. I gave in to my conscience and brought When Pleasure Rules to the register with me and I don't regret it one bit.
My reluctance to read this book was based on the fact that I'm not really into the whole succubus thing. Or incubus thing, for that matter. I had a similar issue with the Seminus Demon thing in Larissa Ione's Daemonica Series. Anyway. I'm probably just a prude. But I'm glad that I picked up this book because it's got some good characters. And while I had some problems with the story--I was a little uncomfortable with the fact that Lissa, the heroine, had sex with another man in the beginning of the book (but after she'd met the hero, Rand)--I found myself enjoying the journey anyway.
I didn't expect to like the heroine of this book. She's a succubus and there's the non-hero sex. Unexpectedly, I did. She is, as the back cover blurb tells us, strong-willed. She's determined to have her freedom and to get it for others like her. And until Rand walks into her life, sex is about sustenance and physical pleasure--not about connecting to another person. Moreover, Lissa is a sympathetic character. She has a past she's not proud of and she's done things that have hurt people. Many of those things were in a past life she can only sort of remember, but she feels the guilt of them all the same. Lissa is also haunted by the fact that she has a special ability. Not only does she suck souls for sustenance, when she does so, she takes a bit of that person's memory. This makes Lissa a valuable commodity, especially for those who are interested in peoples' secrets. That is, blackmailers and cops. Because of her gift that's not really a gift, Lissa is forced to do things she doesn't want to do--which is doubly painful for a woman who has fought and scratched her way into independence.
Rand, whom we met very briefly in When Blood Craves, is also a tortured character. Even before he was turned into a werewolf, he was pretty bad-ass. As in, gang-banger and, later, in Special Ops. He was nine when he made his first kill, and basically, after that, he never stopped. Ironically, it was after he was bitten (and his wife died) that he took a hard look at himself. Rand's story is the one of a character reformed and it takes Lissa to convince Rand that he has some good in him.
Basically, I felt like these were two characters that deserved each other. Neither is perfect and neither thinks him or herself perfect. I also really appreciated that Beck didn't draw out the undercover part of the story. I was really afraid we were going to be submitted to a long groveling experience where Lissa was forced to feel really awful and rejected and Rand had vicious I-love-her-but-I-hate-her thoughts. Rand does find out that Lissa was sicced on him by Division, and he does see red and scream: Betrayer! but it all happens pretty swiftly. Though I admit there was a moment there where I thought he was going to entirely and completely blow it--not just with Lissa, but with me. He came pretty darn close.
By far, however, my favorite aspect of the novel was the supporting characters. I'm really hoping that Doyle and Sergius get their own books. I love learning about them piece by piece. Both men will make for some mighty fine tortured heroes some day. I also really liked Petra and I'm chomping at the bit to get to her and Nicholas' book. This book was worth it for the world-building and for the characters we got to know. There's a larger arc in the works, I can just tell. It's a little like the Psy-Changeling books in that way and I've just discovered how much I love that sort of thing. ...more
I was totally skeptical before I decided to read this book. I knew Karen Marie Moning wroteThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I was totally skeptical before I decided to read this book. I knew Karen Marie Moning wrote Highlander books and, well, to put it politely, I avoid Highlander books. Another strike against Moning was my peculiar aversion to stories about the Fae. They just don't interest me as much as werewolves and vampires and other supernatural beings. I'm not sure why. It's probably because they're so pretty--and I prefer my heroes manly. Not hairy. Manly. Plus, there's the fact that the Fae are inherently untrustworthy. They're always finding loopholes and it's frustrating just reading about it.
But. I loved this book. It was an Afterlife book for me, almost from the first page. I didn't think I was going to like Mac, but I did, right away. I'm a sucker for first person p.o.v. and I enjoyed Mac's voice right off the bat. I think what I like best about her is that she thinks about material things--clothes, nail polish, her hair--and so do I. Especially the nail polish thing. I often feel like heroines who like things like nail polish or love to shop or take pleasure in clothes that feel pretty are made to be shallow. It makes me angry, because wearing that new nail polish you just bought is a simple pleasure. It gives you a boost. Every time I look at my toes, I get pleasure from it and I don't like it when writers try to make me feel bad about that. I take pleasure in other things, too, after all. I stop and smell roses--literally. Just about this time of year, I revel in the turning of the leaves. I admit that there are more meaningful things in life, but just because nail polish isn't the most meaningful, that doesn't mean it has no meaning.
I'd also like to mention that sometimes superficial things can make or break a situation. Let's say you're having a bad day. First, you left the house five minutes late for work. Then you got pulled over and the cop didn't let you off with a warning--this time you got a ticket. You know this means that your insurance premium will get a hefty increase, which sucks because you also have to pay back the dentist for that crown you got last month. In addition to that, you just found out that your daughter decided not to come home for Thanksgiving--she's going to her boyfriend's parents' house. Then, just when you were consoling yourself that at least you'd have Junior, when he calls to tell you that he can't afford to pay for his flight home on Thanksgiving and if you want him to come you're going to have to pay for it. Which reminds you of the ticket you got that morning, which reminds you of your insurance premium...Sounds like the nightmare version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, doesn't it? Well, let me get to my point. It's this: Imagine this sucky day was yours. But you're holding it together. You know that as soon as you get home you can talk to your husband about it. But when you do get home and take off your shoes and that's when you notice that the toenails you painted so carefully yesterday haven't dried a pale pearly pink like the polish in the bottle. Instead, they're streaky and messy and it looks like a two-year old painted them. Everyone's familiar with the old adage, "The straw that broke the camel's back." Well, let me put it this way: sometimes it's the little things that hold us together. So it make sense that they are the things that finally make us crumble. Moning addresses this in her book in a way I really admire. See, I did have a point related to Darkfever! I can't believe you doubted me.
Okay, now on to more book-related topics. Darkfever works very well as both a mystery and an urban fantasy/paranormal romance. The book begins with the catalyst that sets the story in motion: the death of Mac's sister Alina. Alina's body is found in an alley, the condition of which is revealed through the course of the novel. When the police are unable to make any headway in finding Alina's killer, and Mac hears a message Alina left her just before she died, Mac decides (against the wishes of her parents) to go to Dublin to begin her own investigation. What Mac doesn't know is that she's made a decision that will change her whole life.
Darkfever is, as I mentioned, told in the first person narrative. Furthermore, Mac tells the story as a reflection, not as it happened. Sometimes, the sense of immediacy is lost when an author uses this technique. But, in Darkfever, Mac's future perspective does the complete opposite. You know that Mac will still be alive when the story is over, but Moning gives us hints that she will suffer terribly before the end. That makes us ache and tremble all the more in the novel's tenser moments. And it has a lot. There were many times when I feared for Mac. Knowing that she was going to live through whatever it was almost made it worse.
I loved this novel not just for Mac and the world-building, but the way the plot is built. It's got all the hallmarks of a great series. Moning knows where she's going with her story and she knows how to get us interested in going along with her (and Mac). She also knows how to paint delicious male characters. Although I'm a little unsure about V'lane, I'm willing to, er, spend some more time getting to know him. Jerricho Barrons practically reinvents the strong, surly, is-he-or-isn't-he? hero. Even though I like him, I really, really, really, really hope that he gets what's coming to him for the way he treats Mac. I have a feeling that, since there are four more novels that I have yet to read, Barrons will dance ever closer to a line he shouldn't cross. Thing is, I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the books anyway. I'm totally kicking myself for not making this Fever Series Week instead of New (Old) Series Week. ...more
Lynn Viehl is, of course, only one of many writers that has dipped her toes in the vampire gThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Lynn Viehl is, of course, only one of many writers that has dipped her toes in the vampire genre. Her take is that vampires (here called Darkyn) are former Knights Templar that contracted a sort of viral infection that forced them to drink blood, grow fangs, have supernatural gifts and be sensitive to the sun. Oh, yes, and live very long lives. In the first book, we meet the head of the American vampires, Michael, and his lifemate, Alexandra Keller. In their story, Alex becomes a Darkyn, but not quite. She doesn’t feed from any human directly and is devoted to finding a cure for the “disease” of vampirism. Or Darkynism. Whatever. Alex and Michael make more than an appearance in this novel, as they did in Private Demons. I should mention that Alex was the first Darkyn to be made in centuries, but since her change there seem to be more on the way.
Each of the Darkyn novels so far has had an individual plot that feeds into some larger, overarching ones. There is, first of all, the fact that the High Lord of the Darkyn has appointed Michael the seigneur of the United States. Michael’s rule is in its infancy, and so it suffers from all the things that fledgling governments suffer from. Rivals who wish to usurp his power, renegade members who don’t follow rules…and I lost interest in my list already. Also concurrent is Alex’s aforementioned search for a cure. Oh, and I can’t leave out the continuing conflict between the Darkyn and the Brethren (who are basically evil priests). Each novel brings the readers and the characters further into the story. In that way, the Darkyn novels remind me of Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series.
That said, Viehl is not as talented a storyteller as Singh. She does not quite pull through on the romance front. Her stories are compelling and I enjoy her writing style, but through all three of the Darkyn novels that I’ve read so far, the heroes and heroines have spent more time apart than together. This would be fine except for the fact that I always end up wondering what, exactly, brings them together and keeps them together. Except, of course, for the hot sex. This is one reason why I am glad to see Alex and Michael pop up in each installment. It gives the readers a chance to see their relationship develop in a way that their own story didn’t.
By now you’re probably wondering, what about Dark Need in particular? The hero, if you can call him that, is Lucan. Lucan’s special Darkyn power is an ability to kill by touch. For many years he has acted as assassin for the High Lord, Richard. Lucan has also been the enemy/rival of Michael and was very much put out by Richard’s decision to appoint the latter as seigneur of America. Lucan is a Tragic, Misunderstood hero, who Loved and Lost. Plus, he is also Tormented By The Gift of Death. Samantha, the heroine, is also Tormented. She is an Orphan. She has an Amazing Figure that she downplays. If my random capitalization didn’t do the job for me, I will point out that many of these attributes are Paranormal Romance Standards. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Sam may or may not be a lesbian. Until she meets Lucan, of course. Then there’s no question at all. Finally, Sam has a Special Ability. Since she was shot twelve years ago, she has developed the talent of seeing the last moments of murder victims’ lives. This turns out to be both useful and convenient since Sam is a homicide detective. Sam’s occupation is also the instrument for the meeting between the two. When someone starts killing people and framing Lucan by leaving objects that link him to the crime scene, Sam and her partner get the case. When Lucan first sees Sam, he is struck by her physical resemblance to his lost love—and her ability to withstand the hypnotizing trick that is the specialty of the Darkyn.
I did enjoy reading this story, Paranormal Romance clichés or not. The problem was, I wasn’t satisfied when the book was over. I felt the story was cut off too soon. This may be because Viehl was setting her readers up for the next chapter in the Darkyn universe, but I’m guessing that the next book probably won’t feature much about Lucan and Sam. I base this assumption on the fact that Dark Need does little more than mention the hero and heroine of Private Demons in passing.
The other thing I have to confess is that I skimmed many of the later chapters with Alex’s brother John. I just plain don’t like him. He’s boring, self-righteous and altogether unsympathetic. I stopped caring about his personal journey in the first book. I just hope Viehl is going somewhere with this guy—but I’m having a hard time bringing myself to care. ...more
I think I'm in love. I fall for Kresley Cole's Lykae heroes every time. I love that they yeThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I think I'm in love. I fall for Kresley Cole's Lykae heroes every time. I love that they yearn to find life-mates. I love that they're always tall, gorgeous male specimens. I love their protective streak and their single-minded "She will be mine"-ness. In fact, like Lucia, I have a thing for jealous alpha males. Sigh.
But, um, I'm not sure how to say this...Well...I hate the way they talk. Because all Lykae seem to come from Scotland, they all speak with a thick brogue. Which means that when they're talking to one another, the dialogue reads like this:
"I need to follow Lousha."
"Aye, o' course you must go after her. But maybe you could leave after my wedding?"
"I canna." Garreth took a swig. "No' unless you need me. To help you...acclimate."
Just, FYI, I deleted some of the extraneous internal dialogue from this passage. Anyway, I don't mind the "wees" and the "lasses" so much as the dropped consonants. Every time I see them, I want to shout, "It's not, you idiot!" And the "ayes". God save me from the "ayes". But that's just nitpicky niggly stuff and I can mostly ignore it. Because Kresley Cole is wonderful.
Pleasure of a Dark Prince is the seventh book in the Immortals After Dark series. I have to confess that I have not read all of them. This is mostly because I started the second book (No Rest for the Wicked) and was almost immediately bored by Sebastian and Kaderin's story. The result was that I did not finish that book, but went straight to Bowen's (Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night). I keep telling myself to try another book with a vampire hero, that maybe Sebastian was an aberration, but I haven't yet. Am I wrong? Let me know.
Pleasure of a Dark Prince has the same time line as A Hunger Like No Other, but it tells the events of Emma and Lachlain's story from the perspective of Lucia (Emma's aunt) and Garreth (Lachlain's brother). When Pleasure of a Dark Prince begins, everyone who is familiar with the series knows what's going to happen. Garreth will recognize Lucia as his mate and she will disappear. What we get to learn this time is why Lucia runs away, why she refuses to become Garreth's mate.
I liked that Lucia's reasons for rejected Garreth are layered, even though they are based on one simple fact. If she sleeps with Garreth, she will lose her ability as an unparalleled archer. It is her skill as an archer that is supposed to save her from a long-ago enemy. But it's more than that; being Lucia the Archer has been Lucia's identity for so long that she fears that she'll be nothing without it. And being Garreth's mate is not a substitute she is willing to accept.
So, to explain a little of the plot: Long ago, Lucia made a vow of chastity to a goddess in exchange for her extraordinary ability with a bow and arrow. When Garreth comes along, he is the first male to challenge that vow. The two are instantaneously attracted to one another. For Garreth, that means one thing only: he has to claim Lucia and mark her as his own and he has to do it yesterday. It drives him crazy every time she denies him. He can't understand how she can be attracted to him and still say "no." This is the set-up for the first part of the novel: Garreth talks big about seducing Lucia and Lucia talks big about not wanting him.
Finally, with the help of Nucking Futs Nix (a recurring character who will [yea!] someday have her own novel), Garreth tracks Lucia down as she's boarded a boat for the far reaches of the Amazon Basin. Lucia is forced to accept Garreth's help because it turns out he's the only person ever to return from her ultimate destination (and live). Lucia lets Garreth know a part of the secret she's keeping, but not everything. She knows that if she tells Garreth everything, he will take control out of her hands and solve the problem for her. But the secret that Lucia's keeping is big and she knows that hers is a task that no one else can complete.
One of the things that I love most about Kresley Cole's books is that, while her heroes are alpha males, her heroines are not cowering females. They are strong, opinionated, funny and smart. They don't let their men walk all over them. Though Lucia likes that Garreth has an over-protective streak, that doesn't mean she is willing to let him take control of her life or fight her battles for her. It's heroines like Cole's that make the alpha male really work.
I did love this book. It didn't give me the same delicious afterglow as A Hunger Like No Other, but I did look forward to getting back to reading it and I was always reluctant to put it down. There was one thing that kept Pleasure of a Dark Prince from 6 Point Status, however. That is, I felt that Lucia was able to get out of her deal with Skathi (the goddess) much too easily. I was too pat, too easy. I confess I was disappointed. I thought Cole's solution would be more clever than it was.
I should add that Kresley Cole did really setting this particular fan up for wanting to read the next books in the series. I can't wait to see what Lothaire is up to. And what the deal is with Regin and Carrow. Also, it was nice to catch up with old characters. And, yea!, a baby for Lachlain and Emma (maybe).
I want to end this post with a question. Does anyone know of any other books featuring Valkyrie? The only other place I've seen them show up is in Carrie Jones' Captivate. I'd like to see some other authors interpretations of this mythical group, so please, please let me know if you can make any recommendations. ...more
It took me a relatively long time to pick up this book, but I claim this blog as the reasonThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
It took me a relatively long time to pick up this book, but I claim this blog as the reason for my tardiness. Most everyone probably knows by now that I love Kresley Cole. I think I've mentioned it once or a million times. So this week, after the disaster that was Dead Beautiful, I was aching to get to Demon from the Dark. I stared longingly at it from across rooms. I caressed its spine with loving anticipation. Um...before I embarrass you any further, I think I'll get started with my review.
For those of you familiar with the Immortals After Dark Series, you'll recognize this book's heroine. She's none other than the best friend of Mariketa the Awaited (from Dark Desires After Dusk). Carrow is a witch, just like Mari. She's also a wild child, known for her partying ways and her lack of inhibitions. At the beginning of the novel, Carrow has been kidnapped and, along with several other members of the Lore (Cole's fictional world of fantastic creatures), is being held in a facility on an island. The group responsible (called The Order) has been studying--and torturing--the creatures of the Lore so they can be eliminated. Carrow's--and everyone elses'--powers have been nullified by a torque around the neck. For Carrow, it wouldn't matter anyway. Her power is fueled by happiness and revelry--which are both lacking in the facility where she's found herself.
Carrow quickly discovers why she has been kidnapped. It's not for her powers--which are impressive--but in order to attract and help capture a rare creature in the Lore: a vemon, aka, a vampire demon. A vemon is a powerful creature, having the powers of both mystical beings, and The Order wants to the chance to study one. The vemon in question is Malkom Slaine--former slave, turned general and now boogeyman of the land of Oblivion.
Malkom is the ultimate tortured hero. He's suffered numerous betrayals--all on top of a horrendous childhood as a blood slave. When Carrow first meets him, he's pretty much all caveman. He's filthy, savage and doesn't speak a lick of English. What he does do is recognize that Carrow is both his mate and his Bride. Recognizing this, he attempts to claim her, which doesn't exactly go down well with Carrow.
Demon from the Dark is both interesting and, ultimately, frustrating in that, for a great deal of the novel, Carrow and Malkom cannot communicate. Malkom once knew English (though he calls it Anglish), but it was the language of vampires that tortured him. He has forced himself to forget whatever he knew. Carrow's demonish is limited to a few raunchy phrases taught to her by some jokester demons. The two have to communicate with each other through mimes and pictures drawn in the sand. I didn't mind this at first. But after a while, it really bothered me that they were so physically intimate any yet they couldn't even have a conversation.
The lack of ability to communicate with each other means that the alternating POVs involve a lot of internal dialogue. We know what Carrow's thinking. We know what Malkom's thinking. But neither knows what the other is thinking. This isn't uncommon--I'd say it's the opposite, really--in male/female relationships. In fact, it's one of the things I love best about first-person narrative. It places you entirely in one character's head--everything is skewed by their perspective. But in Demon from the Dark, knowing so much about what each character was thinking was only frustrating. Part of this was clearly intentional--it must be frustrating to basically live with someone who doesn't speak your language--but it wasn't the delicious kind of frustration I usually feel in first-person narrative. Do you know what I mean? That feeling when the heroine is trying to parse out the hero and you know that he loves her (because it's a romance novel, after all) but the heroine doesn't know that and you could squee because the tension is so fainting-couch-good? ...Or maybe you don't.
My other problem with this novel was that Malkom was a little too uncomfortably alpha for me. Don't get me wrong--I like alpha heroes. I especially like Kresley Cole's alpha heroes. But Malkom crosses the line from alpha to caveman. Again, this is partly intentional. Malkom's supposed to be uncouth. He's avoided women all his life--he's never even slept with one. It makes sense that he doesn't quite know what to do with Carrow once he has her. But the way that he comes onto her when they first meet--it made me uncomfortable. Malkom's demon-slash-vampire nature makes him twice as susceptible to the out-of-control reaction a male has to his mate. But as far as I'm concerned, he crosses the line.
Because of Carrow and Malkom's first meeting, I was never able to warm up to him. I was never able to feel that his awful childhood and the torture and betrayals justified the way he treats Carrow. Yes, she betrays him. But she also clearly has reasons. Even when Malkom learns her reasons, he's still a jerk. In the end, I didn't really want them to be together. I think Carrow deserved better.
What did I like about this novel? I liked catching up with Mari and Bowen. I am totally intrigued by what Lothaire is up to. And Nix. I also really liked Carrow. I didn't expect to. I tend to prefer a more reserved heroine--but I really liked her relationship with Ruby. And I liked Ruby--and not just because we share a totally awesome name.
All in all, however, I wasn't terribly impressed with this book. That didn't stop me from devouring it. Cole is a terrific writer. I can't wait to read the next book in the series. I'm dying to read Nix's book. But that's all this book really meant for me--a bridge to the next books in the series. Something to tide me over until better creatures from the Lore come along. ...more
How do I love A Hunger Like No Other? Let me count the ways. One, Lachlain. Two, Emma. ThreThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
How do I love A Hunger Like No Other? Let me count the ways. One, Lachlain. Two, Emma. Three, Nix. Four, Bowen. Five, Lachlain. Six, Nix. Sorry, couldn’t resist. This was my second time reading the first book in the Immortals After Dark Series. I read it for the first time a few months ago, which makes me I’m a recent convert. I’d heard about Kresley Cole and seen her name mentioned many times as a suggested Paranormal Romance author I should try. I think I’ve mentioned that the cover really turned me off. And now I come to think of it, it’s not very accurate. Yes, Emma has long, fair hair, but it’s curly. And the cover kind of makes it look like Lachlain is the vampire. I mean, he’s all pale and looks like he’s very interested in biting Emma’s neck. Also, Emma reflects on Lachlain’s tan skin more than once. And there’s the all-black ensemble. But, points for Emma’s nails being polished! And the gold necklace.
Why did I reread this book? Well, it all started with Pleasure of a Dark Prince. If you’ll recall, a great deal of Dark Prince covered the same time period as A Hunger Like No Other. Of course, in Dark Prince, the action is from Lucia and Garreth’s perspectives. It was great fun to go back and reread Hunger knowing the other parts of the story. While Hunger is Emma and Lachlain’s story, it also introduces Lucia and Garreth’s. We know from the first book of the series that the latter pair will end up together. Lucia is, after all, Garreth’s mate. And Lykae do not let their mates go.
All right, back to the beginning. A Hunger Like No Other begins with Lachlain sensing his mate. He is, unfortunately, in an underground prison. Vampires have been torturing him for 150 years. In order to escape, Lachlain cuts off his leg—no, don’t worry—it’ll grow back. Let me also explain a little about the Lykae/mate thing. Lykae are part of a group of mythical beings called the Lore. The Lore is made up of immortal creatures like werewolves, vampires, witches and Valkyrie, all of great age. Lachlain is “roughly twelve hundred years old.” Though Lykae live a long time, they also have only one true mate. Unfortunately, their mates aren’t always easy to find. Those same twelve hundred years that Lachlain lived, he has dreamed and waited and anticipated and prepared for the “one woman who would be his.” All this should help to explain why Lykae are so possessive of their mates.
Did I mention that Lachlain has been tortured by vampires for 150 years? I did? Oh, well, did I mention that his mate, Emma, the woman that he has waited over a millennium to find, is also a vampire? No? Well, you should at least be able to imagine the drama that ensues when Lachlain finds out that his fated beloved is one of the bloodsucking species. It’s pretty grisly. Especially for the girl, who is known among her Valkyrie aunts as Emma the Timid. When the two meet, Lachlain is furious that fate has dealt him such a blow. Emma is terrified by the bedraggled, but beautiful, man that essentially kidnaps her off the street and demands that she take him back to her hotel room.
What follows is several pages of angsty back and forth between Lachlain and Emma. Lachlain is, from the first, overbearing. This makes sense because he’s the King of the Lykae—basically the alpha of alphas. But also because he doesn’t know that Emma is only half-vampire or that she has never taken blood directly from a human before. Lachlain comes pretty close to being unforgivable. The only thing that saves him is that his anger at having a vampire for a mate is constantly at war with his Lykae need to care for and protect her. And when the latter wins out, he more than makes up for it. I love the little quirks that Cole adds into her characters, like the Valkyries’ acquisitiveness, and their love of nail polish. Lachlain’s genuine desire to make Emma is deeply ingrained. He’s planned on the ways he would make his mate feel cherished and happy for over a thousand years. So when Lachlain is finally able to move past Emma’s vampire nature, the ways that he tries to make things up to her are alternately endearing and laughable.
This book is a shining example of a successful entry into the series. It stands alone as its own story, but it also serves as the starting off point for the books that follow. There’s no awkward exposition, but we learn a lot about the world of the Lore. What impressed me when I read Pleasure of a Dark Prince was how much Cole had already planned out even before the second novel was published. It reminded me of reading the third Harry Potter book and realizing how many layers J.K. Rowling put into Sorcerer’s Stone without her readers realizing it yet.
I think I could write about this book forever, I love it that much. However, this post is already impossibly long and I need to wrap it up. I hate to end on a negative note, but it was inevitable I’d start nitpicking on a reread. You already know I love this book, so I think I’m safe enough to point out a few things I noticed. One thing that niggled at me was Emma’s repeated reflections on Lachlain’s tanned skin. I thought this was bizarre considering the fact that he has spent 150 years in an underground dungeon. Maybe immortals don’t ever lose their tans, but it still niggled at me. Another thing was that, in this reading I wasn’t as easily able to forgive Lachlain’s behavior towards Emma during the first half of the book. He’s pretty awful and if he wasn’t a fictional character I don’t know if I’d ever be able to forgive him. The last thing I want to mention is that, in the Lore, vampires’ eyes turn red when they have killed a person by drinking all their blood. Emma does not have red eyes and yet Lachlain never stops to reflect on this when he is accusing Emma of being a filthy bloodsucker. I suppose that this could be chalked up to Lachlain’s irrationality brought on by the torture he’s experienced.
There’s so much more I wanted to say, so maybe I’ll have to do a follow-up post on A Hunger Like No Other. For now, I need to stop. My eyes are crossing even though my brain is still churning with thoughts. See you soon! ...more
I was sick this weekend, which turned out to be a good thing because it meant I got to catcThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
I was sick this weekend, which turned out to be a good thing because it meant I got to catch up on my reading. It also allowed me to burn through Primal Instincts in a day and half. It kept me reading while lying on the couch amidst a pile of tissues. When I bought this book it was because of two things: I had read somewhere (I no longer remember. It could have been the AAR boards.) that Susan Sizemore was a good bet for Kresley Cole Fans. The other reason was that, while shopping for new, current books to review the weekend before last, this title caught my eye. I can't say it's because of the cover. I'm one of those people who is embarrassed by Romance covers, with all their half naked men and women--and Primal Instincts is no exception. But it was clearly the newest Sizemore title. I flipped through all her other books, but I confess that I chose this one in the end because its description seemed to suit me. Yes, I love alpha heroes. I admit it. I should probably join a support group (though I don't think it would help).
I knew going in that there would be backstory that I wasn't privy to. I knew there would be characters and world-building that I'd have missed. But I also thought, based on experiences with other series, that maybe this would be the book that drew me in. Plus, I don't mind reading a series out of order when the stories are just linked--and the romances are all stand-alone. It's when the series contains the same characters that I get persnickety.
This turned out to be an occasion when I was sorry to realize that I wish I'd started with the first book in the series. I think it would have made Primal Instincts a better read for me. I thought at first that it would be--as I mentioned--like reading Hawke's book first. But I realized, as I read it, that all that would have done was detract from the delicious build-up of tension you get when you know that a character you love will be getting his/her own book. I didn't have that with Tobias and Flare and that's just too bad.
Long story short, I felt like I had missed the first half of this novel. Tobias and Flare begin their relationship almost immediately. They both have issues and baggage--Flare more than Tobias--but from the get go, there's an established connection between the two. Now, I'm just assuming that there was buildup in the earlier books. I could be wrong--please feel free to contradict me. But I was frustrated by the disproportion between the time that Tobias and Flare spent having sexual thoughts about each other and the time when they were supposedly getting to know each other. The description on the back cover tells us that Tobias learns that Flare isn't "the spoiled princess he'd assumed her to be" but the amount of time that Sizemore spent on expanding this side of the relationship was teeny-tiny compared to the "She's beautiful!"/"He's hot!" stuff. I think I also felt that Sizemore spent too much time developing the plot--there's a shocker--doesn't happen that often in a Romance novel--and too little time on Tobias and Flare's relationship. I liked them. I liked that Flare--sorry, Francesca--had depth. And Tobias did too. And I was rooting for them to be together. But they spend sooo much time fighting off the enemy, solving the mystery, saving the world, that there really wasn't much left over for the relationship. I mean, yes, they have time for sex. And they do talk and secrets are revealed, but it just wasn't enough for me.
I would also like to add that, though Tobias has a daughter, never once do they talk about the impact their bonding will have on her. Francesca never so much as reflects on the idea of becoming a stepmother, which I thought was odd. True, Saffron is in another part of the country for most of the novel, but Tobias talks to her and about her often. The subject of Francesca and Saffron even meeting never comes up, and then, when they do, it's brushed off in a matter of a few lines.
My final gripe with this novel was that I didn't know enough about Sizemore's vampires. Each author creates his or her own mythology and you learn about it as you go. I liked the idea of daylight drugs, but I was often confused--does that mean they live normal lives? I.e., sleep at the night and work during the day? And do they need to drink blood to survive or not? How much and how often? I was also confused by all the Clan/Tribe/Matri/Family stuff. Most of the time I wasn't sure what anyone was talking about and this made it kind of hard to follow the plot. But this--all of this--is stuff that I'm assuming I would have been better prepared to handle if I'd read the first eight books in the series first.
Now that I am done with my personal griping, I would like to add that this book engrossed me. I read it while I was brushing my teeth. I read it while waiting for the water to boil for my tea. I always wanted to pick it up again. This is saying something, given everything I've said above. I liked Sizemore's writing and I liked her characters (although I was vastly disappointed that Chiana's story was never completely resolved, but maybe in the next book). I was intrigued by the world that Sizemore had built and now I want to try it all over from the beginning. Oh, and I also want to say that I think Tobias and Flare deserve a sequel. Their relationship would still be worth reading about. But the joy of serieses (is that a word?) is that they allow you to check back in with beloved characters.
I decided, in the end, to give this book Four Points. Sizemore deserves as much from a reader whose criticisms mainly derive from ignorance. However, I reserve the right to alter my opinion, should it change after having read the rest of the series. Joking. (No I'm not.) ...more