I have to admit, I wasn't stoked about reading Snow's book. I'm really not big on rough sex or dark heroes with a penchant for pain. I enjoyed the firI have to admit, I wasn't stoked about reading Snow's book. I'm really not big on rough sex or dark heroes with a penchant for pain. I enjoyed the first book in this series, though, and I've never been disappointed by Jocelynn Drake, so I decided to try it anyway. And I'm glad I did. Because this book didn't cross the lines I thought it would and the authors actually turned my expectations on their ear. So... yay.
We first got a hint of the attraction between Snow and Jude in Shiver. But Snow has firm rules about his hook-ups. They're all one night stands and they are never with anyone from the hospital where he works. Jude's a paramedic and he's nice, which in Snow's eyes makes him totally inappropriate. You see, Snow likes it rough and he likes to dominate. All wrong for someone like Jude. But Jude's got his own ideas, and it's interesting the way it all plays out.
This is not a BDSM book at all. It turns out Snow is all wrong about what he needs and Jude is the man to show him that. I really liked that twist. I liked how this wasn't about doms or subs or pain. It's about a connection between these men. It's about Snow's first time falling in love. And his first relationship outside of his small group of friends.
Jude is a great character. He is nice. But he is not a pushover. He is strong in his own way, and he is a protector. He helps mend something broken in Snow and humanizes him in a way I didn't anticipate. Plus, they were smoking hot in the sack.
In the meantime, there's a bigger arc brewing among Snow and his friends. Someone is targeting them and manages to do some serious damage to the group. It kept the story moving and gave us good reason to interact with Lucas and Andrei, as well as Ian and Rowe. I liked seeing how the Lucas/ Andrei relationship continues to progress. My only complaint is kind of spoilery, so read at your own risk. (view spoiler)[I feel like the authors are setting up Rowe to get a m/m HEA down the road and it bothers me. He loved his wife, but we got these little asides that set the stage he going to have a relationship with a man before the series is over. It was kind of cool that there was a het couple fundamentally part of this group. Now I feel like Melissa was a device to fuel a future Howe romance with a dude. It just feels contrived. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, though, I really enjoyed the story... probably more than the first one. I'm looking forward to seeing Ian get an HEA with his cop, especially with so much of his past uncovered here.
*ARC provided by author["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The Crossfire series is now one of those polarizing collections where most people either gush uncontrollably about the books or spew buckets of hate oThe Crossfire series is now one of those polarizing collections where most people either gush uncontrollably about the books or spew buckets of hate over them. With this book, as with the last, I fall somewhere in the realm of meh. It has its moments. It gave me some of what I wanted. But it's also meandering and self-indulgent. It manages to go both too fast and too slow at the same time, and in the end left me feeling... incomplete.
The big question I had at the end of the last book was about how Sylvia Day could turn this extremely dysfunctional couple into something resembling, well, not crazy. Basically, she spends this entire book focusing on that. It's all about helping them (Gideon especially) get to a better place mentally and emotionally. And while it would be silly to think that he could heal without putting in the work, it also made for some less engaging reading. There's a lot of therapy. There's a lot of self examination. There's a focus on making good relationship choices. There's even a pause on the sex.
All of this is juxtaposed to the crazy still in their lives. Ann. Gideon's mom. Corrine's book. The whirlwind of Eva and Gideon's relationship. Their hidden marriage. Heck, even the big deal cessation of sex lasted less than two weeks and you'd think they abstained for two years.
And some threads came out of nowhere, like a disjointed story about Eva's mom. It was like... wha? Others were introduced and left without resolution, like Cary's relationship drama and the dynamic between Gideon and his brother. Still other threads wrapped up abruptly, giving answers, but little satisfaction.
Overall, I couldn't really connect to what was happening in the book. I didn't care, but I wanted to.
So you may be asking why I wouldn't consider it all bad. Well, I'm still invested in the characters. Gideon especially. I may have been kind of bored by the plot, but this character still managed to draw me in. He's magnetic. And while Eva is less so on her own, she is something special because of her relationship with Gideon. She is his oasis, and I want the man to find the peace that has eluded him for so long. I loved the moments he was able to leave behind all of his baggage. I loved the moments Eva came through for him emotionally.
I believed that somehow they were going to make it work in their own warped way. So in that sense, Day was successful. The HEA was there, and we can leave Mr and Mrs Cross, with the belief they complete each other. But looking at the books as a whole, it definitely left me wanting. Not wanting more, because the series needed to be over. Just wanting something else.
I don't know. Some readers loved it for what worked. Others hated it for all that didn't. I'm just glad I have some closure.
After the train wreck that was The Shadows, I had my concerns about where JR Ward would take the Brothers next. And I have to say that here, the penduAfter the train wreck that was The Shadows, I had my concerns about where JR Ward would take the Brothers next. And I have to say that here, the pendulum swings all the way in the other direction, as far from an unhappy ending as you can get. In Rhage, Ward gives us a hero that is damn near perfect, save for a bit of over-the-top baby blues. And Mary remains his ideal match — loving, supportive, and secure. This is the story of their quest to grow their family. While there is nothing you can’t predict in their journey, it is one that totally satisfies.
There’s plenty of other stuff going on here as well. One of the biggest secondary storylines follows Layla, as she is put on bedrest for the health of the twins, just as Xcor lingers near her orbit. Big things happen here. There’s also a sideplot featuring Assail. And then one with a group of human characters.
I know many readers hate Layla. I actually don’t. I feel like I’ve been waiting ages for progress with her relationship with Xcor –and for her forever-pregnancy to end. I’ve got to say that the story of the twins totally delivered the Feels. Not much happened with her and Xcor per se, but the stage is finally set for their book, and how the King of the Bastards can redeem himself with the Brotherhood.
I never cared much about Assail one way or the other in the previous books. In fact, his threads always annoyed me, since they got in the way of the romances I felt like books were supposed to be about. But here, something changed for me. As he spiraled and found an unexpected purpose, I actually started to gain a little interest. I might could come around on Assail book if Ward keeps this up.
And then there are the humans… or what you could call the filler portion of the book. I didn’t care. I doubt you will care. There’s always at least one such thread in these books –and this one is it.
But Rhage and Mary? You’ll care. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll cry –more than once. But they are good tears. Their story is all about love. And making a family. It’s about rebuilding after loss. And it’s good stuff. My only small complaint (believe it or not) was too much sex. I’m usually down with the hot loving in these books, but here, I was just kind of meh about it. Maybe because there isn’t anything resembling sexual tension involved. The sex was just there, a lot. But the overall dynamic between these two worked in every other way that mattered.
Basically, it’s the antithesis of The Shadows. So I liked it. And I think most BDB fans will too. I’m actually looking forward to The Chosen....more
When I picked up this book, I had no idea it was the third story in a trilogy. But even if I did, I might have picked it up anyway, because it featureWhen I picked up this book, I had no idea it was the third story in a trilogy. But even if I did, I might have picked it up anyway, because it features one of my very favorite tropes: a historical where one person is much lower than the other in social station. Here, the romance is doubly forbidden, because it involves a m/m pairing in the 1800s --and because it involves a lord and his valet. Yum.
David Cyprian has been valet to Lord Richard Vane for more than four years, but he's really been so much more. He's a fixer; whatever goes awry in Richard's life, Cyprian quietly corrects. He has become completely indispensable. And he has become the object of his master's desire. It's a pull that goes both ways, but until now, neither man has acknowledged the attraction. Cyprian could never make a move on someone so high above him; and Richard would never force his attentions on what could be an unwilling servant.
Somehow, though, the stars align and they realize their mutual attraction. The problem is, Richard just can't get over the inequity of power between them. What if Cyprian changed his mind? What if things didn't work out? So they push and pull, trying to figure out where they fit. This, as someone threatens Richard's friends with the secret of their sexual orientation. It's something only Cyprian can fix, but the master/ servant relationship is all cloudy.
So here's the thing: I really liked parts of the book. The sexual tension is fantastic and the payoff is very satisfying. I also liked the class issue and the nature of a gay man's struggle in such a dangerous time. But I really felt the lack from not having read the previous books. It didn't interfere with the romance in any way. But the broader plot... the extended character list... the history... yeah, I felt it. I also Hated (with a capital H) the way Richard called Cyprian "Mr. Fox." There is nothing sexy about that whatsoever.
I felt like there were times the story dragged a little, especially at the beginning. And I felt like there were times Cyprian was too hard on Richard for saying the wrong things for the right reasons.
That being said, I did enjoy the book. It was sexy and I believed in the relationship between the two heroes. But I feel like I would have liked it much more had I read the two books that came before it.
I can't remember the last time I struggled this much to finish a book. This was one of the worst romance books I have read in a long time. Basically,I can't remember the last time I struggled this much to finish a book. This was one of the worst romance books I have read in a long time. Basically, there is no romance. The hero and heroine literally fall in love in one night. And it's the mooney-eyed, can't live without you kind of love. There is no character development. There is no emotional connection. There isn't even a real threat to their HEA. It's sappy. It's silly. It's too long. And I honestly can't think of one redeeming thing to say about it.
The premise is that Grace is raising her seven brothers and sisters now that her parents are dead. She feels like she can never marry because no man will ever want that burden, and she wants to keep her family together above all other things. But when she gets trapped at an inn with Matt, the man she had a crush on in her first season, she decides to throw caution to the wind and spend the night with him. Only she withholds her name and runs away the next morning.
By this point, Matt had already decided this mystery woman was the love of his life and the woman he would marry. (Yes, really.) Thankfully, he is such a masterful artist that he can draw her face from memory and show it around town, trying to find out her identity. She spends the first 100 pages or so hiding from him. I should have just quit there.
It doesn't get better. Once these two reunite, they literally can't keep their hands off each other. Despite all their good intentions, they have sex constantly. They're surrounded by children (10!) yet they find the time and the privacy to do it all over the place. It's a bizarre cross between a sex-a-thon and a rehash of Cheaper By the Dozen. Between all of the kids Grace is raising, along with the four sisters Matt is raising, it's ridiculous. And let's not forget the big old dogs for a little extra aw'shucks value.
So you spend the whole book watching Grace worry about losing the children and you think there must be a threat, right? Pretty much no. It's her worrying. And hiding. And then having lots of sex. And then buying a bunch of stuff for the new house, because apparently these two are bottomless pits of money.
Plus a totally predictable extra-syrup on top of the already sugary ending. There is nothing I can think of that I liked. I ended up skimming in the last quarter because my eyes were glazing over. But I made it to the end... so you don't have to.
This is a totally a satisfying conclusion to a series that has taken me to some really dark places. The main character, Evy, has been put through almoThis is a totally a satisfying conclusion to a series that has taken me to some really dark places. The main character, Evy, has been put through almost every horror you can imagine. She's been raped, murdered, and tortured. She's been experimented on. She's watched her loved ones die. She's even had to pull the trigger, herself. But with her trials have come triumphs. With her suffering has come the kind of personal connections she never thought possible. She has become more than anyone ever believed she could be.
Obviously, that doesn't all happen in this one book. This is the culmination of six books that have transformed Evy and the world around her. It was emotional. It was action packed. It was engaging. And it gave me a resolution to all the threads I needed, yet managed to leave the door open for further exploration. It will surely please long running fans of the series, but I caution new readers that this is not the place to start. This is the end of Evy's journey, not the beginning.
Basically, this storyline brings us back full circle to the Fey. A power-hungry sprite wants to take over Evy's world and it looks like the only way to stop her is to summon something worse to help fight her. But what this book does best is pay off on the characters that Kelly Meding has allowed to live to this point. Marcus and Milo (who I love.) Phin (who is back!) Gina. The Lupus boys. And of course, Evy and Wyatt. It's interesting that one of the biggest problems I had with the early books in the series was their relationship. Now, it's the touchstone of the series.
Sure, there is a lot of action. But there's also heart. There is character evolution that is undeniable and satisfying. More than anything, this book shows us how much Evy has grown into a responsible, honorable woman who thinks before acting and knows the rewards of love outweigh its risks. And I'm not just talking about Wyatt (though I love what they have become together)... I mean her deep friendships, even her bond with the boys.
So... the feels are good; the pacing is good; the worldbuilding, the character growth, the continuity... win, win, win. My only small niggle: you knew exactly which people were going to be the ones most at risk. Even though Meding tries to fake you out, you know. Also, the villain was kind of superficial and out of nowhere for me. BUT, those things didn't keep this book from giving me what I wanted --and needed-- to end the series. It's almost too satisfying. But then I think about everything we've gone through to get here and I realize... I'll take it.
Thank you, Kelly Meding, for not killing Evy again.
I hope we get a chance to revisit Dreg City in its next incarnation....more