Our couple, Trig and Lena, have known each other since forever. They're as close as family and openly share that love. HoweverThis book was pure fun!
Our couple, Trig and Lena, have known each other since forever. They're as close as family and openly share that love. However, the thing that's never spoken about by either of them, is that they are also completely in love with each other in a very non-familial way. The obstacle to that love? Lena's older brother, who put a kibosh on any attempts Trig made with his younger sister as a teen, which he has never revoked.
We rejoin Lena and Trig some 15 years later - and after all three of them ended up training together in a special ops task force - as they jet off to Istanbul to try and track down her now missing brother. You see, 19 months ago Lena got gut shot in the line of duty, and her brother, in his guilt, threw himself deeper into his undercover operation. So deep, in fact, no one has seen or heard from him since. Furious, Lena's determined to find him now that she's back on her feet, mostly. And what kind of "friend" would Trig be if her let her go alone?
Now, there's a twist to the story at this point that makes the title suddenly make a whole heap more sense! Since it doesn't reveal it in the blurb, I won't either, but it's fun and made me smile. A lot!
Both Lena and Trig were totally lovable as main characters, with some great dialogue and scorching steamy scenes. I particularly loved Lena's spreadsheet at the end, lol. Too cute!
Of course, being a Harlequin KISS title, WHAT THE BRIDE DIDN'T KNOW was fairly short and sweet, and although it was wrapped up regarding her brother et all, it was super-brief and the main focus is almost completely on the relationship between Lena And Trig. Which actually worked for me and was just what I was in the mood for.
In sum, I enjoyed WHAT THE BRIDE DIDN'T KNOW a lot and would recommend it as a great, quick read that will put a grin on your face. Give it a try, you won't regret it.
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
Like the total muppet that I am, I didn't bother to check after receiving THE HIGHLANDER'S DANGEROUS TEMPTATION for review, ifHighlander's Redemption
Like the total muppet that I am, I didn't bother to check after receiving THE HIGHLANDER'S DANGEROUS TEMPTATION for review, if it was part of a series or not. Not that it's all that unusual for me to read my hunky highlander books out of order - what spoilers you find are usually very small and probably forgotten by the time you backtrack to that couple's book - but with this one, it seems to me that I might have been wise to at least read the book in which Athdar featured as a child, since it seems to have had quite an impact on his character.
Regardless, I didn't have any problems getting with the programme and understanding that Athdar was an outspoken, impetuous child, whose runaway mouth often got himself, and other people, in trouble. But that was then and this is now. Twenty-some years, two dead wives, and one dead betrothed later, and Athdar is anything but impetuous. He's... just sad, really. He's given up on his dreams of family, happiness and love, believing himself to be cursed since everyone he loves dies.
This forlorn, broken version of a once animated and full-of-life man, speaks to our heroine Isobel. To a part of her that wants to soothe and mend his battered spirit, to show him that the contentedness he seeks as an older man, is still within his reach.
And, yeppers, that does mean he is a touch older than your usual 25-year-old Highland hero. I don't know exactly since it didn't say, but I was guessing him to be around 38 to Isobel's 18. So an age gap relationship to be sure, which was actually surprisingly sweet. And of course, in this era, older men often had younger brides so it's not something any of the other characters in the book would even bat an eye at.
Aside from the romance, the plot had a mystery to its center, which was interesting to watch unfold even though I worked it out early. Athdar suffers from PTSD which, in the period setting, wasn't recognised as a condition. It was therefore a tricky situation for Athdar to be in; trying to keep the respect of his people, while his mind kept letting him down in front of them. Good thing he had someone as supportive and loving as Isobel by his side. But, with his "curse," for how long would that remain true?
There were some nice romantic moments and love scenes in THE HIGHLANDER'S DANGEROUS TEMPTATION, as you'd expect from this type of novel. Though I confess I was expecting Isobel to be more... forward, from the blurb's description of her as "sin personified". I also thought the ending was terribly rushed. Still, all in all this was another enjoyable trip through the Highlands for this reader. I give it a happy and contented 4 Stars ★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ...more
A fantastic follow up! Maggie Shayne at her spine-tingling best! I'm thrilled to say that everything I loved about book one in this series, SleepA fantastic follow up! Maggie Shayne at her spine-tingling best! I'm thrilled to say that everything I loved about book one in this series, Sleep With the Lights On, was back here in the second instalment in full force! It was a thrill ride from start to finish and everywhere in between. I loved it!
For starters, the tension surrounding the romance was delicious. Not an easy thing to achieve considering Mason and Rachel had been allowed to cave into their temptation in the first book (albeit behind closed doors! Grr!). Even so, their current "relationship" is just as enticing in its limbo state, and the reasons they think they shouldn't be together are tested to the limit in this book.
Also ratcheted right back up was the tension surrounding the serial killer that just. won't. DIE! It's incredibly well done, and definitely an interesting twist for a thriller. Although Rachel's reaction when Mason initially asks her to help out on the case is a resounding Oh Hell No!, it soon becomes clear that this new string of murders is definitely connected to the original transplant recipients, and that she will most likely become a target herself very soon.
I find it difficult to review mysteries since, naturally, you don't want to even hint at anything that might spoil another reader's enjoyment. Those Aha! moments are what they're all about, after all. But let's just say I was extremely pleased with how Wake to Darkness played out. It surprised the hell out of me. If you guess who it is before the end, then you're a much cleverer person than I am, because I did not see it coming but at all! I was miles out with my guesses!
To sum up, if you loved book one, this book is just as good if not better. I simply cannot wait to see how she ends the series!
A great read, not to be missed.
4.5 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
Ah, fun, fun, fun. I really liked this one and am glad I picked it up. It was well-written, amusing, different, complex. All good stuff likeCool beans
Ah, fun, fun, fun. I really liked this one and am glad I picked it up. It was well-written, amusing, different, complex. All good stuff like that. Reya, our main character, is a Redeemer. A supernatural occupation I found most fascinating. It literally means that she gives people - usually murdering, raping, thieving scumbag-type people - a chance to redeem themselves before death. Or, to at least acknowledge their sins and ask for forgiveness - whether they deserve it or not. I LOVED (yes, capitals) this concept! What's more, I loved Reya's method of delivery. And, well, just about everything else about Reya.
Have you ever come across one of those characters where you just think, "Man, she's cool! I wish I had that much sass and swagger!"? Well, Reya was one such character. She filled every scene - most especially in the first half of the book before things got all serious - with this amazing devil-may-care attitude. It was slightly inappropriate, her glib casualness, considering the macabre nature of her job, but that just made it even funnier somehow.
Sadly, it's not all that much fun for Reya herself; dealing with this level of lowlife day in day out; having to see, feel, taste every sin they've ever committed before she goes after them? Not pleasant. But, of course, the plot eventually had to move away from this aspect and develop on a wider scale. And to kick that off, in steps slightly shady detective Thane Driscoll. Now Thane, quite cleverly, I thought, was very similar to Reya, in that he liked to carry out his own brand of vigilante justice on suspects who might otherwise get away with murder - literally and figuratively- under today's laws. Of course, you're not actually allowed to do that, as an officer of the law, and this brought his own soul's "goodness" into question. Something that Reya, as a Redeemer, knows a little something about.
From Thane's point of view, he senses there's something a little more going on than mere coincidence when every accidental death he's seen in the line of duty lately has featured a sighting or video surveillance capture of a mysterious but smoking hot black-haired female. When he finally tracks down said female to question her on it, her infuriating, non-committal answers, usually finished off with a big, fat, shit-eating grin, drive him to distraction. Or maybe it's just the "smoking hot" part that does that...
There was a lot of focus in the rest of the book on good and evil, dark and light, right and wrong. Some nice brain food. And the various different dimensions the human soul can exist in in its many incarnations was fascinating stuff. There was a bit of romance in there as well as you savvy readers may have guessed. When a guy's name is mentioned in the book description, it means there's a romance, right? Even if it's only a teensy one. And here, the romance was pretty good, but the sex scenes? Eh, I wanted more in that area. It felt too much like they were just meeting each other's bodily needs, whereas I need more emotional connection. I know, I'm a marshmallow. So that, and a couple of other small issues make this a 4 star read for me, but one that I still highly recommend paranormal readers add to their list!
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
I enjoyed THE WIND WHISPERER a lot more than I expected to given that it was such a stepOrignally posted at The Demon Librarian
Whispers on the wind
I enjoyed THE WIND WHISPERER a lot more than I expected to given that it was such a step outside my usual comfort zone, and I've never read a book in this culture before, but something about the excerpt I read just spoke to me; forbidden love, the simplistic nature of clan life, star-crossed lovers. I took a chance and it paid off. I thought I might need to use the paranormal angle as a crutch to help ease me into it, but it actually wasn't necessary. I was fascinated by the characters immediately. Now I actually think I'd like to try other books in this genre, which has to be a compliment to this author.
So what's it about? Well, the main character is Anaii and she, as well as being the chief's daughter, is a Wind Whisperer. She can hear the voices of the wind spirits and they tell her things that help her clan: if it will rain, where their enemies are, stuff like that. And they do have enemies - the Zenni, who raid one night and, if not for Anaii's warning, would have obliterated her much smaller clan. But why did they attack, after ten years of peace? Well, that what's Anaii's father wants her to find out.
I enjoyed Anaii as protagonist, flaws and all. And, yes, she does have them. She's young, a little pampered, a little stubborn, and at only 15 winters (although that's considered full grown here), she's new to romantic feelings of any kind, and makes some mistakes along the way. The love triangle was... Well, you know how they go. When both boys are adoraballs it's sooooo hard to see the one she doesn't choose have his heart broken. Why can't they make one of the choices a total butthead to make it easier on us, hmm? *sigh* I'm not one of those readers who's automatically turned off at the mention of a love triangle, and in a way I enjoy the complications they stir up, but they're always, always bittersweet.
I felt a goodly amount of indignation on Anaii's behalf several times during the read. Obviously I'm accepting of the roles each sex plays within this culture, so even though some of that stuff was brow-raising, it was fine. No, it was more how they treated her as a commodity. She being the one that has saved her tribe many times over, yet is to be given in marriage as a prize to the fiercest warrior? Whether she likes it or not? Mmm. It got my hackles up, let me tell you. Was fun to read, though;)
I really enjoyed the Wind Whispering parts. It started off as a tool used only in small ways around the clan, but became so much more. Once the clan troubles escalated, Anaii's skills also rose the occasion and I was glad to see her develop in all ways. Her skills became invaluable.
Although the story was wrapped up and the love triangle fully resolved, it seems the author plans a second instalment for these characters. I would say that at the moment, though, this book works perfectly as a standalone.
All together an enjoyable read that provided a lot of enjoyment and much contemplation. ~ 4 Stars ★★★★
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review...more
There were many, many things I liked about WICKED MISERY. Of them all, I think the worldbuildingOringinally posted at The Demon Librarian.
There were many, many things I liked about WICKED MISERY. Of them all, I think the worldbuilding was my favourite.
Imagine a world filled with all manner of supernatural creatures living out in the open for all to see (albeit confined, mostly, to their own shadowy little corner of the city). Each race has a particular human energy/emotion it needs to feed on. In this book, the secondary character and love interest, Lucen, was a Satyr, for example. As you sly sleuths might have already guessed, that means the emotion he needs to feeds from is lust. Others races feed from rage, doubt, vanity, that kind of thing. In order to feed, however, the supernatural races - or "Preds" as they're called here - have to first turn the humans into addicts. This basically means the humans give their life energy to the Pred in exchange for the feel-good factor they receive in return, which they become addicted to and therefore keep coming back for more. So, it's kind of a two-way street, except an unscrupulous Pred could easily take that feeding too far and then you'd be left with only a husk of a person remaining; a ghoul with nothing left to give. So it's a risky business for the human. But, as we all know, the world is never short on fools willing to do stupid shit for a quick thrill.
Now, this is all very good, and while I thought this concept was awesome and really clever and interesting, it brought with it a slight problem for me. Okay, make that a HUGE problem. Because Lucen, being a Satyr, has to feed from his addicts, and from time to time, engage in sex with them to keep them all happy and hunky dory. Thus making it simultaneously my favorite and least favourite thing about the whole book all in one. Because I, as a reader, will never ever be okay with my love interest sleeping with other people. Of both sexes. It's just not in my nature to share. So unless the author has something amazing up her sleeve to "fix" this situation, maybe by giving him another way to get what he needs, I'm always going to be unhappy about it. Given the twists and turns in the plot towards the end of the novel, it has to be said that that last statement is well within the realm of possibility. So I'm not without hope. Yet.
Aside from that, there were a lot of other things I liked too. I liked the protagonist, Jessica, for example, who, by the way, also feeds on people, though she is not a Pred, only a magical human. She feeds on their misery (hence the title). So anyone feeling miserable will do; the crappier the better. Also, she's currently using her ability to sense negative emotions to track down would-be rapists, killers etc., and swap their soul contracts for some quick cash. Earning her the nickname Soul Swapper. Though Jessica was a bit judgy where the Preds were concerned in the beginning, I enjoyed watching her growth and acceptance.
Other things of note - Jessica's cross-dressing friend Steph was a riot. The plotting was good and the mystery well set up. I liked the mix of races and the fact that they were mostly mythical creatures as opposed to more modern supernatural beings like vamps, werewolves, etc. Martin's worldbuilding does perhaps rely on a bit of familiarity with these kinds of creatures, however, since there isn't much exposition provided aside from her own new spin on them. Surely you've heard of Satyrs, Sylphs, Goblins, Harpies, Furies and Magi, though? I mean, what self-respecting UF nut hasn't? Pft.
All together, this book had a lot of good, and really just one major personal roadblock that I am willing to overlook for now in the hopes that it just... goes away in the next instalment. Go on, away with you! Shoo! Shoo!
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ...more
This was a quick and entertaining read. Looking at the cover, you might be thinking this book is anything from YA to NA. It's actualStrings attached
This was a quick and entertaining read. Looking at the cover, you might be thinking this book is anything from YA to NA. It's actually neither. The lead character, Christina, is a sassy thirty-something who becomes the fixation of a serial killer in her hometown of Fate. You see, Christina has a number of jobs. Her main one is as a yoga instructor. But she also has a secondary income from creating fake social network accounts for people. Complete with cobbled together profile pictures made by mashing up bits of other pictures from around the web, which she then uses to chat as if she's that person for her clients who want to fool people into thinking they have a hot Italian lover or something similar...
If you're thinking that sounds like a totally skeeztastic way to make money, well, you and I—and one of the secondary characters in the book—would be in agreement on that. It's also the reason she becomes the centre of attention for the killer, who sees her as his "creator".
Lastly, her third job, is running a non-profit organization finding missing children. Driven by the devastating loss of one of her own childhood friends. So it's fair to say she's a woman with a lot of irons in the fire, not all things I admire, but overall, she was a good main character who means well, even if she needs direction in some areas. The person to give that direction might just be FBI agent, Ryan Helmer. He's kinda gruff, no-nonsense, and definitely doesn't like Christina's attitude or what she does, but he's drawn to her. Unfortunately the feelings she stirs in him aren't particularly welcome. He's a man who's already been burned once, and so his antagonistic attitude towards her is an instinctual reaction.
These two were entertaining. From their bickering beginnings to the eventual softening. If anything, I would have liked more romance in STRINGS OF FATE. I think it would have definitely upped my rating if I'd felt more satisfied in that area.
So do I recommend this book? Yes, if you're looking for a quick, suspenseful read with a dash of romance.
3 Stars ★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
This is such a difficult book to rate! I really am having a difficult time settling on a star rating. Normally I just rate on howMe since this book
This is such a difficult book to rate! I really am having a difficult time settling on a star rating. Normally I just rate on how enjoyable I found a book, but Me Since You was so thoroughly and heartbreakingly sad can I really say that I enjoyed myself reading it? Mmm, that might be a stretch...
So, if I can't do that, perhaps I should rate on writing quality? Well, actually, if we're going there, the present tense narrative and the unfathomable allergy to pronouns drove me slightly batty, so perhaps not.
I guess, then, the most important question should be whether or not I would recommend others to read it, despite its moroseness. And, surprisingly, the answer to that is yes. It is definitely worth your time, and was extremely thought-provoking and poignant. Excellent brain food. But you'd need to prepare yourself mentally before going in.
So, what is it about? Well, the story follows Rowan, the sixteen-year-old daughter of a police officer who is witness to a double suicide/murder - A mentally unstable man jumps off a bridge with his newborn son right in front of him. Rowan's father struggles to add the weight of this to the endless list of other atrocities he's seen over the twenty years of his career, and might have been able to bear it, but the dashboard cam from his police vehicle captured the whole thing, and the video soon goes viral, attracting all the hate and vitriol you can imagine from anonymous online users who have an opinion on just about everything - including whether or not he did his job properly that day. It's all too much for him, and it's not long before he disappears onto a fog of depression, taking his family - Rowan and her mother- with him.
To me, this is where Wiess excelled. The way she conveyed the father's decent, and the impotent frustration of both Rowan and her mother during this time, was exceptional. To take a man from someone who was always in command, the main authority figure of the family, to someone who can barely dress himself, was a cruel torment. And understandably, Rowan feels equal measures of compassion and rage for his situation. It was like he was there in person, but not in spirit. And was both fascinating and devastating to read.
Then, as a subplot, there is Eli, a local boy who was also there on the bridge that day. He's a sympathetic ear and romance soon develops, but this part was by no means the focus of Me Since You.
Overall, I found the book to be engrossing, and I'm glad I read it, but I can tell you it left me hankering for something much, much lighter afterwards. You've been warned!
3 Stars ★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
You know, novellas are tricky things. They always leave me unsure how to rate them since they're too short to ever really blow me away wHome For Keeps
You know, novellas are tricky things. They always leave me unsure how to rate them since they're too short to ever really blow me away with their amazing worldbuilding or character development. The only time they succeed in that way are when they're mid series in an already established world. What they are good for as prequels, however, is getting a sense of an author's writing style. And in this, HOMECOMING was a win. I enjoyed the style and the emotion she managed to draw from me in such a short time. But the actual story itself left me feeling frustrated.
Firstly, there was the off-the-charts sexual tension that never came to full fruition, if you know what I mean? *nudge, nudge, wink, wink* That was such a tease! And also the ending, if that is the end for this particular couple, was rushed and unsatisfying.
But what about that sexual tension, eh? If allowed the time to be explored properly in a full-length novel, and with all the other wonderful steampunk and paranormal elements to be found, it could really turn out be something special. So I suppose you could say I'm slightly conflicted over HOMECOMING and unsure if I'm going to carry on with it or not. If the ending had been better, more HEAified, I might be more eager to move on to couple number two. But as it is... The jury's still out, I'm afraid. I'll probably watch for others' reactions to book two; let them be my litmus paper and take it from there, because I do see potential, I'm just not sure it was enough to add the series to my already teetering TBR pile.
An uncertain 3 Stars ★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Isn't She Lovely reads like your favourite Romantic Comedy movie set down in pen and ink.Originally posted at The Demon Librarian.
Isn't it Wonderful
Isn't She Lovely reads like your favourite Romantic Comedy movie set down in pen and ink. Based on an adaptation of the Pygmalion tale, with, cleverly, a plot centred around two film students trying to create the exact same thing, art becomes life and life becomes a lot more complicated in this tale of opposites attract. What made Isn't She Lovely so enjoyable for me is the very thing that makes my favourite movies my favourite movies - chemistry. I mean really, truly GREAT chemistry between the two romantic leads. That indefinable spark that brings a film/book to life. It had all that and so much more. I freakin' loved it!
I can see why there's been movie after movie after movie based on Pygmalion, because there's just something inherently appealing about watching two unlikely comrades-in-arms working together to create this amazing "fool-proof" charade, only to have the plan blow up in their faces as the line between reality and make-believe gets blurred beyond recognition. A lot of these movies are quite clichéd now, however, and I was glad to see Layne tried her best to avoid as much of the cheesiness as possible, while still providing me with a Hollywood-worthy ending sweet enough to make me grin from ear to ear.
Brimming with great banter right from the first page, Isn't She Lovely hooked me instantly and I read it in a single day, which is unusual for me. The witty dialogue doesn't end once things heat up in the romance department, either; it carries on throughout the whole book, really making you feel like the characters were good friends as well as lovers. And yet it never gives the impression that the book is not to be taken seriously. Because there is a lot of emotional stuff in here too. If you've ever watched any of the other adaptations like Pretty Woman, My Fair Lady, She's All That and, one that wasn't mentioned here but that I'm throwing in anyway, Mannequin, then you'll know that trying to create, or recreate, the perfect woman, always seems fun in the beginning (gotta love those makeover montages!), but ultimately leads to a lot of soul searching by both parties. And here it was no different. Can a Goth girl and a spoiled frat boy ever really come together in compromise? Add into that the characters' own troubles, and it was definitely a book with some real, raw emotions going on, despite the ever-present humour.
Stephanie and Ethan were great characters. So endearing and likeable. I was most impressed by Ethan's character, actually. Aside from being a total hottie, which never hurts, he was also a lot more than either Stephanie or I expected. Stephanie even accuses him of being without substance early on in the book during their judgemental, stereotyping phase, but that's far from the truth and I was glad that, although the whole situation of the fake relationship was messy, he never played games. Now Stephanie on the other hand... She was the more troubled of the two, and there were a couple of instances where I felt she was being a little unfair to Ethan. Testing him in circumstances where he was destined to fail. I suppose calling it game-playing would be slightly unfair, but I just felt like the poor bloke was in a lose-lose situation at times. Bless him.
To sum up, I recommend this book to all readers of Contemporary Romance and New Adult. It was one of the most enjoyable NA's I've read so far, leaving me feeling supremely satisfied and yet sad that it was over at the same time. Great fun! ~ 5 Stars ★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blatFind this and more reviews at The Demon Librarian.
Stars in my Eyes
Can I just really quickly share my history with this series with you? I won't blather on about myself for long - promise. It's just that this series was kinda pivotal to my transformation from "occasional reader of mystery novels", to "carnivorous reading fanatic and devourer of all things paranormal" because it was the first true Urban Fantasy series I ever read and the one that opened my eyes to this amazeballs genre. It was also the first book I ever read with a sex scene in it! Are you having that? At the ripe old age of 29 I had the blinders firmly ripped off my eyes by a Ms Karen Chance and her scorching and (as I thought then) scandalous love scenes! I finished book one wondering what the hell I'd just read, and why the hell I couldn't stop thinking about it and all the amazing and endless possibilities there were for a character that could shift through time and space - and immediately ordered the rest of the series! The rest, as they say, is history and four years later I have the sixth book in the series as an ARC to review! If I had Pythian powers and went back to tell 29-year old me that little nugget of information, she'd probably say I was deluded or crazy or both.
I'm a lucky, lucky girl:)
So, with that intro in mind, I think it's safe to say that I love this series! And that's not only because of what it did for me as a reader, or because of any sentimental attachment I have to it, but because of its brilliance, its wit, and its unrivalled cleverness. I cannot even express how mind-boggling some of the time-shift stuff is! Scenes that take place in one book that don't make sense until much later when you realize how much time travel back and forth has been going on. The amount of planning and foreshadowing involved in all that... I can't even. It's just too awesome to compute. And Ms Chance's world, although complex, is so solid. There's not a single grey area in her worldbuilding, and even if there were, it would be because she planned for it to be there three books ago. 'Cause she likes grey. And because she can. Seriously, people quiz her nigh on a daily basis through her Facebook page as they try to get their heads around some of the more head-bending aspects of her plots, and she's thought of everything and then some. There are no chinks in her armour of awesome that I've found.
Moving on to this particular book, now that I've paid my dues for never really reviewing any of the others back in the day (lol). Cassandra Palmer - Cassie to most - has advanced as the series has progressed, as all good main characters should, and as evidenced here in TEMPT THE STARS. Resolutely putting the kibosh on people - vamps, mages, and now witches! - trying to manoeuvre her from point A to point B all the time, and just being more dominant and forthright in general. She could also possibly maybe hit the side of a barn with a gun now, too, thanks to Pritkin, and her power quotient has gone through the roof when compared to that of the smiley face T-shirt-wearing girl we met back in Touch the Dark. Having said that, it's not a complete transformation - the girl whose first instincts are to run and hide hasn't been completely smothered. Indeed, running and hiding are sometimes the best options available to a savvy heroine. But recently, and most especially in this book, she's been letting her "take no prisoners" side out a lot more. That, combined with the intelligence and common sense she's always shown around the vamps, who, in this series are about as sneaky and manipulative as they come, though rarely evil, and you've got yourself an incredibly well-rounded and sympathetic character - who now also kicks ass! Don't you just love it?
In TEMPT THE STARS, Cassie is also forced to take a look at her somewhat closed-off emotions. Not that she's ever been cold, exactly, but wary? Reserved? Oh, yes. Letting people in is extremely difficult when it's been proven time and again that those people will be the first in the firing line by any who wish to control her and her powers, which are now more than just potential - they're a smack-you-in-the-face reality. But being a closed book can be lonely, and there are certain characters who have been slowly chipping away at her emotional shields for quite some time now, and it might just be time to let them in, whether she wants to or not!
Of course, the BIG thing everyone wants to know about TEMPT THE STARS is where the heck Pritkin is, right? Well, I'm not going to tell you. Ms Chance herself is notoriously strict about spoilers so it would be more than my life's worth to spill the beans. But, let's just say that being the world's chief seer - officially now, even - has its perks as well as its pitfalls. And it also has the potential to make the impossible... slightly less so.
And that's it. That's all you're getting from me.
As with all instalments in the series, TEMPT THE STARS is bursting with incredible action scenes with spells whiz-popping here, there and everywhere, often followed directly by the most exquisite introspection scene or a hushed conversation with one of the now treasured stable of characters such as Marco (LOVE him!) or Billy Joe (LOVE him, too!). Some people might say the pacing is too up-and-down, but not me. I think the balance is perfect. For fans of the series who already know this world well, I'll just say that it was business as usual - though with a slightly different feel to it as we explored different settings and magics - and just as incredible as you thought it would to be. Plus twelve. Some authors just seem to have a Mary Poppins-like carpet bag full of endless ideas, and Karen chance is definitely one of them.
There's not a lot else to say without revealing naughty things I'm not supposed to, so I'll just leave you with this: TEMPT THE STARS IS THE BEST OF THE SERIES SO FAR - BY A COUNTRY MILE!
And I love John Pritkin.
5 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
I really have only one complaint about this book so I'll just get that out of the way before I start:Sleep with the lights on - and the door open!
I really have only one complaint about this book so I'll just get that out of the way before I start: Fade-to-black sex scenes... Not cool, Shayne. Not cool. I had to sit with my eyes squeezed shut and use my imagination for a bit. Way to make me work for it. Sheesh...
But since that's the only thing I didn't like, I guess I can forgive you. The rewards were a gripping and cleverly written mystery, a slow-forming but deliciously complex romance, some fantastic, high-octane creepy scenes, a touch of paranormal, a smart-arsed protagonist (seriously, I have a total Girl Crush on Rachel), all finished up to a satisfying conclusion, though with some breadcrumbs left to lead us on to the next book.
Rachel de Luca has been blind since age 12. That hasn't stopped her writing a plethora of self-help books, however, all aimed at better living, thinking positive, being upbeat and perky... HA! Rachel was hilarious. She has this sugary-sweet public persona that she flips on whenever she's, well, in public, but in reality, around her close friends, she's the snarkiest, most acerbic, totally un-PC but completely fabulous character ever. She really made this book something special for me. With murders, emotional traumas and grief going on all around her, her tenacity and strength showed in the fact that she never lost that spunk. And the book was better for it. All good books need light and shade; Rachel was the light in SLEEP WITH THE LIGHTS ON.
Detective Mason Brown is brought into Rachel's orbit when he accidentally runs her over outside the police station, where she'd just reported her bother missing. Oops! Shortly after, his own brother dies and he decides to donate his organs. Who better to receive his corneas than the blind but utterly gorgeous and intriguing Rachel whom he'd just so rudely mowed down earlier that day. There's just one problem: It's not until after his brother's death that he discovers his brother was the very serial killer his police unit has been hunting these last several months, and he may have just given Rachel the eyes of her own brother's murderer. Unless they can find him.
This is just the beginning for our duo. The "touch of paranormal" I mentioned comes in the form of strange dreams and visions Rachel experiences after the surgery. Well, I say it's "paranormal," but the book actually made it sound like there might be some science behind it, or at least, some documented cases of transplant recipients reporting differences in things they like to eat, watch, read, etc. I confess, I haven't bothered to research further on it, but it was fascinating to see Shayne take it that step further in her writing.
As the story progresses, the visions escalate and, bizarrely, the murders haven't stopped. It really becomes quite the tangled web, all told, but Shayne untangles it expertly. I loved Detective Mason's conflict and turmoil. He really is a good guy just trying to do the right thing in crappy circumstances. I did get kind of annoyed with him at times when it *almost* seemed like he was accusing Rachel of knowing too much, when he of all people should know that's not the case. The cheeky bugger. I really liked him, though, and look forward to more of him in book two. Including in the bedroom!
4 Stars ★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
What a thoroughly enjoyable read! Walking the razor's edge between Urban FantasyFind more reviews at The Demon Librarian.
Stone Cold and Hot as Hell
What a thoroughly enjoyable read! Walking the razor's edge between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, STONE GUARDIAN has a love story that simmers and action scenes that will knock your block off. Full of colourful characters, interesting supernats and dangerous adversaries, as well as many tertiary characters that are just screaming for further exploration, I'm really excited to see where Monsch will take the Entwined Realms series.
Here in STONE GUARDIAN I had the absolute delight of meeting Terak, our gargoyle main character. Such an underused, fascinating and pretty freakin' sexy (if Terak is any indication) supernatural class to explore. Monsch brings us a version that's dignified, steeped in tradition and in many ways, held apart from the rest of society. Humans included. That is until the Oracle tells Terak he must watch one particular human - school teacher Larissa Miller. Why? Well, that's what Terak would like to know. But like most Oracles, clear and concise answers are not her forte and she's being very vague about what makes Larissa so darn special.
But let me tell you, Larissa is special, as a main character. Hurrah for non-stupid heroines! Heroines that know their limitations, that don't run headlong into danger or try to commit suicide by stubborn! She was wonderful, charming, engaging, and very likeable. Born on the day the worlds collided, Larissa's family (Dad + four older bothers, all cops) all lost something precious that day - Larissa's mother. For that reason they have no love for any of the supernatural races and live in the human only area. This makes Larissa understandably a little ignorant when it comes to supes, so imagine being thrown into their world head first with EVERYONE trying to kill you, and only a stern-looking gargoyle for protection.
I loved the romance in STONE GUARDIAN. It was sweet, unhurried, tender. Just gorgeous. I hope to see more of Larissa and Terak in future books even if they're not the main characters next time. I also enjoyed several other characters, including some feisty female members of The Guild who brought some comedic relief.
All together a wonderful addition to the paranormal playing field
4.5 Stars ★★★★1/2 ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Incidentally, another author who does this UF/PNR mashup brilliantly is Kate SeRine. You should check her out, too, if you haven't already;)...more
Move over Urban Fantasy. Stick your vampires where the solar rays don't penetrate, and bring on theFind this and more reviews at The Demon Librarian
Move over Urban Fantasy. Stick your vampires where the solar rays don't penetrate, and bring on the hot aliens! Wow. I can't get over how much I enjoyed this book! I picked it up on a whim, really, and after having a rather lacklustre reaction to another Sci-fi title earlier this year, wasn't overly optimistic that I'd enjoy it that much. Boy, was I wrong! I'm so glad I gave this a try because it was just so redonkulously entertaining and interesting and sexy and...gah! It was just amazeballs!
Cassiel Winters is a space cadet with a secret. She experiences what she thinks of as "deja vu episodes" and strange glimpses of overlapping time sequences that she doesn't fully understand. The only thing she does comprehend is that her older brother Daz - a fully-fledged member of ESE (Earth Space Exploration) and her only remaining family - is missing, and that someone left her a note telling her to hide. Having joined ESE herself in the hopes of finding Daz, we join Cassiel towards the end of her cadet training on board a spaceship about to take her final tests for the second time. Being the first cadet ever to fail her original tests is not something she feels particularly proud of, so imagine her surprise when she is asked to undertake a special mission by her commanding officer.
This mission is where it all kicks off and from here I was sold on the story hook, line and sinker. You couldn't have pried the book from my hands with a crowbar. You couldn't have enticed my eyes from the pages with the promise of naked Ryan Gosling. Seriously, it was just fun, ya know? Pure entertainment. I'm thinking SKY'S END is probably going to appeal to the ladies rather than any hardcore Sci-fi fanboys because it was very sexy and sensual in places with many a descriptive passage detailing the hotness of a certain alien race's male members (heh, I said members), and Cassiel's narration is also very female and girlish - wondering if her butt looks too big in her Spandex space suit, for example - which would probably drive guys nuts, but which I found funny. You would though, right? Head-to-toe freakin' Spandex or whatever the hell spacey equivalent there is? I know I would.
These inanities and Cassiel's charismatic, lively narration in general, all added to her appeal and drew me into the story by giving me something recognisable to grasp onto amongst all the Sci-fi whoosimawhatsit which, as a noob to the genre, was all very alien to me (heh, I said alien). That's not to say of course that Cassiel was a perfect character. She could certainly be annoying at times, and unreasonable occasionally, and a bit immature, and possibly too impetuous as well. But she needed those flaws. If not for those she would have come off far too "Special Snowflake," because there was a definite theme going on here of everyone fancies Cassiel, which might potentially annoy some readers. It was explained away by the female-to-male ratio on board the ship being seriously out of whack, and later by the unusual mating rituals of the alien race, but I know some people will take issue with it. I just find that I don't care though. I see it, I recognise it, but I give no shits. Observe how many shits I do not give. I was entertained, and that's all I care about. The set up might have been a total ploy, but it was a fun ploy. In fact, discovering more about this alien race's relationships, or lack thereof, with its female counterparts was one of my favourite things about the story, and led to much contemplation on my part. Well, that and the pew pew pew pew spaceship racing! So like, joint favourites. 'Cause, you know, I'm a dork.
Speaking of spaceships, I found all the Sci-fi stuff complex enough to be interesting, while at no point overwhelming me, and the finer details such as the technology, weaponry and cool gadgetry, all added flavour to what was already a pretty damn tasty cake, so that was great too.
I suppose the best thing of all about SKY'S END was that it kept surprising me. I couldn't have predicted one single bit of it, and that was just so goddamn refreshing! Even with Cassiel, as much as I liked her and thought I had her all figured out, even she would surprise the heck out of me by doing the unexpected. I thought some of her decisions were very brave and admirable, and my respect for her grew as I read on. She may actually be a Special Snowflake! Stranger things have happened.
I don't know much about book two yet other than that it's set to be called Sky's Surrender, but I can tell you one thing about it: When it's released, I will be reading it. Oh, yes I will. If you build it, they will come. So says the Costner.
5 Stars ★★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Book three in the Sentinels of New Orleans series is by far the most blood-soFind more reviews at The Demon Librarian.
Elysian Fields Forever
Book three in the Sentinels of New Orleans series is by far the most blood-soaked story thus far, so naturally it would be my favourite, right? Featuring an axe-wielding serial killer, no less. One whose crimes are getting disconcertingly closer to DJ's neck of the woods. Coincidence? Yeah, she wishes. And so once again our favourite female wizard is in the centre of a shitstorm of epic proportions, and if only that were the worst of her problems!
Oh, I loved this one. Here is a book that's not only a satisfying read in its own right, but also plants seed after seed of future intrigue as Johnson introduces her Long Game. And I have to say, judging by this book, I simply cannot wait to see where she's planning to take us next!
As well as dealing with the Axeman of New Orleans in his undead but frighteningly corporeal form, DJ has some very interesting personal issues to address in Elysian Fields. Some good, some not so good, and some that she's just been plain avoiding for far too long. There was also a lot more emphasis made here on the elves this time around. They've been somewhat in the background up until now, wanting little to do with the rest of supernatural kind, but when they step out of the shadows they sure do it in style! And with some humongous repercussions for DJ, I might add. Not happy with her bond with Charlie, the elven staff, they make their feelings known in true elven tradition: trickery, sneak tactics, and mind games.
Dealing with the elves proves a challenge for DJ. I've mentioned before that she's quite forthright - no wallflower is our Dru - but this poses a problem among the elves who, as a race with a very healthy superiority complex, see her as little more than a mongrel mutt. While not the most violent of the races as a general rule, that doesn't mean their methods of getting their way are a walk in the park. Mental torture being just as effective as the physical kind. Yes, our girl is put though the wringer in this one alright. She may never be quite the same again...
As well as all that, there's another gigantic development. I wish I could tell you what it was, seriously I do. It's a plot twist worthy of the only best UF writers. Not necessarily something you wanted to happen ( like, not at all), and yet you'll be d y i n g to see how it all pans out. You've been warned!
On a slightly more frivolous note, this pesky serial killer malarky doesn't stop DJ from finding time for some romance in Elysian Fields. Nuh, uh. And what a fine hunk of man she picks for her playmate! I bet you want to know who it is, don't you? Hee hee! I'm not telling, but I'm happy. Take from that what you will :)
To sum up, this was yet another great read in a series shaping up to be one of the high flyers of its genre. Absorbing from page one, I couldn't have asked for more.
5 Stars ★★★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
You might also like to read my reviews for the first two books in the series below:
My first Kristen Ashley book didn't go with quite the bang IFind more reviews at The Demon Librarian.
Fire Inside. And it can bloody well stay there.
My first Kristen Ashley book didn't go with quite the bang I'd hoped it would. I've seen plenty of positive reviews for her work and know she's an auto-buy author for many people. And despite my many issues with the characters and dialogue in FIRE INSIDE, I'm still hopeful that I might do better with a book from one of her other, non-biker, series one day. Because really, that's where my problems stemmed from—The Bikers. Their whole "bros before hos" mentality. Their attitude towards women in general. Their ridiculous speech and dialect. Their over-the-top alpha douchecanoeness. And the fact that I found the book's background storyline (something about some drug dealer dude impeaching on their "biker turf") really boring. (Thankfully it only took up about 20 pages in between all the bed hopping).
The story follows Lanie Heron, a good girl gone wild and long-time follower of the biker club Chaos. Her and love interest Hop have known each other from group get-togethers and the like for about eight years, both liking what they saw in each other, but at the time they both had other partners. In this book, they're suddenly both free and single for the first time, and so Lanie propositions him with the offer of a one-night stand. Romantic, huh?
Then sex happens. A lot. Sex, sex, sex sex, sex and a bit more sex.
They of course develop feelings for each other and it all gets hella complicated. Melodrama and overreactions ensue, followed by more make up sex.
My biggest peeve of the whole thing was the language used by Hop and his buddies. Women are referred to as Bitches, Gashes, Pussy, Old Ladies...you get the idea. That was a deal-breaker already, but then on top of that, Hop was also way past the alpha douchecanoe line marked clearly across the floor (He can't even see the line. The line is a dot to him.). And I just didn't like him, basically. Even when he was (supposedly) being sweet calling her "Lady" and insisting she's too posh to be on her knees and is only allowed to perform fellatio on the bed. Like a lady.
Yeah. What a total prize.
I have to say though, even hating the characters as I clearly did, I can still appreciate Ashley knows a thing or two about chemistry and writing a good love scene. Which is why I'm still determined to try another one of her books in the hopes that I just picked a bad one to start with as a newbie.
2 Stars ★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.