As with any review I do for Marie's books, I will start with the necessary disclaimer: Marie Landry is a long-time blogger friend whom I have known foAs with any review I do for Marie's books, I will start with the necessary disclaimer: Marie Landry is a long-time blogger friend whom I have known for several years. I do not say this to discredit the integrity of my review, but rather to ensure that all cards are laid on the table when you read it.
That said, what were my thoughts going into Take Them By Storm? First and foremost that I know I'm late to the party. This released a while ago and I was not actively blogging or reading much at that time. Second, that I was pretty sure going in that this book would be a safe bet for me. I've enjoyed everything Marie has written, so I was fairly certain Take Them By Storm would be the literary equivalent of catching up with old friends.
Was I right? Read on and find out...
The first thing I can say about Take Them By Storm is that it covered all the things I expect (at this point) from a Marie Landry novel. Relatable characters? Check. Beautiful writing with a natural flow? Absolutely. Gorgeous, descriptive prose complete with a setting so vibrantly realized that it seems like its own character? Without question. I had tried samples of three other books on my June reading list and failed to connect with them. I definitely did not have that problem here.
It was beautiful going back to this story world. (I view all stories as their own worlds, even if they are set in ours.) It was great being reunited with Charlotte, Ella, River and Ezra. It was also wonderful getting to know Sadie better. I had hoped she would get her own story and now that I have read it I feel that hope was definitely justified.
The shift from YA to NA was handled well and felt organic for the characters. The characters from previous books were also consistent with who I knew them to be, while still carrying enough growth and depth for me to believe that a year had passed and they were all headed to work / university / college.
Just as vital as the growth I see in the characters is the growth I see in Marie's writing. She used a plot device that drove me slightly batty in one of her earlier books and then turned it completely on its head. She also managed to have me convinced that was not going to happen until the last minute, which made for some very tense, fidgety, nail-biting reading that I usually don't get from contemporary books.
She also did something extremely clever with the romance here, which was definitely a bold move considering that she was already expanding her horizons by writing a romance with two ladies. I don't want to say much more about what goes on in the romance, as I feel that the way it turns out and is developed over the course of the book is one of Take Them By Storm's most intriguing and memorable aspects. Especially from a writing point of view.
Last, I think it's clever how Marie is tying various places she has set up within her re-imagining of Ontario together. Getting to see Melody and Oliva from The Game Changer was a fun surprise.
Purchase or Pass?:
Do you even need to ask? Take Them By Storm is a great novel in its own right, as well as a continuation of the excellent storytelling and gorgeous writing I have come to expect and enjoy in every Marie Landry novel that I read. If you have not read any of Marie's books and you're a fan of contemporary fiction, do yourself a favor and try one. ...more
The moment I read the blurb for The Vampire's Mail Order Bride I knew it was a book I absolutely had to read. One of my favorite paranormal series bacThe moment I read the blurb for The Vampire's Mail Order Bride I knew it was a book I absolutely had to read. One of my favorite paranormal series back in my twenties were the Argeneau Vampire books by Lynsay Sands. Unfortunately, those books have taken a shift in tone (they're still 'good'; just not necessarily at what I originally bought them for) and I have waited a long, long time for a series to come along which could capture and rekindle the humor I felt had largely gone missing from the paranormal romance genre.
So, was the book laugh out load funny, or was the joke on me? Read on to find out.
The first thing I will tell you, since it's the first thing that drew me to this book, is that the humor does not disappoint. Where else can you find a kitty named Captain Underpants who does "cat yoga"? Where else have you heard of characters in a PNR novel breaking the fourth wall and poking fun at the cheese factors of vampire romance? Where have you, or when have you, ever heard of anyone doing these things well?
A large part of why the humor likely worked so well was the lovely contrast between our heroine, Delaney, and our hero, Hugh. The concept of a mortal helping an immortal get a second lease on life (as in re-learning to enjoy it) is an old trope, but it was handled very well here. And Hugh isn't the way he is just to be the way he is; he has very good reasons and I really felt for him. I also like the underlying message that simply going by 'type' doesn't always work. Sometimes the right person is someone you would never have expected. (I also like the fact that it did not take the entirety of the novel for this point to be made, as there were other, far more intriguing, things to be explored.)
The next thing I will tell you is that this book, while hilarious, was no joke. It's filled with interesting and memorable characters who all seem to have their own unique stories and lives going on. The set up of the town, Noctourne Falls, is a perfect balance between our world and a supernatural "world" or society within our world that runs on its own timetable and with its own agenda. I never felt confused or lost, nor did I ever feel that I was being cheated out of learning something I wanted to know. That's the hallmark of good world building, right there. At least to me.
For a book that's only about 250 pages long, The Vampire's Mail Order Bride took me on one heck of a ride. What do I mean? Well, every time I thought I had something about the plot figured out, something would happen to turn everything upside down. Considering that I've read this genre for years, I'd like to think it's not always easy to keep me on my toes.
The story also did a beautiful job of blending a rather exciting heroine in jeopardy external conflict with a very guilt driven internal conflict on the part of the hero. Both of these were handled well. The jeopardy plot was exciting without stripping the book of its fun and whimsy, whereas Hugh's backstory never got pressed on me so heavily that it overburdened the book.
Finally, I will commend the author on making any conflict between the hero and heroine, Hugh and Delaney, -not- the center of what was happening to them. There were a few places where they had problems. But ultimately, this is a story of how can / how will they get together, not why would they want to. I found it very refreshing to see two characters be drawn together and (for the most part) stay that way with relative consistency throughout the course of the novel. It let me enjoy them together longer and thanks to the quality and depth of the conflicts they were facing it never got in the way of the forward momentum of their story.
Last, I want to address the sexual content of this novel since it is technically an adult PNR novel. What I will tell you is that for the vast majority this novel is very clean / tame / mild. Don't misunderstand: the passion and attraction between the characters practically sizzles! But we don't get a play by play of them together in bed; just some really great kisses and an excellent romance set in an interesting take on the supernatural world.
Purchase or Pass?:
If you are looking for a fun (and funny) PNR with memorable characters, solid world building and an interesting story, The Vampire's Mail Order Bride is the book you need. This book sucked me in from page one and absolutely did not let go!...more
I DNF'd this book my first go around, about a year ago--because of the sex. It's not that it was poorly written! Rather, it's that after being traumatI DNF'd this book my first go around, about a year ago--because of the sex. It's not that it was poorly written! Rather, it's that after being traumatized by another guy a few chapters earlier (and only by a day or so in time) the heroine then has UNPROTECTED sex with the hero. Yes, she thinks its a fantasy! Yes, he can't give her an STD, etc. But it was the principle of the thing. I jumped into this on the heels of 5-10 YA books. It felt off to me, and no wonder.
Fast forward to the present? I still wasn't a big fan of this plot development, nor of the fact that there was not really enough reaction to it as the book went on. I found the connection between Beth and Wrath really, *really*, shallow. I didn't really care about them the way I *should* have. It was all too on the surface for me to really get invested.
That doesn't mean I hated the book though! On the contrary, I'm about to start book 4! Why? Because despite the fact that this romance here was not my favorite, the world building, lore, and overall cast in this book--which all carry on as the series progresses--are FABULOUS! J.R. Ward has a real talent for developing a group of characters who really do feel like family, and who felt very real to me. I wasn't crazy about how Wrath and Beth got together, but I was *glad* they did. I also knew I'd want to come back to find out more about other characters I liked, such as Rhage, Butch, Phury and Vishous. (Sorry, people--I'm not a Zsadist fan. Nothing against him, he just didn't grab me. Maybe because he reminds me too much of Zarek from "Dance With The Devil"?)
As a writer, one thing I really like about this series are the variety of POVs and how well they are used. As someone who uses quite a few, and has characters in her own novels whose lives continue to grow, I found how J.R. Ward juggled this very interesting--and I am thrilled with how it is progressing with each book I read. As I hope I made clear above, it makes the whole series feel like a long term investment emotionally, even though the h/h in this book weren't necessarily my favorite couple ever.
Here's how I see it: Dark Lover is a 'good' book in what is shaping up to be a great series. If you are just looking for *a* romance to win your heart, I don't think this is where I wound point you. *But* if you are looking for a world to invest in and become obsessed with, the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and be extension Dark Lover, are highly recommended. ...more