*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
I said in a recent review that I have a very small list of auto-buy authors right now: Nalini Singh is one of that elite group. And after my initial doubt in this story, my faith is fully restored. More than! Allegiance of Honor has no central main couple. This is unusual for not only the Psy-Changeling series but also for books and series in this genre mashup (paranormal romance/urban fantasy).
Nalini Singh has built such a strong, vibrant universe of characters and events that not only is the unusual style of this book refreshing, it’s quite brilliant. This is a chance for fans to take a breather from stepping into the heads of yet another set of new-ish characters, to spend time with some old friends and revisit topics that are long resolved but were of critical importance in their time. So much has happened in this series that a new reader would be completely confused and overwhelmed by this point, and even existing die-hard fans probably have a hard time keeping up with what’s happened across the past 14 books (and multiple short stories and novellas! Newbies: do not start with this book!!).
Allegiance of Honor progresses the overall storyline forward while investing in some much needed grounding time to let readers catch up. The Psy-Changeling series plot arc has undergone massive changes since Lucas and Sasha kicked off a revolution in Slave to Sensation*, and Allegiance of Honor lets the characters catch their breath before Ms. Singh sets them up for more hardship in the next major sequence (whatever that turns out to be). I loved getting glimpses into the lives of all the familiar characters and peeking into the lives of a few new ones I'd like to know better! That said, don't be worried that Allegiance has no action or adventure or couple time. This book has everything you've come to expect from a Psy-Changeling book, just in a little different format.
I love how Nalini Singh subtly weaves relevant sociopolitical and ecological messages into her stories. The last few Psy-Changeling books have highlighted a marine group of shifters whose way of life is being threatened by the slow degradation of the world's oceans. We're not really sure exactly what many members of the BlackSea group shift into, but the message is clear: man's ongoing selfish rape of the planet has hidden and unexpected consequences. On a lighter note, many authors have unsuccessfully tried to sell the idea of water shifters to a mass audience, but if anyone can make that concept a reality, it is surely Ms. Singh, and she's already off to a great start with BlackSea.
This is a rewarding story for long-time fans of the series. Maybe it's the calm before the storm, or maybe it's a hard-earned respite from tragedy, but I came away from Allegiance of Honor feeling happy and hopeful and still wanting even more from this series. The plot threads are still there and there's much left to do. The question now is whether Ms. Singh picks up where this book leaves off or jumps ahead to kickstart a whole new generation in the Psy-Changeling universe....more
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
The burning question in the mind of every Guild Hunter series fan is, "Just what is Naasir?" Is he a vampire? A "tiger creature", as Elena likes to call him? In Archangel's Enigma, author Nalini Singh finally unveils the secrets of the mysterious Naasir, and readers are treated to some up close quality time with the most feral of Raphael's Seven. Opposites may attract, but Ms. Singh puts a new spin on that old standby: Naasir's mate Andromeda is young, seemingly fragile, and a scholar—in vivid contrast to his wild, lethal grace and predatory nature—but she has a hidden core of strength that she's been nurturing under the cover of darkness and a few dangerous secrets of her own. The scene where they meet is just plain entertaining and brings into stark relief the differences between the pair, as well as hinting at the deeper similarities they may share.
Every Guild Hunter book is a grand adventure, but Naasir's is fun. He has such a playful spirit that he brings life to the most mundane of situations. He's also so naturally predatory that he has a way of both amping up and playing down danger and of getting out of situations even other members of the Seven might find challenging. His scholar mate is brilliant and has an inherent talent for fluid combat, so they are perfectly matched.
Graceful strength, wild beauty, predatory intelligence . . . These things are at the heart of every Nalini Singh Guild Hunter story (and the Psy-Changeling books too). Archangel's Enigma is part Indiana Jones, part Braveheart: adventures worthy of a rugged scholarly explorer and emotional ties so deep they grab your heart and don't let go. Every time I finish a Guild Hunter book, I feel full, excited, sad, and satisfied all at once. I always hate that it ends, and can't wait to see what happens next, but am ready give Raphael, Elena, and crew a break before the next big world-breaking crisis befalls them yet again. Hah!
Archangel's Enigma is by far my favorite book of the Guild Hunter series so far, and the others have all been stellar! You will not believe what goes down in this story. Shit. Just. Got. Real! And now I want Bluebell's story even more than ever! Enigma is definitely not a starter book, so if you are new to the series, start with Angel's Blood find out how it all started and get your introduction to the magnificent archangel Raphael and his remarkable Seven....more
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Archangel’s Shadows is set as a filler story on the overarching archangel political plotline of the series but easily stands out as a must-read story in its own right. Fans of the Guild Hunter series will absolutely want to snatch this one up on release day, worthy of putting aside anything else you have in your TBR pile. Readers new to the series looking for a place to start should pick up Angel’s Blood to experience the whole exceptional saga from the very start. One of the most immersive and consistently creative works in urban fantasy, the Guild Hunter series is simply above and beyond anything else in its genre.
The events in this story take place during the period of time just after the battle for New York in Archangel's Legion, and focus on Ash and Janvier's hunt for a supernatural killer. Archangel's Shadows has the feel of the first Guild Hunter book (Angel's Blood), where Elena was the Hunter and her typical prey was of the vamp variety rather than the super-powered archangelic conflicts that have dominated the series since she became an angel. This hunt gives us insight into the previously opaque character of the vampire Naasir and brings out the softer - and more lethal - side of "the Cajun" vampire Janvier. Little moments, deepening relationships between the characters - particularly those who haven't gotten as much page time - are some of the small details that make this series special.
Mmmm, I just ADORE Janvier's voice and the cadence of his speech. I can practically hear True Blood's Bill in my head with each line I read, that slow southern drawl infused with Cajun flair. It's not easy for an author to write such a pronounced accent so well without it coming off as fake or overwhelming, but Ms. Singh delivers with panache. Janvier's dedication to Ash is remarkable and helps him stand out as one of the most endearing men in the series. Layers of easy charm and gracious wit barely contain a core of unwavering focus and a will of steel. The connection he shares with Ash feels so true and organic that I actually miss being their heads now that the book over. I didn't even feel this close to the Archangel's Blade characters during Dmitri and Honor's story, which was one of star-crossed lovers spanning a thousand years. Ash and Janvier are a special couple and her history and character in particular are so much deeper than we have read in other chapters of the Guild Hunter saga.
I also loved getting to learn more about Naasir, the tiger-like vampire member of Raphael's Seven who is a fascinating blend of predatory grace, childlike curiosity, and feral obsession. Of all the characters in the series, particularly the members of the Seven who are still unpaired, it is Naasir whom I see as the least human and most difficult to write a romance for and I cannot wait to read his story!
Archangel's Shadows gives glimpses into the lives of other notable characters in the series, as well as subtle reminders of a few you may have forgotten about - whom I believe still have their own stories yet coming - and leaves readers satisfied yet still wanting more. When it comes to any of author Nalini Singh's works, but particularly with the Guild Hunter series, that's pretty much a given these days....more
Werewolves Be Damned starts off strong and keeps up that heady momentum until the bittersweet close. This is a great new series starter from Stacey KeWerewolves Be Damned starts off strong and keeps up that heady momentum until the bittersweet close. This is a great new series starter from Stacey Kennedy, a paranormal romance with heavy undertones of urban fantasy. The world building is snappy and vivid and Ms. Kennedy doesn't pull any punches when it comes to putting her characters in rough (and often painful) spots. I loved the chemistry between Nexi and Kyden and their personalities are unique and compelling. Nexi is a strong, kick-ass heroine with an edge of brash impatience, and Kyden is her caveman protector with a sensitive, respectful core. The supporting characters in the series are likable and memorable too. Magic & Mayhem promises to be addicting and fast-paced, a new paranormal romance series to keep your eye on!...more
This wasn't supposed to be a review book, just a quick "breather" read between other blog work. A.J. Larrieu, however, apparently had other plans for my past 12 hours when she penned her debut paranormal romance novella Anchored. Angels? Been there. Vamps? Both good and bad, done that! But the way Ms. Larrieu imagined her fictional universe breathes life and energy into a story even further supported by stellar characters with multi-faceted personalities. Little nuances kept me glued to my e-reader for solid chunks of time, as the plot smoothly transitioned from setting-the-scene to action to heart-racing conclusion. There is nothing boring about this novella and I was definitely not ready for it to end! These characters and this story could easily have filled the pages of a full-length novel and kept my rapt attention. Hell, I borrowed the book from the Kindle Prime library and wish I'd bought it outright! Totally worth the purchase.
I don't want to give too much away due to the short length of the book and the fun I had discovering the characters' backgrounds, so I'll just say that the main male protagonist, Jason, made me laugh, shiver, and really wish I had male friends like him, regardless of his former profession! This is not an alpha male, bowl-you-over hero who pushes his way around anything he doesn't get by consent. Jason is an easy-going man with spirit, good humor, some darn handy skills, and a straight-forward attractiveness that is hard to resist. Susannah, our angel heroine is just about everything I like in a strong female lead and nothing that I don't. Willful but not irresponsible, powerful but not abusive or stupid, respectful but not obeisant, and compassionate but not overly emotional If there were really a guardian angel watching over my city, Susannah is exactly the kind of warrior I'd want on the job. Together, they share an effortless bond that feels natural and right.
Kudos to A.J. Larrieu on setting such a high bar for her work on her first published novella. This is a story that should appeal to anyone with an soft spot for angels-doing-good and charming romantic suspense. The love scenes are all about classy heat and simmering connections, and radiate a lovely glow without straying into erotica territory. The action is well-grounded and just descriptive enough to keep you interested without being confusing. I can't wait to see what comes next in this series! Anchored is a GraveTells "must read"!...more
*** THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE! *** For the full review, including Memorable Quotes and other similar book suggestions, check out: http://gravetells.co*** THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE! *** For the full review, including Memorable Quotes and other similar book suggestions, check out: http://gravetells.com/2013/01/08/arc-...
After exhausting the ten single men in her original cast of vampire warriors (*snicker*), Lara Adrian has dramatically and completely revitalized the Midnight Breed series. In the first three pages, we're already introduced to three new warriors... who are tantalizingly dangled as can't-wait-to-learn-more-about-him potential young heroes... and clued into a wealth of new social and technological developments. With the timeline for this story set twenty years after Darker After Midnight, I'd worried about missing the old characters, but there's clearly a changing of the guard in the MB universe, passing the torch from the originals to their children, and I couldn't be happier about it. The characterization and flow of the new warriors and breedmates is modern and edgy, with just the right dose of the youthful shortcomings that makes the potential for tumultuous young love so appealing. In fact, I'd say the sons of the "Order elders", as the original 10 are now being called, are actually more compelling than their parents and I'm eagerly looking forward to reading about ALL of them! The children of some of the original Order couples are either revealed or hinted at in Edge, some with surprising characteristics, and many just as cocky, handsome, and lethal as their fathers... and as beautiful, head-strong, and graceful as their mothers.
The futuristic setting was well done: not overly sci-fi but also not lacking in creativity. I found disturbingly believable parallels for some of the new technology, such as "Faceboards" that blast passersby with ads based on retina scan recognition software. Talk about taking data mining to the next level. The scary fact is that this type of personally invasive tech could plausibly be in our very near future. *shudder*
We last saw Kellan and Mira as children in Darker After Midnight and, while they had a definite connection then, it was a mere whisper of the raging current of passion flowing between them now. Holy Mother of Hotness, I don't often read a vanilla open-door love scene that manages to be reverent, gentle, feverish, and scorchingly intense all at once. Kellan and Mira have some SERIOUS chemistry!
Oh how I love Kellan! Such a good heart, a strong leader (even if he doesn't let himself acknowledge it) and a compassionate, honorable friend and lover. Alpha? Oh yeah, but not obnoxiously so and not in an overbearing way. Kellan's the kind of guy you follow because he does what's right, what needs to be done, regardless the consequences to himself. He is kind and good while also confidently dangerous and lethally trained.
Mira is also a fantastic heroine. Strong and stubborn without being overly brash or continually making the same mistakes, she's become a hardened warrior since we last saw her and one of only a handful of women given her own Order team to command. Her gift is a tragic one; those who look into her mirror-like eyes see pivotal moments in their own future but each time her Breedmate Sight is used, she loses a little of her own physical vision and is not privy to the secrets her eyes reveal, never knowing whether she's handing someone a death sentence or happy tidings. She also believes Kellan is dead and has been living a shadow of a life in love with a male she will never see again. Fate has certainly not given this pair an easy time of things!
The existence of another otherworldly race was hinted at in Darker After Midnight, and Edge of Dawn fully embraces that new story dimension as Ms. Adrian masterfully keeps us strung out and guessing right to the very end.
This is a series reboot of epic proportions, all Abrams-esque and full of sweet, steamy, action-packed promise. Even better, instead of having to recast the original warriors for her "reboot", Ms. Adrian takes us out for a spin with her brand new cast, complete with sexy alpha bad boys and their talented, alluring females. Bring on the new Dawn!
Rivetting and utterly addicting, Edge of Dawn is the best Midnight Breed novel yet!...more
Its been a while since I read King of Darkness and Prince of Power starts right where it left off. I'm not a fan of info dumps and thankfully Ms. Staab doesn't fall victim to the let-me-tell-you-everything-you-missed-in-the-last-book folly, but she also doesn't drop enough hints in the start of the book to help fill in the backstory organically, and I found myself still confused 50 pages in about the circumstances these key characters initially went missing in and the closing scenes of King of Darkness that led to some of the current dialogue.
The initial chemistry between Tyra and Anton was a little shaky for me. That's probably due to the abrupt start of the book; if you've just come from reading King of Darkness, I imagine it will be a smoother transition. I love a strong heroine, but the hero's gotta be strong too, and Tyra treats him with kid gloves. Anton reinforces that at the start with his passive and self-defeating attitude, although, thankfully, the story is tempered with his increasingly frequent flashes of temper and spine as the plot progresses. That said, once Anton comes to terms with who and what he is, and shows just how willing he is to fight for what's important to him, his personality is loveable, multi-faceted and with depth. In this age of alpha-male dominants rampaging all over the pages of our favorite stories, it's easy to forget just how endearing all the other men can be, and Anton is a delightful mix of sensitive and strong, less-than-confident yet powerful, loyal and protective. Even though Anton is a virgin, another rare happenstance for modern-day romantic male heroes, their first love scene is delightfully awkward before shooting right into steamy hot. Thanks be to King Thad, Interrupter Of Coitus and all-around grumpyhead this book, for unknowingly (and probably unwillingly, had he realized what was happening) amping up the intensity of that first encounter.
Tyra, on the other hand, is rash and impulsive in nearly every situation and doesn't seem to learn from her mistakes at all. It's difficult to identify with a heroine like that, especially when you start to dread each new "situation" she's going to cause as you see it unfolding. It actually reminded me a little of the early days of Cat & Bones' relationship from the Night Huntress series, where each was constantly holding things back from the other (especially Cat!) and trying to handle everything on their own. It certainly makes for great drama and excitement, but can be frustrating to read.
Like King of Darkness before it, Prince of Power draws the reader into the story through multi-threaded plotlines and oft-switching scenes. Anton and Tyra are clearly the main focus, but characters from KoD aren't forgotten and new story arcs are skillfully seeded. The secondary storylines are definitely building up to something big, and I felt a little as is Prince of Power is more of a "The Two Towers" sort of puzzle piece. The Lee-Alexia arc has certainly gained new momentum, and something forboding is up with Xander... not to mention the possibility of a high-level conspiracy for Thad's very throne.
The major elephant in the room, and the biggest obstacle for Anton and Tyra as a couple, isn't the fact that he's of wizard descent but that he has powers. Wizards can only attain powers through a grizzly, bloody ritual that involves eating a vampire's still-beating heart, where they steal the power along with the vampire victim's life. Right up to the end I wondered how Ms. Staab was going to resolve this because of the profound sadness and innate mistrust it would constantly cause, not just for Tyra but for all of the vampires both she and Anton would eventually use those powers in front of. The resolution of that conflict is beautifully, skillfully, and believably done.
Overall, Prince of Power is a good read but ultimately lacks the driving energy that so defined the first book in the Chronicles of Yavn series. Anton steals the show and I enjoyed his chemistry with Tyra once those two finally figured out what to do with each other. If you haven't read King of Darkness, you'll definitely want to start there as this is not a stand-alone novel, but it's a good transition to what promises to be a reveal of some very old, very volatile vampire secrets and an explosive wizard confrontation. Prince of Power is a Recommended Read!...more
Warlord Wants Forever is the first story in Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series, originally part of the anthology Playing Easy to Get that featWarlord Wants Forever is the first story in Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series, originally part of the anthology Playing Easy to Get that featured stories from Ms. Cole as well as Sherrilyn Kenyon and Jaid Black (which is a lot of star-power name-dropping for one anthology!). This was my first foray into the IAD universe so I had no idea what to expect. Strange how you can be so familiar with a series and still know nothing about it, right? ;-)
"Alpha male" is a term we throw around a lot these days, seeing as how so many romance stories revolve around them (especially paranormal romance), but Nikolai Wroth really is "alpha" and he's a whole lot "male". A real warlord, turned to a vampire as he lay dying on the battlefield centuries ago, Wroth doesn't care about any woman who can't make his heart beat and waken his sexual desire (called "blooding"); he comes from a time when women were possessions and men didn't need to ask permission. That really should be offputting, but it's not; he has an honorable heart and wants happiness for his "Bride". Speaking of offputting, the "Bride" thing is a little strange, but I suppose I'll get used to it, even though it feels like a shadow of Stoker's vampire bride concept.
Myst is a Valkyrie and her coven of shrieking, lightning-eating sisters is as unruly and brazen as you'd expect from these mythical creatures. "The Lore" is what they call the collection of creatures like them, that humans believe to be simply stories. Initially, Myst's sarcastic, over-the-top personality annoyed me a little... but I also was drawn to it; she's surely the center of attention in a group of women or men, regardless of her sex appeal. The chemistry between her and Nikolai is stellar, and one of the things she finds most attractive about him is is prowess in battle and the scars he has to prove it. He is definitely Mr. In Charge when it comes to their liasons, even as he works to make sure he takes care of everything she needs.
I like strong women and strong men, couples who really give each other a good fight before accepting their feelings, and Warlord Wants Forever did not disappoint. I only wish it was longer (a little less rushed at the end) and had more details about the IAD world, although I suppose I'll get plenty of that as I continue the series. ;-)
If you haven't yet taken a jaunt through the Immortals After Dark universe, check out Warlord Wants Forever and see what you think about a fiery red-haired Valkyrie vixen and her big battle-scarred vampire commander....more
This review is spoiler-free! To see the full review (also spoiler-free), complete with Memorable Quotes and similar recommended reads, go here: http:/This review is spoiler-free! To see the full review (also spoiler-free), complete with Memorable Quotes and similar recommended reads, go here: http://gravetells.com/2013/01/11/revi...
Hot. Badass. Vampire. That's Micah, our sexy, brooding, complicated hero. Not only is he powerful, one of the oldest of his kind, he's got a good heart and his needs run deep. His character is beautifully crafted by Ms. Lynne; where as he could easily have come across as selfish and violently overindulgent, a turn-off to be sure, each chapter brings surprises and I loved watching his personality bloom.
His mate, Samantha, is on the run from an abusive husband and working as a very successful stripper at a local joint. She's ex-army, so she knows her way around the business end of a weapon, and she's kind and sharp-witted. Sometimes it's hard to like the heroines paired with our favorite (usually damaged) heroes, but I was Team Samantha all the way. The connection between Micah and Sam is quick and dirty, and they have some smoking hot sex! I love that Ms. Lynne doesn't shy away from putting several open-door love scenes back to back... there's no wondering what happens "after" as the door is slammed shut on the reader. I can honestly say I don't think I've ever enjoyed knife foreplay before, but yowza! Well done!
There are also hints of BDSM and some m/m in the coming books and I found myself both not wanting to finish reading, I enjoyed the story so much, AND wanting to race to the next book in the series to get my fix....
Which brings me to the mysterious, endearingly vulnerable yet lethal vampire warrior called Trace. Is there anything sexier than a gorgeous, powerful man submitting to another strong male? Needing to be confined and feel the bite of pain? If you're a fan of Vishous from the BDB, Traceon is going to be just your style. He's the self-appointed guardian to one of the most lethal of the AKM enforcers and protects Micah as if he already serves him. Drool much?
Speaking of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the vampires in All the King's Men are pretty similar: they can't abide sunlight, they must drink blood to survive, some of them have special abilities (like teleportation), they bond strongly with their mates, and they're practically walking arsenals with lethal fighting skills. Micah is one of the older vamps, so he's a pro with both his knives and his guns, and meeting a woman who knows how to handle his weapons (ah, no pun intended! :p) is a real turn on.
The secondary characters all stand out and practically beg for their own books. Its been a long time since a series has snagged my attention as thoroughly as the Black Dagger Brotherhood did, but All the King's Men has that distractingly addictive potential and this first story in the series holds nothing back.
Alluring and compelling, Rise of the Fallen is rich in story depth and likeable, flawed characters... men you can seriously get addicted to reading more about. Read at your own risk, because you just might find yourself wanting your very own Micah (and Trace)!
Dani O'Malley, how you slay me. Ill be straight up. I did not want to like this book. Dani drove me nuts in the Fever series and knowing I'd have to live in her head for the entire story had me dreading it enough to put it off for two weeks. She's fourteen. I generally don't read YA. On the other hand, I also didn't like Mac much during the first few Fever series books and she turned out to be a hell of a heroine. Once I started reading Iced, I couldn't put it down. I don't even like post-apocalyptic stories! But even so, each chapter, even through Dani's sometimes-endless ramblings and Dani-isms, sucked me in deeper until I couldn't deny it anymore... this book kicked complete butt.
Anyone who has read Ms. Moning's other works knows what compelling male characters she writes. They are strong, forthright, domineering, often supernaturally enhanced, complicated, and usually unpredictable.... but day-amn are they sexy! Hellloooo Ryodan! Holy smokes, Christian! And Dancer... who knew a plain old (albeit completely self-sufficient genius) human could be so appealing? *wipes away drool* Any guesses what deep dark secret he holds? And who do I want her to end up with? A) I feel dirty even contemplating that (she's FOURTEEN and these big bad men are falling all over themselves to be around her!) and B) I have no idea!! Each of them has his pros and cons... and some of those cons are serious downsides.
On top of that, Dani is smart. Genius smart, and I'm not really even sure she realizes it. One of the things I really liked about this book is the intelligence of the solution. In order to solve this mystery, the characters needed to be more-than-average observant, and had to be able to problem-solve on a college level. Even so, the explanation made sense in layman terms and wasn't so complicated that a normal reader couldn't follow and understand the logic. Very well done.
It was also satisfying to get another glimpse into Ms. Moning's creative abilities through some of Dani's less conventional adventures. If you were worried that, being a young adult novel, Iced might back off on the various visceral details that were such a potent factor in the Fever series, fear not; this book has sex (albeit not explicit, and not involving Dani!) and violence (in gloriously graphic detail when needed), and time is not wasted on frivolous pursuits.
And oh yeah... holy fecking quotes, Batman!
Iced waltzed in and pulverized all of my neat little preconceptions in the first chapter, and didn't let up its relentless pace of mystery, adventure, and edgy attraction for a second. Did Dani annoy me at times? Yeah, but only very occasionally, and there were far more scenes where she really impressed and won me over. Were the men a little creepy with their unnatural interest in a fourteen year old girl? Yep, a little bit (aside from their incredibly addicting animalistic sex appeal), but I also came to see in her what they saw and I agree that she is going to be an incredibly strong heroine for this trilogy. What's next for Dani O'Malley? I can't wait to find out! Iced is a GraveTells "must read"!
Things are pretty grim at Feral house, and all is not well with the warriors. Their Radiant is gone, kidnapped, and their leader is a hot mess. They need to get Kara back soon, not just for the radiance they all need to survive, but for Lyon's sanity and mental stability. If she dies, he will most certainly follow.
The prickly, rage-ridden Melisande has been a mystery since we first met her in Zee and Julianne's story. Her history is a traumatic one, and A Love Untamed brings it all back into brutally unforgiving focus for the Ilina who has had to harden her heart and spirit to survive so much. Mel is literally an ancient, so I loved learning "firsthand" about the times before The Sacrifice and all that came just after. The burden of such a long memory and existence must be fierce, but nothing haunts Melisande more than her personal trauma and the need to maintain her shield and the cold heart that lets her keep on keepin' on... to serve her queen and make amends with her sisters.
I loved getting to see Zee and Julianne again! Theirs was the very first Ferals story I read, Hearts Untamed, a short in an anthology called Bitten By Cupid, and where I first met my shifter crush, Jag. Zee and Kieran/Fox have been friends for many years, and their bond is tight. Our new Fox is a charmer, all sweet, sexy, and Irish. His speech and vocabulary are well crafted, and it's easy to imagine his deep, smooth voice lilting in the brogue that has made many a female heart flutter.
"Things are not as they seem" has been a theme throughout the Feral Warriors books, but it's practically the anthem of A Love Untamed. Mage traps, untrusted new Ferals, and brutally drastic measures define this new turn in the series. The Feral Warriors are definitely off the rails! Secrets about the warriors you thought you knew and revelations about some who've lost their way fill in storyline gaps that fans of the series will relish. Melisande and Fox are lovely together, and getting to learn more about some of the unmated characters was exciting. It looks like the next book may take a break from the usual mage-focused plot; this is the first book in a long time that tied up the main storyline without leaving me gasping at an unexpected ending. Cliffhanger? But of course! The good news is you probably won't be pulling out your hair from the suspense with this one!
As much as I've enjoyed the recent mage storylines, I'm glad the next book looks to be focused on some relatively new characters outside the immediate grasp of Inir and his daemon minions. While Fox and Mel are both compelling characters and I really enjoyed their interaction, their intimate scenes didn't have the same "oomph" some of the others have had for me. I think that might be partly due to Fox being less "alpha" than the other males (he's a charmer, a sweetheart, and a gentleman) and partly due to the emotional restrictions Mel's past has cursed her with. Jag, the resident bad boy of Feral House, was also tamer than usual, and I missed his usual abundance of snarky banter. I loved the threads weaving history between Jag, Olivia, Fox, Melisande, Arianna, Kougar, Zeeland, and Julianna; I think this is the first time a couple has had more than one connection to the Ferals on both sides, and it made for great character-building.
"How you doing, Foxylocks? Why don’t you walk on two feet for a while, take a break?" "I’m fine, Jagabelle, but thanks for the concern." "Yeah, well I wasn’t really asking, Fox-man. Maintaining the shift can be taxing for a new Feral, and the last thing we need is for you to do a face plant from exhaustion just as we cross a traveling party of Mage." "That would be poor strategy, wouldn’t it?"
The golden heart of Fox...
Sometimes the psyche built defenses for a reason. Sometimes they were the only things that kept people whole. If he could undo whatever it was between Melisande and him, and give her back her ice and fire . . . make her quit hurting . . . he’d do it. But what was done was done. He just had to find a way to traverse this minefield without hurting her more. As they walked in silence, she reached for his hand. Without looking at him, she pulled it to her mouth and placed a tender kiss upon his knuckles. His heart clenched and he tipped his head back, filled with an incredible sweetness. His arm ached to go around her and pull her close, but he would not risk spoiling the moment for anything. Instead, he squeezed her hand, caressing the silken back with his thumb. How had this small slip of a woman come to mean so much?
This 7th installment in the Feral Warriors series is a memorable gauntlet of past sins and their devastating consequences, studded with gentle humor and acceptance, and culminating in a powerful bond and the redemption of one of the most unlikely heroines of the series. While it wasn't my favorite read of them all, it is definitely a solid contribution to an already outstandingly addicting series. A Love Untamed is a GraveTells Recommended Read!...more
Jase Kayrs, the youngest and most care-free brother of the vampire nation's ruling family, has been a captive of the demon army for four years now, and a pacifist, eco-loving Demon Destroyer is his only hope of rescue. Now there's a tough predicament for a vampire wanting to use her as a weapon... unless that vampire is Kane Kayrs, and the logical solution is a union that will result in Kane inheriting his mate's abilities. He'd be able to do the fighting himself and share his empathic abilities with a woman who can use every shred of help defending her brain from the demons hellbent on annihilating it. But marriage and life-long mates should be based in love and happily ever after, or so Amber says, and she is strong and stubborn enough to stand up for what she believes in against even the most brilliant Kayrs brother.
The Kayrs men are large and in charge, domineering, and genius scientist Kane is no exception. Instead of using his brain as an excuse to be less involved in his romantic overtures, he taps that vast supply of knowledge & intuition and turns it into sheer, dominating pleasure... and I do mean DOMINATING! I thought Conn was hot in Hunted (and he was, don't get me wrong! *fans self*), but Kane is memorable enough that I am still thinking about him 2 weeks and half a dozen books later. Kane Kayrs is an incredibly dedicated lover, and his combination of meticulous attention to detail and raw force of personality makes for some smokin' scenes between him and Amber.
I absolutely loved Hunted (#3 in the series - it won our Book of the Month award in May 2012), but I think what sets Provoked above even that high standard is the integration of Jase Kayrs' storyline. Jase has a rough time in this book. Four years of mental and physical torture in demon captivity have stolen nearly all his strength and fighting spirit. Even if he does survive, who will he become? The scenes where the Kayrs brothers are dealing with Jase's situation are emotionally powerful, and exactly what the series needed to amp up the intensity as it moves into the final stages of the demon conflict.
How Ms. Zanetti functions with all these uber sexy, domineering, hot hot HOT men in her head, I have no idea - I'd be a quivering mess of "yes, please, and thank you" just about all the time! Hah! If you haven't started reading the Dark Protectors series, what are you waiting for? Go go go!!
PS - Amber names her pets after Star Trek characters. Who can resist a heroine like that?!
Hunted was my first trip through the Dark Protectors universe (book #3 in the series) and I fell in love with Conn, Moira, and all the Kayrs brothers. Consumed was an excellent followup and gave us a glimpse into the leadership of the shifter nation, allies of the vampires. Now with Provoked, the storyline has moved from isolated conflicts and ground-building side plots to a full-on sprint into what is sure to be an explosive next few books. If you have never read a book in this series, now is the time to start, so you can get caught up in the release madness of Ms. Zanetti's brilliantly addicting storytelling and world-weaving! This is not a book or series to be missed and is a new GraveTells Fave!...more
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
Andrew and Nicholas have a sweet, loving relationship, with a slight D/s twist: Andrew is Nick's vampire sire and, while Nick doesn't always do as he's told, he has an innate need to make Andrew happy. Together they raise Jacob, Andrew's biological son, conceived and born through magic and mystery. On the night of Jacob's birth, his mother's heart stopped beating just as he was born, then the demon sightings began... always in proximity to Jacob or the city he was born in.
The story skips through time and highlights moments from Jacob's childhood and the relationship between his two dads as they defend unsuspecting humans against near-constant demon attacks. Initially, the story switches between Andrew's and Nicholas's point of view, exploring their bond and narrating Jacob's early years from an outside perspective. Once Jacob is old enough to talk and toddle, we're treated to some endearingly adorable and surprisingly mature thoughts and get to see his fathers from a new perspective, highlighting some of the more subtle aspects of their partnership.
As precocious and precious as Jacob is as a child, it is exciting and unexpectedly compelling to watch him grow into a sweet, strong young man with excellent judgement, a level head, and a heart of gold. Seeing him with his first love, his first demon kill, learning the hard way how to deal with judgmental peers, developing his defensive skills and protective personality... it's all so smooth and flowing and endearing that I don't care that the battle scenes aren't blow-by-blow and the sex scenes tend toward sensual rather than erotic. This is a story about a boy who shouldn't exist, his unusual family unit, and the brilliant ribbons of his life as he becomes a man. Demons and Lullabies is a life story, rich and fulfilling. Its paranormal aspects take somewhat of a backseat to the characters' relationships and the flowing passage of time, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
While there is certainly a good amount of demon fighting and fangy love bites happening in the periphery of this story, the focus is on love and family bonds and the challenges of growing up with two dads who happen to be traditional vampires. Some of the scenes with Jacob as a child really squeezed my heart, made me feel what he was feeling. I usually don't care for stories with kids in them, but in Demons & Lullabies it didn't bother me at all. I was so caught up in the heart of this touching story that the lack of action and smut rarely crossed my mind. Oh there's sex and it's fairly steamy, but it's not overly explicit or gratuitous; it enhances the mens' relationship rather than defining it.
As soon as this book ended, I thought "this better be a series!" I didn't want it to end and am looking forward to seeing Jacob grow into his adulthood fighting beside his fathers. When I said this to author Kallysten, she reassured me that there is indeed a story about Jacob's adult journey, called One Last Lullaby. Demons & Lullabies is a captivating, enriching story and is a GraveTells recommended read!
@~~~ Did you enjoy this review? Rate it up on Amazon! ~~~@...more
Alice in Zombieland is riveting and addicting... from the very first sentence. Ali loses her family to a zombie attack in the beginning of the book; that's no spoiler, she mourns about it in the prologue. What completely blindsided me, however, was how deep and intense her grief was and how much it affected me. Here I am sniffling and tearing up on the train on my commute home, barely 10 minutes after picking up the book! I probably looked as funny as the lady across from me who was talking to herself.
Ali's friend Kat is a veritable whirlwind, a tornado of peppy energy and urban slang of her own creation. Just listening to her talk makes me feel exhausted, but she is so vibrant and engaging, she really shines out of the pages. Ali's first friend after the accident, Kat manages to weave her way into just about all of Ali's personal business... meaning we get to see a lot of her. She's a freaking force of nature, and hella fun.
On to Cole Holland, the mysterious bad boy of the school who is both a fearsome leader and a classic gentleman. His periodic scrapes and bruises, thunderous scowls, and devilishly handsome serial killer face make him a force to be reckoned with... or persistently avoided... and he somehow has a strange otherworldly connection to our Alice, transporting them off into dreamland whenever they see each other every morning.
Of course, you can't talk about Alice in Zombieland without a huge nod to our fearless heroine, Alice aka Ali. Quirky and driven, Ali has a spine of steel and a heart of gold. She's self-sufficient and more than a little skilled as a fighter, and her guilt over her family and friends' deaths keeps her determination rigidly focused on ridding the world of zombies. Not every author can pull off believable (and enjoyable) modern teenage slang (Ali & co.) while also humorously bastardizing it into something my grandparents might try to use to talk on a teenager's level. It helps give the characterization, which is already brilliant, depth and engaging humor.
This might be a young adult book, but the sexual tension between Ali and Cole is palpable and electric, and the scenes are blazing with chemistry even though its all relatively tame. I found myself pushing on just for another taste of that addictive connection between them, not even considering the expert writing skills Ms. Showalter brings to all her work. This is a book every lover of PNR and YA will want to read... and even some who have turned up their noses at the genre. Alice in Zombieland is just good ole monster-slaying fun!
These zombies are not your typical brain-eating, slow-moving, grunting and stupid automatons with a shuffling gait. They are scary, fast, and feel frighteningly real. I'm not a zombie kind of gal. I don't like horror, gore, or things that go bump in the night. I find rotting flesh and nomming brains way more disgusting than entertaining, and I like my action books dosed with a healthy heaping of steamy, sweaty naughtiness. Based on all that, you'd think Alice in Zombieland is definitely not my kind of story, but this book is GOOD! With very little sexual content, Alice and Cole steam up the pages (can I have my own Cole? Pretty please?), and even the down and dirty zombie scenes had me wanting more, more, more!
If you like paranormal romance and urban fantasy and only read 5 books this year, Gena Showalter's Alice in Zombieland should be on that list! In a genre where 'original' is quickly giving way to 'same old regurgitated plot', AiZ is fresh and unique, and a GraveTells "must read"!...more
The Vampire Erotic Theatre series is both a tease and a treat, a voyeur's dream. With each successive story, Ms. Heaton gives us a little more in-depth look into the workings of and performances in the theater, and Seduce follows that tradition without shame, starting out the story with glimpses of a steamy orgy between Victor and some of the other performers.
Sera, a relatively young "turned" vampire, wants Antoine so badly she's willing to audition as a performer in his erotic theater. As one of the Aristocracy, an Elite like Sera is below his notice and his duties as theater manager keep him busy enough that having to personally facilitate her audition is a serious irritation. When Victor, the theater's star performer, shows up at her audition, Sera realizes what she's expected to do, in front of the man she's trying to impress, and a beautiful awkwardness ensues. A seductive striptease that steamrolls into a fiery, aching seduction, Seduce is hot, heavy, and enthralling within the first quarter of the novella. Ms. Heaton is a master of crafting alluring characters who are complicated and deep, and evoke powerful emotions with punch and passion... both as individuals and as a couple.
Antoine had quick appearances in the previous two stories (Covet and Crave) but his past hasn't been explored until now, and boy is it a beast. Living with such scars for so long has taken its toll and Ms. Heaton paints his struggle vividly and with heart-wrenching depth. Covet and Crave both hinted at dark secrets in Antoine's and Snow's past, but the depth of the suffering they've endured is far harsher than I'd expected, and really sets the bar high for future stories in this series. By the time we get to Snow's book, I think I'm going to be a nervous wreck!
The connection between Antoine and Sera is deep and strong, probably the most vibrant of any of the VET couples to date. I loved the vulnerability they exposed to each other and the sheer intensity of passion they brought out in one another. Moments, more like chapters, were so hot I had to stop reading in public (on my tablet, where the cover wasn't even visible!) for fear I was making revealing expressions and little noises. Embarrassing, right? But so true! And SO good!
One of my favorite parts about Seduce was getting to know Snow better. It will be a few books before we get to his story, and the new characters are great - unique and interesting - but he is going to need a really strong woman, and their story is bound to be a rollercoaster of a ride!
*No compensation was received for this review. Review copy provided by author. ...more
Blaze, a 6'4" flame-haired woman with a mysterious past and a passion for reclaiming our food supply from the clutches of big corporations who care more bout how long a food will last in transit than how healthy it is, buys a lodge in the Alaskan bush hoping to start her own business. With very few choices in knowledgeable, skilled natives to hire, Blaze's pretty much stuck with Jack, whether she likes him or not, even after he reveals his beastly nature. But neither Jack nor Blaze is what they seem, and a whole host of otherworldly problems are about to snow them under. When every choice you make affects whether you live or die, who do you trust? Alaskan Fire is a must-read!
Wereverines aren't exactly your average romantic hero shifters... well, Jack isn't, anyway. This guy, extremely hairy and only around 5'7" in human form, takes one whiff of Blaze and knows she's more than the simple, freakishly tall human she believes she is. He also knows that while he has no plans to hurt Blaze, none of his otherworldly neighbors would feel the same and, like it or not, she's safest... and stuck... with him.
It took me a while to get into this book. Stories set in the bush, even some by my very favorite authors (and by "bush" I'm not limiting that to just Alaska), are just not my thing. On top of that, neither Jack nor Blaze are even remotely your typical romantic hero/heroine pair, and while I appreciate good, creative writing, I generally prefer the more standard characterization. So the first 7% of Alaskan Fire didn't really grab me. It wasn't until Blaze really got into her groove talking about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism) that I started getting chills. My first thought was "oh my god, is that for real?!" followed immediately by "must keep reading!" The intensity went from I-can-read-this passively to I-cant-wait-to-see-what-happens-next.
In a story where the physical attributes of the characters are important to the plot arc, it would be easy for the author to drop the ball and let the reader forget how uncomfortably different they are from typical romantic heroes and heroines. Ms. King does a great job of integrating that physicality into the story without over- or under-playing it. In fact, Ms. King never allowed her manuscript to fall victim to any of the pitfalls that commonly plague self-published authors... no head hopping, no tense switching, no repetitive adjective usage or flawed grammar and spelling.
The lore is also unique and we'll developed. Don't let the cover of this book put you off! This is not some half-brained, convenient, created-for-the-story world... it is easily a story in itself, with so many intricacies and diversity, yet without confusing the reader with lack of information or by, conversely, giving too many details. I've never seen an explanation of weres and vampires quite like this and I love it. It makes so much sense! And where else would a bunch of supernaturals who don't want to be discovered live than in the Alaskan wilderness?
The sexual tension between Jack and Blaze is complicated, and I should probably point out (for my fellow PNR smut fans) that this book is predominantly urban fantasy... although, in this case, perhaps we should term it rural fantasy? *grin* The progression of their relationship both made me smile (and laugh, a lot) and irritated me. It seemed to take forever for them to finally get together, but the journey is so worth the wait.
Imaginative, snarky, action-packed, visceral... in a word, Alaskan Fire is entertaining, and more than worth your while to read. This book is so unconventionally compelling you won't be able to keep your eyes off it. Ms. King delivers just about everything you could want out of a good book, with nearly nothing you don't. The writing is sophisticated, the characters are wonderfully complex, and the world takes on a life of its own. I have read books published by the big name houses that have less polish and sophistication than this self-pub. Ms. King takes us on an adventure of hope, dreams, life, love, and the struggle that comes with fighting for what you believe in, and I cannot wait to start the next book in the series!
Blaze hits the ground running with fiery tension between ex-lovers & firefighter teammates Kiera O'Shay and Luke Ransom, and a riveting action sequence that introduces more questions than it answers. Watching Kiera and Luke interact is like being around a passionate married couple who can't decide whether they'd rather kill each other or, well, you know; they have major chemistry right from the start. I absolutely loved their banter! Their snarky verbal battles were just as entertaining as the action and adventure, and are just about as consistent throughout the story too... which I really enjoyed. I actually started looking forward to watching them fight!
Kiera O'Shay is a badass, and not the overconfident, leather-wearing, sword-toting kind with an attitude bigger than the Goodyear Blimp. No, our Kiera is a firecracker of a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it, before going after it like a guided missile. She's a smart, take-no-shit, expert markswoman with a shattered heart and traumatic childhood enfortressed behind a wall of emotional steel, packed muscles, and intense S.W.A.T. training, and the only one who can get past that shell is ATF agent and fire cop Luke Ransom.
The most confident man Kiera O'Shay has ever met, Luke is all charisma and wit, a capable agent with a big bad side of get-with-the-program-or-get-the-hell-out-of-my-way. Underneath all that swagger, though, is a man who has never gotten over the love of his life and is willing to give up just about anything to see her safe and happy... even if it means living the rest of his life in misery.
You haven't seen longing and unrequited love until you've seen Luke and Kiera together, sarcastically bantering as if their lives depend on it and fighting their own primal urges to jump each other every other second. Why not just give in and go for it, you might ask? Bad breakups and volatile personalities have a way of leaving you skittish, and these two have hurt each other more than anyone else ever could have. Theirs is a story begging to be told, one expertly crafted from action, intrigue, supernatural science, and some of the most enthralling sexual tension I've ever read. This book is absolutely aptly named; the passion between Luke and Kiera blazes high and sparks fly hard. That man has a soft heart for his woman, but when he gets in the mood, the dominant comes out to play and we get to see Kiera let go and give over control. Sexy, sexy, sexy!
Mitch Foster was introduced in Fever as heroine Alyssa Foster's brother and lawyer extraordinaire. A sharp-witted playboy shark of a criminal defender with unquestionably questionable morals and an admirable streak of loyalty to his friends and family, it was made crystal clear in Blaze's prequel that you never want to earn the ire of this man. In this story, we get a deeper sense of just how connected he is... so much so, that it really makes you wonder just what depth of trouble the delectably sexy Mitch Foster has his fingers in, and when it's going to come back to bite him in the ass. I'm sure his day is coming, and that will be a story to read!
And Cash... I freaking love Cash! He's a brand new character introduced in Blaze, with family connections to Kiera, and I cannot wait to read more about him! Genius, cocky, confident, and daring, he's a hell of a character.
Joan Swan writes action like you're right there in the thick of it; pinging bullets, whooshes of fire, the near-tranquil state of severe injury are all masterfully translated through undeniably talented and creative writing. She doesn't fall prey to technical bad habits like repeated patterns of verbage, and her sentence structure is never boring or predictable. Reading a Joan Swan novel is like living a non-stop, danger-filled, trek through heartfelt friendships and off-the-rails sensual chemistry.
Aaahh, this book was SO GOOD! I did not want it to end! Every character is unique and compelling and every plot twist keeps the story, and series, fresh and addicting. How often do you read a book that wraps up the storyline but still has you jonzing for the next installment without forcing a cliffhanger down your throat, that makes your chest squeeze with every tortured glance and longing touch, whose action scenes make you feel like you just stepped into a Hollywood blockbuster movie? This is why Joan Swan is a master of her craft and why Blaze is a GraveTells Fave and the recipient of our extremely rare, perfect-rating Golden Heart award!
*** Review copy provided by Kensington & Joan Swan. No compensation was received for this review and all stated opinions are true and unbiased....more
Marshall Cross collects gifted children, manipulates and brainwashes them into being his private squad of assassins, then sells their services to the highest bidder. A far cry from Professor X's school for the gifted, these youngsters, the Sixes, are completely isolated from the world, taught only what they need to know to serve their purpose. Like the X-men, some of their gifts are quite creative, ranging from extremely dangerous to playful to resourceful. When a character announces he's a telekinetic and the typical response is a scoffed comment of "common", you know you're in for a wild ride.
Touched is told in first person narrative; we live in the heroine's head for the entire journey. Dez Cross has a refreshing voice - she's hip, rebellious, and smart. She's also loyal and determined, with a side of urban sass. Her inner monologue reminds me a little of a teenage version of Cat from Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series.
Sprinkled with texting, FaceBooking, pop culture, and slang, the writing itself is very modern and cheekily pokes fun at itself. With nods to well-loved comic book heroes, Touch also delivers big on action. It's creative, entertaining, and a definite rush.
For a young adult story, Dez and Kale have some impressive chemistry. They are an adorable couple, and my heart takes an extra little beat when Kale shows just how much he cares about her. The characterization is beautiful, making the book almost effortless to read and become immersed in. Something I really liked about about Touch is that, while it is YA and has very little on-page sexual content, it's not preachy or unrealistic about the fact that teenagers do have it. There's a little sex in there, but it's subtle and overall very sweet and moving.
If you follow my reviews, you know I usually go for the smutty, tortured heroes and menage stories, but I recommend Touch even for readers who don't normally consider reading young adult. This is one if the few YA series I've really made an effort to follow, and I can't wait to see what Kale and Dez do next. Touch is mature, sassy, charming, and... well, touching... and is a GraveTells Recommended Read....more
Finished this is book this weekend and it's great! Much better editing than the first in the series and I absolutely love all the main characters. WelFinished this is book this weekend and it's great! Much better editing than the first in the series and I absolutely love all the main characters. Well done, Hildie!
Consumed takes place ten years after the final events of Hunted, which, personally, I think was a savvy move on Ms. Zanetti’s part. One, it keeps the series fresh by allowing younger characters to evolve, and two, it adds gravity and a thread of desperation to the circumstances our heroes are suffering.
We’ve gotten to know both Katie and Jordan over the past few books, and here is a couple you really feel for. These two have been pining over each other for decades, and now time is nearly up. Jordan’s intensity and ferocity battles his tender, vulnerable feelings for Kate. She knows he might not have much time left, and she’s not afraid to put her pride on the line to make him see her as a woman.
Through flashbacks, we get to see rare, unguarded moments between Jordan and Connlan Kayrs, when they were still relatively young innocents and had yet to take a life… a stark contrast to the lethal, ruthless leaders they would both eventually become. If you thought Connlan was intense when he claimed Moira in Hunted, wait ’til you see Jordan in action. “Consume” is just what he does when he finally gives in to Kate’s mating manipulations. For a man who is normally so level-headed and in control, albeit sometimes ruthlessly, Jordan is all alpha, dominant and aggressive, when he marks her. This scene explodes off the page and is so intense I ended up reading it several times.
Weaving a tapestry of love, friendship, brotherhood, camaraderie, action, suspense, and passion (I could go on, but I think you get the picture), Ms. Zanetti takes us on yet another thrilling journey in a series already so addicting it should come with a warning. “Read at own risk. May result in extreme distraction, the fervent wish to have your very own pushy alpha male, and the need to keep reading well past bedtime.” Consumed is a GraveTells “must read”!
The opening scenes of the story are fast and furious, dropping the reader right into he middle of the action with Russian vampire king Nikolai Vasilyev. Right from that very first meeting, the attraction and connection between Kate and Nikolai seriously sizzles.
Laura Kaye is versatile, a master of infusing her characters with such depth and vulnerability, intensity and emotional range, that it's impossible not to feel a connection to them.
With the same passion and intensity of the first story in the Vampire Warrior Kings series, this novella hits all the right sweet spots to draw you in and keep you enthralled. The setting is well-defined but not overbearing, the cast is just large enough to feel comfortable, and the story arc is surprisingly powerful and addicting for such a small word count.
Nikolai and his Katya not only steam up the pages, they make you thankful for all the special people in your own life... friends, lovers, and family alike. Seduced by the Vampire King is emotional and endearing, and I didn't want it to end!...more
Review coming soon! The overview is I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped to. The main characters were good, but the pace dragged with the secondariesReview coming soon! The overview is I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped to. The main characters were good, but the pace dragged with the secondaries and antagonists. 3.5/5...more
There are few romance authors that I will buy without looking at a book's genre, cover, or even blurb. Nalini Singh is on that very short list, so it was no surprise that Archangel's Storm is quality writing and a good read. That said, and establishing that overall I enjoyed the book, I have to say this is my least favorite of the Guild Hunter series to date. I think my issue is not with the story, which is satisyingly complex without being overwhelming, but with the lead characters.
I like Jason. Have since he made his first appearance in Angel's Blood, all dark and mysterious. Raphael's Spymaster definitely fills the "strong and silent" role in the archangel's inner circle. His past is brutal and has left him with emotionally crippling insecurities, and his coloring and appearance are striking, with the jet black wings and intricately tattoed visage. Even so, there were times he came across less as strong and reserved and more as, well, flat.
Princess Mahiya, unfortunately, wasn't that much better. She is a new character in the storyline, and I found her personality overly reserved and excessively quiet. She had her moments, but generally just didn't hold my interest and I ended up skimming most of her solo scenes.
Even when things heated up between Mahiya and Jason, I still couldn't get into it. They do have some chemistry, but it's more like a twinkling candle flame to Elana and Raphael's bonfire. I found it disappointing that I looked forward to Dmitri and Honor's short, sparse scenes far more than the main couple's interactions.
As a filler novel, it had an intriguing storyline, which I enjoyed watching culminate in a fairly surprising ending. I'm looking forward to seeing where Ms. Singh is taking us and when the rest of Raphael's sexy Seven will finally meet their matches. Venom and Bluebell, here's hoping you guys are up next!
A good, solid read overall, with a slow burning romance, Archangel's Storm reads more like a filler series story than a stand alone novel... and, really, it was a nice break from the usual violent death and gore that seems to haunt the poor Guild Hunter heroines. If you're already a fan of the series then you'll definitely want to get the latest scoop on the still-evolving Cadre and check in on our other two GH couples, but don't go into this one expecting fireworks. ...more
Aidan is sexy, tortured, determined, and raw. Just my kind of hero. Leila is smart, but also reasonable. She's not one of those heroines who constantlAidan is sexy, tortured, determined, and raw. Just my kind of hero. Leila is smart, but also reasonable. She's not one of those heroines who constantly makes stupid decisions, nor does she kick butt just by staring the bad guys down. Aside from the fact that she's a brilliant scientist, she's realistic and reasonable, grounded and believable.
The chemistry between the pair is scorching. I'm a sucker for a good love scene so one of my few complaints is that there isn't more smut! *wink* Another thing that occasionally had me skimming pages was the amount of talking and introspection. It's wasn't excessive, and there is definitely a satisfying amount of action to balance it, but there were times when I wanted less detail and more down to business.
This is the start of a promising new series and there are already dynamics at work between some of the characters that will make for great future adventures. The characters themselves are likable and interesting and the universe of the immortal Cloak Warriors is fun and fresh.
I'm already looking forward to the next one!...more
*** This review will have some plot spoilers, although hopefully not major ones, because I'm finding it difficult to express why I felt certain ways about the book without referencing specific aspects that reveal more of the story's content than I normally like in a review. ***
Being such an avid fan of the Feral Warriors series, I was really looking forward to reading A Blood Seduction. A new vampire series from one of my favorite shifter series authors? Hell, yeah! I was all set to devour this book and rave about it for weeks; I usually enjoy Ms. Palmer's style that much.
However, I realized pretty early on that this wasn't going to be a marquee story for me. It was only last month I read, and felt the same way about, Julie Kagawa's new vamp series starter The Immortal Rules. Apparently, dystopian urban fantasies are just not my thing, vampires or no. Light, humorous, sometimes glamorous, and always guaranteed to have a fully Happily Ever After... now that I can get behind. (Note to self: no more oppressive UF for you, missy!)
The setting is Washington V.C. (Vamp City), an exact replica of the real Washington D.C... in 1870. Only this version is in perpetual twilight and is falling to ruin as the magic that created and maintains it fails.
The tone of this book is dark. It is gritty and it is sobering. Even though I felt compelled to keep reading, I did not enjoy spending time in Vamp City. All my instincts were screaming "No! Get out! Run the other way!", like watching one of those horror flicks where you know bad things are coming and you can't do anything about it. The paranormal creatures in V.C. are not sweet, romantic, or even sympathetic. Vampires are truly monsters and humans are lowly slaves - food, entertainment, and labor. These vamps do not even feed off lust, as far as we know so far, only pain and fear.
That's not to say I didn't find some overall enjoyment in the book, but it didn’t have that same pizazz the Feral books have. No sense of brotherhood or teamwork, no safe haven to return to when the fighting is done, no roiling intensity between the main characters.
I also had misgivings about the main male character (I hesitate to call him a protagonist). While I felt lulled into liking Arturo (and I actually did mostly like him), I most definitely did not trust him, and his allegience was made painfully clear on several occasions. There was something off about him, something that made me not WANT to like him, as if he'd betray "us" at a crucial moment, and that is a strange place to be... liking, but not wanting to like, the hero. I'm not completely sure that was the intended reader reaction to the book's most prominent male character, who is obviously intended as Quinn's love interest. I liked Kassius, a secondary character, more than Arturo, and that's a little disturbing to me.
Quinn on the other hand was both relatable and frustrating. Why do heroines like to repeat the same mistakes? Don't they watch the movies they're doomed to live out? I understand her drive to save her brother but I don't think she went about it smartly, wandering around without a solid plan in an incredibly dangerous environment. The sexual chemistry also felt off, compared to the blazing passion most of Ms. Palmer's shifter couples have, and I wonder if that was partly due to the disconnect with Arturo. Even considering that, the sex scenes felt a little mechanical, almost forced, and the circumstances leading to the big one were suspiciously engineered.
I think part of my discomfort with the story arc was that the heroine was essentially powerless for the majority of the book. She fumbles through and manages to stay alive and get the information she needs, but other characters constantly had to come to her rescue. I think once she really starts to embrace her power, I'll enjoy the series more. I need my ladies to be able to kick a little ass, if you know what I mean. ;)
So that's a whole lot of what I DIDN'T like. Here's the silver lining... Pamela Palmer is a talented author with a knack for dropping her audience right into the characters' heads. We see what they see and feel what they feel, even understand tiny nuances of their personalities. The setting, Vamp City, is excruciatingly real-feeling. The cruelties, the suffering, the excesses, the decay... all is depicted efficiently and creatively, with a minimum of unnecessary excess flourish. The supernatural creatures were distinctly otherworldly in their morals and customs, and the depths of the suffering of the human slaves was agonizingly clear yet intriguingly complex. I imagine lovers of dystopian and dark fantasy will probably eat this up.
Zach, Quinn's brother, was also a highlight for me. I loved his innocent, geeky, gamer boy persona and his sensitive heart. His journey touched me the most and I'm really looking forward to seeing where his path leads next.
Review copy provided by publisher. No reimbursement or payment was received for this review. ...more
The first chapter of Hunted hits the ground running. Strong personalities, high tempers, steamy chemistry, powerful longing, and unexpected consequences fairly fly off the pages.
Moira is a powerful witch, and we’re not talking Sabrina nose-twitching magic. This is smart magic, requiring decades of study in quantum physics and string theory. When it comes to kick-ass heroines, Moira Dunne is the gold standard. Innately magically gifted, fiercely physically trained, and determined to do her duty to both her people and her mate, Moira is a firebrand of crackling, spunky, red-headed temper and focused power. With the combined lethality of her and Connlan, this is one duo you never want to cross.
I really like the idea that mated pairs share their supernatural skills. It makes them a united front, a team that backs each other up and builds on each other’s strengths… very much like a marriage. It also means Connlan is far above average intelligence, and is there anything sexier than a man who is built, strong, confident, a natural leader, downright deadly with his body and with his energy, AND smart enough to bend spacetime with his mind?
Conn is the most lethal vampire alive, the ultimate soldier. His personality reminds me a little of Christian Grey from the Fifty Shades Trilogy: alpha and authoritative, determined like a freight train, a powerhouse in the bedroom, and incredibly good at his job. He’s not quite as micromanaging as Fifty, but he certainly believes in trying to keep his mate under constant lockdown for her safety, regardless of her 30+ years of serving as an Enforcer for the witch’s council. Their attraction both smolders and scorches. Intense, and as powerful as an atomic bomb, the energy between these two is off the charts.
If this couple had their own series, Connlan could be the new Bones. Yes, I know that’s saying a lot and, no, I’m not kidding! This guy is everything I like.. no, LOVE… in a PNR hero and I want to stash him away for myself!! It’s a damn shame he and Moira only have one book!
This book has it all… action, danger, passion, political intrigue. Ms. Zanetti has created a rich world of supernatural creatures hiding in plain sight of Earth’s human population; demons who can trick your mind, witches who manipulate atomic energy, and vampires both good and bad who have a myriad of talents, from teleportation to controlling nature. This is not some cheap imitation quickie story universe. Alluring in its plausibility, the world of the Dark Protectors is thought-provoking and well-planned. The author doesn’t devalue her audience’s intelligence and the characters hold nothing back, and make no apologies for it!
Even if you haven’t read the previous books in the series, Hunted is absolutely a MUST-READ! It is powerful, original, explosive, addicting, and stands on its own story arc. And Connlan is to DIE for. Seriously, he should be illegal.