Accents. So yummy when they're on, so painful when they're wrong. Kellach Dunne—the hero of Wicked Ride and a Dark Protectors universe character introduced in the parent series—is an Irish boy through and through, and Ms. Zanetti takes a risk in portraying his accent that pays off big time. Step 1: Spell it out by sound so readers develop a guided ear for the lilts and stops. Step 2: Write the dialogue in normal English to keep from annoying, alienating, or confusing readers. Step 3: Try to read a line out of Kell's mouth without hearing his sexy brogue in your head. Brilliant!
Rebecca Zanetti has taken the plunge into Motorcycle Club territory and the setup isn't your typical MC situation. Guns and the Irish may (seem to) go hand in hand, but any fan of Ms. Zanetti's Dark Protectors knows that Kellach Dunne is no criminal. There's a new drug out on the streets, and it's lethal to witches. Kell has infiltrated a Seattle MC posing as a gun supplier in trade for the lethal drugs to (ostensibly) ship off to his Irish club brethren. Fans of the parent series will enjoy quick glimpses of previously introduced characters and news about others. This is the first time we've gotten a good look at Daire Dunne, and what a fine, stoic hero he will make, when his time comes.
While I didn't love this book as much as I loved most of stories in the Dark Protectors series, Wicked Ride is fun, fierce, and fantastical (in a rather science-y way). Ms. Zanetti set the bar scary high with Marked when she wrapped up the epic events of the DP series, so it may take readers some time to find their stride with this new set of characters.
Overall, I found the cast of characters less engaging than I expected. This could possibly be due to my general distaste of female cop characters combined with my discomfort with the seedy atmosphere so common in MC stories. Some aspects of the deeper relationship between Kell and Lexi (including the witchy-mate changes that manifest in her) also happened more quickly than I was comfortable with. However, Ms. Zanetti introduces some promising personality conflicts, and peeks at secrets waiting to be revealed definitely dial up the intrigue. Heads up for those readers who are drawn to MC stories for the brotherhood of bad boys and motorcycles: this isn't that kind of story. Yes there are clubs that feature heavily in the story arc, but they're not the main base of operations.
Lex is fierce, a seriously skilled fighter with lightning reactions and near-suicidal courage. She's also intellectually impressive, not in a Kane-Kayrs-smartest-person-on-earth way, but in how she sees through the clutter of a situation to piece together the puzzle. And she approaches everything with a straightforward, hands-on attitude. And independent! Hats off to a strong, independent woman! This chick is truly remarkable, even if she is a detective. *wink* Of course, fans of Ms. Zanetti are probably already half in love with Kell, and for good reason. Bossy, magnetic, dependable, and fearsome: Kellach Dunne is one Irish badass you don't want to cross!
The last thirty percent of the book passed fast and furious, in fine Rebecca Zanetti form. If the Sins Brothers series had a fiery tryst with the Dark Protectors universe, they'd birth a story like Wicked Ride, where family ties matter most and the the things that go bump in the night are almost certainly never human. And oh are there some intriguing mate matches coming up in this new series—all promising saucy heroines, badass alpha warrior men, steamy sex, and yummy supernatural goodness....more
This book has the potential to catapult the non-consensual sex romance subgenre into the public spotlight, and bring awareness to the knowledge that many women have fantasized about rape—and still do. Asking For It clearly defines the distinction between playing out a scenario and the reality of such an act actually happening. It is important to stress that, with non-con and other lesser-publicized kinks like humiliation and shaming, the desire which playacting can stir in a person who craves the fantasy is completely separate from the potentially devastating scarring and life-altering effects of a real non-consensual situation. This book and subject matter are not for everyone, but for those who enjoy the non-con subgenre of romance, Asking For It is a rare find.
Jonah and Vivienne’s relationship evolves so naturally and carefully that every step is believable and each new boundary they push is edgy. Yet still safe—still truly consensual—while playing at rape. Jonah is so very well written. Here is a man who can flip between cruel, brutal aggression and genuine, tender aftercare in the blink of an eye. Reserved and mysterious, our Jonah is slowly unwrapped as the story progresses, and his personality is both frighteningly magnetic and unreservedly kind. Vivienne could be any woman, she’s that easy to relate to. As they begin to explore their fantasies together, we get a glimpse into the lives of people living with and shaped by the memories of traumatic sexual experiences. Their path may be healthy or it may be detrimental, but that choice is up to each individual, and each reader is likely to experience this book differently depending on her own past and interpretations of the story. Ultimately, Asking For It is about two people with deep emotional scars trying to find comfort in each other and falling in love as they explore their mutual expanded possibilities. And it’s beautiful, in a sometimes brutal, sometimes tender sort of way.
This may seem like a strange thing to bring up in a review about non-consensual sex, but I’ve read my share of supposedly authentic depictions of Austin, Texas, and this one is by far the most grounded and realistic. The author doesn’t spew out the names of trendy places like a roll call, nor does she ignore the little details that make the city so unique. If Ms. Pace hasn’t spent some quality time living and socializing in the heart of Texas’s capital city, I’ll eat my hat. And hats off to her for a scene very well set, too!
Asking For It does not have a happy ending, but it’s not sad either. It’s merely a bridge to the next chapter in Jonah and Vivienne’s story. Which I fully intend to read....more
Dallas O'Kane is stepping up his game, and not everSee the full review, including Memorable Quotes, on GraveTells here: http://gravetells.com/?p=22316
Dallas O'Kane is stepping up his game, and not every O'Kane under his command now wears the ink. When you're spying for Sector Four right in the heart of Eden's elite, you can't afford to be marked, and Jared understands that better than anyone. Jared has always been close with Ace--they go way back as friends, lovers, associates--and will do anything to protect him, including retiring from his longtime role as a high-end prostitute and taking on the much more dangerous task of charming and maneuvering a swath through the shining city's volatile politics.
Lili only knows life as a trophy wife in Sector Five, but all of that changes when she meets Jared. Suddenly the woman who drugged herself into numb oblivion to escape the violence of her life can't run from all the ways Jared and the O'Kanes make her feel. And she doesn't want to.
I mean really, who would turn down the sensual, powerful, mysterious man who knows more secrets—the deep, dark secrets of powerful people as much as those of their bodies—than anyone else in the Sectors? Official O'Kane or under-the-radar spy, Jared has some titillating connections to the gang that make a virgin trophy wife's eyes pop wide open. Voyeuristic moments with the O'Kanes—that we're used to (and have I thanked Kit Rocha for that today? Oh lovely authors, how you make us want!)—but getting a deeper look inside the Ace-Rachel-Cruz trinity is the real treat.
I also loved how Lili is the first heroine to take on domestic tasks, not as a job or because she has to, but because she wants to. She craves cooking, providing for others in a way that she alone is uniquely qualified. She doesn't need to kick anyone's ass or make a working living outside the compound, but she does feel the compulsion to earn her place, and she goes about that in a way none of the other leading ladies thus far have been able to.
As with every other Beyond series story so far, Beyond Innocence is a hedonistic, voyeuristic ride, this one driving us through the brotherhood of Sector Four's ruling O'Kanes right into the heart of Eden's corrupt politics. If dystopian snares your attention... if menage draws you in... if erotica gets you hot, and you haven't read the Beyond series yet, you must start immediately! The first book is Beyond Shame. Read it. Love it. Swoon over the O'Kane fight nights and private parties, then drool for more right along with the rest of us!...more
The Psy-Changeling saga marchSee the full review, including Memorable Quotes, at GraveTells here (live on May 26, 2015): http://gravetells.com/?p=22302
The Psy-Changeling saga marches steadily onward...
One of the craft nuances author Nalini Singh excels at is threading complex storylines and large casts of characters into an overarching central plot without sacrificing reader attention or patience. Unlike a few other popular series, which have earned a reputation for losing readers around book 9 or 10, the Psy-Changeling series is still going strong at 14. Shards of Hope, for example, features a hero and heroine not even really introduced until the previous few books, but these are characters as vibrant and addicting as the Dark River and Snow Dancer packs who made up the core of the series at its beginning. Aden was introduced through Vasic, who was introduced through Judd, who was mated to an early Snow Dancer wolf. Ms. Singh doesn't simply wave at her leads, then drop you off deep in their territory; she woos and romances you with tantalizing glimpses, hints of their power and appeal sewn carefully into each progressing story before setting the characters free on the readers in their own books.
If you're considering reading Shards of Hope, you're probably already a fan of Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series. If not, and you're looking to try it out, start from the beginning with Slave to Sensation. Fans of Singh know she is a master of the slow burn, and that technique meshes perfectly with her Psy-Psy couple romances. We've already seen a few Arrow stories, so I was a little worried about Aden and Zaira coming off as tired or repetitive, but I shouldn't have been. This is Nalini Singh: she never disappoints.
This is the first full insight into the lethal assassin squad known as the Arrows we've been treated to in the series so far. Sure, there have been glimpses through Vasic's and Judd's stories, but Aden is their chosen leader and his perspective is far more thorough than anything that came before. With Zaira being one of his top lieutenants, their partnership is strategic and powerful and has the potential to reshape Arrow society from the inside... which is, of course, the only way an Arrow would allow such drastic change.
The landscape of what defines a Psy or a Changeling is ever-evolving. Now that Silence has fallen, Psy are tentatively embracing their emotions publicly and Changelings are incorporating humans and Psy into their packs and business ventures. The defining characteristics of an Arrow differ from what they once were, even as recently as Judd's and Vasic's book; Aden faces a unique struggle and walks a separate path from his squad brothers. He accepts his emotions and uses them as a tool to secure his squad's future. It is a privilege to witness the evolution of a character like Aden, who is such a strong and a capable leader, yet unafraid to show emotion and give free rein to that part of his psyche. He doesn't spend his time, or ours, fighting a futile battle we knew he'll eventually lose, and instead invests that energy in being a good mate for his chosen partner. The resulting character is a man who fights for his woman even when she can't fight for herself.
Which is an odd thing to even imply about hard-as-nails Arrow Zaira—can't or won't fight for herself—but she lived through a very traumatic childhood and clings to the remnants of Silence as a shield under which she can function without descending into madness. The couple dynamic here is unique and quite beautiful, and I love how incredibly strong both these characters are, both emotionally and physically.
This series continues to evolve, and that opens up each character's struggle, each couple's dynamic, to a whole new world of possibilities as the overarching plot punches through the individual romances. I also love that Ms. Singh gives us a glimpse into the society of the underwater changelings. Just the thought of a woman turning into a mako shark makes me all kinds of curious about what the future of the series has in store for readers.
Dark Tides is a unique literary experience. Ms. Ashley's prose sets a peaceful rhythm, steady and sedate, lulling her readers into falling right into the heart of the story. It flows so effortlessly, from character to environment to scene, that the book slips by in lazy snatches of time.
Ms. Ashley's voice for Meg is just lovely. Even if she never said a single line of dialogue, our heroine would still glide through the pages with the grace of a princess and the giving, caring heart of a mother. Caleb's presence, while less skillfully refined, benefits from the author's natural style while still emanating a sense of experienced capability and gentle strength. Their psychic connection to one another is an interesting twist that I found added an extra dimension of excitement and intrigue to the plot. That said, I did have some trouble getting into the plot of the book. It felt somewhat dragging, partly (I believe) due to the author using very similar voices for both characters. While it did lull me into reading, it also didn't inspire me to keep reading until somewhere in the second half.
The supernatural element alternated between creeping me out and inspiring a warm, cozy sense of home. I didn't expect the ending, even though I'd dismissed it as a possibility earlier in the story, so I was pleasantly surprised by the turn of events at the conclusion. I would absolutely recommend this book to any reader looking for ghostly romantic suspense tales with gentle pacing and low-to-moderate heat....more
Melina and Hayden have a comfortable dynamic despite the surge of forbidden attraction and less-than-perfect past they share. Being stood up for a public awards show with a millionaire bachelor (who brought two someone elses in your place only hours after inviting you to be his date) isn't something a woman just shrugs off, but Melina is a consummate professional and Hayden has his reasons for denying their attraction.
A few things really struck me about these two characters. First, Hayden Dean is absolutely a playboy and he has a lot to learn about maturity and responsibility, but he's not your typical asshole rich bachelor, obsessed with control or feeding his own ego. No no, our Hayden is vulnerable and misunderstood. His introduction is written so that glimpses of potential shine through but his spoiled, privileged lifestyle has definitely taken its toll. As you get to know him, you realize that he's the kind of guy you want to hang around with while he finds the best in himself, and you know it's going to be a fun journey.
Second, Melina Rae is damn good at her job. Insatiable, in just about every aspect, inquisitive, and spirited sum up Mel. She comes across as flighty and dim in the book's intro but the real Melina is driven, intelligent, and a lot braver than even she probably sees. She's confident in an easy-going way and her investigative nature isn't annoying like with some journalists. Melina has spine and she's very perceptive. Oh, and let's not forget the lady's sincere appreciation for all things high fashion...
The characters' personalities are even correct astrologically (or horoscopically, if you're Melina) speaking. Author Kristen Miller really nailed the Leo traits in Hayden and the Sagittarius in Melina.
And holy. Combustible. CHEMISTRY! Jeez these two are hot together. This story has all the right elements: plucky humor, action (of both the human and furry variety), mystery, an uncomplicated werewolf universe, and yummy steamy romance.
The Werewolf Wears Prada is a pure wolfie delight. . .with a killer fashion sense!...more
Men Like This was a flirty, addictive, engaging read regardless of having zero shag time. It's a romance, pure and simple: Men Like This focuses on the characters and their relationship rather than the minutiae of their physical couplings. Good news for chick lit fans, a strike to the heart for erotic romance fans, who would probably sweat blood for intimate insight on Jack Decker. In case it's not yet clear, let me make it crystal: this book has no sex. Zero. Nada. None. And you know what? The narrative still sparkles and charms itself right off the pages. Who knew I would enjoy a closed-door romance so much? Huh!
These characters have serious panache. I freaking love Jack, and Quinn has a natural dry wit that mingles perfectly with his exuberant personality. And Jack's accent is delivered perfectly! I could practically hear the man's Irish-English brogue whispering in my ear. Jack reminds me a little of Mal from Kylie Scott's Stage Dive series—the charming Mal we met in Lick rather than the crazy manic he became in Play.
Let's not forget chemistry. Even though the sparse sex between Jack and Quinn is solidly behind closed doors (which may as well be steel-reinforced, industrial-grade concrete - can you tell I'm really sad about this?), they mesh beautifully as a couple.
The secondary characters stand out in their own unique ways too, none too staid or boring and each with his or her own unique signature. Gotta say though, I absolutely hated one of them. I won't spoil the story by telling you whom, but the ending manages to wrap it all up nicely.
Men Like This author Roxanne Smith's writing style is a little reminiscent of Tiffany Reisz's, minus (thankfully) the scary intensity of a personality like The Siren's Soren. Memorable characters, smart dialogue, and fresh perspective beautifully elevate the contemporary romance of Men Like This in a genre where movie star and rock star stories are practically, tiredly, the new black....more
Author Garrett Leigh serves up such an appealing, authentic foodie experience in Misfits, it's easy to forget that restaurant umbrella company Urban Soul is only fiction: Reading Misfits left me with a craving for Pink's paella, burgers & champagne, and Cass's rib eye steak.
This story is layered with emotion and life choices and shared experiences. Misfits is a beautiful tribute to three very different men, the ties that but them together, and the personal quirks that set them apart. I loved the style of the storytelling: the ambling, believable pacing; the structured passing of perspective at key points in the story; and the originality about everything having to do with these three men and their relationship with one another.
None of the characters is perfect and each of them is compelling in his own unique way. Their sexual chemistry both in pairs and as a threesome is stellar, right hot (imagine I said that in a British accent), and their relationship is ideal for a menage story.
Speaking of—and with—a British accent, I sometimes had trouble internally verbalizing the speech quirks and slang as the story travels through the various districts in London. It didn't put me off or diminish my enjoyment of the story but it did hit home that the author's prose is unapologetically British and the narrative was certainly not edited with the intention to cater to Americans. Even so, I rather enjoyed my stint through London with these three colorful blokes.
Misfits also delves into the personal side of Tourette's syndrome, a gutsy and honorable effort that gives us a glimpse into what a day (or year) in the life of someone living with this condition feels like, how they learn to cope, and how a healthy support system can be built around them....more
Total Surrender, in classic Rebecca Zanetti style, was a whirlwind read and I couldn't put it down long enough to even get a full night's sleep. Ms. Zanetti is a master of her intense, in the action, balls-to-the-wall style, and it's the ultimate addiction. What reader would turn down sexy alpha males, brilliant leading ladies, and an intoxicating combination of suspense and sizzle? Not THIS gal, that's for sure!
One of the things I like most about Ms. Zanetti's writing is how she builds such deep, strong family bonds through each of her series. Sins Brothers especially embodies the spirit of family and brings home how precious those ties can be to those who have nothing else to hold close.
Like his brothers before him, Jory is precisely crafted, a man with brains and brawn in equal measure. He has this fairly scary, inherent darkness, which completely balances a tender heart the size of a Montana sky. Because he's been in a coma for the previous books in the series, we haven't had much time to get to know Jory before now, and he is absolutely a force to be reckoned with. Jory Dean has it all: charm, good looks, smarts, sheer physical size, combat mastery, a warm sense of humor, and a few extra special abilities I'll let you discovery on your own. ;) The reunion between the brothers was all I hoped it would be and a few surprises I didn't expect but completely loved!
Piper is one of the more adorable heroines in this series, although they've all been sweet, spunky, capable, and relatable. I love her smarts and her intrinsic need to see the best in people even as her cynical logic kicks in to play devil's advocate. Piper pretty much just says what she's thinking, without meaning to and without artifice. Since I can relate to that particular trait pretty closely, it was really fun to read about.
With enough epilogue-worthy material to satisfy even the most rabid Tolkien fan, Ms. Zanetti wraps up this series perfectly, with closure for all the main characters and a glimpse of the potential for more action from the Dean brothers in the future. Brava on a book (and a series) beautifully imagined and artfully delivered!
Total Surrender is heart-warming and suspenseful, balancing on a blade's edge between youthful vulnerability and sheer, raw, hardass adult determination. This book is the perfect well-earned closure to an intense, action-packed series.
What a wolf wants is a short-ish story (right at 25000 words) so I'll make this a short-ish review. :)
Th** This review contains minor plot spoilers **
What a wolf wants is a short-ish story (right at 25000 words) so I'll make this a short-ish review. :)
This second book in the joint-effort Black Hills Wolves series will require some suspension of disbelief even for paranormal lovers. I didn't love how quickly Saja just accepted various story elements: - The existence of people who change into giant wolves - Seeing Ryker in a violent situation with little to no emotional repercussions or fear of him - Accepting a permanent, intimate bond with Ryker after only hours of knowing him
Now, all that said, paranormal novellas often come across like this. With such a limited word count, an author can only fit in so much into a story, and some elements just have to be sacrificed.
If you go into this book knowing and understanding that, you'll probably enjoy it. The characters are distinct and likable, the world building is well crafted, and the story fits nicely into the existing series universe without requiring the reader to have read the previous book. What a Wolf Wants didn't have the emotional punch that I've come to expect from Ms. Long's stories, but it was a quick, fun, enjoyable read....more
Served Hot is a cozy read about two men who meet and dance a slow, heartwarming romance over coffee. The story is told from Robbie's POV in first persServed Hot is a cozy read about two men who meet and dance a slow, heartwarming romance over coffee. The story is told from Robbie's POV in first person, which really showcases his adorable personality and geeky Portland ways. David is very "accountant", with his starched shirts and awkward segues, and harbors a painful, emotionally debilitating past.
There were moments in this story that gave real, truly touching, glimpses into the deeper emotions that blend together a couple's yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows. The plot didn't feel contrived or rushed (whew, definitely not rushed!) and each time Robbie would start to get frustrated or fed up with something between him and David, I would find myself reaching that same point as an empathetic observer. And each time, David came back with a realistic and understandable reason for why he is who he is, so the story is believable and well crafted.
Overall, I enjoyed the Served Hot but was hoping for something with more oomph. I felt that this was an okay one-time read but not a book I'll be inspired to go back to or remember much about next month or even next week. It felt somewhat insular, with all the focus squarely on the growth aspects of the relationship. I would have enjoyed seeing through David's POV periodically to break up the monotony a bit, but generally a cozy read with gentle wit and a satisfying ending....more
**spoiler alert** ** This review has no direct spoilers but I'm hiding it anyway because I do hint at some plot points. **
I liked the premise of this**spoiler alert** ** This review has no direct spoilers but I'm hiding it anyway because I do hint at some plot points. **
I liked the premise of this story, and the elements of danger and power exchanges, but it feels like something key is missing. I was particularly annoyed with the sex scenes, where the characters were able to do nearly physically impossible things and completely disregarded some sanitary considerations.
I also liked the idea of the bond between Master and Cass being so strong that he was willing to switch for her, but there's not enough character and relationship building here to support the emotional weight and impact of that in the story, making a gesture which should have been earth-moving come across as just "meh".
I was able to take most everything else in stride until the ending, though. This story does not have a happy ending, not by far. What I didn't realize when I started Wicked Shots is that it is the prequel to a romantic suspense serial and the main character here is not featured (directly) in subsequent books. Part of my dislike most likely came from finding this out the hard way - at the end. I think if I had known going in what I was getting into I might have enjoyed it more, but the turn of events at the end (and realizing I'd just started a serial) actually made me feel a little ill. Sure, I could have better educated myself on the story, but I'm not sure that would change my rating.