I remember being excited when Tor announced (several years ago) it had a paranormal romance line, so I looked for something from it. I found this book...moreI remember being excited when Tor announced (several years ago) it had a paranormal romance line, so I looked for something from it. I found this book. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that I had read another book by this author and hated it. This one is better, but it still has some big flaws, in my opinion.
Tessa Camen is a Secret Service agent who throws herself in front of a bullet meant for the (female) President of the United States and is whisked out of time and into the future just before the bullet's lethal impact. She wakes up naked in the arms of Kahn, an alien hunk who tells her that she has been selected to be Earth's representative in something called the Challenge. He can't tell her anything about the Challenge--neither what she has to do nor when it will take place.
Tessa meets the qualifications of a candidate for the Challenge: she has no living family, she has no scientific background, and she is a virgin. *snort* OK, the first two I could buy with a little more salesmanship from the author. But virginity? Good grief. No explanation for this is ever given, and to make this requirement even more inane, it is later revealed that Tessa only has to be a virgin when she is chosen, not when she actually performs the Challenge. You can see where this is going, right?
Needless to say, Tessa and Kahn have sex quite a few times before the Challenge begins.
Kahn tells Tessa that if she wins the Challenge, Earth gets a trial membership in the Federation of Planets, and Kahn's people, the Rystanis, get permanent membership because of his assistance. Kahn tells Tessa that to win the Challenge, she must discover and master her innate psi ability--something Tessa swears she doesn't have.
Kahn decides that the best way for Tessa to discover her psi powers is by making her sexually frustrated. [At this point, this book sustained its first damage after colliding with my bedroom wall.] When Tessa was transported through time, Kahn took her clothes and replaced them with a psi-powered "suit" like all inhabitants of this future Federation of Planets wear (it's one the big benefits of membership--along with ...) . The suit is never removed. It can be made to appear as any type of clothing, and it automatically recycles human waste. It can also be warmed (or cooled) by psi-powers, allowing the user to to run about in the snow without additional clothes. How does miracle of conception take place, I wonder? Too bad the book never tells me.
Anyway, Kahn instructs Tessa's suit to stimulate her by "touching" her in inappropriate places. A kiss here, a fondle there. Oh goody, high-tech sexual abuse. [More damage to the book occurs. This seems to be a recurring theme in Ms. Kearney's books.]
In the time between Tessa's selection and the actual Challenge, the couple has time to travel to the home world of the Federation of Planets and then to Kahn's planet. Along the way, the couple gets married and has sex and has more sex. By the time the Challenge occurs, it is almost an afterthought to the story. One of the more ridiculous sequences involving Kahn and the group use of psi powers occurs during this part of the story.
Kahn is a jerk with a arrogant and backward attitude towards women. He treats Tessa like a child, and when she does something (which made a lot of sense to me) that doesn't fit with his plans (which he didn't tell her), he retaliates by not letting her speak for a day. When she can speak again, what does she do? Tell him off? Hit him with a clue-by-four? No, she seduces him. [More damage to both the book and my wall.]
This relationship is dysfunctional from start to finish. And that is too bad, because when Tessa isn't caving in to Kahn's macho demands, she is rather likeable. The non-romance subplots--which include an AI that has sex on the brain and Tessa's business dealings with an octpus-like alien--are far more engaging.
This was a story that could have been so much more than it was. If you like caveman alpha heroes, you'll like this one. If you like men who respect women, this one should be a pass.
I have read the other books in the series, and I liked subsequent ones much better, mostly because the heroes were more likeable and less control freaks.(less)
I haven't read all of the other books in this series, and I was initially worried that I would be lost - but that wasn't the case at all. I could tell...moreI haven't read all of the other books in this series, and I was initially worried that I would be lost - but that wasn't the case at all. I could tell that some of the characters were clearly from previous books, but this still worked fine for me as a standalone.
I'm pretty picky in my PNR reading because I don't like doormat and/or TSTL heroines and heros who behave like jerks and order the heroine around. This book avoided those cliches. I liked Lore and Idess very much. Lore - a half-breeed demon - is the ultimate bad-boy (an assassin), but still redeemable, and Idess - an angel - is a heroine that it is easy to root for. The conflict driving them apart was very real; Lore wants to save his sister and Idess wants to be reunited with her brother. They initially fight their feelings for one another, but in the end, they have the courage to take a chance on love. I could say good things about the world-building, the plot, etc, but really, the love story is the crux of the book and what I enjoyed so much about it. (less)
This is the third book in the Night Tracker series. In this book, the Vampires are tired of being looked down upon and being left out of paranorm gove...moreThis is the third book in the Night Tracker series. In this book, the Vampires are tired of being looked down upon and being left out of paranorm governance. They have somehow discovered that the paranorm ruling council keeps a file containing detailed information about all paranorm races - including their weaknesses - in their archives...which is located right next to what passes for the paranorm official lock-up for their criminals. Smart move, keeping sensitive documents next to a prison.
The Vampires strike a deal with the Sprites to help them obtain the file. In the process, the Sprites discover something far more dangerous to paranorm existence, something which also eventually falls into the Vampires' hands. Nyx and her friends must recover the threats to the paranorm races and stop the Vampires from taking over.
Believe it or not, this series has improved with time. This book is still a by-the-numbers urban fantasy with predictable action, perfunctory dialogue, and little depth. However, we at least get to see Nyx experience some real emotion this time around, which is a nice change from previous books. She comes across less cardboard and more real.
As other reviewers have mentioned, the running joke about Nyx's skin being "amethyst", not "purple", wears extremely thin. Yeah, it was amusing the first couple of times she thought/said it in the first book; now, it's just irritating. Also irritating is the repetitive mention of her "cobalt blue hair", her "xPhone", her "Victoria's Secret" panties, etc.
Also, the Vampires are so unrelentingly, irredeemably evil that they come across as caricatures rather than actual characters. In my opinion, villians are much more interesting when there are shades of gray, when there is some complexity to their actions and motivations. That doesn't occur here. (less)
This book was a free download on the Kindle, so I thought I'd try it even though it appeared to be self-published. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past...moreThis book was a free download on the Kindle, so I thought I'd try it even though it appeared to be self-published. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past the amateurish writing - melodramatic language, too much use of "I" and "my" in the first person, dialogue tags gone wild, and a lot of dialogue in dialect. And who the heck doesn't recognize a wild pig as *a pig*? *sigh* This book is not for me.(less)
The product description describes this book as a "solid, fast-paced espionage thriller". Unfortunately, this book is anything but that.
The first appr...moreThe product description describes this book as a "solid, fast-paced espionage thriller". Unfortunately, this book is anything but that.
The first approx. 40% of the book revolves around the main character, FBI Special Agent Alexandra LaDuca, getting ready to travel to Kiev. There is a brief bit of action in Kiev, then another 30% or so of the book is Alex recovering from and dealing with what happened in Kiev. This includes her traveling to Venezuela. There is a brief bit of action after she has been there several weeks, and then there's a final bit of action in France. But that's it. The tension and edge-of-your-seat drama that good thrillers include are conspicuously missing in this book.
The story is also heavily bogged down by long passages about various countries' history, politics, etc., only a small portion of which is necessary for the reader to know to understand the story. The rest struck me as filler. Yes, I'm glad the author researched so carefully, but I don't need to read *all* the research. At one point, I remember thinking, "oh good, now some plot" and then rolled my eyes when the narrative immediately veered off again into background information.
Alex is an interesting character. However, she didn't live up to her billing as a "shrewd investigator". "Connecting the dots" may take "Alex across three continents", but it wasn't she who was doing the connecting. She doesn't play an active role in figuring out anything in this book. She is a pawn. After the events in Kiev, she tries briefly to find out what really happened but is stymied and gives up. After the events in Venezuela, others tell her who was behind the events and why. After the events in Paris, others tell her who was behind the events and why. *sigh* I liked her and wanted her to do something besides be used by others with hidden agendas.
Alex's religiousness also seemed artificial to me, almost as if it was an after-thought, something that was added to the character after the book was already written. There are a few throw-away references to Alex going to church, and she wears a gold cross, although that is more for remembrance than its religious significance. However, she doesn't consciously think about the Bible, and it doesn't actively guide her actions (which is actually fine with me because I don't like in-your-face peachiness that is typical of a lot of "Christian" fiction). The most glaring instance of this is when she thinks about committing suicide because she thinks it would reunite her with her loved ones. Um, isn't committing suicide a sin in Christianity that would prevent one from entering heaven? Not once during that whole thought process, do I remember her thinking, "Wait, Christianity says this is wrong."
One other annoyance is that every single bit of dialogue in French, Spanish, or Russian was also repeated in English in the narrative...including such common phrases as "dos vedanya" (spelled differently in the book) and "donde". Granted, some of the translation was necessary, but translating foreign words and phrases that 99% of your readers are going to recognize made the text seem dumbed down.
Finally, the ending was a bit of a let down. The immediate threat to Alex is dealt with, but the larger threat (that all the bad guys haven't been caught) is apparently ignored and she goes on her merry way. Huh? I know this is the first of a trilogy so the story will continue in the next book, but the abrupt ending was disconcerting. (less)
I hesitate to call this erotica; of all the books, I’ve read recently, this one strays the furthest across the line from erotica to porn.
Elizabeth “Li...moreI hesitate to call this erotica; of all the books, I’ve read recently, this one strays the furthest across the line from erotica to porn.
Elizabeth “Libby” Wild, 28, is a world famous photographer who hails from the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming. She hasn’t been home in years because, in part, of the way she was treated by Ty and Bodie Cade, identical twins who apparently tormented her in high school. She also has a strained relationship with her sister, Alex, who has remained in Wyoming to run the family ranch.
Libby gets sent back to Wyoming to take photos for a spread in the magazine she works for. She reluctantly agrees. Once back, Libby runs into Ty and Bodie (of course) and after they force the guy whom she had hired to be her guide into the Yellowstone backcountry to cancel, they take over her trip. This is also after running into her at their class reunion and telling her all they ways they are going to f&*^ her and how much she’s going to enjoy it because they are oh so sorry that they treated her badly in high school. Um, yeah. So saying “we’re really sorry we were such jackasses” wouldn’t have sufficed?
Why did they torment her in high school? The book itself never says, so the reader has only the publisher-provided synopsis for guidance – the twins “lived with a secret shame”. I won’t reveal what that “secret shame” is (it’s a minor spoiler, and more on that later), but only their twisted father would have called it a “shame”. The other 99.999% percent of the population would have either shrugged or said. “oh, how interesting” and left it at that. So…it’s a contrived and stupid plot device.
I can’t forget to mention the cow horse that Libby is riding that spooks, bucks, rears and dumps Libby when it is challenged by a bull. A cow horse? Really? A horse that has been trained to herd cut and herd cattle? I don’t think so. But it does give Ty and Bodie a chance to act like heroes.
Then the trip into Yellowstone takes place. Over three days, the three of them screw like bunny rabbits on crack and realize they are in luuuurrrvee.
Er, hold on…
Ty and Bodie know nothing about the person that Libby is now, and Libby knows nothing about Ty and Bodie except that the sex is great. Sorry, great sex does not equal love in my book.
On this trip, Libby also makes a great leap of logic – of the “What you do not smell is iocane powder” type of leap – and figures out what the brothers’ “shame” is. The reader is told at one point that the brothers changed their opinion of Libby when they saw some pictures she had taken. Turns out she was standing up for some kids that had the same “shame” as them. Again, since their “shame” wasn’t really anything shameful, this revelation falls flat. Yes, what she did was brave, but the attitude that she displayed – acceptance – wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
Libby isn’t a bad heroine, when she isn’t falling in love with Type A overbearing cowboys. Ty and Bodie, however, need an attitude adjustment. But overall, the “great sex over three days with virtual strangers = true love” was what did this book in for me. (less)
I found this to be an average read overall. This is a short story as others have mentioned; however, since the Kindle app for PC doesn't display page...moreI found this to be an average read overall. This is a short story as others have mentioned; however, since the Kindle app for PC doesn't display page numbers (what the heck is up with that? that's one of the reasons I will never buy a Kindle), I can't offer any estimate of how many pages/words the story actually comprises. But it's not a very long read.
Alise and Mac have known each other and been friends for fifteen months; they each have the hots for the other but haven't revealed that to the other person - Mac for a silly reason, and Alise for no reason at all (at least not one given in the story). As the story begins, they are in Mac's office having a conversation about Alise planning to have sex with her current boyfriend when the power goes out. They decide they are stuck there "with no power and it being pitch black outside..." (Mac's words to a friend via cell phone). OK, what? I've been in a lot of power outages, and there's no reason the two of them couldn't have simply gotten in their cars and driven home. Seriously. This is a really, really stupid set up for the sex that follows.
The sex itself is decently written, and there was enough character back story presented prior to the sex that it felt like a natural development. And the characters are likable. This was the good part of the story.
The other reason that this story doesn't get a higher rating is that the author abuses dialogue tags throughout the story. She uses almost any tag but "said" (a classic beginning writer fault is to avoid "said") and even uses some tags which are not valid tags at all, such as "scowled" and "sighed". Where is the editor fixing this? I could never read a whole book written this way. This (amatuerish writing) has become a serious problem with Ellora's Cave books IMO, and I very rarely buy books from them any more. I am always looking for new authors, so I'll try their free stories. Unfortunately, this author will be a pass for me.
I liked this book better than the first book in the series, although that's not saying much.
The Good: The characters were less cardboard cut-outs and...moreI liked this book better than the first book in the series, although that's not saying much.
The Good: The characters were less cardboard cut-outs and more developed. The ubiquitous name-brand-dropping that was so irritating in the first book is also, thankfully, gone.
The Bad: The book was fairly predictable. Also - and the big stumbling block for me - was that the villain(s) did one incredibly inept and stupid thing that allowed the good guys to find them. The good guys finding them happened fairly early on in the story, so the rest of the story essentially happened because of the TSTL moment. (less)
**spoiler alert** Warning: this review contains comments that could be construed as spoliers.
I haven't summarized the entire plot here, because it wou...more**spoiler alert** Warning: this review contains comments that could be construed as spoliers.
I haven't summarized the entire plot here, because it would just depress me. The synopsis in the product description is good enough for a basic idea of who is who. That said...
Oh. My. God. This book was going along decently – despite Ms. Carr’s typical reliance on amatuer writing techniques such as using a lot of dialogue tags besides “said”, telling intead of showing, and stilted dialogue – until about halfway through when Carly gets it into her head that she absolutely must go undercover at the “Retreat”. From there the plot dissolves into a series of appalling and/or laughable events. To wit:
1. Carly insists on going undercover and risking Jon and Night having to “rape” her to prove their loyalty to Cassandra; she rationalizes it by thinking that if they do it right, it’ll be pleasurable. Huh? It’ll be pleasurable?
2. Night and Jon attempt to dissuade her by showing her how bad BDSM-style (emphasis on SM) sex can be. This is their girlfriend, remember, and they think that using sex to hurt her is a reasonable way to make the point that what Carly wants to do is dangerous. They think that this is the only way to prevent Carly from putting herself in danger. I guess having the UIA (the super-secret law enforcement agency that Night works for) simply put her in protective custody until the investigation was over would have made for a pretty boring story.
3. They then think about how brave she is to do this. Brave? Try ridiculously fool-hardy.
4. Cassandra explains all her plans to the Jon and Night on their first visit. And she is supposed to be this great criminal mastermind?
5. After Cassandra figures out that Jon and Night are spying for the UIA, Carly offers to give up herself if Cassandra will let them go free. Because, of course, Cassandra’s word is to be trusted. Not. And now Carly has revealed both her feelings for them and their feelings for her. Stupid, stupid, stupid. The girl doesn’t have a shred of common sense.
6. Night and Jon, despite their supposed super training with the UIA, think they can’t take on one rather large and strong opponent. Must have been some pretty mediocre training… Night can, however, pull chains set into concrete out of said concrete with his bare hands.
7. Cassandra sneaks up on Night, Jon, and Carly while they are outside on the grounds, having paused in their escape from the Retreat, and grabs Carly. And they never heard her coming. Not very good agents, were they?
8. Cassandra – BDSM dominatrix, cult leader, psychotic chick – also just happens to be an expert knife thrower when the situation warrants it. I actually laughed out loud at this point.
There is more silliness, as well. Overall, I can’t recommend this book unless you have a few hours and want a really good laugh. (less)
I've loved this series from the start. This is the final book in the series, and as such it answers all the questions about the black crystal that has...moreI've loved this series from the start. This is the final book in the series, and as such it answers all the questions about the black crystal that has been plaguing the protagonists since the first or second book. I generally enjoyed this book, although as it got closer to the end, a lot of action was packed into few pages. And I'm still not sure I quite *got* everything (I'll have to go back and reread)
The ending? I won't spoil it, but let's just say I'm torn. I like certain aspects of the ending, others seem too...hm, saying anything more would be a spoiler.
I do recommend this book. It's a must read if you've been following the series.(less)