Julianna's Reviews > Love at First Bite

Love at First Bite by Sherrilyn Kenyon
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's review
Apr 09, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-romance, paranormal-romance, read-2012, urban-fantasy
Recommended for: Fans of PNR Romance Anthologies or Any of the Authors
Read from June 08, 2011 to December 13, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

Reviewed for THC Reviews
Until Death We Do Part by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Considering that the heroine of Until Death We Do Part is supposed to be the daughter of Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula, I thought this novella had some promise, but sadly, it didn't end up drawing me in as much as I believe it could have if there had been more depth in the plot and characters. I felt like the story was overburdened with mysticism and mythology. In addition to all the usual Dark-Hunter/Were-Hunter/Dream-Hunter mythology, the hero is also a sorcerer and shape-shifter (not a Were-Hunter). While it might seem that this would add a new and interesting dimension to the mythos, I found that it tended to muddy the waters more than anything by making it possible for the characters to do pretty much whatever they wanted. I think that if this had been a stand-alone novella without the Dark-Hunter elements or a Dark-Hunter novella without the other stuff, it would have been a tighter and clearer story. I also felt like the author waited a little too long to explain what precisely had separated Velkan and Esperetta all those years ago. Right up until the end, I was only able to speculate through inference as to why they even considered taking the sleeping potion. Unfortunately, this only added to my confusion. Additionally, the author just about drove me batty with her overuse of the word “it'd” which in my opinion is a clunky contraction, and the editing in general left something to be desired with lots of clumsily worded sentences and confusing passages that even after re-reading, still felt like something was missing.

As for the characters, I liked Velkan, but there weren't enough details about him to make him a true stand-out hero. He was kind of the typical Dark-Hunter who'd been wronged, tortured and killed in his human life and then sold his soul to Artemis for his act of vengeance. I felt sorry for everything he'd been through, especially since he'd done it all for Esperetta only to have her completely turn her back on him for 500 years. I could understand how she might have gotten the wrong idea about Velkan's actions, considering all that she had been through herself and with her having been raised in a very sheltered environment, she was probably rather naïve. However, by all accounts Velkan had been an amazing husband, treating her with the utmost kindness and respect in spite of being a hardened medieval warrior, and she supposedly had loved him as deeply as he had loved her. With that in mind, I found it hard to believe that she would run away without at least giving him a chance to explain. Also, since stories abounded about the cruelty of her father, it was even more difficult to fathom that in all those centuries, she hadn't even considered that she might have been wrong about Velkan. In my opinion, 500 years was taking the dreaded “big misunderstanding” a little too far. Not to mention, when Retta's current venomous sarcasm was added to the mix, it all made her seem very childish and shrewish to me. Even when she finally realized she had terribly misjudged Velkan, it was just too little too late. I could completely understand why he was so angry with Retta and felt that he forgave her far too easily. I think she needed to do a lot more groveling for what she put the poor man through, especially since he had done nothing but look out for her well-being all those years too. I just didn't end up sensing a deep emotional connection between Velkan and Retta as a couple. About the only good thing I can say about them is that it was a unique element to have a hero and heroine who were already married before he was turned into a Dark-Hunter, and that as a result of having their life-forces tied together, she came back to life too. The other troublesome thing is that much like the previous full-length novel of the series, Dark Side of the Moon, there was no resolution to Velkan's Dark-Hunter status at the end of the story.

Although Until Death We Do Part is part of the Dark-Hunter series, there is no specific connecting plot and no carry-over characters that I'm aware of. Readers do get a glimpse of the first Were-Hunter/Dream-Hunter hybrid which might be an important piece of information that I could see possibly popping up again later in the series. It could easily be read as a stand-alone, but for those people who prefer reading series in order like I do, it falls between Dark Side of the Moon and The Dream-Hunter in the Dark-Hunter chronology. Until Death We Do Part had a few unique elements, but it felt like it was rather hurriedly thrown together and didn't entirely live up to its promise, ultimately, becoming a rather ho-hum read for me. Although I'm a bit skeptical of the chances based on other fans reviews, I am hoping that the next few stories improve on the relationship development and overall storytelling, as my interest in the series is sadly beginning to wane. Star Rating: ***

Ride the Night Wind by L. A. Banks - Ride the Night Wind is another short side-story in the Vampire Huntress Legends. It gives the backstory of Guardians Jose and Juanita who are apparently main characters in the series. I don't really know anything more about this couple besides what was imparted in this story, because I haven't read any of the main books in the Vampire Huntress Legends. I almost never read series books out of order, but I can't say that this series stood out to me as one that I knew I would like for certain, and after reading Make It Last Forever, another backstory novella, I just didn't know if I could take such sad endings. As a result, I have yet to try the main part of the series.

Much like with Make It Last Forever, I did enjoy Ride the Night Wind right up until the end. L. A. Banks created two likable characters in Jose and Juanita. I could very much relate to their dreams of becoming an artist and business woman respectively, but having no one who understood or supported those dreams until they met each other. They both were also from single-parent households in poor neighborhoods and had controlling mothers who thought the worst of them, even though they were trying their best. Jose was kind of into the gang-banging scene but had managed to use his art to avoid getting into any real trouble. He had the heart and body of a warrior with a more sensitive side underneath. He had been dreaming of a beautiful woman whose face was hidden in shadows except for her eyes, so when he saved Juanita from an demon attack, he immediately knew she was the one. Juanita was a responsible young woman who took care of her little brother and the household while her mother worked, and all she wanted was to have a “normal” life like other girls her age. Unfortunately, that was not to be. She too had dreams for years of a man who saves her from horrific creatures, but whose face is obscured by a motorcycle helmet, so when Jose rescues her, she knows he's the one.

Normally, I'm not a fan of quick hook-ups like what occurred in this story, but this time I was completely convinced that Jose and Juanita were meant for one another and that they were indeed falling in love even though the story takes place in only about a day. I think having them both dreaming of one another before meeting helped that along, but Ms. Banks also managed to imbue their relationship with tenderness and a deep sense of urgency and longing. They just can't seem to get enough of each other, and the love scenes were really intense and beautiful. That's why just like with Make It Last Forever, the ending of this story was so hard to take. I will admit that it was a little happier than the other novella, because unlike Jake Rider, the hero of that story, and the love of his life, Jose and Juanita are together at the end of Ride the Night Wind with the implication that it is for good this time. However, between the final chapter and the epilogue, Jose and Juanita have been separated for nearly two decades as they each played their roles as Guardians and both have taken other lovers during that time. So, it still broke my heart to have them apart for such an extended period before finally finding each other again.

Ride the Night Wind stood fairly well on its own without me having prior knowledge of the Vampire Huntress Legends, although I have to admit that the epilogue probably would have made more sense if I had known more about the world building and what had taken place thus far in the series. Jake Rider is mentioned throughout the story and shows up as a secondary character in the epilogue. If memory serves, this novella also takes place in the same small Native American community, with one or two of the same characters, from Make It Last Forever. In spite of another unsatisfying ending, I can't deny that the late L. A. Banks' writing is pretty solid and her stories have a certain dark appeal. I'm slowly becoming more interested in the series as a whole and might be persuaded to give it a try. I'm still a little uncertain though, because in spite of knowing that the series is urban fantasy rather than paranormal romance, Ms. Banks definitely has a knack for the romantic side of the story. With that in mind, I'm not sure if I can take more unhappiness if she dishes it up as liberally as she has in these two short stories. Star Rating: ****

The Gift by Susan Squires - The Gift turned out to be a very pleasant surprise for me. I hadn't heard much in paranormal romance circles about Susan Squires' Companion series, so I can't say that it ever really caught my eye as something I'd like to read. That's why I decided to go ahead with this novella without having read the previous books in the series. Now that I've given it a try, I'm very interested in backtracking and learning more about this interesting new vampire world. This is the first time I've read a historical vampire romance and to make it even more unique, the story is primarily set in Morocco, Casablanca to be exact. I don't think I've ever read any story, much less a romance, set in Africa before.

I really liked both the hero and heroine of this novella. Davie is an honorable man who is an officer in the British army. He's been looking forward to finally proposing to the woman he loves, but when duty calls and he doesn't know if he'll come back alive, he does the noble thing and releases Emma even though it breaks his heart to do so. He was also previously held captive, raped and tortured by the queen of the vampires which made him incredibly sympathetic. It just made me want to wrap him up in my arms and love him tenderly like Emma does. Because of his experiences with vampires, Davie would rather die than become one, but fate may have other plans in store for him. Emma is a vivacious and adventurous young lady who would rather risk her life in a dangerous place than to live without the man she loves. I had to admire her spunk in following Davie to Casablanca and her willingness to love him no matter what. She was a very brave woman who fought valiantly by his side in more ways than one. In my opinion, the author did a great job of conveying the deep sense of longing between these two when they couldn't be together, as well as the incredible love and tenderness they shared when they finally did reunite.

From what I can tell, The Gift falls between The Burning and One with the Night, books #3 and #4 of the Companion series. When I first started reading it, I was slightly confused. It took me a chapter or so to sort everything out. In this respect, I think it would have been better to have read the series in order. Also, some characters from previous books appeared, including Ian Rufford, the hero of The Companion, who had a strong secondary role and Beatrix, the heroine of The Hunger, who showed up briefly near the end. I also got the feeling that Davie and Emma were probably introduced in a previous book, because it was mentioned that they stood up for Ian and his wife at their wedding. Once I figured out who everyone was, the story was pretty easy to follow. I feel like I only got a taste of the vampire mythology here, and would love to know more. That, the exotic historical setting, and wanting to read more about Ian, who seems like he would make a great romantic hero, makes me very interested in continuing with this series, only this time I'll start at the beginning.:-) Star Rating: *****

The Forgotten One by Ronda Thompson - After a mediocre showing on the previous book in the Wild Wulfs of London, The Forgotten One really got the series back on track for me. This historical paranormal novella mirrored the deep emotional connection I felt in the first two stories, as well as the exquisite sensuality. It also had the unusual distinction of the hero being a commoner, a mere stable master, who was also a bastard with no last name, while the heroine was a titled lady about to inherit her family's estate upon her twenty-first birthday. I ended up absolutely loving it.

Anne reminds me a lot of myself. She is the perfect blend of a sweet girl trying to be just a little naughty. She doesn't entirely succeed in her plan though, because she's a little too cautious to fully follow through with it. She adores horses and knows as much about them as many men do, but of course, being a lady, is not really allowed to have anything to do with them other than to ride, which she loves. She longs to be free of the strictures of society, and what she feels while riding gives her a taste of that freedom. The sensations Merrick arouses in her and the way he understands her and is willing to accept her eccentricities also makes her feel liberated. Anne is a young woman who has a positive attitude and tries to look on the bright side of things. She is also a very trusting soul who always sees the best in people. When she turns that implicit trust on Merrick, it nearly overwhelms him. The way she loves him with her whole being in spite of him being lowborn, and even after witnessing him turning into a beast, is really beautiful.

Merrick is an incredibly sexy hero. He knows exactly what to say and do to get a lady's motor humming. He has this lazy, devil-may-care attitude that's extremely appealing, yet underneath it all, he harbors some darkness and resentment toward the upper classes because of his father abandoning his mother. It doesn't take him long though to realize that Anne isn't like most aristocrats. I love how Merrick understands Anne in a way that no one else does. He encourages her to pursue her dreams and desires even if they aren't considered “proper.” When Merrick discovers that his “gifts” go far beyond his wildest imaginings, he is understandably concerned for Anne's safety, but I was glad that in the end, he listened to her and trusted her instincts about his beastly side. His willingness to do anything for her was sweetly romantic.

The Forgotten One was another wonderfully sweet, yet deeply sensual romance. With three out of the four Wild Wulfs of London stories I've read so far being winners, the late Ronda Thompson has earned a spot on my favorite authors list. I'm really looking forward to the final book in the series, The Cursed One. Star Rating: *****
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Reading Progress

06/09/2011 page 81
22.0% "Finished the Sherrilyn Kenyon novella. Thought it was just OK for a DH story."
10/02/2012 page 275
73.0% "The Susan Squires story was a surprisingly enjoyable novella that has gotten me interested in trying the series."
12/20/2012 page 373
100.0% "Loved Ronda Thompson's The Forgotten One. It was a very sweet and sensuous short story that was great addition to the series. Review coming soon."

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-4 of 4) </span> <span class="smallText">(4 new)</span>

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UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Great review, Julie. The stories sound awesome.

message 2: by Julianna (last edited Apr 10, 2013 10:27AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Julianna Thanks, Dhes. The DH story was just OK, but all the rest of the novellas were very enjoyable. One of those rare anthologies where nearly all the stories were a hit with me.:-)

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Julie (Mom2lnb) wrote: "One of those rare anthologies where nearly all the stories were a hit with me.:-)"

I love it when that happens! One of my favorites is
SEAL of My Dreams by Robyn Carr. And every story was good!

Julianna Two of my favorite authors are in that anthology, so it's on my wishlist. Glad to know it's good.

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