Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review - Spell of the Highlander

Title: Spell of the Highlander
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Publishing Date: 2005
Genre: Time Travel
Rating: A
Sensuality: Hot

Spell of the Highlander, to date, is last book in Karen Marie Moning's highlander series and it just happens to also be my favorite. Jessie St. James is a grad student studying to get her doctorate in archeology in Chicago. She has been asked to accept a package for her professor in his absence. So off she goes to sign for a package. Well, this package happens to be an antique mirror. But, it isn't just any mirror. It is an old UnSeelie relic and it has been cursed. Cian McKeltar has been trapped in this mirror for 1,133 years. Now, Jessie must help Cian keep the mirror out of Lucian Trevan's hands before Samhain in order to break the curse and set Cian free.

There are many reasons why I love this book. First, it has an approachable girly heroine, who is smart and funny. Jessie, is by no means "kick ass", but she can definitely hold it together when things take a turn for the worst. Luckily for her she has an awesome hero Cian, who is a Man with a capital M. His philosophy is if he can't take care of his woman's needs, then he can't call himself a man. He might be a man of few words, but when he does talk he really packs a punch.

This leads to my next favorite reason why I love this book; great dialogue. Cian and Jessie have a great rapport together and their relationship flows seamlessly along. This then leads to great pacing. This book is off and running right from the beginning and doesn't let up until the end. There is plenty of action and drama to keep the story moving. And the wonderful thing about it is that I am completely sucked into the story. As unbelievable as the whole premise is, somehow Ms. Moning makes it all work. This book is the ultimate escape and I love everything about it.

This is just such a great book and I don't even think I am beginning to do it justice. I think what we need here is a good quote so you can experience the book for yourselves. This scene takes place after Jessie releases Cian from the mirror and he realizes he can't use Voice on Jessie. That is a great scene in of itself, but too long, so I opted for the following scene.

God, he was arrogant. She marveled at the sheer, unmitigated cockiness of the man. Had all ninth-century men been that way?
In retrospect, it occurred to her that she should have seen it coming.
She was, after all, a fan of history, a studier of mankind, a ponderer of ancient civilizations. She knew what life had been like a thousand years ago for woman.
Men had been Men.
And women had been Property.
And somehow, she still managed to be utterly unprepared when he ducked that sexy, dark head of his and charged her.
"Oomph!" Jessi grunted, as his shoulder made contact with her stomach.
Her feet left the ground, her world tilted precariously, and the next thing she new, she was hanging upside down over his shoulder.
One of his muscle-bound arms banded her waist, pinning her to his shoulder. The other hand splayed firmly on her bottom.
She parted her lips and was just about to let loose a screech that would do a banshee proud, when his hand moved.
Possessively. Intimately. Dipping right between her legs.

How is that for a teaser to get you wanting more? Yep, that's right, you know you want to read it now!

This book was part of Nath's re-read challenge. Head on over to Nath's to view a list of other participants.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Review - Desire Unchained

Title: Desire Unchained
Author: Larrisa Ione
Publishing Date: March 2009
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: C-
Sensuality: Hot

Desire Unchained is book two of Larrisa Ione's Demonica series. Runa Wagner was once a human until she was bitten by a warg. Infected with the werewolf virus, she now unwilling changes into a werewolf during a full moon. The horrible thing about it for Runa is she can't remember what she does turning these turns. After having her brother help her deal with her new self, she sets out to find and kill the warg who bit her. While searching she is kidnapped by a Demon and held prisoner. After a few weeks of being held captive, a new prisoner is brought in and it is none other than her old flame, Shade. Shade and Runa are tricked into becoming mates by their captor. Now, they have to learn to get along or Shade could die.

Well, I have come to the conclusion that this series is just not for me. These stories revolve around demons and these demons are morally ambiguous at best. At worst, they are psychotic. It makes it very difficult for me to connect with the demon characters. Sometimes the demons make strides to struggle with the animalistic side of their nature. Sometimes they win. Sometimes they lose. Sometimes they could care less of either outcome.

Shade being an incubus demon, is riddled with lust. So much of his focus is on sex and getting into Runa's pants. There is a lot of mental lusting on his part and I really hate mental lusting. I have a low threshold for this sort of thing. Also, Shade and Runa are forced into intimacy with each other. Sure the sex is great between them, but they have a lot of baggage to work through. Runa caught Shade with two other women when they were dating and it broke her heart. I never really saw how Runa could have gotten over that. It was never really touched on in the book. There were a lot of issues that sort of just got glossed over like that and the book could have been so much stronger had the characters had to work out their problems.

What took a lot of the book's focus was this curse that Shade had been given in his younger days. Also, much of the time was spent on Shade and his brothers hunting down the rogue demon that had captured Shade and Runa. Because of the heavy suspense portion of the plot, the romance didn't have enough time to develop properly. There was a secondary romance between Kynan and Liz that was a pleasant bonus. I will say, I did enjoy reading about them.

Here is what others had to say:

TBQ's Personal Book Palace
The Happily Ever After...
OCD, Vampires and Rants, Oh My!
Michelle's Book Review Blog
Book Binge
Darque Reviews

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

RT 2009, Part 2

There is a pattern to the Romantic Times Convention. Usually there is a morning mixer which served breakfast, that anyone could attend. It was pretty casual, people milling around chatting and having a good ol' time. Then there were usually a bevy of four, hour long sessions that attendees could pick and choose from; two in the morning and two in the afternoon.

I mainly stuck to the reader track, but they also had workshops geared toward aspiring writers and booksellers. At each of these sessions, free books and various paraphernalia were given out. The reader sessions were divided into author panels, fun games, and book signings.

Then in the evening at 8:00 they would have a big dinner each night. Each day it was a different theme and you could come dressed in costume. Dressing up is completely optional. I figure about 75% of the people dressed up with about 5% being really elaborate and the rest being "normal". I dressed up each night. They would serve food of some sort and then have dancing afterwards until midnight.

What I couldn't believe was all the books we got. And what is even more crazy, is that people who attended previous RT's said they didn't get as much stuff this year. All I know is that I took home a crate full of books and I am now wondering where I am going to put them. Since this was my first RT, I thought they were pretty generous with the books and the best part is that half of them have been signed by the authors!

Being the number dork that I am, I tallied up all the books that I received. As I am sure you are wondering which books I did get. Not everybody gets the same books. It depends on which sessions you attend and sometimes even at the same session each person would receive different books. If you got duplicates or had already read that book, you could always trade with someone else. I was pretty lucky in that I only received two duplicates and two books that I had already read out of 59 books. Here are some pictures of the books. If you click on them, they become giant sized. Or you can just scroll down and read the list.

The ones in blue have been signed by the author:

1. A Cinderella Affair, A. C. Arthur
2. Wanderlust, Ann Aquirre (received two copies)
3. Feral Fascination, Anthology
4. What Happens in Vegas, Anthology
5. Everlasting Bad Boys, Anthology
6. Secrets, Volume 15, Anthology
7. Secrets, Volume 18, Anthology
8. Secrets, Volume 19, Anthology
9. Secrets, Volume 25, Anthology
10. Masters of Desire, Anthology
11. Naughty Bits, Anthology
12. Alluring Tales, Anthology
13. Fault Line, Barry Eisler (hardback)
14. The Object of His Protection, Brenda Jackson
15. Brimstone Kiss, Carole Nelson Douglas
16. What a Scoundrel Wants, Carrie Lofty
17. Pleasure Control, Cathryn Fox
18. Rogue, Cheryl Brooks
19. Touch of Darkness, CT. Adams & Cathy Clamp
20. Faceless, Debra Webb
21. Red Fire, Deidre Knight
22. Red Kiss, Deidre Knight (This is an ARC I won)
23. Down in Texas, Delilah Devlin (received two copies)
24. Forbidden Fruit, Eden Bradley
25. Stolen Fury, Elisabeth Naughton
26. To Taste Temptation, Elizabeth Hoyt
27. The Death Dealer, Heather Graham
28. The Magic Knot, Helen Scott Taylor
29. Afraid, Jack Kilborn
30. Ecstasy, Jacquelyn Frank
31. Elijah, Jacquelyn Frank
32. Dragonbound, Jade Lee
33. A Perfect Darkness, Jamie Rush
34. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Jashilyn Jackson (Hardcover)
35. Destined for an Early Grave, Jeaniene Frost (This is an ARC)
36. Dayhunter, Jocelynn Drake
37. Don't Tell, Karen Rose
38. Secret Life of a Vampire, Karrelyn Sparks
39. Undercover, Lauren Dane
40. Shades of Dark, Linnea Sinclair
41. Games of Command, Linnea Sinclair
42. Lone Star Surrender, Lisa Renee Jones
43. Bunco Babes Tell All, Maria Geraci (This is an ARC I won)
44. Simply Perfect, Mary Balogh
45. Dead Ringer, Mary Burton
46. Dirty, Megan Hart
47. Fragile Eternity, Melissa Marr (Hardcover)
48. Desire Untamed, Pamela Palmer (This is an ARC)
49. Something Bad, Richard Satterlie
50. Paradise Valley, Robyn Carr
51. Wicked, Sasha White
52. The Awakening, Shannon Drake
53. Dead by Dusk, Shannon Drake
54. Heat of the Night, Sylvia Day
55. Your the One that I Haunt, Terri Garey
56. Heart of the Wolf, Terry Spear
57. The Perfect Wife, Victoria Alexander

The next step of course was to tally up the value of these books. Many of them were trade size paperbacks and I also did receive three hardbacks. The total value of the books was a whopping $599.09!!! I also won the raffle at Deidre Knight's midnight party and received a $50.00 visa gift card. So, if you think about it, the books more than make up for the convention fee of $490.00. Even more so if you include all the meals I was able to eat (at least two each day). I think it is definitely worth attending at least once in your lifetime if you are an avid romance reader. You can't even begin to place a value on the friendships you make.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Review - Trouble

Title: Trouble
Author: Sasha White
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Contemporary/Erotic
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Burning

Samair Jones finds herself at a crossroads in her life. Fed up with her job, her boyfriend and herself for trying to be someone she is not, she throws caution to the wind and starts over. She moves in with her old college friend Joey, who is a dancer for club Risque. As Samair is dancing in the club, she catches the club owner's eye. After some heavy flirting she tells him that she is looking for someone to fulfill all her sexual fantasies. Valentine Ward, never one to back away from a challenge, picks up the gauntlet.

Samair all her life has tried to be someone she isn't. Her family is very conservative and her parents have certain expectations when it comes their children. Samair has dreamed of having her own line of clothing ever since she was young. Her family would never understand or support her in this endeavor. However, Samair is sick and tired of being someone who she isn't. She is tired of trying to please everyone else and is now going to live for herself. I love that this book isn't just about fantastic sex (although, that is an added benefit), but more about Samair accepting who she is and loving herself for it. It's a motivating message without being overly preachy.

The characters were well drawn and likable. Joey, Samair's roommate has a secondary romance with a bouncer from the bar. It was enjoyable to read about Samair starting up her own lingerie business and the steps she took. I also liked how the author slowly showed Val go from their relationship initially being about sex to developing into something more meaningful for him. I was pleasantly surprised by Trouble. It was a fast, entertaining read.

*Just a side note* I totally hate the cover of this book. Yuck, yuck, and more yuck. There is no way in HELL, you could get me to walk around with this book in public. Thank God for ereaders, right?

Here is what others had to say:

My Thoughts on Nothing Much at All
Dionne Galace - It's not Chick Porn
Laurie's Laudanum

Sunday, April 26, 2009

RT 2009 - Part 1

Wednesday morning around 8:00 I headed down to the palms foyer to pick up my registration packet for the convention. Registration was very well organized and because it was early there wasn't any line. I received a large tote bag that has 3 books in it, a convention agenda and various bookmarks and paraphernalia. As I am sitting down, checking the contents of my bag, I am just looking around in amazement at the variety of people walking by. One woman wearing a large hat with feathers in it walks by. I must have had a strange look on my face because another woman was watching me and started laughing. She asks me if this is my first RT. I told her it was.

That was one of the things that struck me right away about this convention was just how friendly and nice everyone was. Even though I went by myself, I was never without someone to sit with or talk to at any event. When I continued on to the morning mixer, the author Eden Robbins took me under her wing and introduced me to other readers and made me feel so welcome.

After the morning mixer I was in the hallway and recognized Jane from Dear Author and Sarah from Smart Bitches. I introduced myself to them and they invited me to have breakfast with them and Roxanne St. Claire, who was walking with them. I followed along, shell shocked talking a mile a minute. Again, I just could get over how friendly everyone was. It's like you just instantly connect with everyone because we all share a similar interest, a passion for reading and a love of books. I didn't actually eat breakfast with them, because after I got my wits back I realized how I had crashed their party - although, they assured me I hadn't. But, I did want to attend the first reader session, which was where I was headed when I ran into them. So, off I went to find room Oleander A.

The first reader session I went to that morning was hosted by Karen Rose. There were not many people in attendance. I am estimating about 20 people and I sat by myself. Karen talked a little bit about an upcoming series she is working on and how she came by the idea for it. Then we acted out a little mystery skit she had written using some of the characters from her previous books. After the skit we were able to ask her questions and she gave us all her first book Don't Tell. We all got to sign up if we would like to be killed off in one of her books. So you may be reading one of her books in the future and come across the victim, Jill Dunlop!

The next session took place in the same room and while we were waiting a fellow reader came up to me and asked if I would like to sit with her and her sister. These two ladies were from Rhode Island and this was their third RT. Linda and Mary were so nice to me and I continually kept bumping into them at the other sessions that day and then later that night at the Ellora's Cave Jungle party. I spent most of the convention with them. I felt like they had adopted me into their family. I forgot my camera in all the excitement of packing for the trip and they were wonderful enough to take pictures for me. How nice is that?!! As soon as I get the pictures, I'll be sure to post them.

I will post part two tomorrow!

I'm Back!!!

Hello everyone!! I just got back from having spent a fabulous time at the RT convention in Orlando. I wanted to blog about it while I was there, but alas my internet connection didn't work. Total bummer! But, I am back and I plan on doing a series of posts about my experience. I had a wonderful time and I can't wait to tell you all about it. First, I must decompress and spend some time with my family. I'll be back soon, so stay posted!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Review - Kill Me Twice

Title: Kill Me Twice
Author: Roxanne St. Claire
Publishing Date: 2005
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: B
Sensuality: Hot

Kill Me Twice is the first book in Roxanne St. Clare's Bullet Catchers series. Alex Romero works for the elite, covert team as a spy, bodyguard and security specialist. Now, he has to pay the price since he screwed up his last mission. He has been assigned to babysit news anchor Jessica Adams. It's not exactly the assignment of his dreams. Only when he arrives in Miami, it isn't Jessica whom he meets, it is her twin sister Jazz, who immediately gets under his skin. Jazz is pretending to be Jessica while she investigates a hot news story. Soon, it becomes apparent that the story Jessica is following has turned dangerous and Jazz, with the help of Alex, will fight to keep Jessica safe.

Kill Me Twice is a fun, fast read. It has many of my favorite features in a romance book. It has smart and witty dialogue between the hero and heroine. It has a sexy, confidant heroine who has no trouble at all bringing the hero to his knees. It also has the macho hero with an over protective streak, a mile wide. This book had no problems keeping me entertained.

Jazz Adams is a strong, independent woman. Although, when the book begins she just doesn't know it yet. She feels more like she has always lived in her sister, Jessica's shadow. Now that Jessica needs her, she wants to prove to her sister that she can be the one to offer help. As Jazz uncovers the mystery surrounding her sister, she grows more confident in her own abilities. I really enjoyed the growth that Jazz displayed throughout the story. My one complaint would be how long it took Jazz to accept that Jessica was actually in trouble. I think she denied it a lot longer than she should have, when all the clues where practically screaming at her.

Alex was not as well developed as Jazz. The reader gets the sense that he is intelligent and sexy and protective, but we don't really get more than just what is on the surface. More background or little stories about his past might have helped to reveal more about him. What I did get to know, I liked. It's just knowing more about him might have made me feel more connected to him and would have made his feelings toward Jazz feel all the more believable. One thing that really stood out for me was how he understood Jazz and let her be herself. The true testament - how he allowed himself to trust her. Kill Me Twice is good stuff and these are all minor complaints. It's a good book and I will be reading more from Ms. St. Claire.

Here is what others had to say:

Dear Author

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Series Sunday - Virgin River

The Virgin River series by Robyn Carr takes place in the quaint little mountain town of Virgin River, California. This series is straight contemporary and deals with a wide range of subjects from substance abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, teenage pregnancy and many more. Readers will be easily drawn into the stories with characters who are richly drawn with compelling struggles.

So far, I have only had to pleasure of reading two of the books in this delightful series and I have loved each one. From my experience, I would suggest reading this series in order. The stories tend to blend together continuing where one left off. Each book does have a lead female and lead male protagonist with a conclusive story. But there are secondary characters that continue story lines throughout the books. Everything is smoothly touched on so if you do jump in the middle or go a long time between books, the story still comes seamlessly together.

Series Reading Order:

1. Virgin River (Mel and Jack)
2. Shelter Mountain (Paige and Preacher)
3. Whispering Rock (Brie and Mike)
4. A Virgin River Christmas (Marcie and Ian)
5. Second Chance Pass (Vanni and Paul)
6. Tempation Ridge (Shelby and Luke)
7. Paradise Valley (Liz and Rick)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Sins of Lord Easterbrook

Title: The Sins of Lord Easterbrook
Author: Madeline Hunter
Publishing Date: January 2009
Genre: Historical
Rating: B
Sensuality: Hot

The Sins of Lord Easterbrook is the fourth book of Madeline Hunter's Rothwell Series. Madeline is one of my favorite authors and this is a wonderful series. In this book Christian, Marquess of Easterbrook discovers that Leona Montgomery is now residing in London. He first met her seven years ago in China, while escaping his father and his duties. Leona's family were English shipping merchants involved in trade with India and China. After discovering some unsavory things about the shipping industry and all but losing his life, Christian came back to England. He never forgot Leona.

Leona is on a mission to help her brother get the contacts he needs to keep their family's shipping business afloat. She has another ulterior motive and that is to find out what was truly going on between her father and Christian all those years ago. Unfortunately, she still has feelings for Christian and can't seem to keep her distance.

Christian is an unusual character in that he can sense other peoples' emotions. He can tell quite accurately how another person feels about him and whether or not they are telling the truth. This peculiar trait can be both a blessing and a curse. I found his struggle with this gift very compelling. He tends to distance himself from others and remain secluded. Leona is one of the few people whom he had difficulty reading and it's one of the reasons for why he is drawn to her and hasn't forgotten her all those years.

The Sins of Lord Easterbrook has a more serious tone to it than other books. It deals with some very hard subject matter, such as heroine addiction. The characterization was solid. Christian stood out the most, but Leona was able to hold her own. The mystery surrounding the shipping industry was well done and maintained a satisfying pace. It had a good balance of action and introspection. All around this was a good solid read.

Here is what others had to say:

The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Could it be...Seton?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review - Out of the Night

Title: Out of the Night
Author: Robin T. Popp
Publishing Date: 2005
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: A-
Sensuality: Warm

Out of the Night is the first book in Robin T. Popp's Night Slayer series. Lanie Webber, the daughter of a famous biochemist needs to travel to the South American jungle to identify her father's body. It seems while studying a strange new animal species for the military, he was attacked and killed. Lanie has arranged to take a private charter flight with pilot Mac Knight. When Mac and Lanie arrive in the jungle they discover a strange creature which attacks Knight and nearly kills him. Thanks to Lanie's quick thinking she is able to save his life. But Lanie's father's body is missing and there is something strange going on.

Out of the Night was a fantastic read! I have to admit, I wasn't looking forward to reading another vampire book, but Out of the Night really took me by surprise. I think one of the reasons for this were the characters Mac and Lanie. They both were very down to earth, normal individuals. Even though the situation they faced seemed like something out of a horror movie, they themselves acted with an ordinary or standard reaction. There was a reality to their personalities that helped ground the story and not make it so fanciful.

Lanie is an average woman who works in a library. She is a volunteer fire-fighter/paramedic on the side. She is not out kicking butts in this book. She is much more likely to think up a clever plan before taking any kind of action, but when in a tough situation she keeps cool and can do the impossible. I am such a sucker for this type of heroine. Mac is no slouch either. A former captain in the Navy SEALs, his confidence and masculinity are the cornerstone of his personality. He holds himself to a strict moral code that he sometimes struggles with. I felt this only added depth to his character.

I love, love, love the way the vampire legend played out in this story. It is unique to most of the vampire books out there and it feels plausible. I could almost believe that this situation could happen in our world. The setting and atmosphere that Ms. Popp created was down right spooky, to say the least. At the beginning of the story, when it took place in the jungle, I would have jumped sky high if someone would have come up behind me while I was reading and tapped me on the shoulder. Luckily that didn't happen, but it was definitely tense reading for a while.

Out of the Night is part of Keishon's TBR Challenge. In March, Keishon suggested that we pick a book in the paranormal/science fiction/fantasy genre. I figured Out of the Night was a straight paranormal, but it wanders into science fiction territory too. I sure am glad that I chose this one, yet sorry that this sat so long in my TBR pile. Definitely check out Keishon's link to read the reviews from other participants.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Review - Bite the Bullet

Title: Bite the Bullet
Author: L. A. Banks
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: C
Sensuality: Warm

Bite the Bullet is book 2 in L. A. Banks' Crimson Moon shadow wolf series. Sasha Trudeau, a formidable soldier for the United States, discovered she is a shadow wolf by partnering up with Max Hunter the Alpha of the Northwestern Shadow Clan. Sasha is still learning what it means to be a shadow wolf and is now dealing with a full moon and the mating heat. The problem of infected shadow wolves grows more dire everyday. With the UCE conference of supernatural beings meeting in New Orleans, Sasha must dispose of the infected wolf threat before an all out war between supernaturals occurs.

I had a little bit of trouble with this second installment of the Crimson Moon series. I liked the first book well enough and thought this was an interesting series with good characters. However, upon reading Bite the Bullet, the biggest change I noticed was Sasha. Her personality has taken a turn for the worst. She has become very angry and it's like she has a really bad case of PMS. True, she has good reason to be angry, given the fact that her hormones are all out of whack and there are some seriously scary, infected wolf creatures eating people. Still, her bad attitude got old real fast.

Aside from Sasha's own personal issues, Max is dealing with some of his own. He has been infected and is afraid he will turn into one of the "seriously scary" people eaters. The thing that really surprised me about this book is the amount of gore. Banks does not shy away from the gross stuff and some of it is rather horrific. I have to remind myself that this isn't a paranormal romance, but instead urban fantasy. Although, this book does end on a positive note.

I think I would like this series better, if I could relate a little more to Sasha. Unfortunately, I don't have much in common with her. For those of you who enjoy very strong female leads, she is a strong woman having gained much of her personality through the military. She is logical, orderly and is not afraid to make tough decisions when she has to. I personally would like to see a softer side to her and maybe future books will allow for it. I do plan on reading the third book Undead on Arrival which releases this month, just to see how it stacks up.

Here is what others had to say:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dreamfever Excerpt 3

I am a little late posting this months Dreamfever excerpt. I apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused! Unfortunately for fans, it's a short one.

Our sex is fierce. We will both be bruised.

"I want it to always be like this," I tell him.

"Try holding onto that thought."

"I do not need to try. I will never feel differently."

His laughter is as dark and cold as the place of which I dream, "One day you will wonder if it's possible to hate me more."

Hmmmmm..... what can this mean?!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Review - The Serpent Prince

Title: The Serpent Prince
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Historical
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

Lucy Craddock-Hayes is on her way home from the local village when she finds a man, completely naked and unconscious, face down in the ditch on the side of the road. He has a stab wound in his shoulder and a head injury. Lucy manages to get him to her home and she precedes to nurse him back to health. Simon, the Viscount of Iddesleigh, after he heals from his injuries is determined to stay one step ahead of his attackers and put a stop to them, before they can do the same to him. Only Lucy might be the one thing standing in his way.

There are two things that really stand out for me in The Serpent Prince. The first is how sensual I found this novel to be. I almost wanted to give it a "Burning" rating. Aside from the numerous love scenes (of which there are plenty) I was just mesmerised by Simon's all encompassing passion for Lucy. And the wonderful thing about Hoyt's writing is that she didn't just tell me how much Simon wanted Lucy, she showed it. That is was sets this author apart from others.

The second thing that really stood out for me was the time period. This book takes place in 1760 when the men wore wigs or powdered their hair. They also wore very elaborate coats with lots of lace and trimming and high heeled shoes. Now, I don't know about you, but it is really hard for me to picture a man in that get-up and for me to find him sexy. I try to picture the character Will from Pirates of the Caribbean, but usually an image of Elizabeth's father pops into my mind. Trust me that is not a good thing.

Other than the whole issue I have with the time period's fashion hiccups, The Serpent Prince is a wonderfully written novel. Elizabeth Hoyt has a way with the written word that allows the characters to come alive on paper. In addition to Simon and Lucy there are many well drawn secondary characters. Lucy's father, the general in particular was a favorite. I also liked the depth to Simon's young friend and fencing partner Christian.

Here is what others had to say:

Romance Book Crazy
Laurie Likes Books
Dear Author
Cindy Reads Romance
Renee Reads Romance
Racy Romance Reviews

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Review - An Offer You Can't Refuse

Title: An Offer You Can't Refuse
Author: Jill Mansell
Publishing Date: April 2009
Genre: Woman's Fiction
Rating: B
Sensuality: Kisses

Lola and Dougie at 17 and 18 respectively were young and in love. Even though Doug was headed off to college, Lola and Doug vowed that the distance wouldn't come between them. Doug's mother never approved of Lola and seeing how close Doug and Lola were decided to throw a wrench into the mix. She offers Lola money to stop seeing Doug. Now, ten years have past after Lola did the hardest thing she ever had to do. Quite by accident she runs into Dougie and discovers she still has feelings for him. She wants to win him back, but will Dougie ever be able to forgive her?

After I read the summary for An Offer You Can't Refuse, I pretty much figured I was in for an angst riddled read. It turns out though that I was mistaken in my assumption. Lola, for one thing, is not the type of person to throw a big pity party and wallow in self misery. She is a pro-active, if not impulsive, kind of girl. When she wants something, she is determined to go after it, not unlike a tenacious dog after a bone. If she has a problem, she comes up with a scheme to solve it. Which is exactly how she handles her problems with Dougie.

I think the promotion for this book was a little confusing. Technically speaking, An Offer You Can't Refuse isn't a romance. There is romance in the book, and yes it does have a happy ever after, but the romance between Doug and Lola is not the main focus of the book. The main focus is more Lola's relationship with her friends and parents and Lola's growth as a woman throughout the story. Plus, there is the added bonus of her friends' romantic entanglements, as well.

For me being an American, I noticed a lot of British slang and British pop culture peppered throughout the story. An Offer You Can't Refuse takes place in London, present day and adds a unique flavor of life in England. All in all this was a very pleasant read with a fun cast of characters. My one complaint would have been to put more of a bigger focus on Doug and Lola's relationship. Although, I could easily see another book continuing their journey. Other than that, it was a good, solid read.

Here is what others had to say:

Reading Adventures

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

DABWAHA - The Conclusion

The fabulous March Madness spin off created by Dear Author and Smart Bitches concluded last night with a very close race between The Spymaster's Lady and Iron Kissed. In the end Iron Kissed managed to pulled ahead by a shocking 12 votes.

Alas, I did not win the tournament, but I did manage to stay in the top 10 for most of the rounds. I even picked Iron Kissed to win it all, if you can believe it! I did not manage to snag any of the fabulous prizes, though. However, Carolyn Jean of The Thrillionth Page did win the tournament and she is graciously and generously holding a contest to win any one of the 64 books from the tourney that you so desire to read. Be sure to head over there and publish a comment!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Review - Men of the Otherworld

Title: Men of the Otherworld
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publishing Date: January 2009
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: A
Sensuality: Warm

Men of the Otherworld is a collection of stories that Kelley Armstrong has published on her website over the years, that relates to her Women of the Otherworld series. These stories all revolve around Jeremy, Clay and their pack. Now I usually am not a big fan of anthologies, but Men of the Otherworld is quite different from most anthologies out there. First of all, all of the stories are written by Kelley Armstrong and secondly these stories all revolve around the same set of characters. They flow beautifully together and it really reads more like one long story as opposed to four short stories.

The first story Infusion, feels like a prologue at the beginning of a novel. It is about Jeremy's father, Malcolm and how Jeremy came to be in this world. There is a mystery involving the identity of Jeremy's mother. She was another magical creature, but which one is unclear. This story sets up the relationship that Jeremy and Malcolm are to have later on in the other stories.

The second and third story really blend very well together and almost read like one. They are about how Jeremy finds a young, 7 year old Clay and how he slowly introduces Clay back into society and more importantly, the pack. But not only is it about Jeremy and Clay, it is about the other members of the pack and how Jeremy evolves and grows to eventually becomes Alpha. These stories are both narrated by Clay in first person point of view. The reader truly gets a strong impression of Clay's personality. His drive and determination are there, as to be expected, but he also has a subtle sense of humor that is frank and refreshing. I found these two stories to be absolutely fascinating and superbly written.

The last story Kitsunegari, is narrated by Jeremy and feels like the perfect ending to this wonderful collection of stories. Jeremy is with Jamie in New York for one of her shows and here he finally discovers what type of being his magical mother was. It is short and sweet, but beautifully wraps up the mystery surrounding Jeremy's ancestry. Kelley Armstrong plans to release another collection of books sometime in 2010.

Here is what others had to say:

Books, Books and More Books
Renee's Book Addiction
Urban Fantasy

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Series Sunday - MacKenzie's

This is an oldie, but goodie as far as series go in the romance world. Linda Howard wrote a collection of books that revolve around the Mackenzie family. The men in these books are classic Howard heroes. They are uber manly and larger than life. They are over protective of their women with incredible sex drives and they have no problem going after what they want. These books aren't always politically correct, but they sure are fun to read.

The first book stars Wolf Mackenzie and Mary. Wolf has one son Joe from a previous marriage and then he and Mary had a slew of other children. The subsequent books feature the other children. I personally don't believe the books have to be read in order to enjoy them. They each stand alone. My favorites are the first two Mackenzie's Mountain and Mackenzie's Mission. The weakest of the bunch is Mackenzie's Magic.

Series Reading Order

1. Mackenzie's Mountain (1989)
2. Mackenzie's Mission (1992)
3. Mackenzie's Pleasure (1996)
4. Mackenzie's Magic (1996)
5. A Game of Chance (2000)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Review - Dark Victory

Title: Dark Victory
Author: Brenda Joyce
Publishing Date: March 2009
Genre: Time-Travel
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

Dark Victory is the fourth book in Brenda Joyce's Masters of Time series. Tabby Rose is a white witch living in modern day New York City. She comes from a long line of magical women. It is their destiny to fight evil. Tabby has always been connected to a sad grieving boy. It turns out this boy is now a man and not just any man, but a medieval highland warrior. As she is viewing an exhibit in a Manhattan museum she has a vision of him and he his burnt and bleeding. Wanting so badly to help this man that she is drawn to, she casts a spell to send him through time to her. Tabby has never been as powerful a witch as her grandmother, but her spell works and Black Macleod is sent across centuries to New York.

So far this series has been hit or miss for me. The first one I liked okay, the second one I really enjoyed and then the third one fell flat. If Dark Victory follows the pattern, then it should be another book that I liked. Well, guess what? I did! Tabby and Macleod have a lot of issues to work through in this book, but I enjoyed their struggles over evil and(the best part)their smouldering sexual tension. There is lots of angst in this book, so look out!

Both Tabby and Macleod are very stubborn people, who strongly believe in their convictions. Unfortunately, for Tabby and Macleod they both have different views on how to handle their problems. The only thing that they do seem to agree on is their sexual attraction to one another. At one point after Tabby and Macleod refuse to budge in their beliefs, Macleod says to Tabby, "If ye insist on war, we'll war in the day. But not in the night." He puts the kibosh on any more of her protests and they form a sort of truce. Le Sigh. I just love a man who knows what he wants and goes after it.

I will admit that Black Macleod was a little more black than I generally like my heroes to be. He walked a fine line at certain times between being a "bad boy" and just down right cruel. He fully redeems himself in the end, though and that made it all the better. The time travel aspect of the story is very convoluted and definitely got confusing. I am certain I still don't have a full grasp on how it works. I just go with the flow and try not to think to hard about it or pick it apart. If this is one of your pet peeves, then you might have a problem with this aspect of the book. Other than that, it's a promising read.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

March Reading Round-up

March was a strange month for me. It had many dramatic ups and downs. I had two DNF (Did Not Finish) which is quite rare for me, as it had been over a year since I have not been able to finish a book. Yet, there were also two super great reads, Bone Crossed and Men of the Otherworld that totally made up for the duds I experienced. I even went on a Stephanie Plum binge, because I just couldn't get enough of the bounty hunter madness. Oddly enough, my favorite reads from this month weren't even in the romance genre.

1. The Stranger, Hart (Contemporary/Erotic) Rating: B-
2. Witch Heart, Bast (Paranormal) Rating: DNF
3. Bone Crossed, Briggs (Urban Fantasy) Rating: A
4. Four to Score, Evanovich (Mystery) Rating: A
5. Winterbourne, Carroll (Medieval) Rating: B
6. High Five, Evanovich (Mystery) Rating: B+
7. Hot Six, Evanovich (Mystery) Rating: B+
8. Seven Up, Evanovich (Mystery) Rating: B
9. The Heart Queen, Potter (Historical) Rating: DNF
10. Dawnkeepers, Andersen (Paranormal) Rating: C+
11. Weekend, Pike (Young Adult) Rating: B
12. An Offer You Can't Refuse, Mansell (Contemporary) Rating: B
13. Dark Victory, Joyce (Time-Travel) Rating: B+
14. Men of the Otherworld, Armstrong (Urban Fantasy) Rating: A