Monday, June 29, 2009

Series Sunday - Dark Days by Jocelynn Drake




I recently stumbled on The Dark Days Series by Jocelynn Drake. It is straight urban fantasy narrated in the first person point of view by Mira, a centuries old Nightwalker, otherwise known as a vampire. Mira has carved a niche for herself in Savannah, Georgia after finally breaking away from her European makers. She meets the infamous vampire hunter Danaus and learns of an impending war between the Nightwalkers and the Naturi. She must team up with Danaus if she is to defeat the Naturi and save Nightwalkers and humans alike.

This is not a romantic series, although there is sexual tension between Danaus and Mira. For the most part, the focus is on the war between the Nightwalkers and the Naturi, but there are other supernatural creatures that exist as well, such a werewolves and warlocks. Not to mention it isn't entirely clear what Danaus is. Danaus doesn't fall into any category very easily and has unusual powers.

So far I am really enjoying this series not because the plot or storyline is very original, because let's face it. It's not. I am enjoying it because of the execution of the story with the wonderfully written character, Mira. She is constantly questioning the right/wrong or good/bad of different creatures and what she must do in order to survive. She also many times must decide what is the best for the majority of her people and not just for herself. These lead to some very difficult choices to make and broadens the defining line between black and white. I really enjoy this philosophical aspect to the book. It adds just the right amount of depth without becoming too preachy.

I am of the opinion that this series should be read in order, as each of the books build off of its predecessor.

Series Reading Order:
The Dead, The Damned, And the Forgotten (prequel to Nightwalker releases August 25, 2009 in the anthology Unbound)
Nightwalker
Dayhunter
Dawnbreaker
Pray for Dawn
Wait for Dusk (releases August 2010)


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review - Trust Me




Title: Trust Me
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Publication Date: 1995
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm

Once again Sam Stark finds himself rejected at the alter. You think he would be used to it by now. Sam is the owner and founder of Stark Security Systems. He confines himself to logic and order and prefers to spend time with his computers rather than people and their messy emotions. He was hoping marry a woman to help him deal with the social aspects of his company. He definitely wasn't looking for something as chaotic as falling in love. Desdemona Wainwright finds herself in the awkward position of needing to give Stark the catering bill for the wedding reception. After a few weeks, Stark comes to the conclusion that he doesn't necessarily need a wife to accomplish his goals, a caterer on standby will do the same thing, without the complications of emotional attachments. So, he hires Desdemona to cater his business's social events. Stark finds himself hopelessly attracted to her and he can't seem to keep their relationship purely professional.

The first time I read Trust Me I was impressed with this entertaining story of opposites attract. Stark is introverted and logical while Desdemona is friendly and passionate. It definitely made an impression on me and remained one of those books that I repeatedly would look back and fondly remember. After reading it a second time, I started to notice a few things that didn't bother me the first time, that did bother me now.

It is an interesting conundrum because one of the things that makes the book wonderful also greatly annoys me. I really liked that Desdemona and Stark are so clearly defined by their personalities. They fit very neatly into the category of cold, logical computer nerd (right down to his pocket protector) and flighty, emotional theater supporter. But after a while the categories became to narrow and then the characters almost seemed more cliched than actual people. I got tired of hearing Desdemona use the phrase, "I am a Wainwright, we're theater people" every time she reacts to something. Stark was the same way, only it had to do with chaos and logic.

It's possible that I am just being overly picky because I really liked Trust Me. There is a large cast of supporting characters and they are all vividly and distinctly described. Desdemona surrounds herself with her family and they make up her catering staff. Stark has his two young half brothers living with him and they add to the story as well. Even Starks receptionist with her pithy greetings, and she has a different one for every morning, really adds a fun flare to the book. There are also so many little fun quotes scattered throughout the story. And I'll leave you with an example of one such scene.

He scooped Desdemona up in his arms. Her soft gasp of excitement heated the blood in his veins.
"Am I as light as a thistledown?" she asked demurely. "I've always wondered."
He considered the question carefully. "No. But you don't weigh nearly as much as a mainframe computer."




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







This book may be purchased in print or kindle format from Amazon.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Review - The Back Passage



Title: The Back Passage
Author: James Lear
Publishing Date: 2006
Genre: Gay Fiction/Mystery
Rating: B
Sensuality: Burning

I got the itch to give James Lear a try when Caroline from The Thrillionth Page held a contest and interview with Mr. Lear. I don't normally read gay fiction, but because of the high praise Caroline gave Mr. Lear I was certainly intrigued enough to give him a try. I decided on the first Mitch Mitchell mystery, The Back Passage.

The Back Passage is told in the first person point of view from Edward "Mitch" Mitchell. He is a young American studying medicine at Cambridge University in 1925. He has been attracted to his roommate, Harry "Boy" Morgan (everyone seems to have a nickname) and even though Morgan is engaged to be married Mitch is convinced he can persuade Morgan to sample what Mitch is offering - a delightful romp in the hay. Boy takes Morgan with him to his fiance's home during a long vacation and a murder takes place. Mitch having a flair for cozy mysteries, finds himself on the case, while dabbling in quite a few sexual romps on the side.

First of all I just have to chuckle at the title, The Back Passage. How apropos, shall we say?! Nothing like a subtle allusion to get things started. I found this book to be quite entertaining. Mitch is quite the character. I love his frankness with his own sexuality and his opinion of others. He narrates the book with well placed humor and sincerity.

One thing that I did find odd, was that it seemed like everyone Mitch encountered was either gay or had a predilection towards it. Let's see, by page 80 Mitch had already had three sexual encounters with three different men. So some suspension of disbelief will be needed. The sex scenes are very descriptive and might be a tad too graphic for more conservative readers. The erotic sexuality of the book did overshadow the mystery to a degree, but over all I found the book to be quite entertaining. Mitch is a fun, appealing character.

Here is what others had to say:

This Gaudy Guilded Stage
Cathode Ray Tube
Tours Books Blog
Streamlining
Rain on the Roof

You can purchase this book in print or kindle format from Amazon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review - A Lady of the West




Title: A Lady of the West
Author: Linda Howard
Publishing Date: 1990
Genre: Western
Rating: B-
Sensuality: Hot

As many of you probably already know, I am a HUGE Linda Howard fan. I have read just about everything she has written, except for a couple of her first books. A Lady of the West is one of those books and because of some rumors I had heard about the book, I wasn't planning on reading it. Among those rumors was that the hero hits the heroine. The discussion got going about it on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, I felt compelled to read it.

A Lady of the West takes place in New Mexico Territory in 1866. Victoria Waverly, a young gently bred lady sacrifices herself to wed General McLain because her family desperately needs money. Twenty years prior General McLain viciously took over the Sarratt Ranch and leaving two young boys for dead. Jake Roper is all grown up now and looking to take back the ranch that should have been his and to avenge his parents' deaths. Surprisingly, he finds himself smitten with Victoria's quiet, graceful nature. For the first time in his life, revenge is not the only thing he has to live for.

Jake Roper is a hard man. He witnesses the rape and then subsequent murder of his mother at the tender age of thirteen. He and his younger brother Ben are both shot, fleeing their ranch. For twenty years he has been on his own with nothing but revenge for company. He doesn't know how to live any other way and in this harsh environment he has to be tough to survive. When he meets Victoria he is surprised by how much he wants her and from the first moment he sees her he is compelled by her strength and grace.

Victoria was a surprise. I was expecting a more meek heroine and Victoria has a surprisingly strong backbone made of steel. She is willing to make sacrifices for her family, but she still has her pride and this gets her in trouble with Jake a number of times. Jake and Victoria are very passionate characters and walk a fine line between love and hate. At times the book was difficult to read because of the strong emotions from the characters. After a particularly emotional argument, Jake goes too far and slaps Victoria in the face, hard enough to knock her down and leave a bruise. Sure he is remorseful, but who is to say it won't ever happen again when he gets mad. That scene left a very sour taste in my mouth. It is such a shame too, because A Lady of the West is a good story and the characters are richly drawn.

There were many secondary characters that made an impact on the story. The relationship between Victoria and her cousin Emma and her sister Celia were very well done. The reader was able to get better insight into Victoria's character through her interaction with Emma and Celia. Both Emma and Celia each had their own mini-romance in the later half of the book.

Linda Howard is a fantastic storyteller. I do recommend the book, but with reservations. Readers who enjoy books from Judith McNaught or Linda Howard may enjoy A Lady of the West. If you are a fan of more "old school" romances or angst, this one might be for you. If not, then stay far, far away!

This book can be purchased in print format from Amazon.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Followers Widget - What's it All About?



I have been blogging for about a year and a half now. Over the course of time, Blogger is constantly upgrading and adding new features. One such feature is the Followers Widget. Now, what exactly is the Followers Widget you ask. Well, I believe it is a button you put in your sidebar that allows visitors and fans of your site, with the click of a button, to follow your blog.

Now, I don't really understand everything about this following process, but here is what I do know: I have a blog and a blogger profile with blogger. So whenever I follow a blog, either by clicking the followers widget or adding the blog into my reading list, the feed from that blog appears in my blogger dashboard. Those of you who use blogger know what the dashboard is. This is just lovely, as I can head to one screen and see at a glance those blogs that I am following, what they have posted recently in chronological order.

But here is my question: If you don't use blogger and say you either don't have a blog or have a blog through another site, how do you receive the feed? I can follow blogs that are not run through blogger, but I wonder if they can follow me. Am I making sense here? If anyone has the answer to the question, feel free to comment. Any information would be welcome, as I am still learning and things are constantly changing.

To be on the cutting edge of blogging technology (did you sense the sarcasm?), I have added the followers widget to my sidebar. Feel free to give it a try and let me know if it worked for you, especially non blogging followers (those that don't blog with blogger).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Review - Living Dead in Dallas




Title: Living Dead in Dallas
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publishing Date: 2002
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mystery
Rating: A
Sensuality: Warm

Living Dead in Dallas is the second book in Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse Vampire Mystery Series. Sookie is a very pretty southern girl who waitresses in a small town Louisiana bar and is dating a vampire Bill. She has a special talent in that she can hear what others are thinking, not vampires though, which is one of the reasons why she is dating Bill. Sookie owes the vampire leader, Eric a favor and he sends her and Bill to Dallas to help find a missing vampire.

Living Dead in Dallas is an awesome second addition to the Sookie series. I am just loving Sookie. She narrates the story with such an open and honest voice. I love how she is strong in her convictions and is willing to say what is on her mind, but she still remembers her manners. Sookie is sweet, not snarky and she can be very frank. I love her directness and she never plays the victim even though she is victimized.

Living Dead in Dallas is told in the first person perspective from Sookie. I happen to enjoy the first person point of view and Sookie is an excellent narrator. She easily captures other characters and describes them very well. All of the characters are well drawn and that is one of the greatest strengths of Harris's writing. There is a lot of action in this book and the pacing moves very quickly and flows smoothly. I am loving this series and I am looking forward to reading more.

This book can be purchased in print or kindle format from Amazon.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Series Sunday - Legend of the Four Soldiers




Elizabeth Hoyt made her big debut into the world of romance in 2006 with the award winning novel The Raven Prince. She was voted best new author and The Raven Prince won for Most Luscious Love Story in AAR's 2007 Readers Choice Annual Poll. I am very excited to report that Ms. Hoyt has started another series. This time it's a quartet called Legend of the Four Soldiers.

This series is about four soldiers that fought in the French and Indian War. Each book takes place after the war when the soldier comes home and has to integrate back into society. Luckily for him he finds his lady love and lives happily ever after. Each soldier has his own stand alone love story, but there is an overall mystery that runs through the series and hopefully will come to fruition in the final installment. I happened to read the third book first. I didn't feel lost in reading about the romance, but I could tell that I didn't understand all the details surrounding the war mystery. It would be a judgement call by the reader on whether or not to read the series in order.

Series Reading Order:
1. To Taste Temptation
2. To Seduce a Sinner
3. To Beguile a Beast
4. To Desire a Devil (releases November 09)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Review - Rises the Night




Title: Rises the Night
Author: Colleen Gleason
Publishing Date: 2007
Genre: Historical Paranormal
Rating: C+
Sensuality: Hot

Rises the Night is book two of Colleen Gleason's The Gardella Vampire Chronicles. This series centers around Victoria Gardella, a young woman from a long line of vampire slayers, also known as venators. The series is set in London during the 1800s. Only a few people are aware that vampires exist and it is Victoria's job to make sure it stays that way. Victoria inquires new information of a vampire uprising in Italy. She travels there under the guise of a widow and hopes to infiltrate an underground society. Along the way, she discovers what happened to Max after he went missing and she learns more about the mysterious Sebastian Vioget.

I have mixed feelings about Rises the Night. The pacing of the story is uneven. Some parts of the book went very quickly and held my attention raptly and other parts seemed to drag on. Certain scenes where there were a lot of external action, Victoria with Sebastian or Victoria fighting the vampires, moved the story very quickly. When Victoria was conversing with her Aunt or discovering the history behind vampires, I found my mind wandering. It seemed it was one extreme or the other, but not much in between; feast or famine.

I still haven't warmed up to Victoria as much as I would like. She is a rule follower and comes across as sort of stuffy, but then occasionally she acts impulsively and it gets her into trouble. In my opinion, some of her actions could be considered, Too Stupid To Live (TSTL). In her defense, she is young and is still learning what she is capable of handling and when she needs to ask for help.

Note* This book is labeled as a paranormal romance by Signet Eclipse. Victoria does have some romantic entanglements, but there is not a clear cut hero, nor is the romance wrapped up at the end of the story. The romance thread will continue in future books in the series.

Here is what others had to say:

Blogcritics.org
Unmainstream Mom Reads
Thrifty Reader
Dionne Galace It's Not Chick Porn
A Reader's Journal
Good Books, Bad Books

This book can be purchased in print or kindle format at Amazon.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Review - Don't Tell




Title: Don't Tell
Author: Karen Rose
Publishing Date: 2003
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Rating: A
Sensuality: Warm

Mary Grace Winters nine years ago ran away from her abusive husband with her seven year old son Robbie. She knew if she stayed with her husband any longer that he would eventually kill her with his frequent beatings. After healing a broken back, that was the result of a fall down the stairs, Mary Grace changed her and her son's name and moved to Chicago.

There are three separate plot threads in Don't Tell that all eventually come together to a very exciting conclusion. The first is Mary Grace, now Caroline Stewart, meeting and falling in love with her new boss Max Hunter. The second is Rob Winters Caroline's abusive, cop husband, who now discovers after nine years that his wife was not abducted and killed, but deceived him and has hidden from him. He is on a hunt to find her and make her pay for taking his son away from him for so long. The third thread are the cops who are looking for Mary Grace and are following Rob's trail.

Don't Tell was very well balanced between the suspense portion of the book and the romance between Caroline and Max. This was a very intense read. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book, waiting for Rob to catch up with Caroline. I was biting my nails, hoping and praying the cops would catch Rob before he gets to Caroline. Rob was one of the scariest bad guys I have come across in a long time. He is truly a sadistic sick pup and the stuff of nightmares.

While Rob is hunting her down, Caroline is finally letting down her guard and trying new life experiences with Max. It is not easy by any means. Both Max and Caroline have huge baggage that they have to deal with. Caroline is weary of men and not sure she can entirely trust one again. Max carries incredible guilt for causing the death of his father and is a bitter man. Caroline teaches him about what it really means to live and their story is very moving. The romance is more sweet than hot, but it was in keeping with Max and Caroline's personalities. I just loved this book and highly recommend it. Karen Rose is awesome!

Here is what others had to say:

The Good, The Bad, The Unread
Books, Books and More Books
Pearl's World of Books
Leslie's Psyche

This book can be purchased in print or kindle format at Amazon.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Review - Prince of Magic




Title: Prince of Magic
Author: Anne Stuart
Publishing Date: 1998
Genre: Historical
Rating: C-
Sensuality: Warm

Elizabeth Penshurst has never fit in with her family. The only person who seems to understand her Fae nature is an old woman whom rumors claim is a witch. As hard as Lizzie tries to follow convention, it still manages to elude her. Finally she goes to far and is caught dancing in the woods in nothing but her shift and bare feet. Her father, in a last ditch effort, ships her off to Hernewood, Yorkshire where some of her distant relatives live. There, she is supposed to learn how to behave like a proper young lady. Instead, Lizzie finds herself embroiled in a secret Druid cult bent on making her their virgin sacrifice.

I struggled through most of Prince of Magic. What could have been a strong Gothic tale turned into a farce because of the laughably 'Eeevil' characters that make up the Druid cult. They didn't even come close to instilling any sort of fear in me and their motivation was entirely lacking. Also, I had issues with the hero, Gabriel. Many times the author told me how devilish Gabriel was, but she never showed me. Overall, the book was unable to evoke any kind of strong emotion from me.

About the only thing that saved this book from being a total disaster were the secondary characters Peter and Jane. The romance between Peter and Jane was good and I also liked Jane and Peter's interaction with Gabriel. There is a wall-banger moment when Peter rescues Jane that I am still shaking my head over. In conclusion, I am sorry to say that I do not recommend this book.



This book was part of Keishon's TBR Challenge 2009. This month the theme was tortured heroes or heroines. A list of particpants in this challenge can be found here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

July Book Releases



Wow, I just went through my RT magazine to see what July releases are coming out. A few of them I already knew about but there were quite a few I didn't and Oh. My. God. are there some good ones. After highlighting all the ones that caught my eye I came up with a list of 14 books. Now that is just ridiculous! I have over 100 books sitting in my TBR (To Be Read) pile and now I want to add an additional 14 more books?! I have serious issues.



6/30

Contemporary/Part of series (book 2)/Summary info


Historical/No series/Summary Info


Historical/1st of Duet/Summary Info


Historical/Part of series (Book 1)/Summary Info


Contemporary/Part of Series (Book 3)/Summary Info


Science Fiction/Part of Series (Book 3)/Summary Info


Paranormal/Part of Series (Book 1)/Summary Info


Romantic Suspense/No Series/Summary Info



7/1

Contemporary/Part of Series (Book 2)/Summary Info


Paranormal/Part of Series (Book 3)/Summary Info


Contemporary/No series/Summary Info


Historical/Part of Series (Book 1)/Summary Info
According to an ad in RT Magazine, Kensington will be giving away the ebook, Loving a Lost Lord for FREE during the week of June 29th - July 3rd. Details are here


7/7

Romantic Suspense/No Series/Summary Info


Romantic Suspense/No Series/Summary Info


Monday, June 15, 2009

Review - Wicked




Title: Wicked
Author: Sasha White
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Contemporary (Erotic)
Rating: B
Sensuality: Burning

Karl Dawson, whom readers met in White's previous novels Bound and Trouble finally gets his own story in Wicked. By day he is a successful divorce attorney, too successful for his tastes. Seeing all the men and women seeking divorce leaves a bitter taste in his mouth about the permanency of relationships. He longs for the type of intimacy his friend Val and Samair (Trouble) have, as he is bored with meaningless sex. Then he meets Lara Fox, who rooms with his secretary, while she is upgrading his office's computer system. She is very different from the meek, mild mannered women he is used to dating. Lara seems to be able to spark his interest that has considerably waned.

Wicked is a fast, sexy read. Karl Dawson is a deliciously, yummy man. He is a dominant and likes to play in the Dominant/submissive lifestyle. As far as the D/s relationship in this book, it is fairly light. Karl is not into pain or anything like that, he just likes to be in charge. He is quite fascinated by his attraction to Lara because she is anything but meek. Lara has a vivacious personality and does not like to depend on anyone. She is extremely independent and Karl knows that she is nothing like the woman he is used to being with. She will cause him all kinds of grief, but he can't seem to help himself. And having Lara submit to him willing is only sweeter because she is so independent.

I really enjoyed reading about Lara and Karl's relationship. I really think Ms. White had something going with Lara's introduction into Karl's lifestyle. Lara is not shy about sex, but she is not familiar with D/s lifestyle. I think that her acceptance of Karl was too quick, for all the baggage she had. I wish that Ms. White would have really delved into Lara's mind a little more, made her work through these issues with Karl. I really enjoyed what I read, but I wanted more. More interaction between Karl and Lara after they declared that they were going to be exclusive and live together. I think it would have made the book stronger.

Here is what others had to say:

Dear Author
Dark Angel Reviews

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Review - Red Kiss




Title: Red Kiss
Author: Deidre Knight
Publishing Date: June 2009
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: D
Sensuality: Warm

Red Kiss is the second book in Deidre Knight's Gods of Midnight Series. River Kassandros is a shape shifting spartan warrior sworn to protect mankind from Demons along with six of his spartan brothers. Each of the warriors were given a special gift that helps make them unique. River can shapeshift into any weapon of his choice. But his special gift comes with a negative side effect in that when he emerges from his weapon form he in a berserker state and has the lust of battle riding him hard. River has been lost to his brothers when Sable, a Djinn Demon tosses River in the shape of a dagger into a river and he washes out to sea. For four months he remained in his dagger form at the bottom of the ocean. It isn't until Emma Lowery, a descendant of the Oracle with special powers of her own, hears River calling to her for help. She is able to save River and unite him with his Spartan brothers.

The biggest problem I had with Red Kiss was the hero, River. I'll be honest. I hated him. He was a big whinny baby most of the time and he drove me absolutely nuts with his constant yammering about how he isn't worthy of his fellow Spartan brothers' and Emma's love. I wanted to slap him upside his head and tell him to get over it already. So many times River's actions were that of a petulant child, not a grown man. I like my heroes to be confident and believe in themselves. River was constantly doubting himself and it slowed the pacing of the story to a snail's pace.

There are some interesting side stories within Red Kiss. The king and the Oracle were back. They didn't have much of an appearance and that was a mistake in my mind. Plus, a few of the other Spartans started to begin their stories. Knight even makes one of the warriors homosexual. I thought this was a unique twist to a romance series, where usually all of the men are heterosexual. I also liked how the villain tried to redeem himself in the end. Again, it is unusual to find that in the books I read. However, the poor pacing and execution of the story was still sorely lacking for my taste.

Here is what others had to say:

Darque Reviews

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Review - Nightwalker




Title: Nightwalker
Author: Jocelynn Drake
Publishing Date: 2008
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm

Nightwalker is the first book in Jocelynn Drake's The First Dark Days series. It is narrated in first person by Mira, a centuries old nightwalker, otherwise known as a vampire. She has resided over the undead in Savannah, Georgia ever since she finally decided to leave the ancients who made her. Lately there has been a hunter in her territory killing off her people. She hasn't minded so much of late, because those vampires this hunter Danaus, has killed were a threat anyway. These vampires on their compulsive killing sprees among the humans threatens to expose Mira and her kind. She follows this hunter's progress and finally confronts him. She learns that even though he is her enemy, he has knowledge of an even greater threat and that they must work together if they are going to stop it.

Nightwalker is not a romance, although there is definitely some tension between Mira and Danaus. It is very subtle and I am sure as the series progresses will become more prominent. Instead the focus is on Mira and how she must find a way to put a stop to the Naturi, a very destructive race of beings. They will wipe out humans and vampires with a blink of the eye, if they manage to break the seal holding them prisoner. This is a story with a Good vs. Evil theme. But there is a unique spin to this theme in that Good and Evil isn't necessarily defined by black and white. There are some shades of grey and this book will make a reader question their definition of what is acceptable.

Mira is an interesting mix of strength and vulnerability. She is very powerful with her magic and physical strength. Yet, mentally she is very fragile. It is an interesting paradox and adds layers of depth to her character. The world building is very well done, and easy to follow along. The reader doesn't get the whole story right away, but the facts are slowly released. Mira's past is not divulged all at once either. She has memory losses from a certain period in her life and those memories are key to what is currently happening to her. Ms. Drake has definitely piqued my interest. I am very curious to see what happens between Mira and Danaus and how they will overcome their differences.

Here is what others had to say:

Blog Critics
The Book Smugglers
Dottie's Blog 2.0

Monday, June 8, 2009

Review - To Beguile a Beast




Title: To Beguile a Beast
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Publishing Date: May 2009
Genre: Historical
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Hot

Helen Fitzwilliam was once young and in love with the Duke of Lister. He succeeds in seducing her and making her his mistress. She has two children by him, Abigail and Jamie. The Duke is the type of man who will never let what he thinks of as "his" go. Unhappy with her life as the Duke's mistress, she runs away with her children. Helen runs from London to the farthest reaches of Scotland with her friend Lady Vale's help. She has arranged for Helen to be the housekeeper for Sir Alistair Monroe. Alistair is a recluse who has never left his castle since he returned maimed from the French and Indian war in the Colonies. Helen arrives on his doorstep with her children, desperate with no where for her to go. Alistair is willing to allow her to stay one night, but then she and her children with have to leave in the morning. Only, somehow Helen and the children worm there way into Alistair's heart and a new adventure begins.

To Beguile a Beast is another stellar work of art from Ms. Hoyt. This time the novel is a variation on Beauty and the Beast. Alistair is quite prickly at first, and I think that he has good reason for it. Alistair really is horrifically scarred. He is missing one of his eyes and a couple fingers, plus one side of his face has extensive burns. Because his looks frighten many people, he has restricted his existence only to his castle and the grounds surrounding it. He lives in a huge rundown castle with only one man servant. When Helen and her children come into his life, he starts to live again.

Helen is good for Alistair. Up to a certain point, she doesn't allow him intimidate her. She forces Alistair to join the land of the living. When Alistair gets wind of Helen's problems, he takes it upon himself to help her. He derives a clever way to defeat the Duke (without bloodshed). This brings me to what I really enjoy about Ms. Hoyt's writing style - the characters are very cunning and there is a resourcefulness to them that entertains immensely. I also find the humor to be very subtle, yet prominent. The humor isn't so much as laugh-out-loud funny, but more of a laugh that sneaks up on you and makes you chuckle under your breath.

Here is what others had to say:

Book Reviews by Bobbie
Musings of a Bibliophile
Leslie's Psyche
All About Romance
Reading Romance Books
Dear Author
Renee's Book Addiction

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Series Sunday - Black Jewels Trilogy




As many of you know I have been reading Anne Bishop's Black Jewels Trilogy. Now this trilogy is actually straight fantasy, not romance. Anne Bishop has managed to create a fascinating world where woman rule and men are subservient. The series revolves around Jaenelle, a powerful witch who will cleanse the land of Evil. Jaenelle starts off the series as a child and by the third book is a grown woman. It is a classic tale of Good vs. Evil with a few twists added in to keep things interesting. Bishop does not shy away from making the Evil truly evil, so this series is not for the faint of heart. Don't fear, because there is a good balance of light hearted moments interspersed with the bad.

I have read the first three books in the trilogy and thought initially that was all there was to this series. After reading the third book, I discovered that there were some questions left unanswered. Not too fear, it seems that the anthology Dreams Made Flesh answers these questions. Then in The Shadow Queen, new characters emerge in the same world. I would highly recommend reading these books in order. They build off one another and if read out of order they might confuse the reader.

Series Reading Order:

1. Daughter of the Blood
2. Heir to the Shadows
3. Queen of the Darkness
4. The Invisible Ring
5. Dreams Made Flesh
6. Tangled Webs
7. The Shadow Queen

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Review - Queen of the Darkness




Title: Queen of the Darkness
Author: Anne Bishop
Publishing Date: 2000
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: B
Sensuality: Warm

Queen of the Darkness is third book in Anne Bishop's Black Jewel's Trilogy. I will try to give a brief synopsis of the book without giving away too much of the previous books. Queen of Darkness is the epitome of Good vs. Evil. Jaenelle Angelline is now the Queen and she has foreseen that an inevitable war is coming between Kaeleer and Terreille. Jaenelle, along with her court triangle consisting of Daemon, Lucivar and Saetan will fight to rid the realm of the evil that Hekatah and Dorothea have perverted the land with. The only way to stop it will be to do the most dangerous and unimaginable thing she can: tap into the deadly unstoppable power of her Ebony jewels. By doing so, Jaenelle not only has the power to destroy the evil Hekatah, but all the Blood, including herself.

The interaction between the men and women of Jaenelle's court was a delight to read. These two groups are constantly exasperated with one another. The men have a tendency to be overprotective of their women and the women see it as a nuisance. The women on the other hand always seem to be up to some sort of mischief which in turn makes the men see the women as a blight to their sanity. Yet beneath all the complaints, it is easy to see how much both factions appreciate the other. The women appreciate the men's vigilance and the men appreciate the women's playfulness and laughter.

Coming from a strictly romance perspective, I was a little disappointed with the attention devoted to Daemon and Jaenelle's relationship. Given that this is straight fantasy, and not fantasy romance, my gripes are seemingly irrelevent. This also brings me to the ending of this book. Things are not exactly all wrapped up and neatly tied with a bow. There are some issues left unresolved and I felt somewhat disappointed with the conclusion of the trilogy. A very important question is left unanswered. Certain things are alluded to, but nothing is clear cut. I like things spelled out for me and that is not what I got. Now, having said that, it appears that there are more books that are a part of the Black Jewels trilogy, so maybe some of my questions might be answered in these other books.

If anyone has information that they would like to share about this series, feel free to comment or email me. I plan on doing a Series Sunday post about it. Any information would be helpful about the other books such as Dreams Made Flesh, The Shadow Queen or Tangled Webs. Anne Bishop's website was not very helpful.

Here is what others had to say:

Leontine's Book Realm
Silverworm's Book Reviews
Nice Mommy ~ Evil Editor

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cynthia Eden - 30 Days of Demons



30 Days of Demons: Books, Prizes, Demons. Time to get your demon on. Some heroes have a really bad side. Niol’s story is coming…6/30/09. ‘Unforgettable’ - RT Book Reviews. www.cynthiaeden.comThe BookEnter Today!Share Image

I had the pleasure of meeting Cynthia at RT this year in Orlando and she is so friendly and personable. My first day at RT she approached me and introduced herself. Because I was alone, she even asked if I would join her for lunch. What a doll!

Cynthia Eden is having an awesome contest the whole month of June. She will be giving away several Barnes & Noble gift certificates and a whole host of books and prizes. Head on over to her blog to get more information on how to win.

Yep, I'm Twittering





Is it twittering or tweeting? I finally succumbed to ANOTHER social networking site, know as Twitter. Are you familiar with Twitter? I'll be honest, I had been hearing about fellow bloggers Twittering, but I was never exactly sure what Twittering was. My initial thought, was that you had to have a cell phone to do it and I have no idea what led me to that conclusion. It's true you can Twitter from a cell phone, but you can also use Twitter from a regular computer with Internet access.

Basically, Twitter to me is a more advanced version of a message board. You set up an account for yourself (it's free) and tell briefly who you are. In under 140 characters or less you can post messages. Other people who are following you can see your messages and you can follow others and see their messages. There is a HOME page where you can view all these messages in order by most recently posted.

I have to admit, it took me a few days to get the hang of Twitter. At first, I had a hard time following the conversations my fellow twitterers were having. I sort of felt like I was crashing a party, I wasn't invited to, but I got over it and just jumped in. Once I did that, I started to see the fun of Twitter.

There are many fellow book lovers and authors on Twitter. Jane of Dear Author, Sarah of Smart Bitches and Katiebabs from Babbling about Books, Wendy the Super Librarian just to name a few. We all get talking about books and it can be a lot of fun. Plus, you can link your blog posts to twitter using twitterfeed.

Jane has a website that lists other bloggers, readers, authors, basically anyone interested in books at romancetweets.com. There you can figure out who you might want to follow, if you aren't already following.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Review - Wicked Burn




Title: Wicked Burn
Author: Beth Kery
Publishing Date: December 2008
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: B+
Sensuality: Burning

Niall Chandler on her way home from a charity dinner finds herself in the unwanted clutches of her date. Standing out in the hallway in front of the door to her apartment, fighting off her overzealous date, her hunky next-door neighbor Vic comes to her rescue. After not so subtly telling Niall's date to get lost, he asks Niall if she would like to go back to his place for a drink. Niall, unable to resist Vic's sex appeal accepts for not only just a drink, but for one of the most erotic sexual encounters she has ever had in her life.

Beth Kery is a new author to me. I usually am leery when trying a new author because I never know how their writing is going to appeal to me, especial authors who write erotic romance. I was pleasantly surprised by Wicked Burn and found I enjoyed it quite a lot. I would compare Beth Kery's writing to Shannon McKenna or Lisa Marie Rice in terms of the sexuality, characters and pacing.

I really enjoyed Vic's character. There were many different layers to his personality. In public, or I should say, outside the bedroom, he is a man of few words. He doesn't like crowds and prefers to sit on the sidelines and observe rather than be in the spotlight. In the bedroom he is demanding and possessive and completely in charge. I love how when he is with Niall, he gives her his complete and utter attention.

Niall wasn't quite as well depicted at Vic. I could empathise with her character but there were times when she annoyed me. The way she handles her problems and how they affected Vic really bothered me. Instead of facing Vic, she runs from him and doesn't give him any explanation. As a reader this frustrated me. But that was really my only complaint. Other than that, I thought it was a solid, sexy story.

Here is what others had to say:

Book Binge
Dear Author
Closet Writer
Lovin' Me Some Romance
Cindy Reads Romance
Babbling About Books and More
The Good, The Bad, The Unread

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

May Monthly Summary




May was a great month for me quantity wise. I read the most books this month at 15 books. I am on a roll. Hopefully, it will continue on into June! Also, this month I read a lot of new-to-me authors. I will definitely be on the lookout for more books from Carolyn Jewel, Kate Angell, Anne Bishop, Beth Kery and Jocelynn Drake.

1. Red Fire, Knight (Paranormal) Rating: C+
2. Daughter of the Blood, Bishop (Fantasy) Rating: A-
3. Hard and Fast, McCarthy (Contemporary) Rating: A
4. Scandal, Jewel (Historical) Rating: B+
5. Heir to the Shadows, Bishop (Fantasy) Rating: B+
6. Lover Revenged, Ward (Paranormal) Rating: C+
7. Cry for Passion, Schone (Historical/Erotic) Rating: C
8. Curveball, Angell (Contemporary) Rating: B
9. Under Her Skin, Mallery (Contemporary) Rating: B-
10. True Love and Other Disasters, Gibson (Contemporary) Rating: B-
11. A Kingdom of Dreams, McNaught (Medieval) Rating: A-
12. Wicked Burn, Kery (Contemporary /Erotic) Rating: B+
13. Queen of the Darkness, Bishop (Fantasy) Rating: B
14. To Beguile a Beast, Hoyt (Historical) Rating: B+
15. Nightwalker, Drake (Urban Fantasy) Rating: B


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