Saturday, January 31, 2009

Re-Read Challenge Review: Morning Glory

Title: Morning Glory
Author: LaVyrle Spencer
Genre: Historical Romance (1940s)
Published: February 1989 (HC), March 1990 (MM)
Re-Read Challenge 2009

Some mild spoilers ~ doesn't affect the overall enjoyment of the story

Existing. That's what he's doing. Will Parker is existing in Whitney, Georgia. It's August of 1941 and Will has been drifting ever since he got out of prison. He's drifted into Whitney and managed to get a job at the mill. He also managed to lose the job. No one wants to work with a convicted murderer. So now he's drifted to Elly Dinsmore's place. Why go to Elly's place? Because Elly posted a help wanted ad... for a husband.

I don't remember when it was that I first read Morning Glory, probably not long after it came out. I've read most if not all of Ms. Spencer's books, don't recall reading any that I didn't like. She was an auto-read for me. What I do remember about Morning Glory is loving it. Nothing has change that. This book is full of so many emotions: pain, despair, fear, hope, humor, love, acceptance and belonging. And Spencer is brilliant when it comes to portraying those emotions.

Elly and Will at first seem like the least likely of heroine and hero. They're both so tired. Weary is the word that comes to mind when we first meet Elly. And Will just can't escape his past. It's worn him down. These two seem to have gotten old before their time. Slowly, Spencer shows them changing, learning to lean on the other, sharing their burdens. Watching them change is a beautiful experience, seeing the mistrust melt away from their eyes.

Eleanor Dinsmore is known around town as "Crazy Widow Dinsmore". Is she crazy? Maybe a little. But not in an insane asylum way. More in a desperate kind of way. She places an ad in the paper for a husband. The requirements ~ healthy, any age, willing to work. She's not too particular. She can't be. Elly has two little boys and anther baby on the way. Her late husband, Glendon, died earlier in the year. Glendon was one of the few people to treat Elly with kindness but now he's gone leaving Elly pregnant and alone with two children. Taking care of her land, home and children are more than even she can handle. She not very old, nearly twenty-five, but she's had a hard life. Even before she married and moved to her late husband's home her life was full of misery with very little joy.

Elly was a bastard. That's what her grandparents called her. They let Elly's mother live in their home after she had Elly out of wedlock. The Dinsmores kept the shades in their home drawn because of shame for what their daughter had done. Elly grew up in this environment of shame. Shame for what she was and who she was. School provided some relief. It got her out of the house. But school turned out to expose Elly to the children of Whitney. And many of them proved to have as little tolerance of Elly as the rest of the townsfolk. So Elly made her escape to the woods. She would spend her days there, letting her grandparents believe she was at school. Being outside was a treasure to Elly.

Elly the grown woman still loved the out of doors. Spending time with her sons, showing them the different flowers, trees and animals of the woods. But she was not an easy woman to get to know. She doesn't socialize so she has no friends. The experiences she suffered as a child growing up left her unwilling to trust the townsfolk so she keeps to herself, never leaving her home. When Will shows up we see how Elly is torn between her need for help and her wariness of strangers.

Elly's home is about as worn and tired looking as she is. Does this discourage Will when he gets his first look at it?

"It was a mess: chicken dung, piles of rusting machinery, a goat chewing his cud on a back stoop that looked ready to drop off the house, outbuildings peeling, shingles curled, tools left out in the weather, a sagging clothesline with a chipped enamel kettle hanging from one pole, remnants of a weedy garden.

Will Parker felt as if he fit right in." page 12

Will Parker is desperate too, just like Elly. With no job, nine dollars in his pocket and only the clothes on his back, he's been beaten down about as low as a person can get. So after being fired and told to leave town he decides to stay and apply for the only job available to him. Will really has no idea what to expect at Elly's place. What he ends up getting is a chance.

Will feels such relief when he realizes Elly wants him to stay. No one ever really wanted him to stay for very long. Even before he was sent to prison he tended to drift. Never putting down roots, probably because he didn't know how. Will is an honest, likable man. Quiet, with a strong work ethic that was part of those hard times. He isn't afraid of hard work, only of disappointing Elly. He seems to relish the huge amount of work that's required to get Elly's home back into shape. It gives him not only a feeling of accomplishment but also a feeling of belonging. Something he's never really had.

The changes that comes over Will and Elly are not only emotional changes but also physical changes. They both begin to look better, healthier, less worn out. Elly starts to take time to brush her hair and wear clean clothes. Will's frame begins to fill out from eating Elly's cooking. When we first meet Will he's skin and bones, eating green apples that he took from an orchard. He's eats them, knowing they'll make him sick but he's desperate for anything to eat. By the end of the book they've both come a long way both physically and emotionally.

As the story progresses Will not only develops a relationship with Elly but also with her sons. The gentleness and patience Will shows towards the two boys goes a long way in winning Elly over. Her boys mean everything to her. They're her last link to Glendon, whom she loved very much and still does. Will's actions towards the boys shows what a good soul Will has since his upbringing gave him very little experience in gentleness or patience. When he first meets the boys he has no clue how to interact with children. He learns, just like any new parent, by doing and by watching Elly.

Will and Elly do marry and begin to establish a healthy relationship when World War II comes knocking on their door. Will joins the Marines, knowing that he would eventually be drafted. By this time Elly has had the baby and has become more confident in her abilities to take care of her self and her children. The reader learns about the restrictions placed on people during the war and what life was like for Will and Elly dealing with combat and home life. The part of the story that takes place during the war includes the letters that Will and Elly write to each other. Neither one had much formal schooling and their writing reflects that but it also reflects their growing love for each other. While Will is away Elly continues to develop and grow into someone with confidence and pride in her family and her home.

There is not only internal conflict for Will and Elly to deal with but also external conflict. When both hero and heroine are such outcasts their dealings with people can and does cause problems. People don't get over their predjudices of others easily. But in the end they do get their HEA.

LaVyrle Spencer retired from writing in 1997 but she has a wonderful backlist full of stories of real people living and overcoming real life situations. You might be able to find Morning Glory at a UBS but if not it is due for re-release in trade size on 3 February according to Amazon. There is no cover yet, which seems odd so close to release day.

There is so much more I could say about this story ~ how much I liked both Elly and Will. How they are the type of people I personally would be pleased to have as friends and neighbors. But instead I'll leave the rest to discover for those of you that plan to read Elly and Will's story. Is Morning Glory still a keeper? Definitely!

Rating: A

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

YotC Review: The Tycoon's Pregnant Mistress

Title: The Tycoon's Pregnant Mistress
Author: Maya Bank
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Anetakis Tycoons/Book 1
Published: January 2009
Harlequin ~ Silhouette Desire
Year of the Category Challenge
*Some spoilers*

Who wouldn't want to be the mistress of a gorgeous Greek tycoon? Live in a penthouse apartment in New York City. Shop at the finest stores and have everything you could possibly want. This was the attitude of Chrysander Anetakis, the tycoon. He expected Marley Jameson available to him whenever he wants her when he's in the city. Marley, in love with Chrysander, quits her job and moves in with him not knowing that he thinks of her as his mistress. She thought she was more, that there was more between them. When she finds out she's pregnant she knows she must tell him but she's not sure how he'll react. Then a horrible misunderstanding followed by an even worse tragedy tears the two apart.

My first book for the Year of the Category Challenge and it turned out to be a surprise. Thankfully in a good way. I have read Maya Banks erotic novels but this is her first for Silhouette Desire. It surprised me in a few ways. One was the fact that even though the premise involved amnesia Banks handled it well. IMO when dealing with amnesia the potential for disaster is high. It's just too soap opera-ee. Need to create some drama in a character's storyline? Giv'em amnesia. Fortunately Marley's amnesia was done in a believable way that didn't leave me shaking my head in disgust. The other surprise was the character of the Greek tycoon. Did he play the part well, in stereotypical fashion? Hell yeah! Was he redeemed by the end? Hmm... more or less. What surprised me is that I liked him. Not because he eventually came to see Marley as more than a mistress but because of his high-handed, autocratic ways. Heck, the guy owned an island. Can't get that far in life without being an ass at least sometimes.

And let's not forget the cover. The covers of the category romances have a tendency to be a bit over the top but in a different way than the bodice rippers of old. So it was a pleasant surprise that I actually liked the cover of The Tycoon's Pregnant Mistress. The couple are in a natural pose, not all bent over backwards like Cirque du Soleil performers. Also they don't have those crazy-ass goofy grins on their faces that seem to be common in some of the category covers ~ the ones that usually feature a child or two. No, the cover for Tycoon is simple yet well done with a man and woman in an embrace and no baby bump in sight.

As for the story we've got the big misunderstanding and the tragedy. The misunderstanding is Chrysander finding evidence that Marley is stealing information from his company and selling it to his competitor. Or so he thinks. So what's a Greek tycoon to do when confronted with such treachery? Kick her to the curb! Yep, that's what he does. Gives her 30 minutes to get out of the penthouse. Marley leaves, thinking she'll give him time to think things over. Before she gets very far from the apartment she's kidnapped. OK, I know. First kidnapping then amnesia. All on top of there being a Greek tycoon (with an island!). Sounds way too much like something out of All My Children or General Hospital but once again Banks pulls it off.

A few months pass and Chrysander is back in New York. While watching the news he sees none other than Marley on a stretcher. She's escaped her kidnappers and her and her unborn baby are fine. What kidnappers? What baby?! Yeah, Marley didn't get a chance to tell Chrysander about the baby before he sent her to the curb. And he knew nothing about the kidnappers since he never got any ransom notes. So off he goes to the hospital to find out not only is she pregnant but she has amnesia. So in typical Greek tycoon fashion he whisks her away to his private island where he hires a staff to take care of her and his soon-to-be heir. Oh, and he may have given Marley the impression they were engaged. Gotta have a reason to get her to go to the island with him.

So then there's Marley. Even with the amnesia she's a likable character. When I first read about her giving up her job and moving in with Chrysander I thought "how stupid". But I think it's just her nature to give her all when she falls in love. She had her concerns but she loved him in spite of his faults. She really thought they were on the road to matrimony. And when she gets to the island she doesn't simply believe everything he says but questions what he tells her. Her confusion is believable and her character is developed in such a way to lend sympathy for her even if you don't agree with her choices.

Chrysander is... an ass. But likable in an "I'm gorgeous, rich, sexy, sophisticated and Greek" kinda of way. He did have his reasons for being cautious and not trusting easily. And for not wanting a serious relationship. This guy is all about control. Control in business and his personal life. He doesn't give up the control easily but he does learn to trust Marley. The path he takes to learning to not only trust Marley but want her in his life permanently is not easy but he does get there eventually.

Another surprise for me was the sex. I wasn't sure what to expect since I'm not familiar with category romances, having read only a few. But it was hot. This is Maya Banks after all. So that was another pleasant surprise.

The book is just under 180 pages but packs a good, solid story. There are two brothers of Chrysander that will be getting their own stories. The Tycoon's Rebel Bride in May and The Tycoon's Elusive Lover in September. I plan on reading both. For more info on Maya Banks check out her website.

Rating: B+

Monday, January 26, 2009

Review: Veil of Midnight

Title: Veil of Midnight
Author: Lara Adrian
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Midnight Breed/Book 5
Published: January 2009

Nikolai is a Breed warrior and a member of the Order. A group of breeds who fight the Rogues and try to keep the humans safe from them. His current mission places him in Montreal looking for a Gen One Breed. Renata is also a warrior but of a different sort. She is the bodyguard for the vampire that Nikolai is looking for. When Niko shows up in Montreal looking for the Gen One Renata doesn't trust him so she sets a trap to catch him.

I started reading Lara Adrian's Breed series around the time it first came out. I was heavily into PNR and couldn't seem to get enough of the blood suckers, er vampires. Since then I've read quite a few different takes on the fanged ones, some I've liked, some I've loved and some I've left behind. Adrian's are in the liked/loved category. While I have enjoyed each book in the series, some more than others, I have come to expect a good story with interesting characters. Veil of Midnight certainly delivered.

An assassin is targeting the eldest of the Breeds, the Gen Ones. Nikolai is sent to warn Sergei Yakut of the threat. It's when he's trying to locate Yakut that he meets up with Renata. Their first meeting doesn't go well, weapons are involved and Niko is thought to be a threat to Yakut. Once things are cleared up and Niko sees what Yakut and his group are really like all Niko wants is to get back to Boston. While Niko finds Renata very attractive he is unmated and wants to stay that way. Not that he doesn't enjoy women, he does. And he wants to continue to enjoy as many as possible. But something happens and Renata and a young girl named Mira need his help. So he dons his armor offers to help.

One thing I'll say about Adrian's females is that they have a purpose. They are not merely sex objects for the males or there to "fix" the hero. Renata is no different. She is well versed in weapons, both guns and knives. She takes her job very seriously because her life and the life of a young girl depend on her doing her job. And she's smart. She found out she was a breedmate right before she was about to be killed. Ever since then she's been doing what she had to to survive. She may detest what she has to do but she has survived hell and has every intention of getting out of there alive.

Niko and Renata make such a good team. When Renata first meets Niko she assumes he's just like the rest of the Breeds. Her experience is limited to Yakut and his environment of bloodsport and death. She begins to realize that Niko is nothing like the horrible monsters that she has been forced to live. That he is honorable and trustworthy. When Niko discovers what really happened to Renata and what she's been through he can't help but care for her. His idea of staying a bachelor slowly slips away. And he's okay with that. When he tries to tell her he loves her he was just adorable.

A few new characters are introduced in Veil of Midnight. One character in particular has such potential for a fascinating storyline. But... we'll just have to wait and see.

The Midnight Breed series continues to maintain solid world building while still developing the main storyline of the hero and heroine. Within that world building we see further development of the antagonists that the Order is fighting. This is Adrian's fifth book and while some authors may hit a lull at this point in a series Adrian is maintaining a decent pace with the overall story arc. The next book Ashes of Midnight, due out in May, is Andreas Reichen's story. He's the leader of the Berlin Darkhaven and assists the Order whenever he can. In Veil the reader learns more about Andreas and his past giving us just enough information to wet the appetite. Visit Lara Adrian's website for more information on the Midnight Breed series.

Rating: A-

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Maria V. Snyder Contest...

Not here but here at Amberkatze's Book Blog. She's got a great interview with Maria V. Snyder author of the Study series ~ Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study. Then there's the awesome contest for an ARC of Storm Glass, Ms. Snyder's next novel due out in April. The contest is open to residents of US and Canada. If that's you and you want a chance at an ARC of Storm Glass head on over to Amberkatze's Book Blog. Be sure to read the rules and good luck!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Urban Fantasy Land Readers Choice Awards...

Urban Fantasy Land is having a Reader's Choice Awards. What you need to do is head on over there and vote for your favorites in the various UF catagories. Then post about the awards and the contest on your blog, LJ or website. The winner receives a $25 gift certificate to a major online bookstore. For all the info on the contest go here and vote.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Review: Stranger

Title: Stranger
Author: Megan Hart
Genre: Erotica
Published: January 2009

Grace ~ Not a person you would expect to be a funeral director or pay for sex but she does both. She enjoys doing both. She's good at her job and wants no strings in her relationships so paying for sex makes sense.

Sam ~ The stranger in the bar. But not the right stranger. Too late, Grace realizes her mistake. Then trying to undo the mistake becomes a matter of trying to learn to live with pain and loss. Something she wants to avoid at all costs.

I'll start with stating right off the bat that I love Megan Hart's writing. I've read two of her previous books, Dirty and Broken and enjoyed both of them. I would say Broken is one of my all time favorite books. So when I started reading Stranger I had a pretty good idea what I was getting. Did Ms. Hart deliver? Hell yeah! Stranger was pure Megan Hart magic! Sure it's erotica and there are many sex scenes, heck the heroine pays for sex. But Hart's writing is much more than just the bump and grind of two people. She gets you into their minds and lets the reader see their insecurities, fears, needs and dreams. Are her heroine and heroes your typical contemporary fictional characters? Nope. They are sometimes so flawed you can't help but wonder how they can be considered hero/heroine material. But in the end they are people just like us in so many ways. Hart shows us that flaws are beautiful and that being perfect is highly overrated and very boring. Bring on the beautiful, flawed characters!

A funeral director is not a job for just anyone. You need compassion, sensitivity, organizational skills, certainly people skills and a strong stomach. Grace has all of these. She inherited her father's funeral home, Frawley and Sons, when her father retired. Her brother and sister had no desire to go into the family business but Grace knew it was what she wanted. She's very good at it. But it's also left it's mark on her. She sees death, works with it and it's made her decide that she doesn't want the closeness of a long term relationship. She doesn't even want a boyfriend. So paying for escorts and what may or may not follow is what she's chosen.

Sam comes to Annville, Pennsylvania out of family obligation. He meets Grace in a bar and has the most amazing sexual encounter. When he tries to continue seeing Grace she gives him the brush off. But Sam can be very stubborn and determined. He's got some serious issues to get through and Grace is someone who he connects with on more than just a physical level.

Sam is such a complex male character. Many layers to him. On the outside he seems like a fairly simple guy. Hangs out in bars, plays guitar, easy going with some family issues thrown in. But once you see past the easy going nature to the emotional wreck that he is it's obvious he needs more than what he can possibly ask for. So who does he end up turning to but someone who has no intentions of getting into an emotional relationship. Sam and Grace learn from each other, not without pain but anything worth learning often comes at a price.

And then there's Jack. Wow. What can I say about Jack? He's what I would call a catalyst for Grace. He's the one that helped her see what she really wanted, needed. I do think he was necessary even if his initial intention was only to make money and give Grace some great sex. But Grace did need him, not only in a sexual way but to get her to really think and be honest with herself. Some readers might not like that Grace slept with Jack after she had been with Sam but IMO she couldn't have gotten to the point of wanting to be with Sam in a long term relationship without first being with Jack. The relationship she developed with Jack was critical. And I do hope that Jack gets his own story. There's more to him than just a pretty face and great sex.

And those sex scenes are certainly as graphic as any erotic novel but they are more than just bodies coming together. They give a special perception into a character. Showing rather than telling. Hart is very good at the show instead of tell of writing. The hows and the whys of a characters' feelings are reflected in the way they have sex. Is it fast and rough? Or do they take their time, going slow and savoring each other. Do they give the other person what they need or simply take what they want? All of this gives the reader insight to the character's emotional personality at the time. What's driving them to do what they are doing? Why they are there instead of somewhere else? Are they where they belong? Much more than simple sex scenes.

I could go on and on about this book. There are some great secondary characters and side stories as well. If you like a well written erotic novel then I would strongly suggest giving Megan Hart a try. Her book list and excerpt can be found on her website.

Rating: A+

Monday, January 19, 2009

Review: For the Love of Pete

Title: For the Love of Pete
Author: Julia Harper
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Published: January 2009
Contemporary Romance Challenge

Everyone knows the unwritten law that if you shovel the snow from a parking space and mark off the spot, that's your space. Everyone that is but Dante Torelli. This is what Zoey Addler discovers when she gets home and catches "Lips of Sin" her sexy neighbor taking her spot. She doesn't know his name, hence the Lips nickname. Before she can finish giving him hell for taking her spot a man runs from the apartment building with a baby. But it's not just any baby, it's Pete, Zoey's niece. And the man isn't just any man, he's a kidnapper. Before Dante realizes it he's in a car chase with his crazy neighbor as his passenger.

For the Love of Pete follows Dante and Zoey on the road trip of a lifetime as they try to get Pete back. Along the way they meet up with some colorful characters in the form of Savita Gupta and Pratima Gupta. The involvement of these ladies gives the chase a dash of comedy along with a bit of surrealism. After reading Harper's HOT and enjoying it I was looking forward to reading For the Love of Pete and was not disappointed. All the same elements that I liked in HOT are in FtLoP.

Zoey Addler is an interesting heroine. She works at a health foods store and also writes poetry. She dresses in her own style, (read: eclectic) and adores her niece. Zoey doesn't have any kids of her own but she helped her sister raise Pete and loves her very much. So when Pete is kidnapped Zoey's reaction is to go after her. She doesn't know at the time that Dante is an FBI agent, he just happens to have a car handy. As they move through the twists and turns of tracking Pete, Zoey gets to know Dante beyond his gorgeous looks and designer suits. He's certainly not what she would consider her type, she more into the artisan types, but this isn't exactly a first date situation. What Zoey realizes is that Dante, for all his class and style is a genuinely nice guy. Add that to his Lips of Sin and you've got a combination that's hard to resist.

Dante Torelli first showed up in the book HOT. He was a secondary character that was given enough page time to grab my interest. In FtLoP he takes center stage and shows that he did deserve a book of his own. If Zoey is a free spirit, child of the earth then Dante is an uptight, lover of rules and regulations. Actually he's not that bad. He just has a different way of unwinding and takes his job very seriously. He comes from a background of privilege and does enjoy having the finer things in life. Like his beautiful BMW that he and Zoey take on a wild ride.

Zoey and Dante are indeed a case of opposites attract. With Dante being the straight arrow, by the book FBI agent and Zoey, well being Zoey. She's more of a by-the-seat-of-her-pants thinker. Which only means that they tend to clash at times but in the end give each other the balance they need. In relationships, the ones that seem to work the best are the ones that have that balance, when the strengths of the heroine and hero compliment each other. That's what happens with Zoey and Dante.

With all this driving around, searching for a kidnapper you'd think that it would be hard for our hero and heroine to find some alone time, to get to know each other better on a more physical level. And you'd be right. The first time they were intimate didn't happen until page 304 of a 375 page book. Did this bother me? Nope. It made sense given the plot of the book. Sure they had opportunities prior but they still had a lot on their minds. It also didn't feel like the right time, they needed to get to know each other better. Once they got to the point where they did have sex it was definitely time. As for that first time I must say umm....well, I was expecting a bit more finesse from Dante. But he turned all uber alpha. But to give him credit he had been in denial for his attraction to Zoey and once he accepted the inevitable he went for it.

For the Love of Pete is another good read from Ms. Harper aka Elizabeth Hoyt. Her secondary characters of the Gupta ladies add flavor to the story mix. And the bad guys keep everyone on their toes. If you want more info on either the contemporary romances writen under the name Julia Harper or the historical romance writen under the name Elizabeth Hoyt you can check out the websites.

Rating: A-

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dark Slayer...

Christine Feehan has posted on her site the synopsis for the next release in her Carpathian series Dark Slayer.

Dark Slayer is due for release in hardcover on September 1, 2009. Here's the synopsis from Feehan's website:

A rumor has persisted in the vampire world of a dark slayer—a woman—who travels with a wolf pack and any among the vampires who meets her is slain. Mysterious, elusive and seemingly impossible to kill, she is the one hunter who strikes terror into the hearts of the vampires.

Ivory Malinov is that woman, betrayed by her own people, by her family, by everyone she held dear and she hunts during the night with only her pack to sustain her sanity. She has not spoken to or been with any other person for a hundred years other than to feed from or slay. She stumbles across a body on her way back to her lair and discovers—her lifemate.

He is Razvan, branded a hated criminal, detested, feared and loathed by all Carpathians—he is also a dragonseeker of one of the greatest lineages of all Carpathians. Held captive nearly his entire life by his grandfather, the Carpathians bitterest enemy, he is seeking the dawn to end his terrible existence.

This is a story of two people, horribly betrayed, wounded in spirit, fighters to the death, who must struggle to unite against a common enemy.

Many speculated, myself included, that this would be about either Zacarias or possibly Dominic. But this sounds really good, something different, with a kick-ass heroine. I'm definitely planning on reading it. And I absolutely LOVE the cover.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review: Stay the Night

Review: Stay the Night
Author: Lynn Viehl
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Darkyn/Book 7
Published: January 2009

Robin of Locksley, yes, that Robin, is still very much a thief. He is out to steal a book that he has been after for nearly 700 years. The book is the Maiden's Book of Hours and federal agent Chris Renshaw is in possession of the book. She's also working undercover to nab an international thief and guess who that thief is. When the two meet it's not exactly love at first sight. Robin, who is used to woman falling for him, actually has to work for Chris' attention. But when the book is stolen out from under them the two work together to find the thief and retrieve the book.

This is the seventh and as of now, last book in Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series. There is a slight chance she will write more in the series, it's still up in the air. She does have another series that is an offshoot, the Kyndred, with the first book being released this fall. I have read all of the Darkyn series so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect when I started reading Stay the Night. While most of my expectation were met the ending didn't necessarily feel like the end of a series. A few doors or maybe that should be windows, were left open.

So we have Robin who has kept up his thieving ways, not letting the fact that he has become a vampire (Darkyn) stop him. He travels to Atlanta with the intent of stealing the book. It's there he meets Chris and, like the alpha male he is, he must have her. She on the other hand is searching for the thief known as the Magic Man. The international thief that has been in business for decades so she doesn't suspect Robin of being that man. When they first meet it's in a bar and it's an engaging scene. Robin is captivated by Chris. There is a scene where they dance and Robin thinks of how dancing in this time is so much better than his time since he can hold the woman close. It just emphasizes the different worlds they come from. I do like Robin and have been interested in his story ever since the last book Evermore.

Chris is a very strong heroine. Being an FBI agent she has had to work hard to get to where she is and she takes her job very seriously. Her focus is on catching the Magic Man and when the book is stolen she is determined to get it back. Robin at first is a minor blip on her radar. Sure she finds him very attractive but he's a distraction for a night. At least that's all he's suppose to be until they end up working together.

Robin and Chris chase the book across the globe and fall for each other along the way. They run into bad guys and have to fight their way out of dangerous situations but they do eventually save the day, as if there was any doubt. The love scenes are hot and Robin puts all of his centuries of experience to good use.

The usual secondary story with Michael and Alex is present and further develops the Darkyn world and the fight against the Brethren that the Kyn have been enduring for centuries. Overall this was a good addition to the series. Like I said, it didn't exactly feel like the end of a series, possible scenarios are still left to write if Viehl's publishers decide to extend the series. Lynn Viehl is also the author of the Stardoc science fiction series written under the name S. L. Viehl. You can visit her very informative blog Paperback Writer to find out more about this talented author.

Rating: A-

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kresley Cole Contest...

Kresley Cole is having a contest to Spread the Love for her upcoming release Kiss of a Demon King, release date of January 20. The winner will receive a Sony Reader or a $50 ebook gift certificate. The Sony Reader winner is drawn at random and the ebook gc goes to the most creative entry. So if you want to enter head on over to her site for the deets.

Kiss of a Demon King is the sixth full length book in her Immortals After Dark series. The series actually started with the novella The Warlord Wants Forever in the anthology Playing Easy to Get. This is one of my favorite series and I would highly recommend it. I do think you should start at the beginning with the novella The Warlord Wants Forever. It's about vampire Nikolai Wroth and the Valkyrie Myst the Coveted. It's a wonderful story and really gets the series started. This series keeps getting better and better with each consecutive book.

Kiss of a Demon King is about Sabine, the Queen of Illusions and Rydstrom Woede the demon king who is trying to get back his crown and his kingdom.

Here's the synopsis from Cole's website:

With one kiss, he knew she'd be his queen...

From New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole comes this spellbinding story of a demon king fighting to reclaim his crown and the wicked sorceress who dares to use his most secret desires to thwart him.

His obsession: the enchantress who surrenders her body,
but not her heart.

After Sabine, the Queen of Illusions, lures and traps Rydstrom Woede in her lair, the ruthless warrior fights to resist her seduction.But his fierce demon nature lusts for her delicate body and won’t be denied. Even as Rydstrom plots to escape, he still intends to claim Sabine as his own—on his terms.

Her downfall: the battle-scarred demon who vows to keep her at all costs.

When Rydstrom breaks free, her abducts Sabine, turning the tables. Now she’s the one struggling to resist his delicious torment. With each relentless encounter, Sabine hungers more for her merciless adversary.

They were never supposed to want each other this much…

If they can defeat the sinister enemy that stands between them, will Sabine make the ultimate sacrifice to save her demon? Or will the proud king lay down his crown and arms to keep his sorceress?

You can read an excerpt of Kiss of a Demon King here.

The Life Cycle of a Book...

Shamelessly swiped this from Alison Kent's blog...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Review: Wicked Game

Title: Wicked Game
Author: Jeri Smith-Ready
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: May 2008

Ciara Griffin needs a job, fast. She interviews as a marketing intern for local radio station WMMP. After accepting the job she is given some books to read to get her up to speed on station policies etc. What she learns in one of the books is that this is no ordinary radio station. The DJs are, in fact, from the time period of the music they play. Because the DJs are vampires. Now she must decided what to do. Does she leave and try to find another job or work with people who could literally drain the life out of her?

Another new author for me. Dang, but this is becoming a trend, a good one. I first heard about Jeri Smith-Ready when some friends were reading and praising her Aspect of Crow series. I do have that series on my TBR pile but decided to read Wicked Game first after reading an interview between Ciara and Dante Baptiste a character from Adrian Phoenix's book A Rush of Wings. I can understand their praise if her writing in the Aspect of Crow series is anything like it is in Wicked Game. The set up is unique, vamps working at a radio station ~ think WKRP only cooler and undead. Then there are all the songs that are mentioned. Smith-Ready even has a play list included in the book and one on her website you can give a listen to. A very eclectic group of songs representing the different eras of music each vampire plays on the radio.

Ciara decides to stay at the radio station. She is a con artist by trade but needs the internship to graduate college. So she takes on the job of helping increase ratings and revenue so the owner doesn't sell the station to Skywave, a big corporation. If that were to happen the vampires would be out of jobs but worse, they would "fade" and possibly go crazy if they are forced to live in the here and now instead of their own "Life Time".

Ciara, even with her con artist background, is someone that I came to like. She is a smartass at times but I liked that. I totally get that. That's how she deals with stress and she has a lot with her job at WMMP, which she renames WVMP. She uses the fact that the DJs are vampires as a publicity stunt to boost the ratings and drawn in more advertisers. She also gets close with one of the DJs.

Shane McAllister is one of the younger vamps and looks the most human. When he first meets Ciara he plays it cool and doesn't show much interest in her or her ideas for the station. Ciara is able to break through to Shane and their attraction grows until they can't keep their hands off each other. The love scenes were engaging with the added bonus of Shane's musical selections. Their relationship was well developed and came across as genuine. The fact that Shane was a vamp did cause a few problems as you can imagine but overall I could see them as a couple. They were good for each other.

There were some dark parts in the book. There is a group of very old vampires who don't like what Ciara and WVMP are doing. They want the marketing ploy of vampire DJs to stop and will go to extreme length to get it to stop. But the lighter parts offset the dark scenes and I found myself laughing quite a few times.

The other DJs and humans in the story were interesting characters and certainly played a role in the overall story. It was fun to read Ciara interacting with each vampire DJ. They all had unique personalities that were brought out by the music they played. The vampires did have super human strength and speed but they weren't these super alpha, over the top giants that we seem to get in paranormals. These vamps looked the same as they had were they were human. As they aged they began to look more than just human, more beautiful.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely. I loved the twist Smith-Ready puts on the vampires, having them as DJs with distinct characteristics of their time period. This book could be read as a stand alone but there is another book coming out in May called Bad to the Bone. There are also three free tie-in short stories about three of the DJs. And for those that have read her Aspect of Crow series she has two tie-in short stories. All can be found on her website.

Rating: A

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Re-Reading Challenge ~ 2009...

With the New Year comes new book challenges. One that I've signed up for is Nath's Re-Reading Challenge. I was very happy to join in on this challenge because I have so many books that hold a special place in my heart. I'm also curious to find out if these books are still as wonderful as my sometimes fuzzy memory recalls them. Still need one for this month. Any suggestions?

Some potential re-reads are:

Roberta Gellis ~ A Woman's Estate
Linda Howard ~ Son of the Morning
Mary Balogh ~ A Summer to Remember
*One of my all-time favorite books*
Kathleen E. Woodiwiss ~ Shanna
LaVyrle Spencer ~ Morning Glory
Heather Graham Pozzessere ~ Dark Stranger, Rides a Hero or Apache Summer
Lisa Kleypas ~ Worth Any Price
*Absolutely LOVE Nick Gentry*
Johanna Lindsey ~ Angel or Tender is the Storm
Judith McNaught ~ A Kingdom of Dreams
Linda Lael Miller ~ Banner O'Brien
Susan Sizemore ~ The Price of Innocence

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Review: After the Kiss

Title: After the Kiss
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Notorious Gentlemen/Book 1
Published: July 2008

She surprises him. He kisses her. She blackmails him. He calls her bluff. What do a horse breeder by day/thief by night and a lady have in common? Everything and nothing at all. But Sullivan Waring and Lady Isabel Chalsey don't let that stop them from falling for each other.

After the Kiss starts off with a bang and doesn't stop. My first Enoch novel and I was enchanted. It's a story of revenge and the righting of wrongs. Along the way Sullivan and Isobel discover that their place in society doesn't always define them. They can and do have value beyond what status the ton confers on them. The discovery of not only who they are but what they are capable of plays a major role in the decisions they make regarding their relationship.

Blackmail. It's an ugly word but one that Lady Isabel Chalsey doesn't shy away from. She is determined to find out what Sullivan Waring was up to the night he broke into her family's home, stealing from them. So she sets off on her quest by purchasing a horse from him, convincing (blackmailing) him to break the horse to saddle and teach her how to ride. She is a strong heroine and not at all shy about going after what she wants. I got the impression that her parents indulged her and even spoiled her some but she wasn't at all bratty or irritating.

Isabel is a fairly typical lady of 1813 London. She grew up in a loving home with her parents and brothers. Isabel is young, only 19, but has see two seasons of London's balls and soirees. And even though she has had a number of proposals she remains unwed. When she meets Sullivan he catches her interest with that kiss and keeps it. She practically becomes obsessed with finding out why he is stealing.

I enjoyed the character of Isabel and for the most part forgot her young age unless it was mentioned. I think her maturity was more a product of her upbringing than her experience with the world. While she is a member of the aristocracy she is not a snob and cares deeply about her family. Without wanting to she comes to care deeply for Sullivan despite his questionable background.

Sullivan Waring returned from war injured and in grief. His mother died while he was fighting the French and he returns to find all of her possessions have been taken. If that isn't bad enough they have been taken and given to member of the ton by someone who Sullivan despises. So he sets out to get them back, specifically her paintings. His day job is as a horse breeder, something he excels at and has earned a reputation as one of the best. But at night he takes the risk of breaking into the homes of the ton and stealing away with their belongings.

While he doesn't have many friends he does have a few close friends. One I enjoyed every time he made an appearance on the page was Lord Bramwell Johns or Bram. His dry wit and cutting remarks gave the story an insightful look at the male friendship. Sully and Bram might trade insults with each other but they obviously have a strong bond of friendship that was only strengthen during the war. Sully was an interesting character with a definite reckless streak running through him.

As Sullivan and Isabel's relationship develops you can see how they are alike despite their different upbringings and stations in life. The ups and downs they experienced seemed real and completely plausible. The fact that Sullivan is a respected horse breeder but not deemed good enough for Lady Isabel is a fact that is brought up more than once and by various people. Isabel herself realizes this but can't seem to help being attracted to Sully. Sully himself thinks he's not good enough for her and tells her to stay away from him. Partly due to him not wanting her associated with him since he is a thief.

There were a few antagonists that made life difficult for Sully and Isabel but there was also assistance from some unlikely sources. As for the dialogue between Isabel and Sully I found believable and enjoyed their discovery of each other as Sully taught Isabel how to ride. The dialogue between Sully and Bram was a real treat and certainly got me interested in Bram's story. The little insight's into Bram's character show he is not always what he seems. Not always the scoundrel is pretends to be.

The next book in the series is called Before the Scandal and features Lieutenant Colonel Phineas Bromley as the hero. He is good friends with Sully and Bram and makes a brief appearance in After the Kiss. Before the Scandal is out now. Book three, Always a Scoundrel, Bram's story will be out in April. Suzanne Enoch also writes contemporary romances in addition to her historicals. You can find her back list at her website.

Rating: A

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

C. L. Wilson Winner...

The winner of the Lord of the Fading Lands contest is ~


Congratulations! Please send your snail mail address to me here and I'll get your book out to you.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Review: Lord of Scoundrels

Title: Lord of Scoundrels
Author: Loretta Chase
Genre: Historical Romance
Published: January 1995/Reprint December 2007

Beelzebub, Lucifer, Prince of Darkness... These are the names Sebastian Ballister, Marquess of Dain, is not only referred to but seems to relish living up to. He is known as the "Bane and Blight of the Ballisters" and he is about to meet his match. In walks Lady Jessica Trent. While attempting to save her idiotic brother from ruin she must confront Dain and match her impressive wits against his. So she makes a deal with Beelzebub himself and finds that there's more to the man than his devilish names.

I had such high expectations for it and while I certainly liked parts of the book I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. I did enjoy Chase's writing style and the banter between the hero and heroine. Unfortunately the problem I had with the story, which came towards the end, seems to overshadow the overall appeal of the book. As so many readers have said it's one of their favorite historicals. But sadly, I'm not among them.

It's 1828 and our heroine Jessica Trent has arrived in Paris with her grandmother, Lady Pembury. They have come to save Jessica's brother Sir Bertram Trent from the evil that is the Marquess of Dain. Jessica is beautiful, practical, efficient and isn't afraid to speak her mind. At 27 years of age she is a virgin who spends time with her unconventional grandmother who speaks frankly about men and women to Jessica. So while she has never been physically intimate with a man she is very aware of what goes on between men and women.

Jessica's first impression of Dain:

Bertie had told her Dain was a very large man. She had half expected a hulking gorilla. She had not been prepared for a stallion: big and splendidly proportioned - and powerfully muscled, if what his snug trousers outlined was nay indication. She should not have been looking, there, even if it was only an instant's glance, but a physique like that demanded one's attention and drew it...everywhere. After that unladylike instant, it had taken every iota of her stubborn willpower to keep her gaze upon his face. Even then, she'd only managed the feat because she was afraid that otherwise she'd lose what little remained of her reason, and do something horribly shocking. pages 30-31

As you can see from Jessica's first reaction, Dain isn't what you could call an elegant dandy of the time. And yet she's definitely attracted to him. He has a very commanding presence and can be quite scary when he wants to be. One thing about Jessica that I liked was the fact that she doesn't always back down from Dain and she doesn't always take the direct approach when it comes to getting what she wants from him. A bit sneaky... I like that.

Jessica's relationship with her grandmother was wonderful to read. The fact that she didn't shun her grandmother but embraced her eccentricities was refreshing. Chase's secondary characters are well written and add depth to the story.

Dain was anything but the typical aristocrat of the time. He was given little love as a child. His looks were a detriment too. His father felt only disapproval towards Dain and his mother left when he was 7 years old. At the age of 8 Dain is sent away to school at Eton. There he is bullied by the other students and has no friends. The attention he receives from the teacher is usually in the form of whippings. Dain shows his defiance of his father by getting into trouble and earning a reputation of a troublemaker.

The number of rude comments, put downs and disparaging remarks made about Dain were at times a bit much. Sometimes I felt sorry for him but then he would turn around and agree with whatever nasty thing was being said about him. I can't help but think that it had become rote with him to think of himself this way because it had been drummed into him at such an early age.

With regards to Dain's size and looks, Jessica acknowledges his size and less than angelic looks but takes it as part of the whole. She enjoys his looks, the breath of large shoulders, his olive skin etc. She takes a practical view of it and moves on. I did like the dialogue between Dain and Jessica. It was well written and I enjoyed the scenes where there was just the two of them with their back and forth banter.

I liked LoS up to a point, that point being when Dain's son made his appearance. The ride went downhill from there and I was never able to completely recover. The problem I had was with Dain's attitude towards his son. Not only did he think horrible things about his son but he said them aloud.

These are Dain's thoughts after Jessica has told him he must go and get his son. ~

He could not even think about the loathsome thing he'd made with Charity Graves without becoming physically ill. How in Lucifer's name was he to go to it and look at it and talk to it and touch it and take the thing into his keeping? page 303

I can, to a certain extent, understand why Dain felt this way towards his son but IMO it doesn't excuse it, merely explains the why of it. Dain did redeem himself somewhat in his attitude and actions towards his son but I think this had more to do with Jessica's interference. If she had not pushed Dain I'm really not sure if he would have simply continued on as he had been or he would have changed on his own.

Unfortunately when I think about this book it's Dain's attitude towards his son that first comes to mind. It was difficult to come up with a grade but I did enjoy most of the book just not the last bit. I plan to continue reading Ms. Chase's books and I look forward to more of her witty dialogue and interesting characters. The next Chase book I plan to read is Captives of the Night. It's the Comte d'Esmond and Leila Beaumont's story and it sounds absolutely wonderful. d'Esmond was a wonderfully written secondary character in Lord of Scoundrels.

Rating: B+

Friday, January 2, 2009


Some of the 2009 releases I'm looking forward to:

Stay the Night ~ Lynn Viehl ~ January 6
Kiss of a Demon King ~ Kresley Cole ~ January 20
Dark of Night ~ Suzanne Brockmann ~ January 27
What I Did for Love ~ Susan Elizabeth Phillips ~ January 27
Dream Warrior ~ Sherrilyn Kenyon ~ February 3
Coyote's Mate ~ Lora Leigh ~ February 3
First Comes Marriage ~ Mary Balogh ~ February 24
Desire Unchained ~ Larissa Ione ~ February 24
Silent on the Moor ~ Deanna Raybourn ~ March 1
Fire at Midnight ~ Lisa Marie Wilkinson ~ March 1
As Shadows Fade ~ Colleen Gleason ~ March 3
Angel's Blood ~ Nalini Singh ~ March 3
Then Comes Seduction ~ Mary Balogh ~ March 24
Magic Strikes ~ Ilona Andrews ~ March 31
Passion Unleashed ~ Larissa Ione ~ March 31
Smooth Talking Stranger ~ Lisa Kleypas ~ March 31
Blue Diablo ~ Ann Aguirre ~ April 7
White Star ~ Elizabeth Vaughan ~ April 7
Doomsday Can Wait ~ Lori Handeland ~ April 23
At Last Comes Love ~ Mary Balogh ~ April 28
Burning Wild ~ Christine Feehan ~ April 28
To Beguile a Beast ~ Elizabeth Hoyt ~ April 28
Vision in White ~ Nora Roberts ~ April 28
Relentless ~ Lauren Dane ~ May 5
Sea Lord ~ Virginia Kantra ~ May 5
Bad to the Bone ~ Jeri Smith-Ready ~ May 16
Ashes of Midnight ~ Lara Adrian ~ May 26
Atlantis Unleashed ~ Alyssa Day ~ June 2
Immortal Outlaw ~ Lisa Hendrix ~ June 2
Touched by Light ~ Catherine Spangler ~ June 2
Deeper ~ Megan Hart ~ July 1
Atlantis Unmasked ~ Alyssa Day ~ July 7
Branded by Fire ~ Nalini Singh ~ July 7
Strange Brew ~ Harris, Butcher, Briggs etc ~ July 7
Destined for an Early Grave ~ Jeaniene Frost ~ July 28
Bad Moon Rising ~ Sherrilyn Kenyon ~ August 4
Bengal's Heart ~ Lora Leigh ~ August 4
Dreamfever ~ Karen Marie Moning ~ August 18
Hunting Ground ~ Patricia Briggs ~ August 25
Unbound ~ Anthology ~ Harrison/Marr etc. ~ August 25
Dark Slayer ~ Christine Feehan ~ September 1
Never Love a Lawman ~ Jo Goodman ~ September 1
Highland Rebel ~ Judith James ~ September 1
Trick of the Light ~ Rob Thurman ~ September 1
Catching Fire ~ Suzanne Collins ~ September 1
Tempt Me at Twilight ~ Lisa Kleypas ~ September 22
Doubleblind ~ Ann Aguirre ~ September 29
On The Edge ~ Ilona Andrews ~ September 29
Tucker's Claim ~ Sarah McCarty ~ October 1
Seduced by Shadows ~ Jessa Slade ~ October 6
Shadowlight ~ Lynn Viehl ~ October 6
The Deep Kiss of Winter ~ Cole, Showalter ~ October 27
To Desire a Devil ~ Elizabeth Hoyt ~ October 27
Queen of Song and Souls ~ C. L. Wilson ~ October 27
Winter Kiss ~ Deborah Cooke ~ November 3
Skin Game ~ Ava Gray ~ November 3
Apocalypse Happens ~ Lori Handeland ~ November 3
Blaze of Memory ~ Nalini Singh ~ November 3
Ice ~ Linda Howard ~ November 10
The Better Part of Darkness ~ Kelly Gay ~ November 24
Shades of Midnight ~ Lara Adrian ~ December 29
ETA: I'll update this throughout the year as the info is made available.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

C. L. Wilson Contest...

So I'm out running errands and one stop was at Borders. Needed to get Lynn Viehl's Stay the Night, apparently pink is the new black. Poor Robin. He still looks good (See Viehl's post about the cover art change here.)

Love this series and would buy it no matter what color.

<--this is the original cover. Gorgeous!

Anyway, after reading the comments on my review of King of Sword and Sky, I did the math and realized that a whopping 2/3 of the commenters have not read the Tairen Soul series. Ok, so it's really just 2 people out of the 3 that commented but 2/3 sounds more impressive. *grin* So I head over to the stacks and I find myself in the Ws. I spy with my little eye King of Sword and Sky but no Lord. Dang.

More errands and I ended up at B & N. How does that happen? Well, guess what they had? Yep, Lord of the Fading Lands. Now since I already have two copies, both used but well loved, why would I buy another copy you ask? Well to pimp of course!

If you have not yet experienced the awesomeness that is C. L. Wilson and the Tairen Soul series I'm more than happy to get you started. Leave a comment here before noon(MST) on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 and you'll have a chance to win a new copy of Lord of the Fading Lands, the first book in the Tairen Soul series. I'll use to pick the winner's name and will post it some time on Wednesday, January 7. (Due to postage costs this contest is only open to residents of the US and Canada.)