Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review: Virgin River

Title: Virgin River
Author: Robyn Carr
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Virgin River/Book 1
Published: April 2007

Contemporary Romance Challenge 2009

WANTED: Midwife/nurse practitioner in Virgin River, population six hundred. Make a difference against a backdrop of towering California redwoods and crystal-clear rivers. Rent-free cabin included.

When the recently widowed Melinda Monroe sees this ad she quickly decides that the remote mountain town of Virgin River might be the perfect place to escape her heartache, and to re-energize the nursing career she loves. But her high hopes are dashed within an hour of arriving: the cabin is a dump, the roads are treacherous and the local doctor wants nothing to do with her. Realizing she’s made a huge mistake, Mel decides to leave town the following morning.

But a tiny baby, abandoned on a front porch, changes her plans...and a former marine cements them into place.

Melinda Monroe may have come to Virgin River looking for escape, but instead she finds her home.

Why didn't you guys tell me how amazing this series is?! Oh, sure I heard comments like, "I really love this series" and "I can't wait to read the next Robyn Carr book". But no one actually said, "Leslie, stop being an idiot and read the darn series already". Can I just say how thankful I am to have finally dug into this series? I read the first three books in about a week. I love this little world that Carr has created. How many of you that have read it haven't at some point wished you could go to Virgin River? Maybe not to live but just to visit for a little while? Yeah, it's that type of place filled with those kind of characters. Notice I said characters. I do realize this is a fictional place but man, Carr really knows how to bring it to life.

I'll start with Melinda Monroe or Mel as she's called. She makes the choice of drastically changing her life after her life was drastically changed. Make sense? When Mel's husband was killed everything she took for granted was swept away. Her sense of safety and security was gone. She began to see danger around every corner. She gets to her breaking point and decides a big change is what she needs. That's how she ends up in Virgin River. When she gets there things are not as promised and Mel's ready to head out of town. She's delayed by a new patient and decides to stay for a few days. This gives a certain bartender time to convince Mel to stay for good.

Jack, Jack, Jack. I love Jack! Carr writes the male perspective with heaps of wit and loads of sinful sexiness. Jack has four sisters and it shows in his interactions with the women of the town. He's very nurturing and enjoys taking care of people. It like it's his mission in life to help those who need it. He's a former Marine and still maintains that air of command and the ability to get things done. Jack settled in Virgin River after leaving the Marine Corps and opened up a bar that also serves some of the best food around compliments of Preacher, one of Jack's Marines. The interactions between these men and the other men in town are such fun to read. It's like listening in to when my brothers and other male members in my family sit around talking about sports, current affairs, family etc.

Jack and Mel ~ there were times when I wondered how the heck Carr was going to get these two together and make it believable. Mel was still grieving the death of her husband and Jack had always enjoyed the company of women but not enough to settled down with one in particular. He still doesn't consider himself the marrying type but has a strong attraction to Mel so he wants her to stay. Not just for him but for this town that he's come to care deeply for. Mel loved her husband very much and it's a daily struggle for her to keep going. She focuses her attention on her work, it's what gives her a purpose in life.

The working environment Mel finds in Virgin River is vastly different from Los Angeles but she finds it's just as important and just as rewarding. Working in an E.R. in a large city like LA and working in a small town where many of the births are home births gives Mel a new perspective on her role as midwife. We get to see Mel become rejuvenated and begin to enjoy life once again. The change is slow to come and Jack certainly does some encouraging. While not exactly pressing Mel to stay he doesn't miss any opportunity to show her how much the town needs her and he eventually shows her how much he needs her.

Mel and Jack's relationship started out as friends and turned into a beautiful love story. There's not a thing I can't think of that I would change about it. When Jack and Mel are together the chemistry is so strong and so natural that everyone in town sees it. And when they are alone together they have a hard time resisting each other. I didn't mind some of the disagreements and difficulties they had. The difficulties played into the role of grieving widow and confirmed bachelor that Mel and Jack start out as.

The secondary characters are what make this book complete. Yes, I totally loved Jack and Mel's story but it wouldn't have been the same without the other residents of Virgin River. Preacher is the first to come to mind. Quiet and soft spoken, he's the gentle giant and an amazing cook. Then there's Rick who Jack and Preacher have taken under their wing. The interactions with these three showed a side of Jack and Preacher we might not have seen. Hope McCrea and Doc Mullins are the cranky old folks that you can't help but like even while they're irritating the heck out of everyone. All of the secondary characters were well written and had a purpose in the story line - no filler here. :)

Wonderful, amazingly beautiful story. I can't recommend this book enough. So if you're in the mood for a great contemporary read then look no further than Virgin River. Robyn Carr has also written another series as well as some stand alone novels. All books and author info can be found here.

Rating: A+

Sunday, June 28, 2009

YotC Review: She's Got It Bad

Title: She's Got It Bad
Author: Sarah Mayberry
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: April 2009
Harlequin Blaze

Year of the Category Challenge

From the back cover ~

This has been a long time coming

Twelve years ago Zoe Ford let Liam Masters break her heart. But now? There's not a chance. Zoe is as tough and wild as they come. So when Liam shows up at her tattoo parlor, she's more than ready to take him on again. That's not going to be a hardship, since he's hotter than he ever was.

This time she's staying in charge. And she's not going to consider their score settled until he's hot, bothered and begging for more! Then she'll move on as callously as he left her. Unless all that deliciously bad sex is just too good to give up….

Another Sarah Mayberry and another splendid story. I was lucky enough to win this from the wonderful ladies at The Book Binge and I just ate this one up!

The cover: You know I have to say something about the cover, it's become a habit. :) Initially my gaze is drawn to their faces, that's good. But then it moves to her butt. IMO, not so good. Personally I would prefer ogling a man's rear. Sexiest, I know. The thing I do like about the cover is that it goes with the story. Doesn't it just bug you when the cover is so far off from what's inside? This one shows the heroine Zoe, giving the hero Liam a tattoo. That actually happens but I don't remember her being in quite that position. *grins*

The story actually begins when Zoe and Liam are teenagers. Something happens that causes Liam to hit the road and disappear from Zoe's life. When he eventually returns he's all grown up and has become a successful businessman. Zoe is grown up too but she's been through some difficult times and real success hasn't come to Zoe.

Zoe is a woman that I don't seem to have much in common with. She is single, 28 years old and works as a tattoo artist. By the time I was 28, I was married and working in an office, not a tattoo in sight. Zoe doesn't have much direction in her life, it's become a bit stagnate. Thanks to Mayberry's writing I still felt a connection to Zoe, an understanding of why she feels and does what she does. It doesn't have to do with what she wants but what she feels she deserves. Yeah, I liked Zoe and felt such sympathy for her and that says something about the writing because Zoe wasn't always the most likable character.

Liam thinks he knows what's best for Zoe, hence the leaving. So when he comes back he wants to make things up to her, show her that he can treat her right. The only thing Zoe wants from Liam is sex. No strings, no commitments. That's how she likes things and if Liam can't deal with that too bad. Liam, being the stubborn cuss is determined to change Zoe's mind. At first he tells himself that he just wants to help out an old friend but he gets to the point where he can't deny his feels for Zoe are more than just friendly. The sex is definitely a strong pull but they also have history. That history is something they can't ignore. It's something they have to discuss and deal with before they can create a future. Liam hopes to have a future with Zoe, she still wants only the sex.

Mayberry does a satisfying job of taking two distinctly different characters and showing the reader how they became a very believable couple while still maintain their distinct personalities. They each learn some things about the other that not only surprises them but gives them insight that they didn't have before. Both h/h do some more growing up and realise just how deep their feelings still are for each other. There is also some fun and games when Zoe tries to distance her self from Liam and dang if it doesn't seem like he keeps showing up everywhere she goes!

She's Got It Bad is an exciting, enjoyable read with anything but your run of the mill characters. A heroine who is a tattoo artist and a hero who builds custom bikes for a living are not the usual fair in romances. Mayberry gives us characters that are a bit off the beaten path and then makes them relatable. And that's what makes her stories so very good.

Check out Sarah Mayberry's site for her book list. The site doesn't look to be up-to-date so I would also suggest checking Harlequin's site for new releases.

Rating: A

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Review: Immortal Outlaw

Title: Immortal Outlaw
Author: Lisa Hendrix
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance/1290
Series: Immortal Brotherhood/Book 2
Published: June 2009

*Mild Spoilers*

From the back cover ~

For centuries, he’s hidden in the woods. Now a maid has come to lead him out…

It’s been four centuries since Steinarr the Proud was cursed by a wicked sorceress-along with the rest of his Viking Crew-to live for eternity as half man half beast. By day Steinarr is like any other man-by night he is a lion. He has taken refuge in the woods of Nottinghamshire, England, and there he encounters two young travelers, Robin and Marian.

Painfully aware of the danger he presents when the moon rises, Steinarr initially refuses to help them search fro the key to Robin’s inheritance. Then a kiss from Marian awakens his desire. Driven to protect the maid he so desperately wants to possess, Steinarr joins the quest…while the sorceress Cwen gathers her dark magic to destroy them.

As the legend of an outlaw in the woods spreads, their band is joined by others. But it is Steinarr who has the most to gain and the most to lose-his chance to be free of the curse and to love as a man…

The second book in the Immortal Brotherhood series takes place during the time of the legend of Robin Hood. Hendrix puts her own spin on the legend, giving it a different twist than what is more commonly known. I liked the twist and it worked well with the romance of the hero and heroine while still providing a plausible explanation as to how the legend came about.

The series is interesting for a number of reasons and not just for the writing. There are nine warriors that were cursed to live out their immortal lives as a man and as an animal. Some of the warriors are men by day and animal at night while others are animals by day and men at night. One of the interesting things is that so far each book takes place during different time periods. I like that better than having the books take place all in the same time period and I look forward to reading the different periods. Maybe the last warrior's story will take place in present day.

Steinarr is the reluctant hero. He's very reclusive due to his animal nature. In my review for Immortal Warrior I mentioned that when the men are in their animal form only some of them maintain their human conscience. Some completely become the animal. Such is the case for Steinarr. In his animal form he truly becomes a lion in every sense of the word. He has injured his fellow warriors and has chosen to keep his distance from all, except for Torvald who travels with Steinarr. Torvald takes the form of a horse by day and keeps watch over Steinarr at night. He guards against any humans crossing Steinarr's path when he is in his lion form. It seems like such a lonely life for both of them.

Steinarr is basically a mercenary with a bit of a conscience. I liked him a lot. He has a dry sense of humor which I always find attractive. He's very practical about what he can expect from life. He doesn't expect any long term relationships with a woman. He prefers to pay for their company so no promises are expected. After coming across Marian and Robin while traveling he helps them out then heads off to complete his job and collect his fee. It's while collecting his fee that he's offered another job. Ironically the new job involves Robin and Marian. Steinarr thought he had left those two behind but now he finds himself right in the thick of it, along for the ride in the quest to find the clues and secure Robin’s inheritance .

Marian is a strong, likeable heroine. Her loyal to Robin comes not only from her strength of character but also the fact that she knows and understands what he has been put through by their father. She is determined to help him in his quest but she does at times come off as too over protective of Robin. Eventually she learns that she needs to let him take responsibility for himself.

Marian was determined to get Steinarr to help her and Rob and Steinarr was determined not to. Guess who got their way? LOL Yep, she's stubborn and attractive and gets under Steinarr's skin. He's not use to dealing with women except for the previously mentioned transactions so he's not exactly experienced when it comes to women like Marian. He even tries to scare her off but she knows what he's up to and she doesn't scare easily.

The road trip that Steinarr and Marian take is filled with danger, laughter and some very steamy sex scenes. I liked these two together. I liked reading how they slowly came to trust each other and take the relationship beyond the physical attraction. And searching for the clues to the riddles was fun and an education in history.

The secondary characters do an admirable job filling out the story. Cwen, the sorceress who cursed the nine warriors, is still hot on their trail and is determined to cause as much chaos for them as possible. As far as antagonists go I like her. She evil, cunning and I’m not always sure what she’s up to. That's always a plus. :) It’s not enough that she placed the curse on the Vikings, she wants to continue to make them suffer.

And Ari is back to help where he can. He was friends with Ivo, the hero from the first book Immortal Warrior. This time around he's tagging along with the Steinarr during the day, helping him with Robin and Marian. Ari is a raven at night and keeps in touch with the other warriors. He's also their scribe, keeping a journal of their lives. I'm looking forward to his story.

Overall, another enjoyable addition to this series. And the covers are just beautiful. Love these covers! For more information on this series and other books by Lisa Hendrix check out her website.

Rating: A-

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Buffy Kicking It...

Saw this posted by SQT at Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin' News and Reviews and had to share. I'm probably one of the few that hasn't read the Twilight series, don't understand the attraction to Edward if that's what he looks like. But I love Buffy. One of the best series ever!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Review: Ashes of Midnight

Review: Ashes of Midnight
Author: Lara Adrian
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Midnight Breed/Book 6
Published: May 2009

*Spoilers if you haven't read the previous books in the series*

From the back cover:


As night falls, Claire Roth flees, driven from her home by a fiery threat that seems to come from hell itself. Then, from out of the flames and ash, a vampire warrior emerges. He is Andreas Reichen, her onetime lover, now a stranger consumed by vengeance. Caught in the cross fire, Claire cannot escape his savage fury--or the hunger that plunges her into his world of eternal darkness and unending pleasure.

Nothing will stop Andreas from destroying the vampire responsible for slaughtering his Breed brethren . . . even if he must use his former lover as a pawn in his deadly mission. Blood-bonded to his treacherous adversary, Claire can lead Andreas to the enemy he seeks, but it is a journey fraught with danger--and deep, unbidden desires. For Claire is the one woman Andreas should not crave, and the only one he's ever loved. A dangerous seduction begins--one that blurs the line between predator and prey, and stokes the flames of a white-hot passion that may consume all in its path. . . .

I have been looking forward to Andreas' story for some time now. I don't remember what book he first appeared in but I found him to be an interesting character because he wasn't the typical leather wearing, smart-ass alpha bad boy that so many PNR heroes seem to be. Andreas seemed to be more refined, an elegant gentleman in his demeanor and language. So I was curious as to how he would be after the horrible loss of his Darkhaven and family in Veil of Midnight. I knew he would be seeking revenge against those that killed his family but how much of that refinement would still be there?

Well, this Andreas is so different from the one we met in previous books. The refined, European gentleman is gone. Don't get me wrong, I never saw him as weak but I did see him as different from the guys in Boston. He just had that European flair about him, very James Bond-ish. Not the type to go off without thoroughly thinking things through. Now he's gone all pyro crazy and killing anyone that gets in his way. His power is awesome, amazing fire. Fireballs flying through the air and he's got one hell of an aim. The only problem is that he's basically gone and this "monster" takes over. It's like Andreas retreats and this big, bad, mean as all hell vamp takes control. His loss of control continues to accelerate until he losses hope of ever getting it back. And since this is a romance, Claire turns out to be his only hope of gaining control and not losing himself forever.

Claire Roth is the heroine and for some reason that I still can't put a finger on, I just didn't connect with her. She came across as old fashion. A lady who fills her time with charity work and maintaining her home. She lives in a house out in the country while her mate, Wilhelm Roth, prefers the city. I didn't understand how the whole feeding works between these two. The impression I had from the previous books was that in order for the female to maintain her youth she had to feed fairly frequently from her mate. But the impression I got regarding Claire and Wilhelm was that they went months without seeing each other. So not sure how that works.

Claire has carved out a separate life for herself and has very little involvement with Wilhelm and his businesses. This explained why she didn't know what how truly evil and nasty he was and what he was involved in. But it didn't explain why she could sense when he was around and he knew when she slept with Andreas - all because of their blood bond. It seems like she should have know how bad this guy was if this blood bond allowed her to sense the other things.

This is a dark book with very little humor. I prefer the scenes with the guys talking the way guys do with their own unique humor peppered with smart ass remarks. Ashes of Midnight had very little of that. It was mainly Andreas and Claire and their attempt to heal old wounds and become the couple they were meant to be.

I liked the parts with Hunter and the little bit with Chase. Chase is still my favorite in this series but Hunter is turning into a very interesting character. I'll look forward to reading more about him and his continued progression from trained killer to potential hero. There was a problem that was alluded to regarding Chase but nothing more. Unless this series takes a complete nosedive, I'll be reading his book too. Kade was given more page time and the set up for his book, the next book in the series, was evident. I don't mind this since Adrian did make it part of the overall story arc and it made sense within the context of this book.

Ashes of Midnight is not the strongest book in the series and I can only hope the difficulties I had with this book is not a trend. The love story is still the focus with the previous characters filling out the story line and continuing the main story arc. I do hope that the next book picks up the pace and brings the breeds face to face with the big bad Ancient One.

Since this is the 6th book in the series I would not recommend starting with Ashes of Midnight. There are just too many reoccurring characters and the continuing story arc that makes it difficult to slip into the series with this book. The next book is Kade's and is set for release in January 2010.

For more info on Lara Adrian and the Midnight Breeds series check out her website.

Rating: B-

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Kristie at Ramblings on Romance asked bloggers to show their wallpaper. I love to see reader's bookcases so I think seeing what they have on their desktops should be interesting too.
I absolutely love the work of Luis Royo and have it as the wallpaper on two of my desktops. The other artist I love is Dan Dos Santos who is well known for his cover art for Patty Briggs' books.

Here's Dan Dos Santos on my main computer. The colors are so vibrant and alive. ~

This is Luis Royo's on the laptop. His work, IMO, is breathtaking. The details on the wings are incredible. ~

And the last is on the kids computer which used to be the main computer until we upgraded. So I'm not on this one much but I love this picture and I even have the book that features this pic on the cover. :) It's another Luis Royo.

I do have a tendency to switch out wallpaper between these two artist. They both do such amazing work and there are tons of gorgeous pics to choose from. Royo does show more skin but all of my desktops are password protected so the kids can't get on there without me. :)

*If anyone knows how to get pictures to open in a new window on blogger, please let me know. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Curran POV...

Ilona Andrews (actually Gordon) has posted an excerpt of Curran's POV. It's when he first meets Kate. Go here to read.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Immortal Warrior Winner...

The winner of the copy of Immortal Warrior by Lisa Hendrix is...

Carolyn Jean (CJ)

CJ ~ Please send me your snail mail address. I'll send out the book and forward your address to Lisa so she can send your goodies. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Update and Reminder...

I got to take my mom home today. She was so happy just to be home again. My Auntie Fran, mom's older sister, came over early so I could go get mom's meds and some fresh fruit. Auntie Fran is the one that I took with me to the hospital and is a hoot!

The resident who took care of mom was extremely good looking, as in cover model good looking. The nurses all made sure to stop in when he was around. Tall, about 6'3, dark hair, great smile and bedside manner. Auntie Fran said she wants him as her boy-toy!

On the reading front I've got 4 books to review. I'll take them tomorrow to mom's along with the laptop. I might be able to tap into an unsecured network, if not I hope to get a couple of reviews written while mom naps. In recent days I've managed to read Catherine Spangler's Touched by Light and Lisa Hendrix's Immortal Outlaw which were both wonderful reads. And Sarah Mayberry's She's Got It Bad. Read that in one day. Mom saw me putting it away and asked me if I was already done with it. When I told her yes she asked about it. ~

Mom: So what's she got that's so bad?

Me: Umm... she's got it bad for the hero.

Mom: Does he have it bad too?

Me: Yes, he's got it bad too.

Mom: Did they get it good by the end of the book?

Me: Yes, mom. They got it good by the end. :)

Of course the whole time we're talking I'm thinking of the hot sex scenes. Zoe and Liam do it pretty much everywhere. They can't keep their hands off each other. I didn't feel the need to mention that part. ;)

I've just started Robyn Carr's Virgin River series and love it! I have 7 of her books that I'm preparing to glom. I also need to pick my re-read for this month. Maybe a historical. Dare I pick a Johanna Lindsey? One of those Malory books....

***Reminder*** Only one more day for a chance to win Immortal Warrior and some goodies from author Lisa Hendrix. Click on the book cover on the left sidebar for details.

Friday, June 5, 2009

FYI ~ Mom's surgery...

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my mom was having surgery. Today was the day. Everything went well and the cyst was benign. YEAH! I can't begin to tell you how relieved I was when I got that news. The nurse called from the OR out to the waiting room to let me know. That's the good news. The bad news, for now, is that Mom's respiratory rate was not as high as they would like it so she was put in ICU for closer monitoring. Hopefully she will be out of there soon. Otherwise she did really well. I'll be at the hospital everyday until she comes home - probably Tuesday.

Once she's home I'll spend the days with her and my aunt will be there at night. My mom doesn't have a computer so for the next couple of weeks my online time is limited. Which is okay because I'll still have plenty of reading time and hanging with my mom is pretty cool too. :)

I'll be sure to post the winner of the contest next week. Hope everyone has a great weekend. :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Review: Immortal Warrior and a Giveaway

Title: Immortal Warrior
Author: Lisa Hendrix
Genre: Historical PNR/Year 1095
Series: Immortal Brotherhood/Book 1
Published: November 2008

From the back cover ~

He came to England in search of treasure. Two hundred years later, he’s found her…

Ivar Graycloak is a brave warrior, a man known for his strength and integrity. He is also a man with a terrible secret. Long ago he was part of a Viking crew cursed by an evil sorceress to live for eternity as were-creatures. An eagle by day and a man by night, Ivar has lived a solitary existence for over two centuries. Then the king orders him to marry.

Lady Alaida is everything a man could want in a bride—intelligent, spirited, and beautiful—and their wedding night is a balm to Ivar’s lonely spirit. Then a seer brings him word of a dark vision, one that makes Ivar vow to stay away from his lovely wife forever. But now that Ivar has sampled Alaida’s passion, her humor and warmth, he is enthralled. His traitorous body-his very heart-longs for that which hecan never possess.

Lady Alaida may surprise him yet, though, for she has a power of her own-a power that will either destroy everything they hold dear or ultimately set them free…

I've had this book for a while, two copies as it turns out, more on that later. I even blogged about it here. (Got the part about them being men only at night wrong.) Why did I waited so long to read it? I'll blame the TBR pile and my fellow bloggers who keep recommending such wonderful books that I can't keep up. :) But when I remembered that the second book was coming out I thought it was a good time to start the first. Boy am I glad I did! What first caught my attention about this series was that it was historical as well as paranormal. It's the magic that makes it PNR. A witch cursed the nine Vikings so some must take animal form during the day and some take that from at night. That twist makes things more interesting IMO.

It's the year 1095 and Sir Ivo de Vassy (Ivar Graycloak) has been alive for over 200 years. Years in which he has spent the days as an eagle and the nights as a man. It hasn't been easy for him to keep his secret, he's had to move often, never staying long in one place to make friends or have any kind of real home. Lately, he has been spying for William Rufus, England's current king. Being an eagle during the day allowed Ivo to listen to conversation he would not have had the chance to had he been in his human form. An eagle as a spy... cool. The King had no idea how Ivo was able to get all the information he did but he was very pleased with it. So pleased that he sent Ivo to the north, giving him land and a bride.

Lady Alaida ~ I liked her a lot. She was smart and confident. Even when she was shaking with fear on the inside she still held herself together on the outside. She was bold at times with her words and not afraid to use her intellect to keep her people and her home safe and out of harm's way. She realizes quickly that she is in no position to do battle with Ivo. Not that she wants to wed him but she can hardly tell him no since it's by William's order and her grandfather is currently his prisoner. So she makes the best of it but doesn't make it easy on Ivo. Of course when he has to leave each morning before sun-up that only adds to the tension in their relationship.

Ivo and Alaida together were even better. Their love story was bitter sweet since Ivo knew he wouldn't be able to stay for long. He figured it was only a matter of time before he must leave before people would start to question why he was never there during the day. Alaida and Ivo both came to care for each other but for Alaida it was difficult because she didn't know where Ivo went during the day. He told her he went hunting and that basically it was none of her concern. She knew he didn't hunt everyday - he rarely brought back any kills. She tried not to let it bother her that he left every morning but it bothered her deeply and kept her from trusting him.

Even though this is the first book in the series the world building and rules were woven into the story quite well. It's not as complex as some PNR series but there is the history of the men and how they have survived all these years that is covered. We learn through conversations and internal dialogue between Ivo, Brand and Ari how they came to be cursed and what they have been doing these past centuries. There is also a distinct feel for the time period. From the descriptions of the clothing to the workings of the keep and building of a castle. Everything gave the feel of that period. There were in fact a few things I needed to look up, it's been a while since I read anything set in this period. Overall, I certainly got the sense that the author did her homework on the time period.

Brand and Ari are two of the nine cursed and keep in close contact with Ivo. They both journey to Alnwick to see this land and bride that Ivo has been given. Spending time with Alaida and getting to know the people of the north. Sir Ari is the storyteller of the group and he keeps a journal of what happens to the men. Brand was the leader of the Vikings and the one that killed the son of the sorceress, bringing about the curse. He carries a heavy burden and spends his time searching for the sorceress. The relationship between these warriors was remarkable to read. The way they looked out for each other, had the others backs. They did this even with Ari human during the day and Brand and Ivo human at night. They still maintained that bond of brothers in arms.

The changing from man to animal doesn't affect each warrior the same. Some maintain more of what you could call their human perception. While others seem to become the animal completely and are dangerous because of it. Brand for one becomes the bear during the day and when he changes back to a man he doesn't remember what he did as a bear. Where as Ivo, while in his eagle form, is aware of his surroundings as they relate to his human side. He even spends time follow Alaida when she travels so that she refers to him as "her eagle."

The nine different animals that the men take the form of are: Eagle, Bear, Raven, Bull, Lion, Horse, Wolf, Stag and Dog. I like the fact that Hendrix went with some of the less traditional weres like the Stag, Bull and Horse. The Bull ~ LOL. I can't help but grin when I think of that one. Sorry. ;)

The progress of the love story, the search for the sorceress and a way to break the curse drove the story line. I was surprised at how fast I read this one. I seem to read historicals the slowest of the various genres but this had a quick pace that kept me eager to see what would happen next. Speaking of next, the next book in the series Immortal Outlaw was just released on Tuesday - I'm almost done with it. It's got a bit of a twist on the Robin and Marian fable. So far a very fun read. More info on Lisa Hendrix and her books can be found here.

Rating: A-

The Giveaway ~ I mention earlier in the post that I have two copies of this book. Not sure how that happened. I had one on my TBR bookcase then I found another one still in the Borders bag. I'll blame it on the fact that it was the holidays when this book was released and things were very hectic. I have a reputation in my family for buying Christmas gifts, hiding them and then not finding them until a few months after Christmas. :)

So leave a comment on this post and I'll pick a random commenter to win the Borders copy of Immortal Warrior. The contest will run until midnight, next Thursday, June 11. Contest is open to residents of US and Canada.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Review: Silent Blade

Title: Silent Blade
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Futuristic Fantasy
Published: June 2009
Ebook/Novella/Samhain Publishing

From Samhain’s website:

Old hatreds die hard. Old love dies harder.

On Meli Galdes’ home planet, the struggle for power is a bloody, full-contact sport—in business and on the battlefield. For years her lethal skills have been a valuable asset in advancing her family’s interests. She’s more than earned her right to retire, but her kinsmen have one last favor to ask.

Kill the man who ruined her life.

Celino Carvanna’s razor-sharp business acumen—and skills with a blade—won him the freedom to do as he pleases. There’s only one thing he can’t seem to control—his reaction to the mysterious woman who tantalizes his senses. Her eyes alone set his blood simmering, stirring ridiculous adolescent fantasies about breasts and honey. With a few words she dissects his soul. Who is she? And how does she slide so easily under his well-guarded skin?

It’s almost too easy to draw Celino within the kill zone. Meli plans to revel in him. Drink him in. Wring every drop of pleasure out of every moment.

And when she’s sure he belongs to her, she will finally repay a decade’s worth of pain—in a single, brutal dose of reality.

Warning: Contains a heroine who excels in moving targets, a hero who can’t get into her pants fast enough, and implant-enhanced sex (no, not that kind of implant…).

If that doesn't get your attention I don't know what will. I don't usually read ebooks, no ereader. Reading on the computer isn't exactly comfortable for me and with the kids on summer break there is usually someone wanting a turn on the pc. But for Ilona Andrews there's no question - I'd buy the ebook and read it on the pc. Fortunately it's short (41 pages) so I was able to print it and read it on my comfy couch.

Since the read was short the review will be too...

Let's start with the world building ~ It's surprisingly intricate considering the short format. There's no info dump but Andrews manages to add the details as the story progresses. It's a world more advanced than our earth but the inhabitants were once from earth so there are some similarities. The implants are one of the biggest differences. They seem to have an implant for improving everything from speed, strength and even scanning for poisons in food. The world is controlled by the families.

The families are like the mafia and Meli is the assassin of her family. Meli and Celino have a history and it's that history that brings them together after many years apart. What I liked about Meli is her intelligence and her single mindedness. She goes after what she wants and she doesn't apologize for doing what it takes to get it.

Celino is cold, calculated and ruthless. He's also very aware of how important he is to his family because of his amazing ability to make money for the family. Money equals power. The families needed money not only to run their businesses but to pay their soldiers. Celino's family is one of the most powerful, Meli's family is further down on the scale.

When Meli and Celino meet up it's a game of cat and mouse but it's not always clear who is the cat and who is the mouse. Both Celino and Meli think that they are the cat. The interplay between the two came quickly and very naturally. They were comfortable with each other. This was surprising given that Meli was sent to kill Celino. I think it surprised her too. He's not what she was expecting. Celino fell fast for Meli. Part of that I think was due to the fact that she didn't fall all over him. She made him work for it which made her worth more to him. She's very smart. :)

Was it good? Heck yeah. Would I like to read more in this world? Definitely. The only problem I had was that it was too short. It certainly could have worked as a full length novel. I would have loved to have these characters expanded and had more interaction between them. Show more of Meli and Celino involved in the workings of the families and the politics of the families. Maybe have them work together - he's the brains and she's the smart muscle. :) Also more of the secondary characters interacting with Meli and Celino could lengthen the story. Meli's brother and Celino's bodyguard were the type of characters who could certainly grab a reader's interest and play a larger role in the story.

If you're interested in purchasing an ebook of Silent Blade it's very easy and painless. :) Here's the link. Silent Blade is published by Samhain but the purchase is done through mybookstoreandmore. Not sure why but it's where the Samhain website sent me when I purchased it. It's listed for $2.50 on Samhain but mybookstoreandmore has it for $2.25, so it's even on sale!

The next release from Andrews is the novella Magic Mourns in the anthology Must Love Hellhounds, release date September 1. The next full length novel is the first book in a new series, The Edge. On the Edge will be released September 29. For excerpts and more check out the author's website.

Rating: B+

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Review: The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie

The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family--rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn't be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them--of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.

The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He's also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.

Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama--an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.

And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her.

Lord Ian is my first buddy review. :) It was such fun emailing back and forth with nath from Books, Books and more Books. We don't always agree on every book (because that would be boring) but we both enjoyed Lord Ian. You can read the review at Breezing Through .

This book pimped by Kristie. Pimping great books one post at a time. :)