Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Kiss of Snow

Kiss of Snow
Nalini Singh
Paranormal Romance
Psy/Changeling/Book 10
Berkley/May 31, 2011


From the inside cover ~

Since the moment of her defection from the PsyNet and into the SnowDancer wolf pack, Sienna Lauren has had one weakness. Hawke. Alpha and dangerous, he compels her to madness.

Hawke is used to walking alone, having lost the woman who would’ve been his mate long ago. But Sienna fascinates the primal heart of him, even as he tells himself she is far too young to handle the wild fury of the wolf.

Then Sienna changes the rules and suddenly, there is no more distance, only the most intimate of battles between two people who were never meant to meet. Yet as they strip away each other’s secrets in a storm of raw emotion, they must also ready themselves for a far more vicious fight…

A deadly enemy is out to destroy SnowDancer, striking at everything they hold dear, but it is Sienna’s darkest secret that may yet savage the pack that is her home…and the alpha who is its heartbeat…

She's finally grown up enough to handle the alpha of the SnowDancer pack. Was the wait worth it? Definitely! This is not only a well written book but it is well balanced. There of course is the romance between Sienna and Hawke but there is also the continuing and equally important political and physical threats to the packs. And a secondary romance that was both sweet and tender. I don't think I could have wanted more or less of anything - it was just right.

Kiss of Snow starts off with Sienna in trouble, with Hawke, again. It's stressful for both of them and Singh adds just the right amount of tension between these two. They both feel the attraction and Hawke has been fighting it tooth and nail. Sienna is trying to but you can tell she's getting tired of fighting. I thought I might have a problem with Sienna's age, she's nineteen. But it turned out her age wasn't really a factor for me. Her character was developed in a way that I would forget how young she was chronically until it was mentioned. She has never really been young, her life hasn't allowed her to be. Her powers are what brought her to the attention of Psy Councilor Ming LeBon at a young age and put her through hell. It's those powers I had a little trouble with and the resolution of her powers not ending her life. That part of the story I had to simply "go with it".

Hawke is stern, strict and not one for smiling but we get to see a different side to him and it is a beautiful side. We've seen glimpses in previous books, most notably when he would flirt with Sascha, mate of Lucas the alpha of the DarkRiver pack. Now we get to see not only Hawke's dare I say, softer side but also his relationships with his closest friends. I loved seeing this in Hawke. It allows us to get closer to him which engenders those deep feels towards him. If I don't get to know a character, why should I care what happens to them? By the end of the book I not only cared what happened to Hawke, I felt invested in the outcome.

The Psy Council is up to their dirty tricks but who is behind the attacks on the packs is still undecided. We get to learn more about the Council members as the series arc continues with some of the Councilors' final goal of the implementing of PurePsy. But that's not the only goal, the enemies of SnowDancer and DarkRiver want them eliminated. The fighting was intense, coming right into pack territory. This fight has been a long time in coming and Hawke and Lucas had both been preparing for it. I love how they have joined forces and we continue to see that bond strengthen. The series is not only paranormal romance but it also has that sense of strong community that I enjoy in small town romances.

The secondary romance is of Lara, SnowDancer's healer, and Walker Lauren who defected from the PsyNet and is now part of the SnowDancer pack. I loved this soft, sweet romance. There is one scene after they've decided to be 'just friends' (Walker's choice) and Lara has gone on a date. Walker basically confronts her, in the way only a Psy could confront someone and asks her how her date was. When she tells him that her date knew how to make a woman feel good, oh boy does Walker feel some strong emotions.

"An icy calm came over Walker's mind, cold intent spearing through his veins. He was a telepath trained to work with children, his touch subtle, but he measured at 7.8 on the Gradient. It meant he had the capacity to kill without leaving a mark." page 106

Interesting how he thinks about the fact that he can kill. Walker, you are so gone!

The main romance of Sienna and Hawke worked well. Hawke takes his time with her. It's like she has the wild animal inside her and he has to gentle her to his touch. They are funny and tender, sweet and frustrating together. Hawke still thinks his one and only true mate died and therefore he will never mate. Sienna is also dealing with her Psy powers playing some wicked tricks on her and making her rethink what she really wants. Hawke shows such tenderness towards Sienna but that doesn't mean he turns into a total wuss. He's still very much pack alpha. They get to know each other, opening up to each other and sharing their past. They both need to deal with their pasts before they have any chance of creating a future together. There is one scene when Hawke gifts Sienna with a toy, he collects mechanical toys, and she refuses it.

[Hawke] "Don't you like it?"

"You know I do." She touched a careful finger to the detailed face of a black horse with a blue and gold saddle. "But it's yours."

He put it on the grass beside them. "I'll just leave it here then."

Stubborn, stubborn man. She knew he'd go through with it, too. "Why?" she whispered. "Why are you giving this to me? Why are you here when you're angry at me?"

A long, quiet breath, his arms hugging her against the muscled breadth of a chest she'd ached with missing last night. "I don't want to hurt you, baby. Never would I hurt you - but I can't give you what I don't have to give."

A single tear trickled down her cheek at that solemn statement raw with tenderness. Her heart, her damned vulnerable heart, had been his from the day she understood what it was he incited within her. She had no true shields against. Never had. Never would. "Then give me everything else," she whispered, because while she could fight a ghost, she couldn't fight the truth in his voice.
page 313

Sienna is such a strong, resilient woman. Even in love, especially in love, she is willing to be strong for both of them. To be the one to accept what Hawke can give instead of giving up on them. Hawke, so stubborn as Sienne pointed out, will eventually see the light but he is a male so we have to give him some slack. I do love how he calls her baby which is saying a lot since this term usually irritates me. But when Hawke does it, it doesn't feel in any way derogatory but only a sweet endearment.

I don't want to forget Judd Lauren and the role he plays. He is there watching out for Sienna and also working closely with Hawke against the threats to the pack. I liked seeing how far Judd has come in the relationships he's made within the pack. There is also one relationship he has outside the pack that is proving very critical. Judd is in contact with a rebel known as The Ghost. There is much speculation by readers who The Ghost is. Psst - I know who it is. Okay, I don't know for sure but after reading Kiss of Snow I do have a strong opinion of who it it. :)

Kiss of Snow proved to be an emotionally fulfilling story. It has romance, mystery, action and even some humor. A wonderful addition to the series.

Rating: A

Books in this series ~

Slave to Sensation
The Cannibal Princess (free short story)
Visions of Heat
Caressed by Ice
Mine to Possess
Hostage to Pleasure
A Gift for Kit (free short story)
Branded by Fire
Blaze of Memory
Bonds of Justice
Play of Passion
Kiss of Snow
Tangle of Need (2012)

Novellas in the series ~

Beat of Temptation in An Enchanted Season
Stroke of Enticement in The Magical Christmas Cat
Whisper of Sin in Burning Up

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review: Summer at Seaside Cove

Summer at Seaside Cove
Jacquie D'Alessandro
Contemporary Romance
Berkley/May 3, 2011

From the back cover ~

The most basic “girl code” states that you never date a friend’s ex—so wouldn’t it be obvious that a current boyfriend is really off limits—especially to your own sister? Apparently Jamie Newman’s half-sister Laurel didn’t get the memo. Leaving behind New York—and the humiliation—Jamie heads to the tiny barrier island of Seaside Cove, North Carolina, for a quiet summer of healing her broken heart and reassessing her sudden disaster of a life. But instead of solace in a cozy beach cottage, she finds a run-down bungalow complete with stray cats and a leaky roof—and of course it’s raining—and the repairman M.I.A.…

Strays and colorful neighbors are nothing compared to her next visitors. First her drama-prone mother barges in. Then her angst-ridden teenage niece arrives. And the grand finale of the crazy storm is the arrival of Laurel, who’s been dumped by Jamie’s ex. And of course there’s the repairman, who’s finally shown his face—and is way too good-looking for Jamie’s own good. It’s clear there’s more to him than meets the eye, and Jamie would like to know what, but with the family she tried to escape now crammed in her ramshackle cottage, she may never get the chance…

Thanks to Hils' review at Impressions of a Reader, I gave Ms. Alessandro's contemporary romance a try. So very happy I did! This was a lovely, witty romance with a heroine I could totally relate to and a hero that I adored. The small coastal town adds just the right amount of sweetness without overwhelming the romance.

Jamie Newman is running away. But that's okay because she deserves to run and take shelter far away from pain and betrayal. The only trouble is, she can't seem to shake her bad luck or her problems. Right from the start I couldn't help but feel sorry for Jamie. She's betrayed by her sister with her boyfriend then she finds the cottage she rented comes "as is" which translates to falling down and stinky. Jamie's first impression of her landlord is not good either but it is funny. It also sets the tone for more of their encounters. Jamie is so use to taking care of everyone and pleasing everyone but when she meets Nick, she has no difficulty telling Nick exactly what she thinks of him and his rundown rental.

Nick Trent doesn't know what to think of the crazy New Yorker that is now his neighbor and tenant. Due to miscommunication and little deception on the realtor's part, Nick now has an attractive but angry woman on his doorstep. Poor Nick, he really doesn't know if he should kiss the crazy woman or close the door in her face. Nick has that sarcastic humor that I love, along with a gruff sweetness that comes through as he helps Jamie settle in Seaside Cover. And he has the best dog in the world! Godiva, Nick's chocolate lab (hehe) makes her presence known in the most delightful ways. She's just as adorable as her owner. For all his adorable sexiness, Nick does have some secrets that he eventually shares with Jamie after they become friends and lovers.

The romance was funny, sexy and sweet. I loved Jamie and Nick's verbal sparing and the underlying sexual tension that continues to increase every time these two are together. They reluctantly become friends and lovers with both thinking it's only for the summer. Even with the interruptions courtesy of Jamie's family and the townsfolk, Jamie and Nick still fall in love with each other and with the setting. By the end of the book, I didn't want the summer to end and Jamie to leave Seaside Cove. She and Nick belonged together, no doubt about it!

The secondary characters as well as the picturesque coastal town all add to the ambiance of the story. Jamie's family show different facets of Jamie's character and what makes her want to please everyone. We also see Jamie becoming part of the community as she makes friends with the locals. Nick gets pulled into Jamie's family drama and thinks Jamie isn't the only crazy female in the family. LOL

The happy ending comes but Jamie really has to work to get there. She use to put everyone's needs first and learns to finally claiming priority for her needs. It takes a long time but she does get there. With her is Nick who has some issues to work through but he's much farther along than Jamie in knowing what he wants and who he is. Jamie is the one who makes the most changes and evolves as a character. The plot did loose some momentum midway through but picked up nicely as Jamie and Nick became more involved as the end of summer neared.

The sequel, Seaside Cove (March 2012) is Laurel's book. I enjoyed the excerpt and look forward to visiting with these characters again. Ms. D'Alessandro has created a charming setting for a delightful romance that is sure to entertain.

Rating: A

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Suzanne Brockmann's New Series

In case anyone didn't hear, Ms. Brockmann is taking a break from the Troubleshooters series and starting a new series. She recently posted the cover for the first book in the Fighting Destiny series with a release date of February 21, 2012 in hardcover per the publisher.

There's no blurb on the author's site but Ms. Brockmann gives a brief description here and the Ballantine catalog had this ~

In the not-too-distant future, the Obermeyer Institute (OI) has made a revolutionary discovery: With special training, humans can tap into the brain's hidden powers (think telepathy, telekinetic powers, super strength, and more). The training is strenuous, though, and it works only for those with natural potential. Tough girl Mac has that potential, and she's a devoted member of the OI. But there's one rule she can't help but bend. Her boss thinks celibacy is key to their work. Mac's learned differently - an active sexual life enhances her powers. And when she meets Shane, a sexy former Navy SEAL, the sparks are instant. But after the two spend an amazing night together, Mac finds out that Shane's a new recruit at the institute. How can she mix business and pleasure?

So, what do you think? Sounds kind of like a futuristic Troubleshooters series, no? I'll be reading it but since it's hardcover, it will be a library read for me. I'm still hoping we'll get Lopez, Jazz and PJ's books. What the heck ever happened to PJ anyway? LOL

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: Deadline

Mira Grant
Newsflesh Trilogy/Book 2
Orbit/May 31, 2011

*Spoilers for Feed (book 1)

From the back cover ~

Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has.

But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun has a newfound interest in life. Because she brings news-he may have put down the monster who attacked them, but the conspiracy is far from dead.

Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.

This story took me on a long journey complete with bumps, potholes and a long layover. I started reading Deadline at the beginning of July, got about 250 pages into it and had to set it down. The two main problems I was having was the slow moving plot and the narrator's voice. It didn't feel like much had happened in those 250 or so pages. Obviously not enough to hold my attention. After letting it sit for over a month I decided to give it another try. Some might wonder why bother? I hated to to give up, having already read 250 pages. I do like the world Grant has created and I was curious enough to find out what happened next. I just hoped it happened sooner rather than later.

Let's start with the narrator's voice. In book 1, Feed the narrator is Georgia (George) Mason who, while I didn't always agree her views and felt she got too preachy at times, she didn't get on my nerves the way her brother Shaun does, who is the narrator this time around. Shaun is practically wallowing in his grief for George, who died at the end of Feed. It's been over a year since George died and Shaun doesn't seem like he's gotten anywhere close to beginning to heal. He says he wants revenge on the ones responsible but I'm not sure what he's been doing towards that end. Then there's the Coke drinking. George liked Coke, Shaun doesn't, preferring coffee for his caffeine fix. Yet he drinks Coke in George's memory. Lots of Coke. All. The. Time. It got annoying quick. George also talks to Shaun in his head and he talks to her. No one else can hear her and many think Shaun's gone crazy but it's all good since George does give Shaun some decent advice. Was this part of Shaun's coping mechanism? It was more of an example of how Shaun relied on George and still was.

The plot moved slowing, with surprisingly few zombies showing up. There was more discussion of Kellis-Amberlee and it's possible anomalies along with government conspiracies and cover-ups. If you like scientific discussions and conspiracy theories, then this could definitely work for you. For me, I would have liked more suspense and tension in the plot. Based on reading Feed I knew there was a high possibility that not everyone would make it to the end of the book. In fact, I would have been surprised by it. I wasn't surprised. Things do begin to pick up momentum around 3/4 of the way through. Which puts us at around page 430 of a 580 page book. At this point, I had a hard time putting the book down.

There are a number of revelations regarding the truth behind the research of the Kellis-Amberlee virus. The CDC's overwhelming control of information and the power they have to declare an area hazard zone. They have power over who lives and who dies. I found the CDC's abuse of power one of the scariest parts of the story. The zombies are not the major threat to Shaun and the After the End Times staff. It's the CDC that is working to wipe them out.

*Major Spoilers Ahead*

You know when a big shocking revelations occurs in a book and at first you're surprised then the more you think about it and look back, the more you see the signs? That happened a couple of times in Deadline. One of those shockers didn't surprise me for long simply because I found it hard to believe such a strong character was dead. It's George and she's not just in Shaun's head, turns out she's really alive. That's how the book ends but if you read the excerpt for Blackout, book 3, you find out that George has been cloned. Cloning a complete person does happen in Deadline so there is some precedence for it. It didn't surprise me so much that George came back, I just wasn't expecting clone George.

The other revelation was Shaun and George's relationship. They are siblings but they are not blood related. They were adopted by the Masons and raised as brother and sister. Granted, Mr. and Mrs. Mason did not provide what could be called a loving environment, instead using their children as props to get their message out. But the reality is, everyone treated them as siblings. Their relationship was more than that as we find out when Shaun has sex with one of his staff and calls out George's name. Yeah. Adopted and not blood related, it still smacked of incest. I can see how Shaun and George would develop a close relationship given how their parents treated them but I really wish Grant hadn't gone there. It came across as more for the shock than for anything it may add to the story or character development. They could still be as close as best friends and siblings without sex entering into the equation.

So, time for the grade. I did like the final quarter of the book but I don't feel any desire to read the final book. Plus, setting it aside for over a month and considering DNFing it leaves me to think this is not the trilogy for me. I do think if you loved Feed then there's a good chance you'll like Deadline. The science is interesting but can become tedious if that is not your thing. If you're looking for lots of zombies and fighting, then you might want to pass on this.

Rating: C

Books in the Trilogy ~

Countdown (novella prequel, August 2011)
Blackout (May 2012)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: Deeper than Midnight

Deeper than Midnight
Lara Adrian
Paranormal Romance
Midnight Breeds/Book 9
Dell/June 28, 2011

*Spoilers for Previous Books

From Goodreads ~

At eighteen, Corinne Bishop was a beautiful, spirited young woman living a life of privilege as the adopted daughter of a wealthy family. Her world changed in an instant when she was stolen away and held prisoner by the malevolent vampire Dragos. After many years of captivity and torment, Corinne is rescued by the Order, a cadre of vampire warriors embroiled in a war against Dragos and his followers. Her innocence taken, Corinne has lost a piece of her heart as well--the one thing that gave her hope during her imprisonment, and the only thing that matters to her now that she is free.

Assigned to safeguard Corinne on her trip home is a formidable golden-eyed Breed male called Hunter. Once Dragos's most deadly assassin, Hunter now works for the Order, and he's hell-bent on making Dragos pay for his manifold sins. Bonded to Corinne by their mutual desire, Hunter will have to decide how far he'll go to end Drago's reign of evil--even if carrying out his mission means shattering Corinne's tender heart.

I will say that this series continues to keep me entertained. It's not my favorite PNR series but it is very solid in that I can always find something I like about each book. One thing that Adrain continues to provide is that camaraderie of not only the males but the females as well. Once their story is told, the hero and more importantly the heroine don't exit stage left, never to be heard from again. They become an active part in the fight against the enemy Rogues and Dragos. The males are still very protective but they are smart enough to listen to their intelligent mates.

The romance between Hunter and Corinne starts out awkward. Hunter was raised in Dragos' lab as an assassin. He knows nothing of love, physical or emotional. He is learning to care about others since becoming one of the Order's warriors. He's still unsure of his growing feelings for Corinne but trusts his instincts when it comes to her safety which puts them on the run. I liked how Hunter is portrayed as a protective male who is simply carrying out his orders. Then we see how he starts thinking beyond his orders to what he feels for Corinne. That felt real to me, the change that he goes through as he falls in love with Corinne.

Corinne Bishop has been through hell and survived. Kidnapped nearly 75 years ago and kept as a prisoner by Dragos' for experiments and breeding, she is slowly making her way back to some type of normal life. First, we know Corinne is a strong woman to have survived the horror she went through and not end up insane. But what I never felt I knew was why she fell for Hunter other than him saving her and continuing to keep her safe. If it had been one of the other warriors to take her home and keep her safe, would she have fallen for him? I'm not sure.

As mentioned the story also includes the other warriors and their mates which I really enjoyed. You see how their relationships continue to grow in relation to each other and how Hunter has fit into all of this. I would say the romance and the Order's fight against Dragos are the two main story lines with Sterling Chase and his fall from grace a powerful secondary sub-plot. His book is next, in hardcover no less, so it's not surprising that the setup for his story would have a strong presence.

Deeper than Midnight continues the ongoing series story arc, giving the reader more information about Dragos and a need to find out what will happen to Sterling Chase aka Harvard. I do wish I had felt more belief in how Hunter and Corinne's romance developed. Since I wasn't all that crazy about Corinne, the balance of the romance and the secondary characters worked well for me.

Rating: B+

Books in this series ~

Kiss of Midnight
Kiss of Crimson
Midnight Awakening
Midnight Rising
Veil of Midnight
Ashes of Midnight
Shades of Midnight
Taken by Midnight
Deeper than Midnight
Darker After Midnight (January 24, 2012)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Audiobook Review: Delicious

Susan Mallery
Contemporary Romance
Buchanans/Book 1
Harlequin/February 1, 2006 (mmp)

From Goodreads ~


Cal Buchanan needs a top-flight chef to take over his failing Seattle restaurant, The Waterfront. He can afford to hire the best in town -- the only problem is that the best happens to be his ex-wife, Penny Jordan.

Penny really needs this opportunity, but she doesn't need the distraction of working with her ex. She's sworn off romance -- she's even having a baby on her own. But before she knows it, the heat is on . . . and the attraction between her and Cal moves from a low simmer to a full boil!

The rest should be easy as pie, but a secret from Cal's past could spoil everything. Maybe it's true that too many cooks spoil the broth -- or maybe two is enough to make it irresistible.

I generally don't review audiobooks simply because I usually don't have a print copy to refer to while writing the review. And since my memory isn't always great and I'm often reading more than one book at a time, the need to check details happens. This time I'm going strictly from memory so consider yourself warned. :)

This is one of those second chance at love romances although through much of the story I wasn't sure the heroine should give the hero a second chance. Penny and Cal fell in love, married and had a good life or so Penny thought. Then things started to unravel and Penny walked out, thinking that would jar Cal out of his apathy. But Cal let her go. Penny still doesn't know what caused Cal to shutdown and give up but she's moved on with her life, building a good career as a chef. Now she's back in Cal's life and she's determined to make their working relationship work.

Cal Buchanan is in desperate need of a chef and the only one that will do is his ex. Lucky for him she doesn't hold a grudge and is will to work for him, on her terms. I liked Penny from the start. She knows what she wants and stands her ground with Cal, not accepting anything less than what she wants in the negotiations of her contract. Cal, well... the more I got to know him, the less I liked him. This dude had secrets up the wazoo!

The romance between Penny and Cal is slow to pick in because neither wants to pick it up. They both want a strictly working relationship and a short one at that. Cal has only agreed to the job of manager for four months, then it's back to his own business, a chain of coffee shops called 'The Daily Grind'. Penny's fine with that, figuring she can handle being around Cal for a few months. It was interesting because really, in the beginning, they both meant what they said. They didn't want to get involved again. But as they spend more time together and find that they still care about each other. The physical attraction is still there and they eventually act on it. It came as no surprise that they got together, what I did like is that Penny didn't get all crazy stupid in love. She still had her own agenda and her baby was priority number 1. Cal was busy still keeping secrets and thinking he knew what was best for everyone. Ugh!

The three remaining Buchanan siblings throw more complications into the mix in the form of marital problems, a ladies man and a war veteran. I liked the three siblings more than I liked Cal, which bodes well for the rest of the books in the series. I also liked that they still had decent relationships with Penny and didn't hold it against her for walking out on Cal.

So the question is - does our hero redeem himself by the end? Is he worthy of a second chance with Penny? This is a romance, so in the end Penny thought "Yes", Cal was worthy. Me, I'm not so sure. There was groveling and an argument could be made with the 'old habits are hard to break' theory. But Cal kept disappointing me with his constant need to protect everyone he loves by keeping secrets. Sure, he comes clean in the end but that was due more to circumstances and others finding out than to him simply revealing what he had kept hidden.

This would have worked better for me had the hero not got on my nerves so much. There were times when I found myself actually hoping they didn't get back together which is just silly since it is a romance. In the end, I still felt that Penny deserved better. I did like the setting of the restaurant - all the foodie lingo and the chaotic atmosphere of a busy restaurant. I also liked what I read about the siblings enough to continue with the series. I'm just hoping Cal's brothers Walker and Reid, are far less annoying.

Rating: C+

Books in this series ~


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review: Hexed

Kevin Hearne
Urban Fantasy
Iron Druid Chronicles/Book 2
Del Rey/June 7, 2011

*Spoilers for Book 1*

From the back cover ~

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

After reading Hounded, the first book in the Iron Druid Chronicles, I was curious as to what would happen to Atticus and his adorable pooch Oberon next. In turns out there is rarely a dull moment in the life a of druid. To say there is a lot going on and numerous characters running in and out of Atticus' life is an understatement.

Atticus doesn't like witches but they have become a part of his life. After the battle in the Superstition Mountains (Hounded), Atticus has reluctantly decided to form what you would call a non-aggressive alliance with the local coven. Which in theory sounds easy enough - sign some papers in blood and you're done. But it takes Atticus a while to get to there between threats on his life, visits from goddesses, crazy nosy neighbor, fights, questioning by the cops, a mysterious priest and rabbi, more fights and general mayhem and destruction. This poor guy couldn't get a break! And that was the main problem I had with Hexed. Too many characters and too much going on.

Even with the numerous threads and characters to keep track of, I do enjoy Hearne's writing. Atticus is written in a way that you know he's been around for a long time but he keeps up with the modern world, trying to fit in while not giving up his heritage. He's smart, funny and loyal. Unlike some characters in the series with supernatural powers, Atticus actually gives a damn about others and is not just in the fight for his own benefit. Not that he's opposed to reaping some rewards for risking his life, he just isn't immune to the suffering of innocents.

Atticus continues training his apprentice while trying not to notice how attractive she is. He's amusingly cute when he does this, trying to think about baseball stats instead of how good she looks in, well, just about anything. One thing that I found myself looking forward to are the interactions between Atticus and his hound Oberon. Atticus has the ability to communicate telepathically with Oberon which seems to have strengthen their relationship. They both have a clever sense of humor with Oberon adding a his dog POV.

As mentioned, there are a number of fight scenes and like with Hounded, Hearne writes these well giving the reader a look at how different beings use various means and weapons when fighting. Those scenes have just the right amount of tension, blood and guts without going on for too long.

I'm liking this series but I do hope the next book, Hammered narrows the focus on possibly one main plot and maybe one or two sub-plots, giving Atticus and the reader more time to really focus on a few characters instead of so many.

Rating: B-

*I must say how much I love these covers. It is exactly how I picture Atticus.*

Books in this series ~


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

TBR Challenge Review: Midnight Man

Midnight Man
Lisa Marie Rice
Erotic Romance
Midnight/Book 1
Ellora's Cave/October 2004

*Some mild spoilers*

From the back cover ~

Interior decorator Suzanne Barron's new tenant is the most dangerously sexy man she's ever met. Navy Commander John Huntington, a former SEAL (aka 'Midnight Man') works best under cover of darkness. Within hours of meeting him, Suzanne has wild, no-holds barred sex with John, then panics at the depth of her passionate response to such a powerful and dangerous warrior. Suzanne doesn't do sex like that. John is definitely someone she needs to avoid for her own peace of mind. But when killers come for her, Suzanne knows she can turn to only one man. John will guard and protect her body. But who will guard and protect her body against John?

When I saw that this month's suggested theme was erotic romance I dug into my hidden stash of "dirty books" and after some tough decisions, settled on Lisa Marie Rice's romantic suspense. The Midnight trilogy has been sitting on my TBR pile for a while now but for some reason I hadn't picked it up. I had read good things about her steamy romantic suspense and have read one of her Elizabeth Jennings novels, I had yet to give her LMR books a go. While I'm not crazy about the cover with the computer generated hero and the heroine's face imprinted with the hands of a clock (WTH), I was willing to over look the cover and discover what was inside. (There is an updated cover that is more appealing. The one above just happens to be the one I own.)

The story starts with John and Suzanne meeting to discuss John renting space in Suzanne's building. John has recently returned from a job which involved killing two men. He's still pumped up on the adrenaline rush and as any man in the spec ops world knows, that means he's horny. At least this is what John thinks. So while they are conducting this interview and Suzanne is showing him around the building, John is thinking about how hot she is and how he will have sex with her. No doubt in his mind. But he decides he needs to take it slow and not scare her off. What a guy. It turns out John's idea of slow and mine are very different. *see blurb*

Suzanne Barron inherited a building that she has since renovated. She set up her living and office space in the building but still has space to rent out. In walks John Huntington and he's just oozing sex and animal attraction. Suzanne is immediately attracted to him but tries to keep her business-like demeanor. Suzanne assures herself that she doesn't date dangerous looking guys and how John could only mean trouble but then BOOM! she has sex with him the same day she meets him. And then she freaks after and slams the door in his face. LOL I think I would have liked her better if she'd held out a little longer. Or maybe not freaked out after.

John is in the business of keeping people safe and he proves this when he rescues Suzanne from an intruder. Which sounds great except for the fact that he kills the intruder. John is able to sneak up on the guy, cut his throat without the guy ever knowing John was there. As a former SEAL you would think he could subdue the intruder so that maybe the police could question him, right? But John goes all caveman and must kill anyone that threats "his woman". It turns out that a good friend of both John and Suzanne is a detective with the Portland police so no real problems for John killing this guy. Reality this is not.

John continues his protection of Suzanne placing them together 24/7. These two have no problem finding something to do, burning up the pages while John turns on his badass alpha charm and Suzanne discovers she likes dangerous men. The ending was wrapped up fairly quickly and lucky for Suzanne she had John on her side to make it all better. In the end I could have done with less of John's overbearing personality. I love alpha heroes but he just rubbed me the wrong way. Suzanne was okay but I would have liked to know what aside from his hotness, drew her to John.

The writing is fine and the steam is pouring off Suzanne and John in waves but the suspense could have used a heavy does of reality. I do have the next two books in the trilogy and will read them eventually. If I didn't, reading Midnight Man would not have made me run out and buy them.

Rating: C

Books in this trilogy ~

Midnight Man
Midnight Run
Midnight Angel

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Making Waves

Making Waves
Tawna Fenske
Contemporary Romance
Sourcebooks/August 1, 2011

From the back cover ~


Juli has trouble fitting in, though she'd prefer to keep the reasons to herself. But when she mistakenly stows away on a ship of misfit corporate castoffs, her own secrets become the least of her concerns.


But Alex isn't feeling very normal when his unscrupulous boss kicks him to the curb. Meeting Juli doesn't do much to restore normalcy to Alex's life either, but it sure is exhilarating!

As Alex and Juli bare their secrets - and a whole lot more - they find that while normal is nice, weird can be wonderful.

When I picked up Making Waves I had no idea how fun a crazy adventure with a misfit group of wanna-be pirates would be. Tawna Fenske's debut novel takes the reader to the beautiful Caribbean where it seems everyone's a pirate. Not really but things do get a bit confusing when the real pirates show up. But Juli, Alex and crew are nothing if not resourceful.

Juli Flynn doesn't do well on boats. She would much prefer to stay on land but she has a request to fulfill that requires her to head to the Virgins Islands and out onto a dreaded boat. My first impression of Juli is that she is "different" and this comes from her inner thoughts of how she doesn't fit in but she desperately wants to. I won't spoil it by telling what makes her so different but her difference made for some interesting exchanges between Juli and Alex. I found her quirkiness amusing but I can see where other readers might get tired of it.

Alex Bradshaw is having a bad day. He's 42, alone, broke and now jobless. He's feeling desperate and so are a few of his former coworkers. Alex becomes the captain of the misfit pirates, slipping easily into the role of leader. He may not be as charismatic as Captain Jack Sparrow but I liked Alex. He's smart, funny and sexy with enough flaws to make him irresistible.

Juli and Alex meet in a most unusual setting. In a bar. What makes it unusual is they pretend to be married in order to play the bar's version of The Newlywed Game for a chance to win $1000. It's Juli's idea and Alex finds himself swept up in her enthusiasm. It won't be the last time he goes along with one of her crazy ideas and wonders why. Juli and Alex are such a amusing couple with Juli leaving Alex confused and Alex adorable in his confusion. They also have some serious heat rocking between them. Good thing Juli gets over her seasickness quickly.

Although the plot of Alex and his pirates concocting a plan to steal diamonds is far-fetched, it was very easy to just go with it and enjoy the ride. There are a number of coincidences and situations that bend reality but I was having too much fun with this zany group of characters to care. The characters rounding out the crew are an odd assortment adding to the romantic comedy element.

Making Waves is a fun, light romantic comedy that makes for a perfect end of summer read. This may be Ms. Fenske's first novel but lucky for us she has more on the way.

Rating: B+

Friday, August 12, 2011

ARC Review: Good Girls Don't

Good Girls Don't
Victoria Dahl
Contemporary Romance
Donovan Brothers/Book 1
HQN Books/August 30, 2011

From Goodreads ~

Too much of a good thing…

With her long ponytail and sparkling green eyes, Tessa Donovan looks more like the girl next door than a businesswoman — or a heartbreaker. Which may explain why Detective Luke Asher barely notices her when he arrives to investigate a break – in at her family's brewery. He's got his own problems — starting with the fact that his partner, Simone, is pregnant and everyone thinks he's the father.

Tessa has her hands full, too. Her brother's playboy ways may be threatening the business, and the tension could tear her tight–knit family apart. In fact, the only thing that could unite the Donovan boys is seeing a man come after their "baby" sister. Especially a man like Luke Asher. But Tessa sees past the rumors to the man beneath. He's not who people think he is — and neither is she.

I first met the Donovan siblings in the novella Just One Taste, in the anthology The Guy Next Door. They are a close knit trio who love each other but who also have a lot of responsibilities and a difficult past they still need to work through. Being the only girl, you might think Tessa Donovan is coddled and protected but it's really Tessa that does the protecting.

Oh my goodness does Tessa Donovan know how to spin a web! She's so protective of her brothers, so desperate to keep them happy, she spins these intricate lies and half-truths. Of course it will all unravel but Tessa doesn't want to think about possible failure. I was surprised that her lying didn't bother me more. I didn't think she always made the best choices, she acted out of desperation more than once. But Dahl does a good job explaining and showing how Tessa came to be so desperate to keep her family together.

Luke Asher is in for an interesting and amazing ride. He just doesn't know it yet! When he investigates the robbery at Donovan Brothers Brewery, he didn't expect to be blidesided by the sweet and sexy Tessa Donovan. Right from the start I liked Luke. He's protective by nature which makes him a good cop. He's dealing with the rumors surrounding him and his pregnant partner. He still hasn't completely worked through his painful divorce and now he's feeling an odd attraction to a women he thinks he should stay away from. Has in fact been told to stay away from. Dahl gives Luke enough problems to cause him some anxiety while keeping it real. Luke may be the hero but he can't magically fix everything wrong in his life. Some of it he just has to accept and move on. I couldn't help but feel sorry for him and feel his frustration at not being able to fix things. Dahl did well showing this, making the plot far more realistic with Luke making mistakes and dealing with the outcome. Add in his self-deprecating humor and he's a very likable hero.

Tessa and Luke together really worked for me. On first impression they don't seem to fit. Luke is serious and not at all the party animal he apparently was in college. While Tessa is serious when it come to the family business but she knows how to have a good time. And she always has a smile. She's very good at finding the positive while Luke tends to be more on the pessimistic side of the equation. But together they balance each other out. They are funny together with Tessa teasing Luke and Luke trying not to be drawn to Tessa. They don't have an easy time of it with both Tessa's brother's warning Luke away from their sister. But Tessa is stubborn and these two can't resist each other.

Speaking of brothers - lots of tension between Jamie and Eric. I like that the siblings are close and love one another but everything isn't perfect. Perfection is boring and there is nothing boring about the complex relationships of the Donovan siblings. I do hope there are some resolutions in Jamie's book because Eric came off as an overbearing ass and I'd hate to have that impression going into his book. LOL

The police aspect of the story was a distant second to the romance and character development. Which was good since it wasn't a very strong plot, having an obvious suspect and very little suspense. The believable characters and a romance as sweet and sinful as chocolate are what make this an exceptional start to a new series.

Rating: B+

Books in this series ~

Just One Taste (prequel novella in The Guy Next Door anthology)
Good Girls Don't
Bad Boys Do (October 2011/Jamie)
Real Men Will (November 2011/Eric)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review: Summer's Crossing

Summer's Crossing
Julie Kagawa
Young Adult/Fantasy
Iron Fey/Book 3.5
Harlequin Teen/June 1, 2011

From Goodreads ~

Midsummer's Nightmare? Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Summer Court prankster, King Oberon's right hand, bane of many a faery queen's existence—and secret friend to Prince Ash of the Winter Court. Until one girl's death came between them, and another girl stole both their hearts.

Now Ash has granted one favor too many and someone's come to collect, forcing the prince to a place he cannot go without Puck's help—into the heart of the Summer Court. And Puck faces the ultimate choice—betray Ash and possibly win the girl they both love, or help his former friend turned bitter enemy pull off a deception that no true faery prankster could possibly resist.

Loved this funny, sweet novella told from Puck's POV. It's just Puck and Ash on a mission - not the two you would imagine would team up. But team up they do! Puck and Ash do manage to work together with Puck adding that unique humor to ease those tense moments or to simply irritate the heck out of Ash.

Puck keeps Ash on his toes, not always sure what Puck is up to but knowing that he's always up to something. He is a prankster after all! Their quest becomes dangerous when they venture into the Summer Court and into Queen Tatania's presence. Ash's life is in Puck's hands, a potentially dangerous place to be. Ash has Meghan. Puck wants Meghan. Would Puck sacrifice Ash, his long-time enemy, to get the girl?

Puck keeps both Ash and the reader on the edge with his antics. He's smart and sneaky but still has a heart of gold. Kagawa once again proves why this series is so popular with this quick look into a favorite character's head and heart.

Rating: B+

Books in this series ~

The Iron King
Winter's Passage (previously free novella)
The Iron Daughter
The Iron Queen
Summer's Crossing (free novella)
The Iron Knight (October 25, 2011)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review: The Heir

The Heir
Grace Burrowes
Historical Romance
Duke's Obsession/Book 1
Sourcebooks/December 7, 2010

From Goodreads ~


Gayle Windham, Earl of Westhaven, is the first legitimate son and heir to the Duke of Moreland. To escape his father's inexorable pressure to marry, he decides to spend the summer at his townhouse in London, where he finds himself intrigued by the secretive ways of his beautiful housekeeper...


Anna Seaton is a beautiful, talented, educated woman, which is why it is so puzzling to Gayle Windham that she works as his housekeeper.

As the two draw closer and begin to lose their hearts to each other, Anna's secrets threaten to bring the earl's orderly life crashing down - and he doesn't know how he's going to protect her from the fallout...

After seeing a bunch of good reviews for Grace Burrowes debut novel, then it's offered as a free download it was easy to pick it up and give it a try. It turned out to be a good, solid read with an engaging family of unusual aristocrats.

Anna Seaton is a lovely young woman with secrets and responsibilities that go beyond her housekeeper duties. Anna is funny and smart with a surprising lack of modesty when it comes to her employer. She doesn't run screaming or faint away when she must act as his valet. It's amusing and while I found Anna's actions a little hard to believe, I enjoyed her interactions with Windham. She intrigues him and pulls him out of his orderly life.

Gayle Windham, Earl of Westhaven, likes structure in his life. He likes to keep to a schedule and prefers not to deviate from it. When he decides to stay in London for the summer he expects it to be a quiet time away from his family and the drama they stir up. When he and his housekeeper have a misunderstanding of the painful kind, he begins to notice her and how she has been improving his home. Westhaven is a typical oldest son in that he is responsible and accustomed to taking charge of situations. I liked how he began to loosen up when he was with Anna, allowing himself to deviate from his orderly life and learn to enjoy spontaneity.

Anna and Westhaven together are an odd couple on the surface but it turns out they have a lot more in common. I did like how Westhaven thought she was a bit odd but still respected her and enjoyed her company. They did jump between the sheets pretty quickly and Burrowes can write some hot sex scenes. Anna helped Westhaven loosen up there too! By the time these two got to their HEA, they felt like a couple that belonged together.

The family that Westhaven was hoping to get away from doesn't stay away. His father is a schemer, trying to get his eldest son married with an heir on the way. His brother is an adorable musical genius who's hiding some dark secrets. The rest of the family adds in their own drama which only shows Westhaven how much he needs the peace and pleasure Anna gives him.

The second book of the series, The Soldier is already out with the third book, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish is due out in October with book four, The Virtuoso due out in November. The Heir was an amusing and entertaining romance leaving this reader wanting to read more of from this new author. Ms. Burrowes is giving readers a lot to look forward to this fall.

Rating: B

Books in the series ~

The Heir
The Soldier
Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish (October 2011)
The Virtuoso (November 2011)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens and Movie Trailers...

I love western movies. I also like the Alien movies (just the 1st two) and scifi movies in general. Combine those two elements and you get a fascinating, action-packed movie right? Uh...no.

I had such high hopes for this movie. I mean, Daniel Craig! I do like him but not so much in this one. Aside from looking good in a vest and out of it, his character came across as two dimensional. The other big name was Harrison Ford who lately seems like the same character, just a different movie.

*Some spoilers*

The plot is your basic aliens capture humans to study them for any weaknesses while they exploit Earth's resources, namely gold. Daniel Craig's character managed to get away but he now has amnesia. He also has a shiny bracelet that he can't remove. Okay, the bracelet was pretty cool. So, Craig's character, Jake Lonergan (a romance hero name if I ever heard one!), Jake heads into town after waking up in the middle of nowhere with no memory of how he got there. He has a confrontation with the local bully who also happens to be the son of a wealthy rancher aka Harrison Ford's character Woodrow Dolarhyde (yes, that's his name). It turns out Jake is a wanted man. Oops. I'll bet it would have been nice to remember that little fact.

But no worries, he won't be in jail for long because the aliens are coming to town. They come, they blow things up, they abduct townsfolk and generally scare the crap out of everyone. One alien does crash land and after killing one of the townsfolk, heads out of town, leaving alien tracks behind. Well, you know what's coming next - it's posse time! It's time for everyone to work together to rescue the family and friends who were abducted. I think there was just about every western cliche you could think of in this movie. Except for the whole alien thing. :)

As the posse tracks the big bad alien they travel through what is suppose to be the Arizona territory of 1873. I don't know if it was filmed in Arizona but it does look like very rugged terrain. Not a soul in sight, or so you'd think. First they run into Jake's old gang. Now at the this point I had lost track of how many times I'd yawned. But I perked up as soon as I saw Walton Goggins. Who you say? He plays Boyd Crowder on one of the best shows on TV - Justified. So with renewed interested I held out hope that things would pick up. Yeah, there was some alien fighting and more abductions then another cliche pops up in the form of the Apaches. This is when things got really weird. LOL

Eventually we get to the big showdown with the aliens. Things get blown up, people die, aliens die. Jake sheds his outlaw persona and becomes a hero. Sacrifices are made and the ones who survive have a new appreciation for life and become better people for it.

Not much else to say, except the aliens were pretty cool and gross in that alien way that all aliens are. Big and gooey with alien hands that pop out of their middles. That was pretty cool. :)

My verdict - unless you're a real diehard Craig, Ford or cowboy and/or alien fan, save your money and wait for the DVD.


One thing I like about going to the movies is seeing the trailers. I was in for a treat since I got to see the Conan trailer again. Nothing like a bigger than life Jason Momoa to put a smile on your face. :)

There was also a trailer for the movie Battleship, release May 2012. Not sure how I feel about this one. It has Taylor Kitsch which is a positive. (Still can't believe no more Friday Night Lights), Liam Neeson and that guy from True Blood, Alexander SkarsgÄrd. It's the plot that has me thinking this might be a wait for the DVD kind of movie. It's basically transformers at sea. So, I guess we'll see. :)

And speaking of Friday Night Lights (still missing it) Brad Pitt has a new movie coming out next month called Moneyball. I'm not a big Brad Pitt fan and I'm not crazy about baseball but this looks really good. It has a Friday Night Lights feel to it and it's based on a true story. And there was even a book about it. It's about the Oakland A's and how they went from being really, really bad to being a winning team. I might actually go see this one.

Geez, just how many times can I mention Friday Night Lights in one post? Apparently a lot! Still missing it. :(

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

July Reads...

I took this picture the other evening on my way to the grocery store. This is just south, about 1/2 mile, from my house. It's a good example of our July weather. It's monsoon season so we get lots of clouds and thunderstorms this time of year. I can remember as a kid, lying on the grass and watching the clouds. This was usually after some intense playing of tag or riding bikes or climbing trees. It was a great way to rest and relax.

Now, I hardly ever take the time to just look at the clouds. I do have high windows in my living & dining room that are uncovered and offer a view of the sky. But it's not the same as being outside and just watching the clouds go by. I think we could all use a little "cloud time" in our busy lives.

On to the books...

July was a month filled with some very good reads and a few wonderful audiobooks.


1. Rules of Attraction ~ Simone Elkeles/YA/A
2. Perfect Chemistry ~ Simone Elkeles/YA/A-
3. Archangel's Consort ~ Nalini Singh/PNR/B+
4. Born of Night ~ Sherrilyn Kenyon/PNR/B-
5. Born of Fire ~ Sherrilyn Kenyon/PNR/C
6. Freefall ~ JoAnn Ross/RS/C

I'm all caught up and ready for Archangel's Blade, the next book in Nalini Singh's Guild Hunters series. And I finally dove into the very well reviewed and discussed Simone Elkeles books about the Fuentes brothers. Highly recommend both books. Book 3, Chain Reaction comes out later this month.

The two Kenyon's were okay with heroes very reminiscent of her Dark Hunter heroes. I couldn't help thinking how tortured all her heroes are. I can't think of any who are well adjusted and don't carry scars both physical and emotional.

The Ross could have been better but there were too many characters to keep track of.

Print/Electronic Books

1. His Majesty's Dragon/Naomi Novik/Fantasy/A
2. Heartbreak Creek/Kaki Warner/Western Historical/A
3. Divergent/Veronica Roth/YA Dystopian/A-
4. One Good Reason/Sarah Mayberry/Contemporary/B+
5. Hexed* (anthology)/Ilona Andrews/UF/B+
6. A Gentlewoman's Predicament/Portia Da Costa/Historical Erotic/B
7. A Gentlewoman's Ravishment/Portia Da Costa/Historical Erotic/B
8. Hounded/Kevin Hearn/UF/B
9. Smart and Sexy/Jill Shalvis/Contemporary/B
10. Inside Out/Maria V. Snyder/YA Dystopian/B
11. The Last Goodbye/Sarah Mayberry/Contemporary/B-
12. A Kiss at Midnight/Eloisa James/Historical/C+
13. Aftertime/Sophie Littlefield/Dystopian/C
14. Forbidden Pleasure/Amanda McIntyre/Medieval Erotic/C

The Numbers...

Contemporary ~ 3
Dystopian ~ 1
Fantasy ~ 1
Historical ~ 1
Historical Erotic ~ 2
Medieval ~ 1
Urban Fantasy ~ 2
Western Historical ~ 1
YA ~ 2


Print ~ 7
E-Book ~ 7

Out of the 14, only 3 were from the TBR pile. The rest were either from the library (I love my libraries!) or the publisher. I'm trying to get through the library books that I've had out for what seems like eons. The city library allows 99 renewals as long as there are no requests. And I know I've had some of them for close to a year. So I really need to get the library TBR pile down.

I'm way behind on the reviews and not sure if I'll try to catch up with these or just go from here. I think the problem was that I was so behind on the June reviews it took me all of July to catch up on those! I wish I could write reviews in 30 minutes. Heck, even an hour would be quick for me. Unfortunately, I'm easily distracted. LOL

A thank you to Nath for recommending the Naomi Novik series. It was such a fascinating adventure with Laurence and Temeraire! I'll try to get a review up soon.

*Hexed anthology - I only read the Ilona Andrews novella. The other stories were part of series that I haven't read yet.