Posts filed under ‘Paranormal Romance’

Just finished reading…My Dangerous Pleasure by Carolyn Jewel

My Dangerous Pleasure (My Immortal/Witches series, book 4) by Carolyn Jewel

My Dangerous PleasureTEMPT THE DARKNESS Strong-willed and independent, Paisley Nichols is used to taking care of herself. But when an insane mage begins tracking her every move and threatening her at every turn, she has no choice but to put her life in the hands of a demon.
RISK THE PASSION Burned by betrayal, demon assassin Iskander won’t get too close to anyone. He spends his days serving his warlord and his nights indulging in carnal pleasures . . . and that’s exactly how he likes it. But when a mage wages a wrenching psychic assault on his beautiful tenant Paisley, Iskander must defend her. Under his protection, she will be drawn irresistibly into his life and learn about her own mysterious powers. And not a moment too soon. The mage haunting her isn’t acting alone-and he won’t rest until he destroys both Paisley and Iskander.

I love this series, and was so glad that the long wait between books 3 and 4 was finally over. Iskander has been put through the mill in previous books in this series, so I’ve been really looking forward to his getting a shot at a HEA.

First off, let me say that this is the fourth book in the series, and given the complexity of the world and the character relationships, I highly recommend reading them in order. I’m usually a stickler about these things, and the payoff will be worth it in this case, since the larger story arc continues to get more and more interesting as the books progress.

The world of demonkin, witches, and mages waging a power struggle  in modern-day San Francisco is dark, sensual, and often violent. Nikodemus, the leader of the kin, is struggling to keep the peace between his kind with their witch allies, and the power-hungry mages.

Paisley, a human woman who owns a bakery and rents a garage apartment from her sexy (and unbeknownst to her) demonkin landlord, Iskander, stumbles into this explosive situation when Kessler, a dark mage awakens an incipient magic in her, and begins to terrorize her.

I really liked Paisley. While she’s often put in terrifying, confusing, and overwhelming situations (at the beginning of the book she is completely unaware of the non-human world) she deals with it in a straightforward, no-nonsense manner. Her naiveté doesn’t result in tstl actions, as often is the case with uninformed heroines.

Iskander is someone who has been through hell, been damaged, especially by his crazy blood-twin, and is often on the edge of losing it, himself. I love how when he’s put in the position of guarding Paisley, she brings out another side of him that we haven’t seen in previous books. He’s not just a bad-ass alpha around her, but also a considerate protector (and, eventually,) lover. Their love scenes are HOT, and I love how Iskander, for all his passion, always tries to make sure that she is ok with his more “demon-like” aspects.

While the story itself took a little bit to really get going, once it did, I love where it went. I found the story behind Kessler’s actions original and absorbing, and it kept me turning pages. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to see where the larger story arc continues to go.

Related posts about the series:

For more info on the series, the author has a great primer on it.

I received this book from the
author, for review purposes.

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June 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm 8 comments

May 2011 Releases, part 2

I’ve fallen a little behind (what else is new?) but I’m really excited about some of the releases that came out at the end of May, and wanted to share them!

GraveminderMay 17, 2011: Graveminder by Melissa Marr

This is Melissa Marr’s first adult novel, and if it’s half as great as her faerie court series, I’ll be thrilled. The story is about Rebekkah, who returns to Claysville, her hometown, after her grandmother’s death. She comes to realize there is more to Claysville than she thought, and that her grandmother played a key role in keeping the peace between the living and the dead. And, it falls to Bek to uphold the family tradition.

I’m on the library waitlist for the audiobook, and can’t wait to listen to it!

America PacificaMay 18, 2011: America Pacifica by Anna North

I think I’m at the point with YA (which I love) that the first thing I’m looking for in a story is originality. And, when I read the description of America Pacifica, I knew I had to read it.

North America is in a second ice age, and Darcy lives on the island of America Pacifica. It’s a place of haves and have-nots, and is ruled by a mysterious dictator. When Darcy’s mom disappears, she searches for her mom, and finds much more than she bargained for.

Rhapsody for Piano and GhostMay 24, 2011: Rhapsody for Piano and Ghost by ZA Maxfield

ZAM is one of my favorite m/m authors. She always writes with so much heart, creating characters I really care about.

While gifted pianist Fritz is studying at a conservatory and looking for a little peace, he finds himself surrounded by family and friends (possibly including a couple of well-meaning imaginary ones) who complicate his life.

It sounds like this story is told with ZAM’s trademark sense of humor.

Between Sinners and SaintsMay 29, 2011: Between Sinners and Saints by Marie Sexton

I’ve recently discovered Marie Sexton’s Coda series, and LOVED every one of them. Her new release is a stand alone, and sounds like it’s as angsty and will pull at my heartstrings as her Coda books.

Bartender Levi is has left behind his Mormon roots behind and encounters Jamie, a loner who is haunted by his past. It’s an opposites attract love story (one of my favorite kinds) and of course the heroes find common ground, healing, and love.

Kiss of SnowMay 31, 2011: Kiss of Snow  (PsyChangeling series, book 10) by Nalini Singh

Hawke’s book!

Need I say more? I do? Oh, ok.

Well, I’ve already read it, and it’s as awesome as all the hype led me to believe.

Read it. You won’t be sorry.

Enough said.

Magic SlaysMay 31, 2011: Magic Slays (Kate Daniels series, book 5) by Ilona Andrews

I always say this about the Kate Daniels series, but here we are at book 5, and it’s still true: each subsequent book in this series gets better (and I really liked the first book).

I’m really interested to see where the author goes with Magic Slays, especially since we are sort of moved to the post HEA part of the story line with Kate and Curran.

I’m looking forward to see the new life that they will build, what Kate is going to do with her new business, and what will happen with the bigger story arc involving Kate’s background.

Just Like HeavenMay 31, 2011: Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith quartet, book 1) by Julia Quinn

The legendary Smythe-Smith family (and their notorious musicales) has always been the comic relief in Julia Quinns more recent books. The poor Smythe-Smith girls are now getting their own stories, and Lady Honoria is the heroine in Just Like Heaven. Another of my favorite romance tropes is the younger sibling/older sibling’s friend pairing, and Marcus (Honoria’s brother’s best friend) starts out keeping an eye on Honoria in her brother’s absence, and finds himself falling in love.

I always enjoy Julia Quinn’s historical romances. They’re light, funny, and romantic. I’m currrently listening to Just Like Heaven (narrated by Roslyn Landor) and so far it’s exactly what I expect.

My Dangerous PleasureMay 31, 2011: My Dangerous Pleasure (Witches/My series, book 4) by Carolyn Jewel

This is one of my favorite parnormal series. I love the unique world, the strong heroines, and the sexy demons.

My Dangerous Pleasure is Iskander’s story. The author has really put him thru the mill in this series, and I was excited that he finally gets a HEA. And, Paisley is a worthy heroine.

If you haven’t picked this series up yet, I highly recommend that you start with book 1, My Wicked Enemy.

My review for this book will be posted in a couple of days.

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That’s a lot of books, isn’t it? Lots of good stuff, here.  What’s recently been released that you’ve been looking forward to?

June 4, 2011 at 5:00 am 18 comments

Just finished reading…My Immortal Assassin by Carolyn Jewel

This book was given to me by the author.
This review cross-posted on Goodreads.
My Goodreads rating: 4 of 5 stars
View all my reviews at Goodreads.

My Immortal Assassin
(My series, book 3) by Carolyn Jewel

My Immortal AssassinRevenge. It’s all Grayson Spencer wants. Christophe dit Menart, a human with dark magical powers, destroyed the life she loved. She wants the pleasure of killing him, no matter the cost to her. If not for Durian, a dangerously sexy demon fiend charged with keeping Christophe alive, she would have succeeded, too. Now, she’s certain all hope is gone. But he has a plan and an offer she can’t resist…

Durian has spent his life as a trained and sanctioned assassin. His duty: to enforce the laws against demons harming humans. He’s always prided himself on staying out of the fray, carrying out his orders and honoring his fealty to his warlord, but never getting attached. Never until Grayson, a spunky and determined woman clearly gifted with magic herself. He convinces her to swear fealty to him so he can protect her and teach her to use her magic to taste the revenge she so desperately wants.

They’re soon bound together in a forbidden desire — a dangerous passion that calls into question Durian’s oath of loyalty to his warlord. When he refuses to return her to Christophe, his disobedience threatens to inflame the tumultuous war between demons and the magekind. Can they — and their love — survive?

I’ve been a big fan of Carolyn Jewel’s books since reading, Scandal (see review), one of my Top 5 historical romances. Since then, her My series has become one of my Top 5 paranormal romances.  It’s been a long wait for Durian’s story (the previous My Forbidden Desire was released May 2009), and I was really happy when the author offered to send an early copy of My Immortal Assassin to me.

One of the things I really enjoy about this series is the originality of the world. The demons (known as the kin, among themselves) are engaged in a struggle with the magekind. Dark mages use enslaved demons to provide power and as coerced minions. Witches, too, often get caught in the crossfire, becoming pawns for the dark mages.

Over the course of the previous 2 books of the series, the leader of the kin, Nicodemus, has brokered a tenuous détente between the mages and demon kin (aka fiends). It’s amidst this precarious cease in overt hostilities, that the assassin Durian encounters Gray, a witch whose life was torn apart by a dark mage.

Gray has been indelibly changed, transformed into something “other” as a result of the mage’s failed power grab attempt, and now she is determined to exact revenge upon him. Durian is sworn to uphold the peace agreement, but is drawn to Gray, and promises to help her learn how to control her new powers, if she will bind herself to him.

This is a lot more set up to a book review than I usually do (I usually prefer to use the book description to do it), but the series story arc, and as a result, the book’s plot is a very complex one. There’s a lot of “meat” to the story, and that’s one of the reasons I really love this series. My one regret about My Immortal Assassin is that I didn’t re-read the previous 2 books to refresh my memory of the series details. (Something I like to do with some series.) I’d really recommend reading this series in order, if you haven’t already read the first 2 books.

One of the things that made My Immortal Assassin a stand out in the series for me is the relationship between Gray and Durian. More than any other book in the series, there is a give and take to their relationship that is really refreshing. While Grey has “submitted” (not in a D/s way, but in a magical way) by binding herself to him, rather than being subservient to him, she is pledged to protect him, and becomes his bodyguard. As Gray increasingly comes into her power, she assumes a more protective role toward Durian that male heroes more typically take on. I really liked this shift in traditional power dynamics.

And, despite this reversal, Durian is as bad-ass as ever, struggling with his increasingly protective feeling towards Gray, while relishing her growing abilities and her desire to protect him. He sees her protection of him and it affects him in a way that it new to the usually cold and detached assassin. Gray’s and Durian’s chemistry is great, and they both feed so much from this dynamic.

I really enjoyed the direction the larger story arc took as well, and where the series will go in the next book, My Dangerous Pleasure (to be released June 2011). The introduction of the mage Leonidas is showing a more complex image of the mages, and should complicate the storyline nicely.

Also, I’m chomping at the bit for Kynan’s story and Iskander’s story, as well as hoping for more about Gray’s sister, Emily.

My Immortal Assassin will be released January 3, 2011.

  • Carolyn Jewel’s site.
  • Excerpt for My Immortal Assassin.
View all my reviews at Goodreads >>

January 2, 2011 at 3:24 pm 10 comments

Just finished reading . . . Bayou Moon

Bayou Moon (The Edge series, book 2) by Ilona Andrews

Bayou MoonCerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.
But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life . William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.
When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

When I realized that William, who appeared in book 1, On the Edge, would be Bayou Moon’s hero, I was a little concerned. In OtE, he came across as a bit smarmy, trying a little too hard to deliver the cheesy pick up lines to the heroine, Rose. Of course, he lost out to Declan for Rose’s affections, and we find him opening Bayou Moon sitting in his trailer playing with action figures. Huh?

Yeah.

And, in the end, I enjoyed Bayou Moon a lot. Cerise was an awesome heroine. She was strong, but relateable. And, in the trademark Ilona Andrews’ style, the secondary characters were quirky and entertaining.  The story line and events were about the darkest I’ve read by IA, in either of her series. Yet, the sometimes gruesome events fit the fantastical world of the Edge. So, in a nutshell the book mostly rocked.

Though, I did have one quibble. Toward the end of the book, there were some lack of communication issues between Cerise and William that made me a little frustrated. It felt a little artificial, injecting an unnecessary conflict that didn’t feel consistent with their characters, or their relationship.

Now that I’ve got all that out of the way, let me get back to William, because I think that he is now my favorite hero of 2010.

Really, he is one of those heroes I kept thinking about both when I had to put the book down for pesky real life stuff like work and chores, and after I finished the book. He just stuck with me.

I think what really got to me was how he had all the elements that make a great hero.

Alpha shifter who can kick ass and take names? Check.
Tragic past that he’s dealing with? Check.
An admiration for strong heroines who can kick ass and take names? Check.

And, the clincher that really got me was his vulnerability. William had this need in him (but, not a needy need, if you know what I mean) to belong. To belong to Cerise, and for her to belong to him. To belong to a pack, which Cerise’s family, in all their dysfunction, filled the bill perfectly. To claim and be claimed. It was so true to who he was, where he came from, and his past experiences. And, (miracle of miracles for alpha heroes) he was self-aware enough to realize this and accept it about himself.

I found myself wanting these things for him so much, and that is why he resonnated with me so strongly. And, even in his vulnerability, there was a strength. The strength of a survivor. He endured so much, and yet still was able to open himself to Cerise.

Awesome quote:

“What if I run?”
He leaned forward. “That would be a mistake, because I would chase you.”
Oh dear Gods.
His voice was wistful & tinted with an odd longing, as if he were already running through the dark woods in his mind. The tiny hairs on the back of Cerise’s neck rose. Whatever she did, she couldn’t run, because he would love to chase her & she wasn’t quite sure what would happen at the end of that chase. By the way he looked, he wasn’t quite sure either, but he was pretty sure he would enjoy it.

Great stuff.

I received this book from the
publisher for review purposes.

October 12, 2010 at 5:00 am 19 comments

Wheee!

It’s been a whirlwind of a week, and things look like they won’t slow down until the kid is back in school.

Things are in a state of flux, here at the homestead, but in a good way. After 4 months of phone calls, cleaning marathons, prospective renter walk thrus, and close calls, we’ve finally rented our house. Now for the hard part. 😛

We’re taking over my guy’s childhood home, 10 minutes from where we currently live. It’s larger, has a pool, and is in our son’s school district. Packing has already begun, and this week we did a walk thru of our in-laws place, deciding which pieces of furniture we’ll keep. (They’ve already moved to a smaller home in their “active seniors” community, and have left behind some of their furniture.)

Of course, at the same time we’re moving, we need to get our townhouse ready for the renters to move in to. All those little repairs that were easy to ignore, now must be fixed, carpets need to be shampooed, and walls need to be painted. Yee hah!

Even though I get exhausted just thinking about all of this, I’m also pretty excited. I’ve been drawing out possible floor plans for the new place, trying to think of creative ways to merge our furniture with some of my in-laws more, ahem, dated pieces. I’m planning a reading nook, with a love seat and ottoman in our much roomier office. And, I’m trying to make peace with the fact that we probably won’t have time before moving in to get rid of the silver foil wall paper in the living room. Next year. Really.

Crabby Kid
The kid, doing his best imitation of a crab.

In the mean time, summer’s been rolling along. A couple of weeks ago we went to Redondo Beach pier and bought live crabs, that the market then steamed for us. We ate them on newspaper covered tables while strolling mariachis played for tips.

One of the totally cool things about Redondo is the arcade, where I played much skee ball and Sea Wolf as a kid. I didn’t see Sea Wolf this time, but we did play skee ball and air hockey. And, we also saw these “antiques”.

Classic games at Redondo
If you played any of these when they were new,
then you are probably as old as I am. *g*

This weekend, more beach time. My guy is helping throw a beach party for one of the student programs at his university. We are in charge of the fire ring. That’s sort of a bad news/good news thing for me. Bad news: heading out there early to baby sit —I mean reserve the damned fire ring. Good news: SMORES! We shall see if smore consumption is adequate consolation.

I will be taking Blaze of Memory with me. Some PsyChangeling action seems like perfect beach reading. I’m tempted to take Long Hard Ride, since that also seems like a great beach read, but I don’t think I can sit next to my guy’s co-workers and students while reading a cowboy ménage. (Where is Miss Doreen when you need her?)

Breaking the RulesLast week, I was so excited to see Lori’s post with the cover to Suzanne Brockmann’s next Troubleshooters book, Breaking the Rules. This is Izzy’s book, and I am SO looking forward to it. I might be in the minority, but I like Eden. OK, well, I guess I wouldn’t go so far as to say like. How about, I see so much great potential for her growth as a character. One of my favorite things about this series is how SB gives her characters time over many books to fuck up, grow, change, and become heroes/heroines. Robin, Sam, Ken, and, of course, Izzy are all great examples of the Suze Brockmann school for heroes. I’m really looking forward to seeing what will happen with Izzy. And Eden. Or, maybe not Eden?

I’m also currently reading Shades of Gray by Brooke McKinley. I’ve been seeing this book around for a while, and finally got to it! So far, it’s really good. M/M romantic suspense. FBI agent is protecting a drug runner who is going to give evidence against his drug lord boss. Great tension and chemistry between the heroes, so far.

RevelationLast week, I went on a mini Lauren Dane binge. It all started with Revelation, book 2 in the de La Vega Cats series. I enjoyed it so much that I decided I needed to finish the Cascadia Wolves series. I blew thru TriMates and Wolf Unbound. I really like the shifter world in this series. The men are very alpha (of course), but the women too, be they witch, shifter, or human, are also very strong. And, their alpha men respect them and love them, not despite their strength, but because of it. Good stuff! I’m hoping I’ll get to the last 2 in the series in the next week or so. I’m really looking forward to Cade’s story! Then, on to the Chase Brothers.

Phew! So that’s what’s been going on with me. How about you? Read any good books lately?

July 24, 2010 at 5:00 am 14 comments

February 2010 Read Books

It felt like I read much slower in February, but I was surprised when I counted and saw that I’d read 19 books. I think the unexpected number is due to the fact that a number of them were ebooks, a lot of which are shorter.

While writing this post, I realized I only read 2 actual print books this month. Crazy! I read 10 ebooks and listened to 7 audiobooks. I think I’m seeing that my new ereader is slightly changing the books I pick to read. Where before it felt like a bit of extra effort to read the ebooks (mostly due to technical mac/ebookwise issues), it’s now much easier with the nook. Therefore, I’m catching up on a big backlog of ebooks I’ve been meaning to read for a while. Of course, this means I’ve also been neglecting my print tbr shelves, so I can’t win, can I? *g*

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Kitty Raises HellKitty Raises Hell (Kitty Norville series, book 6) by Carrie Vaughn 2/28/10

Between Kitty Norville books, I always forget how utterly enjoyable this series is. I think its strength is Kitty herself. I love how she has grown (and continues to grow) from a werewolf, uncertain of her place in the world, to a more confident alpha.

I still wish there was more of Cormac. My heart aches for him (and Kitty) when she and Ben visit him. KRH features much more of Rick who is becoming one of my favorite vamps around. There are so many layers to that guy!

The cult of  Tiamat plot and the appearance of Roman was enjoyably twisty. I can’t wait for the next book, Kitty Goes to War, due out in June 2010.

  • Carrie Vaughn’s site.

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AquamarineAquamarine by Sara Bell 2/26/10 Ebook

A cute, sweet m/m sports romance. Friends to lovers, with family as a really nice supporting cast. Ford was wonderful as the “straight” friend who falls for out teammate/roommate Derek. My only complaint was that the sports end didn’t feel very realistic, wrt career paths for players and coaches given the copious amounts of  time I spend listening to my guy talking about the college and pro football industry.

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Shadows ReturnShadows Return (Nightrunners series, book 4) by Lynn Flewelling 2/25/10 Audiobook

Audiobook read by Adam Danoff. (It was a bit of adjustment getting used to a new narrator after the 1st 3 books read by someone else.

I’m so sad that I’ve now caught up with this series! I was worried that I wouldn’t enjoy this book as much as the other ones given that according to the description Alec and Seregil spend much of the story apart. However, I was really caught up in the action, and their reunion was great.

I loved getting to see Plenemar society, and got a better understanding of the conflict between it and Skala.

Here’s my Nightrunners series post.

Can’t wait for The White Road‘s May 25, 2010 release.

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Hue, Tine and ShadeHue, Tint and Shade (Petit Morts, novelette 1 of 5) by Jordan Castillo Price 2/24/10 Ebook

I just love how JCP is able to create these empathetic, socially awkward characters that I can’t help but root for. Tommy is painfully shy, but wants to break out of his shell. Through the mysterious chocolatier, he meets Nathan, who brings color, excitement, and romance to his life.

  • Jordan Castillo Price’s site.
  • Excerpt for Hue, Tint and Shade. (Scroll down linked page.)

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The Iron KingThe Iron King (The Iron Fey series, book 1) by Julie Kagawa 2/23/10 Ebook

Original YA with a wonderful take on the Fey. It was a great combination of familiar fae characters (Queens Titania and Mab, Puck, the Erl King) and new ones. I loved the story behind the origin of the Iron Fay, and Meghan was a wonderful heroine. Robbie was sweet, and the Winter Prince very broody and intense. I can’t wait to read more when book 2 comes out in August 2010.

  • Julie Kagawa’s site. (Music begins automatically on linked page.)
  • Excerpt for The Iron King.

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Night PleasuresNight Pleasures (Dark Hunter series, book 2) by Sherrilyn Kenyon 2/23/10 Audiobook

Audiobook read by Carrington MacDuffie.

It’s taken me a while to get back to this series, and I don’t know if I would have if it it hadn’t been in audiobook format. While I enjoyed this story for the most part I don’t think I’ll be working my way through the entire series. Kyrian was uber alpha and tough. Amanda was down to earth and reminded me of an old school heroine, ultra feminine and slightly clingy. I think there’s too much cheese factor for me to commit to the rest of the series. No matter the danger, they are always hyper aware of each other, wanting to jump each other’s bones no matter if the demon guy is about to get them. Just not for me. However, I think I’ll give this series 1 last try in the form of Night Play, which, when I reviewed Fantasy Lover last year, I remember some said was the best book in the series.

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Archangel's Kiss Archangel’s Kiss (Guild Hunter series, book 2) by Nalini Singh 2/19/10

Nalini Singh does it again with Archangel’s Kiss. I love getting to see the angel city. The originality of the series and the visual pictures her words make are just wonderful. I’m really enjoying where she is taking Elena in this series and how her relationship with Raphael is progressing.

Now, if only we can get Illium’s story soon!

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She's Got it BadShe’s Got it Bad by Sarah Mayberry 2/19/10 Audiobook

Audiobook read by Zoe Hunter. Read the full review for this book here.

Sarah Mayberry is my favorite category author, and She’s Got it Bad is now my favorite Mayberry! She packs a lot into the relatively short format of a Blaze catergory. Yet, the development of Zoe’s and Liam’s relationship never feels rushed or contrived.

I really liked Zoe, who was a very unique romance heroine. Liam, like Zoe, has some issues and considerable history with Zoe. He rushes in playing the Alpha trying to “fix” her. I love that she fights him when he oversteps, but doesn’t turn down genuine help (like a job) that she really needs, when he makes a reasonable offer.

My only complaint is that while the audiobook narrator did an OK job, I wish the book had been read with an Australian accent given how firmly Sarah Mayberry’s books are set in that country. However, even this minor distraction did not take away from my overall enjoyment of this book.

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Traitor's MoonTraitor’s Moon (Nightrunner series, book 3) by Lynn Flewelling 2/17/10 Audiobook

Audiobook read by Raymond Todd.

Seregil and Alec accompany Princess Klia (sp?) to Aurënen on a diplomatic mission. I loved seeing them as Talímenios (a committed same-sex couple) now, and how they are still getting used to their public “couplehood”.  Both of them are adjusting. I also really like getting to see more of the Aurënfaie and learning more about Seregil’s past and the story behind his exile.

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Love Under SiegeLove Under Siege (Brothers in Arms series, book 2) by Samantha Kane 2/14/10 Ebook

I love that Samantha Kane is really able to sell the love, romance, and emotion in her m/m/f books. Often in this genre there is an emotional imbalance between the characters, or 2 are the “main” relationship which doesn’t usually work for me as well. However, with the BiA series, there is a wonderful balance the the triads.
Of course, there requires a suspension of belief around some of the greater menage issues, but on the whole it is handled well, and I love the community of men and women being built into this series.

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Stalking DarknessStalking Darkness (Nightrunner series, book 2) by Lynn Flewelling 2/11/10 Audiobook

Audiobook read by Raymond Todd.

A couple of days after finishing Luck in the Shadows (book 1 in the Nightrunners series) I found that I couldn’t get Alec and Seregil out of my mind. I gave in and got Stalking Darkness eventhough my Audible points wouldn’t come in for another week. I was really glad I did.

Stalking Darkness WAS truly a dark tale. So much happens, I’m almost at a loss to sum it up in a brief mini-review. More is learned about the magic that resides both with the magicians of Skala (and Nysander in particular) and the necromancers of Plenimar. Alec and Seregil lead their double lives as Nightrunners and as bored society gadflies. Beka (Micum’s daughter) is now part of the Queen’s Horse Guard and fighting the war with Plenimar. All these disparate characters and elements come together in a compelling and tragic climax. Great stuff!

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Don't Look BackDon’t Look Back by Josh Lanyon 2/9/10 Ebook

Good romantic suspense about Peter, a museum director who has been falsely accused of embezzlement/theft from his work. I loved how (due to his amnesia) he is discovering what has happened to him as the reader does. Mike Griffin, the investigating officer is pissed off and out to nail Peter (ahem) for the crime. Isn’t he?

I love Mike’s alpha-ness. It’s clear that there’s more to his attitude than meets the eye, and it’s fun following Peter as he finds out what is really going on.

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I Spy Something BloodyI Spy Something Bloody by Josh Lanyon 2/8/10 Ebook

February DIK Challenge book. Read full reivew here.

For me, what makes this story is the protagonist, Mark. A spy with what sounds like MI-6, he’s hoping for a second chance at love with Stephen, and the suspense from this situation is just as strong as it is from the espionage story line.

For all of Mark’s macho job and “danger-man” persona, he is so vulnerable, both physically and emotionally. His love for Stephen is out there for all to see (especially Stephen and his jealous new boyfriend, Bryce). Stephen had such gentleness and sensitivity yet still had a core of steel, determined not to be hurt once again by Mark. Seeing him slowly lower his defenses against Mark was great reading.

I already have the sequel  I Spy Something Wicked loaded on my ereader and will be getting to it soon!

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Hard to HoldHard to Hold (Hard to Hold trilogy, book 1) by Stephanie Tyler 2/8/10 Ebook

I felt a real void after finishing Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series, and set out to find more SEALs series. This one sure fit the bill! While I didn’t love it as much as I do the Brockmann, I did enjoy it quite a bit.

I really liked Isabelle, who was so strong and such a survivor after her abduction while doing humanitarian work in Africa. Jake was a great military alpha male whom I loved seeing connect with Isabelle. He was so aware of her and what she needed given what she was working through.

I’m looking forward to reading the other two in the trilogy, which tell Jake’s brothers’ stories.

  • Stephanie Tyler’s site.
  • Excerpt at author’s site.

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The Girl with the Dragon TattooThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium trilogy, book 1) by Stieg Larsson 2/7/10 Audiobook

Audiobook read by Martin Wenner.

A bit of a slow start, but once it built up some momentum was really a great story. Mostly this was due to the literary phenomenon that is Lisbeth Salander. She and Mikael Blomqvist investigate the 30 year old disappearance of a 16 year old girl, discovering that her fate may be intertwined with a number of mysterious deaths that have been going on for decades.

The investigation and Mikael’s story were interesting, but Lisbeth was the true draw here for me. She’s a young woman (early 20’s) who is under the guardianship of a victimizing opportunist, due to her early history of emotional instability. What happens with her is horrifying, and how she takes control of her life is utterly shocking and compelling.

I’m on the waiting list for the audiobook of book 2, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and I can’t wait for the release of TGwtDT movie, later this year.

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SympathySympathy by Jordan Castillo Price 2/6/10 Ebook/Short Story

I really liked this  sweet and touching story about Tony, a landscaper who is still dealing with the aftermath of an accident that took his father’s life and much of Tony’s health. He meets artist David, who is now living in the town’s “haunted house on a hill” and immediately they connect. There’s a lot going on emotionally for such a short (48 pgs) story. Very enjoyable.

  • Jordan Castillo Price’s site.

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Striking Sparks (A PsyCop novelette) by Jordan Castillo Price 2/4/10 Ebook

This “novelette” can be read after Criss Cross (PsyCop #2)

Two words. More. Crash.

Want more? OK. Vic and Jacob don’t make an appearance here, but as much as I love those guys, I didn’t miss them, since we get a closer look at Jacob’s ex (and the thorn in Vic’s side). We get a little more depth and insight into Crash, but here he serves as a foil to the closeted, engaged to be married Andrew, who shows up at the Tarot Card reader’s, downstairs from Sticks and Stones (Crash’s shop) looking for—something. He’s not sure what. What he finds is Crash.

This isn’t a romance with an hea. More of a sexy encounter. Fun reading!

  • Jordan Castillo Price’s site.
  • PsyCop site.

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Luck in the ShadowsLuck in the Shadows (Nightrunner series, book 1) by Lynn Flewelling 2/2/10 Audiobook

Audiobook read by Raymond Todd.

This book was slow to start, but once the characters were developed a little and the action gained momentum, it was a rollicking good listen. Since I’ve covered some of this book/series in my Nightrunners series post, I’m borrowing shamelessly from it.

Seregil, a young Aurënfaie (think elvish), is a wonderful character: witty and sharp, skilled in the ways of court and thievery, he surprises himself and those around him by taking Alec under his wing.

Alec is a 16 year old orphan who, until he is thrown in the prison cell where he meets Seregil, is all alone in the world and has been taking care of himself with his hunting skills and down to earth attitude.

Over the course of the first book, they come to rely on each other, often saving the other’s life. When Seregil is stricken by a mysterious magical illness, Alec proves that he is just as capable of taking care of him, and their dire situation.

This book is a great beginning to a wonderful fantasy series.

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The Art of DyingThe Art of Dying (Partners in Crime #4) by Josh Lanyon and Jordan Castillo Price 2/1/10 Ebook

The two novellas, “Lovers and Other Strangers” by Josh Lanyon and “Body Art” by Jordan Castillo Price are both good, but Josh Lanyon’s “LaOS” just stole my heart. Finn, recovering from a near fatal car accident has returned to his remote New England home for the first time since he’d discovered his lover, Con cheating on him with his twin brother, Fitch.

I loved how Finn saw and interpreted the world around him through color (like the colors of paints). (My mother loved to oil paint, and I spent much time as a kid in art stores looking at the tubes with their wonderful, evocative names.) I wasn’t sure I’d warm up to Con, especially given his infidelity, but I did and then some.

JL packs a lot into this 129 pg novella and it is now one of my favorite stories by him.

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This month really seemed to belong to the Nightrunner series for me. The series crept up on me slowly, and it wasn’t till a couple of days after I finished the first book, Luck in the Shadows, that I realized I had to get the next book. Immediately. After that, the glom was on.

My other top reads of the month were Josh Lanyon’s story “Lovers and Other Strangers” from The Art of Dying and I Spy Something Bloody. Also, Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Kiss and Julie Kagawa’s The Iron King. So, YA, pnr/uf, m/m, romantic suspense. About par for the course! 🙂

So, what were your favorite reads in February?

Check out my other 2010 reads here.

March 6, 2010 at 4:00 am 13 comments

Just finished reading . . . Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls series, book 1) by Maggie Stiefvater (YA) AUDIOBOOK

(Warning: book link automatically starts a book trailer with audio.)

Wow. What a beautifully written book. The prose was beautiful, poetic at times, but it never got in the way of telling the story of Grace and Sam.

I actually hadn’t planned on a review, but while listing this book on my Read Books page, I found I had too much to say about this book that just couldn’t fit on that page.

Here is the book description:

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf — her wolf — is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human — or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

After a wolf attack when she was 11, Grace has always felt deeply connected to the wolves who live in the woods behind her house. Especially, the yellow-eyed wolf who watches her from the trees. Sam has always watched over the girl who survived his fellow pack members’ attack. When circumstances bring them together, both when Sam is wolf and young man, such a beautiful love story unfolds.

The chill of rural Minnesota is so evocative in Shiver, that it feels like it’s another character in the book. I loved how the chapters were identified with the current temperature. It gave an urgency to the romance and to Sam’s desire to stay with Grace for as long as he possibly could before returning to his wolf form.

With Grace’s yearning to be with her wolf, Sam’s almost obsessive devotion to Grace, and the small town, rural setting of Shiver, it’s hard not to make the inevitable comparisons to Twilight. And, while I enjoyed Twilight for what it was, it was hard not for me not to feel like Grace is what Bella should have been. They are both the responsible kid raised by flaky/checked out parents, looking for someone of their own to love. However, their similarites end there. While Bella latches onto her relationship with Edward in an unhealthy (imo) way, Grace’s strength and steadfastness become more when she’s with Sam. They now have a purpose, and allow her to discover why she has always felt so connected to “her” wolves. I loved travelling with her on her journey of self-discovery.

Sam, on the other hand, was a wonderful example of a beta hero: sensitive to Grace’s needs as well as others around him, artistic, and introspective, I loved how he communicated through his love of poetry and his songwriting.

Usually, I don’t miss having an audiobook instead of a print book. And, the readers for this book, David LeDoux and Jenna Lamia, were excellent. However, some passages were so beautiful that I know if I had been reading them, I would have lingered more, rereading here and there.

I had a few minor quibbles with Shiver: absentee, clueless parents (natch) and an amazingly convenient medical skill in a secondary character, an adversary who sort of faded away. However, in light of the beautiful story, it was easy to look past them.

I was so excited to hear in the author’s interview at the end of the audiobook that a sequel to Shiver, entitled Linger, will be out Fall 2010. Now, the hardest part for me will be deciding whether to get the audiobook or print book.

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September 23, 2009 at 5:00 am 9 comments

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