Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays to all, whatever you celebrate! I hope you all have lots of books in your stocking and under your tree.

I haven't been doing many romance reviews because I've been reading a couple of fantasy series. It's surprising how close the line is between fantasy and paranormal with some books. I will get back to the romances soon.

I'm debating whether to include ebook reviews on here. I have to think about that.

Enjoy and stay safe!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hunting the Hunter by Shiloh Walker

This is a very interesting vampire book which is part of a series. I didn't realize that until I had finished it and looked the author up on Amazon to see what else she had written, so obviously you don't have to read them in order. It is in a similar vein to the J.R. Ward books and the Keri Arthur books, but with some differences. There's more of an emphasis on the relationship between the hero and heroine in this story, and less on secondary characters and worldbuilding.

I've been trying to figure out why I liked this book so much and all I can come up with is the author's voice and her style of writing is masterful. Although the plot is not very original (hunting down a rogue vampire,) it's done with more depth and more insights into the villian than is usual. The characters are not particularly original either (the vampire Hunter who protects the world and the human who loves her) but I came to know them and empathize with them. There is a lot of action and the book moves quickly, but it is the writing that makes this book stand out.

I'll rate this book a 7.5 out of 10 and am looking forward to reading more books by Shiloh Walker.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Possessed by the Highlander by Terri Brisbin

If you're in the mood for a Scottish historical, Possessed by the Highlander is an excellent choice. The story is a variation of the forced marriage plot, but it is much more than that implies.

The strength of this book is in the characters and their growth. The plot is minimal, with little action other than in the beginning and end of the book, but it kept me mesmerized. The hero and heroine felt very real and I was really rooting for them. I liked that the hero was known as the Peacemaker and was not the usual warrior Highlander. I really liked the ending which I felt was quite unusual and very satisfying. The story made me tear up three or four times, which is an indication of how good the writing is.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an insightful Scottish medieval romance, and I'll rate it 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Moving Target by Cheyenne McCray

I'm a fan of McCray's paranormal Magic series, but this is the first of her romantic suspense books that I've read. It is a straight romantic suspense, no paranormal elements, but if you're in the mood for a fast paced book with a lot of action and steamy sex, this fits the bill.

The suspense never let up and there was a nicely done sense of imminent danger throughout the book. This is the book's strongest point. The characters were interesting, but I had trouble empathizing with them. This is surprising, since the characters in the Magic series are so well done. I also wondered why the author let the cat out of the bag about the heroine's sister being alive at the beginning of the book, but maybe it was to keep us wondering when Ani would find out. I also was disappointed that Ani's sister, Jennifer, did not exactly have a happy ending.

I will look for McCray's other romantic suspense books, but my favorites are her paranormals. I'll rate Moving Target a 7.0 out of 10.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Guarded Heart by Jennifer Blake

Guarded Heart is part of Blake's Masters at Arms series. This book was a bit different than most of the books I read. It had a slower pace, entirely in keeping with the 1844 New Orleans setting, and had a very strong sense of atmosphere. This author obviously knows her history and her area, not surprising since she is a 7th generation Louisianian.

I very much enjoyed travelling back in time with Jennifer Blake and I thought the plot was interesting and original. It's not often that we see a heroine with the determination that Ariadne has. Gavin, the sword master, is just what you'd want in a hero and he seems very human, not too perfect like some. The action scene at the end of the book did strain credulity but kept me turning the pages as fast as I could to see what would happen.

This was quite a change from the fast paced, sometimes verging on frenetic, dark paranormals I read, or the light and witty English historicals. It gave me time to savor the small details and enjoy learning all the secrets of this well-matched couple. I'll rate it a 7.5 out of 10 and I'll be looking for more of her books set in New Orleans.

Monday, December 1, 2008

All I Want For Christmas is a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks

All I Want For Christmas is a Vampire is a fun read. It is "Vampires Lite," in the same vein (LOL) as the Lynsay Sands vampire books. This is the 5th in the series but you could probably catch on without a problem if you haven't read the previous books. It was nice to see some of the characters from other books, though, especially the intriguing half-vampire toddler Constantine.

I liked the hero, Ian MacPhie, very much. Of course what's not to like about a gorgeous Scottish vampire looking for his soul mate? He thinks she will be a vampire--ha. Toni, the heroine, is great but I do wish she had gotten to kick ass more. She is hired as a guard and is supposedly a very good fighter but we don't get to see that. I did like how brave she was, how loyal she was and how she seemed real.

There is just enough angst and action in the book to keep things interesting, but the emphasis is definitely on the romance and the humor. I'd rate this book 7.5 out of 10.

Monday, November 24, 2008

One Silent Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Even a bad book by Sherrilyn Kenyon is better than many authors' best books. And One Silent Night is by no means a bad book. But it is not her best. I say that having read every one of her books (except for The Dark-Hunter Companion), including the anthology stories.

This is an interesting book, though I think you might be totally lost if you haven't read her previous books. Even for a big fan like me, it was hard to keep track of the different kinds of demons and other creatures. It had a fairly simple plot and moved quickly. It was nice to see some of the other characters we've come to love play a role in this story, particularly Nick who has an important part. I'm assuming his story will (finally) be coming soon.

The main character (I hesitate to say hero) of the book is Stryker, who we've seen before as the big bad guy. Although he does become more sympathetic in this book, and we learn the reasons he is like he is, it's still not enough for me to forgive him for all that he's done. I don't actually think he deserved a happy ending, although the heroine, Zephyra, did. I liked Zephyra because she was such a kick-ass bitch, I just wish she'd killed Stryker like she wanted to and lived happily ever after with someone else.

I'd rate this book a 6.5 out of 10, but don't let that deter you from reading other Sherrilyn Kenyon books because at her best she is fantastic.

Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

Dragon Actually is the ultimate in escapism. It's a fun romp guaranteed to make you forget your troubles and wish you had a sexy dragon shapeshifter of your own. The book by G.A. Aiken (a pen name for Shelly Laurenston) includes the 217 page novel Dragon Actually and a 115 page novella, Chains & Flames.

Dragon Actually is the antidote to all the doom and gloom, brooding, dark paranormal romances. Don't get me wrong, I LIKE dark, but not 100% of the time. The heroine, Annwyl (known as Annwyl the Bloody), is a gem who enjoys lopping off heads and has a bit of an anger management issue. She is ably matched by the dragon, Fearghus the Destroyer.

Besides the humor, what gives this book a twist is that Annwyl doesn't realize that the knight who is training her is actually Fearghus in his human form. Watching their relationship develop is a delight, as are the emotional conflicts that follow. The secondary characters are also fun, and I was glad to find out more about some of them in Chains & Flames which is the story of how Fearghus' parents became mates.

I'll rate this book 8.0 out of 10 and I can't wait to read the next book in the series, About a Dragon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Frontier Courtship and The Journey Home

The only romance genre I don't read is Inspirational. So guess what Harlequin sends me to review? Yep, two inspirationals. They are both part of the Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical line. The two books are Frontier Courtship by Valerie Hansen and The Journey Home by Linda Ford. They are both set in the Western United States. I tried very hard to read them with an open mind but not being a Christian, I am definitely not in their target market.

Frontier Courtship was the better of the two books. I thought it was quite well written and the religious platitudes were minimal. It takes place in 1850, on a trip from Ohio to California. I thought the historical aspects were done well and there was a real sense of the time period. The interaction with the Cheyenne tribe was one of the most interesting parts of the book. It was a fast moving book with a lot of action and some surprises along the way.

The hero and heroine were both likable, although the hero, Connell, was just a little bit too perfect to seem real. He was strong, brave and honorable, but not very emotional. The heroine, Faith, was more interesting. She was strong and brave, but flawed and well aware of it. It was interesting to watch her grow during the book. I'd rate this book a 7.0 out of 10, and for readers who like westerns and inspirationals, it is a recommended read.

The Journey Home, on the other hand, drove me up a wall. Not only were the religious aspects overwhelming, the two main characters were unsympathetic and just plain annoying. The hero, Kody, is half Native American and half white and has experienced a lot of prejudice in his life. Unfortunately he can't seem to get past that and makes everyone in his life who loves him suffer for it. I prefer my heroes to be strong and self-confident.

The heroine, Charlotte, was even worse. She was so self-righteous and pious I just wanted to...well, let's just say it wouldn't be pretty. I don't know how Kody could stand being around her, especially since she was always telling him what he was doing wrong. The plot line with Kody's crippled child was sweet, if a bit hackneyed. The book could have used more action and less "woe is me." I'd rate this book a 3.0 out of 10.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Anne Long

The Perils of Pleasure is an excellent historical. Julie Anne Long, one of my favorite historical authors, keeps getting better with every book. I can't wait to read her latest, Like No Other Lover.

This book has one of the best openings ever, with the hero about to be hung for murder and the heroine rescuing him. The hero, Colin, is a charming rogue who was falsely accused of killing a man and after his rescue he tries to prove his innocence while avoiding capture. As interesting and full of surprises as this plot line is, the real story is his voyage of discovery. The author does an excellent job of getting into his head and letting us feel his emotions and understand how he is changing.

The heroine, Madeleine, is a fantastic character. She is strong, smart and brave (about most things) but with a tragic past that makes her unwilling to risk her heart. Unlike in many romances, both the hero and heroine do not feel they have a future together. The hero thinks he is in love with another woman and is frank about this from the beginning. They both fight the sexual tension that is between them from the first. The various adventures they go through together are exciting and amusing, and at times heartwarming.

This book is highly recommended if you are in the mood for a witty, emotionally intense romance with appealing, complex characters. I'd give this book an 8.5 out of 10.

Slave by Cheryl Brooks

This is a tough book to review. I've been thinking about it a lot and decided not to give a numerical rating. The book has such high points and such low points that it would result in an average rating, and this is anything but an average book.

First, the positives about Slave. It is very original--outstandingly so. It has interesting (though flawed) characters. It has an excellent beginning. The first sentence is, "I found him in the slave market on Orpheseus Prime, and even on such a godforsaken planet as that one, their treatment of him seemed extreme." It moves quickly and never bogs down. It has plenty of surprises and a satisfying conclusion.

But it is a seriously flawed book. One of the largest flaws is the excessive use of exclamation points. Where was the editor? I have never seen a book with more exclamation points and it became quite irritating. I opened two pages at random--one page had 5 and one had 7, and that was not unusual. Another flaw is the "folksy" sayings of the heroine. Folksy might be okay in a minor character, but not in a major one. This is the author's first book and you can tell.

Although the book has a good amount of sex in it, it is more sweet than erotic, even though it is explicit. It is interesting, particularly the alien aspects (although the nose fetish was just bizarre) but not hot. This is not necessarily bad, unless you were expecting a hot and steamy romance.

All in all, it is an intriguing book that would have been very good with some editing, but verges on being unreadable because of serious flaws. I may give the author another try, particularly if I can look through the book first to see if she's cured her addiction to exclamation points.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Books Bought

Yep, went on a little spree. :) Probably the last books I'll buy until after Christmas.

The Promise by Donna Boyd
Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken (aka Shelly Laurenston)
Moving Target by Cheyenne McCray
The Spy Wore Silk by Andrea Pickens
The Secret to Seduction by Julie Anne Long
The Stranger in Her Bed by Janet Chapman
Guarded Heart by Jennifer Blake
Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter
Last Wolf Watching by Rhyannon Byrd
Bump in the Night anthology by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney (bought it for her story), Ruth Ryan Langan, Mary Kay McComas
All I Want For Christmas is a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks
A Highlander for Christmas by Sandy Blair
Storm Born by Richelle Mead
My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding anthology (9 stories, including one by Sherrily Kenyon)
An Enchanted Season anthology (bought for Nalini Singh story)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Magical Christmas Cat (Anthology)

The Magical Christmas Cat anthology contains stories by Lora Leigh, Erin McCarthy, Nalini Singh and Linda Winstead Jones. This has to be one of the most deceptive titles and book covers ever. The cover has a white cat and a snowglobe on it. You'd think at first glance (if you weren't familiar with Singh and Leigh) that it would be perfect for your elderly cat-loving aunt. Well, if she loves graphic steamy sex scenes it would be.

Leigh's story and Singh's story are similar in feel. They are both wonderful and highly recommended. Stroke of Enticement by Nalini Singh takes place in the world of her popular Psy-Changeling series. The hero, Zack, is a sexy wereleopard and the heroine, Annie, is a human teacher. The story is sweet as well as being erotic, and the way Zach courts Annie is heartwarming.

Christmas Heat by Lora Leigh takes place in her Breeds world. The hero, Noble, is a Breed and Haley is a librarian. This is the most graphic story in the book, as you'd expect from Leigh. It is also fast moving and suspenseful. A couple of scenes were real nail-biters. It's a tough choice, but if I had to pick a favorite from this anthology, I'd pick Christmas Heat. I'd rate both of these stories 8.5 out of 10.

McCarthy's story and Jones' story are also similar. They are much sweeter with less suspense than the previous stories. Christmas Bree by Erin McCarthy and Sweet Dreams by Linda Winstead Jones are both enjoyable, light, and well written, but I was just not invested in the characters. It may just be a matter of taste. I prefer stories that are intense, with characters that leap off the page and twists in the plot I can't guess. I would rate both of them 6.0 out of 10.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh

This is the 5th book in Singh's Psy-Changeling series and it is another winner. She has created an interesting world that continues to remain fresh. This book features another match between a male Changeling and a female Psy.

The heroine, Ashaya, is different than the other Psy heroines we've seen and she has an unusual talent concerning DNA that is essential to the story, but I've found some of the other Psy abilities like seeing the future to be more interesting. The hero, Dorian, is a sexy wereleopard who is haunted by the brutal murder of his sister by a Psy.

Nalini Singh has an amazing ability to let us feel the characters' emotions. We really feel like we know each person. That makes the tribulations they go through on their way to a HEA real edge-of-your-seat stuff. Hostage to Pleasure moves quickly with a lot of action and a lot of emotional tension. It's a very satisfying read and I am looking forward to the next in the series.

I'd rate this book 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Unbound by Lori Devoti

Unbound is a book in Harlequin's Nocturne (paranormal) line. I've read several of these now and they vary a lot in quality. Some have been quite good, some average and a couple were really awful (those were early ones, though, maybe they were still learning what would work.)

I'm glad to say Unbound is one of the good ones. It features a Hellhound named Risk as the hero, which is interesting and original. Not to mention sexy as hell. The heroine, Kara, is a witch, but she doesn't realize that at the beginning of the book. There's a lot going on in this book and it moves quickly, perhaps too quickly particularly at the end which felt a bit rushed to me though it was happy. The hero and heroine were really the focus, the secondary characters were fairly standard (well, not the giant snake guy, he was cool.) The originality of the paranormal elements and the way Risk and Kara grew and changed during the story were the high points for me.

I'd rate this book 7 out of 10 and would love to read about more Hellhounds.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty Takes a Holiday is the 3rd book in Vaughn's series about a werewolf named Kitty (ha ha) who has a radio talk show called The Midnight Hour. I enjoyed the first two books in the series a lot. This one, not so much.

I felt this book was too dark and depressing. I usually don't mind dark as long as there is a happy ending. Yep, you guessed it--no happy ending. Not a horrible ending, but certainly not happy. I had to push myself to finish this book, I kept getting bogged down. There wasn't a lot of action and there was too much angst (and I like angst--up to a point.) Kitty is taking a break from her radio show in this book, and I really missed it. The radio show callers and guests provided some much needed humor and insight in the previous two books.

Some important things happen to Kitty in this book so unfortunately I can't recommend skipping it if you want to keep up with the series. In the next book in the series, which I already have, she returns to her radio show, so I have hopes that this book was just an aberration and Vaughn will be back in fine form for Kitty and the Silver Bullet. I'd rate this book a 5.5 out of 10.

Nature of the Beast (Anthology)

Nature of the Beast is an anthology with historical vampire stories by Hannah Howell, Adrienne Basso and Eve Silver. They take place in Scotland, Wales and London and all are about 100 pages long.

Howell's story, "Dark Hero," which takes place in 1512, was fascinating. It featured a hero and heroine who both have their secrets, and their mysterious nature is slowly and masterfully revealed. There is action, emotion and interesting secondary characters, all very well done especially considering the short length of the story. Sometimes novellas feel rushed or like they are missing something, but this feels just right. I'd rate this story 8 out of 10.

Basso's story, "Bride of the Beast," is the weakest of the three, but that doesn't mean it isn't enjoyable. It takes place in Wales in 1220. The heroine is amazingly brave and the hero appropriately tortured, but the characters didn't entirely come alive for me. There is a lot of action and the pace of the story moves right along, but the prose seems stilted at times. I'd rate this story 6.5 out of 10.

Eve Silver's story, "Kiss of the Vampire," takes place in 1839 London, much of it in a hospital for the poor. Silver creates such a dark and dreary atmosphere you can almost hear the moans of the patients in the wards and smell the blood. The story has a somewhat spooky feeling--you know something is going to happen, and you're sure it won't be good! The vampire hero is wonderfully mysterious and honorable and so lonely you will want to comfort him. The heroine is brave and smart and easy to sympathize with. An excellent story and one that will leave you wanting to read more of Silver's work. I'd rate it 8 out of 10.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dead of Night (Anthology)

Dead of Night includes stories by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan and Mary Kay McComas. Each story is about 100 pages long. The quality varied a lot, so I'm going to rate each story separately rather than give one rating for the book.

"Eternity in Death" by J.D. Robb features her futuristic Lt. Eve Dallas. Although I found this novella to be well written, I also thought it was very boring. I really had to force myself to finish it. There was little suspense, little humor and the characters didn't come alive for me. If you are a fan of Robb's series, though, you might enjoy this. I'd rate it a 4 out of 10.

The gem of the book for me was Blayney's "Amy and the Earl's Amazing Adventure." It's an English time travel that uses an unusual approach. My attention was riveted from the beginning and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. It was fresh and original, with great characters and a nice touch of humor. I'd rate it an 8 out of 10 and would probably have rated it higher if it was longer. I'm going to see what else Blayney has written.

The third story, by Langan, is "Timeless." As you can guess from the title, it's another time travel. This one was quite different than Blayney's story, though. It takes place in Scotland in the 15th century and although it is interesting, there is a major problem with the ending. [SPOILER ALERT] I absolutely HATE books where the hero dies and the heroine returns to the present time to find someone very like him (descendant? reincarnation?) Either way it doesn't matter because he is NOT the hero and it ruins the book for me. Therefore, the story rates a 2 out of 10 solely because of the ending. If it had ended differently, I probably would have rated it a 6.5.

The last story is "On the Fringe" by Mary Kay McComas. I was turned off at first because it felt like chicklit, not a genre I enjoy. I really hate whiny women dealing with boring everyday problems. The story did pick up once the magic carpet appeared. I don't remember reading a romance before with a magic carpet and I found this intriguing. It then took on a "It's a Wonderful Life" feel and I did get quite interested. I thought it was original, although I didn't like the characters that much, and I'll rate it a 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair

I am a huge Linnea Sinclair fan. She wrote one of my favorite books, Games of Command, which is possibly the best science fiction romance novel available today. Her other books such as Gabriel's Ghost and Finders Keepers are all terrific.

The Down Home Zombie Blues is my least favorite of her books. This doesn't mean that it's bad, it just didn't thrill me the way all her other books have. I think part of the problem is that it mainly takes place on Earth which is not nearly as exciting as a spaceship or other planet. Also, the hero was nice but he was a little too perfect and well, just a bit boring. I did like the strong heroine, though. The secondary characters, as in all Sinclair books, were wonderful. The plot was okay, just not as interesting as in her other books. Zombies don't make for very complex villains and we don't find out enough about the other villains, the Tresh.

I'd rate this 7 out of 10, and recommend you start with one of Sinclair's other books if you've never read her.

Be Mine Tonight by Kathryn Smith

Be Mine Tonight is the first book by Kathryn Smith I've read. It is a historical vampire novel, a genre that is not very common and one I enjoy. It is set in Cornwall in 1899.

This book is perfectly adequate. I know that sounds like "damned by faint praise" but I actually liked this book and would read more by this author. But there is not much about it that is outstanding. I did really like the heroine, who was interesting and strong (mentally, not physically) even while she was dying. The vampire hero was properly heroic, but I got a little annoyed with how he persisted in thinking he was cursed. I thought the plot was a bit thin and it could have used more action, but it never got bogged down. A couple of the secondary characters had promise, but could have been developed more.

This is a good choice if you are in the mood for a quick, uncomplicated historical vampire read. I'd rate it 6.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Books Bought

Ordered some books from Amazon. I'm looking forward to reading New Moon by Stephenie Meyer, The Magical Christmas Cat anthology, Up in Smoke by Katie MacAlister, One Knight Only by Julia Latham and Slave by Cheryl Brooks.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Moonstruck by Susan Grant

I've read several Susan Grant books and this is my favorite. When I first started to read it, I groaned because I thought it was going to have the same plot as one of the best SF romances ever, Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair. There are certain similarities, but once I got a few chapters in I realized the books were quite different.

I love books with strong heroines, and Brit Bandar is a tough starship admiral. The hero, Finn, is a former pirate and Brit's long-time adversary, but they are thrown together when peace is declared and they must serve on the same ship. Finn is a witty, sexy rogue and it's easy to see how Brit falls for him despite her best intentions. They both have issues from their pasts that they need to overcome.

I loved the relationship between the two main characters, but I also thought the secondary characters were very well done. The plot moved quickly and had some interesting twists. The world building was a bit generic, but I didn't care because I was so caught up in the love story.

I'd rate Moonstruck an 8 out of 10 and look forward to Grant's next book.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn

The Lost Duke of Wyndham is an excellent British historical. The companion book, Mr. Cavendish I Presume, was just released yesterday and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

The Lost Duke is Jack Audley, a charming rogue who we first see holding up the heroine's coach. The title of the book gives away the fact that he is actually the Duke, so there is not much suspense there, but I found the book to be a real page-turner anyway. The characters really shine in this book and their banter is both amusing and emotional. It was not only the hero and heroine who were fascinating, but also the secondary characters like Thomas (who after years of holding the title turned out not to be the Duke, but only Mr. Cavendish) and the nasty old grandmother.

This is a fast, fun read with a hero you will fall in love with. I'd rate it 8 out of 10.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Immortals: The Redeeming by Jennifer Ashley

This is the 5th in the Immortals series. One of the unusual things about the series is that 3 different writers are working on it. Jennifer Ashley wrote the 1st, 4th and 5th. The next book, Immortals: the Crossing, is by Joy Nash and is out on September 30. I didn't notice a big difference between the authors, they all did a good job. It's important to read the books in order or you'll miss a lot.

Immortals: The Redeeming was a little bit disappointing. It's not that the book was bad, it wasn't. I think it's that I was expecting something different. Redeeming's hero is Tain, who was tortured for 700 years, and I thought it would be more about his recovery and his love story with the half-demon Samantha. While that was included, it seemed secondary to the mystery of who was killing the demons in town and the power struggles among one demon clan. There were some good secondary characters, especially Logan the werewolf (I wonder if he'll get his own book) and Merrick the demon. There was a lot of action and the story moved at a good pace, but I think it could have packed more of an emotional wallop.

I'd rate it a 7.0 out of 10.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase

I recently discovered Loretta Chase when I read Lord of Scoundrels and loved it. I've been trying to find all her backlist books since then.

Lord Perfect doesn't quite reach the heights of Lord of Scoundrels, but it is great fun. It's original, it's fast moving and it's very funny. The best part of the book is the characters--the hero and heroine, of course, but also the secondary characters, who are all outstanding.

There are a few things this book has going for it that predisposes me to like it. I like strong heroines, and Bathsheba is certainly that. I like strong, serious heroes such as Benedict who have to learn how to have fun and live a little. I love books that are witty and clever.

I usually do NOT like children in books, often finding them stereotypes or just plain annoying. But the two children in this book, Peregrine and Olivia, were amazing. They were a joy to read about and they really helped keep the book moving at a rapid pace.

I'd give this book an 8 out of 10 and look forward to reading more of Loretta Chase's historicals.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Posting the widget about Julie Anne Long's next book made me realize it's been a while since I've read a historical. The last one was the Elizabeth Hoyt book I reviewed. I like switching back and forth from paranormals to historicals but I've been on a paranormal binge lately.

Julie Anne Long is one of my favorite historical authors. A few others I really like, besides Hoyt, are Sally MacKenzie, Kathryn Caskie, Loretta Chase, Sophia Nash and Julia Quinn. I mainly read British historicals.

One problem I have with historicals is the titles. So many of the titles sound the same I have a hard time remembering which ones I've read. Hopefully this blog will help me keep track. Now I'm off to search my TBR pile to pick out a good historical....

With Every Breath by Lynn Kurland

With Every Breath is the latest in Kurland's series about the MacLeod and de Piaget families in Scotland. Many of them involve time travel and/or ghosts. My favorite in the series is Stardust of Yesterday, one of my favorite romance books. They can be read out of order, but if you read them in order you get to revisit old characters which adds to the fun.

Although I really love Kurland's writing, I have to reluctantly say With Every Breath is not her best. I still enjoyed it, but it has some fairly major flaws. The first is that it is too long and could have benefited from some editing to condense the narrative. There are too many pages in which not very much happens. Another problem is that the heroine is always crying. I mean, ALWAYS. It got very irritating. I understand she was upset, but to spend three-quarters of the book weeping is too much. I also found it totally unbelieveable that she was still a virgin at 33 and that they didn't do anything more than kissing in the book.

There was a secondary plot line that wasn't well developed until the very end, when it came together and made sense. I also would have liked to have had more time travel. The heroine, Sunshine, goes back in time to 1375, but she's only there for about 84 pages of a 386 page book.

Every author can have an "off" book and I will certainly buy her next book. If you haven't read anything by Lynn Kurland, I'd recommend starting with one of her earlier books, like Stardust of Yesterday, If I Had You or Another Chance to Dream.

I'd rate this book 6 out of 10.

The Morgue the Merrier (Anthology)

The Morgue the Merrier is a contemporary anthology with stories by Rosemary Laurey, Karen Kelley (2 stories) and Dianne Castell. They all take place in a town called Christmastown during the Christmas season. They do all have helpful ghosts in them but don't really feel like paranormal stories.

A note about rating: The ratings I give the books are only a note to tell me how much I enjoyed the book. They don't reflect how well written I think the books are (though that is a part of it) or how much I think others will enjoy it. I like certain things in a book, such as kick-ass heroines, time travel, companion animals, humor, tortured heroes, and so on, that others may not. A 5 rating reflects a book I think of as average. I usually rate higher because I pick books to read that I think I will enjoy a lot and I'm usually right.

The Morgue the Merrier's stories were all like meringue--sweet but insubstantial. They are a quick read but you're unlikely to remember much about them the next day. They are not bad, they are not great, they are just your average contemporary romance stories with a bit more humor than usual. The one by Rosemary Laurey was marginally better than the others, but they are all quite similar.

I'd rate this book a 5 out of 10. It might be fun if you want to get in the Christmas mood or if you want a light, uncomplicated read.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Heart Fate by Robin D. Owens

Owens is one of my very favorite authors. She writes beautiful romantic fantasy. Most of her books are set on the world of Celta and her world building is fascinating down to the smallest detail. Most of the people on Celta have magical power (called Flair) and many have animal companions (called Fams.)

I've read all of the books in this series and they are all great reads. My favorite of them all is Heart Thief, which brought me to tears several times. The books all have a happy ending, where two Heart Mates find each other.

What I like about this book:
Although Heart Fate is the 7th book in the series, it does not feel stale. It deals with the usual Heart Mates and how they find each other and find happiness, but it also deals with more serious issues of divorce and abuse. There was also more information about the sentient residences, which was very interesting. I did tear up a couple times because the emotion was so intense. Although there was not a great deal of action, there was a huge amount of growth of both the hero and the heroine which was very satisfying to watch. I wish I didn't have to wait so long for the next book in the series!

I'd rate this book a 9 out of 10.

Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning

Bloodfever is the second book in Moning's Fever series, following Darkfever. The third in the series, Faefever, just came out.

This series is different than Moning's other books because each book does not end with a Happily Ever After. It is dark and gritty urban fantasy with an ongoing story line. There is some romance, but it is quite minor compared to everything else that is going on.

What I liked about this book:
Everything. This was an excellent book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I admire the way the author lets us know a little bit of information at a time. The fact that the book is written in first person helps with this. I'm not a huge fan of first person, but in this case it works perfectly and contributes to the scary, somewhat eerie feel of the book. Mac is the heroine and I found her slightly annoying at times in the first book, but she really comes into her own in this volume. The plot moves quickly, the world building is fascinating and each character is complex and unpredictable. There is action, emotion, suspense, heart touching moments--all in all, a wonderful read.

I'd rate this book a 9 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What I'm Reading

I'm currently reading (among other books) Heart Fate by Robin D. Owens. This book is soooo good. I just love the world she has created and the way she write characters who are so complex and so real. It's a nice change of pace to read a lighter fantasy romance, too, since I seem to be reading a lot of dark books lately.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Vampires Are Forever by Lynsay Sands

Vampires Are Forever by Lynsay Sands is #8 in the Argeneau Vampires series. I think I've read all the books in the series, though I may have missed one or two. My favorite is The Accidental Vampire, which is #7 in the series. It is probably best to read the books in order but I didn't and don't think I missed too much.

This book features Thomas Argeneau and Inez Urso. It's a fairly typical vampires meets girl, vampire realizes girl is lifemate, girl comes to terms with it all book. This series is kind of like following a soap opera, it's fun to check in and see how the family is doing, but it's not on the Masterpiece Theatre level.

What I like about this book:
It moves along quickly with no slow spots. There is some suspense and mystery, but not a great deal. The characters are interesting and easy to like. I liked the secondary characters, many of which were featured in previous books. It's a light, fun read.

I'd rate this book 6.5 out of 10. I'd rate each of the books in this series from 5.5 to 7.5, most of them around 6.5.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

More Books Bought

Ordered more books from Amazon today. On their way soon will be: Kiss of Fury by Deborah Cooke, The Redeeming by Jennifer Ashley, Heart Fate by Robin D. Owens, Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh and Dark Rider by Kathrynn Dennis.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Books Bought

I bought a copy of Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning at the grocery store and can't wait to start reading it. I ordered three books from Amazon--Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde, The Alchemist's Apprentice by Dave Duncan and Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen (none of the 3 are romances.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kiss of Fire by Deborah Cooke

Dragons are sexy, no question about it. I love the recent dragon shape-shifter trend. Kiss of Fire is the first in the Dragonfire series by Deborah Cooke. It's also the first book by this author that I've read.

This was a very good read, with an interesting take on dragons. I liked the dragon lore and hope the author builds on that in her next book. Her next book is Kiss of Fury and features one of the secondary characters in this book, so it is probably best to read them in order.

What I liked about this book:
Pretty much everything. I think the best parts were the hero Quinn and heroine Sara. I loved them both and found it easy to root for them. They both grew during the book, which was very gratifying. I admired the way the smallest details were there for a reason and the way Cooke made the dragon society believeable.

I'd rate this book an 8 out of 10.

Demon's Kiss by Maggie Shayne

I've read a few books by Maggie Shayne and Demon's Kiss is my favorite. It is part of her Wings in the Night vampire series, but you don't have to read them in order.

There was one thing about this book that might be perceived as a flaw by some. Instead of the story being focused solely on the hero and heroine, this book focused on a group of people. There was one love story that was emphasized a bit more than other story lines that featured a newly made vampire and a fox shape-shifter (also a newly made vampire.)

What I liked about this book:
The characters were fascinating. They were all unique and interesting, even the "bad" ones. The plot was fast moving and original, and full of surprises. There were some nice touches of humor and also some parts that tugged at my emotions.

I'd rate this book 7 out of 10 and look forward to reading the next in the series, Lover's Bite.

The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

The Serpent Prince is the third book in Hoyt's The Princes trilogy. The books are very loosely connected and you don't have to read them in order.

Elizabeth Hoyt is one of my favorite historical romance authors. She has a fresh voice, interesting characters far from the stereotypes we so often see in historicals and she writes hot and emotional sex scenes.

The Serpent Prince is my least favorite of the three books, but I think that's because I didn't have as much empathy with this hero as I did with the heroes in The Raven Prince and The Leopard Prince. It was still a very enjoyable book and I enjoyed the plot device of the fairy tale the hero told the heroine.

What I liked about this book:
The writing is a notch above the usual historicals. The characters are more complex and interesting than the usual, including the secondary characters. There's a nice sense of atmosphere without getting bogged down in too many historical details. There are some unexpected twists and the ending is both surprising and satisfying.

I'd rate The Serpent Prince 7.5 out of 10.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

On My Wish List

I have tons of books on my wish list but here are some of my top picks:
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (2nd in series)
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (I adore Fforde)
Immortals: The Redeeming by Jennifer Ashley (5th in series)
Bloodfever by Karen Marie Moning (out in paperback Aug. 26)
Nicholas by Elizabeth Amber (no, not just because of the cover, though that doesn't hurt)
Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh (out on Sept. 2, I can't wait)
Heart Fate by Robin D. Owens (another one out on Sept. 2)
Kiss of Fury by Deborah Cooke (2nd in series)
Sojourn by Jana G. Oliver (time travel)

What I'm Reading

Right now I'm reading Kiss of Fire by Deborah Cooke, a new author to me. I'm about a third of the way through and enjoying it very much so far. It features a sexy dragon shape-shifter and an accountant who inherits a New Age bookstore. It's a fun read with likable characters.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lords of the Underworld series by Gena Showalter

I've read the first three books in Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series. In order, they are The Darkest Night, The Darkest Kiss and The Darkest Pleasure. It's important to read them in order.

This series has an interesting concept. It features a group of immortal warriors who were each cursed with a different demon. Some of the demons are Pain, Death, Misery, Wrath, Defeat, Doubt and Disease. A real cheery bunch. In addition to dealing with their demons, they are fighting a group of humans who want to destroy them, searching for four powerful artifacts and trying to placate the Gods.

I've read several other books by Showalter and although I enjoyed them all, this series seems to me to be a step above. The writing is better, the pacing is better, even the characters are better.

The series is reminiscent of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, but different enough that it doesn't feel like an imitation. Yes, they both feature a band of supernatural warriors who struggle with their own demons (literal in Showalter's series), but otherwise are quite different. J.R. Ward's books are more full of angst, deeper and more complex.

It's tough to pick a favorite from the three books, because there were all quite good, but I really loved the heroine of the second book, The Darkest Kiss. She is Anya, goddess of Anarchy, and a lot of fun. The hero of this book is Lucien, who is host to the demon Death. The ending of their story was surprising, emotional and very satisfying.

Things I like about this series:
The concept is fascinating. It is fast moving and exciting, with lots of action and touches of humor. The characters are all well written and sympathetic, which is quite a feat in some cases. Each book is quite different than the others and there are a lot of surprises.

I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, which unfortunately will not be out until May 2009. I'd rate these three books each 8 out of 10.

Hidden Agendas by Lora Leigh

Hidden Agendas by Lora Leigh is the second in Leigh's SEALs series. The first is Dangerous Games and I haven't read it yet. I don't feel that I missed out on much, if anything, by reading the second book first. This is steamy romantic suspense.

I've read 3 of the books in Leigh's Breeds series and enjoyed them. I prefer the Breeds books because I really love the paranormal elements. That said, Hidden Agendas is a good example of a straight romantic suspense with lots of well written sex.

Things I liked about this book:
The hero and heroine were both wonderful. I loved how brave the heroine was and the hero, with that Cajun accent, was everything you'd want in a hero, with an interesting past. There was a great deal of sexual tension and suspense. The ending was very exciting and satisfying.

I'll look for more books in this series, and in Leigh's other series. I'd rate it a 7 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dragon Wytch by Yasmine Galenorn

I just love this series by Yasmine Galenorn. Dragon Wytch is the fourth, following Witchling, Changeling and Darkling. It's important to read them in order.

These books are about three sisters, each with their own powers, and their fight against evil. The star of Dragon Wytch (and the first book, Witchling) is Camille, who is a witch (duh.) She also seems to be a man magnet and is juggling three relationships with really hot guys. One of the guys is a dragon (yum) and he is featured in this book.

What I like about this book:
The three sisters are fascinating and you feel like you know them. The world they live in, like ours but with an abundance of interesting otherworldly creatures, is very well done. The romance is hot, even if it is unconventional (which is fine with me.) There are touches of humor and a good dose of suspense to keep things moving along.

Overall, this is an excellent read that moves quickly and really takes you into the characters' lives. There are plenty of surprises and originality. I'd rate it an 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Warrior by Angela Knight

The last book I finished was Warrior by Angela Knight. This is part of her Time Hunters series. The first in the series was Jane's Warlord, but you don't have to read them in order. It's a Berkely Sensation book, classified as Paranormal, though I think it fits in the Science Fiction Romance category better.

Angela Knight is a great writer and I've read most, possibly all, of her books. She excels in creating strong alpha males and writes some of the hottest sex scenes out there.

Things I liked about this book:
It's fast moving with no slow spots. The characters are likable and easy to root for. The heroine is strong and smart. It involves time travel, one of my favorite subjects. Knight does a nice job of world building with just the right amount of detail. The plot is interesting, with some suspense.

Overall, I would rate this book a 6.5 out of 10. It is a fast, fun read but not my favorite Angela Knight. I look forward to reading the next in the series, which is Enforcer.