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.