Friday, April 24, 2009

Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione

You know how sometimes an author has a great start to a series but then it peters out, like she used up all her best ideas on the first book? Well, that sure didn't happen with Desire Unchained, the second book in the Demonica series by Larissa Ione. Desire Unchained is at least as good as Pleasure Unbound (which you will remember blew me away) and perhaps better.

This book tells the story of Shade, the demon brother who is a paramedic at Underworld General, and Runa, a newly created werewolf. There are a couple of things that prevent an easy happily-ever-after. For one thing, Runa hates Shade and wants to kill him because she blames him for her tranformation. For another, Shade is the victim of a curse that will kill him if he ever falls in love. Quite a lot to overcome!

I loved that the book opened with the two of them imprisioned in a dungeon. There was no beating around the bush, the author jumps right into the action and the story moves swiftly from one fascinating dilemma to the next. The tension built to a fantastic ending that left me completely satisfied.

The secondary characters continue to play an important part in the book, and there's not a boring one in the lot. I'd recommend reading these books in order so you can follow all the storylines easily. It's not that the book is terribly complicated, but there is a lot going on and a lot of different people/creatures to keep track of.

If you like paranormals, or have never tried one but think you might want to, this series has the highest recommendation I can give.

I'll rate this book a 9.0 out of 10.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some Like it Wicked by Teresa Medeiros

It's been a while since I read a book by Teresa Medeiros and Some Like it Wicked reminded me of how much I enjoy her work. I now plan to look for the books I've missed.

I was predisposed to like this book since it has a sexy Scottish hero and a brave, smart heroine. Pamela Darby meets Connor Kincaid when he is holding up her carriage. Yep, not that original but Medeiros does it very well. She does have a few plot twists that require suspension of disbelief, but I was having so much fun I didn't mind. Pamela convinces Connor to pose as the long-lost heir to an English Duke and it's great fun to watch them scheme.

I thought one of the strongest parts of the book was the characters. It was not only Pamela and Connor who were so well done, but almost everyone mentioned. I really had a soft spot for Connor's "valet" Brodie. I also thought what she did with Connor's cousin Crispin was excellent. He could have so easily been a cardboard villain, but instead we have a character who is both good and bad and we come to care for him. The real villain turns out to be someone else entirely.

The book moves quickly and there are a couple moments of real suspense. There is a lot of humor in the book, but also some sad memories that are dealt with. I have to admit there were two scenes where I teared up. I loved the ending, it was perfect.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys British historicals. I'll rate it 8.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Zen and the Art of Vampires by Katie MacAlister

Zen and the Art of Vampires reminded me of just how much I enjoy Katie MacAlister's books. They are pure escapism--fast, fun, sexy and more than little bizarre.

This book is listed as the 6th in the Dark Ones series but I think it stands alone. You certainly don't have to have read the others (although I have) to follow what is going on. It's a bit different than the average paranormal romance because it does not have a HEA ending, but the story continues in the next book (Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang, out May 5) and I'm confident that one will have the HEA.

The story features Pia, who is pushing forty and takes a singles tour to Europe in hopes it will spark her love life. Boy, does it ever, but certainly not in the way she imagined. The book takes place in Iceland, which I found an interesting setting. There are two potential vampire heroes, Alec and Kristoff, and many twists and turns in their complicated relationship. She does end up with one of them, but neither of them is overjoyed. I can't wait to see how their issues are resolved in the next book.

I have read some negative reviews of this book, which I don't entirely understand. I think Katie MacAlister may be one of those authors you either enjoy or you don't. Like Nora Roberts for me--I just don't get her appeal. I do enjoy MacAlister's sense of humor, her originality, her wacky secondary characters and her likable heroines. Yes, Pia can be a bit whiny and she makes mistakes, but that just makes her more believable to me.

If you're in the mood for a funny, light, action packed paranormal, Zen and the Art of Vampires fits the bill. I'd rate it 7.5 out of 10.

New Books

Yes, I continue to buy books faster than I can read them. The latest acquistitions:

Some Like It Wicked by Teresa Medeiros
How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days by Susan Grant (the only one in this series I haven't read)
Love Bites by Lynsay Sands (I already read this, didn't realize it was a reprint--argh! I hate when I do this)

I was lucky enough to win three books by Melody Thomas (under her pen name Laura Renken.) They are the Winds of Fury trilogy which features sexy pirates--yum! I'm looking forward to reading them.

My Lord Pirate by Laura Renken
Night Shadow by Laura Renken
Heart of the Condor by Laura Renken

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione

I was just a few pages into this book when I got excited about discovering a great new author. I wish she had a huge backlist I could read, but at least I have the first three Demonica books to enjoy. I'm sure Larissa Ione is going to be one of my top new finds for 2009 and I hope she's writing fast because I'm really looking forward to her next book. She does have several books out under the name Sydney Croft which I plan on buying.

Pleasure Unbound has a great premise. The series has been described as "ER with demons" but although the hospital founded by the three brothers is an important part of the books, the focus is on the brothers and their mates. Eidolon, Shade and Wraith are brothers with the same father but different mothers, which means they each have different abilities. They are all of the Incubus species, so you know you're going to be in for plenty of passion.

Pleasure Unbound tells the story of Eidolon and his mate Tayla who is more than she appears at first. She is a demon-slayer who watched a demon murder her mother so as you can imagine she is less than thrilled to end up in Underworld General Hospital after she is injured. The book is more than just a story of two lovers discovering each other, though. It is also the story of how Eidolon and Tayla both learn about themselves and change.

Ione's world-building is excellent. She has created a completely believeable world existing parallel to our own populated with a large variety of fascinating demons and other beings such as fallen angels and vampires. I loved learning about all the different creatures and seeing them acting realistically rather than what you sometimes see in paranormals where all non-humans are misunderstood philanthropists.

The plot moves quickly, with plenty of surprises. There is a whole host of interesting secondary characters. There's humor, suspense, damn good writing---really there's nothing I can find fault with. I highly recommend this book and this author to anyone who enjoys paranormals.

The fourth book in the series is due out in February 2010. Stay tuned for reviews of books #2 and 3.

I'll give Pleasure Unbound 9.0 out of 10.0.

Win Big with Jill Shalvis, HelenKay Dimon & Alison Kent

Friday, April 10, 2009

Love With the Perfect Scoundrel by Sophia Nash

Love With the Perfect Scoundrel is the third in Sophia Nash's Widows Club series. It's an English historical that starts off with a bang when the heroine, Grace, is injured in a carriage accident and Michael Ranier saves her from freezing to death. The novel moves quickly and there were a couple of interesting twists in the plot.

Before I tell you what I liked about the book, I do have to say that there is not much original about the plot. It seems to be several often used plot devices cobbled together. There's the wrongly accused fugitive hero, the heroine saved from certain death and stranded with the hero during a blizzard, the blacksmith who turns out to be something more... Throw in a couple of disadvantaged children and a rather ordinary villain and you may wonder why I bothered finishing it.

What makes this book better than average is the characters. The heroine is marvelously done. She is cold on the outside, but so vulnerable inside. The author made me feel I really knew her and I liked her a lot even when I was wincing at the mistakes she made. This is really a story of Grace Sheffey becoming who she was meant to me. The hero is rather typical, in spite of his troubled past (which is a bit too complicated in my opinion), but likable. The secondary characters, however, are excellent, from the stableboy to the woman who works at the orphanage. Nash really has a knack for making the most minor characters seem interesting and unique.

A fast-paced historical with an exceptional heroine, I'll rate it 7.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Update and Books Bought

Wow, I didn't realize how long it's been since I last posted. I've been sick and since I recovered I've been working on catching up on everything.

While I was ill, I read a lot, but most of it was A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, a 1157 page tome. No, I'm not done yet, but I'm about 3/4 of the way through. I had had the book in my TBR pile for a long time but I put off reading it because it is so long between her Outlander books. The next is due out in September. I am not going to review it here, since it's not a typical romance, but I am enjoying it very much. I love all the little historical details she throws in and the way we get to learn about the characters in such depth.

I have four books that I've finished and need to review and will try to get those done ASAP.

I've got five new books on my TBR pile:
Hope's Folly by Linnea Sinclair
Deadly Desire by Keri Arthur
Her Notorious Viscount by Jenna Petersen
Too Hot For a Spy by Pearl Wolf (author is new to me)
Passion Unleashed by Larissa Ione (Wraith's book, reading it now)

I also have a book that the publisher sent me for review:
Eternal Craving by Nina Bangs