Saturday, May 23, 2009

Red Fire by Deidre Knight

Red Fire is the first in the Gods of Midnight series. A group of warriors from Sparta, led by King Leonidas, are made into immortal protectors of humanity by the god Ares. The premise of the novel reminded me of Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series and of course the "immortal band of warriors battling evil" concept is common, and happens to be one of my favorites.

I love the concept, but the book fell short for me in execution. I had a hard time trying to figure out why. The book is well written, the pace is good with lots of action, the characters are interesting, the setting of Savannah is well done--what's not to like? I finally decided it was because I couldn't feel the emotions of the main characters.

Ajax Petrakos is the hero and he is suitably brave, strong and devoted to his predestined soul mate. But the author didn't make me care about him. The same is true of Shay Angel, his love. The story of her finding out her abilities to see and fight demons should have been fascinating, but I just didn't connect with her. This may well be my fault, not the author's. If you like paranormals with the immortal warriors theme, you may enjoy this book very much. I'm going to have to give it a 6.0 out of 10, though.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Duke Next Door by Celeste Bradley

The Duke Next Door is the 2nd in Bradley's Heiress Brides trilogy. I haven't read the other two, but after reading this one I want to. The series features three granddaughters of a man who leaves his fortune to the first of them to marry a Duke.

Deirdre Cantor proposes to Calder Marbrook, who is in line to become a Duke, after her cousin jilts him. He is a widower who is known by the popular press as "The Beast of Brookhaven." He accepts the proposal, to his own surprise, and most of the book takes place after they are married which is an intriguing change.

They get off to a bad start when they arrive at his home after the wedding and she finds he has a daughter he hasn't told her about. She has an evil stepmother and is afraid of being a stepmother herself. I had a problem with Calder springing this on her and of her reacting like she did, but I adored the little girl, Meggie. She has a foul mouth and a love of trouble.

Deirdre has quite a job ahead of her because she has to make her husband fall in love with her, as she has been with him secretly for years, and develop a relationship with her stepdaughter who idolizes her mother. Unknown to Meggie, her mother died on the way to meet her lover, and Calder feels all women are untrustworthy because of his experience. Calder is absolutely horrible when it comes to communicating with Deirdre and he knows it but doesn't know how to fix it.

I enjoyed the interplay between Deirdre and Calder very much. I especially liked the way Deirdre never backed down. I did feel sorry for Calder because I think he was outmatched by both his wife and his daughter. The ending of the book is very exciting, with suspense, tears and a good dose of humor.

I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys English historicals and I'll rate it 8.0 out of 10.

The Vampire's Bride by Gena Showalter

The Vampire's Bride is the 4th in Showalter's Atlantis series. Atlantis is a world hidden in Earth's ocean and populated by creatures such as dragons (men who shift into dragons), vampires, nymphs, demons and others.

This book features the Vampire King's story. Layel lost his wife and unborn child when they were slaughtered by dragons and he has been out for revenge ever since. Delilah is an Amazon who longs to be loved. Layel was interesting to me because he struggled so much with his feelings for Delilah, fearing he was being unfaithful to his wife's memory. Delilah was less interesting, though I did appreciate that she was a strong warrior, smart and brave.

I liked the premise of the book, which is a sort of Atlantis Survivor arranged by the Gods. The loser gets killed rather than just leaving the island. I would have liked to have seen more of the challenges, and more original challenges. I did like the secondary characters, particularly the romance between Shivawn and Alyssa.

An interesting, if not outstanding, paranormal romance, I'll rate it 7.0 out of 10.