Monday, August 24, 2009

Bad Moon Rising by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Bad Moon Rising is the 17th book in Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series. This book is more of a stand-alone than some because it does explain a good bit of backstory. I think you could enjoy the love story if you haven't read the previous novels even if you were confused about who all the characters are.

I have some mixed feelings about Bad Moon Rising. I have been looking forward to Fang and Aimee's story for a long time. I enjoyed following their perilous path to happiness very much and their relationship is one of my favorites from the past few books. Fang, a wolf shifter, is my favorite kind of hero--tortured beyond belief, honorable, strong. Aimee was also strong, not surprising since she is a bear shifter. It's great to have a heroine who is a good fighter and I also liked her interaction with her large family.

I did have a problem with the timeline of the book. It takes place before or at the same time as recent books and repeats some of the events we already know about (but from a different viewpoint.) There are also the issues that come along with having such a long running series. The cast of characters is huge and hard to keep straight. It is also hard to remember which groups hate each other, which demons are evil and which good, who has what powers, etc.

Kenyon is a master at writing emotional love stories and I have to admit that I cried during a scene near the end. It takes quite a bit of skill to get actual tears from me. I was willing to forgive any faults in the novel since I got such a beautiful ending. Although I enjoyed the usual fast paced action and suspenseful situations in the book, the top reason to read it is the touching relationship between Fang and Aimee.

I'm looking forward to reading Nick's story but the next one to be published features Dev, the brother of Aimee. I am wondering if Savitar will ever get a book of his own because he's really fascinating. I'd also like to learn more about Thorn, who was introduced in this book.

I'll rate this book 8.0 out of 10.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Deadly Desire by Keri Arthur

Deadly Desire is the 7th in Arthur's Riley Jensen series. You really need to read them in order to fully understand some things, like Riley's relationships, her job and her developing powers. Arthur is one of my favorite authors and I have enjoyed all of the books in the series very much.

In Deadly Desire, Riley is facing someone or something who is killing vampires and raising zombies. Someone is also killing young human females. To complicate matters, Kye Murphy, the werewolf bounty hunter who Riley hates, is back and interfering in her investigation.

The book moves at breathtaking speed, with one action scene after another and a lot of suspense. We do find out who is the villain sooner than I expected, but we don't find out all the details until the end. The sexual tension between Kye and Riley is very strong, which she resists with all her power because of her love of Quinn.

Arthur's worldbuilding is excellent, and her paranormal aspects fascinating (hellhounds, anyone?) Her characters are all original and even the minor characters are extremely well done. This is the kind of book that it's hard to put down and I can't wait for the next in the series, Bound to Shadows, which will be out in October.

I'll rate this book 8.5 out of 10. I highly recommend the Riley Jensen series to anyone who likes paranormals or urban fantasy.

Hunter's Salvation by Shiloh Walker

This is the 10th in Walker's Hunters series and follows Hunting the Hunter, which I reviewed in December. As I said in that review, you don't have to read them in order to figure out what's going on.

Vax is a powerful witch who has retired from being a Hunter. Jess is a psychic who is trying to find her sister's killer. I liked Vax in Hunting the Hunter where he was a minor character, so was glad to read his story. Jess was interesting because of her psychic ability as well as her minor telekinetic skill, and I had to admire her determination and bravery, but otherwise she wasn't my favorite heroine.

The book moves very quickly and has quite a bit of sexual tension. The bad guys are appropriately chilling, and we get some of their viewpoints, so it makes the ending even more powerful. The last fifty pages were the best part of the book--very exciting, satisfying and emotional. There's a twist at the end that I didn't see coming at all.

I liked Hunting the Hunter a little bit more than Hunter's Salvation, probably because I liked the hero and heroine better, and I'll rate Hunter's Salvation 7.0 out of 10. I look forward to reading more books in the series.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More Books Bought

A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James
Faefever by Karen Marie Moning
Bound By Your Touch by Meredith Duran
Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Demon Mistress by Yasmine Galenorn

Demon Mistress is the sixth book in the Otherworld series and continues the story from Menolly's perspective. I've previously reviewed Dragon Wytch (Aug. 2008) and Night Huntress (March 2009) so I won't go into the premise of the series again. You need to read the books in order to fully understand everything that is going on.

Although these books are marketed as paranormal romance, I think they fit better in the fantasy genre. There was not much romance in this book, although I was happy to see Menolly did find a couple of partners to help fight her loneliness. She can be a difficult character to like, because what she has been through and what she has become makes her stand apart from the others.

Besides the ongoing Otherworld politics and the search for the spirit seals, the sisters face two potential disasters. One is a monster unlike one they've ever seen before that seems to suck the souls of Fae and it gets its hooks into Delilah. The other is a secret society that has been raising ghouls, among other things that could cause a great deal of trouble. The book is full of action and interesting paranormal elements but I think the strongest element in the book is the relationship between the three sisters.

I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Bone Magic, which will be out in January. I'll rate this book 8.0 out of 10.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward

J.R. Ward became one of my favorite authors after I read the first couple books in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The book featuring Zsadist, Lover Awakened, is one of my favorite romances. But I had been disappointed in her last two books and I had low expectations for Lover Avenged, especially because I had not been particularly interested in the character of Rehvenge in the previous books.

I'm glad to say this book was much better than the last two, though it is not as good as the first three. The book follows several story lines. One of them is the love story between Rehvenge and Ehlena, a vampire nurse. There is the story of what is going on with Wrath, the King, and to a lesser extent Tohr, as well. We also follow John Matthew, an ongoing line throughout the series, and we find out what Lash, the main bad guy in this book, is up to. I enjoyed all of them except Lash's story. I don't know why because it seems like he'd be an intriguing villain, but I found his parts of the book boring. You definitely need to read the previous books in the series first to fully understand what is going on in this one.

I thought Ehlena was one of Ward's better heroines, and loved watching her grow and find her strength. The love scenes between her and Rehvenge were very moving. Rehvenge turned out to be a fascinating hero, with the tortured past you'd expect and the complications of his symphath nature. Ward actually makes a drug dealer sympathetic (no pun intended) and I had tears in my eyes a couple times near the end of the book.

Although the author excells at creating an interesting world and she has some of the best heroes around, the books are not without fault. They are not like typical romances which annoys some people who want stories with a major focus on the hero and heroine. That doesn't bother me, but I do think the book was a bit long and could have benefitted from some careful editing. I also agree with some of the criticism about the dialogue. It does sound out of date and almost silly at times, for instance when this huge warrior vampire says he's going "outtie."

In spite of minor faults, it's still a wonderful read that stirred my emotions and I am looking forward to reading the next in the series, which I believe will be John Matthew's story. I'll rate this book 8.0 out of 10.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

This Duchess of Mine by Eloisa James

This Duchess of Mine takes place in London in 1784. It is part of the Desperate Duchesses series. It's one of the best historicals I've read this year and could be used as a textbook on what a historical can be.

Jemma, the Duchess of Beaumont, fled to Paris nine years ago after she found her new husband having sex with his mistress. She is now back home to do her duty and produce a heir. Jemma sets out to seduce Elijah and make him fall in love with her. That's just one aspect of the book, though, there is much more.

In addition to the beautiful love story, there are some fascinating historical elements that are essential to the plot and are not what you'd expect. I don't want to give too much away, but the treatment of prisoners was appalling and the treatment of the illegitimate offspring of the nobility was not much better. I also really enjoyed learning a bit about medical research of the period.

The character of the Duke of Villiers provided some welcome lighter moments amid some serious subjects. I was glad to find that his story is told in A Duke of Her Own, which has just been published.

The novel has a lot of suspense because it turns out that Elijah is not well. This adds intensity to the romance, because Jemma and Elijah never know which day will be their last together. The love scenes were well done and unusual, one taking place during a chess game.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes English historicals and I'll rate it 9.0 out of 10.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Books Bought

Broken by Kelley Armstrong
Bengal's Heart by Lora Leigh
Irreversible by Liz Maverick
1632 by Eric Flint (SF)
Shadows Return by Lynn Flewelling (Fantasy)
Red Kiss by Deidre Knight
Catspell by Colleen Shannon
Like No Other Lover by Julie Anne Long
Confessions of a Little Black Dress by Elizabeth Boyle
The Mad, Bad Duke by Jennifer Ashley

Make Me Yours by Betina Krahn

Make Me Yours is a Harlequin Blaze Historical and only 209 pages. It feels more like a novella than a novel, but it is a fun, fast read.

It takes place in England in 1887. Mariah Eller is a widow who runs an inn in the Lake Country. One night she attracts the attention of Bertie, the Prince of Wales, a womanizer who has a rule about only having affairs with married women. The Prince sends his trusted friend, Jack St. Lawrence, to find Mrs. Eller a husband and arrange the details of their liason.

Mariah feels like she has no choice because another friend of Bertie's threatens to call her debts due if she doesn't cooperate. Jack is given a list of men who would make eligible husbands and Mariah insists on meeting them before she decides on a spouse. They are a uniformly awful lot (well, except for the one that is already engaged) and the author had me laughing at some of their antics.

Besides the humor, the book also has some wonderful sexual tension. Mariah really likes Jack and thinks he would make a good husband, but she has to convince him of that which she does by driving him mad with frustration. Mariah is a delightful character and you could certainly see why Jack would be attracted to her. She was not only funny, seductive and smart (and more than a little bit manipulative), she is also caring and compassionate.

Despite the short length, Make Me Yours is an enjoyable read with an excellent heroine. I'll rate it 8.0 out of 10 and would like to read more by Betina Krahn.

Ravenous by Sharon Ashwood

Ravenous is the first Sharon Ashwood book I've read. It's the first volume in the Dark Forgotten series. I was happy to discover a new author who writes great urban fantasy in the same style as Keri Arthur and Kelley Armstrong.

The heroine is Holly Carver, a witch who specializes in the removal of ghosts, poltergeists and imps to raise tuition money. The book opens with Holly being hired to "de-spook" a house, a job that turns out to be much more complicated than it appears at first. She is helped by Alessandro Caravelli, a sexy vampire, and later gets assistance from a werewolf named Perry Baker.

One thing I liked about the book was that it was not immediately clear who the hero was. The characters were mostly complex, not stereotypical at all and I enjoyed them, especially Omara, the vampire queen, and Holly's grandmother. There is a lot of action, including a big battle scene at the end of the book, and a fast pace. The romance takes a back seat to the fight against evil, but it's very intense and ultimately very satisfying.

I'll rate it 8.5 out of 10 and look forward to reading the next book in the series, Scorched, which will be out in December.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Lord Pirate by Laura Renken

My Lord Pirate is the best pirate romance I've ever read. Granted, I've probably read fewer than a dozen, but it's still very good. It manages to make a very unrealistic premise (the honorable, romantic pirate) seem completely believeable. It does not gloss over the harsh realities of the time, either.

Talon Drake, the pirate, kidnaps Regan Welles by accident, thinking she is the betrothed of his nemesis, Harrison Kendrick. Regan pretends to be Arabella to save her cousin and is forced into a marriage with Talon. Regan thinks Harrison, her half-brother, is a saint, but she is sadly mistaken. She also thinks that Talon was responsible for her parents' deaths, which certainly is an impediment to a happily ever after.

Talon is a fascinating character, driven by revenge for the horrible things done to his family and himself, but deeply honorable. Regan is complex. At times she seemed annoying but it was realistic that she would act the way she did considering her misinformation. Her strength really came out as the book progressed and she grew more confident.

There was almost constant action and suspense, with some very harrowing escapes from disasters such as hangings and storms at sea. The sexual tension was scorching, and the book packs quite an emotional wallop.

I'll rate My Lord Pirate 8.5 out of 10 and I've already started reading the next in the series, which features Talon's brother.

Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

Stolen is the second in Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. Bitten was the first, and it introduced us to Elena Michaels, the only female werewolf. Bitten was about Elena's adjustment (and resentment) after she is bitten by her lover and was full of angst. Happily, by the time Stolen takes place she is comfortable in her skin(s.)

Elena comes into her own in this book and is a strong kick-ass heroine up there with the best of them. She reminds me a bit of Riley Jenson from Keri Arthur's series. Both series are written in first person and both have strong women with an attitude. But Riley works for law enforcement, while Elena answers only to her pack leader. Also, Arthur's series takes place in Australia and Armstrong's is set in North America.

In Stolen, we meet some other members of the supernatural, such as witches, demons and sorcerers. Someone has been kidnapping these paranormals, but before the Pack and their allies can do much investigating, Elena is taken. She is imprisioned and treated as a lab animal for much of this book. It was very suspenseful and full of action, with twists I never saw coming. It was intense and even scary in parts. By the end you are not sorry at all about what happens to the people who captured her.

I did miss seeing more of Jeremy and Clay, her pack leader and her lover, since they are two great characters. I enjoyed meeting the fire demon Adam and Xavier, a demon who can transport, which is a very handy skill. I'm hoping we'll see more of them in the future.

I'd rate this 8.5 out of 10 and look forward to reading the next in the series.

The Outrageous Lady Felsham by Louise Allen

The Outrageous Lady Felsham is a Harlequin Historical. It takes place in England in 1815 shortly after the battle at Waterloo (a popular time for historicals.) It is part of a loosely connected series called Those Scandalous Ravenhursts but I don't feel I missed anything by not reading the first in the series, The Dangerous Mr. Ryder.

Belinda, Lady Felsham, is a widow recently out of mourning who decides to do something totally out of character and asks the dashing Lord Dereham (who was an officer in the war) to have an affair with her. The author made Belinda's actions believeable and I liked her even when she was being too proud. I also liked the hero, though he seemed rather generic.

I enjoyed the book, but it was not much above average. It could have used some more conflict or suspense. It was pleasant but I never felt deeply moved. The best part of the book for me was when Belinda decides to help wounded veterans and starts a charity. The historical elements were nicely done and I especially liked the scene when Belinda went bathing in the ocean.

One more note, which has nothing to do with the author--this book needs a better cover. Harlequin should look at covers for authors like Eloisa James and Elizabeth Hoyt and take notes.

I'll rate this 6.5 out of 10 and would read other books in this series.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What Would Jane Austen Do? by Laurie Brown

What Would Jane Austen Do? first caught my attention because I'm a Jane Austen fan. The cover with the abs of steel and the stately British home didn't hurt, either. Then I saw it was a time-travel--I was in heaven!

Eleanor Pottinger attends a Jane Austen Society conference and encounters two ghosts who need her to go back in time and save their brother's life. Enticed by the chance to meet Jane Austen herself, she agrees. She promptly falls for the dashing Lord Shermont.

I thought this was an excellent time travel. It was more believeable than many of them, and the historical details seemed spot on. I was a little disappointed that Jane Austen hardly appears in the book, but she is still a part of it because Eleanor uses Austen's books to help her figure out what to do in sticky situations. I liked Eleanor very much and Shermont was a fine hero, although he didn't really come into his own until the last part of the book.

The book was original, the time travel elements were handled with great skill and the heroine was a real gem. The book had some humor, some suspense, some delicious sexual tension and a couple of huge surprises. I would recommend this to anyone who likes time travels or English historicals.

I'll rate this book 8.5 out of 10 and look forward to the next book by Laurie Brown.