Archives for October 2010

Series Reading Order: The MacCarrick Brothers

This is the reading order for the MacCarick Brothers trilogy by Kresley Cole:

Review: The Price of Pleasure by Kresley Cole

Kresley Cole’s The Price of Pleasure is the companion story to the Captain of All Pleasures.  It’s a historical romance set at sea, featuring the dashing and stalwart captain Grant Sutherland.  Grant is on a mission to find the lost family of an old nobleman.  The family has been missing at sea for 8 years, and if Grant finds success, he will inherit the old man’s estate.

After months of searching, Grant finds the one remaining member of the family, the beautiful Victoria, and her friend Cammy. Everyone else who had been aboard the ship, died when it went down in a storm.  The survivors lived alone on a tropical island.. having no contact with the outside world, except for a few ill-meaning sailors who had crossed their path.

Victoria doesn’t trust Grant at first, but she can’t ignore her curiosity or her attraction to him.  At the same time, Grant fights his urges to be with Victoria, believing he has a duty to be a gentleman with her. He is destined to lose that internal battle… on several occasions.

Grant gets the women off the island and the ladies quickly befriend his cousin Ian. Cammy is dealing with a mysterious illness and Victoria… well, she is determined to have Grant.  She finally wears down his defenses, but the man has some serious issues. It makes it hard to like him, because I mostly just wanted to kick him in the shins for being an idiot.

Life gets even harder for Victoria when she returns to London. And Grant’s stupidity reaches new heights. He doesn’t deserve her. But when he finally realizes the error of his ways, he is somewhat redeemed.

Kresley Cole is the queen of hot love scenes and that is true here as well. Big points for that –and even more points for the reappearance of Derek and Nicole.  Sadly, I must subtract points for the hanging plot surrounding Ian. I got the impression it was a set-up for another book that never came to fruition.

Not quite as good as its predecessor, but still a good read.

4 stars.

The Price of Pleasure
by Kresley Cole
Release Date: June 29, 2004
Publisher: Pocket Books

Review: The Captain of All Pleasures by Kresley Cole

I just can’t get enough of Kresley Cole. As in love with her Immortals After Dark books as I am, I’ve been trolling around for everything she has ever written. And I found this gem. It’s definitely different… not a drop of paranormal in it.  Instead we have the story of a rakish sea-captain and the young woman who captivates his mind, body, and heart.

Our gutsy heroine, Nicole, is no stranger to sea life. Her father is captain of his own ship and she grew up on the water.  She returns to her dad after getting kicked out of yet another finishing school and she’s hoping to join him on a long race aboard the ship. She finds her father at a whore house as he investigates a series of sabotages on the vessels involved in the race. It’s there she first meets eyes with Derek.  Her father drags her out.

Later, Nicole catches some of the saboteurs in action on her father’s ship. They chase her, meaning to do her harm, but Derek rescues her and brings her back to the ship. He doesn’t know who she is, but they quickly get physical. Once he realizes she’s virgin, though, he pulls away.   And at nearly the same time, one of her father’s men finds her and drags her away.

When word gets back to Nicole’s dad, he faces off in fist fight with Derek and ends up in jail. Nicole decides to take his place in the race. Derek takes off behind her.  Quickly, the men on Derek’s ship start getting sick and they realize the water is poisoned.  Derek suspects Nicole. So when her ship goes down in a storm, he takes her and her crew captive.  It’s then that things really start to heat up… because while the rest of the crew is kept elsewhere, Nicole is kept in Derek’s room.

This was a really good book. The relationship between Derek and Nicole was stormy and steamy.  There were twists and turns in the plot –especially near the end when we find out why Derek is so opposed to marriage.

It’s nothing like IAD… except for the hot factor… and when push comes to shove, the hot-factor is what I like best about any Kresley Cole book. 4 1/2 stars.

The Captain of All Pleasures
by Kresley Cole
Release Date: July 1, 2003
Publisher: Pocket Books

Review: Crave by JR Ward

Reviewed by Jen

Crave is book 2 in JR Ward’s Fallen Angel series. And if you’re on the fence about whether to continue with the series after Covet, then listen up.  This book is definitely a step in the right direction.

Here’s a quick recap on the premise of the series:  Angels and demons are battling for ultimate supremacy on earth. But instead of a war for the ages, they’ve agreed to whittle the fight down to just seven souls. Whichever team tips a simple majority of the seven in its favor, wins world domination. Only one man is supposed to be able to influence those chosen seven. Jim Heron is a fallen angel and ex-military man with a dark past.  He didn’t choose his place in this fight. He was drafted. But now that he’s in it, he wants to play for the angels and help lead the souls to the right path.

As the book begins, Jim is heading to Boston to help out an old friend from his military days, Isaac. Before Jim died and became an angel, his old boss, Matthias had ordered Jim to kill Isaac. But now Jim believes saving Isaac is his next mission.

Isaac is just trying to get out of the XOps organization that Matthias leads. He tries to earn some quick cash cage fighting, but the fight gets busted by the cops.  The beautiful Grier is his public defender. She takes a special interest in Isaac and uses her own money to spring him on bail. She tries her best to save him; stop him from running from his past. They fall for each other quickly.

Of course, Matthias hasn’t given up the idea of killing Isaac. And once he realizes that Isaac has developed feelings for Grier, he realizes he can use that to his advantage. Adding more fuel to the fire, Grier’s father is an XOps man too, also trying to break out of the organization.  But his attempts have only led to the death of Grier’s brother, who now comes to her as a ghost.

Our nasty demon, Devina, from Covet is back. And she is as twisted as ever. She’s got her hands squarely involved in this battle. She has some serious mental health issues. And now, it seems, she has a thing for Jim.

I enjoyed this book leaps and bounds over the last one.  I really enjoyed the romance as it bloomed between Isaac and Grier. Both characters were sympathetic and I wanted happiness for them both. And the bedroom scenes were very, very hot (in true JR Ward fashion).  There was also a twist toward the end, that turned everything on its ear.

I can’t wait to see what comes next for Jim and his comrades; Whether Devina will be punished for breaking the rules; And what will happen with Jim and Sissy (It feels like more is going to develop there, but maybe I am reading too much into it.) I have no doubt I will be reading Envy in September to find out.  4 1/2 stars.

Crave
by JR Ward
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Publisher: Signet

Review: Covet by JR Ward

Reviewed by Jen

JR Ward’s Covet is the 1st in her Fallen Angel series. I decided to try it because I am a huge fan of her Black Dagger Brotherhood books.  But I need to start out with this warning: a BDB book, this is not.

I read this book for the first time about a year ago, when it came out. I was disappointed. I didn’t think I’d want to read the sequel. But when Crave came out, I realized I did want to read it. But first, I’d give Covet another chance. I found I liked it better the second time around.

Here’s the premise of the series: the angels and the demons are ending their age-old battle by bringing the fight of good versus evil down to seven souls.  One man will try to influence those souls one way or another. That man is Jim. He’s lived a hard life and done some very questionable things. But deep down his soul is good.  When the book begins, he has no idea he has been chosen for this path. He’s just an ex-military guy, working a construction job.

On the night of his 40th birthday, he meets a beautiful stranger at a bar and has a one-night stand in the parking lot. He finds out the next day, she is the girl-friend of the man paying for his big construction project, Vin diPietro.  On the job, Jim gets electrocuted and dies. He is sent just outside the gates of heaven and learns his place in the big cosmic battle… then he is sent back to Earth.  His first soul to save is Vin’s.

So where is the romance? This is a JR Ward book after all. Well, at first Jim thinks his job is to make Vin appreciate his beautiful girlfriend Devina.  But things change quickly as Vin meets and becomes enamoured with Marie-Terese. (If the name sounds familiar, she was a prostitute at Zero Sum back in Lover Avenged.) Yes, Marie-Terese is a hooker, but she is a reluctant one. It turns out, she is living under an assumed name, trying to pay off a mountain of debt she incurred trying to free herself and her young son from her mob-boss ex-husband.

As our story develops, it becomes more complex. Characters we meet early on turn out to be fallen angels, or demons respectively. Even the dog is not a regular dog.  And to make matters more complicated, a crazed serial killer is hunting Marie-Terese and killing men who come in contact with her where she works. She is in danger from him and in fear of being found by her ex.  Vin is in danger from the demon who he may or may not have made some kind of deal with as a teenager. He keeps getting caught in the cops’ radar for things he didn’t do. And he is dealing with the reappearance of visions he had been rid of for years.

If you’ve noticed I haven’t been detailing much romance, that’s because it takes a backseat to all the pesky plot in the book. I think that’s where my disappointment came from the first time around. I read JR Ward for romance!  It’s there… the few love scenes in the book are steamy.  But the love story comes second to the other stuff going on.

There are few Easter eggs for BDB fans: It’s set in the same city of Caldwell, NY, Marie-Terese is our leading lady; Detective De La Cruz keeps showing up to investigate the dead bodies; We get mentions of Zero Sum and the Rev; And we get a cameo appearance by (an un-named) Phury.

It’s a better book than I gave it credit for the first time around. I recommend it. Just don’t make the same mistake I did and expect it to be something it’s not.

4 stars.

Click to purchase: Amazon

Covet
by JR Ward
Release Date: September 29, 2009
Publisher: Signet

Series Reading Order: Fallen Angels

This is the reading order for the Fallen Angels series by JR Ward:

Review: The Pleasure Slave

Reviewed by Jen

The Pleasure Slave is book 2 in Gena Showalter’s Imperia series, but it’s in no way a sequel to The Stone Prince. In this novel, our hero Tristan was imprisoned in a jewelry box by a sorceress scorned. He is cursed to be something like a genie in a bottle… when released he is the slave to the woman who owns the box.

Julia is an antique dealer with low self-esteem and no love life. She acquires the box and is shocked when Tristan appears. He, in turn, is shocked when she is not ready and willing to use his services. He quickly becomes enamoured of her and wants her for his own. She thinks he is way out of her league and instead focuses her attention on her more-mousy neighbor. She enlists Tristan’s help to attract the neighbor and he begins to “tutor” her in seduction. Of course, Tristan and Julia only end up seducing each other.

Meanwhile, that sorceress is still after Tristan. Even though she is on another planet and a different time, she continues trying to get him back.

It’s a nice story, but unfortunately it’s one I’ve read before. I couldn’t stop thinking of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Fantasy Lover at any point during the book. I liked it better than Stone Prince, but they were similar in tone. Sweet, but light reading. 3 1/2 stars.

The Pleasure Slave
by Gena Showalter
Release Date: February 1, 2005
Publisher: HQN

Review: The Stone Prince

Reviewed by Jen

Gena Showalter’s The Stone Prince is the first of her Imeperia novels. Our hero is Jorlan, an alien warrior, trapped by his brother in a statue and sent to Earth. He is cursed to remain in stone until released by a woman’s kiss. But even then, his reprieve will last only a couple of weeks, unless the woman falls in love with him.

Katie James is a strong woman, raised in a home surrounded by strapping brothers (one of whom becomes the hero in Showalter’s Jewel of Atlantis). She restores homes for a living… and comes across Jorlan’s statue while working on her latest project. She is drawn to him and sets him free with her kiss.

It was not love at first sight. Jorlan is hot, but he’s cocky and domineering. It’s fun, though, to watch Katie put him in place. With her, he begrudgingly learns what love means… and they do fall for each other.

In the meantime, Jorlan’s brother maintains his quest for revenge. His motives are pretty weak –it’s mostly a mommy complex. Everything is wrapped up in a happy ending, even for our villain. It’s a light read, but fun.  3 1/2 stars.

The Stone Prince
by Gena Showalter
Release Date: September 1, 2004
Publisher: HQN