Archives for February 2011

Review: At Grave’s End

Reviewed by Jen

With her first two Night Huntress books, Jeaniene Frost showed she could make me laugh and she could write one heck of a sex scene. Now she proves she can make me cry too.   I loved this third installment of the Cat & Bones books every bit as much as the ones that came before it, only this one added a deeper emotional resonance.

As our story begins, half vampire Cat and her full-vampire husband Bones are working together to lead a government team, targeting dangerous supernaturals.  Work is good; their relationship is strong. But happiness quickly goes in the toilet when Cat’s evil vampire father Max comes back into the picture, bent on killing his daughter. Of course, he doesn’t succeed, but he does major damage, and heralds the latest master-plot to kill Cat. The main storyline surrounds this latest big bad, a Master named Petra.

But there is a lot going on in the background too: Tate’s infatuation with Cat and the lengths he’ll go to in order to win her love; Bones’ relationships with other vamps and their political wrangling; Mencheres’ tortured history; and the growing “family” that Cat has created for herself in her new life.

There are two points in the book where Cat faces immeasurable tragedy. One works itself out happily. One does not. Both brought me to tears.

I love Cat & Bones. It’s amazing that one relationship can sustain an entire series of romance books, but I can’t imagine growing bored with them.  This series is fast paced, fun, sexy and easy to read. Two big thumbs up. 5 stars.

Review: One Foot in the Grave

Reviewed by Jen

Move over Mommy Dearest, Justina Crawfield may have just stolen your title as the worst mom in the history of the world. Because of her, and her undying hatred for vampires, her daughter Cat has spent the past four years without the love her life. At the end of Halfway to the Grave, a military organization came to Cat and asked her to join their special unit, designed to fight vampires. That, or they would kill her vampire-lover, Bones. Cat would have just run off with Bones, but she knew Justina would never accept him and she would become a target for all of Cat’s enemies. So Cat accepted the job and disappeared, leaving Bones with only a goodbye note.

In the past four years, Cat has used her skills as a half-vampire to train a team.  And they’re as close as family. But now, a new threat is on the scene. He wants Cat dead.. and only Bones can keep her safe. Of course, when they come together again, all the old magic is there, but with years of longing fueling their desires.  They make an explosive couple.  The sex is even more amazing this time around… My Goodness, Jeaniene Frost, you could make a reader blush.

What’s different about the first book in the series, is that now we are fleshing out some great secondary characters which become pivotal to the series: humans like Denise, Tate, Juan, & Don; our ghoul Rodney is back; and we’ve got vamps like Charles, Annette, & Ian. And let’s not forget Cat’s parents. Yes, parents with an “s.” You already know what I think of Justina; but dad Max is even worse. It’s really a wonder that Cat turned out as well as she did.

This was a great book. Most Paranormal Romances have a new couple with each edition, but Cat & Bones are strong enough to keep me glued to the page for as many books as Frost can churn out. This is a fabulous, fun, easy read –and a series I would recommend without reservation. 5 stars.

Review: Halfway to the Grave

Reviewed by Jen

This is absolutely one of my favorite series of all time.  It’s a fast paced mix of action, urban fantasy, & paranormal romance.  A fun, smart, sexy story with two fantastic main characters.

Cat is a woman on a mission to rid the world of vampires and she is trying to do it herself, one bloodsucker at a time.  She visits bars, entices them out, and when they go for her neck, they get a pointy surprise to the heart.  Cat isn’t what you might expect for a vampire hunter, because she is a half-vampire herself.  Her mother has told her since she was a teen that she was the product of rape at the hands of a vamp… and her mom has encouraged her to use her own vampire-like abilities against the undead.  And she was making quite a go of it, until she met Bones.  He is a vampire like no other Cat has met before. He is strong; he’s fast; and sexy.  And he’s taking on Cat as a protegé.  He kills vampires too, but only certain ones for certain reasons.  And Cat makes great bait.

This book works on so many levels.  Yes, Cat is young, but she is no trembling virgin. She is tough and brave (even if she uses both attributes to hide her inner hurts.)  Bones is hot! And despite how quickly his feelings develop, I believe them 100%.  The sex is perfect.  Descriptive but not creepy.  And as great as the romance is –and it is pretty great– it doesn’t overshadow the story arc, which is action-packed.

This isn’t a story that’s going to make you think. It’s not complicated or terribly complex.  But that’s not what it’s designed to be. It’s a great, sexy escape from reality –that will have you coming back for more.  5 stars.

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Halfway to the Grave
by Jeaniene Frost
Release Date: November 1, 2007
Publisher: Avon

Series Reading Order: Night Huntress

This is the reading order for the Night Huntress (Cat & Bones) series by Jeaniene Frost:

*Denotes Night Huntress world book
**Denotes short story/ novella

The short story Reckoning is a prequel which features Bones before he met Cat.  Happily Never After and Devil to Pay are Night Huntress world novellas that do not feature Cat & Bones.

Review: Dreams of a Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole

I’ll admit, I am a Kresley Cole fan-girl. But I have a very good reason for that: her books are simply the best in the Paranormal Romance genre.  And this latest installment in the Immortals After Dark series features Regin the Radiant, one of the raucous Val-Hall Valkyrie we’ve grown to know and love.  Hundreds of years ago, she fell in love with a Berserker warrior named Aidan and they planned to marry. But he was killed by a vampire before he could realize his plans to become immortal.  Now his love for Regin prompts him to reincarnate over and over.  But each time, as he remembers their love, he is killed more brutally than the time before.

In this incarnation, he is Declan Chase… a man who has devoted his life to the destruction of Lorekind.  He is running an island facility that tests and tortures members of each species, hoping to exploit their weaknesses and harness their strengths to use against them.  This is the same camp where Carrow was taken in Demon from the Dark.  Of course, Regin is one of those abducted.  Declan doesn’t remember her, but he feels a pull towards her that he can’t explain.  He’s lived a tortured life and has good reason to hate the Lore, but despite that, and despite the drugs he takes to suppress his berserker strength, he can’t ignore the attraction.  At the same time, Regin struggles with a terrible choice: sacrifice herself or help Declan remember his life as Aidan and hasten the death of the only man she has ever loved.

As always, Cole fleshes out her characters so much that I can’t help but care for them deeply.  And each book is a symphony of sexual tension and payoff.  She always finds such a great balance between the love and the sex.

Just like the group of books that take place simultaneously surrounding the Hie, we see the storyline converge from this book  in the same time frame as Lucia’s and Carrow’s before it. We’re also seeing the set-up for the next book in the series, which can’t come soon enough in my opinion.  And that is Lothaire’s story. (I’m also dying to get Lanthe’s story… which is a suprise, considering how much I hated Sabine.)

It can’t be ignored that Declan is not the best hero. He does some pretty crappy stuff and it’s hard to forgive him for it.  His issues are also pretty substantial and he is what keeps this one from rating as high for me as some of Cole’s other books. I kind of wish that the hero would have been Aidan instead. B-.

Review: Dragon Warrior

Reviewed by Jen

I try to make it a point never to jump into the middle of an existing series, but I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing when I started this book.  Our hero, William, is a 9th century Irishman who was once trapped in the body of a dragon. It seems he came forward in time to find a man named Kenzie, who used to be a panther, but somehow had the power to make William a man again. I say “it seems” because this all happened in Moonlight Warrior, a book I haven’t read… and one that clearly set up the events in this story.

Anyway, William has it bad for Maddy, a nurse at a retirement home. She is leery of love because of her failed first marriage. But William is determined. He makes allies of the men and women in the nursing home. And it doesn’t hurt that his buddy Kenzie is married to Maddy’s best friend. Maddy’s reticence is not the only obstacle our couple is facing. There are also evil forces… showing up as killer wolves out to get them. I never did understand what/who the wolves were, other than that they were evil. But maybe that was something explained in the first book too. (It’s a fine line an author has to walk, to bring new readers up to speed but spare redundancy for those who have read earlier installments.)

The love story was actually quite good. And the sex scenes were very hot. Unlike many PR books, our heroine is no trembling virgin. She’s a grown woman with a child and a romantic history of her own. It made her very relatable. And William.. Yeow. Chapman paints quite a sexy mental picture!

The bottom line: I really liked this book. But I have no doubt I would have liked it better if I had read Moonlight Warrior first. I’ll be sure to do that before the final book in the trilogy is released, because I do plan on reading Trace & Fiona’s story. 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by Simon & Schuster

Series Reading Order: Midnight Bay Trilogy

This is the reading order for the Midnight Bay trilogy by Janet Chapman:

Review: Night Betrayed

Reviewed by Jen

Imagine living 78 years; surviving a near apocalypse; seeing your world fall prey to zombies; watching your twin age… all while remaining an attractive version of your 30 year-old self.  That’s what happened to Theo. He’s a computer genius, one of the leaders of the Resistance against those responsible for ravaging Earth. And while surrounded by friends, he’s still alone, isolated by what makes him different.

But things change when he meets Selena. She is a strong and special woman, who doesn’t look her 50 years of age. But she is very aware that she is (or rather, appears to be) much older than Theo.  He is delivered to her, nearly dead from a gunshot wound. But instead of leading him to the other side, as she has done for so many, she manages to bring him back to life.  Selena can see death coming and guide souls to the beyond, but what most people don’t know is that she also feels she needs to save the souls of the zombies now roaming the land… even at great risk to herself.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about an older heroine. Frankly, it’s unusual enough to have a female lead that’s my age, much less one only a few years younger than my mom. But for Theo, it makes sense. He’s 78 for crying out loud.  And Selena is a great fit for him. Their sex scenes are steamy… and we manage to continue with the series arc detailing the planet’s “Change” and the orgins of the zombie gangas.

There are some upsetting parts of the book that I didn’t see coming…  namely, an unexpected death, which made me cry. And the rape of a female character, which was (thankfully) wasn’t too graphically detailed, but disturbing all the same.

A solid installment, one I enjoyed more than I expected. Check out the earlier books in the Envy Chronicles if you haven’t already.  4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Review: Evangeline

Reviewed by Jen

This was an unusal story. Kind of fairy tale meets Rebecca with a dash of Showtime After Dark.  Our title character is a young farm girl who dreams of a bigger life.  So when an older man ventures into the village and seeks her attentions, she agrees to marry him, despite the gossip that surrounds him. You see, Paul is a widower, three times over. All of his former wives, dead at a young age.  But Evangeline brushes her fears aside and moves to his giant mansion. Waiting there is the creepy maid, Matilda. How anyone could miss the “psycho” sign blinking over her head is beyond me… yet she ran the household.  Evangeline gets pregnant right away, and fights feelings of fear and dread throughout the pregnancy, as Paul works to protect his heart in the event he loses another young wife.

There were some spicy scenes that pushed up the heat. But there were a few word choices here and there that made me run cold… most often when making reference to, er, lady bits.  There were some mystical elements that didn’t quite fit (at least for me.) The story was loosely based on the Snow White/Rose Red Grimm fairy tale, but hearing the sisters talk about the “black bear” that stayed with them was disconcerting. At first, I thought the bear was a metaphor for a man, but it was really a bear –and it just didn’t work for me –that part of the story felt completely unrelated to what was happening with Evangeline and its inclusion felt forced.  Also, I never did understand the part with the talking statues.

On the plus side, I never felt compelled to put this story down. It was definitely unique. For the most part, the love scenes were good and Evangeline a likeable character. 3 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Review: Abandon the Night

Reviewed by Jen

The post-apocalyptic drama of the Envy Chronicles continues in this third installment, featuring Quent & Zoe.  Quent is on a mission to find his father, who was one of the men responsible for the near-destruction of the Earth.  Quent and four other men are living 50 years in the future.  They had been trapped in some AZ caves in 2010 when the “Change” happened and spent five decades in stasis. When they emerged from the caves, they had not aged at all, but each of the men had developed a special ability. Quent’s skill is pyschometry,  the ability to be able to see the history of an object by touching it.

Zoe is on a mission of her own: to kill the bounty hunter responsible for the death of her family –and to take down as many zombies as possible while she does it. She’s lived a solitary existence for 10 years, but Quent brings her humanity back to life.  The pair teams up as their goals converge. And while the physical part of their relationship sparked from the beginning, the emotional connection was the payoff in this book.

While their romance progresses, we learn more about what led to the “Change.” And we get a better look some of the peripheral characters… here’s hoping for an Ian/Remy story in the future.  Overall, I enjoyed this one… maybe not quite as much as Simon’s story, but definitely worth the read.

4 stars.