Archives for August 2011

Review: Sins of the Heart

Reviewed by Jen

This book didn’t exactly light my fire from the beginning.  The premise was interesting, but I had a hard time connecting to the characters and their love story.

Roxy and Dagan first met 11 years ago. As a soul reaper, he was on a mission to collect a dark soul to bring to his father, Sutekh, the God of Chaos.  Roxy was the hostage of his target.  There was an instant connection, despite the fact that as a demi-god, Dagan should have felt nothing for a human.  And by the same token, attraction should have been the last thing Roxy was feeling, as she got her first glimpse into the dark world of the supernatural.  Dagan managed to suppress his desire, leaving Roxy behind… gone, but not forgotten.

Since then, Roxy has joined the Daughters of Aset, which serve one of Sutekh’s greatest enemies.  With the group, she has found the first family she’s ever known.  But when Dagan’s brother is mysteriously killed, his investigation leads him to cross paths with Roxy again.  What does Lokan’s murder have to do with the Daughters of Asat?  How is it related to the little girl Roxy saved on her last mission?   And how does anyone kill a demi-God in the first place?

There are forces that don’t want these questions answered and that puts Dagan and Roxy in grave danger.  Of course, danger + sexual tension is bound to equal explosive sex… which, of course, leads to deeper feelings.

It all sounds really cool, but there were a few things that were off-putting. Initially, my problem was Roxy with her lame urban slang… calling Dagan “white boy” and “vanilla bean.” Really?  Then, I got a little annoyed with the repetition.. from the 10 times I heard about the toffee or coffee-with-double-cream color of her skin –from her bronze eyes to her dark ringlets– once is enough.  But I think the bigger problem was that I just couldn’t see why these two fell for each other… or perhaps more accurately, I couldn’t feel anything but lust between them.  Don’t get me wrong, I like lust.  The sex was hot, but I never burned for these two to make their way together.

The intrigue surrounding Lokan’s death did get more interesting to me over time.  And by the time the book ended, I was pretty engrossed in that story. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much in the way of answers, since it ended on a cliffhanger.  I’ve heard that the books in this series get progressively better, so I’m going to give the next installment a try and see where it all goes from here. 3 1/2 stars.

Sins of the Heart
by Eve Silver
Release Date: July 20, 2010
Publisher: HQN

Series Reading Order: Otherkin

This is the reading order for the Otherkin series by Eve Silver:

*Denotes short story/novella

Review: Queen of the Sylphs

Wow.  This book had me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning to the very last page. It is somewhat of a departure from the previous installments in the series. Each of the first two books focused on the love story of an individual couple with the backdrop of the rich complicated world the author has created. But not this book. This book features all of the characters we already know and have come to care for, without a central love story. It feels a little different, but I still loved it.

The beginning of the story slightly overlaps with the end of The Shattered Sylph. Leon, Ril and Lizzie have not yet returned to Sylph Valley. The sweet, but slightly dim couple that Leon and Ril rescued early in the last book, are now settling in. Gabralina is so happy that she writes to her old friend Sala to share her happy news about falling in love with Wat and finding a new home. Sala appears in the valley shortly after, ready to share in Gabralina’s new life.

Leon, Ril, and Lizzie return with an angry Justin in tow. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is going to be serious trouble from that guy. Especially since he has the power to control Ril and he is still in love with Lizzie. While we wait for that shoe to drop, it’s really Sala who reveals herself to be the villain. And what a villain she is. Sociopath is too kind of a word. She orchestrates deaths, rape, and misery, all for her own selfish gain. Watching the destruction of poor Claw is heartbreaking. Gabralina’s eventual devastation actually made me cry. Sala isn’t traditionally malicious; she is a pit of evil… a soulless void. And in that, she is frightening and gruesome.

The story doesn’t only center on the mayhem surrounding Sala. We see the continuing repercussions from the events in the last book, with the rise of a new queen and her new hive. We see Solie and Heyou grow as a couple and deal with their inability to have children. We lose some people we’ve grown to love and we gain new characters who will no doubt become beloved as well.

This book took my emotions on a roller coaster ride and I honestly had no idea what would happen. Which was awesome. The world building is fascinating and consistent. The characters are many, but are clearly defined and emotionally resonant. The story builds beautifully on the previous installments, making it a treasure for fans of the series. But I don’t know how clear it would all be to a newcomer to the books. I suggest checking the series out from the beginning. It’s worth it. I can’t wait to see what happens next. 5 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Queen of the Sylphs
by LJ McDonald
Release Date: September 15, 2011
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing

Giveaway: Storm’s Heart

This contest is closed. Mary is the winner.

I want to show a little love to my followers by giving away one of the best books I have read this summer.  If you haven’t read Thea Harrison’s Storm’s Heart, now is your chance!  Here’s the blurb:

Able to wield thunder and lightning, wyr sentinel Tiago Black Eagle has ruled the skies for centuries. His massive build and thunderous power make him one of the wyr’s best weapons. And he’s the one sent to protect Tricks, heir to the Dark Fae throne, when she’s almost assassinated in Chicago. Soon Tiago and Tricks will fall prey to the stormy hunger that engulfs them-a passion that will shake the very foundation of all the worlds.

You can check out my gushing review if you want a little more info.

If you’d like to enter, just comment below. This giveaway is open to all Red Hot Books followers in the US and Canada.  The contest will close at 7pm EST August 29th!  Thanks for making blogging fun!

Review: The Gladiator’s Master

Reviewed by Jen

Holy. Crap.  This book is hot.  As in, I need a cold shower RIGHT NOW hot.  It’s like Spartacus (the Starz version), but with gay sex. Hot gay sex.  Let me start from the beginning.

Caelius is a Roman who inherits his uncle Craxus’ lutus upon the man’s death.  Caelius isn’t a man who enjoys blood-sport, but he recognizes the importance the lutus can play in raising his political power.  So he decides to restore it to greatness.

Craxus was a self-absorbed man who cared nothing for his slaves or his gladiators… so when Caelius arrives, the men are in terrible condition. All but one man — Gaidres.  Caelius is instantly attracted to the gladiator, but would never force himself on a man who doesn’t share his interest.  He begins seeking counsel from Gaidres as he restores the house; he takes his advice on the men and they begin to spend more time together.  Eventually, Caelius asks Gaidres if he would be interested in an affair.  Gaidres is no man to be dominated but that isn’t what Caelius is after.  He wants to be beneath the strong gladiator.  Gaidres agrees.

The two men are on fire in bed… and against the wall… and on the floor… and in the baths.  But the growing passion between them is difficult for Gaidres to accept. He hates Romans. He was forced into slavery and wants to snuff all anyone who shares a blood tie with Craxus.  The sex is realllly good though, so he keeps coming back for more.

Somehow, though, the affair begins to become something more.  And real feelings develop between the men.  Can Gaidres move past his anger and his regrets to let Caelius in?

I enjoyed this book a lot.  You may have picked up on the fact that is was highly sexy, but it had a real story too.  The characters were empathetic and fleshed out; there was action and emotion.  It was everything you’d hope for in a m/m gladiator book (that every day.)  If it sounds like your cup of tea, I’d definitely recommend it.  Yum.  4 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

The Gladiator’s Master
by Fae Sutherland and Marguerite Labbe
Release Date: September 19, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press

Review: Enemy Lover

Reviewed by Jen

What a difference one book can make. Enemy Lover isn’t perfect, but it’s a big improvement over “Broken Souls.” This book had a lot of action, a lot of heart, and a lot of really hot sexy times.

The book begins with Damian on the hunt for Jamie, his destined mate. We learned in The Empath that Jamie was in league with the evil Morphs, trying to learn magic. She even helped them with their plan to try and kill Damian. Fortunately, that didn’t work out. But despite her betrayal, Damian wants her. Because they are destined to share a bond, no other woman will do.

Destiny or not, Jamie has no plans to mate with Damian. She saw him kill her brother years ago and she has hated him ever since. But he is the only one who can help her fight a curse laid on her by the Morphs. Despite her protests, the two end up working together to hunt for an old book of magic that could contain the spell to save her. And of course, that time spent together lays the groundwork for the development of their relationship.

The sexual tension between these two is off the charts.  Poor Damian wants to sleep with Jamie so badly. But over and over, he pushes down his needs, to please her. The man deserved to get lucky way before he did and frankly, I thought he had the patience of a saint.

I wasn’t a big fan of Jamie. Granted, she is young, but she makes some excruciatingly bad decisions. She teamed up with the Morphs; she tried to kill Damian; she put him and herself in danger over and over. And she refused to accept the hard truths about her brother. I didn’t really think she deserved Daiman. Yeah, yeah… she’s damaged. (The backstory with the cat was fit for a horror movie.) But it didn’t garner enough sympathy in me to forgive her constant stupidity

Overall, I did like the book, though.  The world building continues to broaden.  And the story introduces us to Daiman’s adopted family, the Robichauxs, who will be featured in future installments. Plus, when Damian and Jamie finally get around to doing the deed… Well, you may want to have a bucket of ice water handy. Rraw.

4 stars.

Enemy Lover
by Bonnie Vanak
Release Date: November 1, 2008
Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne

Darkfever Movie: I Die!!

I didn’t read Twilight before the movie came out. I’ve never been a fan of Harry Potter.  Honestly, until I got word that they were making The Hunger Games into a movie, I’ve never really been all that excited about a book adaptation before.  Then I heard that DreamWorks has bought the rights to all five books in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series.

To say I love this series would be an understatement akin to saying I love McDonald’s french fries or I love Charlie Hunnam without a shirt on.  It is one the very best series I have ever read.  I laid in bed at night after reading Dreamfever, trying to figure out who the beast was.  I took a vacation day to stay home and read on the day Shadowfever was released.  I cried like a baby for the first 20 pages of that book and made my co-worker read the series just so I could talk to someone about it.
And don’t even get me started on Barrons.  Yes, (Katiebabs if you are reading this) he is a douche.  He is an arrogant, unrelenting asshole.  Who would likely be the best lay of a lifetime.  Fans have devoted hours to Google searches, trying to find pictures that could do him justice.  And now, some poor actor is going to have to try to live up to that inhuman sex appeal.  (David Gandy can’t act, can he?)  Can it be done?  Is there anyone would could satisfy fans?

I’m still trying to cast Acheron in my head. And now Barrons?  V’Lane? Christian?  I must have done something really good in a previous life.  A Dark Hunter tv show. A Darkfever movie. And a male-stripper movie with almost every hot guy in Hollywood getting naked.  Thank you, entertainment gods.  I love you.

Did Somebody Say "Full Frontal?"

I don’t normally post about movies or anything else that is not book related.  But you know I do have a soft spot for man-candy.  And I’ll be damned if I didn’t just hear about the man-candy movie of the century.

It’s called Magic Mike and it’s a Steven Soderbergh movie about male strippers.  Sit down for a moment while I lay out the cast:

Alex Pettyfer

Channing Tatum

Joe Manganiello

Matthew Bomer

They will be taking off their clothes in this movie.  Let’s stop and absorb that for a moment.  They will be naked.  Maybe completely, gloriously naked… a la Spartacus.  I think I might set up a tent at the theater.

Oh yeah.. and this guy is playing the ex-stripper who owns the club:

Matthew McConaughey

I’m going to go sit in the corner and rock back and forth until this movie comes out.

Review: A Midwinter Fantasy

A Midwinter Fantasy is a mixed bag of short stories from the fantasy romance genre with a Christmas theme. Here’s a look at the novellas included:

A Christmas Carroll” – This story serves as wrap-up for the Percy Parker series by Leanna Renee Hieber. And I understand fans of the series loved it.  Speaking as someone who has never read these books, the story wasn’t so great.  Obviously the world-building in this series is pretty complicated and while the bare bones are laid out here, it was painfully apparent how much I had missed.

Basically, the novella is set up in the framework of the Dickens story of the same name.  But here, the spirits are trying to teach the heartbroken Rebecca that she has had true love at her fingertips for 20 years. In a series of flashbacks, she learns how much Michael has always loved her and that all she needs to do is reach out to him to find happiness.  This is all set up in the context of a world of ghosts and a secret Guardian society set in Victorian London.  The story was ok. But I had the unmistakable feeling I was reading the last chapter of an unfamiliar book.

The Worth of a Sylph” – This was the story I read the anthology for –as I am a big fan of LJ McDonald’s Sylph series. I was a little confused when I first heard that this was a love story for Mace. After all, he bonded with Lily back in The Battle Sylph.  But a whopping 19 years have now passed since the events of that book.  And Lily is an old woman. She knows that she doesn’t have much time left, so she encourages Mace to find a new master… a woman he can love.

Meanwhile, Jayden, one of Lily’s orphan children has run away and she asks Mace to find him. On his journey, he reconnects with Sally, a woman who he shared a tumble with in the first book.  They instantly reconnect and it’s quickly apparent that she will be the woman who has his heart.  The people in her village have ostracized her for her affair with Mace and their cruelty extended to her son… who seems to be traveling with the bandits who have Jayden. Now Mace is on a mission to save both boys, while he hopes for a future with the woman who could finally be his soul mate.

Be aware that this story is a peek into the future.  The series jumps back 13 years for the next full length book, Queen of the Sylphs.

The Crystal Crib” – Sonja has traveled to Iceland to broker a business deal for her aunt. But when she arrives in Vidar’s office, instead of her aunt, he is shocked to see her.  It turns out that Vidar has been the guardian angel tied to Sonja’s soul her whole life. He saved her life as a baby and has been linked to her ever since.  But with her return to Iceland, she is drawn back in the feud between her father and Vidar’s.  At first she seems to be just a pawn, but it’s slowly revealed that she is much more.

The connection between Sonja and Vidar is sweet and sexy.  The story is set on the backdrop of Norse mythology, which is fun and a little off the beaten path.  Nothing too deep, but entertaining.

As a fan of the Sylph series, obviously the McDonald selection was my favorite. Taylor’s wasn’t bad.  But I think Hieber’s story may be a miss for readers unfamiliar with the previous books.  Almost 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

A Midwinter Fantasy
by Leanna Hieber, LJ McDonald, Helen Scott Taylor
Release Date: November 23, 2010
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing

Review: The Shattered Sylph

The more I read of this series, the more I like it.

Six years have passed since the events of The Battle Sylph, but the transition feels seamless.  Solie is still queen of what is now known as Sylph Valley.  Heyou (**cringe**) is still at her side. Lizzie, Leon’s daughter, is now 18 years-old. She is still in love with Ril, her father’s battle sylph. But he closed himself off to her emotionally after he was injured at the end of the last book. And she believes he has no feelings for her beyond friendship.

Of course, she’s wrong. Completely, utterly, wonderfully wrong. When Lizzie is kidnapped by slavers, Ril joins her father and Justin (a young suitor of hers) on a mission to find her. Ril is the only one who can track her, because years ago, he imprinted himself on her in secret. He made her his master out of his love for her.

The slavers put Lizzie in a harem for battle sylphs who need an outlet. But when none of them wants her, she discovers that it is because they see her as mated to Ril. And when the two of them are reunited, it’s just spectacular.

The world-building in this series is just enthralling. The sex and sexual tension are awesome, but the book is also wonderfully romantic. There is plenty of action, great secondary characters, and impressive continuity. Ril is a fantastic tortured hero… and I have such a weak spot for those (especially when they’re done right.) My only niggling complaints are the same ones I had for the last book… dumb names for the sylphs and the youth of the heroines. Even aging Lizzie six years, leaves her only at 18. These are not YA books… would it kill the author to make the girls 20 or 21?

Again, these complaints are small ones. I really, really enjoyed this book –and I love this series. Almost 5 stars.

The Shattered Sylph
by LJ McDonald
Release Date: March 30, 2010
Publisher: Leisure Books