Archives for September 2011

My Most Anticipated Books of 2012

It’s not even Halloween yet and I’ve already got my sights set on the books coming out next year.  (Yes, I know I have a problem, but admitting your addiction is the first step, right?)  Here are some of the books I am dying to get my hands on.

Lothaire
by Kresley Cole 
Despite the fact that Paul Marron is all wrong for the cover, I can’t wait to get my mitts on this.  It seems like forever since the last Immortals After Dark book. (It was February.) And this is the first one that will be released in hardback. Lothaire is a sexy vampire, sort-of villain, who is as beautiful as he is deadly.  We saw quite a bit of him in Dreams of a Dark Warrior, but now is his chance to get naked really shine.  Expected Release: January 10, 2012. Pre-Order from Amazon

Horizon
by Sophie Littlefield

I liked Aftertime… but I loved Rebirth.  This adult post-apocalyptic trilogy may feature zombies, but it really tells a very human story.  The main character, Cass, is utterly flawed, but she is a survivor.  She is a mother, willing to do anything for her child. She is weak and strong… a seductress and a fighter. I need to see whether her future lies with Smoke or Dor… if her crumbling world even has a future at all. Expected Release: January 24, 2012. Pre-Order from Amazon

A Perfect Blood
by Kim Harrison
I am listing these books in order of release date, but this is the number one book that I am lusting for.  Pale Demon has been my absolute favorite book in the Hollows series by far.  We finally got an indication that a relationship between Rachel and Trent could really happen.  Rachel is stronger than she has ever been and Ivy seems to have finally stopped trying to get into her pants.  We are learning more about the Ever-After.  Al kissed Rachel.  Who knows what will happen next?  I. Can’t. Wait. Expected Release: February 21, 2012. Pre-Order from Amazon
The Darkest Seduction
by Gena Showalter
Poor Paris is finally getting his happy ending in this latest installment in the Lords of the Underworld series.  The man who carries the demon of Promiscuity has been miserable ever since his fated woman died a few books back. Now he and Sienna get their chance to be together.  Will she continue to carry the demon of Wrath? And just how much sex are they going to have?  He has to do it all the time, after all. Expected Release: February 21, 2012. Pre-Order from Amazon
Once Burned
by Jeaniene Frost
This is the first of two books featuring Vlad in the Night Huntress world.  I am one of the many fans who have been mooning over the sexy firestarter for ages.  I love Cat and Bones, but I’m ready for a new romance and I have no doubt Frost will deliver. Expected Release: March 27, 2012 June 26, 2012. Pre-Order from Amazon.
Gunmetal Magic
by Ilona Andrews
I don’t know much about this except that it’s Andrea and Raphael’s book from the Kate Daniels series.  I loved their short story, “Magic Mourns” and their estrangement broke my heart in Magic Slays.  Andrews has said it involves Egyptian mythology, but I don’t need details to know that it’s an auto-buy.  Expected Release: May 31, 2012 August 2012.Pre-Order from Amazon.

13
by Kelley Armstrong
I am a huge fan of the Otherworld series and this is the 13th and final chapter.  All of Armstrong’s wonderful characters are coming together for one last explosive battle, which was set up in Spell Bound.   You couldn’t pay me to miss this one. Expected Release: July 24, 2012. Pre-Order from Amazon.

Before you ask me if I forgot Lover Reborn, the answer is no. I’m still sulking that Tohr gets his book before my beloved Qhay.  Of course, I’ll read it, but I need to stew about this.
What about you? What big releases are you looking forward to in 2012? 

Review: Unclaimed

Reviewed by Jen

Sir Mark is the toast of London. The book he wrote on the value of chastity is a smash hit.  His every move is followed; he is mobbed in the streets.  Men want to be like him and women just want him.  But his favor is elusive… not just because of his celebrity, but because of his chastity and virginity.

The only thing Jessica wants from Mark is to successfully tarnish his reputation.  She is a courtesan, but she desires freedom from that life. And her former protector has offered her a lot of money to ruin Mark. So she insinuates herself into Mark’s quiet hometown, where he is planning a vacation from London. Mark is instantly drawn to her, in part, because of her beauty. But what’s even more alluring about her is her fiery personality. As he gets to know her, she becomes even more attractive to him, because she seems to truly see through his reputation, to the man beneath.

This was a really good book.  The sexual tension between these two is outstanding, and the fact that the man was the hold-out gave it all a refreshing twist.  Jessica is broken on many levels.  The how’s and why’s of it are slowly uncovered, making her sympathetic despite her schemes.  And Mark has dark shadows in his own past, which he must deal with at the same time he must address the widespread effects of his chastity campaign… a campaign which has been twisted to something very different than he first intended.

I loved the way Milan handled Mark’s virginity.  He could have come off as prissy or repressed, but he wasn’t.  He was sexy and strong; he acknowledged his lust. He owned it.  And he was all-the-more hot because of it.

“It cheapens what I’ve accomplished,” Mark said, “to imagine me a saint. To believe I am untempted, that I pass through this life without feeling lust or want or desire. I said it in the first chapter of my book, and yet nobody seems to believe me. Chastity is hard.

“I hadn’t thought—”

“I want. I lust. I desire.” He scrubbed his hand through sandy blond hair at that, shaking his head. “No. You’re right. You don’t deserve euphemisms. I want you. I lust after you. I desire you.

The happy ending was a little long in playing out, maybe taking an extra twist or turn more than was really necessary.  But when it was all said and done, I was satisfied.  And it makes me want to go back and read Unveiled, to get the story of Mark’s brother Ash. Toss one more book onto my TBR pile.  4 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Unclaimed
by Courtney Milan
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Publisher: HQN

Review: Alterant

Reviewed by Jen

Poor Evalle can’t catch a break.  She was able to thwart the plans of the Kujoo and recover the powerful stone she was sent to find in Blood Trinity, but her troubles are only starting.  As this book begins, only hours have passed since the last story ended and now Evalle must face a powerful Tribunal of deities to account for her actions.

Her race, the Alterants, were already feared and reviled. But now several have shown themselves in beast form and killed. So when Evalle stands before the Tribunal to answer for herself, she finds herself judged for their misdeeds. Brina, the leader of the Beladors, stands up for her, but that can only take Evalle so far. In the end, she is charged with bringing in three Alterants known to be on the loose. If she can’t do it, not only will they be sentenced to die, so will she.

On her mission, Evalle finds herself thrown back with Tristan, the Alterant she met in the last book. He doesn’t trust her since she sent him back to his prison; And she doesn’t trust him either. But he’s the only one with any idea where the other Alterants are. Storm, the jaguar-shifter is back too. His role as a protector and love interest is jacked up a notch. It’s obvious he’s falling hard for Evalle, but he has secrets he hasn’t shared with her yet. And though Evalle is developing feelings for him, she has a lot to overcome, especially with her history of sexual assault.

While all this is going on, the Medb are plotting to overthrow the Beladors and are planning to use the Alterants to do it. This brings back the priestess Kizira… and her relationship with Evalle’s friend Quinn.  Plus, we delve into what’s happening with Brina and Tzader. If all this sounds like a lot going on… that’s because it is. And I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. The books in the Belador series are complicated. There are legions of characters, each with their own histories and agendas. This is not light reading… you have to pay attention. And even then, you may have work to keep up.

But if you can stay on top of it all, it’s really good stuff. Evalle is a great character: fragile yet strong; both naive and jaded; afraid of love and still desperate for it. Storm is mysterious, sexy, powerful and loyal. The romance is gentle, but exciting. The action is non-stop… filled with strategies, machinations and violence. And when the book is done, you know the story is far from over.  It’s not really a cliff-hanger, but the stage is set for the next installment and I can’t wait for it to get here.  I really enjoyed it… but I would suggest reading Blood Trinity first, if you haven’t already, or you may end up feeling lost.  Almost 5 stars.

*ARC Provided by Pocket Books

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Alterant
by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Pocket Books

Series Reading Order: Belador

This is the reading order for the Belador series by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love:
** “Midnight Kiss Goodbye” is a novella in the Dead After Dark anthology, set in the Belador world.

Review: Altered Destiny

Reviewed by Jen

Selia lives on the edge of civilization. Nearby, the feared Svistra raid villages and feed on human blood. But she never really considers that the monstrous warriors will ever target her or the small tavern that she runs. And she is right, in a way. When she comes across the Svitra she comes to know as Jaden, he’s not attacking. He is being attacked. Selia doesn’t realize he’s not human when she intervenes and kills the men beating him. It’s not until she inspects his battered body that she figures out what he is. But she can’t turn her back on his suffering. So she and her adopted brother Oren work to nurse him back to health.

As Jaden recovers, he becomes friends with his human saviors. So when the sweet and simple Oren is conscripted into the human army, he helps Selia travel into danger to free him. Together, they must face treacherous and magical lands and soldiers who would attack them on sight. Not only that, but the Svistra are searching for Jaden. His power-hungry brother Keldar has taken over as leader of their people and he wants Jaden dead as a means to secure and maintain his power.

The dynamic between Jaden and Selia is what makes this book sing. At times, it seems a love triangle may be formed with them and a human army commander named Nathan. But it’s plain to see that Selia will never really be truly happy with anyone other than Jaden. Their feelings for one another develop naturally, believably. Despite the great differences between them, they find common ground — that leads to friendship, trust, and eventually attraction and love.

The storyline is really good and took me places I didn’t expect. The beginning was kind of slow and the world-building was sprawling at times. We had a lot to learn about the people, their lands, and their history. The huge amounts of information detracted from the characters at times. I also found myself frustrated with too many cutaways to Keldar’s POV. But every time we came back to Selia and Jaden, I felt like the story was worth my time.

Then we got to the end. (Spoilers ahead.) I know that sex isn’t a part of every book, but I felt like a physical relationship between these two was like a carrot on a string that led me through 350 pages of this book.

Yeah, we got a “happy” ending. But I felt robbed that we didn’t get to see these two come together on-page. I stayed up reading until one o’clock in the morning to get a payoff that never came. A payoff that this couple (and the readers) deserved. And it made me leave the book feeling angry and having mixed feelings about the story as a whole. I think one more well crafted chapter, letting us see these two finally give in to their feelings would have gone a long way.

3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Altered Destiny
by Shawna Thomas
Release Date: September 19, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press

Review: Serpent’s Kiss

Let me start off by saying how much I love the Elder Races series.  Thea Harrison has created this rich, fascinating world, filled with Fae, Vampires, Wyr and a vast array of supernaturals in between.  And I just can’t get enough.

We first met Rune, a Wyr-gryphon, back in Dragon Bound. He is one of Dragos’ sentinals… his right hand.  During the events of Storm’s Heart, he made a deal with the ancient vampyre Carling in order to save the life of fellow-sentinal Tiago.  As this story begins, it’s time to repay that debt.

Carling is having some serious problems.  She is reaching the end of her vampyre life and her decline is marked by periods of a disassociative state.  She zones out; her body is there, but her consciousness is somewhere else.  And it’s happening with growing frequency.  When Rune shows up on her island to repay his favor, he becomes determined to help her solve the mystery of her condition.  As a result, he is drawn into her life in a way no one expected.

It took awhile for the story to rev up.  Maybe Carling’s lack of passion had something to do with it.  It was really hard to connect with her as a heroine.  The very nature of her problem made her apart from most emotion.  The relationship was very slow to develop and so was my investment in the story.  I liked Rune and I liked the twist the author tied into Carling’s “episodes,” but I was firmly in the second half of the book before I really felt the excitement or passion I’ve come to expect from an Elder Races story.  And while the Carling disconnect was probably the biggest reason for that, it wasn’t the only one.  One of the awesome things about the first two books was the great action and intrigue.  It’s hard to have either one of those things when your main conflict in internal.  The problem is within Carling.

I don’t want to sound too negative.  The book picked up steam in the second half, as Carling rediscovered her emotions and our couple finally started coming together.  It was great seeing Dragos and Pia, even if it was just a brief cameo.  And I’m really intrigued by Khalil.  I love this series and have absolute faith that Harrison will knock Oracle’s Moon out of the park.  Almost 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by Berkley

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Serpent’s Kiss
by Thea Harrison
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Publisher: Berkley

Review: Blood Rights

Reviewed by Jen

Chrysabelle is a comarré, the ultimate blood source for a vampire.  From birth, she was molded into the ideal: in beauty, countenance, and blood purity.  But now her patron –her blood-master– is dead, and she is suspected not only of killing him, but stealing a magic ring in his possession.  Now Tatiana, a deranged and power hungry vampire, is hunting for her and will stop at nothing to accomplish her task.

Chrysabelle takes refuge on the other side of the world, with her aunt Maris. She hides the golden sigils that mark her as comarré and tries to assimilate into human culture.  But it doesn’t really work out. She crosses paths with Mal, a cursed and outcast vampire. And through a string of events neither intended, he becomes her new patron.

Mal doesn’t need any new problems.  The curse he lives with keeps him on the edge of sanity.  His only companions are a spirit and a shapeshifter tied to him by circumstance. He can’t feed properly; he is shunned by his kind.  Yet, something in him calls to Chrysabelle. I’d like to say this turned into a romance, but I can’t.  There are moments it seems so close, but we don’t quite get there.  Grr.

They do, however, become something of a team… working together against Tatiana.  As the book unfolds, we learn more about her dark plans and what they’ll mean for the world.  We also learn more and more about the comarré: their secrets and their legacy. The world building is unique and complicated, in parts. It took me awhile to feel invested in the story. The first half didn’t grab me the way the second half did. There was too much time spent from Tatiana’s POV. Way too much.  And honestly, I think the book may have been better served with some tightening up, especially early on. Things just didn’t feel like they were really moving forward for awhile.

I did become more invested over time.  Of course, part of that was me being greedy for the moments of connection between Chyrsabelle and Mal.  And while they never did get where I wanted them to be, I think there is definite groundwork to move in that direction in later books.  Tatiana makes for a formidable villain and the big reveal about her at the end actually managed surprise me, so kudos to the author for that.  There were some strong secondary characters, as well.

I feel pretty confident that I’ll read the next installment in the series. Hopefully, it will pick up the pace a bit and give me more of the connection between our hero and heroine that we saw the beginnings-of in this book.  3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Blood Rights
by Kristen Painter
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Orbit

Spider’s Revenge: Feature & Giveaway


No one will ever confuse me with a writer. I don’t have the skill or that wonderful creative spark that brings characters to life.  But the awesome Jennifer Estep, author of the Elemental Assassin series, was kind enough to overlook that long enough to play along with me, when I asked if I could take a short walk through Gin Blanco’s world.

My little imaginary trip to Ashland should help bring you up to speed on our amazing assassin as we get ready for the big showdown with her nemesis in Spider’s Revenge, which is out tomorrow! Take a look.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Ashland.

I’m not really good at keeping my head down. And with someone like Mab Monroe running the city, if you can’t keep your head down, you’re likely to lose it. But I’ve heard through the grapevine that things are changing there. Someone is fighting back. Someone called the Spider.

With that in mind, I packed my bags and flew in for a visit. I even dropped by my favorite club, Northern Aggression. The guys there are so hot! One was hot enough to prompt me to follow him out the door, around to the side of the building. Imagine my surprise, when Mr. Beautiful started picking up speed and pulling a gun. Long story short, he took out a giant who was about to pounce on a woman standing in the alley. Damsel in distress?  I think not. I watched as she carved a rune into the ground with a knife. A spider rune. It was only then I noticed all the other bodies surrounding her.  And then she looked up and saw me.

So, those are the events that lead me to a back room in the club, with an incredibly charming, gorgeous guy and a woman I can only assume is the assassin they call the Spider. I thought she would kill me, but she didn’t. Instead, we somehow ended up sitting around a table, with drinks in our hands. One drink turned into two and then into three, before I was unable to keep my mouth shut a minute longer..

Me: So, how long have you two been together?

Gin: Finn’s father, Fletcher, took me in when I was thirteen and living on the mean streets of Ashland. The old man taught me everything I know about being an assassin, and most importantly, how to survive. I’ll always be grateful to him for that. (lifts her glass in honor of Fletcher)

Finn: (lifting his glass as well) Hear, hear. And Dad would be proud of you and all the folks you’ve helped lately. But yeah, we’ve known each other since we were kids and have been getting into and out of trouble ever since then.

Me: Well, I guess you don’t have much time for relationships in your, er, line of work.

Gin: Well, that’s not necessarily true. I’ve been seeing someone lately: Owen Grayson. So far, things are going well between me and Owen, and I hope they stay that way for a long time to come.

Finn: And I’ve got my eye on one Detective Bria Coolidge, a very attractive blond who is playing hard to get, although everyone knows how much she secretly wants me.

Gin:(rolling her eyes) I think the only thing Bria really wants is to slap that smug smile off your face.

Finn: (grinning) Your baby sister will come around sooner or later. It’s only a matter of time. No one can resist the charms of Finnegan Lane for very long.

Gin snorts and takes another sip of her drink.

Me: Have you always done the kind of work that you do? I mean, you kill people, right?

Gin: Yes. My name is Gin, and I kill people. That’s all you really need to know.

Finn: Actually, she used to kill people for money… a lot of money. *Sighs dreamily* But lately, she’s been doing all these pro bono jobs.

Gin: Yeah, lately, it seems like I’ve been handling bad situations for good, decent folks who have nowhere else to turn and problems that the law can’t handle. It’s dangerous work, but it’s rewarding, knowing that I’m saving some innocent lives.

Me: But Mab Monroe isn’t exactly a regular mark.  They don’t come any scarier than her.  Why would you put yourself on her radar?

Gin: Because Mab killed my mother and older sister when I was a kid. Not only that, but she tortured me and would have killed Bria as well. And ours isn’t the only family that she’s destroyed over the years. Mab deserves everything that’s coming her way, and all the wrath that I can rain down on her and her men in the meantime.

Me: So… (I find myself whispering) Are you going to kill her?

Gin: That’s the plan, sweetheart. That’s the plan. Whether it actually happens or not *shrugs* we’ll see

The last word was barely out of her mouth when Finn’s phone rang. He spoke quietly for a moment than ended the call and looked up at me. Finn tells me my cab is here, I’m headed to the airport, and to get the hell out of town.

Sitting in the cab, I can’t believe the night I’ve had. The Spider was nothing like I expected. I’m almost sorry to be leaving. I have a feeling things here are about to get really interesting.

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Ha!! This was so much fun. A big thank you to Jennifer Estep for letting me visit with Gin and Fin and taking the time to share their answers with me.

If this has whet your appetite for Spider’s Revenge, you’re in luck.  We’re giving away a copy! This contest is only open to Red Hot Books followers in the U.S.  So if you’d like to enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Review: Heart of the Druid Laird

Reviewed by Jen
 

Dermot is a Druid and Scottish laird who has been alive for the past 1600 years.  His wife was once the granddaughter of the Fae king. But she gave up her immortality to get married.  When she died in an attack on Dermot’s clan, her mother cursed Dermot and his elite guard.  They were to be immortal until Dermot could find the reincarnated soul of his wife and bring her back to the place where she died.

After all these years, her soul has now reincarnated.  Dermot finds her in Sidney St George, an American woman who knows nothing of her past life.  Dermot tracks her down, having no intention of developing any feelings for her. But you know how these things go.  Even though they fight it, their souls reach out to one another.  Sidney doubts Dermot’s intentions and as she begins to fall for him; she is sure her feelings can never be returned.  At the same time, Dermot is struggling with his new-found emotions and weighing his own feelings against his responsibilities to his men. 

All of that angst creates enough of a problem, but the Fae princess who cursed Dermot refuses to allow his suffering to end.  She throws one obstacle their way after another, hoping to keep his torment alive.  Plus, there is the threat that if the curse does end, the men won’t just regain their mortality; they’ll die on the spot.

The book started off a little slow for me. I had a hard time connecting with the characters and I thought it was going to end up being a pretty dry read.  But somewhere around the halfway point, a little bit of magic happened and the book came alive.  I think it was around the same time that Sidney allowed herself to believe in Dermot’s immortality.  That’s the time the two of them slowly began to take down their walls.  The sexual element was pretty good; and as much as I liked the development of Sidney and Dermot’s relationship… the secondary love story between her best friend Zoe and Dermot’s cousin Thomas was just as endearing, if not more so.

Dermot and his men all spoke with a great brogue.  And I’m a firm believer that no book can truly be called a Highlander story without the words, “Och,” “ken” and “lass.” We get all of these plus a few Gaelic term of endearment.  Yay! 

I ended up rather liking this book. I’m glad I stuck with it, because it paid off in the end.  4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Heart of the Druid Laird
by Barbara Longley
Release Date: September 19, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop

It’s Banned Book Week. This is a yearly event designed to celebrate the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  It’s also intended to draw attention to the dangers of censorship by spotlighting efforts to ban books across the United States.  If you would like to learn more about Banned Book Week, you can visit the American Library Association’s website. To read about which books have faced the most challenges in the past year, click here.

Reading is all about personal choices.  In that spirit, I want you to choose the book YOU would like to read from the Book Depository.  If you win (and the book is valued up to $10), I’ll buy it for you. This giveaway is international, so it’s open to everyone who follows the site.

Thanks for visiting Red Hot Books. Don’t forget to check out the other sites taking part in this great hop!