Archives for October 2011

Review: On the Edge

Reviewed by Jen

I read somewhere that Gordon Andrews* once called this series “rustic fantasy.” It kind of fits. It’s decidedly not urban. The setting is kind of backwoods, really. But it’s quirky; it’s kind of charming; and while it took me a little while to connect with it, the book grew on me more and more as I continued to read.

This series is nothing like the Kate Daniels books, except for this: the world building takes some getting used to. It’s not really hard to understand, but it’s also not like anything else out there. In this case, there are essentially two parallel worlds. The Broken is the regular world we live in: a world of Wal-Mart and electricity. Magic is just a myth. Whereas, in the Weird, there is a world of nothing but magic. There is, however, an in-between place. The Edge is a little of both worlds, and somehow neither, at the same time. This is where Rose and her two brothers live.

Rose has more magic than most other people in the Edge, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say, she is better at using it. So everyone wants to breed with her, or sell her, or profit from her in some other way. She is raising her little brothers, working a menial job, and has given up hope that her life could be more. When Declan appears, she assumes the noble from the Weird is there to force her into marriage. But at the same time, strange and dangerous creatures begin showing up. Rose has to work with Declan to fight the threat. And as they spend more time together… well, you know how these things go.

Like I said earlier, I didn’t love it right away. Maybe it was the backwoods thing; maybe I just had to get used to the concepts. But either way, I ended up rather engrossed in it. Notably absent was the trademark Ilona Andrews snark, but there was a pretty hot sex scene which helped me get over that. There are some interesting secondary characters… especially William. I hope we see more of him in later books. I’m curious to see where the series goes next, since the ending felt pretty settled for Rose and Declan. There is only one way to find out.

A little more than 4 stars.

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
On the Edge
by Ilona Andrews
Release Date: September 29, 2009
Publisher: Ace

*Gordon is part of the husband/ wife writing team who write under the pseudonym Ilona Andrews

Review: Mistress by Midnight

Reviewed by Jen

Merryn has devoted the last decade of her life to learning the details of her brother’s death and plotting to make his killer pay. It’s common knowledge that Stephen died in a duel at the hands of his friend Garrick. Stephen had been having an affair with Garrick’s wife, who also died young. Garrick left town in the scandal, but now that he has returned, Merryn intends to find proof that something was amiss at that duel… and she won’t rest until she finds justice.

There is, indeed, more to the story of Stephen’s death than meets the eye. But the truth is very slowly unveiled, even to the reader. Garrick feels great remorse for his actions and has all but written off the possibility of happiness. But as his path crosses with Merryn, he begins to feel emotions he has long thought dead. And despite her disdain and distrust, she is drawn to him in a way she can’t deny.

Reviews like these are always the hardest to write. The book was ok; pretty standard Regency romance. Self-castigating hero, plucky but naive heroine: they fall in love despite their best intentions… a secret looming that could destroy them all. Throw in a little sex, a little scandal, and voila!

I found the heroine awfully innocent (and not just sexually) for a 25 year-old; and the idea that she could lust after Garrick after hating him so thoroughly and for so long, was kind-of a tough pill to swallow. And speaking of far-fetched, I had real trouble with the idea of two people getting intimate after being soaked in old beer and a caved-in building for two days. They were hurt; they were dirty; they had to stink… and they’re having awesome sex – without a bath? Nuh-uh.

Otherwise, it was fairly good, I guess. The twist on the “big secret” was surprising in the end. And other than the beer-sex, I enjoyed the love scenes. 3 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Mistress by Midnight
by Nicola Cornick
Release Date: November 23, 2010
Publisher: HQN

Favorites: Paranormal Romance

Paranormal Romance is my drug of choice, people. It’s not the only thing I read. I love Urban Fantasy, Historicals, a little Erotica… But at the end of the day, when my brain needs a little comfort food, PNRs are where I turn. They are the beloved french fries of my book-diet. Here’s a look at some of my favorites in the genre.

Immortals After Dark
by Kresley Cole
This series has it all. It’s funny. It’s sassy. It is so damn sexy, it rocks my world. The series features a wide array of supernatural characters that mix, match, and interact over the course of several installments. For me, the band of feisty Valkyrie makes up the heart of the books. Powerful, greedy, strong, beautiful women who are more than a match for any man willing to try and win their hearts. But there are also the sexy Lykae, who have a brogue to die for… hot, horned demons (see how I resisted the urge to call them “horny?”)… vampires, witches and more. My favorite in the series so far has been Demon From the Dark, but if you haven’t read this series, start at the beginning.   Go read these books.  Right now.

Click to purchase: A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark, Book 1)

The Black Dagger Brotherhood
by JR Ward
Dark. Gritty. Urban.  These books are not light reading.  But the series boasts my favorite tortured hero of all time and my favorite PNR book, Lover Awakened.  There is violence; there is scorching hot sex; there are vampires; and there are very stupid character names.  But the early books in the series are simply unparalleled. Not every installment is as strong as the others, but there are so many amazing characters and secondary plots, that there is something worthwhile in every one of these books.  The basic premise surrounds a band of warrior vampires who defend their people from the soulless villains who wish to destroy them. And they fall in love… and have superhot sex. Start with Dark Lover.  Don’t let the glossary intimidate you.  And before you know it, you’ll be thinking of your husband as a “male of worth.”

Click to purchase: Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 1)

The Guardians
by Meljean Brook

Admittedly, this series got off to a slow start for me.  But I am so glad that I stuck with it!  It’s got such dense and amazing world-building and the romances just get better and better.  The basic premise is that there are Guardians protecting humans from the Demons who would prey on them. They’re not quite angels, but rather, are former humans who now have something extra to help them in their fight.  At the center of it all is the enigmatic leader, Michael.  There are so many twists and turns on the way to his story and it is so very worth it to go on the journey. Book 1 may be a struggle, but don’t give up. It really is worth it to get to the amazing stories that follow!

Click to purchase: Demon Angel

Psy-Changeling
by Nalini Singh

This series is stronger than ever with more than a dozen love stories under its belt.  In this exciting world Nalini Singh has created, there are humans, changelings, and psy.  The changelings are shifters: emotional and tactile.  The psy are cerebral and cold, all emotion bred out of them.  Or has it been?  Obviously not entirely, because there is some really hot stuff going on under their cool exteriors.  The romances are emotional and very sexy, but there is also a great series arc going on at the same time.  Exciting and sensational. Just wait until you get to Heart of Obsidian!!

Click to purchase: Slave to Sensation

 

by Sherrilyn Kenyon

I read through these books like a starving man at Thanksgiving dinner.  Sherrilyn Kenyon has concocted a strange blend of vampire legend and Greek mythology that just somehow works.  The Dark Hunters were all human once. But each was done a terrible wrong; their souls called out for vengeance –and they got it, in exchange for an immortal lifetime in service to the goddess Artemis. They protect humanity from a breed of life-sucking vampires.  And they fall in love. And have superhot sex.  For me, the series has lost its footing a little in the wake of the epic Acheron. But the early books are not to be missed.  In addition to Gods and vampires, there are also shapeshifters of several varieties.  Plus, it’s set largely in New Orleans, with great landmark mentions and even a female lead from the suburb where I grew up. (Shout out to Kenner, everybody!)  Be sure to check out Kenyon’s website. It puts all others to shame.

Click to purchase: Night Pleasures (Dark-Hunter, Book 1)

 

Review: In Total Surrender


Reviewed by Jen

This book started out a little confusing for me at first. It is book three in Anne Mallory’s Secrets series, and I’m not sure if things would have been clearer for me if I had read the first two books or if the author was intentionally building a late reveal.

Andreas Merrick is definitely an anti-hero. He’s dark, broken, and relentless in his pursuit of vengeance.  It seems like everyone in London wants him dead over his business dealings. And he is subjected to one assassination attempt after another. But as much as he would like to think himself utterly removed from humanity, he finds himself smitten with Phoebe Pace.  They have never met… he has only ever seen her from a distance at the theater.  But that changes when she shows up at his home, with a business proposition in hand.

Andreas does his very best to reject Phoebe. But no matter how many barbs he sends her way, she accepts him with a smile. Andreas simply refuses to open himself up to another person. Some things in life just happen, though, whether we want them to or not. Phoebe first wins him over in business, then slowly, in other ways.

This book was fun to read.  I really enjoyed Mallory’s writing.  It was witty and smart.  Andreas was a fantastic tortured hero. There was great action and I absolutely adored the idea of him finding salvation with Phoebe.  BUT despite a phenomenal build-up, the sexual payoff was a huge disappointment. The sex scenes were rushed, vague, and terribly short.  And that’s a real shame because I liked everything else about the way the relationship played out.

There were some pretty big twists at the end, which I didn’t see coming.  And a satisfying conclusion.  Almost 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

 

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository

In Total Surrender
by Anne Mallory
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Avon

Review: Mythic

Reviewed by Jen

I’m having a really hard time with a review for this book. There are some things that were done really well here, but there were developments that made me want to pull my hair out at the same time.

The story centers on Gianna, a human-vampire hybrid, plotting revenge on Mattias, the man who she blames for the death of her parents. As the book begins, Gianna rescues the vampire Nicholas from some of Mattias’ henchmen. Nicholas is only in London to try to end a feud between Mattias and his family. Obviously, it’s not going so well.

Anyway, Gianna takes Nicholas to her home and the two of them hit it off right away. She knows his connection to Mattias, but he doesn’t know hers. So he’s shocked when he finds out she and Mattias are dating. The relationship is a ruse to get close to the man. And it seems like Nicholas and Gianna are on the path to something really good. He even takes her back home to the States. She gets close to his family; everything looks great.

Let me tell you, Jae Lynn Davies can write the hell out of some sex scenes. There were a good many hot moments. They never felt monotonous or redundant. They were outstanding. I loved the idea of Gianna finally finding happiness with Nicholas, even if he did fall in love with her sickeningly fast.

But then, the story is completely turned on its ear. All of a sudden, Mattias isn’t what he seems and the book goes in a completely different direction. I would have drop-kicked it if I didn’t value my nook so much. I completely lost any ability to relate to Gianna and simply could not understand her feelings. I hated where she ended up and the ending was a cliffhanger.

I guess part of the reason I’m so frustrated is because I really liked where I thought the book was going. I sure as hell was on board with the love scenes. But then… (**sigh**)

I guess it says something that I got invested enough to be this bothered by it all. But (*spoilers*) she should have ended up with the other guy, dammit!!! Argh. Very hard to rate this one.   3 stars.  It would have been more had the ending been different.

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: All Romance Ebooks 
Mythic
by Jae Lynne Davies
Release Date: February 15, 2011
Publisher: Tease Publishing

Review: Hard Bitten

Reviewed by Jen

I knew before I started this book that Something Big happens. I avoid spoilers like the plague and I didn’t even read this series when this book came out. But despite that, there was so much chatter that you’d have to live under a rock to have missed the outcry. And even knowing all that, I was still utterly and completely decimated by this book.

It all starts out innocently enough. The mayor is putting the screws to Merit and Ethan to put an end to the blood raves in the city. And the same time, Darius, a bigwig from the governing vampire council, comes to town to check out the Chicago vamps. Merit believes Celina has a hand in it all. But Darius essentially forbids any further investigation of her.

In the meantime, Ethan is working to redeem himself for his behavior in the last book. He now accepts how he feels about Merit and is trying desperately to win her back. It’s an intricate dance between them and their eventually acquiescence feels inevitable.

I’m not going to spoil the details of what happens, in the off chance you are one of the five people in the world who doesn’t know how the book ends. Suffice it to say, it left me feeling much like I did at the end of For a Few Demons More. I am emotionally empty. Heartbroken. Betrayed. It was an amazing book, but I don’t know how to forgive Chloe Neill.  And I don’t know how to rate this. How do you rate a book that rips your heart out and stomps it on the floor?

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Hard Bitten
by Chloe Neill
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: NAL

Review: Twice Bitten

Reviewed by Jen

Wow. Just wow. This book completely knocked my socks off. It took my emotions on a crazy ride… from excitement to passion to joy to despair and back around to hope. Twice Bitten has it all: a great plot, fantastic action, love, betrayal, angst… and sex (did I mention sex?) Again, I say, wow.

The book picks up in the moment where the last one left off. Merit is answering the call of that mysterious note she got at the end of the last installment, inviting her to meet someone. And at first, it seems like this book is going to be about the secret organization of vampires she is asked to join. But the main story really follows Merit and Ethan as they provide security for Gabriel, the Alpha of the shifters, as he gathers his people to vote on the future of the pack. Someone is trying to kill Gabriel, so it’s a struggle not only to keep him safe, but to find out who is behind the hit.

Merit is making great strides as a vampire. It’s gratifying to see her grow and shine. But the big, big payoff in the book is road she travels with Ethan. These two put me through the wringer here, but in a completely amazing way. I cheered; I cursed; I considered making little Ethan voodoo dolls and sticking them with pins. It was amazing. All of it.

The ending opened so many doors to future storylines, not just in Merit’s personal life, but in what will happen with the vampires, the shifters, and the Red Guard. And let’s not forget, Celina is still out there somewhere. 5 stars.

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Twice Bitten
by Chloe Neill
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Publisher: NAL

AAD Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Jae Lynne Davies

Authors After Dark is a yearly opportunity for romance readers to interact with some of the amazing authors who keep us up late at night, sharing their stories of true love and hot sex. There will be some big name New York published authors at the con. But there are also a number of small press authors, ready to open the door to a bigger audience.

Jae Lynne Davies is a small press Paranormal Romance author. She has a short story, called “The Contract” featured in the anthology Love’s Immortal Pantheon, Vol 5. And she has a full length novel called, Mythic, to which she is currently working on a sequel. Jae Lynne was kind enough to answer some of my questions today, so I can introduce some of you to her and her work.

Jen: Explain to new readers what they could expect from Mythic?

Jae Lynne: Readers will follow along the journey of vampire hybrid Gianna Marino as she plans to enact vengeance upon the vampire responsible for the death of her family.

Disguising herself as a human wanting to be turned, she infiltrates the enemy’s coven with the hope of bending him to her will and destroying him from the inside.

But when a handsome stranger, enters the scene and is lured into their seductive game that results in a heated love triangle, she discovers a secret that blurs the lines between good and evil, forever changing the course of her existence, and destiny will soon determine on which side she’ll stand.

Jen: What inspired the story?

Jae Lynne: I can’t say there’s one single event that inspired the story of Mythic. However, there might be a few factors that guided me in the direction. I’ve been intrigued by vampire lore for as long as I can remember. When I made the decision to write, it was only natural that I gravitated toward the world of vampires. I found my subject, but I wanted to be different and wondered what would happen if vampires mated with humans. What sort of challenges would their offspring face? Would they be accepted in either world?

During that moment, Gianna Marino and the world of Mythic were born.

Jen: Who are your literary influences?

Jae Lynne: I have several favorite authors whose work I’ll stop everything to read. Joey W. Hill, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Larissa Ione, and Sharon Page are at the top of the list.

Jen: You write some really great love scenes. Are you comfortable writing those or does it ever feel weird? Tell me about your process for putting intimate scenes on page.

Jae Lynne: Thanks so much for the wonderful compliment! Surprisingly, I find loves scenes easiest to write. As a romance reader, I look forward to reading these scenes most, because it’s the chance for the characters to express raw passion.

How to I transfer intimate scenes from my head to a page? Well, I don’t do a thing until my iPod is blaring a selected playlist. Then I start with a believable setting that’s natural for the characters involved.  Once the passion ignites, I’ll place myself inside the scene and often write what I’d feel, if placed in the characters’ shoes. I’ll add notes of my favorite colognes and write how the fragrances might smell when intensified by body heat. There’s so much that can be said through a single touch, the way a man places his lips against a woman’s skin, and the manner in which lovers embrace.

There could be a character in a particular story who isn’t exactly expert in verbal communication of feelings and emotions, but the way they make love to their partner, seeking their lover’s pleasure above their own, speaks louder than any profession of devotion. The successful conveyance of these things makes a love scene a powerful transition in both the relationship of the characters and in the story as a whole.

Jen: Will we see more development of the Gianna/Mattias/Nicholas story in Dante’s book?

Jae Lynne: Absolutely! I’m just getting started, but I can say the two men will remain a constant presence throughout her journey.

Jen: What else can we expect from Dante’s book and when do you think it will be published?

Jae Lynne Davies

Jae Lynne: Dante’s book is a bit darker than the first. He’s bitter, tired of being second best, and is about to take EXTREME measures just to claim Gianna for himself. I dive deep into Ancient Greek mythology, and give a lineage to a god and goddess who were believed to have never created offspring. You know that can only mean trouble.

When word is received of suspicious vampire activity, Gianna Marino heads to Greece, where she discovers Dante—Mattias Vitale’s recently resigned second in command, and a dangerous prophecy.

For Dante Diakos is the last of a pure immortal bloodline—a descendant of the gods, and he intends to invoke the power of the entire pantheon on the eve of the Blood Moon which occurs once every millennia. If he attains the legendary abilities, he’ll be the most powerful being on earth, and plans for her to rule by his side.

I’m working diligently to have the novel turned into my editor by Christmas. Keep your fingers crossed and stay tuned for official info.

Jen: Is there anything else that you are working on right now?

Jae Lynne: Besides working on Blood Moon, I’m tackling Desires of a Dark Lord, an erotic tale of a hell-bound demon on a mission and a human woman whose soul he must claim.

Jen: When people see your name on a book, what should they be expecting?

Jae Lynne: Fantastic question! When people see my name on the cover of a novel, I hope they expect sexy, dark, action-packed and unpredictable.

Jen: What are you looking forward to most from AAD in New Orleans next year?

Jae Lynne: Where AAD is concerned, I always plan to have an absolute BLAST! While it’s always wonderful to reconnect with friends, I can’t wait to meet new readers and hear all about what THEY want to read. I hope to attend a few more panels next year and learn some new techniques to strengthen my craft.

You can find Jae Lynne on her website, Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads to learn more. And if you think you’d like to give Mythic a try, you’re in luck.  We’re giving away a free ebook. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below.  The contest is open internationally. If you give the book a try and you like it, please spread the word. Let’s support our small press authors!

Thanks so much to Jae Lynne Davies for chatting with me today.

Review: Friday Night Bites

Reviewed by Jen

For crying out loud. Merit and Ethan: you must get your act together – immediately. There is only so much repressed sexual tension I can take. (I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but really, it had to be said.)

This book picks up just a few short weeks after the events of Some Girls Bite left off. Merit is preparing to move out of her home with roommate Mallory, into Cadogen House, to live with her fellow vamps. She is sort-of dating Morgan, the new master of the rival house. And she is still trying to learn how to harness her inner vampire to be the best Sentinel she can be.

But whether she is ready or not, Ethan needs her help to tamp down on the latest threat to the House. More specifically, he needs her social connections to give him entrance to the upper echelons of Chicago society. The investigation draws her back into the folds of her estranged family, a place she never wanted to be.

While there is plenty going on in the story, surrounding raves, shifters, and even the reemergence of Celina… the real draw in the book is Merit’s continuing evolution and her changing relationships. Over the course of the book, there are major changes to her relationship with Mallory, Morgan, Ethan… and even within herself. The stuff with Mallory is especially poignant, though (honestly) a bit unwelcome. And Ethan. Sweet gravy, these two are just killing me with this dance they are doing.

I can’t wait to see how Merit continues to develop and what is ahead with the shifters. 4 1/2 stars.

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Friday Night Bites
by Chloe Neill
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Publisher: NAL

Guest Post & Giveaway: Michele Hauf

Paranormal Romance author Michele Hauf is here to talk about her contribution to the new anthology, Crave the Night.

My latest, Cruel Enchantment, is featured in the anthology CRAVE THE NIGHT. The story brings together Revin Parker and Sabrina Kriss, who both appeared in Her Vampire Husband. I knew when I was writing that story I wanted to get those two together. I also knew Rev would not have an easy time of it. I’ve heaped him with torture. Sorry, couldn’t be helped. Not only does he become victim of the werewolves’ blood games (in which, the wolves starve vampires of blood, induce UV sickness, then force them to battle it out in a cage match to the death), but Rev also develops an addiction to faery dust. If you’ve read Forever Vampire, you know faery dust is very addictive to vampires, much like meth is to humans. Now usually a hero like that needs a very strong woman to help bring him up from the depths, but in this case, while Bree is strong and independent, she, as many of us, has her own issues, and she may be just as addicted to Rev as he is to her. It’s an interesting combination that I enjoyed exploring on the page. I hope you will enjoy their story!

To purchase Crave the Night, visit Amazon or Swell Cat Press
Click here to learn more about the Beautiful Creatures world.
Find Michele on Facebook, Twitter, her website or her blog.

Michele is generously giving away a copy of A Vampire for Christmas, a new anthology featuring her work, along with stories by Laurie London, Caridad Pineiro, and Alexis Morgan.  Fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave your comments!