Archives for November 2011

Review: Fate’s Edge

Reviewed by Jen

The Edge series has turned a corner for me with this book. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed the first two. But in each installment, I felt like I had to work for it.  Now, for the first time with this series, I was able to jump into the story with both feet from the beginning. Maybe it’s because I am already familiar with the world building and many of the characters, but I don’t think so. I think it’s more of a change in focus. This book felt much more honed in on our main couple and their adventure, while the introduction of new characters and POVs were more of a gradual trickle than an overpowering flood.

This is Kaldar’s book.  He was introduced in Bayou Moon as Ceri’s rouge, conman cousin. He is gorgeous; he is glib; he’s charming; and he is nursing a serious desire for revenge against the Hand. It’s been two years since the Spider and his agents killed off half the Mar family, but Kaldar can’t let go of what happened. He is working for the Mirror now and as the story begins, he is granted a mission with the potential to give him the vengeance he covets.

Audrey grew up in a family of grifters. She possesses magical lockpicking skills but she wants to lead a legitimate life now. Her dad pulls her in for one last heist, but this is no small-time job. Unbeknownst to her, they are stealing a magical device that both the Hand and the Mirror would kill for. Retrieving the item, is Kaldar’s mission. But by the time he tracks the theft to Audrey, she no longer has it. The two of them have to work together to find the device before it falls into the wrong hands.

Audrey is perfect for Kaldar. In many ways, she is a female version of him: smart, slick, and changeable. She calls him on all of his b.s. They were an easy couple to root for. But it took for-ever for them to get together. I understood the internal conflict and the reticence, but I would have liked even just a few more crumbs along the way… maybe a little bit more fooling around would have helped me soldier on until they accepted their feelings.

But while the relationship was a slow burn, the action was anything-but. The story really moved from the beginning here and it had a lot of heart (in no small part, thanks to the large roles Jack and George played.) The kids were a big, big win for me. Even though he is only 14, I can easily see George carrying off the lead in his own book someday. Jack too. And Lark’s going to figure in somehow. It will be epic. But I digress…

We’ve got a great new villain, with ties to the Spider. And while our big bad from the last book is down, he’s not out yet.  And though Kaldar isn’t my favorite hero (that would be William) and Audrey isn’t my favorite heroine (that would be Rose)… I still think this may be the best book in the series yet. It’s a great blend of the new and the familiar. It’s got heart. It’s got action. And it’s got a raccoon called Ling the Merciless. How could it not be a winner? 4 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by Ace

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Fate’s Edge
by Ilona Andrews
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Ace

AAD Author Spotlight: Diana Castilleja

AAD author Diana Castilleja joins us today for a guest post. With more than a dozen ebooks currently to her credit and her first print book released in 2008 to rave reviews, Diana has kept busy since she started writing professionally in late 2004. Diana currently resides in central Texas with her husband and son. When not focusing her energy on her family and her writing, she loves to travel and haunt bookstores. Please help me welcome her to the blog!

Hi everyone! Thank you Jen for letting me come and talk about Angie with you and your readers.

My recent Purple Sword release is WOLF BROTHER’S LEGACY: RESURRECTION. This story was one of the hardest stories I’ve ever had come to me to write. It originally was written in 2006-07 and discussed at RWA in 2007. After a request, a submission and a full rewrite of the entire story (a large undertaking since I had to change characters around, reconnect the hero and heroine and actually remove a villain *gasp*)…. It was rejected. Completely. I know… I wasn’t heartbroken though. Just kept plugging along on it, until I got it right where it needed it and resubmitted it to PSP in 2010. Doesn’t it have just the most awesome cover? Let me give you a bit on the book…

Angie Merrick is dying. Agony unlike any she’s known fills her body and steals a little more of her life every day. Not one doctor can help her, but when modern science has failed, a light of an extinct Native American people lures her back to her first love: research of the Jahehn. An ancient talisman was once one of her greatest searches, and becomes the perfect distraction when there is nothing left but waiting to die. With her life being ripped to shreds in more than one way, Angie seeks one last connection with a people she helped to reveal to the scientific world.

Except death is not stalking Angie. A timeless pact created through the spirit world is demanding her compliance and unknowingly fighting it is causing her seizures. The search for the talisman takes her to the one place where she could find answers and possibly not die from powers she doesn’t understand.

She could live if those who fear exposure hadn’t decreed Angie must die by the very spirit their pact was sworn to protect.

Now as you can guess, it’s a shifter book…. Sexy wolves, only it’s not what most expect. There’s a lot of Native American influence that I took into account when I started this idea. It originated with three brothers, except the brothers weren’t the beginning. The beginning started decades before, when they were still babies. Resurrection is Angie’s story, the catalyst for the rest of the series to happen. It’s the revival of old legends, myths come to life, and challenges to reality that science simply can’t explain, and Angie is a scientist at heart.

Also, if you’ve read any of my Shadowed Souls Vampire books (Kiss Series), you’ll have met Houston. This is his background, though he’s not in this at all. In fact, unless something really goes haywire in the mixing bowl, no vampires will ever show up in the Jahehn books, but as we’ve found, they’re not shy about popping into other stories.

When I realized Houston was his own world, I wanted to build that world, show his legacy, and that’s how the Wolf Brother’s Legacy began.

Thanks so much to Diana for stopping by today.  If you’d like to get to know her better, check out her website or her blog. You can purchase Resurrection at Amazon.

Review: Killing Rites

Well, we finally know for sure who the Black Sun’s Daughter is –and Jayné has some really tough decisions to make. Now that she realizes she is carrying a rider within her, her first impulse is to get it out. But things are much more complicated than a simple possession. This entity has saved her bacon over and over again. Jayné must struggle with the true nature of the spirit and she questions the right course to take.

Ex is a big force in this story. Aubrey and Kim have been phased out. Chogyi Jake is still recovering and is absent through the first half of the book. Only Ex has been at Jayné’s side as she comes to terms with the source of her strength. And he is the one who introduces her to the priests who set out to perform an exorcism. The priests are a big part of Ex’s history and in spending time with them, Jayné learns alot about what has shaped Ex into the man he is today.

I’ve been waiting and waiting for Jayné and Ex to make the connection I’ve always thought was simmering beneath the surface. The guy is clearly in love with her, but just because his heart is in the right place, that doesn’t mean he has all the right answers. This book is markedly different from the last in that the lion’s share of it is an internal struggle, as opposed to an external one. Jayné has to figure out her true nature; who she can trust; and what she wants for her future. Not every question gets an answer and that’s frustrating. So many things happened in the last book. This one is more about her realizations. Ex and Chogyi Jake have important roles and even the old vampire Midian shows up, but mostly it’s just about Jayné –and the Black Sun’s Daughter.

It was slower, but good. It was important for the series. But I wish I had the next book in my hands to read. I want to see what Jayné will do with what she’s learned. And I want her to get with Ex, dammit. (My patience is not without limits.) 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by Pocket Books

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Killing Rites
by MLN Hanover (Daniel Abraham)
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Pocket Books

Review: A Scottish Love

Reviewed by Jen

Life pretty much sucks for Shona. She married a man she didn’t love, who withered away before her eyes and left her a penniless widow. Her brother, Fergus, was crippled in the war. And she has had to sell everything she owns to take care of him and her companion, Helen. The only thing she has left of value is the family’s ancestral castle, and she must part with that too, or else she’ll have to become a beggar.

As if all that were not bad enough, her long lost love, Gordon, has come back in her life. Her father talked her out of marrying him before he went off to war and time has not softened their feelings for one another. But even as they are still drawn to one another, neither can get over the wounds of their past.

So Shona works to sell the castle to an American family… a horrible lot of people, while suffering mostly in silence. It’s dreadfully depressing. And it’s made worse when she begins to see that a lot of her heartbreak is of her own making. Even the love scenes are tempered with sadness and loss. Yes, the ending is happy, but for 90% of the book, I was ready to toss Shona off a cliff (or maybe toss myself off one) to end all the misery.

The book is well written, but it was a downer for too long for me to really enjoy. Even the ancient love story of the ghosts in the castle had a terrible ending. Not quite 3 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
A Scottish Love
by Karen Ranney
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Avon

Review: By Honor Betrayed

Reviewed by Jen

Tom has been Conrad’s manservant for years. And they have developed a deep friendship that goes beyond the difference in their stations. There is an unspoken thread of something even more between them… a quiet, intense longing that neither has ever acted upon. The two serve together in the 18th century Royal Navy… so if they were to ever give in to those feelings, they could hang for their actions.

The ship’s captain starts to catch wind that there may be more to the relationship and tries to separate the men. But his actions only force Tom and Conrad to confront their feelings. From there, the story follows the two of them as they try to find their footing as lovers, while knowing the risks they are taking.

The story was pretty short and we see very little of the men together. Most of the book deals with their obstacles as opposed to their actual relationship. The couple of love scenes we get are just ok –they were brief and didn’t have all that much fire or romance. Meh. I wasn’t really blown away by this one. 3 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
By Honor Betrayed
by Alex Beecroft
Release Date: November 7, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press

Guest Review: Last Breath

You may remember, several weeks back, Red Hot Books hosted a giveaway for Last Breath by Rachel Caine. The winner, Katie from Bookishly Yours Reviews, agreed to provide a review in exchange for the book. Here is what she had to say:

After 10 books, you’d think that a series would be standing on its last leg, scrambling to find something else to shock and entertain readers, but not Morganville Vampires! Last Breath, the 11th book in the series, is just as amazing as the very first book, if not better.

Rachel Caine does something different in Last Breath; she gives first perspective voices to characters other than Claire. Shane, Michael, Amelie, and Eve each have a section which proved to be a very interesting look inside what these characters are feeling after eleven books with them especially Amelie since she’s such a closed off character.

There’s so much I can give away because, as always, so much happens in these books! There’s some shocking twists along the way, new characters, and an enthralling new layer to the history of the Morganville vampires. Let’s just say, Rachel Caine can really write a story.

If you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend them. They’re thrilling, funny, and heart-warming. And definitely not your average vampire story. And if you love this series, then Last Breath is a can’t-miss! 5 stars.

*ARC Provided by NAL

Click to purchase: Amazon
Last Breath
by Rachel Caine
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Publisher: NAL

Shameless Giveaway Hop Sign-Up

Is your blog a little too racy for some people’s taste? Maybe you like to look at pictures of half-naked men… maybe you like to read a little erotica… maybe, just maybe, you visit your favorite blogs when your kids are not in the room. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, you’re in just the right place.

The Shameless Giveaway Hop is open to anyone who wants to give away a book or a book related prize. It doesn’t have to be dirty. It can be anything from YA to a book of randy limericks. Whatever floats your boat. There aren’t alot of rules. We just ask that you have your post up by 12:00am on Friday, January 20, 2012. Keep it up through 11:59pm Friday, January 27, 2012. And include the button & the link to the full list of participating hops. That’s it. –Oh. And if you want to include a man candy photo in your post somewhere, nobody will complain. (We might even be grateful.)

Bloggers and authors are all welcome to participate. Just sign up in the linky below.

–Jen (Red Hot Books), Brie (Romance Around the Corner) & Michelle (Michelle’s Book Blog)

Review: Vicious Grace

Sometimes over the course of a series, you think you’ve got things figured out. When I started this book, I knew who I thought Jayné was and was not supposed to be with; I thought I knew there was more to that tattoo than a drunken night of debauchery; and I thought I knew what it meant for Jayné to be the Black Sun’s Daughter. But still, I wasn’t prepared for how it all went down.

As the story begins, Jayné is happy in love with Aubrey. The two of them are training with Ex and Chogyi Jake, when Aubrey’s ex-wife Kim calls for help. Something strange is going on in the hospital where she works and she’s out of her depth in how to handle it.

A really long story short, a big bad was trapped beneath the hospital decades ago and now it’s on the verge of breaking out. But it seems Jayné’s Uncle Eric was actually working to make that happen before he died. Over the course of the book, Jayné learns some shocking truths about Eric. She makes big sacrifices; she suffers loss; and she loses an innocence that she didn’t even know she had.

There were a lot of twists and turns. And even when those things I thought I knew came to pass –sort of– it didn’t feel like I expected. It was sadder than I thought it would be and more emotionally resonant. (And I’ll admit, there were definitely some developments I never saw coming at all.) There was also a lot of action and some really gripping scenes, especially in the climax at the haunted hospital. Each installment of this series draws me in more and more. 4 1/2 stars.

*Review copy provided by Pocket Books

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Vicious Grace
by MLN Hanover (Daniel Abraham)
Release Date: November 30, 2010
Publisher: Pocket Books

Get to Know Me Better!

I’m doing a blogger interview over at Paranormal Haven today! Come check it out.  I’m talking about my favorite books, sexy men, and my hometown. (That’s kind of the same thing I do here, now that I think about it….)

Review: Darker Angels

The more I read of this series, the more I like it. This second installment picks up about six months after the events of Unclean Spirits. Jayné, Aubrey, Ex, and Chogyi Jake have spent that time learning as much as they can about the evil-fighting legacy that Uncle Eric left behind. But a call for help on Eric’s old cell phone has the crew jumping out of research mode, into a mission in New Orleans.

Karen Black is a former FBI agent who worked a case with Eric years ago. It was serial killer they were after, but more than that, it was man possessed by an evil spirit, a rider. They captured the man, but the spirit got away. Now Karen says she has tracked it, but needs help capturing it.

Jayné has grown some since she began walking in her uncle’s footsteps, but in many ways, she is still an unsure young woman. She second guesses herself and her choices. She is sometimes rash and pays the price for it, but her heart is in the right place. I find her likeable, but her youth and inexperience are parts of her character that can be frustrating.

There are a lot of twists and turns in the story. And I ended up confused by the particulars of the demonology from time to time. But it was a good story, with a distinctive New Orleans flair. Once again, the secondary characters give the story an added layer of depth. I like Aubrey, but I still maintain that Ex is the man for Jayné. And we’re beginning to learn that he thinks so too. I liked it alot. A little more than 4 stars.

P.S. I’m still fixated on the title of the series. Jayné must be the Black Sun’s Daughter… It’s got to have something to do with her mom, right?

*Review copy provided by Pocket Books

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository
Darker Angels
by MLN Hanover (Daniel Abraham)
Release Date: September 23, 2009
Publisher: Pocket Books