Review: Rogue Belador by Dianna Love

rogue beladorReviewed by Jen

This book wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. I expected to move from a focus on Evalle to Tzader and his quest to reunite with his lady love, Brina. And while that story was there, it wasn’t quite in the framework I wanted. These books have never been romances, but they have centered on great, complex characters, intricate plots, and a romantic thread. I loved Storm and Evalle’s slow burn, but Tzader and Brina’s story here just didn’t make me feel anything. Maybe it was because they were already in love. Maybe it was because we’ve really seen so little of Brina’s character –and that’s not really remedied here. But mostly, I think it was because this book focused all on the mission and not the emotion. [Read more…]

Review: Tristan’s Escape by Dianna Love

tristans escapeReviewed by Jen

As a fan of the Belador series, I’ve always wanted to get a little more time with Tristan. This guy has gotten a raw deal from the beginning and this novella really brings him full circle, as he comes face to face with the woman he’s long blamed for his imprisonment all those years.

I wish I could say I loved this one the way I generally love the novels in this series, but I can’t. One of the things that make the Belador books so good is the layered nature of the stories. There is always so much going on, from the main action plot with Evalle, to her romance with Storm, to the secondary plots surrounding Quinn and Tzader… these books make me think and I like that. This did not. [Read more…]

Review: Witchlock by Dianna Love

witchlockReviewed by Jen

I really enjoy coming back to the Belador series. I think that has to do largely with the heroine, Evalle, and how easy she is to root for. Really, very little time has passed over the course of these six books, but Evie has been put through the wringer. She just takes one hit after another at such a breakneck pace, but somehow, her focus remains on taking care of the people she loves and those she has given her loyalty to. It’s nice to see, finally, some of that loyalty is coming back to her.

The story begins only a week or so after the events of the last book. Evalle’s solitary life isn’t quite so solitary anymore with Lanna, Storm and Feenix all living in her tiny apartment. It’s actually kind of crowded and Evie is second guessing whether she and her man will be able to make it work there. This is a surprisingly significant thread that runs throughout the story, but I’ll come back to that in a moment. [Read more…]

Review: Demon Storm by Dianna Love

demon stormReviewed by Jen

Let’s start out by addressing the elephant in the room: Sherrilyn Kenyon is no longer co-writing this series.  Did that make a marked difference in the story? A little, though the publisher change probably makes for a bit of noticeable difference as well.  The plot is not quite as complicated. And the formatting is not quite as good. Should those things stop a fan of this series from picking up this book? Absolutely not. [Read more…]

Jen’s Favorite Books of 2013

It’s never too early to start keeping up with the amazing books of the New Year! I am sticking with the tradition I started last year of running “Best of” post, so no great book slips through the cracks.

January
by Kim Harrison

Guys. This is the best installment in the Hollows series to date.  It’s not a book for new readers to jump into Rachel Morgan’s world.  But for established fans, it’s like hitting the jackpot.  The story is more of a continuation of Pale Demon than A Perfect Blood was.  It follows Rachel as she tries to repair the damage her ley line made in the ever after a couple of books back.  Ku’Sox is trying to get her killed.  Ivy is out of town!! It’s heavy on Trent and Al –and delivers the emotional kick to the gut that this series should be known for.  Sexy, funny, heartbreaking, and action packed… this one is a can’t miss read.

Click to purchase: Ever After

March
Night Blade
by JC Daniels
There is a difference, I guess, between saying, “this was one of my favorite books of the year,” as opposed to saying, “this was one of the best books I have read this year.” I can’t really call Night Blade a favorite, as it left me gutted and hunched over, rocking in the corner of the room. But what I can say is that it will be one of the most unforgettable books of the year for me. It affected me. It made me reach out to the book community to talk about it. I couldn’t put it down, and I now look at Shiloh Walker with a combined sense of awe and horror. You don’t want to read this second installment in the series without reading Blade Song first. You’ll probably find that first book a bit Kate Daniels-ish. But this second book takes us where Kate has never been. If you’re not afraid of some angst, I definitely recommend it.

Click to purchase: Night Blade

by Anne Bishop

This is the most unique feeling Urban Fantasy book I have read in ages.  The tone is so dark.  The monsters aren’t just sexy humans with super-powers… they are beasts.  They are killers.  And humans are little more than a food source.  The heroine, Meg, is woman of beautiful spirit.  She shows the “others” the best of what it means to be human.  With her simple kindness and goodwill, she begins to change how they view her kind.  I loved how Bishop portrays the supernaturals in this world; how they are so alien and she doesn’t try to humanize them.  I picked this book up and was glued to the pages until I was done.  Very cool.

Click to purchase: Written in Red

 

by Delilah Marvelle

You may have noticed that historicals don’t feature on my favorites lists quite as often as some other genres. But I really, really enjoyed this third installment in the School of Gallantry series.  (Don’t worry; it works great as a standalone.)  This book has one of my favorite romance tropes: a tortured hero who thinks he is not good enough for his heroine.  Caldwell and Caroline have been friends since she was only 13, but now she is all grown up.  Despite his best intentions, Caldwell can’t help the attraction he feels for her, but he doesn’t want to ruin the one good relationship he has ever had by bringing sex into the picture. There is great sexual tension; characters I felt I knew and I loved; and a romance that I could really root for. Plus, a delicious dollop of angst.  Good stuff.

Click to purchase: Lady of Pleasure

April
Touch & Geauxhttp://www.dreamstime.com/-image4206965
by Abigail Roux

Just when I think I can’t get any more emotionally invested in Ty and Zane, Abigail Roux writes another book and I only fall deeper.  I should have known that this book would take me through the wringer. After all, the last installment ended with everyone so happy. I was feeling so good, I should have known it couldn’t last.  This book takes our men to New Orleans to hook up with Ty’s Sidewinder team. There is big trouble with an old nemesis of Grady’s and it leads to danger and… Who am I kidding? The heart of this book is the giant wedge that slams down the center of our beloved couple.  It’s dirty and painful and I was a sniveling mass of raw nerves when it was over. And the ending. Killed me.  If you are not reading this series, you should be.  One of my favorite romance series of any subgenre.

Click to purchase: Touch & Geaux

June
Heart of Obsidian
By Nalini Singh

heart of obsidianIt’s so rare for a book to live up to the hype.  But this one did and then some.  For a year, Psy Changeling fans made their best guesses and predictions about who this book would be about and whether we would finally discover the identity of the elusive Ghost.  It turns out that this is Kaleb’s story –and he is everything we wanted in a hero and more.  It’s a book full of passion and deep emotion, with amazingly hot sex and a romance that grabs onto your heart and doesn’t let go.  It was absolutely worth the wait and satisfying in every way. Fans of the series won’t want to miss this one.  –And if you’ve never read the series, you could still enjoy it, though you are better off starting the series from the beginning.

Click to purchase: Heart of Obsidian

July
magic risesMagic Rises
By Ilona Andrews

There has yet to be an installment in this series that I didn’t enjoy, so I hesitate to call this a “comeback” book.  But I can say that this book really reinvigorated my devotion to this series.  Kate and Curran are as engaging as ever, maybe even more so, as the future of their relationship is put on the line.  What’s so awesome about it, is that I really had no idea how the conflict would be resolved –or if it even could be. That’s a tall order for a series with such an established couple.  The book is a road trip for the gang, but most of the core characters are still there.  And it continues to advance the overall arc concerning Kate and her father.  I am so excited to see where the series goes from here.

Click to purchase: Magic Rises

Rise of the Gryphon
by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love

rise of the gryphonI know these books don’t have the same kind of following as Sherrilyn Keyon’s other series.  They are not PNR.  But this series is really good Urban Fantasy. It may not be for everybody. It’s complicated and you have to pay attention to the wide palate of characters, races, alliances, and feuds.  It’s totally worth it, though. This fourth installment is easily the best in the series to date.  Our heroine, Evalle, is finally learning the truth about what she is. She is moving forward in her fragile relationship with Storm.  The plot moves fast.  There is great action and ass kicking.  There is emotional resonance… good sex… and huge arc advancement. I was riveted from beginning to end. Evalle is growing so much.  And the ending left me begging for book 5.  Really good!

Click to purchase: Rise of the Gryphon

August
Guardian Demonguardian demon
by Meljean Brook

This book left me feeling so emotional. It was the perfect ending to the Guardian series.  The romance is exceptional.  Michael’s worship of Taylor is so lovely.  Meanwhile, her wariness and fear slowly morph into a tentative love, and it’s such an amazing journey to watch.  This story broke my heart and made it whole again, while keeping me on the edge of my seat with action and a fabulous master plan.  I loved it.

Click to purchase: Guardian Demon

archangels legionOctober
Archangel’s Legion
by Nalini Singh

This book got me excited for the Guild Hunter series all over again. Raphael and Elena still have so much fire.  But what I really loved about this book is the great pacing. The story just builds and builds until it explodes all over the page.

Click to purchase: Archangel’s Legion

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean (historical romance)
Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost (paranormal romance)
The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa (YA urban fantasy)
Never a Hero by Marie Sexton (m/m contemporary romance)
How Beauty Loved the Beast
by Jax Garren (steampunk? sci-fi? romance)
Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare (historical romance)
The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan (historical romance)
Romancing Lady Stone by Delilah Marvelle (historical romance)
Secret Unleashed by Sierra Dean (urban fantasy)
The Last Hour of Gann by R Lee Smith (sci-fi with strong romantic elements)
The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn (historical romance)
Long Time Gone by SE Jakes (m/m romantic suspense)

Check out Carrie’s, Shelly’s, Jaimie’s and Janell’s top picks of 2013.

Review: The Curse

Reviewed by Jen

I really enjoy the Belador series.  I think it’s because the heroine, Evalle, is just so damn easy to root for. She has been kicked down, abused, and maligned her entire life. She is considered a monster, even by those she lives to protect. But she never wavers. She never acts dishonorably. She simply accepts those things about herself that she can not change and she soldiers on, always fighting the good fight.

As this third installment of her story begins, she is on the hunt for others of her kind.  The goddess who oversees the Beladors has agreed to recognize Alterants as a race within her pantheon. But only if Evalle can bring them forward and they swear their fealty.  First and foremost, she wants to find Tristan, but her search has been stymied by a rash of troll attacks in the Atlanta area.  She must work with her VIPER team-mates to protect the humans.

On top of that, Storm is missing. And as he slowly reenters the picture, she must continue to come to terms with her feelings for him. (And Isaak too.) There is strain in her friendship with Quinn… let’s not forget that he led the Medb to her at the end of the last book.  He is trying to deal with his feeling for Kazira –while poor Tzader tries to honor his vow to let Brina go.

Plus… more trolls.  Giant, black-ops, demon-infused, bounty-hunter trolls.

It’s all part of the Medb plan to breach Brina’s sanctuary and vanquish the Beladors.  There’s a lot of scheming, machinations and betrayals.  There’s also much violence and bloodshed.  You won’t find many dull moments.

However, I don’t feel like we moved forward much here.  Don’t get me wrong, I was never bored. I was invested in the characters and deeply ensconced in this very complicated world.  But in many ways this installment was almost like a placeholder.  There were no huge developments in any of the relationships –and there are a lot of relationships at play.  No big revelations about the Alterant race. No big movement in the war with Medb. I mean, stuff happens, it’s just nothing game changing.

Did I enjoy the book? Absolutely.  I love Evalle. I love Storm. And I am dying for Brina and Tzader to have some happiness. Or at least get on the path to it.  It feels a little stalled, though. I wanted more. It all sort of seemed like baby steps. I’m ready for these characters to make some strides.

If you’re interested in the Belador series, I strongly urge you to start from the beginning with Blood Trinity. I just don’t think this is a series where you want to jump in, mid-way through.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Pocket Books

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Curse
by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Pocket Books

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: Blood Trinity

Reviewed by Jen

When I found out Sherrilyn Kenyon was starting a new series, I’ll admit, I was not happy. I am a huge fan of her Dark Hunter books, and I didn’t like the idea of a new project taking away time she could be spending on more books in that series. But, after reading Blood Trinity, I have changed my mind.

First off, I acknowledge that the world building is a little complicated, but I’ll do my best to summarize. Our story centers on a woman named Evalle. She is what’s known as an Alterant, which is a half breed of the Belador race. I can’t explain entirely what the Beladors are, except to say they are something more than human. They have an array of powers granted by a Goddess. Evalle has some of those powers, but as a half breed, she also has limitations: she can’t be in the sun and when seized with intense pain or emotion, she may shift into a beast form. All other Alterants are imprisoned, because they are said not to be able to control their beast form. The very fact that Evalle can shift at all is something she keeps a closely guarded secret.

Evalle has only a handful of people she trusts. Two of the three are fellow agents for the supernatural-police-type organization she works for, VIPER. Her boss, Sen, hates her for what she is and would love to have her locked up too. It comes to the attention of VIPER that a powerful stone is about to come into the possession of a powerful female. It can bring great change or destruction if left unchecked, so agents (including Evalle) are sent out to find it.

Evalle is paired with a mysterious man named Storm. She believes he is a plant, sent in by Sen to find a reason to lock her up. But there is more to Storm than meets the eye and there is definitely attraction there. There is also a spark between Evalle and a sexy human, Isak. I found myself rooting for both guys at different points throughout the book. (But if you are looking for the love scenes featured in the Dark Hunter books, you won’t find them here.)

 

The book was fascinating and hard to put down. Though I have to admit, there were times in the story I felt like I was getting a recap from a previous book. A few internet searches revealed a link to anthology Dead After Dark. I’ll have to go read the short story there to see if it fills in a few of the gaps.

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.  I don’t know if the plan is to have it continue to follow Evalle or to pick up a story from a secondary character. But I hope we stick with her. I really want to see where her story goes from here, as it seems to be left open.

4 1/2 stars.

Click to purchase: Amazon or The Book Depository

Blood Trinity
by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Publisher: Pocket Books