Review: The Closer You Come by Gena Showalter

closer you comeReviewed by Shelly

This is my first story by this author and while I thought this was a good read there are a couple things that threw me off. I don’t like from this or any story – sisters (or brothers) who have sex with the same man (woman) and any character(s) who uses an excessive amount of snark.

The first story in Gena Showalter’s ‘The Original Heartbreakers’ series introduces three friends who recently moved to Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma. Jase Hollister has been out of prison for 6 months after doing a 9-year sentence. I was surprised how relatively easy it was for Jase to adapt to life on the outside. Considering the timeline (Jase was 19 when he went behind bars) I expected him to have more of a routine suggestive of spending those formative years locked away, but then again, he did stay close to home a lot so maybe that’s good enough. [Read more…]

Review: The Darkest Touch by Gena Showalter

darkest touchReviewed by Jen

I wasn’t sure how Gena Showalter could possibly satisfy me with this book. I have been waiting for poor Torin to get some human contact since the very first installment in this series. But we went through warrior after warrior, even bringing in a new crop of Lords, until I started to fear we’d never get Torin’s story. Now, that’s it’s finally here, I am happy to say by and large, Showalter gave me what I wanted; and if this ends up the last book in the series, I could walk away content. [Read more…]

Review: Temptation in Shadows by Gena Showalter

temptation in shadowsReviewed by Jen

I can’t say that I enjoyed this novella as much as I like Gena Showalter’s full length novels. It does have some good things going for it.  The world-building is intriguing and it has promise, though it’s shallow and needs more backstory.  There’s some pretty good action; the characters have good chemistry and the sex is satisfying.  But the story lacks depth and there is absolutely zero emotional resonance or believability in the relationship development. [Read more…]

Review: Burning Dawn by Gena Showalter

burning dawnReviewed by Jen

Gena Showalter is back.  If you have to ask where she went, you haven’t been reading some of her latest books.  The past few have definitely failed to measure up to her earlier offerings, especially in the sexual arena. But I believe if you liked the Lords of the Underworld books from the days of Lucien and Aeron, you will definitely enjoy Burning Dawn.  It’s angsty, snarky, and very sexy. [Read more…]

Interview & Giveaway: Gena Showalter

burning dawnGena Showalter’s third Angels of the Dark book is out tomorow. And I am so excited to share the deets:

A tormented past has left Thane with an insatiable need for violence, making him the most dangerous assassin in the skies. He lives by a single code: no mercy. And as he unleashes his fury on his most recent captor, he learns no battle could have prepared him for the slave he rescues from his enemy’s clutches—a beauty who stokes the fires of his darkest desires.

Elin Vale has her own deep-rooted scars, and her attraction to the exquisite warrior who freed her challenges her every boundary. But Thane’s unwavering determination to protect her means she must face her greatest fears—and enter a world in which passion is power, and victory means breathtaking surrender.

The fabulous Ms Showalter is here today to answer all of my burning questions about the new book and some of her other series.

Jen: Hi Gena! It’s so great of you to stop by the blog to chat today! I hear rumors that Burning Dawn is the last book in the Angels of the Dark series. Say it isn’t so! [Read more…]

Review: The Darkest Craving

darkest cravingReviewed by Jen

I went into this story with a little bit of trepidation. The last two Showalter books were not the best for me –and on top of that– I have never been that interested in Kane. But I am happy to say that I actually ended up enjoying this book more than I thought I would. Kane turned out to be a pretty good tortured hero; and his heroine turned out to be just as tortured, but with an inner strength that could not be denied.

As the story begins, Kane is recovering from his trip to hell. He had been tortured and raped by the demons.  Now he wishes for nothing more than to defeat Disaster and die, himself.  Josephina has other plans.  She is the person who rescued Kane from hell, but she did it while demanding that he kill her for her efforts.   [Read more…]

Interview: Gena Showalter

darkest cravingBy Jen

PNR & YA author Gena Showalter is visiting the blog today, chatting with me about her books. Welcome Gena!  Is this the end for the Lords of the Underworld series?  Please tell me we’ll see an HEA for poor Torin.

Gena: Happy to say The Darkest Craving isn’t the end.  Torin’s book is next.  This is for sure!  I have a title and everything LOL  (though the title hasn’t gotten final approval so I can’t share it—but I bet you guys can guess what it is).  The book will be published at the end of 2104.  And even though the next books aren’t yet under contract, I do plan to write stories for Cameo and William. (And no, they aren’t a couple.  Although…no.  No, not gonna go there.)

Jen: Can you give us any hints about what’s ahead in the Angels of the Dark series?  How many books are contracted for that series? [Read more…]

Review: After Dark

Reviewed by Jen

This anthology features two novellas: one which was previously published by Gena Showalter as part of her Lords of the Underworld series; the other a prequel to Kait Ballenger’s new Execution Underground series.  I’d read the Showalter short before.  If you didn’t catch my review on it the first time around:

“The Darkest Angel” – Gena Showalter seamlessly connects the dots between The Darkest Whisperand The Darkest Passion with this super sexy short story.  Our heroine is Bianka, sister to Gwen, and a fellow Harpy.  As our story begins, she is kidnapped by the angel Lysander. It turns out, she is his one true temptation and he thinks to neutralize the threat she poses. Ultimately, they each prove to be more temptation than the other can resist. But can they overcome their huge differences?

The great thing about this short story is that it hyper-focuses on the romance. And by “romance,”  I mean spectacular sexual tension and payoff. –Yeah, you could skip this short story and still understand what is happening in the next book. But honestly, why would you want to? It was a great story. (I’m still fanning myself.) And unlike some of the other short stories set in the LotU world, this one actually features the Lords, albeit in supporting roles.

Rating: B

“Shadow Hunter” –  This was a story with an interesting premise.  Damon is a vampire hunter, part of an elite fighting team called the Execution Underground.  He is trying to kill Caius, the vampire responsible for the death of his best buddy Mark.  Damon feels responsible for Mark’s death and has lost more than his friend. He also lost Tiffany, Mark’s sister and the woman he has been exchanging letters with for years. Damon has no idea that Tiffany, too, has been hunting Caius, until the two come face to face on the job.  The spark between them is instant and they explore their relationship as they work together to find justice for Mark.

There were problems for me from the start.  One: Tiffany is 22 years-old, gorgeous, and has never even been kissed. COME ON.  So unnecessary to the story and immediately had my eyes rolling.  Two: the instant overwhelming attraction between Damon and Tiffany (who each had no idea who the other was) was something you would expect, maybe, from shifters. But to go from never been kissed to sex with a stranger in the same night? Again, I say COME ON.  Three: Damon’s constant bemoaning about lusting after his friend’s baby sister.  And this was all in the first 25%.

But as trying as all that was for me, the absolute worst part of the story is the ending.  The completely NOT HAPPY ENDING.  I have an expectation of a HEA –or at the very least, HFN, in PNR.  But no. The ending is bad.  Unforgivable.

Rating: D

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon 
After Dark
by Gena Showalter & Kait Ballenger
Release Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: HQN

Review: Beauty Awakened

Reviewed by Jen

This book was almost great.  It pains me to say that, because the parts of it that were good were very, very good.  But the two issues I had with it really took away from my overall enjoyment.

This second installment in Gena Showalter’s Angels of the Dark series features Koldo, and though I wasn’t that excited to learn he was getting his own book, he ended up a really good tortured hero.  He was raised by a mother who hated him and cut off his wings. Then he was abandoned to be tortured and kept by his evil father, until he was eventually freed to fight on the side of the angels.  He has never known love or tender emotions from anyone.  But that changes when Nicola enters his life.

Nicola and her twin sister were both born with heart problems and both face an uncertain future.  But when Koldo comes across them in the course of another mission, he can’t ignore how he is drawn to Nicola. He makes it his task to free her from the demons who foster her illness and to teach her how to fight their influence.  And in the process, they fall in love.

I think what I liked best about the story is how effortless the romance is between Nicola and Koldo.  I can see how and why they fall for each other. There is no great misunderstanding or hurtful mistake one has to forgive the other for.  Koldo just wants to be loved and Nicola is the balm to his tattered soul.  It hit my romance happy buttons all over.

Unfortunately, the book failed big time in the sexual arena. Usually Showalter’s books really deliver with the sexy times. Here, I reread their first sexual encounter three times and I’m still not sure what the hell happened.  It was that vague.  Then, when they finally do seal the deal (a measly one time) again, the language is vague and totally unsatisfying.

“Nicola,” he said, and finally –finally– claimed her…
Hesitantly, he leaned down and kissed her again.  Softly, gently.  It didn’t take long to renew their passions, and then, oh, then, they wed in body, as well.  She yielded to him without reservation, accepting him, burning for him, loving him, enfolding him in her arms, crying his name, begging him for more, nipping at his lips.

They wed in body?? Who is this author and what has she done with Gena Showalter’s sex scenes?  This was a total missed opportunity, since Koldo is a sexy virgin hero who is just exploring his sexuality for the first time.

My second big issue?  It’s a little too… religious isn’t the right word.  But it felt dangerously close to having a “message.”  The angels have been a part of the Lords of the Underworld series for some time now, but not until this book did it have more of a traditional ring for me.  Essentially in the sense that it is faith in the Most High that can make or break you in this book.   It felt like PNR with a little bit of an inspirational bent.

The romance was really good though, as was the construction of the characters.  I felt like I knew them and I was 100% invested in them. So much so, I might have given it an A, had it not been for the disappointing sex and the feeling that I was supposed to find God when it was all said and done.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Harlequin

Click to purchase: Amazon
Beauty Awakened
by Gena Showalter
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin

Review: Last Kiss Goodnight

Reviewed by Jen

I absolutely love that Gena Showalter is expanding her Alien Huntress world with this spinoff series.  This story serves as a great introduction for new readers, but also fits very well with the existing books.  It has a sexy, unloved alpha-male… and a tortured heroine who hasn’t allowed her difficult life to diminish the light of her spirit.

Vika grew up under the cruel hand of her father, the owner of a traveling circus.  His menagerie once held exotic animals. Now, members of otherworld races are caged and subjected to humiliation and torment.  Vika abhors her father’s actions, but he is too powerful for her to stop.  When she has tried, it has earned her beating after beating, including one viscous attack that took her hearing. She realizes she must plan her escape quietly –and in the meantime, offer what kindness she can to the prisoners.

Solo is an otherworlder who works as a black-ops agent, essentially killing people who need to be killed.  He grew up only knowing love from his adopted parents. Everyone else turned their backs on him, calling him a freak and a monster.  Just moments after he was tasked with tracking down some missing aliens, he was incompacitated and sold into the circus.

At first, he lashed out, but it did no good. And slowly, he began to see the goodness in Vika.  She seems to see him as no one ever has, and her gentle crush on him has an effect he can’t ignore.  The two grow closer and plot their escape. But can they really get out from under her father’s thumb?

I enjoyed the romance.  It was actually very sweet. Vika is innocent to the ways of love, but it felt much more genuine than with so many ingenue heroines.  She has to compromise what she knows is right in order to survive, but she hangs onto her humanity no matter the cost.  Solo is solid mildly-tortured hero.  He had a solid foundation with his adopted parents, so he wasn’t completely wrecked. But he struggles with the rejection of others and his assassin work doesn’t leave him feeling altogether worthy of love.  It’s quite nice to see them each find the love they never thought they would have.

There’s not a lot of sex, though we did have some toward the end.  I would imagine it would be hard to work in, with Solo in a cage for so much of the book.  Also, notably lacking, is Showalter’s fabulous wit and snark. This story is much more somber.

There’s a good set-up for future books, centering on the other members of Solo’s team who have gone missing.  And we’re even treated to a cameo from Dallas!  Overall, I enjoyed it and look forward to the next installment… especially if it centers on John.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Pocket Books

Click to purchase: Amazon
Last Kiss Goodnight
by Gena Showalter
Release Date: December 26, 2012
Publisher: Pocket Books