}

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Review: The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole


Title: The Warlord Wants Forever
Author: Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark, Book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date:

The Warlord

Nikolai Wroth, a ruthless vampire general, will stop at nothing to find his Bride, the one woman who can “blood” him, making his heart beat and filling him with strength. Coldly interested only in the power his Bride will bring, he can hardly believe when Myst the Coveted awakens him body—and soul.

The Seductress

Famed throughout the world as the most beautiful Valkyrie, Myst has devoted her life to protecting a magical jewel and to fighting the vampires.Wroth provides her with the perfect opportunity to torment her sworn enemy—for with his new heartbeat comes a consuming sexual desire that can only be slaked by her. Denying him, she flees, struggling to forget his searing, possessive kiss.

The Hunt is on…

She eludes him for five years, but he has finally chased her to ground and stolen her enchanted jewel, giving him absolute power over her. Now that she’s his for the taking, he intends to make her experience first-hand the agonizing, unending lust she subjected him to for half a decade.Yet when Nikolai realizes he wants far more than vengeance from Myst and frees her, will she come back to him?

Okay, I admit it - I should hate this book. Forced seduction? Check. Physical blows between heroine and hero? Check. Almost, could-be-described-as, rape? Double-Check. Strong woman waiting for a man to tame her? Check. Man jealous of woman's previous 'experience'? Check. In fact, you could put a check mark next to a lot of my pet-peeves in romance novels.

I should have read this and immediately ran in the other direction, screaming out warnings. I guess the most amazing thing I can say about it is, then, that I love it. Every single torturing minute between Myst the Coveted and Nikolai Wroth had me entranced and in love with them.

What the hell happened to me?

Though this isn't my favorite story in this series, this novella will give you a good idea if you're going to enjoy the rest of the series. Kresley Cole puts her protagonists through the wringer! Not only do they suffer injustices from outside their HEA, but from the very person that's supposed to give them their HEA!

Yet every time I pick up this novella (or most any story in the series), I can't put it down. Not to come update, not to sleep, or eat, or anything. Myst is a strong as hell heroine, a Valkyrie, and one of the strongest in the Lore (the supernatural beings that have hidden their existence from humans in this world). She's got a smart mouth, and isn't afraid of her sexuality - which I found so incredibly refreshing. Nikolai is a 'gentleman warlord', in Myst's own words - something that she, and I, find hard to resist apparently!

Though I hated some of the things that both of them do to each other, I couldn't ever hate them. I wanted them to find a way through every obstacle and be happy, give each other the happiness they deserved.

Oh, and if I forgot to mention? The sex - OFF.THE.CHARTS.HOTTTTT!!! *phew*

*fans self*

I do admit that in this series I tend to forgive things that would be unpardonable in, say, a contemporary novel - the world of the Lore simple seems to beg for exceptions. It's not an easy world they live in, and alliances - even for love - are not easily made.

Obviously Myst and Wroth do find a way to their happiness, though there's much hurt before then. More hurt than I would have thought possible to shove into a novella, in fact. And though the HEA doesn't promise to be easy, I know that they're always fight to be in each other's arms and I can't help but sigh in happiness at the thought.

Grade: A-

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor


Title: Dreams of Gods and Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book 3
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: 8 April 2014

In this thrilling conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, Karou is still not ready to forgive Akiva for killing the only family she's ever known.

When a brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat--and against larger dangers that loom on the horizon. They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love.

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

From the beginning of Daughter of Smoke and Bone I knew that Laini Taylor has a beautiful writing voice. Lyrical and expressive, I couldn't get enough of reading her prose.

Until now.

There are a couple of things that make this book not as good as the first two (which I LOVED beyond compare). The aforementioned prose is here in abundance - what I once thought I could never get enough of...well, there were places I was skimming. 4-Kindle-click-pages of description on a feeling of Karou's, a feeling that is then summed up in a single sentence? It was a mite too much in some places.

Then there's the brand new character, introduced out of the blue and only the vaguest conception that she's important to the overall story somehow. I spent the first quarter of the book reassuring myself that she had some important role to play. She just had to. After that I started skimming her sections. Blah, blah, blah - take me back to Karou and Akiva. Haven't they suffered enough by now? Can't they just have a freaking moment alone, to themselves?

For crying out loud! The tension of them getting together nearly killed me! Talk about suspense. Laini Taylor does love to put obstacles in their way - that's for sure.

Then there was the feeling that there was just too much going on! The war, Jael, the humans, chimaera and seraphim working together?, Stelians, Eliza, this, that and the other! Jeez.

By the end I didn't even feel like it was an ending. Sure I can imagine a bit out ahead for my beloved Karou and Akiva (and some other strongly shipped characters!!), but not too far because there's something so completely monumental thrown into the story near the end! I can't say much more without spoiling it, but I feel like I won't know the end of the story until I know the resolution of that. Honestly, I feel that if some of this story had been pulled out through some of the previous books, or something, it would have worked better. Here it felt crammed in and just too much.

I sound like I'm complaining a lot. And I am - kind of - but I had very, very, very high expectations of this book. Unfortunately, it didn't deliver on all of them. This is still a good book, and a decent ending to the series. I'd still definitely recommend the series to just about everyone. It's fantastic. It just got a bit away at the ending.

Grade: B- / C+

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reading Survey ~ Thoughts about Popular Romance

I'm working on my final research paper for my English class, and am talking about the popular romance genre. Part of the paper is our own research, so I've created this survey.

If you don't mind taking a few minutes to fill it out, I'd really appreciate it! I'm trying to get as diverse answers as possible - from readers and non-readers, those that read romance and those that don't.

If you do take it, feel free to say as much or little as you'd like in the comments sections - everything is appreciated!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.


Thanks so much!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: Red Fox by Karina Halle


Title: Red Fox
Author: Red Fox
Series: Experiment in Terror, Book 2
Genre: Horror Paranormal
Release Date: 24 March 2012

Perry Palomino and Dex Foray trade in the stormy Oregon coast for the unforgiving deserts of New Mexico.

In the for­got­ten town of Red Fox, New Mex­ico, a Navajo cou­ple is tor­tured by things unseen and by motives unknown. Wild ani­mals slink through their house in the dark, a bar­rage of stones pound their roof nightly, and muti­lated sheep car­casses are turn­ing up on their prop­erty. Armed with a cam­era and just enough to go on, Perry and Dex travel to the des­o­late locale, hop­ing to film the super­nat­ural occur­rences and add cred­i­bil­ity to their flail­ing web­cast. Only their show has a lot more work­ing against them than just grow­ing pains. Tested by dubi­ous ranch hands, a ghost from Dex’s past, and shapeshift­ing decep­tion, the ama­teur ghost hunters must learn to trust each other in order to fight the most ancient of myths…or die trying.

I'm incredibly conflicted about this book, and this series as a whole so far. I liked Perry in the first book. I understood her. She's insecure and unsure of herself, but at the same time she's not going to let anything - including herself - hold her back. I could relate. In Darkhouse Perry was straight-forward, honest, no-nonsense, and pretty sarcastic. What she wasn't, overly, was too-stupid-to-live.

I can't say the same for Red Fox. Perry made one stupid decision after another in this book to the point where I was beginning to wonder how she survived to her current age, much less how she was going to survive to the end of the book. From taking a drink from a shady, suspected-of-nefarious-deeds stranger, to wandering in the deserted hills alone when you know there's freaking animals (and possibly people) out there with the intent to harm...and that's not even the worst of it.

I went from respecting Perry to wanting to smack the hell out of her. What the hell right does she have to judge people and assume they're all women beaters? She makes these snap decisions about people she knows nothing about, all because of chance encounters. She, and Dex, apparently have a serious aversion to calling the cops. Broken down car, empty, in the middle of the road? Eh. Just drive on by. People disappear, get attacked and nearly killed? Meh. No big. We'll just get out of dodge. Seriously get attacked, bleeding and drugged? Oh, it's okay. Epic trigger rant coming up:



On top of all of that bullshit from Perry, there's a ton of inconsistent crap going on in this book. I, obviously, wasn't enjoying myself enough because my brain kept nit-picking at the little things. Pupils don't retract, for example. They constrict. If you're in and out of consciousness, it's unlikely you're going to remember a bit of nearly every step back to the house. Likely you wouldn't be able to piece them together in the right order or even understand what's really going on - I know, I've been there. Especially after a traumatic event. Then there's Perry, who is drugged, unable to stand on her own two feet or talk without slurring her words and suddenly, five minutes later, she can flat out run. Give me a fucking break.

My disbelief could not be suspended.

Dex is still Dex. I'm not sure what to make of him, or if I want to like him or hate him. I waffle back and forth between both. But I kind of like that about his character. What I don't like? Cheating. If you're interested in Perry, and it's more than obvious you are, fucking break up with your girlfriend. I swear to whatever gods there are that if you haven't broken up with her by the next book and this shit carries on, I'm going to flip the hell out. What I also don't like? Perry thinking Dex is the love of her life. Give me an effing break. Seriously? You've spent a grand total of maybe a week with him. And he's the LOVE OF YOUR LIFE? You have no credibility with me anymore.

I've ranted so much I'm not even sure I can talk about what's good in this book - and the mystery/horror/paranormal part (if I forgive the great big authorial hand I see pushing the characters into certain situations) is interesting and fun and I wanted more of the creep factor. But there wasn't enough.

And yet, I don't want to stop reading the series yet. I'll continue on to book 3. See where it leads. One of my friends said that Dead Sky Morning was the book that hooked her, another said ended up rage-quitting it. I wonder where I fall.

Grade: D

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review: River Marked by Patricia Briggs


Title: River Marked
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson, Book 6 (Mercy Thompson World, Book 9)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 1 March 2011

Coyote shifter Mercy Thompson knows that life with her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will never be boring, but even their wedding doesn't go as planned. Nevertheless, a ten-day honeymoon camping on the banks of the Columbia River, alone, just the two of them, should make up for it. But the trip - and the pimped-out trailer they're using - is courtesy of the fae. And nothing from the fae comes without strings attached...

Being a different breed of shapeshifter - a walker - Mercy can see ghosts, but the spirit of her long-gone father has never visited her. Until now. An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River - and innocent people are dying. As other walkers make their presence know to Mercy, she must reconnect with her heritage to exorcise the world of the legend known as the river devil...

Mercy's going crazy. And it's not the fae, wolves, or vampires that are scaring her this time.

It's her wedding. More specifically, planning it with her mother. Who apparently thinks doves, pigeons, and butterflies would be a wonderful addition to the day. She's ready to elope. The honeymoon should make up for it all though, and be just what she needs. Just her, Adam, a camper and no one for miles for ten days. Bliss.

Unfortunately things don't go quite as planned and when they find a person with his foot bit off, Mercy's suddenly thrust into a mystery that brings her into much closer contact with her own personal history.

I loved this book. Loved it. I think that most fans will either love it, or not like it and be bored by it. It takes us away from all the secondary characters that we love in the Tri-Cities for most of the book, and focuses on Adam and Mercy, and Mercy's roots.

For 5 books I've been waiting to get some more in-depth alone time with Mercy and Adam. I think that this book really solidifies what they are to and for each other and I love that they fit so perfectly.

We meet some new characters, and one, in particular, is a favorite. He's fabulous, funny, smart, and just a little bit crazy. And learning more about Mercy's past - things she didn't even know - is fun and extremely entertaining. Especially watching Mercy try to assimilate this knowledge into herself, and come to terms with things that are a complete surprise to her.

There is a thing with these books that bugs me a bit. It doesn't bug me until I'm finished, but it does bother me. Near the end, when Mercy and Adam are getting ready to fight the "big bad" Adam's always, ALWAYS, knocked out of the fight somehow. There's something that prevents him from being there to help - and mostly this is probably because he'd wipe the floor with anything that was trying to hurt Mercy and Mercy needs to be the one that saves the day/herself/others etc. I get that, and I like that Mercy saves the day, but I wish this could be handled a bit differently so that it didn't feel like Adam was incapacitated every single book. A good example is Kate and Curran - Curran (Magic Bites) is obviously stronger, but Kate's essential and strong too. They work together to get what needs to be done, done. Anyway. Like I said, a minor bother, but I did want to bring it up.

Great book though. Strong interpersonal relationships, strong mystery story-line (with some great emotionally charged moments) and fantastic characters. This continues to be one of my favorite series, and Patricia Briggs a favorite author.

Grade: A-

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Review: Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs


Title: Silver Borne
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson, Book 5 (Mercy Thompson World, Book 8)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 30 March 2010

Being a mechanic is hard work. Mercy Thompson, for instance, just spent the last couple of months trying to evade the murderous queen of the local vampire seethe. And now the leader of the werewolf pack, who's maybe-more-than-just-a-friend, has asked for her help. A book of fae secrets has come to light and they're all about to find out how implacable - and dangerous - the fae can be.

OK, so maybe her troubles have nothing to do with the job. But she sure could use a holiday...

Mercy's newly mated to Adam and brought into their pack. There are some wolves that aren't at all happy about this, and use Mercy's unawareness of pack magic to make trouble. Maybe they just want Mercy out, maybe they want Adam out too and are using Mercy as a stepping stone.

When Samuel ends up seriously needing Mercy's help, she realizes she needs to take a step back and try to get a handle on everything. A call from Tad to look after that fae thing that was given her (and I just had a flash of the scene from Hackers "It's in that place where I put that thing that one time..."). Now Mercy's the target, along with the pack, of someone who wants it badly.

Lots of things going on in this one. The pack politics, followed closely by Samuel's story-line, were my favorites here. Which is what nearly makes it a five-star read for me. I loved how the pack stuff moved and was resolved (even if I'm a little grumpy at the light punishment some transgressions got).

Samuel nearly broke my heart, and that's pretty much all I can say without spoiling the hell out of it. I also liked that it wasn't dragged out for a long time (more than one book). I really liked that we got the further depth that we did into the wolf psyche in this one though. And that's about as non-spoilery as I can keep it.

Previously I said that the fae "mystery" story-line was probably the weakest. I thought it didn't hold my attention as much as everything else, like Adam&Pack/Pack&Mercy/Mercy&Adam/Samuel&Mercy/etc, dynamics going on with everyone else I cared about. But on this re-read it was made apparent to me that I enjoyed it a great deal more than the first time. It gives a nice counter-point to everything else that's going on, and it really showcases that Mercy can be smart and strong, and not rush into things in a too-stupid-to-live capacity (unlike quite a few heroines I've read).

I love how strong and smart Mercy is, but that's she's not infallible. She does make mistakes, but there are consequences for them. And she pays them without complaint. There is one mistake in particular that seemed to just be dropped when she was rescued - and I'm still irritated about it. It was irresponsible and dangerous and I can't believe it's never mentioned again. Just because I've come to expect it, I'm sure there was something that was said/happened because of this, but I would have really liked to see it. Otherwise it feels like a dropped thread that was put in there for no real purpose.

Overall, another great installment in the Mercy Thompson world with some minor things to niggle at me.

Grade: A

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Review: Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs


Title: Bone Crossed
Author: Bone Crossed
Series: Mercy Thompson, Book 4 (Mercy Thompson World, Book 7)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 3 February 2009

In a world where "witches, vampires, werewolves, and shape-shifters live beside ordinary people" ("Booklist"), it takes a very unusual woman to call it home. By day, Mercy Thompson is a car mechanic in Eastern Washington. By night, she explores her preternatural side. As a shape-shifter with some unusual talents, Mercy's found herself maintaining a tenuous harmony between the human and the not-so- human on more than one occasion. This time she may get more than she bargained for.

Mercy's barely a week out from the tragic events that happened at the end of Iron Kissed when Stefan pops in at her feet, a blackened husk, whispering "She knows."

With vampires stalking her steps and pressing vague attacks on the werewolves in her life, Mercy decides to take a trip to help a friend with a ghost. Of course, it just couldn't be that simple and Mercy finds herself in a much scarier predicament.

Not quite as good as Blood Bound and Iron Kissed, but still a pretty solid read. The "mystery" story-line wasn't as appealing to me, but there's so much development with the characters (Mercy and Adam in particular, with quite a bit from Stefan) that I can't help but enjoy this every time. It's kind of funny that this is probably my least favorite book and it still doesn't get anything under 4 stars.

For me the story-line in this one sort of meandered. It was a little rough and didn't flow as naturally as I'm used to from Patricia Briggs. This could have been completely by design as Mercy's just out from some damn serious events that happened in Iron Kissed, and her reactions are a little off and unpredictable. The slight jagged edge to the story progress could be a direct comparison to Mercy's own progress emotionally. The more I think about it, the more I believe that's true, but it just didn't work as well for me. It left me feeling a little less engaged.

I didn't particularly like the 'big bad' in this book either. He was less a character than a caricature. Or maybe that's because it felt like when the fight scene finally did happen, it was over so quickly. That's not to say I wanted Mercy to get into a drawn out thing with him, I just found it a little hard to believe that it resolved as quickly as it did considering the power of the one she was going up against.

I feel like I'm talking a lot about the bad, and I don't mean to, I'm just trying to explain what didn't work quite as well as the previous books. This book's draw, for me, is all about the characters I've come to love. Mercy, Adam, Samuel, Stefan...They have completely ensnared me and keep me reading every single time.

Grade: A-

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Review: Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs


Title: Iron Kissed
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson, Book 3 (Mercy Thompson World, Book 6)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 1 January 2008

Mechanic Mercy Thompson can shift her shape - but not her loyalty. When her former boss and mentor is arrested for murder and left to rot behind bars by his own kind, it's up to Mercy to clear his name, whether he wants her to or not.

Mercy's loyalty is under pressure from other directions, too. Werewolves are not known for their patience, and if Mercy can't decide between the two she cares for, Sam and Adam may make the choice for her...

Seriously, this series has got some of the worst copy covers I've ever read. *frowns* What's up with that?

Mercy at one point thinks, in this book, that she's suddenly not quite so anonymous in the preternatural communities anymore. That after spending nearly 15 years without any significant contact with them, she's been absolutely embroiled in mess after mess for the past couple of years.

First it was helping Adam get Jesse back, then she owed Stefan for that one. After helping Stefan, she ends up owing the fae. And this is where we pick up Iron Kissed.

Fae are getting murdered on the reservation, and they have no idea who's doing it. Zee and Uncle Mike call Mercy in to sniff around and see if she can come up with anything. And she does. But then things go bad. Zee's arrested for murder of a human, the fae look to be leaving him to hang, and Mercy won't stand for it.

Patricia Briggs seamlessly builds her world, it's ever-evolving and growing and as more is revealed to us, the more in love I fall. In this book we learn quite a lot more about the fae, but also we get a much deeper look at the tensions between humans and the preternatural communities. It's the start of something that doesn't seem to really come to a head until much later in the series, a slow build of the tensions.

I loved this book. It's a page-turner for me to this day (several re-reads later), and I can never put it down or stop reading it. The mystery was intriguing and kept me guessing. We also get a lot more insight into Mercy's relationships with Samuel and Adam, and how Adam's claiming her as his mate affected him and the pack, in this book. And I'm glad to say I was ecstatic when she chose.

I don't want to say too much about this and risk spoiling anything because it's such a wonderful book. But I will say that there's some very hard moments in it. Heart-breaking, and wrenching, and they had me in tears several times. The climax is still incredibly difficult for me to read, but it's one of the best handled instances I've ever read of this particular situation (though it may still be a trigger for some (view spoiler)).

And it does end on one big cliff-hanger, though the main story is tied up. It was hell waiting for Bone Crossed to come out when I first read this. And I'll say that I was happy Bone Crossed took a step back from where things seemed to be heading in that final scene of Iron Kissed, as I thought it was far too soon.

P.S. I loved Ben from, nearly, the first moment we met him, but I have to say my love and care for him solidified in this book. He's so fantastic. On this re-read, I've nearly flailed all over him every time he shows up.

Grade: A

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs


Title: Blood Bound
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson, Book 2 (Mercy Thompson World, Book 5)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 30 January 2007

Mechanic Mercy Thompson has friends in low places - and in dark ones. And now she owes one of them a favor. Since she can shapeshift at will, she agrees to act as some extra muscle when her vampire friend Stefan goes to deliver a message to another of his kind. But this new vampire is hardly ordinary - and neither is the demon inside of him.

A quick note about the narration. This narrator is one of the few that I enjoy for one of my favorite novels. Her voice for Mercy is easy and comfortable. She does a fairly good job with the other characters voices, and the reading style is straightforward and simple.

What a fabulous sequel to Moon Called. Mercy continues to be the smart, capable, and still slightly vulnerable heroine that I grew to love in the first book. People she cares about really matter to her. She'd do damn-near anything for those she loves.

I said it in the review for Moon Called, and it continues here. The world-building is wonderful. Strong, compelling, and feels absolutely real. Briggs' wolves act like wolves, her fae are not sparkles and light, and the vampires - whom we get much better acquainted with in this book - are devious, powerful, and (most of them) likely evil.

The mystery in this one though is where it's even better than the first. The first book, I can freely admit, is a bit convoluted in the plot that is the main storyline. This one is much cleaner, building slowly, with a bunch of twists and yet doesn't feel too messy. The bad guy is seriously scary (creeped me out a bunch), and there's enough surprises that it kept me guessing.

Adam, Samuel, Stefan - *sigh* I love them all. I admit when I first read this I was a little worried about the 'love-triangle' turning into a 'love-square'...And though there are guys a-plenty that are interested in Mercy it's actually easy for me to understand why. She's pretty freaking awesome.

I never worried about the love-triangle (or square for that matter), because it was always obvious to me who she'd end up with. But I know that some have a serious aversion to love-triangles of any kind (I'm usually this way too), so I'll give a slight non-spoiler: there's a choice made in book Iron Kissed.

There's one other character I just have to mention. Ben. I love him. He can be such a misogynist, such an asshole, but I love him. More and more with each passing book. It started near the end of book 1, but everything in this book just continued to make it grow (and it only gets better as the series goes on).

Grade: A-

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Review: Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs


Title: Hunting Ground
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha and Omega, Book 3 (Mercy Thompson World, Book 4)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 25 August 2009

Anna Latham didn’t know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son — and enforcer — of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn’t know how dangerous it could be either...

Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran’s controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan — and it seems like someone else might be too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all — or risk losing everything...

A quick note about the audio and then I'm going to move onto the review of the book.

Of the first three audiobooks in this series, this is definitely the best. Charles has a more natural voice, and the weird pauses are almost entirely eliminated. I was able to sink into the story for the first time since I started the audio of the Alpha and Omega series. So, yay!

Now onto the story itself:
Of the first three stories (Alpha & Omega, Cry Wolf, and Hunting Ground) this is definitely the most romantic. The pacing of the story is tight and moves along quickly, and we really get a chance to delve into the politics of the werewolves - around the world. At the same time we get to know Charles and Anna even better, and watch their relationship grow, which is my favorite part.

Anna still has some issues with the abuse she suffered at the hands of her old pack. I love how Patricia Briggs handles this, it's not a constant fear, but it comes through at random moments and overwhelms her. She struggles against it, and talks herself past it frequently, but that's not always possible. It's shown beautifully at the beginning, Charles is drawing deeper and deeper into himself and his frustrations, and Anna has plans to bring him out of it by ambush. There's still that ingrained moment of hesitation about making him mad, what a much larger, more dominant wolf could do to her. Logically she knows he would never hurt her, and she knows that in her heart too, but it's hard to overcome what years of abuse will drill into a person. Even worried about that, Anna does it anyway - because she loves Charles.

Seeing their relationship grow, and deepen, is a true joy. The comfort, and easiness between them continues to grow. That she can tease him, tickle him, and have fun with him shows just how far Anna's come. That Charles plays with her, shares private jokes, and can generally be a "lovebird" is perfect.

I also really love how they're both adjusting to each other. They talk about it at one point and Anna asks if Charles is as confused as she is, and he says that he's not, but that he's differently confused because he'd had so long to settle into himself and being alone that the transition is different for him. Charles isn't a big talker, doesn't always trust his words to be what he wants them to be, but I love that he makes a real effort for Anna when she needs it.

The mystery part of it is interesting, though I don't think it's hard to figure out who the ultimate "bad-guy" is - I can't recall if I did my first time reading it.


I think I'll just add some favorite quotes here, nothing too spoilery, but be warned if you don't like to read anything like that :)

She gave him a happy look as he followed her out on the water-soaked wooden walk. "This could be fun," she said, then turned, took a running step, and did a couple of back flips - like a middle-school kid at recess. He stopped where he was, lust and love and fear rising up in a surge of emotion he did not, for all his years, have any idea how to deal with.

"What?" she asked, a little breathless from her gymnastics. She brushed her wavy heair out of her face and gave him a serious look. "Is there something wrong?"

He could hardly tell her that he was afraid because he didn't know what he'd do if something happened to her. That his sudden, unexpected reaction had brought Brother Wolf to the fore. She threw his balance off; his control - which had become almost effortless over the years - was erratic at best.

***

"You are a remarkable man, Charles Cornick."

He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and put his chin on the top of her head. "I know," he confided lightly. "And often under-appreciated by those who don't know any better."

She poked him with a finger and looked up at him. "And funny - though I expect that is another facet of your character that goes unappreciated even more often than your remarkableness."

"Some people don't even notice," he said in a mock-mournful voice.

***

"Do you remember when I told you that you were my mate - and you responded by telling me you didn't like sex?"

She giggled at his smug tone. "I thought it only fair to warn you."

***

She was on the far side, leaving two cold feet of mattress between them. He knew that she'd fall asleep like that...and then gradually move over until she was plastered against him. Then he could go to sleep, too.

***

"...I love your touch. Touch me anytime. Any place. Anywhere." It was heartfelt, and honest...

"Pet me," he told her. "I like it."

Grade (story): A
Grade (narration): C+

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