Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Miss Bramble and the Leviathan by Kristen Painter

Title: Miss Bramble and the Leviathan
Author: Kristen Painter
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Release Date: September 13, 2010
Length: Novella

Blurb from Goodreads:

When Pandora Bramble steps aboard the Company’s premiere airship Daedalus it’s not for the exclusive VIP tour. It’s to secure proof that the Company stole the regulator valve her father designed—even if it means tearing the engine apart. Foiled by the unexpected appearance of a handsome crew member, she despairs of ever getting another chance—until he kisses her.

Captain Theolonius Hatch, sentenced to engine room duty for refusing to take part in the Company’s fleet week activities, never dreamed a woman like Pandora existed. Her brains match her beauty, a combination that adds up to more trouble than he ever expected.

As Pandora allows Theolonius to sweep her into a whirlwind courtship, her wildest dreams come true. As do her greatest fears, leaving her to decide what matters most. Loyalty…or love.
After getting my first taste of steampunk with Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas series (review of The Iron Duke here), I was anxious to delve further into the genre. It was fun, fresh and fascinating.

I really liked Pandora. She’s a fun, smart, fascinating heroine. She’s more at home tinkering in an engine room than in a formal dining room and when she is in formal society she’s in the shadow of her beautiful, society-minded friend. All this adds up to a woman who’s a bit alone in the world, taking care of her father and their shop essentially by herself.

I had a few problems with this one though. First, the steampunk world was more window-dressing than anything else. It didn’t play a very big part in the story, and could just as easily been a regency romance. That’s not such a big deal, but I think I would have appreciated it more had I know that going in.

The second is mostly I think due to the length. I just didn’t feel like there was enough time to properly develop the relationship between the hero and heroine. Pandora and Theo were keeping secrets from each other, truthfully thinking the other already knew, but not talking about them, for most of the story. This is one of my pet-peeves in reading so I’m not sure how big of an issue it really is. The things that they don’t talk about – like her father’s design – is a pretty major story point, and while I can understand each of their motivations for keeping mum on the subject it just got to be a little too much for me.

That being said, I loved how it ended. Kristen Painter didn’t take the easy way out with the ending, and I really appreciated the complexity that she layered in there. I definitely look forward to trying more out by Ms. Painter in the future.

Grade: C

Book Link | Kindle | nook | kobo | Borders eBook | Sony | Samhain Publishing

Review: Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh

Title: Kiss of Snow
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling, Book 10
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: May 31, 2011

**Warning – Contains mild spoilers for the previous books in the series***

Blurb from Goodreads:
Since the moment of her defection from the PsyNet and into the SnowDancer wolf pack, Sienna Lauren has had one weakness. Hawke. Alpha and dangerous, he compels her to madness.

Hawke is used to walking alone, having lost the woman who would've been his mate long ago. But Sienna fascinates the primal heart of him, even as he tells himself she is far too young to handle the wild fury of the wolf.

Then Sienna changes the rules and suddenly, there is no more distance, only the most intimate of battles between two people who were never meant to meet. Yet as they strip away each other's secrets in a storm of raw emotion, they must also ready themselves for a far more vicious fight…

A deadly enemy is out to destroy SnowDancer, striking at everything they hold dear, but it is Sienna's darkest secret that may yet savage the pack that is her home…and the alpha who is its heartbeat…

Hawke’s book has been highly anticipated by me since I first read Slave to Sensation, the first book in this wonderful Psy/Changeling series. Over the past year I’ve tried to subdue that anticipation as much as possible – sure that it could only lead to disappointment.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This is the story I’ve been waiting for. The sexual tension between Hawke and Sienna is nearly explosive. Hawke doesn’t take too long to come around to the decision that his wolf has been pushing him towards – pursue Sienna. It might take a little creativity on Sienna’s part, but once he does; Oh boy. There are a few ‘almost’ moments, where Hawke and Sienna’s courting is interrupted by everything from injuries to Psy scouting parties to outright attacks, and you could feel the frustration, as well as the responsibility in each of those moments.

Hawke was the same alpha that I’ve always loved. The alpha who has feral wolves claiming him as their own alpha. In this dangerous war with the Psy, Hawke barely has time to set aside his responsibilities. So he never does. He and Sienna steal small moments, with the help of their Pack, and they don’t give up on what they have together.

Learning more about Sienna, and what she has grown up with, what she’s grown up expecting – to die before she reaches 25 – was heart-wrenching at times. And yet she always managed to impress me with the way she’s managed to become such a strong young woman. She is absolutely more than a match for Hawke. But she’s so much more than a perfect match for him, she’s a fierce, beautiful, determined, resourceful woman that’s not afraid to take chances with her heart, and will protect those she cares about, no matter the cost to herself.

There’s an additional side story between Lara, SnowDancer’s healer and Walker Lauren. It’s an incredibly sweet story that I was happy to read. There’s a lot of focus on the Lauren’s in general in Kiss of Snow, with more of one of my favorite characters (Judd) showing up quite a bit too.

By now there are around 50 distinct characters that we’ve met more deeply than passing by in Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling world. She continues to give each of them a voice that is solely their own. They act within their character all the time and are each noticeably different. Combine that with a world that continues to grow while following its own rules and Ms. Singh continues to blow away all my expectations.

Kiss of Snow satisfied every one of my expectations, and then some. It’s a sexy, sweet, enthralling story from beginning to end. I literally could not put it down from the moment I started it and was up late into the night inhaling this story. There’s no end in sight for my love of Nalini Singh’s writing, and I’m eagerly anticipating her next release.

Grade: A

Book Link | Amazon | Kindle | nook | Book Depository | Berkley Sensation

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Review: Full Exposure by Evangeline Anderson and Lena Matthews

Title: Full Exposure
Author: Evangeline Anderson and Lena Matthews
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Contemporary Interracial Erotic Romance
Release Date: August 29, 2008

Blurb from Goodreads:

Keeley Jackson has a problem. She's madly in love with her cousin's friend Sean Hastings, but the trouble is, he doesn't know she exists. All he sees is the flat-chested little girl with the big glasses whom he always called "Squints".

Despite what she might think, Sean has definitely noticed Keeley is all grown up. The proof is right there every time he looks her way. He's just not sure if he's willing to risk losing his best friend in order to have her.

For Keeley, enough is enough. With the help of her best friend, she cooks up a plan that will surely show Sean she's not a little girl any longer, even if that means posing suggestively for erotic photographs. It's a risky venture, but Keeley knows in order to get Sean for herself she will have to risk nothing less than full exposure.

My good friend Kat recommended Full Exposure to me. I think this was the first book I read by either Evangeline Anderson or Lena Matthews, and it’s still one of my favorites. Often with a shorter length novel you don’t get enough character or relationship development to be able to really feel like you know the characters and that they’re going to survive after the story ends. Happily, that isn’t a problem here.

Keeley and Sean have a history together, as friends over a long time period, and when Keeley finally decides to up the ante I was rooting for her the whole time. Both of them are extremely well developed and I immediately fell in love with Sean as well.

The bulk of the story takes place over a couple of days and almost entirely in Sean’s studio. As you can imagine, with the boudoir photography, it steams up pretty quickly – and never lets up. This is a story that has a bit of deception, generally something I can’t stand, but that I felt was really well done. It made total sense, and was, in my opinion, perfectly handled.

Full Exposure is a sexy, scintillating, HOT read that I highly recommend.

Grade: A

Book Link | Ellora's Cave
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