Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Dark Soul by Aleksandr Voinov

Title: Dark Soul: The Complete Collection
Author: Aleksandr Voinov
Series: Dark Soul (1-5)
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: 1 June 2012

Love lights even the darkest soul.

A killer's moral compass rarely points true, and among made men, being gay is a capital crime. But Silvio Spadaro, deadly prodigy and heir to a Family fortune, is determined to find his own way--at the feet of the man he loves or by the barrel of a gun--no matter the dangers or costs.

Stefano Marino lives a comfortable--some might even say enviable--life. As a mob boss at the top of the food chain, he has it all: money, respect, a beautiful wife he loves as much now as the day they wed. But he also has a turf war on his hands, and far too soft a heart for this dark business.

When Silvio is sent to help Stefano with his turf war, sparks fly. Stefano loves his wife, but he wants Silvio. It's a desire he hardly knows how to process, but Silvio, ever the patient predator, maneuvers Stefano closer and closer to his bed each day. Stefano resists; giving in to these dark desires means giving up on his marriage, and exposure would surely mean death. Yet there's no denying Silvio's magnetic pull, or the long-repressed urges inside himself. Yielding is inevitable, but he may yet find a way to hold on to everything--and everyone--he loves.

I admit, I was trepidatious when I started this collection. I knew it was going to push some of my limits – and probably blow right by others. And I wasn't wrong. Dark Soul isn't an easy or gentle love story, but it's oh-so worth it.

I'm going to try not to spoil much of the story, because I think that there's a lot to be said for experiencing each moment as it comes. Additionally it's hard to pick out moments that happen in the book without being able to explain every step that brought the characters to that moment. The above story blurb does a pretty good job of giving you a set-up on who the characters are, but what it doesn’t do is tell you how absolutely attached you'll become to these two.

I never expected to like, much less love two characters in the mafia – one a boss, and the other a hitman – but it didn't take long for me to start rooting for these two. Stefano has a deeply honorable side, something that will always draw me. And Silvio is so utterly honest. With himself, about himself, and about others. Not that he advertises he's gay, he does keep it quiet, but he makes no apologies, no excuses, and doesn't ever even worry. He's comfortable in who he is, Silvio's just looking for someone to be comfortable with.

Stefano is definitely that man. He's instantly attracted to Silvio, and doesn’t quite know what to do with that attraction. But as his trust, and care, grow for Silvio it makes it that much harder to keep from acting on it. Stefano's struggle with his feelings for his wife and Silvio – at the same time – was one of the most poignant things in this book. Considering I'd come to care about Donata, Stefano's wife, as well I had a vested interest in how it was all going to turn out. I will say that I was absolutely breathless at the resolution, not to mention incredibly happy and relieved.

I said it earlier, but I'll say it again: Dark Soul has some tough moments. If you absolutely can't stand dubious consent (in any form), or cheating at all, it does occur here. However, while both of those things are normally huge issues for me, turning me off of a book instantly, Aleksandr Voinov managed to handle two incredibly difficult subjects beautifully, with grace and care. I would definitely recommend this series to anyone willing to read something that might take them just a bit outside their comfort zone – I know they'll be glad they did. I was.

Mr. Voinov has definitely gained a fan in me, and I can't wait to pick up more of his works.

I do admit that I like the covers for the individual series better than the collection.

Grade: B+

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Review: Soul Weaver by Hailey Edwards

Title: Soul Weaver
Author: Hailey Edwards
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 7 August 2012

Since the accident that nearly took her life, Chloe suffers from acute agoraphobia. Living alone above her family's bookstore, she spends restless nights terrified by strange visions . . . until a mysterious stranger appears and offers her salvation. Chloe is drawn to the ethereal, gorgeous Nathaniel-but her haunted soul warns her there is more to him than meets the eye.

An archangel who roams Earth collecting souls of the newly departed, Nathaniel is the sole witness to the accident that should have taken Chloe's life. Seduced by the purity of her soul, he defies Providence by saving her life. But his attempt at kindness marks Chloe for damnation, and makes her an unwitting pawn in a game of unholy ambition. Now together they must fight the demons of Hell itself-for a love that defies the boundaries of Heaven and Earth.

Angels seem to be the new it thing in paranormal romance, they're everywhere I turn. Luckily, there's nearly as many different takes on them – and their demon counterparts – as there are stars in the sky. Hailey Edwards once again enchants with her original world where "demons" are just angels doing what needs to be done to take the non-righteous where they need to be. Yes, they are fallen, but they're not evil and what they do is very necessary.

Nathianiel was incredibly interesting, not just a soul hunter but he then took those souls – from dark-hearted people – and wove them into wings for his brethren to replace the wings they'd lost since coming to earth. He's loyal, nearly to a fault, kind, and absolutely just. When Chloe's bright spirit is nearly lost he does the unforgiveable and binds her with a piece of his own sooty soul.

What he couldn't have known is the consequences this would bring. They say no good deed goes unpunished, and it's certainly true in this case. When he finds out the tainted soul he's supposed to collect is none other than Chloe's, and it's all his fault, Nathaniel is horrified and decides to do everything he can to help her. Maybe it's time a good deed is rewarded for him…

Chloe has nightmares every night, of someone taking her life, stealing her soul, the darkness surrounding her. Previously uneasy around strange places and people, Chloe retreated deeper into comfortable surroundings, becoming agoraphobic and alone. When the sexy carpenter shows up on her doorstep to fix her porch, he tempts her in ways she couldn't have possibly imagined.

It's not often that one reads about an agoraphobic heroine. After reading this book I could see why. Though I really enjoyed Chloe as a character, it just got to be a bit…well, boring. She's nice, and cares about other people, and loves her job as a bookseller, but reading about her, admittedly well-deserved, panic attacks and being frightened all the time got to be just a bit too much for me. Once Nathaniel started to pull her out of her shell, and she gained some security with the lack of nightmares, I started to like her a great deal more.

Seeing these two fall in love, and realize they both needed, and were needed by, the other was really heart-warming.

There are some secondary characters that round out the story and make for an interesting suspenseful plot, and I'm looking forward to reading more about what happens there. Overall, Hailey Edwards once again writes an engaging, unique world and characters that leaves me eager to come back and visit again, and again.

Grade: C+

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Title: Shadowfell
Author: Juliet Marillier
Series: Shadowfell, Book 1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: 11 September 2012

Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill—a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk—Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec.

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death—but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban’s release from Keldec’s rule.

Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.

I’d been meaning to pick up a book by Juliet Marillier for years before chance allowed me to get an early copy of Shadowfell. I’m so glad I started here. Ms. Marillier’s prose is evocative and beautiful to read, with lush descriptions that immerse you in the world and make you care about these characters. Shadowfell is a pretty classic quest story, with Neryn setting out to learn her powers, accomplish tasks – which she doesn’t know details about – and finding a place where she can be who she is.

Neryn is a character that I instantly related to. She made the decision long ago to live life, something that is much harder than it sounds in the bleak world that Keldec has made of Alba. On the run for much of her life, seeing atrocities that would break others, Neryn let all of that strengthen her resolve. Added to this, she’s unfailingly kind, protective, and smart – if a bit naïve. At just 15 (or 16, the text of my ARC copy did seem to waver on that), it all felt real. She’d experienced some things that made her grow up more quickly than she should have, and she still had an innocence about her that could frustrate me. She did spend a good deal of time sick, and relying on others for help, but I didn’t hold that against her. This was the first time she was really learning about what she was, and assistance was needed. What I loved here was that she still stood strong on her beliefs, needs, and what she needed to do. It endeared me to her. As I’m sure it did Flint – even while it frustrated him to no end.

Flint is a very conflicted character. Though I was fairly sure of his true allegiance throughout the book, there was just enough doubt thrown in there for me to question, just enough that I understood when Neyrn didn’t trust him and took some rather risky chances. I would love to see a bit more from Flint’s point of view, but I think the lack of that made me really appreciate what I did get near the end.

While the pacing isn’t fast there is a lot happening in Shadowfell. It’s a long journey, and Neryn has to accomplish many things along the way. I was pulled along, desperate to see what happened next, and how Neryn would beat these almost insurmountable odds to make it to her destination. One slight warning, while the book does end at a good stopping point, this is definitely not the end of Neryn’s story. There is a lot more to be told in the next two books. I didn’t think anything of this, because it seems pretty common in fantasy novels, but wanted to be sure others knew that the overall storyline is not tied up in these 400 pages.

Shadowfell is the best young-adult fantasy I’ve read in a long time. I enjoyed the story immensely, and connected with the characters. But the world is what will keep me coming back for more. Ms. Marillier has a gift for writing, one that I’m happy to have finally discovered – and I can’t wait for the next book in this trilogy.

Grade: B+

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Review: Archangel's Storm by Nalini Singh

Title: Archangel’s Storm
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter, Book 5
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 4 September 2012

With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.

Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price—Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one. Least of all an enemy spymaster.

With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.

Nalini Singh is one of those few authors that nearly always makes me fall in love with her books. I have very rarely ever been disappointed, and most often end up gushing over how much I love each new installment. And Archangel’s Storm absolutely ended up being a book I love.

Jason is Raphael’s spymaster, with a very dark past. We know, from the previous books, that something terrible happened in Jason’s past and the only thing holding him to life is his loyalty to Raphael as well as Raphael’s promise to end his life when the time came. A few other small snippets of history associated with Jason had been doled out, but I had no idea how to connect them. It was a pure, heart-wrenching experience to read the whole thing, broken up in flash-backs throughout the book. There were many times I had tears in my eyes while learning more about Jason. But it was his integrity, honor and kindness that made me root for and love him. With the block of ice encasing his heart, the lack of feeling that he’s lived with for so long, I couldn’t help but hope he would be able to overcome all of that with his heroine, Mahiya.

Mahiya is a fascinating character. Not only a survivor, though she is most definitely that, she managed to retain her sense of joy, kindness, and pure grit and determination. I admit to liking her immediately, and it was easy to see that she was the perfect match for Jason. She suffered many terrible things in her life, forced to live under someone who would love nothing more than to see her dead, punished, ruined. Through all that she retained her heart, her compassion, and a willingness to do whatever she could to have the life she deserved. The thing that cemented her in my mind was that she was so willing to give the free gift of her love to Jason, with zero qualms and no regrets. That takes a kind of strength that I will always respect.

While I loved both Mahiya and Jason, it was the plot that pulled me through the story, anxious to find out what was going to happen, who was the one taunting Neha with deaths of those she loved. I loved that I didn’t figure it out immediately, that I could sit in the suspense of the storyline right along with Mahiya and Jason. There are some truly fascinating and interesting developments that happen in this book, making me anxious to see the repercussions on the wider world.

On top of all that, there were the glimpses – sometimes more – we got of other favorites from Raphael’s Seven. Dmitri and his new bride, Honor, had several sections devoted to them throughout the book, including some huge occasions, and it was fantastic to visit them again. Venom showed up at Neha’s palace and spent a couple of days visiting and helping Jason. And he’s quickly becoming one of my favorites! I would have loved to see more of Illium, but we got small glimpses of nearly all the Seven.

When I started this book I said “Reading Nalini Singh is like coming home.” There’s a honesty and vividness to her words that makes me feel like I’m right there, in the midst of the story, meeting these characters, living in this fantastical world. That’s why I love her books, why I end up reading them time and time again. Ms. Singh has a beautifully evocative way of writing that beckons me constantly. Archangel’s Storm definitely gave me everything I was looking for, and more. The only thing I could ask for is the next Guild Hunter book!

Grade: A-

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann Walker

Title: Hell on Wheels
Author: Julie Ann Walker
Series: Black Knights, Book 1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: 7 August 2012

He’s the bad boy she’s always wanted...

Nate “Ghost” Weller has loved Ali Morgan nearly half his life. But he’s done something so heinous he’s convinced she’ll never forgive him if she discovers the truth, so he keeps his feelings and his secrets to himself. Then she blows into town with a mother lode of bad guys on her tail and Nate can’t deny she’s in serious trouble. Unfortunately, he’s the only one who can help her.

She’s the good girl he’s kept at arm’s length...

Ali knows Nate as the most solemn, aloof man on the planet. Sadly, he’s also the sexiest. For years she’s avoided him, unable to stomach his dark scowls and brooding silences… especially when she secretly yearns for his touch. Now she must rely on him to save her from the malevolent shadows ghosting her every move. When the bullets explode, so does their passion. But can love really conquer all? Or are some things just too terrible to forgive?

Sexy black-ops operatives on motorcycles – I was sold! And the premise lives up to the promise, absolutely.

Unfortunately my problems have overshadowed the enjoyment I was hoping to get out of this book. The largest one was Nate’s dialect. His mashing of several words together into a single word not on was irritating to read, it was an effort in translation every time it happened – which was at least once a page. I know people talk with dialects, I hear them in my head clearly, but I don’t need every single word typed with the lost ending if the goal is a southern accent. If typed out Scottish brogues irritate you, this is a warning that I found it much more distracting and irritating than that.

The second issue was a few logical fallacies that didn’t work for me. There is a lot of emphasis, throughout the book, put on how super-secret these guys are, and their work for the government is way off the books. They literally live in their compound, which is their cover as a custom motorcycle shop with all the accompanying surveillance and security. But let Ali walk up to the gate and ask to be let in, and she’s shown right in. Not just in the compound but in the building where they start wanding down her luggage – searching for bugs – she sees the computers that any NSA agent would die to have, and there in the corner is a fully equipped Blackhawk helicopter. Yeah, all that doesn’t raise any suspicions what-so-ever that they’re not what they seem.

And that leads me to my final problem. While Ali never truly strays into TSTL – to-stupid-to-live – territory, she comes very close. With all that evidence she still isn’t really sure until someone tells her that they’re black-ops.

One of the things I loved though was how it handled the ‘brother’s best friend’ trope. This is one of my favorite storylines – the friend in love with his best friend’s little sister, warned off, etcetera. This is really where Ali shined for me. She really gave it her all to get Nate to realize that they’re perfect together. While I’m not quite sure how their relationship is going to work in the future with her being a school teacher, and he still being in the Black Knights group, I do believe that they’ll find a way to do it.

Hell on Wheels is the sexy new start of a series, which has a whole host of characters to choose from for subsequent books. It did spend a decent amount of time on setting up future books, and I admit to curiousity on how some of these storylines tie up. If you’re looking for a quick, easy romantic suspense, Hell on Wheels might just hit the spot.

Grade: C-

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Review: Sweet Talk by Julie Garwood

Title: Sweet Talk
Author: Julie Garwood
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: 7 August 2012

Attorney and IRS agent Olivia Mackenzie is the kind of tough, wise-cracking, powerful woman fans expect from a Garwood protagonist—but this time she has outdone herself. Olivia is not just any woman, she is every woman; flawed in the familiar ways so many of us are.

On the trail of an elaborate Ponzi scheme, one that threatens to ruin the lives of naïve and unsuspecting victims, Olivia suddenly finds her own life is in danger after she asks questions of the wrong people. She is accustomed to fighting for the underdog, but being vulnerable herself is a very different story. Smart enough to know when enough is enough, Olivia calls for reinforcements.

When she meets FBI Agent Grayson Kincaid there is an immediate and obvious attraction, palpable on both sides. Together they make an excellent team to fight corruption but Olivia is also fighting the immediate and intense attraction she feels for Agent Kincaid, and that may be a battle she is bound to lose.

This is the first Julie Garwood book I’ve read, even though I have friends that are incredibly loyal fans – especially of her historical romance novels. And Sweet Talk starts out right in the middle of the action. Olivia MacKenzie, innocently, goes for a job interview and ends up assaulted, nearly shot, and in the middle of an FBI investigation. Olivia can’t believe it, she has enough on her mind with trying to get proof of her father’s Ponzi scheme that she doesn’t need the hassle of all this on top of possibly getting cut from her position as an IRS attorney.

If there’s one good thing that comes from this whole fiasco, it’s meeting Grayson Kincaid – and incredibly sexy FBI agent that becomes more determined than ever to protect Olivia from the myriad threats against her. Grayson is nearly a picture perfect hero. He’s kind, rich, sensitive, focused, took on responsibility for his nephew and smart as hell. He even tries to remove himself from the case when he gets involved with Olivia. In fact, he’s a little too perfect, and it doesn’t allow him to have the depth that would really let me get to know him.

Olivia on the other hand is a bundle of personality, and along with her best friends – the four Pips – I really connected with her. Surviving cancer, and a grueling ordeal at a very young age explains a lot about grown-up Olivia’s decisions, thoughts and her determination to see things set right. Sometimes she would seem to rush into some situations without regard to the safety of it, and it nearly resulted in serious consequences. I understood her need for independence, but there comes a point when she just became stubborn – at the expense of her own and others safety.

One of the things I appreciated most about Sweet Talk was the way that Olivia and Grayson’s friendship developed throughout the book. The downside of that was that I never really felt the chemistry of a relationship, or a true desire to have one with each other. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a well-built relationship, just missing an indefinable something that I can’t quite place.

The suspense storyline was pretty straight-foward, with no unseen twists, and the “villains” telegraphed themselves from nearly the first instance. They also tend to be more than a bit cardboard, without any real depth and seeming to do things because they could, and they were bad. I questioned quite a lot of their actions. Underlying that though is the part that kept me turning the pages to get to the resolution – Olivia’s friend, Jane, is back in the hospital. Has the cancer returned? Will she survive? I was very much invested in Olivia and her friends.

All in all, Sweet Talk is a quick, good read. Ms. Garwood's writing beautifully emerges you in the story, and I look forward to trying more by her.

Grade: C

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: The Darkest Day by Britt Bury

Title: The Darkest Day
Author: Britt Bury
Series: Immortal Heat, Book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 3 July 2012


Izel Campbell was raised to believe she is an immortal Fionn with the magical skills of persuasion. But when she travels to Scotland to visit her ancestral home, Izel discovers that she is actually the world's last living human. Forced to run for her life, Izel crosses paths with Kelvin Kerr, the Campbells' greatest foe-and the most magnificent warrior she has ever seen.


A thousand-year-old battle chief of the Kerr clan, Kelvin lives only to avenge his father, who died at the hands of the bloody Campbells. Honor demands he kill the Campbell heir, but when he learns that the lovely Izel is both Campbell and human, Kelvin is torn between duty and desire. . .


I grabbed this book because of the references I saw some friends make, likening it to Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series. Unfortunately, I think that comparison may have dimmed my enjoyment of The Darkest Day a bit.

My favorite thing about this book is the premise the world is built on. Humans have actually died out, fairly recently - last quarter century or so - and immortals are the only beings left living on the Earth. I think that's a fascinating concept, interesting, new and fresh. Immortals still have some human blood, so characteristics aren't uncommon yet, but the fact that there aren't humans around immediately drew me in.

Beyond that, though, everything felt like fairly standard fare. It didn't make me think too much, or feel too much, or become completely invested in the fates of the characters. Izel and Kelvin were pretty much like any other paranormal hero and heroine I've read. Izel is a female that's surrounded by stronger males, her choices removed from her and forced to travel with the moody temperamental immortal male. Kelvin acts as a pretty typical shifter - though he can't actually shift - possessive, territorial, demanding. He's also incredibly angry, and often cruel, because he is so desperately attracted to Izel.

Occasionally Izel strayed into too-stupid-to-live territory, which was frustrating. Having spent the majority of her life without feelings, and then being overrun by them made it slightly more understandable, but running off into the wilderness knowing that other beings are going to scent and hunt you makes no sense to me. Also, though she grew up in this world as an immortal she knew nothing about any of the other species populating the world with her. Kelvin had to explain everything, and keep her safe from herself.

All of that didn't prevent the sexual tension between the two from fairly steaming off the pages though! I thought there were a few times that I was going to melt from the heat between them. This is probably the strongest part of the book. I absolutely believed in the sexual need and desire between them, even when I never understood why they fell in love, except for them being fated mates and all. I actually like fated mate stories, if I see them falling in love with each other as part of the story.

All in all, The Darkest Day was a good read with hot tension filling it up. I think if I hadn't been looking forward to something intricately plotted and paced this would have satisfied a great deal more. The writing was fairly strong - though the faux-Scottish brogue did get on my nerves more than once - and I will definitely be willing to check out more by Britt Bury in the future.

Grade: C

Review: Moonglow by Kristen Callihan

Title: Moonglow
Author: Kristen Callihan
Series: Darkest London, Book 2
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 31 July 2012

Once the seeds of desire are sown...

Finally free of her suffocating marriage, widow Daisy Ellis Craigmore is ready to embrace the pleasures of life that have long been denied her. Yet her new-found freedom is short lived. A string of unexplained murders has brought danger to Daisy's door, forcing her to turn to the most unlikely of saviors . . .

Their growing passion knows no bounds...

Ian Ranulf, the Marquis of Northrup, has spent lifetimes hiding his primal nature from London society. But now a vicious killer threatens to expose his secrets. Ian must step out of the shadows and protect the beautiful, fearless Daisy, who awakens in him desires he thought long dead. As their quest to unmask the villain draws them closer together, Daisy has no choice but to reveal her own startling secret, and Ian must face the undeniable truth: Losing his heart to Daisy may be the only way to save his soul.

I fell in love with Daisy and Ian from the very beginning. Having had no real feelings for them while reading Firelight, this surprised me somewhat, but they are fabulous. Daisy is smart, has a strong will, and is absolutely captivating. After years of abuse at the hands of her husband she has some scars - inner and outer - to work past and seeing her overcome them with Ian was perfect. Speaking of Ian, he's utterly perfect. He has demons that haunt him, and fights himself nearly every step of his life - against his memories, his clan, and his lycanthropy. The one thing he doesn't fight is his respect and desire for Daisy. I was with them every step of the way, watching them fall in love, and sighing in delight as they fit themselves together.

Though I guessed who the killer werewolf was fairly early in the story, it didn't stop it from being an emotionally charged suspenseful storyline. Every moment that Daisy and Ian spent on the trail, trying to save more innocent lives, was absolutely gripping to me. And the resolution nearly had me in tears.

I felt like the world building was strong and simple in Firelight, there wasn't a lot of extraneous detail bogging down the story and I loved it for that. Moonglow continues in that same vein. Beautifully evocative descriptions painted the picture of this Darkest London as we are handing bits and pieces to make the world a bit larger, clearer and more vivid. As we're introduced to more and more supernatural beings I never felt like it was getting too crowded or confusing, rather I just wanted more and more. Several of my friends were enamoured of the GIMs (and I won't spoil what they are), but while I'm intrigued, I'm still figuring out what I feel in general, though I absolutely loved something so different from anything I'd read before being introduced into this dark and lovely world.

While I don't think one needs to read Firelight prior to reading Moonglow I'm not sure why anyone wouldn't. Both are excellent books, with fantastic characters, and a detailed, growing world. There's a slight cliff-hanger at the end of Moonglow with regards to another set of characters that might have fans on the edge of their seats anticipating the next book.

I was greatly anticipating this book from the moment I finished Firelight, which I loved and couldn't put down. Kristen Callihan did not disappoint and in fact I think she continues to get better and better! I loved this book from the moment I picked it up, the characters are my favorites in the series, and I grew more enamoured of the world through each page. Now I really can't wait for Winterblaze which is due out February 2013.

Grade: A-

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Tab Bennett and the Inbetween by Jes Young

Review Template

Title: Tab Bennett & the Inbetween
Author: Jes Young
Series: Princess of Twilight and Dawn, Book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 1 May 2012

Lately Tab Bennett’s life is like a fairy tale. Unfortunately for her, it’s the Grimm kind. The kind where the woods are deep and dark and full of monsters; where a mother’s longing for something forbidden means terrible consequences for her daughter; where the huntsman who takes the princess for a walk in the woods plans to steal her heart – literally – right out of her chest.

Right up until the visions started, Tab would have described herself as normal. But her sisters’ disappearance brought long-hidden secrets into the light, revealing a world she never dreamed existed and a destiny she cannot deny. Now “normal” means wicked subterranean kings and murdered Elvish princesses and clandestine revenge schemes. Suddenly Tab is juggling her fiancé’s broken heart and a handsome prince’s irresistible advances while trying to unravel an assassination plot, and avoid a sociopath with an axe to grind.

As she struggles to hold on to the human world she’s always known and understand her place in the magical one she’s just discovered, dangerous forces have begun gathering around her. If she wants to live to see the happily ever after at the end of the story, Tab will have to figure out who she can trust, who wants her dead, and why. The answers will change everything she believes about herself, the people she loves, and the place she calls home.

Tab Bennett & the Inbetween starts out with an incredibly fascinating scenario. Tab's sisters have been getting killed, one a month for the last three months. They disappear into the dark forest surrounding their familial home and Tab starts getting visions of their deaths. Only they don't come in time to save them, just to know when to go look for their bodies buried somewhere out there.

On the day of her last sister's funeral the world as Tab knows it comes crashing down around her. Everything changes. She finds out that she's not just a young woman working at a bank, with a bunch of family, but the story starts to unfold that she's got a much larger place in a world she never knew existed. In fact, she's princess of the Light elves.

I have to admit that at this point I started to lose a bit of interest. Prior to this it was interesting and intriguing. I thought we'd spend a lot of time trying to figure out what was happening, who was killing her sisters, who was hunting her, and how – or if – she was going to integrate back into the world of the elves. Unfortunately, the opposite occurs because when Tab shows up at the funeral with her finace she's suddenly drawn to another male, going so far as to make out with him on the porch in front of everyone. Thus started the love-triangle that I didn't know was coming. (Yes, I know it's in the blurb, but I hadn't read the blurb in its entirety.)

I have a bit of a bias against love-triangles. I think since Twilight they've been overdone – every young adult, and a good portion of adult, novels have one. I'm tired of reading them. They're manufactured drama and angst, usually. I was pleasantly surprised that this love triangle was handled a bit differently than others I've read. Tab and her fiancé, Robbin, practically grew up together, their love was steady and constant. The mysterious elvish prince – Alex – has been betrothed to Tab since she was born and an enchantment laid to help them get past the 'getting-to-know-you' stage. Understandably, Tab has some problems with this enchantment leading her where she isn't sure she wants to go. I liked that aspect of it. Tab really spent time thinking about this, and trying to make sure it was her decision where her heart ended up.

Now, my problem with the love triangle is two-fold: essentially this became the entire story. We spent all but a maximum of 20 pages (out of 300) reading about Tab having opposing feelings for Robbin and Alex, learning new rules and her history in piecemeal, and basically being under house arrest. Any action there was occurred off-page – until the end of the book, where we were given about 5 pages in a row of the entire talk to battle sequence. Also, Tab seemed to waffle between the two never wanting to make a decision for the entire book, when even I could see the right decision staring her in the face

I had some problems with some word choices – most notably We and They when talking about the Light and Dark elves. Here's a couple example sentences: "I'm certain it's one of We." or "I want to be the one to make him suffer, not They."

This felt like a build-up to the main story which is apparently coming in the rest of the trilogy, and I think this could have been tightened some more. However, Tab Bennett & the Inbetween is a very well written novel, and very easily readable. If you're looking for something light quick, and with some explosive chemistry between two characters, then definitely pick up this book.

Grade: C-

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

Title: Fair Game
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega, Book 4
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 6 March 2012

People as old and powerful as he should never be given someone to love. For Anna he would destroy the world.

This has easily become one of my favorite series, period. The relationship that Patricia Briggs builds, between all the characters, but especially between Charles and Anna, is stunning.

Fair Game starts right on the heels of the end of River Marked, so the time-lines are finally matching up. The werewolves have come out the public, and with that the rules for werewolves have become much more strict. With more and more wolves needing to be pulled into line, Charles is busier than ever, and it's starting to wear on him.

Anna's worried about him, and takes it to Bran - who doesn't know what to do. After Adam comes up with a possible solution, Anna and Charles are headed to Boston to help the FBI.

As I said above, Charles and Anna's relationship is the true draw of this series for me. The fact that their relationship requires work on both their parts makes it very real. It's been a few years since Charles and Anna met, in Chicago and had an instant connection. Ever since then they've had to work at their relationship and with each other. Sometimes fighting for their relationship, others fighting against the protective instincts of their mate. The love, trust, and respect that underlies all of this is what draws me in and makes me invested in this couple.

Charles spends a good amount of time trying to protect Anna from the things that are affecting him in Fair Game. And she rails against that, knowing that she can help if only he'll let her. It's an interesting dynamic to watch - Charles, the dominant, can't really help the need to protect. Anna, an Omega who loves her mate above all, can not stop the driving need to help. They butt heads a few times; there are consequences for their actions - something that I've always loved in this world - and in the end they come out stronger. I never doubt that they'll make it work, because they truthfully never doubt they will.

The mystery plot that drives the book is interesting, and different. We're out in the world, seeing the wolves interact with federal agencies, trying to stop a serial killer for them - instead of the secretive world of the supernatural community. After seeing how many people had been attacked by this killer, so many of them children, I was anxious to see Charles and Anna bring him to justice. I was able to figure out who the mystery bad-guy was before the end, but it didn't detract from the story at all.

The major event at the end though, Blew.My.Mind. I did not see it coming, and can not wait to see the wider implications throughout the world. Immediately after finishing the book I had to go back and re-read this part again because I was sure I'd mis-read it originally. Surely something will turn up in [book:Frost Burned|11035657], the next Mercy Thompson book - due out March 2013.

This book kept me on the edge of my seat, reading late into the night to finish it, and satisfied on all levels. Patricia Briggs keeps getting better and better, and I can't wait to see what she comes out with next.

Grade: A-

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh

Title: Tangle of Need
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling, Book 11
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 29 May 2012

Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past--one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.

For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.

Their coming together is an inferno...and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.

Riaz and Adria’s relationship burns steady and hot in this tension filled installment in the Psy/Changeling series. This is definitely a time when I’d recommend reading the previous books in this series prior to this one. Check here for the reading order if you need it. Rest assured that each book is well worth the read, and you have a wonderful journey in front of you. Read no further if you don’t want spoilers for the previous books.

We first met Riaz and Adria in Play of Passion. Riaz had come back from Italy after having found his mate – except she’s already married and he can’t have her. Adria, Indigo’s aunt, was in a destructive relationship that’s nearly destroyed her sense of self. Sparks fly between them from page one, something neither is sure they want. But they have to figure it out because they can’t seem to stay away from each other.

The romance here ended up being one of my favorites. I admit that when I started the book I wasn’t invested in Riaz and Adria and, as such, it felt like this book wasn’t really focused on them. It didn’t take long, however, until I absolutely adored both Riaz, with his strength and the warmth, and Adria’s quick mind, intelligence, and warm heart. What I immediately anticipated, even as I worried about the resolution, was that their relationship was unlike any other we’ve seen in the series. There were real obstacles set up pitting Riaz and Adria's love against the odds in world as we know it. Nalini Singh resolved these conflicts in an absolutely stunning way – and one that didn’t involve any deus ex machina, but simply made me believe in their love even more.

Ms. Singh is absolutely a master at weaving together multiple plots and threads throughout each book and, indeed, the entire series. Seemingly effortlessly we are treated to a whole lot of beloved characters from previous books – most especially Hawke and Sienna who have a very prominent plot line in Tangle of Need. It was wonderful to see more of their story and how they’re making it work. Additionally, we see a lot of Kaleb (*sigh*), Judd, Mercy, Riley, and many others. Tangle of Need was a book just made me happy. I spent nearly the entire book smiling, laughing and cheering.

Honestly, Ms. Singh is a master of her craft. I’m constantly in awe of her ability to weave engaging, relevant, interesting stories around characters I truly care about, in a world that’s so incredibly complex and compelling. Every time I pick up one of her novels I know I’m in for a treat and Tangle of Need was no different! Already I’m counting down to the next Psy/Changeling novel!

Grade: B+

Book Link | Amazon | Kindle | nook | kobo | Sony | Book Depository | Berkley

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Review: Firelight by Kristen Callihan

Title: Firelight
Author: Kristen Callihan
Series: Darkest London, Book 1
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 31 January 2012

London, 1881
Once the flames are ignited . . .

Miranda Ellis is a woman tormented. Plagued since birth by a strange and powerful gift, she has spent her entire life struggling to control her exceptional abilities. Yet one innocent but irreversible mistake has left her family's fortune decimated and forced her to wed London's most nefarious nobleman.

They will burn for eternity . . .
Lord Benjamin Archer is no ordinary man. Doomed to hide his disfigured face behind masks, Archer knows it's selfish to take Miranda as his bride. Yet he can't help being drawn to the flame-haired beauty whose touch sparks a passion he hasn't felt in a lifetime. When Archer is accused of a series of gruesome murders, he gives in to the beastly nature he has fought so hard to hide from the world. But the curse that haunts him cannot be denied. Now, to save his soul, Miranda will enter a world of dark magic and darker intrigue. For only she can see the man hiding behind the mask.

I admit it, the first thing that drew me to this book was the gorgeous, fiery cover. Somehow this book got pushed quite far down my to-be-read pile, and I’m so incredibly sorry that it took me so long to pull it out.

Firelight is a beautifully written, passionate, mysterious book that kept me on the edge of my seat to find out how things turn out for Miri and Archer. The world is simply built, with nothing that makes it too confusing or extravagant, and it’s more striking because of it. We’re thrust into a dark, gothic Victorian London that has just a bit of pervading supernatural.

Miranda Ellis has a touch of paranormal around her. I realize now that we never really learn why or how she has this special gift – or curse – but it never bothered me to not know that while I was reading. I just accepted her, and loved her. She’s a great heroine, strong inside of herself, not afraid of going after what she wants or believes in. But she has a brain in her head, she thinks things through, doesn’t put herself needlessly at risk, and also has such an incredibly generous, accepting heart.

Archer was a mystery much of the book, at least what his affliction was. He wears a mask and covers his skin nearly all of the time, so I pictured him a lot like V from V for Vendetta. But his personality shone through. He’s definitely tortured, a lot of it brought on himself and perhaps more than needs be, but I couldn’t help but feel for him as he struggled with his absolute adoration of Miri, and how to show her that.

Most of the book I spent trying to figure out what was going on with Archer, and what his curse was. The not talking between Miri and Archer about their respective secrets, while understandable considering both of their histories, dragged on just a bit too long for me. I would have liked them to expose themselves fully a bit earlier, however I have to admit that when it did happen I was ecstatic at how it happened, and the resulting scene that was so full of love and acceptance I was teary eyed.

Firelight had such evocative, beautiful prose that it was incredibly hard to put down, and pulled at my mind every moment I was away from it. I can’t wait to read Moonglow which comes out July 31, 2012.

If you’re looking for something different from nearly everything else out there, or just looking for a great read, I highly recommend picking up Firelight by Kristen Callihan!

Grade: B

Book Link | Amazon | Kindle | nook | kobo | Sony | Book Depository | Hachette Book Group

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: In the Penalty Box by Riley Shane

Title: In the Penalty Box
Author: Riley Shane
Series: Seattle Marauders, Book 2
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 5 March 2012
For four years, writer Landon Quinn has struggled to forget the one night he spent with Seattle Marauders defenseman Gregory Samson. Then Landon's life takes an unexpected turn, and he finds himself back in Seattle and face-to-face with the man who broke his heart.

Samson doesn't know what he did to run Landon off all those years ago, but he's sure Landon's leaving was for the best. The bright, beautiful young man Landon had once been was far too adoring, far too open, for the closeted hockey player's peace of mind. The intervening years have only made Landon an even sexier temptation -- and Landon's return presents Samson with a whole new set of problems.

Attraction sizzles between them, but having been burned once by Samson has left Landon twice shy. Even as Samson convinces Landon to let him out of the penalty box and into his life, Samson has to face the fact that his closely guarded secrets may come to light. Caught between the ghosts of his past and the promise of a future with Landon, the hockey star must decide if now that he's come off the bench, he's ready to come out of the closet.
After having read, and loved, the first book in this series (Two-Man Advantage) I was eagerly anticipating reading more. In the Penalty Box doesn't disappoint.
Landon became one of my all-time favorite characters from the very beginning. He hooked me in with his open, giving personality. I loved how he was willing to take a chance, even if it meant he might get hurt worse than he ever had before. His understanding and willingness to work with Samson on his own issues just strengthened the love I had for Landon.

Samson took me a little longer to warm up to. Mostly because I was pissed at him for what he did to Landon in the prologue. And what a gut-wrenching scene that was. Samson doesn't say a single word until the very end of it. And then it's the one thing that would hurt above all others. But Samson definitely grew on me and it didn't take me long to love him too. His reasons for staying in the closet were not only understandable, but heartbreaking. It added layers to him that I wasn't expecting at first. Plus the way that he absolutely adored Landon endeared him to me. When he decides that he can't live without Landon, I'm hooked into their HEA and have no doubts they'll make it. And the scene where Samson 'comes out' to his best friend - one of my absolute favorites, it was so well written.
There are some dark moments for the characters and, I admit, I wondered how this was going to end happily, but Riley Shane not only pulled it off, she had me grinning with joy by the end. I also really liked how Landon's family and the rest of the team were important parts of the story. They added so much, and rounded out the relationships. Neither man was an island and that made their coming together that much more believable.
Riley Shane is one of those few writers that can create characters that not only can I root for, but that feel real - who make mistakes and great accomplishments. Her writing has a depth that pulls you into the story and makes you lose time while devouring it. I've enjoyed each book I've read by her, and am definitely eagerly anticipating more. Highly recommended!!
Grade: A+

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: Magic to the Bone by Devon Monk

Title: Magic to the Bone
Author: Devon Monk
Series: Allie Beckstrom, Book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 4 November 2008

Using magic meant it used you back. Forget the fairy-tale, hocus-pocus, wave a wand and bling-o, sparkles and pixie dust crap. Magic, like booze, sex, and drugs, gave as good as it got.

Everything has a cost. And every act of magic exacts a price from its user - maybe a two-day migraine, or losing the memory of your first kiss. But some people want to use magic without paying, and they Offload the cost onto innocents. When that happens, it falls to a Hound to identify the spell's caster - and Allison Beckstrom's the best there is.

Daughter of a prominent Portland businessman, Allie would rather moonlight as a Hound than accept the family fortune - and the strings that come with it. But when she discovers a little boy dying from a magic Offload that has her father's signature all over it, Allie is thrown into the high-stakes world of corporate espionage and black magic.

Now Allie's out for the truth - and must call upon forces that will challenge everything she knows, change her in ways she could never imagine ... and make her capable of things that powerful people will do anything to control.
Devon Monk has given us a world where magic exists, but it's not a pretty world. There are steep prices for using magic of any sort, and as always, there are ways to circumvent the system. Allie's gift allows her to track those that would wish to hide their magical doings. She prefers to go her own way, forgetting the blood she shares with the man who made harnessing magic possible - her father.

When the story opens it's Allie's birthday, and she's determined to do something nice for herself. Unfortunately, her plans go awry and she ends up getting called out the Hound when a boy gets deathly sick. When that hounding leads her to believe her father is responsible for this illegal Offload, Allie goes to confront him.  Seven years since she's seen him last, and all the old bitterness and disappointment comes back so easily - especially when she finds out her father has hired a man, Zavyion Jones, to trail her. She thought she had all the shocks that would come her way, but she was wrong. It was just beginning.

I really enjoyed that the world the Devon Monk created was gritty. The use of magic left a residue that you could smell and feel in the air, the earth, the water. The characters can set Disbursements that allow the magic offload to be handled in a specific way, sometimes through proxies and sometimes through specific effects on themselves. It's a well realized world, filled to the brim with possibilities. I think there's a lot of room for us to see more here.

I really enjoyed experiencing this book through Allie. She's a strong, stubborn, honorable person. She likes helping people, using her magic to protect and do good, and has her own set of code that she tries to live by. I also really like that she can at turns be impulsive, rash even, and at others she can be extremely cautious. She doesn't mind paying the price for using her magic, accepts it as the cost of living how she wants to. I find this admirable, but I have a problem with it too. One of her major costs of doing magic is memory loss - hours, days, weeks, months? I'm not sure if I can trust her to be a reliable narrator, to actually move forward into any sort of life, and the one thing measure she's taken to make sure she doesn't forget forever is writing in a notebook. But the notes she writes are inconsistent, vague, and not detailed enough, in my opinion. However, this is a minor complaint.

There are some alternating third-person point-of-view scenes in this book too, but they felt unnecessary unless that character comes to be more important in the future.

Then there's Zavyion. Allie was very drawn to him from the beginning, even against her own better judgement. He's an intriguing character. I feel like we didn't get to know enough about him as he spent a good portion of the book evading answering any questions. But I do know that his actions spoke fairly loud and I want to know him more.

The pacing of the story felt a little slow to me. While I was curious the entire time I was reading, it took me about 90 pages to really get interested in what was going to happen. What I didn't like is that there seemed to be far too much talk, and little action. Allie does some magic and then spends the next 75 pages talking about what she learned, what it could mean, what she should do now. I would have liked some more action. Though I can appreciate that a first book in a series is going to take some time setting everything up.

Overall, I enjoyed this intro to Allie Beckstrom's world, though I felt there were some areas that could have drawn me in even more. If you're looking for a gritty world with depth, and a strong heroine, then I'd definitely recommend trying Devon Monk's Magic to the Bone.

Grade: B-

Book Link | Amazon | Kindle | nook | kobo | Sony | Book Depository | ROC

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Victorian Valentine by Riley Shane (and Giveaway!)

Title: Victorian Valentine
Author: Riley Shane
Genre: Historical MM Romance
Release Date: 10 February 2012
Price: $1.99

February 14, 1860:

When Lord Christopher Norcutt finds a valentine in his bedroom, he believes it must have been left there by mistake; fourth sons of earls who prefer the company of other men are not the sort to attract admirers. But the secret valentine only marks the beginning of an unusual day for Christopher. As Christopher sets off to fulfill an obligation to his brother, a second valentine comes into his possession — this one discovered in a place that has meaning only to Christopher and his lover, Jack Ashton. Does a Valentine’s Day surprise await Christopher at the end of his journey?

Victorian Valentine is a short, incredibly sweet, beautiful romance. I was really happy for the happiness that Christopher and Jack were able to find. The story is told from Christopher's point of view, and I really just enjoyed every moment spent with him. I would love to see more of these two at some point. I'd also really love to see more of Christopher's family (and perhaps even Jack's twin brother...)

I can't wait to read what Riley Shane delivers next.

Grade: A+

Book Link | MLR Press

Anyone who is interested in trying out a Riley Shane novel (on me), I'll give you your pick if you win. The following are available:

Two-Man Advantage - M/M Contemporary Romance (sports: hockey)
Chasing Alex - M/M Contemporary Romance (cowboy)
International Relations (Book 1)- M/M Contemporary Romance
Winter Wonderland (Book 2)- M/M Contemporary Romance
The Taste of Magick - M/M Paranormal Romance (witches/warlocks)
Blood Rose (Realm of Nine, Book 1) - M/F Paranormal Romance
Victorian Valentine - M/M Historical Romance

Just leave a comment below (make sure you leave some way for me to get in contact with you!) Giveaway ends February 28th, 2012.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review: Fate's Edge by Ilona Andrews

Title: Fate's Edge
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: Edge, Book 3
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Release Date: 29 November 2011

Audrey Callahan left behind her life in the Edge, and she's determined to stay on the straight and narrow. But when her brother gets into hot water, the former thief takes on one last heist and finds herself matching wits with a jack of all trades...

Kaldar Mar-a gambler, lawyer, thief, and spy-expects his latest assignment tracking down a stolen item to be a piece of cake, until Audrey shows up. But when the item falls into the hands of a lethal criminal, Kaldar realizes that in order to finish the job, he's going to need Audrey's help…

This book started a bit slow for me. There was quite a bit in the beginning in Jack and George's POV, which was interesting, but I was really looking forward to getting to the story.

Once Kaldar - what a great character, full of life, charm, and loyalty - and Audrey met the story really picked up and I couldn't stop turning pages, staying up far into the night to continue reading.

If you've read Bayou Moon you know Kaldar of the Mar family. He's taken a job with the Mirror in order to gain his vengeance on the Hand. The Hand had dwindled the numbers of his family, killing a favored aunt, in their last meeting. Kaldar is determined to make every last one of them pay. He's the same charming, smooth-talking grifter that he always was, and watching him work his own particular brand of magic was a pure delight.

While Kaldar treasures family and would do anything for them, Audrey comes from the opposite side of that coin. She only wants to be left alone by her family. She'll do anything to get them to forget she exists, including one last job, where her picklock experience is needed. When the job is over and she goes home she has no idea that her life as she knew it is all but over. Regret, duty, and just a little bit of thrill compel her back into the field to right the wrongs she unknowingly spurred.

Seeing the ultimate conman meet his match in another of his kind was brilliant. They knew each other so well because they were so like one another. They fit together perfectly. With hills and valleys to fill the other. Watching them go from mild flirting, to desperate wanting, to true desire and finally love was like a pot of water slowly brought to boil. The heat built and my anticipation with it.

The world continues to be first rate, switching between the Broken, the Edge, and the Weird smoothly. New characters pop up to make things interesting, and known characters continue to make themselves a part of the story.

Fate's Edge was a thrilling roller-coaster ride of intrigue, locks, spells, battles and love to the end. I can't wait to see what Ilona Andrews has in store for us next in The Edge.

Grade: A-

Book Link | Amazon | Kindle | nook | kobo | Sony | Book Depository | Ace Books

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review: Blood Rose by Riley Shane

Title: Blood Rose
Author: Riley Shane
Series: Realm of Nine, Book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 29 November 2011

To save his people, a half-mad prince must enlist the aid of a woman who has no reason to help him...and who he has every reason to desire.

At sixteen, Rose Carrison lost both her parents and her freedom. Since her father’s death, Rose has had to pick up the mantle of her family’s legacy and guard an object of incredible power, one the monsters who murdered her parents would kill to get their hands on. After ten years on the run, Rose’s luck finally runs out. A fate worse than death threatens to consume her. Then, out of the darkness, comes the most unlikely of rescuers...

Grayson van Court is a man skating on the edge of damnation. He’s a revenant: a powerful, blood-drinking, returned-from-the-dead, magical creature that no other magical species wants anything to do with. For centuries, Gray has bargained and fought for the revenants’ right to survive, but his efforts are hampered by his sociopathic mother and the madness that permeates his own soul. When Gray rescues Rose from his mother’s machinations, his intention is only to stop the attacks against his people that would surely come if Rose were harmed. But then he sees her, and everything changes. Two people who should never have met soon find themselves fighting side-by-side for the chance at a love that could prove to be their salvation.

I have to start this off talking about the two main characters - who drive this story. When we first, really, meet Rose, she's a young woman that's having everything stripped from her. Her family is dead, her control over her life is done, and her very survival is dependent on those more powerful. She's just a human, surrounded by eight species that are all contain magic and strength in abundance. But that doesn't take anything away from her. She's strong, with opinions of her own, smart, able to reason through things others often overlook, and incredibly caring.

Gray is honorable at his core, but he's fighting a pretty damning madness - one that's threatening to overtake him. While fighting for his people, against his mother no less, he certainly doesn't need anything more pulling at him. Honor pulls his to rescue Rose, but then he gets something he never bargained for. Rose pulls him, eases him, challenges him as nothing ever before. He's thrilled by this, and scared by the possibility of following a little too closely to his father's footsteps. The line he walks between good and evil is as sharp as a blade, and I was pulling for him to overcome everything and get his happiness throughout the book - even when I sometimes wondered how that'd come to be.

The Realm of Nine is the world that Rose and Gray inhabit. So called because of the Nine species that make up the balance of magic: Fae, Elf, Shifter, Merrow, Sylph, Shadowkin, Goblins, Witches/Revenants, and Humans. I loved how the world was, at the same time, incredibly intricate and detailed, and practical and easy to understand. Everything made sense within the world, I never felt lost on how the magic worked or why, and there's definitely enough there to keep me wanting more. With so many species in the world, I know that Ms. Shane has a lot more up her sleeves for me to learn!

Blood Rose fairly thrums with tension, from beginning to end! I couldn't wait to see how Rose and Gray could work through their incredible difficulties and tasks. And they never let me down. One of the true pleasures of this story was seeing them work as a team. They went from attraction, to lust (oh-so-sexy times!), to love beautifully. It was easy to see why they fell in love with each other, because they fit one another.

Because I usually like to know this, there is some deception (by omission) in this story. While this is usually a hot-button issue for me, I thought it was well done, the reasoning for it was completely understandable, and it was perfectly handled. In fact, I'd say this is how it should be done.

I'm so excited to see where Ms. Shane takes me next in the Realm of Nine. I'm particularly interesting in a certain cousin to Gray - and definitely interested in the mystery that pops up near the end. I've got some ideas and can't wait to see if I end up right!

Highly, highly recommend for those looking for an excellent paranormal romance. This one has everything I look for. Characters you can love and root for, a world you could live in, and tight plotting that keeps you turning pages.

Grade: A+

Book Link | KindleSony | Loose Id

Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Lothaire by Kresley Cole

Title: Lothaire
Author: Kresley Cole
Series: Immortals After Dark, Book 12
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 10 January 2012

From the humblest of beginnings a millennia ago, Lothaire the Enemy of Old rose to power, becoming the most feared and evil vampire in the immortal world. Driven by his past, he will not rest until he captures the vampire Horde’s crown for himself. The discovery of his Bride, the female meant only for him, threatens to derail his plot.

Elizabeth Peirce is a mere mortal, a glaring vulnerability for a male with so many blood foes bent on annihilating anything he desires. Yet soon he discovers his Bride’s secret. A magnificent power dwells inside the fragile human, one that will aid his quest. But to possess that power, he will have to destroy her. Will Lothaire succumb to the torments of his past, or seize a future with her?

I started Lothaire with a huge sense of expectation, and finished it out of breath after being unable to put it down.

Lothaire is great - don't expect too much reformation from him. He's still the same great character that, if you're like me, we've always loved. He's a smart-ass, brilliant, a consummate strategist, and a collector of debts.

His heroine's fantastic. She's totally underestimated, and extremely intelligent and able to see clearly through people and situations. She has a great instinct and she isn't afraid to follow it. I really like her. While the 'hill-billy' drawl (she's from the Appalachian Mountains) was sparingly used, it did get on my nerves having it typed. Of course I prefer to imagine Scottish brogues instead of reading them phonetically.

The sexy times in this book are off the wall hot. I've seen some compare it to dubious consent, and I guess I can see that, but I'd consider it more of a mutual using for personal gains. I think it works, and can appreciate what each hopes to gain, as well as how it moves them closer to their HEA.

But my favorite part was watching Lothaire be totally caught off guard by Ellie. Their verbal sparing and discussions were a true delight. They fit each other.

Some other perpetually favorite characters make appearances, as well as a whole host of new characters. The Dacian that we meet will apparently feature in Ms. Cole's new series - Realm of Blood and Mist - which starts with Shadow's Claim due August 21, 2012.

I enjoyed every moment of reading, though thinking back it doesn't seem like much happens, the story moved along at a good pace. However, I did finish it feeling like there was that indefinable something missing from this book. I still can't lay a finger on what exactly, but there was that little bit that takes a great book to truly amazing - and it wasn't here.

I'm positively on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens with Nix, and Furie, Kristoff and a whole host of other characters that are soon to be hugely affected by events that occur in Lothaire.

Lothaire's another wonderful entry meaning this continues to be one of the strongest series I read. The world building and time lines continue to be true to themselves, and the characters remain interesting and layered.

Grade: A-

Book Link | Amazon | Kindle | nook | kobo | Sony | Book Depository | Gallery Books

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 New-To-Me Author Challenge

I've tried this previously, but never with much success. However after seeing how many new-to-me authors I tried last year, I'm determined to try again this year. I found quite a few new favorites among authors I'd never read before last year, so I'm looking forward to a great amount of the same success this year.

The Challenge: Read 20 or more books this year by authors you’ve never read before.

Dates: January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012

My List:
1. Author: Krystle Jones
Title: The Scarlet Dagger (Red Sector Chronicles, Book 1)

2. Author: Michele Zurlo
Title: Yes, Justin (Safe Word: Oasis, Book 1)

3. Author: Cari Silverwood
Title: Iron Dominance

4. Author:

5. Author:

6. Author:

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8. Author:

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10. Author:

11. Author:

12. Author:

13. Author:

14. Author:

15. Author:

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20. Author:

2012 Books Read

A friend of mine, Kat lists the books - in order - that she reads each year. I thought this would be fun, so I've decided to do it too.

This list is only of books and novellas I've read and finished (though if I read an entire anthology, I list only the anthology title). The books are listed in the order I read them.

Additionally, at Goodreads I've challenged myself to read 225 books this year (which is 25 more than I read last year).

There are sure to be many wonderful books on the list, but the ones with a ** by them are ones I highly recommend.

  1. Gift of Magic (Nine Kingdoms, Book 6) by Lynn Kurland - 4 January
  2. Beauty and the Black Sheep (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 1) by Jessica Bird - 4 January
  3. His Comfort and Joy (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 2) by Jessica Bird - 5 January
  4. From the First (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 3) by Jessica Bird - 5 January
  5. A Man in a Million (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 4) by Jessica Bird - 6 January
  6. The Billionaire Next Door (O'Banyon Brothers, Book 1) by Jessica Bird - 7 January
  7. Club Shadowlands (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 1) by Cherise Sinclair - 7 January
  8. Dark Citadel (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 2) by Cherise Sinclair - 8 January
  9. Breaking Free (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 3) by Cherise Sinclair - 9 January
  10. Lean on Me (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 4) by Cherise Sinclair - 10 January
  11. Make Me, Sir (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 5) by Cherise Sinclair - 11 January
  12. To Command and Collar (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 6) by Cherise Sinclair - 11 January
  13. Lothaire (Immortals After Dark, Book 12) by Kresley Cole - 12 January
  14. On the Edge (Edge, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews - 14 January
  15. Blood Rose (Realm of Nine, Book 1) by Riley Shane - 14 January
  16. Bayou Moon (Edge, Book 2) by Ilona Andrews - 16 January
  17. Fate's Edge (Edge, Book 3) by Ilona Andrews - 18 January
  18. The Scarlet Dagger (Red Sector Chronicles, Book 1) - 22 January
  19. Yes, Justin (Safe Word: Oasis, Book 1) b Michele Zurlo - 23 January
  20. By My Side (Safe Word: Oasis, Book 2) by Michele Zurlo - 6 February
  21. Time Out by Jill Shalvis - 7 February
  22. Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell - 7 February
  23. "A Questionable Client" (Kate Daniels, Book 0.5) by Ilona Andrews - 8 February
  24. Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews - 8 February
  25. Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, Book 2) by Ilona Andrews - 9 February
  26. Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, Book 3) by Ilona Andrews - 9 February
  27. "Magic Mourns" (Kate Daniels, Book 3.5) by Ilona Andrews - 9 February
  28. Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, Book 4) by Ilona Andrews - 10 February
  29. "Curran" (Kate Daniels, 4.1) by Ilona Andrews - 10 February
  30. "Fathers and Sons" (Kate Daniels, 4.2) by Ilona Andrews - 10 February
  31. "Magic Dreams" (Kate Daniels, Book 4.5) by Ilona Andrews - 11 February
  32. Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, Book 5) by Ilona Andrews - 12 February
  33. "Magic Gifts" (Kate Daniels, Book 5.5) by Ilona Andrews - 13 February
  34. Victorian Valentine by Riley Shane - 14 February
  35. Captivated (Donovans, Book 1) by Nora Roberts - 15 February
  36. Entranced (Donovans, Book 2) by Nora Roberts - 15 February
  37. Charmed (Donovans, Book 3) by Nora Roberts - 16 February
  38. Enchanted (Donovans, Book 4) by Nora Roberts - 16 February
  39. Iron Dominance by Cari Silverwood - 17 February
  40. One Night Stand by Cassandra Gold - 18 February
  41. Magic to the Bone (Allie Beckstrom, Book 1) by Devon Monk - 20 February
  42. Storm Front (Dresden Files, Book 1) by Jim Butcher - 22 February

2012 A to Z Challenge

I've really enjoyed this the last two years I've participated:

Challenge Details:
1. January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012
2. Read 26 books (or more) with titles that begin with the letters of the alphabet.
3. You may ignore articles like A, An and The at the beginning of the title.
4. For 'X' - read any book that has an 'X' in the title.
5.You can sign up anytime. Please only list books you have read. You can read them in any order.
6. A book only counts once, so you can include a re-read the first time you read it.

A - 

B - Beauty and the Black Sheep (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 1) by Jessica Bird - 4 January

C - Club Shadowlands (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 1) by Cherise Sinclair - 7 January

D - Dark Citadel (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 2) by Cherise Sinclair - 8 January

E - Entranced (Donovans, Book 2) by Nora Roberts - 15 February

F - From the First (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 3) by Jessica Bird - 5 January

G - Gift of Magic (Nine Kingdoms, Book 6) by Lynn Kurland - 3 January

H - His Comfort and Joy (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 2) by Jessica Bird - 5 January

I - Iron Dominance by Cari Silverwood - 17 February

J -

K -

L - Lean on Me (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 4) by Cherise Sinclair - 10 January

M - A Man in a Million (Moorehouse Legacy, Book 4) by Jessica Bird - 6 January

N -

O - On the Edge (Edge, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews - 14 January

P -

Q - "A Questionable Client" (Kate Daniels, Book 0.5) by Ilona Andrews - 8 February

R -

S - The Scarlet Dagger (Red Sector Chronicles, Book 1) by Krystle Jones - 22 January

T - Time Out by Jill Shalvis - 7 February

U -

V - Victorian Valentine by Riley Shane - 14 February

W -

X -

Y - Yes, Justin (Safe Word: Oasis, Book 1) by Michele Zurlo - 23 January

Z -

2011: Best Of...

2011 was a year full of extreme highs, and bitterly disappointing lows. I've been doing a 'Best Of' post for a couple of years now, but I'm going to change the format a bit.

A good friend of mine, Kat at Wit and Sin organized hers beautifully - and we all know I can't resist something that's perfectly organized.

Number of books I read (not including re-reads): 202
Number of new-to-me authors I read: 39

Favorite New-to-Me Authors of 2011: Jim Butcher, C.C. Galloway, Kevin Hearne, Josh Lanyon, Sarah MacLean, Nicole Sheldon

Favorite Authors of 2011: Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Kresley Cole, Lynn Kurland, Karen Marie Moning, Riley Shane, Nalini Singh

Solid Read Authors Discovered: Jennifer Estep, Elle Kennedy, Jill Shalvis, C.L. Wilson

Now for the really fun part. I've included not only my favorite new books for 2011 - some of which weren't published in 2011 because I've just found them - books that nearly made the list, and because this year was filled with some horrible let-downs, the Disappointments category. I've never listed one before, and even as I hit 'publish' I'm wondering if I should now...

My Top 25 Books of 2011 (new to me)
Note: Because I hate ranking my favorites, at any time, these are listed in alphabetical order by author (and if needed in series order).

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, Book 5) by Ilona Andrews

I loved this newest addition to the Kate Daniels world. Like each previous edition, it kept me turning pages. In my opinion you can't get better than the combination of fantastic characters and a solid, fascinating world than this series.

River Marked (Mercy Thompson, Book 6) by Patricia Briggs

One of my favorite series - Patricia Briggs consistently delivers strong books with two of my favorite characters. I loved that we got so much time with Adam and Mercy together in this one.

Hunting Grounds (Alpha & Omega, Book 3) by Patricia Briggs

Even though Ms. Briggs is one of my favorite authors I'd avoided this series since the beginning. I think because I didn't feel that there was any possible way she could deliver two awesome series simultaneously. I'm so happy to know that I was wrong. Charles and Anna have joined the ranks of my favorite characters.

Heart of Steel (Iron Seas, Book 2) by Meljean Brook

Ever since I first met Yasmeen in The Iron Duke I've been wanting to read more about her, spend more time with her, and see her find the man who would compliment her. I loved everything about this book.

Storm Front (Dresden Files, Book 1) by Jim Butcher

This series has been on my radar for a long time. I've heard nothing but good things about it and was slightly trepidatious about starting it. I worried it wouldn't live up to what I'd heard. But Harry Dresden is a fantastic character and I can't wait to read more about him.

Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark, Book 11) by Kresley Cole

I stopped reading this series for a while - around book 5 - and just recently started my catch up again this year. Luckily I had 6 books to devour. They were all fantastic, but there was something extra special about this book. I wasn't sure how Ms. Cole was going to handle the redemption of the hero. I went into it thinking it was going to be a very hard sell. I was amazed that she not only pulled it off, she did it beautifully.

Hail Mary (Portland Tide, Book 1) by C.C. Galloway

It's so hard to find good contemporary romances. I grabbed this one because it's a sports romance too. The characters are great and it's obvious that C.C. Galloway knows her football, which is a refreshing change from a lot of sports romances I've read. I can't wait to read more from her.

Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 1) by Kevin Hearne

One of my favorite finds of 2011, this series is something fresh and new and interesting. It runs the line between fantasy and urban fantasy. Atticus is a 2,100 year-old druid - the last of his kind. With a deep connection to the earth, both drawing power for his magic from it and feeling the need to protect it, Atticus has been on the run from an angry Celtic god. And now he's been found.

Hexed (Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 2) by Kevin Hearne

Witches. Fallen Angels. And Hunters of darkness. Atticus can't catch a break and gets tangled in a mess that he didn't ask for. But he won't back down from it.

Hammered (Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 3) by Kevin Hearne

This series just keeps getting better and better. I can't wait to see what happens with Atticus next!

One Enchanted Evening (DePiaget/MacLeod, Book 21) by Lynn Kurland

This is one of my favorite authors. I found her a few years ago, in a book swap library at work. I'm so grateful I did. I fell a bit behind in her series of books, so I was playing catch up in 2011. Finally, finally I got to Montgomery's book - who I'd been looking forward to since I first met him. I was so happy to see he got a heroine that was perfect for him.

The Adrien English Series by Josh Lanyon - I'm cheating here and putting a whole series, because honestly, I can't choose a favorite out of it. I think this was the find of 2011 for me. (Includes 5 books: Fatal Shadows, A Dangerous Thing, The Hell You Say, The Death of a Pirate King, and The Dark Tide)

This is a fantastic series. Romance, mysteries, heartache and, best of all, a happy ending. I've been glomming up Josh Lanyon's extensive back list ever since I finished it. Adrien and Jake are still my favorite though.

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love by Numbers, Book 1) by Sarah MacLean

What a great set of characters! This was a fun, diverting historical romance. Callie and Gabriel were perfect for each other. I'd thought that I had burnt myself out on historical romances long ago. The title of this was what made me decide to give it a chance - and I'm so glad I did. Honestly, this one book made Ms. MacLean an auto-buy author for me. I've been trying to space out her other books, but I've already bought books 2 and 3 to read.

Shadowfever (Fever Series, Book 5) by Karen Marie Moning

A journey started in 2006. I eagerly awaited each installment in Mac's story, and the final year for the concluding story was by far the most interesting. We'd learned so much, but had many more questions. There was a lot I looked forward to, but mostly I wanted to see Mac hold that happiness that she'd been fighting for.

This book blew me away. I was sure my expectations were going to ruin it, but this finish made it my all-time favorite series.

Two-Man Advantage (Seattle Marauders, Book 1) by Riley Shane

After reading The Taste of Magick last year, I was so ecstatic to see another book coming from Riley Shane. AND it was a romance with hockey, which I love. It was an absolute joy to read this story, and I'm happy to say that there are more coming. Thankfully the next Seattle Marauders book is already scheduled (In the Penalty Box coming in March 2012).

Read my review here

Chasing Alex by Riley Shane

A quick reunion story that was sexy and satisfying.

Read my review here

Blood Rose (Realm of Nine, Book 1) by Riley Shane

The first m/f paranormal romance from Ms. Shane. Just wow. I love the world, the characters and the story. I can't wait to see more in this series. I'm especially looking forward to Cáel right now. Though there are quite a few others that have me intrigued.

International Relations (International Relations, Book 1) by Riley Shane

Beautiful start to the story of Connor and Delaney. I loved that the second book in the series came out so closely after this one, because I was excited to see what had happened to this couple I fell in love with.

Winter Wonderland (International Relations, Book 2) by Riley Shane

Years later. Such a sweet story. Even better than the first. I hope we get to visit Delaney and Connor again! Right now there's a story planned for this summer.

Unlikely Protector by Nicole Sheldon

An exciting novella by a debut author. I expect great things if this is how it starts. Nicole Sheldon created a believable, detailed world and kept me  eagerly turning pages caught up in the story and the characters lives.  I've got a couple of full length novels to look forward to this year, according to her website and I can't wait to see where she takes me next!

Read my review here

Make Me, Sir (Masters of the Shadowlands, Book 5) by Cherise Sinclair

When a friend first recommend Cherise Sinclair to me, I didn't know what to expect. What I got was a fantastically layered set of stories set in the BDSM lifestyle that soon became the bar I measured every other BDSM themed erotica by. I look for erotica that doesn't just have sex for sex's sake, but for the very vital reason of furthering the plot, character development or arc. Ms. Sinclair delivers. And this story delivered a compelling suspense story-line too.

Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter, Book 3) by Nalini Singh

It's probably no surprise how huge a fan I am of Nalini Singh. She consistently writes books that keep me up well into the night. I've long considered her a master of the perfect balance of world and characters. Not only does this book have one of the most beautiful, fitting covers I've ever seen, the story inside is not to be missed.

Read my review here

Kiss of Snow (Psy-Changelings, Book 10) by Nalini Singh

Another highly anticipated book this year. I've been waiting for Hawke's story since I first met him back in book 1, Slave to Sensation. Ms. Singh didn't let me down. This is one of my favorites of the series.

Read my review here

Archangel's Blade (Guild Hunter, Book 4) by Nalini Singh

Not one, not two, but THREE full length novels that absolutely blew me away. Dmitri was another favorite from the first meeting. I loved everything about this book, most especially his heroine - Honor. I loved it so much that immediately upon finishing it I started at the beginning again.

Read my review here

Lord of the Fading Lands (Tarien Soul, Book 1) by C.L. Wilson

I'm always on the look out for fantasy romance novels. For some reason they seem to be few and far between. I'd had this entire series on my shelf for more than a year before some random urge made me pick it up. And once I started I couldn't stop. This book made me stay up all night reading, until I had to get in the shower to go to work the next day.

Honorable Mentions
Note: These are the books that were just shy of being on my 'Best of' list. I couldn't not mention them, because they're fantastic books.

Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, Book 1) by Ann Aguirre

I'm not usually into science fiction. I think they have a tendency to get a bit too technical for my tastes. However, I gave this one a shot after much prodding. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out how wrong I was. This book has some fantastic characters, and interesting plot, and a really detailed (without being overly so) world. I'm looking forward to reading further in this series, and more by this author.

Bayou Moon (The Edge, Book 2) by Ilona Andrews

I read On the Edge, the first book in the series before ever starting the Kate Daniels series and absolutely loved it. So when this second book came out I was so excited. William is a great hero and Cerise is an interesting, awesome heroine. I've quickly come to the conclusion that I love almost everything by the writing team that is Ilona Andrews.

Geist (Book of the Order, Book 1) by Philippa Ballantine

I admit I was first drawn to this book because of the cover. But Philippa Ballantine quickly drew me into an intricate world with geists (ghosts) and those that protect people from them - called Deacons. Following along after Deacon Sorcha's husband was gravely injured in a geist attack and seeing her battle ghosts, possessed sea creatures and deal with devious humans, all with a new partner in Deacon Merrick was truly gripping.

Demon From the Dark (Immortals After Dark, Book 10) by Kresley Cole

Malkom, the hero of this story, is one of my favorite characters ever. He made me love him from the first. Ms. Cole handles her intricate over-arcing plot beautifully. When I think about the details and timeline she's keeping straight it amazes me. I'm so glad I'm able to read something so, seemingly, well thought out and planned.

 Read my review here

Spider's Revenge (Elemental Assassin, Book 5) by Jennifer Estep

This entire series is enjoyable, if with some flaws, but by the fifth book Ms. Estep brought the main arc to an amazing conclusion. There are more books scheduled and I'm excited to see where Gin goes next.

The Out of Uniform Series by Elle Kennedy - Again with the cheating on my listing, but I eminently enjoyed this series and read them one after the other this year. (Includes 6 books: Heat of the Moment, Heat of Passion, Heat of the Storm, Heat It Up, Heat of the Night, and The Heat is On)

This series was a lot of fun to read. There was very real chemistry and palpable feelings between the characters in this series. I look forward to reading more of her work...after re-reading these, of course.

Spellweaver (Nine Kingdoms, Book 5) by Lynn Kurland

This is actually the second book in the second trilogy set in the Nine Kingdoms world. I won't say too much because I don't want to spoil the first series at all, but the Nine Kingdoms is probably my favorite fantasy romance series. Great characters that make me fall in love with them.

The Perils of Pleasure (Pennroyal Green, Book 1) by Julie Anne Long

While there is suspense in this historical romance, I loved that the characters still actually fell in love - not just lust. I was rooting for them the whole way through and look forward to more from Julie Anne Long.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice, Book 1) by George R.R. Martin

I started this book because of the (then) upcoming HBO series. Full of politics and intrigue, I was mostly drawn in by the characters. I've decided to read a book just before each new season starts, and I'm excited to see where we go next.
Be warned: If you need to know that your favorite characters are going to be okay, this is probably not the series for you. Mr. Martin has no qualms about killing off beloved characters.

Initiate (The Unfinished Song, Book 1) by Tara Maya

I started this book excited by the fresh book description. While it starts out a little slow (probably to be expected with it being the first book in a planned 12 book series), I was soon drawn in and couldn't put down my Kindle. I'm looking forward to reading much more from this author about these engaging characters.

Read my review here

Instant Attraction (Wilder Brothers, Book 1) by Jill Shalvis

A fun contemporary romance set against the backdrop of the Sierra Mountains. Katie and Cameron are both recovering from tragic events that have affected them deeply. Seeing them find peace and happiness with them was a true joy.


Living on the Edge (Edge, Book 1) by Shannon K. Butcher

I actually wanted to read the Sentinel series by Ms. Butcher, but this was available at the time I looked. It sounded like a good romantic suspense so I decided to give it a shot. After getting more than halfway through I decided I just couldn't finish it. I was just extremely bored throughout and decided this wasn't for me.

This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 5) by Jeaniene Frost

I've enjoyed the first 4 books in this series quite a bit. But this one was a huge disappointment to me. There was something missing here, and I'm still not quite sure what. There's something that kept me from being engaged in the story and characters here. I just didn't really care. I still look forward to each new release by Ms. Frost.

How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf, Book 1) by Molly Harper

Perhaps expectations were high for me on this one. I'd heard a lot about the humor of Molly Harper and was looking forward to a good book filled with laugh-out-loud moments. What I got was a bland story, filled with exposition, and what humor there was felt forced.

Dragon Bound (Elder Races, Book 1) by Thea Harrison

There was a ton of love of this book around the blog-o-sphere, but I had far too many problems with it.

Read my review here

Ascension (World of Ascension, Book 1) by Caris Roane

There was a lot of potential here, but the confusing, inconsistent world building and characters that seemed to act in strange ways kept me from really enjoying this book. I'll be happy to give something else of Ms. Roane's a chance in the future.

Shadow Kin (Half-Light City, Book 1) by M.J. Scott

Technical problems kept me from getting into this story, and made it far too easy for me to pick at the flaws that I saw. No seeming direction to the plot, erratic world building, and characters that were both weak and assholes left me with nothing to enjoy.

Read my review here

The disappointments were extremely disappointing, but looking at this list it's easy for me to see that there were far more great moments than bad. I'm looking forward to an even better year in 2012!!

What were some of your favorite, or disappointing, reads of 2011. What are you looking forward to in 2012?

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