woensdag 31 augustus 2011

Robin D. Owens – Heart Duel

The third book in the Celta series, published April 2004.

Heart Duel

Healer Lark Collinson hates the street duelling that is a way of life among the noble families on Celta -- it was just such a skirmish that killed her Healer husband and left her a grieving widow. The last thing she wants is to love a man to whom fighting is a way of life -- a man like the brashly confident Holm Holly.

All it takes is one brief touch for Holm to know that Lark is his HeartMate, though wooing her will be his greatest challenge. For not only does she despise everything he represents, but the long-standing feud between their families has exploded into even greater violence. Their destiny has been revealed...but at what cost to their own hearts?

Mayblossom Larkspur Bella Hawthorn Collinson, first daughter of T’Hawthorn hates her first name, and is mostly called Lark. She is a rare first grade Healer, and against the wishes of her father, she married a commoner, who had enough Flair to become a first grade Healer as well. But he died three years ago in a stupid duel by some nobles, and ever since Lark despises the nobles. They are thoughtless, and reckless and care for nothing but their own wants.
But she is lonely, and both her father T’Hawthorne as her maternal grandfather T’Heather have asked her to come live with them. Lark likes her freedom and really doesn’t want to do that, but she may have no choice in the matter. Her grandfather is also her boss, head of the Healers, and even though she has applied for the head Healer position in another city, her grandfather has a lot to say about that.
And now there is Holm Holly, determined to wiggle his way into her life. Yes, there is a lot of heat between them, but there is also an escalating feud between their two families, their fathers hate each other. So what does he want with her? He can have whomever he wants in his bed.

Holm Holly, HollyHeir, the first son and heir of T’Holly. His parents are HeartMates, and his three Passages have not revealed the existence of one for him, so he has known all along that he would have to marry for alliances. But now it seems he does have a HeartMate. She is apparently an older soul than he is, and he had to grow to find her in this life. And his involuntary journey with his brother Tinne in the previous book did the trick. He has found his HeartMate, but the wooing will certainly not be easy. Lark hates fighters as a Healer, and she dislikes nobles because her husband died for no reason at all, but wanting to stop a duelling pair. He is fighting her family, her father, her brother and cousins, because of the feud between them. He has no choice, as he is considered the best fighter on Celta.

The young T’Vine, the new and very powerful Seer, gives both Lark and Holly a kitten, two brothers. He knows about their HeartMate status, and tells Holly they will help him in his courtship. And so Holly sets out to court Lark, whom he calls Bella. She hates her firstname Mayflower, and he wants to call her something else, something no one else has named her before, especially her late husband. He sets out to impress her, which is also not a simple thing to do. He overwhelms her with gifts, hundreds of roses, lovely pastries (which his kitten gets to first), music written by his mother, and finally some lovely calligraphy texts, which is his other less well known talent. Lark loves to sail, solar sail that is, with wings and air currents, while Holm prefer sailing the sea in a boat. So when he joins her and her former sister in law, he wears a really outdated costume, and has to spend a lot of Flair used to stay airborne. But he improves rapidly, until an accident happens and it is Lark who saves them all. His ego just can’t handle that.

Then D’Holly gets stabbed by Lark’s young nephew, the FirstSon of HawthornHeir, and the feud escalates. Lark has to spend all her Healing Flair and time trying to heal D’Holly, and so do a lot of other Healers. But to no avail, as the dagger was poisoned with something unknown and a spell. Holm sees his father’s suffering when his HeartMate is dying, and knows if he loses his mother, his father will follow within the year, as so is the HeartMate Bond. Does he really want this for himself? The Bond between him and Lark is strong, but not irrevocable yet. So when he has finally made up his mind, he goes for it, not caring for Lark’s protests. He will win his Lady.

I liked Lark a lot in this story. She is strong and independent, and she thinks of the consequences of her actions with Holm, something Holm really doesn’t care about. I found him selfish a lot, and very demanding of her. She has to allow him to touch her, physically, or mentally so he will know what she feels and/or thinks. He is the guy who won’t take no for an answer, but he does not cross the line into forcing her. He also doubts himself too much to my liking. He has this picture of himself that he has to be perfect, and his younger brother has rescued him instead of he rescuing his brother, which really bothers him. And so he SleepShifts (instead of sleepwalking) to the Great Labyrinth.
I liked this different side of the world, Lark who can easily start her own GreatHouse, but is content working with the poor, Healing them. And arrogant Holm Holly, who really gets toned down in the end.
Of course, we meet the previous main characters again in this book, and had two new adorable kittens to love and laugh at. I am really curious about the next book, not a clue who those heroes will be.

Have I mentioned before, that this society is loosely based on Wicca, when Earth Wiccans left to create their own world? With lots of Celtic names used for the towns and other places? With rituals, honouring the Goddess and the God? Rituals of Healing?

9 stars.

maandag 29 augustus 2011

Robin D. Owens – Heart Thief

The second book in the Celta series, published June 2003.

Heart Thief

Ruis Elder never asked for his unusual trait – the ability to neutralize other’s psychic talents. Because of this, he has always been hated in his own homeland, destined to roam the harsh planet alone. But trouble finds him in front of the ruling Council – and face-to-face with the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. There’s only one problem: Ailim is on the opposite side of the bench…
Ailim has never before felt such passion coursing through her as she feels in Ruis’s presence. And she never thought she would – at least not with a man so far beneath her station, a man who does not even have psychic powers. But even on the planet Celta, love is blind to such details. Separately, Ailim and Ruis must forgo their old lives. But together, they can take on the world …

Ruis Elder is a Null, someone who not only has no Flair (= magic) of his own, he also negates Flair used around him. Both in negating spells, as in making other people unable to use their Flair. People are afraid of him and his anti-powers, and he has been an outcast ever since his “gift” was discovered. His uncle Bucus T’Elder has been trying to kill him for years, and now as Captain of the Council, he is more powerful than ever. Ruis is filled with anger, always hiding and moving. His only solace is finding old Earth made machinery and fixing it. So he needs to steal, not only for food but to be able to buy parts for his machinery. And now he has been caught, and will face death or banishment in the next hour.
Ailim D’SilverFir is a Supreme Judge, but has just elevated to head of her House. A house in deep financial trouble, and she has to beg the council for a loan. A very big loan. But the only other option is selling the Family Residence, and that is just not done. The HouseHeart is in the Family Residence, one of the most important things in the lives of a Noble.
Ailim is a telempath, able to hear thoughts and feel emotions from others, so she has to go tightly shielded through life, though in her work as a Judge, those powers are very valuable. Knowing when somebody is lying, and finding out what really happens. But it is also very draining. So when Ailim meets Ruis, she has no idea why she feels so peaceful, why it is so quiet around him, but she loves it. And she cannot sense what he is thinking or feeling, which is a novel experience for her.
Ruis is equally affected by this beautiful young woman, and for the first time in his life he is being treated like a normal human being, even though he is chained up. Ailim manages to keep the guards from abusing him even more when Ruis is lead into the council chambers for his trial. His uncle wants him executed, he really hates Ruis with a passion, and for no other reason than his existence. He denies Ruis the Elder name, but the council decides for banishment for his thievery, but more because they are afraid of him being a Null.

Ruis has no intention of leaving the city at all, it is the only place where old Earth machinery is found. And he wants to see Ailim again, even though she is a Judge and she could/should report him at sight. He knows just the place to hide, where no-one will think of looking. The neglected space ship, where their fore-bears came to Celta with. Nuada’s Sword. No one is looking after it any more, the museum is barely visited.
Right after Ruis was escorted out of town, D’Ash gifted him with a kitten, one of Zanth’s offspring. She thought he could use the company, and Samba steals his heart right away. She also gifts Ailim with a young puppy. Her family loathes her, even though she does her best by them. The council has granted the loan, with a load of conditions and a manager to ehh manage the accounts for them. And T’Elder, their nasty neighbour, made sure it was one of his godsons, whom he can control.

Nuada’s Sword welcomes Ruis as her new Captain, and Samba as the new Crew. Most of the systems are still working, but there is a lot of work to be done to make it operational again. Strangely enough, the ship is almost sentient, and has been lonely. It is reluctant to let Ruis leave again, afraid he won’t come back like so many others. But Ruis likes it at Nuada’s Sword, and after adjusting the environment, he makes himself at home. The ship even helps him with an anger-management course.
Exploring the ship and everything their ancestors left behind. But he will slip out, dressed in a kind of invisibility cloak, to spy on Ailim when she is holding Court in the sacred Grove. And meeting her in secret afterward. They both know a relationship between them is impossible. If Ruis is found, he will be executed on the spot. And Ailim will lose not only her position as a Judge, but also as head of her house, her family and her family residence. Still, they cannot give up on each other. Ailim is working hard to have Ruis’ name cleared, his banishment and especially his treatment before that by his uncle, was unlawful. But she needs time, and hard evidence.

But time is running out on them, especially as Ailim’s aunt is acting more and more strange, and is now trying to destroy their House. T’Elder is convinced Ruis never really left the city, and has his guards looking for him everywhere. He even tries to kill Ailim when he finds out she is after him.

A great second book in this series. I enjoyed it a lot. Samba and Primrose really are adorable familiairs in this book. Did I mention the animals are also telepathic, and can communicate with their Families and other animals? And some can even teleport themselves. Samba does all kinds of little jobs for Ruis he cannot do himself.
Also the two Holly brothers I met in the first book make a large appearance in this one, trying to find Ruis. But when they corner him in the spaceship, the spaceship takes action. It evicts the brothers in an escape pod, taking them weeks to get back to town.

I really liked Ailim and Ruis in this book. In the first book, Ruis is only made the thief. But this is his story, and when you read it, you certainly understand him and feel for him. And he is so sweet for Ailim, even when you want to kick him in the end. And for Ailim, Ruis is a safe heaven from her demanding job and her hateful family. She really has deserved some joy for herself. She was raised as a young girl to become the next D’SilverFir, so playing is a strange concept for her. Two lonely hearts finding each other in this book.
Yes, there are love scenes in this book. After all, they quickly become lovers in secret, knowing there will be no future for it, taking every hour they can.

Great primary characters, a revisit of the previous main characters, and a little peak at the next main characters in book 3. Great animal-familiars, and a lot of Flair.

9 stars.

zondag 28 augustus 2011

Robin D. Owens – Heart Mate

The first book in the Celta series, published in 2001.

Heart Mate

“Today you will meet your HeartMate”. Rand T’Ash’s blood thrummed in his temples as he stared at his Divination Dice…
All his life, Rand T’Ash has looked forward to meeting his HeartMate, with whom he could begin a family. Once a street tough but now a respected nobleman and artisan, he has crafted the perfect HeartGift, which, in the custom of the psychically-gifted population of the planet Celta, is the way a man finds – and attracts – his wife…
Danith Mallow is irresistibly drawn to the magnificent necklace on display in T’Ash’s shop, but she is wary of its creator, despite an overpowering attraction. In a world where everyone is defined by their psychic ability, Danith has little, and thus is at the opposite end of the social spectrum from T’Ash. But T’Ash refuses to accept her rejection, and sees it as a challenge instead. They are HeartMates, but can T’Ash persuade his beloved to accept her destiny by his side?

After losing his parents, his family, and his inheritance at age 6, Rand T’Ash has been lonely his whole life. Escaping the men who murdered his family, he fled into Downwind, and survived. Grown up, he has taken his revenge on the men responsible, and taken up his position as a High Lord again. But he never regained the polish most nobles have effortlessly. He doesn’t know how to behave courtly, and he certainly has no idea how to woo a woman. Let alone the woman destined to be his HeartMate. But destined to be doesn’t mean she has no choice in the matter. She can still refuse him.
Danith grew up in an orphanage, and except from having a large family of her own, all she wanted was to have powerful Flair, but the testing stones never revealed anything. And now this High Lord, this jeweller is pursuing her. Sending her flowers, and jewellery. Well, she will not become his mistress! She has a paramour she is intending to marry already. The brother of her best friend, and he has a family that already loves her. But T’Ash is determined.
He is not allowed to tell her they are HeartMates, or that the necklace she so admires but stubbornly refuses to touch is a HeartGift only she can see and feel. And when it is stolen, he is furious. When his only friend, Holm Holly, is demanding his help in crafting an enchanted blade for his younger brother, calling in a debt of honor, T’Ash has no choice. He cannot go after his mate, nor the stolen necklace. Designing and crafting the blade will cost a lot of time and Flair, and will exhaust him. But he accepts the obligation, and in the meanwhile, a Hunter will track down the thief, who is a Null, and his Familiar, a large and ugly Cat, will track down his HeartMate. He doesn’t even know her name!
But nothing in life has gone easy for T’Ash, and the claiming of his HeartMate is no different. Danith keeps refusing him and his gifts, she wants nothing to do with him. The horror of becoming a GreatLady with all the obligations that entitles, boggles her mind. She has grown accustomed to her own freedom in the past years, to her own Flair-less friends, she doesn’t want to lose that.

But unrest is thrumming through Downwind, and street gangs are causing trouble. Young noble boys and street boys fighting, and when Danith is thrown in the middle of it, T’Ash has no choice but to rescue her. He is afraid of her seeing his troubled past, the darkness inside of him, but he will kill to keep her safe, and he will die to keep her safe. The only thing she wants, he can’t give her. The memories of his past. T’Ash keeps thinking that if only she accepts the HeartMateBond between them, all will be well. He just can’t say the words that he loves her, that she is everything he wants, and needs. And Danith doesn’t want to say the words until he has opened up to her, let her in. In spite of her struggles, she has fallen in love with him. But he also revealed her own powerful Flair, she is an animal healer, a power though lost, and so she rises from a commoner into the nobility overnight. A whole new life awaits her. So why does she need him anymore?

Be warned: gushing review follows.
I loved this book very very much. It reminds me a lot of Jayne Castle’s books of the planet Harmony, which I love. Of course there are differences, but also a lot of similarities. Magical abilities, animals who bond with their humans (though nothing can beat Dustbunny’s!)
But the writing style is different, and of course the worldbuilding. There are social castes, determined by the Old Families who came on the original spaceships, and new Houses based on magical power (Flair). The leading male of a House gets the T’ before the last name, and his lady wife D’. They are still busy settling the planet, honouring some old Earth customs, and adapting the animals and plants they brought with them. Some species really prosper, while other are almost extinct.

I loved T’Ash from the first page. A large dark powerful man, who felt deeply, but couldn’t express that. Guarded and alone, safe for his Fam Zanth. And that Fam certainly is a character on itself. Large, demanding, understanding and interfering. Zanth appeared in the box he was sleeping in one night, almost as big as T’Ash himself, and they have been together ever since. Fighting, surviving together. So of course T’Ash gives him everything he wants, jewellery to play with or give away, and the both of them are extremely fond of chocolat mousse …

And then Danith. She wants a family, she wants to be loved, but in a quiet manner. And the HeartMate thing sure is not a sedate love, but a blazing fire. Bonding with T’Ash would mean a public life, with all the obligations to fulfil. No more quiet private ceremonies, but big ones with all the other First Families in the Church. She certainly doesn’t want to loose her friends. She has a really hard time accepting that T’Ash really wants her, that he believes in them being HeartMates. But she loves Zanth, and when she finds out she is a powerful Flair as well, when T’Ash stirs her own powers alive, her life has already irrevocably changed. So now she has to choose.

A lot of the story is dedicated to T’Ash “courtship” of Danith, but there are also some battles, and interactions with other nobles. Both have not had an easy live, but together they are great. So now I have finished with my rambling and gushing review, I will dive into the second book of this great series.

9 stars (have to leave room for improvement ;) ).

p.s. HeartMate won the 2001 RITA Award for Best Paranormal Romance

zaterdag 27 augustus 2011

Susan Witting Albert – The Darling Dahlia’s and the Naked Ladies

The second book in the Darling Dahlias series, published July 2011.

The Darling Dahlia's 2

Rumors are sprouting in Depression-era Darling, Alabama. The town's newest visitors, Nona Jean Jamison and Miss Lake, may be the Naughty and Nice Sisters from the Ziegfeld Frolic, who specialize in dancing nearly naked.
The Dahlias suspect more than modesty when Nona denies her association. They'll have to dig through clues to get to the root of the mystery...

The Darling Dahlia’s are a ladies gardening club, with their own clubhouse and meetings, fundraisers and everything. And at this meeting, they are discussing the upcoming talent show, they really need a few more new acts, as everyone has already seen the acts on the program for the last few years.
Old Mrs Hamer has a niece over from Chicago with a lady friend, but Verna is suspicious. Is she really her niece? And why is that other lady hiding in her room, even taking her meals there? And why is she buying so much sleeping medicine at the drugstore? So when she recognizes Nona Jean Jamison as none other than Lorelei LaMotte, the half of the Naughty and Nice Sisters, a sexy vaudeville act she saw ten years ago in New York, in Mr Ziegfeld’s Frolic. And with a few more clothes on, wouldn’t that be a great act for their talent show?
But when confronted, Nona Jean denies being this Lorelei, and acts aggressive and frightened. So what’s up with that? And Lizzy sees her chance for a great personal interest for the local newspaper fade away. Local girl became famous on Broadway, and is now back in town to take care of her sick old aunt? If she denies to be Lorelei LaMotte, she won’t cooperate with an interview either.
But there is more going on, a suspicious person is asking questions, Nona Jean, who is a gorgeous platinum blonde, is getting her hair dyed brown, and dressing seriously down. So Verna and Lizzy just have to find out the truth. And as Verna loves nothing better than reading crime magazines, she knows just how to do that …
But who could suspect they would be getting themselves involved with the most famous criminal of their time?
And of course there are some storylines about Lizzy, who’s mother is threatening to move in with her, in her new tiny cozy cottage. Horrible! How can she prevent that from happening, when the bank is foreclosing on her mother’s house next week, and her mother only now tells her? And then there is Myra May Moswell, another Darling Dahlia, and co-owner of the Darling Diner and the Telephone Exchange. Her friend and co-owner Violet has gone to help her sister who is about to give birth, and she sorely misses her. When the sister dies, and the father can’t care of the baby girl, what is she to do? What if Violet doesn’t come back, but decides to stay in Chicago?
And then there is Bessie, owner of the Magnolia House for older ladies. Did her fiancée realy run off thirty years ago? And why? They didn’t have a fight, he never said goodbye, never wrote a letter.

A lovely new book by Susan Wittig Albert. The series is set in the fictional town of Darling, Alabama, in the 1930’s, when times are tough, jobs are scarce, and people are worried about what lies ahead. (Sentence mostly quoted from the authors webpage).
Times were so different back then, but Susan really captured the spirit of it. You really feel like you are walking right alongside the women, looking in their gardens and homes, and small town lives. Everything is lovingly described, and you instantly click with the characters. Not as many as in the first instalment, where we had to get to know them all first.

The mystery was not that hard to figure out, but it was very nicely done. I don’t know what else to write, I just really liked the book. The writing style, the characters, the pacing. And there was even some excitement.

In the back of the book, there are some cheap old-fashioned cleaning tips, and some delicious recipes.

9 stars.

p.s. The naked ladies are a kind of leafless lillies, not real ladies ;)

vrijdag 26 augustus 2011

Robin Paige – Death at Rottingdean

The fifth book in the Victorian Mystery series, published March 1999. My book has a very pretty blue cover instead of this brown one.

Death at Rottingdean

For Kathryn Ardleigh and her newly Lorded husband, Charles, a seaside holiday in Rottingdean is a much-needed respite. Known as Smuggler’s Village, the cozy hamlet sits upon a labyrinth of hundred-year-old tunnels through which contraband goods were once smuggled in and out of England.
But when the body of a coast guard is found on the beach, the couple suspect the town is still plying the illicit trades of its past. And with the help of an imaginative young writer named Rudyard Kipling, they’re about to discover that something’s rotten in the town of Rottingdean…

Charles Sheridan has inherited his brother’s title of Baron, and of course the obligations that go with it. As he takes those seriously, that means taking care of the estate, and being in London for the sittings of Parliament. As Kate is a dutiful wife, and doesn’t want to leave her husband alone, she accompanies him to London. But the bad air and the very busy social life were the reasons for a great personal tragedy for the Sheridan’s. So now they have come to Rottingdean for a well deserved vacation. Some personal time, without any socializing, or that is the plan.
The first person they meet is the newly famous author Rudyard Kipling, who invites them over to meet his family. The next day they are all near the beach when the body of a murdered coast guard is discovered. The villagers and the local constable hush it up, proclaiming the man was given to black moods and probably killed himself by jumping down the cliffs. When sir Charles offers the constable his aid, he is briskly send on his way.
But then, another murdered coast guard is discovered, and the young boy Patrick, who witnessed some shady dealings before, is of to the party where Sir Charles and Mr Kipling are invited for. But they are not the only ones who hear his story, the Prince of Wales is also present, and he appoints Sir Charles to discover the truth about the death of the officers of the Crown. Sir Charles doesn’t really want the appointment, he has promised Kate a month of quiet togetherness, but he has no choice but to accept. The Chief Constable in Bristol will aid him.

And so, with the reluctant help of young Patrick, who doesn’t want to betray his fellow villagers to outsiders, Mr Kipling and his aunt, Sir Charles and Kate go to the bottom of this mystery. There is a lot more serious stuff going on than a bit of smuggling…

Another love cozy Victorian Mystery by Robin Paige. Every time I wonder which famous persons of that time I will meet through those books. Rudyard Kipling this time, who has not read his Jungle Books as a child? Or just seen the Disney versions of them? I love the total realistic way history is woven into this mystery, every bit a tiny new invention important to the future and crime investigation. This time, X-ray’s are used to find the bullet that killed the second coast guard. A new type of gun is discovered, much more deadly than any other gun on the market. Dangerous times are looming on the horizon.

As usual, I enjoy the interaction between Kate and Charles, and their personal servants. Kate accomplishes things her husband wouldn’t have thought off, soliciting confidences in strange servants and other women. Helping Charles in his investigation more than he thinks.
I liked Patrick, a very bright and curious boy, and wonder if he will appear in the coming books in this series again.
Robin Paige’s writing style is fluent, fast paced, and I love it. The servants and villager’s conversation is written in dialect though, which is not always easy to follow, lots of left out letters. No love scenes in this cozy mystery ;)

9 stars.

dinsdag 23 augustus 2011

Kathryne Kennedy – The Lady of the Storm

The second book in the Elven Lords series, published August 2011.

The lady of the Storm

There’s a fine line between duty and desire…
Giles Beaumont is stuck in a role he never wanted, trying to safeguard a woman of incendiary powers who doesn’t think she needs a protector. Cecily Sutton has no idea of the enormity of her true task, and no inkling of the effect she’s having on Giles. But somewhere along their perilous journey together, they’ll have no choice but to uncover the deep, dark connection that binds them one to the other …

For the past 9 years, ever since she escaped in the previous book, The Fire Lord’s Lover, Cecily has lived quietly with her mother and the man who saved her as her new father in a quiet little town at the coast of England. Cecily loves the quiet life, tending the garden, sewing and embroidering their clothes, and most of all, swimming in the ocean every day. She is half human, half elven, and has inherited most of her Elven Lord father’s magic. Which he can not find out, or she will be killed. The Rebellion thinks to use her as a weapon against the evil Elven Lords who have taken over the rule of England. She can not only control the element of water, but also of the storm, something no other child of her father can do, and he himself ofcourse.

Cecily’s father is a spy in the Rebellion, and he has been missing for almost a year now. Suddenly the troops of Lord Breden are plundering their little village, looking for new soldiers to enlist. All those years Thomas’ magic has kept the village hidden, and his new daughter safe. But now war is upon them. Giles is trying to keep his eye on Cecily, to keep her safe, but she won’t obey him to hide away, and follows him in to the village. Giles has a magic sword, and a lot of elven blood and their good looks as well. So he fights like the devil himself, but he is no match for the hundreds of soldiers set upon them. Until Cecily unleashes her magic, and destroys the soldiers.
Cecily has had a big crush on Giles for years now, and as he has declined her seduction a few years ago, she really doesn’t understand why he is so concerned for her safety now. Surely he barely knows who she is! After all, he is very popular with the village maidens, and she wants to marry the quiet Will.

But after the battle, in which her mother and a lot of villagers are killed, the other villagers treat Giles and Cecily as monsters, even though they saved their lives. The surviving young men, including Will, have decided to join Breden’s army after all, to keep the rest of them safe. And so Giles and Cecily set out for London, to the head of the Rebellion, to find out more about her missing father Thomas. Giles is hoping for a new and dangerous assignment, keeping watch over Cecily all those years was boring for a young man, and he wants some adventure. All Cecily wants is to live a quiet life in her little cottage near the sea, but life has other plans for her.

When they have finally reached London, lots of things have happened to them, making them fall in love with each other, but Giles knows he is not worthy of Cecily, who is after all, one of the nobles of the realm. A lowly blacksmith can never be for the likes of her. The leaders of the Rebellion set them both on the trail of Thomas, and with the request to finish his mission, finding a magical ring.

Many years ago 7 Elven Lords conquered England, divided it into seven pieces which each of them ruled, and each has his or her own specific magic. They have shielded England from the rest of the world, enslaving the humans within with their magic, their dragons and the magical scepters they wield. The King of England has become a pawn in their games, who ever “owns” him, has the upper hand over the other Elven Lords and Ladies. And they fight wars to win him to their side. The rest of Europe doesn’t seem to mind much, as long as they stay in England and trade the beautiful products made with their magic.
Of course the English people don’t want to stay enslaved, and are seeking means to send the Elven Lords back where they came from. The Rebellion is growing in power slowly, and their first big secret victory was in The Fire Lord’s Lover.

The start of the book was slow, the dialogue bad, and a lot of things got repeated again and again. I though Cecily a bit silly, and certainly not my kind of heroine. But after the first quarter of the book or so, things improved. More action, more danger, and Cecily sure grew up. Now it is Giles who is stubborn, wanting to keep her safe, even though she has so much magic she doesn’t really need him. Their journey together is dangerous, and I enjoyed everything Kathryne Kennedy invented. The strange magics, the dangers, the many beauties.

Both Cecily and Giles have to make important decisions, and face difficult tasks. Cecily even more than Giles. And when he lost his beautiful Elven looks, he sure felt in a hole of selfpity. Understandable of course, but it took him too long to get over it.

So, I liked most of the book, especially the story itself. There is not really much humor, or witty bantering as I love in my paranormal romances, but some nice love scenes and lots of magical creatures and happenings. I am curious to the next book, which will be published next year.

7,5 stars

A great quote

I am not someone who remembers quotes, but I just had to share this one with you. I am reading Death at Rottingdean by Robin Paige, and I agree wholeheartedly with it:

"Those with a gift for writing stories are obliged to do so, in order to relieve those of us with an insatiable need for reading them."

maandag 22 augustus 2011

Nancy Gideon – Masked by Moonlight

The first book in the Moonlight series, published May 2010.

Masked by Moonlight


New Orleans homicide detective Charlotte Caissie is dedicated to bringing down the crime boss responsible for her father's murder. Using Jimmy Legere's mysterious and irresistible right-hand man is a dangerous gamble, and not only due to his reputation as more monster than man. Because her feelings for Max Savoie are . . . complicated.

Rescued from the swamps as a child, Max exists silently in Legere's shadow, heeding only his voice - until Charlotte Caissie awakens his emotions and tests his loyalties. Stepping outside his cautious rules threatens more than just his heart. He could expose his darkest secret.

Testing boundaries they weren't meant to cross means facing the truth about who and what they are - and what they need from each other. If Max is the murderer she seeks, Charlotte could be his next victim. She can't afford to trust any man. Good thing Max isn't one.

Charlotte Caissie is a police officer, homicide, in New Orleans, like her father before her. When Jimmy Legere, the mob boss, tried to buy her father, and that didn’t work, he kidnapped her and her best friend, and what happened with them, was not a good thing. But her father still didn’t cave, so Legere had him killed after all. Charlotte and her best friend were freed by Max, Legere’s young protégée. He never knew Max had freed them, or he would have punished him for the betrayal. Charlotte’s best friend dealt with it by becoming a nun, shutting out the world and men. Charlotte became a cop herself, dedicated to ridding her city of the mob who rules it. And taking down Legere is her number one goal in life.

Charlotte doesn’t know Max freed them, she was unconscious at the time. But she is very much attracted to him, even though she knows he is bad news, and Legere’s right hand and punisher. A murderer, even though she cannot prove it. But still, the attraction is only getting stronger. And Max loves Charlotte, which is not something Legere is happy with. He doesn’t need his man’s loyalties corrupted. He saved Max from the swamp when he was just a little boy and his mother was killed, raised him and took care of him. So he now owns Max, and he will do as he is told!

Legere’s cousin Petitjohn is trying to sow discord between them, buy having Max followed, and telling Legere about the meetings between Max and Charlotte. He wants to take over as the mob boss of New Orleans, Legere is old and sick and he won’t have all that long to live, but Petitjohn wants it now. And he wants to take his own revenge on Legere for killing his younger brother.

Charlotte wants Max for herself, and she thinks she can use him to give her Legere. So she comes on to him, with the risk of falling in love, trying to get Max to confess that he killed the guys who’s murders she is investigating. And now Max is torn between his loyalty to Jimmy Legere, and the woman he loves. What will he do when they both betray his love for them?

I’ve read this book thanks to the many great review I have read about this series. But I am not really agreeing with them. The book didn’t do much for me.
I really could not get in touch with Charlotte, nor with Max. I love strong characters to read about. And Max is really not alpha, he wants to be controlled. So when Jimmy is murdered, and he has to take over as new mob boss, and as alpha of the other shape shifters he never knew existed, it really is not his thing. He often cries, is weak, hiding away in a corner. So how can he ever take control?
And then Charlotte. She wants Max, and when she finally has him, she is afraid what it will mean to her job, her career. She cannot be seen with him, and have the other mobsters think Max has her in his pocket. Well, she should have thought of that before. So I just found her whiny. Strong in some aspects, and very weak and clingy to Max in others. And betraying him when she should not have done that.
It also took her a very long time to understand that Max is a werewolf (in this world building, the paranormal creatures are not out of the closet), but she accepts it and his other forms without questions, even lovingly. Even after he saved her from to would-be rapists, she didn’t want to believe him the murderer and even alibied him when another cop was questioning him based on a witness report.

The story didn’t really make all that sense to me, and I could not get into the characters. Max is just a hired killer, and I could not like that. Yes, he also saves some people, but does so by killing their problems. Both Max and Charlotte (who is sometimes called CeeCee, or Lottie, and something else), are acting ruthless and selfish and weak when they should be strong. So I don’t think I will read the next book, at least not for a while.

5 stars

donderdag 18 augustus 2011

Jennifer Ashley – The many sins of Lord Cameron

The third book in the Highland Pleasures series, published August 2011.

The many sins of Lord Cameron

He is a man of simple tastes – and complex pleasures …

Cameron Mackenzie is a man who loves only horses and women – in that order – or so his mistresses say.
Ainsley Douglas is a woman with a strong sense of justice and the desire to help others – even if that means sneaking around a rakish man’s bedchamber.
Which is exactly where Cam finds her – six years after he caught her the first time. Only then, she convinced Cam she was seeking a liaison, but couldn’t go through with it because of her husband. Now a widow, she’s on a mission to retrieve letters that could prove embarrassing to the queen. Cam has no interest in Ainsley’s subterfuge, but he vows to finish what they started those many years ago. One game, one kiss at a time, he plans to seduce her. And what starts out as a lusty diversion may break Cam’s own rules – and heal the scars of a dark and damaging past …

I loved this book! I kept on blogging while reading it, as I just did not want it to end. It is just so good. But now it is finished and I have to write a review. It is going to be rambling, as I am so enthusiastic about the book.

I loved Ainsley. She was so different than the usual heroines. Not a shy young miss, not a self confident “almost spinster” either. She is not a pushover, but she knows what she is willing to do to reach her goal, and what not.
She has been married before to an older gentleman who was very kind to her, but not the love of her life. Ainsley ran into Cam six years ago, when she stole a necklace from his bedroom, because someone lied to her it was hers, and Cam wouldn’t give it back. Their encounter was short, and filled with desire. But Ainsley cared deeply for her husband and did not want to cheat on him. Now he has died, and as her brother cannot support her, she has taken a job with Queen Victoria.
Again she meets Cam in his bedroom. His latest mistress is blackmailing the Queen with some letters she stole, and Ainsley has been deployed to buy them back. But the woman is angry with the Queen, and wants her to suffer a bit as she herself has done because of the Queen, and she won’t sell them to Ainsley as agreed. She has given Cam one of the letters to keep safe for her, and Ainsley saw that and wants to retrieve it. Cameron’s older brother Hart Mackenzie, the Duke, is opposed to the Queen’s politics and if the letter came into his hands, who knows.
Cameron doesn’t care about the letters, he only wants Ainsley as his lover, as she entices him as no other woman ever has. Ainsley doesn’t want to become his mistress, she has her reputation to consider, and that of her family. They stayed behind her once already, she doesn’t want to hurt them again. But Cam sure tempts her. And of course she needs the job the Queen offers her, even though Cam offers her enough gowns and jewelry for the rest of her life, if she comes to Paris with him at the end of the racing season in a few weeks …

And then there is Cameron. O ladies, what can I say about him? If you love your tortured hero, you certainly will love him. He has endured a hellish marriage before, so he doesn’t like or trust women anymore, but he will have sex with them. Anywhere but in a bed. Only short affairs, leave them first kind of things. Until Ainsley.
When Ainsley shows up in the train, and agrees to come to Paris with him, he surprises her by marrying her first. Cameron, the man who never wanted to marry again, cares enough for her and her reputation to marry her. To the joy of his son Daniel. He always though Ainsley would be good to his Da.

Their relationship is filled with passion, but it takes a lot for Cameron to start trusting Ainsley with his emotions. Yes, he loves her, but it is not enough to forget all that has happened in his past. From a gray mouse turned into a sparkling butterfly, they journey from Paris to Monte Carlo, and finally back home to England.

The horses Cameron owns and trains for the races form a nice background to the story, which is filled with passion and love and surprising twists in the story. Ainsley doesn’t mind when Cam has to stand her up to take care of a sick horse, or something like that. She also loves horses, and accepts the big part they have in Cam’s life.

Jennifer Ashley’s writing style is very fluent, I love it. Her dialogues are good and often funny and a bit wicked, though Ainsley never gets too flustered by what Cam whispers in her ear (which is not told outloud). I though the book a little bit more sedated in the love scenes than the previous books, but it was still good and plenty.
Ainsley is a good friend of Isabella, so she already knows a lot about the Mackenzies. And of course Cam tries to find out stuff from Isabella about her. They went to boarding school together, stole cake out of the school kitchens together, that kind of thing.

Ofcourse all the other Mackenzie’s have their own parts in this third book in the series, and I am really very curious about the fourth book, about Hart and his lost lady love.

What more do you need in a good historical romance ladies? Jennifer Ashley gives us a strong and likable heroine, a tormented good looking hero in a kilt and a Scottish accent, a great background to the story, and lots of love scenes. But it is the romance part that totally kept me captivated. Even though I did not want to finish the book, I did, and I loved it, and will read it again soon. Jennifer Ashley has proven again why she is on my autobuy list.

10 stars.

New additions to my addiction

I blogged about winning books the other day, and today I received another book. As a young girl I used to read and watch Sweet Valley High, about two blonde girls, twins, and their highschool adventures and friends. One a bit wild, the other a "good" girl.
Francine Pascal has written a new book, called Sweey Valley Confidential, and I won that book on the BookReading Gals blog a while ago. It takes place about 10 years after graduation. I am really looking forward to reading the book. Tell me, did you watch that tv series?

I've also received Bertrice Small-Private Pleasures. I never got the book back after lending it to a former friend, and it is imo the best in the Pleasures series, I have read it 4 times at least. So I went and bought a new copy on Ebay.Very happy to have it again, even though it is a different size than the rest of the books.

dinsdag 16 augustus 2011

Keri Ford – Through the Wall

The first novella in the series: Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Arkansas, published

Through the Wall

Stephanie Faulker doesn’t want wild and raunchy, just a little spice. She’s been hearing her neighbour’s nightly sexcapades through her bedroom wall and she wants a turn!
But Parker Madison isn’t so easily swayed. He wants Stephanie all right, but not just in the bedroom. He wants commitment and long-term, not a quick roll.
Short-term does not lead to long term. Or can it….hmm…we’ll have to wait and see what these two can do!

I’ve won the first three novella’s in this series on Pearl’s blog, so it is high time I started reading them. I have to admit, I had expected something a lot hotter than what I got.

Stephanie has been divorced for a few months now, and not only is Parker her neighbour, and her ex-husband’s ex-best-friend, so she has known him for years, he is also her boss. Through the thin wall separating their apartments, and especially their bedrooms, she can hear his adventures with different woman almost every week. And she longs for some sexual adventures of her own. Her husband only wanted sex at night, and in the same boring position. When she and Parker caught him cheating on her, their divorce was not friendly. But she has been abiding her time, and now she wants sex. Not vanilla, but a little bit more adventurous. And Parker is just the man. They are such great friends, having breakfast at his place, dinner at her place, watching tv together in the evenings. She is ready for more, but she knows Parker is not into long relationships. So she will settle for sex. Hot sex. Steamy sex. Screaming sex.
Parker is totally caught off guard when Stephanie asks him. He has been in love with her for years, and he wants everything from her, not just a fling, and certainly not being her rebound guy. So, he turns her down. But he can’t keep thinking about it, about Stephanie, and fantasize how good it would be between them. And then he can hear her moaning through the wall!
But Stephanie won’t just take no for an answer, she wants Parker, and she is determined to have him in her bed at the least.

I liked this novella, not even a 100 pages in it. Keri Ford has an unique writing style, very Southern sounding. Lots of descriptions, but you could feel the friendship between Parker and Stephanie. And the heat as well. I am happy they have worked things out, and I sure wouldn’t mind to read a full length novel by Keri Ford.
Due to the shortness, there is perhaps so little background on Parker. And the only thing about Stephanie is about her divorce, and one phone call with her best friend. Still, a nice novella to fill an hour or two.

6,5 stars.

New addition to my addiction

Today I received Helen Hollick - Sea Witch, autographed by the author. I won this book at Blodeuedd's blog, and I am looking forward to reading it.
I also received Sierra Dean - The secret guide to dating monsters, an e-book I won at Stella - Ex Libris.

I have won a lot of books (mostly ebooks) lately, but when I went and bought a lottery ticket for this weekend, nothing. So I'll just hope my book winning streak will continue for a while :). I love winning books, especially if they are signed by the author, and she puts some lovely swag with it :) Thank you Helen Hollick.

maandag 15 augustus 2011

Thea Harrison – Storm’s Heart

The second book in the Elder Races series, published August 2011.

Storm's Heart

During the rule of her murderous Dark Fae uncle, Thistle “Tricks” Periwinkle found sanctuary among the Wyr in New York. Her ethereal beauty and sparkling personality won the hearts of the public, but after her uncle’s death, there are those who don’t want her to ascend to the throne…
Able to wield thunder and lightning, Wyr sentinel Tiago Black Eagle has ruled the skies for centuries. His massive build and thunderous power make him one of the Wyr’s best weapons. And he's the one sent to protect Tricks, heir to the Dark Fae throne, when she's almost assassinated in Chicago.
Soon, both Tiago and Tricks will fall prey to the stormy hunger that engulfs them - a passion that will shake the very foundation of all the worlds.

At age 17, Niniane fled her home and her country, when her uncle and his consorts slaughtered her family. Her father, the King of the Dark Fae, her beautiful and vibrant mother, and her little 5 year old twin brothers. No one knew what had become of her, where to find her, except her traitorous uncle, who kept trying to have her killed in the past 200 years. She asked for and received sanctuary from Dragos Cuelebre, the oldest living creature around, and head of the Wyr, the shapeshifters.
But now her uncle is death, killed by Dragos when Urien kidnapped his pregnant mate. So it is time for Tricks to become her royal self again, Niniane Lorelle, and take the throne of the Dark Fae.
But everyone is happy she has resurfaced, and new attempts to kill her are made. Her own cousin tries to murder her, but she kills him and his two companions instead with her poisoned little stiletto’s. Niniane is just a small woman, not very strong, nor really Powerful, so she has no hope of winning a real fight. Unfortunately, someone captured the fight on his cell phone and posted it on You-tube, instead of helping her, or calling the police. And now Niniane is missing. Dragos and his sentinels and mate Pia are concerned. They all love her, and want her to be safe. And if the Dark Fae cannot keep their future Queen safe, they will! Especially Tiago. The only Thunderbird ever on earth, he is ancient. But he totally loses his cool when Tricks is missing and hurt. He will do everything in his considerable power to find her, and protect her. And find her, he does. Wounded and drunk and alone in a sleazy hotel, where she is sure no one will find her.

But Niniane refuses to go back to New York with Tiago. If she is to be Queen, she cannot appear to be weak. And she cannot rule when the only power she has is coming from the Wyr. Her people won’t accept that.
But Tiago knows she is his mate, and he will do anything for her. So he quits his job with Dragos, and accompanies her back to the posh hotel where the Dark Fae delegation is staying. He takes charge of her protection, no matter what the Dark Fae think of that. Or the mediator the Council has send to watch over proceedings. To the horror of the people managing the hotel, the mediator is no other than Carlin, Queen of the Vampyres. The oldest Vampyre alive, and extremely Powerful. But Niniane knows her, and likes her.

Okay, not going to spoil anything more for you. Let me just say, I loved this book. It is already so much better than book 1 in this series, I am curious just how good the next book will be. The story itself, the pacing, everything that happened, it just fits. And of course, I love Niniane, although I have nothing in common with her. She loves fashion, and is totally Americanized, another point not in her favor with the Dark Fae. But she really loves people, and they can’t help but to love her back. She just has an interest in them and their lives, and it shows.

Tiago, well, what to say about him, other than WOW. He is about as alpha as they come, and his need to protect her is so big. But he listens to her, doesn’t wipe her opinions away. And he agrees with her, even though he doesn’t always likes what she does, or has to do. He has met her a few times over the years, but perhaps she was too young for him than. After all, he is ancient, and she is just 200 years young. Tiago knows she is his mate, and their life together will be difficult. And still, he goes for it, no doubts at all.

So, great primary and secondary characters, lots of action and intrigue, and of course some hot love scenes, and some romantic scenes as well. The humor, the witty bantering. I loved that tiny part in the bathroom, when Tiago makes Niniane a bath, and he smells some bathstuff, and he picks something that just smells pink. Tiago takes care of Niniane, and the way he does it is sometimes just sweet.

I am really looking forward to the next book, I have some thoughts on that one already.

9 stars

zondag 14 augustus 2011

Bertrice Small – Guilty Pleasures

The sixth book in the Channel series, published August 2011.

Guilty Pleasures

A steamy collection from Bertrice Small, who "creates cover-to-cover passion" (Publishers Weekly)

Carla, Tiffany, Nina, and J.P. have already gotten major play on The Channel, a secret, women-only interactive cable network. Now they'll carry out even more fantasies with a collection of seductive characters they would only meet in their dreams...

The women entangle themselves with pirates, sultans, regency rakes, and even movie stars. And then there's Maureen Flynn, new to The Channel. She's an au pair from Ireland whose fantasy of choice is with a brawny Celtic warrior. Will he turn her on to The Channel like those that came before her?

I didn’t know that this book contains 5 short stories, instead of one whole story. But I did enjoy all 5 of them nonetheless. It was fun revisiting with the previous characters, and meeting some new ones. And as this is an erotica novel, I am not going to summarize it for you, I would blush way too much. Let me just tell you: it is hot.

But the story line is this: suppose there is a television channel just for woman, called The Channel. It works from 8 p.m. till 4 a.m. giving women all over the world to live out their (sexual) fantasies. You can look however you want, be young and gorgeous, and have sex with everyone you can imagine, and how you want it. And it is perfectly safe. You can’t get really hurt, or pregnant, or ill. And when the Channel closes at 4 a.m., the fantasy ends and you are back safely (and sated) in your own bed. No danger of someone walking in on you, they would only see some static on the t.v.. And it is just a fantasy, so you are not really cheating on your husband or boyfriend.
Of course, the Channel is run by the master of temptation himself …

I love Bertrice Small her writing style, and her strong characters. I love how she doesn’t try to get the message across there is nothing better for a woman to want than love, marriage and children. Because for some of us, that is just not true. The story is about some older women too, and how love can find you again, sometimes just your own husband, sometimes a new one.

I don't normally read erotica, but I make an exception for Bertrice Small. From all the authors I read, she is my most favourite one. And I have to admit, most of her historical romances are hotter than some erotic stories I have read!

9,5 stars

Michele Albert – Getting her man

The second book in the Avalon Investigation series, published October 2002.

Getting her man

Private Investigator Diana Belmaine always gets her man -- and her hunt for a brazen, clever thief leads the cool blonde straight to Dr. Jack Austin. A globetrotting adventurer and shoo-in for "America's Most Eligible Bachelor," Jack is a pillar of the community -- and guilty as sin. But while his gorgeous smile could melt nearly any woman's resistance, she's learned her lesson about sweet-talking men and won't be swayed by Jack's obvious charms, no matter how much the criminally handsome hunk turns up the heat.

Jack is used to living life on the edge and is drawn to smart, sexy women with a bite -- but this lady is wickedly dangerous! Diana's vow to expose his secret could cost him his livelihood, his reputation, perhaps even his life. He should keep his distance, though closing in on her tempting curves is a risk he can't resist. With nothing left to lose, his beautiful adversary his only salvation, why not surrender to fate and steal her heart with a deep, lingering ... larcenous ... kiss?

Private Investigator Diana Belmaine is hired by Mr. Steven Carmichael to retrieve an ancient stolen relic. A small alabaster Egyptian box, containing a two inch golden statue of a Pharaoh, and a lock of hair supposedly from Queen Nefertiti. Steven Carmichael specializes in pre Columbian art, but this Egyptian artefact he could not resist. Is was not in his vault when stolen, but just hidden in an empty cigar box in an armoire. But the thief knew where it was and took of with it, apparently during the opening party of his new gallery.
It doesn’t take Diana long to figure out who did it, but now to prove it, and get the item back. And she can tie the gorgeous archaeologist up to some other thefts as well, all of pre Columbian artefacts. He really shouldn’t have left his calling card, the Jack of Spades. But why does Jack do it? Why does he risk his career and his reputation? Steven Carmichael has been financing his excavations for the last 10 years, and he treats Jack as a good friend, almost a son. So Diana keeps on digging, and fight the attraction she feels for Jack.
Diana has been burned badly before. Her previous boyfriend used her client database to figure out whom to burglar, and he is now in jail. She really doesn’t need another thief in her life, ruining her new career and reputation over again.
And Jack, he wants to keep her out of his life, the thefts have gone far enough, but he just can’t stop now. And he will not drag her with him when he falls. But she is everything he ever wanted in a woman, if only she was not hell bend on catching him.

I have never read this author before, and certainly did not have a clue this is a series. But I liked her writing style. Diana is a feisty heroine. She has a fashion style which is flamboyant and sexy, and her assistant is a goth. They make quite the pair. There is a lot of humor involved, but also some serious P.I. work. Even though Diana focuses quickly on Jack, she covers all her bases. She has some close girlfriends whom she shares almost everything with. They were there for her when her life collapsed around her the previous time, and they warn her against getting involved with Jack, but there is just no fighting the attraction between them.
Jack is a college professor and archaeologist during the summer. He found an ancient Maya ruin, and has been excavating it for the past 10 years. He also knows what betrayal is, so it is difficult to trust Diana, especially as she makes no secret of her suspicions and what to catch him. After all, she always gets her man. But he likes Diana, and when they finally kiss, it is really smoking hot.

A good romantic suspense, I enjoyed reading it. When I read the blurb, my first though was: mmm haven’t I seen this movie? But I could not find out if it has been turned into a movie. Good likable characters, a bit of suspense and mystery, great settings and a lovely romance. A perfect in-between read.

7,5 stars

zaterdag 13 augustus 2011

Sherrilyn Kenyon – Retribution

Book 20 in the Dark-Hunter series, published August 2011.


Harm no human.

A hired gunslinger, William Jessup Brady lived his life with one foot in the grave. He believed that every life had a price. Until the day when he finally found a reason to live. In one single act of brutal betrayal, he lost everything, including his life. Brought back by a Greek goddess to be one of her Dark-Hunters, he gave his immortal soul for vengeance and swore he'd spend eternity protecting the humans he'd once considered prey.
Orphaned as a toddler, Abigail Yager was taken in by a family of vampires and raised on one belief - Dark-Hunters are the evil who prey on both their people and mankind, and they must all be destroyed. While protecting her adoptive race, she has spent her life eliminating the Dark-Hunters and training for the day when she meeting the man who killed her family: Jess Brady.

A gun in the hand is worth two in the holster.

Jess has been charged with finding and terminating the creature who's assassinating Dark-Hunters. The last thing he expects to find is a human face behind the killings, but when that face bears a striking resemblance to the one who murdered him centuries ago, he knows something evil is going on. He also knows he's not the one who killed her parents. But Abigail refuses to believe the truth and is determined to see him dead once and for all.
Brought together by an angry god and chased by ancient enemies out to kill them both, they must find a way to overcome their mutual hatred or watch as one of the darkest of powers rises and kills both the races they've sworn to protect.

Jess Brady has been transferred to Las Vegas to help replace a few killed Dark Hunters. Las Vegas is really crawling with Daimons, praying on the human tourists. His squire Andy has found the perfect house for him, with a huge basement and stables for his horses and plenty of garage for his motorcycles and Andy’s collection of cars.
But just before he is out to hunt, Andy warns him with a vision of the Oracle. A human is hunting Dark Hunters, and she has Daimons at her back. Jess doesn’t really believe it, but he will be extra careful tonight. So he gets on his beloved motorcycle, and heads out for Sin’s casino. It is still strange to see all the Apollites working for Sin, but it is really cool to get the royal treatment from them.
He senses some Daimons in the parking garage, but to his surprise, he cannot kill them by stabbing them in the heart as usual. Luckily Sin shows up then, and tells him he has to behead them. Those particular Daimons have been feeding on Demon blood, and now can walk in sunlight as well. But if he gets bitten by one of them, he will be their slave. So, kill them quick and stay out of reach of their teeth! Jess is appalled at the new type of Daimon. Like they aren’t a plague in their normal state already.
Patrolling Las Vegas’ streets doesn’t get him more enemies to kill, until just before sunrise he sees a woman being dragged in to a storm drain by two Daimons. He should be heading home, to be safe before sunrise, but he thinks he can save her just in time. But he walks in to a trap, and realizes that the moment he sets foot in the drain. The woman is the one who is killing Dark Hunters, and she is after him now. When he sees her face, he recognizes her. The one lady in his past he has never forgotten. She is the great-granddaughter of Mathilda, and he has known her since birth.

Abigail thinks it was Jess Brady who killed her parents all those years ago, she saw him with her own eyes. She was only 5 years old, and hiding under her bed, as her parents were fighting downstairs. When he came to get her, he could not find her, and the police sirens drove him away. Her Apollite foster parents kindled her feelings of revenge, and trained her to fight Dark Hunters. When they died, her step brother and friend took over, and they fed her some demon blood to make her stronger. Strong enough to be able to kill Dark Hunters, but they told her a lot of lies. Jess easily defeats her, and takes her back home with him, where they arrive just before the sun rises. She still wants to kill him, but being in close proximity to Jess, her memories resurface. And something just isn’t right. He was nothing but kind to her, and he truly loved her mother. He could have killed her father allright, but never her mother.

Unfortunately, Abigail has been busy that night. She thought the old Native American man she killed was another Dark Hunter, but he was one of the four Guardians protecting humanity from evil. And now Coyote, one of the other Guardians, sees his chance in getting free and control of the world, by letting the plagues out. There are four Guardians, to of the Light, and two of the Dark. And Old Bear was one of the Light Guardians. Coyote now has to make sure the other Guardian of the Light, Choo Co La Tah doesn’t take Abigail to the Valley of Fire, to be sacrificed.
Of course Abigail doesn’t believe any of it, but when the first plague strikes, she has no choice. Millions of scorpions don’t just migrate and attack humans. Abigail is allergic to scorpions, only one sting, and she will die, demon blood or not. To her surprise, Jess saves her. But that is just the beginning, there are other creatures after her.

What follows is a fast paced book, where Jess and some of his friends and Choo Co La Tah have to keep Abigail safe, and get to the Valley of Fire. They have to fight more plagues, and more legendary evil from the Native American folklore. All those ancient legends come to life. But in the end, it is Coyote they have to fight, and a bunch of Daimons helping him.

I love Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series, so I have been eagerly anticipating the latest book. I really could not remember Jess Brady, but he seems to have appeared in Zarek’s book, as the two of them are friends.
Jess was betrayed by his best friend on the day of his wedding. A reformed hitman, he found love and wanted to be respectable for her. He gave up his weapons and his ill-gotten gains, for her. Before he could get into church, he was shot in the back, and killed by his best friend and surrogate-father. When his beloved was raped, he swore vengeance, and Artemis heard him. Ever since, he has been a Dark Hunter, keeping track of his Mathilda, and her children, taking care of them whenever he could. But he has lost track of Abigail when her parents were murdered and she disappeared. She looks so much like his beloved, but is not the sweet girl Mathilda was. Abigail is strong, a fighter, and when she finally accepts he did not kill her parents, she has his back. Jess is determined that Abigail will not be sacrificed to save the world, there has to be another way out.

I like Native American myths and legends, and I have encountered Coyote in other books. He is always the trickster, and devious, but not as evil as in this book. He doesn’t care about the world, he wants revenge and power. And he will do everything to get it.

The next book is titled Guardian, and I am curious if this story line with the Guardians will continue. After all, two Guardians are death, and new ones will have to be chosen. One of Light, and one of Dark. There has to be balance.

Jess and Abigail are a nice couple. Even though Jess has had a very bad past, he is just a sweet man, and he wants to protect Abigail. After all, she was deceived by her foster family and used. She didn’t know what she was doing. And Abigail is truly sorry for what she did, but she will not die to save the world … She has only just found a reason to live.
Only one love scene between them, but some great moments when there was time between the action and the staying alive.

8,5 stars.

vrijdag 12 augustus 2011

New additions to my addiction

I had a whole list of books planned to read, and in which order, but now I have received for new books from the Bookdepository, and that throws it all out of order again! I have to take the genre into account, not too many paranormals after one another and such. But I am very happy with those 4 books!

Jennifer Ashley - The many sinds of Lord Cameron
Thea Harrison - Storm's heart
Roxanne St. Claire - Make her pay
Bertrice Small - Guilty pleasures (the only erotic romance series I do read and love).

donderdag 11 augustus 2011

Jess Haines – Deceived by the Others

The third book in the H & W Investigations series, published July 2011.

Deceived by the Others

Shiarra's relationship with sexy werewolf Chaz is somewhat unconventional. Still, after a few bumps, Shia is ready to get serious. That means meeting family - or in this case, bringing Chaz's entire werewolf pack along for a rollicking full-moon weekend in the Catskills. Soon after they arrive, threatening notes appear, warning Chaz to go home. Then, their cabin is ransacked. Shia starts digging to find out whether it's the work of teenaged werewolves or something more sinister. As rumours about her vampire connections arouse the pack's hostility, Shia has to contend with other, potentially fatal dangers.

Shiarra is ready to take the next step in her relationship with her werewolf boyfriend Chaz. They are going away for the full moon weekend to a retreat in the mountains, with Chaz’ whole pack so Shia can get to know them, and what it is to see them shifted. She has even signed a contract binding her to Chaz, but he doesn’t know that yet. With the contract binding them, they can have sex again.

But things are not going as smoothly and fun as Shiarra and Chaz have planned. Chaz has to spend some time with a newly turned werewolf, and a lot of the pack members are not glad to see Shia. And some others threat her as a hero, for destroying the focus that controls Were’s an evil sorcerer had made. Shia likes neither of that. And then there are threatening notes in their cabin, warning them to get back home. Some one has destroyed their first cabin and most of their belongings. Is it just the pranks of some juvenile werewolves, or are there more people hating Chaz?

When Shia finds out, Chaz is cheating on her, she is furious. She doesn’t buy his excuses. Back in her cabin, she gets scratched by one of the wolves who hates her. She is scared to death, because there is a very big chance she is infected with lycantrophe now. One thing she will not do, and that is become a member of Chaz’ pack. Luckily, there are other options for her, she can join the Moonwalkers, or she can let Alec Royce turn her into a vampire…

The third book in the series. I still have the Anita Blake vibes here. She has to interact with Richard’s pack as well, and fight for her place. Richard also sleeps around on her with the females in his pack. She also flew back into Jean-Claude’s arms after the worst happened, as Shia is doing with Alec Royce.
But there are some mayor differences as well, and I really hope they will continue in the storyline.

I spend a lot of the last part of the book crying along with Shia, as she is furious about what happened, and wants revenge, and how her world is crumbling around her again. She still has her best friend supporting her and her decisions, and Alec Royce managed to surprise me by not taking advantage of her position. Shia won’t know if she is infected for the next few weeks. But just when the book got good, Shia taking matters in her own hands, the book was finished. What the …? I need to know what happens next! And now, not next year!

Have I mentioned before I hate books with cliffhangers? I usually don’t start reading until I have the whole series, so the cliffhangers are no issue, I can just grab the next book and continue. But I was not warned this time, or haven’t paid attention enough to the reviews I have read.

I did like the book, the pacing is good and fast, some really surprising and fun moments. At least Shia is no longer so afraid of everything, and that is a good thing in my mind. I was suspecting Chaz in the previous book, but I could not have foreseen the other bad stuff he is up to. There are also some other species of Were’s introduced in this book, which I like.
I like the writing style of Jess Haines a lot, I just hope she stops reading Anita Blake books, and write her own story. Okay, the whole metaphysics storyline and the huge amount of sex and boyfriends with Anita is missing here, but what happens to both heroines in those books is just too similar for my tastes.

8 stars.

dinsdag 9 augustus 2011

New additions to my addiction

Last week I received Kathryne Kennedy - Lady of the Storm, and when I have finished with the 4 books I am struggling with at the moment, that one will be read soon.
A few weeks ago, I won a gift certificate for Amazon at Paranormal Heaven. Unfortunately, I cannot buy books at Amazon as I don't have a credit card, and they do not use PayPal. So my best friend ordered me: Lynn Viehl - After Midnight.
I love Lynn Viehl, and really want to buy this book, but thought it too expensive. So I used the gift certificate, and still had to pay for shipping. But the books from the author who gave me the gift card, will be bought at The Bookdepository, as soon as they have another discount going ;).

zondag 7 augustus 2011

Jess Haines – Taken by the Others

The second book in the H & W Investigations series, published January 2011.

Taken by the Others

Once, New York P.I. Shiarra Waynest's most pressing problem was keeping her agency afloat. Now she's dealing with two dangerous, seductive vampires who have been enemies for centuries. The only thing Max Carlyle and Alec Royce agree on is that they both want Shia - for very different reasons. Max is determined to destroy Shia for killing his progeny, while Royce's interest is a lot more personal. That's not sitting well with Shia's werewolf boyfriend, Chaz. As the feud between Max and Royce gets ever more deadly, a powerful vampire-hunting faction is urging Shia to join their side. Shia has always believed vamps were the bad guys, but she's discovering unexpected shades of grey that are about to redefine her friends, her loyalties - and even her desires.

A bad vampire has come to town, and he is after Shiarra. Max believes by taking her, he will hurt Alex Royce, who is the most powerful vampire in New York, and has his eyes on her himself. But Shiarra is smart, and rightly so, very afraid of getting closer to him. Unfortunately, Max will leave her no choice.
Jack, the local leader of the White Hats, tries to sway her to his cause again, at gunpoint this time. Which doesn’t work either. But he does warn her about Max, although he won’t tell her why, who or what he is. So Shiarra calls Alec Royce, to find out. Alec is very pleased to hear from her, and wants to meet in person to discuss this. When he comes to her apartment, he is just in time to remove another vampire from her front door, where he is trying to break through the wards guarding her apartment. Peter is a newly turned vampire, send by Max to take her to him.

The next day, even while under police escort, she is not so lucky. Shiarra is captured by human flunkies and a mage, and taken to Max’s hideout. And what Alec Royce only threatened to do, happens. Both Peter and Max drink from her, leaving her sick and exhausted and still imprisoned. Lucky for Shiarra, the White Hats have been following her as well, and have come to her rescue. They kill a whole bunch of Max’s flurries, but he himself manages to escape. And just when they get outside, there is Alec with his own flock of vampires, also to the rescue, but a little late. Shiarra barely manages to keep both groups from attacking each other, and against Alec’s wishes, she leaves with her rescuers, the White Hats.
While captured Max told her what he has planned for her, and how much he hates Alec, and why. So for now, she wants nothing to do with both of them.

But there are more things happening. Max is strategically taking over Royce’s businesses, corrupting or killing his vampires. And Shiarra and her friends decide to join the fight, as Shiarra never wants to be a victim again.

Again, I can’t shake the feeling of “this is a clone of Anita Blake by Laurell K. Hamilton” off of me. The same thing has happened in those books. And as I really love that series, this one is just a weaker copy. Like Shiarra is a weaker heroine than Anita, and Alec cannot compare to Jean-Claude at all.
Still, it is a very high paced action filled book, and an enjoyable read. I even cried a little in the end for Shiarra. When everything has come to an end, she has to pick up the tatters of her normal life, and start over again. And I really get the feeling Chas is cheating on her, it is not only pack business keeping him from their dates.

6 stars

zaterdag 6 augustus 2011

Jess Haines – Hunted by the Others

The first book in the H & W Investigations series, published May 2010.

Hunted by the Others

They are the Others--the vampires, mages, and werewolves once thought to exist only in our imaginations. Now they're stepping out of the shadows, and nothing in our world will ever be the same again. . .
In A Town Like This, Being A P.I. Can Be Murder

Shiarra Waynest's detective work was dangerous enough when her client base was strictly mortal. But ailing finances have forced her to accept a lucrative case that could save her firm--if it doesn't kill her first. Shiarra has signed on to work for a high-level mage to recover an ancient artifact owned by one of New York's most powerful vampires.
As soon as Shiarra meets sexy, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought. With a clandestine anti-Other group trying to recruit her, and magi being eliminated, Shiarra needs back-up and enlists her ex-boyfriend--a werewolf whose non-furry form is disarmingly appealing--and a nerdy mage with surprising talents. But it may not be enough. In a city where the undead roam, magic rules, and even the Others aren't always what they seem, Shiarra has just become the secret weapon in a battle between good and evil--whether she likes it or not. . .

Right after 9-11 the supernatural beings came out of hiding, helping the humans to find more victims, safeguarding cities, and claiming their own “human” rights. But they are no longer humans, they are The Others. And for a human to legally deal with them, or get into a relationship, they have to sign a contract, so if the Other looses it, and kills or maims the human, they are not legally responsible.
Shiarra and her best friend Sara are working as private investigators in their own P.I. firm, even though both of their families are against it. Shiarra’s mother wants nothing more than for Shiarra to marry and give her some grand children. Sara’s family wants her to take care of the family business of real estate, instead of dabbling in the P.I. business, which is way to dangerous for a woman.
Desperate for money, Shiarra accepts an assignment by The Circle, a coven of powerful mages. They want her to get close to the most powerful vampire in New York, Alec Royce, and find out where he keeps a magical object. It is against her own rules, never to deal with the Others, as it is just plain dangerous, but the money is to good to turn down. And so, under the guise of looking for a runaway, Shiarra contacts Royce. But unfortunately for her, he already seems to know what she is really there for.
And on their second meeting, he threatens her so much, she is scared to death of him, and blurts out the truth about her assignment. He then bullies her into giving up the job, and sign a Contract with him, and she has to give him the best weapon the mages have given her: a magic belt with silver stakes. Shiarra is terrified, and has no choice but to give in to his demands. She will have till Sunday evening to return with the signed and notarized contract.
Terrified though she is, Shiarra doesn’t plan on giving up her life meekly. With the signed contract he can do as he pleases with her. So with the help of Sara she modifies it, giving her equal rights to Royce. When she manages to kill him instead, everything he owns will be hers. And with the protection and weapons she now has, she has a real chance of killing him first.
But something is not right, Royce is being controlled by some one else, and Shiarra doesn’t really want to kill him. Somehow, she has to safe him as well from the sorcerer who controls the magical object, and through it, all the Others.
So with the help of her best friend Sara, the mage Arnold, and her ex-boyfriend and alpha werewolf Chaz, Shiarra sets of to fight back.

Okay, overall, it is not a bad story. But. And a very big but here: I can’t stop from thinking this book is a blur between two of my beloved series. The Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton, and Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series.
Anita is also being pursued by a vampire and a werewolf at the start of the series, and she wants nothing to do with both of them. And Rachel is drawn into things she doesn’t want either, including fighting demons and other witches, and circle magic. In one of her books there is also a focus that controls were-animals, and Rachel needs to find it first.
The only original thing in this story, to my thinking, is the Contract. And that is just plain stupid for a human to sign. They can turn you against your will, and even kill you.
And of course the magical objects the mages gave her to fight or repel the vampire with. And a big plus, there doesn’t seem to be the goop after the werewolves shift like in the Anita Blake books.

I did like Shiarra, she was a very frightened person at the start of the book, but the more she stood her ground, the more kick ass she became. Of course the magical belt helped a lot with that too. And I totally agreed with her that she should be afraid of the Others, as they are so much stronger and more powerful than humans.
There is little background on Shiarra or Sara, just that they met in college and became best friends. The pushing of their families, but little else.

So no, unlike the many raving reviews I have read about this series, I am not swept away.
The writing though is fluent, and there is a lot of humor which I liked. Lots of action and fighting too. And just a hint of romance. I like the multitude of paranormal beings. I think I will read the other two books, just to see if they get more original.

6 stars.

vrijdag 5 augustus 2011

New additions to my addiction

Today I got two new books from the Bookdepository, but of course not the books I am really waiting for!

J.D. Robb - Treachery in Death
Shannon K. Butcher - Blood Hunt

Jennifer Estep – Touch of Frost

The first book in the Mythos Academy series, published August 2011.

Touch of Frost

My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy -- a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why - especially since I should have been the one who died.

Gwen Frost is still grieving from her mother’s death, when she is carted off to Mythos Academy. Mythos is not an ordinary school, the emphasis is on myths, and weapons training instead of basketball. Fencing and swimming instead of football or other team sports. The kids attending are descendants from the Valkyries, Spartans, Amazons, Vikings and such, and are being trained as warriors. Gwen doesn’t understand why she is here, she is no warrior, she is just a young girl with a Gypsy gift: psychometrie. She specializes in finding lost stuff for her fellow students, and earning a few dollars that way. She doesn’t really believe in all the stuff that is being thought at Mythos: the war between the God of Chaos, and all the other gods and goddesses.
Then one night, the most popular girl of school is murdered in the library, while Gwen is shelving some books in the back. She herself only gets knocked unconscious, so why wasn’t she murdered as well? And why doesn’t she get a clue about the murder when she touches Jasmine’s blood?
When the next day her fellow students are not upset at all over Jasmine’s death, she really does not understand that. Not even her best friends are mourning her, life just goes on, and her best friend is ready and willing to take over Jasmine’s homecoming Queen-crown and Jasmine’s hot boyfriend. It appears Jasmine was not so popular because she was a good girl, and no-one really misses her. And students seem to die at Mythos on a regular bases, so that is also nothing new.

The war against Chaos is still very real within the walls of Mythos, and slowly Gwen realises this as well. Slowly she makes some friends, Daphne, one of the Valkyries, and Logan Quinn, a Spartan guy and the best warrior at school. She is even falling in love with him, but he tells her there can never be something between them, even though he likes her as well.

I like Jennifer Estep’s Assassin books, and due to the raving reviews this YA book has gotten, I wanted to read it myself. Even though I don’t like YA books in general. And I admit, I still don’t. The story itself is a good one, and I even liked Gwen and the characters surrounding her. But there is so much repeating in this book, and Gwen doubts herself a lot of times. I just think I am too old to enjoy reading about teenagers, even teenagers with magical powers and gifts. Still, I will be reading the rest of the series, as it is the story itself that is good.
Gwen is a good girl, no one wants to tell her what it means to be a Gypsy, she has to find out everything for herself. I really wish Jennifer Estep had found another name for this gift, as I just kept thinking of “normal” Gypsies (the wanderers of old, selling cheap stuff and steeling chickens), and it has absolutely nothing to do with that.
Gwen loves comic books, and she just visits her grandmother whenever she wishes, and not just as allowed, now and then in the weekend. She wears hoodies, while every other girl (and boy) at school is decked out in the latest and most expensive fashions. She doesn’t mind that she doesn’t fit in, but she is feeling lonely, totally without friends at Mythos. So when Daphne got closer to her, that was a good thing in my opinion. The opportunity to be “normal” gossiping teenagers. Chatting about boys.

A lot of humor, and action and some suspense. I don’t really get the teachers in this place, perhaps in the next book.

6 stars

donderdag 4 augustus 2011

Leann Sweeney – Pushing up Bluebonnets

The fifth book in the Yellow Rose Mysteries series, published January 2008.

Pushing up Bluebonnets

Adoption PI and Houston heiress Abby Rose has dedicated her life to helping folks reunite with lost relatives. But when you start shaking family trees, you never know what kind of strange fruit might drop on your head…

Pushing Up Bluebonnets

When former FBI Agent and now small-town police chief Cooper Boyd asks for Abby’s help identifying a young woman who’s fighting for her life following a murder attempt, the job seems easy. But when Abby discovers this girl may be connected to a prominent Texas family, her questions about the victims past become stickier than pecan pie. And she’s about to learn the hard way that when she crawls out on a limb, she’d better be certain there’s not someone behind her with a saw and a mean spirit …

For now the last book in this great series, which makes me a little sad. It is such a good series, but due to health problems, Leann Sweeney can only write one book a year, and for now she is focuses on her new Cats in Trouble series, which is a great one as well. But still, this series is special.

The victim of a car accident is brought unconscious to the hospital, and kept in a coma because of her injuries. She has no identification or anything with her. The only thing in her car that could be a clue, is one of Abby Rose’s business cards. So small town chief of police Cooper Boyd asks Abby to come over, so maybe she can identify the girl. But Abby is sure she has never met her, even though her face is almost unrecognizable due to the bruises and swelling. And she does most of her work by mail, sending business cards along with her answers. She cannot possibly help all the people that want her to find their lost relatives. But perhaps the handwriting on her business card can point her in the right direction.
So with the help of her Aunt Caroline, they start sorting through Abby’s archive. When they have finally found a letter with the same handwriting, Aunt Caroline gets ill, and has to be taken to the hospital. Diagnosed with diabetes, she will have to make major changes in her eating and drinking habits, especially as she is in denial of the whole thing. But Abby’s sister Kate is a strong task master, and will keep her on the right path. She is not only a wonderful psychiatrist who helps Abby with her cases, she is also a health-nut, and knows just what is good and what is not for their Aunt Caroline.
Kate is still not back to her own merry self, after her bad experience with her last boyfriend. A murderer, who just wanted to know what was going on with Abby’s investigation. But meeting Cooper might just be the cure she needs. He is also some kind of health nut, so they have at least that much in common.

When Abby finds out the girl might be JoLynn Richter, granddaughter of Elliot Richter, a very very rich and powerful man, things get complicated. There is no lack of suspects now, as his whole family seems to have despised JoLynn for appearing on his doorstep sometime last year. His daughter has been gone for three years some 20 years ago, and JoLynn really could be his granddaughter. But they want no changes in their inheritance, and did not like JoLynn, nor treat her right.
And what about her past? Where has she been all those years before she appeared on Elliot’s doorstep? She doesn’t want to talk about it, and is it true that Elliot has not had her investigated before? She does have a fake driver’s licence, her car is also not registered.

The more Abby and Cooper find out, the more dangerous the case seems to become. Especially when JoLynn’s ex-boyfriend, a known criminal, turns up murdered…

A very good book. Unfortunately, I could only read for a small period of time, so I did not get as lost in the story as I usually do. But still, I enjoyed it very much. I am happy for Kate, and her new love interest Cooper. Things are going strong with Abby and her own boyfriend Jeff, and his younger sister Doris, who has Down Syndrome.
And then the mystery, well, I dare you to read this book and puzzle it all out before Abby finds out herself. I am sure, I could not have guessed where this book was heading at all. There were not as many quaint Texan sayings in this book as in the others, but those that were, are fun.
Lovely humor, great characters, friendship and family, some suspense, a whole lot of mystery, and the love scenes happen behind closed doors ;)

9 stars.