dinsdag 31 januari 2012

Joanne Pence – The Da Vinci Cook

The 14th and as far as I know, last book in the Angie Amalfi series, published February 2007.

The Da Vinci Cook

Just when dilettante chef Angie Amalfi's checkered culinary career seems to be looking up, she has to drop everything and hightail it to Rome. Her realtor sister Caterina is in a stew—accused of murdering a stranger she found already dead in the abandoned mansion of an absent client, famed Roman restaurateur Marcello Piccoletti. To make matters worse, a priceless religious relic is missing as well—so the Amalfi girls are joining forces in the Eternal City . . . and diving head-first into a simmering cauldron of big trouble.
Working undercover as a cook in Piccoletti's world-famous upscale eatery, Da Vinci's, Angie hopes to unravel the tangled spaghetti strands of this homicide-theft-conspiracy and clear Cat's name. But when bodies begin piling up like fresh mozzarella balls at a family picnic, it looks like next it'll be arrivederci Amalfis . . . for good!

Angie Amalfi is busy planning her wedding to Paavo, her big and handsome fiancé, who is a homicide inspector at the San Francisco Police Department. She is happily surprised with a new job-offer, ghost writing a cookbook with a famous French chef. Then her sister Caterina calls in a panic. Apparently she walked in on a murder scene at one of her client’s homes, and is now in hot pursuit of the someone else fleeing the scene of the crime. Cat was accused of stealing a priceless antique something from the client’s home, and she got fired. Cat is furious, she would never steal something, let alone anything that ugly, and she wants to clear her name. The person she is following, left the house with the item she supposedly stole, and she needs it to clear her name. She wants Angie to call Paavo to have the police stop them! But Paavo got called to a murder scene, and won’t pick up his phone. So Angie has no choice but to get in her car, and follow Cat! She can’t let her sister handle this alone!
And so both women end up at the airport, only to find out that Marcello Piccoletti or perhaps his brother Rocco Piccoletti has just boarded a plane to Rome, and the plane has left! So what to do now? Cat is not inclined to stay home, and let her lawyers and the police handle things, she wants her name cleared, and is furious with Marcello to blame her. And what is he doing still in San Francisco, when he supposedly went to Rome on Monday?
Angie cannot let her sister travel alone, so she joins her, booking another flight to Rome. Their flight will even land there earlier, so they can wait for him at the airport. But as usual, with the things Angie plans, everything goes wrong. Cat has the last seat in First Class, so Angie has to travel coach, which she loathes, seated between two very bulky and smelly men.
They get delayed in Frankfurt, when the airport police is suspicious of them travelling without luggage, and their insistence they absolutely need to catch the plane to Rome! By now Paavo knows they have left the country, which makes Cat a fugitive on the run, as she is the main murder suspect (of course he knows she did not do it, but he has to follow the rules!) and as Angie has helped her, she is an accessory. So both women have to lie low from the law in Rome as well. Especially since Paavo’s new chief of police won’t believe him, and has contacted the Italian police with the request to apprehend both ladies.

A very convoluted tale follows. The relic in question, is some very old chain, supposedly used to shackle Peter, one of the first Apostles. And many people are after it. Angie keeps spotting someone with a goatee, and a priest, and Marcello who is hiding as well. They are in dire streets, they don’t dare use the ATM for more money to buy some clothes, or go to a good hotel, as their passports will be checked. And so they have to hide, until Cat can sort everything out with Marcello. She keeps saying she trusts him, and he will help her clear her name and everything. Angie wants nothing more to go back home, to Paavo, and their wedding preparations, but she can’t leave Cat behind.
Angie knows her way around the city, as she has lived there for a while, after finishing her education as a chef in Paris. She is happy to be back in Rome, as she loves the city, but the circumstances are so not what she is used to. But perhaps as a honeymoon location, she and Paavo can come back here?

In the meanwhile, in San Francisco, the bodies keep piling up, and Cat’s husband is kidnapped. Someone wants to put Cat under pressure to give up the chain, someone convinced she has it. Paavo keeps running in to Angie’s other three sisters, they are all send by their mother, who wants to “help” him. She wants her two little girls back! So they need to find out who is behind this setup of Cat, and all the murders. And Seraphina Amalfi sure has connections in town, and in Italy. Paavo really dislikes spending time with his soon-to-be sisters in law, as they are all kind of wacko. The only one he likes is the oldest sister, Bianca, the normal and cool and caring one. But she totally falls apart when they discover the body of the women they were supposed to question. Another sister is a fanatic protestor, who hates Paavo, and the last one is a pious and religious nut, even though she is married and has a body for sin.

So, lots of action, both in Rome as in San Francisco. Slowly Paavo unravels something, but in the end, he and Charles just have to go to Rome themselves, to safe their loved ones. If they can find them, will they be in time?

As usual, it was fun following Angie on her adventure. This time not in San Francisco, with Paavo there to safe her, but in Rome, with her sister Cat. It was really nice to see Rome through her eyes, certainly a city I want to visit someday. Cat was not a sister that has been a big secondary character in the previous books in the series, and it was great getting to know her and her husband better. She is not someone you can easy like. She is giving Angie a very hard time, being very selfish most of the book.
And Paavo, sigh, he really does miss his Angie. Memories of her all over the city. And he even puts up with her strange family. I never knew what would happen next. The one mastermind behind it all, that was a bit of a surprise, as my first suspect was found murdered. The story sure was confusing at first, and more and more strange characters kept popping up in Rome. Angie and Cat had to do a lot of things to stay free, and out of danger.
Joanne Pence has written another original, fast paced and just fun cozy mystery that also has some real suspense and great characters. Both the main and the secondary. If you are interested in that, there are a few recipes in the back of the book.

As far as I have known for years, this is the last Angie Amalfi book. As you can see, published 5 years ago. And now, suddenly, the authors has a brand new website, the books have been re-issued as ebooks, and she has written a novella in this series, published in December 2011! And low and behold on her website it says:
The Angie Amalfi series is currently on hiatus (while Angie plans her wedding, of course!) For fans of Joanne Pence's books, she is currently working on an exciting new novel. Keep posted for more information on it. “
I am certainly excited about this news! Angie’s life is certainly not sorted out with the ending of this book! I want to learn about her weddingplans, if she will ever find a job she really likes and can hold on to, will she get into more scrapes?

8 stars.

New additions to my addiction

When my boyfriend told me there were 2 new books from Bookdepository, I was very happy. And though I am glad with those two books, I was hoping for some others more!

Kathryne Kennedy - The Lord of Illusion
JR Ward - Envy.

Let's hope for more packages in the next few days :)

maandag 30 januari 2012

Sabrina Jeffries – A lady never surrenders

The fifth book in the Hellions of Halstead Hall series, published January 2012.

A lady never surrenders

Lady Celia Sharpe has always been wary of marriage … but now her future depends on it.

With two months left to find a husband and fulfil her grandmother’s ultimatum, Celia sets her sights on three eligible bachelors. Becoming betrothed to one of these wealthy, high-ranking men will surely prove her capable of getting married, so hopefully the wedding itself won’t be necessary for Celia to receive her inheritance. Step Two of her audacious plan is hiring the dark and dangerously compelling Bow Street Runner Jackson Pinter to investigate the three men she’s chosen.
With Lady Celia bedevilling Jackson’s days and nights, the last thing he wants is to help her find a husband. And when she recalls shadowed memories that lead his investigation into her parent’s mysterious deaths in a new direction, putting her in danger, Jackson realizes the only man he wants Celia to marry is himself!

I was a little sad to start this series, as it means the end of it, and I enjoyed it so very much. But I was also very eager to start it, as I had to know the answers to the murder investigation in their parents’ deaths, and how Pinter would ever manage to make Celia his wife.

I did not get to know Celia very well in the previous books, other than that she had numerous run ins with Pinter, and loves to shoot guns, both pistols and rifles and that she is quite good at it.

Lady Celia Sharpe is the last of her family unmarried, and according to the ultimatum made by their grandmother Hetty Plumtree, all 5 of them need to marry within the year, or she will disinherit them all, and give her fortune to her other relatives. And if even one of them won’t marry, neither of them will get a penny. And she will cut their allowances as well. So far, both her sister and her three brothers have found someone to fall in love with and marry, and they are happy. Celia has not yet fallen in love, but she has found three eligible bachelors, she is considering. She is not in love with them, but perhaps when she can collect some offers of marriage, her grandmother will give her some more time to find her own love.

Her three suitors are the Earl of Devonmont, the Duke of Lyons and the Visconde de Basto, a Portuguese nobleman. But when she asks the Bow Street Runner who is working for their family to find out the truth about their parents deaths 19 years ago, Jackson Pinter is appalled!
The earl of Devonmont is Pierce, the cousin of her newest sister in law, and a rakehell! The Duke of Lyons had a mad father, and rumors are, the madness runs in their family, which is why he is still unmarried, and the Visconde is way too old for her! Celia doesn’t believe him, why Pinter sounds almost jealous! And if he won’t help her find out the truth about those three men, she will find out for her self! She will ask her grandmother to invite them to the houseparty for her brothers’ birthday, so she will have a chance to get to know them better. And Pinter has to be there too, to ask questions to their servants and perhaps search their rooms. And so Pinter has no choice but to agree. At least staying over will give him the chance to protect her from unwanted advances.

Jackson Pinter is one of the best Bow Street Runners in London, and is in line for a big promotion. Being married to a lady of rank and distinction would sure be good for his career. But he thinks a low born bastard has no chance at all to win Celia. No matter how much he desires her. What he doesn’t know is that Celia has a very low self esteem. Next to her gorgeous and voluptuous sister, she always went unnoticed. She is tall and slender, and has her fathers’ Italian colouring. Especially after the incident with her cousin when she was 14. She has had a crush on her handsome cousin since she was 9, and when he finally noticed her, she was so happy. But he tried to rape her, and he got very mad when she defended him with a brick, and got away. After that, she got her brother to teach her to shoot, so she never would be helpless again. But her ego never did recover. This makes her doubt her ability to find a suitable husband herself. She is not good at flirting, or believing in compliments. She loves talking about guns and shooting, and is certainly knowledgeable about that. Her brothers’ friends sure like talking with her, but marriage is something else.

Jackson and Celia are attracted to each other, and grandma Hetty sure notices that. But she won’t have Celia marry beneath her station, so she tries to warn Jackson off. She will disinherit Celia if she marries him against her wishes! And Jackson does not want Celia to have to live on his salary, and have to make do. So he tries to keep his distance, even after that passionate kiss they shared the other night.
But when Jackson goes of to question her old Nanny, Celia insist on coming with him. They stay much longer than he would have liked, after all, she is unchaperoned alone with an unmarried man, and both their reputations are at stake. He has to have her back home before they will be missed. On their way home, someone is shooting at them, and they have to hide in the forest. Spending the night together, they both know it is inevitable they will have to marry, and so they give in to their desires. But in the morning, Pinter is getting second doubts. How can he ask Celia to give up her wealth and her way of living for him? She is worthy of so much more. So when they finally arrive back home, and the family has kept her disappearance quiet, there is no need to marry, and his cold demeanour certainly keeps her from speaking out. Did he lie to her after all, about wanting her?

But Jackson needs to get back to work, he has to find their horses, and search for any possible witnesses. And he needs to speak with some other old servants, to find out what they do remember of the time of the murder. After all, Celia will be safe, surrounded by her family, or will she?

The truth comes out at last, and it managed to surprise me a little. Not the murderer, which I did figure out, but something else. The ending is great, both of the mystery and of this romance.

I liked Celia. She is unsure about her own attractiveness, and finds it hard to believe a man could really want her for herself. She is a sharpshooter, and could never love a man who cannot equal her. Lucky for her, Jackson can beat her in that. Even though she was only 4 years old at the time, she has some memories of her parents of that day, and perhaps she can contribute the missing link.
Jackson is very protective of Celia, and he genuinely loves her, even if he thinks he is not good enough. I liked meeting his aunt, and the truth about his own parents was a big surprise, and a bit daunting to read. I really felt for him. He is a proud man, and worked hard to get where he is in life after the rough start he had.
Together, they really are like water and fire. He tries to be so cool, distant and proper, but around Celia, his true self surfaces. And that is just what she needs. Celia can be herself around him too, she doesn’t have to pretend to be someone she is not, like she wants to do with her other suitors. But to be true, I did not learn very much about Celia herself, although she did stay cool when in danger, but I so hoped she would free herself.

All in all, I liked the story. It was a nice mix of the romance developing, and figuring out the mystery. I was not blown away with this book, as with some of the others in the series, but it was good. A good plot and characters, both main and secondary, the story is fast paced. There is the usual humor, and some hot lovescenes. And my wish about Hetty from the previous book came true as well, so all is well that ends well . The book ends with a preview of the next story, which will be out for Christmas, and will be featuring the last rogue of them all, Pierce. Looking forward to his story and especially his history.

8 stars.

zondag 29 januari 2012

New addition to my addiction

I forgot to mention, yesterday I received Sabrina Jeffries - A lady never surrenders. The fifth and final book in the Hellions of Hellstead Hall series. I devoured the book today, and am struggling to write the review at this moment. Will be posted tomorrow :)

Joanne Pence – Red hot Murder

Book 13 in the Angie Amalfi series, published January 2006.

Red hot murder

Dilettante chef Angie Amalfi doubts if she'll actually survive her engagement to San Francisco homicide detective Paavo Smith, what with her meddling mom micromanaging the whole affair. So Angie leaps at the chance to spend some time away with her fiancé in the sun-drenched Arizona desert town where he'd spent time as a boy -- and maybe explore the possibility of a Southwestern-themed wedding feast.
But her groom-to-be is going back there to help a friend investigate the murder of a wealthy local -- and it seems this tiny desert community is a hotbed of deadly secrets. And when a second course of murder is served up, suddenly Angie's tasty getaway with her lover is starting to look more and more like her final meal.

When Paavo is called by a childhood friend whom he hasn’t seen in years, about a suspicious death, he is determined to go back to Jackpot, Arizona, to take a look around. Angie is just as determined to go with him, not only to spend some quality alone time with her fiancé, she is also looking for a unique wedding locale. And she is very curious about this glimpse in Paavo’s childhood. He is a very private person, and sometimes that drives her nuts. After the gorgeous engagement party her mother arranged for her, the wedding will have to top that. What a shame she can’t just run away with Paavo.
Paavo made an appointment with Ned in the only diner in town, but he never shows up. Only a young woman, also looking for Ned comes in. Paavo is not happy that Ned has told he was coming, he hoped to stay low profile. After a nice dinner, they drove on to their guesthouse at the Ghost Hollow Guest Ranch, which belonged to the richest man in town, Hal Edwards. He is something of a legend locally, as he build his own wealth starting with one little Halmart shop. He used to help a lot of local people, by employing them, or encouraging them to start their own business. At a young age, he got a stroke, and was nursed back to health. But his wife divorced him, getting the Halmart emporium as her winnings. Hal was furious, but there was little he could do as an invalid. He still had the hacienda, and turned that in a successful Guest Ranch. A lot of people escaping the harsh winter climate come to Arizona, and leave when the heat gets too much. A few months ago, he was found murdered in one of the caves on his hacienda, and the local Doc, the friend Paavo and his Finnish stepdad used to stay with, has voiced his concerns to Paavo. The local sheriff quickly ruled it an accidental death, but Doc is not happy with that. Hal was very wealthy, and as his will has not been found yet, Doc as executioner is unwilling to settle the estate, much to the dismay of Clarissa, the ex-wife, and her son Joey. Joey is a very weak figure, totally under the thumb of his screw of a mother.

And then, on an outing to the caves were Hal was found, they find the murdered body of Ned. And this the incompetent female sheriff can’t rule it accidental. Paavo is furious with her disrespectful treatment of his old friend, and how she and her even less competent deputy (and her cousin) trample all over the crime scene. The sheriff, Merry Belle Hermann, is even less pleased to find a bona fide homicide cop from the big city in her little town. She certainly does not need his help! But Paavo is not willing to back up. As she is an elected sheriff, her records are public so he can have access as much as he wishes! And as she is clearly not going to exert herself overly much, he will do some investigating of his own. With the happy and capable help of Angie of course.

Well, where to start. It was fun meeting up with Angie and Paavo again. And as they are in Arizona instead of San Francisco, all the other characters in the book are brand new. And strange. And secretive. They just won’t tell what they know or suspect. And suspects galore. Was Hal killed for his fortune? Was he working with illegal immigrants? Why did he buy a 100 female ostriches shortly before he died? Why did he go missing for 5 years, and was killed shortly after his return? Did he indeed marry?
Paavo and Angie sure have their work cut out for them. And Angie of course cannot help but volunteer her professional cooking services when she finds out there will be a big cook out for the whole town the next weekend.

Angie is looking good as usual in her designer clothes, and the deputy sheriff is much taken with it. He is secretly loving designer clothes, and would not more than to be one himself. But he knows he is lacking the funds and intelligence for an education, and the real talent to make it. But he still admires it all. Angie never thought she could be bored talking about clothes and designers, but in this book, she learns otherwise. The cook/owner of the local diner is convinced she is a gourmet cook, just like Angie, and makes special dishes for her, made of local produce. Well, be sure, no sane person would want to eat some of those ingredients!

It was fun, and I have to admit, I was totally wrong in the who and why of the killer. Joanne Pence got me on the wrong foot completely, and I love it when that happens in a mystery. I liked the ending, and everything that happens, and one special ostrich sure saved the day!

This book qualifies for my reading challenge of reading one book a month that has been on my shelves for over a year. And also for the challenge of reading at least 2 cozies a month. I’ll start the last one in this series tomorrow, which will be the second cozy.

8 stars.

zaterdag 28 januari 2012

Gini Koch – Alien Tango

The second book in the Katherine "Kitty" Katt series, published December 2010.

Alien Tango

For Alien Super-Being Exterminator Katherine “Kitty” Katt, anti-alien conspiracies, threats from outer space, and a couple of killer alligators are all in a day’s work. But internal alien schemes and some major “relationship” complications are about to bring new meaning to the phrase “chaos and confusion”.
It's been five months since Kitty joined Centaurion Division, working with the aliens from Alpha Centauri She and Jeff Martini have grown closer as a couple and life looks rosy. But when an experimental spacecraft is unexpectedly returned to the Kennedy Space Center, Kitty and the rest of Alpha Team are called on to investigate and are immediately embroiled in life-or-death situations that scream “political conspiracy”.
The team must survive murderous attacks, deal with a mysterious space entity that has seized control of a group of astronauts, and evade a woman who’ll do anything to eliminate the competition when she develops an obsessive crush on Kitty's old high school boyfriend. And that's all before evil masterminds decide Kitty's extermination is vital…

The book starts a few months after the first book in the series, Kitty is having flying lessons, and is head of Team Airborn. The flyboys who saved her during operation Fuggly, are in her team now, as are the two Dazzlers, Lorraine and as is Tim, the human driver. For some reason, A-C’s (Alpha Centaurion people) cannot drive a car or fly a plane, as they do everything too fast. Which means employing human military personnel to do those tasks. Kitty and Martini are as good as living together at the Base, something which her parents are fine with. But Martini’s parents not. Jeff is dreading the almost daily call’s from his mother, urging him to settle with a nice A-C female instead of a mere human. And, there is the religious ban on mixed marriages. Kitty doesn’t mind all that much, they don’t really have to marry to be together, and living together is fine with her. And perhaps, when his parents meet her, they will like her. But both Jeff and Christopher think that is a very bad idea.
But then there is situation at Kennedy Space Center, where Jeff’s father works, and he calls them for help. The astronauts in the recently returned space shuttle are infected with something alien, and are in quarantine. One of the astronauts is Paul’s brother, so they want to hurry though the gates to get to the Space Center. Unfortunately, someone is playing political games, and it is imperative that they use normal means of transportation, meaning a commercial flight! When they finally arrive at the airport, they find out that the plane has been hold for them for 2 hours, without allowing the passengers of the plane, and boarding a later plane that did leave. And they are flying coach, not even first class! Kitty does not trust this at all, and Reader agrees with her feelings. When they learn who gave the orders to hold the plane, Kitty is determined to search the plane and all its occupants for a bomb. One phone call to her mother gives her the aid of another gorgeous agent, called Kevin. And he backs her intuition and orders. Much to the dismay of Martini, who doesn’t like it when Kitty looks at other men.

As is happens, Kitty’s feelings are right. They find a few suspicious acting people carrying parts of a bomb. All a member of Club 51, an anti-alien club. They are convinced they can out the aliens by blowing up the plane. Then of course all the procedures have to be done, getting the wanna-be terrorists locked up, and they still are not at Kennedy Space Center. Kitty and the others refuse to fly commercial, and want their own private jet to take them. But no sooner are they leaving the jet, than the next attempt to kill them all is made. A bomb goes off, and Kitty is the only one not yet on scene. Disregarding Jeff and Christopher’s orders to run like hell and go away, Kitty barges in, and saves them all. And so she finally meets Jeff’s father, while looking like a wet cat with ruined clothes. To her surprise, he does love Jeff, and is very thankful she saved his son’s life. And everything.
But of course, the fun and games are only just beginning, and multiple plots seem to be at work here. What happened to all the security that is supposed to be in place? But helping the astronauts is their first priority at the moment. And no one is more surprised than Kitty when one of those men is her old highschool boyfriend. He sure has not forgotten her, and is determined to win her back, which is why he became a astronaut at the first place, and when he notices that Kitty at first has no idea whom he is, he is heartbroken.

An enormous lot of action, with dangerous moments, but also a lot of fun things. The alligators! I loved it! And then the horrible situation at the Martini residence, with those horrible women. I loved how Kitty came up for Jeff and saved the day, and all the young A-C’s by just a phone call to her mother, who in turn asks the President for sanctuary on religious grounds! Sooo cool. How she takes care of Jeff, when his mother serves meatloaf, knowing he hates it.

Okay not spoiling anything else. I loved the interactions between all the main characters in this book. Christopher sure is a lot easier to like. We finally get to meet Chucky, and wow! Big surprise there as well! But I think Martini needs to change a bit, he totally has to loose that unfounded jealousy, or I will not be able to like him anymore.

Kitty really saves the day again, seeing right through the plot to the truth, and finding a solution no one else would ever think of! I like her, with her faithful bottomless handbag and her band t-shirts. The book is fun, fast-paced and I do not mean hyperspeed, lots of action, lots of intrigue, but also romance and sometimes the book is really intense.

I absolutely loved the book. I was on a book high when I finished it, and had to come down from it first. Looking forward to reading the other books in this series soon, I have ordered them as soon as I finished the first book, but it will take a few weeks for them to get home to me.

10 stars.

vrijdag 27 januari 2012

New addition to my addiction

I have received some nice books this week. And I think the "other" bookdepository is not just cheaper, but also much faster! So win-win.

Jude Deveraux - Days of Gold
Jude Deveraux - Moonlight in the Morning
Karen Marie Moning - Bloodfever
Karen Marie Moning - Dreamfever

And from author Terry Spear, three books I won, I only can't recall where. She has signed and dedicated all three of them, and she added some lovely bookmarks, which will be added to my board. Thank you Terry!

I choose:
Heart of the Wolf, The Dark Fae and the Deadly Fae.

donderdag 26 januari 2012

Gini Koch – Touched by an Alien

The first book in the Katherine "Kitty" Katt series, published April 2010.

Touched by an Alien

It was just another day in Arizona – and then the monster showed up…

Marketing manager Katherine “Kitty” Katt had just finished a day on jury duty. When she stepped out of the Pueblo Caliente courthouse, all she was thinking about was the work she had to get caught up on. Then her attention was caught by a fight between a couple – a domestic dispute that looked like it was about to turn ugly. But ugly didn’t even begin to cover it when the “man” suddenly transformed into a huge, winged monster right out of a grade Z science fiction movie and went on a deadly killing spree. In hindsight, Kitty realized she probably should have panicked and run screaming the way everyone around her was doing. Instead she got mad, searched her purse for a weapon, and, armed with a Mont Blanc pen, sprinted into action to take down the alien.
In the middle of all the screeching and the ensuing chaos, a tall handsome hunk of a guy in an Armani suit suddenly appeared beside her, examined the body, introduced himself as Jeff Martini with “the agency”, called out to an Armani-clad colleague to perform crowd control and then insisted on leading her to a nearby limo to talk to his “boss”.
And that was how Kitty’s new life among the aliens began…

Kitty Katt just finished her jury duty, and is ready to head back to the office, when she notices a fender bender turning into something much worse! Apparently, it was a man who rammed his wife’s car, and now he is yelling at her something fierce. Of course Kitty does not want anything to do with a domestic dispute, but then something strange happens. The man grows some wings suddenly, and knifes are flying out of them instead of feathers. Instantly killing his wife and lots of innocent bystanders with them. Kitty does not even think about hiding behind a car, she just grabs in her big handbag, looking for something to use as a weapon. The creature’s back is turned towards her, and there is some jellyfish like thing between the wings. And without thinking, she plunges her Mont Blanc pen in the middle of the thing, instantly killing it, and the creature.

Before the adrenaline has a chance to back down, a very handsome stranger is with her, checking her out, and the alien. Kitty is glad she can have her pen back, as it was a gift from her father, and she cherishes it. Jeff Martini asks her to come with him, to be debriefed about what happened, some one else will take care of her car for her. As she agrees, and is taken away, Kitty has no idea what is about to happen to her life. She learns things about her world, and most importantly, about her parents, that astonish her. But she keeps a cool head through it all.

And I really, really want to tell more of the story, but you just have to discover it for yourselves, as those surprises and twists and turns should not be spoiled for you! I never saw any of them coming.

I totally blame or thank Blodeuedd for recommending this series to me. But I was suspecting something very different from what I got in my hands. I enjoyed it nonetheless. And I will for sure read the rest of the series!

I loved Kitty. She never backed down, she took charge, she acted. She was told lots of things, credible things, and she looked through them all, down to the real and hard truth. And she did not flinch, action was needed, and she was there, in the thick of it. Finding solutions. Two men fell for her, but I too would choose the man who liked me, helped me, saved above the man who snarked and glared and put me down whenever he could.
I loved Kitty’s mother, she sure has The Power! And I could really see her father in my mind’s eye. Outward, a bit of a distracted professor, but in reality … something more.
And then there is Jeff Martini. He wants to marry Kitty within minutes of meeting, which would freak me out bigtime. But she just shrugs it off, but she likes how he handles her, and wants to have her close. Well, he is drop dead gorgeous after all. I like him, but he really needs to stop doubting Kitty. And then there is Christopher. Sorry, but I could not like him. You don’t show a woman you are interested in, in that manner! Not sure I will ever fall for him. The other main secondary characters like Reader are so well made and real too.

I like the world, and even though Kitty fought some things that will be giving me nightmares in the very near future, I could not stop reading or skip that piece. I had to know what happened and what would happen next.

The book is very fast paced, a lot of info is thrown at Kitty and at the reader of the book at the same time. But when I believed it all point blank, Kitty did not and figured out the truth. Within 2 days of knowing them. Talk about being smart! I do not share her taste in music, but how she used it was soooo cool! I think my boyfriend will know all those songs.
The love scenes between Kitty and Jeff are smoking hot, but with all the action, there is not much time for that, just enough.

It has been a long time since I read any sci-fi like this. The technology is way above my head, but I did not enjoy the story any less. Luckily, I don’t have to wait for the next book in the series, as I have an autographed copy waiting for me already.

9 stars.

woensdag 25 januari 2012

Jude Deveraux – Scarlet Nights

TThe third book in the Edilean series, published August 2010.

Scarlet Nights

Engaged to the charming and seductive Greg Anders, Sara Shaw is happily anticipating her wedding, just weeks away. Every detail, down to her heirloom dress is ready. But when Greg gets a telephone call during the night and leaves without explanation, and a stranger suddenly appears in her apartment and refuses to leave, Sara realizes her fiancé was not who he claimed to be … and that Mike Newland, her best friend’s brother, has crashed into her life on an undercover mission to track a notorious criminal frighteningly close to Sara. Winning Sara’s trust is the detective’s first task, but Mike never counted on revealing his own intensely private ties to Edilean or sharing secrets he’s never told anyone else. As the pair works together to solve two mysteries, their growing love begins to heal each of them in ways they never could have imagined.

Don’t you just love this cover? It really screams historical romance to me, but it is not. It is a contemporary, set in the little village of Edilean, Virginia. And I really enjoyed coming back here, and meeting some of my favourite characters again.

Sara Shaw is not happy. Her fiancé left last night, without telling her why or where to, after phone call in the middle of the night. He doesn’t respond to her text messages or voicemail either. It’s only three weeks before their wedding, and he left her with tons of work for their very upscale dress shop. Now her cousin Luke has told her he has to fumigate her apartment, and she will have to leave. Luckily, she can use her best friend Tess’s apartment, as she is on her honeymoon with her new husband Ramsay.
It’s the middle of the night, Tess is in bed, she has been busy altering clothing all evening, when suddenly she starts hearing things. Then the floor of her bedroom starts moving, and a hidden trapdoor is opening. She wants to run, but she cannot make her self go past that trapdoor to reach the door. She is highly surprised when the stranger demands to know what she is doing there! It is his sister’s apartment, and he knows she is on her honeymoon, so who is she, and what is she doing there! He will call the police!
Mike has no place to go, as his own apartment burned down, and all he has left are the clothes he is wearing and his car. He has to stay in the spare bedroom. Sara grumpily accepts that, but she knows the whole town will gossip by the end of the morning. They all hate her fiancé, and having a handsome single man staying with her is perhaps just what she needs to dump the guy.

What Sara doesn’t know, is that Mike has a purpose. He is an undercover agent, in Edilean to protect her from her own fiancé. Greg is the son of an evil conwoman, the FBI has been looking for for years. They have no idea why he is so interested in Sara, that he even divorced his wife to be able to marry her legally, but he has killed his “wives” before, and disappeared with his inheritance. They still have not found Mitzi, but they are sure Greg/Stefan will lead them to his mother.
Greg/Stefan was lured back to town where he was arrested, when they arrested his ex-wife. As he truly loves her, he came running as soon as she told him she was in trouble. They put him in jail as well, and took his phone. Mike has been reading Sara’s messages and her file, he knows everything there is to know about Sara, and of course what his sister has been telling him for the last few years. He has never visited Edilean before, always busy with the next undercover job.

Greg has been working on Sara’s self-esteem, bit by bit, and has made her abandon her friends and family whenever he could. His goal is to get Sara to marry him, take her away from Edilean, make her loose contact with everyone, and then kill her. At which point he will inherit as her husband. The only thing is, they can’t figure out what it is he is after. Sara has been wanting to buy / live in an old farm, but Ramsey’s family has owned it for generations, and he won’t sell it. Because he promised it to Tess, who wants the farm for her brother. In a few years, he will retire, and she wants him to have a place near her, and in her life. Mike has no idea what he is to do with a farm, but he will indulge his sister.

Mike’s job is to get close to Sara, seduce her when necessary, find out what Greg is after, and arrest both Greg and Mitzi. To that purpose, he has asked his sisters help in getting him close to Sara fast, who in turn asked Luke’s cooperation in getting her out of her own apartment, and into Tess’s, where Mike can surprise her coming through the trapdoor. They are all delighted to help, anything to get her out of the grasp of Greg!
Mike never had much trouble with a woman, but Sara keeps him at a distance. She is engaged after all. And Mike sure tries to get in her good graces! Cooking for her, cleaning up afterwards, just listen to her. But he also gets the trust of her family and friends seemingly overnight, and he gathers a lot of gossip. Sara is angry. Angry with Greg for not calling her back, angry with her family and friends who dislike Greg so much and want her to dump him. Can’t they see he has a good side as well? And now they all want to throw her into Mike’s arms? They don’t even know him!

Sara certainly is not a fool, and she quickly figures out Mike is in Edilean for his job, and it has to do with her. So Mike has no choice but to tell her things, and Sara deduces a lot more. But never could she have imagined the amount of betrayal that Greg has done. She is not all that much surprised; she had chosen not to see the signs of his true character. His love of money, his flirting with other women, his unstable tempers, how he never could stand her questioning him. But even when her eyes are opened, she does not fall into Mike’s willing arms.

I loved this book. Even though I read it in tiny bits and pieces (it was my pursebook for two weeks), I had no trouble picking it up again and again. I kept waiting for it to become embarrassing, when Mike keeps lying to her, and avoiding the truth, but it never happened. Sara kept surprising me with her insights, and how she handled Mike when he wanted her to stay safely home, how she reacts to the things she learns. How she is.
Yes, I liked Sara a lot. When her boyfriend of 4 years left her to return to England, and all she got was a short note that he was going to marry his childhood sweetheart, she was heartbroken. And in swept Greg, who swept her of her feet. She was sick and tired of the towns pity, so an easy prey for a charmer like Greg.
Sara is a very good cook, and seamstress, she makes her own clothes, and she used to help a lot of people, but Greg gives her so much work at the shop, she has no more time for others. He tells her that is allright; they only took advantage of her all those years, which is why she is not rich or owns her own home. She has always been attracted to the old Merlin Farm, even though she is scared to death by its caretaker, old mr. Lang. Sara comes over as a very sweet young woman, but she has a hidden backbone, and is very smart. Mike can’t get away with much.

Mike and Tess had a difficult childhood, being raised by their “evil” grandmother. Mike ran off to join the army as soon as he could, and “freed” Tess the day she graduated highschool. He took care of her ever since, until she could support herself. But they are very close. He has only one other friend, and a lot of colleagues and acquaintances. Mike works out a lot, and is a sucker for health food and drinks. Which endears him quickly to Sara’s mother, who owns an organic food emporium. They can talk food and herbs for hours. Due to his many undercover jobs, he is good at a lot of things, like cooking and dancing. And he is very much surprised when Sara does not fall in his arms right away, when he puts some effort into it. He is not truly handsome, but he has a body like a young god!

The plot is truly good, and original, and I loved discovering along with Mike and Tess what Greg could be after. Even though there was supposed to be a lot of FBI backup, in the end it is Tess who is the heroine of the day, bringing down Mitzi. This book is just plain fun, great characters, both main and secondary, great plot, good pace, humor, and surprises everywhere. And finally, the love scenes between Mike and Sara, not too elaborated, that is not Jude Deveraux’ style, but fitting the story and sweet. I can’t think of something I did not like, perhaps more about what happened at the Fair in the end.
I want to live in Edilean and meet all those people! Jude Deveraux sure delivered another keeper.

9 stars.

dinsdag 24 januari 2012

Kresley Cole – Lothaire

Book 12 in the Immortals After Dark series, published January 2012.


#1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole continues her electrifying Immortals After Dark series with this thrilling tale, revealing secrets of the Lore, fierce realm of the immortals. . . .
Driven by his insatiable need for revenge, Lothaire, the Lore’s most ruthless vampire, plots to seize the Horde’s crown. But bloodlust and torture have left him on the brink of madness—until he finds Elizabeth Peirce, the key to his victory. He captures the unique young mortal, intending to offer up her very soul in exchange for power, yet Elizabeth soothes his tormented mind and awakens within him emotions Lothaire believed he could no longer experience.
Growing up in desperate poverty, Ellie Peirce yearned for a better life, never imagining she’d be convicted of murder—or that an evil immortal would abduct her from death row. But Lothaire is no savior, as he himself plans to sacrifice Ellie in one month’s time. And yet the vampire seems to ache for her touch, showering her with wealth and sexual pleasure. In a bid to save her soul, Ellie surrenders her body to the wicked vampire, while vowing to protect her heart.
Elizabeth tempts Lothaire beyond reason, as only his fated mate could. As the month draws to a close, he must choose between a millennia-old blood vendetta and his irresistible prisoner. Will Lothaire succumb to the miseries of his past . . . or risk everything for a future with her?

After escaping from prisoner island, Lothaire, the most powerful Vampire in the Lore, the Enemy of Old, is only just in time to safe his Bride … from Death Row! She is only minutes away from the deathly injection. Something she desperately wants.

The young Ellie has grown up in the Appalachian Mountains, free and wild, running barefoot most of the year. Now she is helping her mother raising her younger brother as her father died in the coalmines. Working for her uncle when she can, and getting ready for college. And then, suddenly, she is possessed. The ancient, but powerless, Vampire goddess Saroya has taken over her body. Saroya is cursed by her sister to die time and again as punishment for killing so many and revelling in the pain and misery she causes. And so she jumps from body to body until her host dies. But Ellie is not so easy to conker. Unlike her other hosts, she is young and strong, and doesn’t give in to Saroya easily. Only when she sleeps, Saroya can take her over, doing horrible things. Time and again Ellie wakes to slaughter, to find blood everywhere, and she won’t take it any more. Now her last chance at freedom is gone, when Saroya has killed 5 priests, trying to exorcise her. Her mother has called the sheriff, and Ellie is ready to die, then and there. She will not have Saroya kill her mother and brother.

But just when she is about to get killed by the sheriff, a man appears in front of her, taking the bullets meant for her. Making her get arrested without resistance, and thrown in jail. There she will be safe, and she will keep his Bride safe! Ellie has no idea who or what he is, but she has no choice. And now, after 5 horrible years in prison, he has come for her in the nick of time. She was ready to die, to get rid of Saroya.
Instead, he takes her to a luxury penthouse in New York, and keeps her a prisoner there. She is to treat herself allright, as long as she houses his Bride. Her body is his to do with as he pleases! Or else, he will hurt her family! And so Elly has little choice, but she won’t give in to this Vampire. Who could ever believe they existed! But Lothaire is getting confused. His Bride doesn’t seem to want him, or be with him. And Elisabeth is entertaining and refreshing with her boldness. He cannot predict her actions, and somehow, her presence is keeping his madness at bay.
He needs to find the Ring. With it he can throw Ellie out of her body, so Saroya will be with him forever as his Bride, and his Queen. With her at his side, he will be King of the Horde, and of the Dacian Vampires. He will get the revenge he promised his dying mother. After all those centuries of plotting, his goal is in sight! But Ellie makes him doubt himself, and what he wants to do after he reaches his goal. What will happen then? Never has he thought of that.

And then, when he finally finds out how mistaken he was, he cannot take back the vows he made to his goddess when he first met her. Not even the Ring can grant those wishes to him.

A really great book. Lothaire certainly was not a character I admired previously in the series, but Kresley Cole sure explains him. The torture and betrayal he has suffered for centuries, the plotting he has done for even more centuries, all centered upon one goal. He has done unspeakable atrocies, but then, the whole Lore world is a very cruel world, with all kind of species hating and fighting each other. He has never known kindness or friends, and he has no idea how a woman thinks or feels. They all fall for his devastating good looks and body, no one has ever denied him, until Ellie. He has no idea how bad he is treating her, is baffled when she goes against his orders.

And Ellie was such a great character. Denied her wish to die twice now, she still tries to make the best of it. She is used to be called names, as she comes from one of the poorest regions of America. A hillbilly, a redneck, a hick. But she is not stupid, she got a PhD in psychology in prison, even knowing she would never be using it. But it sure helps her to handle Lothaire, even though he is Vampire and not human.

I also liked the Hag, Lothaire’s personal soothsayer, who becomes Ellies friend after a while. Lothaire tends to leave Ellie there, protected from the sight of others, when he goes hunting for the Ring. I loved the scenes with them drinking bears and watch the ocean together.

The lovescenes between Lothaire and Ellie are incredibly hot and good. Especially at first, when he cannot have real intercourse with her, as his Vampire strength will crush her. So they find other things to do together.

Saroya, well, she is pure evil. She doesn’t care for Lothaire at all, but that he is a strong Vampire and she will be his Queen. But she is a Virgin Goddess of Death, and not inclined at all to have sex with any male. So Ellie standing in for her is fine with her!

And then there are the usual cast of characters I have come to expect and like, with of course Nïx as the most important one. We finally get a glimpse in her soul, and her pain. All her actions will be for the greater good in the end, even if not understood at the moment. I like her, and I hope someday she will have a mate of her own.

There was not much story for the ongoing storyline, the Ascension. This book totally focused on Lothaire and his Bride. And their journey together sure is a rocky one! It sure takes a lot for an ancient Vampire to admit his feelings and his errors.

I have read some lesser books in this series, but with Lothaire, Kresley Cole has definitely convinced me again of her greatness. I love the world she has created, and cannot wait for more books to devour. She keeps surprising me, her original characters, her tortured heroes and heroines, and the difficult journeys she makes them take. Before they meet, and what happens next.

10 stars.

maandag 23 januari 2012

Jayne Ann Krentz – Copper Beach

The first book in the Dark Legacy series, published January 2012.

Copper Beach

Within the pages of very rare books, some centuries old, lie the secrets of the paranormal. Abby Radwell's unusual psychic talent has made her an expert in such volumes - and sometimes, taken her into dangerous territory. After a deadly incident in the private library of an obsessive collector, Abby receives a blackmail threat, and rumors swirl that an old alchemical text known as The Key has reappeared on the black market. Convinced she needs an investigator who can also play bodyguard, she hires Sam Coppersmith, a specialist in paranormal crystals and amber - 'hot rocks.' Passion flares immediately between them, but neither entirely trusts the other. When it comes to dealing with a killer with paranormal abilities, and a blackmailer who will stop at nothing to obtain an ancient alchemical code - no one is safe.

This blurb is so wrong! It is not about a centuries old alchemical code, but a 40 year old labnotebook!

Abby Radwell has had an unusual childhood, to say the least. Her father remarried, and when her mother died when Abby was 11, she was forced to live with him and his new family. His wife Diana also had a child already, Dawson, a son of 12. The two took an instant dislike to each other. And then Diana became pregnant of twin girls. But Abby was coming into her psychic powers at the moment, she had no one to turn to, no one who could explain things, and worse, no one who would believe her. So after starting an accidental fire or two, she was shoved off to the Summerlight Academy, which was only one step away from Juvenile Hall. Not only prison like, but she had to submit to a lot of psychologists and psychiatrics, and soon she discovered it was better to hide her belief in her own powers, and become normal. But she was not alone there. There were more teens with psychic powers and no one who believed them. So she made a few close friends.
And now Abby is making a quiet living, finding and decoding paranormal books. Some of those are encrypted, not with ink, but with psychic powers, and Abby is one of the very few people who can decode those books, so they can be read. Otherwise, you just see a lot of gibberish. It makes sense at first, but if you follow what is written, the outcome will be all wrong. She only works through referrals, as there are some very dangerous people in the black market corner of the ancient paranormal book world. She is happy in the shallows, and has no inclination whatsoever to get involved in the dangerous stuff. She is not rich, but she has a nice home, the first one ever, and a great dog and some good friends.

But now, someone is trying to blackmail her with her past, and with the truth about the range of her powers. She disabled a man lately, and when that comes out, her clients will be afraid of what she can do, and she will be out of business. And when her past comes out, her fathers reputation as one of the leading psychologists in family therapy will be shredded as well. For the public eye, his “blended” family is all joy and happiness, and not the charade it really is. Abby never was accepted by them, and the grandmother and matriarch of the family is convinced she is mad and just angry that she does not get a piece of the family money. After all, she is not a blood relative. But Abby really does not care about the money.

Her friend and mentor send her to Sam Coppersmith, as the one capable of protecting Abby, and finding out the identity of the blackmailer. Sam has his own psychic powers, connected to crystals. His family also has secrets from the past, and all that is connected to Abby’s current problem. Sam takes on Abby’s case, as he needs her help to acquire the missing notebook for himself and his family. The secrets in there are dangerous. And the people looking for it are ruthless. So he plants to stick as close to Abby as he can, certainly more than Abby would have thought. He does protect Abby from kidnapping attempts, and together they unravel the mystery piece by piece, while growing closer together.

Even though I liked the book, as I do all the books Jayne Ann Krentz writes, I am a bit disappointed. There is no mention of the Arcane Society, but it still has all the vibes of it. The paranormal aspects, the psychic powers, the crystals used. I was kind of hoping for something fresh and new, even though I really enjoy those books, and there were all new characters in it. And a dog. Must not forget Newton the dog!

I liked Abby, she is not afraid nor stupid. Even though her family does not accept her, she still does her duty as part of it. And that I admire her for, as I would certainly not have. She is certain in her talents and herself, even though she has little experience in having a relationship she is doing just fine. I so liked her little dog Newton. Protective and perhaps he does have some psychic talents as well.
And Sam sure is a nice hero. Not an alpha male bent on getting his way in protecting his female unnecessary. They are a team. He is still trying to find out who murdered his last girlfriend a few months ago, but he is not heartbroken over it, just angry. He was already planning to break the relationship off, but why was she at the island, in his lab? He certainly did not invite her there. But until Abby arrived, he had no more leads to follow.

The story was nice, and fast paced. The plot a surprise, with two different bad guys this time. And that is the problem, it was just nice. Not riveting or exciting or great. Just her usual mix of good characters, main and secondary, and all the rest.
Jayne Ann Krentz told in her latest newsletters, she is untangling her three pennames of Jayne Ann Krentz, Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle, going back to writing series in one timeperiod only. I can only hope the other new books will be different, and especially the Amanda Quick books less paranormal. But, as an almost lifelong fan of her work, I will read it no matter what. And like them.

8 stars.

zondag 22 januari 2012

Lara Adrian – A taste of midnight

Midnight Breed series book 9.5 published December 2011.

A taste of midnight

A shimmering holiday gala lights up an ancient castle in the Scottish Highlands, but beautiful widowed Breedmate Danika MacConn feels alone in the crowd. Even among the friends and festivity of the Darkhaven celebration, she can’t forget her lost love, a fallen warrior of the Order. Her brief return to her mate’s homeland has become treacherous after rejecting the advances of a dangerous Edinburgh crime boss with a taste for blood sport.
As Danika seeks to expose the vampire and his dark trade, she discovers an unexpected ally in his forbidding, enigmatic henchman, Brannoc, a man who exudes heat, danger, and dark menace--and seems somehow achingly familiar. Bran has his own reasons for wanting to keep Dani out of his employer’s business . . . and his own secrets he means to keep buried. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a woman who tempts the wildest part of his Breed nature--especially when that woman is Danika MacConn, the one woman capable of bringing him to his knees.

A very short story, but a welcome journey back to the world of the Midnight Breed, warrior vampires and their breedmates.

Hero: Malcolm MacBain, a vampire seeking revenge on Reiver, a vampire crime lord, enjoying bloodsport. Malcolms young breedmate was kidnapped to be used in his games, and murdered when she fought back and wanted to escape.
Heroine: Danika, a breadmate with a young baby, who lost her mate of a few hundred years in a battle for the Order. She needs to recover, and is feeling very lonely
Secondary characters: Thane, another bodyguard of Reiver, or perhaps something more, and Reiver, the crimelord. Very evil and consciousles person.
Romance: hot
Plot: good, it takes place in the timeline of the rest of the series, but is also a stand alone novella, not having the warriors of the Order appear other than by telephone or mention
Heat-level: hot
Writingstyle: fast and good, as always
Summary: I enjoyed reading this, and it was just way too short. I am happy Malcolm and Danika both find love again, and they have known each other for centuries already. Some great action, and a nice introduction in this world if you are unfamiliar with it. I recommend this series. A good mix of paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

9 stars.

zaterdag 21 januari 2012

Jennifer Ashley - Wild Cat

The third book in the Shifters Unbound series, published January 2012.

Wild Cat

Collared and controlled, Shifters are outcast from humanity, forced to live in Shiftertowns. But waiting within are passions that no Collar can contain…

Police detective Diego Escobar assists in what should be the simple task of arresting a trespasser, high in an unfinished skyscraper, and comes face-to-face with his first Shifter: the shockingly naked Cassidy Warden. To protect the Feline beauty, he finds himself circumventing human laws…
Heartbroken from the death of her mate a year ago, Cassidy is tracking down his mysterious killer – one who could bring danger to all Shifters. Now, this sexy cop rekindles the flames of her mating desire. And once the fires begin, nothing and no one can put them out.
Soon, the tables will turn. Cassidy will become the hunted. And only by facing his own inner demons will Diego be able to save her…

This story is set in another Shifter town, near Las Vegas. But don’t worry, they do communicate with the Morrisseys we all know and love!

Diego Escobar gets called to assist with some trespassers. To his dismay, he will have to go to the 55th store of an unfinished office building, where there are not even floors, only small walkways and beams. Ever since his near death a year ago, when some meth heads hung him over the balcony of the 32 floor hotelroom, he has been terrified of heights. His partner died there, saving his life. The culprits fled to Mexico, but Diego still has not given up the desire to hunt them down and bring them to Mexico. And now he has to go up there, as he has never told anyone of his fear of heights.
From the corner of his eye, he sees flashes of movement. Shifters! No human could ever be that fast. He finds the first two cops on the scene unconscious together, tranqued. Someone is hunting a Shifter in an abandoned building. And not just a Shifter, a gorgeous naked woman rescues him when he is shot at and looses his balance. Just able to grab a beam to hold on to. Terrified, he lets himself get pulled to safety, but he can still admire her beauty. When back up arrives, the hunter suddenly disappears, and Diego has no choice but to arrest the Shifter woman, even though she saved his life. Diego refuses to give her over to the Shifter Division, he will interrogate her himself. For a Shifter, trespassing is a crime, and she should be locked in a cage, naked. Instead, he gives her a blanket to cover himself, and drives her to the station in his own car.
Cassidy is now dressed in a paper coverall, and she is feeling edgy due to her Collar going of, and because she is attracted to Diego, she needs to be touched to calm down. But hugging a cop is not really a good idea. But she can sense he wants her, he is attracted to her. Cassidy is confused, she is still mourning the death of her mate, as it is the one year anniversary of his death and she needs to perform some rituals. In the end, Cassidy is released to her brother Eric, the leader of Shifter Town, but confined to Shifter Town for two whole weeks. Diego’s captain is furious with such a light sentence, and why didn’t Diego turn her over to Shifter Division? Because she is so gorgeous? He makes Cassidy Diego’s responsibility, as his career is on the line. If she is seen outside of Shifter Town, Diego will be in trouble. He is to check on her every day! Which is not a hardship for Diego, as he wants to see her again.

But when Diego visits Shifter Town the next day, her brother tries to stall him. Cassidy is not around. She has gone back to the mountains where her mate died, to complete her ritual. And his trackers went with her, to keep her safe. Diego is not amused. Cassidy is in danger from a hunter, and his ass is on the line too if someone sees her. And so he and Eric set out to find her and bring her home. Diego sure is not used to a man dropping his clothes in front of him, but Shifters are certainly not shy. And Eric needs to shift in his wildcat form, to find his sister. But then he senses something else, and takes off, leaving Diego behind. Diego does not give up, and follows as good as he can. He refuses to give up his shotgun or backpack with ammunition, which is a good thing when he catches up and finds the hunter after Cassidy again. Diego calls his brother Xavier for backup as he is a crack shot, and they work very well together. Xavier is also a cop. When the hunter is pinned down, and the Shifters are close to attacking him, he is suddenly gone. Diego saw the strangest thing through his rifle scope, the man just seems to heat up, and disappears. He can tell the Shifters know more about this, but they won’t confide in him. But both Diego and Xavier are welcome in Shifter Town to stay for dinner, and the final rituals to say goodbye to Cassidy’s mate Donovan.

Cassidy can feel the mating heat coming on for Diego, and she doesn’t want it, it is too soon after Donovan’s death, but her body thinks otherwise.

The ritual is beautiful, and afterwards there is a party, as Donovan liked nothing more than a party. Cassidy changes into her dancing dress, and all the males are watching her. Especially her neighbour Shane, who is a huge bear Shifter. But Cassidy is only interested in Diego. As female Shifters are few, her interest in a human is met with some hostility. But since Cassidy is the number two in dominance in town, no one will challenge her. She is even more dominant than the bear alpha female, and that sure means something.

Diego will have to think carefully what dating Cassidy will mean for his life, and for his career. Humans having relations with Shifters is seriously frowned upon. He could lose it all. Luckily, his mother understands and likes Cassidy. So does Xavier. And when Diego goes to Mexico to get him some revenge, they are not letting him go alone.

Okay, I don’t think I have had more trouble writing a review yet. For some reason, it just won’t work.

I liked Cassidy. She is strong, and totally not shy and goes after what she wants, which is Diego. She won’t take no for an answer, she takes responsibility for him, which is something he doesn’t like at all. Cassidy lost her mate a year ago, and feels so guilty for that. She was alpha to him, something he disliked, and she should have protected him. Donovan ran of after an argument, and got himself killed. And now that same hunter is after her.
Even though Diego is not a Shifter he sure is alpha. He does not back down for anyone, not Eric, not a towering grizzly bear, and not even Dylan Morissey. A hot Latino cop, and I liked all the Spanish endearments he used on Cassidy. Diego still feels guilty that his partner died while he survived, and he wants revenge. He wants those drugrunners be brought to justice, be punished for what they did. He hates his fear of heights, he who was fearless before.

Cassidy and Diego are just great together, their lovescenes are super hot like I am used to with Jennifer Ashley. She paints some real loveable characters, both the main ones and the secondary ones. It was fun getting to know so many new ones. The plot and the adventure was great, and I do wonder what will happen next. Eric, Cassidy’s brother and leader of this Shifter Town is someone to look out for. He has found his woman, who wants nothing to do with him, but I am sure he will get her. Looking forward to that book a lot. If you like some different Shifter books, where they all live together, and with some great Fae lore thrown in as well, you sure need to pick up this series!
Jennifer Ashley has a great writing style, it is fluent, fast paced, good dialogues and always surprising in the plot and storyline. She is one of my favourite authors.

9, 5 stars.

vrijdag 20 januari 2012

New additions to my addiction

Earlier this week I received one book from the Bookdepository, which I started reading immediately. Unfortunately, very little reading time this week. Will not go to bed before it is finished! SO!

Jennifer Ashley - Wild Cat

And today I received Boone Brux - Shield of Fire, which I won Preternatura blog. Thank you again Suzanne! Looking forward to reading it.

dinsdag 17 januari 2012

Christine Feehan – Spirit Bound

The second book in the Sea Haven / Sisters Of The Heart series, published December 2011.

Spirit Bound

Lethal undercover agent Stefan Prakenskii knows a thousand ways to kill a man – and twice as many ways to pleasure a woman. That’s why he’s looking forward to his new mission. He must go to the coastal town of Sea Haven and insinuate himself into the life of an elusive beauty who has mysterious ties to his past and a link to a dangerously seductive and equally elusive master criminal who wants only one thing: to possess her.
Judith Henderson is an artist on the rise, an ethereal and haunted woman whose own picture-perfect beauty stirs the souls o two men who have made her their obsession. For years she has been waiting for someone to come and unlock the passion and fire within her – waiting for the right man to surrender it to. But only one man can survive her secrets and the shadow she has cast over both their lives.

Wow, another blurb that makes totally no sense when you have read the book.

Stefan Prakenskii is loyal to his country, Russia, even though he has been used as an assassin his whole life. His parents were killed, and he and his six brothers taken to different training camps, to become lethal weapons. Only the toughest survived. And of course, having psychic talents came in handy as well. But he can kill with his bare hands and with all kinds of weapons. He is a ghost, not seen until he wants to be seen, making use of the shadows whenever he can.
His mission: to recover a stolen micro chip with sensitive information about the training camps, and the children taken for it. His boss, Solovyov, will be destroyed if that information ever becomes public knowledge. When the micro chip was stolen, Stefan’s brother Gavriil was seriously wounded. And in their line of business, there is no such thing as retirement. They know too much. But Stefan helped his brother escape the hospital, and Gavriil is somewhere safe. Stefan followed the trail of the microchip to a master criminal, currently imprisoned in France. Jean-Claude La Roux is not happy with his new cell mate, but whomever he sends after Stefan, he survives. La Roux is obsesses with some woman, his cell is plastered with pictures from her. And he won’t talk to Stefan, about anything, so their only chance will be to free him from prison, pick him up, and interrogate him. After two months in this stinking jail, Stefan has had enough.
But something is fishy, when his next orders are not to capture La Roux and interrogate him, but to go to Sea Haven, where the mysterious woman in the pictures lives. Also the place where his brother Lev is hiding. He is presumed death after the explosion of the yacht he was working on, but apparently, Solovyov does not believe that. Stefan has no intention whatsoever to lead Solovyovs pet killer Ivanov to his brother, only to be killed, and then killed himself. For some reason he has gotten on the termination list with his brother. Doesn’t Solovyov know it is not in their best interest if the secrets on that disk ever get public?

Stefan sets himself up in one of the covers he has spend years perfecting: the rich business man Thomas Vincent. He wants to buy the gallery in Sea Haven, and use it to come into contact with Judith, the lady Jean-Claude is obsessed with. It will give him the perfect cover to search for the killer, and for his brother. Stefan has shut his emotions out of his life ever since childhood, when crying only got you punished harder. So when he finally meets Judith, he has no idea he still has those emotions. He is blown away. Somehow, her psychic power connects to his, blending perfectly, empowering him. He just knows this is the woman for him. And while he has never before thought about retiring, know he wishes his cover were true. He wants to protect Judith from Jean-Claude, and all the other danger that surrounds himself.

Judith was just a young art student, having the time of her life in Paris, when she met the debonair and handsome Jean-Claude La Roux. She had no idea he was a criminal, until she almost walked in on a torture scene. She ran away, and called her brother Paul to help her escape. They fled all over Europe, until they were found in Greece. Jean-Claude’s henchmen tortured her brother, wanting him to tell her hidingplace, Jean-Claude wanted her back! And the microchip she had unknowingly taken with her. He was arrested and sentenced to prison for weapon smuggling, but never for murder and the myriad other crimes he has committed. Judith still feels guilty for her brother being tortured and murdered because of her, and the aftermath of that, which was caused by her. Judith is a spirit elemental, and what ever strong feelings she is experiencing, are broadcasted around her. So her grief and deathwish caused a young police officer to commit suicide in front of her.
Now, 5 years later, she thinks she is safe. Judith has met some amazing women, all in the same circumstances, all with incredible powers. Together, they have built a new life in Sea Haven. Judith is happy with her art, her paintings and kaleidoscopes. She still grieves about her beloved brother, and feels guilty for not avenging his death. Every dark thought and wish she has, she has buried in dark paintings and artwork, hidden and locked away in a second atelier. Judith and feels safe knowing Jean-Claude is in prison for a long time. She doesn’t know someone has been taking pictures of her for years.

And when she meets Thomas Vincent, the attraction is immense. She doesn’t even know who is thinking what toughts; they are kind of merged together. Does she amplify his thoughts, or is he feeling what she is feeling and projecting? She is weary of the attraction, it happened just as fast with Jean-Claude. But Stefan/Thomas is not taking no for an answer, he knows exactly how to play a woman, inside the bed or out, and he is determined to make Judith his. So now he has three important goals: keep Judith safe, find and keep his brother safe, and retrieve the microchip as this is important to his country. When he finds out his brother is actually married, he is angry. You don’t marry your cover and deceive an innocent woman like that! Until he sees for himself, how very much in love his brother is, and he wants that for himself as well.

I loved this book, as I love most everything Christine Feehan writes. The feelings just leap of the page, the suspense and intrigue is very well written and thought out, no loose ends as far as I can discover. If you love a tortured hero, Stefan sure qualifies. Tortured as a child, to be able to endure being tortured by the enemy, pushed to become stronger and faster and smarter than all the others in training, fiercely loyal to his country, and the few people he loves. Stefan is astonished with the discovery he still has feelings, and has no idea how to handle being in a relationship with Judith. He makes some big mistakes, but he knows how to make up for it as well.

I also like Judith. She has been trough a lot, losing her parents, and later her brother. Blaming herself. She loves her art, and is an astonishing artist. But she can never let her true feelings show, she needs to be calm and in control, even around her beloved sisters/friends. She acts as a booster for their powers, weaving them all together in a lovely harmony. She longs for a family and children of her own, and knows she can never have them, never become close to someone. But somehow, Stefan/Thomas absorbs her powers, he can control them for her, making her able to feel, and not be afraid of her feelings. She falls hard for him, but how can she put her sisters at risk? She can feel he is hiding things from her. And even though the sex between them is great, dare she risk her heart again? She knows this time she will not recover …

The paranormal aspects in this story are amazing, especially in the end. I loved it. A tiny little bit more is revealed about the other sisters, and I am very curious about their stories. Nikki and Levi are great together, and it was good meeting them again. Their book, Water Bound, was truly amazing. Also Jonas, the sheriff, and his new deputy, Aleksandr Volstov, make a few appearances. The hunt for the psychopathic killer was very exciting, and certainly original. This book is filled with great characters, great secondary characters, most from previous books. It is fast paced, great suspense and plot, and the many love scenes are very hot. If you haven’t tried any Christine Feehan yet, please try this series, or perhaps the Seven Sisters books first, as those are a spinoff.

I love it, and I am looking forward to the next book already.

10 stars.

zaterdag 14 januari 2012

New additions to my addiction

Friday I received two lovely books from Bookdepository:

- Melissa Mayhue - Warriors Redemption
- Marjorie M. Liu - The Mortal Bone.

Looking forward to reading them.

Today Pearl and Leontine visited, and I bought some lovely books from Pearl:

Gini Koch - Touched by an Alien
Anne Aguirre- Grimspace; Wanderlust; Doubleblind
Jeaniene Frost - At Grave’s End; Destined for an Early Grave; One foot in the Grave
Leslie LaFoy - The perfect temptation
Jessica Andersen - Dawnkeepers; Nightkeepers
Ilona Andrews - On the Edge
Katie MacAlister - Love in the time of dragons
Mary Balogh - A secret affair
Jo Goodman - Everything I ever wanted
Julia London - The book of scandal; The dangers of deceiving a Viscount; The perils of pursuing a prince
Suzanne Enoch - Always a Scoundrel
Gaelen Foley - Her every pleasure
Madeline Hunter - Ravishing in Red
Samantha James - The secret passion of Simon Blackwell; His wicked promise
Nina Bangs - Eternal Craving; Wicked Fantasy; Wicked Nights
Jillian Hunter - Delight
Jade Lee - Dragonborn

dinsdag 10 januari 2012

New additions to my addiction

Today I have received the book I have been looking forward to the most:
Christine Feehan - Spirit Bound.

If I had not been immersed in the Dark Jewels books, I would have started it immediately and not have stopped reading till the end. No matter the time.

I also received some secondhand books:
Kat Martin - Reese's Bride
Sarah MacLean - Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake
Sarah MacLean - Ten ways to be Adored when Landing a Lord

I confess, I bought the last two because of the titles. And the reviews I have read about this authors books.

maandag 9 januari 2012

New addition to my addiction

Saturday I received a book by Cate Tiernan - Immortal beloved. Looking forward to reading it.

But thanks to Blodeuedd ;) there will be no reviews for a while, as I am re-reading the Dark Jewels series by Anne Bishop again. And those bookreviews have been posted last year.

zondag 8 januari 2012

Darynda Jones – First grave to the right

The first book in the Charley Davidson series, published February 2011.

First grave on the right
First grave on the right

A smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper

Charley sees dead people. That's right, she sees dead people. And it's her job to convince them to 'go into the light.' But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

I have read several enthusiastic reviews about this book, but nothing prepared me for what I got.

Charlotte Davidson is one tough cookie. She works as a PI in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Doing the usual in following spouses, finding proof of cheating, finding missing persons. Her second job is helping her uncle Bob, who is a homicide Detective. It sure helps his career when Charlie can talk to the victims, asking them who killed them. Charlie’s unofficial job, is Grim Reaper, helping ghosts cross over into the light. They are not always ready for that, so she tries to help them, help their loved ones, or find their killer. It is not something she always enjoys doing, especially when they show up in her bedroom or bathroom unsuspected and uninvited.
And lately her nights are filled with hot sex, when a dreamlover visits her. She has no idea who he is, until that same morning, he joins her in the shower, while she is half awake, and calls her Dutch. Could it really be him?

It is the middle of the night when her uncle calls her. He needs her help with a couple of homicides. As it happens, someone has shot three lawyers of the same firm. A woman and two men, and one of them has already found Charlie by himself. The second man is in denial, and won’t leave his body. And the woman needs Charlies help to get the police to find her body. They have no idea who has killed them, or why, and Charlie promises to help them find out, and help their loved ones find closure.

More and more clues are popping up but Charlie is also obsessed with finding out about her lover, is he the same guy who has protected her her whole life from serious harm?

Okay, it is totally impossible to write more, without spoiling any of the myriad or surprises in this book. I can only say: read it! It is awesome.

It took me a while to get to like Charlie. She is not just a smartass, she has to have a smart remark every single time. Which did get a bit annoying sometimes. She is a young woman, just in her twenties, and she is curvy. She has named her boobs, which I think is hilarious.

There is a sort of bounty hunter who liked her, until he found out about her paranormal side, something he cannot believe in. So he started acting like a jerk. He also kept pestering her, until she told him more. And he still cannot believe her. So back to the being a jerk. This kept happening a few times, and he gives very mixed signals. Does he like her, or not, does he only want to use her? She certainly does not believe him, and keeps rubbing him the wrong way on purpose.

There is a young cop, who is haunted by a little girl ghost, and he also does not want to believe her. So, another jerk to deal with.

Her father and her uncle believe in her, and they have been using her special abilities ever since she was a little girl. But her father does not protect her from her stepmothers dislike. Her father is a retired cop, and now owns a bar. Her uncle is good in what he does, but he seems to rely on Charlie for every case. And he is something of a ladies man, which is a fun detail.
Charlies neighbour Cookie is also her secretary/receptionist, and they are great friends as well. Cookies young daughter Amber is looking up to Charlie.

In the end of the story, I really liked Charlie. She does not give up, she keeps going, no matter how much she is hurting. And it really is not always easy for her. She also has a young boy ghost helping her with her PI cases.

And the ending of the book, o the ending. No not a cliffhanger (luckily, I hate those!) but such a great surprise. I can’t wait to start reading the next book.

A truly original story, Darynda Jones has a writing style I just love. It is fast paced, and easy to read. Great main characters and secondary characters. Both alive and not. I do recommend this series, and will dive straight into book 2.

8 stars.

vrijdag 6 januari 2012

Ilona Andrews – Magic Gifts

A Kate Daniel’s novella, book 5,5. A special Christmas Gift from the author to their readers.

What is this? This is that novella we kept promising you. It’s about 35,000 words long so about a third of a book and it’s yours free.
This novella takes place at the same time as Andrea’s book, right after MAGIC SLAYS, and the two stories intersect.
A dinner date after a hard day at work sounds heavenly. Of course, when that date is between the Beast Lord and Kate Daniels, things don’t go as planned. Before you know it, undead are running amok, heads are being chopped off, lawyers are deployed and used with extreme prejudice, and drunk Vikings are calling people out.
Read at your own risk.
This novella is available only for a limited time. You have two weeks from today, December 24th, to download it.
After some negotiations with our publisher, it was determined that MAGIC GIFTS will appear as a bonus in the back of GUNMETAL MAGIC, Andrea’s book. You get both Andrea’s story and Kate novella under the same cover.
Now we must ask you for a favor. We can’t upload this file eretailers – it would take too long for Amazon and BN to mark it as free and for the upload to go up, and our agreement with the publishers gives us only a two week window in which we can make it available. We ask that you spread the word. Not all Kate fans read our blog.
Please link to this page, retweet, and spread the word on Facebook

Magic Gifts

So, I read a review of this novella on some one’s blog, and immediately went over to Ilona Andrew’s website, and downloaded it. What are you waiting for? It’s free for only a few days more. Or I can always email you a .pdf, it is a free story after all, meant as a thank you to the fans.

If you want to read this, you are in for a treat. A fast paced novella, in which almost all the usual characters make an appearance. Curran is asking Kate out for a nice dinner after a long day at work. Just the two of them, and she happily agrees. Ofcourse, dinner for him is a large roast or something, while Kate is a vegetarian. They decide on a restaurant Curran likes, which should be nice. But outside, two vampires are chained, meaning there are some necromancers inside. And that could of course be trouble.
Two young necromancers are inside, members of The People Kate does not recognize, totally engrossed in each other. But when the young man gives his girlfriend a gift, everything goes wrong. The gift instantly kills the young woman, making the vampire she was controlling get loose. And as the young man looses it as well, so goes his vampire free. And they only want one thing: fresh humans. It only takes a second for Kate and Curran to step in and kill the vampires, saving the other diners. Kate calls her favourite navigator, Ghastek, to come over and clean up the mess.
A strange, not human woman, her husband and young son soon enter the restaurant as well, claiming to be the dead woman’s parents. The husband is captivated by the necklace, but the woman quickly intervenes, shutting it around the boy’s neck, condemning him to death. How can a woman choose between her husband and her son, so coldly and calculating? Curran and Kate take the boy with them, trying to safe his life. For now, the necklace has fed, so there is still some time for the boy. But finding the solution to his problem is not easy, and Kate and Curran has to face some dangerous creatures.

Kate also has to deal with the Guild. It has been masterless for a few months now, and things are becoming dire. All the interested parties are looking for her to intervene, to mediate. But Kate really does not want to. She is not interested in playing the politics required to manage the Guild, and she knows it would fall to her.

In the end, more Andrea, and this promises to be so good in the next novel! Looking forward to that with eager anticipation!

A great novella, and I did not expect anything less. What to say? I love the main characters, I love the secondary characters, I love the story, the plot, the new additions to the world. There is nothing I dislike.

So, as it is a novella after all, 9 stars.

donderdag 5 januari 2012

Sierra Dean – Secret Santa

A Secret McQueen Novella, book 2,5 Published November 2011.

Secret Santa

’Tis the season for ho-ho-homicide.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The season for mistletoe, Christmas lights…and a killing spree. When Secret’s friend, Detective Mercedes Castilla, asks for help to solve a series of murders longer than a string of lights, Secret resigns herself to the fact her holidays will be anything but peaceful.
It seems someone is killing New Yorkers in an unusually gruesome way, and as the bodies pile up faster than presents under the tree, the police are no closer to finding the killer than Secret is to finding the perfect present for one of her boyfriends, Lucas.
Tracking down a monster in Manhattan the week before Christmas is almost as difficult as shopping for her ever-expanding collection of loved ones. When tragedy strikes close to home, Secret must do everything in her power to put an end to the horror in time for Santa to come down the chimney.

Warning: Contains a less than merry McQueen with a sword and a reason to use it; a festive new use for mistletoe; and a promise that will haunt Secret like the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Her new position in the Vampire Council is still uneasy for Secret McQueen. She is not allowed to hunt rogue vampires anymore, and frankly, she is bored and afraid of losing her skills. Even sparring with Holden is frowned upon.
In the boyfriend department, things are not going very smoothly either. Yes, she is happy with her boyfriend Desmond, who has moved in with her, and is supposed to be her bodyguard. Yes, supposed, as he is never around when she could need one. And he is never angry with her for leaving him behind, hmm. Does not really sound very alpha. Her other werewolf boyfriend, Lucas, the Wolf King, still has not gotten her in his bed. Secret is still uneasy with having multiple men in her life, even though the three of them are soulbonded. Secret is half vampire, and half werewolf, thanks to an unique occurrence to her pregnant mother. And then there is Holden, who used to be her boss/handler, and her friend. He wants more from her too, and there is this attraction between them, but Secret does not want to admit it. Vampires and werewolves usually don’t mix well, and her boyfriends and friends are no exception to that rule.

Luckily for her, her friend Mercedes, who is a Detective at the NYPD, asks for her help in solving a serial killer case. Some being is abducting and killing teens, leaving the grizly remnants in public places and at newspaper offices, and even the police station itself, creating a panic. Asking every source she has, Secret and Holden still have no clues who or what is killing those teens. And then, while Secret is visiting for the very first time with Desmond and his family (meeting his mother! What could be more horrible!) Desmond’s little sister goes missing. Luckily, at that moment, Nolan has finally found a connection between all the victims, and a clue what the creature could be. And so Holden and Secret set out on their own to find the missing teens before they have all been murdered.

A great story. And I can sympathize with Secret for not wanting multiple boyfriends to sleep with, and I admire her for that. But the choice of Desmond, he still comes over as weak when not at home together. No appearance of Lucas in this story, but Holden is there. I also missed the Oracle, she is a great character, and I am looking forward to learning more about her.

A little warning if you have a weak stomach: Sierra Dean certainly does not spare the grizzly details, and the atmosphere is sometimes really scary. And I am not a big fan of scary and spooky. Like in the previous book, I was asking myself if I wanted to read on, but I am happy I did finish the story.

This is a series I could reread.

9 stars.