Monday, April 18, 2011

Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas

It’s such a treat to pick up a book by an author I’ve never read before and fall in love with their writing, their characters, and the entire world they create. Such is the case with Sherry Thomas and Not Quite a Husband. It was not just a book, but an adventure that took me to another time, one we don’t often read about – late 19th/ early 20th century in the British Indian Empire, also referred to as the British Raj. This is one of those epic novels that had me questioning exactly what it means to be civilized, and just how far we should go in forcing our version of civilization on others. A similar book which I also enjoyed, Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran, had me thinking along the same lines, and those books that get me contemplating and asking questions are the ones that stay with me long after I’ve finished reading.

Not Quite a Husband is a “second chance” romance, though I found the relationship between the hero, Leo Marsden, and the heroine, Bryony Asquith to be more angsty than sweet. But being the hopeless romantic that I am, I held to the faith that they’d come to their senses and see that they belonged together. Eventually though, the problem for me was that there was such a lack of communication between them that there came a time when I started thinking that maybe they really were better off apart, so while I loved them both, I had a tough time staying connected to, and invested in, their happily ever after. The ending was sweet and definitely romantic, and getting there was quite a journey.

Over all, this was an enjoyable read and a wonderful introduction to an author who I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of.

4 of 5 stars

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Passion Unleashed by Larissa Ione

Passion Unleashed is another entertaining, exciting installment to the Demonica series, and while I did liked it, I didn’t love it.

I thought the story itself was great. Wraith has been poisoned and to save himself, he has to find a special charm, an amulet whose keeper is a human. He not only has to take the item from her, but he also has to take her virginity. Slight Spoiler - Now, if left at that, it sounds like a cheesy way to toss sex into the story, but it really worked for me because the real edginess and emotional angst of the story comes in because Wraith’s brothers, Shade and Eidolin, are also affected, as well as UGH – Underground General Hospital – which is literally falling apart. The three of them are closely tied to the hospital, their combined powers protecting the building and those within, but the closer Wraith come to dying, the more unstable the building itself is making it nearly impossible to treat patients and save lives. And if that’s not bad enough, if the keeper loses the amulet, she’ll die a slow, painful death. End Spoiler

 So how can Wraith possibly reconcile himself with what he has to do to stay alive and what will happen to the woman he’s fallen in love with if he does? I really enjoyed the dilemma, the drama, and the angst of the situation and thought the way it was all resolved was great!

Throughout the first two books, Pleasure Unbound and Desire Unchained, I saw Wraith as this incredibly tortured soul who was so far gone he was nearly beyond redemption. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that same feeling in his book. Even though he was still rough and edgy, he seemed almost to be a watered down version of his earlier self. I kept waiting for the WOW to kick in, but it didn’t happen for me.

The heroine, Serena Kelley, wasn’t someone I became totally invested in. Don’t get me wrong, I felt bad for what her life had become and was destined to remain, but for a character as a whole, I just didn’t connect on a truly deep level with her and I can’t put my finger on why.

I was expecting this to be a five star read, but unfortunately it didn’t reach that level for me. I’m giving three stars because while I loved the storyline itself, I feel like almost anyone could have stepped into the role of hero and heroine.

I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward

Welcome to my RAVIEW!

There are so many things to love about Lover Unleashed, the 9th installment of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I’ve come to expect truly great stories with complex characters and lots of emotion, and this book didn’t disappoint. In fact, it ranks right up there with my favorite book in the series, Lover Awakened.

What makes this so amazing, you ask? Well, important things were resolved, new things were revealed and with the laying of the foundation for future books complete, I can tell it’s going to be an exciting ride.

I loved the introduction of the new warriors from England, AKA the Band of Bastards, and how they each have not just different personalities, but totally different intensities. I can see such potential for them all, but I’m wondering about the three cousins. We were given the names Xcor, Throe and Zypher, but others were only referred to as the three cousins. Those are the things that make me go, hmmmmm…..

And the WARDen has such a way with words. There were many times I was laughing out loud and smiling. These are a couple of those times -

Undeterred by his lack of enthusiasm, she leaned forward, flashing him a set of breasts that didn't so much as defy gravity as flip it off, insult its mother, and piss on it's shoes.

And -

Manuel bared his teeth as if he had fangs... and did not that just turn her on.

Overall, I loved this book. The WARDen truly outdid herself this time and addressed so many of the things we’ve all been speculating about for years. I love the answers we got, the new question to ponder and the addition of the Band of Bastards to obsess over! Fantastic job, WARDen!!!!!!

For those of you who have already read this book, here are some of my more specific thoughts. Beware, these are spoilers -

Manny and Payne  - I’m so glad that Manny isn’t changing! It might come to pass in another book, but it wasn’t necessary in this one and so I’m glad the issue wasn’t forced. I’m also thrilled that he’ll be able to see his mother and move between worlds, rather than having to decide on one or the other. I think it kind of opens the door for more interaction with humans, and gives the Brotherhood another connection with the outside world.

Now, I’ve seen some criticism over Payne’s confrontation with Xcor. Some people think it was anticlimactic, but I’d have to disagree. I think that as readers of this series, we’ve become very used to the idea of a Brother coming to the rescue and saving the day and so when that doesn’t happen, or that kind of intense “rescue” doesn’t go down, it might seem rather “meh” to some readers. Personally, I thought that was handled very well! Payne showed what kind power she wields and got Xcor’s attention. That one scene gave him a lot of information in a short amount of time. I think it was done very well, indeed.

Butch and Vishous - I have to say that my respect and admiration for Butch went through the roof in this story. What a tough spot he was in when V needed his help. He knew exactly what V needed to go through, and knew how to do it. That’s more than just friendship there. I truly believe it was their destiny to know one another. Wow… that was an amazing scene and I’ll be honest, I’m glad there was nothing sexual about it, because had it become such, I just wouldn’t have been able to continue to respect or believe in Butch and Marissa’s and Vishous and Jane’s happily ever afters. Oh, and let me just say that I loved the way V and Jane reconnected in this story.

Qhuinn and Blay - While we didn’t get a lot of page time here, and virtually zero interaction between the two of them, I’m thrilled at what we did get. Qhuinn finally, finally gets it and is moving in the right direction. I know a lot of people want them doing the horizontal mambo right now, but Qhuinn has a lot to work out before he can tackle the kind of relationship Blay deserves. Poor guy – the number his family and society have done on his head… yeah, he’s got some things to work out, for sure. And wow! What about that vision he had of the little girl with the different colored eyes… I can’t wait for all that to play out!

I'm sorry that Qhuinn and Blay are going through so much pain right now, but I'm glad Blay has Saxton to lean on. I'm glad he's not pining away for Qhuinn, who has made it clear that a relationship for them is a no-go.

Layla - Wow… I’m so glad that she’s getting it together. She has such great potential as a female of worth and I loved her whole attitude in this book when talking to Qhuinn about her own feelings and how she felt about him being in love with Blay. In the past she’s come across as so needy and wimpy, and while I always knew the WARDen would show us a different side to her, I’m glad she began that process in this book! Go Layla!!

Testing the sexual waters - Well, I have to say that the threesome we knew to expect, while not with who we expected, was none-the-less quite a change from the level of sexual intensity and explicitness than we've gotten in previous books. And doesn't that just make me smile! I loved that part of the story and felt it was really well done. I can't help but think the WARDen is testing the sexuality waters for future books, and especially for Qhuinn and Blay. Two thumbs up!

And we've just learned that Tohr's book is next!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

Beyond the Highland Mist is my first read by this author, and not a bad start to the Highland series, though only loosely tied to it.

Those who know me know that I suffer from a sometimes debilitating disorder known as MRBIOs, Must Read Books In Order syndrome. It’s important that you understand this about me because I’m about make a shocking statement, here: In order to enjoy this series, it isn’t necessary to read the first book. Yes, I really did say that, and no, I’m not on medication. Just stating the facts.

As I said, this isn’t a bad start to the series, though it definitely suffers from a case of the FITS – First in the Series syndrome. My overall feelings about this story have nothing to do with the fact that I’m not a fan of time travel, rather everything to do with the hero and heroine.

Hawk has all the characteristics of an amazing hero, and I adored him! In ways, he reminds me of Gaston from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast because he’s extremely good looking and enjoys reaping the reward of women in his bed because of it. He’s a powerful laird, physically and mentally, and his clan has great respect for him. He’s a man of honor and integrity and can be trusted to always do the right thing. Was he perfect? No, and by the end of the story I wanted to shoot him and end my own misery.

(view spoiler)What had me to the point of committing charactercide? Well,  I got so tired of Hawk running after Adrienne, when time after time she intentionally hurt him. Constantly using Adam’s name for no other reason than to drive Hawk away. I reached the point where I had lost respect for him as a man and have no qualms about telling you that by the end of the story, I couldn’t have cared less about either of them.

Adrienne, on the other hand, bothered the heck out of me right from the start and I never really cared about her one way or the other, except for how she affected Hawk’s happiness. I found very little about her to be appealing, and by the end of the story there was really nothing she could have done to redeem herself enough to be deserving of Hawk.

For those who, like myself, aren’t fans of time travel, that element in this book is very minor and I don’t think it takes too much away from the story. Although I suppose it could be argued that it had a huge impact on my rating because Adrienne being from the future and her over the top “I have rights” attitude throughout the book ruined the story for me. I’m giving this 2.5 out of a possible 5 stars because Hawk was hot.

Again, this book is not necessary to the ongoing storyline of the series.

To Tame A Highland Warrior by Karen Marie Moning

I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. After reading the first one and being underwhelmed by the time travel aspect, I assumed this one would be much the same, however, in my opinion, this book is much better than the first. With the exception of the mention of a few characters from the first book in the series, To Tame a Highland Warrior can easily be read as a standalone novel.

Why did this one work for me? Well, no time travel, for one thing. Another important factor is the truly tormented hero, Gavrael McIllioch, aka, Grimm Roderick who, while he had superhuman powers, didn’t act like a superhero. In fact, he hated what he was – a Berserker. The stuff of nightmares, the very thing parents threatened their children with to get them to behave. He didn’t trust himself, couldn’t control when the Berserker in him would appear, and worried that one day he’d hurt the woman he’d come to love, Jillian St. Clair.

Jillian had been in love with Grimm since she was a young woman of only twelve and had no intention of ever wedding anyone except him. So it didn’t sit well with her when her father summoned three men to “come for Jillian” to compete for her hand in marriage. Grimm was one of those men who had been called for, and even though he came, he had no intention of marrying her. But he couldn’t stand to see anyone else win her hand, either.

This was a fun, sexy, and sometimes sad, story that can easily be read even if you haven’t read the first book, Beyond the Highland Mist. Although a couple of the characters from the BTHM are mentioned, they played such a small role that you’re not missing anything by skipping their story. Unless of course if you love time travel, have a go at it.

I hear the series gets better and better, so I’m looking forward to reading more.

I'm giving this one 4 of 5 stars.