Archive | September, 2011

Review: Knight Everlasting by Jackie Ivie

30 Sep

Knight Everlasting by Jackie Ivie
Kensington (October 2011)
Mass market: $7.99; ebook: $5.99
ISBN: 9781420108859

Favorite Lines: “You probably even…sag.” He dropped his eyes to her bodice, leaving her no excuse to misinterpret what he said. (p. 303, ARC)

In the heat of battle, a powerful Scottish laird takes a mysterious woman captive…

His Powerful Desire

When Aidan MacKetryck finds a flaxen-haired maid caught in the crosshairs of battle, he quickly saves her from certain death. But while Aidan expects gratitude, he is sorely disappointed—for the fiery lass makes it clear she wants nothing to do with him…

Her Dangerous Secret

Juliana D’Aubenville is in hiding from those who want her entire family to perish. Despite her attraction to the strikingly handsome Aidan, Juliana knows she must escape before her identity is revealed. The trouble is, Aidan refuses to let her go…

Their Forbidden Love

With each moment Aidan and Juliana are together, their desire becomes more enticing—and harder to resist. But just as Aidan tries to lay claim to Juliana once and for all, their darkest secrets are finally revealed—putting both their love and their lives in terrible danger…

Knight Everlasting is a historical, Scottish romance written by Jackie Ivie. The book is set in Scotland AD 1297.

When Highland laird Aidan MacKetryck sees Sassenachs demolishing a small Scottish village, he does the only thing he can…scoops up a village woman and runs. Thus begins an emotional journey between two very different people.

There is so much to like about Knight Everlasting. The instant sexual chemistry between the hero and heroine is evident in the first chapter. The banter between characters is enlightening and at times funny. There were a variety of characters: the liar, harem, secretive heroine, brash hero and castle witch. Some of them worked better than others, but my personal favorite was the liar. He always had something to say and watching him put a spin on everything was entertaining.

However, there were a few things that didn’t quite work for me. I felt like I didn’t really know the hero. He came across as playful and benevolent at the beginning of the book. Actually, I didn’t have a clue as to his real position because he acted like he had no authority. He allowed his men to talk trash about him. He explained his reasons for doing so, but it was odd. Later he’s described as and lives up to labels like rash and reckless. Aidan didn’t really have any hero qualities. I thought of him as a “regular” guy who happened to be rich. I never thought of him as alpha, and after reading about “his women” I was disgusted enough to not want much to do with him.

I also had a hard time coming to terms with the mystical aspect of the story. I didn’t see the point of including it at all. I get having a witch make predictions, but I didn’t like the addition of magic to my historical romance. It’s definitely not what I thought I was getting when I decided to read the book.

The last major “hmmm” moment I had was at the conclusion of the story. My suspension of belief crumbled. I didn’t believe for a minute that the hero didn’t know the heroine’s big secret and that he was capable of putting it aside as easily as he did.

In the end, the negative and positive aspects of the story almost canceled each other out. I was a little disappointed with the story, but I didn’t hate or love Knight Everlasting. I really don’t feel anything about it.

Review: Lord of Rage by Jill Monroe

29 Sep

Lord of Rage by Jill Monroe
Harlequin Nocturne (Sept. 20, 2011)
Mass market: $5.50; ebook: $3.99
ISBN: 9780373618682

Favorite Lines: “Breena turned to see a hideous creature, one created from evil Its eight legs, gleaming with razors and dripping with the blood of her people, sped toward her. It would get them all if she didn’t do something to distract it.” (p. 19, egalley)

Once upon a time…the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden. To save their children, the queen  scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance. Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs…and time is running out…

Princess Breena had been dreaming of her warrior lover when she was ripped from her Elden castle and thrown into a strange, dangerous realm. Lost and alone, she prayed for survival and vengeance for her stolen kingdom. She found both in a woodland cottage…in a dark bear of a man.

 The golden-haired beauty had eaten his food and slept in his bed when Osborn found her. Though he wanted to awaken his virgin princess to carnal pleasures, Breena wanted more—including his warrior skills. Skills the once-legendary mercenary had long buried. Now Osborn had a choice—risk his life or deny his princess her fairy-tale ending.

Lord of Rage is Jill Monroe’s contribution to the Royal House of Shadows series which is being written by four different authors. Monroe’s story is a take on the classic Goldy Locks and the Three Bears fairy tale. Unlike many adult retakes on the children’s classic, Monroe’s three bears are not all grown. The hero is in his 20’s and cares for his younger brothers. I’m not sure of their ages, despite getting hung up on how young they acted in the book. Their questions and comments made them sound as if they were 10 to 13, but they have to be older if they were both able to clearly speak and hide from attacking vampires 10 years prior to the events taking place.

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t really enjoy Lord of Rage. I didn’t like the heroine at all. Throughout the story Breena imagines ways to manipulate her hero because he told her straight off he will not go to war for her. She actively thinks of ways to trick and play him while offering partial explanations to his questions. She thinks of  “her warrior” as the man who will be able to seek revenge for her. I get that Breena had been trained to be a queen and queen’s are manipulative. It still doesn’t make her likeable.

However, I did appreciate the way this book showed the evil unlike book one, Lord of Vampires. I liked the snippets involving the Blood Sorcerer and blood magic. The ultimate battle was pretty great, too. And the sex–whoo the sex–Monroe sure knows how to get the blood pumping. Good stuff, that’s all I’ve got to say. The super alpha hero, Osborne, was lovely in a I-want-to-screw-you-blind type of way. Just don’t expect too much from him. He’s taught his brothers that the only good woman is one who cooks or cleans. He tries to explain it away, “if you don’t think about what you’re missing, you won’t miss it” type of thing, but this is one of those situations where you know exactly you’re getting right up front. Hell, as helpless as the heroine acted, he’s exactly what she wanted and needed.

In the end, I can’t say that I’d recommend Lord of Rage unless you strictly want to skip to the sex scenes or enjoy reading about scheming heroines who get a shot at happily ever after.

Review: Twilight Fulfilled by Maggie Shayne

28 Sep

Twilight Fulfilled by Maggie Shayne
MIRA (Sept. 27, 2011)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $6.99
ISBN: 9780778312673

Favorite Lines: “Of my entire race, I’m the least worthy. I’m the evil one, the destroyer, or at least I was. I’m the first one you ought to murder, Utana, because I swear to God, if you let me live I will kill you. I’ll find a way.” (p. 144, egalley)

Enemies… Lovers… Saviors?

The First Immortal Walks Again

Utanapishtim has paid dearly for the sin of creating the vampire race—imprisoned in a living death for  centuries, driven to near madness. With a single white-hot glance, he immolates his descendants…and the vampire Armageddon begins.

Beautiful and deadly Brigit Poe, not wholly vampire but fiercely loyal to that shared bloodline, is called into  action. She abhors yet cannot deny her destiny: to vanquish the once-great king of the immortals and save the vampire race.

Two warriors, equally matched in power and determination, are soon locked in an unwinnable battle, only to discover a passion so shocking it threatens every truth they’ve ever known—even as they must face one final battle that seems fated to end in death and heartbreak for them both.

Twilight Fulfilled is part two of Maggie Shayne’s Children of Twilight series. The first book is called–wait for it–Twilight Prophecy. It seems to conclude Shayne’s Wings of the Night series which began in the early 90s and was reissued in 2010. I haven’t read the series in years, but I recognized several of the characters mentioned. While those who read the first book of the Children of Twilight series may have a leg up, as far as knowing exactly what is happening from the start. I feel that I got the better end of the deal because I hadn’t been preconditioned to think poorly of the heroine. The heroine who is continually thinking about how she is the dark, deadly and evil twin.

Twilight Fulfilled is told in the third person, in a world which evolved over the course of 18 books. It begins with a funeral and the back story is immediately told. The father of all vampires is alive and feeling guilty.  He is out to wipe his progeny off the face of the earth. He is also creating quite a problem in front of humanity. He is god-like and seeking redemption. I understood his motivations and wanted him to be happy after years of being tortured.

The woman sent to save the vampires is Brigit. She constantly thinks about the darkness her family associates with her and almost believes she isn’t worthy of a happily ever after, which of course makes me want one for her. Despite having two characters whom I liked, I was slightly underwhelmed by the entire book. I kept feeling like, “okay, this is where I’ll get sucked in” only to be disappointed. I never became invested in the story.

It was a nice distraction, but nothing that makes me want to revisit the world or seek out previous books. My biggest problem with the book was with its predictability. Nothing surprised me. Nor did anything stand out to place the book above other vampire novels on the market. It was a book. The end. I have a feeling, however, that fans of the series will adore Twilight Fulfilled as it concludes a series which evolved over many years.

 

Book Trailer & Giveaway: The Crown On Your Head by Nancy Tillman

27 Sep

There are less than 100 days ’till Christmas and Nancy Tillman‘s The Crown on Your Head would make a great gift. Zeitghost Media is allowing me to give away one copy of the picture book here at Scooper Speaks. Want a chance to win it? Well, here it is. To Win: you must have a mailing address in the United States or Canada. Simply tell me the title of the picture book you best remember, either reading to a sibling or your child, or having read to you. For example, the book I remember best is Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever. I read it to my younger brother–he’s 11 years my junior–all the time. (BTW, you listen to the author read the book at his website.) The giveaway is open until noon on October 5 when I use random.org to select a winner.

Review: A Touch of Crimson by Sylvia Day

27 Sep

A Touch of Crimson by Sylvia Day
Penguin (September 2011)
Mass market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780451234995
Read an excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Lindsay stirred from her dreams before she was ready. Part of her mind still clung to sleep, longing for another touch of wickedly knowledgeable hands, another whisper of firm lips across her throat, another brush of silky white and crimson wings…Her eyes opened on a soundless gasp, her heart racing and her skin hot. She was painfully aroused, her thoughts filled with flame blue eyes and raw, sexual words spoken in a purring voice of sin.” (p. 86, egalley)

Adrian Mitchell is an angel of immense power and insatiable desire. Leading an elite Special Ops unit of the Seraphim, his task is to punish the Fallen–angels who have become vampires–and command a restless pack of indentured lycans.

But Adrian has suffered his own punishment for becoming involved with mortals–losing the woman he loves again and again. Now, after nearly two hundred years, he has found her–Shadoe, her soul once more inhabiting a new body with no memory of him. Only this time he won’t let her go.

With no memory of her past as Shadoe, Lindsay Gibson only knows she can’t help being fiercely attracted to the smoldering, seductive male who crosses her path. Swept into a dangerous world of tumultuous passion and preternatural conflict, Lindsay is soon caught in the middle between her angel lover, her vampire father, and a full-blown lycan revolt. There’s more at stake than her love and her life–this time she could lose her very soul…

A Touch of Crimson is book one in Sylvia Day‘s Renegade Angels trilogy which focuses on a war between angels and vampires. It is based on the religious belief that angels fell from heaven, were stripped of their souls and wings and transformed into vampires. There are also angels called sentinels who enforce the heavenly punishment given to the vampires. Oh yeah, there are also werewolves who are slaves to the sentinels. The werewolves hunt vampires.

The story is a paranormal romance which pairs Adrian, the leader of the sentinels, with a woman whose body contains the soul of the woman he has loved for thousands of years. Adrian is rich, an alpha angel and extremely sexual. He is a man who loves deeply, but that love is something I questioned. While I read the book I was happy. (Well, until the end.) Later when I thought about it, I wondered about the viability of Adrian and Lindsay. I don’t believe the two can live happily ever after. How can a man who loved one particular woman’s soul for so long fall in love with another woman? His love for his new woman was enough to overcome a lifetimes of hatred and doctrines, and I had a hard time with that. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the story, but I didn’t fully buy it. I’m still waiting for a bolt of lightening to strike Adrian and that affects my enjoyment of the book as a romance. Adrian eats the proverbial forbidden fruit without suffering any consequences.

I liked learning about the “good” guys and the “bad” guys. I think they are far more similar than either would admit. I felt drawn to the plight of the werewolves. They work so hard and are given so little in return. They are looked at as scum and it really bothered me to see angelic beings treat others so badly. I guess it shows how alien the sentinels are when compared to human morality. I want them to revolt so badly, but most importantly I want to know more about their alpha. I want to know more about a particular vampire, too. You’ll know who when you read the book.

With the way the Day’s world is set up, I don’t feel anyone can have a happy ending. It is a harsh world. Speaking of which, the world building was slightly confusing. I’ve always had issues with books that have glossaries because I find them disruptive. If I have to flip to the glossary to find out what a word means or who it refers to I’m taking time away from the story. II should be able to infer meanings based on the information given in the paragraph.

In the end, A Touch of Crimson didn’t quite work as a romance. However, when the romance was paired with the paranormal plot it created a story that I enjoyed more than the average book. I want to know more about the secondary characters. I want to watch the world and characters evolve. I also think, now that I know the terminology I’ll be able to read the next two books without continually stopping to research words. Book two will be about Elijah and according to GoodReads it’s scheduled to be released in the summer of 2012.

Review: Cast in Ruin by Michelle Sagara

26 Sep

Cast in Ruin by Michelle Sagara
Harlequin/LUNA (Sept. 20, 2011)
Trade: $14.95; ebook: $10.99
ISBN: 9780373803309

Favorite Lines: “It was true: hope could be unkind. You opened yourself up to the worst of wounds because you wanted to believe that something good could finally happen. But if you didn’t? You missed this. This intense and perfect moment in which, while the world was almost literally going to hells all around you, hope and reality blended in a single, perfect note.” (p. 394, egalley)

The dark is coming…

Seven corpses are discovered in the streets of a Dragon’s fief. All identical, down to their clothing.

Kaylin Neya is assigned to discover who they were, who killed them—and why. Is the evil lurking at the borders of Elantra preparing to cross over?

At least the investigation delays her meeting with the Dragon Emperor. And as the shadows grow longer
over the fiefs, Kaylin must use every skill she’s ever learned to save the people she’s sworn to protect.
Sword in hand, dragons in the sky, this time there’s no retreat and no surrender.…

Cast in Ruin (Chronicles of Elantra, Book 7) is the book I’ve been waiting for. I’ve loved every book in the series, but Cast in Ruin is right up there with the first two books, which were my favorites. Do not attempt to jump into the series now; there is no way you’ll understand everything that has taken place.

Sagara’s world building is excellent and each book has covered a different aspect of her world. Book seven focuses on giving us information about dragons, fiefs and Kaylin. It answers a ton of questions and whets the appetite for book eight. (There is also a novella which appeared in the Harvest Moon anthology.)

I know some people weren’t thrilled with book six, because they felt like Kaylin wasn’t growing as a character. Well that definitely cannot be said about book seven. We get another glimpse into Kaylin’s past, while she investigates the darkness invading the fiefs and it’s something that was hinted at, but never quite was said. One of the most important things to remember about Sagara’s Chronicles of Elantra Series is that the events of each book are taking place back to back. There aren’t years separating Kaylin’s adventures. There are weeks.

When I received Cast in Ruin I stayed up all night until I finished it. Despite reading the book mid-week I was ready to re-read the book by the weekend. It was that good. The magic, the way the characters stay true to the qualities they were introduced with in book one and the pacing, set Cast in Ruin above other book. It is my absolute favorite fantasy series. I know each book will be well written, thought inducing and a book that I will come back to time and time again. The Chronicles of Elantra is one of the only series I can auto buy and know that I’m getting quality work.

Cast in Ruin has two of my favorite characters, Severn and Nightshade. Of course Severn has more page coverage than Nightshade, but I felt like I was being teased for a book where the  opposite will be true. I can’t wait for that day. Psst…If you want to know what Kaylin feels for Nightshade and Severn, this is the book you need to read.

Heads up! We’re getting closer to the day Kaylin meets the emperor. Sagara said she is contracted to write four more books in the series for LUNA. (OMG, I’m gonna freakin’ crap when I read the final book!) The next book is Cast in Peril; it’ll be released next year.

 

 

Review: Must Love Vampires by Heidi Betts

25 Sep

Must Love Vampires by Heidi Betts
Kensington Publishing Corp. (October 2011)
Trade: $14.00; ebook: $11.99
ISBN: 9780758247636

Favorite Lines: “First date–kiss on the cheek. Second date kiss on the lips.  Third date–full French and over-the-shirt action. Fifth date, hot, sweaty, monkey sex, if both parties were willing. Was it the eighth date when he was safe to say, “Hey, hon, I forgot to mention that I’m a vampire. I drink blood, can’t go out in the sun, and when we sixty-nine, it’s all I can do to not bite you in the femoral artery.”” (p. 132, ARC)

LOVE AT FIRST BITE

Nightclub dancer Chloe Lamoureaux just met the man of her dreams:  Aidan Raines is charming, considerate, rich, and hot.  Of course, he’s a little mysterious about his age.  And his favorite drink.  And he’s not much for sunlight.  But he’s asked her to marry him, and she’s ready to do it. Sure, she has a few secrets too—but they’ll have plenty of time to work things out while they’re living happily ever after.  Right?

Her identical twin sister, Chuck, isn’t so sure.  Maybe reporting for the local Bigfoot-sighting tabloid doesn’t make her an expert, but to Chuck, Aidan and his brother Sebastian look like honest-to-Dracula vampires.  Especially Sebastian:  beguiling, seductive, and just a hint of dangerous.  Maybe she wouldn’t mind him taking a little taste.  But with Chloe’s life in the balance, she has to know—do they want hot love or hot blood?  Or maybe…a little of both?

Must Love Vampires is a paranormal romance written by Heidi Betts. The book contains two short stories about a set of twins. One is about Chuck, the other is about Chloe. I requested this ARC from the publisher and feel absolutely horrible that I didn’t enjoy it.

First of all, after reading the blurb on the back cover it is immediately apparent that you will need to suspend belief when you pick up the book. Duh, bigfoot sightings… I’m good with that. But I almost feel insulted by the book.

Must Love Vampires is over the top cheesy. It felt like a vampire romance parody written by someone who had never read a paranormal romance novel. Why? Because all the smart ass comments people have ever made to me about being a romance reader slapped me in the face as I read Must Love Vampires. From the over the top purple prose to the instant love, the book is full of things that non-romance readers assume every romance book contains.

Let me give you a few examples of the words and usage I’m talking about.

Chuck wiggled her hips and jiggled her bazooms, feeling for all the world like a marlin on the business end of some deep-sea fisherman’s hook while the two of them struggled to get her into Chloe’s skimpy costume…”Nobody will catch on,” she insisted, sucking in a breath and praying the twins–the other twins–would stay put long enough for her to get through the night.

And

Inside her chest, Chuck’s heart was ka-thump-ka-thump-ka-thumping to beat the band. Holy hell on a hamburger bun.

And

And she was no wilting lily in this ballgame. Her arms and legs were wrapped around him like a squid’s, and she was kissing him back. Trying to suck out his molars, to be honest–if he had any molars to suck out.

And

The same could be said for his dick. Baseball bats, marble pillars, and railroad spikes all came to mind.

Don’t let me discourage you from reading the book though. I think if you go into it with the right mindset you might be able to laugh your way through it. There were moments that are so completely out of this world that I had to bust a smile. And the scene which involved Chuck, thoughts of virginity and a bathroom, cracked me up.

If I hadn’t requested Must Love Vampires I would not have finished it. I’m sure there’s an audience for the book somewhere. I am not that audience. I’m interested in knowing what others think about it. Did you like or dislike it? Please post your thoughts.

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