Tag Archives: Romance

Review: Enchanted Ever After Robin D. Owens

2 Jan

enchantedeverafterowens


3 of 5 scoopers

Enchanted Ever After by Robin D. Owens
Harlequin/MIRA (Dec. 18, 2012)
Trade: $14.95; ebook: $10.99
ISBN: 9780373803477

Favorite Lines: “Change was scary and inevitable and could be embraced. Respect of others was important but confidence in yourself even more.” (p. 393, e-galley)

Kiri Palger knew the difference between reality—new house, hard work and not too many friends—and fantasy—the fun she had playing online games. So when the chance to work for the best gaming company in the world came up, giving her a chance to merge business with pleasure, how could she not apply?

Suddenly she has more friends, interesting neighbors and an intriguing love interest. But when the game begins to awaken something inside her, Kiri is shocked by the talents she never knew she had…and an evil she’d never imagined.

Her nice, safe life is imploding around her—and if she takes up the mantle of her powers, it will never be the same again….

Enchanted Ever After is book three in Robin D. Owens Mystic Circle series. The emphasis in this book is on water dwelling people and plays with the idea of merging video games/technology with magic to create something new. In this case it’s more Lightfolk. The danger comes from not knowing the intricacies of societies that are other than human and the Dark Ones (bad guys) who seek to destroy the Lightfolk.

Take a good look at the cover before you buy this one. I’m not a fan of water dwelling creature stories and that’s what this is. If I’d have known the book would be about merpeople and naiads I would have passed on it. I would have missed an entertaining story, but not one that I’d want to re-read.

The book is about Kiri, a human woman in the process of change. Not just transforming from human to magical, but at a changing point in all aspects. Her friendships are changing, she’s creating a relationship with a magical man, and she’s going after her dream job. Too bad the person I cared most about was Kiri’s love interest Lathyr.

He wanted to belong so bad, but because he isn’t pure merman he is sneered at and wanders from home to home. There is more there than the obvious and Owens slowly unravels Lathyr’s story. I thought there would be more to it and really don’t understand the reasoning of the creature who masterminded Lathyr’s nomadic lifestyle. It seemed rather silly.

Watching the couple lean on one another was nice and the story was pretty tame. There was nothing outrageous or that made me feel anything. I laughed out loud one time over the course of the entire story. I never cried or felt sad. I got irritated while reading Enchanted Ever After, but never invested in anybody. I felt detached and I blame that on Owens’ portrayal of the Lightfolk. Most of them are cold, even Jenni (heroine of book one and djinnfem) seemed untouchable.

Despite my inability to connect with the characters in Enchanted Ever After I had no problem reading it. When I finished I thought “okay, on to the next book.” I had no desire to re-read any passages. I finished and this review will finalize my thoughts on it. Book four won’t be an instant read for me. Although if the synopsis sounds good I’ll give it a try.

enchantednomoreowens1enchanted again owens

Review: Aftershock by Jill Sorenson

30 Dec

aftershocksorenson


4 of 5 scoopers

Aftershock by Jill Sorenson
Harlequin (Dec. 18, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780373777327

Favorite Lines: “Because we’d both be miserable! I love you Lauren. But I don’t want you to waste a single second of your life on me.” (p. 337, e-galley)

As an emergency paramedic, Lauren Boyer is dedicated and highly capable. Until an earthquake strikes, trapping her beneath the freeway with a group of strangers—including Iraq war veteran Garrett Wright…

Handsome and take-charge Garrett aids Lauren in her rescue efforts, even as the steely look in his eyes seems to hide dark secrets. When a gang of escaped convicts goes on the attack, Garrett’s bravery makes him more than a courageous bystander to Lauren. If they can save the others before time runs out, maybe, just maybe, they can explore the fire igniting between them—if the truth about who he really is doesn’t pull them apart forever….

I thought I was going to pick up Aftershock by Jill Sorenson, read a page and set the book down. I knew I wanted to read it but it was time for bed and I figured I’d read one page to say I started it and finish it later. That didn’t happen. I kept going until the book was finished. Not because of a great romance, but because of the great stories which were being told.

Aftershock tells many stories. From the blurb I thought the main story would be Garrett and Lauren falling in love, but it feels more like a secondary story line to the idea of a group of people trying to survive after a natural disaster. There is also the danger coming from a group of convicts which threatens the survivors. As a story I really liked the book. But I don’t think it’s a good romance.

There is an almost instant attraction between Garrett and Lauren. I totally understand the lust, but I don’t believe in the forever type of love that is supposed to have come from their time together. I want it for them, but there is so much keeping them apart that I don’t believe it’s possible.

Thinking back one of the things I most enjoyed about Aftershock is the characters aren’t perfect by the end of the book. They don’t have this giant epiphany and turn their lives around. They have good moments and they are survivors but they aren’t in perfect situations. A wand is never waved to put a rainbow over their lives so the bad disappears. Sorenson’s characters work with what their given and are very “real” with human failures. I liked knowing that the characters stayed true to that which I was introduced to in the story and at the end were that same individual.

In the end, I’ve got to tell you that as a romance I don’t find Aftershock to be successful. There is a happy ever after, but it is unbelievable. However, as a piece of fiction with tons of action and stories taking place it works. I had to know what was going to happen. I liked it enough to want to continue the series with book two, Freefall which comes out in June 2013. It tells the story of a character we meet in Aftershock but don’t ever really get to know. I’m excited to see where it goes.

Review: Gilded by Karina Cooper

20 Dec

5 out of 5 scoopers

Gilded by Karina Cooper
HarperCollins Publisher/AVON (Dec. 26, 2012)
Mass market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780062127662

Favorite Lines: “Blood dries to an oily brown, like embedded dirt or forgotten paint. Beneath a month’s worth of dust, the color stained the floor in unshakeable evidence–I had not imagined everything. A body had fallen here. Bled out here.” (p. 13, e-galley)

In the gleaming heights of Victorian London, a world of deception awaits an unconventional Society lady whose taste for adventure makes her a most formidable adversary…

Though Society demands that I make a good marriage, I, Cherry St. Croix, have neither the time nor the interest. I am on the trail of a murder with no victim, a mystery with no motive, and the key to an alchemical formula that could be my family’s legacy.

Yet the world is not so kind as to let me pursue simple murder and uncomplicated bounties. Above the foggy drift, an earl insists on my attention, while my friends watch my increasingly desperate attempts to remain my own woman. From the silken demands of the Midnight Menagerie—to whose dangerously seductive ringmaster I owe a debt—to the rigorous pressures of the peerage, all are conspiring to place before me a choice that will forever change my life.

Tarnished introduced me to Karina Cooper‘s St. Croix Chronicles. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I never thought I’d come to love the historical urban fantasy series the way I find myself obsessing over it. I think you’ll know exactly what I mean after you read Gilded. Do NOT try to jump into the series with this book or you will be totally lost.

Gilded is told in the first person from Cherry’s point of view.

Opium addict and member of polite London society, Cherry St. Croix is still collecting money working as a bounty hunter of sorts in foggy London. She struggles to fit into a world where young women are trained to marry and raise children. It’s hard for her because she has a scientist’s brain and her family history–let’s just say it has her teetering into ostracized territory. Or it would were it not for the highly eligible bachelor Lord Cornelius Compton. He’s not the only man in her life. Her nights are often interrupted by Micajah Hawke, the Midnight Menagerie’s ringmaster.

The last book left me wondering who Cherry would choose to have a relationship with: society or the night. There were good points which could have swung her either way, but she makes a clear decision in Gilded. The repercussions of that choice will be played out in book three. I asked Cooper on Twitter when it would be released, but she did not yet know.

I wanted to punch some of the women for being vapid, eye-fluttering fools. I wanted to shake Cherry for making poor decisions. I wanted to scream and wail when I turned the final page of the book. I tried to put it out of my mind, but for days I replayed the events that culminated on the final pages of Gilded. I’ve got to know what will happen to Cherry. I’ve re-read a particular section in the final chapters several times and I guess that is how you know it was a good book.


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Review: A Love Untamed by Pamela Palmer

19 Dec

2.5 out of 5 scoopers

A Love Untamed by Pamela Palmer
HaperCollins Publishers (Dec. 26, 2012)
Mass market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780062107510
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Her voice was music laced with acid. She ignored his outstretched hand, her eyes narrowing as she smiled at him, but there was nothing pleasant about that smile. Hawke’s words came back to him, that he’d have more luck taming a tornado, and it occurred to him that he might finally have come across a female who was immune to his charms.” (p. 15, e-galley)

The newest member of the elite Feral Warriors brotherhood, Fox is eager to prove himself on the frontlines of battle against the Daemons. When paired with the legendary Ilina warrior, Melisande, he expects the fierce beauty to quickly fall under the spell of his quite considerable charm. Instead, he finds himself spellbound by a woman who’s his match in every way.

Beneath Melisande’s brittle exterior lies centuries of pain and a violent hatred of all shape-shifters—a hatred that slowly crumbles after they’re caught in a deadly and cunning Mage trap and she glimpses a surprising depth in her far-too-seductive partner. Their survival demands unconditional trust—and their salvation surrender to a wild, untamed love.

After book six in Pamela Palmer’s Feral Warrior series I expected a lot from book seven, A Love Untamed. Unfortunately, I didn’t find characters I could relate too or care about.

The story focuses on the new fox warrior and the plot line which reared its head in the previous book. New warriors were being called but it wasn’t clear if they were solid, reliable warriors or the weakest of a line brought in to the fold due to black magic and destined to turn on the warriors. As the newest fox warrior Kieran is proud to be a feral warrior. Adored by the ladies, he is focuses on being the best warrior possible. When he sets eyes on the Ilina warrior Melisande he is immediately drawn to her.

Melisande has survived for thousands of years by being emotionless. She takes upon herself the responsibility of protecting her dying people through extreme measures. It comes as a shock when she meets Kieran and begins to feel again.

I’ve read every book in this series and while I loved some more than others, I wasn’t ready for the dispassion I felt for A Love Untamed. It should have been a hard, emotion filled book. Instead I found easy resolutions to big problems and a character that was too cold to connect to. Mel’s horrendous back story explained why she behaved the way she did, but I can’t forgive hundreds of years worth of cold-hearted deeds within the 192 pages that were on my nook. Not even the handsome hero (not that you can tell from the cover) did anything for me. There was nothing about him that made me want to scream for more.

If you’ve been reading the Feral Warrior series you will want to read A Love Untamed so that you’re up to date with where everyone stands in the group. There are scenes with a couple of the newest members of the FWs and an introduction to a new female character that look promising. I’m not finished with the series yet, but I think A Love Untamed is the weakest book in the series.


Review: Relentless Seduction by Jillian Burns

18 Dec

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3 of 5 scoopers

Relentless Seduction by Jillian Burns
Harlequin (Dec. 18, 2012)
Mass Market: $5.25; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9780373797370
Excerpt

Favorite Line: “Wake up and notice the real world. Everyone looks out for number one. You think she’s worried about you? Hell, no. You saw how she treated you back there.” He pulled the coffeemaker out, began filling  the carafe with water. “That’s the way the world is, Claire. People leave you and you can’t count on anyone but yourself. The sooner you learn that, the easier life gets.” (p. 136, e-galley)

Unrestrained.

Unrelenting.
And completely undressed!
When her best friend disappears during Mardi Gras, microbiologist Claire Brookes is determined to find her. Her only lead is a bar called Once Bitten—a haven for the dark, melancholy and vampire-obsessed. And while Claire generally prefers science nerds over the Gothy children of New Orleans, something about the bar’s tall, dark and delish bartender makes her mouth water….

Bar owner Rafe Moreau is pretty sure that there’s more to Claire than uptightness and frumpy clothes. And as they delve further into the dark, seedy underworld of the Big Easy, Claire and Rafe turn to each other, discovering a sizzling hunger that won’t be satisfied.
But will one taste be enough?
Bein’ bad in the Big Easy…

Relentless Seduction is a romantic suspense which takes the ugly duckling, best friend searching for her missing pal and transforms her into the beautiful, but still brainy, woman who men lust after. Toss in a few creepy characters and a bad boy hero and you’ve got a good image of what takes place in this Harlequin Blaze story.

I had a hard time with Relentless Seduction. I was confused for the first third of the book. I didn’t understand who Rafe was: human, vampire or some other creature. For some reason I thought this was a Harlequin Nocturne which features vampires and shape shifters not posers. That’s not the author’s fault, but it did impact my impression of the book since the blurb makes it sound like a paranormal romance. Once I realized there was no real paranormal aspects, I snapped out of it and began taking Relentless Seduction as a romantic suspense which offers a glimpse of the seedy side of life in New Orleans.

The city is filled with all types of people which was a great way to show how two totally different people could come together and find love. The attraction between Claire and Rafe built quickly. I loved how surprised Rafe felt every time he felt something or reacted positively toward Claire. It was nice to see his confusion about the connection he feels for Claire because it prevented me from just assuming he wanted a booty call. Claire came across as self-conscious and needy half the time. Normally this would irritate me, but for some reason it just felt like…her. Like here’s this lady who normally marches to her own beat trying to stay afloat on the cool kid’s boat. Claire’s unsure in an endearing way.

Relentless Seduction didn’t sweep me off my feet, but I enjoyed watching the bad boy find himself worthy of the good girl. For a moment it was like Sandy’s transformation in Grease. You know where she changes from her good girl clothes into her black leather? That’s the moment when the story began getting interesting for me. Comments like “Purr for me, cher” spiced up the sexy moments as the hero took charge in the bedroom but the best part of Restless Seduction was how author Jillian Burns brought the crazy. If you want to watch the loonies come out from all over pick up a copy of Relentless Seduction.

Review: A Widow’s Guilty Secret by Marie Ferrarella

11 Dec

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2 of 5 scoopers

A Widow’s Guilty Secret by Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin (Dec. 18, 2012)
Mass Market: $5.50; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9780373278060
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “It was almost an out-of-body experience for her. She was in awe of her own actions, of the liberties that she was taking. She’d always been faithful to the man she was with, and as Peter’s wife, she’d been faithful to her vows. But Peter was dead and for the first time in a long time, she was not. Nick brought out a wildness in her, and yet, there was this overpowering need for a connection. To life, to love, to herself.  Every kiss seemed to flower into another one, creating equal partners of them even as she and Nick both tottered back and forth between being master and slave, captor and captive, each taking a turn at assuming all four roles.” (p. 235, e-galley)

“Watch over my baby.”

As the mother of a newborn, Suzy Burris is accustomed to sleepless nights. But tonight, she’s waiting up for her husband, Peter, to tell him she wants a divorce. Instead, she learns he’s been murdered. And the sexy detective who’s just delivered the shocking news is asking questions indicating she’s a suspect.

When Detective Nick Jeffries left Houston for the sleepy town of Vengeance, Texas, he hoped to leave behind the city’s grisly homicides. The latest triple murder to hit his desk nixes that idea. Being attracted to the widow of one of the victims is the last thing he needs. But when Suzy and her baby are threatened, he’ll risk all to keep them from a killer’s crosshairs….

I seem to forget that many of the Harlequin individual series like Intrigue, Super Romance, Nocturne, Blaze, Desire, etc…are continuations of the same story. For example, A Widow’s Guilty Secret is part of Harlequin Romantic Suspense Vengeance in Texas series. This irritated me for the same reason it always irritates me. I think I’m getting a complete story in a book, but major threads are left unsolved to be picked up in another book. In this case the next book which picks up the story is A Rancher’s Deadly Affair by Jennifer Morey which comes out with the other February Harlequin Romantic Suspense releases.

So if you’re expecting a glowing review you won’t find it here. That doesn’t mean I disliked the story. There was much to like such as the actual mystery. I wanted to know who killed Sheriff Burris and his pals and the reasoning behind the murders. I guess my problem is that I didn’t feel like the book was a romance or a suspense. The first chapter introduces us to the story’s heroine Suzy Burris as she waits for her husband to come home. She’s decided to divorce him and wants to tell her hubby before she takes their two-month-old infant and leaves. By the end of an info dumped first chapter we find out why Suzy’s marriage is a sham, that her husband was a douche and watch her as the hero informs her of her husband’s death.

That’s a lot, I know. It is supposed to open me to the idea of a brand spanking new widow falling in love with a man she just met, but it didn’t. I was told the heroine never really loved her husband, but I kept wondering how a woman with an infant and a murdered spouse could find lasting love while a killer is on the loose. Suzy’s reactions and thoughts confused me just as much as Nick, the hero and detective investigating the murders, ability to lust after the widow. I didn’t feel romance, love or lust between them. Friendship? Yes.

I guess I felt like the book was like a road traveling across the plains. There was no high or low parts just a steady continuation from point A to B. There were no interesting landmarks to look out the window at, simply asphalt taking the reader on a trip. It wasn’t boring enough to set aside or not finish. I just didn’t see anything spectacular about it. It certainly didn’t feel very suspenseful.

A Widow’s Guilty Secret didn’t do much for me. I liked it less than the average book because I was unable to lose myself in the story. I didn’t believe in the characters, disliked how much of the story was left unfinished and was disappointed in the lack of high and low points in the story. I expected to read a suspense filled romance, but feel like I read a piece of fiction with a forced romance thread.

Review: Renegade by Nancy Northcott

6 Dec


3 of 5 scoopers

Renegade by Nancy Northcott
Grand Central Publishing (Nov. 6, 2012)
ebook: $2.99
ISBN: 9781455526659

Favorite Lines: “She was set to meet him, but by hell’s bells, he’d teach her not to boss him around. He’d saved her stubborn life. She should be on her knees, thanking him. Stripping for him. Spreading for him. He’d make her beg once he’d wiped that pained look off– Pained?” (p. 118, e-galley)

SHE FOLLOWS THE RULES

As the Collegium council’s top sheriff of the southeastern United States, Valeria Banning doesn’t just take her job seriously, she takes it personally. So when a notorious traitor wanted by the authorities suddenly risks his life to save hers, she has to wonder why.

HE BREAKS EVERY ONE OF THEM

As a mage, Griffin is sworn to protect innocents from dark magic, which is how he finds himself fighting side by side with the beautiful Valeria Banning. But when the council finds out the two have been working together, they’re both left running for their lives-from the law, the threat of a ghoul takeover, and a possible Collegium mole.

Looking for a book filled with magic? I was too, that’s why I picked up an e-galley copy of Renegade. It appears that it is the first book in Nancy Northcott’s Protector series and will be followed in May 2013 with a book called Guardian.

Renegade is a book about betrayal, redemption and love. Its characters avoid instant love in favor of a lust that builds to a fever pitch and overflows into love. Both main characters (Valeria and Griffin) are targets in an elaborate scheme that would see them dead so evil can prevail. This means the story is constantly moving as attack after attack occur while Val and Griffin explore their feelings for one another.

Mages and ghouls, and to a lesser degree, demons are the paranormal creatures who make appearances in Renegade.  We quickly get to know which are good and how dangerous each can be. I can’t say that the mastermind evil doer was a surprise, but the reasoning for the crimes committed was interesting.

Even though Renegade started with a bang I had a hard time getting into it. I think it’s because sometimes I want to read about specific things: vampires, shifters, surprise pregnancy, alpha aliens or stalkers. When I started reading Renegade I was on an alien romance kick. It took a while, but when I finally immersed myself in the magical world of Val and Griffin I liked it just fine. I wasn’t thrilled, but had I read it at another time I might have felt differently.

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