Archive | November, 2011

Review: Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep

30 Nov

Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Kennsington (Dec. 1, 2011)
Trade: $9.95; ebook: $8.99
ISBN: 9780758266941

Favorite Lines: “I curled up into a ball at the goddess’s feet and wept.” (p. 304, ARC)

Welcome to Mythos Academy, where teen warriors in the making train to take up their roles protecting humankind. With her snarky, self-deprecating voice and strange abilities, Gwen Frost is an outsider both to the students of the Academy and the rest of the world. Gwen must learn to become a warrior and to conquer her fear of her unusual gifts to take her place in society.

Book two in Jennifer Estep‘s Mythos Academy series picks up a few weeks after the events of the first book (Touch of Frost). Do not attempt to read Kiss of Frost until you read book one. The story is geared toward young adults and is told from Gwen’s POV.

The book opens with Spartans teaching Gwen to fight. It’s important because Gwen will need that knowledge to survive her teenage years. She’s the Greek Goddess of Victory–Nike’s–champion and after defeating the evil god Loki’s Reapers of Chaos in book one has a huge target on her back. The sparring session is also a prelude the many battles to come in this action packed tale which is focused on a teenager in possession of psychometry magic which allows her to see, feel and experience emotions and memories which are stored in objects and people.

More intriguing to me than the overall story line of good versus evil, is the story of a girl becoming a woman.  Learning to make decisions and to trust in herself. Falling in love and speaking her mind. Simply becoming secure with herself as a whole. All important parts which make up the journey to womanhood. Unfortunately, as most of us know, that is a path full of heartache. I felt Gwen’s pain at seeing her crush with another girl. The insecurity, sadness and confusion that filled her as she speculated on the reasons she wasn’t the girl for Logan.

Secrets come out in the latest release in Estep’s Mythos Academy series. Kiss of Frost is a quick read filled with various individuals from mythology. Remember, this book is written for a young adult audience. Don’t be surprised when you correctly guess the villain’s identity and at least one of the secrets kept in the book. It does nothing to detract from the story. As a matter of fact I’ve placed Kiss of Frost in my daughter’s room in hopes that she like it just as much as I did. Some people may not like: scenes which revolve around teens drinking and making out. Neither bothered me, but hey, to each her own.

BTW: The enovella to this series–First Frostis available for Free download until Dec. 5. Touch of Frost (ebook version) will be available for download at B&N on Dec. 5 for $2.99. It’s a one day only sale. It will also be on sale Dec. 5 to 7 for $3.99.


Review: Beyond the Darkness by Jaime Rush

29 Nov

Beyond the Darkness by Jaime Rush
HarperCollins/AVON (Nov. 29, 2011)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780062018915

Favorite Lines: “I find it interesting how humans use these odd words to describe the act of reproduction or the parts used therein. And yet, they use those words to describe each other and situations, too, mostly in a derogatory way. Once, in traffic, someone called me a ‘dick.’ I explained that my name was Pope, not Dick, and that seemed to stymie him. Later I found out that ‘dick’ is another word for a man’s penis , though I don’t’ understand the meaning of calling someone a penis. It serves two vital functions in life, after all. By the same token, you also use words related to religion. God, Jesus Christ, and hell are used as exclamations, and yet humans are extraordinarily sensitive to the nature of religion. It’s baffling.” (p. 132, egalley)

Cheveyo: a name that stirs Petra like no other, reviving deep feelings of pleasure. . .and pain. Despite her rare psychic gifts, the beautiful half-human Offspring doesn’t know why the magnificent shapeshifter walked out of her life when the bond they shared was powerful. . .and intensely passionate.

But Cheveyo is not gone. From the shadows, he watches over his beloved, determined that the malevolent enemies he hunts with fang and claw will not invade her world. But now, suddenly, the stakes are getting higher — as an insidious evil plots the destruction of Petra’s race. Cheveyo can remain hidden no longer from the lover who completes him but could destroy him. . . if his own inner darkness doesn’t destroy her first.

I first learned about Jaime Rush when I read the first book in her Offspring series, A Perfect Darkness. While I didn’t continue reading the series, Beyond the Darkness sounded too good to pass by. It is book five in the Offspring series.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I missed quite a few stories as characters and events were mentioned. However, I quickly caught on to what was happening and was able to run with the story.

What you need to know: The paranormal aspects of the story stem from alien roots. Callorians (the aliens) look like humans but are less dense than humans. They have higher energy vibrations which allow them to change form or give them “abilities.” Their emotions are suppressed similar to the Psy in Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series.

The heroine: She is TSTL at times and immature. I didn’t like her for 75 percent of the story. Let me show you why…

After the hero tells the heroine to stay in the restroom while he fights a villain the heroine decides she can help. So she leaves safety and

Baal looked at her, its pointed ears flicking. Cheveyo took a second to look back, and that’s when Baal moved. It flew past Cheveyo in a dark gray blur–right at her.–p. 33

Yep, she places herself in a mortally dangerous position. Not only is she in danger, but now she’s a distraction to her hero. Another reason I disliked Petra was that she seemed childish. She’s a woman in her twenties and at one point she

She used the bathroom, washed her face with the plain soap he had on the counter, and applied the powder and blush she kept in her purse. She pulled a brush through her tangled hair, reviving faint memories of a mother who used to brush her hair every night. She took the stuffed Toto from her bag and sat down again, catching Cheveyo’s tug of a smile when he saw the dog on her lap.–p. 44

What grown woman carries around a stuffed animal? At first I took Petra’s need to wear makeup and use hairspray as her being shallow. I couldn’t think of a reason why a woman running for her life would focus on physical beauty. It wasn’t until later in the story that I understood her need to control something as being separate from shallow. The realization helped me overlook some of Petra’s flaws.

The hero: He is a practical warrior. He has suffered and has hidden depths. He is also capable of a strong passion . His need to do the right thing consumes his life and he knows he will never be able to provide a secure home for the only woman he wants.

The passion: It’s hot. Petra and Cheveyo feel its burn all the time. Cool, right? Well most of the time I can handle it, but I really thought it was stupid when they almost succumbed to a fit of lust while on the run for their lives. What I mean is that at one point they have just lost the trail of the villains when they’re consumed with a need to make out. They haven’t reached a safe zone and have a small lead on the creatures/people out to get them. They even remark upon the inappropriate timing of their passion, “Not only should I not be doing this at all, I sure as hell shouldn’t be doing it now.”

The romance: As the couple begin to have tender moments I allowed myself to be swept away with them into a quiet type of love. And why have I never thought of shaving as romantic. There are a couple of scenes involving leg shaving that really pushed my buttons in a positive way. Jaime Rush did a spectacular job transforming an everyday ritual into a sensual experience. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed that one action.

The action: The story moved at a rapid pace from the beginning of the story to the end. Constant motion is the easiest way to describe the story. The pace kept the story interesting and the conversation prevented it from becoming stale.

Conclusion: Beyond the Darkness is a standard paranormal romance. You can safely pick it up knowing the hero and heroine will overcome all hurdles to find a life together. As a reader I found it difficult to care about the heroine’s happiness because she didn’t seem worthy of the hero. As the book raced to its conclusion, Petra proved me wrong and I was glad I read the book. I won’t be re-reading it, but it was a nice distraction.

The Perfect Mistress on Sale Today Only!

28 Nov

Buy the ebook from nook for $1.99.

Books I Want: December 2011

27 Nov

Review: Reckless Night by Lisa Marie Rice

26 Nov

Reckless Night by Lisa Marie Rice
HarperCollins (Nov. 29, 2011)
ebook: $0.99 (very short)
ISBN: 9780062115218

Favorite Lines: “They had a fabulous sex life. Drake was an attentive, tender lover who took his time in pleasing her. But every once in a while something in him changed and she caught a glimpse of the truly dangerous man he really was. She hadn’t tamed him, not one bit. He just chose to show her a tender side he said he’d only discovered with her.” (p. 17, egalley)

What do you give your beautiful wife when you’ve got all the money in the world but can’t spend it?

Victor “Drake” Drakovitch used to run a criminal empire, but he gave it all up for the woman he loves. Grace, an accomplished artist, abandoned the life she knew in order to be with the one man she could never live without.

Exiled to an island far from their former lives, the two stay safe from the watchful eyes of Drake’s many enemies. This Christmas, Drake wants to show Grace how much her sacrifice means. But what can he give a woman who shuns gold jewelry and diamonds, furs and expensive cars? Grace doesn’t want fancy things; she wants what Drake can give her—unquestioning devotion, fierce protection… and the best sex a woman has ever had.

Until terror strikes and Grace realizes that the best gift of all is a dangerous husband.

Lisa Marie Rice, author of the Dangerous series, follows up book three in the series (Dangerous Passion) with a peek into its hero’s and heroine’s new lives. A peek into their new lives is told in Reckless Night. When I say peek, I mean the story began on page 4 and it ended on page 30, according to my nook.

The short, erotic snippet of the married couples’ life will most likely appeal to those who read Dangerous Passions. I didn’t get sucked into the story, but the sex. Oh, the sex is another matter entirely.

The blistering sex features a “huge erect penis” and a woman willing to let her man direct her when it comes to sex. It mixes a little voyeurism with domination by a husband’s “hard, hot club.”

He was huge. When they made love, his foreplay lasted forever because he wanted to make sure she could take him without pain. He’d been able to enter her in one stroke only because she’d been so excited and so very wet.–p. 19

But there is more to the story than sex. The story basically lets the reader know that despite the necessity of changing many things, the hero is still capable of protecting his woman. He’d do anything for her and it shows.

I won’t be re-reading the story, but it is extremely short. All I’m saying is take it for what it is…a glimpse into a couple’s happily ever after.

Review: Learning to Trust by Lynne Connolly

25 Nov

Learning to Trust by Lynne Connolly
Carina Press (Nov. 21, 2011)
ebook: $4.99 (B&N has it for $3.99 right now)
ISBN: 9781426892622

Favorite Lines: “Leading the way up the steep staircase to the hallway increased her tension. That short skirt meant if he looked up, she was hiding very little. She didn’t know if he did, but the thought made heat roll through her in waves.” (p. 27, egalley)

Socialite Bellina Mazzanti Forde was the ultimate party girl—until she disappeared with Byron Brantley five years ago. Determined to find his brother, Jonathan Brantley has tracked Lina to a café in Naples and demands answers. Certain she’s hiding something, Jonathan vows not to let Lina out of his sight until she agrees to help him, even if it takes all night. Though he doesn’t trust her, he can’t deny that he wants her—has always wanted her…

Happy in her new, simpler life, Lina didn’t want to be found. Now that the past has caught up with her in the form of the sexy tycoon, she’s torn between exploring the passion he arouses in her, and facing the secrets that caused her to flee New York.

The tension between them soon leads to a scorching affair, one they both know can’t last. But when their search for Byron finds them tangling with the mob, Jon and Lina learn they have no one to trust but each other…

Lynne Connolly popped onto my radar with her story about betrayal, lust and love: Learning to Trust. She is the author of over 40 books, but I hadn’t heard of her before I picked up an egalley of her work from Netgalley. The story is a contemporary romance (filled with erotic scenes), has a touch of suspense and features a former drug addict as its heroine.

I enjoyed meeting Lina the heroine. She was a former wild girl and druggie who decided to clean up her act and knew staying away from her family was the only way she’d remain an asset to society. We don’t know why she ran from America to Italy, only that she did.

Enter her former lover’s brother, Jonathan. He wants to find out where his brother disappeared to, as his brother left America with Lina. Jonathan was attracted to Lina, but after she hooked up with his brother he filed her in the off limits folder. His discovery that the two are no longer together makes it possible for him to explore Lina in more than one way.

As the two get to know one another, outside forces converge upon them and threaten the peace they find in each others arms. It seems random and I really didn’t get the point of it until the very end. Lina tries to ignore her past but she is forced to confront the issues which led her to flee America. I was disgusted with the description of Lina’s life with her mother, but I don’t think there was ever any adequate resolution to the events which shaped Lina into a drug user.

It felt like a tool to prevent me from thinking of the heroine as a spoiled little rich girl who was bored until she found drugs. I wanted more time with Lina, her mother, stepfather, stepbrother and lover. I guess I wanted a knock down, drag out fight. I wanted some type of acknowledgement that Lina’s suffering had been avenged. While there was a clear end to that plot line, it came too quick and was delivered too swiftly. I was left thinking that the darkness had been fluffed over.

Despite not being enthralled with several aspects of the book, I am a character driven reader. I like the idea of an imperfect heroine redeeming herself and then finding a partner to share her life with. She didn’t need someone to fix her; she did it on her own. She wanted companionship and found a man who understood and accepted both her and her baggage. Her man was willing to support her without trying to take over and rule her. He was passionate, as well as compassionate. He was a genuine “good guy” which the heroine needed in her life.

While I don’t see myself rereading Learning to Trust any time soon, I’ve got to give the author props for the well written sex scenes. The story is a short, easy to read romance which I visualized in my mind. This became especially true when I noticed a scene which reminded me of Pretty Woman. I love that movie, so it put a smile on my face.

Review: Within the Flames by Marjorie M. Liu

24 Nov

Within the Flames by Marjorie M. Liu
HarperCollins/AVON (Nov. 29, 2011)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780062020178

Favorite Lines: “You hide so much of your heart, even from yourself. Hide too long, and you will forget it’s there.” (p. 17, egalley)

Joining the Dirk & Steele Agency turned Eddie’s life around. A pyrokinetic and former car thief, he cannot refuse an assignment to cross the continent in order to rescue an extraordinary woman in peril. . . even though he fears losing control of the destructive power of flame at his fingertips.

The last of her shape-shifting kind, Lyssa hides in the abandoned tunnels beneath Manhattan, seeking refuge from those who murdered her family a decade ago and would now destroy her as well. Like Eddie, fire is her weapon, her destiny. . . and her curse. Yet she wants nothing to do with this mesmerizing stranger who seeks her trust while inflaming her passion.  For beneath Lyssa’s extraordinary beauty are dangerous secrets. . . and even darker, nearly irresistible urges. But she has won the heart of a fearless protector. . . and all the demons in the world will not make him back down.

The cover totally fits the story. I especially like the  depiction of the heroine’s right arm. Look carefully at it. It is not part of her dress.

Within the Flames is book 11 in Marjorie M. Liu’s Dirk and Steele series. I’ve read several of the books, but not all of them. In the past I’ve always been able to pick up and read each book as a stand alone. I was able to do the same with Within the Flames.

The heroine, Lyssa, is special. She is a permanently disfigured artist on the run. Of course, her hero doesn’t consider it to be a disfigurement. He is accepting of her and immediately feels drawn to her. Both are damaged–emotionally and physically. Both are also dangerous. With the two paired, enemies should think twice before challenging them, but that’s not how it workes out. The bad guys girls, are vicious villains who are strong enough to have no fears.

Lyssa seems like a good girl who has learned to be careful in life. As the story progresses, the reader is shown major events that created the woman Lyssa became. I was startled to discover her heritage included a major, dark (bad–black magic) spot. However, she wouldn’t be willing or a believable match for her damaged mate had she not been slightly off.

Her hero, Eddie, is hiding his own secrets. They are damning and painful. They too shaped him into the man the reader meets. He would never accept a goody mate out of fear of his past tainting her. He needed someone and I’m pleased that he found a woman who needed him equally. He turns to flames and she will never burn in a flame. Perfect. Well, if they can survive the treachery surrounding them.

Like I said, Within the Flames is a Dirk and Steele novel, but it stands alone. There are hints to unknown stories, but all you need to know is included in the story. The book is packed with action, but has tender scenes which include the couple learning about one another. As they become closer their feelings transform from concern to love to protective to trusting. It was a pleasure reading their story and I’m sure I’ll revisit it sometime down the road.

What others are saying:
Nocturne Romance Reads

Review: Wild Thing by Robin Kaye

23 Nov

Wild Thing by Robin Kaye
Sourcebooks (Dec. 1, 2011)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9781402257278

Favorite Lines: “”Do you mind?”

Hunter took a sip of whatever was in the travel cup he held. “Not at all–just wondering if you were going for that naughty-schoolgirl-fantasy look.”

“No, I was going for my not-quite-sure-what-to-wear-for-a-meeting-with-Davy-Cracket look. How’s it working for you?”” (p. 7, egalley)

Whitewater-rafting guide Hunter Kincaid lands his dream job—guiding sportswear models through Idaho’s rugged wilderness for a photo shoot. When he meets Toni Russo, the goth New York manager of Action Models, there are enough sparks to set the forest ablaze.

When Hunter finds Toni’s book on how to marry the man of your choice, he studies it as a joke. Before long Hunter realizes he’s never cared enough for a woman to bother working this hard to get her. But the last man in the world this city girl wants is a Survivor Man wannabe…

Wild Thing is a contemporary romance about two totally different people who are absolutely perfect for each other. The book is a nice change of pace from other romance books available for purchase. Why? Because it features a man going after the woman he wants. It’s the heroine who has commitment issues, not the man. I’d liken the heroine to an easily startled deer in the woods. Yeah, Toni (the heroine)  has a phobia of nature, but the simile stands.

The romance is light-hearted and enchanting. There’s not a trace of the paranormal, just a woman who dresses in short skirts and wears dog collars. She’s not a cookie cutter heroine. She kinda reminded me of Abby off of NCIS. Toni is a kick ass manager, but she is also her parents’ child. Both of her parents have been married more than once, so true love doesn’t seem realistic to her. Despite liking her, Toni worked my nerves.

I’m gonna straight up admit that my expectations of Toni overcoming her phobias is unrealistic. Her reactions to everything began to work my nerves and I wanted it to end–quickly. It didn’t. Duh, that’s why it’s called a phobia. It isn’t rational. However, it still got on my nerves.

Toni’s hero, Hunter, should be sainted. He put up with an irrational woman and fell for her. He was willing to chase her and share his dreams with her. He wanted to love her. In return, he wanted her to love him. He didn’t want her to change. He didn’t want her to give up anything. Hunter patiently waited for her to realize that she wanted and loved him in return. He is a swoon worthy hero that I’d love to meet.

There are moments in Wild Thing when I laughed out loud. There are moments when I cried. The book made me long for a sweet romance with a man who is comfortable in his own skin and who has no need to shove his masculinity down anybody’s throat. Basically, the city girl meets the mountain man in the best possible way in Robin Kaye’s latest release. I will be rereading it soon.

What others are saying about Wild Thing:

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New Movie: Brave

21 Nov

I think I’m going to love this kids movie which comes out next year. (Uh, hello. It’s set in Scotland.) It’s supposed to feature a “new” type of princess and the movie trailer looks pretty great. If you’re a kilt lover there is a hilarious scene in the trailer you won’t soon forget. Did you notice the spectacular lack of a hero? Finally, a heroine who might be able to accomplish major things without the assistance of a man. What do you think about it?

Review: Tricks of the Trade by Laura Anne Gilman

17 Nov

Tricks of the Trade by Laura Anne Gilman
Harlequin/MIRA (Nov. 15, 2011)
Trade: $14.95; ebook: $10.99
ISBN: 9780373803316

Favorite Lines: “I don’t think people are meant to share that much, that openly, without the option to say no. It goes against all our self-protective  instincts, that loss of choice, and having to trust someone else to keep those private places safe.” (p. 283, egalley)

The name’s Torres, Bonnie Torres, and I’m a paranormal scene investigator—rooting out the truth about crimes of magic. It’s dangerous and boring and scary and fascinating. Though not everyone in the Cosa Nostradamus is happy we’re around, which can make things…tricky.

Working two cases—looking into a murder for the NYPD, and a rich man’s break-in—should be well within our abilities. But when things start getting weird in the Electric Apple, Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations is stretched to the limits, trying to keep one step ahead and out of trouble. Add in rumors of a powerful creature gunning for us and it’s not just our rep on the line this time—if we don’t solve this case, everyone will suffer.

Fortunately, around here, when the going gets weird, the weird hire us.…

Tricks of the Trade is book three in Laura Anne Gilman’s Paranormal Scene Investigations. As I’ve mentioned in the past, this series is the paranormal version of CSI. I’ve got to admit that I enjoyed this book more than the previous two maybe because I now feel comfortable in Gilman’s urban fantasy setting. Fans of Gilman’s Retriever series will notice its heroine Wren Valerie makes an appearance in Tricks of the Trade. Do not read this book as a stand alone. References to past books are made and the world building and paranormal sciences are laid out in books one and two.

The story is told in the first person from Bonnie’s POV, but it occasionally changes to Bonnie’s future love interest Ben Venec’s POV. It was slightly confusing, but the first two books did the same thing and I gradually adjusted. I think it interrupted the flow of the story like a minor hiccup. The story would also jump to the third person as it followed a villain.

Tricks of the Trade is basically a mystery that shows the growth the PUPIs have made learning magical techniques which mimic science. We are introduced to more knowledge about the paranormal world and its past, while the characters attempt to solve a couple of mysteries. Relationships are also explored as characters examine where and how they fit together or within the group as a whole.  The character who showed the most growth through the series, however, is Bonnie.

I actually liked Bonnie more in this book than in the previous two. She’s still fighting (kinda) the bond she has with Venec, but she doesn’t seem as immature as I found her before. I like how she tentatively feels her way around Venec and admits her attraction to him without jumping into the bed with him. (That doesn’t mean I don’t want them to get it on!)

Tricks of the Trade is a great set up to book four. I’m looking forward to reading how and where Gilman leads Bonnie, her co-workers and boss. I think it’s going to get dark and hopefully a romance will bloom. Usually the third book will turn me on or off of a series. I’m pleased to state this book makes me want to continue the series.