Archive | May, 2012

Review: Chase Me by Tamara Hogan

31 May

Chase Me by Tamara Hogan
Sourcebooks (June 1, 2012)
Mass Market: $6.99; ebook: $6.99
ISBN: 9781402246043
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “This was lust–sheet rolling, wall-banging, bone-incinerating lust.” (p.41, e-galley)

THE SECRETS SHE’S UNCOVERING WILL BE HIS TO KEEP…

Centuries ago, when their ship crashed to Earth, paranormals of all types settled secretly into our world, quietly going about their business with humans none the wiser. Self–ruling and careful to stay below the radar, all is threatened when Valkyrie archaeologist Lorin Schlessinger and her werewolf geologist partner Gabe Lupinsky inadvertently draw evil attention to Earth and its treasured natural resources.

As the threat intensifies, Lorin and Gabe struggle to contain the chaos they’ve unleashed, and to resist their explosive mutual attraction …

Book two in Tamara Hogan’s Underbelly Chronicles is a paranormal romance with traces of science fiction. I didn’t read book one, Taste Me, but managed to read Chase Me with minimal confusion. I garnered there was more to the story than I was reading, but it felt like a few cameo appearances to me.

Most often I’ve found that if an urban fantasy or romance book is going to place a disabled person in a lead role that character is female. Hogan did not do that and it was nice to see physically impaired character was the hero. No he wasn’t missing a limb nor was he deaf, but he did need thick glasses to see. Most importantly his was the genetically damaged blood line. To the heroine, those things meant little. She was attracted to him and she went for it.

But guess what? I had a problem with this book. I don’t feel like anything was resolved other than the hero and heroine hooked up for a happy ever after. The threat to paranormals living on Earth was not removed. There is plenty of teasing for future books, but I was slightly irritated with the lack of closure.

Chase Me made me want to know plenty of things about the secondary characters and satisfied me as the lead couple found love. It did not make me want to curl around the book or put it on my keeper shelf. I’m wondering about a  few characters and expect to have answers in the next book. I looked on GoodReads and Hogan’s website, but couldn’t find any mention of a title or release date for the next book in the series.

Review: Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen

30 May

Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen
Harlequin (May 29, 2012)
Trade: $9.99; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 9780373210473
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Grays consume souls. If they give in to their hunger, it can kill a weaker human. Stronger humans can survived losing their soul, but they will become infected–they’ll become a gray, too. Being gray changes them, and grays who feed too much, get too greedy, are incredibly dangerous.” (p. 88, e-galley)

Smart, über-careful, ordinary Samantha—that’s me. But I just couldn’t pass up a surprise kiss from my number-one unattainable crush. A kiss that did something to me…something strange. Now I feel hungry all the time, but not for food. It’s like part of me is missing—and I don’t know if I can get it back.

Then there’s Bishop. At first I thought he was just a street kid, but the secrets he’s keeping are as intense as his unearthly blue eyes. If he’s what I think he is, he may be the only one who can help me. But something terrifying is closing in, and the one chance Bishop and I have to stop it means losing everything I ever wanted and embracing the darkness inside me….

Dark Kiss is book one in Michelle Rowen’s Nightwatcher series. It is marketed toward kids 14 and older according to the B&N website. The heroine is a teenager whose life was forever changed by a kiss. The hero is an angel and part of a team composed of angels and demons sent to destroy a threat to world, of which the heroine is somehow involved.

I started reading Dark Kiss on April 15, but put it down for several weeks. It’s not that the story was horrid or boring, it just didn’t hold my attention over other books which had recently become available. I needed to write this review so I picked the book back up May 29th and flew through its angst filled pages. My fingers itched to put the book down until I hit chapter 13. Then I didn’t want to stop reading.

Some young adult books that resonate with adults. Michelle Rowen’s Dark Kiss was not one of those books. The heroine was not mature beyond her years nor did she come off as on the cusp of womanhood.  Samantha–the heroine–gets kissed by a guy she’s been crushin’ on for years. It’s a soul stealing kiss that changes her. Now she can do and see things she was never capable of doing before the kiss. What it doesn’t do is make her into a cold, uncaring person ruled by her hunger to kiss others. That ability to ignore or manage the hunger to kiss people makes her different from others who’ve lost their souls.

When Sam meets a young guy and finds out he’s an angel sent to stop the soul suckers she  makes a deal with him. She’ll help him find his teammates who are wandering around town if he helps her get her soul back. It’s a great premise and works quite well. I just kept getting irritated with the heroine’s inability to see what was right before her eyes. Thinking back I know it’s because she is so young. She has no life experience to change her initial reaction to different situations. She takes things at face value when an older woman would (hopefully) know better.

Dark Kiss is a book for younger people than I. I expect several plot lines to be picked up in the second installment, Wicked Kiss, when the book comes out in 2013. I wasn’t impressed with the first half of the book, but the story got much better as the action picked up in the second half. Had the heroine not been “special” she would have died many times. Her naivete makes her an easy target for the many supernatural beings who are all following their own agendas. I don’t think I’ll revisit this series.

 

Review: Shades of Desire by Virna DePaul

29 May

Shades of Desire by Virna DePaul
Harlequin (May 29, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780373776351

Favorite Lines: “With no warning, she felt pain explode behind her eyes. She saw an intense flash of light before her remaining vision tunneled. Her hands, which had been lightly gripping her camera, jerked violently, snapping the strap around her neck.” (p. 16, e-galley)

Natalie Jones is the lucky survivor of an elusive killer who preys on young women and then disappears from view. And since her harrowing ordeal, the once gutsy photojournalist has remained isolated in her home, paralyzed by fear and her failing vision.

Special Agent Liam “Mac” McKenzie has scars of his own. But despite his efforts to ignore the attraction that simmers between him and Natalie, he needs her help to catch a predator. Soon, they will forge a tentative alliance—charged with desire. Through a soft-focus lens, Natalie dares to envision a future with Mac beyond the investigation…never guessing that the clues hidden within her photographs are drawing them into an explosive confrontation with a madman.

Shades of Desire is a romantic suspense that pairs an attack survivor with a special agent of California’s Department of Justice Special Investigations Group. Both the hero and heroine are emotionally damaged, but they have even more to overcome as the heroine has recently become blind due to a genetic disease.

On the whole I enjoyed Shades of Desire. As a romance, not so much. I didn’t feel the instant attraction between Natalie and Mac. It felt abrupt and forced, especially the sex scene. I didn’t even want Mac and Natalie together.

Mac is a good investigator and a better asshole. He’s a recovering alcoholic and a permanent workaholic. He’s also divorced. This has left him a jaded individual which is immediately shown when an officer asks him if he misses his ex-wife.

Mac hesitated before answering, but it was a hesitation born out of guilt rather than indecision. His instinctive response seemed unfair to the woman he’d once loved enough to marry, but he answered truthfully anyway. “I miss someone being there when I get home sometimes, but I don’t miss her.”–p. 20

He’s all about moving from case to case and avoiding any emotional entanglements. This means when he meets the heroine Natalie, he doesn’t know how to deal with his attraction for her other than to bury it. He reacts in a surly, often jealous manner. He was snippy to Natalie and I really didn’t get her attraction for him.

Natalie was no easy heroine though. She was abused as a child and had known since she was 17 that she might go blind. She threw up walls to keep people out and tried to enforce those walls by being cold.

A well-known photographer, Natalie isn’t dealing with her loss of sight very well. That is believable. But what bothered me about her is that she is a pushover. She calls herself staying alone to protect herself since one can only count on oneself. But she let a ditzy assistant in and let the woman stay her friend even though the flaky lady enabled the killer to get his hands on Natalie. She became friends with a lady officer during the short time the woman was on guard duty. And she fell even quicker for Mac. I think when faced with an eternity alone Natalie took the first guy to show interest.

The suspense plot line was average. For me the best parts of it involved Natalie being attacked. Since she’s blind she can’t see it coming, but I could. Otherwise it was no big thing. I don’t want to give it away, but it slowly unravels as the couple’s relationship builds.

Shades of Desire is book one in DePaul’s Special Investigations Groups Series. It introduces the reader to the group and hints at a possible future relationship between two secondary character. The book was okay. I won’t be recommending it to anyone, I wasn’t awed by it and won’t be re-reading it. Consider borrowing it from the library if you plan to read it.

Contest: Marie Bostwick

25 May

Fans of romance writer Marie Bostwick have an opportunity to a $50 gift card to Michaels and an original Marie Bostwick quilted piece on Kennsington Books’ FaceBook page.

To enter: Upload a photo of any Marie Bostwick book where you like to quilt. Fans will vote for the photo they like and the picture with the most votes wins. Contest ends May 31.

Review: Coveted by Shawntelle Madison

24 May

Coveted by Shawntelle Madison
Random House/Ballantine Books (April 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780345529183
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “I had come to terms with the fact that hoarding had negative side effects. Buying ornament after ornament wasn’t normal behavior, but somehow part of me felt that it was right. As I gave the Home Shopping Network my credit Card number, I reveled in the delicious shiver within my belly when I knew my holiday cheer was on its way.” (p. 65, e-galley)

For werewolf Natalya Stravinsky, the supernatural is nothing extraordinary. What does seem strange is that she’s stuck in her hometown of South Toms River, New Jersey, the outcast of her pack, selling antiques to finicky magical creatures. Restless and recovering from her split with gorgeous ex-boyfriend, Thorn, Nat finds comfort in an unusual place: her obsessively collected stash of holiday trinkets. But complications pile up faster than her ornaments when Thorn returns home—and the two discover that the spark between them remains intense.
 
Before Nat can sort out their relationship, she must face a more immediate and dangerous problem. Her pack is under attack from the savage Long Island werewolves—and Nat is their first target in a turf war. Toss in a handsome wizard vying for her affection, a therapy group for the anxious and enchanted, and the South Toms River pack leader ready to throw her to the wolves, and it’s enough to give anybody a panic attack. With the stakes as high as the full moon, Nat must summon all of her strength to save her pack and, ultimately, herself.

I’m not sure how I feel about Coveted, book one, which is also the title of Shawntelle Madison’s new urban fantasy series. In some ways it is much different from other series on the market. It features a heroine with a diagnosed mental illness who yearns for the soon-to-be new alpha of her local werewolf pack. That man has some pull, but he is not in charge and thus can’t do all that I would like for a love interest to do.

Despite the large focus on the heroine’s love life, the series is not a romance. It is an urban fantasy. Do not expect a happily ever after. (Do expect the makings of a possible love triangle.) I think that’s part of the problem for me. I don’t see how this heroine could ever be happy. Mental illness does not just go away and its presence makes me question her acceptance by all who surround her. Madison attacks attitudes like mine in the book, but I’m imagining long-term effects and am not sure I want to stick around for the journey.

That said, I enjoyed many of the characters I met just as much as I hated a few. I wanted Nat to succeed. I wanted to kick ass for her. I wanted others to see the good in her and step up. I wanted her to find her backbone and stand proud. A reasonable amount of my wishes were granted by the time I turned the last page of the book, but I never felt good reading Coveted. I never felt an adrenaline rush or connection to anything or anyone.

I rated the book a three on GoodReads because it is so different from what I normally read and that I finished it. I never considered stopping even though I didn’t love the story. I liked little about the first half of the book, but the second half  picked up speed nicely. There was more action, but not enough to hook me.

Ending Thoughts: If I was out of books to read, and could borrow book two, Kept, from the library, I’d read it. Otherwise my journey into Nat’s world will be at an end.

Review: A Blood Seduction by Pamela Palmer

23 May

A Blood Seduction by Pamela Palmer
HaperCollins (May 29, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9780062107497
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “I own you, tessoro. I can watch you whenever I like.” Cristo! The wrong thing to say to a woman he wished to calm. “Someday, you will trust me, Quinn Lennox.” Though that was probably a lie. And not his first.” (p. 82, e-galley)

Vampires live only for lust and pleasure in the eternal twilight of Vamp City. But the city’s magic is dying. The only person who can restore it? A beautiful woman from the mortal world…one who knows nothing of the power she wields.

Quinn Lennox is searching for a missing friend when she stumbles into a dark otherworld that only she can see—and finds herself at the mercy of Arturo Mazza, a dangerously handsome vampire whose wicked kiss will save her, enslave her, bewitch her, and betray her.

What Arturo can’t do is forget about her—any more than Quinn can control her own feelings for him. Neither one can let desire get in the way of their mission—his to save his people, hers to save herself.

But there is no escape from desire in a city built for seduction, where passion flows hot and blood-red. Welcome to Vamp City…

This is an urban fantasy, not a romance. If you read A Blood Seduction expecting a romance you will be disappointed. As it is, the series is not going to be what people are expecting. I think that works. There can be no tedious “as normal in UF” reviews on this one. I think some people are going to say there is shock factor for the sake of shock. I didn’t feel that way.

I was shocked, but I feel each time I felt that way I learned something or a fact about a character was reinforced. I felt like you could never let your guard down ’cause you didn’t know what was coming. That edged the story above the norm.

Characters: I’m glad Palmer made Quin (the heroine) a character who cannot forget what she sees. So you know bad things can’t be wiped from her memory. There is no he beat her, wiped her memory and now they’re in love. Wait for it…until her memory miraculously came back. The hero–Arturo–is a major anti-hero who I spent equal time loving and hating. He is definitely not a romance hero and I don’t know how he could ever be the heroine’s love. Lust, yes. Love, no way. He’s all about saving and satisfying himself. He knows his place in vampire society and is not willing to risk it for Quin. Then there’s the bad ass nasty vampire who was so scary evil that I was finally happy. He is no washed out villain. He is truly a vamp to fear. In addition to vampires and magicians, there are shapeshifters.

Conclusion: I was left with many questions at the end of A Blood Seduction. Those questions revolve around the survival of people, places and things. I have to have the next book. The ending of A Blood Seduction cinched my “like” of the book. I was so shocked that I had to love it. Palmer took a chance and I think it paid off.

On a side note: I didn’t like the airy, romance tinged description of the book. It did not match the horror-like feel of the story.

Review: Tattooed by Pamela Callow

22 May

Tattooed by Pamela Callow
Harlequin/MIRA (May 29, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780778313021
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “The love and the hate had never stopped, never changed, never gone away. For over half his life he had loved Kenzie Sloane. And for over half his life he had hated her for what she had done to him. But he had a plan. A plan that would bring them full circle.” (p. 10, e-galley)

She is obsessed with tattoos.

He is obsessed with her.

When a body is found on the outskirts of Halifax, rumors run wild about the victim’s identity. But tattoo artist Kenzie Sloane knows exactly who she is. They share a tattoo… and a decade-old secret.

Lawyer Kate Lange remembers Kenzie Sloane. The former wild child was part of the same crowd that attracted her little sister, Imogen, before her death. Now Kenzie needs her help. And Kate needs answers.

But there are others who know about the tattoo and its history. And one of them is watching Kenzie’s every move, waiting for the perfect moment to fulfill a dark promise that had been inked in her skin.

C over art: I like the cover, but not for this book. The tattooist (Kenzie) is covered in tattoos, but there is one tattoo that is mentioned on the neck. It is not tribal art. It is a raven. (Even if it were tribal art, it would need to cover the bird.) So now I want to know: who is on the cover of this book?

I did not realize Pamela Callow’s Tattooed was book three in the Kate Lange series. I should have researched the author before picking up the book. It would have saved me some confusion and irritation when I felt like everyone but me knew what had happened in the past. I was late to the story which picked up several months after the events of book two, Indefensible.

The story is told from the third person and follows many different people including: a prison inmate, tattooist, lawyer and detective. The merry-go-round of characters kept the story rolling and it kept me guessing about one character’s true personality. I had certain expectations of Kenzie. Those opinions changed as I read her thoughts and what others thought about her. At the end of the book I wondered about people in general. Like do people change? What lengths would one go to keep her status? Can a good person do bad things and remain a decent individual?

I didn’t have answers at the end of the book, but I did have a firm grasp on who I was dealing with. I understood the characters and feel like this book is one that changes the series. Why? Well, there is a matter of Kate’s romantic interests being divided between two men. That is firmly dealt with in Tattooed. An event which molded Kate is delved into and while it wasn’t completely put to rest, it was addressed.

Tattooed is a thriller with bits that remind me of a police procedural. It has twists and made me wonder about events that happened in previous books. It was also a nice diversion and immersed me in a small town recovering after suffering the attention of a serial killer. However, it didn’t pique my interest enough to follow Kate in the next book.

Promo: My Lord Vampire by Alexandra Ivy

21 May

A historical, paranormal romance about vampires, My Lord Vampire is the first book in Alexandra Ivy’s new Immortal Rogues series which was released in March 2012.

Centuries have passed since Gideon Ravel dwelled among humans. Now he must infiltrate the cream of London society to earn the trust of one woman. Simone, Lady Gilbert, possesses an amulet of unimaginable power, and no concept of the threat that surrounds her. The ton’s gossip prepared him for her beauty and wit. But he is blindsided by her barely disguised sensuality and his growing need to possess her. . .

None of the idle aristocrats who vie for Simone’s attentions know about her past. To them, she is the sophisticated, worldly widow known as the “Wicked Temptress.” The truth would ruin her, and she has never been tempted to reveal it until now. Yet beneath Gideon’s bold, black-eyed stare is a hunger that demands satisfaction and complete surrender. . .and a secret far more dangerous than her own. . .

Review: Make Me by Parker Blue

20 May

Make Me by Parker Blue
Bell Bridge Books (April 20, 2012)
Trade: $14.95; ebook: $12.95
ISBN: 9781611941203
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Leave me alone,” he said flatly. “Get the hell out of my life.” (p. 210, e-galley)

Val Shapiro has a secret she’s desperate to keep—she’s lost her slayer powers.

As the new guardian of the Encyclopedia Magicka, Val expected the books to give her powers to replace those that disappeared after she lost her “V card” to Shade.  But the encyclopedia exacts a price for every spell, making the job of guardian a tricky proposition.

When a rogue demon kidnaps Val’s roommate Gwen and Micah, leader of the San Antonio Demon Underground, Val is plunged into the middle of a Solomon’s Choice.  The rogue wants the dangerously potent Encyclopedia Magicka in exchange for her friends’ lives; the succubus leader of the Demon Underground in Austin is demanding the books be destroyed rather than let them fall into the wrong hands and wants Shade for herself, swearing to do everything she can to prevent Val’s turning over the books.

The kidnapping isn’t the only crisis Val faces. She’s been betrayed by Fang. Demons and vampires are disappearing.  The vamps of the New Blood Movement are forcing Val to keep the terms of her agreement to work for them to combat this new threat. The Demon Underground is challenging Micah’s leadership, and everyone is depending on a now-powerless Val to set things right.

Val needs all the help she can get. Even if it means forgiving Fang and spending time with a dangerously sexy cowboy-vampire.

Cover art: I hate it. It has an 80’s cover art feel that I don’t find attractive or enticing.

Characters:We are introduced to new characters in the fourth installment of Parker Blue’s Demon Underground series. The characters are a paranormal mixture which includes vampires, hybrids and demons. Some of them are clearly evil others force you to sit the fence and wait to find out if they are on Val’s side. I expect to see many of those characters in the future. I also expect to see less of some key characters from past books as the series proceeds.

Plot: The story is pretty straight forward. Val is keeping her word to the vampires and it takes her out of town. Once there, similar to a P.I., she investigates a mystery that takes her places she never wanted to be. It also forces her to see both the demons and the vampires in a new light. She learns about both and her relationship with Shade is tested in an unexpected way. Some story lines are closed, while new ones begin.

Overall Thoughts: At times part of the story was pretty predictable. Remember that the series is marketed to  young adults and that the heroine is a recently turned 18-year-old so not all of her decisions are well thought out. Don’t read it as a stand alone novel. The author supplies much back story, but it’s not an adequate substitute to reading books one through three. I enjoy Val Shapiro and loved the ending. I want to see where Blue will take Val next and will be reading book five when it is released.

Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

19 May

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Harlequin/Harlequin TEEN (April 24, 2012)
Hard cover: $18.99; ebook: $14.99
ISBN: 9780373210510
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Go too long without  feeding, and the result will be the same. And this is why vampires do not become attached to humans, or anyone. Sometime in your life, Allison Sekemoto, you will kill a human being. Accidentally or as a conscious, deliberate act. It is unavoidable. The question is not if it will happen, but when. Do you understand?” (p. 96, egalley)

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.

Book one in Julie Kagawa’s Blood of Eden series is The Immortal Rules. It’s set in a dystopian world in the aftermath of a devastating virus which affected humans and vampires. The end result has placed vampires as the rulers of society and humans as slaves and food. Humans live hard lives. But Kagawa’s world contains more than just vampires and humans. There are terrible creatures called rabids who hunt humans. The world is ugly, raw and painful.

The Immortal Rules is aimed at young adults and revolves around an orphaned teenager named Allison Sekemoto. She is street smart with an inner soft streak. As with most young adult novels, she’s at the start of a new journey. One which will transform her in many ways and force her to grow up, even as her body is stunted in death. That journey is not just a physical transformation, but a mental progression that all kids must make as they learn there is so much more to life than their small, immediate circle.

The story is broken apart into four sections which are indicative of Allison’s life: human, vampire, monster and wanderer. I enjoyed some sections more than others and at times became quite irritated with Allison. She whined about decisions that she made and made silly choices. Then I had to remind myself that the heroine was a teenager so her reactions and actions would be those of a teen.

In addition to Allison’s story line, there is one which connects the ugly world to its creation. One character plays a key role in both story lines. The revulsion others’ feel toward that individual is easily transferred upon those with no knowledge of the event. I can’t wait to trace the story of the most reviled character ever to exist in Kagawa’s Eden world. Book two in the series is still untitled but will be released in 2013.

Bonus: For those who like discussion topics there are questions for discussion attached to the end of the book.