Archive | August, 2012

Review: In a Fix by Linda Grimes

30 Aug

4 out of 5 scoopers

In a Fix by Linda Grimes
TOR/FORGE (Sept. 4, 2012)
Trade: $14.99; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 9780765331809

Favorite Lines: “Guess you could say I’m a kind of life coach. At least, that’s my cover with all but the select few nonadaptors who know about us. Only instead of teaching people how to solve their own problems, I just do it for them. My clientele tends to be more comfortable with delegating than learning.” (p. 13, e-galley)

Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck.

This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable…that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiancé is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated.

Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she’s been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended.

Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.

In a Fix is a fun urban fantasy novel written by Linda Grimes that had me thinking “go go Gadget arms.” That should tell you not to take it seriously. It’s an outrageously comedic book featuring characters with fantastic abilities who are placed in an urban setting.

I’ve got to tell you–I was a little confused in the first chapter of the book. I didn’t understand what was going on so I’m going to simplify it for you. Mina is a rich chick who wants her boyfriend to propose to her, but she’s nervous it won’t happen so she hires Ciel. For a price Ciel can alter her aura which allows her to take on another individual’s appearance and level of fitness. So when the book opens we get Ciel who has “shifted” into Mina and is making out with Mina’s boyfriend. We also get other aura adaptors who are pretending to be other people which created a mess of confusion.

Now those other adaptors are men. Attractive, single men who Ciel becomes sexually drawn to in tingly ways before the story ends. In a Fix is not a romance, but it gives Ciel a couple of guys to lust after while avoiding a permanent entanglement with either. Ciel is immature and child like at times, so either of the men would be a good fit. Both of them are responsible adults. Mark is serious, while Billy is playful.

Let’s move on to the villains. They are neo-Vikings who believe the Viking lifestyle is the only way to live. Silly. Do you hear me? The villains are goofy. And their big plan is straight out of an Inspector Gadget cartoon and is exactly what you would expect some play acting men to concoct. Now it may feel as if I’m being derisive, but after I decided to just go with “it” I had a great time reading In a Fix.

Ciel is a trouble magnet who somehow manages to stumble into absurd situation after absurd situation. I laughed out loud and wondered how Grimes could top each crazy adventure. She showed me when she brought in a catapult. Yes, a catapult. You’ll be seeing the similarity to cartoons when you read In a Fix, but you won’t be thinking kids when you read it. It’s sexy, action packed and humorous. If you’re anything like me you’ll have picked the man you want Ciel to explore more of with in a physical romantic way. Book two in the In a Fix series is called Quick Fixed and will be released in 2013.

Review: In Rides Trouble by Julie Ann Walker

29 Aug

4 out of 5 scoopers

In Rides Trouble by Julie Ann Walker
Sourcebooks (Sept. 4, 2012)
Mass Market: $6.99; ebook: $6.99
ISBN: 9781402267161

Favorite Lines: “He groaned, the sound intoxicatingly fierce and darkly yearning, and then he was kissing her. Frank Knight was kissing her. Her. Rebecca Reichert, the thorn in his side, the professed bane of his existence, and his full male lips were so warm and surprisingly smooth as they brushed over her own.” (p. 111, e-galley)

Munitions, missiles, and mayhem are Frank Knight’s way of life. The last thing he wants is for one brash little blonde to come within fifty feet of anything that goes boom. Just the thought of Becky “Rebel” Reichert in danger makes Frank break out in a cold sweat. Unfortunately, she’s just been captured by Somali pirates. Come hell or high water, he will get her back and make sure that once she’s safe, she never wants to leave his side.

Book two in Julie Ann Walker’s Black Knights, Inc. series can be read as a stand alone. I did not read book one, Hell on Wheels, but I had no real problems. There were a few moments when events were discussed as common knowledge amongst the characters that I knew nothing of, but those were few and quickly explained.

Hero and Heroine: Becky knew she wanted Frank when she met him. Unfortunately, he’s hung up on the difference between their ages and is determined to keep his distance. He is the man in charge and used to making hard decisions. He is both dependable and deadly. Becky is way more outgoing than Frank. She wants to be an agent and has been picking up tricks from the men who work for Frank. She can’t stop mooning over Frank no matter how hard she tries to distract herself. Frank and Becky dance around one another so much that I wanted to shove them together to relieve the sexual tension. For me it was obvious that the two semi-opposites belonged together.

Villains: While bad guys appear in the story in many forms, there is one key guy out to make trouble. I felt bad for him once his back story was told, but he made choices that firmly put him in the “kill” category which made me get over the sadness of his past right away. As with most criminals, dude was pretty stupid. He was sly enough to be successful on a small level, however, he would never make it as a top, evil doer.

Did I like it?: Yep. In Rides Trouble tells me what was going on in the prologue. I get to see the beginning of unrequited love which is quickly followed up with an action packed story in chapter one. The pace of the story felt like a motorcycle ride that kept getting faster. I didn’t want it to stop, but when it did I was completely satisfied. With so many alpha characters introduced I know it’s a series I’ll follow. As a matter of fact, Rev It Up  (book 3) is Snake and Michele’s story, and I’ve read and enjoyed it too.

Review: Impulse by Moira Rogers

28 Aug

Impulse by Moira Rogers
Samhain (Sept. 4, 2012)
ebook: $5.50
ISBN: 9781609287672
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “One more thing, I don’t break, okay? I bend. The rest of you stand strong until you shatter, but I ride the rough spots so I can get back up when they’re over. But sometimes that means I don’t learn, because I never get hurt badly enough to teach me a lesson.” (p. 94)

Sera Sinclaire is a New Orleans rarity: a submissive coyote trapped in a town overrun by dominant shapeshifters. Worse, she lacks the willpower to deny the alphas-in-shining-armor who need her soothing presence, even when their protectiveness threatens to crush her hard-won self-reliance.

The only shifter she doesn’t want to push away is Julio Mendoza, a wolf so dominant he’s earned a place on the Southeast council.

Julio doesn’t have the luxury of indulging in the vacation his psychic shrink insists he needs. He can’t turn his back on responsibilities he’s beginning to wish he’d never shouldered. When an obsessive ex endangers Sera, though, instinct drives him to get her out of town. Watching her come to life outside the city makes him feel like he’s finally done something right, and her touch ignites desire he doesn’t want to ignore.

But soon, lighthearted flirting becomes a dangerous game of seduction, where every day spent falling into each other is another day avoiding the truth. Sera’s ex isn’t the only one who’d disapprove of their relationship. There are wolves who would kill to get Sera out of Julio’s life—starting with his own blood kin.

Book five (Impulse) in the writing duo Moira Rogers’ Southern Arcana series can be read as a stand alone, but you may want to read the previous books to get a feel for the world and its secondary characters. I read book five, then went back and read book one, Crux. I don’t think that was a good idea because they have too many similarities and while I liked Impulse, I didn’t like Crux because of those similarities. (Both have a thread about a male shifter chasing a female shifter to breed.)

But let’s talk about Impulse. It features a submissive fox shifter named Sera who is attracted to a dominate wolf shifter named Julio. Both are traumatized from past events. I think I’d have a clearer understanding of those things had I read book four. Rogers gives enough information that I was able to understand the damage done to both Sera and Julio without reading those events as they occurred. Those events are important because they set up the situation which leads to Sera and Julio to need a vacation.

Impulse is a character driven romance. Both Julio and Sera have emotional issues that they need to work out and a lazy vacation is their route to happiness.  Of course along the way there are speed bumps, but what kept bringing me back were the dynamics between Julio and Sera. Sera was more than a woman who liked to be dominated. She wanted to be seen as an asset who could fight when she needed too, but liked to offer comfort. She is capable of bending which is something an alpha can’t do. She’s a survivor who eventually learns to be confident in herself while living in a world in which many paranormal shifters consider her to be scum.

Julio is hard on himself. He feels guilty about not stepping up in the supernatural world while his father and uncle bullied and ran shifters into the ground. We meet him as he deals with his guilty conscience which forces him to accept all forms of responsibility. Sera doesn’t want to be his responsibility. She wants to be his lover and later–his partner. Once she gets through to him, the possibilities seem endless. It’s the paranormal world’s prejudice that affects them.

Julio is a good guy and I love it when the good guy wins. That’s especially true when he’s paired with a woman who fits him the way Sera fits Julio. She’s the grass to his wind. He blows hard and she bends to fit him no matter where he needs to go.

The plot lines were less interesting to me. There was a fear of Sera’s ex-husband showing up and worry that Julio’s family would make a violent move that never really reached the level I expected. I like my bad guys really bad, but the bad guys in Rogers’ world didn’t feel evil. I actually felt kind of bad for one of them.

The joy to be found in Impulse came from the interactions between Sera and Julio. Their sex scenes were hot, but their ability to just “be” while together were even better. I felt their attraction turn from lust to love and that made me happy with the romance.

Review: Temptation in a Kilt by Victoria Roberts

27 Aug

Temptation in a Kilt by Victoria Roberts
Sourcebooks (Sept. 1, 2012)
Mass Market: $6.99; ebook: $6.99
ISBN: 9781402270062

Favorite Lines: “Suddenly anxious to escape from his disturbing presence, she spoke hastily. “Pray excuse me. I believe my monthly courses have arrived.” Pulling herself to her feet, she bit her lip to keep from crying out in pain. Holding her ribs, she walked stiffly into the trees. She was running out of diversions.

Did she actually tell him her monthly courses had arrived? She was at a loss for what to say and had to think of something quickly so she spoke the first words that came to mind. That tactic usually worked on James. In fact, it would stop him dead in his tacks and he would always stop questioning her if she broached the subject. She could never understand why men were so adverse to womanly nature. They had no trouble bedding women, but mention a woman’s time or birthing…” (p. 42, e-galley)

She’s On Her Way to Safety

It’s a sign of Lady Rosalia Armstrong’s desperation that she’s seeking refuge in a place as rugged and challenging as the Scottish Highlands. She doesn’t care about hardship and discomfort, if only she can become master of her own life. Laird Ciaran MacGregor, however, is completely beyond her control…

He Redefines Dangerous…

Ciaran MacGregor knows it’s perilous to get embroiled with a fiery Lowland lass, especially one as headstrong as Rosalia. Having made a rash promise to escort her all the way to Glengarry, now he’s stuck with her, even though she challenges his legendary prowess at every opportunity. When temptation reaches its peak, he’ll be ready to show her how he really is…on and off the battlefield.

Temptation in a Kilt is a book that made me verra, verra happy. It’s exactly what comes to mind when I think historical Scottish romance. It’s set in 1603 and begins in England but quickly travels to Scotland.

I liked the story as soon as it began, but it was when the heroine showed her spunky behavior that I knew Victoria Roberts is an author to follow. The heroine, Rosalia, is running from abusive parents and an arranged marriage. She has been beaten mentally and physically her entire life. She is a virgin and verges on perfect, but that never bothered me. She is kind and “real.” She isn’t looking for a knight in shining armor. Thankfully a Highlander wearing a kilt decided she needed him.

Ciaran is the alpha stuck with a fulfilling a promise to his dying father. He agreed to ensure his youngest brother become a steadfast man instead of the drunkard and womanizer he has turned out to be. Until his brother is settled he feels that he cannot be happy in a marital relationship.This is a major roadblock for his deepening feelings for Rosalia because he feels that his own future must stay on the back burner until his brother mans up.

Temptation in a Kilt will make you smile as you watch Rosalia and Ciaran dance around their burgeoning romance. There is no sex and had there been–it would have been gratuitous. There is plenty of sexual attraction and it’s shown by the intimate situations and touches, as well as the heat generated by the glimpses of nudity that are shown. The danger to the couple comes from more than one source, which added drama to the love story.

My only complaint–it’s very minor–has to deal with the heroine’s family situation. Her parents seem to take a back burner and when they pop back into the picture it’s only to be told about them by secondary characters. I can live with it, but it seems anticlimactic. Also, we are told early on that there was an unknown reason why Rosalia’s father and grandmother didn’t speak which is never explored to my satisfaction.

I hope that book two in Roberts’ Bad Boys of the Highlands series will be about Rosalia’s cousin and will address the reasons why Rosalia’s father bailed on his family in favor of his English wife’s wishes. Yes, I will be reading it.

Books I Want: September 2012

26 Aug

The Reluctant Amazon by Sandy James (Sept. 3)

The last thing Rebecca Massee expects on her wedding day is to go from jilted kindergarten teacher to Amazonian Earth warrior. But when she causes an earthquake after her groom says I don’t, she discovers that not only does she possess incredible powers, she is one of four lost chosen sisters who must fight to keep humanity safe from rogue gods and demons. Luckily she has help: ruggedly handsome Scottish warrior Artair MacKay, her protector and teacher.

An immortal, Artair has trained countless warriors for more than four hundred years. He understands Rebecca’s confusion at the new world she’s been thrust into and worries she is too emotionally vulnerable, but that doesn’t stop his growing feelings for the beautiful and fearless woman.

When an evil force threatens to destroy the Amazons, Rebecca must claim her full powers—but they come at a cost. Can she sacrifice the man she loves if it means saving the world?

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire (Sept. 4)

It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep.  She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing.  Her name is Chelsea.  She’s a teleporter, like her father.  She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control.  She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster.  But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.

Toby thought the last year was bad.  She has no idea.

Outpost by Anne Aguirre (Sept. 4)

Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.

Archangel’s Storm by Nalini Singh (Sept. 4)

With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.

Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price—Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one. Least of all an enemy spymaster.

With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.

This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillippa Bornikova (Sept. 4)

What happens when The Firm meets Anita Blake? You get the Halls of Power—our modern world, but twisted. Law, finance, the military, and politics are under the sway of long-lived vampires, werewolves, and the elven Alfar. Humans make the best of rule by “the Spooks,” and contend among themselves to affiliate with the powers-that-be, in order to avoid becoming their prey. Very loyal humans are rewarded with power over other women and men. Very lucky humans are selected to join the vampires, werewolves, and elves—or, on occasion, to live at the Seelie Court.

Linnet Ellery is the offspring of an affluent Connecticut family dating back to Colonial times. Fresh out of law school, she’s beginning her career in a powerful New York “white fang” law firm. She has high hopes of eventually making partner.

Full Blooded by Amanda Carlson (Sept. 11)

Born the only female in an all male race, Jessica McClain isn’t just different—she’s feared.

After living under the radar for the last twenty-six years, Jessica is thrust unexpectedly into her first change, a full ten years late. She wakes up and finds she’s in the middle of a storm. Now that she’s become the only female full-blooded werewolf in town, the supernatural world is already clamoring to take a bite out of her and her new Pack must rise up and protect her.

Hunter’s Season by Thea Harrison (Sept. 18)

Not sure who the hero and heroine are of this series, but with pointed ears–I’m assuming the hero is fae.

Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks (Sept. 25)

Eveline Armstrong is fiercely loved and protected by her powerful clan, but outsiders consider her “touched.” Beautiful, fey, with a level, intent gaze, she doesn’t speak. No one, not even her family, knows that she cannot hear. Content with her life of seclusion, Eveline has taught herself to read lips and allows the outside world to view her as daft. But when an arranged marriage into a rival clan makes Graeme Montgomery her husband, Eveline accepts her dutyunprepared for the delights to come. Graeme is a rugged warrior with a voice so deep and powerful that his new bride can hear it, and hands and kisses so tender and skilled that he stirs her deepest passions.

Graeme is intrigued by the mysterious Eveline, whose silent lips are ripe with temptation and whose bright, intelligent eyes can see into his soul. As intimacy deepens, he learns her secret. But when clan rivalries and dark deeds threaten the wife he has only begun to cherish, the Scottish warrior will move heaven and earth to save the woman who has awakened his heart to the beautiful song of a rare and magical love.

The Shifting Price of Prey by Suzanne McLeod (Sept. 30)

London is hosting the Carnival Fantastique, and Genny’s job has never been busier or more fulfilling. Only not everyone is so happy. The fae are in trouble again and Genny learns the mysterious Emperor may have the solution they need – if Genny can find him.

Genny needs help. She turns to the vampire, Malik al-Khan, only to find he’s wrestling with his own demons. Genny’s own problems are about to multiply too. An old flame arrives with a tragic situation, just as the police request her urgent assistance with a magical kidnap. Is it all unconnected, or can the Emperor help her solve more than the fae’s troubles?

Review: Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin

25 Aug

Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin
Penguin (February 2012)
Trade: $15.00; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 9780425245361

Favorite Lines: “Yes, I gave you the perfect weapon for retribution against me. I’m frightened my actions have hurt you too much to forgive me, but I’m more afraid of denying myself the chance of knowing what might happen between us.” (p. 214)

There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not pure bred is virtually powerless. Until an unlikely champion is born…

Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na’Reish King, longs for more than her tormented life among her father’s people. Conceived in hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she’s gifted with a special talent that can heal as well as destroy…

With the Na’Reish vastly outnumbering them, Kalan, a Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind depends on him alone. Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by the Na’Reish Horde have increased. As Chosen-leader, he faces the task of stopping the demons-and convincing the Council of aging Light Blade warriors that change is necessary for survival.

When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father’s dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council-and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into civil war…

Vengeance Born is book one in Kylie Griffin’s Light Blade series which pits humans against demons. The reader is introduced to a world in which demons are violent and malicious predators who hunt humans. Once captured humans are tortured and often enslaved. Humans are their food source. But humanity has a protectors known as the Light Blade Warriors. The warriors are stronger than the average human and are excellent fighters.

The heroine of the book, Annika, is a myth. Both humans and demons are proud of their lineage which is called being blood proud. The idea of human-demon children is an unproven myth to humans until Annika saves the Light Blade Kalan. She’s faced nothing but adversity her entire life, but she takes a chance that her life may be different if she lives with humans. She also hopes to learn about her human mother.

I liked Annika from the moment she was introduced. She is a peaceful woman who could have let despair lead her to become a cruel person. Instead she chose religion. She put her faith in the Lady and cultivated her ability to heal those in need. Despite her gentle nature she is able to kill when needed. She is tough and fair-minded. She never thinks she is entitled to anything. I was drawn to her and wanted her to become the big dog on top instead of the under dog she was presented as.

Her hero Kalan was another thing. I flip-flopped with him. One moment I thought okay, he’s reacting the way any soldier would. The next minute I wanted to smack him for hurting the heroine’s feelings. He was suspicious but honorable. I never truly loved him, however, I did come to like him.

The danger comes from all sides in Vengeance Born. As a mixed blood, Annika is set up to fail from birth. She is seen as a disgrace as is shown from the women who give birth and “overcome with the shame of delivering crossbreed children, would plead with her (Hessia, an enslaved healer) to kill the child.” (p. 261)  Demons view the mixed bloods as being outranked by even the lowest caste of Na’Reish (demons). On her merits and with the help of a good human man, Annika has a chance at living a decent life.

One of the things I liked about the book was its honesty. Not all prejudices can be overcome and the book doesn’t gloss over that fact. Individuals can choose a new path or stick to a known path. In Vengeance Born the challenge comes from a semi-unexpected place. It was violent and I loved it. However, I kept waiting for Annika’s bad ass father to come and decimate all in his path or to lead some attacks on the humans. The depth his evilness were visited time and time again, but the reader never gets to see Annika’s father. That was disappointing.

I read Vengeance Born quickly and liked the new world Griffin introduced me to. Blindly we are placed in the middle of a war at the beginning of the story. It isn’t until nearly the end of the book that we are given historical evidence which explains the war between humans and demons. It worked to upset life as all the characters knew it to be in the Light Blade world and open doors to Kalan and Annika, as well as the future heroes and heroines in the Light Blade world.

I jumped into the Light Blade world and had a good time with most of it. The violent, depressing world was intriguing, but I never felt the draw between the characters. I was shown the sexual attraction, but didn’t really feel it or its transformation to love. It was slow in building, but for me never passed a friendship level on a love basis.

Vengeance Born had a steady pace until the end. I think it wrapped up a little too quickly. One minute we’re at a crisis level, the next everything is settled and book one is over. I’m thankful, though, that the book ended with the couple together, but not riding off into the sunset. The Light Blade world isn’t ready for that yet. I was left wondering how the hero and heroine would do as a couple faced with discrimination and hope book two, Alliance Forged, will show Kalan and Annnika overcoming many hurdles.

Review: A Perfect Knight for Love by Jackie Ivie

23 Aug

A Perfect Knight for Love by Jackie Ivie
Kensington (Sept. 4, 2012)
Mass market: $6.99; ebook: $5.99
ISBN: 9781420124002

Favorite Lines: “I ask her to assist me…she disobeys. I doona’ want an argue…but that’s all she does! I beg her na’ to make me chase her. What does she do? Ignores it! She does na’ obey the least thing! Blast you, wife! And your bonny frame!” (p. 195, ARC)

A Man Of Misfortune With his reckless, drunken brother bringing ruin to the clan, and the lass he’s loved all his life in the clutches of a violent husband, the last thing Thayne MacGowan needs is a spirited, sharp-tongued damsel to contend with—no matter how enticing she may be…

A Woman With A Secret

Having narrowly escaped an objectionable arranged marriage, Amalie is starting a new life—with a new identity. But her freedom is cut short when a surly but irresistibly handsome Highlander is forced to take her as his bride. If only he knew who she really was…

An Unlikely Love

Fate designs an improbable match, and a battle of wills ensues. As Amalie struggles to protect her identity, Thayne finds himself fighting for an unexpected love—and a passion neither can refuse…

Jackie Ivie is not a new name in the historical romance genre, but I can’t say I’ve really sought her out. After reading A Perfect Knight for Love I will keep my eyes open for more of her work.

Set 1689 Scotland, A Perfect Knight for Love introduces us to a woman running from a prearranged marriage. Amalie is semi-sheltered, open-minded and hard-working. She is practical, stubborn and. Sometimes her characteristics seem at odd with one another which makes her more realistic. I can’t say I loved her, but I did enjoy her for the most part. Amalie is unfortunate enough to get caught between two clashing clans.

Thayne, the hero, is a handsome man and not the head of his clan. He is, however, the man the clan looks to in all matters. See his brother, the leader of the clan, has issues. (I’m not going to tell you what exactly to avoid spoiling the story.) Thayne walks a tight wire trying to protect all around him, but when the woman he loved as a young man needed his assistance he dropped everything and rode to her aid. It wasn’t long before he was blind-sided by circumstances which led to his being with Amalie.

A Perfect Knight for Love is a book of battles. Not just the battle between clans, but that between man and woman, parent and child and individual verses self. It is somewhat predictable, but in that lay some of its charm. I knew that I’d read a story about a heroine who faces adversity only to get her Scottish laird in the end.

The beginning of the story is exciting. I couldn’t wait to see where Ivie took the couple. Unfortunately, that seemed to be the high point of the book. The story kept moving as the characters traveled and the couple got to know one another, but I never reached the level of excitement I started with. I pretty much knew what was going to happen every time a situation occurred. That took a little from my enjoyment of the story which is why I rated it 3.5 on GoodReads.

A Perfect Knight for Love is a good book. I’m not gushing over it, but I might read it again when I’m feining for a historical Scottish romance. It’s action packed, features a romance which knocked the hero off his feet and ends with a happily ever after. Most importantly, it’s a pleasant read with just the right amount darkness to prevent the book from being either a fluff or heavy read.

Review: The Guardian of Bastet by Jacqueline M. Battisti

22 Aug

The Guardian of Bastet by Jacqueline M. Battisti
Carina Press (August 20, 2012)
ebook: $5.99
ISBN: 9781426894244
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Once again pondering the quirks of fate, I began thinking about not just being a witch, but being a shifter. I realized although it sometimes bothered me I didn’t turn into a full puma like my dad, I had to admit being a housecat didn’t totally suck and I should probably find some kind of appreciation for it. It was a mandatory transformation on a full moon, but I could also change at will.

Other than the whole litter box thing, it could actually be kind of cool at times. I could run around like crazy–doing mad dashes around the house, and then when I got tired, I could just find a nice warm sunny spot and curl up to sleep. There were plenty of toys to play with around my house and Bronwyn was a pretty cool companion. We played chase, we wrestled and bitch-slapped each other, we knocked mice around and did I mention the catnip? It was legal too! Damn that was good stuff.” (p. 37, e-galley)

Cat-shifter Trinity Morrigan-Caine has discovered a demon is killing supernaturals. Magically challenged, she has every intention of letting handsome Alpha werewolf Gordon Barnes handle it. But after a dying vampire gifts Trinity a mystical amulet, she is drawn into the fray as the legendary Guardian of Bastet, a warrior born when the need arises.

Though Trinity initially rejects the role, she warms to the idea when Gordon agrees to train her—and their passion for each other grows as he teaches her to embrace her animal instincts.

As she begins to accept her destiny and believe in her growing powers, Trinity realizes the danger is even closer to home than she ever imagined—and she and Gordon are going to have to face the demon in a fight to the death…

The Guardian of Bastetfollows a woman as she grows in power, faces unexpected betrayal and learns how much she can trust all who surround her. Trinity, the heroine, also matures over the course of the story. She is introduced as a flaky young veterinarian who possesses a hippie like “love and live” attitude. By the final page turn Trinity is a woman who has seen enough to know evil exists and that she must protect those around her from that darkness. The diverse paranormal world began to darken as events unfolded and that sucked me in like a black hole.

I’ll be honest. The first quarter of The Guardian of Bastet irritated the crap out of me. I didn’t like Trinity and thought the tone of the story was silly. It was also predictable. Then things started getting murky and different characteristics of the people in Jacqueline M. Battisti‘s world began showing. Trinity’s mother isn’t so motherly. Her father is more nurturing than the average literary father especially when you consider the fact that he is an alpha shifter. The characters didn’t react in expected ways either. What I mean is that when I thought characters would fight–they accepted. When I thought they would be helpful, well they’d end up doing something which showed they couldn’t be trusted. I’m not saying the story was staggering in its newness. I’m saying I had a good time reading it.

While The Guardian of Bastet has a clear romance thread, it feels more like an urban fantasy than a paranormal romance. I say this because in urban fantasies it isn’t unusual to have heroines who have sex with more than the hero unlike romance novels. I know I’m not the only reader who dislikes heroes (or heroines) who sleep around in my romance books. For some reason I’m willing to give urban fantasy characters a little slack when it comes to their sexual desires. In Battisti’s book, the heroine has a sexual encounter with someone who is clearly never going to be more than a one night stand. For me that kicked The Guardian of Bastet into urban fantasy territory.

I enjoyed the plot and chase of The Guardian of Bastet far more than I liked Trinity. I thought she was stupid. Maybe it’s because she never had true responsibility when she is introduced that she makes immature decisions.  She ignores so many obvious things that she deserves to die. She ignores information given to her by an obviously trust worthy source and puts herself into dangerous situations by being oblivious to reality. Despite all of Trinity’s character flaws, if another book in the series is released I’ll read it. Why? The Trinity who exists at the end of the story isn’t stupid. She accepts responsibility and owns up to some hard to say out loud facts. This Trinity, when paired with another interesting plot, will be a book I look forward to reading.

Review: Rise of Hope by Kaily Hart

21 Aug

Rise of Hope by Kaily Hart
Carina Press (Aug. 28, 2012)
ebook: $3.99 (36,000 words)
ISBN: 9781426894268

Favorite Lines: “Never doubt who we are to each other, who you are to me. You’re mine–mine to take care of, mine to protect, mine to…love.” (p. 93, e-galley)

A secret ancient race of humans with fantastical abilities, the Vadïm are on the brink of extinction. Many of their women are imprisoned by an organization known as The Assembly, their history all but lost…

Devon Monroe has been a prisoner her entire life. She’s determined to make sense of the strange markings on her body, to learn why no one may touch her, to find where she belongs. That means escaping into the unknown, where she has no choice but to trust her self-appointed protector.

Soldier-for-hire Seth Eastman has a job to do: deliver Devon to safety. When Seth discovers the markings on Devon’s body, he’s stunned at what they mean. And at how she awakens his long-suppressed needs. As they struggle to escape detection and search for the truth of the Vadïm, can he ever hope to claim her for his own?

In Kaily Hart‘s introduction to the Vadim series Rise of Hope, the reader is introduced to people with X-men like abilities who live amongst humanity. These people are a separate race on the verge of extinction called the Vadim. All were abandoned as children and before the heroine is discovered only male members of the race have been located. The men have physical “abilities” while they assume the females have mental “abilities.”

Rise of Hope is short; it’s only 101 pages on my nook and ends on page 93. It’s a simple, yet entertaining story. The romance happens quickly and is aided by the “fated lovers” trope. Some people don’t like fated love. I do. Since the story is short there had to be a reason two complete strangers fell in love. It was fated. The Vadim have marks on their skin similar to tattoos. When a male and female Vadim are mates, their marks line up.

“We all have them. Each pattern is slightly different. Look, I don’t have to get into it but–”
“No they’re exactly the same. As–as mine, except…opposite.”–p. 14

“She was right. They were the same–exactly the same–except they were the inverse of his.”–p. 15

One of the hurdles keeping the would be lovers apart is the hero’s personal issues. Seth suffers from more abandonment issues than the heroine. Both were abandoned, but Devon was an infant while Seth remembers being a four-year-old who watched his parents walk away from him. He had a hard life and doesn’t buy into the idea of being part of another race. He doesn’t think he deserves Devon and does all he can to push her away. This makes him a jerk at times, but when it really matters Seth is there in all ways.

The heroine didn’t really do much for me. Devon lived a solitary life as a gilded princess unable to touch anyone. She was watched at all times, often drugged and was experimented on. She is lonely and scared, but soaks up all the information she is given about the Vadim. Devon discovers her ability while amongst the Vadim, but for me she was always less than the hero. She was there to complete the hero and it was easy for me to over look her as a character worth anything other than being the missing half to the hero. I didn’t really care about her.

I didn’t love Rise of Hope, but I’m glad I read it. If you’re looking for a short paranormal romance that tells a complete story in one novella, Rise of Hope is the book you need. It’s inexpensive and filled with sexual tension. It introduces secondary male characters who I wanted to know more about and kept my attention. I will be looking for book two, Renewal of Trust when it is released in March 2013.

Review: Howl for It Anthology

20 Aug

Howl For It by Shelly Laurenston and Cynthia Eden
Kensington (Aug. 28, 2012)
Trade: $14.00; ebook: $11.99
ISBN: 9780758273444

Favorite Lines: “Wolves weren’t the only ones who mated for life. Humans could sure as hell do that, too.” (p. 311, ARC)

Like A Wolf With A Bone Shelly Laurenston

Quiet little Darla Lewis couldn’t be happier when the most-feared member of the South’s rowdiest pack kidnaps her. A girl gets real tired of being overprotected by her own shifter family, and there’s nothing like an oh-so-big bad wolf to start a pack feud, unleash her instincts–and have her surrender however and whenever she wants. . .

Wed Or Dead Cynthia Eden

Gage Ryder knew his human bride had a wild side. But spending their honeymoon night on the run from hunters out to finish him and his pack is sure not the kind of fun he was looking forward to. No problem–Gage will do whatever it takes to lay bare Kayla’s secrets and find the truth. If he can keep from being captured by his own seductive game. . .

Like a Wolf with a Bone tells the story of Dee-Ann’s parents. You remember the bitchy, yellow eyed werewolf from book six (Big Bad Beast) of Shelly Laurenston’s Pride series? Dee-Ann’s father, Eggie is a silent and deadly werewolf. Her mother is a talker who makes people comfortable, but always protects her own. Their short love story was funny and sweet. It was everything I expected from a Shelly Laurenston book. The only thing I wished I had more of was Eggie’s future interactions with his father. After you read the story, you’ll understand why I say that. It would have been interesting, but I don’t know what it could have added to the love story.

Wed or Dead gives us a paranormal hunter who is willing to do anything to bag a bad guy. She is even willing to marry the creature if it means one less killer is on the street. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with him though. The hero, Gage, is the leader of a pack of werewolves who is determined to show the hunters who is the real prey. What follows is a game of wills and unexpected betrayals in the ranks of hunters and werewolves. It’s a light, paranormal romantic suspense that reminded me slightly of Mr. and Mrs. Smith since both the hero and heroine were playing the spy without the other knowing.

I was happy with the entire anthology. It’s an unexpected surprise for me since I normally end up disappointed with the short stories anthologies often contain. I got exactly what I expected: paranormal goodness that made me smile. I recommend those who like shifters, romance and smiling pick up Howl for It and settle in for a guaranteed entertaining read.