Archive | August, 2012

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.

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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.

Quickie Review: Silver by Rhiannon Held

15 Aug

Silver by Rhiannon Held
TOR (June 2012)
Trade: $14.99; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 9780765330376

Andrew Dare is a werewolf. He’s the enforcer for the Roanoke pack, and responsible for capturing or killing any Were intruders in Roanoke’s territory. But the lone Were he’s tracking doesn’t smell or act like anyone he’s ever encountered. And when he catches her, it doesn’t get any better. She’s beautiful, she’s crazy, and someone has tortured her by injecting silver into her veins. She says her name is Silver, and that she’s lost her wild self and can’t shift any more.

The packs in North America have a live-and-let-live attitude, and try not to overlap with each other. But Silver represents a terrible threat to every Were on the continent.

Andrew and Silver will join forces to track down this menace while discovering their own power and their passion for each other.

Silver is a quick and interesting story about werewolves. It feels like an urban fantasy with slight romantic threads that eventually turns into a romance. I liked the idea of werewolves being persecuted by an unknown enemy and the hunt to find the killer. I gobbled everything, even the hallucinations of a damaged heroine, until the romance became a pivotal part of the story.

I didn’t buy the true love the author sold. The heroine was so damaged that she was only sane occasionally and I don’t see how she can have a meaningful relationship with an alpha werewolf. She is damaged on many levels that it almost feels like the hero is taking advantage of her by entering into a relationship with her. Silver, the heroine, doesn’t see it that way and makes it clear that she is making her own decisions, but that doesn’t make it okay for me. It actually detracted from the story. Had the elevation in relationship not occurred I would have rated this book 4 out of 5. With the relationship, I’m docking it a half point.

Review: Tinker by Wen Spencer

14 Aug

Tinker by Wen Spencer
Baen (November 2003)
Mass market: $7.99
ISBN: 9780743498715

Favorite Lines: “Tinker, we can’t know other people’s hearts. Humans fall in love at first sight, and only time tells if that love is true. There is no reason that elves can’t do the same..” (p. 257, Hardback)

Inventor, girl genius Tinker lives in a near-future Pittsburgh which now exists mostly in the land of the elves. She runs her salvage business, pays her taxes, and tries to keep the local ambient level of magic down with gadgets of her own design. When a pack of wargs chase an Elven noble into her scrap yard, life as she knows it takes a serious detour. Tinker finds herself taking on the Elven court, the NSA, the Elven Interdimensional Agency, technology smugglers and a college-minded Xenobiologist as she tries to stay focused on what’s really important – her first date. Armed with an intelligence the size of a planet, steel-toed boots, and a junkyard dog attitude, Tinker is ready to kick butt to get her first kiss.

A reader of Scooper Speaks clued me in on Wen Spencer’s Elfhome series. It’s a fantasy series with only three books, but boy is book one, Tinker, good reading material. It’s full of big words and theories, but never once did I feel bogged down. I was fascinated with the world, the characters and the plot.

Tinker is a young lady who is trying to prove how very adult she is now that she’s turned 18. She’s an intelligent business owner who has never been kissed at the moment we meet her. Over the course of the story the reader watches her mature after being placed into positions based on her own ignorance. She learns from her mistakes and owns up to them, which makes her a worthy heroine. Tinker makes mistakes, but by the end of the book she is a character that I’d be glad to have grace my “keeper” shelf.

The story progressively intensifies over time. The ramifications of ever decision becomes clear.  Violence, bloody and disturbing, is used to show the primal evil of a particular group of characters. There is also a rape scene (involving a secondary character) which I’m sure will bother some readers. Yes, it bothered me and it takes a lot to get me squeamish.

Tinker is a fantasy book, but there are things in it which invite science fiction and romance lovers to pick it up. From quantum physics to finding love in unexpected places, Spencer has written a book that draws from various genres to create a world and peoples I want to know more about.

I loved Tinker. I borrowed the book from my local library because I wasn’t impressed with the cover and the blurb on the back of the book didn’t pull me in. Now, I’ll be buying it and recommending it to other people. I’m about to start book two, Wolf Who Rules, and am pleased to say book three, Elfhome, was released in July 2012.

I ♥ Covers: Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

7 Aug

Review: The Bloodgate Warrior by Joely Sue Burkhart

6 Aug

The Bloodgate Warrior by Joely Sue Burkhart
Carina Press (Aug. 6, 2012)
ebook: $3.99
ISBN: 9781426894183

Favorite Lines: “Maybe I wouldn’t feel so guilty about the dreams if they weren’t so… Raw. Uncomfortable. Even violent sometimes. He scares me with his intensity, and yet I love every minute of it. Don’t get me wrong, my dream lover can be incredibly tender. The way he cups my face in his big, powerful hands and strokes my cheek with his thumbs makes me melt, but he’s relentless too. He won’t let me pretend to hide or lie about what it is that I’ve come to expect–and want–from him.”(p. 16, e-galley)

As the Mayan hero Técun lay dying, a sorceress cast a spell tying her bloodline to him, so that one day he could return and avenge their people…

Following a near-death experience, Cassandra Gonzales is haunted by erotic dreams of a mysterious man. As the dreams intensify, she is compelled to travel to Guatemala in search of him. There she learns that her blood has opened a gate—and she is the only one who can bring the great warrior back from the afterlife.

Once faced with Técun in the flesh, Cassie fears the need he stirs within her. She aches to submit to the pleasure he promises, but first she must learn to trust in him, and in her own desires. Their time for sensual exploration is brief—Técun’s killer has escaped, intent on sacrificing Cassie and wreaking havoc on the world. Now, only Cassie’s complete and willing surrender to Técun will give him the power to defeat the demon once and for all…

I started reading The Bloodgate Warrior  and the first thing I noticed was how short it showed up on my nook. My nook showed 137 pages and the story ended on page 132. I point this out because it means my expectations for a short story are different from those of a full length novel. I know there will be less depth and I adjust before reading.

The Bloodgate Warrior is book two in Joely Sue Burkhart’s Mayan Bloodgates paranormal romance series. It is told in first person and is written as additions in a family journal. Chapter one begins:

“Entry added August 2012 to the Guzman-Gonzales family journal by Cassandra Luisa Gonzales.”–p. 9

I’m not a fan of diary style romances but I knew it was supposed to be filled with erotic scenes and decided to give it a shot. First off let me say it’s not filled with as many erotic scenes as I expected. This isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just different. As it is, reading a family journal about “porn moments” just feels wrong. Like this:

“God, it makes my face hot with shame just writing this down. Yet I’m squirming in my chair, too,  and hurrying so I can slip between the luxurious hotel sheets and get to him as quickly as possible.”–p. 16

Can you imaging writing about your intimate encounters and dreams in a book for your descendants to read? I can’t and it affected my thoughts of the story. Instead of simply being a form of story telling, the journal idea yanked me out of the world Joely Sue Burkhart created. I realize this is a matter of preference, but my squicky feelings were reinforced throughout the tale by the story which is told in first person past tense. The Bloodgate Warrior should have been a quick read, it felt like it would never end.

I liked the idea of a Mayan warrior arriving in the present day to prevent a destructive evil force. The hero and heroine had explosive chemistry. Técun liked to dominate in sex and Cassie liked to submit. Both liked to please the other even more. My problem is that I never felt anything. I didn’t care if the good guys won or loss. I never felt the attraction more than I would notice two animals mating. I was extremely apathetic to the entire story.

In the end, I wanted to love The Bloodgate Warrior but I never quite made it past the “it’s okay” point. The book is inexpensive though, so if your library doesn’t carry the book pick it up from Carina Press, B&N, Amazon or where ever you buy your ebooks.