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Favorite Scenes Friday: Bear Necessities

30 Nov

Too slowly. Tabby knew they were healing too slowly. He was still drained from saving Chloe. If he took a wound that was too deep, his visions would come true.

She tried to jump toward him, determined to protect him, when strong jaws clamped on her hind leg and dragged her back. She threw back her head and howled in pain, desperately hoping Alex would hear. If he didn’t come soon she was going to lose…–Bear Necessities by Dana Marie Bell

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Review: Deliver Me From Temptation by Tes Hilaire

29 Nov


2.5out of 5 scoopers

Deliver Me From Temptation by Tes Hilaire
Sourcebooks (Dec. 4, 2012)
Mass Market: $6.99; ebook: $6.99
ISBN: 9781402264375

Favorite Lines: “No person, no matter what sort of freaky shit he was into, would lie there and willingly let someone gnaw on his neck–and come back for more. Obviously their ME had been watching way too much True Blood recently.” (p. 131, e-galley)

Logan Calhoun is the last full-blooded Paladin, the future leader of a race of immortal warrior angels. The heavy responsibility of continuing the Paladin line falls to him, and the last thing he should do is get involved with a human. Then fate throws Jessica Waters, a homicide detective who doesn’t believe in fate or divine intervention, into his path. Her devotion lies in her Glock and a good set of handcuffs. Like Logan, she’s a warrior for her people, and she awakens within him something he’d never thought he’d feel. But she’s also as human as they come…

I got to tell you that Deliver Me From Temptation, book two in Tes Hilaire’s Paladin Warriors series, is not what I was expecting. I started it excitedly hoping for a quick fix on two secondary characters that I became obsessed with in Deliver Me From Darkness. Unfortunately hope dwindled to sadness by mid-book and I set the story aside for a while. Once I started reading it again with thoughts focused on Logan, who I really didn’t care for from the first book, and Jessica, a detective that I didn’t like, I was able to complete the story…barely.

Deliver Me From Temptation can be read as a stand alone, but different aspects of Deliver Me From Darkness (book one) are brought up to tie the two books together, along with the back story of the Paladins who have an angelic ancestry. Expect to see demons and vampires, as well as the paladins in this good vs. evil love story.

I wanted to like Deliver Me From Temptation, but I was bored. I disliked the heroine from start to finish. I didn’t really care about Logan and since Deliver Me From Temptation is a paranormal romance all about Logan and Jessica’s relationship, it doesn’t bode well for my feelings about the book. The story wasn’t bad, it just didn’t do it for me. In book one I got to see a world that straddled the paranormal romance-urban fantasy fence. That fence doesn’t exist in Deliver Me From Temptation. Every time I thought things were going to get dark it would leach into a gray that just didn’t deliver.

I was hoping to get more about Gabby who was introduced as a teen vampire prostitute in Deliver Me from Darkness, but that look was so quick that it didn’t even whet my palate. I’m pretty much to the point where I don’t see myself reading more of the Paladin Warrior series unless it’s Gabby’s story.

What others think:

Review: Running Wild by Linda Howard and Linda Jones

21 Nov

4 of 5 scoopers

Running Wild by Linda Howard and Linda Jones
Random House (Nov. 27, 2012)
Mass market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780345520784
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “She didn’t feel invincible, but neither did she feel so vulnerable and frightened. That could be a good thing, or a bad thing. She wasn’t going to do anything reckless out of a sense of power, but it was nice to know she had some knowledge of how to protect herself. Amazing what a gun could do for a girl.” (p. 184, e-galley)

Carlin Reed lives in fear, off the grid, moving from place to place. So Battle Ridge, Wyoming, a small town in the middle of nowhere, seems like a good place to lie low for a while. But after becoming cook and housekeeper to cattle rancher Zeke Decker, Carlin suspects that she’s made her first mistake. Rugged, sexy, and too distracting for his own good, Zeke is pure temptation mixed with something deep and primal that makes Carlin feel almost safe. Soon things are getting way too hot in the kitchen.
 
Zeke doesn’t challenge Carlin’s terms: cash, dead bolts, and no questions. It is easy to see that she’s a woman in trouble. Problem is, he’s so blindsided by his attraction to her he can’t think straight. Zeke tries to stay all business, no complications—but that game plan is sabotaged the second Carlin gets under his skin. And when her terrifying past follows her to the ranch, Carlin faces a heartbreaking choice: run away from the man she loves, or put him in the crosshairs of a madman.

Book one in Linda Howard and Linda Jones’ Men from Battle Ridge series is an enjoyable introduction to a calmer way of life. A way that includes unlocked doors, neighbors who all know each other and men who aren’t afraid to use guns when necessary. Running Wild is a contemporary romance with a thread of suspense.

I loved the chemistry between the Zeke and Carlin. Yes, there was an instant attraction, but they didn’t hook up as soon as I thought they were going to. Zeke’s obvious need for help on his ranch had to reach a boiling point to make the story work. That necessity overcame his brain’s refusal to bring a sexy woman home. In addition, the obvious small town needs of a restaurant are not the same as a big town restaurant, which made her acceptance of the situation realistic.

Zeke is a rancher in need of domestic help. He has cowhands, but putting one inside the house is nowhere near what the ranch needs. Obstinately Zeke tries to do without, but there came a time when he could no longer overlook his need. I liked him almost immediately. He isn’t an overwhelming alpha, nor is he a wuss or the average beta. Zeke is a cowboy I’d like to snuggle up to.

Carlin is an everyday woman, placed in a crazy situation. She learns how to adapt and survive. She made me like her. You would think that reading about her domestic doings would be boring, but I think that was part of what made the story work for me. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the for the most part absent villain.

The villain aspect of the story was rather silly. He was supposed to be sinister, but that whole plot line was rather weak. I just didn’t feel like the stalker was evil. He was a threat, but since he was off in the side lines nothing he did felt real. However, I understand that the heroine had to wind up in Battle Ridge, Wyoming, and have a reason to stay there. It wasn’t until the stalker’s appearance toward the end  of the story that I appreciated him at all. There he became the scary man I had hoped to see throughout the book.

Running Wild is an exciting introduction to a new contemporary romance series. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes in the next installment.

Review: Angel in Chains by Cynthia Eden

20 Nov


4 of 5 scoopers

Angel in Chains by Cynthia Eden
Kensington (Nov. 27, 2012)
Trade: $14; ebook: $11.99
ISBN: 9780758267634

Favorite Lines: “You loved me once.”
This was it. The moment that she’d known would come. Jade stared him in the eyes, refused to let the fear take her, and said the words she knew would break him. “And now I love him.” (p. 290, ARC)

As a fallen Angel of Death, Azrael is cursed to walk the earth alone in search of redemption. One night, as he wanders the streets of New Orleans, he discovers a woman surrounded by panther shifters. No longer able to contain the anger simmering within, Az summons his dark powers and attacks, determined to protect this innocent human from certain death.

Only Jade Pierce is no delicate flower. She’s spent years learning to survive and fight the evil forces sent by her ex-lover who refuses to let her go. But after seeing Az in action, she figures she could use a little supernatural help. And so she plans a course of seduction guaranteed to arouse his interest and his angelic passions. . .

I’m not a huge fan of angel romance books, but Cynthia Eden‘s Fallen series is an exception. I started the series with book two, Angel Betrayed, and knew that I had to read Angel in Chains when it came out. Let me tell ya, I’m very glad that I did.

Az was a stickler for the rules every time he was shown in Angel Betrayed. He’s a cold and detached guy whose actions cross over into villainous. In Angel in Chains he’s a new fallen angel who has yet to come to terms with losing his wings and flat out refuses to believe he’ll never have them again. When he sees Jade, he is attracted to her, but sees her as his way back to heaven.

Jade’s been running from her ex-boyfriend for quite a while. The psycho killed her family and will kill anyone who gets close to her. He is the leader of the panther shifter clan with a whole lineup of shifters to send after Jade, but she keeps managing to slip away. When Az steps in to help her out, Jade tries to create some distance between them, but he refuses to let her handle the situation alone.

Jade is damaged and Az is damaged but together they have the power to heal. Watching Az and Jade fall in love and sacrifice what they valued most during the process made me want more. I wanted them to be happy and the fight and flight scenes kept me moving through the story. Angel in Chains was hard to put down.

If you’re looking for an action packed romance with an alpha hero who protects the woman he loves regardless of what it could cost him you’ve got to pick up Angel in Chains. It’s filled with sexy scenes, drama and great secondary characters. If there’s a book four, I’ll be reading it.

Review: Sleeping with the Wolf by Maddy Barone

17 Nov

 
3 of 5 scoopers

Sleeping with the Wolf by Maddy Barone
Liquid Silver Books (November 2010)
Trade: $11.99; ebook: $3.99
ISBN: 9781595787774

Favorite Lines: “We don’t have a church or a priest here. Don’t need ’em to be married. You want vows? I’ll make vows to you. I promise to take care of you as long as I live. If there’s only enough food for one of us, you’ll get it. I’ll keep you warm when it’s cold. Anyone who tries to hurt you will have to go through me first. How’s that?” (p.16)

Rising country music star Carla boards a plane in the year 2014. But it crashes in the future, fifty years after Armageddon has destroyed technology and plagues have reduced the female population to a precious few. She finds herself offered as prize in a Bride Fight, where only the strongest and fiercest men are allowed to compete to win a wife. Alpha werewolf Taye knows Carla is his mate. He wins the Bride Fight and takes her to his den, ready to give her everything, even his heart. Will Carla ever be ready to give him anything?

I stumbled across Sleeping with the Wolf  by Maddy Barone while surfing Goodreads. The premise for the series sounded interesting so I took a chance and bought it, as well as book two, Wolf’s Glory. Currently there are four books available in Barone’s After the Crash series set in a post-apocalyptic world where women are scarce. I paid $3.27 for Sleeping with the Wolf; the book shows on my nook as being 106 pages long.

Sleeping with the Wolf is not an instant love story, but it doesn’t take long for the heroine to realize she can’t go back in time and to make the best of what she has been given. Her husband knew going into the relationship that Carla was the only woman for him, but Carla hadn’t even had a chance to adapt to the new world before she was shoved into Taye’s arms.

One of the best things about Sleeping with the Wolf is that many of the men are virgins. Taye used romance novels to learn how to interact with females and discover what to do in the marriage bed. Going by Carla’s reactions and the things Taye did, he learned quite well too.

I don’t regret buying Sleeping with the Wolf. It’s about what I expected to get in a little over 100 pages. The characters fall in love quickly and the heroine never acts out in a way that makes me hate her. The hero is compassionate, but definitely an alpha. Taye was sweet and wooed Carla until he won her over which satisfied me. It’s just that despite the time travel to the future and apocalypse which swept the world before the series begins everything is extremely predictable.

Favorite Scenes Friday: Justice

16 Nov

A loud noise boomed and wood split in the living room. It sounded as if someone had kicked down the front door. She grabbed Justice’s hand to shove over his injury.

“Press here, hold it tight and don’t move. I love you.”

She grabbed the empty gun and reached into her shirt. Her hand smeared Justice’s blood all over her vest, shirt and breasts as she yanked out the clip. She slammed it into the empty chamber as she rose to her feet. She gripped both guns in her fists and spread her feed apart to plant them on both sides of Justice’s hips.

It was a bad place to be as far as tactical advantages went. Windows were all around them–a huge glass slider and the open archway that led to the living room. There was no cover. Justice was too heavy and too hurt to move. The fifth male would strike and she hoped he’d come from the archway since that’s where she’d heard the house breached.

Her eyes scanned the room frantically.–Justice by Laurann Dohner

Review: How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren

13 Nov


3 out of 5 scoopers

How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren
Carina Press (Nov. 19, 2012)
ebook: $1.99 (38,000 words)
ISBN: 9781426894664
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Even through the sheet she sparked with energy, with life. He brought his other hand up and slowly raked his fingers from her palm to her wrist and down to her elbow.” (p. 16, e-galley)

The Beast

Scarred. Damaged. Living with a terrible secret. Agent of the Underlight Wesley “Hauk” Haukon has nothing left but the fight for liberty against the oppressive Order of Ananke. He’s starting to lose hope…and then he sees her.

The Beauty

Despite her night job as a burlesque dancer, grad student Jolie Benoit has always played the mostly good girl. That all changes following a scorching sexual encounter with a stranger whose face she doesn’t see. After she’s kidnapped by thugs and rescued by a man with a very familiar voice, Jolie becomes a pawn in a struggle she never knew existed.

Hauk knows he cannot have her, and resolves to protect his heart and his secrets. But as they work together and grow closer, he finds new reason to keep fighting. Dare he risk hope in a new life, one where Jolie can see past his ravaged face and where their friendship can grow into something more?

I knew from the get go that How Beauty Met the Beast was going to be a novella. I wasn’t sure how long 38,000 words would show on my nook. It turns out to equal 110 pages. For me, it was just long enough to whet my appetite and as soon as things started getting good the story was over. The good news is that it is part of a three story series and book two, How Beauty Saved the Beast will be released in February 2013.

I had a little bit of trouble staying in the world. I knew the hero was a member of an anarchist group called the Underlight. Then I read about him being a soldier who was disfigured fighting in Afghanistan. When you add in a steambike, metal leg/foot, and people who worship old gods (think Thor), you’ve got me thinking okay it’s a steampunk book. But then I considered the heroine who drove a Nissan coupe, has Celiac’s disease, and attended the University of Texas and felt like I was reading a contemporary romance. By the end I was thoroughly confused when it came to the world building, but satisfied by the introduction of two characters to one another and myself.

How Beauty Met the Beast is…different. It’s not bad, just not what I expected. The characters though, they are what hooked me. For example, it’s not the “norm” to have the heroine of a romance work as a burlesque dancer. The scenes in which she struts her stuff and belts out tunes before meeting the hero behind the animosity of a sheet hit home her adventurous nature. Hawk is introduced by his actions as well. The reader is shown Hawke on the run with a buddy and his willingness to sacrifice himself in order to protect his pal. We get to travel into his mind where he considers the reactions others have to his disfigured face and watch him have a healthy interaction with a beautiful woman before we are told the extent of the damage done to him. When the author gets descriptive and I’m able to visualize what this man looks like it’s too late to walk away thinking the man is “gross.” By then I’ve half fallen in love with the man.

Obviously there were parts of the story that I was invested in, however when the world which confused me is added to what felt like a third of one complete story, I’m left feeling so-so about it all. I like to read complete stories in one book. I think there are way too many series and trilogies floating around. Sometimes it’s necessary, but other times it feels like a reason to suck money out of readers. If the Tales of the Underlight trilogy unfolds the way I expect, the division will be a way to give the characters time to get to know one another. That’s understandable, but does nothing to absolve my irritation for a story that ends just when it starts getting good. That said, I don’t regret reading How Beauty Met the Beast and plan to read the next book in the series.