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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.

Review: Sentinels: Kodiak Chained by Doranna Durgin

6 Nov


3 out of 5 scoopers

Sentinels: Kodiak Chained by Doranna Durgin
Harlequin (Nov. 13, 2012)
Mass market: $5.50; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9780373885602
Excerpt
BONUS: The Gatekeeper by Heather Graham (novella)

Favorite Lines: “After a lifetime of feeling too bold, too strong, too much, Mariska quite suddenly didn’t quite feel alone anymore.” (p. 19, e-galley)

One mission. One night. One costly misstep….

A mighty Kodiak shifter, Ruger is more than a Sentinel warrior. As a Healer, he willingly risks everything defending the sick and helpless. But after an ambush nearly kills him, he can do only so much-until a sensual lady black bear shifter arrives to provide him backup….

In human form, she is called Mariska. Feisty and self-assured, she has finagled her present assignment helping Ruger chase down a rising new threat. The moment Mariska scents the heroic, battle-scarred grizzly she knows he will be her only weakness…and greatest desire.

Mariska will do anything to aid Ruger-even if confronting the enemy puts everything she holds dear in jeopardy.

I love bear shifters. They are in a category of their own and make me think of the ultimate cuddle buddy. Doranna Durgin’s shifter as pictured on the cover of Sentinels: Kodiak Chained is not the man I imagine as a bear shifter, but honestly I could care less about the cover as the shifter in the story was so much better.

Before I get much further, it’s important that you understand Kodiak: Chained is part of a series. I didn’t know that when I started reading it and boy did I pay for that lack of knowledge. I felt a few steps behind throughout the entire story. I knew I was missing something and no amount of explanation or back story insertion removed that feeling of missing vital information. In the middle of reading the book I visited Durgin’s website and found out that Kodiak Chained is book six in her Sentinels’ series. Had I know that I would not have read it without reading the previous books in the series.

For the most part Kodiak: Chained is a book about finding oneself and redemption. The hero is learning to readjust to new limitations. He had always been a powerful healer  but after an attack stripped that ability from him he has no choice but to re-evaluate his role as a guardian. He is paired with a female bear shifter who is trying to make a difference. Prior to transferring to Ruger’s team, Mariska was protected and coddled instead of given room to grow as much as she wanted. The route she chose made her untrustworthy in Ruger’s eyes and she works hard to redeem herself to him and those who love him.

The story has a nice pace and features a couple who could be good together from the moment they met in different circumstances. As the story unfolds we are shown a couple who pull together in the face of adversity and deserve a happy ending. I got over my initial dislike of the heroine and was happy with the obscenely evil villains. It’s never pretty when men and science try to match paranormal creatures and magic. Let me show you a few snapshots of this deliciously dark evil.

An Abert’s squirrel with gills, trying not to drown and trying not to rot in the unrelentingly watery environment it hadn’t been born to manage.–p. 72

He touched the crate where a bird with no beak flicked its tongue out at a cup of mashed seeds, its freakish little nostrils flat to the remaining face and twitching in distress.–p. 74

Kodiak: Chained is uncomfortable to read at moments and brings home the idea that men can be more monstrous than the most primal of paranormal creatures. It’s a paranormal romance that didn’t really work for me as a stand alone. I was happy to have a female bear shifter was sturdy but round in the right places as opposed to a sleek, cat-like woman. Kodiak: Chained is not my favorite book, but it is interesting which made me read it quickly.

Review: Sleeping with the Wolf by Maddie Barone

3 Nov

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

Favorite Lines: “I heard my father explain it once to my mother. He said that to his wolf, she was like the only warm house in the middle of a deadly blizzard. She gave him a safe place to shelter in, one that was just for him, and he would take care of that safe place and defend it from intruders.” (p. 70)

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?

Sleeping with the Wolf is book one in Maddy Barone’s After the Crash series set in a  futuristic world after the apocalypse and featuring paranormal creatures finding love. It shows up on my nook as 106 pages long. Since it’s short there are many instances that are told instead of shown, but I liked the idea of a world where women are in demand and where it isn’t abnormal for the men to be virginal.

Yep, you read that right. An area of land which is home to over 4,000 men only has 200 women. Two female newcomers to the world in search of aid have been sold to a man who sets up a special fight to find eligible men who can afford to care for and be good life partners to the women. Not exactly an easy introduction to a topsy-turvy futuristic world.

Short but sweet, Sleeping with the Wolf is a new look into the paranormal shapeshifter world. I love the idea of a world gone to hell, but still home to strong shifter men who can only love their mate. One of the best parts was seeing how the hero taught himself to be prepared for the time when he found his mate. Consider how sex would be if romance books were considered reference books. Think of a virginal man who bypasses wham bam thank you ma’am because he has a step-by-step plan.

The romance is definitely on fast forward cause within days the heroine falls for the alpha hero. It didn’t really bother me because the heroine constantly thought of the nice, considerate things her man did for her. She also realized that she’d never be able to travel back in time to the world she knew. Her ability to adapt without losing herself made Sleeping with the Wolf a pleasant read. I’ll be picking up the next book in the series, Wolf’s Glory.

Coming Soon: Shattered Souls by Delilah Devlin

29 Oct

Private Investigator Caitlyn O’Connell lost it all—her plum job as a detective for the Memphis PD, her partner and lover, and her own self-respect —to booze in an attempt to drown out the voices in her head. When her ex-partner drags her to a murder scene where she’s his only real lead, she knows it’s time to face her greatest fears and harness the inherited gifts she’s always rejected. That she’ll have a chance to prove she had damn good reasons for shutting Sam out of her life is just icing on the cake.

The last thing Sam Pierce wants is to revisit his painful relationship with Cait, but she’s the only lead he has. Sam doggedly follows Cait into a dark world filled with magick and unholy terrors as they search for killer wraiths and the demon who commands them.– Release date: Jan. 29, 2013

Review: Now You See It by Cait Donnelly

27 Oct


3.5 out of 5 scoopers

Now You See It by Cait Donnelly
Carina Press (Nov. 5, 2012)
ebook: $5.99 (85,000 words)
ISBN: 9781426894589
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Great. Just great. He finally meets the One, and–God, did he just think that? Even to himself? Brady sat back in the chair and blinked, caught his breath and rethought the last few seconds. Well, damn! It had happened, just the way his aunts had always said it would. Just the way it had hit his dad. With amused and knowing grins, the old women had called it the coup de foudre–the thunderbolt. He’d shrugged it off as just more Indian stories. Served him right.” (p. 20, e-galley)

Former Navy SEAL Brady McGrath has no trouble attracting female attention. But women never stick around long once they learn he can read feelings through touch. When an old Navy buddy hires him to protect his sister, he doesn’t need extra-sensory abilities to know someone wants something from Gemma Cavanagh —something worth killing for.

Gemma’s finally getting a handle on her own unique ability to make things disappear—even making them reappear on occasion. When someone breaks into her house and hacks into her computer, she’s certain her soon-to-be-ex husband is to blame—until the police show up on her doorstep with the news he’s been murdered. And she’s their number one suspect.

After barely escaping a firebombing, Gemma and Brady are forced into hiding—and forced to confront the chemistry between them. As they desperately search for the killer, can Brady help Gemma harness her abilities—and keep her from finding out about his own dark past?

Now You See It is book one in Cait Donnelly’s Inner Edge series which introduces characters who have “abilities” into a contemporary world. Gemma, the heroine, can file things. This means she knowingly–or unknowingly–makes items disappear. As a youth she could make those items reappear at will, but after a traumatic event she lost the ability to control her filing ability. The hero Brady can read emotions transferred to objects, as well as from people. He is a tough guy. He has mad computer skills and federal law enforcement training.

But Now You See It is not so much a paranormal romance as much as a contemporary romantic suspense with paranormal aspects. The drama surrounds a woman in the midst of a divorce whose husband is brutally murdered. Soon after, her home is invaded and her brother sends his buddy over to investigate. That woman becomes prime suspect and happens to have an unusual ability. Not many people in the book have odd abilities and the action isn’t driven by the abilities which is why I consider this more of a suspense. Everyone wants to know “who did it?”.  And the answer has nothing to do with the special abilities of any of its characters.

As a whole, I enjoyed the book. I understand the hero’s quick addiction to the heroine, but her feelings were more of a mystery to me. I guess Gemma burned out on her hubby a long time before the hero made an appearance so I’m okay with her quick interest in the hero. Her emotional flip-flops between irritation, attraction, and anger all of which are directed toward the hero about drove me crazy. I didn’t like Gemma and feeding my dislike were her perplexing reactions to other things. For example, there was a moment when Gemma knew she was a suspect in her husband’s murder when she returned home, I’m talking the day after finding out about her hubby’s death, that she reacted in a way which made no sense to me. She pulls up to a yard full of reporters and “opening the garage door at the last possible minute, she flipped the crowd a happy little wave as she pulled inside.” (p.56) It cemented my early opinion of her character as one with little depth.

Gemma’s brother and would-be lover are another matter. I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of both men. They were dependable and predictable–great romance heroes. Someone else was predictable…the villain. I knew upon introduction to the villain exactly who he was. I didn’t know why he did the things he did, but it was clear to me that he was a participant.

So my end thought on Now You See It are that it was pretty much what I expected to find in a romantic suspense with the exception of a heroine who I disliked. I never set the book aside which makes it a solid read for me, but it isn’t one I’ll read again. I did like it enough that I’ll be looking for book two which is entitled Helix.

Books I Want: November 2012

26 Oct

Provoked by Rebecca Zanetti (Nov. 1, received copy from Netgalley)

A TIME FOR WAR…
A casualty of the war between the demons and the vampires, Jase Kayrs has been missing for six long years. His older brothers want answers—but they’re going to have to get them from an unlikely source. For when Kane Kayrs tracks down Amber Freebird, what he finds is a blonde, vegan pacifist who has no intention of using her skills in his war…

A TIME FOR LOVE…

Amber enjoys her life of chaotic freedom and has no intention of falling in line just because a sexy-as-sin vampire insists on order. Unfortunately, he discovers she may be the only hope they have of finding his brother, and there’s no way he’s going to let her go—even if it means mating her to gain her cooperation. The two are as different as can be, yet when the dominant Kane and the untamed Amber finally unite to rescue Jase, they just may find that opposites really do attract… Continue reading