Doug’s Review of Darkly Dreaming

review iconSo, I am trying to get back into things, but to be honest there just hasn’t been that much going on. I thought I would do a catch-up post covering everything that I missed over the five days I was gone, but really I didn’t miss anything at all.

Thankfully, Doug Meeks sent over a book recommendation/review of an upcoming release called Darkly Dreaming, which is a great deal at only 99 cents. It is due out next week, and it features stories from Elizabeth Hunter, Grace Draven, Danielle Monsch, Kristen Painter, and Cate Rowan.

darkly dreamingWhat Doug said…

I would usually go through and rate each of these fine novels individually but the review would get much too lengthy and you can research each of these books for yourself if you wish BUT I can say that ALL of these books are pretty much 4.5-5 Star reading. None are boring at least one might leave you emotionally drained.

I had read 3 of these books and decided that for 99 cents to get two full novels it was a steal …. and it was truly a bargain for quality reading.

Possibly the best 99 cent deal I have seen in months (years?) Darkly Dreaming: A Five Book Fantasy Romance Anthology since the following 5 full novels are included, I assume they thought it was a good way to introduce people to their writings, for 99 cents I bought it just for the two novels I had not read

​ and now that I have read all 5 novels I can say that they are ALL 4.5+ novels with no hesitation:​

Feared by a priesthood. Coveted by a god. Tempted by a slave. In Grace Draven’s Master of Crows, a renegade mage must battle a god for his soul and decide if his fate-and the fate of nations-is worth the life of the spy he has come to love.

Experience sword, sorcery, and mythical beings as never before in Stone Guardian (Entwined Realms Book 1), the first book of the Entwined Realms by Danielle Monsch. Larissa’s sheltered world is destroyed when she is targeted by Necromancers. With nowhere else to turn, Larissa forms an uneasy alliance with Terak, leader of the Gargoyles. Will Terak be Larissa’s salvation, or her downfall?

Sometimes love is the most dangerous magic of all. In Heart Of Fire: A fantasy romance by Kristen Painter, Jessalyne leaves a sheltered life to tame her dangerous magic by becoming apprentice to a powerful sorceress, but she’ll need the deadliest man in the realm to get her there safely. If they don’t kill each other first.

Be swept away in Kismet’s Kiss: A Fantasy Romance (Alaia Chronicles) by Cate Rowan. In the desert realm of Kad, a deadly epidemic strikes the palace of Sultan Kuramos. Only a mystical healer from an enemy land may have the skill to save his household. But he never imagined that healer would be a woman.

Hidden at the crossroads of the world, an ancient race battles to protect humanity, even as it dies from within. Ava comes to modern day Istanbul in The Scribe: Irin Chronicles Book One, the first book in the Irin Chronicles by Elizabeth Hunter. One woman searching for answers finds a reluctant guardian in a warrior whose magic is written on his skin. But does Ava have magic of her own?

Reader Reaction – Dark Skye

dark skyeAs we get ready to pick the book of the month for September, I thought we might take a look back at this month’s book, Dark Skye. Kresley Cole‘s 14th Immortals After Dark book was released on August 5th, and I figure we have all dove in already.

I didn’t make any secret of the fact that I was underwhelmed by it, but I still can’t figure out why. I didn’t dislike it, nothing like that, but I just couldn’t get into it. I didn’t like the backstory of Thronos and Lanthe – well, I liked when they were children together, but I didn’t like how Thronos suffered in the centuries after. That really took me out of the story, and I ended up not liking Lanthe much because of it.

If I am going to be completely honest, I didn’t have much excitement going into it. I don’t know if I was having a premonition that I wasn’t going to be too excited by the book, or my lack of interest made me not enjoy the book as much, but it wasn’t meant to be. I had no problem putting the book down, and it ended up taking me almost a week to read. Unheard of for me.

What did you think of the long-awaited Thronos and Lanthe book? Were you happy with it, or did it leave you wanting more?

Doug’s Review – Evernight

review iconSometimes I think that I spend too much time writing about books and not enough time reading them, because there are so very many series that I say “one day” about. And that list just keeps growing. One of the series on that list is Kristen Callihan‘s Darkest London, which I can honestly say I have never heard anyone say less than glowing things about. Even a friend of mine who doesn’t like PNR or UF loves it, which is a good sign in itself. Doug Meeks reviewed the lasted book, Evernight, which is due out on August 26th. As Doug pointed out, however, it is one of those titles caught in the Amazon/Hachette battle, so pre-ordering through Amazon isn’t available at this time.

evernightWhat Doug said…

Kristen Callihan seems to excel at bringing together couples who really don’t like each other at the start of these novels in the Darkest London series (which seems to get a bit darker as this series progresses).
 
William Thorn and Holly Evernight are a extreme example of that talent since their first meeting in this novel he is trying to kill her, not a great opening line in most instances since her feelings are close to his,  but this is Darkest London and it only raised the bar a bit higher than the others in this series.
 
You also do not get wilting flower heroines; the women are strong but still vulnerable.  Holly Evernight is possibly one of the strongest of these heroines and still the author was able to build a believable romance here.
 
What you get is a soaring romance that is wrapped in a mystery with a couple of subplots being moved along at the same time.  The lack of the legion of secondary characters that you saw in some previous novels is pretty much missing here and the emphasis is mainly on the main couple which is understandable since the distance from trying to get a couple from “I want to kill you” to “I love you” is an awful long way but Ms Callihan pulls it off right nicely but not without dragging the reader through some pretty emotionally gut wrenching situations and a surprising twist of an ending, throw in an almost Cinderella vibe and you have an amazingly great reading experience that will stay with you for a long time.  I would warn you to take nothing for granted in this story and the last page leaves you with a inkling for what I expect will be a series changing next novel along the lines of Acheron (sorry if you don’t know that reference).
Bottom Line:  An exceptional novel, well written, a romance that will roll around in your mind for days or longer, an alpha male, a exceptionally strong heroine and it all works together.  I only had one complaint, you left us in the dark on the maid, I expect some detail next novel.  The ending was a bit of a dark premonition for the next novel and left me a bit unsettled but I guess that was the purpose, hold on to your seat for the next one.  This may be the best book of the series to date so don’t miss it, the previous novel would give you some better background but is not a requirement I do not believe since most of the important things are revisited.
So, who else loves this series? There is at least one more book, Soulbound, which is due out next February, to look forward to.

Archangel’s Shadows Tidbits and Reaction…

As I usually try to do on these types of posts, I have to start by saying that Nalini Singh is one of my favorite authors, to the point of it being a bit pathetic, actually. So does that mean that I go into anything she writes expecting it to be great? Yep. And she has never disappointed me yet. I was totally surprised to get an ARC of Archangel’s Shadows, and it was a one-sitting read. This will be a few spoiler-free glimpses, but I will assume that you are up-to-date with the events in Archangel’s Legion.

archangel's shadowSynopsis…

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s sensual and painfully beautiful Guild Hunter world in her new novel of sacrifice, loyalty, and the choices of love that can shatter the heart.

In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot— should not—be walking the streets.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

I went into this thinking that it was going to be equal parts Raphael and Elena’s story and Ash and Janvier’s, and I was thinking that Ash and Janvier might get short-changed. I couldn’t’ve been more of the target. The story breaks down, as best as I can figure, to be about 75% Ash and Janvier, 15% Raphael and Elena, and 10% everyone else. Nice.

We start out seeing a little bit of role Ash, Janvier and Naasir’s trio played in the battle against Lijuan, and the bond they formed behind the lines. The recap of the battle is brief, but the impact of it continues throughout the book. When a new issue rises that threatens the stability of a city that has already been through so much, Ash and Janvier end up teaming up again to track a vicious enemy. There is lots of action, but that doesn’t overpower the romance at all. Their story has been simmering over the course of several stories, and it was worth the wait.

Illium and Aodhan make a few appearances, usually as comic relief. Change is coming for Illium, and I do believe his story will be heading our way (soonish). And I could totally see a novella for Ransom, too. Dmitri and Honor are settling into their new life, Aodhan is continuing to make progress coming back into the world, and the Legion is slowly beginning to find a place. But the scene-stealer, no doubt, is Naasir. I didn’t think anyone could outshine Bluebell, but Naasir did. Half feral, half innocent, and completely unpredictable, he made every scene he was in. We don’t find out exactly what he is, or what he isn’t, for that matter, but I can’t wait to find out. Elena continues to make the role of Consort her own, even if it sometimes a struggle for the fighter to handle the politics of the position.

So, that is about it. I thought it was a great story – strong on the romance, the action, and the set up for future stories. Oh, and as an extra bonus, there was an excerpt from the upcoming Secrets at Midnight, the Bastien novella that will be in the Night Shift anthology due out on November 25th.

Monika’s Review…Rock Addiction

review iconI have to admit, I love it when people give me reviews to post, partly because I suck at reviewing myself, partly because I am nosy and I like to get honest opinions on what others are reading without having to search through the masses at Goodreads and Amazon. And when the book in question is from a favorite author, it is even better. Monika sent over a review for the upcoming (and very much a surprise) Rock Addiction from Nalini Singh, which from what I understand is being classed as New Adult.

What Monika said…

Wow, I’m still fanning myself! Nalini Singh succeeds in striking the perfect balance between scorching hot eroticism and sweet romance. The hero is an alpha male with hidden vulnerabilities and the heroine innocent but with an adventureous streak. It’s a case of instant lust and they have intense chemistry but need to come to terms with what it means to have a relationship in the spotlight.

I used to read a lot of romance novels, both historical and contemporary, although these days I am mostly into Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. The Psy/Changeling and the Guild Hunter series range among my favorites and I consider them some of the best writing in the genre, so I was very excited when I discovered the unexpected announcement on Nalini Singh’s blog that she had branched out into contemporary romance. The whole rock music scene is not really my thing, but the blurb sounded very promising and struck a chord with me.

Synopsis: At a party hosted by her publicist half-sister cute librarian Molly Webster comes face to face with Zachary Fox, sex god and lead singer of the famous rock group Schoolboy Choir. She has been fantasizing about him for some time, so when he follows and propositions her, she throws all caution to the winds and decides to indulge in one night of pleasure. Fox has been captivated by her artless and likeable nature, so there is no way he will be satisfied with one night and he proceeds to convince her to give him the whole month he is vacationing with his band in New Zealand. Afraid of the intensity of her feelings and haunted by traumatic events in her childhood Molly nevertheless agrees since she feels she will at least always have the memories of the time she spent with Fox. After the month is up, Fox, who was playing for keeps from the beginning, asks Molly to come back with him to California. Taking the biggest chance of her life Molly leaves her job and her friends behind to be with Fox in his Santa Monica home. Although she can slowly establish herself as a freelance editor and researcher, she has to come to terms not only with beautiful Hollywood actresses dropping by unanounced, but also with pushy groupies groping her man and intrusive papparazzi. Plagued by demons in his own past Fox has a tendency to try to control Molly, and not only inside the bedroom. While on tour an incidence occurs that plays on Molly’s worst fears and that will put their fragile love and trust to the test…

What I didn’t like about it: Nothing against a heroine that is sweet and inexperienced, but a virgin at 24? And then she considers a one-night stand, even if the hero is gorgeous and she’s had a crush on him for the longest time. Also, though probably many (female) readers can identify with Molly, she is a bit ordinary and bland. And I don’t mean only her looks (she is described as pretty), but also her personality and her whole life. To have a gorgeous, sexy, famous hunk fall madly in love with one has at one time or another probably been the secret fantasy of every woman, but even with the suspension of disbelief I find it hard to swallow. So does Molly, actually, and at the beginning of their relationship that is a source of insecurity for her. It wouldn’t be so bad if Fox, in contrast, weren’t so perfect in every way: hero with a tortured past, great body, ribbed, golden skin all over (why does this remind me of a certain cat), sexy voice, talented, great in the sack and loaded. Really, why am I complaining? But he seems just like too much of a good thing. Oh, and the name oft he band “Schoolboy Choir” does so not hit the right note for a supposedly gritty rock band.

What I did like about it: Even though it’s in the “didn’t-like-section” I actually loved Zachary Fox, because who wouldn’t? He is very likable beneath his rough edges and although he is quite controlling and demanding in bed he isn’t too bad outside of it and Molly stands up to him if he tries to be. Recently I have started to read some erotic romance, but disappointingly most of it is written very badly, with inconsistent character development and very repetitive. I would also label “Rock Addiction” erotic romance, but that’s where all similarities end. Nalini Singh is a superb story writer and her main protagonists are well developed. I liked the local color she used for the scenes in New Zealand and Santa Monica. She also finds a good balance between romance, intense emotion and explicit love scene and the narrative has a good rhythm. The sex is intense, with some kink (light and playful bondage). The cast of secondary characters is also well drawn and I’m looking forward to future stories featuring the other band members, Molly’s half-sister Thea and her best friend Charlotte.

If I had to rate this book, it would very much depend on what I compared it to. On its own merit as an erotic romance I would give it five out of five stars, because it’s so well written and by far the best of its genre I’ve read. Compared to Nalini Singh’s PR / UF writing I would only give it 4 stars, because I feel that the complex world building accounts for a large part of the appeal and what I am willing to believe in a story set in a fantasy world it not necessarily the same as in one set in the “real” world. Having said that, I will certainly check out Thea’s and David’s story, which is coming up next.

Rock Addiction will be hitting the shelves on September 9th, and it will be followed by the novella Rock Courtship in October.

Reader Reaction…Magic Breaks

magicbreaksI am pretty sure by now that everyone who is going to has already devoured the latest Kate and Curran book from Ilona Andrews, Magic Breaks. It is the first of the series to hit the shelves in hardcover, and from what the authors have said over on their site it has done really, really well in sales. That has to be a big relief for them, since from what I understand changing format like that can sometimes be stressful. But, on to the good stuff.

What did you think of Magic Breaks? To say that this one is a game changer is a bit of an understatement, and a lot of it I didn’t see coming (which I totally love). I thought it was one hell of a book, and I think I enjoyed it even more because I had just finished a re-read of the entire series heading into it so past events were really fresh in my mind. Sound off in the comments section below, spoilers welcome. Oh, and if you are waiting for the paperback version to match up to the rest of your collection, it now has a due date of February 24th.

Magic Breaks Review…

review iconIt won’t be long now until we get our hands on the next Kate Daniels book from Ilona Andrews, Magic Breaks. It was by far the most anticipated book of July for most people, and seeing the series make the jump to hardcover makes it even better. Doug Meeks got his hands on an early review copy, and sent over his thoughts. From everything I have heard, it is a pivotal book in the series, and I am just left hoping that all of my favorites survive it.

magicbreaksWhat Doug said…

OK, I am tired of typing “The best one yet” on every one of these Kate Daniels reviews so just act like I never said that …… again.

I loved this book, it starts out with a bit of a character guide including a bit of info on who they are and what part they play/played.  Then there is a bit of a “the story up until now” in a narrated Chapter 1 and combined with the detailed character guide which is written in such a manner as to be part of the story it is a unique and exceptional way to catch us all up without the chore of rereading past books, wonderfully done and make me wonder “why doesn’t everybody do this?”.

OK, assuming you read Magic Rises (and if you have not then you need to stop and read it before you go any farther) you know that a ton of stuff hit the fan last book and there are debts to be paid and blood to be shed and my revenge junkie is almost in a coma from all this drug of choice.

Roland is coming but first she has to head off Hugh (who really needs killing) who is now trying to start a war with The Pack and that is just not going to happen if Kate has anything to say about it.  Curran is off on a mission and not here to advise her so Kate tried to handle things in her own unique fashion, start the fun-o-meter.

The thing about these novels is that there is always a main plot and several very interesting secondary plots going, all of which lead to a great reading experience, the same applies to this book, we know Roland is coming (yes we will get to meet him), we know Kate has to do something about Hugh, let us not forget a date she has promised Hibla (revenge junkie is really cheering about this one), the wolf Alpha needs to be replaced and is causing problems, throw in a couple more small plots and you have a very busy book.  I was really too sick to be reading during this time but once I started it was impossible to put it down.

The fact that with all the plots and violence going around, one of the things I will always remember and reread is Kate purchasing a donkey, no way I can explain it to you, it actually caused me physical pain to read it since I was laughing so hard.

That is why these books are always auto-buys for so many of us, there is no other Kate/Curran clone to read.  There are other great stories and other great authors but there is only 1 Kate Daniels and she is just another heroine without Curran to balance her out, together they are always exceptional and unstoppable.

Bottom Line:  Exceptional as always, plots that never go exactly the way you thought, stories that bring it home to the reader in emotional ways that only great writing can do, no 2 dimensional characters you love them all.  This is a series many of us had to struggle through the first two books because there was so much there but almost all of us were hooked for life by the end of book 3, this is another breaking point in the series, not really sure where it goes from here but I can already see it will never be dull or lackluster, 5 Stars only because they don’t allow more, well done once again Ilona and Gordon.  I can’t wait to see where this goes.

NOTICE:  There is a very good short story about Julie at the end of the book, it is exceptional and I think may contain some future characters for this series or maybe a new one.

It sounds like we won’t be disappointed at all (not that I was expecting to be, but you know how it goes). Let the countdown begin…

Doug’s Review…Poison Promise

review iconDoug Meeks is getting back into the swing of things, and he sent over a second review to tide us over for this week. This time around, he tackles Poison Promise, the 11th book of Jennifer Estep‘s very popular Elemental Assassin series. Doug got his hands on this one a bit early, but the rest of us have to wait until July 22nd. On a truly shallow note, I do love the covers on this series – they have stayed consistently great from the first book right on through, and not a lot of series can make that claim.

poison promiseWhat Doug said…

Poison Promise

Jennifer Estep

Well this is the 11th book in the Elemental Assassin series and they show no signs of getting stale.  This installment is more of a warm-up for the next one I fear though since we actually get to meet MM Monroe for a few pages but that is not the villain for this novel but it does give you an idea of what Gin is going to be up against.

Let us get back to what THIS book is about, Gin through a series of somewhat seemingly random events runs afoul of a local drug lord named Benson and while he is a vampire and commands a large criminal army it is a special power of his that make him a dangerous foe for Gin.

This book we see a bit of family strife between Bria and Gin, a new friend and what looks to be a new permanent addition to Gin’s entourage.  I can’t say too much more than that without being spoilerish and I stay away from spoilers.

There is a new drug on the streets called Burn and it is making Benson a lot of money, Gin and Bria are both looking to put an end to him and his business.  The job is easier said than done, trust me, it is not going to be neither easy nor painless.

This may be the first novel in awhile that her love life seem to be actually approaching something normal and steady which I think is long overdue since her love life has been in shambles in most of the novels in this series.

Bottom Line:  It is the Elemental Assassin, bad guy shows up, threatens somebody she cares for; little blood on both sides and bad guy has a really, really bad day.  This novel is saved from reading like a formula from other books by some interesting side interests and the addition of a couple of interesting new characters.  The manner of the culminating conflict is a bit new also, I liked it; hope to see more of it.  I have to give it 4.5 Stars and almost want to lower it to 4 because I suspect the next one is going to be really great and I am running out of stars but that would not really be fair to this book.

Purchase at Amazon.com

What is your take on the Elemental Assassin series? STill holding strong, or are you ready to see things wrap up for Gin and company?

Doug’s Review…Goddess Awakened

Doug Meeks has been under the weather, but he did do up a review for Goddess Awakened by Cate Masters. This is the first book of her new Goddess Connection series, and it just came out on July 7th.

goddess awakenedWhat Doug said…

Goddess Awakened

I almost gave this 4 Stars since it IS a great story, but the addition of what seems to be pages of useless verbiage just about killed my enjoyment of this novel. Both of the central couple seemed to be unable to cope with a relationship to the point to where I got tired of their internal and external excuses.

The book is saved from complete disaster by a decent cast of secondary characters who should have been flashed out a bit more and some evil characters that come across very clearly, wish the good ones had been as well written.

At the end on the day there is a big battle that seems to get really glossed over and should have been the climax of the book but instead it limps along for several more chapters before finally ending with a thump.

Bottom Line: I wanted to love this book, I was sick and I kept reading it hoping to get to the really “good” parts but other than the battle and a few accompanying scenes the 80% of the rest of the book was a snoozefest. The author tried so hard to make the heroine a “strong” woman she pretty much emasculated the hero. The rules for her “powers” are so convoluted I still have no clue exactly what she can and can’t do. It was a great story told in poor fashion I fear, maybe somebody will come along behind me and prove me wrong, I do acknowledge I was ill and possibly not in the best of moods while reading this but I am pretty sure I was not brain dead.

Purchase at Amazon.com

Did anyone else give this new book a shot, and if you did, what did you think?

New Series Review – Deadly Curiosities

review iconDoug Meeks was kind enough to send over his review for one of the books featured in the New Series Alerts post below. He had gotten his hands on an early copy of Gail Z. Martin‘s Deadly Curiosities, the first book in the Deadly Curiosities series, and really liked what he found. It is always a bonus when the first book of a new world starts out strong…

What Doug said…

This is a very multilayered plot and I loved it. Characters that you will like but a couple could have stood to have been fleshed out a wee bit more.

The synopsis is woefully inadequate to describe this book, it is filled with action, intrigue, drama but surprisingly almost no romance (at least not yet, this is book 1).

The villains are delightfully evil, the crimes are horrific and you get pulled into the motivation to find and stop this paranormal killer before things get even worse.

Oddly, even though the vampire Sorren is the big hunk of a hero, his actual participation in this novel is limited a bit, the larger part of this story revolves around Cassidy and her partner Teag. Obviously, when the “big guns” are required Sorren is there along with a couple of other interesting characters pulled in along the way.

So we have haunted objects creating havoc, we have a long thought dead evil sorcerer, throw in a demon and some minions and a good time is to be had by all.

The other thing is that Carrie and Teag both grow in understanding and power by the end of the novel, authors tend to keep their characters as clueless as they started in many books, I like to see normal development.

I am giving this 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 for Amazon/Goodreads) even though I thought our plucky heroine veered very close to TSTL territory a couple of times. Great reading and can’t wait for more (same as with her Ascending Kingdoms fantasy, I need more books Gail Martin!)

So, there you have it. Looks like Gail Martin is starting things out right.