Review

What She Said – Rock Kiss Review

Thanks once again go to Monika, who sent over her review for Nalini Singh‘s latest Rock Kiss book, Rock Wedding. I loved me some Rock Hard – that was a total winner for me. Couldn’t get enough of Charlie and T-Rex.  I was meh about picking up Noah and Kit’s story until I started reading, and then I really enjoyed it. But for some reason right from the start I haven’t been all that interested in Abe and Sarah’s story, and I didn’t know quite why. But from what Monika said, I might not be alone…

rock weddingWhat Monika said…

Too much… of everything (especially shirts, swearing, sweetness and weddings)

I’ve read almost everything Nalini Singh has ever written and loved all of it (some more and some a bit less), so it pains me to write a less than stellar review and rate one of her books only 3 stars.
This was also the first Nalini Singh book I did not finish in a day or two, but which I had to force myself to continue reading, and I only plodded thru to the end because I needed to write a review.

But first things first: this is the fifth story in the Rock Kiss series, and it’s about Abe and Sarah, of whom we have seen glimpses in previous installments. Abe is the band’s keyboard player and sometime vocalist and he has serious abuse problems: drugs, drinks, and dimwitted groupies, he does it all. Sometime along the way he inexplicably falls in lust with Sarah, marries her, doesn’t change his habits and treats her like dirt, until finally she can’t take it anymore and divorces his ass (takes her long enough). Then, at the end of Rock Redemption, at the Zenith event, we see Sarah get slapped around by her new boyfriend. The band members rally behind her and Abe finally realizes that he is still very much in love with Sarah and finally decides to get his shit together and seeks help for his abuse problems. So, that’s were we stand at the beginning of this book.

I actually do like second chance and/or redemption stories, but somehow this one didn’t click for me. I think the main reason was the characterization of the two main protagonists. I had a difficult time to swallow the complete about-turn in Abe’s behavior towards Sarah: when they were married before he behaved like a complete heel to her, he treated her as convenient fuck-buddy and occasional arm-candy, but otherwise he kept emotionally distant from her, was not interested in anything about her as a person, about her past or what her interests were or even her dreams. And even though he did not physically lay a hand on her, he would psychically abuse her every time he went into a drug-induced fit of rage. But say you paint you hero that way (and I do love reformed bad boys), but then they at least need a horrible past to explain their behavior, even though there is no excuse for it. But far from it, Abe is from a loving, supportive upper middle-class family and ever since he met the guys from Schoolboy Choir his friends have stood by him and had his back. There is a huge personal tragedy in his past, but for me it’s just not enough of a justification.

In comparison I liked Sarah a bit more, even though (at least in the beginning of the book) she was as close to a doormat as I could stand. She is deeply insecure and very needy, and lets Abe get away with shit and tries to be supportive. Most of this I can overlook, because she was very young when she met Abe, all alone in the world, and she did have a horrible past, so I could kind of relate to her for being awestruck by being noticed by a rock star and also her need to cling to the person that she believed loved her even a little. I also liked that after her divorce she started to build her own life and career, although – even with the suspension of disbelief – I had a hard time believing how she went in two or three years from a rather low-end job to owning her own successful business, especially as apart from going to one or two meetings and making a few phone calls we never see her working.

Now to some other problems in this book, chief among them the (needless) repetition: a reviewer of Allegiance of Honor complained that there were a gazillion descriptions of the clothes that the characters wore and I went “come on, describing dresses adds texture to the story and besides, I did not even notice it”. Unfortunately I  did notice here, mostly because Abe is always wearing a variation of the same thing, mainly a suit, either black, or charcoal or dark grey, with either a black, charcoal or dark grey shirt. Sadly, the repetition does not end there: Sarah is endlessy fascinated by his stunning physique and his bulging biceps. We already know Abe is a hunk, so no need to reiterate it every time he strips. She in turn is repeatedly described as feeling too tall and too curvy, and even though she claims she is (finally) happy with her body the constant preoccupation with said body actually creates the impression of an unhealthy attitude towards one’s own body image.

Obviously I am the last person who should complain about the occasional swear word, and really I don’t mind swearing, but it should at least be creative. Fuck, fucker, fucking appear a total of 91 times, mostly used either as an expletive or an intensifier and only three times to actually refer to intercourse, so it was just a bit too much for me.

Nothing against a feel-good romance but there was just too much of the happy feeling in this book. Aside from the main protagonists, everybody is deliriously happy all the time, deeply and disgustingly in love (they don’t even fight so that they can have make-up sex), and to top it off, there are no less than four! perfect weddings that naturally go off without even the tiniest hitch! Sorry, but ‘gag’! It’s like eating bar after bar of sinful chocolate, until you get sick of it and crave something savory! And there is even more ‘sweetness’, but I won’t mention it, because it would be a major spoiler!

So now I have to go find me some gritty UF novel with a kick-ass heroine who worries more about her fighting prowess than her looks or some dark romance with a deliciously bad anti-hero to get this feeling of cloying sweetness outta my head!

I think, for me, part of the problem is that I am not a huge fan stories where the couple already has a romantic history/divorce, that sort of thing. I have always felt that in that situation, it feels like being dropped into the middle of the story. Not sure that makes sense, but it is harder for me to get involved in the couple when so much of their story isn’t shown in the pages of the book. I do have high hopes for Gabriel’s brother’s books, though – they were awesome in Rock Hard. What did all of you think about Rock Wedding? Any fans, or were you like Monika and just found it too much?

Spotlight on...

Spotlight Wednesday – Elizabeth Hunter

Because there is always so much good buzz around Elizabeth Hunter, and to celebrate her new release, Monika has put her up as this week’s spotlight author. As I have said anytime I have done a post about her work, I have never heard anyone say they weren’t a fan (and I can’t even say that about Nalini Singh or Ilona Andrews, which is something).

Elizabeth Hunter has quite a few releases under her belt, with her Cambio Springs books, the Irin Chronicles, and three separate series set in the Elemental World. But for this spotlight post, we are going to go way back to the beginning and the Elemental Mysteries series featuring Giovanni and Beatrice. The book that started it all is called A Hidden Fire, which was published in 2011.

a hidden fireSynopsis…

“No secret stays hidden forever.”

A phone call from an old friend sets Dr. Giovanni Vecchio back on the path of a mystery he’d abandoned years before. He never expected a young librarian could hold the key to the search, nor could he have expected the danger she would attract. Now he and Beatrice De Novo will follow a twisted maze that leads from the archives of a university library, through the fires of Renaissance Florence, and toward a confrontation they never could have predicted.

I did look around and try to find an excerpt, but I didn’t have any luck. It turns out, though that you can check this book out for free through Amazon right now, just click HERE. I have the paperback version on the TBR, but I am going to download the freebie in hopes that I will finally be able to move it up the reading list.

Also to consider:

elizabeth hunter banner
I nabbed the banner from google, so credit goes to whomever created it.

. . . . .

5251202About the author: Elizabeth Hunter is a contemporary fantasy and romance author. She is a graduate of the University of Houston Honors College and a former English teacher. She currently lives in Central California with her son, two very ineffective canine assistants, and a pitifully empty fish tank. She is the author of the Elemental Mysteries and Elemental World series, the Irin Chronicles, the Cambio Springs Mysteries, and other works of fiction.

Ok, everyone. It’s up to you. How many other Elizabeth Hunter fans are out there, and if you haven’t tried her before do you think you will? What hidden gem of an author would you like to share with your fellow readers? Just send me an e-mail under the “Contact Me” button and we can maybe spread the word.

Cover Lover

Cover Lover – Etched in Bone

From the sounds of it, tomorrow is the cover reveal for Nalini Singh‘s Archangel’s Heart. But to tide us all over, we can behold the recently released cover art for Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop. And let me gush now…same cover model! Same cover design! My OCD thanks them! Now we all can officially begin the countdown to the March release…

etched in bone

Check back tomorrow for Nalini’s cover, too. This is a good week to be a reader-geek.

Review

Allegiance of Honor Spoiler Talk

Allegiance of Honor_MediumSo, it has been a solid week since Nalini Singh‘s Allegiance of Honor was released, and I thought that maybe you all would like a place to discuss. I read mine early, since I was kindly sent an ARC a while back, and I had a hard time keeping some details to myself.

Like I said…Spoilers…

There wasn’t much I didn’t like, I have to be honest, but that is to be expected. But if I had to choose my favorite parts of the book, I would have to go with the developments regarding Silver Mercant and Pax Marshall, who reminds me of a baby Kaleb (which is a very, very good thing). Both of those characters interested me in their previous appearances, but I found in this one I can really see their stories taking off. Maybe together? I would like that, I think. Plus, the deeper look we got into BlackSea got me much more interested in this pack. I was a bit meh before, but now I can honestly say I am looking forward to a water-changeling story or two. But not before Remy and his pack, ok?

One of my absolute favorite moments was really quite a small thing in the overall scope of the book, but it seems like I had been waiting for it forever. I was so happy when Annie finally met Kaleb and realized he had been the one to save her so many years ago, and finally got to thank him for what he did. I kept reading that part over and over, it made me so happy.

What did you think? Were you happy with not only a look back at previous couples, but the development of future storylines? What little moments made the story for you? Do you see Silver and Pax as a couple, or heading in two different directions?

Cover Lover

Cover Lover – 6 New Titles

Well, when I went through the covers I had gathered up for a cover lover post, I realized I had a few too many to do all at once. So maybe today I will do the adult covers, and the young adult tomorrow. Or something like that. Here goes…

This first one is from Nalini Singh‘s Rock Kiss series. Rock Wedding is the fourth book of the series, and it is due out on July 19th.

rock weddingAfter a lifetime of longing for a real family, Sarah Smith thought she’d finally found her home with rock star Abe Bellamy, even if she knew Abe didn’t love her the way she loved him. But their brief relationship, filled with tragedy and heartache, nearly destroyed her. Alone, emotions in turmoil, and already shaky self-esteem shattered, Sarah struggles to pick up the pieces in the wake of their divorce.

Abe knows he’s to blame for the end of his marriage. Caught in a web of painful memories, he pushed away the best thing in his life – the sexy, smart woman he adores – breaking them both in the process. Then fate throws him a second chance to get things right, to prove to Sarah that she means everything to him. Abe desperately wants that second chance at love…even if he knows he doesn’t deserve it.

But can he convince Sarah – now strong and independent without him – to risk her wounded heart one more time?

Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s Until Death Do We Part, a Dark-Hunter novella previously released in the Love at First Bite anthology, will be out in e-format on July 5th.

until death do we partThe only thing worse than being Dracula’s only daughter is falling in love with his bitterest enemy– a dark sorcerer warlord whose powers make a mockery of the legendary monster known for impalement and massacre. Forced to flee her father’s wrath over her secret marriage, Esperetta willing to sacrifice anything for Velkan Danesti, until she learns that he’s tied their immortal souls together without her permission– a lesson she doesn’t learn until after her father kills them and her husband sells both their souls to a Greek goddess and makes them eternal Dark-Hunters sworn to protect mankind from the demons who prey on them.

Now after living centuries apart, they must come together to fight an old enemy– that is if Retta doesn’t kill Velkan first.

This next one is also a re-do of a previously released Sherrilyn Kenyon story, but this time it is Sins of the Night, which will be re-released in hardcover on November 29th.

sons of the knightHarm no human. Drink no blood. Never fall in love.

But every now and again a Dark-Hunter thinks himself above the Code. That’s when I’m summoned. Who am I? I’m the one thing the fearless fear. Step over the line, and it’s my wrath you will face. Nothing can touch me. Nothing can sway me. I am relentless and unfeeling.

Or so I thought until I met a Dark-Hunter who goes by the name of Danger—it’s not just her name, it’s how she lives her life. She doesn’t trust me at all. And who could blame her? I’m here to be judge, jury, and the executioner of her friends. Yet she is my key to saving some of them. Without her, they will all die.

But as we try to save them, Dangereuse St. Richard is a deadly distraction. Something about her is reawakening feelings I’m not supposed to have. Especially compassion, which is a deadly emotion in a race against evil.

The only hope mankind has is that I do my duty. And yet how can I do my duty when it means that I will have to sacrifice the only woman I’ve ever loved?

I might only be on book 7, but I am hooked on J.D. Robb‘s In Death series. #44 will be called Echoes in Death, and it has a release date of February 2nd.

echoes in deathAfter a party in New York, Lieutenant Eve Dallas rides home with her billionaire husband, Roarke, happy to be done with cocktails and small talk.

After another party, not far away, a woman retires to her bedroom with her husband—and walks into a brutal nightmare.

Their paths are about to collide…

When the young woman—dazed, naked, and bloody—wanders in front of their car, Roarke slams on the brakes just in time, and Eve, still in glittering gown and heels, springs into action. It’s been a long night for the tired homicide cop, and it’s far from over.

Daphne Strazza is rushed to the ER, but it’s too late for Dr. Anthony Strazza. A brilliant orthopedic surgeon, he now lies dead amid the wreckage of his obsessively organized town house, his three safes opened and emptied. Daphne would be a valuable witness, but in her terror and shock the only description of the perp she can offer is repeatedly calling him “the devil” . . .

While it emerges that Dr. Strazza was cold, controlling, and widely disliked—and that he treated Daphne like a trophy wife—this is one case where the evidence doesn’t point to the spouse as the first suspect. So Eve and her team must get started on the legwork, interviewing everyone from dinner-party guests to professional colleagues to caterers, in a desperate race to answer some crucial questions:

What does the devil look like? And where will he show up next?

This next one is from author Sandra Hill. Good Vampires Go To Heaven is from her Deadly Angels series, and it will be out on November 29th.

good vampires go to heavenWHEN HE WAS BAD . . .

Two-thousand-year-old vampire demon Zeb is supposed to spend eternity turning mortal sinners into bad guy Lucipires like himself. That way, they can grow their numbers and fight the vampire angels known as Vangels. But Zeb is a bad boy in a good way—secretly working as a double agent for none other than St. Michael the Archangel in hopes of one day earning his wings. Problem is, Zeb’s betrayal is discovered.

Hello, demon dungeon.

HE WAS VERY BAD . . .

Until Regina, a foxy, flame-haired Vangel witch on a rescue mission, busts out Zeb, along with three oddball Lucipire witches. Hello, temptation!

BUT TOGETHER THEY WERE VERY GOOD . . . !

Their escape unleashes a war to defeat all Vangels forevermore. In an epic madcap battle between good and evil, a Demon just might earn his wings . . . and spend eternity with the Vangel of his wildest dreams.

And wrapping up this batch is Rebecca Zanetti‘s Deadly Silence, which is the first book of her new Blood Brothers series. Look for it on October 4th.

deadly silence

There you have it. Which of these are on your must-read lists? I will be picking up Rock Wedding for sure, even though the though of Abe’s story doesn’t really grab me. Who am I kidding? I was that way about Noah’s book, too, and ended up loving it. I am way behind on the In Death books, so this one won’t be on my radar for a while, and I haven’t even touched Kenyon yet. Sigh. So little time…

Uncategorized

Looking Ahead

We are speeding towards the half-way point of 2016, and my most anticipated release for the first half of the year just came out (Nalini Singh‘s Allegiance of Honor). I thought maybe we could take a look ahead and share what we are all looking forward to in the back half of 2016. I have one or two biggies, but I thought I would go top 5, in no particular order:

Darynda JonesThe Curse of Tenth Grave: This is always a solid series for me, and I am really intrigued to see what direction things go in after the events of the previous book. If I was going in order, though, this one would probably come in at #5.

Kelley ArmstrongBetrayals: I am a huge fan of this series, it is one of my absolute favorites. And it is about the only adult series I can think of that has a love triangle that doesn’t make me want to gag. This is the second to last book, so I must enjoy every moment.

Ilona AndrewsMagic Binds: Yeah, like I have to explain this one.

Nalini SinghArchangel’s Heart: Probably don’t need to explain this one either.

Kresley Cole/ Gena ShowalterBlood Red Kiss: My dark horse pick, and solely based on the Gena Showalter entry. To finally, finally get Dallas’s story from the Alien Huntress/Otherworld Assassin after all these years? Priceless.

That is how my list shapes up, but what does yours look like? I figure Singh and Andrews will be on most people’s lists, but I am interested to see what comes up for the other three.

Review

Allegiance of Honor Review

So, the countdown is now on for the release of Nalini Singh‘s Allegiance of Honor, the epic ensemble Psy/Changeling book due out on June 14th. Doug Meeks sent over his early review, and as one who was lucky enough to also get an ARC, I can say I completely agree.

Allegiance of Honor_MediumWhat Doug said…

I have been trying for the last couple of years to be a bit more stingy with my 5 Star ratings since giving a book that I enjoyed but was really 4 Stars a higher rating cheats those actual 5 Star novels but this is not one of those times.
Nalini Singh has crafted a novel here that is kind of a “catch up with everyone” that we have been introduced to over the life of this 15 book series (and countless novellas and short stories) but in spite of all the catching up we are allowed to do there are at least 4 or more major plot lines and she will solve a couple in this novel and make progress on others while leaving us some hooks for the next book but never anything that looks like a cliff-hanger.

We have a kidnapping to prevent, a kidnap victim to save, a worldwide catastrophe to prevent and a lost love to try and find and some will get fixed in this book and some won’t but the main thing about this book and most of her books IMHO is that when you finish you are happy, it is a warm feeling that she conveys to her readers that even with conflict and occasional violence these are huge romances at the heart of these novels.

This may be a first in that there is no couple in this story as much as it is a strengthening of the couples we have already met and some major movement in the overarching story-lines of this series plus the introduction of a couple of people who might play some major parts down the line.

When I read this book it kind of had a sad undercurrent since it seems things are starting to come to fruition and I wonder if the end is in sight, I have no read anything about an end to the series but I worry when too many people seem happy in any series, my own personal paranoia when the writing is of such high quality that you feel like you are a silent part of the family. Only the very best of stories can do that in my experience.

Bottom Line: Exceptional (fill in the blank with required superlatives) and while it might not be as engrossing in places as some other books, it is a bit different than previous novels in this series. Anything less than 5 Stars would be an insult in my way of thinking, you can always figure out how good a book is by how badly you want it to kust keep on going, I never want these books to end.

Ok, I am not even going to ask who is interested in picking this one up, because…duh. But I will say happy reading!

Review

Reading Wrap Up

american-english-idioms-book-with-wordsHey everyone, it has been a few days since last check in. It looks like Nalini Singh‘s Allegiance of Honor is going to be the big book for June (like that was a surprise), but I thought it would be a good time to take a look at what we have already read.

I finished up another In Death book by J.D. Robb, Rapture in Death (did I mentioned I am trying to memorize the titles in order as I read them? It will be fun to see how far I get before they all blur together). I am only four books in, but so far I find myself enjoying each new one more than the last. When a series is that darn long, you have to figure that things will get old and feel recycled after a while, but for some reason I have the feeling that I won’t get tired of this one at all.

And for something a little different, I picked up a non PNR UF book (gasp! Shocked myself with that one). Alexandra Ivy started her new romantic suspense ARES series at the end of last year with the release of Kill Without Mercy, and I finally got around to picking it up. I have to say, I really enjoyed it. Hero was Alpha but didn’t fall into Alpha-hole territory, and the heroine was troubled by her past but not a complete wimp/doormat. Lots of action, some suspense, and great supporting characters, too. I even Kindled the All He Wants for Christmas e-collection so I could check out the series prequel novella, Sweet Rapture, which I liked, as well. I have only tried one other story, which didn’t really grab my attention, but there are still a few more to go.

That, sadly, wraps up my reading this week. What have you been reading lately? Any hidden jems to share?

Cover Lover

Cover Lover – Secrets at Midnight

Hey all, stuck in the crapfest that is Mother’s Day weekend, so this is just a quick little cover post. Nalini Singh released the art for the upcoming stand-alone e-release of Secrets at Midnight, which was originally published in the Night Shift anthology. This story features Bastien and Kirby, and comes in as Psy/Changeling #12.5.

secrets at midnightBastien Smith is frustrated. A changeling male should be able to track his mate anywhere—through fire and hail, snow and rain. But he keeps finding and losing her scent in the city streets, ever since he first became aware of it two weeks earlier, when the elusive fragrance awakened the leopard within him…

Then Bastien is suddenly confronted with his prey. Kirby is an all-too-human woman who wants Bastien just as much as he wants her. But he can’t deny what his body and senses are telling him: there is a raging chaos inside of Kirby that he doesn’t understand, secrets that whisper awake at midnight and cause her terrible pain. If they’re to have any chance of forever, then he must solve the mystery that is Kirby…

Pretty…I am liking the direction these covers are taking. I quite enjoyed Bastien and Kirby’s story, but since I already have the print version I will probably be giving this one a pass.