Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eagerly Anticipating


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: Nightfall by Ellen Connor

Growing up with an unstable, often absent father who preached about the end of the world, Jenna never thought in her wildest nightmares that his predictions would come true. Or that he would have a plan in place to save her-one that includes the strong, stoic man who kidnaps and takes her to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest.

The mysterious ex-Marine named Mason owes a life-debt to Jenna's father. Skilled and steadfast, he's ready for the prophesied Change, but Jenna proves tough to convince. Until the power grid collapses and mutant dogs attack-vicious things that reek of nature gone wrong.

When five strangers appear, desperate to escape the bloodthirsty packs, Jenna defies her protector and rescues them. As technology fails and the old world falls away, Jenna changes too, forever altered by supernatural forces. To fight for their future, she and Mason must learn to trust their instinctive passion-a flame that will see them through the bitter winter, the endless nights, and the violence of a new Dark Age. 

Ann Aguirre and Carrie Lofty writing as one?  Okay, I'm sold.  Add in the post-apocalypse and romance, and this is a series I definitely want to read.

I'm not a fan of Doomsday romances.  True, I've never read one but finding romance during (or after) the end of the world is not my cup of tea.

Nightfall is so much more than that. 

We the reader are introduced to the new Dark Age as the heroine, Jenna, is introduced to it.  Yes, she's heard about such things from her father, but he's long dead.  When a man who claims he was sent by her father to protect her tosses her in the trunk of her car and takes her to a cabin in the woods, one could assume this is the makings of a horror.

Nightfall is so much more than that.

Jenna tells us of the prophecy her father clung to and as we meet the six other people she and Mason invite into their sanctuary, we learn she's believing her father's teachings.  As they struggle to survive, the implications of what has happened to the other side of the country hits them full-force, and I believe all of them are changed forever.

The ending, specifically the epilogue, felt a little sudden, but I'm hopeful the next two books in the series will fill in any blanks.  I'm also anxious to learn more about these characters as we move forward into the new Dark Age.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: Baby, Come Home by Stephanie Bond

The hardheaded Armstrong brothers are determined to rebuild their tornado-ravaged hometown in the Georgia mountains. They’ve got the means, they’ve got the manpower…what they need are women! So they place an ad in a Northern newspaper and wait for the ladies to arrive…

Sensible yet sexy middle brother Kendall Armstrong penned that ad himself—but there’s just one woman he really wants to answer the call…

Civil engineer Amy Bradshaw—Kendall’s ex-fiancĂ©e—fled Sweetness years ago, taking a precious souvenir with her. She’s back now…but only on a professional level. Really. Little does she know that old flames always burn the hottest…

Holly from Book Binge tweeted as she read this book.  So yes, I was spoiled for the big reveal [spoiler] Tony is Amy's and Kendall's son whom Kendall has no idea about [/end spoiler], but I thought Ms. Bond handled it appropriately until time for the serious conversation.

Amy and Kendall grew up in Sweetness, and Amy assumed she and Kendall would get married, then go see the world (aka leave their small town behind).  Kendall, however, joined the armed forces and decided he would see the world, then return to Sweetness to settle down with Amy.   Since their goals for their joined future was different, the couple split apart.

It is obvious that Kendall had never forgotten Amy -- why would he post the advertisement to come to Sweetness in her hometown newspaper if he had? -- but I'm not certain Amy's feelings are as transparent. 


I wanted to have a better connection with Amy and Kendall, respectively and as a newly reunited couple, since once Tony arrived on the scene, there was no more keeping him a secret.   While I liked them, I wasn't rooting for their reconciliation, nor did I really agree with the ease at which Kendall and Tony took to one another.  Given Tony's tween attitude toward his mother, it seems he would have been more rebellious around Kendall.  

(A very special thank you to Harlequin, MIRA, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Baby, Come Home.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cover Love

He awakened a need within her…
Cole is successful beyond his dreams. He can have any woman he wants, but there’s only one he can’t stop thinking about. His childhood sweetheart, Renita. He’s never forgotten his first taste of innocent love and the desire that consumed them—or the pain he brought upon her…

But now she belongs to another…
Her long ago brush with submission awakened a longing in Ren that drove her to walk the darker edge of desire. She’s become a beautiful woman at ease with her sexuality and unapologetic about her need for a dominant man. When Cole finds her again, he’s gutted that she belongs to another. Ren’s current master agrees to give her to Cole for a short time, but then she must return to his keeping. And though Cole agrees to this bargain, he knows he will never be able to let Ren go again…

Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

Half human and half Wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the Wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies.  But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful--and passionate--of the Elder Races.

As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed.  And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they've ignited in each other.

Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave--although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul...

My Twitter stream was BUZZING about this book.  Everywhere I turned, I saw good things and high praise.  Because of that, my expectations were elevated, and I found myself a bit disappointed because I didn't love it as much as everyone else.

Don't misunderstand -- Dragon Bound is a very good book and a great start to an intriguing paranormal romance series.  It's a series I hope will bring characters we met to the forefront in subsequent books yet still strive to tell the plot arc(s) we learn as this world unfolds.  The big picture, if you will, like who or what exactly is Pia's mother. 

The worldbuilding was phenomenal.  I found myself able to dive right in without having to backtrack to understand various components of the interlocking Other realms.  I loved Pia and Dragos together, though his possessiveness at first was off-putting.  Yes, he's an ultimate alpha; I wanted him to question why he wants her so much, why he couldn't control his feelings around her.  (Don't alphas do that?)  Pia was more difficult to pin down because of her...personality, I suppose.  Maybe it's not her personality so much as her reaction to various instances: the dream she and Dragos share; the aftermath of fighting the goblins; when they arrive in Manhattan.

Regardless, I'm glad I caved to the peer pressure and read Dragon Bound.  I'm looking forward to Storm's Heart very much (c'mon August).  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Review: Unlocked by Courtney Milan

A perpetual wallflower destined for spinsterhood, Lady Elaine Warren is resigned to her position in society. So when Evan Carlton, the powerful, popular Earl of Westfeld, singles her out upon his return to England, she knows what it means. Her former tormenter is up to his old tricks, and she’s his intended victim. This time, though, the earl is going to discover that wallflowers can fight back.

Evan has come to regret his cruel, callow past. At first, he only wants to make up for past wrongs. But when Elaine throws his initial apology in his face, he finds himself wanting more. And this time, what torments him might be love…

A very special thank you to Mandi from Smexybooks for posting on her Goodreads that she was reading this novella.  I'm a late-comer to Ms. Milan's work, meaning that although I heard great things about her first two books, I fell in love with her writing in Unveiled.   Unlocked continues the tradition because I loved it too.

Bullying is a common word in today's society.  To see it on the page in Victorian England, well, that was quite a shock.  Evan Carlton has a secret love for Elaine Warren.  How he makes this love known (or perhaps how he comes to terms with it) is by making jokes at her expense.  It began in Elaine's first Season, when Evan attempts to pinpoint what animal she most sounds like when she laughs.   Ten years later, Evan's friends, particularly his cousin, Diana, have continued the tradition of poking fun at Lady Equine. 

When Evan sees her at the weekend house party, he wants to apologize, but Elaine will not accept.  He finds her in tears and dishabille the following evening, which only serves to bring his attraction to her to light.  By the end of the weekend, and after two passionate kisses, Evan vows to be Elaine's friend.

What I loved about Unlocked is that it pushes so many real emotions into a work of 100 pages.  It is easy to relate to Elaine and to Evan.  As Elaine finally discovers the true depths of Evan's love nine months after their friendship began, she is able to open her heart to him fully.  A wonderful novella, all the way around.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Review: One Whisper Away by Emma Wildes

Lady Cecily Francis is resigned to become the wife of Lord Drury, the man she suspects her sister is pining for. But upon her first scandalous encounter with the exotic Earl of Augustine-the American whom everyone is whispering about- Cecily is intrigued by the possibility of a more exciting life. If only she could contrive some way to marry the unconventional earl instead....
Around town he's known as Earl Savage. Although he inherited his title legitimately-and, with it, responsibility for his three half sisters-Augustine is half American and part Iroquois. He can't wait to settle his father's estate, marry his sisters off, and return to his native soil. Until charming Lady Cecily has him considering a prolonged stay in England...

Cecily Francis is immediately intrigued by Jonathan, the Earl of Augustine.  He tests the bounds of common decency time and time again, yet while Cecily craves love and not an arranged marriage, she's not certain she could marry Lord Drury because she believes her sister Eleanor is in love with him.

Given their mutual attraction to one another, she tempts fate by suggesting an "engagement" to Jonathan, hoping to steer Eleanor and Drury together.  Once Jonathan has his father's affairs in order and his three half-sisters married, he will return to America and their engagement will end.

"A long engagement is not unusual.  We needn't make this complicated."

"It's already complicated."

He had a point.  She smiled; please with the way he looked at her, as if the trappings of the dress, the fine furnishings, her carefully ordered hair, didn't matter because he was looking into her eyes.  "How so?"


"Because of you," he said, not doing anything but just giving her a fascinating masculine grin.  "Because of me.  Because I kissed you.  Because you kissed me back.  If you think this is going to be simple, you're wrong."

Cecily is clever and observant, yet she does not hold form with thinking of Jonathan as the stereotypical "Earl Savage".  In turn, Jonathan, while attracted to Cecily's beauty, comes to love her for her acceptance and sweet attitude.  These are two individuals swept into a passionate love affair thanks in part to a societal faux pas.   I cannot wait to see what Ms. Wildes has in store for the remaining heroines of this trilogy. 

(A very special thank you to Signet Eclipse for providing me with an ARC of One Whisper Away.)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Review: Lady of Seduction by Laurel McKee

It's a mad, ill-advised journey that leads the usually sensible Lady Caroline Blacknall to the legendary isle of Muirin Inish, off the windswept coast of Ireland. Even so, she doesn't expect to find herself shipwrecked and then rescued by a man she believed she would never see again. A man who, long ago, held her life in his hands . . . and with it, her heart.

Reformed rake Sir Grant Dunmore knew he could never forget the beautiful woman he once endangered nor will he ever forgive himself. But history seems doomed to repeat itself, for as long as Caroline stays on the island, she is trapped in a secret plot that could forever free Ireland-or turn deadly for all. And yet, now that she is in his arms again, how can he dream of ever letting her go?

What an exciting ending to a trilogy!  It's rare that I enjoy subsequent books more than the first of a series, but Lady of Seduction really kept me on my toes.  There's nonstop action and revolutionary plots in keeping with the Irish Rebellion and its fallout, and the you-save-me-I-save-you to and fro between Caroline and Grant is superb.  On top of all that, they have great chemistry with one another.  Lady of Seduction has everything a romance lover could want! 

(A very special thank you to Forever Romance, Hachette Book Group and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Lady of Seduction.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Review: The Legend of Michael by Lisa Marie Jones

He is sin and satisfaction, lust and damnation, a lethal weapon created from greed. A human soldier injected with alien DNA, he is a legend. Untamable, he has walked on the dark side, and returned to the light. Women desire him, hungry for his raw passion. Men envy his power; they lust to control him. But there is no controlling a creature such as he, no taming the primal fires within him. Michael revels in his superior strength and trains as a fighting machine. But when he encounters scientist Cassandra Powell, he begins to long for a more human connection...

I was really intrigued by the premise of The Legend of Michael.  Unfortunately, while I finished the novel, it was slow-going to get there with detours that I felt detracted from the romance aspect.

We're introduced to Cassandra Powell first.  She's a scientist whose father is a general and commander of the GTECHs, a group of alien DNA enhanced soldiers.  She's been brought in to study and document the GTECHs and their mutations for research and testing purposes.  Cassandra and Michael meet in the hallway of the base her first day on the job, and they're instantly attracted to one another.  She reluctantly agrees to coffee, then we skip ahead of their next four dates. There is a six-month time skip, and Cassandra and Michael are in a serious romance.  Due to his genetics, he can bond with a woman -- which he does with Cassandra -- though he swears her to secrecy.  It's a good thing, too, because there's a war brewing within the GTECHs, and Michael abandons Cassandra to fight on the side of evil.

Skip ahead two years...

The Legend of Michael is definitely an action-based plot with the romance between Cassandra and Michael taking a secondary status in the narrative.  The fact that we don't see the romance build between them is very frustrating. 

The over-the-top villains are an ode to comic books, as the bioweapon is called Green Lantern and its antidote Red Dart, but I didn't enjoy them.  Adam and Ava and their motley crew could have been a serious psychological threat, despite the fact that Michael spent two years as Adam's right-hand man.  They were almost Dr. Evil-ish in their appearances within the novel.  There were secondary characters I'd have rather learned more about, such as Caleb, though it seems he will not have his own book within the trilogy.

Perhaps I had too high hopes going into this series as I've enjoyed Ms. Jones' Harlequin Blazes.  Ultimately, it was a struggle to finish this book. 

(A very special thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca who provided me with an ARC of The Legend of Michael.)
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