I intended to write this piece as a straightforward, concise and informative review. Like normal people do. Honest. Alas, it morphed somewhat into a collection of distracted and disjointed musings on the book itself and my personal scattered reactions to it. Regardless of the end result, I’d like everyone to acknowledge that I started off with a plan, and the best of intentions. Sadly, the plan quickly went to hell, which coincidentally – as my gran would say – is paved with good intentions. Then usually a swift clip around the ear would follow.
Archive for the ‘Books’ Category
Jennifer Malone Wright is my favorite new paranormal romance author. Jennifer is best known for The Vampire Hunter’s Daughter series, but my personal favorite of her books is Keeper vs. Reaper from the Graveyard Guardians series. What I love most about Keeper vs. Reaper is the combination of action, paranormal romance, and fantastic characters.
In Keeper vs. Reaper there are two rival families in conflict with each other. There is the Keeper family, whose main priority is to protect the souls of the graveyards while the souls are waiting to be transferred to the next life. Then there is the Reaper family, whose main goal is to consume souls that have not yet passed onto the next life because the souls give the Reapers supernatural strength. The Keeper and Reaper families are naturally supposed to stay away from each other. There is even a painful, burning sensation amongst the two if their skin touches. When the main man, Jack, is ordered by his mother to kill a Keeper, Lucy, he is puzzled to find he does not feel the painful sting when he touches Lucy.
M. O’Keefe, a new pseudonym for Molly O’Keefe, is a brilliantly intense romance between two actually damaged characters. O’Keefe has never flinched for writing the ugliness of human nature, even in romance, where such scrutiny is rare. This book is actually less painful to read than some of her other books, which is interesting, given the characters’ respective situations. Here’s the blurb:
I didn’t think answering someone else’s cellphone would change my life. But the stranger with the low, deep voice on the other end of the line tempted me, awakened my body, set me on fire. He was looking for someone else. Instead he found me.
And I found a hot, secret world where I felt alive for the first time.
His name was Dylan, and, strangely, he made me feel safe. Desired. Compelled. Every dark thing he asked me to do, I did. Without question. I longed to meet him, but we were both keeping secrets. And mine were dangerous. If I took the first step, if I got closer to Dylan—emotionally, physically—then I wouldn’t be hiding anymore. I would be exposed, with nothing left to surrender but the truth. And my truth could hurt us both.
The heroine Annie is fleeing an abusive situation and her backstory is unfolded naturally, and we come to learn the hero Dylan’s story as well, albeit less completely (probably his story will be told more fully in the second book, The Truth About Him). The two embark on a relationship that occurs entirely over the phone, giving Annie a comfort level she would not have if she were meeting Dylan in person.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the story is told from Annie’s point-of-view, which is in first person, and Dylan’s, which is in third (Apparently the next book flips that, so Dylan’s POV is in first, and Annie’s is in third.)
What make this book totally work is that Annie — and Dylan, to a lesser extent — is resolved to take risks in her life, where she never did before (because her earlier life didn’t work out so well for her, as the bruises at her throat attest). It’s less a romance than a novel where there is some romance, but the focus is on Annie and her own growth — dyeing her hair, getting a job, doing some previously forbidden things, discovering her own sexuality — and although Dylan is a crucial part of that, it’s clear that Annie was primed to do this, and Dylan’s presence in her life is the catalyst, but not the sole reason. It’s edgy women’s fiction, if that were a genre. Which perhaps it is now, thanks to O’Keefe. This is the kind of book you could possibly share with your litfic-loving friend without them turning up their nose (and she might even ask for more like this).
Be warned; this book ends on a helluva cliffhanger, so don’t expect resolution. It’s got a satisfying conclusion in some aspects, but definitely leaves you dying for The Truth About Him.
October 6, 2015
Kit Devigny could have loved rock guitarist Noah St. John. Their friendship burned with the promise of intense passion and searing tenderness…until the night Noah deliberately shattered her heart.
Noah knows he destroyed something precious the night he chose to betray Kit, but he’d rather she hate him than learn his darkest secret. All he has left is his music. It’s his saving grace, but it doesn’t silence the voices that keep him up at night. Chasing oblivion through endless one-night-stands, he earns a few hours’ sleep and his bad boy reputation.
When a media error sees Noah and Kit dubbed the new “it” couple, Kit discovers her chance at the role of a lifetime hinges on riding the media wave. Wanting—needing—to give Kit this, even if he can’t give her everything, Noah agrees to play the adoring boyfriend. Only the illusion is suddenly too real, too painful, too beautiful…and it may be too late for the redemption of Noah St. John.
The latest release in Nalini Singh’s Rock Kiss series, Rock Redemption, brings ALL of the tension you’ve ever craved from a romance. AND THEN SOME. It’s nearly agonizing, in fact, not to just plow ahead to the end to make sure everyone is all right (hint: it IS a romance, so that answers that question). This isn’t just a not-friends-to-lovers story; in fact, the “lovers” part of the story doesn’t happen for a lot longer than usual. The book is told from both Kit and Noah’s points of view, and it’s great to get that insight into Noah’s character, in particular, since some of his actions are outside of what is normally acceptable in a romance novel. Despite his hard exterior, Noah is fragile, and recognizes his own fragility — which he then tries to destroy through his actions. He REALLY goes the distance in his attempts to hurt himself and Kit. Like, REALLY (in other words, if you don’t like it when the hero is with another woman while he’s sort of with the heroine, don’t read this).
Nalini hints at Noah’s past, unspooling his story so gracefully you don’t feel as though she’s held anything back or infodumped. It’s deliciously painful. When the truth emerges, it’s as bad as you’d feared, and Noah’s response to the past trauma makes sense, especially given how he was raised. It’s also refreshing to read about a hero who, while competent in bed, isn’t as confident about some of the usual sex tricks. Don’t mistake me, when Kit and Noah finally — finally — get to doing things, it’s very sexy, but it makes sense how Noah behaves, given his past.
Although Noah is an incredibly successful handsome rock star, and Kit is an up-and-coming beautiful actor (whose parents are a model and a tennis pro), they are both easy to relate to, especially when their issues are put in context. It’s easy to envy beautiful, successful people, but there are consequences that are not enviable: stalkers, privacy, having to look great all the time, never letting loose, being a pro no matter what the situation.
The redemption, when it comes, is hard-won, and even then it falters, making your chest seize up when it appears Noah might mess it all up again. Rock Redemption is the most painful — in a good way — book in the Rock Kiss series. Recommended for lovers of angst and tension.
Girl (The Training House Book One)
In those breathless moments between pleasure and pain lie the most poignant truths…
These books contains material that may be difficult to read about and/or cause triggers for some readers, including consensual non-consent and other scenes that could be disturbing. Do NOT try this at home!
I have signed myself over to The Training House: my devotion, my obedience, my body. It is what I have always yearned for—to lose myself in powerlessness. To be made to. But this place is more than anyone could possibly prepare for, especially the Master of the House. He is too stunning, too commanding, bringing out a yearning for submission in ways I have never imagined, and I am lost in nearly unbearable desire. He uses my body until he brings me to tears, then tenderly wipes them away, enslaving me to him instantly, body and soul. I cannot imagine existing without him, without his wicked touch, his strict and sensual command…
Until I meet another slave, and he changes the game of kink for me forever. How can I decide what my heart wants most, without risking losing it all?
Eden Bradley, who also write as Eve Berlin, has never shied away from intense BDSM sexuality and action in her romances. In the first offering of her new The Training House series, she does not just push the envelope, she rips it wide open, offering up extreme BDSM and kink.
Bradley sets the stage from page one, with a Contract and Terms of Agreement for Servitude which her protagonist, Aimee, has signed. It is blatant. It is slightly terrifying. And it is irrevocable. So we are already on a keen edge as we begin the journey with Aimee when she arrives at The House, where she will be known from the first moment only as “Girl.” What she undergoes and experiences is all the more intense because there is no turning back.
The Last Chance Christmas Ball
Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Patricia Rice, Nicola Cornick, Cara Elliott, Anne Gracie
Kensington (September 29, 2015)
Christmas 1815. Upstairs and downstairs, Holbourne Hall is abuzz with preparations for a grand ball to celebrate the year’s most festive—and romantic—holiday. For at the top of each guest’s wish list is a last chance to find true love before the New Year…
A chance meeting beneath the mistletoe, a stolen glance across the dance floor—amid the sumptuous delicacies, glittering decorations, and swell of the orchestra, every duchess and debutante, lord and lackey has a hopeful heart. There’s the headstrong heiress who must win back her beloved by midnight—or be wed to another….the spinster whose fateful choice to relinquish love may hold one more surprise for her…a widow yearning to glimpse her long-lost love for even one sweet, fleeting interlude …a charming rake who finds far more than he bargained for. And many other dazzling, romantic tales in this star-studded collection that will fill your heart and spice up your holidays…
On September 24, Morning Bites asked Does Your Reading Taste Change with the Seasons? Until this month, I would have answered, “no.” And then I read The Last Chance Christmas Ball and was reminded that about this time of year I do like a good Christmas Anthology. These have been fewer and farther between with the demise of the Traditional Regency. Annually, I re-read the best and, this year, am delighted to find a new entry.
Tessa Dare’s Castles Ever After series perches on the premise that each heroine inherits a castle. As one does. Her latest book, When a Scot Ties the Knot, offers an introverted (seriously, she makes me look outgoing) heroine who’s received a castle under false pretenses–that she’ll soon be marrying a Scottish captain, which is why she simply cannot make her debut in London society. But the heroine made the hero up, confronted with the reality of having to be in public, in a group, and not panic. Armed with that subterfuge, she embarks on doing what she really wants to — illustrating wildlife, living in her cozy Scottish castle. So naturally she’s somewhat surprised when the captain from her letters shows up at her castle, wearing a kilt and with a posse of ex-soldiers who served under his command. Here’s the blurb:
On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shy, pretty, and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.
A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter . . . and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.
Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters . . . and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.
This book toys with so many romance conventions, and it is delightful to watch Tessa take those tropes and toss them in the air like confetti. First off is that there are no ‘does he/she know or not?’ moments. As soon as Madeline and Logan are alone, they acknowledge that 1) she made him up 2) he received the letters and 3) he is here to take advantage of the situation she created.
by Larissa Ione
September 12, 2015
As a Seminus demon, Raze’s life literally depends on having sex with females. The problem is that he doesn’t desire females, and it’s physically impossible for him to be with males. Thankfully, he and his best friend, Fayle, have an arrangement that keeps him alive… if lonely. He finds some solace in his work as a medic at Thirst, a vampire club known for its rough clientele. But his carefully structured world turns upside down when he meets a mysterious male who makes him want what he can never have.
Slake is an assassin used to getting what he wants, and what he wants is Raze. But he also wants to earn back the soul he sold when he was a much different demon. All he has to do is capture a runaway succubus named Fayle and hand her over to her family. What he doesn’t count on is being caught himself by a web of lies—and his attraction to Raze.
Raze and Slake must navigate a dangerous world to be together. But as Fayle’s jealousy of their relationship turns deadly, they find themselves embroiled in a battle not only for their love, but their lives and souls.
Larissa Ione’s Demonica series depicts a convoluted world filled with demons, angels, and humans. Most of the demonic types have very specific ways of interacting with one another, which sets up immediate conflict (because if you have powers that can destroy other demons, for example, it’s an issue when you try to actually have a relationship with one).
So you’ve finished your book. Your heroine is done pining—maybe she’s changed some hearts, charmed some rogues, or busted some skulls—in any case, the romantic lead is hers. You, however, have tossed the book out of arm’s reach, set it on the shelf like ashes on a mantle, or buried it in the backyard—we all handle things differently. It’s over. My condolences.
But what if I could promise you endless romance? Something that doesn’t end once, with a sigh, but loops on for eternity, each time new and different, yet still familiar.
“That sounds like a lie, woman I’ve never met before,” you say, remembering your first disappointing bite of a candy whose label described it as “chocolatey”.