Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Darkest Fire by Gena Showalter

The Goddess Kadence and The Guardian Geryon

The Darkest Fire (Lords of the Underworld Prequel book 0.5)

By Gena Showalter

Book Blurb:He is the guardian of hell, more monster than man. She is the goddess of oppression, more angel than woman. Together they will enter the flames to battle a dangerous horde of demon lords -- and discover a passion unlike any other..
Don't miss this sizzling prequel to Gena Showalter's breathtaking new paranormal series, The Lords of the Underworld Though they carry an eternal curse, the Lords of the Underworld are irresistibly seductive -- and unimaginably powerful...

A semi interesting back-story and I didn't care for the writing style. For some reason I had expected something way more intense since there seems to be so much buzz about the Lords of the Underworld series. To me the writing seemed kind of amateurish. I'm going to give the rest of the books a chance though because I did buy The Darkest Fire as part of a Lords of the Underworld bundle package and I am curious on the relevance of this prequel. 

Regarding the hero in the story, as admirable as Geryon was, the description of hooves, fur and horns was a big turn off. I just wasn't feeling the draw at all. Even creepy as he seemed more animal than human.

The idea that Pandora's box was built from a Goddess' bones was really cool and I think that I may have enjoyed The Darkest Fire more if I had read it after the first book in the series, The Darkest Night. Perhaps I could have appreciated the importance of Pandora's box more. As for the The Darkest Fire being a stand alone little story; I'd not suggest reading it alone and then giving up. More forward with The Darkest Night and then make your decision if you liked it or not. Since I went ahead and read The Darkest Night right away, that moved my rating for this book from a 2 to a 3. (which is a big rating difference)

Teasers: cracked wall to hell, Lords of the Underworld,  Goddess of Oppression, Guardian to Hell's Gate

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day

Lady Viscountess Jessica Tarley and Alistair Caulfield's book

Seven Years to Sin

By Sylvia Day

Book Blurb:The longer the resistance... 
Seven years ago, on the eve of her wedding, proper Lady Jessica Sheffield witnessed a licentious scene no innocent young miss could imagine. Shocked, yet strangely titillated, she'd held her silence regarding scandalous Alistair Caulfield, and walked down the aisle as expected. But through years of serene, unremarkable marriage, Caulfield's image remained burned into her imagination, fueling very illicit dreams. . .

...the sweeter the reward
Alistair ran far from the temptation of the prim debutante with the fire of passion in her eyes all the way to the West Indies. As a successful merchant, he has little in common with the rakehell youth she knew. But when newly widowed Jessica steps aboard his ship for a transatlantic passage, seven years' worth of denied pleasures are held in check by nothing more than a few layers of silk and the certainty that surrender will consume them both. . .

Quite simply one of the most romantic erotic romances I have read in a long time. I loved that Sylvia Day concentrated just as much effort into the romantic aspect of this wonderful story, Seven Years to Sin as she did for the erotic plot. I just loved it.  

I was really drawn to just how romantic the story was. Most of the books I read are romance novels but Seven Years to Sin just stepped it up a notch and really had that extra touch of romance. The protagonists really truly loved each other throughout the book and I totally felt their chemistry. I'm not just referring to the off-the-charts heat factor alone but I really felt how much they loved each other. I was also deep into the story because the whole book was about their feelings toward one another and that they really weren't battling a forced conflict that kept them apart. Oh how I loved that! Jessica and Alistair were on a ship that was sailing from England to Jamaica and that alone time allowed for all of their emotions and lust to be front and center. There was no guessing with Jessica and Alistair. No misunderstanding nuisances. Just honesty and shared feelings. An amazing connection. 

The timing was perfect for Jessica and Alistair. Jessica had been widowed a year and Alistair was finally able to let his long pent-up feelings regarding Jessica surface. Everything just seemed to fall into place. 

The side story about about Jessica's sister Hester and her brother-in-law Michael really added to the story. Perhaps Hester and Michael were the conflict that was needed in the book but regardless it all worked. I wonder if Hester and Michael will get their own book in the future? 

I don't mean to be spoilery but even though Seven Years to Sin was historical, I also LOVED that it didn't end with Jessica and Alistair having a baby!! Thank heavens a historical novel can have an amazing romantic ending (which it did) and have it without needing a baby to make it complete. Totally scored more points from me on that!

Teasers: violin love, Acheron, childhood nightmare, gazebo love

Monday, September 24, 2012

One Red Rose by Julie Garwood

Adam Clayborne & Genevieve Delacroix's book 

One Red Rose (Rose book 4)

By Julie Garwood

Book Blurb:Adam Clayborne has always put great stock in the power of books. As an escaped slave -- and a wanted man -- reading has been his only ticket to the wonders of distant lands. Adam is content with his life as a confirmed bachelor, which is why his Mama Rose has summoned the irresistible Genevieve Delacroix to Montana. Also a former slave, Genevieve shares his dream of seeing the world, but she arrives to find Adam unfailingly polite...and just as distant. Undaunted, Genevieve determines to teach Adam what he'll never learn from a book -- that true freedom only comes when you open your heart.

I have to admit, I was disappointed in Adam's story. Maybe disappointed is to strong of a word. Genevieve drove me nuts and I really couldn't stand her and her nonsense. She seemed very smart and brave one moment and then just plain stupid the next. There is nothing I hate more than a stupid heroine who makes stupid decisions. 
The storyline in One Red Rose didn't draw me in at all and in fact, I've made the decision to not read the next book in the series for awhile. The Rose books just haven't grabbed me the way Julie Garwood books usually memorize me. I am not sure why I haven't fallen in love with this series as the Clayborne men are outstanding. I just didn't feel this series. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

One White Rose by Julie Garwood

Douglas Clayborne & Isabel Grant's book

One White Rose

By Julie Garwood

Book Blurb:Douglas Clayborne will never turn his back on anyone in need, and everyone in Blue Belle knows it. Time and again, his intolerance of cruelty of any kind has made him a champion of the defenseless ...
but his quiet strength faces its ultimate battle when he meets Isabel Grant. He arrives at her ranch to pick up the magnificent Arabian stallion he's purchased, but he cannot leave the vulnerable woman behind when he discovers the danger that threatens her. Convincing the stubborn, strong-willed beauty that she needs him is another matter. Douglas can stop the men from stealing her ranch and her horses, but he cannot stop Isabel Grant from stealing his heart.

I really liked this tale. Isabel and Douglas were a great pair to read about. 

Douglas stumbles across a very pregnant Isabel in her barn. In fact she almost shoots him. Luckily Douglas showed up when he did because it was that very night she delivers. 

Looking back at Isabel's situation, I don't know exactly what she would have done if Douglas has not shown up when he did. She had no food in the house, she was caring for horses and was about to deliver her baby all alone on the barn floor. Talk about a situation in peril. I had to admire her strength. The women of this time sure had it hard. I can't imagine being placed in the same situation as Isabel. 
One White Rose seemed a lot longer than the mere 150 pages it was. It had depth and the time passed along nicely. It was well paced. Each of these Rose novellas can easily be read on their own.

Douglas was a man I admired and he completely put his life on hold while he helped Isabel get back on her feet. It was no wonder how close the pair grew. I loved how protective he was towards Isabel and how he quickly fell into the father role for her newborn son. 

Teasers: barn floor delivery, gun fight, caring doctor, Clayborne brothers to the rescue

Friday, September 21, 2012

One Pink Rose by Julie Garwood

Travis Clayborne & Emily Finnegan's book

One Pink Rose (Rose book 2)

By Julie Garwood

Book Blurb:Travis Clayborne may be the youngest of the Clayborne brothers, but he's most definitely his own man. Unless it means saying no to his beloved Mama Rose. And that's why Travis is escorting young Bostonian Emily Finnegan to Golden Crest, Montana -- where she'll discover what awaits her as a mail-order bride. Emily has made it perfectly clear that she's taken charge of her destiny and nothing is going to interfere. Falling in love with the perfect stranger isn't part of her plan, but the journey with Travis across this beautiful, rugged land opens her eyes... and her heart. Perhaps her destiny isn't exactly as she imagined.

These short Rose novellas sweetly wrap up each of the Clayborne brother's stories. This first Rose book belongs to Travis. I didn't really recall Travis too much from the first book so if a reader were to pick up this 150 page novella and read it on all on it's own, they'd be fine. 

One Pink Rose was a quick read but the time didn't go by so fast that the cute little story wasn't engaging. Travis and Emily were sweet to read about and I was often smiling while I read it. 

Each of the Rose novellas can be read in their own little book or a reader can purchase The Clayborne Brides as one book and they are nicely bundled together. 

The 1880 Montana setting was rugged and I pictured the territory perfectly. Travis and Emily flirted together as he escorted her off to meet her sight-unseen husband. What a tale these two could tell their family what awaited for them at the end of the journey. 

As it was, it all worked out perfectly. Cute little read. 

Teasers: men that never heard of teeth brushing, frying pan in the head really hurts, stagecoaches don't wait for kisses

Thursday, September 20, 2012

For the Roses by Julie Garwood

Mary Rose Clayborne and Lord Harrison MacDonald's book 

For the Roses (Rose book 1)

By Julie Garwood

Book Blurb:1879. In Blue Belle, Montana, everyone knew better than to mess with the Claybornes. The brothers had once been a mismatched gang of street urchins -- until they found an abandoned baby girl in a New York city alley, named her Mary Rose, and headed west to raise her to be a lady. They became a family -- held together by loyalty and love if not by blood -- when suddenly they faced a crisis that threatened to tear them apart....

Trouble came to town with one Lord Harrison Stanford MacDonald. Armed with a swagger and six-shooter, he cut a striking figure -- but it soon became apparent to Mary Rose that he was too much of a gentleman to make it in her rough-and-tumble town. She asked her brothers to teach him the basics of frontier survival, which he acquired with ease. And soon he possessed a deep and desperate love for Mary Rose. She returned his affection wholeheartedly... until MacDonald revealed a secret that challenged everything she believed about herself, her life, and her newfound love. Now her search for identity and meaning would begin, raising questions that could only be answered if she listened to the truth within her heart...

Originally Published 1995

Well it was bound to happen eventually I'm sure. There is actually a Julie Garwood book that I did not fall in love with. I guess there is a first time for everything. 

The prologue starts the setting off in New York City, 1860 and it was a spectacular beginning. I immediately was absorbed into the story and thought for sure For the Roses was going to be a total winner. The story begins with a group of misfit throw-away street boys who form a tight bond and create their own family unit. They are huddled together in a back alley and their world is changed upside down with the discovery a bald baby girl in a basket. The oldest boy is thirteen and he is a runaway black slave named Adam. Adam is the only one of the boys that is not an orphan and he remains in contact through letters with his mama who is still a slave in the south. Throughout the years, Adam seems to become a father figure to the rest of the boys even though he is only a few years older. He is the glue that holds them all together. 

The baby girl is named Mary Rose by the boys and the newly formed family unit of brothers decide to raise her and venture out west into the territories. For the Roses jumps ahead years forward to the present day Montana, 1879. I loved how Julie Garwood used handwritten letters by the kids to Adam's mama who officially becomes each of their adopted mother as well. These letters offer a perfect insight into how they grew to become the adults they were in their present day. It was a great way to view the past without having to write flashbacks or chapters of background. 

Having said that, one of the issues I did have with For the Roses was how long the book was. I think the book should have been edited a bit more and about 100 pages or so should have been cut. Many times the story just dragged along and there were lots of scenes that just didn't need to be as long as they were. I felt the urge to do some major skimming along and for me that is unheard of in a Julie Garwood book. 

The characters were all likable enough and the talkative Mary Rose put a smile on my face more than once. Even though Harrison was actually Lord Harrison, the "Lord" part really didn't have much play in the territory of Montana. It was enjoyable reading about Harrison getting his ranch hands dirty and his butt bruised. 

Eventually Mary Rose's infant past is caught up to her and that is mostly what For the Roses is based on. It just really dragged on to finally get there. 

There are other books in the series and I will gladly read on so that I can read about what becomes of the brothers. 

Teasers: horse with an attitude, cave sleepover, blank canvas, Blue Belle

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lothaire by Kresley Cole

Lothaire and Elizabeth Pierce's book

Lothaire (Immortals After Dark book 12)

By Kresley Cole

Driven by his insatiable need for revenge, Lothaire, the Lore’s most ruthless vampire, plots to seize the Horde’s crown. But bloodlust and torture have left him on the brink of madness—until he finds Elizabeth Peirce, the key to his victory. He captures the unique young mortal, intending to offer up her very soul in exchange for power, yet Elizabeth soothes his tormented mind and awakens within him emotions Lothaire believed he could no longer experience.
Growing up in desperate poverty, Ellie Peirce yearned for a better life, never imagining she’d be convicted of murder—or that an evil immortal would abduct her from death row. But Lothaire is no savior, as he himself plans to sacrifice Ellie in one month’s time. And yet the vampire seems to ache for her touch, showering her with wealth and sexual pleasure. In a bid to save her soul, Ellie surrenders her body to the wicked vampire, while vowing to protect her heart.
Elizabeth tempts Lothaire beyond reason, as only his fated mate could. As the month draws to a close, he must choose between a millennia-old blood vendetta and his irresistible prisoner. Will Lothaire succumb to the miseries of his past . . . or risk everything for a future with her?

*Standing Ovation* This past Aug/12 I started reading the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole. I was intrigued with all the anticipation voiced by fellow book bloggers and Twitter friends. There seemed to be quite a celebration of this release of Lothaire. Paranormal and UF are not my number one choice for romance so I had not really heard to much about this IAD series previously. Turns out I was missing out because as I finished Lothaire's book (IAD #12) I must agree with the positive buzz these books generated. I thoroughly enjoyed them. 

Lothaire has been appearing in and out books since the beginning. There was quite a mystery built around him and it wasn't until the previous book, Dreams of a Dark Warrior that the readers really got to truly meet him. Lothaire is a complex character on the brink of madness. He acts like stiff upper crust royalty in composure yet he is 100% deadly on the brink of madness. The Lore creatures shake in their skin when he is near and he keeps an accounting ledger of all the blood debts he is owed. I had no idea who his "Bride" could be. What sort of woman would be perfect for him?
Enter Elizabeth. A hillbilly human woman from the Appalachian Mountains that talks with a southern twang and lives in a trailer. Not what I would have imagined for Lothaire but let me tell you that Kresley Cole is a genius because Elizabeth could not have been more perfect!

Of course their romance is completely off kilter because Elizabeth (Ellie) was sharing her body with an evil goddess like entity, Saroya. Lothaire is convinced that Saroya, the nasty Goddess of Divine Death, is his Bride. The first half of the book is mostly about how Lothaire plans to rid Elizabeth's soul from her body so that Saroya can take over completely. Elizabeth of course has plans of her own. 

Lothaire usually kills off those who annoy him yet he can't hurt the mortal Elizabeth without also hurting Saroya. Amazing constant conflict and I love how Elizabeth strives to madden Lothaire further. She was perfect in her cunning ways and the banter between the two was awesome. I was constantly rooting for Elizabeth to get the upper hand. Such an engaging story. Loved it!

A favourite moment - Lothaire at Elizabeth's trailer in the mountains. 
"Am I wearing a wife-beater, Lizvetta? Oh, come on!"

Having said all that I loved about the pair, I still think my favourite part of the book was the chapter that included Nix and Lothaire together. They actually have a great talk and they were both completely lucid. So many answers were provided in that chapter and I long to read Nix's book one day when it is written. Nix is probably my favourite character out the entire series. 

Teasers: Lothaire-speak, temper tantrum = beheading (oops) "Mothman. Really, Elizabeth? Really?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dreams of a Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole

Regin the Radiant and Declan Chase's book 

Dreams of a Dark Warrior (Immortals After Dark book 11)

By Kresley Cole

Book Blurb:HE VOWED HED COME FOR HER . . . Murdered before he could wed Regin the Radiant, warlord Aidan the Fierce seeks his beloved through eternity, reborn again and again into new identities, yet with no memory of his past lives.

When Regin encounters Declan Chase, a brutal Celtic soldier, she recognizes her proud warlord reincarnated. But Declan takes her captive, intending retribution against all immortals—unaware that he belongs to their world.

Yet every reincarnation comes with a price, for Aidan is doomed to die when he remembers his past. To save herself from Declan’s torments, will Regin rekindle memories of the passion they once shared—even if it means once again losing the only man she could ever love?

I am a huge fan of the character Regin and boy she deserved better than this dude, Declan. Not pleased with the outcome of Dreams of a Dark Warrior. But that is not to say it wasn't a great book because it really was. 

Regin is funny, witty and totally loyal. If I was to be trapped in a prison type cell with any of the IAD characters, (like Regin was in this story) I think I'd want it to be Regin. She has the best quips and comebacks and she is just so confident. So why oh why or how did she end up with Declan Chase? 

I have no idea what the attraction was here. This messed up dude kidnapped a 7 yr old witch and had her mother killed. He authorizes torture sessions (of unspeakable cruelty) on her captured friends. He is cold and just plain out right creepy. Declan is best to be compared to some war time deranged leader who orders experiments on his captives with a goal to eradicate them from the earth. Doesn't he just sound pleasant?

Declan is of course Regin's reincarnated lover, Aiden from a thousand years ago. He keeps returning vowing to be with her over and over again. Remarkably Regin, who admits to not loving the original Aidan , saves herself for him hundreds of years at a time. Why? I don't know other than a silly vow she made when she was twelve years old. Personally, I was a fan of the original "Aidan the Fierce" and even a few of his predecessor and I truly truly TRULY saw nothing enduring about Declan. I have no idea what it was about him that drew him to her. If anyone else reading this review that has read Dreams of a Dark Warrior and feels like that would like to enlighten me on what I missed, I invite you to comment. 

So as Declan starts to dream and remember the past, he turns from wanting to gut her alive to taking over a role to be her fierce protector. Honestly, it was laughable. So I thought I'd give this emotional 180 degree switch some time but I still had no idea what was drawing him to Regin. He just had no enduring qualities. I thought maybe Kresley Cole was trying to play a tortured hero card but it just didn't do enough for me to make me like him. 
Oh did I mention he was also a drug addict and since he was the commander of this Lore torture facility, once all of the captured Lore escape, they all want to kill him. Slowly. Painfully. 

The story itself was intriguing and held my interest. It had my heart pumping and I could not believe that Regin was practically autopsied while awake. There were some great new characters introduced and I loved hearing Lothaire's voice in my head. I was always curious how he spoke. I can't wait to dive into his book next. 

Teasers: brutal experiments, curse, RIIIIIINNNNNNNGGGGG

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Demon From the Dark by Kresley Cole

Carrow Graie and Malkom Slaine's book

Demon From the Dark (Immortals After Dark book 10)

By Kresley Cole

Malkom Slaine: tormented by his sordid past and racked by vampiric hungers, he’s pushed to the brink by the green-eyed beauty under his guard.

Carrow Graie: hiding her own sorrows, she lives only for the next party or prank. Until she meets a tortured warrior worth saving.

In order for Malkom and Carrow to survive, he must unleash both the demon and vampire inside him. When Malkom becomes the nightmare his own people feared, will he lose the woman he craves body and soul?

I cannot convey how hard I fell for this story and these characters. There are a few books I'd like to rate higher than a 5 and Demon From the Dark is one of the few I'd rate as such. I freaking loved this book. 

Demon From the Dark was a bit different from the other stories in the Immortals After Dark series. Unlike the other stories, you could almost read this book as a stand alone. I'd never recommend it but thinking about all the events and characters, I don't think you'd get lost or confused. 

Malkom is an extremely likable hero. He has the tortured soul mojo working for him that is accompanied with such a streak of bad luck that you can't help for cheer for him. The whole story you know that Carrow has no choice but to betray him and you just have big lump in your throat knowing that it is coming. Oh man my heart was heavy. 

There is a major language gap between Malkom and Carrow at the beginning. The communication is almost comparable to a caveman with a modern woman. They try to communicate with carving symbols in the dirt and trying to learn basic words from one another. Malkom's demon characteristics are  medieval and Carrow is a modern day witch. They are worlds apart but their attraction is true. 

Malkom is a truly isolated character. He is only 1 of 4 known of his species. He has super brute strength, feared by all other demons yet he craves Carrow's gentle touch. I think I fell in love with him when he burned his hand from a fire and when he experienced the gentle touch Carrow offered him, he stuck his other hand in the fire so she'd touch his other hand. I know right! See why I fell for him.   

Ruby. I challenge anyone to not fall in love with this 7 yr old witch.

Demon From the Dark completely sets the series up for some major continuation and I can barely take the time to write this review before I am getting ready to dive into Dreams of a Dark Warrior.   

Teasers: chapters long cave shower scene, importance of the position of "wife", deep betrayal, step-demon dad, ring toss