Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Mercenary by Cherry Adair

The Mercenary (Harlequin Temptation)
Title: The Mercenary
Author: Cherry Adair
Series: T-FLAC
Next in series: Kiss and Tell

My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: In order to rescue her brother from terrorists, Victoria Jones needs a hero and Marc Savin is just the man she is looking for. Marc, a former member of T-FLAC, is in no mood to help Victoria but he owes her brother and reluctantly agrees. The two soon find themselves fighting not only their enemies but their attraction to each other as well.

Review: This is the revised version of the original Harlequin addition but from what I can gather there are few differences. Regardless, this is a quick, light, entertaining and romantic read.

The plot is neither spectacular nor original but the characters more than make up for it. Tory is a lovable and self-deprecating dynamo. Despite her own reservations about her abilities, she has an amazing courage and resilience. Marc is a typical alpha male hero and I really enjoyed the way he falls so hard for someone he believes is “not his type”. Their chemistry sizzles.

Adair’s writing is smooth and the dialogue never feels forced or lame as it often does in this type of story. This is a great beginning to the series and I look forward to reading more of them. 

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Assassin's Heart by Monica Burns

Assassin's Heart (A Novel of the Order)
Title: Assassin’s Heart
Author: Monica Burns
Series: The Order of the Sicari
Previous in series: Assassin’s Honor
Next in series: Inferno’s Kiss

My rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis: After being subjected to horrific torture, Lysander Condellarie is left with disfiguring scars and a terrible secret that results in the loss of the love of his life. Phaedra DeLuca has never understood Lysander's sudden rejection. Now the two must comply with their destinies and join forces in the search for an ancient artifact, which, if it falls into the hands of their enemies, could mean the destruction of their order.

Review: An outstanding read! I would give it 6 Stars if my scale went up that high. It is even better than the first book in the series, which is saying a lot as Assassin’s Honor is an amazing read as well.

The plot builds on the foundations established in the first book with the continued search for the Tyet of Isis. The richness of detail concerning the conflict between the Sicari and Praetorian secret societies fills in the gaps that remained at the conclusion of Assassin’s Honor, and the author also provides tantalizing clues to the story in the next installment. I am really looking forward to finding out more about Alexander the Great’s potion.

The characterization is excellent. Lysander and Emma have a primal and fundamental connection that just leaps off the pages. Their pain and the love they feel for each other reaches out and grabs you. Lysander has an incredible strength and vitality even in the face of adversity, and while there were one or two moments where I could have smacked Phaedra upside the head, her emotions and reactions are, nevertheless, consistent with her nature. The secondary characters on not left out. The villains are suitably diabolical (I won’t tell you who they are so as not to ruin the interesting twists), and I enjoyed catching a glimpse at the history of the Sicari, both distant with Maximus and Cassiopeia, and more recent with Atia and Marcus, whose relationship is apparently going to be crucial to the next book. You’ll just have to read to see what I mean.

Burns’s writing has only gotten better, and she has managed to overcome the repetitiveness of thought and emotion that marred the first book. The flashback scenes are intricately woven into the primary story and the transitions between past and present are smooth and do not detract from the overall plot.

Overall, I highly recommend this series, which should be read in order because the plotlines are intertwined, and I cannot wait for the release of the next book, Inferno’s Kiss.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Eye of the Beholder by Jayne Ann Krentz

Eye of the BeholderTitle: Eye of the Beholder 
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
My rating: 3.5 Stars
Synopsis: Alexa Chambers will never forget the night J. L. Trask barged into her family home and accused her stepfather of murder. Now Trask is back and determined to find those responsible for his father’s death even if it means dredging up old skeletons. There are many who actively object to Trask’s investigations including an exceedingly dangerous killer with a mysterious agenda of their own.
Review: While this is a solid romantic mystery, I was not completely swept away by it. The plot had a good foundation but develops in a predictable manner. There is a definite lack of tension and suspense, and the final scenes feel contrived and anti-climactic. Due to a process of elimination, the villain is quite obvious as all other suspects are conveniently out of the way by the time the killer’s identity is revealed.

The romance was enjoyable mainly because the characters are very personable. Alexa is an intelligent, independent and confident woman, and Trask is attractive and compelling. There is one aspect of the characterization that bothered me and that is the sudden appearance of a particular character at the end. It too me a fear minutes to figure out who this person even though it is someone who is mentioned repeatedly throughout the book – it was a confusing twist.

As always, Krentz’s writing flows and her dialogue is witty and engaging. There are also one or two steamy scenes but nothing to get too excited about.

Overall, the book is very similar to other books Krentz has written so if you enjoy her writing then this is definitely for you.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Phantom Evil by Heather Graham

Phantom Evil (Krewe of Hunters)Title: Phantom Evil 
Author: Heather Graham  
Series: Krewe of Hunters (book #1)  
Next in series: Heart of Evil

My rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis: A secret unit of six paranormal investigators, each with their own unique skill, is called following the mysterious death of a state senator’s wife. Regina Holloway allegedly fell to her death in a house reportedly haunted by the victims of a post civil war serial killer. As the investigation progresses and the team grows closer both personally and professionally, they must determine whether Regina was the victim of a malevolent ghost or the more insidious machinations of someone closer to home.

Review: The underlying premise of a haunted house is intriguing and the opening chapters are well written and engaging. Unfortunately, this trend does not continue and the writing becomes excessively descriptive and the dialogue forced. There are also one or two editorial slip-ups that create some confusion. For example, one character’s involvement in a nefarious group is revealed through conversation before the event exposing his connection actually occurs.

The characterization is unrealistic. It is extremely difficult to believe that six individuals from such diverse backgrounds will come together so cohesively in a relatively short period of time with absolutely no friction or conflict – this goes against human nature.

The romantic leads lack both tension and chemistry in their relationship. The hero is completely cold and unsympathetic, and the heroine’s initial dislike for him changes almost immediately into an incomprehensible attraction.

Finally, the conclusion is convoluted, and while some aspects of the mystery are solved others remain unexplained, which leaves the reader with a less that satisfied feeling.

Notwithstanding the above, this is a good ghost-hunting story with some interesting twists and turns. Moreover, readers with a passion for New Orleans history and culture will be entertained by the setting and atmosphere.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Man Within by Lora Leigh

The Man Within (Feline Breeds, Book 2)Title: The Man Within
Author: Lora Leigh
Series: Breeds (Book #2)
Previous in series: Tempting the Beast
Next in series: Elizabeth’s Wolf
My rating: 3.5 Stars
Warning: Contains sexually explicit scenes and language.

Synopsis: Roni Andrews is devastated when the love of her life, Taber Williams, rejects her. When it is revealed that Taber is one of the genetically modified breeds and that he has marked her as his mate, Roni’s life is in danger and she is forced to place her trust in the one man who broke her heart.

Review: The continuing plot surrounding humans, who have been genetically engineered with animal DNA, is extremely compelling. Now the breeds are out in the open and have become the target not only of the mysterious council who created them but of extremist groups as well. While there are still gaps in the world building certain details are made clearer, which suggests that everything will ultimately be clarified in future installments.

Roni has been in love with Taber since childhood and I really enjoyed their emotional connection, which is much stronger than that of the couple in the first book because it has been building over time and is not merely lust at first sight.

Nevertheless, Roni and Taber’s characterization is unbalanced. The focus is primarily on Roni’s background and upbringing but the details of Taber’s time in the labs in seriously lacking.

The writing flows and the dialogue is clever, especially the witty repartee between the secondary characters. The tension between Sherra and Kane is particularly palpable and I am chomping at the bit to read their story.

In sum, this is an entertaining book for those who enjoy a sexy, steamy read.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Killing Fear by Allison Brennan

Killing Fear (Prison Break, Book 1)Title: Killing Fear  
Author: Allison Brennan  
Series: Prison Break Trilogy (book #1)  
Next in series: Tempting Evil

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Synopsis: Seven years ago, Theodore Lawrence Glenn was convicted of murdering four exotic dancers and swore revenge against those responsible for his imprisonment. Now he has escaped and Robin McKenna, the main prosecution witness, and Will Hooper, the detective who put Glenn away, are reunited and must get past their personal issues if they are to survive the machinations of this sadistic killer.

Review: Wow! This book is incredibly gritty and realistic. The plot has several intertwined threads that come together to form a strong and cohesive whole. Some of the past events are told in flashback, which reinforces characterization and does not distract the reader from the progression of the present day storyline.

The author does not shy away from portraying both the personal and professional weaknesses of her characters. Robin and Will’s relationship, past and present, is intensely emotional and engrossing. She is strong and independent heroine whose success is even more significant given the adversity she has faced while he is prototypical ladies’ man who has finally met his match. The sociopathic Glenn is also a phenomenal character and one of the most diabolical villains I have ever encountered. Nevertheless, some of the secondary characters could have been better developed, as the lack of sufficient detail regarding their backgrounds makes it difficult to fully grasp the import of certain developments within the investigative subplot.

In sum, a fast-paced and exciting read with riveting twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. Be warned, once you pick it up it will be very difficult to put it down again.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Seduced by the Storm by Sydney Croft

Seduced by the Storm (ACRO, Book 3)Title: Seduced by the Storm  
Author: Sydney Croft  
Series: ACRO (book #3)  
Previous in series: Unleashing the Storm  
Next in series: Taming the Fire

My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: Covert operatives, Wyatt Kennedy and Faith Black meet in a bar and share one night of unbridled passion only to discover later that they are on opposing sides of the same mission to locate ITOR’s deadly weather machine. Faith and Wyatt must ultimately work together to thwart ITOR’s nefarious plans but can they also find love and trust on a personal level?

Review: The best installment in the series so far. Once again, the Sydney Croft duo has written an engaging story with interesting backgrounds for their characters (which is lacking in the second book). The plot is fast-paced, action packed and more engaging than the first two books. Wyatt and Faith’s romance is intense, passionate and believable despite the underlying supernatural circumstances. The agents with opposing agendas and love/betrayal aspects of their relationship were particularly enjoyable.

The conclusion to Annika and Creed’s story was wonderful and it was great to see them finally coming to terms with themselves and their relationship. There were some interesting plot twists with regard to Dev, Oz and Creed that contributed to their character development. I also liked the subtle hints in the last chapter to stories yet to come.

Even though it is not 100% necessary, I do recommend reading the first two books in the series to get a complete grasp of the espionage plot in this one.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Wicked Enchantment by Anya Bast

Wicked EnchantmentTitle: Wicked Enchantment
Author: Anya Bast
Series: Dark Magic (book #1)
Next in series: Cruel Enchantment

My rating: 4.5

Synopsis:  Numerous fae races are in existence and they have been incarcerated for hundreds of years. Aislinn Finvarra, one of the Seelie fae, has been assigned to escort Gabriel Mac Braire, an Unseelie fae, who has apparently decided to defect to the Seelie. Aislinn will soon discover that everything she believes about herself is a lie, and that dangerous forces both from within and without are working to destroy everything she holds dear. Ultimately, she and Gabriel must trust each other and work together before their world is annihilated.   

Review: The only reason I didn’t give this book 5 stars is because it starts off a little slow but once it gets going – look out!

The plot is imaginative and Bast has constructed an immersing and detailed world incorporating magical abilities as well as social, political and familial intricacies. The characters, both primary and secondary, are well developed with interesting back stories and the dialogue is engaging. Aislinn is a sweet character with just the right amount of independence and vulnerability, and Gabriel , a mysterious and gorgeous incubus, belongs to my favorite type of hero - bad boy with a heart of gold. Boy does he fall hard!

The romance is fiery and sensual and while the sex scenes are steamy, they do not overshadow the story and contribute to the emotional connection between the characters. The battle scenes are also well written and never become confusing to the reader.

I can whole heartedly recommend this book and will definitely be continuing with the series.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Ideal Man by Julie Garwood (ARC)

The Ideal ManTitle: An Ideal Man
Author: Julie Garwood

My rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis: Trauma Surgeon, Ellie Sullivan, is no stranger to crisis. As a teenager, she was almost killed by a psychopathic stalker and now she is in need of FBI protection after witnessing the shooting of an agent. Tough, sexy and no-nonsense agent, Max Daniels, takes on the assignment of shadowing Ellie and soon the two are fighting not only for their lives but for their hearts as well.

Review: This is my first ARC review and as much as it pains me to write a less than stellar review, I really have no choice.

This is a quick read that never quite lives up to its potential.  The writing is overly descriptive and includes several annoying and excessively detailed anecdotes. While one or two might have been entertaining, they only manage to fill up the pages and add nothing to the plot or characterization.  

The title should have been “An Ideal Woman” because Ellie is so sweet and perfect that she makes your teeth hurt. No one is that beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, forgiving, etc. It sort of helps to understand why her sister, Ava, dislikes her so much.

The plot has a strong premise but lacks suspense and credibility. It is difficult to believe that so many terrible things can happen to one person. Despite everything Ellie has endured, I could not empathize with her or become emotionally invested in her story. Perhaps this is due to the fact that there are too many sub-plots that distract from the main story and romance. The last chapter is dedicated to tying up the loose ends but merely emphasizes the unnecessary and artificial descriptions.

The romance is the one saving grace in the book. Max and Ellie have tremendous tension and chemistry, and their dialogue is witty and entertaining. The interaction between Ellie and her family is as real as it gets.
Overall, not too bad but not a must read either.

An Ideal Man is scheduled for release on August 9, 2011. A advance copy of the book was provided to me for review by the publisher and

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Into the Flame by Christina Dodd

Into the Flame: Darkness ChosenTitle: Into the Flame
Author: Christina Dodd
Series: Darkness Chosen (book #4)
Previous in series: Into the Shadow
My rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: Destined to bear only sons, the Wilder family has one daughter, Firebird. Upon learning that she is a changeling, this miracle child sets out to find the Wilder’s long lost brother in order to break the pact their ancestor forged with the Devil. Fortunately, Firebird is well aware of the fourth son’s identity, he is Doug Wilder, the estranged father of her son. Can Firebird overcome her fears in order to reunite the members of her family?

Review: A satisfying and action-packed conclusion to the series. Once again, Dodd’s writing flows smoothly and it is easy to become immersed in the world she has created. There are one or two plot threads that remain unresolved but this does not detract from the overall storyline or impact of the series.

In terms of the romance, Firebird and Doug are a sweet couple but they lack the emotion, chemistry and intensity of the pairs in the previous books. There is very little character development and certain aspects of their relationship just don’t ring true.

Although I am new to the paranormal romance genre, this is my absolute favorite series so far. I highly recommend it for lovers of the paranormal and of romance.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Dark Protector by Alexis Morgan

Dark Protector (Paladins of Darkness, Book 1)Title: Dark Protector
Author: Alexis Morgan
Series: Paladins of Darkness (book #1)
Next in series: Dark Defender

My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: Devlin Bane is a Paladin, one of an ancient race of warriors born to defend the Earth from deadly invaders known as the Others. The Paladins of renowned for their fighting skills and for their ability to rejuvenate after death, however, each resurrection results in additional losses of their humanity until they ultimately turn into the monsters they are destined to fight. Now, Devlin has finally found someone to live for, Laurel Young, the doctor assigned to be his handler. Unfortunately, someone wants Devlin permanently dead and will not hesitate to use Laurel as bait.

Review:  Morgan’s characters are intriguing and she writes a compelling action-packed plot that ratchets up a notch toward the end. Nevertheless, the descriptions of the Paladin’s world, as well as that of the Others, are insufficient. The mythos and characterization are one dimensional and inadequately explained. The identity of the villain, for example, is almost immediately obvious due to the lack of detail, and Devlin’s backstory and training to become a Paladin is suspiciously absent.

The romance in the story is sweet. Devlin is a typical alpha male but has some endearing insecurities and Laurel is intelligent and independent. The fact that they are forced to keep their feelings secret because relationships between Paladins and their handlers are frowned upon adds another layer to the underlying tension between them. However, it was difficult to become completely immersed in them as a couple as their connection seems forced and even somewhat clinical. The character that really caught my attention is Blake Trahern, the hero of the next book, who appeals to my “bad boy with a heart of gold” fetish.

Despite its shortcomings, the book is exciting and enjoyable, and there are enough elements, such as the conspiracy and the search for a cure for the Paladin’s condition, to retain my interest in finding out where the story is going. Consequently, I will be continuing with the series.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Boneyard by Michelle Gagnon

BoneyardTitle: The Boneyard
Author: Michelle Gagnon
Series: Kelly Jones (Book #2)
Previous in Series: The Tunnels
Next in series: The Gatekeeper

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis: Following the discovery of a mass grave, FBI Agent Kelly Jones is on the trail of two separate killers and at the same time must cope with jurisdictional issues, rival police officers and a suspicious cover-up. To top it all off, she is in a race against time to save the life of the latest victim.

Review: Following my enjoyment of the first book in the series, I had built up certain expectations with regard to this installment but was severely disappointed. The plot fails to live up to its potential and there is one thread that remains unresolved at the rather lackadaisical conclusion.

The character development is virtually non-existent, aside from Jack and Kelly, who have gone from mere acquaintances to a fully-fledged couple with absolutely no buildup of their relationship, the other characters are completely one dimensional. The identity of the primary killer is obvious from the very beginning due to an insufficient suspect pool and an excessive number of details provided regarding his personal life. Moreover, there is no explanation for the motivation behind his crimes.

The writing flows smoothly but lacks the background detail and descriptions that made the first book so engrossing. Hopefully the next one will be better.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Crimson
Title: Kiss of Crimson
Author: Lara Adrian
Series: The Midnight Breed (book #2)
Previous in series: Kiss of Midnight
Next in series: Midnight Awakening

My rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis: Veterinarian Tess Culver finds herself immersed in a secret world following a brief yet vivid encounter with the badly injured Dante, one of the vampire warriors locked in a fierce struggle against the rogue element of his race. The two soon find themselves bonded together by blood and passion and must work together to thwart the enemies in their midst.

Review: I was hesitant to continue with the series but am really glad that I stuck with it as Kiss of Crimson is a definite improvement on the first book. Adrian’s characterization has improved greatly. Tess is an amazing heroine whose heartbreaking back story draws you in and Dante’s love for her is just awe inspiring – I particularly enjoyed the small twist regarding the connection between Dante’s special power and his relationship with Tess (you’ll just have to read it to see). For once, the sex scenes contribute to rather than detract from the emotional intimacy between the characters. I also enjoyed the subtle hints at stories to come, especially Tegan and Elise, and Rio whose condition is so distressful.

The plot line continues from the previous book but adds an extra dimension by including characters from the civilian vampire world and an issue that relates to the vampire society as a whole. My one small quibble is with the villain in the book who is not all that menacing and is actually quite pathetic.

In sum, every new detail added in this book helped me to become more immersed in the world Adrian has created. I will definitely be continuing with the series.

Book Trailer Thursday (5): Savage Nature

Book Trailer Thursday is hosted on The Quill Cafe blog. 

My trailer this week is for the latest book in Christine Feehan's Leopard series entitled Savage Nature.

I haven't read any of the books in this series but I have heard good things about the author and the series so I decided to look for one of her book trailers and came across this one. It has a sultry and mysterious atmosphere that pulled me in and now I am off to Goodreads to look up the series and probably add it to my TBR.

Let me know what you think of the trailer and/or the books.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare

Extreme Exposure
Title: Extreme Exposure
Author: Pamela Clare
Series: I-Team
Next in series: Hard Evidence

My rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis: Kara McMillan is an investigative journalist juggling her career with being a single mother and beginning a spicy relationship with sexy State Senator, Reece Sheridan. Kara soon finds herself embroiled in the story of the century when a whistle blower comes to her with evidence of environmental pollution, corrupt politicians, murder and conspiracy. Soon, the death threats begin and Kara must learn quickly who she can trust before she ends up dead.

Review: A good plot premise that is quite different from the usual romantic suspense fare and made me think of the movie Erin Brockovich. However, the tense situations seem contrived and I rarely found myself holding my breath in anticipation (one particularly intense scene does come to mind). The red herrings are also way too obvious, which makes it very easy to follow the clues to the identity of the secret conspirator.

The characters are intelligent and well developed – I especially enjoyed their witty dialogue. Nevertheless, I found the hero to be too perfect and the recurring descriptions of his sexiness, emotions, inner thoughts and culinary abilities become tedious. Moreover, his absolute perfection overshadows his connection to the heroine, and their relationship, although sweet and romantic, lacks that extra emotional pull that would make it completely captivating. The heroine is spunky, opinionated and easy to like but she does certain things that are inconsistent with her characterization.

Overall, this is a well-written and worthwhile read but it did not leave me with that satisfied feeling. I have heard good things about the next book in the series so have decided to give it another chance.