Saturday, 30 July 2011

Body of Sin by Eve Silver (ARC)

Body of Sin (Hqn)Title: Body of Sin
Author: Eve Silver
Series: The Otherkins (book #4)
Previous in series: Sins of the Flesh

My rating: 4.5 Stars
**Warning**: This review is for the 4th book in the series and as such may contain spoilers. You may wish to skip it until after you have read the previous books.

Synopsis: Following his resurrection, Lokan Krayl still finds himself trapped in purgatory with no way out until a woman from his past arrives to guide him through the Twelve Gates. Bryn Carr is a woman with secrets who tricked Lokan once before. Can he trust her to lead him toward salvation?

Review: A fantastic conclusion to the series, which MUST be read in order to full appreciate the complex storyline and impressive world building.   

The story and characters are beautifully written. Lokan and Bryn’s relationship is gritty and emotional. The fact that they have known each other for seven years and share a daughter contributes to the sensitivity and intensity of their connection. The flashback scenes to when they first met are woven seamlessly into the storyline and are crucial to understanding their bond. So often this kind of information is either missing or poorly scripted but this is definitely not the case in Body of Sin.  

The plot continues where Sins of the Flesh left off and had me hooked from the get go. I could barely put the book down for bathroom breaks and read it in less than 6 hours. While the resolution of the Soul Reapers' conflict with Sutekh is not particularly original, it was entertaining and extremely satisfying. The inclusion of tidbits about both Lokan and Bryn's brothers was also enjoyable and I wonder if Silver isn't setting up for another trilogy with the Falconer brothers as the main protagonists – that is definitely a series I would read.

The only thing missing from the book to make this book absolute perfection is an epilogue that follows up on the brothers and their mates.

Body of Sin is scheduled for release on August 23, 2011. An advance copy of the book was provided to me for review by the publisher and

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Obsession Untamed by Pamela Palmer

Obsession Untamed: A Feral Warriors NovelTitle: Obsession Untamed
Author: Pamela Palmer
Series: Feral Warriors (book #2)
Previous in series: Desire Untamed
Next in series: Passion Untamed

My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: Tighe is a feral warrior searching for the other half of his soul located within a clone who feeds on humans to survive. FBI agent Delaney Randall is hunting a serial killer but almost becomes his next victim and finds herself psychically linked both to Tighe and the killer clone. Now the warrior and the agent must join forces to fight an evil that may destroy them both.

Review: Obsession Untamed is a satisfying and action packed read, but is not as good as the first book in the series, Desire Untamed. I recommend reading the books in order because the plots move seamlessly one into the other and even though the basic premise is explained, readers may not fully grasp its significance and may even become confused without reading the previous installment. The events leading into the next book are also set up nicely and I can't wait to read Paenther’s story.

The main characters are very well developed. Tighe is complex and fascinating and I was smitten with him from the very beginning. It took me longer to warm up to Delaney possibly because she is too caught up in her FBI persona. She becomes much more likeable once she is immersed in the world of the feral warriors and accepts Tighe’s true nature – they have one exceptionally intense scene that clinches their relationship. 

The book is well written, the clone idea is original and I enjoyed the ritualistic aspects of the ferals’ traditions as well as the special abilities that characterize each warrior. Nevertheless, some aspects of the story are somewhat clich├ęd, especially at the end and I was disappointed by the fact that Kara's backstory remains unexplained.

This is a wonderful and entertaining series and even though it is quite similar to other works involving groups of warriors, it is unique in the sense that Palmer’s characters are shapeshifters rather than vampires as in J. R. Ward’s Blackdagger Brotherhood and Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breeds series. So if you are a fan of Ward and Adrian, this series is definitely for you.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

All Night Long by Jayne Ann Krentz

All Night LongTitle: All Night Long 
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz

My Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: As a teenager, Irene Stenson discovered her parents’ bodies following what the police believed to be a murder/suicide. Now she is back in her home town after an old friend sends a cryptic email offering new information. Soon the bodies are piling up and the secrets are unraveling, and the only one Irene can turn to for help is innkeeper and former marine, Luke Danner, who has some serious issues of his own.

Review: A clever plot with some surprising twists and turns as well as a few laugh-out-loud moments. The underlying premise is original but it takes a little too long for the threads of the mystery to come together. Nevertheless, once they do, the story becomes engrossing and the resolution is neither obvious nor obscure.

Krentz’s characterization and dialogue are excellent as always. Similar to most of her heroines, Irene is intelligent and independent. She copes well with her PTSD, doesn't wait around to be rescued and can handle herself in sticky situations. Luke is sensitive, caring and protective but secure enough to understand the he need not dominate Irene. Their relationship develops at a rapid but not inappropriate pace. However, it lacks the level of passion and intensity in another book of Krentz’s that I read recently, Sizzle and Burn.

The secondary characters are also entertaining, especially Luke’s family. I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between Luke and his youngest brother, Jason as well as the various tidbits of information about the different townsfolk. It would have been nice if some of these had been better developed. The ultimate villain was not easy to guess as there is just the right number of red herrings to lead the reader astray but not create too much confusion – I was only able to work it out just in time.

Overall, this is an entertaining read and I recommend it for lovers of Krentz’s books and fans of romantic suspense.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sizzle and Burn by Jayne Ann Krentz

Sizzle and Burn (The Arcane Society, Book 3)Title: Sizzle and Burn
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Arcane Society (book #3) 
Previous in series: White Lies
Next in series: The Third Circle

My Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: Raine Tallentyre and J&J agent, Zack Jones, have one thing in common - their paranormal abilities. Raine can hear voices while Zack has visions. With Raine in the sights of a deranged serial killer and a secret cabal of psychic criminals intent on obtaining the Tallentyre family secrets, Raine and Zack must rely both on their abilities and on each other in order to survive.

Review: The most entertaining in the series so far. The romance is wonderful even if the plot is lacking in suspense.
Once again, Krentz excels with her dialogue and characterization. Raine uses wit and sarcasm to conceal her insecurities but is, nevertheless, a self-sufficient woman with a powerful sense of justice. Zack is absolutely gorgeous, and I really enjoyed the way in which he helps Raine come to terms with her abilities. Their chemistry definitely sizzles and burns and it was interesting to see their relationship develop from extremely hot and sensual to intensely emotional. I also liked the fact that their romance is not plagued by any contrived misunderstandings or trust issues. 

My only real problem with the story is that the serial killer plot is so minor as to be almost non-existent and has very little relevance to the main storyline. As a fan of serial killer books, I was hoping for more details on the victims and the murderer but this is not forthcoming and is ultimately resolved very quickly and almost as an afterthought. The psychic cabal plot is more complex and better developed with additional details provided about the Nightshade organization introduced in the previous book. There is also a nifty plot twist and cliffhanger at the end to keep the reader guessing. 

It should be noted that it is not necessary to read the series in order. There is no direct connection between the plots of the individual books perhaps because some are contemporary while others are historical. The only common thread is the Jones family and the Arcane society, and it is fairly easy to grasp their significance in the series arc. On the whole, I prefer Krentz’s historical romances written under her pseudonym, Amanda Quick, but the Arcane series is very entertaining and enjoyable. I look forward to reading the next installment.   

Friday, 22 July 2011

Dark Enchantment by Anya Bast

Dark Enchantment (Dark Magick, Book 3)Title: Dark Enchantment
Author: Anya Bast
Series: Dark Magic (book #3)
Previous in series: Cruel Enchantment
Next in series: Midnight Enchantment (coming February, 2012)

My rating: 4.5 Stars 

Synopsis: The fae are searching for the third and final piece of the bosca fadbh, which once opened can release them from imprisonment. However, only one person knows the location of the elusive piece, a human named Charlotte Bennett, but this information is hidden deep within her bloodline and can only be accessed by the dark magick wielded by Kiernan Aimhrea and the other Unseelie fae.

Review: This is the most romantic of the three books so far but the least action packed. The plot continues where the last book left off, however, this time, the heroine is not a member of the fae, in fact, she associates them with the most traumatic event of her life and the manner in which she overcomes her ingrained fear makes for a captivating read.  

Charlotte and Kieran are an endearing couple who fall slowly and deeply in love, although their relationship lacks the intense chemistry and emotion that characterized Emmaline and Aeric in Cruel Enchantment. Similar to this couple, the course of Charlotte and Kiernan’s love does not run smoothly for it is tested, not only by Charlotte’s fear of the fae, but by a curse that Kiernan suffers through no fault of his own. The curse is an interesting plot device that adds tension to the romance, and Bast is such an adept storyteller that it never feels contrived. I really enjoyed the way in which this obstacle is resolved.

The characters are another positive element in the book. Charlotte is a compelling heroine and her interactions with the various members of fae society are exceedingly entertaining, especially her initial meeting with Kiernan – it certainly packs a wallop and that’s all I’m going to say about it. Kiernan is gorgeous and sexy but is also quite tortured (another favorite theme of mine). In addition, I also appreciated the extra information provided concerning the villain in the series. Even though he has always been obnoxious and threatening, now readers receive insight into the underlying causes of his hatred for the fae, and I must say that while his motivation is not exactly original, it is consistent with his personality and adds another dimension to his psychological makeup.

Dark Enchantment is a wonderful read and now that the war between the Phaendir and the fae is coming to a head, I am seriously looking forward to finding out what happens.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Against the Wind by Kat Martin

Against the Wind (The Raines of Wind Canyon)Title: Against the Wind
Author: Kat Martin
Series: The Raines of Wind Canyon (book #1)
Next in series: Against the Fire

My rating: 2 Stars

Synopsis: Following the murder of her abusive husband, Sarah Allen returns to her home town in Wyoming to start afresh. Unfortunately, trouble seems to follow, first when she rents a cottage from Jackson Raines, the man she rejected and humiliated in high school, and then when her husband’s enemies become convinced that she has something they want and are not above kidnapping Sarah’s daughter to get it.

Review: Starts out really well but becomes exceedingly far-fetched as the book progresses. There are just too many individual storylines. In addition to the main plot, in which the heroine has not one but four men out to get her for different reasons, there are another two side stories. The first involves a tiresome romance between Sarah’s friend and Jackson’s foreman and the second centers on illegal logging, which is completely irrelevant and unrelated to the main story. Two of these various plot threads remain unresolved at the conclusion. Maybe they will come to an end in the next installment but quite frankly I’m not interested enough to find out. 

The main characters are well fleshed out and have an intense chemistry but I did not feel the romance. While Jackson’s caring and sensitivity make him an especially appealing character, Sarah is annoying and distant. I found her need to keep secrets and her inability to trust Jackson with the truth irritating, and actually felt that he deserved better. I also thought that his initial resentment toward her for the way she treated him in high school was resolved far too easily with a rather weak apology.

In general, the book is well written but the flashback scenes in which Sarah remembers what happened to her husband are extremely repetitive, in fact, the author just copies them word for word each time with a few details added. There is also very little build-up of tension and suspense, and I kept waiting for the something significant to happen. 

Overall, a very disappointing read and one of the few books that get my 2 star rating. I will not be reading any more in the series.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Megan's Mark by Lora Leigh

Megan's Mark (The Breeds, Book 1)Title: Megan’s Mark
Author: Lora Leigh
Series: Breeds (book #7)
Previous in series: The Breed Next Door (Novella)
Next in series: Harmony’s Way

My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: Megan Fields, an empath who has a hard time shielding herself from the emotions of others, finds solace in the peace and quiet of the New Mexico desert until the day she finds the bodies of two breeds. As a sheriff’s deputy, Megan is partnered with Braden Arness, an arrogant feline assassin, in the search for the killers. Megan and Braden clash in every way but must learn to trust each other because someone is out for Megan’s blood.

Review: Definite improvement in terms of plot and writing over previous books in the series. The sex scenes are still steamy with a capital S but are not as overwhelming as before, more information is provided concerning the Breeds’ life in the labs and the story is more action than character driven. 

Nevertheless, the characters are very appealing even if they could be more developed. Megan is a kick butt heroine and is a match to Braden in every way. They are both adrenaline junkies and their extrasensory powers are complimentary. One aspect of Megan’s character that bothered me was her constant rejection of her abilities and Braden’s attempts to help her in this area. While Braden is not my favorite Breed, he is still a super-hot alpha male and he truly cares about Megan. It did annoy me that he was constantly trying to dominate her but she could definitely hold her own against him. 

Similar to Elizabeth’s Wolf, the villain is seriously sick and disturbed but once again there is not enough detail regarding his actions and his obsession with Megan as well as his spies at Sanctuary. The final confrontation with him is, however, quite satisfactory. 

The character who interests me the most is Jonas and I really want to know more about him, especially following the cliffhanger at the end, which I hope will be developed in the next book. 

This is a decent read and from all reports it is all uphill from here.

Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley

Pride Mates (Shifters Unbound)Title: Pride Mates 
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound (book #1)
Next in series: Primal Bonds

My rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: Scorned and feared, shifters are believed to be animals in human form and are kept on the fringes of society. Assigned to defend a shifter on murder charges, up and coming defense lawyer, Kim Fraser, is in over her head and seeks the help of shifter leader, Liam Morrissey. Liam’s charm and wit cannot conceal the undercurrents of power that characterize him and Kim will need his strength and protection both to unravel the mystery and for her very survival.

Review: An interesting take on the Shapeshifter premise. This is the first book I’ve read in which the shifters’ animal traits overshadow their human ones and it is an intriguing perspective.

The conflicts and prejudices that characterize humans/shifter interaction and the social rules, hierarchies and norms of the shifter community are exceedingly detailed and add credence to the world established in the book. The manner in which Ashley presents the discrimination against the shifters and the problematic ethics of the collar is particularly thought provoking.  

The characters are wonderful and the romance sizzles. Kim's honesty, courage and stubbornness make her particularly engaging and Liam can charm the pants off anyone. However, there are a few things that bothered me. First, Liam and Kim have an immediate attraction and there is very little development of their relationship before they are mated. Second, Kim does not seem to fully grasp the significance of events going on around her, and lastly, the constant physical contact between all of the characters, not only the primary couple, takes some getting used to.  

The supporting characters are also appealing, especially Liam’s tortured brother, his emotionally distant father, and my personal favorite, his boisterous nephew, Connor. One character who did not live up to his initial characterization is the villain. While he is a nasty piece of work, he does not evoke anything more than mild distaste and never becomes the uber-villain that would contribute to the tension and suspense of the final confrontation.

The story is the weak point in the book. It would have been better if more effort has been put into the murder mystery and Kim’s investigation, especially since it turns out to be a pivotal aspect of the plot – I won’t say anymore so as not to ruin it.

Overall, this is an entertaining book and I look forward to reading the next installment.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Tempt Me with Darkness by Shayla Black

Tempt Me with Darkness (The Doomsday Brethren, Book 1)Title: Tempt Me with Darkness
Author: Shayla Black
Series: Doomsday Brethren (Book #1)
Next in series: Seduce Me in Shadow

My rating: 4.5 Stars

Synopsis: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned . . . this is one adage that Marrok of Cadbury learns the hard way when he is cursed by Morgan Le Fay. Forced to endure an eternity of loneliness, Marrok dreams that Morgan has returned in the body of a modern woman named Olivia Gray and sets out to find her, believing she holds the key to releasing him from his curse. However, Olivia and Marrok soon learn that all is not as it seems, and as they seek answers become embroiled in a life and death struggle against an evil wizard determined to bring about the end of the world.  

Review: A spellbinding plot characterized by cleverly interwoven elements of Arthurian legend, witchcraft and magic. It is wonderfully refreshing to read a book about a group of warriors who are not vampires.

The romance between Marrok and Olivia sizzles. They are a great couple with an amazing chemistry and it is very easy to identify with their conflicting emotions. I like the fact that Marrok is not without his faults, and it can even be said that while his curse is harsh, he definitely had a lesson to learn and he learns it well. Olivia is also very engaging and I enjoyed reading about her discovery of magic and her powers. Nevertheless, her inability to believe that Marrok loves her despite all evidence to the contrary, and her constant doubts regarding his motives become tiresome after a while.

The book is well written with some really spicy scenes that are not overdone and contribute to the plot and characterization. The action is also fast paced and Black has established an intriguing world with its own internal rules and hierarchies. To a certain extent the social dynamic of Magickind with its various class distinctions reminds me of the Wizarding World in Harry Potter and the evil wizard who manipulates this inequality in order to achieve his own immoral goals is reminiscent of Lord Voldemort. Mathias D’Arc is an especially diabolical villain and his preferred method of torture actually made my skin crawl.

The secondary characters are also well developed, especially the various members of the Brethren (Bram, Lucan, Ice and Shock). I will definitely be continuing with the series to find out more about the underlying tensions between them, and to see how they will ultimately be resolved.

Sins of the Flesh by Eve Silver

Sins of the Flesh (Hqn)Title: Sins of the Flesh
Author: Eve Silver
Series: The Otherkins (book #3)
Previous in series: Sins of the Soul
Next in series: Body of Sin

My rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis: Malthus Krayl is intent on discovering the truth behind the heinous murder of his brother and will let nothing stand in his way until he encounters Calliope Kane, a sworn enemy who tempts him beyond reason. As a Daughter of Aset, Calli has an intense personal and professional hatred of Soul Reapers and is particularly unnerved when she finds herself inexplicably drawn to one. Mal and Calli must learn to trust their feelings before the traitors in their midst get the better of them both.

Review: This series just gets better and better and Eve Silver has fast become a must buy author for me.

We finally learn who is behind the conspiracy and it is quite a revelation even though I was able to figure it out toward the end. The book does end quite abruptly and many questions are left unanswered but there is at least one more installment so I’m not too distressed.

Mal and Calli are definitely my favorite of the three couples so far. Their intense chemistry and battle of wills pulls you in from the first moment and even though there are serious obstacles to their relationship, they are resolved in a believable manner (if a tad too quickly) and there isn't the excessive angst that characterizes Naphre and Alastor's romance.

Calliope is a wonderful character. I particularly enjoyed her wit, intelligence and determination as well as the fact that she kicks butt and stands her ground against an immortal Soul Reaper. Mal, the “bad boy” brother has his own brand of ethics and is not above taking what he wants when he wants it. I found his seize the moment approach to life quite refreshing.

The writing has also improved dramatically from the first book and the plot, which was always complex and intriguing, gets a few more twists and turns. I can’t wait to read the next book which I will be reading very soon as I have been fortunate to receive Body of Sin as an ARC from NetGalley. So stay tuned!

Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts

Carnal InnocenceTitle: Carnal Innocence
Author: Nora Roberts

My rating: 3.5 Stars

Synopsis: Burned out from her hectic career, concert violinist, Caroline Waverly seeks the peace and quiet of her grandparents’ home in Innocence, Mississippi. Not only is Caroline’s tranquil getaway about to be disrupted by a serial killer on the hunt but she soon finds herself the object of affection for the prime suspect: handsome and privileged, Tucker Longstreet.

Review: This is one of Nora’s earlier novels originally published in 1991. The book has been re-issued several times, most recently in 2010.

Two things in particular stand out about this book. The first is the witty dialogue and banter, especially between Tucker and Caroline, and the second is the small town characters and shenanigans that make you chuckle out loud. Carnal Innocence is a wonderful example of small town Southern culture and charm, which I am definitely a fan of.

Nevertheless, the story is long winded and drawn out with overly descriptive passages. One of the most significant problems with the novel is the imbalance between the romance and the suspense. While the murder mystery is good, the romance feels secondary and there is very little spark to Tucker and Caroline’s relationship. As individuals these characters are charming and likeable. Tucker is the seemingly lazy yet hardworking plantation owner and Caroline the emotionally vulnerable yet strong willed woman quite capable of blowing a man away. The identity and motivation of the culprit are unexpected but not surprising and one can figure it all out quite easily before the big revelation.

In sum, the setting and basic premise are the high points of the story and remind me of Carolina Moon, one of Nora’s later and better books, which I highly recommend for fans and newbies alike.

Soul Deep by Lora Leigh

Soul Deep (Coyote Breeds, Book 1)Title: Soul Deep
Author: Lora Leigh
Series: Breeds (book #5)
Previous in series: Kiss of Heat
Next in series: The Breed Next Door (Novella)

My rating: 3.5 Stars

Synopsis: Kiowa is a coyote breed, one of the allegedly soulless animals bred to keep the other breeds under control. Raised outside the confines of the labs, Kiowa is currently assigned to protect Amanda Marion, the President’s daughter. When Amanda is almost abducted by genetic purists, Kiowa wants nothing more than to be rid of her but Mother Nature has other ideas and Kiowa and Amanda soon find themselves facing more than just the dangers of race supremacists.

Review: A short but compelling addition to the series. I particularly appreciated the additional information provided about the Breeds that is provided at the beginning and end of the book in the form of newspaper articles – a very clever technique.

Even though the plot is virtually non-existent and what there is feels exceedingly contrived, the characterization is exceptional. Amanda and Kiowa are the first couple in the series to be complete strangers and it was interesting to see the Breeds from the perspective of someone who knows absolutely nothing about them. The story of Kiowa's childhood is heart-wrenching and explains so much about his tortured nature. Despite the emotional barrenness of his upbringing, Kiowa has not become a merciless monster but has honor, loyalty and courage. Amanda is also a likeable character and her struggles against being dominated are completely understandable given the circumstances.

There is one aspect of this story and the previous one that does not appeal to me and that is the inclusion of the supernatural element surrounding Cassie’s “fairy”. While the idea of genetically engineered human/animal hybrids may be futuristic, it is not completely outside the realm of scientific progress. In contrast, the “fairy” is a completely paranormal notion and is inconsistent with the world Leigh has established.

Readers should also be aware of the fact that the sex scenes are quite explicit and while it does not quite enter the realm of BDSM it is kinky at times. Thus, it may not be to everyone’s taste.

Overall, this is worth reading for the characters and I understand that the plots do improve in later books.  

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Night's Kiss by Amanda Ashley

Night's Kiss
Title: Night’s Kiss
Author: Amanda Ashley
Series: The Night (book #1)
Next in series: Night’s Touch

My rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis: Roshan DeLongpre is a melancholy vampire who has lost his will to live until he reads about Brenna Flannigan, a witch burned at the stake, and finds himself inextricably drawn to her. He decides to travel to the past and bring her safely to his own time. Little does he know the dangerous threat that exists in the present to both Brenna’s life and his own…

Review: Stereotypical vampire fare.

Roshan has all the characteristics of an old-school vampire and is also a recluse. So if you are looking for a series similar to the Blackdagger Brotherhood, Midnight Breeds or Dark Hunters this is not for you. That said, he is an endearing character and his romance with Brenna is sweet even though the resolution to the vampire/human relationship did not appeal to me.

The story is virtually non-existent until the wicked warlock subplot and the epilogue feels completely contrived and superfluous. Another aspect of the tale that irritated me was Brenna’s characterization. She is established as a powerful witch but allows Roshan to dominate her and her powers appear to be completely useless when she finds herself in a precarious situation. I kept thinking: “Come on woman! You’re a witch! Use your magic!”

Is there such a thing as too much detail? Absolutely yes! In general, the writing style is ok but there is far too much information on theories of time travel and the fundamentals of witchcraft such as the significance of various colors and herbs.

This is a cute, light read but I am not really interested in continuing with the series.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Midnight Rising by Lara Adrian

Midnight Rising (The Midnight Breed, Book 4)Title: Midnight Rising
Author: Lara Adrian
Series: The Midnight Breed (book #4)
Previous in series: Midnight Awakening
Next in series: Veil of Midnight

My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: Fueled by rage following a devastating betrayal, Rio, the most tortured of the Breed warriors, is about to succumb to his darkest thoughts when Dylan Alexander crosses his path. With the power to expose the vampire race to humanity, Dylan must ultimately choose between the life she has always known and her destiny...

Review: A good story but not as suspenseful or intense as Kiss of Crimson or Midnight Awakening.

Rio and Dylan are a sweet couple. Rio is the epitome of the tortured hero (for which I have a weakness) and Dylan is feisty and definitely has a will of her own. I liked how she doesn’t let Rio or Lucan walk all over her, and is wonderfully accepting of Rio’s physical and emotional flaws. Nevertheless, their romance feels a bit rushed and their chemistry is not as forceful as in the other books.

I also appreciated the differences between Dylan and the other Breedmates. While she is not as sensitive as Tess or as kick butt as Elise, she is special in her own right. To begin with, her ability is darker than those of the others and the manner in which she copes with it reflects her determined spirit. Second, she has connections to the human world that the other mates lack. Unfortunately, Adrian’s methods for severing these ties feel contrived and even predictable.

Another issue I had difficulty with is the fact that Rio seems to overcome his trust issues and fall in love with Dylan far too quickly. This is inconsistent with his characterization in the previous books where he has an intense distrust of women following Eva’s betrayal.

Perhaps it would have been better if Rio’s story came later in the series after more time had elapsed.

The plot revolving around the villain’s plans for the ancient is developing in an interesting and exceedingly diabolical way. This villain is seriously evil and in this respect surpasses those in the previous books. I look forward to seeing how this aspect of the series develops.

Overall, I enjoy the way the series is developing and will definitely continue reading.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Sins of the Soul by Eve Silver

Sins of the Soul (Hqn)
Title: Sins of the Soul
Author: Eve Silver
Series: The Otherkins (book #2)
Previous in series: Sins of the Heart
Next in series: Sins of the Flesh

My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: Alastor Krayl is obsessed with finding his brother's killer and Naphre Kurata may be the key to discovering what happened to him. Each of these strong willed individuals is desperate to keep their secrets but this need is at war with their growing attraction. Can they learn to trust before it is too late and they lose everything they never knew they always wanted?

Review: Continues from the point where Sins of the Heart left off and is a strong addition to the series. It must be noted that the books should be read in order or the complex plot becomes virtually incomprehensible.

Alastor and Naphre are exciting characters and their backgrounds and motivation are detailed and intriguing. Their romance, however, is not as prominent or as developed as Dagan and Roxy’s. Alastor is very controlled and does not allow his emotions to influence his decisions until Naphre comes along and he cannot understand why she affects him so deeply. Naphre is very similar to Roxy – sexy, smart and spunky. I particularly enjoyed her professional ethics as an underworld assassin.

The story begins with Alastor’s attempt to gain more information concerning the mystery surrounding his brother Lokan’s murder. However, as the tale progresses the focus shifts away from this aspect of the plot and readers are no closer to discovering who is behind the horrendous bloodletting. Instead, the storyline moves toward Naphre’s true identity and the revelation of which underworld god has prior claim to the sins of her soul.

The mythology is well-researched and fascinating. It is refreshing to read about mythologies other than the Greeks and the Romans, and the focus in this installment is on the Japanese goddess of death. Silver’s writing is unique and her attention to detail is excellent. One thing that stands out is her use of accent and dialogue. For example, Alastor grew up in regency England and his vocabulary and style of speech reflect his origins. Silver has also succeeded in overcoming some of the writing issues that plagued the first book. Nevertheless, there are still certain repetitious phrases and some wording is identical to book one but this is not as distracting as before.

The book does end somewhat abruptly and, unlike the first installment, does not have an epilogue or cliffhanger leading the reader back into the main mystery. I anxiously await the next book to find out more about the third brother, Mal, and another Daughter of Aset, Calliope.

Kiss of Heat by Lora Leigh

Kiss of Heat (Feline Breeds, Book 3)Title: Kiss of Heat
Author: Lora Leigh
Series: Breeds (book #4)
Previous in series: Elizabeth’s Wolf
Next in series: Soul Deep

My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: After spending a decade believing each other dead, Kane Tyler and Sherra Callahan are finally reunited. Nevertheless, the devastating events of the past have turned them against each other and they must put aside their differences in order to heal the wounds that threaten to tear them asunder.

Review: Definitely lived up to my expectations. This was the book I was most looking forward to since beginning the series and I was not disappointed.

Kane and Sherra are extremely likeable characters and have an intense chemistry. Moreover, their tragic past contributes to the reader’s emotional involvement in the story. Kane is a supreme alpha even though he is not one of the Breed. I found his constant pissing contests with Taber amusing and his affection for Cassie endearing. Sherra is emotionally scarred and while I understand that she needed time to trust again, I could not fully accept her hostility and her stubborn and continued rejection of Kane once she realized that he never abandoned her. It also took her far too long to realize that she could not protect him from the unknown consequences of their mating. After all, the author emphasizes over and over that nature is all powerful and will always find a way.

Leigh’s writing is smooth and her dialogue engaging. The sex scenes were somewhat overdone and repetitious, and did not really contribute to either characterization or plot but they were definitely fun ;).

My one final nitpick pertains to all the Breed books so far and that is the lack of detail concerning the time the various characters spent at the Council labs. More information about how Kane and Sherra met and came together would have made their emotional and internal struggles even more engrossing.

Overall, an entertaining read and a sweet ending that makes it all worthwhile.

Exposed by Alex Kava

Exposed (Maggie O'Dell)
Title: Exposed
Author: Alex Kava
Series: Maggie O’Dell (Book #6)
Next in series: Black Friday
Previous in series: A Necessary Evil

My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: An act of terrorism or a personal vendetta…
On a seemingly routine morning at the FBI behavioral sciences unit, agent Maggie O’Dell and her superior find a threat hidden in the doughnut box and are subsequently exposed to a deadly virus. Is this the work of a fanatic or someone with a grudge? How many will die before Maggie and her partner uncover the truth?

Review: A thrilling premise delivered with style. A little different from the other books in the series, Exposure is more of a medical thriller than a serial killer novel. The plot is reminiscent of the 1995 film “Outbreak” with Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman and Rene Russo in which a diseased monkey is smuggled into the US and ends up infecting a small town.

Characterization is definitely Kava's strong suit and she doesn't disappoint with the revelations about Tully's past. Maggie, on the other hand, is still a strong and intelligent heroine but does not seem able to learn from her mistakes either personally or professionally. The secondary characters are also well-developed and clever hints are included in the details so that the careful reader can work out the nature of the threat and the identity of the villain, whose motivation turns out to be very intriguing.

In general, the book is well written and I particularly enjoyed the true crime trivia interspersed throughout. Nevertheless, there are moments, particularly in the first half, where the plot lags and the suspense is lacking; it ultimately picks up and progresses rapidly in the second half and from then on becomes “unputdownable”. It must be noted that the story relies heavily on information provided in earlier installments and as such this is not the book to read if you are new to the Maggie O’Dell series.

The surprises in this book should make the next one even more interesting.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Tempting the Fire by Sydney Croft

Tempting the FireTitle: Tempting the Fire
Author: Sydney Croft
Series: ACRO (book #5)
Previous in series: Taming the Fire
Next in series: Taken by Fire

My rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: Deep in the Amazon jungle lies a mythical monster that can tear a man limb from limb. ACRO agents, Sela Kahne and Marlena West, are sent to capture the beast but will need the help of two men, Logan Mills and Chance McCormack, each with their own dark secret to keep.

Review: Another engrossing story from the Sydney Croft writing team. This time the plot involves two romances and a continuation of the Annika and Creed storyline from the first three books.

Even though I enjoyed both couples, I felt that Marlena and Chance’s story is overshadowed by Logan and Sela, whose characterization is better developed. Logan is an interesting mix of strength (both physical and psychological) and vulnerability. He is my favorite type of hero – tortured. Sela is supremely confident and definitely holds her own in the battle of wills with Logan. Their relationship is passionate, their banter witty and their chemistry undeniable.

While Logan and Sela’s plot is action packed, Marlena and Chance’s is more sedate. She is quite timid and submits completely to his dominance. I must point out that while Marlena’s curse seems well-suited to this particular book and is resolved intelligently within the story, it is incompatible with the series as a whole. It moves away from the X-Men theme and into the realm of fantasy and the supernatural, i.e. magic and witchcraft.

My favorite aspect of the book is the development of Annika and Creed’s relationship. I love the intimate and intricate direction that their story is going and can’t wait to see how it pans out.

As usual, the writing is well-paced and the steamy sex scenes, which are not that integral to the plot as in previous installments, contribute to the connection between the characters. The book also ends with a series of captivating cliffhangers that made me want to rush out and get the final book in the series – it should be a doozy.