Archangel’s Heart (Nalini Singh)

Image result for archangel's heartTitle: Archangel’s Heart

Author: Nalini Singh

Series: Guild Hunter Series #9

Date: November 1, 2016

Summary:

One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory.

Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is…

Nothing will ever be the same again.

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Review Day! 

That annual date with the authors I follow has come again, and this time it’s one I have talked (and praised) before, Best-Selling Paranormal Romance Author Extraordinaire Nalini Singh!

I introduced Mrs. Singh’s Guild Hunter Series last year with her Archangel’s Enigma  and today I bring you yet another treat in the form of the next book in this amazing series about angels, vampires and overall Urban Fantasy goodness for the lovers of the genre. So, without further ado, enter Archangel’s Heart!

More information, visit the author’s website: http://nalinisingh.com/

The Review ———-

Back to the New York of The Guild Hunter Series. There, the Archangel Raphael, oneImage result for archangel's heart of the all-powerful archangels of the Cadre of Ten, rules over North America with a severity and power that are awe-inspiring. By his side are his Seven, an elite guard of angels and vampires tasked with protecting Raphael and his domains, and Elena, Raphael’s ever-adored, Guild Hunter consort.

Ever since Elena was turned into an angel some short years ago, troubles have rained down non-stop over her and her archangelic lover, testing their bonds and those of the city of New York as a whole. But for the last 2 years, things appear to have settled down. Or have they?

For this book, and in true Nalini Singh’s fashion, the author once more takes on the couple that started it all and launched this series into bestsellerdom, Raphael and Elena Deveraux.

Unlike my usual Romance reviews, these characters are in no way unknown to fans of the series, and for those who are new to it, some advice: don’t make #9 your series starter, kids. Play by the rules! So this time I’ll try to review any changes in attitude and behavior for this particular book.

Raphael is the Archangel of New York and undisputed lead male of the Guild Hunter series (even though he sometimes cedes the spotlight to one of the members of his Seven). In Archangel’s Heart Singh takes on Raphael again now as a “married” or “mated” angel who is very much in love with his consort and very much involved in her affairs. Raphael and Elena’s love story happens basically during Angel’s Heart (Book 1), but the aftermath of that love story is what has fueled or the books since, and to be honest, it never gets old.

It’s fascinating to see this extremely powerful, extremely dominant man butt heads with a woman that will never be a damsel in distress, who throws out as many punches as she receives and it’s never afraid to tell the supreme ruler of North America when he is being an a*hole. In this book, we get to see a Raphael more used to dealing with Elena (versus earlier books where he was often bewildered by her) and more confident in his part of her mate. It is also endearing how he tries to protect her without undermining her, and how he always tries to cultivate her strength instead of demanding that she conforms with being protected by his far, far superior abilities.

To be honest I like Raphael’s character, his and Elena’s relationship dynamic is very fluid. They are always exchanging barbs and teasing each other and the chemistry between them is very smooth. This book was no different, except for the fact that Raphael, unlike previous books, took a veritable backseat compared to Elena, who gets much more development. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t get more couple time, but other than that I cannot fault the interactions.

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Elena, on the other hand, gets her workout for this book. We discover a lot of new things about her and her background, and we also see how she has finally adapted to her place as an Archangel’s Consort and how she is slowly growing into her strength as a “baby angel.” It was very interesting to see Elena more comfortable in her position as Consort, to see her moving among the Cadre with ease and sure in her skin for once.

We always get Elena strong in her warrior suit, but this book proved that she can be interesting when she is not fighting as well. Archangel’s Heart Elena is on a mission to find the truth about her roots and to discover herself and the story of her lost family. She will have to put down the knives and use the head first and foremost, and the wiles and wit that are unavoidable in the sharp political environment of the Cadre of Ten, where relationships are threaded on the finest silk and any small misstep can mean war. We got to see some of this in Book #2, Archangel’s Kiss, but we get to revisit it, very successfully, for this book.

Now, I’ll be honest, I liked this book. I enjoyed reading it and I had a good time revisiting old characters and getting glimpses of past couples. I am also excited to see what will Nalini Singh bring us next. Now that said… I really don’t understand what is this book’s objective. The plot-line doesn’t tie up to the rest of the series’ central arc, and at the end of this book, nothing has changed in the overall story versus the beginning. Sure, we know some new things, have a couple new interesting characters, but all in all, it’s same old. This book can be skipped completely and readers would barely notice it, because the characters that appear are not relevant to any future development, and the story that unfolds is completely separate from the main line.

My rating:

4

“Almost There!”

A very good book, with just a couple of minor details that didn’t appeal to me personally, but that in no way diminish the value of the entire piece.

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Marrying Winterborne (Lisa Kleypas)

26242354Title: Marrying Winterborne

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Series: The Ravenels #2

Date: May 31, 2016

Blurb:

A ruthless tycoon

Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better…

A sheltered beauty

Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable… the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…

Marrying Mr. Winterborne

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Review Day! 

As promised, today we take on Lisa Kleypas’ Ravenel Series book 2, Marrying Winterborne. 

Not too many days ago I introduced this series when I reviewed book 1, Cold-Hearted Rake. Now I bring you the sequel, and what a joy it is. This book took me back to the good old times of Kleypas and filled me with hope of great things to come. Hopefully, the significantly higher quality will continue on to the rest of the books in this series, and Kleypas will keep on delivering Historical Romance jewels like this for a very, very long time.

The Ravenels’ next installment, Devil in Spring, hits shelves February 2017, and I for one am looking forward to it.   

More information, visit the author’s page: http://www.lisakleypas.com

So, the review! ———-

 

Marrying Winterborne is a novel with many echoes. Frequent readers of Kleypas will find allusions to earlier novels by this author such as Secrets of a Summer Night, Tempt Me at Twilight, and Where Dreams Begin. The industrial tycoon who29475665 falls in love with the high-born lady is a strategy Kleypas has employed several
times during her career, and has always brought her success. This book is no different.

The main characters are Rhys Winterborne and Lady Helen Ravenel.

We met Rhys before during his foray into Cold-Hearted Rake. Rhys is the son of a small grocer of Wales, who, through his own effort and determination, grew his father’s business to a world-wide empire. He is ruthless, harsh and regards the aristocracy with cynicism due to the contempt they showed him while he was still poor. There are few gentlemanly traits about him, and he has no intention of changing. However, he happens to fall in love with Helen, a high-class lady if there was ever one, and this throws the ordered life of Rhys into chaos. Unlike other heroes in his same situation (see novels above), Rhys didn’t actually held the control of his attraction fro Helen. I liked that. Kleypas tends to give us really assured heroes that know how to manage the girls like little puppets. Rhys is not like that. At the beginning of the book he is frustrated, confused and bewildered by his own attraction, and these feelings only intensify as the book goes on. His vulnerability is both endearing and surprising, especially because he accepts it and shrugs it off early on, as something inevitable. It was not hard to like this character, to be honest, and I kept rooting for him the whole way because, despite the ruthlessness and roughness of his personality, there is never any doubt from the beginning that he loves Helen dearly and would never do anything to hurt her.     

Image result for marrying winterborneHelen, on the other hand, was not what I expected. I thought she was going to be the kind of shy bride that would evolve into a more assured wife as she realized her power over this really strong, really powerful man. And she did. However, she went further than that, developing a personality and a set of morals completely separate from her relationship with Rhys, which is rare in most Romance novels. Normally the leads evolve due to their respective influences on each other but Helen was able to separate herself as a character and make meaningful and important contributions to the plot, without having to rely on her fellow lead for this. Even though she never quite looses the shyness and sweetness we were introduced to during Cold-Hearted Rake, she is able to put these aside and find a moral code to guide her actions that sets the base for her personality. As a result, I ended up liking (and respecting her) as a single character, and not a part of the couple. Her determination to stay true to herself, even when it may cost her happiness and the love of her life, was really believable and gave the character a strength I had not seen in a Romance novel in a while. It made me think of other leading girls such as Eleanor Ramsay, from The Duke’s Perfect Wife, Christine Derrick from Slightly Dangerous, and Evangeline Jenner from Kleypas’ own Devil in Winter  

Marrying Winterborne is a magnificent new novel by Lisa Kleypas. It fills my heart with hope to know that our favorite authors as always still have a lot left in them to give, and this book is definitely an example of that. I, personally, will be counting the days until the release of Devil in Spring, so we can see what new Historical Romance delight this author will deliver to our doors.

My rating:

5

“Grab ‘n Go!” 

The Altar! The crème de la crème. The book that ’ll revisit several times a year, just so I can re-read my favorite part. It’s not easy to get that coveted fifth star, so if you did, rest assured: you’ve definitely earned it!

Cold-Hearted Rake (Lisa Kleypas)

24431358Title: Cold-Hearted Rake

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Series: The Ravenel’s #1

Date: October 27, 2015

Blurb:

A twist of fate . . .

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

A clash of wills . . .

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?

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Review Day! 

This week I started reading the new series by one of my favorite Historical Romance authors: Lisa Kleypas! 

Those who have enjoyed series like The Wallflowers, The Hathaways and The Stokehurst among many others, will certainly know who this author is, and those who have not read them, should definitely give these series a try. Lisa Kleypas stands at the very top of the Historical Romance genre, and each one of her books is a delight of charming romance and great historical context.

Needless to say, the minute I learned that Kleypas had a new series out, I went for it at once, so today I bring you the review for the first book: Cold-Hearted Rake and later in the week we’ll take a look to book #2, Marrying Winterborne

More information, visit the author’s page: http://www.lisakleypas.com

Image result for cold hearted rake

So, the review! ———-

The Ravenels Series takes place during the Victorian era, when England is is struggling with industrialization and most aristocrats are seeing their centuries worth of agricultural wealth dwindling away. Readers of Kleypas will be pleased to know that the story happens some 30 years after the events of The Wallflowers, and we are going to be seeing some of the beloved characters of that series take part in this one as well.

The main characters in the book are Devon Ravenel and Kathleen Ravenel, dowager countess of Trenear.25685080

Devon is a good character. He is bold, rakish, self-assured, enjoying the good things in life and refusing responsibilities as best as he can. However, things go awry for Devon when he is saddled with a (bankrupted) earldom and all this means: hundreds of tenants, thousands of acres of land, and four young ladies, all of whom depend on him to bring prosperity and security.
Needless to say, it is not an easy task. Devon takes on his new appointment with aplomb and does whatever he can to fulfill these responsibilities. I thought the transition from irresponsible rake to concerned lord was a little rushed and abrupt, but regardless of that, the change works for the better. Devon becomes a more likable character and of course, his new-found sense of honor comes a long way to endearing him to the lady of the house, Kathleen. Devon also has had a difficult childhood, somewhat dark not unlike those of other Kleypas heroes like Westcliff, Merripen and Nikolas Angelovsky. However, I would say this backstory was not exploited enough in his case, and it could have yielded far more interesting results if the author had brought it forward a little more.   

30653412Kathleen is our heroine. She is the young widow of the late earl, and, of course, she buts heads with Devon every step of the way when it comes to ruling the estate. Her impetuousness is meant to be conflicting and sparking, to create friction between the two leads, and it does. The problem is, it doesn’t seem to have a good base. At the beginning of the book Kathleen has been married for a really short time, so it makes no sense that she will react so viscerally to Devon’s actions. With Kathleen, she seems to go from an utter dislike of Devon to an ardent love, and again, the process is fairly abrupt. I have to confess I was not charmed by her character, because it seemed as too volatile and a little unfinished. Her interactions with Devon were good, but there were many rough edges to her characterization that did not quite make sense.

Overall, the story of Cold-Hearted Rake was enjoyable and easy to read. It has a good flow, good chemistry between the leads and the subplots introducing the secondary characters are all well-crafted and interesting enough to leave you wanting to know more. I don’t see this book becoming one of my favorites of Kleypas (she has a lot to choose from after all), but I concede it was a quick, and good read.

My rating:

3 stars

 

“One of Many”

 Not a book I particularly loved or hated. But not one I’m likely to come back to in the future either.

Dark Carousel (Christine Feehan)

Title: Dark Carousel

Author: Christine Feehan

Series: Dark Series/Carpathians #30

Date: August 2, 2016

Blurb:

In the new Carpathian novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan, a woman falls prey to the seductive allure of the past—and a vampire warrior’s intoxicating embrace…

The moment Charlotte Vintage walks into his club, Tariq Asenguard’s blood is set on fire. The ancient Carpathian had given up hope of finding his lifemate, but now he will do anything to make Charlotte his own. What Tariq doesn’t know is that Charlotte is using herself and her best friend as bait—to try to draw out the bloodthirsty killers who have already murdered Charlotte’s brother and mentor.
 
Charlotte is familiar with Tariq. Not only is he one of the richest and most eligible bachelors in the city, but he’s also a renowned collector of old carousel horses, which Charlotte restores. Their shared passion opens Charlotte up to trusting him with her life and with the desire she can no longer control. But it also makes her vulnerable to a centuries-old curse that will unite her and Tariq in a war against the enemies of humans and Carpathians alike…

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Review Day! 

August has been a good month! May things on the making, including the book launch for The Razvak Hunter (at last!), the final touches to the prequel novella Heroes of Vallenthar (which has become a bigger undertaking than what I initially planned), and a bunch of other things that have piled up together without me noticing. But anyways, after a while, we get a new release of a favorite series and, of course, I’ll deliver a review (we can talk about all those things later!).

For today, let’s take a look at the new Dark Series book by Christine Feehan, Dark Carousel

I am actually extremely happy with this author, because it’s been a while since we got two full books on a single year. And especially when it comes to a book with as much expectation built up around it as this one.

Dark Carousel is number 30 (it’s getting old!) and so far it shows no signs of stopping or slowing down any time soon. Feehan has the gift of weaving amazingly complicated plots and introducing fascinating characters that only leave you wanting more, even for those of us who, like me, have gone through each of the 30 books in the series. 

So, let’s talk about Dark Carousel. 

The Review ———-30002352

This book connects directly with the evens of Dark Crime (a short story previously published in the anthology Edge of Darkness). It takes us back to America and the city of San Diego, and to the vampire plot happening there. Things are thorny in California, but luckily, we have our hero (and a good assortment of side kicks added up) to the rescue.

The male lead fans of the series know already very well. A long time ago, a urban legend says that Feehan had this particular book already finished years ago, but she lost it and was only able to recover one chapter. That chapter was released to the world, and ever since, it has been steadily building expectation in favor of these two characters.

Tariq Asenguard and Charlotte Vintage.
I must say, all in all, the couple doesn’t disappoint. 

Tariq is an unusual Carpathian, who has chosen to spend his life among humans and knows them well. He is more progressive than the rest of his brethren in that sense, and more “modern” (if such word can be applied to a man of thousands of years). It’s definitely a breath of fresh air in a sense, but also, a little different from the initial impression we got from him back when he was introduced some ten books ago. Still, it was enjoyable to read about him. He is a very caring man and can be protective without being overpowering, which is very important. 

Compared to him and his strong presence, the heroine, Charlotte, is a little dull around the edges. She is powerful, with a good personality and overall likable, but doesn’t have anything that really makes her stand out. Sadly, in a world where the males have really strong personalities, you need a woman as well-crafted as them not to pale in comparison and Charlotte is not that. She is very forgettable, and probably in a couple of books I’ll be talking about her simply as “Tariq’s lifemate” unless she gets some more protagonism in future books.

The rest of the story flows really well. We have some new and old characters introduced, including a new conflict that will make more than one shed a tear or two. There is much to be sad about in this book, but also much to enjoy and love.

Overall, the book is a good reading, remarkable not so much because of the central romance as because the intricate plot-line. Something big is brewing in this corner of the world of the Dark Series, and all the action that during the past books had been centered around the Carpathian Mountains is now migrating here. We can expect many old faces to return in future books as they come to join the fight that is coming. Really, it left me very anxious to know what is going to happen next (hopefully I won’t have to wait a full year to find out!)

 

 

I believe fans of the series have much to look forward to in Dark Carousel, and they are sure to be left wanting more after the last page of this exciting new novel is turned.

My rating:

4

“Almost There!”

A very good book, with just a couple of minor details that didn’t appeal to me personally, but that in no way diminish the value of the entire piece.

Invision (Sherrilyn Kenyon)

Title: Invision

Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Series: Chronicles of Nick 7

Date: May 3, 2016

Blurb:

One boy . . .
Many demons.

Think there’s a lot of pressure on your shoulders? Nick Gautier was born to bring about the end of the world . . . it’s not easy being the heir of a demon overlord.

But Nick is determined to thwart his destiny and get into a good college. To be more than his genetics and prophecy foretell. No one is ever going to tell this stubborn Cajun who and what he really is. Or how to live his life.

Not even the Fates of the Universe. But now that he and his team of ancient gods and demons have claimed the Eye of Ananke and he sees the missteps of the future, he has to battle the demons within that are far deadlier and more treacherous than any he’s battled before. All the while his arch nemesis is back and determined to reclaim his place as the harbinger for Armageddon. Even if it means killing Nick and barbecuing everyone he loves to do so.

 

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Review Day! 

Hello, hello. It’s been hectic on my end, but I haven’t forgotten! This month brought about a new release of one of the series I actively follow, The Chronicles of Nick, so a review was definitely in order. There’s a lot to be said about Invision, but let’s take it slow okay? 

Invision by Sherrilyn Kenyon is book 7 of the Chronicles of Nick, the teenage brother of the Dark Hunter Series (which I’ve talked about before), and unlike the Dark Hunters, is oriented towards a YA audience. Still, many of the adults reader of the original series have migrated towards these books because of the close correlation that exists between them. Chronicles of Nick is set to work as a prequel of sorts for Dark Hunters, and many of the events in the Chronicles affect directly the plot of the Dark Hunter books. But let’s focus on Invision for now.  

The Review ———-28220361

Invision is an interesting book. I confess I had to read it twice (along with a reread of the previous 3 books) because the first time I just didn’t understood a single thing of the plot AT ALL. If I had to select an aspect of Kenyon’s writing I believe she is unparalleled in, I would definitely choose her creativity. She has created an amazing, highly complex world filled with incredible characters, which gains depth and mastery with every new book she adds. Now, the thing is, one has to really focus to understand all the nuances and tiny little currents that run beneath the surface, because the input of information can be overwhelming at times.

Invision is like that. Overwhelming. There is a warning on the Author’s page that cautions not to read this book unless you’ve read the previous one, Instinct. I would correct that and say not to read this book unless you’ve been following the series CLOSELY all the way since book 4, Inferno, where the plot really started to unravel. Books 1-3 are your average Paranormal YA entries: cute, funny, a little action here and there, snark and sass on the main guy’s part and some teenage crush folded in for good measure. Book 4 is when the story really starts to takes shape, and with Invision, I would say the whole series enters a sort of phase 2.

Even though it doesn’t end in cliffhanger (technically) Invision is NOT a stand-alone book by any means. That said, I’ll try to keep this a spoilers-free environment

Invision presents us once again with Nick Gautier and his crew. Nick is a character first introduced in the very first Dark Hunter book, Night Pleasures (back in 2002), and remained as a secondary character as the series advanced, gaining notoriety and importance until it became not only a recurring presence, but an important part of the overall plot. Chronicles of Nick tackles on Nick’s awkward teenage years, his time in highschool and his overall origins.
Even though he is first introduced as a regular human, there is much, much more to Nick than meets the eye. He is actually the new Malachai, the ultimate demon lord whose fate is to destroy the world.

Ever since book 1, Nick and company have been dealing with this fate and doing all they can to try to thwart it, all while fending off the different paranormal creatures that want to get their hands on Nick and the incredible evil powers he commands. The Chronicles are full with time travel, demon attacks, wandering gods and end-of-the-world battles (including its very own Zombie Apocalypse!). The books are filled with action and dynamic situations, and Nick’s outlook in life, an awkward, snarky Cajun’s, adds a little spice to the plot that is always welcome.

Invision follows along this line quite well. In it, we see all the regular battle scenes and sarcastic word-crossings fans of the series are used to. By now, most of the pieces are in their right place, and Invision sets the tone for the second part of the series to develop. Up until now, Nick and their group have been fighting against their own destinies but this book closes that chapter and finally answers some of the lingering questions from the previous installments.

It also introduces a new enemy that will probably make up for the gross of the conflict of the rest of the series (6 more books if everything goes according to plan). Unlike many of the other characters we’ve met so far, who had their origins or appearances in the original Dark Hunters Series, this new villain is exclusively Chronicles of Nick, and will probably never migrate to the main series. Up until now, we had Nick against the world, but Invision finally gives us a villain that is worthy of Nick and one only he can defeat. 

However, things are not as easy as that.       

Invision has set the stage nicely, and planted a great deal of expectation in this fan’s heart. Worst part about it is the full year I’ll have to wait to know how it continues. Not nice, Kenyon, not nice at all! 

My rating:

5

“Grab ‘n Go!” 

The Altar! The crème de la crème. The book that ’ll revisit several times a year, just so I can re-read my favorite part. It’s not easy to get that coveted fifth star, so if you did, rest assured: you’ve definitely earned it!

The Beast (J. R. Ward)

Title: The Beast

Author: J. R. Ward

Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #14

Date: April 5, 2016

Blurb:

Rhage and Mary return in a new novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a series “so popular, I don’t think there’s a reader today who hasn’t at least heard of [it]” (USA Today).

Nothing is as it used to be for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. After avoiding war with the Shadows, alliances have shifted and lines have been drawn. The slayers of the Lessening Society are stronger than ever, preying on human weakness to acquire more money, more weapons, more power. But as the Brotherhood readies for an all-out attack on them, one of their own fights a battle within himself…

For Rhage, the Brother with the biggest appetites, but also the biggest heart, life was supposed to be perfect—or at the very least, perfectly enjoyable. Mary, his beloved shellan, is by his side and his King and his brothers are thriving. But Rhage can’t understand—or control—the panic and insecurity that plague him…

And that terrifies him—as well as distances him from his mate. After suffering mortal injury in battle, Rhage must reassess his priorities—and the answer, when it comes to him, rocks his world…and Mary’s. But Mary is on a journey of her own, one that will either bring them closer together or cause a split that neither will recover from..

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Review Day! 

 

Coming today, the latest installment of the raving warrior vampire series by best-selling author J. R. Ward, Black Dagger Brotherhood. 

The Beast is a Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy novel that follows up on the events of the previous books of the series. Unlike other Romance series of the moment, The Black Dagger Brotherhood books don’t follow the traditional scheme of one-book-per-couple, and instead each volume runs on multiple continual timelines and perspectives that constantly introduce new characters and bring forward old ones. The timelines normally extend through several books and influence events within each other like a tight web.

Ms. Ward has introduced great innovation into the genre with this series, and her books continue to be complex, highly dynamic endeavors that cannot quite be read as stand-alone, but instead as an integral part of the entire series.    

More information, visit the author’s official page: http://www.jrward.com/bdb/

 

So, let’s see it! ———-

This book is both a new volume and an inner sequel to the second installment of the series, Lover Eternalthat takes on issues the couple has come across since the events of the original story. A follow up on old characters is something J. R. Ward has done several times before in this series in books like Lover Unleashed, Lover Reborn, and The King. It’s a proven strategy to keep the reader’s attention by bringing forward the characters they originally fell in love with, and in my opinion, it works quite well. Although this is a strategy that quite a good deal of authors use, I have yet to see one do it as masterfully as Ms. Ward. 

The main characters in The Beast are once again Rhage, Black Dagger Brother and Mary Madonna Luce, introduced ten years ago in Lover Eternal.

Rhage is the strongest warrior of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. He is beautiful, irreverent, funny, and madly in love with his wife, Mary. Rhage also has a dangerous alter-ego given to him by a deity, which comes out at inappropriate times and creates messes for him and his brothers. At the beginning of the book, we see Vishous, Rhage’s brother who is gifted with precognition, tell Rhage that he is going to die, and the entire action develops from there into a whirlwind of emotion that explores Rhage’s deteriorated psychological state and his relationship both with Mary and his Brothers. Rhage is a character that is well-loved by the fans and for good reason. He is funny, he is sweet and overall fairly uncomplicated, compared to some of the other characters. However, this doesn’t mean he’s shallow. Rhage has been dealing with some survivor’s guilt since the previous book, The Shadows, and to it adds his own guilt and conflict with a longing that threatens the very core of his marriage. As always with this series, the character’s arc for the lead is joyful to read and the ups and down are both heart-wrenching and inspiring, treated with a care and mastery that make them life-size. Rhage’s problems and insecurities are very human and relatable, seemingly mundane at times, despite his vampiric (paranormal) environment, and thus, the resolution of these resonates deeply with the readers.

Mary is Rhage’s partner. She is a former human to whom the goddess of the vampire race granted immortality as a bounty to Rhage. While she was human, she was sick with leukemia, and the heavy cancer treatments left her infertile. Mary’s inability to have children has been one of the unresolved spots of the series ever since book 2, but the issue gets explored and made into a main topic in this book. What infertility does to Mary and Rhage, how they come to terms with it and fix the problem is the principal theme of their timeline. It shows once again the values of compassion, generosity and understanding that compress Mary’s personality, and acts as the component that strengthens her relationship with his husband in a way that is believable and real. For this book, Ward tackles an issue that is very human, when a member of the couple wants a child but the other member is unable to provide it, and does so with a talented and open-minded approach that doesn’t focus in the good over the bad (like many romance novels do) but instead puts every fact on the table and lets the plot resolve itself in a reasonable way according to the attitudes she set up for her characters.

Overall, the whole process is seamless and smooth, the actions and reactions of the characters making sense with their environment and the story developing at a dynamic pace during actions scenes, and a deep thoughtful pace during the self-reflection ones.

The Beast also continues with the timelines of secondary characters introduced in earlier books and resolves issues of the plot that had been left open. A brand new long-term character takes stage and some new conflicts arise to sustain future volumes. Overall, it’s everything you could expect as a mid-series installment, and uses the success recipe Ward has invented and perfected to make sure none of her Black Dagger Brotherhood books ever go below the 4 star margin. This one is no different.

 

My rating:

4

“Almost There!”

A very good book, with just a couple of minor details that didn’t appeal to me personally, but that in no way diminish the value of the entire piece.

The Bride (Julie Garwood)

The Bride (Lairds' Fiancées, #1)Title: The Bride

Author: Julie Garwood

Series: Lairds’ Fiancées #1

Date: May 21, 2002

Blurb:

By the king’s edict, Alec Kincaid, mightiest of the Scottish lairds, must take an English bride. And Jamie the youngest daughter of Baron Jamison, is his choice. From his first glimpse of the proud and beautiful English lady, Alec felt a burning hunger stir within him. This was a woman worthy of his fearless warrior’s spirit. And he aches to touch her, tame her, possess her…forever.

But with the wedding vows, Jamie pledges her own secret oath: She will never surrender her love to this Highland barbarian. He was everything her heart warned her against — an arrogant, brooding scoundrel whose rough good looks and seductive embrace fire her blood. But when strange accidents begin to threaten Jamie’s life and an old rumor that Alec killed his first wife spreads anew, something far more dangerous than desire threatens to conquer her senses.

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Review Day! 

Another, another! 

Let’s make today’s an old one with this almost 15-years-old novel by New York Times Bestselling Author Julie Garwood.

No reader of Historical Romance that’s worth something hasn’t heard of this lady. She’s one of my favorites of the genre and her novels are always a joy to read. This particular one I had tucked in the bottom of my library and had forgotten about, until today. Foolish, truly foolish! Ms. Garwood has a gift for storytelling, and the story of The Bride has something for everyone. It’s funny, endearing, instructive, charming… the characters are well crafted and the world is colorful and complex, displaying the beauty of the Scottish Highlands in all its splendor.  

More information, visit the author’s page: http://www.juliegarwood.com

So, the review! ———-

Welcome to the land of 12th Century England, and the wild Highlands of Scotland, ruled by the powerful warrior clans. Era of castles, swords and love.

I always love Highlander novels, because they have their own little world full of traditions and traits that are always enjoyable to learn. The Bride is no different. It introduces us to the proud Kincaids, a strong and prosperous clan that keeps a tight reign over their piece of the Highlands, and defends their home with fierce determination.

The Bride (Lairds' Fiancées, #1)The main characters in the book are Laird Alec Kincaid and Lady Jamie, daughter of Baron Jamison.

Alec is arrogant, cocky, used to always getting his way. He is a warrior who enjoys his own strength and has a very particular view of how things should be. He is a leader, first and foremost, with hundreds of men and women that depend on him, and with no time to worry about insignificant affairs. Such as a wife. I actually found his character quite endearing because through it all, Alec keeps telling himself he is in control, that things are done his way, and even when he ends up falling for his own wife (the horror!), it still because he decided to do it, because he wanted to from the beginning. Because of this silly trait of his nature, his arrogance is quite funny to behold. He is indeed strong, protective and a little bit dangerous, but that only adds to his charm when he does, or doesn’t do, things that could affect his wife’s feeling or takes care never to make her sad or hurt her. Of course, is not because he cares about her, but because her sadness or hurt would bother him.  

The Bride (Lairds' Fiancees, #1)Jamie is far easier to understand. She is a kind, caring woman, used to taking care of others, who, despite the initial fear for her future, quickly accepts her conditions and commits herself to making her marriage work. I liked her outlook a lot. She is positive, driven and strong, willing to always try her best and look at things from a positive standpoint. She believes the only way to achieve a good marriage is by securing her husband’s love, and so, she gets to work on this goal with all her might. However, this doesn’t mean she won’t stand up to her man, and set him straight when the need arises. Truly she is quite the sweet character and as I read I couldn’t help but cheer for her (You go, girl!). She is one of those characters you are genuinely happy they got a happy ending.

I enjoyed the story of The Bride a lot. I enjoyed their bickering and their relationship, the way they slowly moved towards each other in a smooth, believable way. There were many funny moments, and many sweet moments, and the plot also has a bit of mystery and action thrown in, for those of you who like their romance with some kick. Truly an excellent exponent of the genre, and a compliment to you, Ms. Garwood, for bringing it to life.

My rating:

5

“Grab ‘n Go!” 

The Altar! The crème de la crème. The book that ’ll revisit several times a year, just so I can re-read my favorite part. It’s not easy to get that coveted fifth star, so if you did, rest assured: you’ve definitely earned it!

Dark Promises (Christine Feehan)

Title: Dark Promises

Author: Christine Feehan

Series: Dark Series/Carpathians #29

Date: March 15, 2016

Blurb:

Lovers challenge destiny and risk their lives in the new Carpathian novel by the #1 New York Times bestselling “queen of paranormal romance.”*

Gabrielle has had enough of battles, of wars, of seeing Gary Jansen, the man she loves nearly lose his life when it isn’t even his fight. Once he was a gentle and very human researcher. Now he’s a fearless and lethal Carpathian warrior with the blood of an ancient lineage coursing through his veins—a man Gabrielle still needs and desires and dreams of with every breath she takes. All she wants is a life far away from the Carpathian mountains, far from vampires and the shadows cast by the crumbling monastery that hides so many terrible secrets. But Gabrielle soon learns that promises made in the dark can pierce the heart like a dagger.

And she isn’t the only one in search of answers in the corners of the unknown…

Trixie Joanes has come to the Carpathian mountains in search of her wayward granddaughter, fearing that she has been lured there by something unspeakable. Instead, Trixie has stumbled into the path of a desperate man and a woman in love and on the run. And they’re all fated for the lair of a mysterious ancient with revenge in his soul and the undying power to make bad dreams come true.

separador

Review Day! 

 

Wow! It’s been forever since I did one of these. Ever since I started the blog I’ve learned quite a couple of useful things. Like the fact that authors are not supposed to review other authors’ books (as per Amazon TOS), and many other interesting tidbits. So now I’m only reviewing books I was already fan of before I started writing. Or books I read and enjoy specifically as a reader and nothing more. For today, we have the latest Dark Series book by Christine Feehan, Dark Promises

Dark Promises is not the first Feehan book I’ve reviewed here (check here for #28, Dark Ghost) and I’ll say again, I am fan of this author. I wait her books eagerness and I’m not afraid to admit that at this point there is nothing she can do that will make me drop the series (except killing Mikhail, Feehan, that is NOT allowed!).

That said, however, I struggled with this book. I’ll tell you why.   

The Review ———-Dark Promises ('Dark' Carpathian)

The book follows the path left by Dark Ghost, takes us to the Carpathian Mountains where the series started and shows us some more of the Carpathian world. For those fans of the series, you all know what this world is all about, and for those who don’t, here’s the summarized version: Carpathians are a race of beings that can fly, shapeshift and control nature. They feed on the blood of the humans but they do not kill. The Carpathians are almost extinct because of a particular trait of their race: each member can only have one partner for life. The males are the darkness, the females are the light. If the males do not find their mates in time, they risk being overcomed by the darkness in their souls and turning into a vampire, a mindless killer whose only purpose is to murder humans.

For Dark Promises we have not one, but two parallel stories (I’d go so far as to say there’s 3), which mean we have more than 2 main character.  Let’s start with the easy ones, shall we?

Two of the main characters are Fane and Trixie Joanes.

Dark PromisesFane and Trixie are already familiar because of their involvement in Dark Ghost. Fane is the Guardian of the Gates to the mysterious monastery that holds a group of Ancients too close to turning to be in the outside world. These Ancients keep to themselves and seclude themselves in the monastery in the hopes that, if they do succumb to the darkness, they won’t be able to harm anyone before their cellmates end them. Fane is funny and endearing, sexy and with a great sense of humor. Truly, his and Trixie’s pairing was a joy to read and I kept laughing non-stop through their scenes. Trixie is Teagan’s (Dark Ghost lead female) grandmother. She is feisty, sassy, sure of herself and yet vulnerable. She had a very difficult past but she didn’t let it bring her down, and instead made a good life for herself and her family. I really enjoyed reading about her. The problem was, these two didn’t have much time on the spotlight. 

That honor belonged to the other main couple (or threesome?).

Gabrielle Sanders and Aleksei are the other two. Aleksei is one of the ancients from the monastery. He is hard, domineering, dangerous and pretty much all we are used the Carpathians to be. Perhaps he takes it a teeny-tiny bit beyond (some hints of BDSM here and there), but nothing too radical. Personally, I had no trouble with him.

Gabrielle was the one who ruined the book for me. Gabrielle, for those who remember her, is sister to Joie, another leading girl, and was turned into Carpathian earlier in the series, after being stabbed almost to death. While she was still a human, she fell in love with Gary Jansen, another human that helped the Carpathian people. Fans were really eager to see how the relationship of these two would end up, specially after Gary was turned a couple of books ago, when he almost die in a fight. Needless to say, expectation was high. The problem is, as I mentioned before, Carpathians have one and only mate for life. They cannot have another or take another, and it’s against their law to take a partner that is not your mate. Gabrielle didn’t get the memo. Her obsession with Gary and with rejecting what she had become bordered on fanaticism, and her childish actions didn’t allow me to empathize with her situation. I kept seeing a three-year-old, spoiled brat set on her favorite toy, without any regard for the damage she left behind. With her selfishness, she hurts Gary, Aleksei and herself. The dynamic of her relationship with Aleksei is shattered at the very beginning because of her obsession with Gary, and sadly, it never recovers.

The rest of the book for these two is all about sex and domination, with Aleksei trying to impose himself on the woman he believes betrayed him, and Gabrielle unable to accept the fact that she was wrong in clinging to Gary as she did. In the middle of it all, Gary remains the saddest victim. He loses everything because of what Gabrielle did, and now is in real danger because of her selfish actions.

The only saving grace of this book was, as I said above, Trixie and Fane. Other than that, it was a no for me.

My rating:

3 stars

“One of Many”

 Not a book I particularly loved or hated. But not one I’m likely to come back to in the future either.

The Wolf and the Dove (Kathleen E. Woodiwiss)

Title: The Wolf and the Dove

Author: Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Series: 

Date: 1974

Blurb:

The Wolf

Noble Aislinn grieves as the Iron Wolf and his minions storm through her beloved Darkenwald. And she burns with malice for the handsome Norman savage who would enslave her. . .even as she aches to know the rapture of the conqueror’s kiss.

The Dove

For the first time ever, mighty Wulfgar has been vanquished – and by a bold and beautiful princess of Saxon blood. He must have the chaste, sensuous enchantress who is sworn to his destruction. And he will risk life itself to nurture with tender passion a glorious union born in the blistering heat of hatred and war.

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Review Day! 

Let’s make it a throwback, shall we?

Today I bring you an old one by late New York Times Bestselling Author Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.

The Wolf and the Dove is a Historical Medieval Romance. Taking place during the times of William the Conqueror (year 1066), it shows us the now almost legendary conflict between Saxony and Normandy for the control of England. I must say this is the first Woodiwiss book I’ve read, and only because it was dearly recommended. I had seen her name before but never actually got curious. Oh, boy, was I missing out!

Mrs. Woodiwiss knowledge of History and her narrative control and nothing short of masterful. I as I read, it felt like I was going through a specially detailed, specially interesting, specially amazing Encyclopedia that offered a colorful, three-dimensional version of a century long gone.

I love fiction books that can teach the reader (you should know, most of what I know about Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo comes from Regency novels!) and this author has gone above and beyond in that sense.     

More information, visit the author’s wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathleen_E._Woodiwiss

 

So, let’s see it! ———-

This book presents us with an England ravaged by war. As Normandy invades and Duke William advances to take his crown, Saxony slowly falls under the onslaught, and the Saxon lords are given the option to either yield or die against the power of the fierce invaders. Elderly Lord Erland of Darkenwald meets the intruders head on when they threaten his holding, and enraged by their unreasonable and cruel demands, he stands against them to defend his home.

His death leaves his wife and young daughter, as well as the poor souls of Darkenwald at the mercy of a cruel, vindictive Norman knight named Ragnor de Marte.

But not all is lost. Because Ragnor is not to be the new Lord of Darkenwald. No, Duke William has promised these lands to another of his loyal vassals: a mighty warrior known as the Iron Wolf.

The main characters in The Wolf and the Dove are Wulfgar and Aislinn.

Wulfgar is a Norman knight serving William the Conqueror. Scorned because of his bastardous birth, he is mocked by other noble knights in William’s army, even as he is feared by these same knights because of his battle prowess. He values loyalty over all, rewards good deeds handsomely and punishes mistakes harshly. I would say he is a great example of what a medieval lord would be: he is a warrior but also a leader, and knows the value of good service, he doesn’t kill when there is no need, and although he does not seek war, he is ready to face it and is never unprepared. Intelligent, strong and calculating, Wulfar is aloof and unattached, with a manifested hatred towards women. That, of course, until he meets Aislinn.

Aislinn is an interesting character. The daughter of the deceased Lord Erland, she gets to see her father being murdered, her home ravaged and her mother beaten by the Norman soldiers. Her rape on the hands of the same man who murdered his father is the ultimate humiliation in her eyes. This causes her to develop a scorching hatred for them, but what I found interesting is that the emotion is not forefront for her. Sure, she is resented and bitter, but she doesn’t let the emotion cloud her judgement. She doesn’t attack the knights or tries to take revenge. As she sees her house being taken by her enemies and her people being forced into servitude, she doesn’t come with some nefarious and subtle (naive and stupid) plan to right the wrongs. Instead, she accepts her circumstances with philosophy while trying to make the best she can of a bad situation. It surprised me because I’ve seen several Historical Romance heroines who always get incredibly flustered and spend hours musing about revenge and justice, and blah, blah, blah… Reading about Aislinn I realized that that is exactly the way a real woman in her position would’ve acted. These women live with war every day and they know what it entails, they know that one day they can be the victors, and the next day they can be on the losing side. Accepting what can’t be changed and trying to get past it and build a good life is all they can do to take control of their destiny.


Aislinn’s strength and her common sense was a pleasant surprise indeed. Of course,
this doesn’t mean she didn’t fight every step of the way against Wulfgar.

The relationship between these two was one I liked a lot. In private they were bickering and fighting savagely, one for control, the other for freedom. But in public they presented a united front, two against the world and for those who needed them. The relationship is all about compromising, about shedding one’s shields and accepting the other person, including the way they can hurt you if they please. These two characters have been taught not to trust others the hard way, and they must re-learn their lessons if they want to make it work. The whole process was bumpy and complicated and also totally believable. Seeing this two come together and go from sworn enemies to loving couple was very enjoyable for me.

 

My rating:

5

“Grab ‘n Go!” 

The Altar! The crème de la crème. The book that ’ll revisit several times a year, just so I can re-read my favorite part. It’s not easy to get that coveted fifth star, so if you did, rest assured: you’ve definitely earned it!

About a Vampire (Lynsay Sands)

Justin Bricker's storyTitle: About a Vampire

Author: Lynsay Sands

Series: Argeneau/Rogue Hunters #22

Date: September 29, 2015

Blurb:

In New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands’ new Argeneau novel, a vampire accustomed to seducing every woman he meets finds the one determined to resist him…

With Immortal good looks and scorching charisma, Justin Bricker has yet to meet a woman he can’t win over. His potential life mate should be no different. But instead of falling into his bed, Holly Bosley runs away and ends up mortally wounded. To save her, he has to turn her. And then Bricker learns the shocking truth: Holly’s already married.

Holly wakes up with a bump on her head, a craving for blood, and a sexy stranger who insists they belong together. She needs Bricker’s help to control her new abilities, even as she tries to resist his relentless seduction. Choosing between the world she knows and the eternity he offers is impossible. But Justin is fighting for his life mate—maybe even his life—and he’ll break every rule to do it…

separador

Review Day! 

A new week, a new book.

This time allow me to introduce to you Bestselling Author Lynsay Sands who combines humor, action and romance in her widely successful books saga.

About a Vampire is book #22 of  the Argeneau/Rogue Hunters Series, a Urban Fantasy, more Science-Fiction than Paranormal, Romance series. By now you probably know I have a thing for vampires. Actually looking back probably a 90% of the ongoing series I follow have some sort of vampiric content. Sands’ books are no different, except perhaps in the fact that she has two things that set her apart from the rest:

Number 1: She provides a scientifically plausible explanation for the vampiric characteristics of her characters. I’m actually quite amazed by the way she has treated this topic, because it’s fresh, believable and (what makes it even more interesting) possible!

Number 2: Her books have a big humorous component. Even though the latest installments on the series have shown an increasing level of action (opposite to the first books, where there was hardly any), the books have not lost their laugh-out-loud core that identifies the saga.

At the beginning, I must confess I only wanted a simple, enjoyable vampiric series to pass the time. I really didn’t think she would hook me as she has, so good work Ms. Sands!

More information, visit the author’s website: http://lynsaysands.net/

So, for this book! ———-

 

Atlantis was a fabulous city with incredible technological advances. They developed a way to treat sickness and injury at its core through the use of nanotechnology. The nanos implanted in the hosts are programmed to heal diseases and treat overall body decay, and they need extra blood to be able to perform at full capacity. In Atlantis, this was never a problem, since they had blood banks. But then Atlantis fell…

Fast-forward three thousand years in the future, the descendant of the Atlanteans live among us as a hidden society of immortals. Time has changed them and they have evolved to adapt to the new world they were thrown in. They are stronger, faster, more durable, and with the ability to read and control human minds. They blend in with the rest of the world, have their own rules and laws, and the most important one is that if one of them finds a person whose mind he cannot read or control, that person is intended to be his or her life mate. The only person in the world they can love and live with. They only person in the world for them.

The main characters in About a Vampire are Justin Bricker and Holly Bosley.

Justin is a character that fans of the series have been looking forward to for a while now. Since he was introduced about ten books ago, he’s made a place for himself with his quick wit, youthful charm and funny remarks. Needless to say, I was excited about his book. Sadly, Justin disappointed me greatly. He’s shallow, selfish and overall a little bit of a jerk. He’s been thrown up with a married life mate, which I understand can be frustrating, but he manages the situation awfully, all the time thinking in sexual terms I got quite tired of because they weren’t even possible with the plot. His whole development as a character was poor, and, even though the ending was ok, by them I was already too disappointed to care.

Holly is no better. While she’s slightly more developed as a character that Justin, there are things about her that still make no sense. She is always confused, never seems to be sure of anything, and even when she is sure about something (like the fact that she wants to keep her marriage together) it comes across as naive stubbornness, because she doesn’t have a plan or an actual goal. Everything is pretty vague about her and I couldn’t find a quality that actually grounds her as a person.

The relationship was bumpy at best, awkward at worst. It started about the middle of the book so the entire beginning was just senseless stalling, and from then on it was sex-based alone. There were a couple of moments of actual talk but they never transpired. The actual things that make a couple were overlooked in favor of the sweaty stuff. Not nice, if I wanted to read sex I’d go for Erotica. Overall it was a bad book for me, and the only thing remarkable about it is probably the humor I mentioned earlier. Although dulled by a bad plotline, I still had a couple of laughs. Too bad it wasn’t enough to make up for the rest of it.

 

My rating:

3 stars

“One of Many”

 Not a book I particularly loved or hated. But not one I’m likely to come back to in the future either.