Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The MacGregor Grooms by Nora Roberts

In this sequel to her "New York Times" bestseller "The MacGregor Brides", Nora Roberts one again brings readers back to the warmth and charm of her beloved MacGregor family. Daniel MacGregor continues his matchmaking shenanigans as he sets out to prove to his three grandsons that he has an unerring instinct for love.

While this isn't the very first romance I ever purchased (that belongs to a certain Harlequin Presents that I still own) this is the first Nora Roberts book I ever bought and it sparked in me the love I have for everything she writes. It is the quintessential Roberts novel, even though it stands as a collection of three stories. Each one is ridiculously sweet and fun to read and you just end up so happy at the end that you feel like you're gonna burst. And I think it has to be attributed to her characters, the MacGregors themselves, along with the women and men who come into their lives, that end up shaping a terrific story. Each player is just so full of personality that they become incredibly real to the reader and thus the happy ending is even more poignant when you get to it. I highly recommend everyone of the books in this series, as for me they're guaranteed rereads and hold a well loved and worn spot on myselves and in my heart. No matter how corny that sounds.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs Up, A++++. These books are Nora Roberts at her best, and I recommend them to every reader, not just a romance reader.
Series - 1) The MacGregors: Serena ~ Caine 2) The MacGregors: Alan ~ Grant 3) The MacGregors: Daniel ~ Ian 4) The MacGregor Brides 5) The Winning Hand 6) The MacGregor Grooms 7) The Perfect Neighbor 8) Rebellion

***This is the order of when the novels were published, not necessarily the order in which couples get together. Meaning the first two books are about Daniel's children, while everything that comes after book number 3 (Daniel's book) is about his grandchildren.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

Except for Sookie Stackhouse, folks in Bon Temps, Louisiana, know little about vamps—and nothing about weres.

Until now. The weres and shifters have finally decided to reveal their existence to the ordinary world. At first all goes well. Then the mutilated body of a were-panther is found near the bar where Sookie works—and she feels compelled to discover who, human or otherwise, did it.

But there’s a far greater danger threatening Bon Temps. A race of unhuman beings—older, more powerful, and more secretive than vampires or werewolves—is preparing for war. And Sookie finds herself an all-too human pawn in their battle.

I think it is a testament to Harris' writing ability that while I can't quite figure out all of the feelings this book left me with, I know it was a great book. This latest addition to the Sookie Stackhouse books is just so intricate. There have always been an assorted amount of events and interations going on throughout Harris' books, they've never been simple, but this one just kind of blew my mind a bit with the places it went. Harris puts Sookie in a dark place in this book, and while violence has never been missing in this series, it's never quite been as prominently placed as it is here. There is still romance, there is still the hint that a happy ending (as it's usually defined) is going to appear somewhere, but Sookie's journey is far from over and I'm excited to see where Harris is going to go next.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. Darker, but still entertaining, this series is definitely going places.
Series - 1) Dead Until Dark 2) Living Dead in Dallas 3) Club Dead 4) Dead to the World 5) Dead as a Doornail 6) Definitely Dead 7) All Together Dead 8) From Dead to Worse 9) Dead and Gone

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Mane Event by Shelly Laurenston

How come all the good-looking ones are insane? That's what runs through NYPD cop Desiree "Dez" MacDermot's mind the minute she hooks up again with her childhood buddy, Mace Llewellyn. It isn't just the way he stares at her with those too-sexy gold eyes-as if he could devour her on the spot. Or the six-four, built-like-a-Navy Seal bod-o-death. It isn't even that he sniffs her neck and purrs, making her entire body tingle. It's more about that disconcerting, shifting-from-man-to-lion thing that unhinges her…and makes her want more. Mace likes making Dez crazy. In fact, he likes her any way he can get her-in bed, on the desk, here, now, again. Together, they'd always been trouble, but Dez has no idea just how good trouble can feel…

Brendon Shaw, hotel owner and lion shifter, has seen better days. He's been beaten, had a gun to the back of his head, and had to be rescued by a Pack of shape-shifting wolves. He didn't think he'd survive the night, much less find the woman of his dreams. And he never thought the woman of his dreams would have a Tennessee accent and wear cowboy boots. Once he sets his sights on her, the predator in him is ready to pounce and never let go. Ronnie Lee Reed is ready to change her life, and New York City is the place where any girl-even one who runs with a Pack-can redefine herself. First order of business: find a mate, settle down, and stop using men for sex. Even big, gorgeous, lion-shifting, oh-my-what-big-um-paws-you-have men. Then again…

Shelly Laurenston writes a damn good paranormal (somewhat erotic) romance. Her books usually feature some sort of shapeshifter (whether animal or dragon) and the escapades that ensure when the main characters get together are always fun. Her women are always kick ass and take charge, while the men are Alpha's with hearts. The best of both worlds I think. She's making her shift from eBook to print, so at the moment new stories are being interspersed with reprints of older releases. My favorite tale in this two-fer is the story of Mace and Dez. You can literally feel the heat coming off of the pages when these two get together. But it is the emotion that you can also feel between the two, and in Mace's determination to get Dez to admit her feellings about him, that truly makes the story memorable.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. So much fun, you're going to be laughing out loud and racing to turn the page at the same time.
Series - 1) The Mane Event 2) The Beast in Him 3) The Mane Attraction

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

The Warden Morgan has been accused of treason against the Wizards of the White Council--and there's only one, final punishment for that crime. He's on the run, wants his name cleared, and needs someone with a knack for backing the underdog. Someone like Harry Dresden.

Now, Harry must uncover a traitor within the Council, keep a less-than-agreeable Morgan under wraps, and avoid coming under scrutiny himself. And a single mistake may cost someone his head--someone like Harry.

Jim Butcher has earned a place in my heart as an incredible urban fantasy writer. Though the Dresden novels are set in the present, it's a kind of present that while being completely fantastic, is at the same time completely logical and believable. Harry Dresden is the type of complicated, yet uncomplicated, hero that every reader loves to root for. Always there for the underdog, determined to preserve goodness in all it's aspects, he persists in doing what he can to make life better. Yet his own emotional turmoil while does so lets the reader empathize with him along his journey. This latest installment again continues with the type of bittersweet heroism that run through all the books. Romance and deception, danger and intrigue, all these and more make an appearance. An incredible addition and highly recommended - along with the entire series of course.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. Another great book in a series that is helping to define urban fantasy today.
Series - 1) Storm Front 2) Fool Moon 3) Grave Peril 4) Summer Knight 5) Death Masks 6) Blood Rites 7) Dead Beat 8) Proven Guilty 9) White Knight 10) Small Favor 11) Turn Coat

Monday, May 11, 2009

Looking Ahead - New Releases in June

I'm always looking forward to what I get to read next, so I thought I'd give everyone a quick update on what's coming out in June! Book releases typically happen on Tuesdays, but if you see something out in stores early it means that the title wasn't strict on sale, so as soon as your bookstore had it - out on the shelves it went!

June 1st - Edge of Desire by Rhyannon Byrd (3rd book in her Primal Instinct trilogy)
June 2nd - Skin Trade by Laurell K Hamilton (Anita Blake book #17), Kissing Midnight by Emma Holly (first book in a new trilogy), Demon Mistress by Yasmine Galenorn (6th book in her Other World series), Undead and Unwelcome by MaryJanice Davidson (Betsy Taylor book #8), Atlantis Unleashed by Alyssa Day (latest Warriors of Poseidon book)
June 23rd - Real Men Last All Night by Lora Leigh, Lori Foster, and two others
June 30th - Hidden Currents by Christine Feehan (Drake Sisters book #7), Huntress by Christine Warren, Marjorie M Liu, and two others

Vision in White by Nora Roberts

Wedding photographer Mackensie "Mac" Elliot is most at home behind the camera, but her focus is shattered moments before an important wedding rehearsal when she bumps into the bride-to-be's brother . . . an encounter that has them both seeing stars.

A stable, safe English teacher, Carter Maguire is definitely not Mac's type. But a casual fling might be just what she needs to take her mind off bridezillas. Of course, casual flings can turn into something more when you least expect it. And Mac will have to turn to her three best friends--and business partners--to see her way to her own happy ending.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that impressed with this latest offering from Nora Roberts. I own more books by her than anyone else, and even now I’d probably still buy anything new that she publishes, but this particular book just didn’t touch me like some of her others. I don’t know if it was that the story went by too fast, or if the ‘emotional hardship’ that had to be overcome for the relationship to work just wasn’t dramatic enough, I don’t know. Mac was a mostly sympathetic character and her romance with Carter was enjoyable, mostly because he’s so cute as the clumsy professor, but on the whole I just didn’t care. I got to the end and was surprised, because I was left with a feeling that there should be more.

Overall Feeling – Eh. Not great, not bad. Good enough to add to the collection, especially since there are a guaranteed 3 more coming.
Series – 1) Vision in White

Moonlight Warrior by Janet Chapman

Eve Anderson is darned tired of Kenzie Gregor meddling in her business. She might be struggling to keep herself and her ailing mother financially afloat, but she's no princess in need of a strong, capable knight in a black SUV to rescue her -- even if he is easy on the eyes. Besides, there's something very odd about him...and she's sure the strange events occurring in their small coastal Maine town are linked to his recent arrival.
Once an immortal warrior cursed to live as a panther, Kenzie is finally free to live and die as a man, and his destiny is to help other displaced souls. Of course, if he can get tiny, blue-eyed, curly blond Eve out of the deal, doesn't get any better. But she's as stubborn and fierce as a lioness, and in order to win her love, he must tempt her with forbidden desires....

Janet Chapman is always good for a light hearted romantic read. Her books are filled with just enough magic and fantasy to bring in the paranormal fans, but have enough contemporary touches to intrigue the mainstream romance reader. Her books aren’t going to change the world, but they’re definitely fun to have on your shelf. Especially if you have any love for the Scottish highland warrior – which I definitely do. Like many of her other novels, Kenzie is a strong man who after being removed from his time(one down side, this isn’t really explained because it’s assumed you’ve read her other books) is devoted to settling down in the present and helping other lost souls find their ways back to their own lives. Unsurprisingly, Eve is a slightly in distress, strong woman who while being slightly beat down by life, is determined to try and make the best of things on her own. Match? Meet flame. Sparks ensue and an enjoyable route to love is had by all.

Overall Feeling – Thumbs up. A quick, fun, read it’s good for the beach, because you don’t have to pay too much attention to get the enjoyment out of the happy ending.
Series – Janet Chapman’s website says that this is the first in a new series, but for full understanding it’s best to read her Highlander series beforehand.

Lover Avenged by JR Ward

Caldwell, NY, has long been the battleground for the battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the Lessening Society. It’s also where Rehvenge has staked out his turf as a drug lord and notorious nightclub that caters to the rich and heavily armed. His shadowy reputation is exactly why he’s approached to kill Wrath, the Blind King, and leader of the Brotherhood. Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood, even though his sister is married to a member. Because he’s a sympath, his identity is a deadly secret- the revelation of which will result in his banishment to a colony for sociopaths. And as plots within and outside the Brotherhood take their toll against Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in a darkening world- Elhena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has its hold on him- and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.

JR Ward is an incredible writer. As much as it scares me when talks about the conversations she has with the members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, no one can deny that she is distinguishing herself as one of the true queens of paranormal romance. Her books are filled with a kind of depth and complexity that is a thrill to read and it is to my continued joy that she keeps publishing more. All of her BDB books deal with the type of unparalleled Alpha male that is hard to not love. They’re always these great mixes of strength, psychotic fury, and amazing tenderness – only when they’re talking to their loved ones, of course. This particular installment is her first hard cover, and while the size might be daunting (527pgs), Ward’s world is so intricate that I can see how it was impossible for her to put this out as her regular mass market paperback. Rehvenge and Ehlena’s journey is hard to describe, but suffice it say there is love and loss and the kind of relationship that every romantic heart sighs over. Vague I know, but if I tried to summarize it anymore I feel like I’d be doing this book a disservice.

Overall Feeling – Thumbs up. It’s an incredible book and the latest addition to one of the most well written paranormal sagas out there.
Series – 1) Dark Love 2) Lover Eternal 3) Lover Awakened 4) Lover Revealed 5) Lover Unbound 6) Lover Enshrined 7) Lover Avenged

Edge of Danger by Rhyannon Byrd

Betrayed by the woman he loved, shape-shifter Michael Quinn knows it would be madness to let another lover get close—especially Saige Buchanan, the fiery, tempestuous Merrick he’s been sent to South America to protect. Yet his need for her is unlike anything he’s ever experienced, awakening a primal hunger that’s about to change Quinn’s life forever.

Rhyannon Byrd writes a pretty enjoyable book. Not perfect, not sublime, but worth the read. Edge of Danger is the latest book in her Primal Instinct trilogy, which combines vampire and werewolf characteristics in a new way, with both good and evil sporting enough personal hardware to mow down whoever might have the misfortune to be in their way. The reader was introduced to Quinn in the first book, as the kick butt wise-cracking half-breed, and the heroine Saige does well as a strong, smart, woman who’s learning to exist in a world filled with horror stories proved real. I don’t know if I’d describe it as something that really sticks out when compared to some of the other paranormal romances I’ve read, but that could be because I just finished JR Ward’s latest book.

Overall Feeling
– Thumbs up. The story was interesting, not too predictable, and the sizzle between Quinn and Saige was enough to satisfy.

– 1) Edge of Hunger 2) Edge of Danger 3) Edge of Desire (June 2009)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Burning Wild by Christine Feehan

Born into a world of twisted monsters, Jake Bannaconni is shaped and molded into a cold, revenge driven man. Honed in the fires of hell, he controls his world and rules with an iron hand. He has everything and anything money can buy. He’s ruthless, merciless and considered a man to leave alone. His hidden legacy, that of a shapeshifter, makes him doubly dangerous in the corporate world.

Emma Reynolds is a woman who knows how to love and love well. When their two worlds collide, Jake’s plans for a complete take over, may just come tumbling down.

Christine Feehan is another one of those authors who is just getting better with time. Let her do her thing and she will tell you a story filled with incredible adventure and touching romance. As a paranormal romance author she includes fantastical elements of shapeshifters or vampires, but it never detracts from the core of her work - the love story. In this latest installment of the Leopard Series we're introduced to Jake and Emma, a couple with an unusual beginning to say the least. Saved from a car wreck that killed her husband, Emma is unsure of her ability to love again, especially if that person is Jake Bannaconni. Jake has to fight against the lessons to taught to him through a horribly abusive childhood to decide if he can open his heart to anyone. Their back and forth bantor shows the depths of their feelings and the strength of their doubts, but Feehan again crafts a story where the happy ending is both part of the journey and the treasure at the end. Feehan also takes the time to bring back enough of the characters from her previous Leopard books to keep her readers happy and anxious for the next installment. A++ all around.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. And possibly up again. A wonderful story, one that'll be added to my list of definite rereads.
Series - 1) The Awakening 2) Wild Rain 3) Burning Wild