Wednesday, December 25, 2013

and to all a good night


I hope all of you are spending the day doing whatever makes you happy (mine is going to include lots of food and time with friends). Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dark Wolf Running by Rhyannon Byrd

In Rhyannon Byrd's latest Bloodrunners romance, passion and secrets collide and only their love will save two werewolves and their pack.

With his sharp gaze locked on the most magnificent female he'd ever seen, Wyatt Pallaton did his best to hold himself back. Of course, Elise Drake was hardly just any female. Fiery and cool, strong, yet at the same time achingly vulnerable, she'd turned his entire world on its head.

No matter how bloody difficult it proved to be, he was done letting her pretend he didn't even exist. Done with letting her fight her own battles. Done driving himself slowly into this maddening state of frustrated desire. One way or another, things were about to change.

Come hell or high water, she was done running…

~~

Sometimes I just can't stop myself from thinking too hard during a romance book. Obviously I'm not supposed to sit around yelling at the screen about how the hero should "LISTEN TO THE DAMAGED HEROINE, IDIOT" but it still seems to happen more often than it should.

Starting that way probably makes it seem as if there's a whole lot wrong with Dark Wolf Running but it's actually very good. Wyatt is a great hero for the most part, full of (what he thinks are) unrequited feelings for Elise but tortured by his past. He's incredibly gentle with her but is at the same time relentless in pushing her not to settle. It would be so easy for both of them to settle actually, to just exist in those specific moments when their lives fell apart, but together they're so much more than that.  Their back and forth relationship results in some spectacularly firework laden sexy times, and except for that whole yelling at Wyatt part, the ending is satisfying but also builds up anticipation for the next book.

Overall Feeling - B

Series - ...4) Dark Wolf Rising (available for FREE on Amazon & Nook!) 5) Dark Wolf Running

*Title requested from NetGalley*

Monday, December 16, 2013

A MacKenzie Family Christmas by Jennifer Ashely

The Mackenzies gather for a clan Christmas and New Year's in Scotland. In the chaos of preparations for the celebration--the first of Hart and Eleanor's married life--one of Ian's Ming bowls gets broken, and the family scrambles to save the day. Daniel busily runs a betting ring for everything from the time Eleanor's baby will arrive to whether Mac's former-pugilist valet can win a boxing match to who will be the first of the many guests to be caught under the mistletoe. Ian begins a new obsession, and Beth fears the loss of one of his precious bowls has made him withdraw once more into his private world.
~~

After all the hype and hooplah I've heard about the Mackenzie family I absolutely had to pick up "A Mackenzie Family Christmas" when it popped up as a freebie on Amazon. I'm not sure if it's inspired me to go back and read the whole series (The Duke's Perfect Wife is on my list though - I love Hart!) but it did do a great job of acquainting me with the personalities and back stories of all the brothers.

Each one may have already found their match but the legacy of their father's neglect and abuse remains strong. Even Ian, understood by so few but completely enamored with his wife and children, remembers what it's like to be shuffled away and forgotten. The heart of the story finds itself though, in the brothers' present and future - the lives they've made and the happiness before them. It results in a great Christmas story because even when people are afraid or worried you know it will all work out in the end.

Highly recommend, even for other n00bs like me :).

Overall Feeling - B

Series - 1) The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie 2) Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage 3) The Many Sins of Lord Cameron 4) The Duke's Perfect Wife 4.5) A MacKenzie Family Christmas

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hidden Passions by Emma Holly

Sexy fireman Chris Savoy has been closeted all his life. He’s a weretiger in Resurrection, and no shifters are more macho than that city’s. Due to a terrible tragedy in his past, Chris resigned himself to hiding what he is—a resolve that’s threatened the night he lays eyes on cute gay cop Tony Lupone.

Tony might be a wolf, but he wakes longings Chris finds difficult to deny. When a threat to the city throws these heroes together, not giving in seems impossible. Following their hearts, however, means risking everything...
~~

I love Emma Holly and her Hidden series, and I would possibly even go out on a limb here and say that a story existing within another story made this coupling even better. Chris and Tony spend so much of their time in the shadows that it results in an incredibly intimate relationship. The story is so much about why they can't go public, or at least why Chris feels he can't go public, that how much each is willing to take in the name of love becomes the focus. I think because the angst is more than just unnecessary drama it really works not only for me but for the story itself.

And I can happily say that even though it's her first full fledged M/M romance I wouldn't say Holly treats anything different in this book. There are lot of sexy times between Chris and Tony, which if you've read any of the previous stories in this series you wouldn't be surprised by, and their HEA is satisfying and dosed with a bit of sudden action. A great read!

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - 6) The Faerie's Honeymoon 7) Hidden Dragons 8) Hidden Passions

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

November in Review

As you can see below, November was a super quiet month for me book wise. I'm not sure what made me so busy, besides a weekend trip to NJ, my birthday, and Thanksgiving all happening in the same month....which now that I think about it does sound like a lot. Go figure.

Well hey, the books I read I enjoyed and I even found time to take pictures for Christmas cards. Yay Christmas! But is anyone else concerned about the fact that it's less than a month away from it being 2014?

Me at the Ice Skating Rink in the Sculpture Gardens

A Tale of Two Dragons by G.A. Aiken (A+)
Kinked by Thea Harrison (A)
Hidden Passions by Emma Holly
"Like a Wolf with a Bone" by Shelly Laurenston
Big Bad Beast by Shelly Laurenston
Dragos Takes a Holiday by Thea Harrison (A)
Woman in a Shiek's World by Sarah Morgan (A)
MacKenzie Family Christmas by Jennifer Ashely
A Billionaire for Christmas by Janice Maynard (B+)

I'm going to say the two favorites this month were A Tale of Two Dragons and Woman in a Sheik's World - completely different from each other but both very good. 



Monday, December 2, 2013

A Billionaire for Christmas by Janice Maynard

USA TODAY bestselling author Janice Maynard takes readers to a holiday hideaway in her new Billionaires and Babies book.

All business, all the time, is billionaire Leo Cavallo's motto. So two months of forced relaxation is certainly not the CEO's idea of a Christmas bonus. Then he meets his neighbor, the irresistible Phoebe Kemper, and a storm forces them to become roommates. Suddenly, the holidays are looking a whole lot brighter.

But beautiful Phoebe isn't living alone. She's babysitting her infant nephew. Somehow, playing temporary family is surprisingly appealing. But what will Leo choose when it's time to go home?
~~

Holiday serials tends to have a couple things going for them: a for sure happy ending and plenty of Christmas cheer while you get there. A Billionaire for Christmas is a bit different in that while you definitely get a satisfying happy ending, getting there things get a little dark.

Leo shows up at Phoebe's mountain cabin mostly involuntarily; he doesn't want a holiday away, health scare or no health scare, and no matter how picturesque things appear he'd just like to get back to business. Phoebe on the other hand has deliberately chosen to separate herself from the rest of society. She was burned - and burned hard - by a previous dedication to the bottom line and when Leo shows up and talks himself into a room in her home she's not sure what to do. Together both of them find ways to heal from their pasts, though I felt like Phoebe's reaction to Leo's health scare was a bit over the top. There's a lie of omission and then there's not talking about something because they don't want to talk about it - sometimes that's not personal. 

All in all a good read and a nice addition to anyone's holiday roundup.

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - None

Friday, November 29, 2013

memories

In celebration of the holiday I spent yesterday with friends, and it was a day filled with fun, laughter, and a ridiculous amount of food. I'm incredibly lucky in the friends-turned-family I have in DC and Thanksgiving this year was a classic example of why. Who else brings two entire pies AND a tray of frosted brownies to share amongst three people!?

There may have also been some (a lot) of time spent in the carrot onesie dancing to this song.  

 You see that plate? I made all that food. #proud

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dragos Takes a Holiday by Thea Harrison

Dragos Cuelebre needs a vacation. So does Pia, his mate. When the First Family of the Wyr head to Bermuda for some much needed R&R, it’s no ordinary undertaking – and no ordinary weekend in the sun. Between hunting for ancient treasure buried beneath the waves and keeping track of their son, Liam—a.k.a. Peanut, whose Wyr abilities are manifesting far ahead of schedule—it’s a miracle that Pia and Dragos can get any time together.

They’re determined to make the most of each moment, no matter who tries to get in their way.

And did we mention pirates?
~~

"Dragos Takes a Holiday" is an awesome little short and for fans of Dragos and Pia, a wonderful look into how they're making their lives work at the top of the Wyr food chain. It's not been easy after the Sentinel games, because even with a full roster Dragos has been forced to pick up a lot of slack as the old heads take their own vacations. By the time Pia subtly 'suggests' some time out near the Caribbean everyone's ready for a break (and maybe to buy their own island?).

The best part about this short is that it doesn't feel short. We get a look at what it's going to be like to care for a little being whose powers are completely unpredictable and has a mind of his own. Add in some hot and spicy sexy times between Pia and Dragos, a little bit of Eva and Hugh doing their bodyguard thing, and it all adds up to fun times had by (mostly) all.

Overall Feeling - A

Series - A Story of The Elder Races

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Woman in a Shiekh's World by Sarah Morgan

With a client list hotter than the Zubran desert, wedding planner Avery Scott shouldn't be surprised that her latest client is Crown Prince Malik of Zubran—the man who once lit her body on fire…before steamrollering over her heart.Determined to ignore Malik's lethal charm, Avery makes a very personal not-to-do list:

1. Not being Malik's intended, our relationship must remain 100 percent professional.

2. His arranged bride might have run away, but I mustn't distract him—for the kings of Zubran, duty always comes first.

3. However luxurious the Bedouin tent—and smoldering the tension—pride dictates the touch I crave stays strictly forbidden.

~~

I kind of can't believe I'm saying this, but Sarah Morgan made a really ridiculous premise work for me. Who, in all seriousness, goes out into the dessert with the man they still love to chase down their wayward fiance? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say no one, but somehow Avery Scott decides this is the best thing to do since her telling the other woman to face her fears now apparently makes her responsible for every subsequent dumb decision she makes.

Still, even with a wild set up like this, the dual viewpoints Morgan writes from, putting us in Mal's and Avery's heads, means that each person is more than just a caricature. Harlequin Presents as a series is renowned for starring Alpha-holes and even though Mal's actions seem to be heading in that direction, his pain and emotional turmoil made me sympathetic since so many of his decisions were impacted by circumstances outside his control. 

In the end, while I didn't feel like Avery's big reveal was worth the all the build up, I could understand how her mother's cold upbringing would make her shy away from commitment. Ultimately the HEA between the two was both satisfying and heartfelt, which I think is how the best romances should be.

Overall Feeling - A

Series - None

Monday, November 18, 2013

Kinked by Thea Harrison

As a harpy, Sentinel Aryal is accustomed to dealing with hate, but Sentinel Quentin Caeravorn manages to inspire in her a burning ire unlike anything she’s ever known. Aryal believes the new Sentinel to be a criminal, and vows to take him out as soon as the opportunity arises. But the harpy’s incessant wrath has pushed Quentin to the limit, and forces him to make a deadly vow of his own.

To put an end to the conflict, Dragos, Lord of the Wyr, sends them on a reconnaissance mission to the Elven land of Numenlaur. Forced to work together, Aryal and Quentin’s mutual antagonism escalates. Each fight draws forth more passion—culminating in an explosively sexual confrontation. But when their quest reveals real danger, Aryal and Quentin must resolve their differences in ways beyond the physical, before the entire Wyr is threatened.
~~

I would say going into this story I was of two minds: Aryal isn't my favorite character so her having her own book so soon kind of threw me, but at the same time I trusted Harrison to make a book starring these two people make sense and damn if she doesn't do it. Neither Quentin or Aryal are willing to trust when the book starts. They have real and deeply heartfelt reasons for why they come to blows pretty much every time they see each other, and when finally forced out to Numenlaur it was clear that working together at all was going to be an issue. 

And yet somehow they do it. Well....to be completely honest they also spend some of that time planning out ways to kill each other that would look like an accident, but after that they find a balance and ways to lean on each other. Journeying across Numenlaur is no easy task - not only are there monsters and things they have to watch out for, the consequences of the God Machines are still being felt. Even though some of the things they face are obviously the necessary complications of taking over people's will and forcing them to do another's bidding (& I won't go into much detail for fear of spoilers) it was still hard to read.

Finally I would say that by the end of the book I believed in the connection between Aryal and Quentin. If there's too much going on around the two main characters, sometimes being Mates can be used as an avenue to gloss over the emotional road building that results in a HEA. Harrison does none of that as these two are constantly pushing each other's boundaries, physically and emotionally, and when the crowd at Dragos's Tower screams for Aryal so does the reader for the two of them together.

Overall Feeling - A

Series - ... 4) Oracle's Moon 5) Lords Fall 6) Kinked

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Tale of Two Dragons by G.A. Aiken

Braith of the Darkness likes going through life unnoticed. Not an easy task for a She-dragon of royal descent. But the evil plots of her father are turning her quiet, boring life upside down, and she has now become the enemy of the most vicious queen her kind has ever known. But for once, Braith won't have to fight alone. Not when the warrior dragon of her dreams is willing to risk everything to save her neck.

Addolgar the Cheerful wishes he could say he’s helping the pretty royal strictly for honorable reasons - but he'd be lying. It’s not his fault, though! He didn't tell Braith of the Darkness to have the most delicious tail he’s ever seen! Yet before Addolgar can get his very strong claws on that tail, heads are going to roll. Just hopefully not theirs...

~~

I'm trying to figure out what else to say other than 'G.A. Aiken just gets me'. Her writing is just enough over the top hilarious to be always entertaining and I think her characters are unique while still being familiar (which is good for someone like me who thinks of Aiken as comfort reading a lot of the time). Braith and Addolgar start out like many of Aiken's couples do - they know of each other but don't really have more than two words to share. Ultimately it's Addolgar's sense of fairness and Braith's honor that bring them together and when they stumble into actual feelings it's new for everyone.

Butt gets kicked, family's are reunited, and it's a rip roaring good time the whole way. If you've read the Dragon Kin series then you'll especially enjoy the familiar faces of the Cadwaladr Clan, but as a stand alone it's still a great romance and a grand adventure.

Overall Feeling - A+

Series - ... 7) "Dragon On Top" from Supernatural 8) The Dragon Who Loved Me 9) "A Tale of Two Dragons"

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mini Me: "Shutdown" by Laurell K. Hamilton

This story is for all my readers who have been impacted by the current political SNAFU – and for anyone else who might need to enjoy a free story in these difficult times.

“Shutdown”, will be available free for the duration of the government shutdown. Once the government is back in business then the short story will no longer be available on line, at least not until my publisher and I figure out what we might want to do with it. But for right now, while we’re all wondering how it got to this point, here’s a brand new Anita Blake short story, featuring our favorite bad boy werewolf, yep, I mean Richard Zeeman. Hey, I’ve been telling you, he’s been working his therapy: read on to see the results that hard work and being brave enough to own your whole self can get you. - From goodreads
~~

"Shutdown" was a quick little freebie offered by Laurell K. Hamilton and I think a great look into the personal real-life consequences that sometimes result from staying true to who you are. Anita, Richard, Micah - they have the most screen time in this story but ultimately it's about what we want for ourselves to be happy and the balancing act that can require. Hamilton returns to the emotional roots of her series with this short and I think if nothing else it shows why so many of her fans keep coming back: at the heart of every one of us is a soul who just wants to be happy, someone who wants to accept themselves and be accepted by other people and the world doesn't make us any promises. There's no guarantee that will happen.

Monday, November 4, 2013

October in Review

October was a whirlwind of a month, in both good and bad ways. I had a lot of fun things to read, spent more time at my local library than I think I have since I moved to DC, and enjoyed reviving a DragonCon costume for Halloween.


Plus RAtChaos introduced its first guest reviewer - Rachel! She did a great job reviewing Harrowgate and I can't wait to see what else is on her TBR pile :). But for now - on to the books!

A Deeper Dimension by Amanda Carpenter (B-)
Undead and Underwater by MaryJanice Davidson (B+)
Charming by Elliott James (A+)
Drawn Together by Lauren Dane (B+)
Enthralled by Lora Leigh, Alyssa Day, Meljean Brook, & Lucy Monroe (B/B+)
Dark Lycan by Christine Feehan (C-)
Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Bear Meets Girl by Shelly Laurenston
Samurai Game by Christine Feehan
Shutdown by Laurell K. Hamilton
Cherished by Maya Banks and Lauren Dane
One Night Heir by Lucy Monroe
Prince of Secrets by Lucy Monroe
Grave Secret by Charlaine Harries
Indexing by Seanan McGuire
Water Bound by Christine Feehan
Harrowgate by Kate Maruyama (B)

I'm going to be coming back to Indexing for a full review soon, but between that and Charming urban fantasy was the genre to beat this month! 


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Harrowgate by Kate Maruyama

It's time for a Halloween surprise! Today's review is actually written by my good friend Rachel. With her help I hope to bring a bit more variety to the reviews on Reading Amidst the Chaos, so please help me welcome her to the RAtChaos family!

Dana

~~
Michael should be overjoyed by the birth of his son, but his wife, Sarah won't let him touch the baby or allow anyone to visit. Greta, an intrusive, sinister doula has wormed her way into their lives, driving a wedge between Michael and his family. Every time he leaves the Harrowgate, he returns to find his beloved wife and baby altered. He feels his family slipping away and, as a malevolent force begins to creep in, Michael does what any new father would do--he fights to keep his family together. Kate Maruyama’s debut novel, Harrowgate, is a chilling, richly detailed story of love, loss, and the haunted place that lies between.
~~

Harrowgate is the perfect Halloween read for those interested in being spooked in a more contemplative and slowly suspenseful way.  While there is a shocking discovery, the author offers it at the beginning and with little emotion.  Rather, the anticipation while reading comes from trying, with the characters, to understand how this new world might hurt those involved.
 

I appreciated the author not getting caught up in explaining the unexplainable.  She presents the reader with the supernatural in a very natural world and expects him or her to accept this.  However, it is impressive and surprising how quickly the characters also accept these phenomena.  While it speaks to how far we will go to protect the ones we love, a clear theme of the book, I do think my own reactions would be more dramatic.  Once again, though, this understatement was so the author could focus on the quieter psychological intensity and confusion of such circumstances.
 

The issues I had with the book arose more from the doula character’s story-arch.  It is no secret that she’s the nemesis, however, you spend most of the book unsure of why.  When the inevitable discovery and fighting of evil comes, there is little true explanation and even less of a tangible resolution.  This was the part of the book in which I needed clear clarification rather than a murky and too easy ending.
 

Despite these issues, I’d give this book a solid B and recommend it as an easy, engaging, entertaining read for those willing to accept the simplicity of a not-so-simple situation.

Overall Feeling - B

Series - Series

*Title requested from NetGalley*

Monday, October 28, 2013

Enthralled by Lora Leigh, Alyssa Day, Meljean Brook, & Lucy Monroe

They have the power to hold you spellbound, to captivate your senses, and to keep you forever in their control. Forever enthralled…

#1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh returns to her sensual world of the Breeds…as one stubborn Breed meets her match, and can no longer deny her mate—or the fierce desires of her own heart.

New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Day introduces the League of the Black Swan…and the dangerous game one woman plays when her family’s curse dooms her to kill the man she loves.

New York Times bestselling author Meljean Brook delivers a new story in her steampunk world of the Iron Seas…as a man who’s lost everything returns home to find that not only is his marriage in jeopardy, but he must now fight air pirates who intend to steal his one remaining treasure—his wife.

And Lucy Monroe, national bestselling author of the Children of the Moon novels…unleashes the feral passions of a werewolf on the body, mind, and soul of his prey, his lover, his lifemate.
~~

I kind of remember when this anthology was released, I think it was on my Google calender, but it was thanks to the efforts of the good ol' DC Public Library that I brought it home. Enthralled is an anthology of 4 stories, all with authors I know but none of which I currently read regularly. The Breed series by Lora Leigh was the big draw, her books have been autobuys for me up until the last couple of years, and while "Devil's Due" was good it wasn't great and the lack of real conflict just made it ok as a read.

The real winners here were "Ecstasy Under the Moon" by Lucy Monroe and "Curse of the Black Swan" by Alyssa Day. Both are interesting introductions to the authors' individuals worlds (and characters) and even as short stories had very satisfying endings.

All in all the anthology isn't bad and for people who need a little help deciding what to read next there are a variety of genres on display to choose from.

Overall Feeling -B/B+

Series - Various

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dark Lycan by Christine Feehan

Tatijana of the Dragonseekers spent centuries encased in ice with her sister, trapped in limbo between life and death, never speaking to a soul other than those who tormented her. Now, she has been freed from her frozen prison by an unknown descendent. Awakened in human form, Tatijana yearns to explore the modern world in which she now lives—a world with more mysteries than she is prepared for.

Fenris Dalka has returned to the Carpathian Mountains after a long absence to be with his brother. He is scarred by centuries of battle, and every hard-won victory. But the real reason for his return home could prove deadly if discovered by the wrong man—or woman. Upon his arrival, he is compelled by a beautiful and enigmatic stranger who carries the scent of fresh earth, of forest, of the night itself.

In time Tatijana and Fenris will discover all that unites them—their secrets and pasts, their predators, and the hot flush of passion that stirs their souls. Yet just as surely, seduced into the silvery darkness of a full-moon night, they’ll also discover everything ancient and evil that exists to destroy them.
~~

Christine Feehan is killing me. This series used to be *it* for me and now, slowly but surely, I'm ready to throw it out the window. Dark Lycan is a step up from the last book in that Fenris isn't an asshole and Tatijana has some backbone, but neither of these are followed through very well. We start off and Tatijana doesn't want to use her voice around Fen because she doesn't want a lifemate (that's smart), and even when they're forced to confront what they are to each other they don't seal the deal because of each person's histories.  Interesting, no? Well we kind of breeze over this pretty quickly unfortunately, and they become true lifemates, after which the book focuses on multiple over the top battles with two Lycan/Vampire hybrids. 

At this point I got bored and started flipping through the book because honestly I just wanted to find out what happened and how we got more of Dimitri and Skyler who off screen at some point fell in love and are more than just the destined lifemates. Poop. As one would expect things end, new possible alliances are made, and Dimitri is kidnapped to I'm sure be tortured horribly so that he and Skyler have something new to talk about in the next book. Which I'll read (from the library anyway), because I'm an idiot.

Overall Feeling - C-

Series - ....23) Dark Storm 24) Dark Lycan

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Deeper Dimension by Amanda Carpenter

An independent woman, a strong-willed man, and a love neither of them can deny.

Diana needed no one. She’d survived on her own, put herself through school, and was totally self-sufficient. And now, at twenty-six, she had a successful career in the business world. And despite the fact that her new boss, Alex Mason was dynamic and attractive, she was determined to keep it strictly professional between them.

But when unscrupulous business rivals threaten to destroy all that Alex has built, Diana finds herself falling for the hard-working man she discovers behind his formal façade. And the closer she gets to Alex, the farther she drifts from her hard-fought independence…

This Retro Romance reprint was previously published in March 1984 by Harlequin Books.
~~

When Harlequin calls this a retro romance they are really not kidding. It was kind of hilarious to read this through the eyes of a modern woman because so much of it is complete what-the-f*ckery. Just hired but the boss kisses you on the mouth in fond affection? Totally fine. Have a Masters but somehow still the arm candy when the boss needs a date to meet with clients? Also apparently fine. Just go with it!

Diana is the quintessential "ice cold" heroine, cut off from her own feelings due to being shuffled among foster homes, who needs Alex to show her what love is because she's never felt it herself and is completely mystified when she starts to care about whether she's around him or not (I wish this book was a music video). The romance is wordy, filled with over the top descriptions of both main characters and the story, but all in all (especially for a freebie) it was fun read and an interesting look into Thea Harrison as a writer.

Overall Feeling - B-

Series - None

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Undead and Underwater by MaryJanice Davidson

New York Times bestselling author MaryJanice Davidson “continues to put her own unique spin on paranormal romance” (Fallen Angel Reviews), and in this all-new anthology, she’s three times as outrageous as ever before…

Super, Girl!
Meet Hailey Derry, human resources representative and round-the-clock superhero. Born with the ability to convert anything she eats into crime-fighting energy, Hailey is now faced with her toughest challenge: the sexy new hire who has a mad crush on her. But how does Hailey break the news that she’s more of a Wonder Woman than he can imagine? She’d better think of something fast, because letting this guy go would be a crime.

Undead and Underwater
Betsy, queen of the undead, and Fred, the dour could’ve-been-a-princess mermaid, reluctantly team up to help a mutual friend in trouble. After all, a friend in need is a friend who, well, can really test your patience—because Betsy and Fred aren’t exactly BFFs. What they do have in common is the source of the problem: a man. And what’s more troubling than love?

Incomer
As leader of the Pack, it’s Lara Wyndham’s job to usher her breed to safety after the cataclysmic Kardashian Riots of 2025—and fend off the advances of Jack Gardner, a sexy Packer with alpha urges and a knack for getting into trouble. No matter how bad Lara wants it, she doesn’t need it. Not that intoxicating scent of his, or his talented mouth, or that perfect ass. Then again…

~~

I happened upon this while browsing in the library and even though I've lost touch with Betsy and the Undead series by Ms. Davidson this set of novellas was a lot of fun. Each one brings back characters from their individual series, so for those who are familiar with the set ups it might be a touch more poignant, but even as a standalone the stories have enough humor and action to make them worth a read.

(Also - kudos to Ms. Davidson for switching first person view points between two of her main heroines in "Undead and Underwater". I think maybe it was LKH who said she'd never do a crossover between Anita and Merry because they were both first person narratives but I think Betsy and Fred were balanced really well in that story.)

It's a great primer to Ms. Davidson's voice, and the sense of humor that runs throughout all her series, but none of it seems stale or out of place. It's a good, quick read, perfect for this patchy of rainy gloomy weather that DC is experiencing.

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - Various

Monday, October 14, 2013

Drawn Together by Lauren Dane

Beauty is more than skin-deep…

Tattoo artist Raven Smith is blunt and hard, broken and jaded, dark and beautiful. While she doesn’t hide her painful past, she does keep a wall around her heart. She’s free sexually—but no one gets to the real Raven beneath the prickly exterior.

With a voice like smoke, Jonah Warner is a smooth-talking, highly successful attorney, with a body that should never be hidden by a suit. He’s the kind of man who never takes no for an answer and always gets what he wants. And what he wants is Raven. She’s a survivor, and he finds that incredibly alluring.

Jonah gets under her skin in a way Raven has never experienced. He makes her break all her rules—including her no-monogamy rule.

But when a figure from Raven’s past shows up at the tattoo parlor and drops a bomb into her life, their relationship will face the ultimate challenge…

~~

There's a lot of history before Drawn Together, mostly for those who've read the rest of the Brown series, and while it's probably not my favorite book of the bunch it's not a bad way to end things either. Raven is the wild child of this extended family and I almost feel like a bit of the rough edges that make her who she is were muted here - of course that could also be a result of her growing into her own which totally happens to people as time passes, and I'm just being a big whiner about it. [Shrug]. When she meets Jonah they click instantaneously, initially in the bedroom, but from that springs the beginning of a relationship Raven can't manage to squash. 

I don't have any complaints or comments about their sexual antics, what people like is up to them and I think it defeats the purpose of the HEA to split hairs on whether things were BDSM enough, but I guess I'm just glad Raven had it as a touchstone. She's had an incredibly crappy life - that I wish had gotten more screen time - but like for us sometimes the characters in books don't get to have 100% perfect explanations for why things happened the way did. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and we just have to find ways to survive the aftermath, no neat answers to be had. As someone who feels probably overly attached to the Brown family after all these books, lol, it was nice to see everyone threaded through Raven's story and it was a good novel to say goodbye with.

Overall Feeling - B+

Series - ... 3) Inside Out 4) Never Enough 5) Drawn Together

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Charming by Elliott James

John Charming isn't your average Prince...

He comes from a line of Charmings — an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chainmail and crossbows to kevlar and shotguns, he was one of the best. That is — until he became the abomination the Knights were sworn to hunt.

That was a lifetime ago. Now, he tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. One that shouldn't change just because a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar... Right?

~~

This is one of those rare moments for me where I get to say a book is remarkably good. I like the book summary quite a bit when but I don't think I could have anticipated the depth of the lore James uses in this book or the irresistability of the characters. On the surface it's an urban fantasy much like the others: a lonely hero resisting the monster he fears he might be with his motley crew of sidekicks, each fighting their own demons, hoping to save the day. But it's also much more than that.

John is funny, sardonic, and being inside his head for this battle incredibly interesting. He's not just an almost SPOILER, he's a man with a crap ton of training in defeating monsters who has to do it now on his own terms. The men and women he fights beside are complicated imperfect characters who make choices that have a variety of consequences, few of them pleasant. 

I probably haven't been this excited about a new series since Kate Daniels or the Dresden Files and I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Overall Feeling - A+

Series - 1) Charming

*Title requested from NetGalley*

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays (10/8)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read

* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

"Let's just leave it at this - if you touch me again, I'm going to punch you so hard you lose a tooth or two. Trash like me doesn't take kindly to being manhandled by dried-up bitter bitches who wished they'd been able to fuck their way higher up the societal food chain."

--pg 144, Drawn Together by Lauren Dane

Monday, October 7, 2013

Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb

Lieutenant Eve Dallas has plenty to be grateful for this season. Hosting Roarke’s big Irish family for the holiday may be challenging, but it’s a joyful improvement on her own dark childhood.

Other couples aren’t as lucky as Eve and Roarke. The Reinholds, for example, are lying in their home stabbed and bludgeoned almost beyond recognition. Those who knew them are stunned—and heartbroken by the evidence that they were murdered by their own son. Twenty-six-year-old Jerry hadn’t made a great impression on the bosses who fired him or the girlfriend who dumped him—but they didn’t think he was capable of this.

Turns out Jerry is not only capable of brutality but taking a liking to it. With the money he’s stolen from his parents and a long list of grievances, he intends to finally make his mark on the world. Eve and her team already know the who, how, and why of this murder. What they need to pinpoint is where Jerry’s going to strike next.
~~

I'm so glad for the internets that help me remember series that I've loved but haven't gone back to in a while. J.D Robb/Nora Roberts' In Death series had been a staple of mine a long time, but somewhere along the line I guess I got distracted and stopped keeping up with each new release. Jumping back in by re-reading Innocent in Death then following it up with with this book has got me all excited to go back and read the ones I've missed - it's just that good.

This isn't a whodunnit mystery, the book actually starts out with the murderer, but writing it this way allows the characters themselves to shine throughout the story. Eve and Roarke have been through a lot by the time we reach the 37th book, but they're still committed to standing up for the people who've been victimized and for the love they share for each other. The killer might get a lot of lucky breaks (and I admit to being a wimp and flipping through some of the more violent scenes) but ultimately he gets his comeuppance and Eve and Roarke recognition for all the help they've given the people of New York.

Overall Feeling - A

Series - ....36) Calculated in Death 37) Thankless in Death

Friday, October 4, 2013

September in Review

So September was a hard month. Fast and over incredibly quickly, but a hard month. It started out well with Dragon*Con (I've got a one, two, and three wrap up posts for that monstrosity, lol) but work (if you'll excuse my language) has been a bitch. I'm glad to be past of it.

Reading wise though I like the books I got through. I spent time reuniting with authors I like (Gini Koch) and series I'd lost touch with (J.D. Robb).

To Kill a Warlock by H.P. Mallory (B-)
Girls Night Out by Lauren Dane (Mini Me)
Heart of the Sea by Christine Warren (Mini Me)
Making Chase by Lauren Dane
Deception Cove by Jayne Castle (A)
Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch
Alien Tango by Gini Koch
Alien in the Family by Gini Koch
Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton (C+)
Cake by Lauren Dane (A)
Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens
In too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz
Innocent in Death by J.D. Robb
Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb
Wolf With Benefits by Shelly Laurenston

Winner? Well I think from now on I'm just going to always pick two because this month I had a hard time deciding between Deception Cove and Cake.  Both great stories!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mini Me: Heart of the Sea by Christine Warren

In the world of the Others, affairs of the heart are no less complicated. Jenny Ferguson wants to give her husband-to-be a very special wedding gift, but what does a girl get for the selkie laird who has everything? She thinks she's thought of the perfect thing, but she needs help to put it together. Calling on one of her oldest friends — who also happens to be her first lover — she works a little magic that ends up causing a lot of unforeseen problems. After all, when your fiance catches you and another man… half-naked… at dawn… three days before the wedding… the situation can become more complicated than anyone ever anticipated. And Jenny might discover it will take more than magic to save her wedding day.
~~

As a freebie on Amazon I think this description kind of gives more heft to the story than what's really there. Not that it's not cute, but the angst is very small and even the supposed misunderstanding doesn't last all that long. The background and world building is interesting though, and the premise of the hero and heroine's relationship is one that I actually think would sustain a full novel.

Ultimately the whole thing ends up feeling pretty 'ok' but definitely not worth anything more than free.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton

It’s a typical day at work for Anita Blake, if your day job is raising the dead, and being a U. S. Marshal for the preternatural branch. One phone call changed everything. It was from the mother of one of her live-in boyfriends. Micah Callahan’s father was in the hospital and he was dying. Micah had been estranged from his family for years, but now, his mother wants Anita to bring the prodigal son home for a last good-bye.

Anita thinks it’s going to be a tearful trip down memory lane, until she learns that Sheriff Callahan was attacked on the job by a zombie. The bite is rotting him from the inside out, as if it’s turning him into a zombie while he’s still alive, but Anita knows zombies and they aren’t contagious. But something is killing Micah’s father, and he’s not the only victim. And there are the missing persons, far too many to explain away. While Micah deals with his family, Anita is pulled into a case so terrible she has to call for back up from friends and lovers that are no more human than the some of the monsters they’re hunting, and even that isn’t enough. Edward, Death himself, comes with badge and flamethrower to watch over his friend, Anita Blake, while she fights for her life and the lives of those she loves.

~~

So.....pros. Edward - always cool to see him (thankfully I don't agree with the reviews that say this book is setting up their future sexy times. Phew.), Nicky - didn't expect to like him so much but he works well in this story, coming into this own as a person and Bride to Anita, Nathaniel - awesome as usual, Cop/bad guy stuff - interesting to read and full of action (I'm not complaining), Sex - surprisingly minimal.

But books can't always just be about the pros right? Especially when it's this series there's always a few things that end up bothering you (Micah's family being a menage a trois too? Really O_o?) but ultimately my problem here is the same problem I had with the end of the Mother of All Darkness - a bad guy that requires 500+ pages to identify can be finished off in a paragraph? How does that make sense? It detracts from the rest of the book when Anita is just that big and bad that no one can stand up to the full weight of her powers. I get that she's the heroine and supposed to win but can we make the outcome seem at least a little bit more questionable?

Also, what the hell happened with the zombies and getting the victims to open up their homes to them? I went back to re-read the end and yep, I'm pretty sure they never closed that plot point up. Anybody read something I missed? Help a reviewer out.

Overall Feeling - C+

Series - ... 19) Bullet 20) Hit List 21) Affliction

Thursday, September 19, 2013

To Kill a Warlock by H.P. Mallory

Dulcie O’Neil is a fairy. And not the type to frolic in gardens. She’s a Regulator—a law-enforcement agent who monitors the creatures of the Netherworld to keep them from wreaking havoc in the mortal world.

When a warlock is murdered and Dulcie was the last person to see him alive, she must uncover the truth before she’s either deported back to the Netherworld, or she becomes the next victim.

Enter Knight Vander, a sinfully attractive investigator sent from the Netherworld to work the case with Dulcie.

Between battling her attraction to her self-appointed partner, keeping a sadomasochistic demon in check, and fending off the advances of a sexy and powerful vampire, Dulcie’s got her hands full.

As the body count increases, Dulcie finds herself battling dark magic, reconnoitering in S&M clubs and suffering the greatest of all betrayals.
~~

Another freebie I picked up from Amazon (ok Kindle app, I like you) To Kill a Warlock turned out to be surprisingly entertaining. I was hoping from the sound of the summary it wouldn't suck but you never know, my urban fantasy meter has been wrong before. Dulcie is strong but not invincible, smart but understands when another person's experience could be helpful - even if she's undecided about whether to trust the information or not.

My biggest peeve would probably be that Knight seems to expect her to be even more awesome than she already is. We all have buttons and even the most seasoned officer is going to have people and situations where they aren't their best. Maybe I'm more forgiving since I'm not in the place where my life depends on someone else's acting ability, but I'd rather Dulcie be a real person with faults than perfectly capable in all things. I'm interested to see if the love triangle set up here is continued in future novels, but as a first book I think Mallory does a good job creating a cast of characters and a world I want to learn more about.

Overall Feeling - B-

Series - 1) To Kill a Warlock 2) A Tale of Two Goblins 3) Great Hexpectations 4) Wuthering Frights 5) Malice In Wonderland 6) For Whom The Spell Tolls

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mini Me: Girls' Night Out by Lauren Dane

Party time? Nobody does it better than the Murphys and the Chases.

Lily and Nathan's wedding is just a few short weeks away, and the Murphys and Chases are doing their parties up right!
It's Friday, and the women head to the Pumphouse to celebrate with cocktails, cake, and laughter. The men They're at the Tonk for beers, wings, and trash talk.
Throw in party games, penis hats, and crazy-eyed ex-fiancées, and it's bound to be a night they'll be talking about for a long, long time.

~~

I really really love that Lauren Dane does these Visits to Petal vignettes. They're the perfect little look backs into the lives of characters that are just so damn likeable. Girls' Night Out is no different, and it's possibly even more hilarious than some of her full length titles since we spend a lot of the time talking about penis accessories, lol.

As a addendum to her Chase and Petal series it's great and I'm sad that she gets flack for releasing FREE SHORT STORIES to her audience (what the hell people - stop sucking).

Friday, September 13, 2013

DragonCon 2013 Reflections - Part II

In spite of all the people and the fun costumes (which I'm still not done showing you guys) a big part of why I go to DragonCon are the panels. Since this is a convention run by and for fans the panels are often the best part, the times when you get to hear directly from the actors, actresses, authors, artists, etc. that inspire you.

Every year it seems to get a little bit harder to get into every panel that I want (I still haven't seen the Geeky Burlesque Show and was completed shut out of Adam and Jamie's Mythbuster panel) but since DragonCon actually clears the room between each one there's always a chance if you don't mind sitting in the back. I might have missed Amy Acker this year (did she actually do a panel at all? Anybody know?) but I DID get to see Lucy Lawless and hear from some of my favorite authors so I'm still considering this all a win!


"Spotlight on Lucy Lawless"
I had no idea what a wonderful beautiful human being Lucy Lawless is. I loved hearing her thoughts on playing the Xena role, a Xena movie, and how she felts about the long lasting effects the character had on viewers. 


"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"
Cirroc Lofton, Avery Brooks, Terry Farrell, Garrett Wang (r-l)
Since I've spent so much time with TNG and Voyager crew in the past I made this year the DS9 year (and it was there 20th Anniversary!). This was a very cool panel, each of the actors were very graceful and fun to listen to - and Avery Brooks is a nut (in a good way).


"The Men of Urban Fantasy"
S.M Stirling (not pictured), D.B. Jackson (not pictured), James R. Tuck, Jonathan Maberry, John G. Hartness, Jim Butcher, Kevin J. Anderson (not pictured) (r-l)
How could I not go to this panel?! I heard Jim Butcher individually the first year he went to DragonCon so this time around I got to hear a bunch of male authors talk about what they liked best writing in the genre. I was also introduced to a few authors I had never hear of before (James R. Tuck & John G. Hartness, books unread, were my favorites!). 
Click below for more!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Deception Cove by Jayne Castle

In the world of Harmony, Rainshadow Island is home to a mysterious preserve, secrets that have been kept for centuries, and a treasure worth killing for…

As a light-talent, Alice North has the rare ability to make things disappear, including herself—a gift that comes in handy during her magic act with her dust bunny Houdini.

Business mogul Drake Sebastian is day-blind, since his sight was nearly destroyed in a lab accident. But he’s the one man who can see Alice when she disappears—and he needs her.

On Rainshadow Island, two dangerous Old World crystals are missing, igniting a paranormal storm. Drake thinks Alice is the key to finding them, and proposes they head there, but only after a Marriage of Convenience.

Alice’s honeymoon on Rainshadow is guaranteed to be memorable, as the island—and the passion between her and Drake—is about to explode…
~~

I've got a soft spot in my heart for Jayne Castle (Jayne Ann Krentz) but I have to say the vulnerability she's putting into her heroes lately have been making the stories even better.  Drake is scarred inside and out, from a relationship that ended very badly, so while he's eager to establish a connection with Alice it's not clear even he knows exactly why it's so important. 

But once the two of them land in Deception Cove, and are forced to lean on each other for survival, the ways in which they complement each other come to the surface. Castle doesn't create stories where brute strength is enough to save it all and Alice and Drake have to look for clues to the missing stones, protect the hearts and bodies of the people still on the island, and understand what their relationship really is all at the same time. It results in a fast paced, entertaining novel with quick dialogue and a couple whose HEA you care about. Add in characters from past books and you've got a great addition to the Rainshadow series that functions well as a stand alone.

Overall Feeling - A

Series - 1) The Lost Night 2) Deception Cove