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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rising Moon (Nightcreature Novel, Bk 6) by Lori Handeland

I wasn't sure who was speaking when the book started out. At first I thought maybe Cassandra had a sister who was out there looking for her, but at some point I realized the times weren't right (this sister had been missing three years, and was just out of high school when she disappeared), and then when Detective Sullivan looked at the picture and didn't recognize her, I knew for sure that it wasn't the case. I was pretty sure by then, but that was the final nail that made it impossible.

This means I was again blind during the beginning of the book with brand new characters, people I didn't know. Eventually we get Cassandra and then Edward and then a few of the other New Orleans Jager-Suchers that we already know. And there are a few twists that came at me out of left field, things I didn't understand until they were actually explained. Things that are spoilers, so I can't talk about them. I'm usually good at figuring out that sort of thing, and yet I didn't figure it out at all in this book. Very clever. I loved it.

This book also furthers the series along some, so I'll raise the series rating from a 7 to an 8. The book gets a 9 of 10, it was very good, even if I was blind at the beginning. This was another book that was hard to put down until I reached the end. Not enough to make me stay up late and finish it, I did put it down to go to sleep at a reasonable hour, but I finished it first thing this morning before the rest of the house was awake.

Book Rating: 9 of 10
Series Rating: 8 of 10

Blue Moon (2004)
Hunter's Moon (2005)
Dark Moon (2005)
Crescent Moon (2006)
Midnight Moon (2006)
Rising Moon (2007)
Hidden Moon (2007)
Thunder Moon (2008)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Midnight Moon (Nightcreature Novel, Bk 5) by Lori Handeland

This is Cassandra's book. We met her in the last book, so at least we know someone as this book opens, as opposed to the last one. In this book we learn about Cassandra's past. 

As a mom, watching someone come to grips with the death of a child was hard. It's the unthinkable, that you could lose your child. And to see someone in that much pain over it so many years afterwards... I didn't like that part of it. Not at all.

But other than that, this was a good book. The plot was good, the characters were either totally likable or totally hate-able, and the action kept me involved. And the further world building that we get was very well done. We learn more about what magics work in this world, and what Cassandra's powers are. I have a feeling she's going to be a very big part of future books as she comes more and more into her powers. I can see a lot of fuel for thought when it comes to the grey areas between good and evil that Cassandra may have to deal with, also. Unfortunately, it's doubtful we'll see things from her perspective again, since it seems each character only gets one book. That's a shame, there are several characters I'd like to see again, from their own perspective.

Speaking of Cassandra and her powers, there is one thing I have to say: As much as I respect and usually like Edward, the idea that he'd tell her to do something that would (technically) define her as evil, and then consider killing her because now that she's done as he said it makes her (technically, as definitions go) evil... that just really annoyed me. She isn't evil, she raised the dead to help someone... in this case to help Adam try to break the curse on his great (great great...) grandfather so it won't pass on to him. She did it to be helpful, mostly. Never mind she also considered it practice so she could do it on her daughter later. Err, okay, I guess it wasn't solely to be helpful. And since Edward knew her past he might have figured that out. Okay, still, she wasn't (and isn't) evil. And Edward annoyed me with that.

I'm giving the book a 9 of 10, but the series remains a 7 of 10 at this point. Much of the reason for the 7 is because the books aren't tying together in a cohesive series as much as I'd like for them to. The books are good, but the purpose (for me) of a series is that you get to see characters again and again, watch them change and grow. And I'm not really getting that with this series. There is hope for more of an ongoing plot, we'll see where things go after this book.

Book Rating: 9 of 10
Series Rating: 7 of 10

Blue Moon (2004)
Hunter's Moon (2005)
Dark Moon (2005)
Crescent Moon (2006)
Midnight Moon (2006)
Rising Moon (2007)
Hidden Moon (2007)
Thunder Moon (2008)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jarheads series by Sean Michael

I fell in love with Sean Michael when I read the Velvet Glove stories, which I really should get around to reviewing soon. There have been other books by this author I've really enjoyed, like Bent, Caged, and Secrets, Skin, and Leather. Oh, and we must not forget the vampire story told in Need and Chosen. Those book are either very BDSM, or have enough BDSM elements in them that they worked for me. So I had expectations of the Jarheads series heading in that direction as well. But, it didn't. Just normal old gay sex. Sure, there is an Alpha guy and a nurturer guy and it wouldn't have taken much to get to a D/s relationship, but it's still pretty much just a vanilla relationship. Didn't matter so much though, I read all six books, so even without the sex stuff working for me, the story was good.

If you are tired of the HEA books where you just have to imagine the happily ever after, then this series is for you. The first book puts them together, the next five books deal with their happily ever after. And somewhere along the line they add a third and then the three of them get to live happily ever after. Yeah, three guys for years and years and years. And it works.

Since six books cover something like 15 years, there is obviously some skipping around. We get to see the the high and low points... birthdays, holidays, illnesses, death of parents, retiring from the marines, and various other crises. There are also some normal days thrown in here and there so we get to see how life in general works out for them, too. And there is a lot of sex. It's pretty much their answer to everything. If vanilla m/m and m/m/m sex does it for you, then you'll definitely enjoy the sex. There are a few kinky scenes after one of them goes exploring on the internet and wants to try some stuff he saw, but not enough to call these books anywhere close to BDSM. And while there are elements of D/s (the big guy gets a bj every morning, and the smaller one does almost all of the cleaning), it's not really a D/s relationship, either.

Which means the sex didn't do much for me. But that's not the fault of the author. It's just not my thing.

The story is a good one, though. It's a romance, even though the big guy in the story would argue with that for most of the first three or four books, by the last book even Rock might agree it qualifies as romance.

The characters are expertly brought to life. You feel as if you know them. These books made me laugh and cry, celebrate and grieve. And the series reminded me to just enjoy the easy times with my own soul mate, enjoy each other and not worry so much about the other details.

There were a lot of typos though, and that always bothers me. And many of them were things a spell check should have picked up on. Some typos are technically another word spelled correctly, but that wasn't the case with all of these.

1. Don't Ask, Don't Tell
2. Personal Leave
3. Three Day Passes
4. Tempering
5. Out of the Closet
6. On the Sand

Friday, November 14, 2008

Review: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

I have mixed feelings about this book, but mostly I just didn't like it. Before I get into it, I'll give you the blurb from the author's site:

"The dead don't talk. I don't know why." But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn. Maybe he has a gift, maybe it's a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd's otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo's sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it's different. A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world's worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd's deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.

Today is August 14.

In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock 'n' Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares-and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere.

Why didn't I like it? Hard to explain without spoiling stuff. I mean, the writing was mostly okay, and there was some food for thought in there, it wasn't a totally bad experience, I did finish it, after all. I liked the characters we got to meet in the book, maybe that's why I kept picking it back up, because I really did like Odd and his assorted friends. I've been reading it on and off for a week though, and that's not like me. I'd get to a point where I just had to put it down, so I did. And I'd pick something else up and read it for a while before picking Odd Thomas back up. Reading it became a chore. A few times I thought about not finishing it. And now, having finished it, I realize I'd have been better off not doing so. In fact, I'd have been better off to have not picked it up in the first place.

I bought the first two books in this series. I have the second book, Forever Odd, but I'm not sure I'll ever read it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Anxiously Awaiting, early November 2008

The following are books in a series I am Anxiously Awaiting. They are either part of a series I am already reading, or they are the first book in a new series by an author I already like.

If someone wants to send me an ARC of one of these books, I will read it within a day or two of it arriving (assuming I'm home and I'm not sick or anything), and will get a blog post up of it as soon as I've finished reading it. You may contact me for a shipping address at chained lightning at g mail dot com (remove all of the spaces, of course).

12/30/08 At Grave's End (Night Huntress, Bk 3) Jeaniene Frost
01/06/09 A Witch's Beauty (Mermaid Series) Joey W. Hill
01/20/09 Kiss of a Demon King (Immortals after Dark, 6) Kresley Cole
01/27/09 Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand (Kitty Norville, 5) Carrie Vaughn
01/27/09 Men of the Otherworld (Women/Otherworld) Kelley Armstrong
02/24/09 Kitty Raises Hell (Kitty Norville, Book 6) Carrie Vaughn
02/24/09 Made to Be Broken (Nadia Stafford, Bk 2) Kelley Armstrong
02/24/09 White Witch, Black Curse (Rachel Morgan, Bk 7) Kim Harrison
02/24/09 Jailbait Zombie (Felix Gomez) Mario Acevedo
03/03/09 A Vampire's Claim (Vampire Queen Series) Joey W. Hill
03/03/09 Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, Bk 4) Patricia Briggs
03/03/09 Deathwish (Cal Leandros Bk 4) Rob Thurman
03/03/09 Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter, Bk 1) Nalini Singh
03/24/09 Deadly Desire (Riley Jensen, Guardian, Bk 7) by Keri Arthur
03/31/09 Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, Book 3) Ilona Andrews
04/07/09 Curse the Dawn (Cassandra Palmer, Bk 4) Karen Chance
04/07/09 Turn Coat (Dresden Files, Bk 11) Jim Butcher
04/28/09 Doomsday Can Wait (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 2) Lori Handeland
05/05/09 Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 9) by Charlaine Harris
06/02/09 Skin Trade, Anita Blake Series, Laurel K Hamilton
06/16/09 Fifteen to Smithereens (Stephanie Plum), Janet Evanovich
07/07/09 Branded by Fire (Psy-Changelings), Nalini Singh
07/21/09 Not That Innocent (Anthlgy) Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kresley Cole...
07/28/09 An Early Grave (Night Huntress, Bk 4) Jeaniene Frost
07/28/09 Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, Book 2) by Patricia Briggs
08/??/09 Beloved Vampire (Vampire Queen Series) Joey W. Hill
08/??/09 Bad Moon Rising (Dark Hunter Series) Sherrilyn Kenyon
09/??/09 Apocalypse Happens (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 3) Lori Handeland
09/??/09 Doom with a View (Psychic Eye Mystery) Victoria Laurie
11/??/09 Frostbitten (Elena & Clay) (Women/Otherworld) Kelley Armstrong
??/??/?? An Early Grave (Night Huntress, Book 4) Jeaniene Frost

Not all of the series I keep up with have another book listed as coming out. The authors have stated there will be more, but they haven't said when, or given a title name. I've listed those series below.

* Meredith Gentry Series by Laurel K Hamilton
* Bronwyn the Witch series by Candace Havens

Why do publishers insist on releasing so many books on the same day? Look at February 24... how am I supposed to decide which to read first: Kitty Raises Hell, Made to Be Broken, or White Witch Black Curse? Probably WWBC first, the KRH, and then MtbB. It's a tough call though, and I might change my mind when I've got the books in front of me.

March 3rd is an easy decision, Bone Crossed will get read first, no real contest there. Then Deathwish and then Angels' Blood.

But first comes At Graves End at the end of December. The Cat and Bones series is my favorite series and I can't wait for the next installment.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Review: One Silent Night (Dark-Hunter, Book 13) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

What a tangled web of friends and enemies and family this series is turning into. That's mostly a good thing, though sometimes it's hard to keep up with who is supposed to hate who, and why. Some of the reasons for the hatred happened eleven thousand years ago, after all.

But, the tangled web is mostly a good thing. It's a huge knot, and it will be interesting to see how the author straightens everything up in future books.

Here's the blurb for One Silent Night:
While the world carries on unawares, Stryker, who leads an army of demons and vampires, is plotting an all out onslaught against his enemies—which, unfortunately for us, includes the entire human race. To avenge his sister, Stryker prepares to annihilate the Dark-Hunters. But things go awry when his oldest enemy returns. Enter his ex-wife. Zephyra. Just when he thought nothing could stop him, he’s now embroiled in a centuries old war with a shrew who gives new meaning to pain.

We aren't supposed to like Striker, right? He's Acheron's enemy, and we like Acheron. Except now we are seeing both sides to the story, and it's not so cut and dried anymore. This started a few books ago, the idea that the Daimon's might not be as bad as we were originally led to believe. I'm curious to see where the author continues to take this.

We also pick up a few new creatures we didn't know existed. Old creatures that are almost extinct. And we learn some new things about people we already know.

I think that One Silent Night does a lot to move the Dark-Hunter series along. The romance within the book was a bit forced, but the other plots were good. And, the part it played in the ongoing series plots was great.

If I had to guess, I would guess that the next book will be about Nick. But, according the author's website, the next book is due out in August of 2009 and will be about Fang.

Book Rating: 8 of 10
Series Rating: 8 of 10

1. Fantasy Lover
1.5 Dragonswan
2. Night Pleasures
3. Night Embrace
4. Dance with the Devil
5. Kiss of the Night
6. Night Play
7. Seize the Night
8. Sins of the Night
9. Unleash the Night
10. Dark Side of the Moon
11. Devil May Cry
12. Acheron
13. One Silent Night
14. Bad Moon Rising

Crescent Moon (Nightcreature Novel, Bk 4) by Lori Handeland

Book four in this series starts out with someone we have not yet met. In fact, this book leaves us at such a loss as to what is going on, it may as well have been the first book in the series. I didn't like that. At all. One of the purposes of reading books in a series is so that you don't have to meet everyone, you already know them. Another purpose is that you already know the "rules" of that particular universe, and this book at first didn't fit any of the rules we already knew of this universe. By the end of the book everything was okay again, but nothing in previous books helps us out in this book until we are over three quarters into this book.

Since I'm not really sure where to start here, I'll start with the blurb from the author's site:

An ancient evil hunts by the crescent moon...

New Orleans is known for sinful pleasures and strange magic, but for cryptozoologist Diana Malone it offers one irresistible attraction. For over a hundred years there have been whispers of wolves around the Crescent City, and the recent discovery of bodies in the nearby swamps hints at a creature even more dangerous…one that could make Diana's career and fortune, if she lives to capture it.

And desire may be a fatal mistake…

Adam Ruelle is a reclusive former Special Forces officer, the last of a mysterious Cajun family rumored to be cursed, and the only person skilled enough to guide Diana in her search. Rugged and captivating, he fills her nights with desire…but by day, Diana is plagued with doubts. Adam clearly knows more than he's telling, but is his aim to protect her or distract her? Something is stalking its prey in the Louisiana bayous, and every step towards the horrifying truth brings Diana closer to a centuries-old enemy that lives for the smell of fear and the thrill of killing, again and again…

I'll start with explaining what a cryptozoologist is: someone who looks for proof of a species of animals that most people don't believe really exists. In this case, Diana is looking for proof of werewolves.

The kicker is that she doesn't believe they exist. She made a promise to her now-dead-fiance' that she would continue his quest. So now, years later, she's still looking. Even though she doesn't believe.

The book is set in New Orleans, so it should come as no surprise that Crescent Moon is probably more about voodoo than it is about werewolves, and lucky for Diana she befriends a voodoo priestess. And not your stereotypical voodoo priestess, either.

I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. I didn't much like it the first third of the book. Once I got to know a few people it was better, and by the end of the book things got okay again. But I think I'm going to give this one a 6 of 10. If this were the first book in the series it might have been a 7 or 8, but for the fourth book in the series one should not feel lost through so much of the book.

I'm also downgrading the series to a 7 of 10.

Book Rating: 6 of 10
Series Rating: 7 of 10

Blue Moon (2004)
Hunter's Moon (2005)
Dark Moon (2005)
Crescent Moon (2006)
Midnight Moon (2006)
Rising Moon (2007)
Hidden Moon (2007)
Thunder Moon (2008)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Review: Swallowing Darkness (Meredith Gentry, Book 7) by Laurell K. Hamilton

A 10 of 10. Swallowing Darkness is one of those books I will be reading again and again, just for the magical places it can take me.

This book reminds me of why Laurel K. Hamilton is such a great author. Yes, there are some books that aren't as good, no arguments there. But with Swallowing Darkness she took her time and did it right. Better than right. Brilliant. So brilliantly written that I felt the magic.

LKH can make fantasy come alive like no other. In this book we don't just see the Wild Hunt, we take part in it. We learn what it is like to be caught up in the Hunt, to feel the magic, to help shape the magic.

Swallowing Darkness starts shortly after the previous book ends. Merry is in the hospital, a human hospital. They've swabbed her for DNA samples of her rapist and they are now watching her. She is pregnant with twins, after all. The action starts shortly thereafter and doesn't let up. On page 125 I realized there had been no sex yet. And 25 pages later when there was finally the first hint of sex, it didn't get very far before the action started back up. There is finally some sex near the end, but it's not a long drawn out sexcapade. The 363 pages of this book are filled with action and magic and love and... well, faerie.

There is also a lot of closure at the end of this book. If LKH wants to make this the final book in the series she could do so with the way she ended it. I hope this isn't it, but I honestly haven't heard either way whether this is it or not. (Update: LKH has since stated on her blog that there will be more Merry books.)

Meredith doesn't get new powers in this book as much as she better learns to use the powers she already has. Pregnancy doesn't mellow Merry, it turns her into a fierce mama-bear who will not hesitate to kill to protect her babies and her men. Things she would have fought with herself about in the past she does easily in this book, whatever it takes to keep her babies and her men safe. No guilt, no decisions, she just does it. She's already lost her beloved Frost and she will do whatever it takes to keep from losing another of her men. That's not to say she turns into a tyrannical princess, she's still the Merry who will go out of her way to heal people who are fighting on her side for no other reason than they fought for her. But the people who try to kill her and her men? There is no more mercy in her heart for them.

And in this book, she needs this new attitude. She has more plots against herself and her men then ever before. The threats come from everywhere, literally. The book is pretty much nonstop action as she goes from one life threatening situation to another, and in between tries to play the political game.

I finished the book at 3:18 this morning. I could not put it down, and I won't regret being bleary eyed at work today. It was well worth it. 

Swallowing Darkness gets a 10 of 10, as does the Meredith Gentry series.

Book Rating: 10 of 10
Series Rating: 10 of 10

1. A Kiss of Shadows (2000)
2. A Caress of Twilight (2002)
3. Seduced by Moonlight (2004)
4. A Stroke of Midnight (2005)
5. Mistral's Kiss (2006)
6. A Lick of Frost (2007)
7. Swallowing Darkness (Nov 2008)

Dark Moon (Nightcreature Novel, Bk 3) by Lori Handeland

The third book in the series opens again with a different main character. We've met her before, the prim and proper Doctor Elise Hanover, the virologist trying to find a cure for lycanthropy.

The book opens with Elise's long-lost love paying her a visit. Unfortunately, her long lost love is now an FBI agent, with questions. So we already have an idea of what the love story is going to be, right? Right. And whatever you are predicting in your head is pretty much the way it goes: They can't, they must, okay just this once but never again, okay maybe one more time, they can't, they might, they miscommunicate, they can't, they communicate, they definitely can't, okay maybe one more time, more miscommunication, ad nauseum.

But the plot doesn't go where I thought it would go. So that part isn't predictable. And it's a good plot. More supernatural woo woo stuff, but this is a book about werewolves, so what do we expect. Right? The plot worked for me.

Dark Moon also gives us some more of Edward's backstory, though it probably creates as many questions as it answers. But, it goes a long way towards giving us answers that are part of the long term series plot. And that always makes for a better series.

I'm giving Dark Moon an 8 of 10. I am also going to give the series an 8 of 10 after reading the first three books.

Book Rating: 8 of 10
Series Rating: 8 of 10

Blue Moon (2004)
Hunter's Moon (2005)
Dark Moon (2005)
Crescent Moon (2006)
Midnight Moon (2006)
Rising Moon (2007)
Hidden Moon (2007)
Thunder Moon (2008)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Review: The Darkest Kiss (Riley Jensen, Guardian, Bk 6) by Keri Arthur

I'm sad that this is the last published book in the series. I have to wait another five months for the next book.

Book six starts with Riley dealing with her broken heart and learning to fly. Oh, and chasing down bad guys. This book is pretty much nonstop action. She stops for coffee a few times, but that's pretty much it.

There was actually a good deal of completion in this book, but I won't spoil what happens. 

The Darkest Kiss doesn't have them wondering into a palace with sadistic games, or sneaking into over-the-top-BDSM clubs, so there is none of that. The two murder plots are pretty rough though, with lots of gore and violence. And a few new mythical creatures.

I hope that the author doesn't continue to use that as a plot device, the "I thought those were only a legend" mythical creature thing that no one at the Directorate has ever had to deal with before. The last two books have been full of them. On the one hand it's nice to see myth's come to life, on the other hand, I think doing so every book will become too predictable.

I won't talk too much about Riley's romantic life. She has to deal with what happened in the last book and figure out whether she can risk her heart again. There is very little sex in this book.

Riley and those close to her are still growing and changing and figuring life out. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book. I just wish I didn't have to wait so long for it to be released.

I'm giving The Darkest Kiss an 8 of 10. The series remains a 9 of 10

Book Rating: 8 of 10
Series Rating: 9 of 10

1. Full Moon Rising (2006)
2. Kissing Sin (2007)
3. Tempting Evil (2007)
4. Dangerous Games (2007)
5. Embraced by Darkness (2007)
6. The Darkest Kiss (2008)
7. Deadly Desire (March 2009)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Review: Embraced by Darkness (Riley Jensen, Guardian, Bk 5) by Keri Arthur

We learn more of Riley and Rhoan's past in this book. The Alpha of her pack, who just happens to be the man who once threw Riley from a cliff, demands that Riley and her brother track down the Alpha's granddaughter, who has gone missing. Riley only agrees to do so when she's told her mother will be killed if she does not.

I was a bit disappointed that we come into the story five weeks after the last book ended and we are told that the first three weeks were spent on an island with Kellen. I mean, I wanted to see some of that. Not all of it, of course, but a little glimpse wouldn't have hurt. But, I got over it.

And once Riley starts on the case and things start happening there isn't much time to think about that, anyway. It just seemed a bit of a teaser to tell us it happened and not let us see any of it.

There are some difficult to read parts of this book. Parts that, if it were a movie, would have me hiding behind my husband's shoulder. Riley has been in some pretty rough spots before, but this one had my adrenaline going more than some of the other books.  

As for growth of the characters, Riley has another skill present itself, something else she got from the ARCI-23. Something that can only be called A Very Big Deal. 

I won't say much about the romance in the book, other than to say we end on a bit of a cliffhanger.  All of the plots of the book get tied up, but her love life... not so much.

This was an enjoyable book to read. The plot was good, and I enjoyed learning more about Riley and Rhoan's childhood. We don't learn much that we didn't already know, but we learn some details, and we get to watch Riley and Rhoan both deal with the memories and emotions that come up. Also, Riley has to deal with one of her phobias head on in this book. Not something I'd have ever wished for her, but it works out in the end. And she's now stronger than she was before.

I'm giving Embraced by Darkness a 9 of 10.  The series remains a 9 of 10

Book Rating: 9 of 10
Series Rating: 9 of 10

1. Full Moon Rising (2006)
2. Kissing Sin (2007)
3. Tempting Evil (2007)
4. Dangerous Games (2007)
5. Embraced by Darkness (2007)
6. The Darkest Kiss (2008)
7. Deadly Desire (March 2009)

Review: Dangerous Games (Riley Jensen, Guardian, Bk 4) by Keri Arthur

This series just gets better and better. This might be the best book yet.

We knew from the last book that this book would have Riley facing off against Gautier, so it's no surprise when he shows up. Or, it wasn't for me, anyway.

But the way the author makes it happen, the plot around this story, the way Riley has to face off against him, deal with him, was very entertaining.

This book takes us into some serious BDSM, but not really my brand of BDSM since I don't get into the whole bleeding thing, so the BDSM didn't really do anything for me. As far as the darkness factor though, we don't witness anything happening that compares to the rape scene from the previous book, I don't think. Worse stuff happens, but we don't witness it.

One bad point, something I didn't really like: I'm not thrilled with the premise of an evil being who feeds off fear being the one doing the pain-giving. I mean, sure, in the world of BDSM the Tops or Doms or Masters or whatever they want to call themselves do get off on the giving of pain, just as the bottoms/sub/slaves get off on the receiving of it. But that doesn't make anyone bad, much less evil. Now, doing it on someone who doesn't want the pain, sure, I'll agree to that being bad and evil. But in a consensual situation, not so much. Of course, some (not all) of the scenes in the book were of dubious consent, but I can't really explain that part without spoiling, so I won't. At any rate, I suppose that's a thought process for another day. We'll just say I wasn't thrilled with the demonisation of the type of person who would gain enjoyment on pain that is completely consensual.

But other than that little sticking point, the rest of the book worked for me. And I will also admit that if you're going to have an emotional vampire type thing running around out there, someone who feeds off of emotions, then having a BDSM Top feeding off of the pain he inflicts was a good plot device. And that's not a spoiler, because I figured it out way before anyone explained it in the book. I knew from the first bit of pain he inflicted.

As for Riley's romantic life, I am once again pleased with the decision she is making. I can see myself making very similar decisions about who to keep in my personal life and who to completely boot out of it. I won't give away more than that, I'll just say that Riley does seem to have her head very well placed on her shoulders when it comes to deciding who to keep in her romantic life.

There was a little more sex in this book, though I don't think we got the play by play as much as we have in the past. This book takes place as they are getting close to the full moon, but not fully into the time when she starts being ruled by it. The timing is just close enough to ramp Riley's libido up with practically nothing needed, which actually helped her out a great deal on this case.

And, as for her moral code, she's still worrying about it a good deal. Yes, she kills again, but she doesn't do it easily. And it's a case of killing this person who is bad so that they can't kill innocents anymore. And even at that, it's not easily done. She's still not the killing machine she's afraid of being turned into. I like that about her. Yes, she's going to have to kill in her job, but she's not going to do it if it goes against her moral code.

She also has a potential new guy come into play in this book. Nothing happens, and in fact he obviously doesn't like her, but I think that's because he thinks she's like the other guardians, nothing more than a hired killer. If he ever figures out differently (and I'm guessing he will) then his attitude towards her might change.

This book did what I love for books in a series to do: we see Riley growing and experiencing life. The book has it's own plot, but in the process of that plot we see Riley coming into her abilities as a guardian, being more confident with her job, and figuring out what to do with the men in her life. Riley has grown a great deal since that first book, and I've enjoyed watching her do so.

We also learn more about some of the secondary characters. There is still more to learn about many of them, but we are slowly getting more and more information about them. And I can't wait to keep reading to find out even more. I like some of the secondary characters as much as I like Riley. Even when I'm aggravated with their actions.

I'm giving Dangerous Games a 10 of 10. And the series is now up to a 9 of 10

Book Rating: 10 of 10
Series Rating: 9 of 10

1. Full Moon Rising (2006)
2. Kissing Sin (2007)
3. Tempting Evil (2007)
4. Dangerous Games (2007)
5. Embraced by Darkness (2007)
6. The Darkest Kiss (2008)
7. Deadly Desire (March 2009)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Like a Charm (Bronwyn Universe) by Candace Havens

We've seen three books with Bronwyn the Witch as the main character. Bronwyn has a good friend Kira, who happens to be the librarian in Sweet Texas.

This is Kira's book, where we hear how she came to live in Sweet, and we get to see her come to terms with her own abilities as they begin to manifest. We saw Bronwyn helping her a little in the Bronwyn books, but now we see it from Kira's point of view. Unfortunately, Kira's point of view doesn't really fit with Bronwyn's point of view. I mean, the timing of when she met Caleb and when she started seeing ghosts doesn't seem to fit in with other stories. There were a few other things as well, where the timing didn't seem to be the same. It pulled me out of the story, which is never a good thing.

Here is the blurb from the author's website:

Kira Smythe never thought she'd end up back in her hometown of Sweet, Texas. But now that her high-powered job, along with her five-year plan, have gone right out the window, she's back where she started, staying with her hippie, tofu-obsessed parents-except that somehow she's inherited the local library. At least there's a gorgeous guy in town who seems quite smitten with her. So what if he's got a few secrets up his sleeve? After all, Kira's got her own secrets. Like the dead people who won't stop talking to her. Or the magical books on the shelves. Or the fact that someone who's very much alive seems determined to push her over to the other side.

This book puts us firmly back into the realm of Paranormal Chik Lit. Light, not much substance, girls-just-want-to-have-fun, reading.

Still an enjoyable read, but I didn't love it. I liked it, but I don't think I'm interested in any more Kira books. I would buy another Bronwyn book in a heartbeat, though.

Book Rating: 7 of 10

1) Charmed & Dangerous (Bronwyn)
2) Charmed & Ready (Bronwyn)
3) Charmed & Deadly (Bronwyn)
4) Like a Charm (Kira)

Charmed & Deadly (Bronwyn the Witch, Book 3) by Candace Havens

The third Bronwyn book is good, but not quite on par with the first two. Of course, the first two books were a 10 of 10, so not being as good doesn't mean it wasn't good. It was still good.

Charmed and Deadly is not quiet as lighthearted as the previous two books in this series. To say what the heavier stuff is would be a spoiler, but trust me, this book takes us places I hadn't expected it to. That's not necessarily bad, it just wasn't expected.

I find myself not being able to talk much about this book without giving away spoilers. I think the author felt the same way, as this is the official blurb for the book:

Bronwyn is back...but so is her evil ex-boyfriend. From the author of Charmed & Ready and Charmed & Dangerous.

Bronwyn is used to making enemies - when you dedicate your life to ridding the world of evil magic dudes and dudettes, it can happen. So when she first realizes that an attempted hit on the Prime Minister was really for her, it's just "same spell, different day." But then something about this hex reminds Bronwyn an awful lot of an ex - Jason Gladstone, who was her college sweetheart until he tied her up and tried to drain her of her powers. Talk about a date from hell.

We've heard that there is a warlock ex that made her decide to never date warlocks again, but we never got the whole story. Now we have it. It's no wonder she wanted to kick Sam to the curb once she realized he was a warlock back in the first book.

The book actually has more plots than just this one though, and Bronwyn ends up doing a good bit of traveling around the world. And, the trust thing she worked on with Sam in the previous book gets stretched even farther in this book.

I can't see that the author has said whether there will be more Bronwyn books or not. She's put out one book in the Bronwyn universe since this book, but it features Bronwyn's friend Kira as the main character and Bronwyn as a secondary character. I hope to see more Bronwyn books from her in the future, but with more than two years since the last one, and two other books published, I'm left wondering if this might be all we get of Bronwyn.

Book Rating: 8 of 10

1) Charmed & Dangerous (Bronwyn)
2) Charmed & Ready (Bronwyn)
3) Charmed & Deadly (Bronwyn)
4) Like a Charm (Kira)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Charmed & Ready (Bronwyn the Witch, Book 2) by Candace Havens

This is the second Bronwyn book, and I'll again point out that 1) this is Chik Lit with substance and 2) it's written in diary form and that form works great to get this particular story across.

This book starts up not too long after the other one ended, and you really need to read the first book before you read this one. You can read my review of the other books in this series by clicking on the "Bronwyn the Witch" tag at the top of this blog entry. (And you really should read the review of the first book in the series to get an idea of who Bronwyn is.)

And Bronwyn is definitely back, and funny and serious as ever. It might sound like a contradiction, but it works well in this book.

The characters we got to know in the first book are also back. Plus, in this book we meet Zane, a rock star who doesn't take himself too seriously. He's got bad guys trying to kill him so Bronwyn is being payed to follow him around and keep him alive. Not a horrid job to have, with the lifestyle that Zane leads.

This of course leaves Sam at home while his girlfriend is off running around with a rockstar. And having paparazzi taking pictures of Zane and Bronwyn together and speculating on Zane's new lady doesn't make Sam feel any better. It's fair to say that Bronwyn and Same have to work on trust issues in this book.

The book again has a nice mixture of laughs and serious stuff and kick-as stuff and romantic stuff and every day stuff and this again makes it a very enjoyable read.

Book Rating: 10 of 10

1) Charmed & Dangerous (Bronwyn)
2) Charmed & Ready (Bronwyn)
3) Charmed & Deadly (Bronwyn)
4) Like a Charm (Kira)