Thursday, September 29, 2011

Primal Bonds by Jennifer Ashley

Primal Bonds
Shifters Unbound Book #2
by Jennifer Ashley

Genre: Paranormal Romance

When half-Fae, half-Shifter Andrea Gray flees an abusive would-be mate, the only way she is allowed to relocate to the Austin Shiftertown is if a Shifter there claims her as mate.

Sean Morrissey, the Guardian of his clan and all of Shiftertown, is mate-less, lonely, and has a tough job--to send the souls of deceased Shifters into the after-world. He volunteers to claim her, sight unseen, but doesn't realize that one look at the gray-eyed, dark-haired Andrea will stir the mating frenzy in him. Even though the mate-claim isn't finalized, official, or yet blessed, Sean will do anything to get Andrea into his life and keep her there, forever.

Having the role of Guardian and Goddess-blessed is a powerful clan position to have, but also quite lonely. Thus, when a female Shifter comes to town seeking refuge, Sean claims the new arrival without meeting her, expecting a submissive little she-wolf who will accept him as is without his powerful and deadly title. Instead, he gets a beautiful women who looks him straight in the eye without fear, stirring the mating frenzy within him. On the other hand, Andrea is desperate to escape her caged life and is use to always looking out for herself. But in order to relocate to a new Shitertown ( Austin, Texas - whoot! whoot! ) and escape her past, Andrea must accept a new protector and a new mate-claim. A Guardian seems as good as a candidate as any, but Andrea's intense attraction to Sean is something she never expected. Yet, before their heated mating frenzy burns them both from the inside out, they must struggle with turning their "mating of convenience" into the real thing while battling old enemies during clan wars and uncovering some past secrets.

I think I became so absorbed in this story since it reminded me so much of Lora Leigh's Breeds series without the heavy sex scenes, sure you have your fun bed romps in this book but it doesn't overpower the story line. Plus, both characters are equally decisive about sex, something hard to find in Leigh's series as well. Don't get me wrong, I adore LL's series, but it's nice to have something similar but different - which a reader can easily find in Ashley's Shifter's Unbound series. Honestly, the story was enjoyable but something about Andrea bothered me (since she was either too quite or too loud) and I'll just say she wasn't my favorite female lead. Sean was likable and he played the heart-breaker character well with him being stuck in his "dark/tough" role when all he really wanted was a mate to love. . .aww! Since the series was new to me, the world created was fascinating and I would be interested in checking out book #1 in the series, but afraid I would get disenchanted quite easily with the writing style. Maybe I'll wait for more books to come out in the series before reading more and on a side note, this book would have been a solid 3.5 rating for me not for the location :) That alone kept me reading!

Likes: Set in Austin, Texas. Southern Austin at that. A place close to heart since it is nearby my home town and an old stomping ground for myself. Loved the references to street names, Austin shopping locations, etc. in the book . . . made me remember old times!

Dislikes: First - Felt a little slow paced a times and then not - as if there was A LOT going on at once and then a lull for a bit before going into full-on action again. Not a fan of the up & down roller-coaster feel in a book. So please, just give me something I can enjoy without feeling mentally exhausted after reading a few chapters before bed. Second - How many pet-names does Sean need for Andrea? It seemed like every other paragraph had a new one!



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medeiros

The Devil Wears Plaid
by Teresa Medeiros

Genre: Historical Romance

Emmaline Marlow is about to wed the extremely powerful laird of the Hepburn clan to save her father from debtor's prison when ruffian Jamie Sinclair bursts into the abbey on a magnificent black horse and abducts her in one strong swoop. Though he is Hepburn's sworn enemy, Emma's mysterious captor is everything her bridegroom is not--handsome, virile, dangerous...and a perilous temptation for her yearning heart.

Jamie expects Emma to be some milksop English miss, not a fiery, defiant beauty whose irresistible charms will tempt him at every turn. But he cannot allow either one of them to forget he is her enemy and she his pawn in the deadly Highland feud between the clans. Stealing his enemy's bride was simple, but can he claim her innocence without losing his heart?

Emma makes the ultimate sacrifice for her family - to pay her father's debt, to save her sisters' future, and to ease her mother's worries - by marrying an eighty-year old Scotland clan leader who can solve all their problems, including overlooking Emma's tarnished past. On the day of her wedding, she gets snatched from the alter on horseback by an enemy clan leader and must now deal with sleeping under the stars on the Scottish moors, talking to brutish/vulgar Highlanders, and keeping secret her developing feelings for her sun-bronzed guard. When dark truths become known, can Emma's new life really be as simple as black & white and can the past be re-written through her freedom?

Teresa Medeiros is a favorite for me since she was the first author who got me into reading romance. I devoured all of her books before I even got into the rest of the romance wonderland of authors I'm in now, thus all her new historical romances are a true joy for me! But enough about that . . . on to the book . . . and this was for sure a fun read. I love the style of this book and how the characters really come to life without being overly dramatic since there is lots of climatic action and thrilling revelations going on throughout. Emma is easy to like with her adorable innocence and stubborn selflessness, while Jamie is a natural heart-throb who portrays a perfect balance of compassion and perseverance. Together they heat up the pages, while the side characters add well to the overall story without overpowering the main leads - always a good thing! This is a great book for Fall, something to curl up with on the couch with a throw and all afternoon to devour - enjoy!!!

Likes: Jealousy is always a thing of beauty in blooming relationships, it puts your feelings in the open - which is pretty evident in this book during Muira's cottage scenes. Fun! Fun!

Dislikes: Jamie's grandfather on his father's side is dark and desperate . . . almost gruesomely so! But the shocking secret from Jamie's grandfather on his mother's side is just too tragic for my taste!



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Love Struck by Melissa Marr

Love Struck
by Melissa Marr

Genre: Short-Story | Young Adult | Paranormal Romance

Alana knows the legends of selchies, the sea-fey who leave their seal-like pelts behind when they walk on land, passing for humans. But she never imagined she would meet one—let alone two—on the night of an otherwise forgettable beach party.

The selchie Murrin, though, has long imagined actually meeting Alana, the girl he has chosen over the sea. He never expected that the meeting would be so complicated, or that an old rivalry would make winning Alana's trust—and love—so difficult.

Alana is a head-strong girl who knows what she wants in a relationship and she especially knows she doesn't wish to turn out like her mother. Thus she sets up stick rules when dating (ex. no 'eye-candy', six month limit, no visits to the bedroom, etc.) When she meets a selchie (selkie?) on the beach one night, she is enchanted into taking his pelt but has major remorse when he comes to find her shortly thereafter. Can a relationship truly bloom when there's so much against it?

This was an okay read. It's a quickie, but an enjoyable folkloric tale that mostly focuses on the beginnings of a relationship. Murrin comes off as quite sincere and very grounded in his beliefs that a bond (ie. marriage in his eyes) could really work between himself and Alana. On the flip side, Alana is freaking out. From the beginning she feels trapped by his affections and is constantly looking for a way to sever their union. It takes her awhile to become accustomed to their friendship, but when she does finally accept what is between them, trouble a brews, and their bond is emotionally shattered. The end is sweet though and poignant for them both.

Likes: Alana is stubborn but very realistic as well. She's a great lead due to her maturity and knows what her future has planned for her (more school before marriage) and that's a hard thing to find in many YA stories where the romance seems to overshadow everything else.

Dislikes: I'm not a fan of short stories or anthologies (too short!), but the subject matter caught my attention and I just had to check out this story. Plus, I would have liked to learn more about how Murrin came to the decision that Alana was the one for him before coming to shore.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon

by Carolyn Turgeon

Genre: Paranormal Romance | Fantasy | Historic

Two princesses (one earthbound, one aquatic) vie for the heart of a prince in this new twist on the classic fairy tale.

For 18-year-old mermaid princess Lenia, the world of men could not be a more exotic or fascinating place. Although her experience with humans is limited to the shipwrecks and dead sailors she comes across in her ocean-floor kingdom, she yearns for more. She gets her wish when she is finally permitted to go up and explore the surface, and has to save a young man from drowning during a storm. She delivers him to the shores of a convent and into the arms of a young novice.

That girl, Margrethe, is actually the daughter of the northern king, hiding at the convent for her own protection. And, as luck would have it, the rescued sailor, Christopher, is the son of her father’s arch nemesis, the southern king. The two royals share an attraction, without knowing each other’s identity, and Christopher leaves without knowing Margrethe’s secret.

Back with her merpeople family, a smitten Lenia pines for the prince and strives to find a way to be with him. Her quest takes her to the sea witch, Sybil, who informs her that becoming human is indeed possible, but comes with a steep price. Lenia has to give up her beautiful voice, and her lovely new legs will cause her chronic pain, like walking on knives. Also, Christopher must marry her if she is to survive and acquire a human soul. No matter. Lenia takes Sybil’s potion and goes to her beloved, who is indeed charmed by the mute otherworldly creature Lenia has transformed into. They become lovers, but she has competition.

In order to stave off an almost inevitable war, Margrethe hatches a plan to marry Christopher herself, and unite their kingdoms. But while that might be good politics, it does not bode well for Lenia, who is unable to explain her situation to anyone.

WOW! What a great book. I was totally expecting some silly modernized mermaid version similar to Forgive My Fins, but was pleasantly surprised with a classic fairy tale that still had a bitter twist. I'm a sucker for fairy tales and loved this book even more because it wasn't your normal 'Little Mermaid' story. It's easier to describe this books concept as being more along the line of the gritty/gruesome tales of ol' that the Brother's Grimm created (ie. we're talking dark topics like death & decomposition). Both of the kingdoms, on and off land, were fascinating to me and I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters created, especially the friend/nemesis relationship between Lenia and Margrethe. It is truly a magical tale that comes off more as folklore than fantasy, but all in all . . . good stuff!!

Likes: I highly enjoyed the chapter splits between "Princess" and "Mermaid" and couldn't stop reading about both.

Dislikes: Not much to dislike about this story, I just wish there was more!



Monday, September 19, 2011

Succubus Revealed by Richelle Mead

Succubus Revealed
(Georgina Kincaid Series, Book #6)
by Richelle Mead

Genre: Paranormal Romance | Urban Fantasy

Georgina Kincaid has had an eternity to figure out the opposite sex, but sometimes they still surprise her. Take Seth Mortensen. The man has risked his soul to become Georgina's boyfriend. Still, with Lucifer for a boss, Georgina can't just hang up her killer heels and settle down to domestic bliss. In fact, she's being forced to transfer Las Vegas.

The City of Sin is a dream gig for a succubus, but Georgina's allies are suspicious. Why are the powers-that-be so eager to get her away from Seattle—-and from Seth? Georgina is one of Hell's most valuable assets, but if there's any way out of the succubus business she plans to take it--no matter how much roadkill she leaves behind. She just hopes the casualties won’t include the one man she’s risking everything for...

Ever since Georgina, a lesser immortal, revealed the shocking fact that her boyfriend, Seth, unbeknown to him, mentioned her original mortal name (Letha!) while falling asleep one night, things have gotten a little out of control. Her bosses in Hell are transferring her, on short notice, to Las Vegas in a time when she desperately wants to stay in Seattle. She still can't find a sensible job since quitting her last one and she is now required to bowl against her will for the 'Unholy Rollers'. On top of that, her roommate, Roman, thinks something is fishy about her job transfer and is determined to uncover the truth. When Georgina's past comes to haunt her, can she finally uncover the hidden secret about her succubus contract before time runs out?

I always get a bit bummed when a favorite series comes to an end and thus Georgina's tale is officially over, BOO! But I'm happy for the way it ended, which was something all the books have been truly leading up to brilliantly. If you're a loyal reader, this book won't hold many secrets, but overall it was a satisfying and delightful read. What I enjoy most about the Georgina Kincaid series is that its a story about relationships, be it with friends, family, co-workers, or significant others . . . its a great read with lots of emotional development (ex: I can't forget how heart-broken I was after Book #3) All in all, I will miss the crazy immortal gang, Georgie's kooky adventures, and the fun trip that was G & Seth's relationship, so farewell my favorite Succubus!

Likes: I enjoyed how mature Seth & G's relationship has gotten. So cute to see it grow from Book #1.

Dislikes: If you read the series, you'll be able to pretty-easily predict the outcome w/ just a few twists here & there!



Sunday, September 18, 2011

Awaken the Highland Warrior by Anita Clenney

Awaken the Highland Warrior
by Anita Clenney

Genre: Paranormal Romance | Time-Travel

A MAN FROM ANOTHER TIME . . . Faelan is from an ancient clan of Scottish Highland warriors, charged with shielding humanity from demonic forces. Betrayed and locked in a time vault, he has been sleeping for nearly two centuries when spunky historian Bree Kirkland inadvertently wakes him. She's more fearsome than the demon trying to kill him, and if he's not careful, she'll uncover the secrets his clan has bleed and died to protect . . .

COULD BE THE TREASURE SHE'S BEEN SEEKING ALL HER LIFE . . . When Bree inherits an old treasure map, she discovers a warrior buried in her backyard. but the warrior isn't dead. Bree shocks Faelan with her modern dress and her boldness, and he infuriates Bree every time he tried to protect her.

With demons suddenly on the move, Bree discovers that Faelan's duty as protects is in his blood, and that her part in this fight was destined before she was born. But nothing is ever what it seems . . .

He's had centuries to dream of her...Mis-adventurous historian Bree Kirkland discovers a one hundred fifty year old warrior buried in a crypt behind her house. But Faelan, the warrior, isn’t dead. When this chauvinistic Scottish Warrior awakes, he has no choice but accept the help of this modern-day woman who’s rescued him, but she’s more fearsome than the demon trying to kill him. If he’s not careful, she’ll uncover every secret his clan has bled and died to protect.

You would think I would have only high praise for this book, b/c it has highlanders, time-traveling, and paranormal twists (Yayy!), but NO . . . sadly Awaken the Highlander Warrior was lacking for me. It mostly lacked that certain something I highly enjoy in highlander books - a good detailed character development from a confident Scottish lead, but Faelen was just too uncertain in his actions and doubtful about his modern-day life that he didn't really appeal to me much throughout the tale. Couldn't say I was enthusiastic about the other lead as well since Bree was actually ALL OVER THE PLACE with the obsessive demons, family history, and her crazy ex-boyfriend that I couldn't really grasp her overall trajectory in the story before she was on her next harebrained adventure. Sometimes that whole careless erratic manner works for certain characters, but not for Faelan and Bree. All in all, the romance was okay, but nothing truly exciting. On a side note: I feel like I've been reading some bombs lately and that I need to pick up something that pops soon to re-spark my reading taste before I go into a dry spell . . . ek!!

Likes: There were some spooky graveyard parts that did create a nice dark creepy mood for the reader and I wish there was more of that.

Dislikes: The cover just cracks me up!
I mean . . . how much more RANDOM detailing could one book have:
1. Buff Highlander in Kilt
2. Tribal Tattoo on Chest
3. Tartan Armband with Tassel
4. Sword & Glowing Talisman
5. Full Moon in a Purple Sky
6. Crackling Lighting
7. Misty Graveyard with Mausoleum & Crows
8. Stone Archway
9. Gaslight Post
10. Some Lady's Eyes
11. Two-story House
12. Another misty Graveyard with Tombstones



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Love in the Time of Dragons by Katie MaCalister

Love in the Time of Dragons
(Light Dragons, Book 1)
by Katie MaCalister

Genre: Paranormal Romance | Dark Fantasy

If you found out you were a famous fire-breather, you’d be freaked out too.

Tully Sullivan is just like any other suburban mom—unless you count the days every year that she zones out and turns base metals in to gold. Those are weird.

And now she’s woken up in a strange place surrounded by strange people who keep insisting they’re dragons—and that she’s one too. But not just any dragon. She’s Ysolde de Bouchier, a famed figure from dragon history.

Tully can’t shape-shift or breathe fire, and she’s definitely not happy being sentenced to death for the misdeeds of a dragon mate she can’t remember. All Tully knows is that she wants her son back. So she’ll have to find a way to solve the crimes of a past she has no memory of living…

Tully wakes up, away from home for over five weeks and within the care of people convinced she's someone she's not, especially someone who is a dragon! She struggles to remember her current life while being bombarded with memories/dreams of a past life and knows her two contrasting worlds could never lead to a good end. Thus, she must face some strange truths while trying to blend her past with her present/future.

I'll just say it . . . I'm not a fan of Katie MaCalister. I think I decided to check this book out since it was new in a series and sounded somewhat intriguing (plus I needed a new audio-book for walks around the park on Sundays), but then I forget how much I thoroughly dislike MaCalister's characters - esp. her female leads! The majority of her characters are way too kooky for my taste (I mean, come on...a dog demon...seriously?) and too oddly comical (not in a good way) without any enjoyable substance. I never really get the humor in the books either, but I did finish this tale hoping it would get better and felt utterly let-down at the end. It was a total 'MEH' read for me. Honestly, I just felt so lost listening to the chapters with the characters silly reactions to certain life-changing events and their NON-reactions to others that it just left my flabbergasted overall. Also, I had no emotional connection/bond with anyone pivotal figure in the story since the two protagonists were my least favorite people/dragon/whatever and many of the side-characters were just too irritating & peculiar (ex: son obsessed with mummification), so here's hoping more of you enjoy this book than I did.

Likes: I had high hopes that the whole concept of 'mate forgets mate, mate meets mate again' would be more substantial and momentous in a book, but this story was just so mellow about it that it felt so unexceptional and shall I say it . . . 'blah'.

Dislikes: Could Tully be more of an dull lead? She came off a so naive that I was truly shocked by many of her mannerisms and scatterbrained actions.



Monday, September 12, 2011

Heartless by Gail Carriger

(Parasol Protectorate Book #4)
by Gail Carriger

Genre: Paranormal Romance | Fantasy | Historic

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet?

Through all of Lord Maccon's brooding manner, Professor Lyall's shocking revelations, Lord Akeldama's sweet talk, Felicity Loontwill's sisterly nagging, Madame Lefoux's odd experiments, and Mr. Rabiffano's (aka "Biffy") unsettling transformations, Alexia is about to pop due to the 'infant-inconvenience'. Plus, if she's is not using her "condition" to her advantage among her's husband's pack or having tea & sweets with her friend, Mrs. Ivy Tunstell, Alexia is out collecting spectral samples, investigating Kingair assassination attempts, and jaunting about on BUR business with her trusty "harmonic auditor resonance disruptor" (pg. 74) Yet, can this 'Alpha Female' handle a supernatural death treat thrown into the mix with all the daily chaos already going on in her life full of Westminster Hive and Woolsey Pack troubles?

Lady Alexia Maccon is at it again. . . being her usual nutty, obsessive, and constantly-on-the-go self but now eight months pregnant. She's back in London and spending lots of time with her yummy Alpha husband, something I sorely missed in the last couple of books. Expect lots of silly scientific references and proper Victorian-era mannerisms that really spice up Carriger's Protectorate's world as well as getting a glimpse of the newest member to the Woosley pack near the end of the book. Plus, many past characters make appearances throughout the tale and many past stories are revealed from more than one pivotal figure. Overall, good fun!

Likes: Alexia has really grown into her role as 'Alpha Female' in commanding the pack as well as being a loving wife to Connall, something that's sweet to see since witnessing her less-than-confident spinster self from Book #1

Dislikes: Ugh....
Lord Akeldama PLEASE lay off some of those nick-name endearments, it's almost too sickeningly sweet!