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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Review: Blood Noir

Blood Noir
By Laurell K. Hamilton

Now the old bastasrd's dying and I won't have the time to forgive him before he goes...

Jason Schuyler is a werewolf. He's also one of Anita Blake's best friends, and sometimes her lover. And right now he needs her - not to be vampire hunter, or a federal marshal, or a necromancer, or even for her rank in the werewolf pack, but because his father is dying. He needs Anita because she's a pretty woman who loves him, who can make him look like an everyday guy, who agrees to go home with him and help him say good-bye to the abusive father he never loved. The fact that Jason is about as much an everyday guy as Anita is a pretty woman is something they figure they can keep under wraps for a couple of days in a small town. How hard can that be?

Really, by now, Anita Blake should know better.

Marmee Noir, ancient mother of all vampires, picks this weekend to make a move. Somehow she has cut the connection that binds Anita and Jean-Claude, leaving Jean-Claude unable to sense what is happening. Dangerous even as she sleeps, buried in darkness for a thousand years somewhere beneath the old country of Europe, Marmee Noir reaches out toward her power. She has attacked Anita before, but never like this. In Anita she senses what she needs to make her enemies tremble...

Oh my, this has got to be the most exciting Anita Blake yet! I'm writing this review right after I read for six hours straight and I am on an adrenaline high.

Blood Noir is Jason's story in a way and we really get a sense of him as a person.

I have always liked Jason but now I really like Jason. I enjoyed finding out about his past, his issues with his family and indeed, with the very town he grew up in. Laurell K. Hamilton has the richest and most vibrant imagination and I loved how she brought him more alive for me.

Jason has always been the fun guy, the friend and has been on the edge of the triangle that is Jean Claude, Richard and Anita. He has also been a part of many major points in Anita's life and Blood Noir just enriched it on a totally new and amazing level. Just wait until you get a look at some of the conversations they have.

Anita is experiencing more growth in this book and more internal conflicts. She gets visited by Marme Noir and that was a scary bit--at least for Anita it was scary. For me? It was great! I couldn't read fast enough to find out what happens next. That always happens to me with Anita Blake stories. I am always astounded with the revelations because they come out in the most intriguing ways and this book continues the tradition. One thing is known, Anita also has a lot of love to give and I had to ask, will she love Jason by the end of this book? Will she have a new sweetie?

I also liked the action. There was just enough gritty suspense and altercations in this book to be similar to the take-no-prisoners kick-ass personality of the earlier books except this time it's not about her job. It's really personal and I was biting my nails because I really wasn't sure how far and where Ms. Hamilton was going to go.

A lot of people talk about there being too much sex in the Anita Blake series lately but I don't share that concern. In fact, I found this book to be the most passionate and intensely disturbing of the lot. Not for the sex scenes we read about but for the parts we don't. If that sounds cryptic, it's meant to be because there is a very important plot conflict that sends this story arc to new directions at warp speed. The ramifications of that one scene are going to shake things up for the next few books and I'm already chomping at the bit to read more.

Just wait until you see what happens with the strippers at the bachelorette party! Just wait until you find out about the bad guys and their connection to Jason. I couldn't wait and that's why I read it straight through.

Oh and get this, Richard stops by for a visit. Yes, I know that he's gotten on everyone's nerves of late but what happens is very exciting. Let's just say Richard shows up with something that turns out not to be his and he gets to leave it behind. But he gets something else instead... and didn't that shock the heck out of me! What is Ms.Hamilton going to do with that little tidbit? What is Jean Claude going to do about it? I think I'm going to enjoy watching Richard Zeeman again because this little twist is too delicious.

I love the voice of Anita's character, the writing style is crisp and active and the emotional connection between characters is clear and vital. My personal opinion is Blood Noir is very character driven and that is fine as I'm driven to get to know all my favorite characters. And Blood Noir delivers me Jason. Another thing is an unusual HEA was delivered in this story. Not what you expect because this story is a about a romance(s) in process but something else happens that gave me a really warm and fuzzy feeling and darn it all if Anita didn't help faciliate it. Anita being her own sassy and take-no-crap-from-anyone type person, you know, being herself, actually prompted a sweet thing to happen. What a wonderful touch.

For all Anita Blake followers out there, this story is another winner, sure to keep you fascinated and amazed right up until the last paragraph. It will surprise you, delight you and make you crave for more. I loved it!

Rating: Photobucket

Reviewed by Xeranth

Friday, May 30, 2008

Review: Spaceport:Bite

Spaceport: Bite
By Marteeka Karland

The last thing Dryson expects when he takes his latest shipment of smuggled goods to Spaceport Adana is to end up with a Rajian sex slave, Sasha. Sure, he planned a little R & R, but the impulsive buy is proving to be more than he bargained for. Sasha is a force to be reckoned with, and her bite is definitely worse than her bark.

Something else Dryson doesn’t expect is to find himself fact to face with an assassin sent to kill him. Belin, the large and very experienced killer, has other plans. Instead of killing Dryson, Belin wants to recruit him to smuggle much-needed goods to his home planet. Unfortunately, the Interplanetary Alliance Council has strong objections to letting Dryson live.

When Dryson is taken hostage, Belin and Sasha must keep their cool and use all their cunning if they’re going to rescue him. Keeping a level head is not something a Rajian is capable of when her mate is in danger.

Either of them.

This was actually quite an interesting read, and as I read the last word, I wasn’t sure that I wanted the story to end!

When we’re first introduced to Sasha we are given a very vivid taste of her fiery, fierce nature. More than one snort of surprise was heard from me as we got to know her even better. Her independent nature, at first, seemed to be out of place in someone who is supposed to be a sex slave, but the more we know of her heritage, the more it makes sense. Sasha was great fun, and just chock full of attitude which is in serious jeopardy of being changed around, something I truly adore in a heroine.

Dryson was incredibly sexy in his confidence as well as his stature and looks. To me there is nothing sexier than a man who moves with confidence and grace. Might be my dancing background, but the thought of it just does it for me. And speaking plainly, Dryson just plain does it for me. He saw Sasha and knew enough of her culture to know that she wouldn’t be submissive and sweet

Belin is tall, very dark, and I’m not entirely sure he was handsome. The description of him was purposely mysterious, and I got the feeling that all involved were perfectly content with that. How do you argue with that? He was sexy in his very mysterious ways, in his unexpected laughter and understanding of situations that the other players had no knowledge of. He even seemed to know what to do to move beyond a moment that seemed to be getting out of control and bring everyone into a more open space.

I will say that the quickness which with Sasha finds herself mated to Dryson and shortly thereafter Beln, is a bit disconcerting, but I was willing to go along with it as long as it seemed to continue in a way that would eventually make sense. I wasn't really sure whether the sudden compelling attraction was just a flash of heat or one that would endure the long slow burn. It could cause other readers to step back and maybe wonder if this is right. Then you find yourself pulled back into the sex scene and the love

I love the fact that they each know what they want and even how to go about getting it done. The heat between the three of them scorched the pages and left me gasping for more.

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Review by Viscaria

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Review: Island Treasures: Book 1

Island Treasures: Book 1
By Rusty Wicks

A trio of stories featuring love on some of the most beautiful islands on earth. Corfu, Hvar and Molokai… three spits of land in endless blue oceans whose sultry sea breezes fan the fires of love. Join Abby, Luna and Leilani as they discover exotic island treasures to call their own.

This interesting collection of novellas brought on the heat in three beautiful settings. Each novella was unique in it’s plot and setting and I found it a pleasure to read.

Squalls, Hvar

In Squalls, Hvar we meet Abby and Jon. Two people more drawn to each other than many I’ve seen, but pushed apart as well. The mystery for us is in their past and what brought about the enmity between the two. As they are reunited after six years and progress through the work that brings them back into each other’s world, the mutual attraction and love becomes too much to resist, yet all is not forgiven. The intimacy between these two is hot, and at first a bit stilted, but there is a very compelling reason, and that is all I can say along those lines. I got a kick out of Abby’s assertion that no matter what she wasn’t really still interested in Jon… until she just couldn’t take the heat anymore. Jon’s “hat in hand” attitude actually endeared him to me. He was truly repentant even when he was sure that he couldn’t truly explain to Abby the circumstances that drove them apart. The love that these two shared made me hope that all could be explained in the end. I am pleased to say that this is actually a very fulfilling love story whose ending will leave you with a smile.

Dances, Corfu

Dances, Corfu was an incredibly sensual and beautiful love story that was a definite joy to read. Here we meet Luna and Nikos in a deceptive world of seemingly arranged marriages where a woman has more say in her choices than one would think. As Luna’s father and brother continually try to tempt her with the men of their island, Luna is determined that only one man will do… and no one will change her mind. Nikos has only one woman in mind as well, and the thought that she might marry another has him in knots. I adored Luna’s individual spark and Nikos’ possessive nature. Set in ancient Greece, Rusty Wicks’s imagery was fabulous, placing my right in the middle of an exotic time and locale, not to mention that the intimacy was truly lovely. Dances, Corfu was a tale that won’t leave you wanting.

Smoke, Molokai

Smoke, Molokai was a rather interesting story with a touch of the paranormal. Set in a stunning tropical paradise, we are introduced to Leilani “Lani” and Mano, two very different people, and one with a secret. Lani and Mano share a passion that amazes and erupts in a scorching fire that surprises. Mano is the mysterious stranger who appears when Lani seems to need comfort the most, and as they explore both the island and the passion they share we get to know a bit more about Lani and her motivations. I do have to give a warning in that I was a bit disappointed in the ending, as I wasn’t quite sure if it was a true Happy Ever After or just a suggestion of one. We are given a sort of glimpse into the possibilities of a happy ending, but it isn’t truly defined and it may confuse some readers. Despite that note of discord, I did enjoy this tale. This was a truly compelling story about love transcending so much more than just emotional obstacles giving us a glimpse into a world that leaves one breathless. This was a magical read and I look forward to more offerings from Rusty Wicks’ fantastic imagination.

Island Treasures is indeed a treasure and one that you would do well to pick up for a quick fun getaway to tropical islands, beautiful romance and hot intimacy.

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Review by Viscaria

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Review: Deal With This

Deal With This
By Lucy Monroe

Alan Hyatt could do his job in his sleep, and when the Goddard Project sends him to investigate a case of high-tech espionage in the Vancouver film industry, he finds a perfect reason to work in bed. But sizzling actress Jillian Carlyle also happens to be his landlady, and she's got a hard-and-fast (so to speak) rule that keeps her from dating her renters. While Alan’s cover as a reporter gets him close to all the suspects on the set of Jillian's sci-fi show, playing a background actor at her suggestion to get his story? Well, that's something else—but he's not about to turn down a red-hot redhead, even if she keeps throwing him curves...

Jillian just can't understand it. Sure, Alan is six-feet-something of chiseled ruggedness with gray eyes and an irresistible growl in his voice. But hello? She doesn't do relationships—even of the casual kind—with men who impact more than her senses. No one is getting a chance at her heart. Especially not one of her renters. Still, there's nothing wrong with enjoying Alan from afar—but not too far, or she wouldn't be able to fully appreciate his rock-hard abs when he's working out in the home gym. If only he didn't make her feel safe and oh so right when they touched…

Once again, Ms. Monroe delivers an exciting romance jam packed with the things a reader loves the most. Not only is Deal With This a fun and gripping romance but it also has a hero I loved, a heroine I could root for and great secondary characters that flavored the story to perfection. On top of it all is a who-done-it that kept me guessing using twists and turns of all the characters' relationships.

Jillian is a woman who seems to have it all together. She's got her rules to protect her and everything is going as she wants it to. I loved that. Why? Mostly because those are the kinds of people you love to see unravel. She does such a good job at it too. First she has to deny herself. She's got that down pat. Next, she has to face the fact that it's no fun to deny herself and has to come up with a plan to allow herself to 'break' one of her rules. And then the fun begins because as we all know, love is its own slippery slope.

Joining Jillian on that free fall to humbling love is Alan -- a man of mystery with rules of his own -- to break everyone else's. He's also a character who loves and lives control and has the need to succeed. When I read about a handsome and ripped eligible agent who is so focused on a mission but yet is in shock when he gets his shorts in a twist by love,I couldn't stop turning the pages. I needed to read not only how, but how bad would it get?

Poor Alan not only needs to balance his personal chaos with his mission but the objective is turning out to be a lot bigger and complicated than either he or his boss ever imagined. That's where the secondary characters come in and Ms. Monroe had me guessing who could be the villain for most of the book. I also felt the same dilemma as Alan. Not only did I connect with the secondary characters but so did Alan. You can imagine what that must have meant to the integrity of his mission. How does a hero balance that especially when everyone is a suspect?

Another part I enjoyed in this story is the secondary romance. We have a light dusting of man-love which was tastefully written and smacks of the deft hand of Ms. Monroe. She has always had the knack of zeroing in on the very human and romantic aspects of a couple and this is no less poignant. I can't say too much about the couple because they are intrinsic to the plot. I can say that I was pretty happy about their HEA.

Speaking of Happily Ever After, there is more to deal with than just Jill and Alan and the two studs I mentioned. Love abounds in Deal With This and I was delighted to read about characters that I've met before in some of Ms. Monroe's previous books. You don't need to have read them to enjoy this story however. Deal With This is a true stand-alone. But, isn't it nice to hear about the 'folks back home'?

Deal With This is a rousing, suspenseful, romantic and exciting story sure to keep you turning the pages until the end. But don't be surprised if you go back and re-read some of those spicy parts. They definitely stoked the fire.

Rating: Photobucket

Review by Xeranth

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Review: Blackout

Blackout
by Dara Edmondson

Kendra's boyfriend accuses her of being a cold fish then dumps her for a coworker. She laments her sorry love life. But when a blackout traps her in an elevator with a sexy Latin, she discovers her inner vixen and sets out to make up for lost time.

From the opening paragraph, Blackout grabbed my attention and thrust me into Kendra's plight. Ms. Edmondson zeroed in on the one scenario guaranteed to strike a chord leaving me with an intense need to see Kendra happy.

Kendra's self-analyzing and inherent shyness is a characteristic many women share. Add that to her initial inability to let go and let others see her being herself and you have a breeding ground for misconceptions regarding Kendra's personality. I too prefer to fade into the woodwork when I'm unsure. I could understand perfectly why Kendra acted and spoke the way she did when first faced with Jorge.

Speaking of Jorge,(or should I say dreaming?) he is an awesome character. His reactions to Kendra, his attempts at conversation, even his attitude was spot on.
He is an incredibly likable man with his own confident yet cautious personality which charmed me.

When the opportunity presented itself, Jorge again tried to reach out to touch the porcupine and found a quivering passionate Kendra-kitten just waiting to be petted and played with. And oh, how they played. It was sensual, touching and I felt it was like watching a sunflower turn towards the warmth of the sun. It was great fun for the characters and me, the reader.

You know what I liked about how it ended? I get the feeling that the best is yet to come. And I believe I got my wish -- Kendra is going to be VERY happy.

If you enjoy stories with characters you can connect with and a romance you can sigh over, then Blackout is a good bet.

Rating: Photobucket

Reviewed by Xeranth

Monday, May 26, 2008

Review: The Agency: Serpent's Kiss

The Agency: Serpent's Kiss
by Michelle Hasker

Agent John Macallister is so deep undercover he’s not sure who he is anymore. Fortunately the Agency has sent one of their best operatives to rescue him -- from himself. Only problem? She’s a giant anaconda.

Sleeping with the man you’re guarding is a bad idea. Especially if you’re a snake shapeshifter pretending to be nothing more than a six-foot-long, yellow anaconda and you’re in love with the man you’re guarding. As if not being able to have sex with John isn’t bad enough, they’re in the middle of a drug dealer’s paradise and everyone wants him dead. Kim doesn’t know which is harder, keeping John alive or keeping her hands -- and her identity -- to herself.

A yellow anaconda as a secret agent is a unique twist for a shapeshifter adventure. Especially since the snake is female and acting as a bodyguard to the man she loves. I couldn't help but be intrigued.

Kim/Nalini is a snake for most of the story and John isn't aware of her shapeshifting ability, or that she is really Kim, the agent that trained him for the mission. I admired Kim's strength and dedication to the agency and I understood her frustration because she has to keep her true nature secret, even from John. She has not revealed her feelings for John and as Nalini; she shows her possessiveness of John in ways that made me laugh, especially since John doesn't think them very funny.

John is all man in a dangerous situation and I was drawn to both his confidence and the forceful way he deals with his enemies. John loves Nalini and marvels at how human her behavior is at times. He also loves Kim and I adored his easy acceptance of Kim when she reveals her dual identity to him.

I thought some of the dialog was a bit awkward, but the story premise grabbed my attention. John and Kim are hot together and their chemistry is tangible. "Serpent's Kiss" is a suspense packed thriller that lovers of shapeshifters will enjoy.

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Review by Chamomile

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Review: Oh Yum! - Impulsive Pleasures

Oh Yum! - Impulsive Pleasures
by KyAnn Waters

Jamie's daughter is getting married and now Jamie has to endure a weekend with her ex-husband and his new wife, the home-wrecking trollop. Jamie can be nice…yeah right. The asshole doesn't deserve nice. However, Jamie's bitterness just might be sweetened when young and sexy best man Mark Bentley arrives for the rehearsal dinner. Oh Yum! He might prove to be just the distraction Jamie needs. And if the ex has a problem with it, good.

Only Mark isn't interested in a little flirtation with the mother of the bride. He'd like the cougar to scratch her nails down his back. Will she invite him into her bed…or will he have to fuck her on the floor?

Impulsive Pleasures delivers what I’ve come to expect from the talent of KyAnn Waters.

What could have easily slipped into an unemotional sexual encounter ended up being a story of realized dreams and the wonder of discovering that it is truly never too late to find love.

Jamie is the mother of the bride and a woman burned. I found her to be a character I could identify with and yet she is a woman more courageous than I. Taking the bull by the horns (a young bull at that) and going after what she wants is a very risky step to take when she’s not sure about future ramifications. That means taking stock in her self-truth; does she have the confidence, the will and the fortitude to see it through? Does she think she still has what it takes to intrigue a man or has her ex-husband had the best from her that she can never get back? Pretty heavy stuff and yet, I was very glad to see Jamie stand up for herself. I enjoyed seeing her flex her emotional muscles and prove to herself and others her own personal growth.

Mark is a man who presents Jamie with the opportunity to see just how far she’s grown, how far she’s healed and how far she’s willing to go to disprove what her ex-husband says about her and prove to herself that she does have what it takes. I liked how Ms. Waters wrote the scene where Mark has an epiphany about Jamie – what makes her different than all the other women at the rehearsal dinner. He is a wonderful character, virile, strong -- and I really got a kick out of his interactions with the Ex. I also cheered Mark’s decision about who and what to tell about a very sensitive topic, despite Jamie’s worry. He is a man who knows how to take care of the woman he cares for. Doesn’t that sound dreamy?

I liked reading about how two people with different goals and agendas ended up making a surprise journey that not only brought them together but took them into deeper emotional depths. I laud Mark’s pursuit of Jamie; it’s romantic, direct and passionate. And the HEA left me with no doubts that Marc is perfect for Jaime.

If you enjoy touching and empowering stories of an older woman being pursued by an earnest younger man, then Impulsive Pleasures delivers with passion and style.

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Reviewed by Xeranth