Thursday, 27 December 2007

The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

How is this a good book??? Already by page 35 I was asking myself,’Is anything going to happen?’ On page 91 again I said, ’Not much talk, not much happening.’ By page 91 in All Through The Night….By page 91 in Enchanted…... There is just no comparison between those two stunning historical novels and this effort.

Let’s get this straight. Lucy, like so many romance heroines, sets her sights (sorry, ‘falls in love with’) on marrying a hero With Money And A Higher Social Status. In the blink of an eye, her tame almost-fiance is no longer good enough for her. Even though the hero comes across as a lightweight, dissolute, man-ho. And has Simon, the hero, actually done anything with his life, other than be born into money? Involved in the arts? Good works? Building power and influence for the good of his nation? Not likely.

However. Once Lucy and Simon actually get married the plot gathers pace and intensity. Although I didn’t really buy Simon’s transformation into a horticultural expert. There’s still lots to be dissatisfied with though. Lucy turning into a sanctimonious prig for one. Leaving Simon when he's so obviously having a massive emotional wobble. Poor greenhouse...only a Lucretia Borgia type drives her husband to commit acts of destruction against beautiful artifacts. If Barbara can stick with Conrad through all the trials and appeals, then Lucy should also stand with her man and not run home to Daddy when her husband chooses to defend his family’s honor. Actually. I had trouble reading the final chapters. I couldn't believe my eyes when it turned out that Lucy was not part of the final duel scene. She remained in the mansion, wringing her hands, totally out of tune with the sentiments of the action.

What is it about romances and wannabees? Like. There has to be one in every novel. This one is called Christian Fletcher and I just know the readers are supposed to love him. As always. I thought he was yet another pain in the butt. I kept expecting him to be a spy for his father and when he turned into something else (the sacrificial lamb) I felt mightily disappointed. btw ‘needing money’ is not a valid reason to break the law by committing insurance fraud. No court of law would accept it as such. Particularly when it involves the murder of an innocent man. Rupert Fletcher should have been banged up in Newgate for a long time…without his family. There was no justice for the women Rosalind and Pocket.

But what really surprised me is that I read Pye and de Raab as being the novel’s comic relief. Definitely not as the heroes of the previous books by the same author.

What makes this novel readable is the hotness. Although I didn’t care for all the ‘sorrys’ Simon says on his wedding night. Nor for the fact that whenever Simon kills someone in a duel he turns into a rough uncontrollable sex-fiend and immediately jumps on his wife. The scenes where Lucy pukes were also quite entertaining.

Simon is just the wrong side of strange for me. He has aristocratic notions of honor but marries a woman with a very provincial moral code. Lucy would have made an entirely suitable bride for Eustace Penweeble, the vicar of Maiden Hill. I didn’t really get any sense of the emotion of Simon falling in love. Not like with Peter Madsen or Superman Hawkins. I can’t remember the last time I read an historical where men duel with swords that was not set in medieval times.

This novel is not going anywhere near my recommended list. There’s just too much miserable cynicism in it. As illustrated by not only Simon’s version of the Serpent Prince fairytale but also by the snake and toad story.

Also. Why does the paperback cost about $2 more than say, Janzen’s or Adrian’s far superior oeuvres? This is the first book I've read that is plastered all over with glowing reviews for a completely different novel by the same author. How weird is that? Another book with a nice cover that flatters to deceive. Because. Actually. Despite the hotness. It's hardly even approaches being a good involving story. Too many missteps in plotting and characterisation. File in the same box as Alexandra Ivy, Jacqueline Frank et al. Pooh!

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Innocent in Death by J D Robb

A few years ago I read the first 10 of this series but decided to give it up when the secondary characters seemed to start taking over the novels. I decided to read this one because, according to the blurb, Eve gets jealous of an old flame of Roarke's. That sounded a bit interesting.

Strictly speaking. Not a romance at all. The author has cut down on the emotional hotness. But I'm just so grateful the main couple are still intact. They haven't cheated on one another, nor are they semi-alcoholic nor do they do drugs. Nor have their economic circumstances reversed or even changed. Thank goodness. Seriously. I was totally traumatized by what Ed McBain did to the central characters from his 99th precinct series. Not a pleasant experience to read novel after novel where the author so obviously hates the people he is writing about and puts them through unnecessary hell because of it.

I wasn't really that interested in the murder plot. Boring old teachers die. But the jealousy aspect was quite amusing. imo The author handled it very well. Because it could so easily have soured the whole marriage for the next few novels. Eve should get down on her hands and knees to thank Mavis for saving her relationship with Roarke. I loved the fact that Eve had no compunction about calling Magdelana a slut, completely without any supporting evidence, from the very beginning. Only when Roarke told Eve that Maggie was in the habit of sleeping with their marks as part of their con did I definitely know that the happy ending would be convincing. And that's at least two-thirds into the book. Naughty ol' Roarke for not letting Eve know that important fact from the very beginning. And could he really not tell that Maggie had in fact chosen him as her next mark? Clever ol' author for keeping the reader in the dark too.

This is another novel where children feature heavily. But my own emotions were left completely undisturbed. A fairly entertaining read. But too mainstream and vanilla to feature on my recommended list.

My favorite is Vengeance btw. Roarke was a lot less respectable and the murder plot was again based around the theme of trust in (a new) marriage.

....and then there was the one where Roarke and Eve were basically brainwashed into having hot sex all over the novel. Very entertaining.

...favorite single scene was when Eve n Roarke visited suburbia. Absolutely loved that. (that was in the novel where Eve got kicked off the force for some reason or other...temporarily I should add.)

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Dear Author, Please Don't..

This is in tribute to a very popular thread over on;

Dear Author,

Please DON'T; Ever Take Advice From Readers! ...about characters, endings, heroes, heroines...

Stay True To The Story That You Imagined and sold to the publishers. (but editor advice has to be taken...with negotiation of course...we all of us have to put up with crap from supervisors at some stage in our lives.)

Thank you!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Crazy Kisses by Tara Janzen

This is a well written book. Very well written. Well plotted. All the strands coming together. Furthermore. You know what. I thought this was quite a serious book. Unusually for Steele Street.

Choices and decisions. Is what this novel is about. I suppose. So much time is not spent in the bedroom. Plus. Actually. The main couple don’t spend enough time together. He’s always running away from her. Because he feels angst over what the consequences of his job are for her. They tend to meet in crowded situations. Or when they are alone together they don’t really communicate. But I got tired of it all. Honestly. Too little happiness and joy. This is also a romance where the guy keeps thinking ‘I’m not worthy.’ Over and over again. And again.

On the other hand. This is the best ‘virgin’ romance I’ve read in ages. And definitely the best ‘tame fiance’ romance I’ve ever read. Where the lame-duck fiancĂ© is actually a very nice guy…and talented. Just a teensy shame the author wrote him in a wheelchair. Because as everyone knows nowadays. People in wheelchairs have sex too. Although. I’m not sure that Peter was aware of that fact.

I hate to admit it. But. Quite early on. I got bored. Mainly with all the descriptions of the artwork. Plus. There were over a hundred kids hiding in the old theatre. As if that could work. What with the hundreds of people at the art gallery showings. And another coupla hundred at the club. To say nothing of the warring gangs and tons of cops. Just too many people in 1 novel for me I guess. All in all. This novel was brim-full of eccentric characterisations. Urchins, models, gangstars, drug-barons, transvestites and of course artists. Probably the Bhagavad Gita has fewer people in it.

Not a patch on the highly personal interactions between Katya and Superman. The trouble is. Peter sees Nikki as being so perfect. Superman saw all Katya’s imperfections and loved her anyway. Also. I didn’t see much effort on Nikki’s part ever to help Peter in difficult situations. Kat helped Superman a lot the second time around. When I thought about it. It seemed Nikki was much more of a precious american princess than even Katya. A week in a yurt in exchange for a year in Paris is not an equitable bargain.

Finally. I need to say it. Although I have realised this isn’t really a lightweight series I wish J.T. hadn’t had to die that horrible death. Crazy Love managed perfectly well without constant references to it. And it didn’t really ring true that Superman would have accepted being a bodyguard to the Prom Queen if he had truly wanted to avenge J.T’s death.

Also. Explain this to me. Why would a black ops guy doing dirty business in Colombia check into a Bogota hospital using his real (yes, his home id) name. Is that mofo dumb or what?

But whenever a person gets into a series. Some you love, some are just ok. Like this one was for me.

Did I mention that the cover is just as horrible as all the others?

Monday, 10 December 2007

Elizabeth's Wolf by Lora Leigh.

Should really be called. Elizabeth's Coyote. The most outrageous Breed plot yet. Although this is one of Lora's earlier Ellora's Cave books.

I'll start with the spoiler. The daughter Cassie turns out to be a Breed child. One of the evil coyote Breeds. And she knows it. So she makes endless efforts to be good. Poor kid. Only 8 yo. She'll have a breakdown for sure when she gets to her teens. Probably. She's been keeping a lot of secrets from her mother. I could have done without evil adults calling sweet damaged Cassie a 'monster' to her face too. Also. Readers need to ask themselves. What on earth is an 8 yo doing in a piece of erotica? Strictly speaking. This novel is more about her than about Dash and Elizabeth.

Amazingly. The smut totally gets in the way of the excellent plot that surrounds Cassie. As with all the Breed stories I have read, I had absolutely no emotional empathy with the main couple. Nevertheless. I rank them #1. Way before Megan and Braden. Because the hero, Dash, has some insecurities. While Braden came across like he thought he was god's gift. Despite what she repeatedly says. Elizabeth entrusts the care of her hunted child to acquaintances of a man she has known for about 1 day. tsk, tsk. I understand completely that the demands of the plot made that a necessity. Not least because she and Dash could hardly consumate their relationship in the usual noisy Breed manner with an 8 yo around in the next room. But it just meant there was a huge discontinuity between her intentions and her actions.

The novel ends rather abruptly. Like many of the books. In addition the author seemed to have to struggle to fit in the required anal scene. Ok. The heroine faints from the resulting ecstacy. But there should have been at least one more bedroom scene just to show that she felt happy in the relationship following that weird event.

I bought Elizabeth's Wolf as a $15 paperback. From the smut point of view. I don't think it was worth it. Not enough. Because understandably it can't really get going until Cassie is off-loaded at around page 170. From a 'good story' point of view the price was not a problem. On one level I suppose you could call this book 'good edgy fiction.' But I found it a bit too scary to enjoy as a novel. Obviously I guessed quite early on that Cassie was Breed. It's just that the details, and especially the ending were just too sad for me to cope with comfortably.

I'm going to add this to my recommended list though. Because this novel is very well plotted and written. And the cover is nice too. It will go below Dance With The Devil because even that is much more emotionally involving. imo

The next Lora novel I'll read will be one of her bodyguard series. This Breed schtick is getting to me.

I'm currently using the Detra Fitch profile on amazon to get ideas for further romance reading. So some more series romances are due to be reviewed in the near future. (Nice and cheap too).

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Crazy Kisses by Tara Janzen

Sorry. I couldn't get into this novel at all. Just too many branches to the story.

Why are all those kids running about in it? Are they juveniles or what? Currently I absolutely do not read books with kids in. Although Tanners Scheme featured a perfectly acceptable child in the end chapters.

My other problems were that the heroine was toting a tame (and crippled) fiance at the same time as pining for the hero. I didn't like that at all. And as everyone knows the secondary couple do not last. Travis goes for another female entirely in the Crazy Sweet.

Or maybe my head just wasn't in the right place for this story. I'll save it to read some other time in the future. More likely. It's because I'm still totally entranced by Crazy Cool. Which I keep re-reading. Christian is wonderful. Kat is just...! Thirteen years was way too long to keep them apart.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Midnight Awakening by Lara Adrian

Unbelievably tame and somewhat dated. Midnight Awakening reads like an average series romance. Perfunctory is the word I would use to describe it. I cannot believe this novel comes from the same pen what wrote in the lurid tattoo-sucking scene in Kiss of Crimson. And the author has so obviously been on a trip to continental Europe.

‘Widow’ romances are rarely much good and this is no exception. The heroine Elise subjects Tegan to one of the most outrageous teases I've ever read. First she comes on to him like she's ready to do the deed. Then at the last moment she changes her mind, runs away, and then comes back to finish the business! I thought her actions at the time almost amounted to the sadistic torture of a guy who admits he hasn't had sex for 500 years through anger at the death of his first wife. I don't like that kind of thing.

And lookee. The Order has got it’s very own groupie, hanger-on. Chase. Just like Butch in the BDB. And he’s just as much of a pain-in-the-ass. I want him to die. Or turn into the first Rogue to infiltrate the compound. But I just know he’s going to get his own story some time in the future. I’ll be giving that a miss for sure. No author is going to sucker me a second time.

After the multi-layered romances of Tara Janzen and the outrageous plotting of Lora Leigh, I found Midnight Awakening to be such an eeeeasy read. However. Be aware that the story still has the quota of soft-core and violence required by the genre. But not too much of either. Neither is the heroine brutalized by the baddies. I think that's what I found a bit much in Crimson. When Tess got munched by the Rogues. Not to mention the imagery of blood that was thrust into the tattoo-sucking scene. All a bit too much for me. But. Wow! What an imagination on someone's part. Nothing like that in Midnight Awakening. Thank goodness. Sort of.

What is good is the non-romance plot. Something about a book and an ancient alien vampire. Marek gets his just deserts but something worse is due to take his place. However like so often, the thrills and tension do not make any appearance until well over half way into the book. In fact. If you start reading at page 295 you will get all of the plot and 90% of the hotness. There's just a lot of toing and froing in the earlier parts of the novel. And 'will they, won't they' stuff. The multiple scenes set in the sanitorium were just a total waste of reading time. It was wonderful how all the riddles get solved by the females in the story. Just me personally. I enjoyed all the 'elongating fangs' all over the novel. But in defense of humans. I'd like to say that I often think beautiful thoughts during the course of the day. 'Beautiful sky; great personality; lovely garden; nice piece of lamb; delicious ice-cream; my friends baby girl would love that as a gift.' Nothing special. Just everyday nice thoughts.

And now a word about the next book in the series. Ok, the guys of the Order were betrayed by Rio’s girl. And understandably he’s bitter about it. But what he needs to remember is that HE’s alive but SHE’s dead. By her own hand when Lucan didn’t die. So I hope the next novel isn’t going to be all Rio whining about Eva’s treachery. Because there is no doubt that Eva’s actions were down to the fact that she loved him. So Rio needs to be careful about how he remembers her or he’s going end up sounding like a petulant child. Or a Lowell man from the 80s. And oops. The heroine has a relative involved in a battle against cancer. Almost like with Mary and Rhage. Just fancy that.

But the funniest thing in the whole book is the quote on the front cover. By J R Ward. Saying how much she likes the story. That is so funny.

I absolutely did not get the character of Andreas. I kept expecting that continental creep and his floosie to turn bad. He takes up far too much of the novel for what is essentially a cipher role.

Absolutely not a patch on Kiss of Crimson. But perfectly acceptable nonetheless. And it was Tegan who turned out to be a cardboard cutout not Elise. He was too much of a gentleman. In the previous 2 novels, one hero, Lucan, fraudulently portrayed himself as a cop to the heroine and the other, Dante, lied his head off to his intended. Maybe I’ve been spoilt by Tara Janzen, Lora Leigh and Anne Stuart. But I found it all a bit one-dimensional and…simple.

In many ways this is just the type of book that annoys me intensely. Readers wait 6 months for it to be published and it's easily read in just one day. What a let down. Please don't tell me that an experienced author can't write about 4 of these in one year. Some people are just i.d.l.e. Or. Have pretensions to literary greatness. Then again. I remember one of my absolutely favorite romance authors. Vanessa James. Wrote about 6 love-stories in 18 months. Her agent got her a great deal. And she wrote highly lucrative pot-boilers about sluts for the next ten years. Using a different pen-name. (I know this because she used to boast about her success in the Sunday papers). Unfortunately I was one of the readers she left behind. I never read even one of the hard-cover novels. (They had different paramenters from standard romances). For a while I felt somewhat betrayed. Now. Of course I understand. Families, houses, cars. That sort of thing.

p.s. Don't think I won't be lining up for Rio's story. If only to discover the new baddie. His name even. Will Kassia's grown-up baby turn out to be a good-guy? I hope so. After Rio, I can't see who's next. Please god, not that ho-loving dork Sterling. I can't believe he thought he ever had the slightest chance with Elise.

btw. Isn't the artwork for the covers of this series totally beautiful? Now why didn't Tara Janzen get the same loving attention for her just-as-good Crazy books?

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Tanner's Scheme by Lora Leigh

Smut with plot. A very good read. Basically for the characters of the main couple. Both of whom are quite interesting.

Tanner, the hero, repeatedly comes second best in the mind of the heroine (not that the author actually lets her admit it though) when compared to her first great love, the treacherous Chazz, who is offed without regret in the opening chapters. Sorry. Tanner is one big weirdo. He has watched Scheme have sex with other men for 10 years and has convinced himself she didn’t really, really enjoy herself and that he is the one true guy she needs. Poor Scheme cannot even tell Tanner he's a sick psycho stalker because for the first third of the novel she's his prisoner and has to be very careful how she talks to his ego.

What to make of Scheme, the heroine. Here’s what she says about herself:

“All Tanner had to do was withhold one orgasm. Made her wait and then asked her anything. The lives she would have betrayed would be gone forever, because she was weak.” (p160)

So by her own admission. Scheme lives through her twat. And everything else. Loyalty, honor, is secondary to that.

But her behaviour is somewhat understandable because ; ‘she was caving bad where Tanner was concerned. She was falling in love with him.” And the reason for her enamoration. He can give her the pounding she craves, needs. Trouble is. The reader gets the feeling that if Tanner keeled over dead tomorrow, Scheme would soon ‘fall in love’ with the next guy who showed her a bit of warmth or gave her sexual satisfaction.

And then amazingly. A few pages later we get. “Her taste in men sucked. “ She goes on to list why her relationships sucked. All 5 of them, in 10 years. As many people might say. Anyone might make the mistakes she did with her men. But I would like to tell her that she is continuing the pattern with Tanner.

But no way can I condemn or hate or despise Scheme. When you consider the way her father raised her, she’s made the best she can of her life. She works against her father, but she can’t bring herself to leave his sphere of influence and has probably built him up to be more of a monster than he really is. Consider the fact that not only is she betraying him, so is his second-in-command, John Bollen, and so, amazingly, is his chief enforcer, Dog. So how effective could Cyrus Tallent’s machinations and plots really be?

The scene with Dog was the only really ridiculous plot hole in the whole story. The author builds him up to be this big cold-blooded killer and then he turns out to be working for Jonas too. I don’t think the author can bring herself to write in a baddie Breed character. So why give him a personality at all? (Other than that he will get his own novel some time in the future…and that is a pussy reason.)

A fundamental flaw in this novel is this. I don’t think the author makes her case that Scheme is one of the good guys. Ok. Scheme deliberately made mistakes to save lives. But as is clearly stated in the book. Her signature is present on orders to kill innocent Breeds. Scheme has to answer for those actions in a court of law. A Human Rights court. She would fail and be convicted if her only defence was ‘I had no choice; my father forced me to sign.’ Playing the numbers game of ‘I killed some in order to save others.’ is also not a clear defence. The morally correct action for Scheme to have taken would have been to leave her father’s organisation completely.

But of course. Scheme was quite happy with her Dad and the upscale lifestyle he provided until he drugged her to abort her child, which happened when she was about 22 yo. Hmm. So all the Breed suffering in the labs meant nothing to her. See what I mean. If some of my pride siblings had been killed with Scheme’s consent, and she turned up at Sanctuary, I would make one big fuss, mating heat or not.

Presumably that’s why there are so many references to Scheme being ‘punished’ whenever she made one of those mistakes. Because otherwise she would have had too nice a life. I mean. ‘Relationships that sucked’ cannot on any level be compared to Breeds of both genders and all ages being systematically brutalized and routinely murdered through the orders of Cyrus Tallent and his daughter, Scheme.

In a way. The author knows Scheme is a relatively unsympathetic heroine because of one amazing little conversation between Scheme and Tanner where they try to outdo each other in tales of suffering. Apparently, Scheme’s father, buried her alive with a limited supply of oxygen and only released her 2 minutes after her oxygen ran out when she was already unconscious. ‘I survived. I always survived.’ She tells Tanner. He replies ‘You survived. It was your father’s favorite mode of punishment, burying Breeds alive. He released you. He never released a Breed.’ Top that dearie.

But she can’t. In fact. It’s like she never heard those words at all. She just carries on relating her own suffering. And then they have sex. Which they do all through the novel. Repeatedly. So I thought I’d mention that fact. Lovely. There’s a good quota of totally gratuitous and voyeuristic female nudity too. For those that are interested in that sort of thing. At some level. I wish this author had been co-opted to write the romance between Z and Bella in Lover Awakened. Maybe then the central relationship would have taken up more than 5 chapters of a 40 chapter book. But I digress.

The problem with the big, tough hero, Tanner, is that by around page 178 of a 350 page novel, he is just limp putty in the hands of a slut. Or should that be, a hard dick in the hands of a woman who knows how to work her men. Metaphorically and literally speaking of course. Omg! The way Scheme tried to play Tanner when he brought her back to the cave after her stupid escape attempt. Omg! That woman has no shame (or sincerity). And he almost fell for it, hook, line and sinker. I thought this guy could ’smell’ deceit?? The only thing that stopped him succumbing was that he thought he had to hand her over to her ‘true mate,’ his brother, Cabal. tee hee. I just laughed out loud at the scenes that followed. And as a reader, it wouldn’t have made much difference if Scheme had had sex with both the brothers. After all, she’d done something similar before. It’s not like normal parameters count for much with this series. On the other hand. I also felt total love for Scheme when she chastised herself for believing that anyone could ever love her. Ahh. Plus. I’d like to point out that at no time does Scheme have screaming hysterics, unlike that moron, Harmony. But the two women do have one thing in common. Their fertility is decided by the men in their lives. With Harmony, her men just discuss her fertility like she wasn’t there. But with Scheme. Her father drugged her, then had her unborn child terminated, and sterilized Scheme. A recurrent theme in both books. How weird is that. Like female conception and birth is still an issue. In the western world! Now that is much more contentious than Breed ‘mating heat.’ Which, btw, sets in about page 205. For a while, after that, the novel goes downhill imo. I just cringe as all the personal details of the heat between Tanner and Scheme are openly discussed by the complete strangers who sit on the Breed Cabinet. And yes. I know that's pretty much what happens when you go for IVF. But do I want to read a novel about IVF. En. Oh.

I just ate this story up during the first read. But the plot falls apart through its stupidity on a 2nd and 3rd reading. Every twist has a counter twist. But it keeps on going, like a roller-coaster until the very end. And suddenly the story finishes. Just like that.

I'm a reader who finds the Breed mythos more offensive than the smut. Of which there is tons and tons in this novel. However. No way would I read this ridiculous series without the smut scenes. This is another author who turns out about 6 or 7 novels a year. More power to her.

Finally. I'd like to do something only a serious reader of romantic trash can do. Which is. Compare heroines. Katya and Scheme. Both are about 31 yo. Poor Scheme gets criticised a lot for her sexual activities. But up against the prom queen she looks rather tame. Katya, by her own admission has had a lot of men. Including a rock-star. And we all know what that entails. The reader gets told that Superman taught her just about everything there is to know. It's just that the reader gets much more details in Scheme's book. Whilst with Katya's story, feelings and sensations (and shame, tee hee) are discussed more, and the details are left to the reader's imagination. Happy Christmas to both of these wonderful american women!

Crazy Cool by Tara Janzen

I enjoyed my first time read of this novel. And the 2nd and 3rd readings were even more pleasurable. The romance plot for me was just as sensuous as the more graphic encounters in the Breed series.

But the murder plot is just too complicated and internecine for me to get my head round. And the way Marilyn Dekker turns out to be a loving mother who is forgiven all her sins against her daughter was just too ridiculous for words as well as being a complete injustice.

As far as I can figure. The catalyst for all the up-to-date events was Katya’s decision to buy an art gallery in her home town of Denver. That stirred up the latent hatred of Big Jon Traynor. But why did he (or Marilyn Dekker or Albert Thorpe) choose to involve Hawkins again? Just didn’t make sense. So the motivations of the bad guys are too sketchily drawn to understand. The scenes that involved the bad guys talking conveyed more their incompetence rather than their ability to control events.

The murder plot was so anti-climactical. And that includes the fact that the big showdown scene occurs without ANY of the SDF being present. And it’s Katya who rescues Hawkins from the pool. Just to show that on any day an American Princess is better than an ordinary joe.

And why on earth does Katya defend the characters of the gang who tried to rape her to Hawkins? A gang is a gang is a gang. Taken individually, I’m sure most of them were ‘nice boys’ but the whole point of a gang is that it allows the nasty part of a person’s character to reign. imo. I’m not speaking from any personal experience.

There are a lot of romance scenes in this book. Some readers might get tired of them all because essentially many of then don’t do anything for the plot. But I enjoyed them. I enjoyed the memories the main couple have of their first fling together and I liked all the current scenes. Particularly the ‘sex in the car’ scenes…and the ‘drunk on one margherita’ scene. I even liked the ‘mess in the car’ scene.’ And the 'hour and a half in the bathroom' scenes.

I didn’t mind too much the fact that the heroine really did let an innocent man go to jail for a crime that he did not commit. In fact I thought the heroine was a lovely character. She even admits she could live in Hawkins’s loft long before she admits she is in love with him. That’s just like Pride and Prejudice. However. She’s also deeply flawed in that it was obvious that she could be assertive, even with her mother, when she wanted to be. But I’ll be generous and consider that is a skill that came with age and success. Also. Although Katya apologises to Hawkins (13 years after the event), I didn’t really get the impression that she had ever been exactly eaten up with guilt. Still. Being locked up and drugged up in an insane asylum can’t be very nice for anyone, especially a young woman. So as a reader, I accommodated her less pleasant characteristics.

In addition for me, the romance between the main couple sometimes became so intense that I was actually quite glad for the secondary couple’s inclusion. I loved being inside Hawkins' head as he works through his memories and feelings for Katya. And I wondered whether Tara might be a guy, you know. Because men used write quite good romances under female pen-names. Being inside Katya's head was totally different. Because she tended to avoid some memories. Which was understandable really. Seeing how she herself said she used to be somewhat cowardly. A heroine who hyper-ventilates in stressful situations. A heroine who says that a few years ago she couldn't live with herself 7 days out of 7. Hmm. It totally worked for me.

And let’s talk about nick-names. Usually I hate it when the main couple have nick-names for one another. But I thought ‘Bad-Luck’ and the sarcastic ‘Tinkerbell’ suited Katya down to the ground.

I also had a good hard look at the horrible, historically sexist cover. That’s a kid’s water pistol in Hawkins’s hand isn’t it? The legs of the female are just totally 1960s. Beautiful young modern women’s legs have a completely different profile. Their knees are much slimmer and the calf muscles have much less fat on them than the model on the front cover.

I think this series is excellent. Especially since apparently about 6 novels were written in under 2 years. I totally appreciate authors who ‘churn’ out books. It’s a dying skill. But many romance authors used to do it years ago. Strangely, one of the quirks I enjoy in these novels is that important events take place out-of-story. Very unusual that. And of course. I absolutely love love love the writing style.

Do I believe in the HEA. Probably. Mainly because Katya does not have to give up anything by becoming Mrs Christian Hawkins. And she likes his home. But whether messy and tidy can exist together forever. Now that’s a poser. But. Although I don't watch slasher movies. I can totally understand why one of the first people to die is always the Prom Queen.

I'd love to add this novel to my recommendations list but no way am I putting that ghastly cover on my blog. Sorry folks.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Ice Storm by Ann Stuart

This is one of those ‘You are my one true love but in the meantime I’ve got married to another man, had affairs but I’ve been frigid with all of them except you’ romances. Isn’t that Danielle Steele territory? Except that this isn’t a romance at all. There’s absolutely no kissy-wissy at all in the first half of the story. Only memory of kissy-wissy and that doesn’t really count. In the second half of the novel there’s some cursory sex for about the duration of one page. So if I was a newcomer to the Ice series I wouldn’t be that impressed.

However I am an Ice aficionado. So I quite liked this novel. Amazingly the second half of the novel contains a cracking good spy plot. I loved it. I loved that it took the whole team of Isobel, Bastian and Peter to bring about the denouement. It was lovely to see that Bastian had totally settled down to family life but still retained his skills. Of course, Chloe, his wife, had seen him kill previously so it was great that she didn’t have stupid hysterics when the bad guys come after Bastian in their home. However my absolutely favourite scene was Harry and Peter’s gay sniping at each other. Despite being Peter’s boss for many years, Thomason, didn’t have a clue what he was really like. One minute he wanted to kill Peter, the next he acknowledged that he would be useful in his new organisation. Thomason kept thinking of Peter as an emotionless, mercenary ‘street rat’. Yet in Peter’s own novel, he was clearly described as having gone to a private school. My favourite kind of character; the sneaky killer toff. Thomason had no idea that Peter’s loyalties had completely changed. His wife and friends were actually important to him nowadays. Particularly now that he was ‘well fucked.’ Like I said. I loved the spy plot. Much better than the Bourne novels.

But hey. I’m way off base here. This novel is supposed to be about Isobel and Killian. Unfortunately on that level it just didn’t work as it should have. I don’t even think that the reader gets to know Killian’s first name throughout the whole novel. ‘Josef’, his alias, will not do. (Think Joe Stalin, or Joe Tito) For me there were some scenes between Isobel and Killian that just didn’t work. I ask you. If someone kept you in a semi-drugged state for the purposes of having sex with you, would you ‘fall in love’ with them? That’s a bit reminiscent of an abusive relationship imo. Also when Killian tells Isobel about his 3 marriages, and he says each wife was called Maria. Isobel doesn’t understand that he was just generalizing and that each wife was totally anonymous. She actually thinks each wife was named Maria. She comes across as a bit thick. Killian was using spy talk and she completely misunderstood it.

There’s a significant tease at the start of the book. When Killian, the hero, is described as having thinning hair and a paunch. I almost fell for it…I almost stopped reading. Because, yes, I don’t want to read about old, ugly, unhealthy heroes and heroines. There’s a whole raft of writers who write stories like that, but I choose not to read them. My free will. Also what the hell is the purpose of Mahmoud? Other than the Ice character who spends significant amounts of time in a drugged state. There’s got to be at least one in every novel.

I don’t know why Isobel has to give up leading the Committee. No-one could have predicted that Harry would turn bad. I think it was a brilliant decision to bring him back. It would have been much better if she and Killian had headed it together. Their relationship isn’t based on normal parameters and he definitely has the mind-set for the job. But he obviously wants to be with Isobel.

I sincerely hope Fire and Ice isn’t about Reno. He’s too much of a child. And one of the best things about the Ice series for me is that it features adults making adult decisions and adult mistakes.

btw. People might be interested in knowing that I have arrived at a little plateau of reading contentment. For a while at least. I will read all the Ice series as they get published. I love re-reading the previous novels too. I'm also buying the whole Crazy series. Plus picking and choosing which Breed books to read next. And last but not least. I also like the Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian. So that's me sorted for the near future. Consequently, reviews will slow down and their nature may change. Please remember. I like all the above series mentioned no matter how many criticisms I include in the reviews.

Don't Look Back by Amanda Quick

Don’t bother to read this book unless you are at least 99 years old.

I can’t make up my mind. Did I like this book or not? The plot is completely inconsequential. Something to do with a piece of jewellery and mesmerism. As per a hundred other Quick novels. The romances between both the main and the subsidiary couple also don't matter a bean. So what is left to comment upon?

Well for me, two things. The relationship detail between the main couple and the eating habits described in the book. By both these criteria the story fails to truly entertain.

I expect there are some people in the world who view petty bickering between a couple as a sign of a lasting love. Not me though. I tend to think that a couple who bicker stay together only out of habit because it would be too much trouble, social and economic, to separate; or they stay together out of desperation because they know they would each struggle to find new partners. I have seen couples bicker in public and as an outsider looking on, I see mutual disrespect, not love or even affection. I like a peaceful, happy relationship between the hero and heroine.

Lavinia and Tobias bicker. Almost constantly. Also the heroine, although generally likeable, can be a mean shrew. Unnecessarily complaining about the cost of feeding the hero his breakfast and often having an argument with him for the sake of having an argument. I found it all a little wearing at times. There is a younger couple in the story but they do absolutely nothing except exist as a younger couple. And when I thought about their respective relationships to Lavinia and Tobias, I found their romance just a little, well, distasteful.

To give the author some credit she’s obviously tried to write about a couple who are not titled or super-rich. Nor are they dirt poor. Just ordinary people trying to make a living. Unfortunately it all becomes very mundane. And I ask myself. Why doesn’t Tobias buy a shoppe? Or support a more able person in the trade?

Don’t Look Back is an historical novel. How did I work that out? The heroine wears long dresses and the hero wears boots and breeches. The only mode of transport is horses. And to be honest I need very little more in the way of authenticity.

But for this story the author has obviously done some research on the dietary habits of the age. So we get plates of eggs and potatoes for breakfast, salmon and potato pie for lunch and current jam ad nauseum. How disgusting and stodgy is that? Not a single green vegetable makes an appearance. Do you know what a person who eats that sort of stuff on a regular basis looks like? Well. Round to put it politely. Very very round. So probably we have a podgy hero and heroine.

Strangely the author can do a lot better. In a much earlier novel set in medieval times, the author has the heroine going to a lot of bother and trouble in order to give the hero healthy green vegetables. Ok. It wasn’t particular authentic but it made the hero and heroine attractive to a modern readership. We all know in times past, most diets were rubbish as were the sanitary arrangements. That doesn’t mean we want to read all about them in every lightweight romance.

The emphasis on unhealthy food, plus the ache of an old wound for the hero puts this romance firmly in the geriatric genre. Although I expect the heroine is around 30 yo and the hero just about 40. But they read much older.

This is one of those rom-sus where all the crimes and suspects have a connection to the heroine’s past. How incredibly coincidental. I didn’t buy into any of it for one minute.

I recommend earlier Amanda Quick romances such as the fantastic Rendevous and the redeeming Dangerous. Both of which are infinitely better than Don’t Look Back.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Crazy Wild by Tara Janzen

...the story of the romance between Creed n Cody. I chose this as my 2nd novel in the Crazy series because, to be frank, I quite wanted to read an english romance with an hispanic hero. But no. Creed Rivera turns out to be a blond surfer type. Oh well.

And Cody is unfortunately a deeply flawed heroine. I didn't really believe in the HEA. Gratitude is at best what Cody feels towards Creed. imo. And that's with me being kind to her.

What I did enjoy in this story is the beginnings of the romance between Skeeter and Dylan. Which was the subject of the 1st Crazy book I read, Crazy Love. My question was answered. Dylan is about 32 yo. And he is very much aware of the age-gap between him and Skeet. Nevertheless. In this story he teases himself with the idea of marrying her. But then decides to stay well out of her life. There's a fantastically tender moment between Dylan and Skeeter in the Humvee when he kisses her scar after she rescues herself from the revolting putative letch Reinhold.

The weird thing is. That scene between Skeet and Reinhold is almost a mirror image of the situation Cody faced in Karlovy Vary. But Skeeter doesn’t take the easy way out. Like Cody. Skeeter just pretends to co-operate and then totally kicks ass. Unlike Cody. Ok. Cody probably did what she did because she was scared and felt like she had to bargain for her life. And well done to the author for bringing in a situation that isn’t rape, that looks like free-will but isn’t. Trouble is. I couldn’t help but feel that Cody again took the easy way out when she conveniently fell for Creed. She was quite right too. Cody took one look at Creed and realised he had the ability to solve all her problems for her if she just treated him nice. A hard-headed business decision. But not a romance on her part at all. It just confirms my suspicions. Some people always take the easy way out. Even if they have to compromise their self-respect. Others. Like Skeeter. Wouldn’t consider such an option in a million years. I didn’t dislike Cody. Or her story. I just didn’t empathise with her either. Just another hard-body on the make. imo. That’s probably why the author stuck her in the harsh regime of Leavenworth military jail for a while too.

I loved the ‘days of the week underwear’ thread in the story. And the fact that the women were obviously young and pretty. If it weren’t for the repeated detailing of J.T’s horrendous death the book would have been irredeemably lightweight. Not least because. With the best will in the world, I just don't buy Denver, Colorado as the tango magnet portrayed in the book.

I suppose I ought to go next for the novel where Tony Royce turns bad. But I think I’ll go probably get the Christian Hawkins story next. But not too soon. I didn’t much go for Red Dog either. The heroines seem a bit wet really. Apart from Skeeter of course.

I like so much about Skeeter in this novel. Her spooks when she goes into the police station. Completely understandable bearing in mind her previous career as a wall-banger. Her pretend obedience to Dylan when he’s in ‘boss’ mode. But the best scene is when the slimey Reinhold runs his fingers through her hair and she thinks ‘double wash, double rinse.’ I thought that was A+ attitude! What didn't work with Skeet was her clairvoyance. Which I notice. Was almost completely dropped for her own story, Crazy Love.

Crazy Wild is quite a big book. I read it in a day and a half between 2 full work days. Because I enjoyed it a lot. Unlike the p.o.s that was Harmony’s Way. Which took over a week to slog through. Even Cody isn’t as much of a ‘free-will’ serial victim as the awful Harmony. Whose choice of the short-tempered oaf Lance as her ‘mate’ is entirely in keeping with her loser life-style. But stop. I don’t want to get started on her again.

And lastly. Come ON November!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Harmony's Way by Lora Leigh v2

Way way TSTL.

I’ve totally changed my mind about this book. The heroine, Harmony, has got to be ONE OF THE MOST STUPID, HYSTERICAL, MORONIC, slappers ever to exist on this earth. I so wanted her to die in the final shoot-out The whole plot is nonsensical, nazi-loving, cultist rubbish. It’s not even entertaining. None of it makes the slightest sense whatsoever.

I hardly know where to start.

The plot was just about Ok until about the middle of the book. Ok, because the early sex scenes hooked me in, but then terminally boring ‘Breed’ hicksville politics take over.

But then in the second half of the novel…. Well. The first thing that turned me against Harmony is when she doesn’t know she’s pregnant. BUT HER SHIRT-TAIL BROTHER WHO SHE HARDLY SEES DOES KNOW SHE IS!! I can accept that her lover Lance, the nominal hero of this story, does know of her condition. After all. He heard it on the wind. (Unfortunately the same wind wrongly also tells Lance that he will die in the final shoot-out.)

I absolutely do not like hysterical screaming heroines. In the final shoot-out Harmony, aka Death (ha ha ha more like ‘Dope’ or Drudge,) first has an hysterical argument with lover-boy Lance about tactics, and then has more screaming hysterics with bro-Jonas and all his gang who show up to save her and Lance. This is absolutely NOT a woman who has the slightest hope of keeping a cool head in a stressful situation.

And then there’s the anal sex scene. This stupid CUNT allows her lover to use anal sex as a means of imposing a dominance in her relationship with him. Ok, the same thing happened in Megans Mark. But Megan had her head fairly together and was fairly equal with her lover, Braden in all other ways. Harmony on the other hand IS TOTALLY SCREWED UP generally. What’s more. She is a Breed. (feline) A feline submits only to dominant feline males. A feline beats the shit out of any other breed that tries to dominate her. Particularly a human. Harmony should have been the dominant one in the relationship if any of this Breed shit made any kind of sense. About 20 years ago main stream romance writers stopped writing in heroes who used vaginal sex as a means of imposing obedience on the heroine. But this author comes from Elloras Cave publishing so maybe this trait is nowadays regarded as acceptable ‘minority taste’ instead of fucking REACTIONARY PATRIARCHAL shit. btw some people might regard it as a characteristic of an abusive relationship just like the one between Tommy Mason and his wife.
Whats WORSE. Is that, despite Harmony being such a passive heroine, she would actually (going by how she behaves generally) make an excellent hero in a DYKE romance. Then she could scream " Take That You Crazy Diseased Mother-Fuckers!" to her heart's content without compromising her heroine status. Up til that point I thought I was still reading a coherent novel. But once Harmony uttered those words I realised that we had crossed over into Russ Meyer territory. (Not that I ever watched one of his movies)

So tell me. Who was doing all the shooting at Harmony and Lance in the final scene? Like I cared. From what I’ve read in the story, there is no reason the first Leo is so important that necessitates so many people going to so much trouble to retrieve the files Harmony stole. So what Madame LaRue tried to kill Jonas. Does anyone care…outside Jonas and Harmony. It is all completely cultist and hicksville. Small-town inconsequentialities whipped up into cod-importance by closed minds, gossip and inflated egos. Geez.

I would like to say that being an experienced reader I totally recognise plot devices aimed at building readership and getting $$$$ based on books that have been best-sellers. Quite a few of them are used in this novel. And it’s still a tons better read than Lover Unbound. Because, at least the author doesn’t spend pages and pages trying to UNDO plot silliness from previous novels. (Remember how in Dallas, Bobby’s death turned out to be Pammy’s dream? The beginning of the end of the series more like.)

No way am I reading the 4th in the series. (Unless Dawn turns out to be Jonas's mate and she gives him a good whipping plus a session with a strap-on.) I am SO over the Breeds. Ugh. A question I would ask is. Why are all the female Breeds such victims? Ok, they were routinely beaten and rapped in the labs. But so were the guys, according to the baddie Senator in Megans Mark. And none of the stories is about a Breed male not rising above being brutalised. Why am I even bothering to ask? Trying to rationalise sexist clap-trap.

tbh. I've never been impressed by lions. They adapt too well to zoos and safari parks. Even in their native lands no-one is afraid of them because they are too easy to kill with a weapon. And they breed like rabbits in captivity. That's why the 'infertile breeds' strand of the series makes no sense to me. Now wolves, of course, still have the power to make a rancher apoplectic with fear and anger. In America and in Europe. So maybe I should switch to reading the wolf-breed series instead. I'll think about it.

Finally. (Again) I apologise for showing my ignorance and over-familiarity with certain sexual matters. Furthermore I promise not to use curse words in my reviews from now on. This book has cured me of that habit too. Only CAPS allowed in the future.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Harmony's Way by Lora Leigh

What a disappointment this novel was.

I was expecting a hot hot romance between the hero and heroine. Ok, the novel started off like that. But before half-way through it changed into another one of those Peyton Place type books. With the author introducing endless new characters, with all their back stories and thoughts. We even get to know that one of the Breed enforcers has the hots for a sub-hero's mother. Wow! It's a wonder we don't get to meet the Breed pool-man and know all about his sex-life too. I am not one of those readers who longs to live in or learn all about a particular community where everyone knows everyone else's business. And that is just the kind of story that Harmony's Way turns out to be.

As for the smut. There's quite a lot early on in the book. Then it disappears almost completely.

I have to say this about the heroine. Basically. Harmony's a doormat. Big-time.

This is a heroine who lets her shirt-tail brother tell her she's having a baby. Because Harmony did not know!!! Her life is controlled by men. The brother Jonas who tells her where to work. The rescuer, Dane who always gets her out of trouble. And the short-tempered hero, Lance who gives her a stiff rogering to ease the pain of the 'mating.' Yeugh!!

Not once does Harmony tell them all to get lost. The author made a big mistake with this heroine. It's one thing being a killer. It's quite another thing being a killer of activists who seek nothing more than to help those less fortunate than themselves. Which is what Harmony is. On so many levels she turns out to be a wet victim who can't get out of a repeat cycle of letting loud, gruff guys decide her life for her. Awful.

I also re-read Crazy Love by Tara Janzen at the same time. The heroine in that book, Skeeter, while still not perfect is totally tons more assertive and less plaintive than the stupid Harmony.

Poor Harmony. What she really needs is a decent education. That might help her decide independently of where to go with her life. GO TO COLLEGE GIRL! Get some qualifications. Do some minoring in women's rights or feminist history. I beg you.

Also I don't like the whole 'Breed' mentality. They live in the US. FOLLOW US law. There's no need to be having 'Breed Law.' What on earth is that all about?

My sympathies were all with Dane, the first Leo's son. He wants to live his life without being injected and examined by the Breed doctors. Good on him. He wants some privacy. Which is more than Harmony gets as the men in her life discuss her fertility like she didn't exist. And all she can do is say 'I'll run away where no-one can find me.' Bwahh! Is she some refugee eejut ninny from a regency romance?

There's something deeply flawed about Jonas's mentality too. He reckons that if the world finds out about the Breed mating heat, people will be appalled. Most people in the Western Free World tolerate so much. Believe me. 'Breed mating heat' doesn't rank very high on anyone's intolerance list. So, as a reader, I could never buy into the reasons for him chasing after Harmony so intensely.

I just hope Tanner's Scheme isn't as hicksville as this turned out to be. Humph!

Ok. Another comment on the ‘world-building.’ The heroine wears black. There are black-clad enforcers in the Breed community. The endless emphasis on pure-humaness. I just don’t get how the Breeds seem to be modelling themselves on the european goosesteppers. Is that balls or ignorance on someone’s part?

And then there’s the fact that in the previous novel, Megans Mark, it was said that Breeds ‘were not born but created in labs.’ But in this book, someone says that genetically altered sperm was placed into specially chosen women. Is that not a description of IVF? As far as I know no-one differentiates between IVF people or forceps people or caesarean people or twins. All of which are ‘born’? There is some crazy mindset on display here. And happily it is not mine.

I’ve never read a series as potentially offensive as this. I feel I’ve been suckered into something that I don’t really understand. Oh well…

I will say this though. There are some excellent alpha names in this story. Merc, Rule...Jonas. You just know that each of these guys will one day get their own book. Unfortunately the hero's name is Lance. Which is not alpha at all. That is a name for a guy who is very good at riding a bi-cyle. Presumably that explains why the hero, er Lance, is basically a bit-part player in his own romance novel. Another mistake.

Definitely finished now.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Not very soon...

I have ordered Tanner's Scheme, the controversial 3rd in series from Lora Leigh's Breeds series by Berkley. Unfortunately it's gonna take 6 to 8 weeks to arrive. Goodness knows why. Just hope I don't have the feds knocking at my door as well. (But that's another story)

So I'm going to do a pre-review based on other reviewers reviews! tee hee.

The heroine is called Scheme!!! On the other hand I've read romances where the heroine is called Autumn, Winter, Summer.... Mind you. I've yet to read one where the girl-heroine is called Davide.

Well. Scheme has had 5 men during the last 10 years and the hero Tanner, has apparently watched her with most of them. Because she's done menage and sex on public camera. Ok. Not your standard romance heroine. I agree with the some of the reviewers on one point. 5 men over 10 years is not a lot for the average single woman. But menage! Camera! That puts the heroine in a class with very few others. But please please don't have the heroine apologising for it. Or even worse, don't have her saying 'Daddy made me do it.' Because that would make her a doormat. Surely. A doormat to her Daddy, her current partner and all the other former partners who 'did her wrong.' We shall see.

The heroine, Scheme is apparently dedicated to helping the Breeds in the Labs. Apparently her Daddy is evil scientist in chief. I think to myself. What would I do. Would I prostitute myself for a cause. The answer is of course, No. I'd do a fun-run or sign a petition. Seriously.

Whatever. I'm sure the book when I read it will be completely indecent. But hopefully true love will win. Or Scheme responds well to Tanner's Mating scent. Yuk!

I've ordered Soul Deep too. About the hated Coyote Breeds. Where the hero is a native american too. Then I'll give this author a rest.

Looking forward to an old Ruth Wind novel too. In the Midnight Rain. And The River Knows by Amanda Quick. Disappointment a certainty in that one. But never mind. So I'll be building up a tbr pile for the Christmas holidays.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Megan's Mark by Lora Leigh

This book caught me completely by surprise.

I knew nothing about the author and thought I was reading just another standard issue paranormal.

Until about half-way through when the true nature of the story was revealed. Basically it’s smut. Not pink or purple either. A solid blue. Fine.

What I don’t get at all is the cultural arena in which it is set. Something like native american via the mengele labs in the third reich death camps with a bit if IVF-ism thrown into the mix. I’m still shaking my head in mystification.

However since I absolutely loved The Odessa File which I read years ago and which unfortunately spawned absolutely no clones, I’ll stick with the series for a little while.

Btw. For those who don’t know. All feral cats have barbs.

This paranormal romance is so obviously based on the administrative practises (and malpractises) of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. So why on earth keep using the ‘Breed’ word throughout the novel? This word has surely got to be as highly emotive to Native Americans as the n-word is to African Americans. During the first half of the story there are many things the human heroine says to the hero that could be interpreted as offensive casual racism and very hurtful.

The world building itself isn’t particularly robust. I had to read and re-read the first couple of chapters to get any idea of what was going on. I still don’t know if The Council is a government organisation or just a bunch of renegade scientists. I didn’t like the fact that some of the non-humans (Coyotes) were obviously being harshly ‘questioned’ by the good guys. If they had experienced the same up-bringing as the hero then they deserved better. Give them their freedom far away from whips and pain and they would soon co-operate.

Also the ‘shields’ business didn’t make sense. Because of a lack of them, the empathic heroine, Megan has to live away from people so that she isn’t overwhelmed by their emotions. Then the hero, Braden gives her his shields to use. How come he has shields if he is not an empath? And suddenly in the canyon towards the end of the book Megan is lowering her own shields in order to find out who murdered Mark and Aimee. So she does have shields after all! All very confusing. And then astoundingly. In the final shoot-out scene the heroine doesn't recognise the thoughts or even the looks of her own uncle. That is just crazy nonsense.

Sanctuary sounds like a complete nightmare. And the way both the hero and heroine submit to the doctor's tests is just plain stupid.

The hero and all his kind are not born but created in labs from a mixture of human and animal DNA. They are treated abominably by the people who created them; tortured mentally and physically for years on end. Yet the hero is not twisted or bitter. (Though he is understandably a little vengeful) He is not afraid to love and is generally highly respectful to the heroine.

He gives one of the best ‘please love me’ speeches I have ever read in a paranormal to the heroine;

“Feel it, Megan. Feel what I know. My soul would die without yours to fill it. Without you to hold me close in the darkness of the night; without your laughter to bring the light into the darkness that has filled every day of my life for as long as I have drawn breath. For the first time in my life I am alive. I live because of you and the thought of going back to the desolation of being alone scares me to death.”

And it is to the heroine’s credit that she does actually hold out for a bit longer.

Also increasingly as the novel progressed, I began to feel the tragedy of the dead couple, Mark and Aimee. That did surprise me. Although the mystery of why they sought out the heroine at great risk to their own lives was not satisfactorily explained.

Rude, rude, rude.

Both the hero and heroine talk and think dirty with a capital D for large parts of the novel. Until eventually they consummate their emotions…repeatedly. The c-word is hardly used. What is used over and over again is the p-word, the cl-word and the f-word. And the words juices, creamed and suck. All to excellent erotic effects. Even the passage where the hero offers the heroine a contraceptive pill I considered very erotic. I feel obliged to add that the hero really does have something special in his pants. The anal scene is very well done although was the spanking really necessary?

Just for once I was quite grateful when the author obviously began laying the groundwork for the other novels in the series. It made for a welcome break in all the intense emotions.

But none of the good things about this novel can disguise the fact that at the end of the day it is utter sheer bad taste trash that often made me cringe. (Think 'Springtime for Hitler' in The Producers.)

On the other hand I would say its 'an unmissable reading experience' if you're a reader who's traveled along the series romance path. You might be shocked though.

At the end of reading this I have decided the following: I'm definitely never again going to bother with the anaemic miserable rubbish of the BDB. Megan and Braden are never anything but happy when they are banging away. Bless them both.

p.s. I need to add that this is a 'Mating' novel. And all other parts of the plot are eventually jettisoned in order to explain and illustrate this aspect of the story. I did a bit of research on the author. Although this is Book 1 in a series by her present publisher, in fact there are 6 previous novels in the series with a different publisher and they are all to do with breeding and mating. I suppose I'll be reading most of them.

The ending to the novel is somewhat weak. Not that the main couple don't have a HEA but that the author makes it so obvious they are just another insignificant pair in her pantheon of characters. As a reader I appreciate an author's skill in making her hero and heroine seem special up to the very last page or so.

And who was the female Breed traitor? The doctor from Sanctuary? Or Aimee? (Am I hooked or what?)

Boy! This review never ends.

I repeat though. This novel is quite different from all the others in my blog. Other reviewers call it 'Hot' but it's basically straight up heterosexual monogamous smut. Set in a highly dubious moral and cultural arena. You have been warned!

I almost admire the author. Takes guts to write stuff like this. And so much of it too.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Lover Unbound by J R Ward

For large parts this novel is just as boring and tedious as other reviewers say it is. For some reason though, I ended up with wet eyes. The pain of Vishous is what did it. His emotional pain when Jane gets killed.

What I didn’t like about the story:

The pervert thread. And the man-love thing between V and Butch. None of it rang true. Boringly lengthy efforts were made in this novel to undo everthing introduced about the aforementioned topics in previous novels.

The endless povs from every major and minor character newly introduced in the book. Like I cared anything about them.

The whole primale thing. You just know Phury is not going to maintain that multiple wives aspect so why have it.

I personally hate arranged marriage romances and harem romances. It’s sexual slavery pure and simple. Particularly those where the protagonists are not happy about the arrangement. It's all about 'the family' owning the female's or male's body. Gross. How convenient that Phury offers to take V's place. Unfortunately no-one offered Cormia an out. But neither V nor Cormia exercised any of the 'BS Free-Will' so derided in the novel. But really. That's purely a strategy to explain why sentient beings allow others to control their lives. Is that not totally culturally backward? Did Harriet Tubman, MLK, Ronnie R just lay down and let others control their destinies? No they fought (peaceably) for their right to excercise FREE-WILL..and for others to do the same. How dare some dime-store novelist come along and belittle the result of their efforts.

The way V mind-controls Jane is nasty. Maybe he’d like to blame Bloodletter and SV for that too. I loathed all this ‘blame the parents’ stuff as well.

I also didn’t like the relentless portrayal of men being wholly dependent on alcohol and drugs as a problem-solving strategy.

I can’t stand the JM character. In novel after novel he whines and victimises himself. No matter who he turns into, he will always be a pain in the butt as far as I’m concerned. But it wasn’t always the case. JM was first introduced as a vulnerable young man who had reached out to Mary. Who was skilled in dealing with that type of problem. And then Wellsie nutured his nutritional needs. But these women have disappeared from the books and what we get is a relentless portrayal of females as semi-hookers or potential ‘mates.’ With JM growing a sort of shadow BDB around himself. With exactly the same attitude to women as Wrath n Co. Horrible.

I had no trouble with the Scribe Virgin being a fallible deity. Because I’ve read Larousse’s Mythology and know that all the pantheons of gods are liable to behave just like humans. But the Omega should have featured more as a cause for her failings. I had no trouble coping with Jane’s death either because I just knew she wasn’t going to stay dead.

The romance between V and Jane wasn’t that great until she agreed to give up her career, social status, income to become a do-gooder at The Safe Place.

I basically skim-read most of this book. Because the BDB are no longer romances but have become something like Gone With The Wind or Peyton Place. All very successful I’m sure but not what I like reading.

You know. The way these novels are moving. I wouldn't be surprised if in Book 6, or thereabouts, Bella goes to bed with Phury because she feels sorry for him. Or such like.

Still. Serves me right for getting involved in hype.

If I buy another in this series (and its a big if), it will be from amazon marketplace at a maximum price of $2.

Lover Unbound. Basically bilge.

I once listened to a radio program about the results of an official public inquiry into years of abuse at a children's home. One of the interesting facts uncovered by this inquiry is that there were children in this terrible situation who had some idea of what was going on and were able to prevent themselves from being abused. Through strength of will mainly but also other strategies. (Not that they were any less messed up unfortunately) I would be much more interested in hearing about that kind of situation instead of the endless recycled stories that seem to make 'being abused' some kind of aspirational goal. That's my 2 cents worth. No offense intended. But not everyone becomes a victim when faced with a given set of circumstances. And I'd like to read more about those that don't.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

In Defense of Bella! by J R Ward

HOW DARE all those readers disappointed with LU criticise Ward for her 'wishy-washy' heroines!

Bella is one of the most wonderful heroines ever invented. As I have said before.

WHO was able to play along with Mr O's sick fantasies even though at times she must have almost given up hope.

WHO rescues Bella from the Lessers??? Bella does. It was she who released the civilian vamp to tell the BDB of her whereabouts. She did this at great risk to her life. Fully knowing Mr O would be baying for vengeance. What did he do? He sewed her eyelids shut and carved his name in her stomach. I call that utter bravery I do.

WHO chases after Z shamelessly even though he's some sort of emotional dwarf? Bella did (in Lover Eternal)

WHO rescues Z AND Phury from Mr O, even though those two are hell-bent on some kind of dumbass matyrdom. Bella killed Mr O when Z and Phury had absolutely no chance against him.

WHO has endless patience with Z's shortcomings in the making-love department?? Bella knew instantly what Z's problem was. Did she ever let disgust or condemnation show in her eyes? That gonad squeezing scene in the bathroom took a lot of nerve imo. (And much more deliciously kinky than anything V could ever dream up.)

For Bella, Phury never existed at all. She put up with all Z's stupid strategies to set her up with his brother. Not once. ONCE. Did she shout at Z or call him a stupid a.h.!!

How many readers noticed that on the cover of LA, Z looks to be shorter than Bella?

It is totally wrong to say that Bella is not a strong heroine. What other (closed-mind) reviewers mean. Is that Bella didn't have a proper job or career, so she cannot be inspirational. Tosh.

She's a fantastic capable woman who choses to live with her man. And she is beautiful too! Inside and out.

Bella for PRESIDENT 2008. Says I.

End of.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Midnight Run by Lisa Marie Rice

Name one real life inspirational cop. I certainly can’t do it. So why is this profession so popular with writers? What’s more, cops don’t actually solve that many crimes. 20% tops. If I only did 20% of my work I’d be given my pink slip. I’ve seen some really fat slobs in cop uniform lacking even the most basic people skills. I do admit they are needed to keep the traffic running smoothly but that’s hardly glamorous work.

Anyway the hero of this novel is a police lieutenant. With a habit of getting himself shot up. The hero’s name is Bud. Personally. I think that’s a terrible name for a hero. I suppose it’s meant to signify honest-to-goodness blue collar values like hard work, integrity, loyalty. To me it signifies too much beer, rolls of fat and not being too bright. To the author I think it signifies the ability to fuck energetically for hours on end and to put up shelves. Not that we get much of the former in this novel. What we do get a lot of is the c-word. I don’t have anything against the c-word per se. However when it’s used to describe the whole woman as opposed to just a part of her anatomy I do wonder about the person using it in this manner.

The heroine is a virgin! (In an Elora’s Cave novel!) And her gentle initiation takes about a third of the story. A tiresome business. I was more interested in Bud’s descriptions of his fucking with the waitress. I also didn’t see where the romance was. Bud literally steamrollers Claire into an engagement because he’s too intimidated by her father’s wealth and social status. Presumably Claire accepted because she was grateful that he gave her a good time in bed. People have got married for worse reasons than that but it’s hardly the stuff of a good romance.

What I enjoyed in the novel were Claire’s descriptions of the personalities of the doctors and nurses who treated her in hospital while she was ill. These form only a small part of the story.

And. It needs to be said. Claire and her friends must be the most crime prone trio in the whole of Oregon. Which considering their income bracket is truly amazing.

Finally. Another poor minor character dies horribly in this novel. Todd Armstrong. The token gay friend. R.I.P.

I’m going to read another in the series. Midnight Angel. I just like the fact that the stories are contemporary and feature minor and major issues in current affairs. (In Oregon that is).

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Ice Storm by Anne Stuart.

I have to say. I think Anne Stuart has made a mistake in making Madame Isobel Lambert the heroine of the next Ice novel. For a start. She is far too old. And she smokes. I know what will happen. Isobel will completely change her character for Ice Storm. That is such a stupid practice by authors.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

The Hunter by Gennita Low

I'm trying hard not to take offense as this ghastly novel trivialises beyond good taste the pernicious issue of sex-trafficking.

Another problem is that the characters are just horrible. From the heroine and her friend who sexually humiliate an unconscious man, the hero, and then laugh it off as a joke. To the whole of the UN peace-keeping force who are, on the one hand, portrayed as being responsible for the practise in the first place. And then the reader is expected to empathise with the fact that the head of the service does nothing because of the intricacies of international politics.

The heroine is also initially portrayed as someone with dubious loyalties who sells information to anyone, including the chief baddie, for money. I'm not a person who ever admired Mata Hari. Also. The hero may bleat how he loathes being the good buddy of the sex-trafficking baddie but as an outsider looking in, I would probably consider the hero as big a thug as his boss. I don't like the setting, Central Europe either. From the beginning of the novel there is entirely too much about the motivations and actions of unsympathetic secondary characters.

In the end. This novel ended up in the trash. Because around page 95 all the lurid descriptions of young women being raped and generally sexually brutalised kick in. Which of course is the true purpose of the story.

But oh. All those nasty things don't happen to the main couple so that makes it all right. Not in my book it don't.

imo. the author is worse than a pimp. (Not that I know any pimps I hasten to add.)

My advice. Don't buy. Don't read.

Immortals: The Calling by Jennifer Ashley

A new lesson learnt by reading this book. Even experienced authors can go wrong.

By chapter three, already I find the heroine’s dead witch sister more interesting than the heroine herself. The heroine herself is a gushing idiot. Awestruck by the sight of a handsome guy’s dick. Obviously this novel is aimed at thirteen year old teenage girls. Ho hum.

Mrs Giggles must be out of her tiny mind to give this story a rating of 86. In fact. I would advise all readers to avoid like the plague any novel that features ‘glamour magic.’ That’s a big pointer that both the hero and heroine are going to be resolutely stupid morons.

Explain to me why the hero, Adrian, a man who has been around for hundreds of years, even considers having carnal relations with a non-descript, mediocre-looking woman such as Amber. Ok. Because she admires his dick. How shallow. Obviously theirs is not going to be the romance of the decade. The heroine’s friend, Sabina, warns Adrian against having a one-night stand with Amber. But, strictly speaking, that’s all Amber deserves. Because. Yes, you guessed it. She’s another ‘innocent’ hooker. I present my evidence;

“You have such innocence.” Adrian said.

Amber made an effort to blink back her tears. “I did some pretty wild stuff in college.”

He didn't laugh. "Trust me. You are innocent. It's like a shining light in a world of darkness."

I had to pick my lower jaw off the floor after reading those lines.

THE WHOLE WORLD KNOWS ABOUT WILD AMERICAN COLLEGE GIRLS and really, ‘innocence’ doesn’t come into it.

All I’m saying is. If you were a slut in college. Don’t pretend otherwise. Don’t apologise for it either. The hero, Adrian, must be some kind of total retard, if he mistakes wild experience for innocence. And he’s an Immortal. Dedicated to saving the world from ‘death magic.’ No wonder the planet is in such a mess.

For some unfathomable reason I continued reading this novel. And I wish I hadn't.

About two-thirds of the way through this so-called paranormal romance changes into a very nasty, gory horror and sex story. Just the kind of story I do not like so much. So much so that I had to skip to the final chapter just to make sure of the HEA. Which turns out to be very half-hearted. The heroine is brought back to life by a goddess.

But more than anything. I really felt that Adrian's brother Tain deserved a much better ending. The poor guy is still destined to be flayed alive every 3 days. The descriptions of which were really too much for me. I'm not surprised Tain yearns for the end of the world seeing that is the only way his torture will be finished. And the traitorous vampire Septimus thoroughly deserved to take Tain's place for a few decades at least. Instead he gets to remain Adrian's good buddy. Despite the fact that he nearly drained Adrian dry of blood. So for me the ending was highly unsatisfactory. And once again no other reviewer warned me of that fact.

What a nincompoop Adrian turned out to be. He searches for Tain for hundreds of years and then when he finally finds him he gives him up for the sake of 'true lurve' with a former college good-time gal. Who btw turns out to be a lot more capable and grounded than the hero. I'm just grateful my freedom doesn't depend on him. I felt that Adrian and Amber's dubious HEA came at too high a cost. (But actually it's all a 'buy the sequel' strategey.)

Unusually I feel obliged to comment on quite a weird sex scene. Ostensibly between the main couple. They are at the same time, infused with the spirits of the hero's mother and father. As far as I could make out. So, actually, it's a sex scene between a mother and her son. Or maybe I read it wrong. Very strange. It also could be interpreted as a sex-in-public scene. tbh. The novel could have done with more of that kind of thing. Instead of all that pussy m.a.g.i.c. crap.

This story also features lots and lots and lots of pretty useless trivial magic of all forms. Just bring along a few weapons next time dearies.

Overall. Not too bad.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum

I have watched and thoroughly enjoyed all 3 Bourne movies. Because of this, someone kindly lent me their copy of The Bourne Identity novel. And do you know what? I'm struggling to get through it. First of all. I have no idea how after about 6 months recuperating, Bourne was so easily identified as a target. Second. Bourne slaps Marie around in the novel. For no reason at all. And she puts up with it. Nothing like that happens in any of the crappy paranormals that I've read. Personally. I'm not really interested in stories like that.

It's very hard to return a book to a friend and say "Actually. I didn't read it."

Lover Unbound - V and Caspar.

Ok. I've been to the spoiler sites. How very sad it is to see an author ruin a good series.

Still. Can't say it came as a surprise. The signs were there in Lover Awakened. Who knows the reasoning behind it all. Frankly. Who cares. If the author doesn't, why should I?

I probably won't even bother with a review. Sorry.

V and effing Caspar??!!! Whose stupid idea was that!!! What kind of a pussy is the author that she agreed to it????

Friday, 14 September 2007

Reviews and ARCs of Lover Unbound.

I hate those bitches. You must be aware that some people have already bought Lover Unbound from on-line bookshops. But are they giving away details of the plot? Those bitches keep schtum. I really don't think Ward is giving them commission so what's the big deal? How about some consideration of readers instead of brown-nosing authors and publishers all the time.

Please anyone. Use the comment option on my blog to write a spoiler. What I want to know is does V get a happy ending. I'm begging on my knees.

Can you believe that Rhevs book is to be published in hardcover?!! Thank-you. Just the reason I need for not buying it. I object to being exploited. And anyway. I like the Ice series much more.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Ice Blue by Anne Stuart

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

I was half enjoying this rather slow-moving romantic suspense. Doing my best to ignore some lapses in pc-ness, when on page 152, I was hit by the most gigantic bulldozer of an offensive ethnic stereotype. I had to stop reading and start writing the review. In retrospect, the stereotyping started long before then. In fact it started the minute the hero, Takashi O’Brien, rescued the heroine Summer Hawthorne. Not to mention the token African-American best friend who gets killed for no good reason at all.

Although the word is not used in the novel, Takashi, exemplifies the word ‘inscrutable.’ I just chose to ignore that fact. What I couldn’t ignore was when on page 152 he declares that his special skill is that he 'knows how to fuck.’ Oh brother.

Time for my first poll.

a) I carry on reading.

b) I feed this crap down the trash disposal chute.

It goes without saying. My admiration of the author of Ice Blue ends. HERE AND NOW. (Not least because in this novel she succumbs to 'female author using a child abuse theme for entertainment purposes only' syndrome.)

In addition. I hereby appoint myself Official Spokesperson of the Society for the Prevention of Unnecessary Cruelty to Minor Characters in a Novel. Usually, completely innocent and harmless minor characters who are brutalised and deemed disposable purely for the sake of plot development. Only a reaching author resorts to such a strategy.

The list currently includes;

Micah from this novel. (We didn’t even find out he was black until he was dead)

Leanne from ‘If Angels Burn.’ (That poor girl. I completely despised the heroine for placing Leanne in danger.)

Of course. I did finish Ice Blue. And I think to myself. How predictable the plots for this series are becoming. I wouldn't say I know what will happen in each novel. I definitely can predict the order in which events occur however. Ice Blue is a pale pale shadow of Cold As Ice. Takashi would probably have done better with his Japanese intended. A movie I always vaguely remember seeing is Throne of Blood. Since then I just totally fall at the feet of scheming Japanese females.

Ice Blue is rather tame really. The first half is basically spent riding around in 3 different cars. I had difficulty in seeing what other reviewers have objected to. Is it that Takashi tries to murder Summer? Well. Both Peter and Bastian did pretty much the same in their novels. Of course in Cold As Ice, Genevieve gets retribution in that through her efforts to help Peter she nearly gets him killed a couple of times. Neither Summer nor Chloe managed to do that. But then, unlike Genevieve, they were pretty passive heroines. Another reason why Cold As Ice ROCKS!

Or that Takashi gives Summer the big O and then leaves her lying in a boneless puddle on the floor. At one point I thought these two were NEVER going to get it together. What was the point of the little sister and the weird cousin? Please don't let either of them have their own novel. And tbh the way Takashi treats Summer is a lot more interesting than the baddie part of the plot. You just know that on the day Summer presents him with their first child Taka-chan is going to have the most massive nervous breakdown as he remembers what he almost did.

Looking forward to Ice Storm. Out in November.

Friday, 7 September 2007

If Angels Burn by Lynn Viehl

Unremitingly sordid and nasty.

I've got to page 157 of this 300-novel and the hero is still at the 'you are my subservient slave' stage whilst the heroine has halted at the 'I hate your guts' gate. So forget about this being a paranormal romance. Apart from that. The heroine, despite being a highly qualified and successful surgeon, talks and thinks like a trucker. I feel sorry for her. She reads like a victim of spousal abuse. I hate it when authors can’t create a proper heroine type. For instance. The heroine's name is Alexandra. But she lets a casual fuck-buddy call her 'Al!' Later on the heroine calls the hero, Mike, when his name is Michael. But it's said as an insult. So where's the consistency? And the former lover, who is also a doctor, gets to treat and internally examine Alexandra when she is seriously injured. Charming. Can’t say that I like the hero either. As the heroine says. She helped him. And then he attacked her. But only because he was a 'helpless' victim of 'rapture and thrall.' Hur, hur. I'll look out for that one next time I read any info on wife-battering. Only a repeat cycle eeejut would look to build a future with that kind of guy.

The main theme of the story is torture, torture, torture. Everyone gets tortured. Men, women; young and old; innocent or guilty. Even the torture of a child is described. I only skim-read what seemed to be a passage detailing sex with a pretend minor. But that’s what prompted me to give the story a bad review. Generally. Throughout the plot, sex is used to humiliate and over-power various characters. You have to wait until page 243 of a 300 page novel for the first sighting of pleasureable consensual sex. Sorry. That's too little, too late for me.

Male vampires who give off a strong smell of flowers!!?? Whose stupid idea was that? This is the worst kind of multi-racial novel. Where 2 main characters, both people of color, are treated abominably. (By the author.) For instance, at the beginning of the story, the heroine, Alex, a woman of color, has a high status job with an excellent income. By chapter 5 she's lost both, has become a double murderess and is dependent on the slimy hero for pretty much everything. Her brother, John, comes across as a total moron with absolutely no back-bone whatsoever. I felt contaminated just reading about his life.

No one on this earth can force me to read Mein Kampf. And I also refuse to read any more of this revolting garbage either. Please. Don't tell me 'the second half of the novel is much better.' Actually. The second half seems to be WORSE than the only mildly interesting first half.

Excuse Me. I need a bath.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Soon...very soon.

In about 30 days Lover Unbound will at long last be published. I know it will disappoint. But never mind.

Over on the boards, the publisher's shill, has been hinting that Tohr may return in one of the upcoming a bad guy. What a very good idea. And the people who he should hate and want vengeance upon are surely Z and Bella. I'd love another novel featuring those two...

Oh dear. A new synopsis of L.U. has appeared on the amazon boards. "...not for those new to the BDB universe or romance traditionalists." it says. Presumably that means the author has decided to continue down the perverted pathway. Did I mention that imo Butch's black ejaculate scene in L.R. was totally, totally gross? However. Why is all the sex so gynologically described in these novels so repetitive? All they feature is the missionary position. The average contemporary has more variety than that. Boring.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Goddess of the Rose by P.C.Cast

A really good story of which the romance forms a relatively small part. A 'magic kingdom with dark twists' story.

The heroine is a complete nut-case. She Has Issues. She should have started talking to her psychiatrist friend long before she began having strange dreams. I suggest that she should have sought help when she first started cutting her hands and feeding her blood to her roses. That is not normal behaviour. Even for a rose enthusiast.

This is the first romance I've read in quite a while with an undercurrent of man-hate in it. Also there are far far too many women in this story. Mothers, grandmothers, goddesses, handmaidens, actresses to name but a few. Already I feel sorry for the hero. Living in this Land of Women. Some of whom are quite vindictive.

But my main gripe is that by page 91 there has been absolutely minimal interaction between the hero and heroine. In fact. I don't even know the hero's name yet. So I'm bored already. Also at 35 y.o. the heroine is a bit old.

Let's look at Mikki's little job. She's an 'executive assistant' in a large hospital. Ok. Another name for a gofer. And what, I suppose, is the dream of an immature gofer. Why. To Be The Boss and have gofers of their own. Which is exactly what happens in Mikki's fantasy. But a 35 yo? Come on. She should have more options than that about what to do with her life. Plus. She can't handle a guy who has different reading tastes from her but is more than happy to accept love from someone who is essentially a slave with a magic dick.

Getting to the crux. This is a novel about carnal love between a woman and a beast. The hero has cloven hooves and horns. And then the author wimps out by having the pagan goddess Hecate take away his ability to consumate that love unless the heroine begs for it. I mean. The poor guy doesn't control his own fertility. If that happened to a female character do you think it would be acceptable? In a pig's eye it would. That's what I call man-hate. Also the hero is really simplistically portrayed and doesn't really act out of free-will.

But the whole novel is such a slog. tbh. I never liked roses that much anyway. I could hate them after reading this story. Poor Mikki is a slave to the stupid plants. And, as becomes obvious as the novel progresses, she's also somewhat dumb. She must have seen the movie Jason and the Argonauts. Hecate is not a benign goddess. Plus. Those dogs which accompany her should have given Mikki a big clue as to the true nature of the Realm of the Roses, which actually turns out to be a realm of nightmares rather than nicey-wicey dreams. It is not acceptable for a thinking human being to give up her life for the sake of flowering vegetation. Mikki returns to the Realm of the Roses. But I would never have done so. The place is drenched in blood. Not just Mikki's but all the previous Empousa's too. Ugh. It's a place with a history of ritualistic murder. And the chief executioner is Asterius! Eww. I couldn't really connect with Mikki. She's too earthy and, to repeat, is basically a man-hater.

I think I figured out why the heroine is 35 y.o rather than, say, 25 y.o. Because that somehow makes it more acceptable when she makes the decision to kill herself in order to save the Realm of the Roses.

What I liked about the novel is how Mikki's strange little behaviours are amplified in her fantasy world, but her other worries (job dissatisfaction, lack of a love-life) are completely solved. I thought the author handled Mikki's re-entry to the real world in a very clever, seamless manner. Mikki never spared a single thought for the pain her friends might have felt about her attack and consequent departure back to Roseland. Another characteristic of the mentally disturbed. The more I think about the plot of this novel the more it creeps me out.

But. A few years ago I might have loved this story. Mainly because nowadays I hate all this 'fantasy world' rubbish. I actually think this world is more than sufficiently interesting and complex as a setting for romances.

Cold As Ice by Anne Stuart v2.

My favorite book of the year.


Well. I knew Peter Jensen was the hero before I started reading the novel. I like a hero who has the ability to blend in with those around him and only later reveals his special attributes.

But most of all. I related to Genevieve's life experiences. I too have bought over-priced label fashions, come home and considered the waste of money they cost. I too have tired of the world of work despite the good income it brings. I too have seen women make a decision about sleeping with the boss for career advancement. I know the sham that is humanitarian foundations and charities. And I could understand Genevieve's desire for a jungle trek although she should consider the blight mass (or even elite) tourism brings to the affected lands.

So basically. I was hooked on this novel from the very beginning. I kept thinking to myself as I read it. "When am I going to start hating this heroine. When is she going to do something stupid like have sex with the hero just because he's good looking." But she never did. She slept with the hero to hopefully save her own life. (Not to bolster her self-esteem because she has no other problem-solving strategies.) And then hated it and herself for enjoying the experience. Plus she still thought of him as a SOB. And then she cries when she thinks he's dead. Fantastic.

It was the relationship between Peter and Genevieve that kept me spell bound. So I could ignore the fact that van Dorn's scheme was amateurish. That supposed skilled spy Peter couldn't tell that Renaud would turn traitor at the earliest opportunity.

Does that give away too much about myself. I don't care.

I love this book. Particularly in the light of all the horrible cack I've read by authors who have no idea of plot or character development.