Thursday, 29 April 2010

Her Vampire Husband by Michele Hauf

I hated this story. It will probably end up being a dnf for me.

Here is why.

An arranged marriage between a werewolf princess and a vampire clan chief. The heroine is deliberately written as an airhead. Rather like Emma in Hunger Like No Other. Unfortunately this one, Blu, comes across as very mean-spirited.

Ok. Its an arranged marriage. And she didn't want to go through with it but she had to because Daddy said so. Fine. Some females are like that. And she doesn't want to do any bump and grind because it's an arranged marriage. Fine. Even though she's had a previous partner right up until the wedding. Not that she loves him either. Thats cool.

A lot is made of the difference between werewolves and vampires in the story. And the werewolf princess thinks its cool to call the vampire all the nasty names she can think of. Well. One way to read the story is like it was an inter-racial marriage. So she calls her husband the n-word and herself the h-word. Is that nice? Is that clever?

I took all that on board. And made no judgements intially. After all its a werewolf and vampire story. Nothing else.

But then. Blu. Who doesn't like her new husband. Calls him names. Is generally disrespectful about his cultural habits. This Blu. Asks her husband if she can have some spending money. !!!! Puh-lese! That's where my judgemental self woke up. I felt embarrassed on behalf of the female population in general. And later on Blu trolls victims for Creed to bite. There's real-life serial killers with similar profiles to this main couple.

That's why I put the book down. And am unlikely to pick it up again.

Although I have figured out what the problem for me is. The spine of the book says 'paranormal romance' but it isn't. Its urban fantasy.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Heat Seeker by Lora Leigh

I enjoyed Heat Seeker (50+ named characters in a 300 page novel) even though about half-way through reading it I took time to set up a spreadsheet to list all the names and I read another novel, Heartbreaker by Linda Howard. (7 named characters.) between chapters. Just for comparison.

I very much like all the Elite Ops heroines, Sabella, Lilly and Bailey. (As opposed to the heroines of the previous SEALs series, who were mainly bat-crazy and delusional imo.) Although I think it is a shame that the series seems to have moved into socio-economic group A. The first book, Wild Card was set around a struggling gas station if I recall…and that was an absolute stonker.

Who is the arms-dealer and traitor Warbucks? That is the plot of Heat Seeker. Other reviewers have griped on about how Mary suddenly changes into Jules. I have to admit that was a cruise missile out of nowhere. Particularly during the denouement, within a couple of pages (321 to324), one minute the character is Mary, then she’s Jules, then she changes back to being called Mary. It is very very strange. However. There was a precursor to that craziness on page 71. In the course of one paragraph the reader is told Micah Sloan's real name is David Abijah, his current alias is Jerric Abbas but then the heroine Bailey refers to him as Mr Abdul and Azra. Later on Bailey calls him Garren Abijah. That’s six different names for one minor character. And even earlier, the hero is named John Vincent when he should still be Trent Daylen ie before the explosion that killed Timmons.

Actually even though I knew what to expect I still have to admit…I’ve never come across anything like it ever ever before. Are the publishers too scared of the author?

There’s more on the plus side in Heat Seeker. Some of the dialogue is great. Landon Roth gets told ‘release Bailey or you’ll die hard.’ And Bailey herself has a great response to John Vincent. The killer for me was towards the end, when Myron reveals that he’s helping Bailey, he says, “I’m old and tired. And I voted for our current president. I believe in him.” I laughed out loud at that. But was unexpectedly impressed by the throwaway line about Saddam. There’s plenty of hotness too. I suppose you could say the story gives the reader an insight into the world of illegal arms-trading and how it connects to the rich, powerful, and double-dealing agency staff. It’s all a bit too labyrinthine for me though.

The real weakness, I suppose, is things like Raymond Greer suddenly changing into a good guy half way through the story. So a totally new bad guy, Landon, has to be introduced to provide some action. Rodriquez presumably is suddenly put in for the same reason. And suddenly around page 230 Bailey is defending the four fathers where towards the beginning of the novel the reader is lead to believe that one of them is Warbucks. Otherwise the reader might get bored with all the pointless chatter going on. And the endless round of house parties. Not me though. I even enjoyed the final chapter discussion about that silly contract. Bailey came across as a very kind-hearted princess.

Let’s see. Elite Ops have official permission to terminate a rich powerful American citizen (suspected traitor of course), the gun-runner Warbucks…on American soil. Isn’t that a completely illegal activity? Isn’t that the kind of action that Jason Bourne and Pamela Landy objected to …the kind of action that got Agency Director Ezra Kramer fired in Bourne Ultimatum? In fact Travis and the team execute Rodriguez in cold blood. Bailey of course doesn’t know jack…she suspects everyone except the real Warbucks…I can only handle one red herring per novel not dozens while she flails around clueless. Plus she has to be rescued (by John Vincent) from the only two tight situations she finds herself in…with Landon and Alberto.

Yet somehow. Despite all the craziness. Maybe because of all the good parts. This is a perfectly readable and entertaining novel. Readers may like to know the first Bourne novel was a dnf for me because Bourne slaps Marie around. That certainly didn’t appear in the movies. The point I’m making is good novelists can have iffy things happen in their stories.

...begorrah! I'm reviewing Lora Leigh books again. I was under the impression that I had given her up. Probably do Maverick next.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Black Jack by Lora Leigh

I fully accept that this novel has been written by 'The Studio of Lora Leigh'. Similar to 'The Studio of Michelangelo' producing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Italy. And yes. Lora's little group has produced an absolutely great story...with a few minor flaws (of course).... rather like those ghastly 'putti.'

Wow! They have borrowed ideas from 2 of my fave romances. Katya Deker being sent to the French psych hospital by her Senator Mom in Crazy Cool and the garage scene with Peter and Genevieve in Cold As Ice. Wow! How could I not like this novel?

Basically Black Jack is a romance between 2 English blue-bloods, set in the US. Huh! And it is a most joyous read. Particularly after the miserable dirge that was Fragile. I was most impressed by Travis's real name. Many writers of historical romances would struggle to come up with such an impressive moniker for a hero.

There may have been a million plot-holes and all sorts of craziness in the world around them but Lily and Travis remained rock-solid in their attraction to each other. Lily didn't so much as bat her eye-lashes at another guy. Although she was sporadically full of minor insecurities. And who can blame her. What with losing her memory...twice. Being shot in the head! Despite that both Lill and Travis are full of life and not afraid to (repeatedly) ride around on big bikes (no doubt bought with taxpayers cash...but that's ok by me for once) for no other reason than to meet for a night of bump and grind.

An added bonus was the presence of some of the characters from previous books...Morganna and her guy! I ask you...that's ancient history! Plus Wild Card. He actually gets to say a few lines. (More please)

The plot really starts about page 40. Other reviewers have called the earlier pages 'the prologue.' Signifying that it wasn't present on some versions of the e-book. The author probably did originally write that Lilly's Dad returned alive with the brother Jared. And then most likely changed her mind. Unfortunately all the references to the returned Dad in the final chapter haven't been sent to the rubbish bin. But this is a Lora Leigh book so experienced readers know to expect editorial craziness.tee hee.

It actually doesn't matter that Lily never fully recovers her memories...the girls know her as their sister and she relies heavily on her 'instincts' honed over the previous 6 years. I had no trouble with that. My only hitch of breath occurred when Angelica says 'For sure.' Most unlikely considering the way she is written. I was so impressed by how although Lily loves her Mom she absolutely does not allow her to influence her relationship with Travis. That alone shows she has some common sense and backbone. I tend to despise those romances (mainly historical) where a supposed gutsy heroine is basically a slave to her parents wishes. (ie marry a stranger for the sake of the family.) That's just me though.

...i'm probably going to go back and read Heat Seeker despite its bad rep. And So Should You!!! :)

Stuff I learned from reading Black Jack...

1. When a Lord dies his title goes to his brother. Despite the fact that the dead guy had a grown-up son. Total craziness at the very start of the story.

2. Paramilitary groups operate freely in the U.S.

3. You can have extensive facial reconstructive surgery and never feel any aches or pain or need to massage the affected area.

4. Hagerstown, Maryland is an epicentre of spy activity.

5. Elite Ops are the dumbest ever...the whole 'highly trained' group
couldn't spot Lilly going into the sports bar.

...or am I wrong?

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Fragile by Shiloh Walker

This is the book that spawned Broken. And it is a very twisted read. (And nowhere near as good as the slightly similar Obsession by Sharon Cullen...who needs to publish a new story soon please.)

Surely the heroine Devon was purposefully written as a serial victim. And really I couldn't see why such bad bad things keep happening to her. Even I questioned what was going on with her hallucinating about 'nasty' Luke. I couldn't make sense of it.

But. She also has good stuff happen. Being adopted by the Mannings, loving Luke, steady job, kicking her habit. Despite the description of Devon I thought she was one of those beautiful people who don't actually realise how pretty they are. Readers need to know she is seriously molested by more than one psycho during the course of the story. She is at her weakest when she doesn't know what is happening to her mind...that's when she kicks Luke out. But essentially she is a strong person...although what's the point of being strong when so much rubbish happens to her.

I hadn't a clue what was going on with Quinn or how he happened to show up just in time to save Luke and Devon. That was never really explained. The philosophy of Devon's life is to rely on luck to sort things out. Although she doesn't seem to realise that. It was great to read as the relationship developed between Luke and Devon. There's plenty of hot scenes between the pair of them. The story ends very abruptly...I think what happened was that the novel ended in the bedroom and then someone in the crit group probably whined 'But what about that poor guy Quinn?' and so we got the final scene between the three of them which goes absolutely nowhere.

Geez. Poor Danielle. I bet no follow-up book is written about her. That's what comes of being friends with a serial victim.

When I originally read the review of Fragile on Amazon I did actually reject it because I could guess just what Devon's 'troubled youth' entailed...going by the number of that type of book on the best-seller lists. But I was suckered into buying Fragile by reading Broken and I had forgotten what I read about Fragile.

Although the descriptions of Devon's underage-abuse are thankfully sparse I didn't really enjoy reading about how disrespectfully she was treated by Curtis and Tony. I think I would have preferred it if Devon had been more of a devious fighter...and had managed to prevent at least one of those 3 nasty incidents from taking place..(the one with Curtis preferably because then maybe the completely innocent Danielle might not have been hurt so bad.) She should also have recognised a crap shrink for what she was. She should have told Luke the name of Tim's Dad and what she knew about his background. And. The times Devon felt afraid to go into her own house, that's when she should have rung Luke and suggested they move into his condo. If the nightmares had continued then she could have suspected him. Having said all that I have to ask 'What good was Luke in the story?' Cos all he actually did was ring the cops when Curtis was already dead anyway. And so we come to the important question. Is Devon addicted to being a victim? And is that what drives Luke to her? Many times during the course of the story he admits he's an adrenaline junkie. If Luke had really cared he would have advised Devon to 'Carry A Weapon At All Times.'

Also. I have no idea about what was going on with Quinn, Luke and Tony's Unit. Or why Tony went crazy. Read totally like opsec paranoia to me.

In the final analysis the novel was a bit strong (and indecipherable) for me. In fact I wish I hadn't read it. But many other readers will probably be very impressed with the story.

I first read a book like this from one of my favorite male authors. Now deceased. It was like he came to hate most of the characters he had spent about 10 years creating and fleshing out. And so towards the end of his life he just wrote about bad things happening to them. For me its like watching someone bully helpless people. Not very edifying at all. So in the end, I know exactly who to blame for what kept happening to Devon. Shame On You!

p.s. I know I sound completely crazy. But it's a genuine heartfelt protest.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Broken by Shiloh Walker

Well...What I say is this. In a story full of characters with names like Quinn, Don, Sara and James, why introduce a character who is basically raped and beaten to death and call her Elena. Her only function is to highlight Quinn's supposed inability to express his emotions to people he wants to care about. But that's just me and my my capacity as CEO of the Society for the Protection of Minor Characters.

Basically I suppose this is Quinn's story. His main parent for most of his youth was a drunk, foul-mouthed mother. So it's understandable that he's not really confident in making relationships. I suppose. But. Something that Quinn does have is a wonderful fairy godmother. So when his mom dies he is whisked off to a rich rancher Dad. And then at the end of the story (spoiler alert) incredibly the main bad-guy dies by his own hand, so Quinn gets his girl. Lucky ol' Quinn.

For me the trouble with the story was Sara. And how the reader is led to believe that she is an abused wife. Because then it would seem that Sara is having a relationship with a new guy Quinn when she hasn't resolved the poisonous relationship with her abusive guy. And she's certainly picked what looks like another controller in Quinn. He programs her cell phone number into his cell without telling her; he shows up at her place of work when she hasn't actually told him where she works.

Despite all that I ended up feeling sorry for Quinn. Because I would say that Sam is not a good relationship for him. Sam is in fact pretending to be Sara to lay a false trail for Sara's abusive husband. There is no way the mindset of the sister of a marital abuse victim would in any way be the same as that of the abuse victim herself. But that is what the reader is lead to believe. Or so it seemed to me. It was just ridiculous that after all his threats, James decided to take his own life and so leave everyone free to carry on happily ever after. (With Sara being the ultra-rich widow seeing how she was still married to James at the time of his death.) Sam totally played Quinn and she should have been made to grovel some. I don't remember coming across a heroine who absolutely refuses to trust the hero with any relevant information at all.

From almost the beginning this book totally read like it was the minor character follow-up of a successful novel. Good luck to Quinn as he watches the lovely Sam change back into a blimp now that she doesn't have to run anymore. Actually he'll probably be very happy with such a completely normal relationship.

What I enjoyed most about the story was that the main characters worked blue-collar jobs and that Quinn thought in terms of his (and Sam's) future when he took that high-paying job.

Not to be compared to Tate and Matt in Lauren Dane's novel ....Chase. But an interesting read anyhow.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Not a good read.

Why. Because it features quite a nasty human experimentation sub-plot which adds an unexpected and unwelcome gore/horror element. Because it introduces stuff which turn out to be completely irrelevant. Like the parasol. And the octopus device. Because the heroine, Alexia spends a lot of time complaining about the dark color of her skin. But that is also an irrelevancy. Endless pages are spent describing the interior decorations of each house Alexia visits. Totally irrelevant. Giving many characters silly names doesn't constitute wit either.

And not least because it is set in a kind of alternative reality in Victorian times where everything but the kitchen sink, including the presence of Queen Victoria herself, is thrown into the plot. Lots of things made no sense. How could all those vampires and werewolves be captured so easily by the scientists? I couldn't detect anything alpha about Maccon. Often he read as little more than a buffoon. Just why did Alexia stay with a family who denied her a coming-out season because of her color?

Unfortunately the romance is weak. By the third book in the series the heroine has left her husband. But actually the heroine herself is a passive pain. She's one of those (inexplicably popular recently) hero types who relies on people around her to save her and get hurt. She does very little herself. Other than 'be special.' And be hypercritical of herself and most of the other females in the story. I kept waiting for Alexia to 'solve the mystery.' But it's the minor characters who do all that. Completely off-book. Instead the reader is forced to read page after page of out-dated pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo.Also. For some reason I've developed an instinctive dislike of happy-clappy servants who just love their masters. There's a whole gaggle of them in this book.

The novel is 'steam-punk' and so so clever it's up its own end. Waste of time really.