donderdag 31 maart 2011

New addition to my addiction

Finally, a new book has found my house. And as I have already read it, it can go with the rest of the series, and stay nice and new and shiny :). That is because I do not have the patience to wait to read a new book till the paperback version is out.

Amanda Quick - Burning Lamp

dinsdag 29 maart 2011

Tamar Myers – Between a Wok and a Hard Place

The fifth book in the Pennsylvania Dutch Mysteries with Recipes series, published March 1998.

Between a Wok and a Hard Place

With murder you get egg roll.
Ever since her brand-new husband flew the coop, Magdalena Yoder, owner of the quaint PennDutch Inn, has had time to kill. And now the local Amish community really has a murder in its midst: an Asian tourist found strangled and run over by a horse and buggy. It isn’t a crime police chief Melvin Stolzfus can easily handle; after all, he was once kicked in the head by a bull he was trying to milk. But he’s smart enough to deputize Magdalena.
Soon Magdalena is off visiting the neatly kept farms of the Plain People in search of the truth. Although not an outsider, she’s about as welcome as a fox in a henhouse. Something dangerous is being concealed behind their dour faces and determination to protect their own. And for Magdalena, finding a killer may just put her between the rock of faith and a hard place called justice…

I did not like this one. It was kind of a rambling story, and I never got any clues, till the very end of the book.
On the personal side: Susannah and Melvin get back together, and Magdalena finds out that she is not married after all! Her beloved Pooky Bear Aaron Miller confesses that he is still married to another woman, and he is back in love with her, and wants to stay with her. Which means Magdalena is an Adulturess, and no longer a virgin. I don’t believe she will miss the wedding bed though.

I do have the rest of the series, and Tamar Myers is still writing more. I do hope the next ones will be better.

6 stars

Anne Bishop - Dark Jewels series - a few reviews

The last days I have immersed myself in the Dark Jewels series, rereading the lot of them (again). I had some reviews written a few years back, which I will post here now. I so love this series.

Anne Bishop – Tangeld Webs – Black Jewels part 5


[i] The invitation is signed "Jaenelle Angelline," and it summons her family to an entertainment she had specially prepared. Surreal SaDiablo, former courtesan and assassin, arrives first. But when she enters the house, Surreal finds herself trapped in a living nightmare created by the tangled webs of Black Widow witches...and if she uses Craft to defend herself, she risks being sealed in the house forever.

But Jaenelle did not send the invitation. And now Jaenelle and her family must rescue Surreal and the others inside without becoming trapped themselves-and then discover who has created such a place, and why... [/i]

I really wanted to go to bed early this evening. So after the short story The Price, which is about Surreal, I wanted to read a bit in this book. But how can you stop reading, when someone is trapped in a haunted house? I just had to keep reading, I had to know what would happen next.

And this means a lot, because I hate horror stuff, you can’t pay me enough to ever visit a spooky house on the fair or watch a scary movie, or read a scary book. I have read Raymond E. Feist Fairytale years ago, and still have nightmares about it.

This books take place after the trilogy, and in my opinion can be read solo, so I hope I don’t include spoilers for anyone.

Jaenelle hears a landen boy telling things that are “common knowledge” about how the Blood lives. And she gets this idea to build a spooky house, where those tales are truth, that Blood and landen can visit. So with the help of Marian she furnishes her version of a house of horrors with illusions and Tangled Webs. But there is someone very angry with her, for stealing his idea, and for neglecting him, for laughing at him.
So this person builds his own house of horrors, and then invites her family to a visit. But the only ones arriving are Surreal and her escort. To gain entrance after a long wait, they invite some landen children to come with them. And when they find themselves trapped in the house, where they cannot use their Craft, they feel responsible for those children. But the horrors in the house are plenty, and meant to be deadly. And the children are not really obedient types, so …

When Jaenelle and Daemon arrive, they cannot enter for they would be trapped also. Daemon wants to keep his father and brother save, so he sends them messages to stay home. He himself goes looking for clues who is behind this, and why. Because one of the witches who made the spells for this place is someone he knows very well. Jaenelle waits outside with a little orphan boy, who tells her the first part of the mystery. And then Witch and Daemon make their own Tangled Webs, so the man who made the house will pay the price.

But it takes Lucivar and his fighting skills to defeat the house. But is he in time to save Surreal and the others?

This really was another great story by Anne Bishop. It just kept me reading. In the beginning, it is the interaction between the main characters in the series, learning more big and little things about their backgrounds, that makes the reader understand more about the previous books and the why’s of their actions. When Surreal and Rainier are trapped, you have to know what will happen next. What will they do, use craft and protect the children and pay the price for that, or try to survive without the craft and still pay the price?
And the end, the end is just great, and scary.

I have always liked Surreal, so I loved to have her in this book as one of the main characters. I still want to know more about her mothers people, perhaps in the next book The Shadow Queen, which will be out in March 2009.

But to sum it up, a book filled with great characters, strong females and alpha males, magic, mystery, love, family, magical animals, emotions, humor, what more can a reader ask for?

9 stars

Anne Bishop – The invisible ring – Dark Jewels prequel


[i] Jared is a Red-Jeweled Warlord bound as a pleasure slave by the Ring of Obedience. After suffering nine years of torment as a slave, he murdered his owner and escaped—only to be caught and sold into slavery once again. Purchased by a notorious queen, Jared fears he will share the mysterious fate of her other slaves—never to be seen again—and so prepares himself for death. But the Gray Lady may not be what she seems and Jared soon faces a difficult decision: his freedom, or his honor...[/i]

As a young man, Jared was tricked in putting on a Ring of Obedience, which turned him into an unwilling pleasure slave for the women of the court he is sold to, to do with as they please. He finally couldn’t take the abuse of his owner any more, and killed her and her brother. So now he is bound to be sold as a slave to the salt mines of Pruul. But then the Gray Lady buys him. And he just wished it would have been the salt mines. Because no slave has ever returned from the land of the Gray Lady. One of the few Territory’s left who fight Dorothea’s tainting influence.

Jared isn’t the only slave the Gray Lady has bought that day. So along with a few men, women and children the journey begins. But not an easy ride in a Couch along the Winds, but on foot and horseback through rough country, trying to reach the mountains of Tanamara before they are caught.

Dorothea gives her new Master of the Guard the task to kill the Gray Lady. She is one of the last strong witches left in Terreille, and without her, that Territory will have no choice but to acknowledge her as its mistress. Lord Krelis doesn’t think it will be very difficult to kill one Queen, away from her Court. But she deludes his traps somehow, escaping whatever he sends her way. And Dorothea, the Dark Priestess, is getting harder to please and more cruel every day.

I loved Jared. He has suffered being a pleasure slave, and if it wasn’t for the lessons he got from Daemon Sadi, he wouldn’t have survived those years.

But the things his father thought him as a young boy, the wish, the need to serve a Queen, they won’t go away. He is drawn to his new master, this strange Queen. She is old enough to be his grandmother, but he still wants to please her, protect her. He is no longer ringed, but he still cannot leave her, to face the dangers of the road alone, without trusted Guards at her side. The broken Black Widow witch, the other pleasure slave who is a young warlord prince, the children, the broken guard, the other men. One of them is a traitor, wanting to give them up to Dorothea, leaving enchanted messages for their pursuers, but they are unable to find out who it is. The Gray Lady doesn’t want to bring a traitor home with her, and they will have to take the more difficult road, and do their best to find out who they can trust in the end, and who not. And during the journey it seems as all of them are not who they seemed to be in the beginning. Most of al the Gray Lady …

Again, this is a great novel by Anne Bishop. She has really hooked me with this series, and I just have to try the others series she has written, waiting for the next book in this one. It is very difficult for me to write a decent review about this book, without spoiling any of the surprises, the great twists in the plot. There is a lot of hardship and grief, but also moments of love and honor, humor and magic. The characters are all so very much alive, you just tear up when you read about their lives.

And in the end, when Jared and Daemon meet, wow. You really need your tissues for that scene. At first, I missed the characters I came to love in the rest of this series, but Jared and Lia took me along on their journey towards trust and love. Because that is what the bond between a Queen and her men is.

9,5 stars

Anne Bishop – The shadow Queen – Black Jewels 6


[i]Dena Nehele is a land decimated by its past. Once it was ruled by corrupt Queens who were wiped out when the land was cleansed of tainted Blood. Now, only one hundred Warlord Princes stand - without a leader and without hope.

Theran Grayhaven is the last of his line, desperate to find the key that reveals a treasure great enough to restore Dena Nehele. But first he needs to find a Queen who remembers the Blood's code of honor and lives by the Old Ways. The woman chosen to rule Dena Nehele, Lady Cassidy, is not beautiful and believes she is not strong. But she may be the only one able to convince bitter men to serve once again.[/i]

Two years ago a storm hit the continent, and all the bad Blood Queens and tainted Warlords were killed instantly. After that the Landen rose in rebellion, and more Blood was killed. So now there are only 100 Warlord Princes left in Dena Nahele, and only very young or very old Queens with little power. They need a strong Queen to rule the men and the country, a Queen who knows the Old Ways. So Theran calls together all the Warlord Princes and Princes left in his country to find a solution. And it is decided he will go to Ebon Askavi, to find Daemon Sadi and ask for his help. Daemon owes his family a favor, and perhaps he will help them.

So Theran sets out to find Daemon, not knowing anything about the man, or his family. And so unknowingly he insults Saetan, never a smart thing to do. But Seatan takes him home to SaDiablo Hall, and Theran is horrified when he finds out the name of the place. After al, that was the name of the evil Priestess Dorothea. When he puts his request to Deamon, Daemon decides to help him out of regard for his ancestors, not for Therans sake. And Jaenelle knows just the Queen to ask.

Cassidy is a Queen, but she is not pretty, or ambitious, so when her court finally found that out, they abandoned her en masse for a younger and prettier Queen, causing Cassidy to lose her Court and the village she ruled. And then Jaenelle asks her to consider going to Dena Nahele, to be a Queen for a bunch of desperate men, who want to serve a reel Queen again. And she tells her how to know who to pick to be her first circle, how she will now who will be “hers”. And after long tought, Cassidy agrees. But when Theran first sees Cassie, he is very disappointed. She is not pretty at all, or powerful, how will she ever safe his country and his people? But they agree on a trial period of 1 year, with Deamon and Saetan and Lucifar looking after Cassidy, and receiving weekly reports from her. Theran still doesn’t understand who he is dealing with, and when he finds out about the Kindred, and that one of them will come with Cassie and help with his “training in manners” he really doesn’t know how to react anymore. A talking dog, a witch with a Purple Dusk Jewel, who orders him around?

When Cassidy arrives in Dena Nahele, in Grayhaven manor, she meets the Warlord Princes and Princes who want to serve her. Theran will be her First Escort, although they really don’t like each other. On the grounds she meets Theran’s cousin, Gray, a damaged male, tortured by a Queen who though she had captured the last heir of Grayhaven. And Cassidy and Gray are attracted to each other, but will Gray ever heal enough to find his place at her side, be able to enter the house, to be around other people instead of his little garden shed?

I totally loved this latest book by Anne Bishop. For the greatest enjoyment you really should read all the previous books, especially The Invisible Ring, as that provides a lot of the background for this story.

I loved Cassidy, she is hurt very much by the males of her own court, and doesn’t trust that easily anymore. And the way Theran treats her, doesn’t make it very easy. He just can’t look past her being not pretty, not powerfull. But she has a good heart, and really wants to make this work. And slowly the rest of the Court gets used to her, and to the Old Ways. And when they finally find out who her connections are, they are scared enough to learn Protocol and act conform the Old Ways. After all, that is what they asked for.

Theran I really disliked. He is just not good enough to be her First Escort. He is judgmental, he keeps blocking her in everything she wants. He doesn’t see what is right in front of him. But perhaps, if this series continues, he will find a Queen for himself, and finally come to his senses.

I loved Vae, the little Sceltie, she truly is hilarious, the way she orders Theran around, she even bites him occasionally. The other Warlord Princes and Princes are not really fleshed out much, only the inner circle, and I came to like them. They matured, and accepted Cassidy as their Queen, and finally took her side against Theran.

And then there is the hidden treasure, the legend of the Honey Pear tree, and only a true Queen will save the country. The magic starts unravelling when certain things happen, when decisions are made …

There are real emotions, hurt and disappointment, but also humor, laughter and love in this book. Great main and secondary characters. No lovescenes for Cassidy, but there are for Jaenelle and Daemon. A very dark story for Saetan when his memory is triggered the bad way, and some very humorous intervention from Lucivar when he comes to check up on Cassidy.

I loved meeting Saetan, Daemon, Lucifar, Jaenelle and the rest again, to know what is going on between them. A great book, a great story, a real keeper on my bookshelves. Bring on the next book!

4,5 stars

donderdag 24 maart 2011

Jayne Ann Krentz - Falling Awake

A stand alone novel, published October 2004. The tiny pic is from my book cover, which I think is much more pretty.

Falling Awake

Falling Awake

New York Times bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz lures readers to the edge of fantasy and desire with this red-hot novel about a free-spirited young woman and the gorgeous man who steals her heart and mind …

As a dream interpreter at the Belvedere Center for Sleep Research, Isabel Wright has never lacked attention from the opposite sex. Of course, that’s because they’re hoping she’ll shed a little light an their dreams. Lately, however, she’s been pining for a man she’s never met. She knows him only as Client Number Two – and his most intimate dreams have captured her imagination…
But everything goes south when her boss drops dead at his desk and Isabel loses her job – until Client Number Two finally pops up, asking all kinds of questions. His name is Ellis Cutler, and he’s even sexier than she imagined him. He’s convinced there’s a sociopath on their trail, but fortunately that doesn’t stop him from introducing Isabel to a passion wilder than she’s ever known. Drawn into a web of desire, betrayal and murder, Isabel and Ellis now have to find the killer before they find themselves falling far too deep …

Isabel has always been fascinated with dreams and dreaming, as she is a very lucid dreamer herself. Unfortunately, the people around her think her just strange, a daydreamer, a psychic. But Isabel is really happy with her new job at the Belvedere Center, where she interprets dreams from other very lucid dreamer, rated a Level 5. Of course she has figured out soon enough that she is working with government agents, who are trying to solve crimes by dreaming. And with her helping interpret those dreams correctly, she hopes they are successful. The lack of feedback is very frustrating, especially as she has seen some horrid dreams which are giving her nightmares herself.
Then one night her boss dies, and his son is taking over the Center. Having had issues with his father his whole life, he doesn’t share his vision, and one of the first things he does, is fire Isabel. Which is very inconvenient, as Isabel has made some big investments in her dream furniture for when she finds her dream house. So she is in dire need of a salary. Her only option is to go back home, and ask her sister and brother-in-law for a job. They run a motivational centre, and Isabel will start giving seminars there.
But her dream is to start her own consulting agency, under her own rules. If they want her to interpret dreams, she wants more context and feedback. When the director of the secret government agency finds out Isabel is fired, he sends his number one agent on her trail, to hire her for his own firm so he can keep Isabel under control.

Ellis Cutler has been having dreams about Isabel, just as she is been having about her dream man, Client Number Two. He has been wanting to seek her out for months now, ever since she started suggesting things in his dream reports, so this assignment is something he really is hot for. But he is not so sure Isabel is the meek type who will be happy with the job offer and gladly accept. And he is right. Isabel refuses. She wants her indepence, even though there will never be many clients looking for her services. But on the other hand, there aren’t many people around who can do what she does in dream interpreting.

But things get dangerous when an old collegue with a gambling addiction wants to sell Isabel the contact information about the three secret clients she was working for. Before Isabel and Ellis can get to him, he is killed in a hit and run accident. And now Ellis is really getting paranoid: there were supposed to be only two anonymous clients! If the third one is who he think it is, it might be a solid lead. He beliefs one of his fellow-agents has gone rogue and has staged his own death. The recent murder of another collegue has made him suspicious of that. But his boss thinks he is obsessing with this Vincent Scargill, and doesn’t believe him.

When the new Dr. Belvedere finds out, that over 60% of the funding of his company comes from the anonymous clients Isabel Wright has been handling in the past year, he is extremely anxious that he wants her back, and will give her anything she wants! But Isabel is not interested.

Things start happening at a fast pace, and Isabel and Ellis find themselves in some dangerous situations. And they need to find some answers, fast.

It just occurred to me that I don’t read many stand alone novels, when I typed those words. But I really did love this one. It is a classic Jayne Ann Krentz novel. With a great mix of romance, humor, strong characters and great secondary characters. And with a twist at the end of the book you just don’t see coming. Of course I did have some suspicions which came true, but the story is still original and just a good read.

Isabel is a nice young woman, who went her own way in life, despite the sneers from her friends and family about what she believes is true and important to her. She didn’t cave to the pressure to become something in the corporate world, of she is more than smart enough for that. Instead, she followed small jobs into the world of dreams. She was working for a psychic-dream-hotline when Dr Belvedere found her and snatched her up. I still have no idea what she really did, how she can interpret a dream, or perhaps dream it herself, but that doesn’t matter much. I liked her from the first page.
She has been dreaming of Client Number Two for months now, and when she meets him in the flesh, she knows that sometimes, dreams come true. They just belong together, and knowing a person’s dreams is perhaps the most intimate knowledge you can have.

Ellis has been orphaned at the age of 12, and he has been cautious with relationships for ever. He knows a loved one can be snatched away in a moment. But when he starts dreaming of Isabel, he knows he wants to meet her, and perhaps court her. And when they meet in person, he knows she is the one for him, and he will do anything he can to convince her of that fact.
Beside being a secret government agent, he is a very good investment consultant.

All in all, a good love story, with a nice touch of mystery and suspense thrown into the mix. Again, Jayne Ann Krentz has written a book I love.

8,5 stars.

dinsdag 22 maart 2011

Anne Bishop – Twilight’s Dawn (with spoilers)

A book in the Black Jewels series, published March 2011.

Twilight's Dawn

New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s “darkly fascinating” Black Jewel novels have enthralled readers and critics alike with their mixture of fantasy, intrigue, and romance. Now in Twilight’s Dawn, Bishop returns to the Blood realm with four all-new captivating novellas.


Winsol Gifts
Daemon, the Black Jeweled Warlord Prince of Dhemlan, is settling into his first year of married life with his Witch Queen Jaenelle. But as the thirteen-day celebration of Winsol draws near, Daemon finds himself being pulled in too many directions as he plays host to his formidable family…

The first two years of their married life, Daemon and Jaenelle were hurt, and healing. Not taking much interest in the organisation of Winsol. But know they are both fine, and they have the obligation to host the feast for their friends and family. The first few days are filled with parties, but the last few are for family only.
So Daemon has to learn his role in the festivities, the role his father used to fullfill. And one of those, is to guard the room with the presents against those who cannot withstand temptation. You know what happens when Daemonar finds them, unguarded? Lucivar and Daemon have to work very hard to restore all of them to their former wrapped glory …
Surreal drags Prince Rainier with her to the party. After they became wounded badly in the haunted house, they both are still healing. But Rainier will probably never be able to dance again, as he loved to, and is afraid to have to be dependent on his family who never stopped fearing him just for being a Warlord Prince.

This one is just a lovely family story, kind of a “what happened after”. I loved reading it. Catching up.

Shades of Honor
Still recovering from the ordeal that left her wounded and angry, Surreal returns to Ebon Rih on the orders of Prince Lucivar. And when her former lover Falonar ruthlessly challenges the rule of her family, Surreal may finally succumb to the darkness burning inside her…

Surreal and Prince Rainier are in Ebon Rih to train under the watchful eyes of Lucivar. But before Lucivar gets to Rainier, his second in command and Surreal’s ex-lover Falonar attacks Rainier under the guise of testing him. And while Rainier is on the ground, with his healing leg broken again, he attacks his mind to get information on Lucivar’s weaknesses. But Rainier has not been in Jeanelle’s second Circle for nothing, he knows how to guard his mind, so he feeds Falonar false data.
Falonar is not happy with the way Lucivar rules his lands and the Eyriens who live there. Falonar wants to go back to the old days, when the woman were little more than slaves, destined to please a man, and the aristocracy, meaning him, ruled. After all, in his eyes and the eyes of a lot of other Eyrien males, Lucivar is nothing but a half-breed bastard. It doesn’t matter that his father has acknowledged him, or that he is the son of the High Prince of Hell. He will always be a bastard to them. So Falonar wants to defeat Lucivar in order to take over Ebon Rih. He believes when that is done, he can rule as he wants. He doesn’t want to consider that Ebon Rih belongs to the Keep, that with killing Lucivar, the Eyrien race will cease to exist…

This one was a longer story, and again, I loved it. Surreal has to heal, not only physically, but also psychically. She blames herself for all those children she could not save, even though she had no chance at that at all. But she has to heal all the same. Daemonar playing hide and seek with her, really breaks her down, but it also makes her start living again. Her cousin wants her to visit the Dae-Al-Mon, her mother’s family. But Surreal senses something is wrong, and she won’t leave Lucivar, and stop guarding his back, till the matter is solved.
Rainier also decides he wants to live, and he accepts Daemon’s proposition to become his secretary. But his leg is now damaged so severely, not even Jaenelle can heel it again. But at least he gets a new reason to live.
And Falonar? He gets what he so richly deserves from the hands of Daemon, who proves for the first time he is the true heir of the High Lord of Hell.

When someone lays a vicious trap for Queen Sylvia and her sons, the fallout completely disrupts the lives of the ruling family of Dhemlan. Now, they have to uncover the identity of the warlord known only as No Face, before he returns to finish what he started…

Queen Sylvia and her sons are lured to a distant house, where a monster attacks her and leaves her Demon-Dead, while he goes after her youngest son, Mikal. Luckily, the Sceltie with them manages to warn Daemon and Jaenelle, and they arrive just in time to safe the boy. They are furious for the people who lured Sylvia and her family to this fate, and tolerate no excuses what so ever. They should have been told about this child molesting monster!
The children end up in their care, as their own grandfather would not have allowed them to become what they want to be. And the Saetan saves Sylvia as much as he can, going against all his own rules of the dead interfering with the living. They end up married, finally, for as long as Sylvia will be “alive”.

A short story, but a bit horrible too. Even though I love the fact that Saetan and Sylvia have a second chance at love.

The High Lord’s Daughter
After losing the two most important people in his life, Daemon has assumed his father Saetan’s role as High Lord of Hell and built a wall around his heart. But when he inadvertently forges a new connection, will it be enough to break him free from his loveless life?

I wasn’t planning to read this story, as I was warned about it a while ago. We are 70 years further, and Jaenelle has died. She was not from the long-lived races like Daemon and his family, she was Dreams Made Flesh. And so she grew old and died, while Daemon stayed young and handsome. Other woman kept making a pass at Daemon, not wanting to believe he really loved that old woman, and was faithful to her. Surreal did everything she could to shield them from those attempts, but if not successful and the woman provoked Daemon, she would never do so again….
But now Jaenelle has been dead for a year, and she made Daemon promise he would mourn her no longer than one year, and then move on with his life. A promise that is hard for him to keep. He has to go out in public again, facing all those Queens and Witches and Ladies who want to snare him. Surreal keeps acting as his escort, saving him from a lot of attempts, but sometimes he just has to give in to the desires of his body. But never will he involve his heart in a relationship again.
Then, 17 years later, Lucivar and Daemon find out their father doesn’t want to live any longer. He has waited 50.000 years for Jaenelle, and now that the daughter of his soul is death, he has no reason to linger any more. So with Saetan’s passing on, Daemon is the new High Lord of Hell, and the head of the SaDiablo family.
Consoling each other, Daemon and Surreal spend one night together, with the result of Surreal getting pregnant. Something neither of them could have seen. Daemon is determined to do the right thing, and that is to marry Surreal, and protect her and their child from everything necessary. Surreal has been in love with him for a long time already, and accepts that she will never have his heart as Jaenelle had. But it will be enough. And with the birth of their daughter, a part of Daemon’s heart is healing at last.

It is not easy to raise a daughter for Surreal and Daemon, especially a child like Jaenelly Saetien. Another Dream-Made-Flesh …

This last story was not something I was planning to read, but in the end I just had to know how Anne Bishop would make it fit. Daemon stopping grieving for Jaenelle after only one year? Why not after a thousand? After all, he had been waiting 1700 years for her birth. And why Surreal as his new wife? Why not a new woman?
But while I cried about what happened, and especially when Saetan died as well, I just kept reading. And somehow, it fits in the story. We could be looking forward to new books with Jaenelly Saetien as our leading lady, a grown Daemonar, new stories with the kindred. I also hope for new books set before this time, the sequel to Shalador’s Lady perhaps. Plenty of loose ends to make books out, I hope.

So, while I dreaded reading this one, while I was up in arms when I found out what would be in this book, I still loved reading it. Anne Bishop has not alienated me with this story as I was fearing. I have no idea if it was easy or difficult on her, writing this ending, and at this part in the series. I just hope this will not be the end of it.

9 stars.

Melissa Mayhue – Healing the Highlander

A book in the Daughters of the Glen series, published February 2011. I so love the covers of this series!

Healing the Highlander

ANDREW MACALISTER longs for a cure to free him from the excruciating pain caused by an old wound, but when he rescues a drowning woman, he has no idea how much his life is about to change. All Drew knows is that this mysterious woman is hiding secrets - and that he's never felt such a consuming desire before. Yet he cannot deny her request for help, even if it means bringing the detested English army to his Highland clan's home.
LEAH NOBLE MCQUARRIE still harbors a deep hatred of the Fae who tortured her eleven years ago, forcing her to escape back in time to the thirteenth century. A descendant of the Fae, Leah denies her heritage and her magical healing abilities. But the English army is holding her beloved adoptive grandfather captive, so Leah must seek help from the Fae - and the captivating man whose touch she craves.
Then Drew discovers Leah's secrets, and he's torn between old loyalties and trusting a woman who has the power to give him the future he's sought - but could destroy his clan forever. . . .

In one of the previous book in this series, Leah was send to the past, to escape the Nuadian Fae who wanted to keep her prisoner to exploit her healing abilities and to breed children on her. She has been safe in the Highlands of Scotland at the end of the 1200’s for 10 years now. Living with the parents of Robbie MacQuarrie, claiming them as her own grandparents.
But now Richard, the traitorous oldest son of Hugh and Margery has come home. He has renounced his name, become English, and is now taking over control of the keep in his English King’s name. He imprisons his own father, and tells Leah she will marry Lord Moreland, an old English Lord who is coming to fetch her in a few days.
Leah is determined, she will not be used by any man ever again. So with the help of her grandmother and some servants, she escapes MacQuarry Keep to get help from the MacKiernans of Dun Ard. They know her family, and are also descendents of the Fae. So Leah sets out on this perilous journey, with a handdrawn map to find her way. Unfortunately, it is not really a fit way to travel on foot, as she has to cross many streams and rivers and she has never learned to swim.
But just when she is about to drown after a fall in a swiftly streaming river, she is rescued by a very handsome Scotsman. She entrusts him with her story when he promises to escort her to Dun Ard, not telling her it is his own home.
Unfortunately, they encounter a bunch of English soldiers searching for Leah when they stop at a convent for the night. The only safe way out of that, is by telling they are married. Of course the Englishman in charge, a nephew of her intended bridegroom, doesn’t believe that, and insists on “protecting” them on their journey home. They are also looking for traitors, who fought for Wallace against the English King, and are convinced that this will get them access to the Scottish castles they visit. Anyone loyal to the King will not deny them access, now will they? And travelling with Andrew MacAllister and his lovely wife will give them even faster access.
So Drew has no choice but to take the English with him to his sisters keep, and to keep up the charade of him having married and being in love with Leah.
Just to get the help she needs to save her grandparents, Leah agrees to marry Drew for real, in church, in front of his family. But she will not admit to being Fae, to heal Drew! She hates this curse and will never use it again. She doesn’t know Drew hates the Fae as much as she does, for they are the reason he was wounded this badly in battle. He thinks the scars make him only half a man, not worthy of being loved by a woman, or ever finding his Soulmate.

But of course the Fae work in mysterious ways, and Leah and Drew fall in love. And when the Laird of Dun Ard refuses to help her grandparents, putting the lives of his own clan in jeopardy for some strangers, Leah runs away. She will help her grandparents, even if she does have to marry the English lord after all. But this time it will be her own choice.

I really like the world Melissa Mayhue has created. I only wish for some looking “back” at some previous couples, and what the bad Nuadian Fae are up to. But that was not in this book.
Leah started out as a bit week, taking the easy way out after the ordeal she had at the hands of the Nuadian Fae, but when needed, she really grew some backbone. She was not a meek lass who would obey her brawny Scottish husband blindly.
And Andrew, well what can I say about him? His leg has been badly wounded in battle, and he needs hours of daily exercise to keep it supple enough to use. If he doesn’t train in the lists, he will be bedridden in a few days. So when he finds out Leah has the powers to heal him, he totally doesn’t understand why she won’t do it. But he will persuade her in time …
Even though he thinks rescuing her grandparents is not a good move for his own clan, he asks his Laird, because Leah wants it so much. And when his Laird says no, he is ashamed of himself for not defending his wife more. So yes, he is a good man, even though he should just talk a little bit more with his wife. Ask questions instead of assuming things. After all, his family is not a stranger to time travelling and the gifts of the Fae.
And in the end, even some of the bad men are not totally bad …

There are some nice love scenes between Leah and Drew, but not as much laughter or witty bantering as I love. Perhaps that doesn’t fit in the time this story plays. And I do prefer some fighting between the good and bad men/Fae. Still, I liked it a lot and am certainly looking forward to the next one.

8 stars.

zaterdag 19 maart 2011

Anne Bishop – Shalador’s Lady

The seventh book in the Black Jewels series, published March 2010.

Shalador's Lady

For years the Shalador people suffered the cruelties of the corrupt Queens who ruled them, forbidding their traditions, punishing those who dared show defiance, and forcing many more into hiding. Now that their land has been cleansed of tainted Blood, the Rose-Jeweled Queen, Lady Cassidy, makes it her duty to restore it and prove her ability to rule.

But even if Lady Cassidy succeeds, other dangers await. For the Black Widows see visions within their tangled webs that something is coming that will change the land-and Lady Cassidy-forever...

Today I have re-read this great book, again. And I still love it. It still has the power to make me cry or laugh. I love Cassidy as a Queen, and Gray who is coming into his own, just so he can be with her. I still dislike Theran and his blindness because Cassy is not pretty as he thinks a Queen has to be. But of course, pretty is as pretty does, and his beloved Queen Kermilla may have a beautiful face and good manners, but she is a very bad Queen.
Yes, I admire Cassy for what she does for the land and the people of Shalador, and how they slowly learn to trust her with their secrets. How her first Circle learns what it takes to stand for their Queen and Court.

I will probably read this book many more times, and am really looking forward to the next instalment in this wonderful series.

If you like Fantasy with some romance in it, try the Black Jewels books. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Anne Bishop has a great writing style, she really sucks you into her world and won’t let go. The main and secondary characters she has created are unique and awesome.

9,5 stars.

vrijdag 18 maart 2011

J.D. Robb – Haunted in Death

Part of the anthology Bump in the night, with stories by Mary Blayney, Ruth Langan, and Mary Kay McComas. Published March 2006.


Number Twelve is an urban legend in 2060 New York City. The hot club in the 1960s, it is now reported to be haunted and cursed. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is called there to investigate the apparent murder of Radcliff Hopkins, its new owner and the grandson of the man who made Number Twelve a cultural icon. Several bullets from a banned gun end his dream of returning the building to its former glory.
With everyone around her talking about the supernatural, pragmatic Eve won't let rumors of ghosts distract her from hard evidence. The case becomes even more bizarre when it appears to be linked to the suspicious disappearance of a rock star a hundred years ago. As Eve searches for the connection, logic clashes with the unexplainable. She may be forced to face the threat of something more dangerous than a flesh-and-blood killer.

Even though this is only a novella, it is a really great story!
Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Detective Peabody are called to a murder in an old building. It is very rare to find someone shot to dead, since the gun ban. But Eve recognises what she sees as he has previous experience with those kind of wounds. The victim was shot nine times. The killer had to reload to take the last shot, with the gun pressed against his fore head. This was not only ice-cold, it was really personal. Not for profit as the vics wallet and other stuff was not taken. All the doors are locked from the inside, so Eve is going to check the rest of the building. To her enormous surprise, Peabody is scared to stay alone. This is the infamous number Twelve! It is haunted, and cursed! But Eve doesn’t believe in that crap, a ghost cannot pull the trigger. So she sends Peabody out to talk with the first on scene again, while she canvasses the building. On the fourth floor she finds a window open, and a diamond hairclip underneath it. A faint sound leads her to a hole in the wall, a hole with bones in it, the second hair clip, and the murder weapon. It appears she has found the body of Bobby Bray, a famous pop icon who disappeared almost a hundred years ago. Rumours where that she was murdered by Hop Hopkins, but that was never proven. He probably had bought of the cops, as they would have spotted the fresh wall in his apartment.
So now Eve has two murders on her hands, and they have to be linked. So she starts out looking for relatives of both victims. For once she doesn’t have to bribe the labtechnicians, Dickhead is elated with this find. And everyone around Eve seems to believe in the curse, the haunting, even her own husband Roarke. But Eve just won’t. There has to be an explanation to the sounds, the music, the cold.
But in the end of the story, she will have to believe …

As I said, a really great story. Of course I already knew what happened, but it was fun to read it again.

8,5 stars.

J.D. Robb – Memory in Death

Book 25 in the In Death series, published January 2006.


Eve Dallas is one tough cop. She's got no problem dealing with a holiday reveler in a red suit who plunges thirty-seven stories and gives new meaning to the term "sidewalk Santa." But when she gets back to the station and Trudy Lombard shows up, it's all Eve can do to hold it together. Instantly, she's plunged back into the past, to the days when she was a vulnerable, traumatized girl - trapped in foster care with the twisted woman who now sits in front of her, smiling.
Trudy claims she just wanted to see how Eve was doing. But Eve's husband, Roarke, suspects otherwise - and his suspicions prove correct when Trudy arrives at his office demanding money in exchange for keeping the ugly details of his wife's childhood a secret. Barely restraining himself, Roarke shows her the door - and makes it clear that she'd be wise to get out of New York and never bother him or his wife again.
But just a few days later, Trudy's found on the floor of her hotel room, a mess of bruises and blood. A cop to the core, Eve is determined to solve the case, if only for the sake of Trudy's bereaved son. Unfortunately, Eve is not the only one to have suffered at this woman's hands, and she and Roarke will follow a circuitous, dangerous path to find out who turned this victimizer into a victim.

When Lieutenant Eve Dallas sees a strange woman in her office, she doesn’t recognize her. But when the woman claims to be her mother, memories come screaming back at her. Horrible memories from her first foster home, and the woman before her tormenting her. And she feels ill, made into nothing again. She denies the woman, throws her out of her office, and gets horribly sick. There is only one thing she wants: home. A scared Peabody warns Roarke, who hurries home to be with his wife. Eve is still in shock when he arrives, and he bullies her into telling him what happened. And he just knows this is no coincidence. This Trudy Lombard is after his money. And of course he is right, even though Eve doesn’t see it yet. He could not kill her father for her, but he can slay this dragon! And it costs every ounce of his considerable will power to not just do that, but instead send the woman on her way, scared of her life.
But Trudy doesn’t give up easily, o no. She has already another plan in place, and she will get her money or go to the press to tell her story. Eve is hot news with the Icove case still on everyone’s mind. But before she can strike, Trudy is killed. And Eve is determined to find out who did it. Ruling out a stranger, because Trudy was not afraid of the intruder, Eve stars digging in her past. Of course there were other foster children for Trudy after she herself ran away, and perhaps other woman she has black mailed since she lost her professional mother status when Bobby became 18. How else could she afford the nice clothes and jewelry?

Eve and Roarke find out there have been more girls in Trudy’s “care”. Treated to cold baths every night, locked in dark rooms, scrubbing the kitchen with their toothbrushes, being told they are nothing but filth, and should be grateful to her for putting up with them. Trudy moved around a lot, never keeping a job for long, but she seems to have money enough to indulge herself. Eve knows deep in her gut who the murderer is from the beginning but she has to prove it, and find a motive. Digging deep, she finds it, and now she has to break her, before there will be more victims.

Even for the second time, this is a good story. I really felt for Eve, and all those other children who ended up with Trudy. Even though I know it is fiction, I know those things happen in reality all too often. Traumatized children taken advantage off for a profit, and for pure evil.
This meet throws Eve right back in her past, and she needs all her strength to come out of it again. She is angry somebody has killed Trudy before she could tell her off, stand up to her. Now she will have to stand for her, to find the killer.
She throws a fight with Roarke, surprising her self with what comes out of her mouth, and is deeply ashamed by that.

A lovely scene with mister Mira, on who she has a light crush happens, but she also reconciles with dr. Mira. Peabody drives her crazy with her worries about meeting McNab’s parents so she gives her Christmas gift early just to ease Peabody’s fears. No Trina this time, but a very pregnant Mavis and all her other friends are at the Christmas party she and Roarke are throwing.

But still, not really an exciting, suspenseful story this time. No danger. Just how love can blind you to the truth. Or just open your eyes.

7 stars.

Kim Harrison – Pale Demon

The ninth book in the Rachel Morgan series, published march 2011.


Condemned and shunned for black magic, Rachel Morgan has three days to get to the annual witches' conference and clear her name, or be trapped in the demonic ever-after . . . forever after.
But a witch, an elf, a living vampire, and a pixy in one car going across the country? Talk about a recipe for certain disaster, even without being the targets for assassination.
For after centuries of torment, a fearsome demon walks in the sunlight - freed at last to slay the innocent and devour their souls. But his ultimate goal is Rachel Morgan, and in the fight for survival that follows, even embracing her own demonic nature may not be enough to save her.

This story continues where Black Magic Sanction stops. Rachel wants to go to San Francisco, to the witches’ conference to get the shunning rescinded, but the Council won’t give up that easily. They do everything to prevent her from arriving in time. So when she cannot go on a plane herself, she is forced to take Trent with her, as he wants her. He has some business on the East Coast himself, but doesn’t want to tell her about it. Trouble follows wherever they go, and assassins are hot on their trail. Only they are not after Rachel this time, they are after Trent. And protecting him is not easy. So, Trent summons a demon. And not just any old demon but the only one capable of walking in the sun. And once freed from his prison, he won’t go back.
And spotting Rachel as different, he is interested in capturing her for himself. And not even Al is strong enough to safe her this time. Rachel has to do that herself. And when the witches Council betrays her, claims her to be a demon and have Trent curse her to the ever-after, she has to learn to live with her self. To embrace her demon half. So why should she help the humans after they thrown her out?

This is one series you have to read in order, to get the story. Where one book ends, the next just goes on, without much looking back. Bad things keep happening to Rachel, almost never letting her catch her breath, have fun for a while. No particular man in her life, although there are some who want her. Like Pierce, Al and maybe Trent? But she cannot, dare not, trust them. So you get a story filled with lots of action, and magic. Demons and witches, vampires, elves and pixies. Even when they are driving long hours across America, it is not boring.
This is a series that just sucks you in, and won’t let go until you read the last page.

Even among the action and pain, there is some humor, okay, mostly sarcasm, and no joy. But there is a strong bond between Rachel and her friends, and she is a good person who is given a very hard faith. But in the end of the story, she just might have gotten some breathing room, a choice for what she wants to be. So I am very curious to know what she will choose, or what bad thing will come along so she won’t have a choice anymore.
No love scenes in this one, only a few kisses. And some parts are heavy with emotion, and yes, I did cry once. For Ivy and Rachel.

I did not like this one as I have liked the first ones in the series. Not everything was bad then, and Rachel did enjoy life at least some of the time. But I will keep following this series as it has grown on me, and I just have to find out what will happen next. There is not really a story arc going somewhere, something to be solved. Perhaps the problems in the ever-after, and the demons?

8 stars.

dinsdag 15 maart 2011

Jude Deveraux – The mulberry tree

A stand alone novel, published in June 2002.

The mulberry tree

She had a perfect life. Then she got a real life....

For nearly twenty years, quiet, unassuming Lillian Manville has devoted herself to her self-made billionaire husband -- and enjoyed a luxurious life of splendid homes, trips, jewels, and clothes. But when James Manville dies in a plane crash, Lillian's grief is compounded by a shocking mystery: all that Jimmie has left to her is an old farmhouse in tiny Calburn, Virginia. Now, Lillian's unexpected circumstances are leading her to a made-over life in Calburn, an exciting business--and a sweet new love with a handsome local man. But will she have the courage to unveil the truth surrounding a past scandal and the loss of her husband? The answers may be as close as the mulberry tree in her yard -- and Lillian must dig deep within herself to fight the secrets and lies that threaten to uproot the past she cherished and the future she treasures....This lush bestseller shines with the passion, intrigue, and warmth that is Jude Deveraux at her best.

I though I was reading a quiet novel, where a woman has to struggle after becoming widowed and left with almost nothing, to build up a new life for her self. And at first it was just that. And I admired her, I liked what she was doing. But something just wasn’t right with what happened. Her husband left her a quest, and she didn’t get to it. But then things started happening, and she had to find the truth after all, and great surprises were revealed. I am not going to recapitulate the story, you’ll just have to find out yourself.
But I liked it, a lot. Lillian/Bailey has to start a new life, learn how to fit in a very small town, where everybody knows everything about everybody else. And if not, they will find out in five minutes. But the town is riddled with secrets, and Bailey needs to learn them all to get to the heart of her own husbands past. She struggles with just becoming a wife and mother and nothing else, or starting to live for herself, and what she really wants in life. She is not stupid, she was just plucked out of her life at the age of 17 and married, and pampered for the next 20 years, so she doesn’t know anything practical. She has always been plain and plump, and not fitting in, and now she has a new nose and a new figure, and men notice her.

I am not so sure about Matt. Does he really fall in love with Bailey for who she is, or because she is convenient, pretty and an awesome cook? Nothing like his first wife?

Bit by bit you learn more about the towns inhabitants, and what happened all those years ago. Even though there is some action and a lot of intrigue, it still feels like a nice quiet read. I liked it a lot. And if you are one of those people who love to cook and preserve and everything, you will most certainly like this book, as that is what Bailey loves to do the most.

8 stars.

zondag 13 maart 2011

J.D. Robb – Purity in Death

Book 24 in the In Death series, published July 2005.


Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Wilfred B. Icove has been found dead in his office - murdered in a chillingly efficient manner by one swift stab to the heart. Struck by the immaculate condition of the crime scene, Eve Dallas suspects a professional killing. Security discs show a stunningly beautiful woman calmly entering and leaving the building - the good doctor's final appointment.
Known as "Dr. Perfect," the saintly Icove devoted his life to his family and his work. His record is clean. Too clean for Dallas. She knows he was hiding something and suspects that his son - and successor - knows what it is. Then, like father like son, the young Dr. Icove is killed . . . with the same deadly precision.
But who is the mystery woman - and what was her relationship with the good doctors? With her husband, Roarke, working behind the scenes, Dallas follows her darkest instincts into the Icoves' pasts. And what she discovers are men driven to create perfection - playing fast and loose with the laws of nature, the limits of science, and the morals of humanity.

While tying up a case in the same hospital, Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Detective Delia Peabody are called to the murder of Dr. Wilfred B. Icove Senior. It just happened while his assistant was out to lunch. The murderer is caught on video, as the security in the hospital is extremely severe to protect the identity of the many celebrity patients who come for body sculpting or other cosmetic surgery. The identity of the woman is fake though, and her face is not recognized by the computer in the police databases. But still Dallas thinks it a professional hit as it was done so clean, without anger. One stab through the heart with a medical scalpel. And the killer has to have help inside, as she would not have been able to smuggle the scalpel in the hospital with all the security and body scans.
So Eve starts digging in Dr. Icove’s past, which is not an easy thing, as almost everyone admired the man for his accomplishments in his field and his charities. His record is clean, too clean. His house is clean too, but she does find some encrypted discs in his extremely protected computer. And those discs are triggering her instincts. Those are not ordinary patient files, and Dr. Louise thinks so too. Data and pictures are missing, and why would he record the academic status of those young female patients? Bells are ringing, and Eve starts digging.
Then Dr. Wilfred B. Icove Junior gets killed in his own house, while his wife and kids are safely away. Security discs reveal nothing, but he must have known his killer, as he would never have been found as he was otherwise. Is it the same killer? Is it the wife? Who was a ward of the father when she was a child? What does that phrase mean she told Eve: I am exactly what he wanted …
And when Eve’s deepest suspicions become truth, the whole world will be in an uproar. So before the Government can decide to keep things secret, she is already under a code Blue, a total media blackout, Eve spills the beans to Nadine. This is not something that should stay secret, those woman are not to be used as guinea pigs, lab rats, they have rights too. And with Nadine’s help, they will have their freedom.

This story really gives you something to think about. The moral dilemma’s, who has the right to make those decisions? And where do you draw the line? Who will keep the doctors in line? Are people, babies, commodities?
The quest for the killer was not really important anymore, finding out the truth, the horrible truth, was.

A great book, a great story.

In the private life of Eve and Roarke, they are celebrating Thanksgiving. Roarke has invited his Irish relatives, and most of them have accepted. The house is overrun with them. Eve has invited her friends as well, but Peabody and McNab are visiting Peabody’s family. Something that makes McNab really nervous. The scary Trina gives Eve a valuable clue, and that is almost worth the torture of the dreaded body job. Eve really cannot understand why all the other women like it so much.
And Eve and Roarke are totally spooked that they have to start following birthing coach classes to be there for Mavis and Leonardo when she will have their first child.
But together, they are so great, as usual. Some nice love scenes. And this time, nobody gets wounded in the line of duty, at least not much.

8 stars.

Laura Childs – The teaberry strangler

Book 11 in the Tea Shop Mysteries series, published in paperback March 2011.


The narrow cobblestone alleys of Charleston are bustling with shoppers looking for bargains on antiques, heaping bowls of crab chowder – and of course Theodosia Browning’s delicious teas. But when the clock strikes ten, the alleys clear, except for one body – discovered by a horrified Theodosia. It’s the strangled form of Darcia, the map store’s owner.
Many locals have shown interest in buying Darcia’s shop - but enough to kill? Plus there’s the customer hell-bent on getting his hands on a certain not-for-sale map. One can hardly throw a scone without hitting a suspect. Most alarming however, is Detective Tidwell’s theory that the killer mistook Darcia for Theodosia. Because that would mean the killer’s work isn’t yet done…

After stumbling upon a murder in progress, Theodosia is determined not to get involved this time. But when her own dear aunt asks her to investigate, as the victim’s mother is her best friend, she has no choice. Detective Tidwell is not forthcoming with information, and he even implies the killer made a mistake, that he or she was after Theodosia herself instead. Darcia did look a bit like Theodosia, and the murder happened close to her shop after all. And he is very busy with a binge of truck thefts he has to solve.
Then there is the new perfumery on the block, with two very original ladies running it. And even though they aren’t open for business officially yet, they are very determined to rent the map shop next door as well. And they want Theodosia to help them get it!
But Theodosia has other concerns: her ex-boyfriend Jory wants back in her life, even though she is happy with her new boyfriend. And what is Jory’s ex-girlfriend still doing in Charleston, and looking at Theodosia with such hatred? Could she be behind the latest attack on Theodosia? Is she the murderer?
Theodosia is ready to sign the contracts for the lovely cottage she has found, but the owner is stalling. Then, when Earl Grey finds a human bone in the yard, everything is set on hold. An archaeologist wants to dig up her garden, as it could be a site of historical importance. Hanged pirates may be buried there! So Theodosia is not happy with that, but has no choice but to wait it out. In her mind she is busy decorating the place, making it her own. And Haley wants to move in the apartment above the teashop where Theodosia and Earl Grey are living at the moment.
Nadine is also back in town, the sister of Delaine, owner of the Cotton Duck, the boutique where Theodosia buys most of her clothes. Is she still stealing stuff? And then there is this sleazy journalist, printing lies about Theodosia having seen the killer. Doesn’t he think she will be in danger from that?

As usual, Theodosia, Drayton and Haley are busy with the teashop, and the catering business, as well the social obligations in the evenings. The Heritage Society, the Yachting Club, Charleston really is a busy city.

Another great story in this series I love so much. More tea-lore, and I just love the atmosphere in the Indigo Tea Shop and Charleston. If I ever get to America, this is a city I want to visit. The interaction between Theodosia, Drayton and Haley is great, they are good friends as well as colleagues, and the food Haley comes up with really makes me hungry. But not enough yet, to try out the delicious recipes in the back of the book.

I was a bit surprised by the ending of the book, just like Theodosia I had not figured out the murderer and the story behind it until she was attacked by that person. I really like Theodosia, she gave up her career in advertising to open her teashop, a long dream of her. And with a lot of hard work, and great colleagues, she has managed to pull it of. So yes, I admire her. I like a heroin who is a bit older than usual, independent, and smart. She knows what she wants, and what not. And she is great in puzzling things out. Drayton is a perfect secondary character, though almost a main one. He helps her with her ideas, and is a great back up. And a unique character in his own way.

When I want to meet the characters in a book, it means they are totally lifelike and well written. I love the quiet humor in her books, the atmosphere. Not really witty bantering like most books I read, but filled with joy nonetheless. Laura Childs is also an autobuy author for me, and I look forward to the new books in all three of her series.

8,5 stars.

Jennifer Ashley – Primal Bonds

The second book in the Shifters Unbound series, published March 2011.


Collared and controlled, Shifters are outcast from humanity, forced to live in Shiftertowns, But waiting, within are passions that no Collar can contain…

As guardian of his clan, Feline Shifter Sean Morissey is a powerful member of his pride. But wielding the sacred sword is often a lonely role. When a female Shifter comes to town seeking refuge, Sean claims the new arrival, expecting a submissive little she-wolf. Instead, he finds a beautiful woman who looks him straight in the eye without fear, stirring the mating frenzy within him.
As a half-Fae, half-Shifter, Andrea Gray is used to looking out for herself. But in order to relocate to a new Shiftertown and escape an unwanted mate-claim, Andrea must accept a new protector. A Guardian seems as good a candidate as any, but Andrea’s intense attraction to Sean is something she never expected – and a perilous complication for a woman with a troubled past.
Now, as Andrea struggles to keep her seductive savior at arm’s length, Sean is determined to turn their mating of convenience into the real thing before the frenzy they’re struggling to contain burns them both – from the inside out …

Her whole life, Andrea has been told she is worthless, only good for breeding. As a half-Fae, half-Shifter, she is at the bottom of the pack. It was the Fae who created the Shifters many centuries ago, and treated them as cattle until they fought them back into Faery. So as a half-Fae, the other shifters look down on her. And especially as she doesn’t behave like a good submissive little wolf should behave. Her stepfather also hasn’t much standing with the pack, so he cannot protect her from her unwanted suitor. The whole pack thinks she should accept his mate claim, even though he is an abusive and cruel man, it will be the best thing that could happen to her. But Andrea keeps refusing, and now he is stalking her, hurting her.
The only solution to get out of this town, is to move in with her aunt Glory, but for that, she must be accepted in that pack first, and have another male claim her, sight unseen.
Sean is the Guardian of his Shiftertown, which has been ruled by his father Dylan for many decades, and now by his brother Liam. His job is to free the soles of dead Shifters, by stabbing them with his sword, and sent them on to the Summerland. It is a lonely job, and a hard one, always having the need to protect the sword, and even to have to use it on his own family and friends. So Sean leaps at the chance to claim a mate. And he also doesn’t mind doing a favor to Glory, their neighbour and his fathers girlfriend. Even though he is a Feline, and Andrea and Glory are Lupine shifters.

When Sean and Glory meet Andrea at the busstation (Shifters aren’t allowed on plains), he is lost. She boldly meets his eyes, something not many Shifters are able to do. He wants Andrea for his life mate for real, and not just to protect her. But Sean also knows he has to give her time, to get over her ordeal, and get used to him and life in their Shiftertown, where things are very differently. He gets her a parttime job as a waitress in the cafĂ© his brother runs, so he can keep an eye on her during her shifts.
What Andrea doesn’t know, is that he also keeps an eye on her while she sleeps. His bedrooms looks out on hers, and when she is getting nightmares, he knows. The only way to keep them away, is with his arms around her. Just holding her calms his animal, but the mating frenzy is getting harder to resist.

Then a few humans drive up to the bar one night, and start shooting. Luckily no one gets wounded, except for the bouncer, a huge Kodiak bear. Andrea has a healing gift, something she has kept a secret all of her life, but she uses it to help Ronan heal. Sean is surprised he didn’t know that she has a gift of healing, but he understands her reasons for keeping it secret in her old Shiftertown. But now he has to tell his father and brother about it.

More violence is happening across town, at establishments were Shifters are welcome. And Sean is called upon to bring his sword. One of his cousins is dying, and his services are needed. Andrea goes with him, and with the help of Sean and her connection to his sword, she is able to heal Ely. When Glory and Andrea go shopping the next day, they are no longer welcome at Glories favourite ice cream parlor. The owner is afraid of his shop being shot up, like those other businesses. The police are not looking very hard for the culprits, or the reasons behind it, so it is up to the Shifters themselves to find out.

In the meanwhile, Andrea’s real father, a Fae, is trying to contact her. He wants her to bring him the sword of the Guardian, without telling her why. He just expects her to be glad he is her father and obey him. Well, he really doesn’t know Andrea. Sean is not happy about this, he wants her to have nothing to do with the Fae, but Andrea wants to find out who she is. She knows her Shifter half, now she wants to know about her Fae heritage.

I loved this book. I loved Andrea and Sean, together and apart, they are great characters. Andrea doesn’t let anyone rule her life, and Sean better get used to her indepence. Even though she accepts the mate bond between them, she will not be submissive to him or anyone else. Sean had to face some hard losses in his long life, and doesn’t really want to risk his heart anymore. But Andrea has him wrapped around her little fingers, and he is done for. She accepts his job as a Guardian, and helps him with it. Andrea and Sean tease each other, like with the underwear scenes, which were great. The love scenes are smoking hot.

Glory issues an ultimatum to Dylan: all or nothing, and in the end, it does work out. Of which I am very glad, as I enjoy reading Gloria.

I love Jennifer Ashley’s writing style, her humor, her passion. Her books are not predictable at all. I love the world she has created with those shifter books. And I enjoyed this one much, much more than the first in the series, so I really cannot wait for the next one, but will have to. Jennifer Ashley is for me an autobuy-author.

Favourite scene: where Andrea pulls out the handcuffs. Never saw that coming! Laughed out loud.

I heartily recommend this series to anyone.

9,5 stars.

Lara Adrian – Taken by midnight

The eighth book in the Midnight Breed series, published September 2010.



In the frozen Alaskan wilderness, former state trooper Jenna Darrow survives an unspeakable breach of body and soul. But with her narrow escape comes an even greater challenge. For strange changes are taking place within her, as she struggles to understand - and control - a new hunger. To do so, she will seek shelter in the Boston compound of the Order, an ancient race of vampire warriors whose very existence is shrouded in mystery. Perhaps the most mysterious of them all is Brock, a brooding, dark-eyed alpha male whose hands hold the power to comfort, heal . . . and arouse.

As she recovers under Brock's care, Jenna finds herself drawn to the Order's mission: to stop a ruthless enemy and its army of assassins from subjecting Earth to a reign of terror. Yet in spite of their resolve, a purely physical relationship without strings soon binds Brock and Jenna together with a desire fiercer than life and stronger than death itself - until a secret from Brock's past and Jenna's own mortality challenges their forbidden love to the ultimate trial by fire.

The story in this book, continues directly where the previous one, Shades of Midnight, ended with Alex and Kade’s story. Jenna was found half dead in her cabin in Alaska, and is taken back home to Boston, to the Order’s compound. Brock’s special power is the ability to take away someone else’s pain, into himself, and he has been with Jenna for the past days, taking care of her. They are certain she is not a breedmate like the other female’s, as she doesn’t have the birthmark they all share. But still, Brock is attracted to her like no other female in a long time. He wants to shelter her, keep her safe. And as a though as nails former cop, Jenna doesn’t really want that. She can take care of herself.
After 5 days in a coma, she is feeling remarkably well. She can stand, and walk, and is strong enough to push Brock out of her way. And no way is she going relive the nightmare of what happened with the Ancient in her cabin in Alaska! She really doesn’t want to relive that nightmare! But Jenna is changed, more than she realises. She should not be that strong, or feeling that well, and she knows it. The Ancient has left something inside of her, some alien technology, that is merging with her spine. And there is no way Gideon will be able to get it out of her without killing her. Alex doesn’t want to hear those things, she has one though on her mind: escape. So she manages to do just that, which really should not have been possible. Brock wants to follow her, but as a vampire, he will have to wait for the sun to go down. And as Jenna really does get into trouble, she needs him to save her life. And for Brock, he goes feral on her attackers. How dare they touch a woman like that, let alone his woman!
Back in the compound, Jenna heals really fast, and her bloodwork and DNA amazes Gideon. She is changing fast, and her human body should not be able to bear all those changes. But Jenna does, and she has never felt better. She finally agrees to stay with the Order, and is getting involved in the search for the abducted Breedmates with the other females, the fight against Dragos and his evil plans. And her new abilities sure come in handy.
In the meanwhile, she and Brock get closer, and fall in love. Even though she is not a Breedmate, there is a connection between them. Jenna is no longer purely human, but she is also not Breed. What she is becoming, is up to the future.

A really great new book in this series, I have been saving for a long while. And I did enjoy it a lot. Now I am looking forward to the next one, which will be published in June. Needless to say, I have pre-ordered it last year.

It took me a while to warm up to Jenna, who has been wallowing in self pity ever since her daughter and husband died in a car accident. There was nothing she could have done to save them, but she still blames her self for that fact that she survived, and they did not. She couldn’t do her job anymore, and detached herself from other people, save her best friend Alex, and her brother. And now she has to accept the fact that her brother was a corrupt cop, and is dead, so she has no family left. But once Jenna accepted her new reality, she embraced it, and Brock with it. She has held all men on a distance, not feeling entitled to being loved again, but Brock just tore down her walls. The attraction between them quickly changed into caring for, and loving.
And Brock looks like a big bad boy, but he really is a hero. He wants to protect Jenna, even from his own desires. Many years ago, he lost a young woman he was hired to protect, and that is still eating away at him. He was sworn to protect her, and he failed in that mission. So since then, he has kept woman at arms length, only having a casual relationship with them, never looking for a Breedmate for himself. Until he laid eyes on Jenna, lying bleeding on the floor in Alaska.

I love this series, and I am very curious to find out where the overall storyline is going. I still don’t believe the Ancient is dead, and I want to find out what will happen with Jenna. It was a nice change of pace, her not being a breedmate, and not having those parts described again. Though it is a lovely procedure. I think she will be more.

We also get a glimp of Hunter, and I really hope he will fall for a woman as well. Boy, how will he fall!

If you haven’t started this series yet, it really is best to start with the first book. And I promise you, you will get hooked to it.

9 stars.

New addition to my addiction

I am back home, and the first thing I did after kissing my beloved boyfriend, was taking a bath! I have missed my bathtub almost as much as I have missed him.

Only 1 book found my house while I was away, and I really look forward to reading it:

Lori Handeland - Moon cursed.

I have read four books in the last few days, and now I am struggling to write the reviews. I prefer writing a revies as soon as I finish, but as I was without a computer in the vicinity, that was not possible. But they were all four great books, and as my boyfriend is cooking tonight, I hope to be able to finish them all and post them here.

donderdag 10 maart 2011

A few days silence

I am going out of town for a few days, to an internet-free place. So no blogs till Monday I guess. I am taking 10 books with me, for a 4 day period ... how many will I be finishing?
I am looking forward to some nice naturewalks with my camera, and perhaps my parents dog. And for the rest: eating out, resting, reading, birdwatching.

dinsdag 8 maart 2011

Marjorie M. Liu – In the Dark of Dreams

The tenth book in the Dirk & Steele series, published December 2010.

In the Dark of Dreams

She could never forget the boy with the ice blue eyes . . .
She was only twelve when she saw the silver boy on the beach, but Jenny has never stopped dreaming about him. Now she is grown, a marine biologist charting her own course in the family business - a corporation that covertly crosses the boundaries of science into realms of the unknown . . . and the incredible.
And now he has found her again, her boy grown into a man: Perrin, powerful and masculine, and so much more than human, leaving Jenny weak with desire and aching for his touch.
But with their reunion comes danger. For Perrin and Jenny - and all living creatures - their only hope for preventing the unthinkable lies in a mysterious empire far beneath the sea . . . and in the power of their dreams.

When she was twelve years old, one early morning Jenny found a wounded boy on the beach. Only, he wasn’t human, he had a tail. A merboy. She wanted to help him, but then an adult came from the sea and took the boy violently back with him. She could do nothing to stop the cruelty. The next morning, when she almost believed she had dreamed it all, she found a silver scub on the beach, knowing then that it was all true.
For the next years, she kept dreaming about that boy, finding peace in her dreams, as her real life shattered about her. She began working for the family firm, A Priori, searching for mysteries all over the world, trying to find that boy again.

The boy Perrin also kept dreaming about the girl, while he was being trained for a very difficult job he didn’t want. He would bond with a kra’a, and feed his dreams to a sea monster to keep it sleeping. Because if it would ever wake up, it would destroy the world. There were a few of those monsters asleep, each with its own guardian, a Krackeni male or female. But when his teacher found out he was dreaming of a human girl, even bonded with her, he was punished for it, exiled from the sea to die on land. For 8 years, he survived, barely. And then he just felt the sea monster awaken. He knew he had to go back, to warn the people of what was happening deep down. What he could never have known, was that he would find that girl again. He would risk the whole world to keep her safe from harm. But she was already in danger. From her own family, who formed the Consortium and from someone she thought was a friend.

And when his family found out that Perrin had broken his exile they came after them too.

There is so much in this story, I don’t want to spoil it all. It is certainly original, filled with action and danger, and darkness. Shapeshifters, merpeople, a seawitch and seamonsters. What it does not have, is fun, humor, witty bantering. It is a very somber book.
Two very lonely and damaged people who find each other. They don’t really talk much, they think a lot about their pasts, what they have done, and that the other cannot possibly accept all that. Both Jenny and Perrin are great, they suffered a lot, and will still do what has to be done, to survive.
Jenny is physically weak in the story, due to what happened to her. But psychically, she is strong, and when she finally finds the courage to trust Perrin, to show him her past, the bond between them grows even stronger.

This is certainly not a light or easy read, but the story still is a good one. There are secondary roles for Rik and Eddy, and Roland appears too. One very nice love scene.

I do wonder myself why I keep reading this series, when I prefer lighter books, with lots of humor and strong personalities. There just is something in Marjorie M. Liu’s writing style that keeps me reading on. I used to think the series is going somewhere, there is going to be a climax, an answer, a confrontation between good and evil. I am not thinking that anymore. Every book is very much a standalone now. No looking back at the other books, though some previous characters are mentioned in it.

All in all, it is a good book, but I cannot say I enjoyed it. It is compelling you to just read on.

8 stars.

New additions to my addiction

Today I found two wonderful books lying on my doormat, waiting for me to come home and unwrap them.

Jennifer Ashley - Primal Bonds
Laura Childs - The teaberry strangler.

I really want to read them both soon!

zondag 6 maart 2011

Kresley Cole – Dreams of a Dark Warrior

Book 11 in the Immortals After Dark Series, published February 2011.

Dreams of a Dark Warrior

Murdered before he could wed Regin the Radiant, warlord Aidan the Fierce seeks his beloved through eternity, reborn again and again into new identities, yet with no memory of his past lives.
When Regin encounters Declan Chase, a brutal Celtic soldier, she recognizes her proud warlord reincarnated. But Declan takes her captive, intending retribution against all immortals - unaware that he belongs to their world.
Yet every reincarnation comes with a price, for Aidan is doomed to die when he remembers his past. To save herself from Declan's torments, will Regin rekindle memories of the passion they once shared - even if it means once again losing the only man she could ever love?

Regin and Nix are heading into town so Regin can take out some enemies. Instead, she gets captured by The Order, led by Declan Chase. She is horrified when she finds out he is her beloved, come back to life again. How could he betray her like this?
Declan has been with the Order since he was seventeen. His parents and little brother were tortured by demons, he barely survived himself. The Order saved him. His sole purpose in life is to hide his superior strength and feelings, and to hunt and kill immortals. The Order has made its life work to capture and study immortals, finding out their weaknesses and defeating, killing them. Now he has been ordered to capture Regin the Radiant, one of the most notorious Valkyries. A feared warrior herself, she has already taken out ten of his men before he takes her down with a sword through her side. It won’t kill her, but it will take her out for a while. Long enough to transport her to the holding facility on his remote and hidden island, where hundreds of other immortals are being imprisoned already.
He doesn’t know why he is drawn to her. With the drugs he is taking daily, he is not supposed to feel anything, let alone desire for an Immortal.
When Regin awakens, she is sharing a holding cell with Natalya, a Dark Fey assassin. She has been captured years ago, and is still waiting her time to be vivisected. But she is in no hurry to meet that faith. There is also a young male of unknown species sharing their cell, appearing to be in shock. All the prisoners are wearing a strange collar, which suppresses their magical powers and making them only human strong. Otherwise, they would never be able to keep that many Immortal beings prisoner. Immortal enemies locked up next to each other.
Regin and Natalya know each other, but are not exactly friends. They find out soon enough they better make a truce if they are ever having a chance of escaping this prison.

Declan wants to find out why he is so drawn to Regin. And he has to find out everything he can about Valkyries. Regin knows she has only one chance to get out of here alive, and that is to make Declan remember his past lives, remember her, and fall in love with her again. The only drawback to that is, every time he has done that in the past, he died within a day. And she doesn’t know if she can go through that agony again herself: to find her one love again, only to watch him die in her arms.

Declan doesn’t want to believe that he is a berserker, one of the Lore himself. Even though it would explain his strength, and other abilities. The fact that he cannot have sex with another woman without feeling dreadful afterwards. He promised to be faithful to Regin forever, as she has been to him. So when he finds out he can touch and desire Regin without those repercussions, he is almost willing to give up everything for her. But then he gets caught with Regin in his quarters by his boss, a man he considered almost his father, and he is ashamed. How could he almost betray his beliefs that easily? So he shoots himself up with his new upgraded drugs, and is out for a long time. And in that time, Regin gets vivisected without his knowledge, being told Declan ordered it done. And that does destroy her faith in him, her almost love, and she swears her revenge. But when Declan finds out about it, something breaks in him, and he finally knows what he is, and what he is born to do: defend her. His mate. But that is not so easy.
This book is placed at the same time as the previous one with Carrow and Malkom, and the prison is breached. The two factions of the Lore are pitted against each other, and as the good ones remain their collars, they are weaker than the evil ones. There are battles everywhere and a severely damaged Regin and Natalya and the young boy are trying to escape without being killed themselves. And to their surprise they end up with Lothaire, the Enemy of Old, and the most dangerous vampire alive. But need makes strange allies, and together they are trying to escape the island before it is bombed by the Order.

A really great story again. I liked Regin a lot, and how she stayed faithful to her Aidan throughout the centuries. Only to lose him again, time and again. Brandr is trying to protect her though the ages, but that is too much to ask a lone Viking when the Valkyrie in question doesn’t want to be protected or followed where ever she goes. And every time she finds Aidan, Brandr is too late to save him from death. But an oath is an oath. This time, he is released form his oath, and I wonder if he will find a woman for his own soon.
The young boy, Thad, happens to be half vampire and half wraith, something really rare in the Lore, so it will be interesting to find out what his powers will be.

Declan is again a really tortured hero, who comes around when his mate is in danger. It is not easy for him to get Regin over her fear for the curse, to make her love him after his betrayal of her. But according to Nix, he needed his past to stay himself in the end.

I liked this book, and the glimpses of other stories. Lothaire is also a strong secondary character and I am wondering what his story will be. Who is this master who is driving him? How does he know Nix so well?
I am a little frustrated that the overall story line doesn’t get much farther, I want to find out more about the Ascension and what will happen. All those love stories have to have a purpose. They are building toward something, and not just the forging of alliances.
The love scenes are smoking hot, the action is great, the building of the love between Declan and Regin is lovely to follow. And the ending was good.

A great paranormal series, but you really should read it in order, especially to know the significance of all the players in it.

9,5 stars

zaterdag 5 maart 2011

Lorna Barrett – Murder is binding

The first book in the Booktown Mystery series, published in April 2008.

Murder is binding

The streets of Stoneham, New Hampsire are lined with bookstores...and paved with murder.

When she moved to Stoneham, city slicker Tricia Miles met nothing but friendly faces. And when she opened her mystery bookstore, she met friendly competition. But when she finds Doris Gleason dead in her own cookbook store, killed by a carving knife, the atmosphere seems more cutthroat than cordial. Someone wanted to get their hands on the rare cookbook that Doris had recently purchased-and the locals think that someone is Tricia. To clear her name, Tricia will have to take a page out of one of her own mysteries-and hunt down someone who isn't killing by the book.

After her divoce, Tricia finally pursued her life long dream: she opened a mystery bookshop in the little town of Stoneham. Bob Kelly, a real estate agent, has been working hard to revive the little village, and has invited lots of different bookshop owners to relocate to Stoneham. The whole Main Street is now littered with bookshops, and tourism is booming, bringing much needed dollars to the town.
Her bookshop, Haven’t Got a Clue, is doing really well, and Tricia is happy with her new life. Then her older sister Angelica calls that she is coming to visit. Divorcing her fourth husband, she is thinking of relocating to Stoneham herself. As Tricia doesn’t really get along with Angelica, who has been demeaning her for her whole life, she is not happy with that. But she cannot really get out of it.
Angelica invites Tricia to dinner at the Inn where she will be staying. But first Tricia has to bring her next door neighbour, Doris, a really unpleasant woman, her reading glasses which she has left in her shop earlier that day, trying to rally her support against Bob Kelly who is wanting to significantly raise her lease on her cooking book shop. She is grumbling that Bob is already late for their appointment to discuss the lease.
After a nice dinner at the Inn, Angelica comes back home with Tricia to see the shop and the little apartment Tricia has above it, on the third floor. But before they can even enter the shop, Angelica smells smoke, which seems to be coming from the bookshop next door, the cookbook shop. The door isn’t locked, and Tricia finds Doris dead on the floor behind the counter. The precious ancient cookbook that was locked in a display case is missing.

The female sheriff is disgruntled about it all. For 60 years there has been no murder in Stoneham, it has the reputation of being the safest town in America. And now, in a re-election year no less, she has a murder on her hands. And her main, and only, suspect seems to be Tricia herself. So Tricia and Angelica have no other choice but to find the real murderer to clear her name. Lucky, Tricia has read all of those detective and murder mysteries she sells, and Angelica has watched a lot of crime shows on tv, so they both have some idea about where to start looking for clues.

I really liked this book. Tricia and Angelica are getting to know each other a little better, and actually starting to like each other. Like the fact that Angelica really likes to cook and is very good at it. But still, Angelica gets on Tricia’s nerves a lot.
The mystery part of the book is also very well done, I had no real idea about it myself, and in the end, both sisters were right about their suspects. Ginny and Mr Everett make nice secondary characters as her helpers in the bookshop. I am looking forward to getting to know them both better in the rest of the books in this series. And the cat, named Miss Marple, is a nice touch too. I must admit, I really would like to live there, so many bookshops to browse!

7,5 stars