vrijdag 30 september 2011

Allyson James – Shadow Walker – Warning, spoilers.

The third book in the Stormwalker series, published June 2011.

Shadow Walker

Racing her motorcycle down a lonely winter highway, Stormwalker Janet Begay feels the ground collapse beneath her feet. After tumbling two hundred feet into an underground cavern, she manages to escape with help from her sexy dragon-shifter boyfriend, Mick – but not before they disturb some dark forces.
As Janet contends with a hotel inspector intent on putting her out of business, as well as her grandmother, who’s taken up residence, Mick’s behaviour becomes strange and erratic, until he is a clear danger to Janet and her friends. Janet’s drag-queen, attitude-ridden magic mirror insists that Mick has been touched by shadows, and the Stormwalker realizes that someone is out to enslave her dragon. Now she must free Mick before he kills her …

Sorry, can’t write this review without spoilers, so be warned.

Janet has just spend a lovely day back home with her father, and is driving back to her hotel on her Harley, when she is caught speeding by the sheriff, Nash Jones. Only 8 miles over the speed limit, she has no intention to stop. So Nash is pursuing her, when the road opens, and both Janet and Nash fall into a sinkhole. Into a deep cave beneath them, Janet just barely avoiding getting hit by Nash’s car. Never was she so grateful to have been wearing her helmet. Of course her cell phone didn’t survive the fall, and Nash is unconscious, but alive. She hopes her magic mirror has alerted her friends about this, and someone will come to their rescue. But will it be in time? Magic lights are glowing on the rocks around them, forming little skeleton hands coming after her, and Janet’s Beneath magic only seems to aggravate them. But then there is Mick, flaming his way too them, getting them out of the hole just in time. Where Janet’s ankle was touched she has frostburn, dead skin. Would those hands have killed her?
Nash is taken to the hospital, and Mick is taking Janet home with him. He can heal her better than the people in the hospital can. But his magic won’t work on Nash. Janet alerts Maya that her boyfriend is in the hospital. The next morning they go for a check up on Nash, who is still unconscious, and come just in time to prevent a strange woman to hurt Nash or even kill him. It takes a lot of Dragon fire to kill her, and Janet’s Beneath magic doesn’t work on her. They totally destroy the hospital room in their fight, and are arrested for it. No one without magic saw the woman, so the hospital personnel did not know why they destroyed the room and almost killed their patient in it.
Luckily, they are save by Coyote, masquerading as an FBI-agent arresting them. But back home, the trouble is just starting. A very arrogant and condescending building inspector is threatening to shut the hotel down, and disown Janet. Apparently, a lot of the paperwork she filed before the opening is gone missing, and lots of things are wrong with the hotel. She has one week to fix it all …
And to her horror, in the basement, all the wiring and plumbing that Maya and Fremont have done, looks like it is 30 years old again and deteriorating rapidly. No way they can repair everything again in a week. Someone is sabotaging them, but how could that have gotten trough their wards? And then Mick is starting to act strangely, disappearing again, but also yelling at Janet, something he has never done before. The magic mirror keeps screaming when it sees Mick, something about shadows. But Janet soon forgets it, when Mick sort of proposes to her. He wants to know how a human man goes about getting his wife … Stunned as Janet is, she tells Mick she is happy as they are now, but Mick wants more, and storms out, leaving her with only a beautiful engagement ring on her finger.
When Mick next gets home, he warns her, the next time she sees him, she should run fast and far. His aura and eyes have changed, and he is just a different man, cold and heartless. Janet fears he is somehow possessed, but it is much worse than that, Mick has been enslaved by a very powerful witch. Cassandra is powerful too, but not enough to fight that one, or even find her. Only if Janet can find Mick’s true name, will she be able to free Mick. That is, if Mick doesn’t kill her and their friends first, or if the witch drains all of Mick’s magic. A race against the clock is starting, made double dangerous when Janet’s half sister Gabrielle decides she wants to play …

Another great book in this series. I enjoyed every page and devoured it. There is more Native American lore in here, things I have never read about before, and I loved that. All the usual secondary characters are here, and we learn a little bit more about Janet’s scary grandmother. If even Coyote is cautious around her, she has to be a scary powerful shaman. She dislikes Janet’s friends, Cassandra for being a witch, even if she is Wiccan, and for loving Pamela the Changer (wolf) instead of a man. How can she get a daughter who will inherit her gifts and possessions like that? And then Ansel, a Nightwalker in the hotel as a guest?
But still, grandmother is here to stay and take care of Janet, together with her old Apache friend Elena, the cook. They want to catch Gabrielle, and teach her. Gabrielle is dangerous, more dangerous than they know, and she is also after Nash, for her own reasons. Reasons Maya is extremely upset about. Nash is her boyfriend!

Janet is such a great character. Native American, and sassy and independent. She gets rescued by Mick and her friends a lot, but she also saves them in turn, and is loyal. She is not a wimp but a biker babe, and her powers are still growing. In this book it is winter, and she can control the snowstorm, meaning ice and snow are hers to command. And that is what saves her from Mick’s fire. And Mick, the arrogant and sure of himself dragon learns a lesson here, when he is enslaved by a witch, and Janet still doesn’t want to kill him. He never thought it could happen to him.

The relationship between Nash and Maya is progressing, finally, and I am curious about them as well.

This book tugged a bit more on my emotions than the previous ones, with Mick and Janet as adversaries. Yes, of course you know all will end well, but it is the journey there that counts. And the end had me chuckling when I closed the book. I could have read on for hours more, so I hope the next book will come soon. This is now a series on my autobuy and need-to-read-immediately-list.

Yes, lots of great scenes, filled with action and magic. Less love scenes than the previous books, but that is understandable as they are not so much together.

10 stars.

donderdag 29 september 2011

Allyson James – Double Hexed

A Stormwalker novella, published in the anthology Hexed in June 2011.


I totally devoured this novella, have read and reviewed the other stories in this anthology a while ago. But I knew back then I would be reading this series, and saved this story for now.

The plumber Fremont, who has a tiny amount of magic himself, and Janet are trying to repair a leaky foucet in one of the hotel rooms, when it suddenly starts spouting blood instead of water. A bloody message appears on the mirror, and one of the chamber maids screamingly quits her job. The couple residing in the bloody room leaves immediately. Is this a portent of something horrible coming?
Cassandra, the receptionist/hotel manager calmly checks the guests out, and then dissolves in a puddle of tears. The man she used to work for has found her, and has come for her. She will leave immediately. Of course Janet and Mick won’t have that and want Cassandra to stay so they and the warded hotel can protect her.
And then it is to late. All the hotel doors and windows are sealed shut, electricity, mobile phones and the water are no longer working the wards are infected by a powerful hex, and no one can leave anymore. The hex is working on them all, bringing out their worst traits. They are all trapped, Janet and Mick, Maya and Fremont, Cassandra, Coyote and their Nightwalker guest. At first they think it will be easy to defeat the hex, together they are so extremely powerful, but the hex just eats their magic and Coyote is the first to lose all of his godpowers. Cassandra is just a weeping puddle, totally dejected. She is convinced this powerful sorcerer is after her, and if she just sacrifices herself, the rest will walk free. How will they free themselves before the Nightwalker kills them all during his bloodlust? Will one of them really have to sacrifice his/herself for the safety of the others?

A very surprising story, which I loved. It was full of surprises, and possibilities for the future. According to Allyson James, who tweeted me, this is a stand alone novella. Her website says it is 2,5 in the Stormwalker series, but you can read it anytime. (Yes ladies, I am on twitter, as xAurianx, still learning the ropes, but I am present).
The hex brings out the worst in everyone, but they still can control themselves, even if it sometimes needs a hand, or two. For you who love Mick, he is overprotective and heroic here. Still, Janet and Coyote have a strong role, and the rest are great secondary characters. The whole story takes place inside the hotel, as they are all trapped there, until the end, when Mick and Janet go away for a few days together.

I am sorry it was a short story, even though one of the longest in the anthology, and I will continue with the next book, even though some other brand new ones are calling my name.

9 stars

woensdag 28 september 2011

Allyson James – Firewalker. Warning: contains spoilers of Stormwalker

The second book in the Stormwalker series, published November 2010.


Janet Begay's Crossroads Hotel has attracted the supernatural ever since it opened. Witches, Changers, and a mouthy magic mirror have decided to make it their home. But a new, dark power is rising, this time inside Janet herself.
Her boyfriend Mick, a sexy dragon shapeshifter the Navajo call a Firewalker, knows what terrifying magic is threatening to overwhelm Janet and her Stormwalker powers. He watches over her, ready to fight for her, to do anything to keep her safe.
But then a mysterious corpse is found near the Crossroads Hotel - and Janet becomes Sheriff Nash Jones’s main suspect. Now Janet and Mick must uncover what really happened, and their investigation leads to the most perilous decision of their lives: Mick must choose between protecting his own people or guarding Janet, the woman he loves, from the many forces amassing against her.

This second book in the series continues a few months after the first one ended.
The hotel is up and running, and Janet has some great people working for her, taking care of business.
A hot interlude with her lover Mick is interrupted when another dragon stalks into her bedroom. Colby is not really a friend of Mick’s but he is here to represent him on his trial for the dragon council. As Mick did not kill Janet as he was ordered to, and agreed to, he will be punished. The dragon council is afraid of Janet and her growing powers, now that she also has access to her Beneath powers. She has to be destroyed. And as Mick declared her his mate, she is off limits to them. But when Mick dies, she has no more protection.
Janet is furious with Mick for not telling her he is in trouble, and gets the whole story out of Colby. If she can, she will be there to help him, or to safe him. Her powers are random, but she can fight the dragons and win.
But not only the dragons want her death. Coyote also warns her, she has to stop using her Beneath powers, or he will kill her if Nick doesn’t do it himself. But Janet is not sure she can stop using her Beneath powers. They are whispering to her, telling her how powerful she is, what she can do. She is equal to the gods in her world, being the daughter of a goddess of Beneath.

So everyone is after her, watching her. But one of her hotel guests got himself murdered out in the desert, and resurrected, and she did not do it. But he cannot control his powers and is killing humans, trying to protect Janet. So who did this? And will she be able to stop Undead Jim? Even bullets or dragon fire won’t harm him. And what will happen when she does win? Will everyone be even more afraid of her?

Of course, lots and lots more action in this story, but I won’t spoil it all for you to discover. There are some fun moments with Maya, who is becoming Janet’s first girlfriend to hang with, go out with. Sexy sheriff Nash is still a stubborn pain in the ass, thinking Janet or Mick or Coyote is his murderer, ordering Janet to stay in town. And then Mick. Gorgeous stubborn Mick. He wants to protect Janet, keep her safe, but won’t tell her about the trouble she is in. Colby is at first an annoying secondary character, but at least he tells Janet what to expect from the council and the trial.
Coyote doesn’t appear that much either, but he is threatening Janet a lot. And I have to admit I really laughed at the very last scene in the book, when he got his tail burned …
The magic mirror is a great invention, and comes in really handy, even though it is obsessed with sex.

This book is filled with action, fast paced, and twists in the plot I did not see coming (okay, that last surprise I did guess a while back). Janet is a cool kick ass chick, but she also gets tired and dehydrated and dirty, and doesn’t mind being rescued by Nash or Mick, or both. She will fight for them too.

I am very curious what will happen in the next book, and will dive straight into it. I really love the main and secondary characters, and the original paranormal beings in this book. I heartily recommend this book to every urban fantasy / paranormal romance lover.

9,5 stars

dinsdag 27 september 2011

Allyson James – Stormwalker

The first book in the Stormwalker series, published May 2010.


Janet Begay is a Stormwalker, capable of wielding the raw elemental power of nature’s tempests – a power that threatens to overwhelm her. Only her lover, Mick, a dark-haired, blue-eyed biker, is able to siphon off her excess energy and calm the storm raging within her – even as their passion reaches unimaginable heights of ecstasy.
Janet and Mick have come to the desert town of Magellan to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the police chief’s daughter. The barren land around it is full of vortexes, the gateways that connect the human world with the mystical realm of Beneath, and after encountering skinwalkers and receiving hints from a shape-shifting coyote and a smart-ass magic mirror, Janet learns that her own powerful, scary-as-hell mother is involved.
She’s also uncertain about Mick. He can wield fire and never get burned, and Janet can’t seem to touch him with her storm powers. But Janet must trust him, since she and Mick find themselves venturing where no human can survive alone – and only together can they overcome the greatest danger they’ve ever faced.

Janet is a young Navaho woman, making a living riding a motorbike and taking gorgeous pictures. Which she sells in galleries and such. Janet is also a very powerful Stormwalker, able to harness the power of the storms in her vicinity: wielding lightning, wind and water. She knows evil walks the earth in the form of skinwalkers, nightwalkers and demons. And of course her mother, a goddess trapped Beneath when the other gods and goddesses emerged onto this plain of existence. They can reach through vortexes into our world, possessing people and skinwalkers to do their bidding. Which is how Janet was born. Janet’s mother possessed a young white woman, who then seduced her Navaho father. The woman did not survive giving birth to a child with that much magic in her, and her father took her with him to the Navaho reservate, to be brought up by his powerful shaman mother. Janet never felt welcome there, or that she belonged to the family. After all, she was a disgrace, born out of wedlock and to a white mother. And her quiet father never stood up against her grandmother. So when she was able to, she bought a motorcycle, and took of to parts unknown, wanting to see the world outside the reservate.
When she first got into serious trouble, right after a scary encounter with her real mother, she got saved by Mick. No last name. He was the first one to ever listen to her, her first lover, her first boyfriend. But his secretiveness drove her mad, he would go of on his own, and expect her to stay in the motel they were, or meet him somewhere, and just wait for him. Never telling anything personal about himself. She loved him very much, and he thought her how to control her power, and could absorb it into him when it would become to much. A Firewalker himself. And so, after 5 years together, she left.
But now Janet is back in Magellan, a powerful place with lots of vortexes and other magical stuff, and she is in danger of her mother. And suddenly, there is Mick again, rescuing her from the stodgy and stubborn Unbeliever sheriff, who wants to lock her up for any reason. He doesn’t want her to investigate the disappearance of his former girlfriend, that is a job for the police, not for some sham psychic! Even though the police hasn’t been able to find her for a year now, and the girls parents have hired her.
To keep busy, Janet has bought a derelict hotel in town, determined to fix it up and have it running in time for the tourist season. Unfortunately, a lot keeps going wrong, not to mention finding a body in the basement.

Janet’s mother keeps sending creatures after her, trying to capture her alive to bring back to her. She needs Janet’s earth magic to open the vortex and free her. Which is something Janet is determined never to do, not even to safe the life of the man she loves so much.

I absolutely loved this book, and have started on Firewalker, the second one, immediately. This is a great urban fantasy series, Allyson James has build a wonderful world. I love her books under the name of Jennifer Ashley, and her writing style is just so lively and descriptive, you feel like you are there. Seeing, feeling the desert. The book just keeps twisting and turning, throwing surprises and really original things at me. And for someone who reads as much as I do, that is a good thing to find.
I loved Janet, who, being Navaho, is a different kind of heroine. It is obvious Allyson James has done some research, and I loved those tidbits of knowledge scattered in the book.
Janet is strong, smart and loyal. She just knows things, and is a very powerful Stormwalker. She can sense magical abilities in other people as well, but she just doesn’t know what Mick is, which drives her crazy. How can she trust him, when he won’t tell her anything? Janet just keeps going, fighting her own fights and helping others.

And then Mick. What is not to love about him. Sure, he is very stubborn and takes charge even if she doesn’t want it or need it. He is gorgeous, and I love what he is. Nope, not telling it. Just find out for yourself. He is a Firewalker, and fights with fire, both in his human shape as in his natural form. Almost immortal, if he can change back fast enough.

There are some great secondary characters, like Coyote. Does he need an introduction? And then the sheriff, Nash Jones. Very stubborn and arrogant, and a big magical surprise which comes in very handy in the end. He totally dislikes Janet and everything to do with the supernatural, which he doesn’t believe exists. But of course, he will learn otherwise the hard way. There is Maya, whom is in love with Nash, and a very hot tempered Latina. She also dislikes Janet, until a specific girls night involving a bottle of tequila. The she seems to melt a little. Very little.
Janet also has to face her Navaho family again, and come to terms with her grandmother.

All in all, a really good book. Lots of likable and loveable characters, both main and secondary. A lot of surprises and originality. A great writing style. This series will definitely be on my keeper shelves, and I will read more by this author.

9,5 stars.

zondag 25 september 2011

New additions to my addiction

Walking through the marketplace, buying groceries yesterday, and I could not resist a peek at the second hand book corner. And I scored three books for one euro each, and yes, not having my booklist with me, I bought one I already have.

So, two for my collection:
Clive Cussler - Cyclops, and Night Probe.

zaterdag 24 september 2011

J.K. Beck – When Blood Calls

The first book in the Shadow Keepers series, published August 2010.

When Blood Calls

Attorney Sara Constantine is thrilled with her promotion - until she finds out that she must now prosecute vampires and werewolves. The first defendant she'll be trying to put away? Lucius Dragos, the sexy stranger with whom she recently shared an explosive night of ecstasy.
When Lucius kisses a beautiful woman sitting next to him at the bar, he's hoping only to avoid the perceptive gaze of the man he's planning to kill. But what starts as a simple kiss ignites into an all-consuming passion. Charged with murder, Luke knows that Sara is determined to see him locked away - unless he can convince her that he's not a monster. And that might mean making the ultimate sacrifice.

District Attorney Sara Constantine has just won a major case. She put a child killer behind bars for good, and is out to celebrate. Being kissed by a gorgeous stranger and taking him home with her, is certainly not her usual style. But she fell in instant lust with him, and just feels at home in his arms. In the morning he is gone, but she finds a bouquet of tulips on her doormat, and just swoons, remembering.
The next day at work, she gets promoted. Her hard work is noted higher up the ranks, and she is invited into Division 6, some part of Homeland Security. Little does she know she is about to enter a whole new world. Where the supernatural she has only read about, or seen in movies, is real. And they have their own judicial system, and she will be part of it. A lot of the rules are alike, in the human world, and in this new exciting one. But a lot is different, and justice is immediate and brutal. Can she handle that? She now learns her fathers murder when she was a little girl, was not normal. He was killed by a vampire. A vampire who walked on a technicality. She still has nightmares about it, every night. One of the reasons she doesn’t sleep very well, or very long.
Her first case will be a big one. One of the oldest vampires is accused of murdering a former judge. The evidence against him is strange, but true and overwhelming. But Sara gets the shock of her life, when she finds out Lucius Dragos is the very same man as Luke, whom she spend last night with, a night of passion she has never encountered before.
And he is a vampire, a murderer, just like the man who killed her father before her eyes? She doesn’t want to believe it, but it is true, and she will have to prosecute him.

Luke is surprised when he sees Sara, and relieved, as he thinks he can easily manipulate him. She soothes the daemon inside of him, and he is reluctant to do so, but he won’t hesitate. It was never his intention to get caught, he meant to escape just in time. But he had to rescue his ward first. And yes, he is a murderer, but he only kills those who truly deserves it, and mostly on demand of the head vampire. What he doesn’t know is, that Sara is one of the rare humans with a mindshield that is unbreakable. He won’t be able to manipulate her.

Sara doesn’t know what to do. She should refuse the case due to her personal connection to the defendant, but that apparently doesn’t matter in this world. And so she sets out to discover the truth, can she exonerate him? Did he really kill that judge, and if yes, then why? But Luke doesn’t really work with her, he clearly is protecting something, and Sara still has so much to learn about this new world.

J.K. Beck has created a great new world, with lots of different and original paranormal beings. I really loved those descriptions and hope to learn more about them. And still, I just can’t love this book, mainly because of Sara.
She is an attorney, getting killers behind bars, serving justice, is her whole life. She knows Luke is a vampire, a murderer. And still she is attracted to him, and risks everything she is to be with him. Even when he has escaped his attorney and shows up in her apartment, and she lets him make love to her. He is everything she loathes, and still she can’t stay away from him. And that just doesn’t make sense to me. It was only one night! She keeps helping him. And Luke/Lucius keeps getting to her. He is attracted to her like never before, even his daemon likes her. So why does he keep using her.
And the ending, well, just unacceptable to me.

I will read the next book (I have all three and pre-ordered the next three a few months ago, so I will have to), and I hope it will be better than this one. Maybe my mood prevented me from enjoying it more. I sure like the world building. Just not the main characters.

6 stars

Francine Pascal – Sweet Valley Confidential

Ten Years Later
A book in the Sweet Valley High series, published March 2011.

Sweet Valley Confidential

Ten years after graduating from Sweet Valley High, the Wakefield twins have had a falling out of epic proportions. When Jessica commits a complete and utter betrayal, Elizabeth flees to New York to escape the pain and immerse herself in her lifelong dream of becoming a journalist.
Jessica remains in California, dealing with the fallout of her heart wrenching choices. She has a career she loves, and lots of old friends, but she miser her sister, her oldest best brined. With Elizabeth as her enemy, Sweet Valley is not longer the idyllic town of their youth.
Jessica longs for forgiveness, but Elizabeth can’t forgot her twin’s duplicity. She decides the only way to heal her broken heart is to get revenge. Always the “good” twin, the one getting her reckless sister out of trouble, Elizabeth is now about to turn the tables…

Author Francine Pascal finally unfolds the continuing story of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield – and the whole gang from Sweet Valley – in this exciting new contemporary novel, sure to be a delight and a surprise for the millions of fans of these beloved characters.

As a young girl I used to love watching this tv-series, and I even have some of the books written about it. A set of beautiful blond twins, one a goodie two shoes, and the other an opportunistic flirt, the whole world has to revolve around her. She doesn’t care about hurting others, not even her twin sister. The rich friend, the nerdy friend, the nerd with the crush on Jessica who never had a chance, the jock, the spoiled rich boy. And they all play their part in this novel. Ten years later. Kind of a reunion of your own high school I imagine.

I have won this book (the hardcover edition, different cover) at the blog of The Bookreading Gals. I was excited about it, looking forward to reading it. Tell me, did you watch this show back then? Did you read the books as a teenager?

It is not so difficult to figure out what has happened, long before it is actually told in the book. Jessica and Todd have betrayed Elizabeth, while Todd and Elizabeth were in a relationship. And now, five years later, they are thrown back together. Todd and Elizabeth are just about ready to set a date for their marriage. And when Elizabeth finds out, thanks to Jessica’s soon-to-be ex-husband, she is devastated and extremely angry at them.
It is not eight months later, Elizabeth is living in New York, making a living as a theater critique-journalist. When on an assignment to interview a new playwriter, she discovers he could be a twin to Todd, and is devastated, and attracted. Upon closer acquaintance he doesn’t really look all that much like him though. Her grandmother’s 80th birthday is coming up, and her parents want her to come over. But Elizabeth can’t face Jessica and Todd yet, she is still so heartbroken about the betrayal. Todd is the only boy she has ever wanted, and she has loved him since she was 5 years old. She wants revenge! Perhaps her new friends can help her with that …

Jessica and Todd are living together, very much in love, but also in pain because they both really miss Elizabeth. They are feeling very guilty for causing her so much pain. They need her to forgive them, give them a chance to explain.

I am in dubio about this book. I really liked finding out what happened after High School. But the writing style was not really to my liking. The story is told with a lot of flashbacks, and from a lot of different people’s perspective. What happened with Todd, Elizabeth and Jessica, and how they felt, and why they did what they did.
And I have to admit, I just did not buy the ending of the book. Which is kind of a cold shower, it was way too abrupt.
There is of course mention of love scenes, but not detailed ones, it is not really a YA book, but it has the feel of it. They are all just 27.

If you liked this series, as a book or a tv show, I do recommend it. But if you have no clue what this is about, if you don’t already know the characters, I don’t think you will enjoy it much.

6 stars.

dinsdag 20 september 2011

Moira Rogers – Crux

The first book in the Southern Arcana series, published January 2010.


Jackson Holt makes a decent living as a private investigator in New Orleans, home of one of the largest underground supernatural populations in the United States. He and his partners have never met a case they couldn't crack...until a local bar owner asks him to do a little digging on her newest hire.
New Orleans is the fourth destination in as many months for Mackenzie Brooks, a woman on the run from a deranged stalker. After all, any man who shows up on her doorstep claiming to be her destined lover has more than a few screws loose. But crazy doesn't explain why he always finds her no matter how far she runs.
When her well-meaning boss puts a PI on her case, Mackenzie comes face to face with the incredible truth: magic is real, and whatever spell has kept her hidden and separate from the paranormal world is rapidly deteriorating. With time running out, she has no choice but to trust Jackson as he struggles to uncover the truth of her past-and her destiny.

I’ve won this e-book at one of the blogs I follow, sorry, but can’t retrace where. I’ve also won the second book earlier, so that one will be my next read. If only this review would write itself, pfff.

Mackenzie has been running for over a month now, ever since the goodlooking but obvious crazy stalker Marcus Foster has found her. He claims that he is her destined mate, and their child will change the fate of cougar shapeshifters. Where ever she runs, he finds her. And he certainly doesn’t care about killing innocent bystanders. Mackenzie is terrified, but sometimes she will have to stop running. Maybe here in New Orleans, where she has found a new job, and a good boss who likes her, she can stop. She likes bartending, it is what pays for her dance school, and the regulars seem to like her as well. They sure tip good.
Her boss, Nick, is concerned about where Mackenzie is staying, and she asks Jackson Holt, one of her regulars and private detective, to find out where she lives. And he follows her to one of the worst parts of town, still not recovered since Hurricane Katrina visited. It takes Mackenzie a while to discover she is being stalked, but she does, and she confronts Jackson. As she recognizes him as one of the regulars from the bar, and she is carrying pepperspray, she is not afraid to confront him. He just tells the truth, and escorts her further to her motel. Where he really cannot let her stay any longer, it is such a dive. The rooms above the bar are vacant at the moment, and she can stay there, for free. Mackenzie is very glad to take the offer, she needs someplace safe to catch up on her sleep.
Jackson can sense Mackenzie is not really human, some kind of shapeshifter and not a wolf, but he doesn’t know what exactly. Perhaps his partner Alec can tell them.
Unfortunately, the very next day, when she just settled in after a nice sleep on the couch and a hot bath, the bad guys have found her again, and Jackson is with her. She is afraid for him, but is astonished when he deals with the tugs. With magic?

And so Mackenzie gets introduced to a world filled with shapeshifters, magic users, psychics, (but no vampires!). The hard way. Reluctantly she tells her story, and Jackson and his friends promise to help her. Jackson thinks his mentor, the previous owner of the bar and a powerful witch, can help her. Apparently her inner cougar has been blocked from emerging, but her recurring dreams are a sure sign her time is up. Cougars are rare nowadays, but Mahalia has a cougar friend who for sure can tell Mackenzie everything about it. The attraction between Mackenzie and Jackson is running high, but with Mackenzie on the edge, they are not allowed to have sex. It could trigger her cougar to appear, and with no one to show her how, things could get dangerous.

Unfortunately, time is too short, and Mackenzie gets kidnapped by the crazy guy who wants to use her as a breeding machine. Can she save herself, or can Jackson and his friends save her in time?

Moira Rogers sure made up an interesting world, filled with different kind of paranormal beings. And the more power one has, the more it corrupts, which sure shows in Charles Talbot, the Seer of the Cougars. Marcus Foster is his adopted son, and the one he wants to have mating with Mackenzie. Together, they will revive the cougar shapeshifters. Because he has been working towards their child, as he or she will be able to infect humans, just like the wolves can. Which is horrible, Mackenzie’s life is disrupted enough already by knowing what she is and having to run, and her child will have to infect people on purpose, destroying countless lives? No way!
I liked Mackenzie. Although she could live a pampered rich woman’s life with a handsome husband, and have a few children, she says no. It would be so easy to stop running and just give in. Charles Talbot will never give up on his plan.
But she is already halfway in love with Jackson, and doesn’t want to give him up, or just give in. She fights, and she does what has to be done. She knows she was adopted at a young age, but she never knew what happened to her real parents. And now she finds people who actually knew her parents, and helped keep her safe. She is of course overwhelmed with everything she learns, the shape shifter world is filled with rules, and she has to learn quickly.

I could have done with some more background on Jackson, not much is revealed about him. He is a spellcaster, some kind of wizard I guess. And he is really attracted to Mackenzie, and wants to keep her safe. He helps as much as he can, and is desperate when he can’t stop her kidnapper. It takes time to plan to get her free again, and all he wants is action. I liked him, because he is just a nice guy with magic, but could not get into his head at all.

There are some hot lovescenes between them. I also liked the secondary characters. Nick, Mackenzie’s boss, and her very powerful twinsister Michelle, who is a werewolf Seer. Alec, Jackson’s partner, and Kat, their secretary who is also an empath and a hacker. And a few more.

It is a very much action filled book. A lot happens in a short time, and Mackenzie has to deal with a lot all at once. I liked this first book in the series, and am curious what will happen next. I have read some gushing reviews about this series, but I am not there yet. Perhaps the next part will grab me more. A good world building, with interesting dynamics and characters I want to read more about.

7 stars

zondag 18 september 2011

Stephanie Laurens – Viscount Breckenridge to the rescue

The first book in the Cynster Sisters series, published August 30, 2011. I like the cover of the bigger picture, but my copy has the little picture as a cover. And the “K.I.S.S. and teal” stamp.


Determined to hunt down her very own hero, one who will sweep her off her feet and into wedded bliss, and despairing of finding him in London’s staid ballrooms, Heather Cynster steps out of her safe world and boldly attends a racy soiree.
But her promising hunt is ruined by the supremely interfering Viscount Breckenridge, who whisks her out of scandal – and straight into danger, when a mysterious enemy seizes her, bundles her into a coach, and conveys her out of London. Now it’s up to the notorious Breckenridge to prove himself the hero she’s been searching for all along …

Heather Cynster is 25, and after this season she will be well and truly on the shelf. Her hero won’t appear in the boring ballrooms of the ton, so together with her sisters, she has concocted a scheme to find her own hero. She will visit Lady Herford’s soiree, where the more mature and married members of the ton will be. But the last person she wanted to find was Lord Breckenridge, her nemesis for the last four years. As soon as he sees Heather Cynster enter the room, Breckenridge is determined to get her out. It is after all his duty as a close friend to her brothers.
Heather is furious with him, but can’t resist without making a scene. But she refuses to allow him to walk her back to her carriage, it is only a few short feet away. And so she leaves him at the door and walks away. But her carriage is farther away than she led him to believe, and while he is watching her, a travelling coach stops next to her on the street, and a pair of ruffians pick up Heather, toss her in the coach, and take off. Breckenridge runs of to the Cynster carriage, determined to get her back, but traffic hinders him. They are able to determine she is been taken down the Great North Road to Scotland, and he sends the carriage back to alert the Cynsters, hires a curricle and a fast pair, and set out to follow.
But when he finds Heather at an inn, and attempts his rescue of her, she refuses to go with him. Her capturers are treating her very well, even have provided a maid for her, who has taken away her clothes. But the most important thing is, they were after one of the Cynster sisters. So she wants to learn everything she can about the man who has her abducted, and safe her sisters the same fate. Breckenridge reluctantly agrees with her, this is not a “normal” abduction. He agrees to follow them from a distance, ready to whisk her away when the danger is growing. But first Heather will try to learn as much as possible. And she will have to meet him every night to tell him what she has learned so far.

Knowing Breckenridge is close by, really settles Heather’s fears. Because in spite of the treatment, she is afraid of what will happen. She is never alone, and the story her capturers will tell when she causes a scene, is too believable for anyone to help her. And so Heather plays the demure society miss, calm and obedient, while searching for information.
But when their last stop is Gretna Green, and her captors have nothing more to tell her about the mysterious Laird who ordered her abduction, Breckenridge and Heather have to flee. When the plot Breckenridge has come up with, backfires, they will have to flee on foot, and reach Catriona and Richard’s Vale to be safe. Safe from the constables on their trail, and the mysterious Laird. He will not give up that easily.

Finally in safety, Breckenridge knows that society will demand their marriage, or Heather will be ruined. But Heather refuses to marry him. She will not give into society’s demands, she has made up her future already. A future without him. And that will simply not do. But Breckenridge is unable to comply with her demands: to tell her he loves her. Never again will he give his heart away. Will they be able to settle?

I really enjoyed this book. Due to the writing style of Stephanie Laurens (lots of big words and descriptions) this is not a fast read. But it sure makes a good atmosphere, background, for the story. I liked Heather, how she is unafraid to take her destiny in her own hands, and determined to protect her sisters. And Breckenridge, although he is as much an alpha male as all the Cynster males she knows (and loathes), he listens to her, and let her do what is necessary, even though his every instinct is to whisk her away to safety. By force if necessary. But he has to agree with her arguments, and will keep protecting her from a distance. He wants her for his wife from the start, but can not even admit to himself it is love that rules him. Love from the first time they met, four years ago. They were great together, and of course the many lovescenes are scorching hot. Both are very stubborn, determined to have their way.
They had a great adventure together, getting to know each other, rely on each other. And I just liked them both a lot.

I also liked reading about Catriona and Richard again, I have been thinking about re-reading their story again, one with more than a dash of magic in it.
And then the bad guy. I know why he needs one of the Cynster girls, and it is not his own doing. But I still have no clue to whom he is, or his mother. He is an even bigger male than the Cynsters and Breckenridge, so the woman who will be his, will have her hands full.

Lucky for me, the next book will be published in October and has been on pre-order for some months already.

8 stars.

zaterdag 17 september 2011

Nalini Singh – Archangel’s Blade

The fourth book in the Guild Hunter series, published September 2011.

Archangel-s Blade

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh is back in the shadows of a deadly, beautiful world where angels rule, vampires serve, and one female hunter must crawl out of the darkness to survive...

The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past...but Dmitri's need to discover the truth is nothing to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.
Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face to face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel's right hand, and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality...the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.
As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting...and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more...

Wow, how to write a review about such an action and emotion filled book? Dmitri has always intrigued my throughout the series. His unwavering loyalty to his Archangel Raphael, his constant testing of Elena because she is Raphael’s weakness. And now his own history is biting him in the ass. An old enemy is taunting him, leaving bodies for him to find, bodies with a clue to decipher. He needs the Guild to help him with that.
And Sara asks Honor to go the Tower, to Dmitri, as she is their ancient languages and code specialist. Honor, who is still recovering from being vampire bait for two long months. A prisoner to their every desire, she almost didn’t survive. But she did, and is healing, but still can’t sleep due to the nightmares. Even during the day, a sound, a smell, can trigger her memory and make her fall into a living nightmare again, fighting for her life.
Now she has to go to the most dangerous vampire of them all, in his own lair. Can she survive that? Dmitri is immediately attracted to this woman, who is so obviously terrified. He wants her in his bed, but she tells him no. A challenge! When Dmitri finds out what happened to Honor, he starts actively hunting the vampires that abused her. And takes her with him for her revenge.

Okay, not going to spoil anything of the story. I loved Honor and Dmitri, together and apart. Both very strong characters, who have been through hell and have survived. Both alone at heart, both fighters. A lot of action in this book, bringing them closer together, getting to know each other. Not really a surprising end, I think we all can see that coming. But still a very good book, with Raphael, Elena, Venom, Illium as secondary characters.

9,5 stars.

vrijdag 16 september 2011

J.D. Robb – New York to Dallas

Book 33 in the In Death series, published September 2011.

New York to Dallas

The number-one New York Times-bestselling author J. D. Robb presents an intense and terrifying new case for New York homicide cop Eve Dallas, one that will take her all the way to the city that gave her her name - and plunge her into the nightmares of her childhood.

When a monster named Isaac McQueen - taken down by Eve back in her uniform days - escapes from Rikers, he has two things in mind. One is to pick up where he left off, abducting young victims and leaving them scarred in both mind and body. The other is to get revenge on the woman who stopped him all those years ago.

Wow, this book was one hell of a ride! Pardon the expression. A real emotional rollercoaster, for Eve and Roarke, as well for me reading it. I did not want it to end at all, but of course the killer had to be caught.

12 years ago, Eve was just a rookie cop, just out of the academy for six weeks. Working the simple things a rookie gets to do. When a couple gets mugged, and the man killed and the woman badly injured, she and her older experienced partner are to do a door to door, to find witnesses, people who might have seen something and not thought about it. Her partner takes the first floor, and Eve the third floor. She comes up to one man who strikes her as of. He is polite, and answers the questions, but still, she has this feeling. So with some excuse she gets inside his apartment and notices some strange things. Like enormous heavy locks on the outside of a bedroom door. When he tries to kill her with a knife, she manages to stun him, and finds out what is behind that door. A man the police has been looking for for years, collecting young girls, keeping them for years, abusing them, keeping them in chains. 22 young girls. And she never quite forgot those eyes in her nightmares. But she freed them.
And now that monster, Isaac McQueen, has escaped prison. As he was never convicted for murder, he was imprisoned on planet, even though he has killed often before.
Even before the New York police is notified of his escape, he has made his first strike. He wants to get back to his deserved good life, and he wants revenge on the female cop who busted him, Eve Dallas. He goes back to the apartment he used back then, breaks in, and terrorizes the couple that lives there. He sends the man out with a message for Eve, while he tortures and rapes the female. Of course, when Eve gets there, he is long gone. So now the hunt is on. But he is too smart to stay in New York, her home turf. And the last victim he kidnapped 12 years ago, and the only one who came to see him in Rikers, lives in Dallas. He knows Eve has old history in Dallas and knows it will distract her. He also doesn’t work alone. He usually has an older woman in his powers, someone he puts in the mother role, like his own psychotic mother was. She abused him, and started his liking for young girls, and provided them for him. So he gets close to a weak older woman, some one with an addiction he can feed, some one he can control. And she will help him find his new collection of girls, and provide for him. And when he tires of her, he just slits her throat, and dumps her in a river, just like he did his own mother when he was 19. Only that has not been proven in court yet.

And now, having lured Eve and Roarke to Dallas, the games begin. Eve and Roarke will have to work together with the Dallas Police, the sister of the first victim, who was kidnapped with her twin sister. And with the FBI, which will take a lot of diplomacy on Eve’s part. It is not easy for Eve, to face this. It brings back the memories to her own childhood way to vividly, the nightmares are horrible. And when Eve suffers, so does Roarke. But they will get through it all, with the help of each other and of Dr. Mira.

When Isaac kidnappes a young girl, the stakes are raised again. But they have some solid leads on the female helper, and are closing in fast.

Okay, not going to spoil anything of the suspense, what happens, what actions are taken, and what horrors Isaac and his helper inflict on their victims. Let me just tell you again, this is a very intense story, lots of action, lots of suspense, and often a race against the clock. The question is raised again, how important is the blood in your veins, your upbringing, and the person you have become?

I loved the book, devoured it, and did not want it to end, but of course it does. It was simply great. Eve and Roarke are so great together, and some of the Dallas cops were good secondary characters. I guess you can read those books as stand alone for the mystery and suspense part, but really not for the personal parts. You will not understand the impact it all has for Eve and Roarke. If you want to read this absolutely fabulous series, you have to start with the first book. And I promise, if you like romantic suspense, police procedures, and of course a bit of science fiction, as all this plays in the year 2060, you will not be sorry. I’ve read most of the series twice now, and the books are still as good as the first time. Take the time to get to know Eve Dallas and her husband Roarke, and the secondary characters in this series. They will become friends, and you will want a Roarke of your very own, and not just because he is a multi billionaire.

10 stars.

Christine Feehan – Dark Predator

Book 22 in the Dark series, published September 2011.

Dark Predator
Dark Predator

Christine Feehan delivers the most startling novel yet in her “must-read” series (Night Owl Romance) as an immortal male comes to the end of a long and violent journey—only to reach a far more dangerous and inescapable threat…

As brutal as the undead he hunted, Zacarias De La Cruz was a master executioner. Over the long, dark centuries, he plunged into so many battles they blurred into an endless lifetime of evil that hardened the soul of this merciless, ruthless and implacable dark predator.
Now his stark and savage journey is over. After a thousand years in a gray world, he has accomplished everything he set out to do. His brothers are safeguarded. Each has found a woman who completes them. And they are at peace. For his brothers, Zacarias has walked the edge of madness, but with centuries as a killing machine now left to the past and without a hunt to define him, Zacarias wonders, for the first time in his life, who he really is.
The answer awaits him back home in Peru, in the betrayal of a woman who is readying her trap, in the vengeance of an old enemy, in the inevitable consequences of a bloody family legacy, and in the deliverance of a lifemate he never could have imagined.

Okay, that blurb is once again, nonsense.
Zacarias De La Cruz is one of the oldest Carpathians still alive, and not turned vampire. He has hung on to his honor, but now that his four brothers are settled with their lifemates, it is time to end his existence. He will not take the chance that he crosses the line and become one of the things he has hunted his whole life, forcing his only friend and his brothers to hunt him in turn. The great battle with some Malinov brothers and their allies is over, and Zacarias just walks away, refusing to be healed first by taking Solange’s blood. Zacarias goes back to Peru, to face the sun.
He is content doing so, having not felt anything for so many centuries now, he has even lost the memories of feelings, of love for his brothers. He should be happy for them, but he doesn’t know how that feels. He is already lying down, burning, when Marguarita gallops home and saves him. She covers him up, and drags him to the barn, where she administers to his wounds. Even though he forbids her, she cannot fight the compulsion. She has to save Zacarias. She knows the repercussions will be harsh, but she has been born and bred to serve and protect the De La Cruz family. And when Zacarias saved her life a few months ago, that bond between them became even stronger.
To his own surprise, Zacarias starts seeing Marguarita in color, only her, not the surroundings, and she can even make him laugh, and of course, make him mad. She defied him! When she has been taught to obey the De La Cruz family in everything, she defied him, she saved his life and risks everyone on the ranch in doing so. He is determined to teach her a lesson, she has to obey him! So he brutally takes her blood, not thinking about her awful experience with the vampire months ago. The vampire ripped out her throat, and though Zacarias was there to heal her, she can not longer talk. So yes, Zacarias manages to terrify her, and when he goes to earth to heal, Marguarita runs away into the rainforest, to lure him away from the ranch, and to call the hunters. Of course she can’t escape him, and Zacarias soon brings her back. When she understands he hasn’t gone vampire, Marguarita is very much relieved. She loves Zacarias and will do anything for him.
But evil never gives up, and Zacarias soon has to fight some vampires. The longer he stays in one place, the more he puts his workers and Marguarita at risk, and that is something he is not prepared to do. But neither will he leave Marguarita behind, she is his and she will obey him.

I have to admit, I am disappointed in this book. It was very slow, and totally focused on Zacarias. How he thinks of himself and the darkness inside him. A life filled with duty and honor, and little else. I have gotten used to books filled with many Carpathians, lots of battle and the very exciting ongoing and developing overall storyline. There was nothing of all that in this book. I was loving the feisty Carpathian females, fighting alongside there mates. And Marguarita is just a human, and she wants to do anything for Zacarias, give up everything of herself for his happiness. Of course she is defiant when it comes to his safety, but in everything else he demands, she complies. Zacarias really is a throwback to the very first Carpathian novels, where they are way too alpha and dominant for my liking. Marguarita is just young and naïve, and not feisty enough. Ofcourse, being unable to talk, and having to communicate with others in writing, is difficult. She cannot yell or scream or curse, only in her head. Which is handy as the Carpathians communicate a lot telepathically.

So even though I admire Marguarita for what she does, how she defies Zacarias to keep him safe, I just can’t like her. She is too docile for that. And Zacarias, well. Like all the Carpathians he is a hunter of vampires, and very good at that. He is ancient, and very old-fashioned in his views of woman. He knows nothing of mating, and the bond between them, still he does not contact his brothers for help or advice.
The fighting scenes were of course superb, and I loved reading those. The love scenes are very hot, but it all takes place in just a few days and I think it just too much.

Still, I will continue loving this series, and reading them as soon as I get them in my greedy hands. Lets just hope for more action in the next book, and more developments in the Carpathian Mountains. I want to meet my favourites again. Christine Feehan is one of my autobuy authors and has been for years now. She has a very descriptive writing style, and really knows how to build up the suspense. But this book just was not to my liking. If you love the romance part above the plot and action, this book will be more your thing perhaps. But please don’t start reading this series with this book, you will be confused.

7 stars.

donderdag 15 september 2011

New additions to my addiction

I am back home, the sun is shining, and some books were waiting for me. I had a great week, with much better weather than was predicted in the weather report.

Nalini Singh - Archangel's Blade
Stephanie Laurens - Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue
Erin Quinn - Haunting beauty
Bertrice Small - Blaze Wyndham
Bertrice Small - Until You

woensdag 14 september 2011

Nora Roberts – Jewels of the Sun

The first book in the Gallaghers of Ardmore series, published November 1999.

Jewels of the Sun

In her new trilogy, New York Times #1 Best Selling author, Nora Roberts returns to the lush, green hills of Ireland, where love is forever touched by magic - and where the Gallagher siblings explore the depth of their fiery hearts.

Determined to re-evaluate her life, Jude Murray flees America to take refuge in Faerie Hill Cottage, where she immerses herself in the study of Irish Folk and discovers hope for the future in the magic of the past.
Finally back home in Ireland after years of traveling, Aidan Gallagher possesses an uncommon understanding of his country’s haunting myths. Although he’s devoted to managing the family pub, a hint of wildness still glints in his stormy eyes – and in Jude, he sees a woman who can both soothe his heart and stir his blood. And he begins to share the legends of the land with her – while they create a passionate history of their own…

Three hundred years ago, there lived a fair maiden in Faerie Hill Cottage, Ardmore, Ireland, and Carrick, a faerie prince, fell in love with her. Gwen was taking care of her father, whom she loved very much. And when night, when he couldn’t sleep, he saw his daughter flying with the faerie prince in his winged horse, and got scared. He would not have his daughter lured away to faery, lost to him forever. So he arranged a marriage for her, and Gwen, being a dutiful daughter, agreed. Carrick was heartbroken, but he flew to the sun and gathered its jewels to lay down at her feet. He would give her the world, and himself, if she said yes. But Gwen refused, and choose duty over love. For he did never tell her he loved her in return.
A year later, married and pregnant, Carrick came back to her. Giving her pearls, the tears of the moon, and ask her to come away with him, again. And again she refused, because although she did not love her husband, she could not betray him. So she lived a quiet and content life with her husband, her children and grandchildren. And years later, Carrick dove into the sea, to its heart, and brought it back to her. But Gwen was old and gray now and it was just too late. Her life was over. So again she refused him. So duty and pride won out over love and two souls are lost. Gwen still wanders the country, and Carrick still mourns her loss. And now, is history about to repeat itself?

Jude is a psychology teacher in university in Chicago. But she has come to hate her job, the students, the politics, everything. So following the advice of her grandmother, she comes to Ireland to find out what she really wants with her life. She just didn’t take a sabbatical, she quit her job, to the distress of her parents.
To her own surprise, she loves the simple life. A little cottage with no modern appliances like a microwave, a dishwasher, an electric coffeemaker. She even learns how to do laundry and cooking and gardening, and she loves it. She is planning to write a study of Irish legends and myths, and then analyze them. But she lets her words get fancy, and just loves to write. Jude also gets new friends, and even a handsome lover. Still, in the back of her head, she knows she has to go back to Chicago, and find a sensible job to support her sensible boring self.
Or does she?

And then there is Aidan Callagher. Owner of the pub in Ardmore, a very handsome man who has done some wandering about the world before he came home to take over the pub from his parents, with the help of his sister Darcy and his brother Shaun. He is content with his life, but knows he is waiting for something, or someone. And then he sees Jude wandering into his pub. Shy and self conscious, and he is interested in her. So under the pretense of telling her stories for her studies, he can come over, and get to know her better. Jude and Aidan like eachother, and become lovers after a while. Jude also becomes friends with Darcy and Brenna O‘Toole, who lives next door with her parents and four sisters. Brenna is totally different, she is a mechanic, and a good one, and doesn’t care about her looks. Darcy longs for the good life, she has an eye for fashion and an incredible voice. Jude never had friends who would get her drunk, talk about intimate things, and try on her clothes and shoes, and she loves it.

So Aidan decides they fit together, and he needs a wife, so they should get married in a few weeks. No talk of love, but only of need and he would provide for her while she figures out what she wants with her life. Will history repeat itself? Or will he come to his senses in time?

The second time I read this book, and I love it just as much. It is such a sweet story, I loved Jude very much, and can see why she is so unsure of herself. But she is getting there, and doesn’t let Aidan bully her into something she doesn’t want if it is not on her terms. She has been married before, and that was a disaster.
And then Aidan, well, handsome, Irish, a great lover, what more is there to tell. He sure needs a setdown and learn to grovel a bit. But I liked this book, the primary characters and all the secondary characters as well. The way Nora Roberts has with words is so good, I could see myself there, in that little cottage, working in the garden, or sitting at the bar in the pub and watching Aidan. And for sure, the other two books will be re-read again as well.

8 stars.

Robin Paige – Death at Whitechapel

The sixth book in the Victorian Mystery series, published February 2000.

Death at Whitechapel

Kathryn Ardleigh is becoming accustomed to the high-society circles of her recently Lorded husband Charles Sheridan. And she has found a kindred spirit in Jennie Jerome Churchill, whose carefree lifestyle has made her a frequent topic in the tabloids. But there is more serious scandal threatening Jennie – and the political future of her son Winston. She is being blackmailed by someone who has made a heinous accusation – someone who claims to have proof that Winston’s father was none other than the notorious Jack the Ripper …

I was really surprised by this story. Of course there are multiple theories about Jack the Ripper, but this book sure made me a believer. The gruesome truth (one theory about it) is revealed. Both Charles and Kathryn unearth important clues in this book, and together they get the whole story. I am so not going to spoil anything, just that I liked the book. Another story is about Winston Churchill, and although I know of course who he was, in this book some nasty things (facts?) about him are also revealed. I did not like him. He worshippes his father, who died three years ago, and that is totally wrong of him.
I did like his mother though, she knew herself very well. She could not really handle money, and had a lot of opposition against her relationship with the much younger George Cornwallis-West, who is just a few days older than her son Winston.
Jenny is being blackmailed, and in despair she asks Charles and Kate for their help. Someone is claiming to have proof that her husband was Jack the Ripper! And now the blackmailer is murdered, and Jenny could be a suspect in that. She was seen when she entered the premises, and left a few minutes later in a hurry. But she did not kill him, and she needs the Sheridan’s to find out who did it.

A great story again. Jack the Ripper is of course a never solved mystery, and the explanation in this book is totally believable. This is not invented by Robin Paige however, there are numerous other books and such they refer to. But I loved how it is written. All is well with Charles and Kate, they are still very much in love. Charles spends as little time as possible on his estates and with his mother, who hates Kate. And Kate is getting used to the new social circles they belong to. But she will always be Beryl Bardwell, and an American.

8,5 stars.

Roxanne St. Claire – Edge of Sight

The first book in the Guardian Angelinos series, published November 2010.

Edge of Sight

The killer she can't escape . . .
The heartbreak she can't forget . . .
The one man who can stop them both.

When Samantha Fairchild witnesses a murder in the wine cellar of the restaurant where she works, the Harvard-bound law student becomes the next target of a professional assassin. Desperate for protection the authorities won't provide, Sam seeks help from Vivi Angelino, an investigative reporter who recruits her brother, Zach, to protect Samantha. A Special Forces vet with the scars to prove he's equally fearless and flawed, Zach takes the job, despite the fact that he and Sam once shared a lusty interlude that ended when he left for war and disappeared from her life. Now, as they crack a conspiracy that leads to Boston's darkest corners, Sam and Zach must face their fears, desires, and doubts, before a hired killer gets a second shot...

Three years ago, Samantha was living in the same building as her best friend Vivi Angelino, and at a party she met her brother Zach, home for a short relief before going back into action as an Army Ranger. Two and a half weeks of passion and laughter followed, but when she told him she loved him, he left without a word. Zach sure didn’t know what to do. But on the long flight to his next secret mission, he made up his mind. He loved her as well, and would ask her to wait for him. His best friend just heard he was going to be a father of twins, so that was another thing to celebrate. But two days later, his best friend was killed in action. And Zach was determined Samantha would not go through that grief. She would soon enough forget about him and find someone else. He loved his job, and would not give it up for a wife and family. Not yet.
But faith intervened. Zach got badly injured on his last mission and lost some of the soldiers under his command. Not willing to get a deskjob, he quit the army. But since then he is restless, he lost his eye and got turned down for a job with their cousins security firm. And now his sister Vivi has the mad scheme to start their own security firm, the Guardian Angelinos. She could sure use Zach, and their cousins. Marc, a former FBI-agent, Gideon, a spook, and JP, a police officer with the Boston PD.

Samantha’s life has also changed a lot in the last three years. When she was sixteen, she was also the witness to a murder, and her testimony convicted a man. Years later, the real murderer came forward with a confession, but it is still not easy to get the wrongfully convicted man free. She quits her job, and joins a foundation that cares for these cases. It took a while to get Billy free, but they did it. Billy sure didn’t hold a grudge against Samantha, and they are good friends at the moment. But the case also shone a light on the Boston PD, making some heads role for the bad investigation and the set up of Billy.

So, now Samantha has witnessed another murder, the Boston PD doesn’t care at all that she is in danger from the assassin. They lost some friends thanks to her. Samantha also has lost all faith in herself. Will she ever be able to accuse another man of being the murderer she saw? But she is so scared, she needs to go somewhere safe. So she thinks of her old friend Vivi, and le message, and Zach who invites her over. He sure is willing to continue their relationship. If only he wasn’t so scarred and ugly (which is only in his own mind). He scares Samantha half to death, accosting her outside the apartment building. And he hurt her so badly three years ago, never calling, writing, or sending a postcard. She really doesn’t want to risk that again. But she really has no other choice but to accept Zach as her bodyguard. And Zach promises to keep his hands of her, and to keep her safe.
But somehow, the murderer always seems to find them, and try to kill her again …

A nice book, which never really got scary or on the edge of my seat exciting, and I was a bit disappointed by that. A lot happens, and a lot of original storylines were told. I was just hoping for some more suspense in this romantic suspense book.
Still, I did like Sam, for standing up for herself, for changing her life so radically. She has just been accepted in Harvard Law School, so she can be of even more good to the foundation. And now she has been set up.
It took me a while longer to like Zach. He had such a big hangup about his face and eyepatch, and that she could never look at him without pity. It took until he explained more about his behavior to warm up to him, and that took half the book! He has lots and lots of issues in his life, never feeling at home with his family. And he sure has no idea how to handle love when it falls in his lap.

So, I really liked the plot, I just couldn’t feel the suspense. The writing style is very fluent and easy to read. I am looking forward to reading more about the cousins. There were a few unrealistic things though, I really couldn’t believe them.

6,5 stars.

maandag 12 september 2011

Lori Foster – Say no to Joe?

The fifth book in the Winston Brothers and Cousins series, the first book in the Visitation series, published August 2003.

Say no to Joe?

You met Joe Winston in Lori Foster's Wild. Now, the Winston brothers' seductive, bad-boy cousin is back and up against a woman who's immune to his considerable charms...or so it seems...

Joe Winston has a routine with women: he exists; they swoon; roll credits. With his smoldering looks, macho style, and irrepressible charm, Joe can have any woman -- except the one he really wants. Secretly, Luna Clark may lust after Joe, but she's made it clear that she's too smart to fall for him. He can just keep holding his breath, thank you very much. But now, Luna's inherited two kids who need more than she alone can give in a small town that seems hell-bent on driving them away. She needs someone to help out...someone who can't be intimidated...someone just like Joe. Becoming an instant family wasn't exactly what Joe had in mind, but hey, it's a start, and you can't blame a guy for trying every angle.
After all, where there's a Joe, there's a way...straight into a woman’s heart.

Luna just found out she has two young cousins in need of her. Since their mother died, they have gone through a few guardians, and they all quit shortly after that. She is their last hope before the foster care looms. Luna never has had much of a family herself, and she really wants one, so she is determined to take care of them. Willow, a young girl of 14, and Austin, 9 years old. Austin has been in some scrapes lately, and there appear to be some troubles in town. Their mother, and Luna’s cousin, Chloe, was an unwed mother, an no one knows who the father is for her children. But she left the children a nice house, plot of land and a lake, all free of mortgage. Luna is asking Joe Winston to come with her, to handle those problems.

Ever since Joe met her, three months ago on his cousin’s wedding, he has been wanting her. But Luna keeps saying no. She is not interested in an affair with him, as she knows he will break her heart. After all, Joe is a gorgeous tall dark and dangerous man. He has been a number of jobs, a cop, a bounty hunter, and a bodyguard. But now someone has ambushed him, and the current woman in his life seems more interested in fondling his body than taking care for him. So Luna steps in, nursing him, feeding him, cleaning his clothes and apartment. Joe doesn’t know who beat him up so badly, but he has a hunch. And when someone is breaking into his apartment while Luna is sleeping on the couch, he is determined to take her away from danger and go to North Carolina at once.

The children’s currant guardian, Patricia, and the housekeeper, are really happy to see Joe, and try to seduce them at the spot, totally ignoring Luna, and the schoolteacher who came over to talk about the children. At first, Joe is fine with it, trying to make Luna jealous. Like she was when she chased the women out of his apartment a few days ago, telling them she was his wife. But as it doesn’t seem to be working, and he really isn’t interested in either of them, he swiftly gets rid of them and close to Luna again. It is very obvious neither woman cares one ioata for the children. They are just a nuisance, or cheap labor, and better left alone. And of course Austin gets blamed for what ever happens, or when someone complains about him. Even when he didn’t start a fight or something. Luna is livid, and as Patricia is supposed to get together with her fiancée, she soon sets her packing, and sacks Dinah, the housekeeper while she is at it. Not that Dinah did much housekeeping from the looks of it.

Someone is obviously trying to get rid of the children, to make them move out, by blaming them for stuff, stirring up trouble. Luna and Joe are determined to catch whoever is doing that, they already love the children and are slowly winning their trust and affection in return.

This could have been a really nice book, but unfortunately, it really did not work out for me. The book keeps focusing on Joe, trying to get Luna in bed. With words and touches and innuendos. And yes, she wants him as well, but not for just know. So they both want the other to fall in love with themselves, so Joe will stay with them. And then all the woman falling over Joe, touching him because he is so gorgeous. Really did not like that, or believe it at all. Of course I can look at a gorgeous man, but I won’t be touching him all over, draping myself across him. And Joe liked it, finds it normal, until he meets Luna and wants nothing more than Luna, because she said no to him. And has a gorgeous ass he wants in his hands. And this is repeated and repeated and repeated.

I did like how the both of them interacted with the children, but for the most part, they just annoyed me. Luna is supposed to be a very independent woman, but she also fawns about Joe, and feels small and feminine besides him. She asked him to take care of the trouble, but every time he goes out to fight trouble, she goes after him, afraid he is getting hurt, and hindering him. Really stupid.

Of course many love scenes, the book is filled with the hot desire between them. Of course I liked some parts of it, otherwise I never would have finished it, but I did speedread the second half of the book just to see if it would get better. Luckily, the writing style is such that it is a fast read, easy to follow. Of course, I am not a mother, don’t even really like children, so perhaps that made the book less interesting for me to read. But still, to many stupid things happening, a paperthin plot or two, and characters I absolutely could not get into.

5 stars.

Jayne Castle – Canyons of Night

The third book in the Arcane Society: Looking Glass Trilogy series, the eighth book in the Harmony World series, published August 2011.

Canyons of night

There are as many mysteries aboveground on the world of Harmony as there are underground. The island of Rainshadow is the setting for one of the greatest of those secrets: the privately owned woods known only as the Preserve…

Growing up on Rainshadow, Charlotte Enright knew better than to ever go into the Preserve, until that one fateful night with Slade Attridge – a night neither of them would forget.
Now, fifteen years later, both have returned to the island: Charlotte to take over her aunt’s antique shop, and Slade to fill the police chief’s position. Able to read aura’s, Charlotte senses something amiss in Slade, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting him - again. That is, as long as his dust bunny “deputy keeps his paws off her merchandise. Hiding a psi injury, Slade is afraid of his powerful desire for Charlotte. But a series of increasingly violent crimes draws them closer together – and into the darkness at the heart of the Preserve…

It’s been awhile since I read the previous books in this trilogy, so perhaps that is why it took me some time to get into things again. But it did not take me time at all to get back to the world of Harmony Jayne Castle has created so masterly.
Charlotte is some kind of Aura reader, she can see the rainbow’s around people and can judge them based on that. Even though her talent is off the Arcane Scale, it is not recognized as an important talent, just some minor and aberrant thing. She has a knack for antiquities though, and especially those with ancient psy in them. With her talent, she can really connect the artifact with the new owner, making them fit together. She really wanted to be some kind of archeologist, but was rejected. And now she is following in her crazy aunt’s footsteps on the small island of Rainshadow, after closing her highly successful shop in Frequency city. Her aunt kept buying and buying stuff, always on the lookout for more, or for something really special. She didn’t bother much with selling, or inventory, but seems to have done allright over the years. Charlotte is busy cleaning the place up, and inventorying the stacks of crates and boxes left to her.

Slade joined the FPBI when he was 19, and thanks to his Hunter talent he was very good at it as well, working with a secret department catching the really bad psychic criminals normal police would never be able to find, let alone throw and keep in jail.
But on his last assignment, he got gassed pretty badly, and his Hunter talent appears to being on the fritz. The doctors are expecting him to deteriorate, to lose his talent altogether. So he has come to Rainshadow to heal, to hide, and only for a little while, since he is setting up a new job for himself. He took the job as head of the police on Rainshadow only for six months, never intending to stay later. But he did not count on meeting Charlotte again, and liking the island and its people. And apparently there is much more serious crime around than he ever could imagine. He is drawn toward Charlotte, and really wants a relationship with her, but she has to understand it can only be temporary. He rescued her from a bunch of bullies 15 years ago, and took her into the Preserve for a short trip. Thanks to his talent, he is one of the few who can navigate there, not becoming lost. Compasses and the likes don’t work in there, and there are some beautiful spots there, and some very horrible canyons of darkness. And the darkness is stirring lately …

Okay, not telling very much about what is happening in this book, but I did expect some more action. I loved Charlotte from the start, but then, I do with all Jayne Castle characters. She is a young, independent woman with her own business, she likes her life as it is. She has a loving family, high into Arcane, all with powerful talents, but they never did understand her and her rainbow talent. She has a very bad track record for dating, perhaps because she has always compared the men she was matched with, with Slade. She never did forget him. Nor did he forget her. He still cherishes the antique knife she gave him when he left 15 years ago. His fiancée dumped him when he lost his senses, and he really doesn’t want her back. He is also not looking for a new love, but he did not count on meeting Charlotte again. They are drawn together. Slade doesn’t have a family, has been in forster care early, a rare thing on Harmony since it is so much geared towards family.
If not for the previous police officer who acted like a father figure for him, Slade could have gone bad/rogue.
Rex, the dustbunny, is a great secondary character. He stole one of Charlotte’s antique clutch purses, and keeps putting paperclips in it, which he steals from Slade’s secretary/dispatch officer. He takes the clutch with him where ever he goes, and is very protective of Slade.
There is also the young boy Slade takes under his wing, who only has his grandmother to take care of him, who is developing some powerful talent. On Harmony, only the Amber talents are highly praised, and the other psychic talents are still a bit forbidden, dangerous. So it is hard to understand what is happening and how to handle it.

A good story, although it could use some more suspense and action. I never really felt any danger to Charlotte or Slade, but I am extremely curious what will happen at the Reserve, what is stirring in the darkness …

7 stars.

donderdag 8 september 2011

I'm leaving for a week on vacation

In half an hour I'll be leaving for a week, going with my best friend on vacation to Texel. There will be internet, so I can read my email, not sure if I am going to blog over there. If the weather remains terrible, I will, if not, I'll be out enjoying nature, sea and beach.

New addition to my addiction

Yesterday I received a long awaited book that I have won on Pearl's blog. And I really don't mind the delay, as she also scored the authors signature for me. Thanks for the extra effort Pearl!

Stephanie Tyler - Promises in the Dark.

A new for me author, but I am sure I will love it.

woensdag 7 september 2011

Robin D. Owens – Heart Search

The tenth book in the Celta series, published August 2011.

Heart Search

Laev T'Hawthorn -- one of the highest nobles in the land -- must rebuild his life after a devastating mistake. He married a woman he believed was his HeartMate, only to learn she was a greedy social climber. She callously used him, stealing his family heirlooms. He is determined to reclaim all that he has lost -- beginning with his self-respect.
Abandoned at fifteen, Camellia Darjeeling values her independence above all. She's fought to establish her own businesses -- elegant tearooms -- only to have her father and uncle re-enter her life. They emotionally scourge her and extort money. Trusting men, even her HeartMate, is too risky.
When Laev and Camellia meet, they refuse to acknowledge that they are true HeartMates. After her shady relatives are implicated in the theft of Laev's property, Camellia and Laev's lives become ever more entangled bringing each to the brink of despair and passion...and a destiny they can no longer avoid.

I have been looking forward to reading Laev’s story. I just knew in book 8 that he was duped. He did meet his HeartMate at 17, but he just locked eyes with a very beautiful girl, and thought that was it, overlooking his real HeartMate, who was only 13 at the time. And I was correct. Laev is T’Hawthorn now. His wife died three years ago, when a horrible illness swept Druida and killed a lot of people in all classes and ages. His FatherSire (grandfather) died three months ago, and Laev is dealing with his grief. He is also coming to terms with being T’Hawthorn, although the Residence and his Family are still treating him as a child. But he will remedy that. He is also ready to pick up his normal life again, and has hired a private investigator to retrieve all the Hawthorn possessions his wife stole and sold or gave away, including his HeartGift. And even though he wants it back, he is not ready for a new wife, or searching out his HeartMate.

Camellia is content with her life. She has just opened her second teashop, furbished after what she thinks a HouseHeart looks like. Being a minor noble, she never has visited a real HouseHeart, the Darjeeling Residence was not sentient, and sold for her father’s debs when she was a teenager. She has two good friends, and now a FamCat of her own. She knows who her HeartMate is, has known it since she was a child. But as he was married, there was no use in searching him out, or making him a HeartGift as is usual during the Second Passage. The only bad thing in her life are her father and uncle, who are burgling her house regularly, breaking her stuff, defiling it and stealing her valuables. They extort money from her teahouses as well. But she is through with it, even if her weak brother doesn’t want to take action, she is reporting everything to the Guards.

But of course Camellia and Laev cannot stay apart. They keep meeting each other at random (which is planned by both their FamCats!) and start having erotic dreams together. But Laev still doesn’t know who his HeartMate is. Until Camellia hints at it, and he draws away from her, hurting her horribly. Even though she is not ready for a husband yet. She likes her indepence, and she has some very important secrets her father may never find out.

Again, I loved this book. I know, I am sounding like a broken record. But if you like a great fantasy world, filled with magic (Flair), and great characters and pets, and of course lots of romance and some hot love scenes, you can do no other than love this series. Just pick up the first book, although I am sure you can read them as stand alone novels too. There is often considerable time between the books.

Camellia had a hard childhood with her abusive father and uncle, her weak mother and brother to take care of. She is doing fine now, with two teashops she is running, and some great friends. Taking time to get to know her HeartMate, become friends and lovers. Of course she is weary of men, but she takes action. She is taking self defence courses, learning to fight her father and uncle, and reporting them and their foul deeds. Laev really hurt her as well, when he thought some one else was his HeartMate.
And then Laev, already struggling with almost killing a GreatLady as a teen, having been used by his wife who was not his HeartMate but who wanted the status and gilt she had as his wife. He is settling in his new position, not ready for a new wife, even if she is his HeartMate. But once they have met, destiny is set in motion, and they are drawn to each other. I loved both their FamCats this time, they were great characters and not so selfish as some previous mentioned cats.

It is going to be an extraordinary book that will take my mind and dreams out of this realm next …

10 stars.

dinsdag 6 september 2011

Robin D. Owens – Heart Journey

The ninth book in the Celta series, published August 2010.

Heart Journey

Helena D’Elecampane, a renowned cartographer, is exploring Celta when she finds out she has a HeartMate. Yearning for a partner, she is drawn to meet him. Actor Raz Cherry is dedicated to his career. Uninterested in long-term commitments, he ignores an oracle that foretells of his HeartMate. Though passion ignites, their lifestyles clash. Only when mysterious thefts threaten their families can they overcome the obstacles on their journey to love.

Helena D’Elecampane is a cartographer, exploring the most remote places on Celta and making three dimensional maps of it. She feels constricted in a city, could never live there. Del likes being alone on the trail with her FamFox Shunuk. She is on her way home to Druida to claim her HeartMate when she gets the news her whole family has died in a fire, except the youngest baby. Her erstwhile lover and his wife Straif T’Blackthorn have taken her in and want to adopt her. But little Helendula is her Heir, the only family she has left, and she can’t just do that. She has to make reservations, decisions, settle her affairs. She inherited great wealth from her family, so money is not a problem. She also makes a lot of gilt on the maps she provides to the Council. But can she take a baby with her on the trail?
Del has given little thought to her HeartMate. They are HeartMates, they should be compatible.
But her HeartMate is Raz Cherry, a famous young actor. 8 years younger than Del. He loves living in the city, loves the applause, loves acting, interacting with other actors and people. So even now they have met, and are attracted to each other, like and admire each other, how will they ever be able to live together as HeartMates? Del gets sick in the city, she misses the fresh air, the unconstructed horizon, she longs for the new discoveries on a wilderness trail. And Raz he is a pure through and through city boy.

Lately, Raz and his family have a lot of bad things happening. Raz’s apartment is burgled and trashed, even the theater and not only his own dressing room. His parents own a big “shipyard” for gliders and airships, and the oldest part of it burns down. Which is a huge loss, as all their maps were stored there, including the latest they just bought from Del. Their second home in Gael City is ransacked and vandalized as well, and Raz will have to go there to sort things out. His parents can’t leave at the moment, and his sister has loved it there too much, she can’t face the destruction. So he leaves the play to his understudy, and asks Del to come with him. And that after he turned her down that morning when she suggested it …

Del is a proud woman, and she won’t force Raz into loving her, or acknowledging the bond between them. But she will not grovel, or go after him. If he withdraws from her, she will wait a while, and leave. The decisions she has to make are very difficult, but she is willing to make a lot of compromises just to be with her HeartMate, and have a Family of her own. But Raz is not ready, he wants his career, and is not interested in a HeartMate of a Family right now.
But when she leaves him, he knows what loneliness is, and deeply regrets his answer when she offered the HeartMateBond to him. Can he repair it in time, and can he find her again?

Another great story in this lovely series. Again entirely different from the rest, although ofcourse it is set in the same world and city, and with the same secondary characters. But not with the greatest Lords and Ladies of Delta as the main characters. Del is a GrandLady, but a lower one, and Raz is an actor. His sister is CherryHeir, not him.
I loved Del. She is very direct and down to earth, doesn’t play games, and is very honest. She expects the same from Raz which is not always easy for an actor. The FamFox really stole part of the show though. He is a great character, and Foxes are so much easier to live with than the extremely arrogant and selfish FamCats. The kitten Raz gets is really the worst in that regard.
Del is very giving towards Raz, and not only in monetary things. She is open, and patient, and will wait till he makes up his mind. And Raz is willingly blind. He doesn’t want to acknowledge their bond. He has always wanted to be a great actor, even when it got him on bad footing with his parents. And now he is almost there, he needs to stay in Druida, and focus on his career. He is good at what he does, and cannot imagine living on the trail, being a travelling storyteller or something like that. He did not study 10 years for that!

Of course, Del knows that, and she is very busy making plans for their future. But Raz won’t give her a chance, and she just goes.
The mystery plot is minor, and not very difficult to figure out. I did love the ending though, so very much. I did wonder if the HeartMateBond could be ignored after refusing it. And now I know.

I am looking forward to the next book, the 10th and latest in the series for now. I peeked and know who the hero is going to be.

10 stars.