Archive for the 'ARC' Category

19
Sep
08

Charlene Teglia: Wicked Hot

Two immortal warriors attending to her every need…
The struggle between good and evil is about to get…Wicked Hot

Edana is a succubus—a breathtakingly beautiful demon who offers men their most decadent fantasy in exchange for their souls. No one can get close to her without being destroyed..until she meets Eli and Dal. Both men are Nephilim, immortal warriors who bind and banish demons. Edana’s mission is to arouse their lust and steal their souls before they can destroy her—she never expects to fall in love. Shared by two virile lovers and lost in a world of sensation, Edana begins to fall for one of the warriors, jeopardizing her mission. Only he has power to save her, but first she must give him power over her heart—and her destiny…

I’ve read quite a few other first-person succubus books.

This is the only one I’d truly consider a romance. And what a romance it is!

Charlene kept the suspense going throughout the book, from the appearances of Eli and Dal’s father and the Devil to Edana trying to do what a succubus is best at. ;)

And the sex…*fans herself* If you are particularly into m/f/m threesomes, this is definitely the book for you. While many, and maybe most, of the sex scenes are threesomes, you can still see the growth of Edana’s relationship with her hero. It’s not to say that I rooted for one brother or the other, but when you get to the last page, you know that Edana ended up with the right brother.

It’s not a book I read in one sitting, however. Believe it or not, I got past the first hundred pages and then thought ‘whooo hot! but I need a breather.’ I put down the book at least twice. But I’m very very glad that I had to pick it up again so I could write this review, because the pay-off? Totally worth it.

Wicked Hot rates 4 out of 5.

23
Jun
08

Larissa Ione: Pleasure Unbound

In a place where ecstasy can cost you your life…

She’s a demon-slayer who hungers for sensual pleasure—but fears it will always be denied her. Until Tayla Mancuso lands in a hospital run by demons in disguise, and the head doctor, Eidolon, makes her body burn with unslakable desire. But to prove her ultimate loyalty to her peers, she must betray the surgeon who saved her life.

Two lovers will dare to risk all.

Eidolon cannot resist this fiery, dangerous woman who fills him with both rage and passion. Not only is she his avowed enemy, but she could very well be the hunter who has been preying upon his people. Torn between his need for the truth and his desire to find his perfect mate before a horrific transformation claims him forever, Eidolon will dare the unthinkable—and let Tayla possess him, body and soul…

Right from the first word, you’re dropped into the heat of the action. Always a good way to start a book.

But it’s also a book that’s filled with “Awwwwww….” moments, as I call them. You’ll be on edge, waiting for something to blow up or get killed…and then you get enveloped by what feels like a big, soft hug.

Pleasure Unbound also happens to have the only “heroine has never had an orgasm until she met hero” plotline that’s believable. Larissa’s taken one of the most awful genre clichés and made it work. Honestly, it’s worth it to buy this book just to find out how she does it (I shall delete all spoilers related to this bit in the comments), if not for the fact that is has excellent worldbuilding, lots of hot sex and is just generally fun to read.

Pleasure Unbound rates 4.5 out of 5.

FD: Larissa sent me the book.

01
May
08

Alan Campbell: Iron Angel

In Iron Angel, the second book of the Deepgate Codex, we meet the other sons of the goddess Ayen, and we travel to the other side of the world.

It feels almost as though we’ve taken one big step backwards from Scar Night’s finer focus on Dill and Rachel, such that in Iron Angel, we look at the bigger picture, but without losing the pacing and certainly not the feel of being balanced on the knife edge of action.

It is by far a better book than Scar Night–which incidentally, I appear to have forgotten to review. It is less…rough, for lack of a better word. The story flows, rather than occasionally stopping and starting around passages of lovely description.

The worldbuilding is, again, amazing. It’s not only the level of detail, but also that the details given to you are just enough for you to draw your own pictures without dragging the book down, something I felt was an issue in Scar Night.

And all this is capped with what I consider to be an glorious ending. There will be people who will disagree with me, but I think it is a pitch-perfect ending for this book.

Iron Angel rates 4 out of 5.

(The publisher sent the book to me.)

I’m giving away a copy. I do think this book is that good. Comment to put your name in the draw.

05
Mar
08

Linda Wisdom: 50 Ways To Hex Your Lover

Jazz can’t decide whether to scorch him with a fireball or jump into bed with him

Jasmine Tremaine is a witch who can’t stay out of trouble. Nikolai Gregorivich is a vampire cop on the trail of a serial killer. The sizzling love affair between Jazz and Nick has been on-again, off-again for about 300 years–mostly off, lately. But now Nick needs Jazz’s help, and while Jazz and Nick try to figure out their own hearts and resist their increasing attraction, they must steer clear of a maniacal killer with super-supernatural powers. They are surrounded by a hilarious cast of oddball paranormal characters including Norma, the chain-smoking ghost who haunts Jazz’s sports car; Dweezil, her ghoul of a boss; and Fluff and Puff, a pair of bunny slippers with sharp teeth and short tempers (watch your ankles)!

First, Fluff and Puff are the coolest bunny slippers ever!

That pretty much sums up how I feel about 50 Ways To Hex Your Lover. It’s got just enough bite to make it good fun, it’s fluffy and it’s still a curl up in my warm bed because it’s freezing outside type of book.

Her bunny slippers say a lot about Jazz. She’s a witch, but she’s still like us and needs her feet to be kept warm.

Irma the ghost is a good foil for Jazz. For one thing, Irma’s the ghost that curse-eliminator Jazz can’t get rid off. IOW, Jazz’s magical powers are not all powerful, which is a nice change. Plus the girl throws fireballs when she’s pissed off, and I wish I could do that!

Nick, on the other hand, doesn’t shine for me as a hero. He’s an old vampire, so what? (And I love my vampires, I truly do.) Maybe it’s not that he doesn’t shine so much as he pales in comparison to Jazz.

But I’m hoping he will improve. 50 Ways To Hex Your Lover is the first book in the series, and I definitely can’t wait to read the next one.

50 Ways To Hex Your Lover rates 4 out of 5.

Full Disclosure: The book was sent to me by the publisher.

01
Mar
08

Mark Henry: Happy Hour of the Damned

Seattle. One minute you’re drinking a vanilla breve, the next, some creepy old dude is breathing on you, turning you into a zombie. And that’s just for starters. Now, the recently deceased Amanda Feral is trying to make her way through Seattle’s undead scene with style (mortuary-grade makeup, six-inch stilettos, Balenciaga handbag on sale) while satisfying her craving for human flesh (Don’t judge. And no, not like chicken.) and decent vodkatinis. Making her way through a dangerous world of cloud-doped bloodsuckers, reapers, horny and horned devils, werewolves, celebrities, and PR-obsessed shapeshifters–not to mention an extremely hot bartender named Ricardo–isn’t easy. And the minute one of Amanda’s undead friends disappears after texting the word, “help” (The undead–so dramatic!) she knows the afterlife is about to get really ugly.Something sinister is at hand. Someone or something is hellbent on turning Seattle’s undead underworld into a place of true terror. And this time, Amanda may meet a fate a lot worse than death…

I like that Amanda is a zombie, rather than your typical vampire. From a girl’s point of view, being a zombie can be rather…icky, despite not sweating and not having a period.

But I think it’s part of what makes Happy Hour of the Damned both fun and real (well, as real as urban fantasy can get anyway), the way the icky bits are handled, like what does Amanda do when her arm is sliced open and zombies can’t heal? ;)

THe book itself starts off very well, then it starts to slide towards the end. The plot was tied up pretty neatly, but at the same time, it barely makes the mark. Not atypical of most fiction debuts.

And the footnotes annoy me. There are way, way, way too many. I think a good half of the pages in the book have them. Too much of a good thing, maybe? They were cute for awhile.

On the other hand, it’s a book that’s hip in a different way from the typical dark and slightly goth and alternative sensibility that most urban fantasy of late has.

Happy Hour of the Damned rates 3.5 out of 5.

05
Feb
08

Meljean Brook: Demon Night

Charlie Newcomb worked hard to get her life back together. But all that is shaken when she’s set upon by three vampires desperate to transform her beauty into something evil. Because Charlie is the vital link to something they want—and need. It’s Charlie’s flesh and blood sister, a medical scientist whose knowledge could be invaluable to the predators.

But to get to her, they must first get to Charlie, now under the intimate protection of Ethan McCabe. As her Guardian, Ethan is attracted to her vulnerabilities—as well as her strengths. The closer he gets, the more protecting her becomes not just his duty, but his desire. But will it be enough to save Charlie when the demon night falls?

Lovely, I think, would be the word to describe Demon Night. And sweet too—though not that way, Meljean never fails us on the hot sex part. ;)

I have raved about the worldbuilding in this series before, but I think that the pieces really come together in this book. Maybe it’s because I’ve read the previous books too, or maybe it’s because we’re probably about five, six hundred thousand words into the series, it’s just been that much easier to fall into Demon Night for me.

Ethan…I’ve described Colin as delicious, and Hugh as interesting, but Ethan…there goes a hero who is just too damn easy to fall in love with.

Like Ethan, Charlie has a past that she is not entirely proud of. I think the most significant imbalance of the book is here, that we got to see more of Ethan’s past than Charlie’s. An example: her singing, or its loss, isn’t touched on here.
In Demon Night, we have a demon who can and appears to have fallen in love. Which is one of the things I appreciate about this series, that it’s not all black and white, and makes it one of the few series to have passed my Three Book Test in the past year–IOW, the likelihood of me not sticking it through with the series has fallen pretty close to nil.

Demon Night rates 4 out of 5.

25
Jan
08

Justin Gustainis: Black Magic Woman

Supernatural investigator Quincey Morris and his partner, white witch Libby Chastain, are called in to help free a desperate family from a deadly curse that appears to date back to the Salem Witch Trials. To release the family from danger they must find the root of the curse, a black witch with a terrible grudge that holds the family in her power.

The pursuit takes them to the mysterious underworlds of Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans and New York, stalking a prey that is determined to stay hidden. After surviving a series of terrifying attempts on their lives, the two find themselves drawn inexorably towards Salem itself — and the very heart of darkness.

Black Magic Woman is striking in that it has a world feels remarkably more real than most urban fantasy settings, which is a statement of how seamlessly Justin has woven the supernatural and the real together.

It is a book almost-painstakingly crafted together, but is so readable that Justin makes it look easy. Absolutely the kind of book that you pick up and finish in one sitting.

However, Black Magic Woman is one of those books that are ‘flat.’ Some of the interesting scenes that should have punched simply did not, such as the one where Libby reveals something intensely personal or the sex scene (I think there was only the one). Everything came together in a neat little package, including Quincey’s fabulous personal history (one of the highlights of the book for me), except that I think it should have had more of an emotional punch.

That said, you’ll be definitely be seeing more of Justin Gustainis soon, just like Jim Butcher says on the cover. He is simply too good not to.

Black Magic Woman rates 4 out of 5.

Disclosure: This book was sent to me.

07
Dec
07

Diana Pharaoh Francis: The Cipher

Welcome to the Crosspointe, the hub of the Insland Sea, where gold runs like water and the balance of politics shifts uneasily between the monarchy, the majicars, and the Merchants’ Guild–a land where dangerous majick courses through the black waters.

A member of the royal Rampling family, Lucy Trenton possesses a most unique talent: the ability to detect majick and those who wield it. She has kept her ability a secret all her life to avoid bringing scandal to her family, but lately Lucy has grown careless. When she recklessly uses her gift to locate a valuable and treacherous majickal cipher, she finds herself embroiled in a dangerous intrigue that threatens her life–and the life of every person in Crosspointe.

And to make her troubles worse, she’s also kept her secret from a most persistent suitor, dashing and mysterious ship captain Marten Thorpe. And now she desperate needs his help…

In some senses, the only thing that makes Lucy Trenton unique is her talent. She’s a woman with a job she enjoys, a close-knit if blue-blooded family, and she’s happy, more or less. But she also has the two things that all good protagonists must have: an interesting mind that Diana’s translated into an interesting voice and strength. This makes her a character who grows on you, whom you become more attached to and start rooting for.

One of the high points of the book for me is Marten, because I didn’t actually think he was going all the way with it. How many times have we read a book where the possible-hero-cum-possible-bad-guy actually commits the horrific deed? In this, The Cipher definitely does not disappoint. I’m disinclined to believe that Marten should be forgiven this quickly, or that he managed to get over his gambling addiction so easily though. Shouldn’t there be more struggle or something?

The ending of the book comes off as more of a beginning, one that will take us on a grand adventure with Marten and Lucy, and I for one, can’t wait for the next book.

The Cipher rates 3.5 out of 5.

Disclosure: Diana sent me the ARC.

10
Nov
07

Jeaniene Frost: Halfway To The Grave

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father – the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unlikely partnership.

In exchange for help finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner – are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side…and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

I like a heroine who goes after her enemies with the intention to kill, and succeeds, and Catherine Crawfield is certainly that. But I do wonder: No matter how much she wanted to kill vampires, actually killing one should have some sort of impact on her psyche, surely? Unless she’s sociopathic, in which case this book automatically gets an extra 0.5 points.

I disliked the inclusion of your typical, urban fantasy “female protagonist was badly hurt emotionally by the male(s) in her life” backstory. But at least she wasn’t raped, I suppose.

It’s Bones who kicks the book into high gear though, because that’s when Cat has someone to play against, with and for. IOW, she’s got someone fight with, play with, and do the dirty thing with. *g* Bones is very well-drawn, especially in a first-person novel where another character’s the viewpoint character, and that helps pull the book together.

While I want to emphasize the fact that Halfway To The Grave is an urban fantasy novel, not a romance no matter what it says on the spine, I also want to say that I liked the ending, even though it does feel rather like a cliffhanger. I think it rings more true than if the usual thing was to happen, and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Halfway To The Grave rates 3.5 out of 5.

Full disclosure: Jeaniene Frost sent me the book.

30
Oct
07

Jackie Kessler: The Road To Hell

Hell hath no fury like a succubus scorned

Jesse may no longer be a succubus, but she’s got a Hell of a past. She wants to come clean about her infernal history with Paul Hamilton, her white-knight-in-training lover, except he’d never believe her. Just like some people are worth being (shudder) monogamous for, some secrets are worth keeping. So Jesse keeps mum—until three of her former associates strong-arm her into returning to the Pit. Now, unless Jesse faces off against the King of Hell, she’ll lose Paul’s immortal soul. If she’d known love was this tough, she never would have turned her back on Lust…

The Hell On Earth series takes a more serious turn in this book.

It’s a better book than Hell’s Belles in many respects. TRTH relies much less on the strength and appeal of Jezebel’s voice than HB did, which also makes it a book that is much more rereadable than TRTH.

The pacing is better, giving the reader space to breathe and to make the connections that turn TRTH into something more than a funny, romp book.

But for all that Jackie has improved as a writer, TRTH just didn’t have the spark Hell’s Belles did.

The Road To Hell rates 4 out of 5.

PS Jackie sent the ARC to me.

03
Sep
07

Jaci Burton: Hunting The Demon

IN A WILDERNESS SEETHING WITH SIN AND SEDUCTION, THE CHASE IS ON.

Hunting demons for a living can have its moments. Especially when Shay Pearson’s latest quarry is the gorgeous bronzed surfer who just stepped out of the sea. Uncovering Nic Diavolo’s devilish side could prove Shay’s toughest assignment yet. Because while she’s acting as bait to snatch this sexy bad boy, Nic’s got a plan of seduction no woman—earthly or otherwise–can resist

Caught between two warring realms, Nic needs to stay alive long enough to figure out who his enemies are. That includes the beautiful hunter who won’t let him out of her sight. And something far worse: A force of evil with an almost unimaginable goal – possessing Nic’s very soul. But the hunt really heats up when a guy who’s hotter than Hades and a woman who’s afraid to love join forces, igniting an inferno of lust and longing that could send them into mortal danger…or straight into each other’s arms…

To be perfectly honest, I might not have picked this book up on my own. I wasn’t crazy about the first book in the series, and Hunting The Demon releases at a time when I just don’t have time to visit bookstores and such.

So I’m really glad that Jaci sent me an ARC (yes, she was brave, because my review was mean) because I think HTD improves on where Surviving Demon Island shone and at the same time, a lot of the little things that annoyed me about SDI aren’t in HTD.

In other words, it’s also a page-turner, but it’s a very rereadable page-turner; I’ve had to reread this several times, partly because I’ve been dragging on this review, and I think it stands up to rereading quite well.

The only part that didn’t stand up to rereading is Nic’s refusal to believe that Derek is his brother. Uhm, DNA testing? Sidenote: I would have liked to find out how a half-demon’s DNA defers from a human’s.

I do think that Jaci’s taken her handling of the h/h relationship to a new level in HTD, and I’d certainly rank Shay and Nic in my top 3 Jaci couples.

Hunting The Demon rates 4 out of 5.

03
Sep
07

Nalini Singh: Caressed By Ice

Explore new heights of sensuality in this return to the world of the Psy—where two people who know evil intimately must unlock the good within their icy hearts…As an Arrow, an elite soldier in the Psy Council ranks, Judd Lauren was forced to do terrible things in the name of his people. Now a defector, his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins—cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna…Brenna Shane Kincaid was an innocent before she was abducted—and had her mind violated—by a serial killer. Her sense of evil runs so deep, she fears she could become a killer herself. Then the first dead body is found, victim of a familiar madness. Judd is her only hope, yet her sensual changeling side rebels against the inhuman chill of his personality, even as desire explodes between them. Shocking and raw, their passion is a danger that threatens not only their hearts, but their very lives…

Caressed By Ice is the darkest of the three books out so far in the Psy/Changeling series.

It’s a very tightly wound book, with breaks that let you glimpse the overarching storyline without changing the focus of the novel, which is, of course, Brenna and Judd.

Nalini is one of the rare romance authors whose series moves forward in every novel, and for me, that is a very big part of why I love her work.

Judd did come across as rather more one-dimensional than her previous heroes. He is Psy, and he is a Psy who seeks to hold onto Silence, which probably contributes to why I think he’s more 1-D. I did get rather irritated with his “I can’t do this..Silence that…” Can’t help but wonder if less would have been more in that respect.

However, whilst I do think that Caressed By Ice is weaker than the previous two novels, I still very much want the next book (hint hint, Nalini! *g*). After all, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll love all the books in a series equally, right?

Caressed By Ice rates 4 out of 5.

28
Aug
07

Sydney Croft: Riding The Storm

A storm’s rage. A woman’s desire.A man with the power to set them both free.

He can summon lightning at will. Emerge unscathed from the center of a tornado. Strip a woman down to her barest defenses through the sheer force of his sexuality. He’s gorgeous, dangerous, and the target of parameteorologist Haley Holmes’s latest mission. Haley has been dispatched to the Louisiana bayou to investigate the phenomenon known as Remy Begnaud – man with a gift he never wanted: the ability to control a storm’s fury. But even a woman trained in bizarre weather phenomenon has no defense against the electrifying power of the Ex-Navy SEAL…a power his enemies would kill to control.

With her agency monitoring their every move, Haley’s job is to seduce Remy, gain his trust — and help him harness his extraordinary gift. But who will protect her from this voracious lover who’s introducing her to a new world of erotic thrills – a man who grows increasingly insatiable with each new weather event? Haley knows a big storm is approaching –and with it will come unexpected delights. But, so, too, will the storm unleash her greatest fears: An enemy bent on destroying Remy. And her worst fear of all…falling in love with this magnificent man, then having to betray him…

This is a great debut for Sydney Croft, aka the writing team of Larissa Ione and Stephanie Tyler.

One of the things that really made the book for me is Haley and Remy’s ‘backstory.’ I won’t elaborate, because I don’t do spoilers, but it still makes me go Awwwwww….

And their ending was, for me, the perfect cross between Happy Ever After and Happy For Now. I think that they will have a HEA, but because the book spans only a short timeline, it’s enough Happy For Now for me to believe it. If that makes sense.

There were places where that I felt the secondary characters, namely Annika and Creed and Devlin, nearly overwhelmed the hero and heroine, especially the latter, whom I felt wasn’t as well-drawn as other characters in the story.

I also don’t think it was explained why Remy is called T-Remy, but I could have missed it because the sex scenes are mindblowing.

All in all, I can’t wait to read the next book–though sadly, Annika and Creed are not stars of Unleashing The Storm.

Riding The Storm rates 3.5 out of 5.

21
Aug
07

Dionne Galace: Skin To Skin

What Leilani wants, Leilani gets. That is, until she meets the enigmatic Oliver Clayton, her new neighbor. For some reason, Oliver seems to be intent on avoiding her even though he’s obviously interested. Leilani has tried to everything to get his attention, from wearing skimpy little outfits to walking a neighbor’s dog six times in front of his yard. Leilani wants Oliver…and she always gets her man.In the heat of the summer, the temperature’s not only thing rising. Luckily, Oliver has that pool in his backyard and Leilani knows just how to cool off…

I was going to say that Skin To Skin’s just good, clean fun, but there’s too much hot sex in it to be just good, clean fun.

So what’s Skin To Skin? It’s hot and sexy fun.

It has its flaws. I’m not sure what Leilani sees in Oliver except his hot bod, and I can’t help but think but Oliver being a cop is shorthand for Oliver being a trustworthy guy.

The ending is a little rushed, but it also has the type of ending that makes me smile. :D

Skin To Skin rates 3.5 out of 5.

09
Aug
07

Charlene Teglia: Wild Wild West

In one of the most searingly erotic Westerns ever penned, Charlene Teglia breaches uncharted territory. But reader beware: this tale is hotter than hell. The faint of heart should turn back now…Three city girls from Seattle are enjoying a night out at a chic coffee house in downtown Missoula, Montana, the heart of the old West. When a gang of cowboys mosey in looking for trouble, they find trouble of the best kind… and these boys are primed and ready to ride. There’s Gabe, a hard-bodied rancher who’s discovered some imaginative new uses for rope. Chet, a rodeo cowboy who’s charmed the pants off more than a few country girls and vows to remain a bachelor for life. And Reuben, a former Army ranger with a taste for edgy sexual games. As the couples embark on a scorching night of passion and play, they experience the most exquisite pleasure—and discover kinky new thrills they never dared to imagine. Because when it comes to knocking boots, cowboys do it best…

Great start, meh middle and fabulous ending.

Or, since it’s a trio of novellas, great first novella, meh second and fabulous third.

What I can’t get past about this book is that the journeys for all the heroines are too similar. Charlene does a good job of making each of them feel fresh again, and I’m certainly going to pick up her next St. Martin’s title (the extract at the back’s looking good), but it’s a big part of the reason why Wild Wild West gets 3.5 instead of 4.

I’d consider paying mass market cover price for just A Man’s Word is His Bondage and Reuben’s Rules. They are scorching hot, terribly readable and I think Reuben’s Rules might grow into a keeper for me.

Wild Wild West rates 3.5 out of 5. Continue reading ‘Charlene Teglia: Wild Wild West’

21
Jul
07

Joely Sue Burkhart: Survive My Fire

Trapped as a dragon for centuries by a curse impossible to break, Chanda is consumed by rage. Her heart broken, her life ruined, her entire tribe dead by her own actions, she never expects the warrior outside her lair to know the secret of her curse. Let alone that she will fall in love with him.Jalan survives the White Dragon’s teeth and claws. He survives her fire. He even survives her love. But he doesn’t come to break her curse or win her heart. Not exactly. His dark god will spare Jalan’s tribe–if the White Dragon is sacrificed.While Jalan must choose between the love of his heart and the safety of his tribe, Chanda realizes she may at last break her curse forever.

If she’s willing to make the greatest sacrifice of all.

It’s dark. It’s got dragons. It’s got bloodshed. It’s got writing so beautiful, tears come to your eyes.

And I’m so jealous that I didn’t write it myself, I’d probably put sugar in her petrol tank if she weren’t so nice. (Hey, it rhymes!)

What makes Survive My Fire shine is that you can see that Joely’s put everything she had, and then some, into it. You can tell that it is written by a woman with passion for her craft and a gift for storytelling.

It should be noted that I felt that the book kicked into high gear from the second scene. This doesn’t mean you should skip the first scene–you shouldn’t because the rest probably wouldn’t make enough sense to you then–just that you should at least continue reading past the first scene.

On top of being a friend of mine, Joely’s also just one of those writers whose voice is like crack for me. So there’s no grade, but since I think her voice is like crack, it’s kinda obvious what she’d get, don’t you think?

If you’re still not convinced–in which case I would never be able to get a job as a bookseller–check out the excerpt below. Her writing speaks for itself.

Continue reading ‘Joely Sue Burkhart: Survive My Fire’

03
Jul
07

KS Augustin: On Bliss

Hoara Felin thinks she’s in love. The problem is, the man she’s fallen in love with is forbidden to leave the planet. Plus, he’s not quite a man…Sub-Commander Hoara Felin of the Republic Space Fleet has crash-landed on a planet. Her ship is inoperable, her shipmates are dead. The only thing that can make a bad situation worse is finding she has crashed on the notorious prison-planet of Bliss—a place condemned criminals are sent…and never leave.She finds an unexpected ally in Toh, a handsome and caring man who treats her injuries and hides her from those who would hold an officer of the Space Fleet for ransom. But, as Hoara is about to find out, Toh is keeping a terrifying secret of his own.

KS Augustin has managed to pack quite a bit of conflict and worldbuilding into a little short story.

Part of it is simply her writing style, but a bigger part of it is simply that she’s got a knack for only giving us the necessary details that we can fill in the rest on our own.

I think where the book is weak is the romance plot. A lot of it has to do with the fact that Toh is a basically a blank canvas. It’s kind of hard to imagine someone falling in love with a blank canvas.

But I like her voice. I like her voice a lot, and with me, that’s practically be all and end all.

On Bliss rates 4 out of 5.

26
Jun
07

Beth Williamson: The Legacy

Noah Calhoun always felt like an outsider in the Malloy family, even though he’d been legally adopted at age fifteen by Nicky, the only sister in the pack. After an accident nearly kills his father, Tyler, Noah decides to leave and find his own place in the world. Using the skills his ex-bounty hunter father taught him, Noah finds a job as a small town sheriff. Rosalyn Benedict didn’t need a fresh-faced do-gooder sheriff trying to help her. She’d been surviving just fine on her own. Living on the streets since she was a child, Rosalyn was smarter, tougher, and stronger than most people ever hope to be.

With her stubbornness or his pigheadedness, will Noah and Rosalyn find that one place where they both belong?

One of the best things about The Legacy is how clearly Noah’s and Rosalyn’s voices are differentiated, especially Rosalyn’s.

Most of my favorite parts of the book are told in her POV. There’s just something about Rosalyn’s voice that clicks for me.

Noah is the hero I expected after ‘meeting’ him in the first Malloy book, The Bounty. Great continuity there.

This book essentially has two endings. One is the ending of the Malloy series, and the other is Rosalyn and Noah’s.

It is the ending of the Malloy series that I’ve a quibble with, and admittedly, this is a personal quirk. It irritates me to read endings where everyone’s happy happy happy.

But it’s worth a read, and while I’ve not read books 2-6 of the Malloy series, I think this is a great example of ending a series while the series is still good.

The Legacy rates 3.5 out of 5.

20
Jun
07

Anya Bast: Witch Fire

Mira Hoskins doesn’t know she’s a natural born witch who possesses the rare—and powerful—element of air. She also never expected to find herself tied to a mahogany bed frame, captive to a man who aches to fulfill her every desire and let loose the magick that dwells inside her…Heat emanates from elemental fire witch Jack McAllister. The Coven, a governing authority of witches, has sent him to protect Mira from a band of warlocks who drain witches of power… and life. Long ago, he saw Mira’s parents murdered by this same dark magick. He’d like to quell his guilt and offer her everything she deserves. But she’s the long-lost cousin of his boss—making seduction off-limits.With Jack’s strong guidance, Mira is luring forth her inner magick. But his sense of duty is quickly swelling into insatiable hunger. They warned him about the natural attraction between air and fire. Now he risks being consumed by the woman he shouldn’t want—but can’t stay away from …

I’ve not read Anya‘s work in a few years now.

Witch Fire reminds me again of why I fell in love with her back then, and takes it to a whole new level.

It’s a hot read, to be sure, but where it truly shines is Jack and Mira’s relationship. The conflict’s quite simply, delicious.

I don’t think it’s a terribly long book (I don’t have a print copy, so I can’t tell), yet it felt like I spent several days reading it–I don’t mean that it dragged, because it didn’t. Just that I felt I spent several wonderful days inside it, though it was probably more like two hours.

This rates 4 out of 5.

12
Jun
07

Shannon Stacey: Taming Eliza Jane

When a man sets out to tame a strong-willed woman, he’d best hang on to his hat.Will Martinson, the town doctor, already has a heap of troubles on his plate, what with a pregnant whore, an ailing friend and a sheriff with a bad habit of shooting people. The last thing he needs is a strong hankering for a woman who thinks it’s her duty to turn a man’s life upside-down.Eliza Jane Carter is a woman on a mission. She’s going to improve the lives of the women in Gardiner, Texas before moving on to the next town. But when her finances take a turn for the worse and her chaperone heads for the hills, Eliza Jane is stranded in a town full of riled up menfolk, a gun-happy sheriff and one handsome doctor who makes her question everything she ever believed about the love between a man and a woman.

I honestly wasn’t going to read Taming Eliza Jane the moment I got my hands on it. All I was planning to do was open the file to make sure it came through in one piece.

Then I thought I’d just take a peek at the first chapter. And I was sunk. I read it cover to cover (figuratively because this is an ebook) in less than an hour.

The first half is stronger than the second half. Part of it was that the first half was just good fun. Had me giggling out loud, and that rarely happens.

It was once Eliza Jane and Will’s relationship turned serious that I liked it less. The pacing was weaker as well, which certainly didn’t help.

I’m not one who wants or needs tidy endings, though I would have liked So-and-so to have been caught for it.

But the epilogue made up for most of the shortcomings, and I cannot wait for Becoming Miss Becky!

This rates 4 out of 5.

PS Shannon Stacey is guestblogging for me, and this is an ARC from the publisher, Samhain Publishing.





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