Archive for the 'Signed Books' Category

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.

30
Jul
07

Jeanne C. Stein: Blood Drive

Anna Strong is a vampire caught between two worlds. She clings to what makes her human, her family, her job, her lover. But the pull of the undead is a siren song becoming impossible to resist. She discovers she has a niece, Trish, a child caught up in the worst kind of human nightmare. To save Trish, Anna may have to surrender to the animal side of her nature. Concepts of good and evil are no longer clearly defined as Anna must determine who is the real monster—a human who preys on children or the vampire who tries to save them.

What makes Blood Drive stand out is Jeanne‘s handling of Anna’s journey. It’s a more nuanced and complex exploration of what immortality means to someone newly immortal, paralleled by Anna travelling deeper into the world that she is now part of.
My main gripe about the series is that the male characters in the series are rather flat, though this has improved since the first book, The Becoming, especially with the introduction of Daniel Frey. But this detracts rather less from the book than it should, perhaps because this book is first and foremost about Anna Strong.

Blood Drive is one of the best urban fantasy novels I’ve read in awhile, and I can’t wait for the next book, The Watcher, to be released.

Blood Drive rates 4 out of 5.

Full Disclosure: Jeanne sent me this book, and I have interviewed her recently. There is also another extract of Blood Drive available here.

02
May
07

Lynn Viehl: Night Lost

A Noble Prisoner…

Gabriel Seran has falen into the hands of the fanatical religious order known as the Brethren. Though abandoned by his fellow Kyn, he remains honor bound to protect their secrets from his interrogators. Blinded, nailed to a cross, and sealed in a chapel cellar beneath a ruined chateau, Gabriel faces an eternity of suffering.

An Obsessed Thief…

Nicola “Nick” Jefferson has been traveling across Europe, looting churches of their precious artwork and fencing the treasures to make her living. At each destination, she liberates the captive vampires, hoping they’ll provide her with information leading to the one artifact she so desperately craves: the Golden Madonna.

A Fateful Coupling…

Gabriel and Nick have met before in each other’s dreams. Bound together by more than coincidence, their destinies intertwine even as their passions ignite…

I loved this book. What, you expected me to say anything else? Of course I loved this book.

I have a huge soft spot for Michael, and I liked Thierry and Lucan, but it is Gabriel I sigh over. *sigh*

Nicola’s a different sort of heroine. I can’t put my finger on it though, despite having read it many times (hey, I’ve had the ARC for more than two months now, I think). Ideas?

And the writing! As much as I adore Lynn, I don’t usually call her writing beautiful. I call it tight, snappy etc. But this time, beautiful is a good adjective. A very good adjective. The nightlands… *sighs again*

Go get this book. You won’t regret it.

This rates 5 out of 5.

01
May
07

Lara Adrian: Kiss Of Midnight

INSATIABLE DESIRE. ENDLESS SEDUCTION. ONE TOUCH IS JUST THE BEGINNING.

He watches her from across the crowded dance club, a sensual black-haired stranger who stirs Gabrielle’s deepest fantasies. But nothing about this night–or this man–is what it seems. For when Gabrielle witnesses a murder outside the club, reality shifts into something dark and deadly. In that shattering instant she is thrust into a realm she never knew existed–a realm where vampires stalk the shadows and a blood war is set to ignite.

Lucan Thorne despises the violence carried out by his lawless brethren. A vampire himself, Lucan is a Breed warrior, sworn to protect his kind–and the unwitting humans existing alongside them–from the mounting threat of the Rogues. Lucan cannot risk binding himself to a mortal woman, but when Gabrielle is targeted by his enemies, he has no choice but to bring her into the dark underworld he commands.

Here, in the arms of the Breed’s formidable leader, Gabrielle will confront an extraordinary destiny of danger, seduction, and the darkest pleasures of all . . . .

I first read this on my laptop, and then in print, as Lara was kind enough to send me a print ARC as well. Interesting to note that I enjoyed reading it in print more.

This is a more suspensey type of paranormal, as opposed to a more fantasy type of paranormal. I tend to prefer the latter, but Kiss of Midnight hit all the right buttons for me.

I very much appreciated the characterization of Lucan (yes, I survived the name) and Gabrielle. It’s all show, not tell.

I found that there were what appeared to be unneccessary subplots. Perhaps they will be continued in later books, though I can’t see how and in my humble opinion, they could have been cut and the book tightened just that teeny bit more.

Now, there are likenesses to various popular vampire romance series out there (believe me, I’ve read them all). Some might argue that there isn’t anything terribly original about the Breed. I do agree with this, to some extent, but for a number of reasons, I personally still prefer the Breed over many of them, and if you want to discuss them, that’s what the comments are for.

But execution matters most of all, and in this I think Kiss of Midnight surpasses many of the vampire romances on the market.

This rates 4 out of 5.

13
Mar
07

Saskia Walker: The Strangeling

One woman alone holds the power…

…to undo the hundred-year-old curse of an invincible army of dead men who wait to prey upon the living. Maerose, a beautiful, resilient maiden must drive back the evil spirits by mating with a man of faith on the dark night of Samhain at the very gates of the underworld. Her dormant magic can only be unleashed by willing submission to her predestined lover . . . but a mad man aligned with the demonic forces of the underworld threatens to possess her in his place.

The Strangeling reads like a fairytale. A dark, sensual fairytale.

It’s the kind of book you want to read curled up by the fireplace in winter, perhaps with a nice cup of hot chocolate in your hand.

I found that the second half of the book was better than the first half, largely because there is some degree to which you have to suspend belief, but I think it’s very much worth reading through to the end.

FWIW, it was easy for me to suspend belief because Saskia’s voice works very well for me. I will be getting more of her books.

This rates 4 out of 5.

01
Mar
07

Vicki Pettersson: The Scent Of Shadows

When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert. By rights, she should be dead.Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset—a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow—seeking answers to whom or what she really is . . . and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.

But the nightmare is just beginning—for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful shadows want her for their own . . .

Vicki Pettersson does not disappoint, and Joanna Archer? She kicks ass. When she gets knocked down, she gets up and punches back.

Reading The Scent of Shadows is like taking a trip to Las Vegas! It’s comes together with great worldbuilding too–if you read comics, you have to pick this book up, and you’ll find out why when you read it.

And the final paragraph sent chills down my spine. (if you read the ending first, I’ll shoot you, plus I don’t think reading the ending first will make much sense, so DON’T)

This rates 5 out of 5.

27
Feb
07

Richelle Mead: Succubus Blues

Succubus (n) An alluring, shape-shifting demon who seduces and pleasures mortal men.
Pathetic (adj.) A succubus with great shoes and no social life. See: Georgina Kincaid.

When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants. The wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid’s life is far less exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies. Her immortal best friends haven’t stopped teasing her about the time she shape-shifted into the Demon Goddess get-up complete with whip and wings. And she can’t have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy’s life. At least there’s her day job at a local bookstore—free books, all the white chocolate mochas she can drink, and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can’t.

But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle’s demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won’t help because Georgina’s about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny…

I did tell you guys how much I enjoyed this book already.

But here’s the full-length version.

I think Lilith Saintcrow said it best when she called Succubus Blues
“Dysfunction, funny and sexy!”

It’s quite the page-turner too, except for a section towards the end.

I would have liked to understand Georgina’s world better. Other than who’s her boss and her stealing souls, there’s not much you know about it.

Um, it’s not a romance. Just to make it clear. Kensington’s not even putting romance on the spine.

I want to read the next book!

This rates 4.5 out of 5.

07
Feb
07

Megan Hart: Dirty

I loved Dirty. I loved Dirty. That sounds really Dirty.

Curiously, for a first person novel, it is distant. I didn’t really connect with Elle; it’s more like watching a movie then sinking into Elle’s head.

But what a lovely movie! Slowly, we peel off the layers of Elle’s personality, and it is a sensual ride into her psyche.

I do think that Dan could have been…Well, I think Dan doesn’t really ‘pop’ off the page.

FYI, Megan sent this to me.

This rates 5 out of 5, because I reread it again before writing this review and loved it just as much.

26
Dec
06

Jackie Kessler: Hell’s Belles

Well, you all already know I liked this book.

What makes this book stand out for me is that Jezebel is not a human, and she in no way acts like one. She’s a succubus, and she likes being a succubus, even if she’s in a human guise.

Jackie has really cool worldbuilding. Cool enough that I’m V. jealous that I didn’t think of it first.

To be sure, there are flaws. It is a first book, and like many first books, I think it could have been paced better. At some points, Jezebel’s voice got on my nerves. Not her, since she didn’t do anything TSTL, just her voice.

Still, I really liked the ending. That’s more spoiler stuff. A lot of what I want to discuss is spoiler stuff, which I’ll take to the comments because I don’t know how to do the white-out code.
This rates 4 out of 5.

03
Dec
06

Succubi on Sunday

Maybe I should make this a regular feature.

The first succubi story I read was not Richelle‘s or Jackie‘s.

It was Eileen WilksOriginally Human in the Cravings anthology, which I bought in my bid to assuage my need for more Lupi books, though of course I enjoyed it anyway.

And now we have more succubi books!

This is only going to be a short “why you should get them” post. The full review will go up in December for Hell’s Belles and March next year for Succubus Blues.

I think I’m the first to do a comparison, at least online. Correct me if I’m wrong though.

They are very different books, despite the outward similarities. In some areas, both Richelle and Jackie took almost perfectly opposite approaches.

In terms of voice, Jezebel, who stars in Hell’s Belles, has a slightly chick-lit flavor, IMHO. She is very exuberant, enjoying her new life on Earth despite being on the run. She is what she is, a succubus, though over the course of the book, you slowly see just how well she fits on Earth.

Georgina, the star of Succubus Blues, on the other hand has always lived on Earth, and she has for centuries now. In her day-to-day routine, she lives like a human woman. She has a dayjob, bunch of pals she drinks/parties with, etc. Except that she is also an immortal shapeshifter who steals/claims souls for Hell.

Hell’s Belles has a red cover and Succubus Blues has a, you guessed it, a blue cover. I think that the colors represent the respective personalities very well.

You actually go to Hell (I mean that in a fictional sort of way, not in a rude, fuck off and die sort of way) in Hell’s Belles. I really like Jackie’s concept of Hell, by the way. In fact, I like it so much, I am JEALOUS. Big time.

On the other hand, you delve more deeply into Georgina’s psyche, by taking a trip into her past. I do feel that it’s a bit more character-driven than Hell’s Belles (this is an observation, not a complaint). You see Georgina interacting more with other people, whereas Jezebel’s a bit self-absorbed and tends to observe people rather than really interacting with them–though I do put this down to her ‘new’ to Earth.

I liked both books equally, or almost equally, but which one I prefer more will depend on what day it is, and definitely recommend reserving at your favorite indie bookstore.

Also, it’s EVIL to leave excerpts at the back for books that won’t be out for a year or more!

PS Angie? 😛 Nanananananana!

01
Dec
06

Alison Kent: Beyond A Shadow

Beyond A Shadow is an SG-5 book, and technically is the last in the series, though Alison‘s said that there will be several spin-off novels.

For Ezra, this is the end of his mission, the end of a long, difficult road.

Contrast that with Alexa, a woman who is breaking free of her shell to start a new journey. Ezra is both the catalyst and her journey.

I love Ezra, especially his voice. Read just one scene in his POV and you know so much about his character. It’s absolutely great characterization. And I adored his scenes with Emmy Moore, when I usually dislike children in my romances.

This is definitely one of my top romances of 2006.

This rates 5 out of 5.

PS This is an ARC from Alison.

01
Aug
06

HelenKay Dimon: Viva Las Bad Boys

Jackpot is a heroine goes undercover in order to prove hero is a villain story.

The issue here is that the heroine, Laine, is an accountant and I can’t for the life of me see an accountant doing that.

This is where the Accountants of the World drop by to flame me, I suppose.

Player’s Club

Oooh. I loved this novella.

I’ve a thing for men who can cook. Sigh.

And I love heroines who are the opposite of pushovers.
Two Of A Kind

Caroline leads a double life. Unfortunately, her double life clashes with Alex’s job.

But he doesn’t find out until he stumbles over her things from her Other Life in her room. And boy is he pissed!

Of course, he gets over it, even if Caroline had to smack him over the head.

Me, I suggest you go buy the book and enjoy it at the beach. I do think that really sexy books like this one aren’t right for the beach, but I’m not you.

Comment here anytime until Friday, midnight, EST and you’ll go into a drawing for a signed copy.

31
Jul
06

When Good Things Happen To Bad Boys…

Lori Foster: Playing Doctor

I actually managed to finish this one despite swearing never to read another Foster book. Great set-up, even if I don’t really thinking Axel and Libby will live happily ever after–which isn’t a dealbreaker for me anyway.

Erin McCarthy: The Lady Of The Lake

This is my first McCarthy read.

I made it through despite it being a “I’m not pretty enough for you!” book.

The plot is actually very like a Susan Elizabeth Phillips book. I looked it up, and I’m pretty sure it’s Nobody’s Baby But Mine.

Girl is not very pretty. But Girl wants a baby. So what does Girl do? Girl sleeps with a famous and rich and handsome athlete. Girl tries to keep Athlete and Fetus/Baby apart, but does not succeed.

Sadly for McCarthy, I remember the SEP book to be much better than her novella.

HelenKay Dimon: Hardhats And Silk Stockings

Ah, the story I wanted to read.

Very hot set-up. I really like Whit.

Hardhats And Silk Stockings is a heroine’s story though. It is Hannah who grows as a character.

I do think that it reads as though HelenKay had to cut out details to retain the novella length. But I did finish it with a smile, so it’s certainly worth a read.

No, I don’t think this anthology is worth buying just for HelenKay’s novella, especially not at trade paperback price. It is worth spending the time to read it, but not the money.

FYI, this is a signed copy from HelenKay, and her interview should be up tomorrow.

24
Jul
06

Pure Sex

Lucinda Betts: The Bet

Very hot, and very sensual, but despite it’s novella-length, she does actually leave me satisfied that Zoe and Phillip are meant to be together. That is really rare for me. And their banter sure is fun!

I’ll be keeping an eye out for her.

Bonnie Edwards: Slow Hand

I’ve had problems connecting with her characters before. Same thing again, and I think it’s simply that her writing doesn’t work for me.

Sasha White: The Crib 

Alexis reminds me of Annabel from Alison Kent’s gIRL-gEAR books–I’ve just read it, before writing this review. And that’s a very good thing in my book.
Sasha’s writing style is almost raw, and it suits Alexis’s voice perfectly. I don’t tend to like reading sex scenes in first person, but this time, it works for me.

My quibble is that I don’t think the plot worked very well. I felt it suffered Novella-itis, which is when the author had to cut and cut and cut some more in order to keep it a novella.

And since she tells me she reads my blog, Sasha, are we going to get another Alexis book?

I liked this antho, but I’d honestly suggest getting the authors single titles instead. You’d probably get better value for your money.

FYI, Sasha sent me this book.

07
Jul
06

Jo Leigh: Closer…

There are no unnecessary words in this book.

Just go buy this book.

FYI, Jo Leigh sent me the book.

26
Jun
06

Angela Knight: The Forever Kiss

This is my first AK book–because I saw the pink cover for Master of the Moon and couldn't bring myself to pick any other AK book up. 

I picked it up expecting a hot read. It is, after all, a Red Sage book, not to mention that Angela Knight is known as a hot writer. And it had vampires, tortured vampires! 

But it just didn't work for me. Her voice, I think, is the issue. I couldn't get 'sucked in.'

So I was skimming as I reached the end. Even the sex was boring.
Disclaimer: This book is a signed copy I won from Kate Douglas. 

26
Apr
06

Date With A Devil: An anthology

I won this book from Access Romance–there are two others, and I'll review them soon.

Anne Stuart: Blind Date From Hell

I liked this one, especially the setup–read the novella, I've decided not to do spoilers here. 

Short, sweet (I don't mean no sex), and all tied up in a neat little package. 

Cherry Adair: Dance With The Devil

What devil? I do not get the title at all! Maybe my brain was stressed–I was on the treadmill at the time. 

It's a sexy read–it is possible that the sex covered more than half the pages. Frankly, I'd have said the plot drove for the sex, and everything else was just icing. But it was pretty good icing anyway.
Muriel Jensen: Hal And Damnation

Don't read it.  

09
Apr
06

Alesia Holliday: Blondes Have More Felons

Full Disclosure: I won this from Alesia. 🙂

Alesia is a Literary Chick (they have the coolest guest bloggers and great contests every month) and a Mystery Chick, which tells you what her new series is about rather well. And it comes through on both points.
First of all, I liked this book. It’s not my usual kind of book (Berkley Prime Crime isn’t an imprint that I pick up), but it is certainly good enough to consider getting the next book in the series.

December is a bit too emotional for my regular reading, but I liked her. She did what she had to do to get what she wants in her new life, such as time to do pro bono work etc. I’m terribly curious about one specific thing: Why was she named December?
Plot-wise, it all came together. I do think that the one about December’s furniture getting lost was over-the-top, and frankly, pointless, but it didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book. Just left me scratching my head.

I’m going to assume that we will learn more about Max and Mr. Ellison and Aunt Celia and Uncle Nathan in future books. I am especially curious about Max–December’s office manager–and that little subplot that has to do with her and a guy named Wrench. 😉

Oh and Jake Brody? *drool* Alesia, I want to see more of him!

04
Mar
06

The Hard Stuff

This is anthology is one of the first Aphrodisia titles.

I won my copy on Writeminded, and it came signed by Karin Tabke.

Stakeout by Karin Tabke
A cop and a Fed, with a past relationship, and the case they are working on now…

It’s pretty nifty how Karin managed to avoid the squick factor some of us (not me) see in group sex by having her hero and heroine be voyeurs instead. Very hot too.

As for the story, it’s not rushed, unlike many novellas I’ve read, and the storyline works. Karin has a deft hand with banter, and if she becomes a repeat author for me, that will be why.
Bodywork by Bonnie Edwards
This is definitely the novella I enjoyed least.
The sex itself was hot. But the story left me cold. I hardly think that’s what an erotic romance writer would want to happen to her read.

I can’t explain why. She’s got craft, pacing, etc. I just don’t think the story has heart.

Chinatown by Sunny

Mark my words, but Sunny is going to be a star. 🙂

Beautiful writing, well-structured, and it all comes together with a sensual feel.

The Hard Stuff is definitely worth getting. It runs to the more vanilla-side of erotic romance (I’m not saying this is a bad thing; it simply is), but sometimes, it’s about the writing and not the content. Karin Tabke and Sunny have certainly succeeded on that score.

But for those of us who are looking for more hardcore sex, Kate Douglas’s Wolf Tales would be more the thing.

17
Jan
06

Alison Kent: Larger Than Life

I recently won an ARC from Alison for Larger Than Life–yes, I know it was published June last year, but it seems she only found them recently.

It’s a pretty good book. Alison tied everything up together pretty neatly, including the peripheral threads. It is NOT the first book in the series, that would be The Bane Affair. I don’t think it’s necessary to read the preceding 5 books first though.

She also sent me the gorgeous cover flat for Deep Breath, her current release and the book that comes after Larger Than Life. I’ll pick up The Bane Affair first though. She also writes for Blaze and is the author for the upcoming–sometime soon the writer in me hopes–Idiot’s Guide to Writing Erotic Romance.

Whilst I’m talking about Alison, she’s running a contest on her blog. All you need to do is give her feedback on her upcoming website redesign to be entered in a drawing for Deep Breath. Contest ends on Friday.