Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Darkest Day by Britt Bury

Synopsis: ALL-CONSUMING DESIRE . . . Izel Campbell was raised to believe she is an immortal Fionn with the magical skills of persuasion. But when she travels to Scotland to visit her ancestral home, Izel discovers that she is actually the world's last living human. Forced to run for her life, Izel crosses paths with Kelvin Kerr, the Campbells' greatest foe-and the most magnificent warrior she has ever seen.   BURNS BRIGHTEST . . . A thousand-year-old battle chief of the Kerr clan, Kelvin lives only to avenge his father, who died at the hands of the bloody Campbells. Honor demands he kill the Campbell heir, but when he learns that the lovely Izel is both Campbell and human, Kelvin is torn between duty and desire . . .
My Thoughts: The Darkest Day had my attention from chapter 1 and despite a couple of things that struck me odd during the course of the book I would say Britt Bury has penned a winner of a debut!

What I Liked: Despite the similarities between Bury's book and Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series (there are quite a few similarities), I found the bulk of this book to be well put together and quite original. Normally if someone would have told me that a chunk of this book was just like the IAD series I might have refused to read The Darkest Day on principle. I love IAD and would hate for someone to make a less than adequate copy of it. However, Britt Bury did not make a horrible copy of a Kresley Cole book. The similarities are done in a way that is more of a shout out rather than a punk copying answers to the test kind of way. I wont get into specific similarities but if you read this book (which I think you should) and you're familiar with IAD you will see right away what I mean.

The Characters: Izel and Kelvin are pretty amazing together. Their banter is fun and made me laugh a few times. Their passion is pretty sizzling too. I was fully invested in them as a couple that towards the end I admit I was a little bit weepy.

The different types of beings: This is the first book I've ever read that has introduced me to a Pookah and a Fionn. I love that Bury didn't rely on the tired Werewolf/Vampire species when building her world. Yes there are vampires but they aren't hunky ones that you want to throw out your morals and bare a dozen undead children with. They are nasty buggers (they're eeeeeeeevilllllll...insert diabolical laugh here).

What I Didn't Like As Much: Her Shielding Glamour...At the beginning you find out that Izel has been glamoured which masked her human-ness from leaking out making her highly sought after....and not in a good way. This, apparently, was done at birth. I had some unanswered questions regarding this. Why did her glamour fail at that specific time? Why did her entire appearance have to change? If the glamour prevented her from feeling emotions why did she never at least try to have a 'normal' physical relationship? She experienced pain so she should have experienced pleasure too. I always have a hard time believing in a 27 year old virgin in the year 2012.

I also thought that even though the different species was interesting I was confused as to what a Pookah and a Fionn were through a large part of the book. Come to find out there is a glossary which helped out immensely. As this is an ebook flipping back and forth between the text and the glossary is something that I struggle with...but that isn't Ms. Bury's issue. It's mine. I just mention it because I want to make sure no one else wonders what the hell a Pookah is through so much of the book.

Izel's Lack of Knowledge About Her Own World: It's like the woman lived in a bubble (which could have been true because of her human-ness but it wasn't). I am just wondering why she wasn't naturally curious about herself, her parents and the other species that are enemies of the Fionns. Plus it appears she is a major player in her Grandfather's Clan....she didn't know about that either. I understand that some of the book relies on her naivety but I would have liked her a little more knowledgeable.

It's the Old Fated Mate Plot: Granted this has worked  very well in the past and Britt Bury pulls it off nicely. I'm just tired of this plot devise being so overused to explain why the couple should be together. Once again this is my issue and not necessarily the book's. I mention it because this review is all about my feelings toward the book.

To Wrap It Up: Despite some drawbacks this book is actually very entertaining and enjoyable. I am really looking forward to reading more in the series and there are a few extremely interesting men who I am hoping get their HEA. Overall, 4 cups of coffee!

Oh and this book appears to only be available in eBook format. Never fear though, you can purchase it at amazon and Barnes&Noble  (in the US) for only $4.99


Thursday, July 12, 2012

At Last by Jill Shalvis

Synopsis: HER LOVE HAS COME ALONG... — Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor.  A waitress in the local diner, she's looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains.  But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers.  And even though she's tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won't make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.

A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn't let anyone get too close.  But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner.  After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can't deny their attraction -- or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more.  Now it's up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor.

My Thoughts: I've been struggling over the last couple days to put into words what I felt about this book. Honestly it isn't a favorite but it was more enjoyable then an average book. Amy is vulerable yet stubbornly independent. She's struggling to create a life for herself and become something better than who she was in her past. Matt is fascinated with her.

What I Liked: Their attraction. It's really what brings them together, (that and our heroine being lost in the middle of the woods needing a hunka-hunka DNR officer to rescue her) so, anyway, I was not surprised that the love scenes were sizzling. I was surprised that I enjoyed reading them as much as I did. I'm a habitual skipper of the noisy moisture sharing parts in my romance books but didn't skip even one word of the hot lovin' that Ms Shalvis created. I think this attests to her skill in writing these scenes and that she doesn't throw them in to meet some hot monkey sex quota.

The secondary characters were equally fascinating. I am looking forward to the hunky doctor's story and to see where the young homeless person's storyline goes. I'm hoping that we see more of her anyway and she gets a happily ever after someday.

The secondary storyline of Amy's grandmother and her journey to the mountains near Lucky Harbor was also very well done. We learn about it through Amy who is trying to follow the journey made so many decades ago in hopes of finding herself. This storyline gave us insight into Amy.

What I Didn't Like (or rather what I thought could have been a tad better): There was yet another storyline within the book that could have been fleshed out more. We see a group of juvenile delinquents wrecking havoc on Matt and his job but after having read another book with a similar secondary storyline I couldn't help compare them. Which honestly, isn't that fair to Jill to compare her to Nora Roberts but as I just finished reading the Roberts' book I just can't help it. Nora just did it better. I think this secondary storyline was important to the characterization of Matt as it showed his morals, values and his ability to stand against evil (or one snot nosed special brownie eating punk teenager). Because it was important I would have liked to have seen more of it.

Overall a good read that I'm glad I had the opportunity to read. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series (Forever and A Day). Jill Shalvis is quickly becoming my go to author for fun contemporary romances.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Witness by Nora Roberts

Synopsis: Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive.  The events that followed changed her life forever.  Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks.  A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems -- and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms.  She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing.  But Abigail's reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason.  Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated.  He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something -- and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

What I liked: The beginning.  I really enjoyed learning about Liz and felt for her when it was clear that her mother was not maternal. I was really able to identify with the decisions she made. I also loved that because of her logical mind she was able to comprehend what mistakes she made that lead up to her life being turned upside down.

I also liked Abigail and her social awkwardness. If you've watched the TV show The Big Bang Theory, Abigail is like Leonard. So smart but socially stunted and completely out of her element when she has to be around other people. 

I really liked Brooks too... I think that Nora really excels at creating men that we women really want but have a hard time finding.  Brooks is a great blend of an Alpha Male and a Beta. His need to protect is great but does not feel emasculated when Abigail does not need him to protect her. He is not one to beat on his chest then throw his woman over his shoulder to 'rescue' her. He may feel like he needs to do so but he doesn't. He's one smart cookie.

What I didn't like: Around the half way mark the book lost some momentum. This is when we are introduced to Abigail. As fascinating as she was (love an uber smart woman) her part of the storyline seemed to drag a bit. There were a few scenes that really did nothing to propel the story forward and could have been cut. 

Which leads me to the length. I read the hard cover version and there were almost 500 pages. There were a few times that I really felt the book was 800 pages long. I really have a short attention span and books that are over 400 pages tend to intimidate me. True story.

I thought Brooks' and Abigail's romance was nice but I just didn't have an big 'sigh' moments.

Back to Abigail...I think there was an inconstancy or two in her behavior towards the last 1/3 of the book. She is so much like Tempe Brennan from the Bones TV show (a good thing!) She is very smart and very clinical. She analyzes everything.  Knowing this I find it strange she would all of a sudden say something like (and I'm paraphrasing) 'you and our love is magic.' Abigail does not wax poetic. She describes mutual physical attraction as a chemical reaction for Pete's Sake! For her to refer to their love as magic (and Brooks in particular) she'd either have had to be drunk or suffering from a concussion. (So now I've totally compared Abigail to two different TV show characters!)

I would have liked to see more of a wrapped up ending when it came to the bad guys too. I find it odd that despite the bad guys being really bad it didn't seem that they were doing much to find Liz. Perhaps if the book would have spent a bit more time from their point of view instead of the once or twice it briefly did I would have felt that part of the book was more developed. I expected more of a thrilling read with Liz being in suspenseful danger but we really didn't see that. 

Overall a decent read but not a favorite. I was hovering between 3.5 or a 4 star rating and ended up with 4 because I love Nora and I'm one of those preferential treatment people.