Sunday, August 25, 2013

Working Stiff by Rachel Caine

Synopsis: Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn't the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment--until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the part of an extortion racket. Now Bryn faces being terminated (literally) with extreme prejudice. 

With the assistance of corporate double agent Patrick McCallister, Bryn has a chance to take down the bigger problem--pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She'd better do it fast before she becomes a zombie slave--a real working stiff.

She'd be better off dead....

My thoughts: Although I wasn't completely blown away by this book it was a really good book with an interesting twist on the zombie trend within the Urban Fantasy genre. 

What worked for me: The tone of the book is set at a pretty dark pace which worked for this story. There are no rainbows and butterflies found in this book. It is a book about death and the corruption involved when humans control whether people die and stay dead or become undead. 

Our characters are quite complex from our heroine to our (maybe) hero. The bad guys are very nasty and the good guys live in a gray area where you constantly wonder if they are good or bad. Bryn is a capable heroine with a military background and an ability to  work with the dead from a mortuary standpoint. The secondary characters are well developed and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in the second book.

There were enough twists and turns within the book to keep me more than interested and I couldn't help but connect with Bryn in her need to stay alive while other people used her as their puppet.

What didn't work for me: The fact that Bryn had quite a military background yet seemed to have no survival skills unless she had a gun in her hand. I was getting quite tired of her constantly getting smashed in the head or face, getting knocked out and/or walking into situations blindly with no apparent strategy. 

The fact that this book introduced a romance between reanimated Bryn and a fully alive man boarders on the ick. The only way I was able to go with it was to keep reminding myself that Bryn was not a traditional rotting brain eating zombie. The drug that Bryn has to take every day keeps her organs working or as Caine said "The drug maintains you. It doesn't bring you back to life, just supports your vital functions. If you wanted to get poetic, I'd say it replaces your soul." So, without getting into theological debates, essentially while Bryn is taking the drug she is, in fact, alive.

Overall: A book that won't appeal to everyone but for myself, it worked. I liked the darker path Caine took with this book and my inner psycho loved every gory scene. I am looking forward to the second book in this series.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Megan's Mark by Lora Leigh

Synopsis: In the first book of her erotic new series, Lora Leigh invites you to an intriguing world where genetically altered Breeds and the humans who created them commingle - and sometimes cross the boundaries of desire...

Cursed with the extraordinary power to feel other peoples' emotions, Megan Fields has tucked herself away in a remote corner of New Mexico, working as a small-town sheriff's deputy. She finds solace in the silence and heat of the desert. But when Breeds begin dying on her watch, Megan realizes that the secrets from her past can't stay buried forever. Someone is out for blood - her blood.

An arrogant Feline Breed, Braden Arness broods with feral intensity. His mission to solve the mysterious murders brings him to Megan, a woman who accosts his senses like no other. Only with him can she let down her guard - and surrender to the insatiable hunger that wracks her body. But as they team up to hunt the elusive killers, Braden and Megan find themselves becoming the prey...

My Thoughts: I've had this book in my TBR for what seemed like forever. This series was recommended to me by another paranormal romance lover so I bought it and several others in the series. It sat on my shelves for a long time because I kept hearing from fans of the genre opinions that greatly varied from LOVED IT!!!! to HATED IT!!!! with not a whole lot of in between feedback. I finally thought I'd take the plunge and this is what I thought of it. With some good and some bad I found this to be right in the middle on the enjoyability scale.

What didn't work for me: According to the back blurb this was marketed as the first in a new paranormal series yet after further research (which I wished I'd done before purchasing this book) I found this is actually the 6th full length novel in the Breeds series. The first 5 were released under the publishing company of Ellora's Cave which is an erotica publishing company. As this book was released by a more mainstream publishing company (Berkley) I thought it would be tamer than it's erotic book brethren. If this is indeed tamer I probably will not go back and read the EC books because I'm not a big fan of erotica.

I think pointing out this is NOT the first book in the series is important. I often read romances out of order but I do it by choice. To be misled by the publishing company irritates me beyond measure. There are other readers who absolutely will not read books out of order so use this as a gentle warning to potential Breed series readers.

Now for the I mentioned I'm not a fan of erotica but went into this book with an open mind and did not hold that against this book. What I am holding against it is that the sex completely overshadowed a very awesome kick butt suspenseful plot. It is entirely possible for an author to write an exceptional book using the sex to enhance the story without making the sex the purpose of the story. Each love scene was at least a dozen pages and there were quite a few of them. When the characters were not having sex they were talking about sex, thinking about sex or catching the scent of wet panties which we read about a lot. I'm actually surprised Megan didn't get some kind of infection from running around all the time wearing them.

So, lots of sex. Got it. It just could have been so freaking awesome to have had a stronger plot besides the destined Mated we have to have sex all the time or you'll practically die of horniness plot. Another aspect of the sex I did have issues with was that for paranormal romances and sex in particular to work for me and most women the characters have to essentially be humanoid in appearance (ie: the penis better look like a man's penis and not have some weird cocklebur that shoots out the end upon climax.) Braden is a Man with Lion DNA so even though he looks like a man he has some cat features (google cat barbed penis you'll get what I mean). In addition to that all the lionmen appear to have glands under their tongues that secrete stuff when kissing their mate. This completely grossed me out because all I could think of was secreting boils on his tongue and now, so will you.

Ok enough about that....What worked for me: Megan was actually an awesome character who was so strong despite her often debilitating empathic gift. She didn't need Braden to come to her rescue and was more than capable of defending herself and taking out enemies who were genetically far advanced than she. Her joy in utilizing her training and instincts was contagious and I loved reading about her in action in the field.

The action and suspense was excellent. I really wish Leigh would have used this as her primary plot device instead of the uncontrollable mating one.

The world building was satisfactory despite this not being the first book in the series. I had a firm grip on how the Breeds came to be and which groups were good and which ones were not. I did find I had some unanswered questions regarding a lot of Braden's background and what went on in the labs where they were created but I suspect that many of those questions are answered slowly throughout the entire series.

As secondary characters go, there is only one that really intrigued me because Jonas is extremely complex. Everyone he works with seems to be intimidated by him and the reader just can't get a grip on if he is a good guy or a bad guy. I'm hoping that we learn more about him throughout the rest of the series and because of this and the killer action I'm going to read more of the series.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Newcomer by Robyn Carr

Synopsis from Robyn Carr's website: Single dad and Thunder Point’s deputy sheriff “Mac” McCain has worked hard to keep everyone safe and happy. Now he’s found his own happiness with Gina James. The longtime friends have always shared the challenges and rewards of raising their adolescent daughters. With an unexpected romance growing between them, they’re feeling like teenagers themselves—suddenly they can’t get enough of one another.

And just when things are really taking off, their lives are suddenly thrown into chaos. When Mac’s long-lost—and not missed-ex—wife shows up in town, drama takes on a whole new meaning. They’re wondering if their new feelings for each other can withstand the pressure...but they are not going down without a fight.
Step into the world of Thunder Point, a little town on the Oregon coast where newcomers are welcomed, hearts are broken and mended, and the dramas of everyday life keep the locals laughing, crying and falling in love.

My Thoughts: I still struggle a bit with the fact that this new series of Robyn's is not a traditional romance one. There are multiple romances going on throughout each book and all of them tend to receive equal pages so none really are as featured as the back blurbs might indicate. Despite my struggles Carr's new series does tend to work. Readers just have to understand that if you're looking for a romance where one couple is featured to the Happily Ever After completion they will not find it here. What also works is Carr's ability to create compelling characters and a strong community setting making them extremely real to her readers.

The town of Thunder Point is quaint and a place the reader will long to visit to see and her descriptions of the ocean and beach backdrop are intriguing. The characters' lives are often tremulous and filled with drama but nicely balanced with strength and total likability.

Specific to this installment I did feel that some of the drama felt overwhelming, Ashley's life in particular. The girl just couldn't catch a break and went through hell in this book. Despite what she went through she came out just fine in the end. My biggest problem with all of the drama surrounding her life was once she was out of crisis mode it seemed much of her reasoning felt a bit too mature for her age. Perhaps this was Robyn's way of making Ashley just a one of a kind intelligent and mature young adult but it rang just a little unlikely to me.

In addition, the romance between Cooper and Sarah had two major snafus yet one of them was left dangling at the end making it necessary for the readers to read the next installment to see what happens. However, the romance between Mac and Gina blossomed into a lovely relationship and the reader can't help but cheer them on as they got closer and closer.

Despite these things I had issues with this was a really good book with an intensity that will play with the reader's emotions in a good way. A new reader could pick up this book without reading the first one but if read in order the reader will have more of an appreciation of the character developments.