Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione

Title: Desire Unchained
Author: Larissa Ione

Series: #2 in the Demonica series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Forever  (March 1, 2009)

Source: Purchased
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Pleasure is their ultimate weapon . . . 

Runa Wagner never meant to fall in love with the sexy stranger who seemed to know her every deepest desire. But she couldn't resist the unbelievable passion that burned between them, a passion that died when she discovered his betrayal and found herself forever changed. Now, determined to make Shade pay for the transformation that haunts her, Runa searches for him, only to be taken prisoner by his darkest enemy. 

A Seminus Demon with a love-curse that threatens him with eternal torment, Shade hoped he'd seen the last of Runa and her irresistible charm. But when he wakes up in a dank dungeon chained next to an enraged and mysteriously powerful Runa, he realizes that her effect on him is more dangerous than ever. As their captor casts a spell that bonds them as lifemates, Shade and Runa must fight for their lives and their hearts-or succumb to a madman's evil plans.

My Thoughts: Wow! I loved this book. After finding the first one good but not great I didn't have high expectations for this one but since so many of my bookie friends love this series I was looking forward to reading it. So glad I did!

The Good Stuff: Sometimes a book and it's characters speak to you. This book did that for me. I liked Shade and worried over him as if he were real. I appreciated Runa and the strong woman she was. I'm not sure if I'd have liked her as much if I "met" her prior to her becoming a warg because she sounded a bit like milquetoast but I'm so glad I got to know the person she became. Not only did Ione do an amazing job at fleshing out her MCs, her supporting characters were great too. I'm really looking forward to reading their books as well. As far as the plot goes, I was so engrossed in it I read far later into the night to make sure my H/h were going to be OK.  Oh and Larissa does an amazing job of continuing her world building. I love the setting of the demon hospital!

The Bad Stuff: While I didn't mind any of these things I think others might so I feel I should include them as more of a warning to other readers. Runa runs hot and cold and then hot again in regards to Shade. She hates him. She loves him. She wants to rip his clothes off of him. You get the picture. Shade has a "torture chamber" in his bedroom. That's right folks. Shade is way into BDSM. Not a deal breaker for many but some might have issues with the punishing of women who "need" it even if they leave his lair completely satisfied. Some people might find this bordering on abusive. Speaking of Shade, since he has no plans to ever fall in love he has a history of lovin' and leavin' and cheating isn't beneath him. 

In a Nutshell: Despite some obvious issues with the characters I still loved this book. I will definitely move on to book 3 in the series. Thanks to all my bookie friends who "forced" me to read this series.

Before Midnight: A Romantic Retelling of Cinderella by Jennifer Blackstream

Title: Before Midnight: A Romantic Retelling of Cinderella
Author: Jennifer Blackstream

Series: #1 in the Blood Prince series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Skeleton Key Publishing (November 30, 2013)

Source: Purchased/Kindle Freebie
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Loupe always dreamed of getting married. She yearned for a caring husband who would take her away from her servant-like existence at home with her stepmother and two stepsisters, a man who would love her forever. Those dreams ended the day she was bitten by a werewolf. Now she’s a mindless beast on the night of the full moon—a condition that forever prevents her from sharing a marriage bed. Not even the attentions of a handsome and endearingly strong prince can convince her that the life she wants is still possible.

Etienne is a prince in need of a werewolf. A werewolf himself from birth, Etienne and his family have protected their kingdom with tooth and claw—literally—for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the spell of a well-meaning witch is slowly turning him human. Only the bite of a cursed werewolf, one who was not born with the beast inside, can save him from becoming human. He has no time for anything that will not lead him to a cure for the curse. Not even the beautiful maiden whose gentle nature soothes his soul can take his mind from his goal.

Love cares little for the best laid plans or the impossible. A grand ball. The stroke of twelve. A magic “slipper.” All kinds of things can happen when you don’t leave the ball…Before Midnight.

My Thoughts: While not a one of kind story I appreciated the paranormal aspect it brought to the table immensely
The Good and Bad of it All: For the most part this book was an OK read. Because it was so short it didn't have as developed characters as I would have liked and the plot was fairly thin with very few twists. I thought Loupe's character was the least likable and contradictory to her very nature. She's nothing more than an abused child yet Etienne seems to see more strength in her than I did. In the end she did get a backbone but it's because of her undying love for Etienne that she did a 180 and not some inner enlightenment that would have made her a strong female presence in the book. Oh and I think her name was silly. She was a bitten werewolf yet had the name from convenient.

The book sounds bad but it truly wasn't. Despite some repetitiveness in the writing, Blackstream entertained me with her retelling. The prologue was really good and even though it set up the series and had little to nothing to do with this particular book it has intrigued me too continue with the series.

In a Nutshell: Will I continue on with the series? You betcha. There are still 4 princes to read about. A vampire, a demon, an angel, and a god to be exact!

Deliver Me From Temptation by Tes Hilaire

Title: Deliver Me From Temptation
Author: Tes Hilaire

Series: #2 in the Paladin Warrior series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (December 4, 2012)

Source: Purchased
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Logan Screwed Up... Big Time

When things go bump in the night, Logan bumps back. Vampires, demons, succubi-you name it, he's fought it. His job as Paladin angel warrior is to protect humans. Not fall for one.

She Never Believed in Divine Intervention... Until Now

Detective Jessica Waters protects humans too-with her Glock and a good set of handcuffs. She doesn't believe in fate. But if anyone looks like a gift from the gods, it's Logan. And he clearly knows more about her case than he's letting on...

My Thoughts: While I liked this book better than the first one I find a month after reading it that the book just didn't stay with me.

The Good Stuff: For the most part the cast of characters are really interesting ones. I liked Logan from the first book and liked him even more in the second. However, Valin really stole the show for me. Is he good or is he bad? I don't know but I want more of him. I enjoyed the mystery aspect of Jess investigating the murder that Roland (from the first book) was accused of.

The Bad Stuff: For a cop, Jessica is truly TSTL. I couldn't get over her lack of common sense. She's a detective for Pete's sake! She continually made poor decisions that put her into harms way and when she was almost killed she never reported it. I really can't stand when a character doesn't follow certain specifics that the author had already established. Like, calling for backup which would be standard procedure for a cop. She bugged the crap outta me.

In a Nutshell: As I mentioned before, I read this book about a month ago. Some of the book stuck with me (my obsession with Valin and my anti-girl crush with Jess). However, I have already forgotten the ending. I honestly don't remember if Jess and Logan got their HEA. I'm gonna assume they did as this is a PNR and all but what does that say about a book when the reader lost the entire ending? Despite that issue I'm still going to continue with the series. Valin's story is next up for me. Wooohoooo!

The Boss's Double Trouble Twins by Raye Morgan

Title: The Boss's Double Trouble Twins
Author: Raye Morgan

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Books (November 6, 2007)

Source: Scribd
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: Having the boss's twins!The last person Mitch Carver expects to walk into his office is Darcy--the woman who haunted his sleep for months. Despite the attraction, he knows they are just too different. She's happily ever after and he's here today, gone tomorrow.

Darcy Connors can't believe it! It's been hard enough trying to track Mitch down, but now she must tell her new boss that their weekend in Paris has turned into a lifetime commitment...and it's double trouble!

Mitch is about to trade in his playboy past for fatherhood and family!

My Thoughts: A typical category romance from Harlequin that I read for a team challenge I was doing. 

The Good Stuff and the Bad Stuff: While this was a short and sweet book I wish more of it could have involved the twins as the title would suggest. Although they are talked about frequently their actual presence in the book is pretty minimal which is a shame. The plot of the book appears to only be about reuniting two people and the setting could be anywhere. Darcy and Mitch spend a lot of time working but for most of the book I was clueless as to what they did for a living. The setting and the character's backgrounds (mostly Darcy's) could have been elaborated upon a lot more. I would have given this book another star if it weren't for Darcy's character. She puts a lot of expectations on Mitch and gets mad at him all the time because he doesn't express his love for the twins within a day of finding out about them. Completely unreasonable in my eyes which made it difficult for me to be happy for her when everything was wrapped up in a nice bow at the end. Mitch wasn't a whole lot better though. He went from being a wandering soul to professing his love, devotion, and his promise to never leave Texas in a matter of 2 weeks. 

In a Nutshell: My expectations weren't all that high when starting this book but the beginning was good and the ending came quickly. I might read another book by the author if I found a free copy somewhere.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Stalemate by Iris Johansen

Title: Stalemate
Author: Iris Johansen

Narrator: Jennifer Van Dyck
Series: #7 in the Eve Duncan series
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Random House Audio (November 30, 2006)

Source: Library Find
Rating: ☕☕

Synopsis: (from GoodReads) Eve Duncan has turned down the job twice already. Her skill and devotion in identifying murder victims and helping bring their killers to justice may be world-renowned. But Eve works exclusively for law enforcement and the families of the innocent, and the man on the other end of the phone is many things-none of them law-abiding or innocent.

One of the world's most wanted men, little is really known about Luis Montalvo except that he is extraordinarily dangerous and that he never takes no for an answer. Now he wants Eve's help in the worst way. For he believes they have something in common-and he's about to prove it with a grisly warning.

Eve will leave everything and everyone behind, even the man she trusts and loves the most, Atlanta detective Joe Quinn, to travel to Montalvo's luxurious armed compound in the Colombian jungle to identify the skull he has recovered. She has agreed to this devil's bargain to save an innocent family, but also for a reason she can't admit to Joe, to the CIA, to anyone. For the man in the jungle has promised to be able to give Eve what she wants most of all-the key to unlocking the darkest and most painful mystery of her past.

But Eve is in more danger than she can imagine. As she gets closer to identifying the skull, she finds herself caught between two ruthless killers with no way out. Now, with everything on the line, Eve Duncan must make the most chilling choice of all. And if she's wrong-she's dead.

My Thoughts: I found this book to be overall a decent read. Listening to it rather than physically reading it myself made for some enjoyable housework and drive time. 

The Good Stuff: It was nice to get an Eve Duncan book that actually featured Eve Duncan. I do like her adopted daughter, Jane, but this series is not the Jane series and I was getting tired of having Jane be front and center. The suspense was really good as was the setting. For the most part the plot was solid...too bad the characters were not.

The Bad Stuff: At this juncture I'm over and done with Eve's obsession with her long dead Bonnie. I know one doesn't just get over the loss of a child but by this point Eve is making terrible judgement calls and putting herself in danger constantly in order to find that closure. This is not the Eve Duncan that I remember. Also Joe, an ex-FBI agent, makes some TSTL decisions and almost dies...twice. WTH?!? The combo of Eve and Joe was disastrous also. After this many years together why is Eve constantly shutting Joe out? Even the most independent and strong willed person, after being with someone for a decade or more, learns to lean on someone to make important life altering decisions. Not Eve. She pretty much lies and manipulates her way then sneaks off into the night like a thief. I almost hate her. Oh and the introduction of a potential "love interest" in the form of a Colombian drug lord for Eve...Give me a Break! So frustrating.

On the Audio: While I think Jennifer Van Dyck did an ok job narrating the book, her accents, in my opinion, were off. The Colombians almost sounded European. In addition a reoccurring character named Galen had an Irish brogue yet at one point I could have sworn the book said that he spoke in a British accent.

In a Nutshell: I'll probably continue with the series but only because I really want to read the whole Bonnie closure but honestly, I feel this series has just about run it's course.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston

Title: The Unleashing
Author: Shelly Laurenston
Series: #1 in the Call of Crows series
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Kensington (March 31, 2015)

Source: Publisher Via NetGalleyPublic Online Library
Rating: ☕☕

Kera Watson never expected to face death behind a Los Angeles coffee shop. Not after surviving two tours lugging an M16 around the Middle East. If it wasn’t for her hot Viking customer showing up too late to help, nobody would even see her die.

In uncountable years of service to the Allfather Odin, Ludvig “Vig” Rundstrom has never seen anyone kick ass with quite as much style as Kera. He knows one way to save her life—but she might not like it. Signing up with the Crows will get Kera a new set of battle buddies: cackling, gossiping, squabbling, party-hearty women. With wings. So not the Marines.

But Vig can’t give up on someone as special as Kera. With a storm of oh-crap magic speeding straight for L.A., survival will depend on combining their strengths: Kera’s discipline, Vig’s loyalty… and the Crows’ sheer love of battle. Boy, are they in trouble.

My Thoughts: While I admit to be thoroughly intrigued by the idea behind this book I am not completely in love the with the final result.

The Good: Among the over played vampire and werewolf themed paranormal worlds this was such an an interesting and fresh concept (if one overlooks the fact that this author wrote another book featuring the Crow/Raven world called Hunting Season in 2009). I love mythology and factor in that it is Norse mythology at that I could have seriously loved this book. The book starts out so good. Kera starts the book out with a bang and I just knew I was in for a treat. A truly Kick-Ass heroine, add a dashing hot viking of a man, stir in Norse mythology, throw in some snark and viola! A concoction of fabulousness! Not so much....

The Bad: As a romance I thought it fell flat. I think the book focused on Kera getting used to her new life rather than a substantial romance. They had quite a bit of sex but romance, not so sure about that.  I really think that there was enough conflict surrounding Kera that spreading her romance over the course of several books would have made for a stronger sense of commitment between the H/h. 

Speaking of her new life as a Crow...ugh! The crows reminded me of a bunch of bubble brained sorority girls rather than the intelligent adults they were supposed to be. Their sink or swim mentality on welcoming a new sister was seriously flawed and didn't endear them to me at all.

Let's talk characters! There is an extraordinary amount of characters in this book. I know in a first book there is an introduction phase where the author tries to establish their world and characters. However, it's important to not overwhelm the reader with dozens of people to remember. In this book, not only do we have to keep track of their first names but their last names too because the author will refer to them by first and then a paragraph later by their last name. This is further complicated by changing POVs throughout the book. It was sometimes difficult to know whose point of view we were now reading from one paragraph to another.

In a Nut Shell: Very little is ultimately resolved at the end of the book but I'm not sure I'm wanting to read another. I hate when a book has so much potential and fails so miserably.