Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review: Dreams of a Dark Warrior


Murdered before he could wed Regin the Radiant, warlord Aidan the Fierce seeks his beloved through eternity, reborn again and again into new identities, yet with no memory of his past lives.

When Regin encounters Declan Chase, a brutal Celtic soldier, she recognizes her proud warlord reincarnated. But Declan takes her captive, intending retribution against all immortals—unaware that he belongs to their world.

Yet every reincarnation comes with a price, for Aidan is doomed to die when he remembers his past. To save herself from Declan’s torments, will Regin rekindle memories of the passion they once shared—even if it means once again losing the only man she could ever love?
Making the Grade: A-

For My Thoughts

Dreams of a Dark Warrior is only my second book by Kresley Cole and while Declan Chase is no Malkolm Slaine (from Demon from the Dark and one of my favorite characters and books of 2010), he is a hero forced to endure unspeakable horrors which have left him the hardened, dark and damaged man he is today. He’s a character that Cole makes you simultaneous weep for while you hate his guts. I think I am safe in assuming from my limited Kresley Cole reading experience that she certainly delights in making her heroes some of the most tortured souls I have every read.

The premise of this book intrigued me from the beginning. One kiss on the lips triggers the memories and one act of sex is akin to signing a death warrant. I couldn’t wait to see how Cole would write the H/h out of the seemingly impossible corner she’d painted them in to.

1000 years of love and heartache is a long time for any couple to endure and yet Reginleit the Radiant and Aiden the Fierce have been loving and losing each other for that length of time. Whether he’s a knight or a privateer or a Calvary officer in his past lives, one thing is for certain Regin and Aiden are soulmates destined to repeat their past sins and suffer the consequences. Maybe the 5th time’s the charm? Only if Regin doesn’t kill Declan Chase first herself. Let the games begin!

Cole makes it exceedingly hard to like the latest reincarnation of Aiden in the form Declan Chase. Dark and brooding, unfeeling except for his hatred of all things detrus he is the perfect candidate to oversee the secret installation housing all things immortal and Regin the Radient his own personal capture is the latest inmate to be a "guest" in the hellhole jail.

The first half of Dreams of a Dark Warrior was spent showing us how Declan became the man he is and his understandable hatred of all things immortal and he had every right to hate them with every fibre of his being. He suffered at the hands of the Neoptera, scarred and barely escaping sure death while he watched the vile creatures kill the members of his family. Declan was a mean, torturing S.O.B. and Regin and her friends and enemies alike were treated to several rounds of torture at his hands.

Once all hell broke loose on the island (literally the walls came on tumbling down), then the story really started to heat up.

I really like the band of weary brother’s allegiance formed by Declan, Regin and a cast of great secondary characters including King Vamp Lothaire, Aiden’s life long friend and fellow Berserker Brandr, the Fey Natalya and the young and innocent half-vamp Thad (surely Ms. Cole has his story in the works!) as they worked together to survive. Watching these characters form an uneasy alliance was funny, full of betrayal, promises made, deals struck and finally honor among immortals?

I just wanted to include a couple of funny memorable lines that had me LOL’ing:

Regin: “I like em young, dumb and hung“.

Regin to Declan as she observes him stripping: “Thanks for the view of your junkyard.”

And lastly just a little description to whet your appetite:

Rock-hard ridges descended to the low waist of his camo pants. Her gaze dipped to his flat navel, then to his goodie trail. And lower... She swallowed. He’d begun stiffening in those pants.
She yanked her gaze up determined to look at anything else. Around his neck he wore dog tags, and a big, butch military watch was strapped to one brawny forearm. With the combat boots, low-slung pants, and tacticool accessories, he looked good. Even scarred, he looked better than good.

The struggles were many but in the end you can’t deny that a 1000 years is a long time to wait for a happily ever after!

Cole has certainly set up a world full of great characters whose stories are still be told. Whose story is next Lothaire? The Nucking Futs Nix? Thad? I for one can’t wait. Oh and while I’m waiting I’ve got a whole backlist to get caught up on.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: Senseless

Every Serial Killer Knows. . .
The vicious burns scarring the victims' flesh reveal the agony of their last moments. Each woman was branded with a star, then stabbed through the heart. With every death, a vengeful killer finds a brief, blissful moment of calm. But soon it's time for the bloodshed to start again. . .

The Perfect Time. . .
Ten years ago, Eva Rayburn and her sorority sisters were celebrating the end of the school year. That party turned into a nightmare Eva can't forget. Now she's trying to start over in her Virginia hometown, but a new nightmare has begun. Every victim is linked to her. And Detective Deacon Garrison isn't sure whether this mysterious woman needs investigating--or protecting. . .

To Make His Mark
Only Eva's death will bring peace. Only her tortured screams will silence the rage that has been building for ten long years. Because what started that night at the sorority can never be stopped--not until the last victim has been marked for death. . .

Making the Grade: C+

For My Thoughts

Senseless by Mary Burton is my first book by this author and I really enjoyed it especially the character of Eva Rayburn. Being sent to prison at the tender age of seventeen for killing a local rich boy Josiah Cross who had beaten and raped her and forever imprinted her body with a burn in the shape of a 4-pointed star from a necklace she wore was an injustice no young girl should be forced to endure. Eva could never remember what happened the night Josiah was killed but her three “besties” (ummmm with friends like them - who needs enemies?) at the time testified against her and sealed her fate. Now ten years later and six months out of prison Eva’s back on familiar turf in Alexandria with a new last name just trying to get her life back on track.

Eva may have been labelled an ex-con, but she never let that hold her back. She was determined and hard working holding down three jobs because she just wanted to earn enough money so she could go back to school. Eva was off the charts smart with a genius IQ and photographic memory...what she could of done with her life if she hadn’t been set up all those years ago for a murder she didn’t commit? Unfortunately bodies with the same 4-pointed star branded into their flesh start turning up and coincidence...I think not...they just happen to be the bodies of Eva’s former “besties” (what goes around comes around girlfriend!).

Working the case is the delectable Detective Deacon Garrison and his partner Malcolm Kier. It doesn’t take long for Detective Garrison to piece together that the bodies piling up are somehow related to Eva and her past. And given her past - she’s not exactly off the list of likely suspects knocking off her former classmates. I just want to mention one niggle I had about how the author always referred to Deacon as Garrison and his partner as Malcolm (and not Kier). Why not refer to both of them by either their first names or their last names when talking about them at the same time? Why one by his last name (I almost forgot he had a first name beside Garrison) and one always by his first really confused and irritated me for some reason, but that’s just me.

I loved Eva’s relationship with her boss and landlord King, owner of the bar where she lived and worked and his 10 year old foster son Bobby and his love of the elusive dumpster kitty Merlin. Although Senseless is labelled as a “romantic suspense” there was no romance save for one incident and that didn’t happen until almost the very end of the book. To say Eva and Deacon’s relationship built slowly is an understatement and given her mistrust of the police and the fact that she was a suspect for a good portion of the book, it was amazing they got together at all.

Senseless was heavy on the suspense with lots of twists and turns and some disturbing moments and I had no clue who the killer was or the motives behind the crimes which I really enjoy when reading a book of this nature. Senseless had a Karen Rose-esque feel to it, but fell just shy of the stellar mark set by Rose’s books. All in all I enjoyed it and will read the next book in the series Merciless about Eva’s half-sister Angie.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February TBR Challenge: Along Came a Husband

This month's TBR challenge was supposed to have an ugly duckling theme and no lie I have over 200 books in the TBR pile, but I have no idea if any of them feature a less then perfect looking hero or heroine and I wasn't about to go through them to find out. Soooooo I just picked another category romance this month. Hey those themes are just guidelines - the whole idea is to reduce the TBR pile by a book - which I accomplished.

Making the Grade: B

For My Thoughts

This is the second book by Helen Brenna that I’ve read and I must say I am thoroughly enjoying the Mirabelle Island series with it’s idyllic island setting and it’s cast of small town characters with big town problems.

Missy Charms escapes to Mirabelle island to try and recover from the horrific news about the death of her FBI husband Jonas and the weight of expectations from her wealthy family. Mirabelle is the perfect refuge once Missy tweaks her real name and it becomes an island where no one knows her “name”.

Now four years later, Missy considers Mirabelle home and the last thing she expected to see on a dark and stormy night on the other side of her cottage door was a man...looking like a sleazy drug dealer, scruffy, unkempt, long dirty hair, shot and bleeding like a stuck pig all over her front stoop...what???? can‘t be her husband...he’s supposed to be dead! Surprise!

Jonas Abel’s been undercover for four long years and now that his cover’s been blown he turns to the one and only person he can count on in his life - his wife Missy and her perfect island hide-away Mirabelle Island. He knows she’s going to be shocked and mad to “see” him but he needs somewhere to lie low, recuperate and figure how his last mission went FUBAR and killed his partner and almost killed him. Jonas has kept track of Missy over the years even though she’s changed her name and location numerous times to escape her family’s money and influence (her father is a US State Senator) but she’s never been off Jonas’s radar.

Missy and Jonas love each other no doubt about it and their relationship burned bright and hot when they first met, but Missy grew tired of always feeling like she was playing second fiddle to Jonas‘s job and had been in the process of filing for divorce when Jonas “died“. The last thing she wants now is to rekindle the love she had for her husband and get her heart broken again when he deserts her for his next big assignment. She’ll let him stay and recover, but refuses to even introduce him to her friends and new “family” on Mirabelle instead pretending that he ain’t heavy..err husband…he’s her brother. Ya that ruse didn’t last long, not with the smouldering looks these two were giving each other.

Along Came a Husband is a love story about second chances. The elements of suspense and danger involving Jonas and his FBI case really enhanced but didn’t overpower the story since it was used mainly as a vehicle to bring Jonas back into Missy’s life. I really enjoyed the emotional journey as Missy and Jonas found their way back to one another.

I have the next book by Helen Brenna in the series The Moon That Night on the TBR pile and I wish I’d had time to read it for this month’s challenge as well.

From the Author's Website
Along Came a Husband (Mirabelle Island,#4 Harlequin Superromance, #1640)

Missy Charms just got the shock of her life. The man she thought was dead has turned up on her doorstep.

Her ex-husband—Jonas Abel.

Four years ago, Missy Charms fell hard for Jonas. But his FBI job always came first. Missy only wanted—still wants—a home and family. Jonas isn't husband material, not even close. And now his latest undercover mission has trailed him to Mirabelle Island. With both their lives on the line, Missy knows she's been fooling herself. She loves Jonas as much as she ever did—maybe more. His return also means finally admitting the truth: she can't lose him again….

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Sunday *Sigh*: To Cap it Off

The Sunday *Sigh* initially began as a random, once in a blue moon post about something dumb (stupid, forgetful, ill-advised …call it what you will) that I had done and felt the need to share on my blog for a laugh. At the rate I’m going - this may turn into a weekly affair! So please enjoy yourself at my expense.

I tried to convince myself one morning this week on the way to work that the strange noise I heard emanating from the rear passenger side of my car was nothing more than a hard chunk of ice that had broken loose from the undercarriage of my car and was trapped in the wheel well rolling around like clothes in a dryer. Now the noise wasn’t loud and it didn’t seem to be consistent, but it was a new noise I had not previously heard.

Once I arrived at work and got involved in my day the noise was quickly forgotten until on the way home, it reared it’s ugly head again…mmmm maybe it was time to get it checked out? While stopped at a traffic light in the city, a car pulled up parallel to me and motioned for me to roll down my window. The gentleman kindly advised me that not only was my gas door open, but the gas cap was hanging precariously from a little plastic piece against my car. What?? Did someone open my gas cap and siphon gas off me? Had I been *gasp*  gas robbed? Since the light was still red, I quickly remedied the situation and screwed the gas cap in where it belonged and shut the little door.

As I got back in the car...the light bulb went off. The noise I'd been hearing was the gas cap banging against the side of my car. See the day before I had stopped to get gas as I do every week and what, what, WHAT in the sam hell was I thinking (or not thinking in my case) that I could complete gassing up my car and NOT screw the gas cap back on?!?!? Seriously WTF is wrong with me??

So this is a good news/bad news story. The good news…there is nothing seriously wrong with my car that will cost me an exorbitant about of money to fix. The bad news….there is something seriously wrong with my brain that no amount of money can fix. People! Fear for my future...cuz I know I am!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review: The Perfect Play

Let us just take a moment to savor the yumminess that is the cover of The Pefert Play.
*Sighs* and *wipes the drool from my mouth*

Making the Grade: B-

For My Thoughts

The cover definitely gets 5+++ stars.

I love sports-themed stories (I'm still holding out hope one day an author will write about a sexy tennis player *waiting*), so it was a no brainer that I would be reading The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton and with this cover as a tease - who could not pick up this book?

The Perfect Play is the story I’m sure every women fantasizes about happening to them. Personally I think you have a better chance of being struck by lightning, but it never hurts to dream. Just the though of being within licking distance of that cover model in real life is enough to make all the girly parts tingle.

Average, every day, 30 year old single mom with a 15 year old son meets gorgeous, hunky, starting NFL quarterback and they begin a hot, hot, HAWT sexy affair. Yes there is sex, lots and lots of sex. You go girl! We will all live vicariously through you.

Mick Riley is instantly attracted to event Planner Tara Lincoln and pursues her for a relationship even though they are the most unlikely of couples. He’s used to going to movie premieres with young Hollywood starlets on his arm (all in the name of publicity of course), groupies throwing themselves at him and yet Mick wasn’t portrayed as a playboy at all. His actual lack of being a “bad boy” seemed a bit out of character for what I imagined a single, gorgeous (see cover again - yummy) starring NFL quarterback to be. Maybe it was more understandable since Mick was more mature at thirty, nearing the later stages of his career and looking for more than the next one night stand. Also he was really close with his family who seemed to keep him grounded. His piece of work publicist Liz on the other hand was 100% against his seeing Tara and tried on more than one occasion to sink their relationship. Liz’s interference cost her big time, but fear not we haven’t seen the last of her. It will be interesting to see how Jaci Burton redeems Liz in the next book in the series Changing the Game about Mick’s brother Gavin.

Although The Perfect Play essentially revolves around the world of football, there is a lot more than just sports to this story.

Read an Excerpt

From the Author`s Website

Book One in the Play-by-Play Series

Football pro Mick Riley is an all-star, both on the field and in the bedroom. But a sexy, determinedly single mom just might be the one to throw him off his game...

For years Mick has been taking full advantage of the life available to a pro athlete: fame, fortune, and a different girl in every city. But when he meets and beds confident, beautiful event planner Tara Lincoln, he wants much more than the typical one-night stand. Too bad Tara's not interested in getting to know football's most notorious playboy any better.

As the single mother of a teenage son, the last thing Tara needs is the jet-set lifestyle of Mick Riley; even though their steamy and passionate one-night stand was unforgettable. Tara's life is complicated enough without being thrust into the spotlight as Mick's latest girl du jour. Tara played the game of love once and lost big, and she doesn't intend to put herself out there again, especially with a heartbreaker like Mick.

But when Mick sets his mind to win, nothing will stop him. And he has the perfect play in mind.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Sunday *Sigh*: Where the Hell Are My Keys?

Losing your purse/ID or misplacing your keys is a sure-fire way to send you immediately into full-blown panic mode. There’s that instantaneous feeling of dread, your heart starts beating out of your chest and you break out in a cold, cold sweat.

I am a creature of habit - with good reason since it’s the only way I can remember anything. I always leave my key ring in exactly the SAME spot so they will always be right where they are supposed to be - except when they aren’ on Sunday morning. Let the panic begin!

The search was on as I checked all the usual places. Purse? Nope. Coat Pocket? Nada. The entire kitchen? Zippity do da. Every place I could possibly think of? Zilch. I 100% stuck out.

Any guesses?

You know you always find what you are looking for in the last place you look don’t you? Psssst - that’s because you quit looking once you find what your looking for.

Arrrrrgh!! Where are my keys?!?!??!?!

So after some ranting and raving and a few (ok a lot) of bad words, I opened the door to go outside and lo and behold there were my elusive keys just hanging around in the deadbolt lock minding their own business. Thank goodness the burglars decided not to rob me Saturday night - talk about an open invitation.

Crisis averted - please resume your regularly scheduled programming.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review: Animal Magnetism

Making the Grade: B-

For My Thoughts

With a quack quack here, and an arf arf there...cute and cuddly animals of the 4 and 2 legged variety rule the roost in this "tail" of Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis.

Brady Miller's in serious need of some downtime from his pilot-for-hire job and visiting his "foster brothers" Adam and Dell in Sunshine Ohio seemed like just the break he needed for the next month. Brady only planned on staying in Sunshine for a good time...not a long time since the ex-army loner has never been one to put down roots probably because of his upbringing in the foster care system. But it's not long before Lilah Young and her 4 legged friends have gotten under his skin and have him thinking that maybe sticking around isn't such a bad idea after all.

It's hard not to like Lilah. She's hard-working, a co-owner of the animal kennel and boarding facility and she's dedicated 100 percent to her animals. But that's not all since she's also studying to get her degree in Animal Science. Whether she's mucking out stalls, burning the midnight oil studying or promising to eat carrots and broccoli when all she really wants to do is eat doughnuts and dig into her secret stash of junk food...she's a girl after my own heart.

Both Lilah and Brady aren't looking for a serious relationship - she knows he's leaving in short time and since he has no desire to settle down...they decide there's nothing wrong with the why can't we be friends (with benefits), why can't we be friends (with benefits) to each other's mutual satisfaction and they embark on a relationship based solely on sex. Ya well we all know how "those" relationships turn out.

Even if you're not an animal lover, the 4 legged characters in Animal Magnetism from Twinkles to Sadie to Boss will capture your heart. Of course the 2 legged variety aren't to hard on the eyes either.

Watching big, bad Brady get bested by a cute little doggie named Twinkles (I'm guessing he's the furry critter on the cover) made me laugh several times and watching the brooding, tough guy comfort a distraught Lilah when she had to return one of the strays she had become very attached to, to it's rightful owner certainly choked me up.

If you're in the market for a cute, small town love story complete with a bevy of sexy men and a menagerie of critters who are sure to tug at your heartstrings, then you are certain to enjoy Animal Magnetism. Brady's foster brothers Dell and Adam have their own very interesting lives and it seems like Shalvis was setting them up to give us their own stories in the future (one can hope?).

Back Cover Blurb

This alpha male is going to bring out her wild side…

Sunshine, Idaho, is a small and sunny town—the perfect home for man and beast. Well, maybe not for man, as pilot-for-hire Brady Miller discovers when his truck is rear-ended by what appears to be Noah’s Ark.

The co-owner of the town’s only kennel, Lilah Young has good reason to be distracted behind the wheel—there are puppies, a piglet, and a duck in her Jeep. But, she doesn’t find it hard to focus on the angry, gorgeous stranger she’s collided with.

Lilah has lived in Sunshine all her life, and though Brady is just passing through, he has her abandoning her instincts and giving in to a primal desire. It’s Brady’s nature to resist being tied down, but there’s something about Lilah and her menagerie—both animal and human—that keeps him coming back for more…

This alpha male is going to bring out her wild side…

Sunshine, Idaho, is a small and sunny town—the perfect home for man and beast. Well, maybe not for man, as pilot-for-hire Brady Miller discovers when his truck is rear-ended by what appears to be Noah’s Ark.

The co-owner of the town’s only kennel, Lilah Young has good reason to be distracted behind the wheel—there are puppies, a piglet, and a duck in her Jeep. But, she doesn’t find it hard to focus on the angry, gorgeous stranger she’s collided with.

Lilah has lived in Sunshine all her life, and though Brady is just passing through, he has her abandoning her instincts and giving in to a primal desire. It’s Brady’s nature to resist being tied down, but there’s something about Lilah and her menagerie—both animal and human—that keeps him coming back for more…

Read An Excerpt

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (February 1, 2011)
Language: English