Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review of Jez Morrow, Sovereign's Gladiator

Sovereign's GladiatorSovereign's Gladiator by Jez Morrow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book on a lot of levels.  The two main characters were molten hot, the illicit sexual tension between them was crazy delicious, and the unexpected idea of having the sovereign as the submissive was tantalizing.  But as much as I, ahem, enjoyed the sex scenes, I also thought the world building was hugely effective.  The descriptions were vivid and evocative.  In 120 pages, the author puts you in a detailed world that her words make you see, hear, and smell.  Sovereign's Gladiator had suspense and intrigue, double crossing and intense fight scenes.  Devon was strong and commanding when it made sense for him to be, and submissive when he needed to be.  I really enjoyed and would definitely read more from this author.  Recommend!

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Thanks for reading,

Review of Karin Harlow, Enemy Lover

Enemy LoverEnemy Lover by Karin Harlow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enemy Lover follows the evolving romance of covert agent Jax Cassidy and vampire operative Marcus Cross, who start out (as the title suggests!) on opposite sides of a conflict involving a U.S. Senator's reelection (that represents a huge oversimplification of the conflict, by the by!).  Jax Cassidy intrigued me from the start--the book starts with her story.  An ex-cop gone bad after being horribly assaulted and abandoned by her the other boys in blue, she is busted from prison by government agents who retrain her into a top secret operative. She was smart and sharp-tongued and full of fire, and I liked her right away.  Marcus Cross, only 7 years a vampire, was turned after a fatal combat injury by one of the world's oldest vampires, who wanted him as an operative in an ultra-patriotic organization bent on protecting U.S. interests (as defined by said ancient vamp, natch) at all costs. 

Their initials meetings in the book set the pages on fire, so full are they of unresolved sexual tension.  And while the remaining sexual encounters are good, they're not great.  Generally, the author doesn't use later sex scenes to continue to ratchet up sexual tension.  Instead, towards the end, she's more or less fading to black after the paragraph that gets them in bed. Now, there was so much going on in this book in terms of the warring organizations' plot line that she had no need for sex for sex's sake. But some of the initial acts were so hot that I expected that heat level to be maintained or increased throughout (the kissing in the cafe, for example, was molten).  She also took what seemed to be raw chemistry and lust between them and turned it emotional very fast, perhaps too fast, between the characters.  The first time they had sex, Marcus is promising and taunting that it's gonna be hard and fast and brutal and raw, but then he completely switches gears and is soft and gentle.  You understand why, in the context, but it was just too fast of changing gears to be fully satisfying.

The book is set up to have sequels that will make the vampires and their conflicts even more central to the future plot, and that will make the books even more interesting.  The most intriguing parts of Enemy Lover to me were when vampires were involved.  But it takes a while before the paranormal element is introduced in this book.  I think the book's hook would've been strengthened if she could've introduced it sooner.

Definitely enjoyed and recommend.

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Thanks for reading,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Wishes

  • I wish you a delicious meal
  • I wish you good times with family
  • I wish your team wins. Big.
  • I wish your pumpkin pie comes with whipped cream
  • I wish you lose weight in direct proportion to how much you eat
  • I wish you reconnect with an old friend
  • I wish your weather is crisp and sunshine and colorful leaves
  • I wish all the kids in your family play so hard together they sleep all the way home
  • I wish that the wine is good and plentiful
  • I wish you a happy thanksgiving.
Thanks for reading,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meet an Author Monday, and Giving Thanks

It's Monday, so that means there's hopping to be done. Visit some new-to-you authors, say hello, and have some fun!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving (and knowing I likely won't find much time to be online on Thursday), I thought I'd share some things for which I'm thankful:

1) I'm thankful for my best friend, Lea Nolan. For reasons I can't really explain, I've always seemed to have an easier time making friends with older women or with guys, meaning I've gone years at a time between having a good girl friend my age, going through roughly the same stuff as me. Lea and I were acquaintances through my husband for a long time, but finally bonded over Twilight and writing.

2) Writing. It's hard to imagine fiction writing wasn't always a part of my life, given how important it's become to me now. Getting published is great, of course, but it's writing that I get the true day-to-day joy from. I can't imagine ever letting it go.

3) Apple pie. Seriously. You get apples and caramel and pastry crust and, if you're really lucky, vanilla ice cream too.

4) My family. A husband who helps out with the kids so I can write and who works very hard to provide us with everything we could need. Two beautiful girls who are sweet and fun and smart and becoming their own little people, and who are both now big fans of vampires because they know Mommy likes them!

So, this Thanksgiving, I'm reminding myself to give thanks. What are you most thankful for?

Thanks for reading,

WIP Milestones

Sick as a dog for the past few days but trying to concentrate on the positive: my work in progress hit some major milestones over the past week.  First, I flipped the 200-page mark.  Which, of course, is totally arbitrary, but just felt like progress.  Then, shortly thereafter, I flipped the 60,000-word mark.  That one felt even bigger, because I'm in full-out novel territory now!  I'm shooting for 80,000 minimum, and 20,000 thousand seems like something I could whip out in a long, quiet weekend.  That is, if I didn't feel like my friend up there and, you know, didn't have kids that wanted to eat, and stuff.  Add to these tangibles of progress the fact that I finally submitted my first erotic romance story, and these are some good things to concentrate on while I try to find my way back to feeling like a human being.

Happy Thanksgiving week, all. And thanks for reading,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review of Sherrilyn Kenyon, Upon the Midnight Clear

Upon The Midnight Clear (Dark-Hunter, #12) (Dream-Hunter, #2)Upon The Midnight Clear (Dark-Hunter, #12) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like my reaction to the preceding book in this Kenyon series, Devil May Cry, I liked the romantic lead characters, but didn't like the extent to which the book seemed to stray so far from the original Dark Hunter characters and plot.  Aidan was sympathetic and likable, and Leta was a strong and interesting heroine (if introduced completely out of the blue).  Given how short the book was and how large the type-face was (think of the large-print type your grandma might read and you've got it about right), I think this was a novella that came to Kenyon's mind, she whipped it off, and the publisher saw the possibly of counting it as another book in the Dark Hunter series.  But it had absolutely nothing to do with anything that came before other than the heroine was the unknown-to-readers sister of M'Adoc.  I'm still waiting for the return of the Dark Hunters.

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Review of Sherrilyn Kenyon, Devil May Cry

Devil May Cry (Dark-Hunter, #12)Devil May Cry by Sherrilyn Kenyon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have loved the Dark Hunter series, and read them in order, faithfully.  But, with this book and some of the ones just before, I have gone from enjoying the series and each book within it, to forcing myself to push through these middle-of-the-series-doldrums books to get to Acheron's book at the end of the series.

Let me say that I enjoyed the main characters in this book.  Katra has been an intriguing character from earlier books, and I liked that she got her love story here.  And Sin had a wonderfully tortured past to make him a sympathetic dark hero.  And I like that, because they were both gods, they were equally powerful--this wasn't a damsel-in-distress-being-saved-by-big-strong-hero story.

But there were a lot of things that didn't work about the story too.  First, I didn't find Katra's and Sin's relationship as compelling as I wanted it to be.  First off, Kenyon too often cut off the will-he-give-in-to-her-or-not tension and angst prematurely.  Rather than making the reader crave their reunion after fights or his insecurities would have him shut her out, she almost always had him take her back too readily.  Second, Ash came off as oddly communicative, open, and even touchy-feely this time.  Now, granted, he learned he had a daughter he didn't know about, and I know Kenyon's also trying to lay out more background in preparation for his book, which is only a handful away in the series from this point.  But he seemed notably different to me this time, and it was a bit jarring.  Third, the introduction of this new conflict with two different types of demons was interesting, but it also seemed to take the series off on a pretty big tangent.  Now, it appears she's going to bring the demon conflict into the daimon conflict by having the two leading bad guys join forces, but still, it felt a little disjointed to me, within the overall scope of the series.

I think the thing that has most let me down over the past few books is the extent to which she's strayed away from the Dark Hunters.  They're the ones I fell in love with.  It's their story I first cared about.  And while I do admire the variety of creature types Kenyon has created in the series, I think the series works best when the books focus on the thing she made us care about at the very beginning.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Meet an Author Monday! And Slow Goes the NaNo...

Well, g'morning!  So, it's Monday, and that means I'm hopping.  Drop in to some new-to-you authors and read about all their great goings-on.

Despite a stellar start to NaNoWriMo (9,564 words in the first 6 days), I'm now entering what looks to be my third year of NaNo fail.  I wrote another 1,300 words last night, but of course November is otherwise kicking my bum and preventing me from getting much writing done.  I should be at 25,005, so you see how 10,864 is not quite there.  If I have any hopes of recovering, I have to do SuperCrazyNeverSleepNaNo, where I write 40,000 words in 15 days.  Ugh, why did I write that down??? LOL

So, to all you NaNoers out there who have a chance in hell of finishing:  Keep at it.  Push on!  WRITE ON!

NaNo love to all!

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Introducing Lea Nolan, YA Paranormal Author Extraordinaire!

Hi everybody--I'm so excited to celebrate Lea Nolan's debut into the realm of social media! After landing an agent earlier this week, she's joined the Blogosphere and will soon dip into the wild waters of Twitter as well! Please consider following her:

Lea Nolan: Please be patient - I'm under construction

Lea writes YA paranormal romance with a dash of suspense and historical intrigue. If you like the sound of centuries-old ghost heroes who find their long-lost soul mates or flesh-eating Gullah curses that make two platonic best friends realize their feelings for one another, Lea is your woman!

Lea's also my best friend, so clearly she's smart and fantastic!

Thanks for reading,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Review of J.R. Ward, Crave

Crave (The Fallen Angels, #2)Crave by J.R. Ward

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I have to admit, as much as I enjoy J.R. Ward's writing, I wasn't happy to be asked to move away from the Brothers (LOL).  Book one in her fallen angels series, Covet, was good, but honestly it took me a good 50-100 pages to really get into it, and while I came to like the series hero, Jim Heron, by the end of Covet, I wasn't in love with the romantic hero, Vin DiPietro.  He was just okay.

CRAVE (book 2 in the series) HAS CHANGED ALL THIS FOR ME!!!  Not only did I like Jim even more in this book (a LOT more), but I LOVED the romantic hero.  Isaac Rothe was a phenomenally well-drawn, likable, and sympathetic character--no mean feat for a man who worked for years as an assassin.  His mix of southern manners and ice-cold killer gave him depth and interest.  I was no more good every time he insisted on taking his boots off before coming into the heroine's house.  Let's just say I'd be happy to re-enact the wine cellar scene with him any damn day.

Another thing I really like about this series is that the bad guy is, well, a gal.  A demon gal, to be sure, and she is powerful and evil and manipulative and smart.  This isn't the norm, and I think it gives the series a uniqueness that makes it even more interesting.  Also, the good guys don't always win, and that makes you root for them even more.  God, my heart broke for Jim's realization that he'd lost the competition over this soul after coming so close at the end of this book.  Jim's evolving powers as a fallen angel are also going to be a hook that carries readers from book to book.  He went from being a kick-ass military assassin in book one, to a fallen angel in book two with some powerful but not yet fully understood mojo.  His angel guides/sidekicks/comrades-in-wings Ad and Eddie have yet to really give him the full angel lowdown, so that's still to come, but it's clear he's not just your normal run-of-the-mill avenging angel.

The only bad thing is we have to wait months now for the next installment.  Definite recommend.  And a warning to anyone participating in NaNoWriMo:  don't start this book in November if you hope to get any writing done!!

Thanks for reading, 
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Lucien!

You know you're a writer when...the day dawns and you think, "Oh, it's [Character Name Here]'s birthday!"

In that vein, today I'm wishing my first fictional hero, Lucien Demarco, a happy, happy birthday.  Lucien is the hero of Forever Freed, my paranormal romance to be released in 2011 from The Wild Rose Press.  He was born on a farm outside of Modena, Italy, on November 2, 1868, then turned into a vampire on May 13, 1895, in New York City.  That would mean, today, this 27-year-old-looking vampire would be turning 142 years old.  :)

I chose November 2nd as Lucien's birthday because, in Catholic tradition, today is the Day of the Dead, a day when people remember ancestors and deceased relatives.  In a scene from the novel that has long since been left on the cutting room floor, his birth date offered a subtle foreshadowing that something bad was going to happen to him when, during his 1894 birthday celebration in a New York tenement, an old Italian woman came to their door to chide the partygoers for the noise, then was scared for Lucien when she learned he'd been born on this day.  She considered it a bad omen and crossed herself before beating a hasty retreat from his presence.  It's always interesting when you put so much thought into choosing a date, justifying it, and building a small scene around it, and then it never appears in the finished work!

So, happy birthday, Lucien.  Know I think of you often.  You'll always be my first ;)!

Thanks for reading,

Monday, November 1, 2010

Meet an Author Monday! And, Ready, Set, NaNo!

Hi y'all!  Happy Monday.  Monday means I'm blog hopping--so following along and say hi to some new-to-you authors!

Phew, is it just me, or is anybody else sharing in the post-Halloween sugar crash?  I had two huge bowls of candy to give out and only 20 kids came to trick-or-treat.  Add to that the two enormous bags of candy my girls returned home with, and it's like the Candy Kitchen around our place!  Yikes!
So, not only is it Monday, it's November 1st.  That means, you guessed it, today's the start of NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month, where writers shoot to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  This is my third year participating, though I haven't finished yet!  I'm giving it a go again this year, so feel free to writing buddy me and I'll buddy ya back:  I'm writing under LauraCK.

Thanks for reading!