Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oceans of Fire by Christine Feehan

Called “the reigning queen of paranormal romance” by Publishers Weekly, New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan offers an imaginative blend of sensual romance, fast-paced adventure and the paranormal that has thrilled countless readers. Now, she tells the story of Abigail Drake, of the magical Drake sisters — seven elementally gifted sisters, and their prophecy of love…

As the third daughter in a magical bloodline, Abigail Drake was born with a mystical affinity for water, and possessed a particularly strong bond with dolphins. She spent her entire life studying them, learning from them, and swimming among them in the waters off her hometown of Sea Haven …

Until the day Abby witnessed a cold-blooded murder on shore, and found herself fleeing for her life — right into the arms of Aleksandr Volstov. He’s an Interpol agent on the trail of stolen Russian antiquities, a relentless man who gets what he goes after — and the man who broke Abby’s heart. But he isn’t going to let the only woman he ever loved be placed in harm’s way — or slip away from his embrace…

Where to Buy

Up until now, the Drake Sisters series has been a fairly light-hearted, sweet set of romances. Yes, Sarah and Kate both faced some potentially serious situations, but in neither case did the danger really feel all that imminent and real as the overall tone was cheerful and light. That changes with this book, and suddenly the danger to the sisters and those around them indeed feels quite real and serious. And the tone of serious danger is there pretty much from the start, when Abigail witnesses a murder, an attempted murder, and narrowly escapes becoming victim #3 of the day. It is while she is recovering from this scrape that she comes face-to-face in a rather abrupt manner with her former lover Alexsandr, a man who's clearly just as dangerous as the ones she had just escaped from.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Make Mine Midnight by Annmarie McKenna

New Year's resolutions have never looked so good.

New Year's Eve. The party is rockin', and Claire is in her usual spot holding up the wall. It's all right. She's much happier scribbling in her trusty little notebook than mingling. Especially since those notes turn into the sexy erotic romances she pens in secret. Those two gorgeous gods across the room are perfect hero material and...oh dear, are they headed her way?

Mason and Hunter know she won't remember them as the scrawny geeks they were in high school. She also doesn't know they've been lusting after her for ten long years, waiting for her to meet a man and have a normal relationship. They're through waiting. The time has come to make their move--and show her exactly how much they've changed.

One night in the middle of a Mason/Hunter manwich, and Claire has enough research material to fill a hundred notebooks. Good thing she's got OfficeMax on speed dial to order more. Except suddenly her two hunks have this crazy idea that keeping her is selfish. Selfish? She may be mousy, but this mouse is about to roar...

Where to Buy

An unconventional love story between two men and one woman. While I doubt that such a situation would really work very well in reality, as few people would be able to share so readily and completely as the men in this story can, still, the author tells her story well enough that it's quite believable of all three of them. My main complaints here are due to the length of the story - it is so short that it feels rushed in many places. A much longer word count that would have given the author more room to tell these characters' stories more would have been welcome. True, we do learn all the essential parts of their backstories, but more development would still have been nice, particularly since they are fairly interesting characters. Still, the author did a good job in the space she had, and the story is a very enjoyable quick read.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Silent Knight by Delilah Devlin

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Noelle Moyaux questions her gift of sight until a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger during the Christmas holiday sets her on a path to save his soul.

Magnus Thornton is a millennium-old vampire who has found evidence of an old foe's evil at work in the demolished city of New Orleans. Weary of the fight, he decides to greet the coming dawn after a night reveling in his favorite things-a bottle of Bordeaux and a willing woman.

What starts as a night of sensual delights, ends in a revelation of mutual discovery when Noelle quickly creeps into his heart. The ancient vampire, so jaded from life he never speaks, must now persuade her to flee the city before it's too late.

An intriguing story. While I'm sure a lot of the atmosphere of the story can only be truly appreciated by those who lived in New Orleans in the months after Katrina and worked to put their lives and city back together, still the feeling of desolation and weariness in the face of prolonged adversity comes through. While we get to learn at least the basics of Noelle's background and who she is, we never learn that much about Magnus, other than a few tantalizing glimpses that speak of a story that must be fascinating and compelling. What has he seen and lived through that has brought him to the point of being ready to meet the sun rather than face another night? We only get a general explanation that raises as many questions as it answers.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Mouth of Truth by Isobel Chace

"You may run, but you'll never escape!"
Domenico Manzu was like no one else she had ever met, and Deborah hadn't the remotest idea how to cope with him.

If she'd heeded her father's warning, she'd never have come to Rome. Now here she was, virtually kidnapped yet treated like a guest.

Domenico was a very charming villain. But Deborah knew that while he had captured her person, she'd be a fool if she allowed him to capture her heart!

Where to Buy

** Contains Moderate Spoilers**

I first read this book several years ago, probably sometime in the early-mid 1990s, and liked it fairly well for some reason then. Well enough that it stuck in my mind when most other books of this sort all ran together eventually in my head. Waxing a bit nostalgic earlier this year, I tracked down copies of a few of the old books like this I remembered, and read this one again. And, well, let's just say my opinion of it this time around was much lower.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Twilight Before Christmas by Christine Feehan

Bestselling novelist Kate Drake is one of seven sisters gifted with amazing powers of witchcraft. Returning home in time for her northern California town's annual Christmas pageant, Kate catches the spirit of the season and decides to open a bookstore in a charming but run-down historic mill. Decorated former U.S. Army Ranger Matt Granite, now a local contractor, doesn't mind working in the undeniably eerie house -- not if it means getting closer to Kate. There's something about the quiet, sensual woman that powerfully attracts him.

When an earthquake cracks the mill's foundation and reveals a burial crypt, Kate senses that a centuries-old evil has been unleashed and that it's coming after her. Though Matt vows to guard her from dusk till dawn, Kate knows she will have to summon all of her and her sisters' powers to battle the darkness threatening to destroy both Christmas and the gift of soul-searing passion her hometown hero wants her to keep forever....

Where to Buy

Ms. Feehan has done a great job in this book of capturing the feeling of Christmastime in a small town, and that mood provides a nice, comforting background to a story that weaves together events from Sea Harbor's past that are now impacting the present. Even as the tension mounts as the attacks from the being in the fog increase, still the characters, Kate in particular, are able to take refuge in the good feelings present at Christmastime and concentrate on them for awhile when they need a break from the fear and stress the creature brings with it. The story of what and who the being is, what happened to him, and why he's terrorizing those in the present is artfully unfolded bit by bit throughout the book, rather like opening a present that someone has nested box within box to prolong the suspense (and enjoyment?) of unwrapping it to find out what it is.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Magic in the Wind by Christine Feehan

"Sarah's coming home." Ever since Damon Wilder sought refuge in Sea Haven, he's heard the same breathless rumor pass the lips of nearly every local in the sleepy coastal town. Even the wind seems to whisper her name - a reverie so powerfully suggestive that it carries the curious Damon to Sarah's clifftop home, and seeks to shelter him there.

But Damon has not arrived alone. Two men have tracked him to Sea Haven, and into the shadows of Drake House, where Sarah hides her own secrets. And danger- as well as a desire more urgent than either has ever known- is just a whisper away...

Where to Buy

** Contains Mild Spoilers **

As the first volume of a 7 book series, this novella at first seems to be a bit on the light side, but closer reading reveals considerable depth, depth that isn't necessarily immediately apparent, and maybe isn't really obvious until you've read more about the Drakes. There are some hints here of things we'll see (or probably see - not having read most of the series yet, I couldn't say at this point for sure) in the later books about Sarah's sisters. But while this novella does well at setting the stage for what will eventually be a much larger story no doubt, still it doesn't lose it's primary focus of Sarah and Damon's budding relationship. While much about who they are and what they do is left rather vague, we still get to know them fairly well as people, so the details of how they make (or made in Damon's case) their living don't seem all that important really. While we're told that Sarah is a "security specialist", a position with apparently involves SWAT team/assassin/spy type training as well as knowledge of physical/electronic security systems, what she does isn't ever defined very clearly, and the few glimpses we are shown of Sarah acting as the trained professional she apparently is seem to be rather out of sync with the slightly mysterious, definitely soft-hearted woman that we shown most of the time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wildcatter's Woman by Janet Dailey

Four years after her divorce, Vanessa Cantrell owned an interior decorating firm, a European sports car and an apartment in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Even though she filled her home and her life with expensive things, she couldn't fill the void left by her ruggedly handsome ex-husband, Race.

When tragedy brought them together again, she found he was still the same irresponsible wildcatter she'd walked out on. But he hadn't lost his powerful sensual magnetism. She was being drawn to him ... but Vanessa knew she must never again become a wildcatter's woman.

Where to Buy

This book is pretty much par for the course for formula romances as far as the basic story goes, though Dailey does work in a few semi-surprises. The characters all have a definite personality of their own, and only the most minor characters, the ones that are only in one scene or so, are totally flat. As is often the case, the fairly rapid transition from not even being able to hold a civil conversation to getting along ok again to being desperately in love again somewhat defys all happens much too quickly to be totally believable that they (she in particular) could have changed their mindset so completely...and yet, the author does a good enough job of getting you involved with the characters that you can't help but be happy for them (even if some of the making up/declaring undying love again speeches send the sappy meter soaring just a bit too high). Overall, an enjoyable, mostly relaxing, light read for those that can enjoy formula romances.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fire and Ice by Janet Dailey

"You've taken the world on your shoulders." Zachary's voice was a soft, caressing whisper that was oddly soothing and hypnotic. "You've made Chris your sole responsibility and refuse help from everyone. Haven't you ever wanted anyone to take care of you?"

As much as she wanted to, Alison couldn't admit any such feelings to him. She felt curiously vulnerable, unable to handle the gentleness Zachary was displaying. How she feared he would break down her defenses.

Where to Buy

** Contains Mild Spoilers**

While there was plenty of "ice" in this book in the way Alisa acts and treats other people, there wasn't a whole lot of "fire", unless of course you count the heated arguments she's constantly having with Zachary and others. Alisa is far too quick to jump to conclusions and to accept those first impression conclusions as being the absolute truth of the matter and pretty much refusing to even consider that she could be wrong about it. The only such conclusion she ever really doubts is that Zach needed her money as she assumed he did, based solely on a bit of gossip related by her cousin Michael, and that only because she's presented with plenty of evidence to the contrary from the moment she arrives at his home with him. Their constant bickering and fighting gets tedious pretty quickly, and when the resolution to their conflict comes, it happens far too quickly to be entirely believable, and leaves some questions unanswered, such as whether or not Zach really was cheating on Alisa with Renee as Alisa believes. The only answer we get to that question is a somewhat vague one when he tells Alisa he's told Renee he won't see her anymore, which only really confirms the affair and thus detracts from the believability of his statement that he's been in love with Alisa almost from the beginning. All in all, this isn't one of Dailey's better books, even with allowances made for it being an old style Harlequin, as the characters are all much more stereotypical and wooden than hers usually are.

  • Fire and Ice on Goodreads
  • Janet Dailey's website
  • Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Savage Land by Janet Dailey

    "Don't you want to tell me how much you love and adore me and how you can hardly wait to marry me?" Coley asked mockingly. "I was so looking forward to that part"

    Even though her own heart was breaking, she could still derive pleasure watching the angry scowl on Jason's face.

    How upsetting for him and his plans for the Slash S ranch that Coley wasn't falling into his arms as he had thought she would!

    Where to Buy

    While this book, and the others like it in Dailey's Americana series, is fairly dated in many ways now, it still was an enjoyable read. As a formula romance, it's full of largely stereotypical characters, but each has enough personality to not just feel like the author just picked up the "naive young woman type" and "bitter Marlboro man type" puppets and put them on her stage. Most of the situations and misunderstandings that happen in the book are pretty predictable, and even a little bit tired, but that's mostly to be expected from the genre I believe. One doesn't pick up an old Harlequin looking for mind-bending, edge-of-the-seat reading after all. So for those who enjoy a good mindless formula romance either as steady reading fare, or just for an occasional light read in between other things, this book won't disappoint I think.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

    With her knack for being in trouble's way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. Sookie suspects otherwise, but her attention is divided when she realizes that her lover Eric Northman and his "child" Pam are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, Sookie is drawn into the plot-which is much more complicated than she knows...

    Where to Buy

    This book was an improvement over the last one in my opinion, as it seemed to stay more focused, and clearly was leading to one main conclusion. Sure there are still plenty of loose ends, and as many new questions raised as were answered, but a few of the nastier loose ends from previous books are taken care of finally. I can't say I'm entirely happy with how everything played out, or with some of the changes that have occurred, but some of them might well turn out to be for the best in the long run. Time will tell. Overall, a good, if somewhat disturbing and unsettling addition to the series.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

    It's all about family ...

    Sookie Stackhouse is dealing with a whole host of family problems, ranging from her own kin (a non-human fairy and a telepathic second cousin) demanding a place in her life, to her lover Eric's vampire sire, an ancient being who arrives with Eric's 'brother' in tow at a most inopportune moment. And Sookie's tracking down a distant relation of her ailing neighbour (and ex), Vampire Bill Compton.

    In addition to the multitude of family issues complicating her life, the werewolf pack of Shreveport has asked Sookie for a special favour, and since Sookie is an obliging young woman, she agrees. But this favour for the wolves has dire results for Sookie, who is still recovering from the trauma of her abduction during the Fairy War.

    Where to Buy

    While I still thought this book was good, I didn't think it was quite as good as some of the earlier ones in the series. None of the threats that Sookie faced in this book seemed to have quite the immediacy of the previous threats she's weathered. There wasn't the sheer terror she faced during the faery war, or the monumental scale of destruction and loss of life that she went through in Rhodes. True, she often says she's very scared in this one, but somehow it's lacking a level of believability in most instances. Perhaps because of the way she's changed given her previous experiences. Whatever the case, while I think it was still a valuable addition to the series in many ways for some of the storylines it advanced, still I found it somewhat lacking compared to some of the others.

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

    The vamps have been out for years, and now the weres and shifters have decided to follow the lead of the undead and reveal their existence to the ordinary world. Sookie Stackhouse already knows about them, of course - her brother turns into a panther at the full moon, she's friend to the local were pack, and Sam, her boss at Merlotte's bar, is a shapeshifter.

    The great revelation goes well at first - then the horribly mutilated body of a were-panther is found in the parking lot of Merlotte's, and Sookie agrees to use her telepathic talent to track down the murderer. But there is a far greater danger than this killer threatening Bon Temps: a race of unhuman beings, older, more powerful, and far more secretive than the vampires or the werewolves, is preparing for war. And Sookie is an all-too-human pawn in their ages-old battle...

    Where to Buy

    Another good entry in the series. Sookie continues to become more and more entangled in the supernatural world, most likely irrevocably so at this point (actually that point probably came several books ago.) And along with her growing entanglement in things, so too do her emotions take more and more of a beating as she has to deal with yet another series of crises, this time some that hit a bit too close to home. It seems that each book changes her just a bit more, but I think the events in this book are going to have changed her quite a bit by the time we see her again. It will be interesting to see how she came through it all once she's had more of a chance to let the dust settle.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris

    Now, for the first time, here is every Sookie Stackhouse short story ever written—together in one volume.

    Stories include “Fairy Dust,” “One Word Answer,” “Dracula Night,” “Lucky,” and “Giftwrap.”

    Where to Buy

    Interesting anthology. Most of the stories are mainly fluff - lighthearted "asides" from Sookie's main story in the books - but are enjoyable nonetheless. "One Word Answer", the third story, which tells the story of how Sookie finds out that her Cousin Hadley has died and left her estate to her, does actually provide some useful background for the book that follows it chronologically that tells about Sookie's trip to New Orleans to clean out Hadley's apartment. Overall, I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading about Sookie Stackhouse and her supernatural friends.

    From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

    After the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the manmade explosion at the vampire summit, everyone—human and otherwise—is stressed, including Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse, who is trying to cope with the fact that her boyfriend, Quinn, has gone missing.

    It’s clear that things are changing—whether the weres and vamps of her corner of Louisiana like it or not. And Sookie—Friend to the Pack and blood-bonded to Eric Northman, leader of the local vampire community—is caught up in the changes.

    In the ensuing battles, Sookie faces danger, death, and once more, betrayal by someone she loves. And when the fur has finished flying and the cold blood finished flowing, her world will be forever altered.

    Where to Buy

    I really enjoyed this book, and in many ways I'd consider it the best one so far in the series. It definitely was much more of a page turner than the others have been for the most part. In some ways it reverses the order of things from previous books, in that it starts off tense and dramatic and kind of tapers off to a slow relaxed mood for the last part instead of starting slow and building to a crescendo as the others have done. Also, instead of one major, traumatic event for Sookie, she instead has to endure a series of smaller tempests that each are more limited in scope, and reach a swifter conclusion, but are perhaps more intensely traumatic in some ways because of their quick intensity. And as the blurb says, each leaves its mark on the world Sookie knows, and that world has changed in some significant ways by the end of the book. Whether this will ultimately be for the good or the bad remains to be seen.