April 30, 2009

Jacket Copy:
After a near-fatal head injury, U.S. Navy SEAL Lieutenant Tom Paoletti catches a terrifying glimpse of an international terrorist in his New England hometown. When he calls for help, the Navy dismisses the danger as injury-induced imaginings. In a desperate last-ditch effort to prevent disaster, Tom creates his own makeshift counterterrorist team, assembling his most loyal officers, two elderly veterans of the Second World War, a couple of misfit teenagers, and Dr. Kelly Ashton -- the sweet "girl next door" who has grown into a remarkable woman. Once known as the town’s infamous bad boy, Tom has always longed for Kelly. Now he has one final chance for happiness, one last chance to win her heart, and one desperate chance to save the day....


A summary of the book is hard to give since there is so much going on in the book. Not necessarily action wise as much as character wise and plot wise. The actual story takes place in one week, from August 8 until August 15. In this week we get to know Tom Paoletti and Kelly Ashton and some of their family members. With the flashbacks to WWII and the glimpses of Tom and Kelly’s youths, a time period of close to 60 years is covered.
Kelly had a crush on Tom when she was a young girl but before they could explore the relationship, Tom fled to the Navy. When Tom returns to his hometown on a forced leave the feelings between them are revived. But before they can have their HEA they have to prevent a terrorist’s plan to place a bomb during a memorial celebration, there are family issues of past and present to solve and there are complicated feelings to be dealt with.

For me there were 7 main characters because to say that Tom and Kelly were the main characters would not be fair to Joe, Charles, Cybele, David and Mallory. In the beginning of the book Tom and Kelly being the initial main characters, take center stage but soon I discovered other storylines in the book that were just as important as Tom and Kelly's.

There is a flashback-storyline that tells the beautiful and heartbreaking story of Joe (Tom's great-uncle), Charles (Kelly's father) and Cybele. During World War II Joe and Charles end up with a group of the French resistance, which is led by an intriguing woman called Cybele. The three of them form an impossible and unfair love triangle filled with unrequited love. Joe loves Cybele, Cybele loves Charles and Charles loves Cybele but is married and feels guilty towards Joe. Since it is absolutely wonderful to read through the flashbacks how their story unfolds I will leave it at this for readers to discover for themselves. Then there is the story of Mallory (Tom's niece) and David. They form an unlikely couple but their story is as beautiful and emotional as Tom and Kelly's or the love triangle between Charles, Joe and Cybele.

All these 7 characters are layered and well defined. In the mere 392 pages the book counts Suzanne Brockmann gave me characters that are developed in all aspects, both the good and the bad ones. And on top of all that the development is realistic and believable for each of the characters and their respective storylines. Their development is not only in the romantic aspect of the storylines. There are numerous scenes in which the various family relations and dynamics are explored and deepened and there are scenes where professional skills are portrayed and all added up it led to the creation of amazingly strong and likeable characters.

And on top of these characters there are some true supporting characters: Tom’s sister/Mallory’s mother Angela, who is the embodiment of the bitter subject of gossip in the small town; David’s best friend, Brandon who is a bit too full of himself and Tom’s Navy Seal buddies, or at least part of his elite special ops squad, the “Troubleshooters”. In this book we get a first glimpse of Lieutenant JG Casper “Jazz” Jacquette, Lieutenant JG Alyssa Locke who happens to be a top-notch sniper and Ensign Sam Starrett.

I've had this book on my shelves for almost two years now and I should be ashamed for not having read it before. When I picked it to be the first book in my 2009 reading challenge I couldn't have imagined the impact this book would have on me. I thought I had the romantic suspense scene pegged down with some authors that have become auto buy but I knew there was a reason why Suzanne Brockmann has been auto buy without ever having read a letter she had written. If this book is an indication she writes books that are masterpieces from the prologue to the very last page, leaving you wanting more and wishing the book hadn't ended.

The prologue alone set the tone for an action-filled, suspenseful and romantic story that pushed all my right buttons. But let me tell you that the prologue didn't prepare me for a book that succeeded in giving me what I want from reading books: escaping into a world filled with realistic plot, believable emotions, genuine characters who have their flaws and deal with them, witty fun at the right moments and writing that is vivid and fluent.

Brockmann is a master at multiple storylines, POVs and interpersonal relationships. Each storyline is approached through at least two points of view, giving the storylines a multi-dimensional feel. She has an amazing talent that few authors truly master. She makes characters, suspense, humor, romance, actions and multiple plotlines in different time-periods meld together seamlessly into an impressive, touching and practically perfect book.

Her writing is so consistent that all elements are equally addressed and none of them are under exposed but also neither claims too much focus. The balance was exemplary and one I've rarely seen/read in the considerable amount of books I've read. Each storyline in this book has its own touch and feel, its own dynamic depending on the combination of characters important to that specific storyline. And still the whole book fuses together into a coherent, well-oiled machine running so smoothly the pages went by at light speed and before I knew it I was finished and sad to leave all these wonderful characters.

This book was so much more than just the romantic love story between Tom and Kelly spiced up with a few subplots. There are other romances/plotlines, one in the present and one in the past during the Second World War and the suspense plot of a terrorist threat and Brockmann held my attention firmly by switching between these plotlines effortlessly and at exactly the right moments. I had the feeling I was reading three books in one and they were all working towards the same ending. This fell into place when the characters work together towards the conclusion of the suspense plot. All the pieces came together and merged perfectly.

All of the above combined with the humor in her writing and the unambiguous, intense emotions, took this book to a higher level. Kelly and Tom's story could have been the cliché story of the rich good girl and the poor wild boy but Brockmann's writing makes it anything but average or cliché. This was a book that tapped into my emotions on many different levels, just the way I like it. I laughed, I cried, I was appalled, I was angry, I sympathized, I disliked and I was at the edge of my seat when I got to the literally "explosive" ending. In short this was a book that appealed to me at all levels and Brockmann deserves all the praise one could bestow on her.

THE UNSUNG HERO should be treasured and savored and it has set a very high standard for the rest of this series. I am not one to recommend books since I know from experience that every reader has their own preferences and priorities in relation to the TBR-piles but this is a book I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a full-bodied, intricate and dazzling book that entails so much more than the average romantic suspense novels do that are overflowing the romance reading community.


Quotes:
Tom and Kelly
Tom flustered. Funny, he'd pretty much considered himself fluster-proof prior to this very moment in time. But here he was. Completely uncertain what to do, what to say, what to think. She'd kissed his hand.

"I've seen a lot of shitty things, Tom--death and godawful suffering and pain. I need you to see me for who I am--let me climb down from this pedestal of niceness you've stuck me on top of, because up here I can't live my life the way I want to live it. I can't reach you from here. I can't wrap my legs around you the way I'm dying to."

Mallory and David
He was romantic. David of the funny hair and awful plaid shirts was the most romantic man Mallory had ever met in her life. When she kissed him again, he sighed his pleasure and she knew. It was okay that she'd fallen in love with him. Her heart was safe in his gentle hands.


Rating: 10 out of 10
April 29, 2009
Jacket copy:
We are the Dolophoni. Diligent. Vigilant. Fierce and inescapable. Servants of the Furies, we are the right hand of justice and no one stands before us.

The son of Warcraft and Hate, Cratus spent eternity battling for the ancient gods who birthed him. He was death to any who crossed him. Until the day he laid down his arms and was banished into exile. Now an ancient enemy has been unleashed and our dreams are his chosen battlefield. The only hope we have is the one god who swears he will never fight again.

As a Dream-Hunter, Delphine has spent eternity protecting mankind from the predators who prey on our unconscious state. But now that her allies have been turned, she knows in order to survive, the Dream-Hunters need a new leader. Someone who can train them to fight their new enemies. Cratus is her only hope. But she is a bitter reminder of why he chose to lay down his arms. Time is running out and if she can't win him to her cause, mankind will be slaughtered and the world we know will soon cease to exist.


The story of Cratus/Jericho and Delphine is one spiked with fate and destiny and the age-old theme of the battle between good and evil. Cratus was Zeus' executioner. As the son of Warcraft and Hate, he had no qualms carrying out Zeus' orders, no matter how harsh. Until one day he forsake his duty and saved an innocent infant from death. This disobedience would cost him dearly because he was banished and cursed to live as the human Jericho without his powers and with nothing to his name. When evil threatens the Greek pantheon and humanity, Jericho is the one both the good guys and the bad guys turn to for an alliance and he is faced with a difficult choice: quench his thirst for vengeance against Zeus and the gods that didn't stick out a finger to help him in the past or do the right thing and fight against evil that will destroy the world and everything in it. While the story unfolds and different surprising things are revealed, it is clear that the line between good and evil is not as black and white as one should think. There are circumstances, bonds, relations and feelings that color pre-conceived perceptions and turn some worlds upside down. Jericho discovers that he is able to love deeply and Delphine discovers that good is not always right and that to have feelings and emotions is difficult and complicated.

Normally I have this template that is the base for all my reviews where I usually start with a short summary of the book, then I describe the characters and I finish with my opinion of the book and possible quotes. With Kenyon's books I always have trouble following that layout and I just start typing away, hoping something decent will come out of my keyboard. With DREAM WARRIOR it's no different.

I have had a hard time squeezing out this review and my struggles were caused by the fact that I just can't seem to get a grip on some of Kenyon's latest work. I enjoy reading the books, but they fail to enthrall me and yet I keep going back for more. After UPON THE MIDNIGHT CLEAR I thought I was cured from the Kenyon addiction, hitting a low point in the series for me, but then she came with ACHERON and blew me away. DREAM CHASER and ONE SILENT NIGHT were nice reads, entertaining and very intriguing in some aspects but by a long shot no mind-blowing reads. And that's exactly how I feel with DREAM WARRIOR. I enjoyed the story, liked the Jericho and Delphine a whole lot more than Styker and Zephyra but still the awe and wow was not there. The heart-pounding feeling I did have with the early Dark Hunter books and which was definitely rekindled with ACHERON is gone. The novella SHADOW OF THE MOON (still to be reviewed) brought back a glimpse of that feeling, but DREAM WARRIOR failed to keep the fire burning. The books seem to have gotten superficial and on autopilot. I miss intensity and connection with the main characters. Typical for this last issue is that my quotes from this book are not from or about either main character. This proves to me my disconnection to the hero and heroine, something I've been struggling with since reading UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR. (Again with the exception of ACHERON).

I liked the main characters better than those of ONE SILENT NIGHT but I missed Kenyon's trademark humor: the witty snappy sarcastic dialogues in the first part of DREAM WARRIOR. The demon Asmodeus luckily did make up for it a bit with his witty sarcastic self-deprecating humor. He was one of the characters I liked the most in the story. The Dogs of War and the storyline surrounding Nick were impressive and definitely triggered my curiosity. The storyline of Jaden and Jared was just as intriguing and the questions it raised were a balancing counterpart for some of the questions from previous books and storylines that were answered in this book.

With Kenyon the line between good and evil is blurry at best. Evil in one book can be good in the next, so I'm expecting a redeeming installment for Noir and/or Azura in the future. Characters you would expect to be on the "good side" switch to the evil side or are just plain vicious not even needing a plan for world domination. I can never peg the teams down for certain because there are a lot of gray areas that make it difficult to pinpoint who is truly on which side.

And still after all the things I said above I'm puzzled because I just know that the next book in this series will be bought and will be read. I'll call it the Kenyon “magic”, that's what keeps me coming back for more, even if it's not always satisfying. There is something in her books that keeps giving me the incentive to keep buying and reading them and for the love of me I can't put my finger on it. I can only speculate that it has to do with her ability to stir my interest with intriguing storylines for the future, making me curious about where those storylines are going to take us. Because even if DREAM WARRIOR wasn't engrossing or intense I still was unable to put the book down and kept reading and I am anxiously anticipating the follow-up of the storylines with Nick and the Dogs of War, with Jared and Jaden and with the mysterious traitor within the Greek Pantheon. These were the storylines that lifted up the second part of the book for me, together with the pace that picked up and a bit more action. I also liked how Kenyon brought some storylines from previous books (DREAM HUNTER, UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR, ACHERON, DREAM CHASER and ONE SILENT NIGHT) together in this book and some unanswered questions and unsolved issues were dealt with. This combined with the somewhat better second part of the book earned her an extra half star. I do believe that the last few books in this series are turning out to be less easy to read as stand alones. They seem more tightly linked installments with storylines that are transferred from one book to another, but no so much in sequence. I think it would be hard to follow the storylines and character appearances if the books are read out of order of if some books are skipped. Another reason for me to keep reading and buying every new installment that will be released.

So in conclusion, a nice enough and entertaining read with enough hooks to keep me reeled in but not enough to make me go raving and ranting.


Quotes:
Asmodeus to Delphine
"Oh, hello me lovely, we haven't met." He flashed her a charming smile as he kissed her tenderly on the hand. "Asmodeus, demon extraordinaire, at your service. Any service you may require, especially those that involve nudity and adjoining body parts joining other people's body parts."

Jericho, Ash and Tory
"Why would Jaden send us to you?"
Ash grinned roguishly. " 'Cause I'm a genuinely nice guy who plays a mean guitar."
Tory laughed. "Spoken only by someone who doesn't know what a grump you are in the morning."



April 28, 2009
Jacket Copy:
TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT
New to London society and rather...awkward...Lady Grace Belmont would just as soon hide behind the palm trees as dance with a man she doesn't know. But Baron Dawson is on the hunt for a wife. Grace's generous curves and remarkable height do not intimidate him. In fact, it would be more accurate to describe his reaction to the charming newcomer as lust.

Before Grace can so much as gather her thoughts, she finds herself in his arms, committing one shocking impropriety after another. The Baron's devilish attractiveness--to say nothing of his splendid muscles--is simply impossible to resist. Her beloved aunt and chaperone advises patience, but Grace is not about to listen. The handsome baron is whispering such delightful things in her ear...


This is the story of Grace Belmont. She’s a character that briefly appeared in THE NAKED GENTLEMAN. She is the woman who was to marry John Parker-Roth as arranged by her father. However, when on a trip to London with her aunt during her last days of "freedom" she meets David Wilton, Baron Dawson and falls in love, things don't go as planned. She couldn't have fallen in love with someone worse. The Wiltons have been a nail in her father's coffin ever since his fiancée broke their engagement and eloped with David's father. He proceeded to marry someone else and had Grace but still after more than 30 years the fire of resentment is kept alive and burning.

Sometimes words just refuse to come and this review is one of those times! I really and truly enjoyed the book and the story but the fact that the chronology was off for was so distracting that when I sat down to write this review I had serious trouble focusing in order to write a good and coherent review. And that's just not fair to the book because I enjoyed reading it and I loved the two romance plots and I loved most of the characters but that's about all I have inspiration for to tell in this review and that really bugs me. I can't stand that I can't seem to combine words and form sentences that will do this book justice. This really doesn't happen to me often, I'll go as far and say it has never happened to me before and I do not like this.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way I am going to try to come up with a half decent opinion about TNB because it does deserve that. This book offers two romances for the price of one. There is the romance between Grace and David but parallel to it there's also the story of Kate (Grace's aunt) and Alex (David's Uncle). The common ground between these two romances is that both couples are hindered by the complicated history between the Belmonts and the Wiltons. Even though both love stories are equally represented, there are sections of the book where one or the other takes the center of attention. But at the end this is balanced out and both stories become equally important.

Alex and Kate's story did affect me more because I found it more endearing and heartbreaking. It had much more conflict and urgency to it. And maybe that is why it made a slightly bigger impression on me than the fresh and young love portrayed by Grace and David's. I also connected less with they younger couple than I did with Alex and Kate. Is it because they were more mature and experienced? Maybe it was.

So in conclusion I can say I liked reading this book but there were factors that influenced my overall opinion more than I expected, which leads me to my rating of this book. A positive point is that the two stories were interlaced in this same book. Wouldn't have liked it if either story had been a separate novella. However, I am certain that if THE NAKED BARON had been released before THE NAKED GENTLEMAN and if David and Grace's story had had the "oomph" that Alex and Kate's had, it would have rated 4 stars easily.


Quotes:
David about women:
But he didn't want to wed one of these stick-figure girls. No, he wanted a woman with some meat on her bones. A soft armful --a woman with full breasts and hips who made a comfortable bed herself-- sweet, yielding, warm. No, not warm --hot. A woman with a body that made a man forget his own name.

Kate and Alex:
"May I remove your breeches for you?"
"Yes." He was about to beg her to do so --or to rip them off himself. "Please."
(...) "May I make a suggestion?" God he was still croaking like a frog --a lust-maddened frog.




April 17, 2009
This book was released on April 7th and I reviewed it for REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES


Back Cover Copy:
His unexpected bride…

Wealthy landowner Simon Clare shuns Northumbrian society. With his son gravely ill, the last thing Simon needs is an interfering woman assuming command of his household and nursing young Robert – no matter how sensuous her figure, or how tempting her luscious lips.

Phoebe Benedict knows what it is to struggle, and finds herself drawn to the badly scarred recluse. Despite his tough exterior, she knows that Simon is a father who yearns for his son to recover – and a man who misses the tender embrace of a woman…





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This is the story of Simon Clare and Phoebe Benedict. I met Simon and his son Robert in A QUESTION OF IMPROPRIETY to which this book is a sequel. He was Diana's rude brother who was part of the secondary cast in that book. Diana has since then married and is staying in London. When Robert is gravely ill and consequently getting unruly, Simon sends for Diana, for she is the only one who is able to get through to her nephew.

But instead of Diana it's Phoebe Benedict, Lord Coltonby's (Diana's husband Brett) cousin, who shows up on his doorstep in the middle of a rainstorm. Out of desperation and not a cruel man to send her away in a storm, Simon lets her stay and it turns out she has a good influence on Robert and his recovery. Soon Simon decides she is good for his son and his household so he offers her a marriage of convenience. An offer Phoebe accepts out of despair and because of her growing feelings for this gruff man and his son.

Simon is sort of an unsociable recluse with a temper. He's rude and direct but he definitely has a softer side too. Especially when he opens up to Phoebe and lets her into his heart. His love for his son Robert and his sister Diana are also proof the fact that he is not totally devoid of compassion.

Phoebe is spirited, tenacious and has a big heart. She hasn't had an easy life but despite the adversities she has brightness and life in her that is hard to ignore or put aside. This is something Simon soon discovers.

Simon and Phoebe both bring their own personal demons into their marriage of convenience and both of them want it for different reasons. Simon wants stability for his son and has trouble reconciling his budding feelings for Phoebe with the fact that she is a single woman living under his roof. Phoebe wants to get away from her stepfamily that demands a lot of her and give her nothing but grief in return. She too is starting to feel Simon is more to her than the father of a sick boy she's taking care of. Inevitably the ultimate happy outcome has one and the same cause: love.

I loved the story between Simon and Phoebe. I could have gone on reading after the epilogue if possible. They, Robert and the relationship between them all captured me from the start. Simon and Phoebe complement each other perfectly. Their respective strong qualities neutralize the weak qualities in each other.

The story revolves around the developing relationship between Phoebe and Simon, Robert’s illness, Simon’s past and Phoebe’s family matters. Fluently written, with dilemmas that are easy to relate to and a thoroughly set up historical setting, I kept turning the pages until I reached the last page. This book brings the reader what it promises: a captivating historical tale of two people falling in love contrary to their initial intention of combining the practical with the pleasurable.

I thoroughly enjoyed how Michelle Styles brought the time period to life. I even learned a bit about building engines, but it was interlaced with the rest of the story in such a manner that it never took over the story. The characters and the romance felt real to me. Together with her knack for historical accuracy and the way she works historical facts and details into the book, this was another solid regency romance that will entice Regency romance lovers. The storyline depicts the lifestyle during this particular time period.

Michelle Styles writes Regency romance as it is meant to be: moving, fitting the time-period in historical details, plotlines and emotional conflict. I was enthralled by her writing style that reads easily but is far from boring. A style that's supported by a solid historical background sending you back to the time she writes about and her descriptions are complementary rather than disrupting and further adding to the genuine sympathy provoked by the characters and their story.

Michelle Styles grabs the reader's heart with her portrait of a wonderful couple. Simon’s gruffness is soon changed by Phoebe’s caring personality and in my eyes they were a perfect fit. Although it isn’t a gripping romance full of passion, as their love grows it allows for depth and development of both Simon and Phoebe. She gave me a beautiful portrayal of true romance and a marriage in which a man learns to trust again and leave the past behind.

When you pick up a Michelle Styles book you know you're in for historical quality on a consistent and high level.



April 15, 2009
Back Cover copy:
Abigail Shaw is a proper young lady, hardly the sort to boldly offer a deal to London's most distinguished and perfect duke. But Abigail, desperate to save her father's newspaper business, is after a good scandal. She'd have the sensational headlines that would keep the ton talking--and the family business thriving--if only she could uncover the secrets of Christopher Cabot, the Duke of Madingley. What better way than a pretend romance? Yet, with all his seductive glances and stolen caresses, she somehow has to keep from succumbing to temptation.

Christopher Cabot finds Abigail--and her proposal--intriguing. A fake romance with the stunning commoner would allow him time to choose a suitable wife from among the would-be duchesses nipping at his heels. It seems like a perfect plan...as long as he can keep her from uncovering his one deep, dark secret. But as he falls for the cunning beauty, he will be tempted to reveal all--his secret, his heart, and his soul.



Abigail Shaw secretly writes for her father's newspaper. When the paper is in trouble and on the verge of going down, she decides to try and save it by boosting up the sales with a juicy gossip story about the secret that surrounds the Duke of Madingley, Christopher Cabot. In order to get her story she accompanies her friend Gwen to a house party held on the duke's country estate. Abby offers Chris a pretend courtship that enables her to get close to him and get her scoop and gives Chris a way to keep the title-chasing, marry-minded ladies at a distance during the party.
Things take a different turn when another journalist shows up to stir trouble and Chris finds out the real reason behind Abby's presence and their pretend courtship.

Abby is bold, confident, daring and smart. When she sets her mind to something, she goes after it with determination and mostly succeeds. She's also realistic. She knows that she is not of Society and accepts it but she does not settle for the easy way out.
Chris is a bit of a contradiction. He is charming, ambitious and there's a hint of wickedness surrounding him. But he is also reserved, keeping to himself and very loyal to his family. The past has put its stamp on his decisions and behavior and he’s determined to keep his family away from scandal at any cost.

There's an immediate attraction between Abby and Chris. But it's an attraction they both fight for different reasons. Abby doesn't think she has a chance with a duke, being the daughter of a newspaper owner. Chris suspects Abby is up to something and she doesn't fit his image of a future duchess. Still these obstacles don't keep them from falling for each other. Despite the many reasons not to get involved with her, to Chris she’s like a breath of fresh air compared to all the marry-hungry ladies chasing him for his wealth and title. To Abby, who has never felt anything for any man in her life, as focused as she is on her writing and career, Chris turns out to cause a quantity of undeniable emotions within her. Before long she must chose between her feelings and finishing the job she came to do.

This was a lovely, solid historical romance read. It is not mind-blowing but a perfect book to read in between extremely intense books or for variation of genres. I liked how Gayle Callen set up the plot and the romance. It was believable and entertaining, even if the plot was a little bit predictable. Still it was attention capturing and the pace was good. I really like this trilogy by Callen. Where the other trilogy I've read by her hand, was average and simple, the two books in this trilogy are above average and more interesting.

The pattern of themes such as parental influence, problematic youths and financial troubles reappear in some form throughout all the books I've read and in this book they were wrapped in a slightly more attractive package because of the slightly more intense chemistry between the main characters and a plot that was executed better than in some of other books.

With NEVER DARE A DUKE Gayle Callen has delivered another installment in the vast collection of nice and easy historical romances, guaranteed to provide an entertaining and pleasant read before diving into complicated and emotionally intense books



April 14, 2009
Back Cover copy:
Zane, a fierce vampire warrior, has been enslaved by the Amazons. Nola, a lovely Amazon soldier, has been cursed with invisibility.
Now, these two stubborn enemies must overcome the pasts that haunt them and embrace a love that can set them free...


This story continues where we left it at the end of THE VAMPIRE'S BRIDE. It's the story of the vampire Zane and the amazon Nola. Four months after they were imprisoned by the gods on an island and forced to compete in a ridiculous contest to provide entertainment for the fickle gods, they are both back in Atlantis. Zane as a prisoner of the amazons, Nola cursed not to be seen, heard or felt by those around her, totally unnoticeable. Until that changes and she can be seen and heard but still not touched. She helps Zane escape and he promises to come back for her. Every time Nola admits her love for Zane to herself she gets one part of herself back, first they can see her, then they can hear her and finally they can touch her again.

Nola hates men because of her past, being sold of by her mother to any willing male. She is fierce and a keeps a bit to herself because of her distrust of other people. She is very confused by the feelings Zane ignites in her.

Zane hates women and can't stand to be touched because of his past as a sex slave for the demon queen. He has once sacrificed himself for love and his efforts were thrown back in his face. Therefore, he too is reluctant to trust others and his feelings for Nola. He is powerful and headstrong. His determination giving him the strength needed to fight for his king.

Nola and Zane are very much alike. They are full of pride and possess a similar defiant streak. Despite their convincing intolerance of other people's touches Nola does not find Zane's touch repulsive and Zane allowes Nola to touch him and even enjoys it.
There are a few secondary characters, which have small parts in the story. Because of the shortness of the story there was no room for more and I was glad because it would have taken away from the story between Nola and Zane.

With only 54 pages this short novella, leaves little room for depth or true plot but I thought it was a nice extended epilogue to THE VAMPIRE'S BRIDE, giving Nola and Zane their happily ever after in a delightful and quick read. It contained everything I love about Gena's writing and I can add another notch to the Atlantis collection, which is proving to be a great series with lots of potential. I am curious which characters Gena will be tackling next in this series
.

Quote:
In that moment his entire existence made sense. He'd been born to be this woman's mate. He'd given himself to a demon to better understand this precious woman's pain. He'd been chosen for the gods' cruel game to ensure this woman's survival.




This book was released on March 31st and I reviewed it for REALMS ON OUR BOOKSHELVES


Back Cover Copy:
WILL HE HELP PROVE HER INNOCENCE . . .OR LEAD A KILLER TO HER DOOR?
Courtney Glass has been in trouble all her life, but nothing tops being an up-close witness to a brutal murder. Until she’s accused of the crime. Every scrap of evidence points to her guilt, and now Courtney must prove to police that she’s not a murderer, but she is one of the killer’s intended victims. As investigators hammer her for answers, Courtney knows she has two choices: run, or trust the brooding, sexy detective who’s made it clear she’s his prime suspect.


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The coldblooded murder of her ex-boyfriend in her car by someone who then tries to kill her and make it a murder-suicide scenario is the start of a hellish time for Courtney Glass. She thought she was done with her ex when she found out he'd been lying to her and was a married man from her hometown instead of a single lawyer from out of town. The one thing he didn't lie about was that he was working on a big case and that's where the troubles start for Courtney. She ends up under investigation by the police, on the run from a hit man and to complicate matters even more there’s a persistent attraction between her and Will Hodges, the detective in charge of the investigation.

Courtney is a complicated and multi-layered character and hard to put into a category. She has an outward appearance that's sometimes contrary to her inner personality and there were times she came across as a chameleon, changing and adapting to various situations and circumstances with ease, both literally with her appearance and also in behavior. She's as comfortable at a baseball game as in a posh hair salon or a trendy nightclub. She may seem a bit wild and reckless and after a difficult childhood and a period of living it up she's really trying to get it together but the stuff with her ex puts a dent in that resolution. She reverts back to the only way she knows how to deal with things: head-on, stubbornly and using everything at her disposal, including her looks and flirtatious nature.

Will isn't the most talkative or charming of men. He doesn't waste words and epitomizes the strong silent type. Underneath all that silence is an enigmatic man though. Again a case of there being more to the man than you would initially think. He is aloof, to the point, tough and professional. Although his professionalism flies right out the window when he gets to know Courtney better and starts to feel attracted to her. Sometimes Courtney annoys him profoundly and tests his patience but that doesn't take away the strong chemistry between them.

The secondary characters all fulfill their respective parts in the plot, making their presence clear but never overshadowing Courtney and Will. Fiona, being Courtney's sister plays a slightly bigger role and it was lovely seeing her and Jack making their appearance in this book. I also liked the way the relationship between the sisters is explained a bit more.

Without any preliminaries Griffin threw me right in the middle of a mind-blowing suspense. The suspense was thrilling from the first chapter, the first few pages to be exact, to the very last one. And never let it be said that Griffin is predictable. Reading THREAD OF FEAR (book 1 of the Glass Sisters) I thought I had Courtney's story and love interest pegged but I couldn't have been further from it. Courtney's actual hero is introduced soon in this book and I must say he's perfect for her. Definitely more so than the hero I thought it would be when I read book 1.

Griffin takes the known story of cop and suspect and manages to give it a great and refreshing spin. Her writing is fluent, easy to follow and uncomplicated despite the legal procedures and law enforcement theme. I loved the setup and the execution of both suspense and romance but she is foremost a true master at suspense. She keeps writing these books that keep me on the edge of my seat, keep me wanting to go back to reading them whenever I stop.

The plot is unpredictable yet realistic and the pace is fast but never rushed. Even without real hardcore action it's still thrilling and eventful. The solution to the plot is kept hidden from the reader until the very end, giving the book a great ending. Slowly, surely and inevitably Griffin leads the reader to the conclusion of this book in a perfect way, tying the very few loose ends in a satisfactory way. The plot was built up excellently, adding to it more clues and facts and gradually answering questions, but at the same time creating new, intriguing situations that leave you wondering what is really going on.

Again, as is becoming Griffin's trademark for me, the romance is subtle, touching and realistic. It's heartwarming without being explicit, fitting the book because it doesn't need explicitness. She has this uncanny ability to write seemingly effortless blends of suspense and romance. While the focus is on the suspense, the romance is still very much present but in a subtle way it's imbedded into the suspense, adding to it that touch of romance to make it a romantic suspense rather than a thriller. It's another compelling book with remarkable plotting in which everything clicks together and into place seamlessly. The book keeps the reader engrossed in it with the way it is thorough, fast-paced, superbly written and captivating.

Laura Griffin ensnared me with this thrilling story that was filled with unpredictable suspense and subtle romance. Once again I've read a book by her hand that absolutely didn't disappoint and was straight up my romantic suspense alley. And this one actually exceeded my expectations with its unpredictability; expectations that very pretty high to begin with after the wonderful book that preceded this one.


Photobucket
April 11, 2009
Back Cover copy:
He is Layel, king of the vampires, a master seducer no woman can deny. But since a rogue horde of dragons killed his beloved over two centuries ago, Layel has existed only for vengeance…until he meets Delilah.

Wary of love, the beautiful Amazon wants nothing to do with the tormented vampire. Yet there’s no denying their consuming desire every time he nears her.

Neither trusts the other—nor can they survive alone. For in an impossible game of the gods’ devising, they’ve been trapped on an island, about to face the ultimate challenge: surrender to the passion that will bind them forever…or be doomed to an eternity apart.


Two hundred years ago dragons tortured and killed Layel's beloved mate, Susan, and ever since he has been on a single-minded mission to erase the dragon race from existence. There's no room for women, no room for pleasure and certainly no room for emotions such as love. That is…Until his encounter with Delilah, an amazon who secretly wants love and a man for her own, to have and keep, contrary to the amazons' ways.
When they are forced to battle each other in a silly competition devised by the gods, they discover that not even the gods can interfere with destiny and true love.

Layel is the vampire king. He is cold and ruthless but inside he's hurting. He is punishing himself for failing his mate and not being able to safe her.
Delilah is an amazon warrioress. She is loyal, fierce and quick-witted.

Both of them are very proud, strong and full of determination. They fight each other both literally and figuratively and when they are not doing that they are fighting their feelings for one another. Delilah soon tries to accept and embrace her feelings for Layel, the only man who has ever made her feel these feelings. Layel on the other hand does everything to deny and reject his feelings for Delilah. He sees it as betraying Susan and fights them with all he has, hurting Delilah emotionally in the process. Winning Layel's love turns out to be a very difficult and emotionally draining task for Delilah. She has to fight not only his love for and devotion to his former mate but also his determination to never love again.

There are many secondary characters: gods, creatures of Atlantis in all forms and sizes but also main and secondary characters from previous books. Some of the supporting cast were more important than others but all were well drawn without taking too much of the attention. Parallel to Layel and Delilah's romance there are two secondary love stories. One is completed during the book, that of the nymph Shivawn and the vampire/demon Alyssa. Their story began in THE NYMPH KING (book 3). Although it was one of the secondary storylines in the book, it was no less in its intensity or beauty. It definitely was an added treat to this already excellent book.
The other romance is that of the vampire Zane and the amazon Nola. They have ultimately gotten their own story in the series by way of a short novella, THE AMAZON'S CURSE, which I also read and which has been reviewed separately.

With THE VAMPIRE'S BRIDE I loved going back tot the world of Atlantis, created by Gena Showalter, with all its magical beings and creatures and the constant battles between them. And Gena gave this book a twist that was right up my alley, it was Survivor meets Paradise Hotel meets Gena Showalter's Atlantis series. As an avid TV and reality shows watcher and a big fan of Gena Showalter's work I took this book in and enjoyed it immensely. For me this was the best in the Atlantis series so far. Everything from romance to action and from dialogues to emotions, fell into place perfectly.

I must firstly admit that it was strange to see the dragons, a race that I loved in the previous books in this series, in a different light through Layel's eyes. To me the dragons have always been the good guys in this series and Layel truly the bad guy, at least up until the third book (THE NYMPH KING). But when given the facts about what happened to him and his mate in the past I could not blame him his behavior and even became sympathetic to his actions. I really resented the dragons in the prologue of this book.

The semblance of aggressiveness, desires bordering desperation and an abundant amount of self-reproach linger throughout the entire book among several characters both primary and secondary. This gave the book that little edge I've come to like and appreciate in Gena Showalter's books.
With this one Gena has delivered yet another winner to my bookshelves.

The book captivated me to the point of not wanting to put it down and enraptured me with its fast-paced and action-packed plot that was interlaced with small intriguing side plots. The romance was passion-filled and imperative. Showalter’s writing comprises humorous, witty dialogues that are simply brilliant, action sequences that leave me breathless and descriptions of emotions that are so vivid they touch my own. Her compelling writing style was displayed in every aspect of this book: the characters, the plot and the romance. By now it's clear to me that everything by Gena Showalter has the ability to mesmerize and fascinate me, this book was no exception.


Quotes:
For years he'd assumed his heart was withered, dead. And yet, hearing the excitement in her voice, the foolish organ sped to life, nearly beating through his ribs.

That bloodsucking fiend. That black-hearted warrior. That...man! He had no conscience, no sense of fairness. And she...liked it. A sigh slipped from her, and she nearly melted to the ground in a boneless heap of feminine delight.




April 10, 2009
Back Cover copy:
Patrick MacGregor is a hunted man living on the edge. With his land stolen and clan outlawed, Patrick and his MacGregor clansmen have been forced into hiding—blame for which Patrick puts squarely on the shoulders of the hated Campbells. Patrick will stop at nothing to save his clan from destruction, and marriage to Elizabeth Campbell, whose quiet beauty he’d admired from afar, just might be the answer. Arranging an attack seems to be the perfect means to win the trust of the protected lass, but soon Patrick realizes that it isn’t just his life at stake if she discovers the truth of his identity, but something he’d thought lost long ago—his heart.

Elizabeth Campbell has never done anything reckless in her life. Shy and dutiful, Lizzie has always tried to do the right thing—even suffering through the humiliation of two broken engagements without complaint. But behind the serious façade is a passionate woman fighting to get out. So when a handsome mysterious warrior rescues her from an attack, Lizzie boldly asks him to stay. Seduced by his kiss and mesmerized by the edge of danger that surrounds him, Lizzie succumbs to the promise beckoning from behind his shadowed gaze, believing she’s found the perfect man. But soon Lizzie wonders whether in risking her heart, she’s lost everything.


Patrick MacGregor's life has always revolved around his revenge on the Campbells. They destroyed his family, they took what was rightfully his and now they are hunting him, forcing him to live like a barbarian, a life of running and hiding and suffering. But now he has contemplated a plan to exact the perfect revenge and in the process, get the lands back that where wrongfully taken from his family. It has come to his attention that Elizabeth Campell's dowry has been expanded with those very lands and he devises a ruse to win Lizzie's trust and trick her into marrying him.

Lizzie, unsuspecting of Patrick's lies, soon falls for the fierce warrior who came to her rescue during an attack by MacGregor outlaws. What she doesn’t know is that he is one of them and the attack is a set-up. But things don't go exactly as planned for Patrick when he discovers that he is not immune to Lizzie's charm and bravery and he has trouble carrying out his plans.

Lizzie is a true lady of the keep. She is delicate, sensible, kind and dutiful. But she's also brave and a fierce spitfire when push comes to shove. I loved her character and think she has come a long way from the stammering, insecure girl in the McLeods of Skye Trilogy. She has grown into a fiery and strong woman whose heart is vulnerable but in the hands of the right man, which happens to be Patrick, it is safe.

Patrick is a true warrior. He is calm, controlled and proud. He has a fierceness that he tries to keep in check by using his wit and cunning intelligence. He is determined and despises his life as an outlaw, forced to run and do things that go against his nature.

Together Lizzie and Patrick were great. Their story that was covered with complications warmed my heart. They were perfect for each other and I loved their journey to love and trust in a tale of injustice, deception, duty, vengeance and star-crossed love.

This book was elaborate, intricate and passionate. Families, loyalty to them and the sense of duty run strong throughout Monica McCarty's books and in this one the portrayal of these themes was perfectly matched with lovely romance and passionate attraction. The love story between Patrick and Lizzie is one that is complicated but inevitable. McCarty brought it in an amazing way. It was fast-paced, emotional, sensual and suspenseful. By inserting complicating factors like Patrick's family being outlawed and hunted by Lizzie's or Lizzie being courted by the son of the man who killed Patrick's parents, she gave the story depth and intrigue where it would otherwise remain average.

With this book the feud between Clan Campbell and Clan MacGregor seems to be solved and I look forward to what Monica McCarty brings to the table in the final installment of this trilogy. In my opinion this book was another formidable Scottish tale of romance and loyalty. With a compelling writing style and a story build-up that was excellent McCarty kept me entranced and glued to the pages.

Lizzie's story was absolutely worth the wait and her journey to happiness was a complicated but beautiful one.


Quotes:
He was a Greek god carved not from marble, but from hard Highland granite.

She might be tiny and delicate, but she'd been made for him. She wouldn't break—he smiled wickedly—though he intended to make her shatter.



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Pearl
Netherlands
39, married to my real life romance hero, addicted to TV shows, reading romance novels and Twitter. I'm a chronic (e)book hoarder and my absolute favorite genres within romance fiction are contemporary romance and romantic suspense, but I don't shy away from historical, paranormal or erotic romance either. Even the occasional (urban) fantasy romance, futuristic and sci fi romance may make it to my Mount TBR. This is my corner of the world wide web where I let you know what books I'm hoarding, reading and reviewing.
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  • Unforgivable - Laura Griffin
  • Snapped - Laura Griffin
  • Darkness at Dawn - Elizabeth Jennings
  • Sizzle and Burn - Alexis Grant
  • No Mercy - Lori Armstrong
  • Animal Magnetism - Jill Shalvis
  • Crazy for Love - Victoria Dahl
  • Kink - Saskia Walker/Sasha White
  • So Sensitive - Anne Rainey
  • Dark Taste of Rapture - Gena Showalter
  • The Darkest Secret - Gena Showalter
  • Vampire in Atlantis - Alyssa Day
  • Vampire Dragon - Annette Blair
  • Captive Spirit - Anna Windsor
  • Chosen by Blood - Virna DePaul
  • Rebel - Zoe Archer
  • Stranger - Zoe Archer
  • A Taste of Desire - Beverley Kendall
  • Mistress by Midnight - Maggie Robinson
  • To Desire a Devil - Elizabeth Hoyt
  • To Tame a Dangerous Lord - Nicole Jordan

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  • Driven - Jayne Rylon (reread)
  • Shifting Gears - Jayne Rylon
  • Beg Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Tempt Me - Shiloh Walker
  • Jazz Baby - Lorelie Brown
  • Playboy Prankster - Pamela Britton
  • Just Like That - Erin Nicholas
  • Sweet Inspiration - Penny Watson
  • Breathe - Donna Alward
  • My Gigolo - Molly Burkhart
  • Scent of Persuason - Nikki Duncan

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