5 star review

Review -Archangel’s Heart by Nalini Singh

archangels-heart

One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory.

Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is…

Nothing will ever be the same again.

I am going to admit, I was a bit leery with this one, it sounded ominous and I have not been in a particularly good place of late. But Singh has had me captivated, so I had to read it anyway, and I was so glad I did. I absolutely devoured it.

This is book 9 in a series that really should be read in order. Spoilers for the previous books in the series are likely to occur. So the series teaser (as interpreted by me to see if you are interested): an urban fantasy world filled with non-judeo/christian angel’s, Archangels, vampires with a hell of a twist, and the human vampire hunters who work the fringes of this mad world have hellacious adventures, live, and love and all that jazz. So seriously, read all the books. But stop reading this review if you haven’t already read in the series.

Things have gotten super weird in the world. It has been two years since the events of the last book, and the staggering power of the cascade has been on pause and the big bad no where in sight. So needless to say that emotions are running high. This isn’t always a good thing, but based on how we have slowly been exploring Aodhan and his relationship with Illium it seems it might just be the perfect thing to break open the cracks in the remnants of our dear Sparkle’s solitude. I completely ‘ship SparkleBell. And things aren’t just in turmoil on the personal fronts, the power vacuum of a territory not under command of an Archangel is an issue that must be dealt with.

Enter stage left: the Luminia, an eons old sect but a complete mystery to us and to the relatively new minted angel Elena. And this group has the power and authority to call a meeting of the Cadre of Archangells…duh, duh, DUHHH. Things get dark pretty damned quick.  Power corrupts and rots in secret.

I think it is fair to say that I was completely surprised by where this book went. In a good way, but still, very surprised. And I think it is excellent that Singh has the power to surprise me, because I was starting to wonder.

I will admit, that I initially started this series under duress and desperation (I had nothing to read and had completely demolished-as in reread until the pages fell out waiting for the next Psy-Changeling book came out), and was prepared to dislike it for a variety of reasons…and the first book didn’t exactly endear itself to me. But now that I am into it, I think what I enjoy about it is how the power differentials are dealt with. Here a mortal heart in the face of such age and immorality is powerful and can change the course of the future, here there is power in being a scholar, here women can be and are expected to be powers in the own rights. It all just tickles my fancy. Plus, I really enjoy the twist with the vampires and the world building that goes along with this mythology.

I also really enjoy the balance. While I do enjoy following an established couple through a series, they can get stale and one-dimensional since we almost never seem them grow through the growth of integral friends. And while I also enjoy series that use each new couple’s book to advanced the overall story arc, sometimes it is exhausting meeting new people, plus the time giving more people back stories can make the overall arc disjointed. I find the method in this book about perfect. We do have out main characters who keep things moving along, but then other people close to the main characters have their own books too, which livens the series up. The first three books focus on Raphael and Elena, then we get Dmitri and Honor’s book, then Jason and Honor’s book, then back to Raphael and Elena, then back to their friends Janvier and Ashwini and then Nassir and Andi, and now we are back with Raphael and Elena, so I think we can expect more from Raphael’s Seven now. With Galen having found his heart long ago, that just leaves us with Venom, Sparkle, and BlueBell. And since I ‘ship the Sparklebell, you’ve got a good guess of whose story I want to see next. 😀

I am hoping for Sparklebell, then Venom…maybe with Sorrow…not at all sure about that. And then the big showdown with the big bad.

Meantime, our new guests to New York are I am sure going to shake things up, and I can’t WAIT for two of them to meet Elena’s father and her two half sisters. I am going to bet it is going to be love at first sight with those little girls, much to Jeffrey’s great discomfort.

And as it goes along I am going to wallow in how this mortal heart changes such ancient beings, breaking them out of their hidebound ways. It is purely delightful. Fair warning though, there is some darkness. But overall a happy book, that made my afternoon a little brighter. Singh always makes me glad I have read.

I am not certain any of this rambling makes a bit of sense, but I was trying not to squee and cooo, and Bieber it all over the place. Happy reading!

Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9)

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4 star review

October TBR Challenge 2016 – Undead and Done by MaryJanice Davidson

TBR Challenge 2016

Topic: Paranormal or Romantic Suspense

undead-and-done

This month’s review is of a book that JUST came out. But, it has been on my TBR ever since I read the first book in the series, if you know what I mean. I got into MaryJanice Davidson a bit late, but by 2008-2009 I was hooked and was raring for more. Betsy, and the Wyndhams, and Fred the Mermaid had my heart and I simply couldn’t wait to see how their stories would play out. It was a long and maddening time coming. This review is going to be ridiculous, and I can’t promised there won’t be series spoilers.

Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor continues her rule in Hell in the scorchingly funny finale to the Undead series from New York Times bestselling author MaryJanice Davidson.

It had been a well-kept secret for centuries, but now the existence of vampires is all over the news, thanks to Betsy Taylor’s half sister (and frustrated former Antichrist), Laura. Life for the undead will never be the same, and it’s up to Betsy to do some damage control. But her interview on the local news doesn’t exactly put out the fire. It more or less pours kerosene on it.

With all the added attention on supernatural beings, the werewolves are more than a little agitated (never a good thing) and demand that Betsy gets her interview skills, and her family, in order. And while things go from bad to worse in the world, Hell continues to be hell—especially when Betsy’s new parole program gets about as complicated as you’d expect.

With a PR team launching a vampire-friendly campaign, the Devil at large and out to make trouble, and mermaids on hand to see who falls—and how hard—the end isn’t just near. It’s here. And if anyone knows how to go out with a bang, it’s the Queen of Hell.

Book 15, oh parting is such sweet sorrow! MJ and Betsy, we’ve been through it, huh? A) I didn’t know a series this ridiculous could actually jump the shark. And B) I didn’t know how we were ever going to come back from the events of Unfinished and Undermined. The time traveling and the loved ones made into a creepy skin book with an Evil Betsy Taylor was just too much for me and many other readers. I am not ashamed to admit, I kind of quit this series. It has been 15 books and 8 years or so, and while it hasn’t always been great, it has been, something…

When I heard that she was wrapping up though, I caught back up and gave her another chance. And I am glad I did. I rarely quit series, and don’t do it lightly, and this is the only one I have ever come back to. I had missed the lightheartedness, the ridiculous humor, and the antics of friends I would never, ever want to hang out with. Seriously, it was like a train wreck.

What we have is my favorite designer shoe loving, airhead almost heroine vampire. She…kind of…grows up. Resolves some stuff, messes some more stuff up, and in general just takes us on a ride. Par for the course and almost like old times. A number of mysteries were solved/resolved, the vampire nation AND Hell are humming along on a fairly even keel, and the gang all comes out on top. There was one death, which was something of a deus ex machina, but honestly I can’t say I could see another way out either, so it is getting a pass from me.

I don’t know. How do you explain the end of a ridiculous series that made you laugh, and cry, and actually hand-to-heart set a book on fire and vow to never read another thing from this author again…but then you do anyway? I guess the best way to explain it is that I enjoyed it but am glad it is over. AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS UNHOLY AND DESIGNER SHOE RELATED, MARYJANICE DAVIDSON, you had better not come back here ever againAll that can happen by adding to it is making it worse. The only thing permissible would be short stories to fill in the gaps of things that have already happened (see below). Don’t screw this up like the nameless horrors.

I am not unequivocally satisfied with the series. There is a major series plot hole regarding Boo, Rachel, and Edward from Wolf at the Door that I find maddening. And little inconsistencies and discontinuity that may or may not be explained by the time line shift. And Liam and Sophie were never resolved. And I don’t know if I would necessarily recommend someone who hadn’t read the series to start (too much baggage in the middle). But if you used to love this series and stopped, it might be good to peak out and maybe ease any lingering irritation and finish it on a high note, I know I am glad I did.

Undead and Done (Undead #15)

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3.5 star review, 5 star review

OpenLibrary Review – Dream Man by Linda Howard

Dream man

This 1998 classic one was way overdue for a re-read, and the comments from my review of Troublemaker made it imperative. Dream Man is available from Openlibrary, but the usual disclaimers apply.

Detective Dane Hollister of the Orlando police department has never met anyone quite like Marlie Keen. While he has doubts about her supposed clairvoyant powers, she sees crimes as they’re being committed, there is no doubt about how much he desires her. To Marlie, Dane is all heat and hard muscle, and he makes her body come alive as it never has before. But not even she can foresee that their passion will lead them on a dangerous journey into the twisted mind of a madman who will threaten their happiness and their lives.

So things to note, I adored this book, it got 5 stars from me and I have reread it so very many times. And I still love it, but, just bear in mind these comments are me trying to read this thing with 2016 eyes. If you still love and have fond memories of this book, you just may want to look away. Because as much as I still enjoyed it, I think perhaps it didn’t hold up to time as well as others have. And considering this is such a widely read and reviewed book, well there may almost certainly be spoilers, and my comments are going to be more directed and specific than I would otherwise be. You have been warned.

Holy crap, I DID NOT remember Dane being such a stalkerish pig. I really didn’t. I will grant you that he is no where in the alphahole league as the ones I really trash, but I remember him as being a sweet hero. But really his bowling her over and moving in was slightly creepy to me now. I mean there is some genuinely witty banter, and he is rather sweet at times, but still. On the plus though it was the late 90’s version of this Athur Dayne guy-which is a must read. READ IT!!!!

Other pluses include a psychic heroine, but it somehow doesn’t strike as hardcore paranormal, she is a strong heroine who shows a huge personal growth pattern (some would say too much), the romantic connection, the sex scenes, and Dane’s partner, and the mystery and truly creepy villain. There is a ton of good stuff.

On the side of I don’t know if this is a plus or a minus-the prose is remarkably purple and I enjoyed the hell of it in the way that only a reader of the old skool possibly could, your mileage may vary.

On the negative Marlie kind of gets healed by the magic Peen, there is some acknowledged condomless sex that I had completely forgotten about (and Linda Howard is usually so wonderful with this), the hero flat betrays the heroine (not sexually, but…professionally), and there wasn’t nearly enough groveling… but the make-up sex was hot and sweet.

And back to the pluses, the epilogue, the magical wonderful baby epilogue. I know that epilogues in general get a bad rap, and baby ones even more. But seriously, this one simply must be read, to quote one of the nurses “There may be justice in this world, after all.”

So in the end what was formerly a 5 star book is probably down to a 3.5 star book for me now, still goo, still maybe a re-read, but not the top of the re-read stack. And maybe subconsciously I knew this and it was why I had such a delay in re-reading it. Who knows?

Dream Man

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3 star review

Review-If He’s Noble by Hannah Howell

If He's Noble

New York Times bestselling author Hannah Howell delivers adventure and instant attraction in this all-new Wherlocke Family novel…

For Lady Primrose Wootten nothing has been ordinary since her father the Baron died and his wayward family filled the estate with greed and treachery. Primrose knows if she can just track down her brother, he can send the odious relations on their way. But instead she finds this enormous, powerful stranger, and forgets entirely what she was doing in the first place…

Sir Bened Vaughn isn’t much afraid of a pistol. But he is a bit afraid of the woman holding it, who stirs up something so primal he’s not sure he can shake it off. Vaughn is an honorable man, and he knows he has no right to desire Primrose. Yet he does have an obligation to help her, and as they learn more about her brother’s disappearance, he realizes that means staying by her side…wanting her all the while… and wondering how much longer they can resist temptation…

So a little less than a year ago when THIS book came out, I binged, and binged, and binged, and binged, and binged, and binged (yes, that is 6) to prepare for this book and then I rather didn’t care to see another Wherlocke ever again. For some reason though this popped back to my attention and I figured maybe it was time to try to finish this off. Plus the 21rst Murray story is coming out in September, and I think I would feel guilty if I didn’t read this one first. Yes, I am strange.

What we have here is the epic trek. Primrose and Bened trek about all over the countryside killing people and foiling kidnapping and murder plots while searching for her brother. It is a romp. I actually expected a ton more “I am not good enough he/she is too good” etc, but there was only a little. What there was more of was adult like contemplation of the ramifications of their possible affair, which was a pleasant change from the usual fare.

There really wasn’t any mystery so this was more action oriented and on that it delivered fairly well. Primrose was charming and capable, and slightly ridiculous. Bened was stalwart as a good historical hero should be. And there was a ridiculous little plot pet of the man-eating purse rat variety.

I liked this one fairly well. No one was cheating, there were no protracted ridiculous separations, and there were happy endings all around (you know, if you consider bad people dying a happy ending, which I do). I hope if there is a next book it will be Modred’s, but I suspect it will be the brother’s.

If your local library has copies of these, I recommend them as a pleasant way to pass the time.

If He's Noble (Wherlocke)

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3.5 star review, Miscellaneous

Review – Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper

Where the Wild Things Bite

Delivering a rare book to a valued customer is definitely part of mild-mannered archivist Anna Winthrop’s job description. You know what isn’t? Protecting her precious cargo from mid-flight theft by the very pilot who is flying her to Half-Moon Hollow…while trying to appear as unappetizing as possible to the only other passenger, a vampire. Undead bookstore owner Jane Jameson could be waiting a very long time for her book. Possibly forever.

Fortunately, Anna’s dashing fanged companion Finn Palmeroy helps her fend off the attack, but not before their plane crash lands in the forest hundreds of miles from civilization. Great, now she’s stranded with a priceless tome and a rakish vampire whose bedtime is fast approaching. Why does everyone want this book so badly, anyway? Anna just wants to get it to Jane before Finn decides to turn her into dinner-or sweep her off her feet. Okay, the second option is really tempting. But they’re not out of the woods yet…

Molly Harper is another funny favorite of mine and this is the fifth book in her Half-Moon Hollow series which is itself a spin off from her 4 book Jane Jameson series. She sort of specializes in shady characters, and this one might be one of the shadiest yet. We met Finn when he was kind of  up to no good in the last book (there was something there but he was just too damned shady), and he is pretty well up to his same old tricks.

Anna may be the most neurotic and idiosyncratic character I have read in a long, long time. She has mommy issues, and dating issues, and self esteem issues, and medical issues. Yes, issues, she has them. But she is stronger and more capable than she knows, thought still far from perfect. Plus, she’s a librarian who handles rare paranormal manuscripts, how could we resist that? The answer is that we can’t!

This seemed incredibly short and fundamentally ridiculous, and I enjoyed ever insane second of it. There’s immolating vampires, crazed homicidal pilots named Ernie, banter in the woods, freaky shifters with poor communication skills, betrayal, and new found friendship. It MUST be love.

Honestly, I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys their romance ridiculous, funny, and filled with female friendships.

Where the Wild Things Bite (Half-Moon Hollow, #5)

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4 star review

Review – This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland

This is All I Ask

Set near the Scottish border at a rugged castle on the edge of the sea, this is the story of a courageous lord who lost everything he held dear. Of a strong young woman willing to sacrifice everything for happiness. Two lost souls who find in each other a reason to live again, to laugh again, and to love for the first time…

I am not quite entirely sure how this book ended up on my TBR, particularly with none of the other books in the series read or an my TBR. But I suspect it somehow came to my attention after reading Candle in the Window and becoming interested in how blind protagonists are treated after reading The Arrangement.

It turns out that this is also somewhat a paranormal, and we have witches, I suspect from they way they are presented here they have been meddling along in the series and will continue to meddle. So yep, a historical paranormal with a blind hero.

Fortunately it is only a touch paranormal, the rest is just historical. We have the rough, tough cream puff hero, who protects himself due to prior emotional wounding. He also happens to be blind, and a little self-pitying. So while he will marry the heroine due to a long-standing promise and his honor, he is determined not to love her or care for her (beyond being a proper husband) or like it in any way. We have the kind, but living in fear heroine who initially fears the hero, but learns to first trust and then love, and then learns courage and her own self-worth. And then we have a cast of humorous and sympathetic characters, and of course the heroine’s father-the villain.

Man, oh, man, this book is almost painfully sweet. I don’t mean that in a bad way, just, it is so sweet, but you know the other shoe is about to drop sometime. It is also on occasion, whether intentionally or not, kind of humorous. Not like it is a comedy, but just enough to leaven the topics and make you feel happy reading it instead of entrenched in the doom and gloom of what are some pretty awful situations. And we also have a hero who is in touch with his own emotions on a level that I find delightful but that may leave readers who prefer a more traditional alpha hero feeling a little uncomfortable, YMMV.

And another thing I really enjoyed, we have no miracles here. Things are what they are, our characters have to live through and with the things that have happened to them, but separately and together they grow as individuals and find their way through and together. Which is a mishmash way of saying we have a delightful happily ever after with two characters who are more than happy to depend on one another but aren’t exactly dependent on one another, if you see what I mean. Looking at this objectively, I would probably have given this 3 stars, but , but for me this is one where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and it is an emotional event that I will likely return to. However, the rest of the two series this book is entwined with seem to have a significant number of time travel books, so I doubt it will be a glommable series for me.

This Is All I Ask (de Piaget, #6; de Piaget/MacLeod, #3)

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4 star review

Review – Illusion Town by Jayne Castle

Illusion Town

A new adventure begins on Harmony…

With its opulent casinos and hotels, the desert city of Illusion Town is totally unique—and will take you on a thrill ride you’ll never forget.

Hannah West isn’t the first woman to wake up in Illusion Town married to a man she barely knows, but she has no memory of the ceremony at all. For that matter, neither does Elias Coppersmith, her new husband. All either can remember is that they were on the run…

With Hannah’s dubious background and shaky para-psych profile, she could have done much worse. The cooly competent mining heir arouses her curiosity—as well as other parts of her mind and body. And even her dust bunny likes him.

But a honeymoon spent retracing their footsteps leads Hannah and Elias into the twisting underground catacombs, where secrets from both their pasts will come to light—and where the energy of their clashing auras will grow hot enough to burn…

So long have I been reading this series. SO long. This is book 13 in the Harmony series, or like book 1 bajillion if you consider that the tie-ins from her Amanda Quick and Jayne Anne Krentz’s pen names are part of the series. And I honestly can’t believe I haven’t written about any of those, but then I realized the last Amanda Quick and Jayne Ann Krentz ones were in 2013 (still waiting for her to finish those two out), and time really does fly doesn’t it? But I bring it up because we have TIE IN! Family is a strong theme in these series and it followed the people through the curtain to Harmony.

I adore engineers, know this made me predisposed to love this book. Castle got the abrupt, highly specific and almost hyper literal communication method down pat, it reminds me so much of real life I was able to settle right in.

This was action packed, and plenty twisty, and seemed much longer than the past few books, but in a good way. Needless to say there is a lot going on. We have also branched out significantly from the guilds, so it will be interesting to see where she goes in the series from here.

It is hard to know what to say about this book, except that if you read this series, you know what you are getting. Two off the chart talents, disparate worlds, family ties, albeit often unconventional ones, a mystery or two, and DUST BUNNIES!

This one struck me as a bit more fun and charming than the last couple, but YMMV. I like the pragmatic engineer hero. It is kind of a thing for me. I also enjoyed the ridiculous retracing of steps, kind of abbreviated Hangover type scenario.

I can’t quite explain what it is about this series that brings me back time and time again,. but they make me happy. And really some days that is all one can ask. You can probably read this as a stand alone. But if you haven’t started this series, I’d say start at the beginning and then pace yourself. If you binge I can imagine the similarities might get to you. But, since I am not binging, all I can say is that I’ve enjoyed my annual trip to harmony, and this particular one will likely go back on my reread shelf for a future blah day, it isn’t deep but it is broad, and it left me smiling.

Illusion Town

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