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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Review: Archangel's Shadows by Nalini Singh

The Blurb:
In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot— should not—be walking the streets.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

This book focused mostly on the complex (and totally swoon-worthy) relationship between the Guild hunter Ashwini, and Janvier--a kukri-wielding Cajun vampire she's had to hunt on more than one occasion, only to have each hunt end with Janvier making amends with the angels before Ashwini could bring him in.

Southern drawl? Check. Sexy eyes? Check. Obsession with Jensen Ackles? Check check.

Now that Janvier is officially working for Raphael, the two have formed a very interesting dynamic after having gone through so much together. The two fought together in the battle for New York, which seems to have finally cemented their complete trust in one another. If you haven't already, I'd definitely recommend reading the novella Angel's Pawn beforehand, as it occurs before this book and the events from that are referenced a few times throughout.

I just love Janvier's open adoration of Ashwini. He's anxious to protect her, yet allows her to take the lead when she wants to. He isn't the type to dispute her ability to take care of herself, because it's what he admires so much about her. The playful banter back and forth is phenomenal. And I loved the way everyone around them just sort of sees them as a unit (ie "Where is your hunter?" or "Where's your Cajun?" type questions they both seem to get on the regular). Ashwini's hesitancy to get involved with him is ultimately explained, and the two have to find a way to work through it.

I got the audible for this, as with all of the Guild Hunter books thus far. Justine Eyre does such a fantastic job of bringing each character to life with their distinctive accents and cadences. It takes things to another level and I cannot recommend it enough.

Favorite bits: Janvier's use of Cajun French is just so deliciously sexy. The little nicknames, the dirty talk, just....gah! Also, any discussions of Javier holding his kukris. ::::drools::::


Less favorite bits: Given the complexity of the plotlines in Singh's books, there always seems to be a rather hasty way of addressing them in the end. It can come across as rushed after being taken on such a beautiful journey with so much intricate detail beforehand. Also, the chapters kept jumping back to Elena's POV and what she has been dealing with on her end. But for this book, I didn't want to hear about Elena, I wanted to hear about Ashwini!

Review: Heart of Power-The Siren's Awakening by S.L. Giger

The Blurb:
No matter whether you are human girl or a Siren, there always is this one guy who manages to completely get under your skin.

17-year-old Serena can’t escape her true destiny any longer. She is transformed into a Siren and has to get used to a different name, unusual abilities and constantly attracting every man’s glance. Guided by her new family members, she faces the challenge of leading a life among humans without appearing divergent. When Alex reciprocates her love, she seems to fully have settled into her new life.
However, two secrets have yet to be revealed and Serena hast to make a tough choice.

This is the compelling first novel in the Heart of Power trilogy. S. L. Giger manages to add a refreshing breeze to fantasy by successfully introducing us to the world of Sirens in our modern age. 

The main character, Serena aka Nathalie finds out she is special, a siren. An intriguing beginning, with her discovering she wants to rip out beating hearts from human chests. Wow, I thought, this book has the potential to be really dark and twisted.

Cut to chapter 7 …just kidding, she’s going to go to high school in the U.S. and make new friends and live her life.

Part of my struggle was that I kept forgetting this is more of a YA novel, and I’m accustomed to darker romance with something awful on the horizon, if not from the moment go. I get it, regular teenage girl finds out she’s one of a kind, attracts so many boys, super special, etc. But I like stories that focus on the cost of being special.

This kinda sums up my opinion of Nathalie:
“I prefer spending my free time with cute guys instead of working my butt off.” Belinda flinched slightly, and Courtney was left open-mouthed. I’d never have dared to say something like that as Serena. It used to be way too important to me, what other people thought.

Clearly her transformation has made her far more mature than all the other kids.

The nuts and bolts: A lot of the back and forth dialogue is just…back and forth. I would have liked to see more descriptions of the surroundings, or inner monologues, or something other than “cool,” and “yeah, cool.” Considering how dialogue-heavy this book is, it needs some extra padding to discern it from a straight-up script.

There’s a good story to tell here, I just think it could benefit from some additional edits and an expansion of the world around the characters. The way the book begins and ends is closer to what I’d have liked to see the whole way through. Solid 3 stars…didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. But keep in mind, YA isn’t really my thing, so others may have a completely different experience with this.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Review: Loved by a Killer by C.F. Rabbiosi

The Blurb:
Raina loved performing upon the London stage, but one night she found herself dancing for only HIM. She froze, and looked to the balcony where the gaslights flickered dimly over his shadowy form. If only she had known that this beautiful monster would soon rip her away from everything in the world SHE EVER LOVED, perhaps she wouldn't have lingered so long.

Lord Marcus Loxley loved being a blood thirsty predator, but one night his gallivanting brought him to his knees in front of HER. If only he had known what would happen when she danced, that she would remind him of someone who was everything in the world HE EVER LOVED, perhaps he would have turned away.

As he drags her deeper and deeper into his depraved world of torture and violence, she begins fighting her own darkness that threatens to consume her everyday. And oh, how it begs to be released. And though she knows it's wrong, she desires her captor anyway.

Until she begins falling for someone else...

Meanwhile, prostitutes are being butchered in the streets and she begins to fear: Is her dark lover, the one she is bound to, The Ripper?

Vampires, sexy times, and Jack the Ripper in the background slashing through London. What a ride!

First of all, I love that this story jumps right into the story without spending 100 years setting the scene as some historical novels do. From the moment go, we are introduced to Marcus as he enquires about Raina dancing on stage. He fancies her because she reminds him of his dead wife. So he promptly goes out into an alley to rape and murder a woman that he initially mistook for her, because vampire.

Yup, I can tell this will be a love for the ages.

”He growls into my face, ‘If you ever try leaving me I will kill your family, your friends and anyone else who happens to be around. And ever so slowly, my love.’”

Can you feel the love tonightttttt

I love the dialogue, it’s snarky and witty and…not quite how I picture the English speaking in 1888:

“Wow!” Giggles burst out of me. “You slutty boy!


“I wouldn’t. Being a raging hell bitch isn’t your fault. Or is it?”

But then, vampires aren’t real, either (ie: who am I to be such a nitpicking bitch). That being said-I think the dialogue is what transforms this story from supernatural bodice ripper to a level above. I devoured this book because, despite the ton era and its alien traditions that I have almost zero knowledge of, the characters kept me in my comfort zone by relating to the world around them in a way I could understand and chuckle along with.

I also like the empowering vibe that carries through the book. Getting a glimpse into the way Raina’s mind works, especially when she becomes violent, is at times…understandable? Because let's be honest: Marcus is a rapist and a monster, even if he does love her. Raina's willingness to draw her lines in the sand are comforting, given all that's happening and the bloodlust within her. There’s a scene in-particular where she intervenes as a woman is about to be raped. She viciously taunts and plays with the attacker, before murdering him in cold blood.

“Still, it tasted especially nice, to drink from that young monster and I feel...just fine.” And I reader, I too felt just fine about it.

As Raina continues to develop into her new life with Marcus, Jack the Ripper carries out his carnage on the East End in the background. Kudos to one of the absolutely surreal scenes where Raina and Marcus stumbling onto one of his victims, only to marvel at his handiwork/become concerned the people may ascribe the killings to them. The historical details, the fact that amidst this story of a couple of killers we see the work of a very real and prolific serial killer, it really adds some extra umphh.

Rabbiosi writes her characters in a way that humanizes the monsters and simultaneously demonizes some of the humans. There are times where the evils of the two blend seamlessly together, reminding us that (supernatural abilities aside) humans and vampires are often on equal footing when it comes to their potential for committing atrocities. :::cough:::Jacqueline:::cough:::

OMG just die, please.

The way the book ends is so incredibly satisfying and yet…I wish it was more drawn out. You’ll understand when you read it. Also, there is a sequel coming out. Looking forward to it!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Review: Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh

The Blurb:
The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past...but Dmitri's need to discover the truth is nothing to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.

Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face to face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel's right hand, and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality...the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.

As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting...and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more...

From the moment I started this series, I wanted to know more about Dmitri. I was super excited for this one, as he is the main focus. I got the audible for it so I could hear all the different accents for each character. Worth it.

Honor is a hunter at the Guild who was captured and tortured for 2 months by vampires during the timeline of the previous books. She has recently returned to active duty, but not without some hardcore PTSD. Only a few of her captors were killed during her rescue. The rest remain unaccounted for.

I found it a little insane that Sarah, the Guild Director, decided that sending Honor to work for Dmitri was the most sensible way to ease her back into the field. Elena literally had to cut his throat the last time he got too aggressive. He's one of the most powerful vamps in the world, sex literally emanating from his pores, AND he has very well known penchant for pain. Seems legit to send your trauma victim to work alongside him. Go hard or go home.

Dmitri is just so deliciously dark and apathetic about the world around him. He's well on his way to becoming like Raphael was before he met Elena. But when he meets Honor, we see he still has some of his heart intact when he offers to assist her with tracking down the vamps that had tortured her.

Some people just really have the whole evil sexy smirk down to a science.

I really liked the attention paid to Honor's trauma and the way it impacted her ability to engage in any kind of romantic relationship. Her PTSD is a topic that is discussed with much detail, which also serves as an opportunity for Dmitri to demonstrate that he's not a completely heartless asshole after all.

One of my favorite parts was when Dmitri moved to kiss Honor and she slashed his face with a knife. This was an ongoing reactionary issue for Honor, one that he was unfazed by. He simply assures her that he will be trying again, so they decide the divest themselves of weapons ahead of time.

[The story of his dead wife Ingred is agonizing, but I wasn't 100% sold on the whole reincarnation bit. Has this ever existed in their world before? It's never been mentioned. How often does it happen? It seemed like a convenient way to excuse Dmitri from loving another woman. I get it, though. Because one consistent thought I kept having as I was reading was how Dmitri was ever going to accept being in love with Honor without feeling like he'd betrayed his dead wife. (hide spoiler)]

Moving right along to the next story! I just saw that Venom has his own book later on down the road as well. Yesss.

Review: Ramatel's Vow by Joel Crofoot

The Blurb:
Seventy generations ago, the angel Ramatel was cast into hell for sleeping with human women. Now he has returned to earth, harboring a vendetta against God, only to find himself strapped with a beautiful young apprentice. Will his grudge stop him from letting something good into his life?

Clara has been given a second chance to save her soul by working with her chauvinistic mentor who has antiquated ideas of gender roles. She bucks his authority at every chance, until she has to face the very situation that killed her the first time. Does she have what it takes to face her fear?  

The sequel is just as good at the first! So far I'm absolutely loving this PRA binge I've been on. #NoRegrets

The angel Ramatel is less than thrilled with his new chinfon, Clara. Let's just say that women have gotten him in trouble in the past with the big boss upstairs, and he's not exactly moved on from that grudge with daddy dearest...or with women. A few thousand years in hell will do that.

I really like the idea that angelic life is imperfect and sometimes downright ugly. Ramatel is angry, he's scarred, and he holds God himself responsible. He's condescending AF about women and angelic hierarchy, but Clara holds her own, and the back and forth between these two is smokin' hot!

For example:
Clara: "Ask me nicely."


Above: A timeline of me reading that scene.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series and was pleasantly surprised to find that the second lives up to the former. And I was glad to see Jahi in this one as well because I really liked her character. The book has a lot of action, steamy erotica, and it reads smoothly and quickly. I read the whole thing in one sitting last weekend. Looking forward to more!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Review: "Captive in the Dark" by C.J. Roberts

The Blurb:
Caleb is a man with a singular interest in revenge. Kidnapped as a young boy and sold into slavery by a power-hungry mobster, he has thought of nothing but vengeance. For twelve years he has immersed himself in the world of pleasure slaves searching for the one man he holds ultimately responsible. Finally, the architect of his suffering has emerged with a new identity, but not a new nature. If Caleb is to get close enough to strike, he must become the very thing he abhors and kidnap a beautiful girl to train her to be all that he once was.

Eighteen-year-old Olivia Ruiz has just woken up in a strange place. Blindfolded and bound, there is only a calm male voice to welcome her. His name is Caleb, though he demands to be called Master. Olivia is young, beautiful, naïve and willful to a fault. She has a dark sensuality that cannot be hidden or denied, though she tries to accomplish both. Although she is frightened by the strong, sadistic, and arrogant man who holds her prisoner, what keeps Olivia awake in the dark is her unwelcome attraction to him.

WARNING: This book contains very disturbing situations, dubious consent, strong language, and graphic violence.

Ughhh. I bowed out after the enema scene. Nope nope nope. DNF

Okay, follow up: I circled back around to it and finished it. Doesn't change my opinion. Admittedly, I have a heavy bias against this sort of storyline. I used to work with survivors of DV, sex assault, and trafficking. This topic is simply not sexy to me in any way, shape, or form. It's not "dark romance". It is rape. Rape, rape, rape. Oh, let's not forget the emotional and physical abuse that accompanies it. And the isolation. And the humiliation.

I'll be very honest, as a survivor of violence, this was very difficult for me to read. I would caution other survivors to be emotionally prepared going into this. Some may love it (apparently many do). Some may reallllly struggle, as I did. I guess it's just a matter of perspective.

Do you read it as a gritty realistic narrative of survival and adaptation in the face of something truly awful? Or do you read it under the assumption that you're somehow supposed to be rooting for Caleb to "be a better man" and realize how special his captive is, that she's "different from all the others". You know, the others he casually mentions he has ALSO tortured, raped, and sold. Ugh.

New idea: Caleb is locked in a room with Xena.

Sooo yeah, in summary, I hope Caleb dies a horrible death at some point. Preferably after he's been castrated. But judging by how the book ends, I won't hold my breath (and I'll never know, because I have no plans to read the sequels). So all I can say is, this book left me angry. I stayed up half the night reading another book just to get this one out of my mind before sleep.

Review: Michael's Passion by Joel Crofoot

The Blurb:

The Archangel Michael's passion for life has recently begun to wane. He has isolated himself from the other angels and become complacent on the job. When a slip up in a fight causes him to be cast out of heaven the furthest thing on Michael's mind is helping a demon, until he meets Jahi. Now Michael must face a dilemma he never could have imagined. With Michael already cast out of heaven, what will happen to him if he falls in love with a demon?

Jahi has finally returned to earth with her demanding boss, only to find herself captured by the Archangel Michael. Now she must decide if she can give up the freedom she has sought for so long or return to a life of prostitution, and Michael’s passion for her makes this a decision Jahi can’t take lightly.

Caution: This book contains scenes that are intended for adults only. You probably won't want to bring it to church with you.

I’ve been reading a lot of stories about angels lately. This one did not disappoint. What a sexy twist on the forbidden love storyline!

First of all, Michael and Jahi have some excellent chemistry. I loved the tension and the suspenseful aspect of not always knowing if Jahi was for real or not (because demon). And I especially love the naughtiness of taking a well-known archangel that everyone has heard of and having him fall in love with a demon temptress!

I’m always a sucker for stories that humanize the inhuman.

...Well, almost always.

I admittedly devoured this book in just one sitting, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next one! 

Pssssst! A little bird tells me the sequel, Ramatel's Vow, is free on Amazon right now!