Category Archives: 2.5 stars

Blood, Smoke and Mirrors by Robyn Bachar

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Even a bad witch deserves a second chance.

Wrongly accused of using her magic to harm, the closest Catherine Baker comes to helping others is serving their coffee. Life as an outcast is nothing new, thanks to her father’s reputation, but the injustice stings. Especially since the man she loved turned her in.

Now the man has the gall to show up and suggest she become the next Titania? She’d rather wipe that charming grin off his face with a pot of hot java to the groin.

Alexander Duquesne has never faltered in his duties as a guardian — until now. The lingering guilt over Cat’s exile and the recent death of his best friend have shaken his dedication. With the murder of the old Titania, the faerie realm teeters on the brink of chaos. His new orders: keep Cat alive at all costs.

Hunted by a powerful stranger intent on drawing her into an evil web, Cat reluctantly accepts Lex’s protection and the resurrected desire that comes along with it. Lex faces the fight of his life to keep her safe…and win her back. If they both survive.

Warning: This book contains one tough and snarky witch, one gorgeous guardian, explicit blood drinking, magician sex, gratuitous violence against vampires and troublemaking Shakespearean faeries.

Please Note: There are some small spoilers in this review. If you want no spoilers at all, please do not read this review.

This book went down the crapper so quickly after 40% that it damn near gave me whiplash. O_o The difference between the two parts of this book are SO VAST that I have separated them: Book I, Part I and Book I, Part II

Book I, Part I (the first 40%) of this book is pretty damn good. There are some points that I issue with, however:

Why is Cat qualified to become Tatiana?? Why is she one of the only few in the world eligible? The author never says.

Cat makes lots of decisions without thinking. She told Lex to screw himself about her becoming Tatiana…but then changes her mind a page later for no reason and runs to do it. No explanation given to the reader for the abrupt 180 change of heart.

WTF is up with Lex turning Cat in to be tried (before book starts)? That isn’t cool. And then for him to get back with her by only saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t think it would go down like that” was total BULLSHIT. Where was he for the last 3 years as she struggled to get by? There was NO GROVELLING. None at all!! Are you freaking SERIOUS?! She became an Outcast because her bf betrayed her and he didn’t even have to grovel?!?!? We had the ‘I love yous” happening by 40%. I call Shenanigans. I also do not buy their relationship. At all. And BTW, I actually kinda hated Lex.

This is the biggest issue I had with Book 1, part 1: Cat is the daughter of a witch and a necromancer. Her father killed her mother and tried to kill her. Her mother/guardian is killed when she was scheduled to be out all night. Her father wants world domination and is willing to go through her to get it. She is the only one able to stop her father. Cat has super strong powers that even she hasn’t explored the limits of.

Did that sound familiar to you? If you’ve ever read the Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews then it sounded really, really familiar. But don’t get your hopes up, it’s not in the same league.

Other than the items I listed above…book I, part I is actually a pretty good (and fast) read. I’d give it 3.5 stars.

Then we have Book I, Part II (insert ominous music here)

WTF happened here???! After Cat kills her father and becomes the Tatiana it feels like an entirely new and completely different book starts. The damn thing even changed plot points! WTF. The entire section with the vampire Zach Harrison holding Cat hostage was BS. Why the fuck was she there to begin with? She makes such STUPID decisions!! It is at this point that Cat goes from being a funny, snarky witch with a brain to a TSTL romance heroine without the sense God gave a Nat who finds herself in the middle of [something like] a love triangle with a vampire. Even though she and Lex ‘are in looove.’

*faceplam*

I’ll stop ranting about this section now because I’ll end up spoiling the entire thing…but let’s just say it was about 50% of the entire novel and it all SUCKED ASS. I was shocked and saddened by the way this great story wound up in WTFsville so quickly. I spent the rest of the book screaming and yelling at Cat to stop being TSTL.

And the ending. Can it get any more rushed than that??! The ending was so fast and rushed that I felt like I had whiplash.

I don’t think I’ll continue the series.

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl

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What happens when the girl next door isn’t so innocent?
Molly Jennings might look like the girl next door, but she has one naughty little secret: her job. Molly is a very successful writer of erotic fiction. Until her inspiration runs dry-—thanks to a creepy ex-—and she decides it’s time to move back home to tiny Tumble Creek, Colorado.

Tumble Creek doesn’t have much going for it, but one look at luscious chief of police Ben Lawson, who starred in her girlhood dreams, and Molly is back in business. But while her fantasies are pouring out on paper, the town gossip is buzzing at her door and, worse yet, a stalker seems to be watching her every move. Thankfully, her very own lawman has taken to coming over, often. The only problem now is that Molly may have to let the cat out of the bag about her chosen profession, and straight-laced Ben will definitely not approve…

How quickly things go from “the shit” to some shit.

I’ve been reading Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels, gleefully finding new romance authors to fall in love with. When the book mentioned Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl, I immediately went to download a sample. The sample? Wonderful! Funny and sexy and cute. The plotline, the beginning and the author’s voice were all things that really intrigued me about this book. So I went and did my normal silly thing: I bought more than one book in the series by this author, sight unseen.

Wow. I should stop doing that. I waste a lot of money that way.

My major issue with Talk Me Down was the TSTL heroine, Molly. By the end of the book I was so freaking SICK and TIRED of her unnecessary secrets and lies that I didn’t know what to do with myself. She claimed how much she’d fantasized about Ben (the hero) for the last ten years and how he’s starred in her sexual fantasies and in her written work (she is an erotic romance author)…but as soon as he tries to have a real relationship with her she tells him how she’s just fucking. Wow.

To go along with her callous attitude she has a stalker ex-boyfriend who’s been stalking her for months…but she refuses to tell Ben about the stalking. She refuses to tell him she’s an erotic romance writer as well – even though her first (and widely sold) book was obviously about HIM. And he had a very bad experience growing up with his parents and sex scandals. But she says nothing. Cause she’s TSTL. And this is a book that has the “if only we had talked sooner” plot line as the big misunderstanding. WTF. I hate those kinds of books.

I really didn’t believe in the HEA because I couldn’t imagine having a real relationship with someone who refuses to tell me about their everyday life. Secret here, secret there, I don’t see trust anywhere. By the end, I was cranky and tired to death of Molly.

Ben, on the other hand, was a great hero. Kind, patient, sexy and came with no baggage that Molly didn’t already know about. Thank you for that. There’s nothing else to say about him other than I felt bad for him in the future. God bless…being stuck with a chick like Molly.

I couldn’t enjoy the sex scenes because I was too busy RAGING at how horrible a person Molly was being.

So.

3 stars for Ben (he was hot, now to find him a good woman)
1 star for the sex scenes (the ones I did read were hot)
-1.5 stars for Molly and her TSTL self

2 ½ stars!

Review: The Vampire’s Warden by S.J. Wright

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23 year old Sarah Brightman has been running the family B&B alone since her father died of cancer three months prior. Just as Sarah is starting to get used to her heavy load of responsibility she is told that her mother – who she thought had died 14 years ago – is alive. And that her father had left her a journal with details that she needed to know. Five minutes after this bombshell is dropped on Sarah, she finds a wounded young man on her property.

This young man is Alex and he was sent by Sarah’s mother to help her – because she was the new Vampire Warden. The Vampire Warden maintains a sacred plot of land that allows vampires to rest in peace without threat…and it is also a prison. No vampire can enter or leave without the Vampire Warden’s permission.

The Vampire’s Warden has an interesting and different take on vampire stories. There are quite a few issues that I had with this novella but it was a very…readable book at the same time. While there were quite a few times I put the book down and had to force myself to pick it up again; I also found myself reading large amounts very quickly.

The beginning of the book starts in a very clunky manner – both with the writing and with the plot. There’s a great deal of random info dumping without really giving any clear information about the backgrounds of the characters or the conflict.

Sarah has just learned that her mother is alive after 14 years of believing her dead…and that is the exact moment that Alex appears at her home. Before Sarah ever speaks to Alex she has some strange reaction to touching him: she falls into some trance or something and begins to see visions.

“My chest tightened and hazy haunting images rose up before me. These figures were pure pain, a collection of tortured, hopeless souls.”
–page 15

This type of unwieldy writing is very present in the beginning of the novella but as the book goes on the author catches her stride and it smooths out quite a bit.

The reason why Sarah sees visions when she touches Alex or why Alex was found hurt outside her home is never explained.

I found it a huge leap and an eye-rolling experience to read that little “coincidence.” Her father has been dead for 3 months…why is everything happening now?

Alex tells Sarah that he was sent to her by her mother before she ever cracks open the journal left to her by her father…at which time Sarah throws a hissy fit and stomps off. Sarah does this quite often, actually; she’s quite good at it. Sarah is left a journal that explains everything…but she runs off to demand answers from Alex before really reading the damn thing – only to stomp off again as soon as she hears something she doesn’t want to hear. The really funny part about Sarah’s hissy fits is that she gets over them rather quickly and then adapts to whatever the situation is. Alex shows up, tells her he was sent by her dead mom but no other background info – so Sarah takes him at his word and gives him a job. *face palm*

The author set up a lot of plot strings that she left dangling…but not in a “sequel” kind of way. The characters also felt very flat and unreachable. I didn’t really care about any of them because I had no real emotional connection to them.

The only character that was really interesting was Michael – and his part was small(er) and shrouded in mystery. There was a lot of mystery surrounding Michael:

    – What did Michael do to get imprisoned?
    – What’s with the connection between Sarah and Michael?
    – How does Michael get such fabulous and oh so very vampire-like changes of clothes? Michael is first described as wearing black jeans and a v-neck t-shirt the first time we meet him. Jeans didn’t start to become common till the ’50s and even then they were thought to be rebellious (except as work clothes). Jeans didn’t start to be worn regularly until the late 1960s. Every time Michael’s clothes were mentioned I would think… “How does he get changes of clothes and how the hell does he have black jeans when he’s been stuck in a meadow in the country since 1947??”

Speaking of mystery, there are a ton of questions that were left unanswered – the book ends abruptly in what seems to be the middle of the story arc. The disappointing part about that is the author was just catching her stride and the story was getting much more interesting.

I know that that this is a series but I doubt I’ll pick it up. I smell a love triangle coming and that’s not my thing.

All in all – it’s a decent (very) short read if you’re into YA angsty vampire stories and you can ignore the items I mentioned above.

2 ½ Stars!

Note: I received a free copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program

Review: Noble Satyr by Lucinda Brant

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Where do I start? Normally I love historical romances but this one didn’t really do it for me. A lot of it is pretty typical: girl is in love with guy (who is way too old for her) and she makes all the moves she can to be with him. The strange parts of this book for me maybe the fact that it was set in France and not England… I was unfamiliar with the typical reactions of the nobles in this instance (I read a lot of historicals so I’m rather used to the ton.)

The heroine is a young, unspeakably beautiful girl (aren’t they all?) who’s father has passed away not too long ago. Because her father was eccentric, he had the nerve to educate her and encourage her to think. She is considered pert and inappropriate because of the [intelligent and/or smart-mouthed] things she says but mostly everyone loves her because she is sickeningly, tooth-achingly sweet. Somehow she is dropped off with her grandfather’s mistress’ living space in the Palace of the Versailles (how the hell she un-chaperoned is a mystery to me). Her grandfather is ill and dying in a different country, her grandmother lives in England. She is trying to get in contact with the hero because she was told he will help her escape her current trouble.

Her trouble is that the Comte de Salvan (who is old, ugly, pockmarked and a lecher) is trying to force her to wed his son (who is a drug addict). The Comte wants the heroine to marry his son because she is young, a virgin, beautiful, and has no one to protect her from him. He plans to get her grandmother and/or grandfather to agree to the marriage and then take her virginity himself (he really likes the kiddies and not in a good way). His lecherous plans include forcing her to become his mistress. Gad, how ugly.

Of course, the heroine is in love with the hero. The hero is considered a horrible rake and the heroine is very pert, so she yells and defends him to anyone who would dare say bad things about him.

There is no fire in their romance, none…it’s a May-December romance where all the H/h want is to be left alone so they can hang out together and shag each other. All of the drama and the plot movement come from outside of their relationship. The lecherous Comte; his crazy, drug addicted son who is subject to rages; the heroine’s trifling, sex-crazed grandmother who is willing to marry her off to the crazy Comte & Co. simply because she doesn’t want to be reminded of her youth by a granddaughter who is just a beautiful as she used to be, etc.

Yeah, I was bored. I like my heroines with a little less sugar and a little more spice. I want to see heart racing exchanges between the H/h. In this book I got neither.