Tag Archives: review

Dual Review: Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity (The Vampire Queen series #5 and #6), by Joey W. Hill

TLDR recap:

Renegade vampire hunter Gideon Green is a wandering soul, lashing out at everyone who tries to help him in his search to find peace and a place to belong.  Anywn Naime, owner of the successful BDSM club Atlantis, is a natural dominant and has the ability to reach into the hearts of her clients to bring them face-to-face with dangerous and frightening truths.  Vampire Daegan Rei is a mystery, a chillingly effective killer with unswerving loyalty to Anwyn and an unsettling interest in the wayward vampire hunter.  Gideon’s struggle with what his rough life has made of him, and who he subconsciously wants to become, is vulnerably gut-wrenching and will touch even the most cynical readers.

    • Title: Vampire Mistress, Vampire Trinity
    • Series: The Vampire Queen series – books #5 & #6
    • Author: Joey W. Hill
    • Prominent Characters: Gideon Green, Anwyn Naime, Daegan Rei
    • Recommended reader age: 18+
    • Sexual content level: heavy and explicit (vulgar language typical of erotica)

Thoughts:

The first book in the Gideon duet, Vampire Mistress, centers around the renowned troubled vampire hunter Gideon Green and the consummate BDSM club mistress Anwyn Naime, and his path to becoming a marked servant.  The second book, Vampire Trinity, focuses on the relationship between Gideon and Daegan Rei and the ties that bind the three of them together.   As with books #1 and #2 in this series, I’m reviewing these as a set – they were written with the intention of being read as one story, so one feels incomplete without the other.

Gideon’s path to accepting and becoming part of his vampire trinity is sometimes uncomfortably arousing in its poignant brutality.  The vampire hunter’s reluctant regard for Daegan offends his staunchly hetero sensibilities and leads him on a harrowing journey of self-discovery and acceptance.  The psychological impact of his fight, acceptance, and submission is masterfully crafted.  Gideon’s journey is as physically traumatic as his brother Jacob’s, and even more so psychologically.

Ms. Hill definitely understands how to tame an alpha male without breaking him or taking away what makes him special.  If Jacob’s journey was heartbreaking and scintillating, Gideon’s is excruciatingly personal and explosively erotic.

I’m no expert in the psychology of domination and submission, but the dichotomy between Gideon’s heart’s desire and what his soul demands is intriguing and immersive.  The art of domination, of looking into someone’s soul, understanding what they need and knowing how to help them realize it, walks a very fine line between compassion and abuse, and for someone as emotionally scarred as Gideon, it is a razor edge.

On a geekier note, there are two separate references to World of Warcraft in Vampire Mistress.  Think Ms. Hill actually plays?  For the Horde!

Memorable quotes:

I’m quoting for two books, so get comfy!  =D

The psychology of dog (people?) whispering…

“In order to understand a creature’s pain, ,you have to step inside him, see through his eyes.  And be strong enough not to feel sorry for him, in order to teach him how to be a dog again.  Live in the moment, because this moment is all there is.”

Dangerously conflicted…

“Your problem is your mind came here looking for what you want, rather than what you need.  Your soul is the battleground between those two forces.”

Nothing a good titanium pair of handcuffs can’t solve…

Goddess save her from alpha males, and their irritating habit of switching from emotionally closed, dysfunctional pains in the ass to knights in shining armor in a heartbeat, sweeping a woman’s legs right out from under her.

It’s never too late to apologize… 

“Well, me and Don Juan, we don’t hang out as much as we used to.”

Trusting your own emotions?  Pffft, overrated.

Oh yeah, ego stroking.  His subconscious was working this angle hard.  Freaking little internal hustler.

Gotta draw the line somewhere!

He definitely had rules about bathing with naked male vampires he didn’t know.  Hell, with naked men he didn’t know.

Parental supervision not required…

“Maybe, Dad.  They’re having karaoke night at Floyd’s down the street.  I’ve been itching to give them my rendition of ‘Back in Black’.”

Real strength comes from within…

“Nothing outside of you destroys who you are, what you want to be.  If you’re strong enough, you can put it back together, no matter who or what shatters you.”

The quandary of leadership…

“A true leader does want to lead, because he or she believes the goal is important.  The more appropriate adage is that a person takes a leadership role, not because he or she wants to be important, but because the job itself is important.”

Ah, the sophisticate wine connoisseur…

Jesus, how many bottles of wine did anyone need?  He chose one at length, mainly because he liked the dog printed on it.

If you like Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity of The Vampire Queen series…

If you enjoyed Vampire MistressVampire Trinity, and the rest of the Vampire Queen series for its paranormal ties (vampire society with humans who serve as blood hosts), check out the Night Huntress series (Cat & Bones, starting with Halfway to the Grave) by Jeaniene Frost.  The NH books are not erotica but they feature strong ties between a central couple and they definitely have their share of steamy scenes.

If you enjoyed Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity for its acceptance of alternative sexuality but you don’t want to read full erotica, try the Black Dagger Brotherhood (starting with Dark Lover) by J.R. Ward.  The BDB books are tamer but still have emotional and sensual impact, and Ms. Ward is not afraid to consider the reality of men who love men.

Final thoughts:

Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity are raw and revealing, especially on the part of Gideon, but for the two vampires as well.  Ms. Hill leads us straight into their souls and lets us experience firsthand their anguish, uncertainty, passion, and triumph.  This entire series is an emotionally supercharged freight train that will blow your mind and leave you begging for more!

Rating: Vampire Mistress Rating: Vampire Trinity
4.5 fangs: BITE IT!  5 fangs: DEVOUR IT! 

Related links:

http://www.storywitch.com/ (The Vampire Queen series website)

http://jeanienefrost.com/ (The Night Huntress series website)

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/ (The Black Dagger Brotherhood website)

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Release day: Night Walker (The Night series #1) by Lisa Kessler


Related links:

Lisa Kessler’s Night Walker, the first novel in the new Night Series from Entangled Publishing, is now available at your favorite bookseller!  If you missed my review of Night Walker, check it out here and then go pick up your own copy and get to know Calisto and Kate.  If you need to stop for a few, to ogle the cover eye candy, that’s perfectly acceptable.  *grin*

Here are some online purchase links…

Enjoy!

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ARC Review: Night Walker (The Night series #1), by Lisa Kessler

TLDR recap:

Separated from his beloved by a cruel and ironic twist of fate, Calisto sacrificed everything to gain immortality and await her return.  Now, over 200 years  later, she’s back…  and she doesn’t remember him at all.  Although Kate is inexplicably drawn to him, misguided zealots are determined to keep them apart at any cost and Calisto must somehow keep Kate safe while helping her reclaim her memories and the bond that has persevered through so much.

    • Publication date: August 2, 2011
    • Title: Night Walker
    • Series: The Night series – book #1
    • Author: Lisa Kessler
    • Prominent Characters: Calisto, Kate
    • Recommended reader age: 16+
    • Sexual content level: light-to-moderate

Thoughts:

Calisto and Kate are old souls, separated in a past life and still searching for forever with one another.  His entire reason for existing is the chance that he might get to see her again, even though she may not be the same woman he fell in love with.  Hello, über romantic!  Of course, Kate doesn’t realize she isn’t ‘brand new’* so the intensity of her feelings for Calisto are frightening and are ultimately the defining factor for the pace of the story.

It starts off as a leisurely stroll through character introductions and laying out the rules of the universe.  Frequent flashbacks help keep the reader engaged until the plot starts to unfold. Initially, it’s a little difficult to really become engrossed in, but the flow of the story is pleasantly unhurried and, as we learn more about the characters and the circumstances that bring them together, segues nicely into the juicy parts and action scenes.  Oh, you know you want to hear more about the juicy!

The intimate scenes in Night Walker are solidly in the “romance” category, without the vulgar language or extended physicality typical of erotica.  Calisto’s touch is knowing but oh-so-tender, and Kate is passionately generous, letting him sweep her away and protect her from her fears while still participating as an equal.  Their spiritual bond with one another really amps up the intensity of these scenes and gives you that little clench in the chest that tells you you’re experiencing something special.

Ok, so he’s a vampire right?  Yes and no.  Vampires exist in this universe but, while they seem to be technically the same species, Calisto and the one who made him consider themselves to be Night Walkers.  The difference isn’t yet well-defined, but the gist of it is that while Night Walkers can exist mostly peacefully in human society, vampires are inherently evil and are governed largely by their bloodlust and craving for power over weaker beings.  Calisto’s transition into a Night Walker is shadowy and not explicitly depicted, but is definitely not your typical romantic sip-trading, where the new vampire gets to be blissfully dined upon before rising immaculately from the grave.  This transition feels more visceral, but without the horror and gore.

Calisto’s spanish accent and the cadence of his speech are some of my favorite things about him.  I’m a Southern girl.  It is nigh impossible for me to talk without excessively using contractions and employing other rampant word mangling, so seeing a character speak with NO contractions really gets my attention, and it makes it easier to hear his voice.  Now that I have Antonio Banderas on the brain, I would REALLY like to see (erm, hear?) Calisto say “Feed me… if you dare!”  *grin*  When it comes to protecting Kate, Calisto has no inhibitions and is not afraid to embrace what he is. It’s refreshing to see a hero who accepts who and what he is while still keeping that awareness of humanity and respect for life that usually defines the “good guys”.

Ms. Kessler’s musical background (she’s a professional vocalist) really shines in her depiction of the piano scenes. The notes fairly dance and soar off the page and make me wish I could step into the moment to experience it for myself.

With a surprising reveal at the end, the path of the rest of the series is left open to question.  Who is really the villain?  Will Calisto and Kate face more of the same or will there be a new, unexpected, more powerful Big Bad?  Do the events of the story mean more than just to serve their purpose as a plot device?  Luckily, we won’t have long to wait, as the next book in the series is tentatively slated for a December release.  Woo for not having to wait a year or more!

*A cookie to the first commenter who can identify that reference!  Ok, maybe a virtual cookie… no?  Bragging rights will have to suffice.  *grin*

Memorable quotes:

Who needs to learn to drive when you know how to fly?

“Where are you parked?” Kate asked.
“I am not.”
“You’re not? Did you take a cab or something?”
“Something…”

If you like Night Walker of The Night series…

If you enjoyed Night Walker check out the Dark series (starting with Dark Prince) by Christine Feehan.  Her Carpathians are similar to the more vampire-traditional feel of the Night Walkers, and the flow of the stories and relationships between the characters have a comparable sentimentally impassioned ambiance.

You might also enjoy A Discovery of Witches (the first book in the All Souls trilogy) by Deborah Harkness.  Discovery is a little more epic, but the chivalrous undertones and the unexpected quick emotional bonding of the main couple is similar.  The pace of Discovery is also slower at the start, taking time to let the reader get to know the players before plunging into the mystery and action.

Final thoughts:

If you like your romance with strong bonds and heartfelt emotion, with tenderness and a sedate pace, with a strong, determined hero and a heroine who isn’t afraid to take chances, put Night Walker on your “to read” list.  I’m looking forward to watching this series develop, especially as the characters learn more about their abilities and we (hopefully) get to meet more Night Walkers… and maybe a few vampires too?  *wink*  The great thing about Night Walker being the start of a continuing series is that no matter if the upcoming stories focus on Calisto and Kate or on other characters, we’ll still get a peek into their continuing journey as a couple and as immortals, and that’s a happy thought!  =)

*Thank you to Entangled Publishing for allowing me to preview this book!

Rating:
4.0 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://lisaslair.com/ (Night Series website)

http://lisakessler.wordpress.com/ (Author blog)

http://www.christinefeehan.com/ (The Dark Series website)

http://deborahharkness.com/ (A Discovery of Witches website)

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Fangtastic Friday: Fan Fiction spotlight – Black Dagger Brotherhood

Fan Fiction is a great way to experience our favorite book characters in scenarios the original authors maybe never intended for them, or to complete cliffhanger stories in ongoing popular series.  Authors of fan fiction can explore alternate endings and expand storylines, change the dynamics of relationships between the characters and add their own twist to the story universes.  Many amateur writers use fan fiction as a springboard into possible careers and one of the biggest challenges is in creating a believable story while capturing the spirit of the original author’s style and nuances.

One of the most exciting times to explore fan fiction is during lulls and breaks in current ongoing storylines.  The incredibly popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward has dedicated some serious face time to the intense-yet-complicated burgeoning relationship between Blay and Qhuinn, two young vampire soldiers who fight alongside the Brothers, and readers have been clamoring for more more MORE!  Ms. Ward, however, most definitely has her own plan and the official timeline is taking a while to unfold, so in the mean time we can experience what we want to see develop with Blay and Qhuinn through fan fiction!

A friend in our Twilight Meetup group, knowing how ridiculously BDB crazed we all are, recommended a fan fiction piece that features Blay and Qhuinn.  (Shoutout to Chantal!)  “It was just as steamy as the real BDB books!” she said.  After finishing it, I have to say that is no joke!  In fact, this fanfic is a little closer to erotica than the PNR Ms. Ward typically delivers, but the story has heart and most of the characters are pretty spot on.

Go here to read the full story on fanfiction.net or here to read it directly from the author’s blog.  Note that this story takes place just after Lover Mine (John Matthew’s story, book #8) and doesn’t sync up with the events that happen in Payne’s book (Lover Unleashed, #9).  It is also exclusively a M/M romance and the scenes are explicit, so anyone who has issues with that type of story probably shouldn’t read this.  That said, it was intense and getting to see a resolution between Qhuinn and Blay was fulfilling even if it’s not the “real” story.   Enjoy!

Info about Lovers Destined:

Excerpt from Lovers Destined:

He heard the heavy footsteps across his bedroom. It wasn’t Saxton’s reflection that appeared in the mirror behind him. It was the most beautiful creation he had ever seen. Those gorgeous mismatched eyes locked on his through the mirror as Qhuinn leaned in the bathroom doorway. “Where’re you going?”

Blay had to clear his throat in order to speak. No matter how many times he looked at Qhuinn, the guy always took his breath away. It didn’t help that he was standing there without his shirt on. “Dinner,” he replied.

“With Sax?” Blay nodded. “Not going to that homophobe cigar bar, are you?”

“Why do you care?” He tried to pull his eyes away from Qhuinn, but couldn’t manage to do so. By this time, his gaze was running across his broad chest, his perfect abs and down to the v-shaped pelvic muscle peeping out above the dark, designer jeans that rested low on his hips. God, those hips; he wanted to grab on to those hips.

“You know I care, Blay.”

“Not really,” Blay mumbled under his breath, placing his hands on the tile counter in front of him.

Qhuinn crossed his arms across his chest. It was something he did when he was nervous. Blay had watched him for so long that he was able to pick up on all of his gestures. “Well I do care and besides that, I need to know if I should be ready to take down some more bastard humans tonight.”

“That won’t be necessary.” He finally let his eyes pull away from Qhuinn. “We’re just going to have dinner.” The silence between them lasted for so long that Blay had to look up and see if Qhuinn had left. “Is there something else that you needed because I should probably finish getting ready?”

Qhuinn uncrossed his arms and started walking towards Blay, closing the distance between them in two wide strides. His strong hands came down on Blay’s shoulders causing him to stop breathing. “Blay,” he whispered. Qhuinn buried his face between Blay’s shoulder blades while his hands slid from his shoulders all the way down his bulging biceps, his tense forearms and finally stopping softly on top of his hands that were resting on the counter. “I just needed to see you.”

Qhuinn dropped his hold on Blay and backed up towards the door. Blay was staring at him through the mirror in complete shock. “If you run into any trouble, you know how to reach me. I’ll be there in a split second.” Qhuinn turned and walked out of the room.

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Dual Review: The Vampire Queen’s Servant and The Mark of the Vampire Queen (The Vampire Queen series #1 and #2), by Joey W. Hill

TLDR recap:

The oldest living vampire and the last queen of the Far East Clan, Lady Elyssa Amaterasu Yamato Wentworth, still suffers from the pain of losing her human servant and her husband.  Jacob Green is, among other things, a vampire hunter trained to hunt and kill her kind but is strangely drawn to Lyssa in ways he does not yet understand.  Even a perfect match takes a little breaking in, and Lady Lyssa excels at control.  Struggling for dominance and honesty, Jacob and Lyssa’s unusual relationship takes them far beyond the bounds accepted by both their societies and challenges the very core of their souls.

    • Title: The Vampire Queen’s Servant, The Mark of the Vampire Queen
    • Series: The Vampire Queen series – books #1 & #2
    • Author: Joey W. Hill
    • Prominent Characters: Lady Elyssa Amaterasu Yamato Wentworth, Jacob Green
    • Recommended reader age: 18+
    • Sexual content level: heavy and explicit (vulgar language typical of erotica)

Thoughts:

Jacob’s journey toward full human servant is both tender and traumatic.  During the first novel, it is difficult to comprehend why Lyssa treats him as she does, but when all is finally revealed, it makes your heart break just a little for the both of them.  Of course, that’s when you’re not taking cold showers or jumping your significant other from the sheer HEAT of their chemistry.  If those book covers at the top of this post make you raise your eyebrows, well hang on to your granny panties sister cuz you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!  The Mark of the Vampire Queen has one of the hands-down-hottest scenes in a book I have ever read, eclipsing even One Foot in the Grave‘s infamous Chapter 32.  The scenes in The Vampire Queen’s Servant are no slouch either.  Ms. Hill delivers such beautiful imagery, heart-touching tenderness and discovery, amidst the visceral, intense sexual spectacles.

These books read like one novel.  The first feels almost incomplete at the ending, knowing there is more in store for them and the battle is far from over.  To give the most honest review possible, I’m reviewing them together.  Hope you don’t mind.  :)

Now, it did take me a little while to get into the first book, but I’m so glad I stuck with it because it was well worth the effort.  Lyssa’s attitude really annoyed me at first, and Jacob came across as a little one-dimensional.  Why would this random guy just turn his life over to this seemingly-cruel vampire he’s never met?  Not knowing all the details up front makes the journey that much better as the full story unfolds.  So if you find yourself stuck, keep reading.  Get to book #2.  I promise it is worth it.

For readers with a history of abuse, parts of this story, especially the first book, will be difficult to read.  As I continued reading, I went from apathetic about the characters to being deeply moved by them.  I think the journey will be different for each reader, based on each person’s individual life experiences.  Personally, I found it complicated and not without conflict, but intensely touching.

These stories are the perfect blend of erotica and paranormal romance, tying together a soul-deep love story and a physical connection with more sparks than a ribbon of Black Cats on the 4th.  These books pack some serious punch, so this is not for the sheltered or for readers easily offended by creative public sexual displays designed around group & bondage situations!  Sound interesting yet?  It’s positively scandalous and I DARE you to read this series!!

Memorable quotes:

I’m quoting for two books, so get comfy!  =D

Jacob, on tattoos…

“It’s rare to see a completely unmarked man your age.  Why is that?”

He pulled his attention away from the thing she was treating as jewelry and he was viewing as  potential torture device.  From the slight smile on her lips, he suspected she recognized his struggle to focus.

“My brother always said if you mark your body with a symbol, it means you stand by it forever.  Only things branded on the soul can be branded on the body.  So far I’ve found the only constant is that everything changes.”

All work and no play…

“Yes, wicked stepmother.  I’ll have everything planned to the last detail while the mice sew my dress together.”  He tapped the top of the legal pad with the menu.  “You’ll have the full proposal with all the details by tomorrow when you rise.”

A servant’s musing of his Mistress…

“She has the mindless courage of a predator, the broken heart of an angel, and a woman’s unconquerable soul.”

Life is…

“Life is never as dramatic as we pretend it is in a normal life.  But we can be intensely amazing, or quietly desperate, as Thoreau said.  If you woke each day with a genuine awareness which allowed you to appreciate everything as if you were seeing it for the very first time… or the last.”

Sex: sin or devotion?

In fact, there was a spiritual power to it so overwhelming, Lyssa thought the religions that used it as a form of worship made more sense than those that called it a sin.

A jack of all trades…

Such was a human servant’s life.  Dry cleaning, home repair, gardening.  Arranging a table centerpiece and then replacing that centerpiece to perform as a sex slave in front of dinner guests.  All in a day’s work.

More money than God…

“That’s such a ridiculous saying.   What use would God have for money?  Hence, a pauper has  more money than God.”


If you like The Vampire Queen’s Servavnt and The Mark of the Vampire Queen of Vampire Queen series…

If you enjoyed The Vampire Queen’s ServantThe Mark of the Vampire Queen, and the rest of the Vampire Queen series for its paranormal ties (vampire society with humans who serve as blood hosts), check out the Night Huntress series (Cat & Bones, starting with Halfway to the Grave) by Jeaniene Frost.  The NH books are not erotica but they feature strong ties between a central couple and they definitely have their share of steamy scenes.

Final thoughts:

This series, The Mark of the Vampire Queen in particular, is seriously carnally addicting.  If I bookmarked every memorable, steamy scene, my poor book would double in size from all the squished corner pages.  The bond between Jacob and Lyssa is something truly special… for even a “normal” romance.  This is erotica with heart.  An achingly scintillating path travelled in a world of heavy dominance and submission, where sex could all-too-easily eclipse the more vulnerable and tender moments.  Even before I read the books that follow, this series was an instant favorite of mine.

Yes, this is erotica.  Those with serious aversions to the vulgar language typically used in that genre may be uncomfortable at first.  BUT!!  Don’t let that scare you!  If you’re new to erotica or even new to BDSM, this is an excellent series to get you started and I highly recommend reading it.

Sometimes a pixie sprinkles fairy dust and glitter to tempt you onto a new path, and sometimes she flits over and just drags you away with her.  You know who you are.  Thanks for convincing me to read this fantastic series!

Rating: The Vampire Queen’s Servant Rating: The Mark of the Vampire Queen
4.5 fangs: BITE IT!  5 fangs: DEVOUR IT! 

Related links:

http://www.storywitch.com/ (The Vampire Queen series website)

http://jeanienefrost.com/ (The Night Huntress series website)

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Review: Deeper Than Midnight (The Midnight Breed series #9), by Lara Adrian

TLDR recap:

The war with Dragos is in full force now and the warriors of the Order are feeling the stress even in their secure underground command complex.  Hunter, still adapting to an independent existence after living his entire life as an enslaved assassin for Dragos, volunteers to escort the traumatized breedmate Corinne home to her Boston Darkhaven… but all is not as it seems, for Corinne and Hunter, for the warriors of the Order, or for the unsuspecting humans surrounding them.

    • Title: Deeper Than Midnight
    • Series: The Midnight Breed series – book #9
    • Author: Lara Adrian
    • Prominent Characters: Hunter, Corinne, Chase Sterling
    • Recommended reader age: 16+
    • Sexual content level: light-to-moderate

Thoughts:

Hunter is an enigma.  We know very little of him, and what we do know is that he’s strictly bound to his military training and upbringing… seemingly more machine than man.  Corinne is, at first, a fragile flower of a breedmate who you expect to crack at just the slightest provocation, but she definitely has backbone and determination.  Their relationship is one of mutual discovery, trust, and tenderness, and is a pleasure to be able to experience with them as it blooms and develops.

This book has more intermingling of other story plots (besides Hunter and Corinne) than previous novels have, but I think that’s actually a boon considering a) how little we actually know of Hunter going into this one, and b) how all the subplots are starting to come to fruition at about the same time.  I don’t know that Hunter and Corinne could have pulled off a solo story, but mixed with the rest of the Order’s continuing developments, we get a more complete and satisfying collective piece, much like the later Black Dagger Brotherhood novels.

The interaction (including the sex) between Hunter and Corinne in this book is tender and explosive, written so that the reader experiences every nuance of their strong but fledgling bond.  Like the other Midnight Breed novels, it’s steamy without being vulgar and the sexual content does not eclipse the story.

The ending is a hell of a cliffhanger!  Normally I wouldn’t say something like that for fear of accidentally spoiling the experience, but I know some readers avoid cliffhangers, so if you’re one of those give-it-to-me-all-at-once kind of peeps, I recommend you put off reading this one until Chase’s book is released.  The tenth book in the Midnight Breed series featuring Chase Sterling will be called Darker After Midnight and is slated for a January 2012 release, so you’re in for a bit of a wait if you choose to read them back-to-back for the first time.

Memorable quotes:

Not really a lot of quotable one-liners in this one.  Here’s some insight into Hunter’s upbringing…

When asked what type of music he preferred…

He’d never thought about music one way or the other, never paused to consider if any of it appealed to him.  What would be the point in that?


If you like Deeper Than Midnight of The Midnight Breed series…

If you enjoyed Deeper Than Midnight and the rest of the Midnight Breed series for its arcing storylines and composite cast, you may also like the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (starting with Dark Lover) by J.R. Ward.  Both series generally follow the one-book-one-couple format, with some cross-weaving of plotlines throughout the entire story arc, and the BDB stories are rich in emotional conflicts and physical confrontations.  Highly recommended read!

If you liked Deeper Than Midnight and the Midnight Breed series for its urban setting mixed with the allure of modern romantic vampires and their more fragile female counterparts, you might enjoy the Argeneau Vampire series by Lynsay Sands and the Dark Series (starting with Dark Prince) by Christine Feehan.  Both series are less intense and have more singular-plot style stories than linked ones, but appeal to readers who enjoy the more traditional romantic vampire mythology.  The Argeneau series does have some plot-mingling amongst its later novels, but there is so much history in the first half that I recommend starting in the early books.  NOTE that I personally advise you to SKIP the first Argeneau novel (A Quick Bite)!  In my opinion, it is badly edited, repetitive, and overall just annoying to read.  I can now no longer look at a cucumber the same way…  >.<

Final thoughts:

When I first heard that Hunter’s book would be the next in the series, I was a little skeptical.  Here’s a guy who has spend his entire life being subjugated into being a killing machine controlled and trained in the most heinous ways by a psychotic madman.  Doesn’t really sound all that emotionally stable, right?  Realistically, someone who has successfully endured that kind of treatment is more broken than whole, and definitely not a good candidate for a romantic relationship.  However, Ms. Adrian gives us just enough forecasting and insight into who he is in the earlier novels that it plays out nicely.  It comes across as Corinne being his emotional savior, and that’s a pleasant perspective to contemplate as a reader.  Still not 100% believable, but hey… this is vampire lit and I read it to escape, so who cares!  =)

I like Hunter.  He’s a good strong-dominant-stalwart-male personality, and mixed with his upbringing he’s also a sympathetic hero.  I like Corinne less.  From her initial introduction in Brock & Jenna’s book (Taken By Midnight), Corinne comes off as immature and a little selfish.  That said, most of what we see of her is from Brock’s memories where she’s a very young and sheltered 20-something.  Her role in Deeper than Midnight is after a grueling half-century in the bowels of Dragos’s labs, so she has more substance and relatability as a character.  She’s still not one of my favorite heroines, as I prefer the chicks who kick butt, but she’s a good match for Hunter.  If you’re a fan of the Midnight Breed series, Deeper Than Midnight will not let you down – it definitely delivers!

Rating:
4.25 fangs: BITE IT! 

Related links:

http://www.laraadrian.com/ (The Midnight Breed series website)

http://www.jrward.com/ (The Black Dagger Brotherhood series website)

http://www.lynsaysands.net/ (The Argeneau Vampires series website)

http://www.christinefeehan.com/ (The Dark Series website)

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Review: A Vampire’s Claim (The Vampire Queen series #3), by Joey W. Hill

TLDR recap:

A drifter haunted by a brutal past, Devlin is a bushman who lives a lonely life on the edge in the Australian Outback.  At the tender young age of 200 years old, Lady Daniela, a rare “born” vampire who is heiress to her own province in Oz, is sought after by scheming male vampires trying to increase their own standing who are willing to kill or viciously torture her to achieve their goals.  Danny has never had a fully-marked human servant and Dev willingly submits to no one, but their unlikely emergency partnership could take them on an emotional journey neither is prepared for.

    • Title: A Vampire’s Claim
    • Series: The Vampire Queen series – book #3
    • Author: Joey W. Hill
    • Prominent Characters: Lady Daniela, Devlin
    • Recommended reader age: 18+
    • Sexual content level: heavy and explicit (vulgar language typical of erotica, includes group scenes and alternate sexual partnerings)

*** This review is spoiler-free!  Read on with confidence.  =) ***

Thoughts:

This book is number three in the series, but it could actually be read before the first two novels (The Vampire Queen’s Servant and The Mark of the Vampire Queen).  It’s set in the 1950s, a good 5 decades before Lyssa and Jacob’s books, and tells the story of Dev and Lady D, both of whom we met in the second book, The Mark of the Vampire Queen.

Dev’s backstory is violent and haunting, and his journey through the emotional minefield of becoming a fully-marked and willing human servant to Danny is uneasy at best.  This book delves into the psychology of war and loss, and doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the uncomfortably adventurous potential of the sex scenes.  At his lady’s insistence, Dev uses their tenuous connection as his emotional outlet, while she fights her own battle against dealing with her feelings for Dev and his proper place in her life.

I thoroughly enjoyed the second book (and the second half of the first), but I had a tough time getting into this one due to its intense gravity.  This is no flighty love story!  It is raw and intense, gratifying and punishing, violent and seductive.  While Dev is pushed past some of his natural straight-male sexual boundaries, I feel that some readers will be right there with him, part enthralled and part horrified at the dark places Danny takes him.

I really enjoyed getting to see Thomas and his interaction with Lyssa, as well as Alistair and Nina, the parents of born vampire Brian from the first two books.  Personally, I’m not into survival stories or rugged treks across dangerous wild territories, so the setting in this novel was a little off-putting for me.  While I loved Dev’s personality and the way he competently handles so many diverse situations, I just did not like reading about the Australian Outback and the woes of never-ending mosquitoes and other nasty creepy crawlies.  The sex scenes are hot, so no complaint there (although it’s going to be pretty hard to surpass the awesomeness that is the Council gathering in The Mark of the Vampire Queen!), but they are explicit and vulgarly worded, so readers who are new to erotica will have a shock or two in store until they get used to the cadence of the writing.

Memorable quotes:

So complex, the relationship between vampire and servant…

“We’re not pets.  We’re human servants to vampires, and it’s a relationship like nothing you’ve ever had in your life.  Tell yourself you love her or don’t love her.  It doesn’t matter.  If you are meant to be her full servant, you are bound together in a a way that would tear out your heart and half the things in your gut if you decided to walk away from it.”


If you like A Vampire’s Claim of The Vampire Queen series…

If you enjoyed A Vampire’s Claim and the rest of the Vampire Queen series for its hard-hitting emotional impact, you may also like the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (starting with Dark Lover) by J.R. Ward and the Psy/Changeling series (starting with Slave to Sensation) by Nalini Singh.  Although the Psy/Changeling series features shapeshifters and psychics rather than vampires, the relationships between the characters are intense and the bonds extremely strong.  Both of these series will make you laugh, cry, and just about everything in between!  Highly recommended reads.

If you liked A Vampire’s Claim for its heavy sexual content and explicivity, check out the Meredith Gentry series (starting with A Kiss of Shadows) and the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  The Anita Blake series starts with Guilty Pleasures, but the erotica aspect doesn’t become the dominant component of the stories until Narcissus in Chains (book #10).  You can’t really safely start halfway through the series, but there are a few wikis and fansites out there that will give you an overview if you choose to skip the horror-focused first half.

Final thoughts:

Overall excellent character development and plotlines, and seriously intense relationships both between the characters and growth within themselves.  If not for my city girl aversion to all-things-unsophisticated, I would probably have scored this one much higher.  As it is, I enjoyed it but have no plans to read it again from start to finish… maybe just some snippets here and there.  *grin*

Rating:
4.25 fangs: Bite it! 

Related links:

http://www.storywitch.com/ (The Vampire Queen series website)

http://www.jrward.com/ (The Black Dagger Brotherhood series website)

http://www.nalinisingh.com/ (The Psy/Changeling series website)

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/ (The Merry Gentry & Anita Blake series websites)

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Review: Hunt the Moon (The Cassie Palmer series #5), by Karen Chance

TLDR recap:

With her coronation quickly approaching, Cassie Palmer would give anything short of the power of her office for a reprieve from the danger that perpetually dogs her, so she can sort out the many political and emotional complications in her life.  As usual, there’s to be no downtime for our spunky little Pythia, as a new Big Bad sets its sights on her, forcing her to push herself to her physical, emotional, and magical limits yet again, learning a few handy new tricks along the way.

    • Title: Hunt the Moon
    • Series: The Cassie Palmer series – book #5
    • Author: Karen Chance
    • Prominent Characters: Cassie, Pritkin, Mircea
    • Recommended reader age: 16+
    • Sexual content level: moderate

***** This review is spoiler-free.  However, if you are new to this series, I recommend skipping this review until you have read the first four books, to avoid inadvertently learning too much! *****

Thoughts:

For readers of the Cassie Palmer series, almost dying really does never get old…

My name is Cassie Palmer, and I’ve cheated death more times than anyone has a right to exect.  In the past two months, I’ve been shot, stabbed, beaten and blown up a few dozen times, and that doesnt count all the magical ways I’ve almost been killed.  I’d have been dead a long time ago if not for my friends, one of whom had just jumped off the cliff after me.

I’d have been more appreciative if he hadn’t pushed me first.

How can one woman get into so much trouble?  How can one woman get into so much trouble and still survive?  How can one woman get into so much trouble and STAY SANE?!  Heavy on the accidental slapstick with a healthy helping of sarcastic wit  and a side of genuine bleeding heart, Cassie Palmer stories are a whirlwind of hair-raising close calls fraught with near-constant mortal danger and comedic relief.

Hunt the Moon has a few giganto-sized action sequences, stuffed with the usual deadly peril and seemingly-unending frustration on Cassie’s part.  These sequences are a large part of what defines the series and makes it as incredible as it is, but they also seem to be growing in length and intensity as the series progresses.  One sequence in particular lasts for nearly a third of the book, and I thought ” OH MY GOD, JUST DIE ALREADY!!!” right as the bad guy turns around and says the same to Cassie.  That’s either an eerie coincidence, or further proof of Ms. Chance’s story-telling skills and ability to gauge and guide her audience (I vote for option #2!).

The relationships binding our three favorite characters all get a romantic boost, culminating in a conclusion no one expected… okay, a conclusion *I*didn’t expect! As usual, I can’t want for the next one, to see where all craziness this is headed.  Does anyone else have trouble deciding who they like more, Pritkin or Mircea?  Ugh, what a tough choice!!  Can’t a girl just keep both?  The answer to that, of course, is “no, not with these two!”

Memorable quotes:

The irony of escapism is that you can never truly escape…

I started to pull off my t-shirt.  It was far too flimsy for where I’d been, but the saying on the front fit my moond perfectly: “I keep hitting escape, but I’m still here.”

Stamina… needs more stamina!

Marco patted my shoulder.  “It’s okay.  You aren’t my type.”

“What is your type?”

“Someone who gets in less trouble… I decided I was wrong.  I don’t like the wild side. I ain’t got the master’s stamina.”

“I don’t require stamina.”

“Babe, you require a freaking tank.”

The great Brit-American beer debate…

“I thought you Brits liked it hot.”

“Hot beer?” Pritkin looked revolted.

“That’s the rumor.”

“Because we don’t drink it iced over, thereby leaching right out whatever flavor you Yanks accidentally left in?”

You know what they say about a man’s hands.  You know, about how refined they are…?

Pritkin’s hands were oddly refined compared to the rest of him: strong but long fingered, with elegant bones and short-clipped nails.  They always looked like they’d wandered off from some gentleman, one they’d probably like to get back to, because God knew they weren’t getting a manicure while attached to him.

A good life-philosophy…

“Tarot is an indicator, not an absolute.  Nothing about the future is decided until it happens.  We create it every day by the choices we make, good or bad.”

It’s good to have a plan…

“Do we have a plan?”

“I need to touch her.”

“That is not a plan, dulceata; it is an objective.”

Just to set the record straight…

“Candy is candy.  Chocolate is therapy.”

Home is where the… crazy… is?

This was Dante’s.  Crazy was what we had for breakfast when we ran out of Corn Flakes.

If you like Hunt the Moon of Cassandra Palmer series…

If you enjoyed Hunt the Moon and the rest of the Cassie Palmer series for its insane action sequences and over-the-top bad guys, check out the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning (beginning with Darkfever).  Mac may start off a little vain and princess-y, but she has as much spunk and spine as Cassie, and her two suitors are just as enthralling (mmmm, Barrons!!).  The Fever series is the only series I have read to date that actually matches the Cassie Palmer series in the scale of the action scenes, and the magnitude of the offensive potential of the Big Bads.  Addicting, addicting, addicting!!!

The Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton (starting with A Kiss of Shadows) and the Southern Vampire Chronicles (Sookie Stackhouse) series by Charlaine Harris (see Dead Until Dark) are also similar to the Cassandra Palmer books.  The Merry Gentry series is set mostly in Faerie (and Meredith’s Fae are no less dangerous than Cassie’s version!) and involves significantly more sex, both in frequency of occurrence and graphic detail.  Sookie tends to deal more with politics than sex (although she has her share too, just not as graphic) and seems to get into trouble nearly as often as Cassie.  Both series are excellent reads and will keep you laughing, crying, and jonzing for more!

Final thoughts:

Ms. Chance has definitely found the magic formula for keeping readers engaged, enthralled, entertained, and eagerly coming back for more, book after book!

It is extremely tempting to give Hunt the Moon a perfect score, considering its wealth of action, adventure, humor, warmth, and quirkiness, but two of the major action sequences drag on just a little too long for my tastes.  I found myself skipping through a few pages to get to some sort of conclusion, in order to keep myself from stressing out over all the “almost”s and close-calls.  That, and the fact that Cassie STILL hasn’t learned better control over her powers… for the majority of the book at least.

I LOVE Cassie Palmer books.  LOVE LOVE LOVE them!!  However, they always leave me feeling exhausted, mentally and emotionally, and I feel like I need a break from books for a while after finishing one.

Rating:
4.75 fangs: SAVOR IT! 

Related links:

http://www.karenchance.com/ (The Cassie Palmer series website)

http://www.karenmoning.com/ (The Fever series website)

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/ (The Merry Gentry series website)

http://www.charlaineharris.com/ (The Sookie Stackhouse series website)

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Review: Hit List (The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series #20), by Laurell K. Hamilton

TLDR recap:

The mother of all darkness may have been destroyed in body, but her spirit still lives and has taken control of the Harlequin, the most feared, respected, and skilled group of spies and assassins ever trained.  With assistance from these vampire boogeymen, Mommy Dearest is gunning for Anita, to possess her body and control her abilities.  The Harlequin have laid a clever trap for Anita, separated from her support animals and sweeties, and will stop at nothing to acquire her for their master.  With only Edward and her own preternatural skills to protect her, will Anita survive Seattle or will Mommy Dearest win at long last?

    • Title: Hit List
    • Series: The Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series – book #20
    • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
    • Prominent Characters: Anita, Edward, Bernardo, Ethan, Nicki
    • Recommended reader age: 18+
    • Sexual content level: light-to-moderate (explicit)

***** Slight spoilers ahead.  Read at your own risk.  =) *****

Thoughts:

This book has gotten a lot of negative reviews, for various reasons, so I fully expected to be disappointed and not enjoy reading it.  So let me just say first that I DID enjoy it and I’m glad I didn’t let the disgruntled reviewers scare me off!  I’m a fan of the ABVH series, but it’s not really enough to say “I like the series” because the series changes so drastically over the course of the impressive 20-book run.  Considering Ms. Hamilton (LKH) started work on the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter (ABVH) series in the early 1990s and has managed to successfully continue it through today, some changes in the characters and the plots should be expected.  Just like people change in real life, book characters should change as well, especially when they face as much trauma, violence, and loss in their lives as Anita and crew do.  If you’re not familiar with the series, the first 10 or so books are “one of the humans” stories for Anita, while the remaining books are “one of the monster” tales.  Anita is extremely verbose and is a master of talking circles around just about any other character I’ve seen in any book or series.  That’s not always a good thing, as the books tend to be dialogue-heavy, and the later books tend to be sex-dialogue-heavy (sometimes you feel like “OMG just get to it already!”), but it does give her character a more personal feel, as if she’s a girlfriend who’s relaying a story and walking you through her thought process.  It’s the way I tend to think, so I like it.

So… Hit List.  Part of the reason for explaining all that above is to say this…

Fans of the ABVH series for its explicit sexual content (let’s be honest with ourselves – she has a harem) and Anita’s acquisition of superhero-like powers, are the fans who enjoy the second half of the series.  Readers who enjoyed the crime-solving and horror elements of the beginning half of the series are less impressed with all the solve-everything-with-sex attitude that is so prevalent in the later books.  Given that, I’d expect that this novel would satisfy both camps, a) because there’s noticeably less sex in Hit List, and b) because she’s going back to her crime-solving roots.  This is an “Edward” book.  If you’re a reader of the series, then that alone should tell you whether or not you’re going to like this one.  Almost none of her harem of men are present in this adventure, leaving the story open for more focus on crime-solving.  However, something different between this and the previous “Edward” books is that he’s not nearly as I-could-kill-you-anytime and more I-think-I-want-you-to-stick-around, which is very un-Edward-like.  I chalk it up to part of her charm and maybe some of the metaphysics.  Men just like Anita, so it’s a natural progression to me.  Still, the crime-solving in this story is less about the horrendous gory crime scenes (thankfully!) and more about the hunt for the Harlequin, our newest big-bad since Mommy Dearest awoke.

Also, is it just me, or is LKH’s grammar improving noticably?  In the start of the book, I noticed several paragraphs with normal sentence structure, places where she’d usually run-on or fragment.  I wonder if the lack of sex in this book is indicative of LKH moving past her obsession with it (not that I’m complaining about said obsession – I find it entertaining), or if it is a vehicle for coming back to it stronger in the next one as she reunites with her many sweeties.  Of course, she could just skip that return-to-St-Louis period all together now that the next big bad seems like it will be Olaf, and if so, all bets are off.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.  =)

Memorable quotes:

When does Anita have time to read Harry Potter?

“We settled this, Anita.  The… ones who can’t be named-” He glared at me.  “I really hate that we can’t even say their names out loud.  It feels like we’re in a Harry Potter book talking about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”

Anger management, Jack… get some.

I resisted a terrible urge to say, “You can’t handle the truth,” but the thought helped kill some of the anger.  I gave him calmer eyes and said, “The truth about what exactly?”

Hearts broken, lessons learned…

I learned a long time ago that being physically intimidating didn’t keep you from getting your feelings hurt.  Everyone’s heart is the same size.

Home is where your sweeties are.

It wasn’t about being the prettiest, or the best, it was about enjoying it.  It was about loving the men who were with you, while they were with you, and valuing every last one of them.  The love of a lover, of friends, and of partners, of people that I never wanted to lose, and wanted to wake up beside every damn day.  It was about home.  Home wasn’t a place, or a building, or a tropical night full of flowers and rain.  Love made home not out of boards and walls and furniture, but of hands to hold, and smiles to share, and the warmth of that body cuddled around you in the dark.

If you like Hit List of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series…

If you enjoyed Hit List for the paranormal aspect of it, check out the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning and the Feral Warriors series by Pamela Palmer.  The Fever series is a 5-book set of consecutive stories, told from female first-perspective, about the Fae and the epic consequences of their civil war on our world.  There’s also the side benefit of experiencing Barrons, the male lead in the Fever series, whom you will ever want more of once you meet him! The Feral Warriors are a (so far) 5 book series about a group of shape-shifters who are spirit warriors protecting their race from their mortal enemies.  The stories are all told from the 3rd person, focusing mostly on the primary couple for each story.  These books are pretty steamy.  *grin*

If you liked Hit List (and the last half of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series) for the intimate connections between Anita and her harem of sweeties, you’ll probably also enjoy The Meredith Gentry series, also by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Told from Merry’s perspective, it’s a series of stories full of love, sex, magic, fae, and battles.  Many fans of the ABVH series have reviewed positively about the Merry Gentry series, and it is one of my personal favorites.

Final thoughts:

As far as ABVH books go, Hit List is pretty tame, but I think it stays true to the story path and style that LKH has precedented in the previous few books.  I found it an enjoyable (and quick!) read and, while I probably won’t read it again for a while, may come back to it sometime in the future when I re-read the entire series again.

Rating:
4.25 fangs: Bite it!

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/ (The Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series website – finally updated and easier to use!)

http://www.karenmoning.com/ (The Fever series website)

http://www.pamelapalmer.net/ (The Feral Warriors series website)

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Review: The Reluctant Vampire (The Argeneau Vampire series #15), by Lynsay Sands

TLDR recap:

Harper isn’t looking for a new life mate, having just lost his first one during her turn.  Drina knows who her life mate is, but she’s not willing to scare him away with any rash announcements or behavior.  They all have bigger problems anyway when someone starts attacking the vampires living in Port Henry.  Who is the intended target?  And has the dreaded no-fanger Leonius found them, or do they face a new threat?

***** This review is spoiler-free.  =)  Read on with confidence! *****

    • Title: The Reluctant Vamire
    • Series: The Argeneau Vampire series – book #15
    • Author: Lynsay Sands
    • Prominent Characters: Harper, Drina, Stephanie
    • Recommended reader age: 17+
    • Sexual content level: Moderate-to-heavy, somewhat explicit

Thoughts:

The Argeneau Vampire series is one that runs hot and cold for me.  Some of the books I really like a lot and would read again.  One of them I dislike enough to give a rating of 1-Stake (which, to date, I’ve never done) and the rest I think are just so-so and only worth reading once.  This book, The Reluctant Vampire, falls into that last category: I have no plans to read it again.  However, the plot and characters did have their moments and at times it was amusing, tender, suspenseful, and shocking.  I think if the setting had been different, I’d have been less conflicted about it…

Usually, I like to save my quotes for the ‘Memorable Quotes’ section below, but I think this one nicely sums up why I’m disliking this book, and the few that have come before it in the series.  “I thought I lived in goddamned Mayberry with a bunch of Aunt Beas and Andies.  Who knew Port Henry had so many homicidal nutcases running around?”  The homicidal nutcases don’t bother me (because pretty much nothing in Lynsay Sands’ stories ever resembles a truly homicidal nutcase – they’re all too prissy), but the Mayberry-like town does.  Aside from excessive use of the word “peer”, I rather enjoy some of the European and American Argeneau books, but all the ones that have been set in Port Henry have rubbed me wrong.  I read about vampires to get lost in the exotic atmosphere and experience characters I wouldn’t normally meet in real life, but the sleepy little town of Port Henry really does resemble Mayberry.  As much as I enjoyed The Andy Griffith Show when I was growing up (in a small town, mind you), I do NOT want to re-experience it as an adult, especially not in my get-away-in-an-imaginary-world free time!

Something else I’d like to point out to new readers of this series is the author’s over-use of the word “peer”.  Do a word count on “peer” in The Reluctant Vampire.  This term is used more than seventy times- that’s 7-0!!  At least once in EVERY BOOK, all of the major characters (and most of the minors) “peer” at something.  Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think about big, bad, strong vampire men, one of the last things I envision them doing is curiously peering around corners and out of windows.  They level stares, they glare, they gaze and take in… but they do not do dainty things like peer all over the damned place!  UGH!  This really drives me batty.  After 15 books, I’ve come to associate the word “peer” with the Lynsay Sands stories, and I have to keep myself from rolling my eyes every time I see it.  Seriously.  *takes deep breath*

Ok, enough complaining about Ms. Sands’ writing quirks.  *wink*  On to the things I did enjoy!  One of the common complaints about this series  is that the later books have no driving, over-arcing plots to keep the reader invested.  This most recent binge of stories in Port Henry has come off a little flat, but looks like it might be rebounding now with the elevation of the recent threat of Leonius, and of possible new developments with edantates (vampires without fangs).  Stephanie, the immature young teenager who is viciously and forcibly turned in an earlier book, makes some definite progress in this story, and I was satisfied to see the direction Ms. Sands is taking it in.  Assuming they get the hell out of Port Henry (which probably won’t happen until after Teddy’s book, the next in the series), the Argeneau series might be able to recover some of its momentum and flash.  I reaaaally hope so.

As far as the chemistry between the primary couple, it’s intense and well-written.  At first I worried about how Harper would progress throughout the story, but he turned out to be a great character, with patience, forethought, passion, and courage.  Drina is also a satisfying character, with her fiery temper, do-anything attitude, and quirky misunderstanding of American wildlife and slang.

Memorable quotes:

On horror movies…

And while Drina had dipped into enough male mortal minds to know that the majority of them seemed to think about sex every fifth or sixth heartbeat, she was quite sure even they wouldn’t think it clever or exciting to drag a female away from the safety of the herd to indulge in a quicky when dismembered bodies of friends or partygoers were falling all around them like a Canadian winter.

Ah, the exuberance of mortal teens!

“Man oh man, that was – Man!” he yelled, reaching them, his eyes round holes of shock and awe as he eyed Harper.  He flew his hand through the air in an arc as if emulating the bottle’s trajectory.

“And you were like waaaaah.”  Mouth open, he mimicked Harper diving for the bottle, and then shook his head, and said, “Man, you kick ass.  That was freaking amazing!”

From Harper to Teddy (seriously, an elderly sherriff in the equivalent of Mayberry knows what “FM boots” are?  I don’t buy it!)…

“You know about FMs?” Harper asked with surprise over Drina’s head.


If you like The Reluctant Vampire of The Argeneau Vampire series…

If you enjoyed The Reluctant Vampire and the Argeneau Vampire series for the behavior quirks of its main characters, you might also like The Southern Vampire Chronicles (Sookie Stackhouse) series by Charlaine Harris.  Sookie has a tendency to be stuffy and prissy in her I’m-not-running-for-my-life morality moments, and there is a large cast of vampires to get to know.

If you like the Argeneau series for its large cast, you would probably also enjoy the Dark series by Christine Feehan.  The stories start to feel somewhat similar after a while (like with the Argeneau series), but they do move around and allow the reader to experience different cultures and areas of the world, and the passion between characters is generally satisfying.

Another series, with a more traditional type of vampire (the romantic kind, not the dracula-horror kind!) is Midnight Breed by Lara Adrian.  I recommend this series for lovers of the Argeneaus, because it has multiple stories dedicated to different couples, with many of them guest-starring in each others’ books, and a similar feel to the connection developed between the couples.

Final thoughts:

I Reluctantly give this book 4 Fangs.  It was a close thing, mind you, considering how much I really dislike reading about Port Henry.  If I’m going to have to suffer Mayberry personalities, at least give me the splendor of Europe or the excitement of a Romantic Times Convention.  That said, this book was a fun read and it did make me laugh at times.  It also has decent action scenes (but nothing really scintillating) and seems to be guiding the plot arc down a new, unexpected path.

If you are a fan of the Argeneau series, of course you should read this.  If you are not currently a reader of the series, then I wouldn’t start with this one (and AVOID AVOID AVOID the very first one too!!!  That’s my 1-Stake book).  If you don’t care about series and just want a fun read, crack this book and sit down for a cozy read.

Rating:
4.0 fangs: BITE IT, but beware peering villains!

Related links:

http://www.lynsaysands.net/ (The Argeneau Vampire series website)

http://www.charlaineharris.com/ (The Sookie Stackhouse series website)

http://www.christinefeehan.com/ (The Dark series website)

http://www.laraadrian.com/ (The Midnight Breed series website)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Andy_Griffith_Show (The Andy Griffith Show <Mayberry> wiki page)

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