Category Archives: 4.0 Fangs

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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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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Review: Born of Fire (The League series #2), by Sherrilyn Kenyon

TLDR recap:

The son of a psychotic murderer, Syn is one of the best filches in the galaxy and, thanks to his damning parentage, he’s been on the run for the last 20 years of his life.  Shahara Dagan is a notoriously feared tracker and a Seax who takes her responsibility to bring criminal scum to their rightful punishment seriously.  When political machinations and her dire financial situation lead Shahara into taking the million-credit contract to bring Syn in, neither could have predicted what their journey has in store.

    • Title: Born of Fire
    • Series: The League series – book #2
    • Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
    • Prominent Characters: C.I. Syn, Shahara Dagan
    • Recommended reader age: 16+
    • Sexual content level: Moderate

Thoughts:

This book could be the love child of The Fugitive and Star Wars: A New Hope (that’s Episode 4 for the unenlightened *wink*).  Lots of running and hiding, mixed with smuggling space freighters, crafty deceptions, & risky missions to find evidence to clear their names.  Oh, and let’s toss in a little betrayal as well, since that is the overwhelming theme of the story.

After reading Born of Night and following the nearly epic journey of Nykyrian and Kiara, I had high hopes for this one.  I’m not disappointed in it per se – I actually did enjoy the story, I’m just left feeling a little worn after all the constant near misses.  If you thought Born of Night had too many “run and hide” sort of sequences, you may want to opt out of this journey.  That said, the level of emotional intensity was good and believable, considering both of their pasts.

Syn was one of my favorite characters in Born of Night and his personality in BoF is consistent with the drunken, sarcastic, talented brainiac/thief/assassin we came to know in Nykyrian’s story.  One thing to note about this is that the time lines for BoN and BoF do not match.  If you’ve read my review for Born of Night, you’ll remember that this is due to how these early Sherrilyn Kenyon books were released by different publishing houses, so she had to change the character names and timelines in order to make it look like they weren’t related stories.  Once they were re-released in 2009, Ms. Kenyon was able to go back and correct some of those changes, but to keep from having to significantly alter key outcomes and action sequences, she accepted that some disparity in the timeline was necessary.  Honestly, it’s kind of refreshing.  In BoN, Nykyrian and Kiara get the ending they needed, and in BoF, Syn and Shahara get the ending they needed… and the reader gets to enjoy two versions of the tale!

I won’t spoil the surprise for those who haven’t read BoF yet, but there is one new character addition in this story that is really a standout.  After reading the next chapter in the series (Born of Ice), I was happy to see this character carried over and developed even more.  There were also a few amusing running jokes that kept the tone light in an otherwise extremely tense setup, especially Shahara’s constant guessing of what Syn’s first initials stand for (“C.I.”).

Memorable quotes:

Never tell me the odds. (Han Solo)

She ground her teeth. “I’m going to kill you.  Why are we even bothering?  Do you know what the odds are that it’s still there?”

“I don’t play the odds, love.  Never have.”

On keepsakes…

“Objects are the markers of our humanity.  Everything we hold onto has meaning for us.  Those things are a souvenir that can transport us to that exact moment in time and make us feel that emotion all over again.”

It’s a guy thing…

“Good lord, woman.  Didn’t anyone ever tell you that men have a specified word count set aside each day and if I don’t stop talking, my tongue will explode?”


If you like Born of Fire…

If you enjoyed Born of Night and Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kenyon, you should check out the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh.  Both series are futuristic and emotional, with very strong male leads and independant females.  The much-anticipated 10th novel in the series, Hawke & Sienna’s story “Kiss of Snow”, will hit bookshelves later this month.  If you’re a speedy reader and start now, you can finish books 1-9 in time to get caught up in the hype!

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you probably know what I’m going to say next.  *grin*  If what you liked about Born of Night was the emotional ride, then definitely check out the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward.  Ms. Ward is a master of drawing in her audience emotionally and keeping us enthralled.  Her sex scenes are pretty hot too.  *wink*  The BDB is not futuristic, however, so if more of that is what you’re looking for…

This may sound silly, but even with the massive exposure of Star Wars across our culture, I STILL meet people who have not ever read or seen Star Wars!!  I know, craziness!  It’s almost unfathomable to me, who grew up memorizing and re-enacting “Return of the Jedi” weekly in my back yard!  If you are one of the Star Wars deprived, do yourself a favor and watch (not read, not yet – watch it first!!) Episodes 4 (A New Hope), 5 (The Empire Strikes Back), & 6 (The Return of the Jedi) of the original Star Wars trilogy.  Yes, I know it might sound like it makes more sense to start with Episode 1 (The Phantom Menace), but trust me on this… Ep.4 first, THEN Ep.1!  Star Wars is set in a galaxy far far away, is futuristic (ignore the “a long time ago” bit), and has space battles, smugglers, political intrigue, and romance.  So basically Born of Night, with less emphasis on the romance and more emphasis on the overall picture (and with Jedi & lightsabers, woo!!).  =)

Final thoughts:

After Born of Night, I expected a little more oomph to this story, but I’m not disappointed overall.  It was solid and enjoyable, even if it did make me a little weary at times.  I’m a city girl and I like my creature comforts, so maybe there was just a smidge too much slummin’ it and running from the law for my tastes.  I also was frequently annoyed by Shahara’s incredible determination not to stray from her mission, even after seeing Syn for who he really is.  It did turn out quite nicely, but she’s still a wee bit whiny for someone who is supposed to be so feared that hardened criminals wet their pants at the sight of her.  I probably won’t read this again, but I enjoyed it, so…

Rating:
4.0 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://www.sherrilynkenyon.com/ (The League)

http://www.nalinisingh.com/ (Psy-Changeling)

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

http://www.starwars.com/ (Star Wars)

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Review: Kiss of Midnight (Midnight Breed series novel #1) by Lara Adrian


TLDR recap:

Romance, danger, and intrigue abound in this first novel of the Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian.  Featuring Lucan, one of the oldest vampires in existence, and Gabrielle, an artistically talented human Breedmate, this novel starts the series off with a fang… er, bang.  This is a good alternative to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, for those of you already fiending for your next fix.  Read on for more info…

  • Title: Kiss of Midnight
  • Series: The Midnight Breed – book #1
  • Author: Lara Adrian
  • Prominent Characters: Lucan & Gabrielle
  • Recommended reader age: 17+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

After 900+ years of life, Gen One Breed warrior Lucan is struggling to find the will to keep fighting the good fight and it’s all that keeps him going.  Gabrielle is a promising young photographer with a knack for finding her way to places she shouldn’t.  After she witnesses (and photographs!) a brutal and gruesome Rogue vampire attack, Lucan must protect Gabrielle from enemies she doesn’t even know she has, while trying to keep his distance from her as an unknowing Breedmate.

Thoughts:

After coming off an intense Black Dagger Brotherhood bender, I’m finding this review a little difficult to write, so I apologize if this comes across as more of a comparison between the two series than as a review – it’s just what’s on my brain.  The BDB is one of those series that catches your attention demands your rapt devotion through a skillfully woven story of angst, family, unbreakable love, and tragedy and there just aren’t many series out there that meet its standard of excellence.  That said, the first book of the BDB series (Dark Lover) has a very similar feel to Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series starter Kiss of Midnight.  It starts off a little slow and has the unenviable task of trying to introduce the readers to this brand new universe, while explaining all the rules, introducing all the new characters, and creating an intense and believable chemistry between the marquee characters.  Kiss of Midnight does achieve that, although maybe with slightly less flair and intensity than Dark Lover.

Lucan is very similar to Wrath: the leader of a band of warrior brothers who is stoic, dedicated, intense, extremely strong, and very old.  The chemistry between Lucan and Gabrielle is quick and passionate, but still believable.  However, instead of being a female vampire, Gabrielle is a human “Breedmate”, a rare genetic occurrence marked by a teardrop falling into the bowl of a crescent moon visible somewhere on the skin.  Breedmates are the only women who can mate with vampires (who are all male) and produce children.  Occasionally drinking their mates’ blood allows them to remain young and healthy indefinitely.

It seems every series has something that annoys me in each new novel.  In the BDB, its the prolific use of the word “shitkickers” instead of “boots”, even by the refined females of the house.  In the Midnight Breed series, it is the word “suckhead”, used in reference to the Rogue vampires who have fallen under the sway of permanent Bloodlust.  I’m not sure why it bothers me, it just does!  Honestly though, if that’s all I can find to complain about, that’s a nod to the quality of the writing of the series.  *wink*

Memorable quotes:

They’re more like guidelines anyway…

Here, someone had discreetly severed the links with a wire cutter, creating a breach just large enough for a curious adolescent to wriggle through – or a determined female photographer who tended to view No Trespassing and Authorized Personnel Only signs more as friendly suggestions rather that enforceable laws.

If you like…

If you like Kiss of Midnight, you will very likely enjoy the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward.  The similarities are many, but there are enough differences to keep the stories from feeling like carbon copies.  I tend to recommend the same series over and over, so I’m not going to say “read Cat & Bones” (although you should) or “Cassie Palmer is great” (even though it is), so I’ll just sneak in some links at the bottom for you if you want to check out any additional reviewer-recommended series.  *grin*

Final thoughts:

Considering the headspace I’ve been in recently, with the newest BDB book on the brain and those unforgettable storylines hashing it out in my brain at every opportunity, this book was entertaining enough to keep me focused on it and wanting to read more.  Does it match up to my BDB expectations?  No, at least not yet.  To be fair though, Dark Lover didn’t completely blow me away the first time either and look how well that’s gone!

This series has potential, and having already read #2 (Kiss of Crimson – Dante’s book), I can tell you that the plotlines start to open up more and the stage is set for some serious drama down the line.  In fact, some of the intrigue in Kiss of Midnight was pretty surprising and most definitely gripping.  If you’re looking for a BDB alternative or just looking for a lengthy series to get started on (MB is up to 8 books so far, with the 9th set to release in June 2011), the Midnight Breed series is a good place to start.

Rating:
4.0 fangs: BITE IT, but keep in mind this is a series starter and is a little slower than the ones that follow! =)

Related links:

http://www.laraadrian.com/

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/index.htm

http://jeanienefrost.com/

http://www.karenchance.com/

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Review: A Caress of Twilight (Meredith Gentry series novel #2) by Laurell K. Hamilton

  • Title: A Caress of Twilight
  • Series: Meredith Gentry – book #2
  • Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Recommended reader age: 16+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate
  • Related authors: Karen Chance, Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost
  • Similar series: Cassie Palmer, Dorina Basarab, Sookie Stackhouse, Anita Blake

Premise:

Meredith Gentry is the heir to the Unseelie Court (dark fae) throne… if she can conceive a child before her co-heir, Prince Cel.  Luckily for Merry, Prince Cel is currently in the middle of a 6 month punishment.  Unluckily for her, once he gets out, he’s probably going to be insane and she’ll be at the top of his list o’ people to see, people to kill.  The Queen, who set up this little death match, has sportingly allowed Merry her own “court” (read: harem) of men to help her secure the throne (read: become pregnant).  So the princess and her merry band of men all live together in a a 1-room apartment in L.A., working as private detectives (and sometimes bodyguards to the rich and famous).

Thoughts:

This story is adventure-style, so of course it has a Big Bad as well as a few not-to-be-trusted royals.  The Big Bad seems almost secondary though, as Merry’s interaction with her men and her private detective work (much like the mid-series Anita Blake books) take center stage.  Surprisingly, this novel is not all that graphic sexually.  For LKH, it’s quite well behaved!

I enjoyed the novel and read it fairly quickly (which you can tell if you look at the time between this post and the first Meredith Gentry book review I did).  I’ve given myself an ultimatum: slow down with the reading, or speed along but write reviews at the end of each novel before going on to the next one.  I have to write this review now so I can read #3 later tonight!! =D

You might also like…

If you’ve read A Caress of Twilight and liked it, you might check out the Cassandra Palmer series from Karen Chance and the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Merry’s adventure-style story and overall personality are closer to Cassie Palmer than to Anita Blake, but the detective work relationships with all the men resembles Anita Blake as well.  This series (so far) also reminds me of Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Chronicles by Charlaine Harris) in the earlier novels, before the politics started taking over the plotlines, albeit with a more cosmopolitan attitude about sex.

Memorable quotes:

Even magic can bleed…

The air became blood, and it was like trying to breathe underwater.  For a second I thought I would drown, then I was choking in air and trying to spit out blood at the same time.

Whew, talk about imagery!  If blood and gore aren’t your thing, you may want to avoid some of LKH’s novels.  The first half of the Anita Blake series, for example.  Having read through those books, this one is almost tame by comparison.  There’s really only one instance of that level of violence, and it’s not so bad.  I did want to give this warning though, because had I known what I was getting into with some of the AB books, I’d probably have passed.  I’m glad I didn’t (because I truly love the over-arching storyline), but I definitely would have skimmed a lot more often.  *wink*

Final thoughts:

The I’m-not-going-to-be-a-cliff-hanger story wrap-up at the end of the book is almost as tantalizing as a real cliff hanger ending!  Reading about what new abilities the characters have gained (because that’s pretty standard for LKH’s characters- they are constantly evolving) just makes me want to dive into the next book.  Laurell K. Hamilton gets a lot of criticism for the erotica she includes in some (ok, most) of her novels.  I applaud her for being willing to write what SHE wants and not caving to all the negativity.  Her scenes are honest and vibrant, and that’s not something you see in a lot of today’s romance.  So, bravo Ms. Hamilton!

Rating:
4.0 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://www.karenchance.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/


Review: A Kiss of Shadows (Meredith Gentry series novel #1) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Title: A Kiss of Shadows

Series: Meredith Gentry series – book #1
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Recommended reader age: 18+
Sexual content level: On the heavy side of moderate
Related authors: Karen Chance, Charlaine Harris, Jeaniene Frost
Similar series: Cassie Palmer, Dorina Basarab, Sookie Stackhouse

Premise:

Meredith Gentry is dark fae, ah, gentry… but she doesn’t want to be. Ok, she *wants* to be, but she doesn’t want to deal with the daily assassination attempts at the Unseelie Court. In hiding for 3 years, Merry has been working as a detective and avoiding being recognized as the world-famous “Princess Meredith” until a case gets personal and she’s finally exposed. Suddenly in a race for her life, the adventure begins. True to form, author Laurell K. Hamilton (LKH) gives us lots of men and danger with a sprinkling of humor.

Thoughts:

LKH makes memorable characters. The leads are strong, both in body and spirit, but they’re also flawed. I like that. When a story is written in first person, like all LKH books are, I need to be able to identify with the narrator, and Merry Gentry is enjoyable to read. She’s not as kick-ass as Anita Blake, but she’s also not as pious as Anita is in her earlier novels. Merry is quick-witted, temperate, determined, and able to defend herself without coming across as a female Rambo like Anita Blake (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I ❤ how Anita comes in guns blazing!). Add in a little magic, court intrigue, and the beginnings of a harem of baby daddies (yes, literally a harem), and this book sets the tone for a fun series to follow. I’m not as hooked as I have been on the more recent Anita Blake books or Jeaniene Frost’s Cat & Bones novels, but the Meredith Gentry series is definitely worth continuing.

Ok it’s Laurell K Hamilton, so I have to talk about the sex. There’s actually not as much of it as I expected, after speeding through all 19 Anita Blake books, and it’s not as explicit or continental. There are two-ish actual sex scenes, but the entire book is sprinkled with flirting and foreplay (some of it pretty damn close to counting as a scene). I LOVE how she puts all her male characters in crazy outfits and then makes them uncomfortable in them! I mean, if I had my guy wear leather and chains (which would take a lot of convincing on my part) and he was blasé about it, something would really be off about that. LKH seems to approach sex from a more realistic standpoint… well, as realistic as this type of novel gets anyway. She allows the characters fairly free reign of emotion, real emotions of vulnerability, shame, and even lack of confidence, and it makes the stories more personal and likeable even when things are happening that aren’t pleasant.

Another thing I like about the fairy setting of this book is that the main male characters don’t “die” at dawn. I really like Jean-Claude and Asher and the other vamps in the Blake series, but having them forced out of the stories at dawn drives me nuts sometimes! Here here to fairy stamina!  *wink*

You might also like…

If you’ve read A Kiss of Shadows and liked it, you might check out the Cassandra Palmer series from Karen Chance. To me, Merry’s adventure-style story and overall personality are closer to Cassie Palmer than to Anita Blake. This story also reminded me of Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Chronicles by Charlaine Harris) in the earlier novels, before the politics started taking over the plotlines, albeit with a more cosmopolitan attitude about sex.

Memorable quotes:

On tea parties and levitating tea cups…

The china saucer touched my hand, and I carefully uncurled my fingers and took it out of the air. It would have been easier to put my entire hand under the saucer to cradle it, but that was not ladylike. I’d learned to drink tea to rules of etiquette that were a hundred years or more out of date. The next dangerous point with a hot beverage being levitated is that when the person takes the levitation away, the cup gets heavier. Almost everyone sloshes a little tea over the side the first few times. No shame in it. I didn’t slosh any tea. Gran and I had our first tea party when I was five.

I love the little things like this that LKH adds to her stories. They give them credibility and make them feel more personal and real. Instead of trying to force the readers to superficially accept some stated law of her universe, she doles it out in little snippets of memory or matter-of-fact statements that are in context (to help you understand) but have no dedicated explanation.

Final thoughts:

LKH does not do cliff hangers, even as part of a longer series. Yay for an author that actually finishes a story while still allowing you to enjoy it in series! This is the first author I’ve read, aside from the most recent Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse novel, that does that, and I LOVE it!! ❤

Rating:
4.0 fangs: BITE IT!


Related links:

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/

http://www.karenchance.com/

http://www.charlaineharris.com/


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