Tag Archives: #1

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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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: Covet (The Fallen Angels series #1), by J.R. Ward

TLDR recap:

The greater forces of good and evil have tired of the game, and it’s all come down to this: one player, 7 deadly sins, and 7 pawns at a crossroads.  Winner takes all and everything depends on Jim Heron and the choices he helps influence. His first task? Unravel the mysteries surrounding entrepreneur Vin diPietro and “dancer” Marie-Terese Boudreau before it’s too late and everything literally goes to hell.

    • Title: Covet
    • Series: The Fallen Angel series – book #1
    • Author: J.R. Ward
    • Prominent Characters: Jim Heron, Vin diPietro, Marie-Terese Boudreau, Eddie Blackhawk, Adrian Vogel
    • Recommended reader age: 16+
    • Sexual content level: Light-to-Moderate (explicit)

Thoughts:

Being a ginourmous fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (by J.R. Ward), I expected a lot of this novel going in.  Probably not the smartest way to start off a book, but pretty unavoidable considering how larger-than-life the Brotherhood stories have become.  That said, I tried to keep in mind that this is a starter novel and, like Dark Lover, it’s probably going to be a little slower to allow for character/plot/setting development… and it was.  BDB fans will feel right at home in Caldwell, with locations like The Commodore and The Iron Mask.  There are also a few familiar faces, most notably Trez (one of Rev’s former Moor bodyguards), Marie-Terese (previously the head prostitute at Zero Sum), and Jose de la Cruz (Butch’s former homicide partner).

With part of the setup already done, Ms. Ward really only needed to introduce the new theme for the series and the players.  Here’s the deal: the big guy upstairs is apparently bored with the constant good vs. evil volley, and is ready to settle the score once and for all, literally.  Both sides will agree to a representative, then that person will help influence the decisions of 7 people at crossroads in their lives.  If the players choose the “good” path, the Angels score a point.  Likewise, if the players choose the “bad” path, the demons claim the point.  The score at the end of 7 turns decides the game.  I won’t go too much into who plays what roles or how things turn out, but I will admit I had a tough time getting into this one.

On the plus side, the somewhat extensive character development laid down in Covet helps set the scene for more of the closer-than-brother male friendships we’ve come to love so much in the BDB series.  Ms. Ward also holds back some details that readers will be eager to learn about, which I appreciate – why keep reading if all the secrets are spilled in the first one?!

The “primary couple” is really more secondary as a couple-unit than they are as individual characters on their own path to redemption.  Their relationship felt a little empty to me, and while I appreciated their connection to each other, I just couldn’t get into it like I’ve been able to with other pairings (kinda like how I felt so-so about Manny and Payne after all the ridiculously intense Brother pairings).  Yeah, there were a few steamy scenes and they were ok, but the book just didn’t hold that much of my attention.  I actually skipped through nearly an entire chapter near the end where the whole situation, which the reader learns at the start of the story, is re-explained to one of the main characters.

This book reminded me of The Devil’s Advocate (with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves), from the characters not being who they first appeared to the creepy demonic overtones to some of the action/investigation sequences.  It’s part thriller, part crime drama, and part horror, with a little romance on the side.

Memorable quotes:

The light at the end of the tunnel… is just a pep talk?

Coaches had to stay on the sidelines, but they could put different complements of players on the field with the human to influence things – and also call time-outs for pep talks.

If you like Covet of The Fallen Angels series…

If you enjoyed Covet, you may also like the first half of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  The first and second halves of that series are drastically different: the first half focuses on disturbingly explicit supernatural crime investigations and the second is a sex-fest with a little police work on the side.  Ms. Hamilton bases most of her crime scenes on true crimes, making the stories even more unnerving, and the first few books in the series should really be classified more as horror than as paranormal romance.

If you’re new to J.R. Ward’s work, then definitely check out the Black Dagger Brotherhood novels, starting with Dark Lover.

Final thoughts:

I won’t read this again, but it was a decent (if slow) starter novel.  I’ll check out the Crave before I decide whether or not to hop off the Fallen Angels train.

There’s something about the vampires in paranormal romance that makes them more romantic and less horrible.  They’re almost human and we can relate to them.  We know they probably won’t do unthinkable things… at least not without a reason.  That’s all out the window here: demons are capable of pure evil and the fright/creep factor is high.  There’s a reason I don’t watch horror movies or crime dramas like Criminal Minds.  Usually I have to force myself to stop reading at night in time to go to bed at a decent hour, but I willingly put this one aside for sleep and I was worried I’d have nightmares from it.  No, it wasn’t THAT rough, but I spook easily, so if you do too, either steer clear of this book or go into it knowing it’s going to get creepy.

Rating:
3.75 fangs: BITE IT… if you dare.

Related links:

http://www.jrward.com/ (Fallen Angel & Black Dagger Brotherhood sites)

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/ (Anita Blake)

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