Tag Archives: romance

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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Comic Con 2011: True Blood S4 shower scene confirmed, season preview clip!

Fans attending this years Comic Con True Blood panel were treated to a generous gathering of the stars of everyone’s favorite vampire soap opera.  Traditionally, True Blood is  one of the few panels that routinely offers up such a large number of its cast for the Q&A session and this year was no different, with Alexander Skarsgard and Anna Paquin in attendance to spark questions about the possibility of fans finally getting to see the infamous “shower scene”.  To our collective overwhelmingly-excited-anticipation, the answer to that is (from Alan Ball)…

“There will be a moment in the show when Sookie and Eric are together in a shower,” he said. “It may not exactly be what happens in the books. It may be weirder… and dirtier. Maybe.”

When asked if Sookie has multiple personalities, referring to her upcoming change of attitude toward Eric and the show’s other vampires, Anna Paquin quipped…

“Part of her has really dirty vampire sex on a regular basis — with possibly multiple vampires.”

Eagle-eyed viewers noticed some wardrobe inconsistencies for Eric in the first episode of the season.  Not too many complains about the shirtless & shoeless hunk wandering the roadside near Sookie’s house (why missing just the shirt and shoes?  Eh, who cares!), but how does Sookie just happen to have a warm-up suit that will fit a 6’4″ Viking vampire?  Alexander Skarsgard suggested maybe it’s somehow one of Hoyt’s via Jason, but Alan Ball cleared the air on this one…

“I believe that if you took the Latin of the spell that was cast on Eric and were to translate it,” Ball explained, “there would be a part that said, ‘And by the way, you will lose your shirt, and then you will find a really dorky outfit that you will wear for several episodes in a row … and still be insanely hot in.'”

Of course, one of the best things about Comic Con is getting to see the preview clips of the upcoming films and television seasons.  Here’s the teaser trailer for what’s coming up in Season 4!

Wanna see the panel Q&A?  Check out the videos below!  (Courtesy of magicinthenumbers’s YouTube channel)

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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: 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: 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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Bones vs Kate Daniels smacktalk & a Jeaniene Frost ARC charity auction

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks (and hey, I’m guilty of that occasionally *wink*), you know about the recent devastating tornadoes in our southern states.  With so many families affected and in need of aid, Night Huntress series author Jeaniene Frost has put up a triple book pack for auction on her blog, and will match any winning bid up to $500.  The lucky winning bidder will make their donation directly to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and will then receive the following signed books in the mail…

Eagle-eyed Night Huntress fans will notice that One Grave at a Time is an ARC (advanced reader copy) since it will not be released until August 30th of this year.  Technically Magic Slays is also an ARC, but since it releases tomorrow (May 31st), the winning bidder won’t receive it until after it is publicly available.  Ms. Frost did state that there will be other opportunities to win an ARC of OGaaT on her blog, so don’t fret too much if you can’t beat the already-impressive high bid of $425.  If, however, you do have some extra cash to throw around or just REALLY want to get your hands on that new Cat & Bones book, head over to Jeaniene Frost’s blog and make your bid before 11:59 PM EST on Tuesday, May 31st (tomorrow!).  Be sure to read the rules before bidding.  Click here to check it out, and kudos to Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, and Meljean Brook for their generosity!

Speaking of Cat & Bones, if you’ve been following the Vampire Book Club’s 2011 Alpha Showdown, you know that poor Bones had to defeat the love of his life, Cat, in order to progress to the third tournament bracket… just to lose to Jace Wayland of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare (note to self: must check out book 1 of that series and find out who Jace is – he must be pretty awesome to have beat Bones!).  Kate Daniels won her round against Raphael of the Guild series by Nalini Singh (uh, how?! He’s an ARCHANGEL!  Seriously people…) and will now be facing off against Jericho Barrons of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning.  Speculation is dim for Kate to take that victory, and since Jeaniene and Ilona Andrews didn’t think their two characters would end up facing off, they engaged in a little smack talk instead.  From Ms. Frost’s blog, here’s the dialog between Bones and Kate. Enjoy!

Bones: I will beat you because am tough but inwardly vulnerable since I spent the last two hundred years whoring and killing to fill the emptiness inside.
Kate: I am tough but inwardly vulnerable, too! And I will kick your ass because I was born with a secret power that made me a loner, and don’t even get me started on my pent-up rage over my daddy issues.
Bones: Secret powers and daddy issues don’t scare me. You just described my wife.
Kate: Dude, I make spikes out of my blood.  Also I have a magic sword that eats vampire flesh.
Bones: So do I, and it’s in my pants. Haven’t you heard about Chapter 32?
Kate: What’s Chapter 32?
Bones: Ask Curran to show you.
Kate: What does any of this have to do with us fighting to the death?
Bones: It means I can launch a sneak attack from the front OR back!
Kate:  Oh, you want cheesy word play? Fine, I will defeat you with my overused phrases.  Why me, dear God, slabbed with muscle, Your Furriness, aha.
Bones: Bollocks, bloody hell,  luv, pet–
Kate: – You forgot Kitten.
Bones: –thrust deep, thrust deep, thrust deep –
Kate: More Chapter 32 again?
Bones: No, I have to do this in every book. Seems I shag as though I’m drilling for crude oil.
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