Sunday, January 03, 2010

Recent Reads

Well, I'm hoping this is a good start to 2010. By January 2, I already had two books read. Mind you, I started them both in 2009 - but still it does look good on the spread sheet :)

Relentless by Lauren Dane

Why this one: I've been planning on reading this one ever since I read Undercover but I kept misplacing it. Finally I found it again and started reading

Steam Level: Yep - it throws one heck of a lot of steam all right!!

Blurb: Since the first settlers came through the portals from Earth, fifteen Families have held the rule of the Federated Universes in their hands. There’s never been a better time than now to throw out the old and usher in a new order. Give voice to the unranked. Abbie Haws has spent her life battling the system. A fighter, she’s always been too busy and driven to pay much attention to finding love. But when she’s granted audience with Roman Lyons, the head of House Lyons, who stands for everything she hates, her instant attraction catches Abbie off-guard…

It’s common knowledge that the Known Universe revolves around Ravena—and that Ravena revolves around Roman Lyons, bred to lead since birth. Roman dreads his meeting with a defiant—if stunning—rabble-rouser. But, sometimes, headstrong personalities in the conference room make for hot-and-heavy, guilty trysts in private….

Now, Abbie will show Roman the parts of her world he wouldn’t otherwise get to see. And he’ll give her a glimpse of the Families’ age old tradition and unleash a sexuality he’d never given rein to before.

My Thoughts: Hmmm - while this one didn't cause the 'blush' factor that Undercover did, it's still up there as one of the steamier reads I've ever read! But as I read along, I almost tried detaching the steam from the storyline and the story works very well just on it's own. I think the author deserves kudos for not sacrificing one for the other.

Abbie Haws is an amazing heroine. She is everything a reader wants in her heroine. Abbie is smart, she knows what she wants and goes after it. There isn't a single TSTL bone in her body. As her position as a barrister in the world of Ravena, she is also the voice for a group of unranked citizens who feel that the unranked should have a say in the governing of the 'Verse, rather than have all the power in the hands of the Ranked. She's not out to overthrow the government; what she is after is reasonable. She goes about this in a non-violent way, even coming into friction with her father who is much more of a rabble rouser. Abbie understands the issues involved from both sides. In her efforts to effect change, she runs into the hero, Roman Lyons.

Roman is also an incredible hero. He is pretty much the leader of Ravena and he takes his leadership seriously. He truly cares about the people even though he is far removed from the issues of the unranked. There is an immediate and strong attraction between he and Abbie, even though both know it can't go anywhere. As the head of a Ranked house, he can only marry someone from a Ranked family. A widower with two grown sons, he really isn't looking to marry anytime soon.

As hard as they both try though, neither Abbie or Roman can't deny their passion. And this is where the steam level rises way above boiling temperature!! And WOWZERS does it ever rise!! Both are very sensual people and the love scenes between them are Hawt. But as I was reading them, I was very impressed that the author didn't neglect the storyline at all. One of the few complaints I had about Undercover was the world building left a bit to be desired, but not so in Relentless. Ms. Dane did an excellent job in explaining this world. And another thing she did that impressed me was to keep the characters true all through the book. It came through loud and clear how much Roman respected Abbie and what she was after. A secondary plot had her using her skills as a barrister in defending the son of Roman's top aid. It was Roman who trusted her to successfully defend the young man.

Because of who they are, Roman and Abbie must keep their relationship a secret from those who are opposed to both Roman and Abbie. They both face those trying to defeat them. This is the conflict of the book and it was a very believable conflict. There were no big misunderstandings. There were some who commented after I blogged about Undercover that Relentless was even better and I agree with them.
I was very impressed overall with this book and eagerly look forward to Insatiable the next book in this series, coming out in July.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Knight of Desire by Margaret Mallory

Why this one: It was sitting there, calling me, and it has been a long time since I've read a medieval and figured it was time to read a book in a genre I really enjoy but haven't read enough of lately

Steam Level: I'd say this one is pretty darn hot



His surcoat still bloody from battle, William FitzAlan comes to claim the strategic borderlands granted to him by the king. One last prize awaits him at the castle gates: the lovely Lady Catherine Rayburn.


Catherine risked everything to spy for the crown. Her reward? Her lands are declared forfeit and she is given this choice: marry FitzAlan or be taken to the Tower. Catherine agrees to give her handsome new husband her body, but she’s keeping secrets and dares not give him her heart. As passion ignites and danger closes in, Catherine and William must learn to trust in each other to save their marriage, their land, and their very lives.

My Thoughts: This book had a lot going for it and a few things that unfortunately didn't work for me.
First off the things that worked! William first met Catherine in the prologue of the book and though it was a short meeting, it stayed with William for years. With the exception of a few things in the 'didn't work' category, William was a fine hero. One thing I really liked was he was one of those heroes who was wrecked for the heroine. While he didn't call it love for a while, he was really 'gone' for Catherine and I love me a hero who is 'gone' for the heroine. He was also quite patient with her and quick to see the error of his ways when he did something wrong. I also appreciated that about him.

Catherine was an equally well done heroine. Although stubborn and reluctant to really see what a good man William was, she had her reasons. She had endured a horrendous first marriage and was very slow to trust again. She was a bit stubborn at times for me, but she didn't fall into the TSTL category for me thank goodness.

Now what didn't work quite as well for me. As William was so 'gone' for Catherine, this manifested itself way to often for me into jealousy. This is a hot button for me and may not bother other readers the way it did me, but he was jealous of every man who entered her sphere. I don't care for jealous heroes and it is to the writers credit that even despite that I did like William. He was also rather thick when it came to Catherine. He refused to trust her and questioned her constantly. Like Catherine, I found this very annoying. She had proved to him her reasons for doing what she did, yet still at the slightest provcation he would question what she did and why she did it. He also trusted the wrong people. While Catherine wasn't a TSTL heroine, William had a few TSTL hero moments.

Grading this one is harder. I want to give it a higher grade since the writing is good and as a medieval it worked quite well, but my own personal feeling on William and some of his actions sadly cause me to keep it from a higher grade. I'm still looking forward though to reading more of Ms. Mallory's books so that's a good thing.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5


Leontine said...

Hi Krisite, first of all Happy New Year, may you have a healthy, happy and romantic 2010 :) I have read Relentless a while back but I also loved the mix of worldbuilding/romance/steam and great characters. Somehow I believe that with each book LD will broaden our horizon in this world ;) Insatiable is going to be the next novel in this series and it is one of my eagerly anticipated novels in 2010.

sula said...

Alright you got me curious. I like medievals and there seem to be so few of them. This one is available on paperbackswap, so I ordered it. heh. :)

Barbara said...

Hey Kristie! Happy New Year! I actually have both of these in my TBR and hope to get to them eventually. I am in love with Lauren Dane's other cover BTW. Yow!

Lori said...

Happy New Year, Kristie!

I absolutely loved Relentless. If I ever get around to doing a best of 2009 list, it's going on it.

I read the Mallory book as well, and enjoyed it, too. I agree that there were too many "f" ups in the trust department on William's part. But otherwise it was good.

orannia said...

Hey Kristie :) I would really like to read a Lauren Dane book, but I think I might start with Undercover :) I'll keep a glass of cold water handy while I read it *grin*

nath said...

LOL, 2 books already?!? That sounds great indeed :D

Lauren Dane is definitively an author I'm looking forward to discover this year :D Glad you enjoy her books :D

Leslie said...

If I had done a top 20 of 2009 Relentless would have been in there. :)

Knight of Desire is on the tbr pile. Don't know when I'll get to it but the cover is very pretty.

Kristie (J) said...

Leontine: I was so impressed with the balance in Relentless. She is an author who I bought a number of her books without having read her before so I'm doubly glad I've enjoyed the first two I have read *g*

Sula: *gulp* I hope you like it and your hot buttons aren't mine. 'Cause if they aren't, I think other readers will rate it higher than I did.

Barbara: Isn't it great? And the hero of that book was Abbie's brother in Relentless - a very intriguing character he was. Combine hawt book, good writing, believable world building and I think she has a winning series!! And you really do need to give these a read.

Lori: Now it seems like a long wait for the next one in this series :-( Oh well - I have other books by her and she does have others coming out :-) And I wanted to give Knight of Desire a higher grade as I think others will enjoy it more than I gave the grade of it for - but he was just too jealous for me.

Orannia: I'm not quite sure a glass will do it if you read Undercover. I think a bucket - a large bucket - might serve better - heh, heh, heh.

Nath: warning *g* They are hawt - very, very, very hawt. And she sure doesn't shy away from graphic dirty sex talk ;-)

Leslie: KOD is a gorgeous cover isn't it? I'm curious as to seeing what other readers think of it. And Relentless will be going on my top list for 2010. I love when I start off a new reading year with a winner!!