Queen of Shadows by Dianne Sylvan
Why this one: To be honest, I don't know what made me pull this one out of the TBR pile. I don't even remember where it came from though I'm guessing at one of the conferences I went to last year as it doesn't seem to be one I'd normally buy.
Steam Level: Warm, though that was a pleasant surprise since it's listed as Urban Fantasy on the side - though I listed it as Vampire in my spread sheet
Blurb: Spread throughout the dark corners of our world lies the Shadow World, a society of vampires who feed off the living. In Austin, Texas, one woman's madness will drive her into a world that few people ever see - or even know exists.....
Shortly after she picked up a guitar, Miranda Grey conquered the Austin music scene with a new found ability to physically manipulate her audience's emotions. But as her powers outgrow her control, her mind is increasingly invaded by haunting secrets and overwhelming sadness. Unable to look anyone in the eye, Miranda's fast approaching the edge of insanity - with no one to catch her fall.
When he outlawed killing humans, David Solomon, Prime of the South, ignited a civil war among Austin's vampires. His sympathy for mortals angers the old guard who refuse to control their violent urges. David has his hands full with the growing insurgency, but he takes in a broken-down woman, a musician in need of supernatural guidance. He doesn't know that Miranda Grey has the power to change his world as well....
My Thoughts: As I went into this one one a whim really, I didn't have the same kind of expectations that I would have if it was an author I'd read and enjoyed before, or if there had been a lot of on line buzz. I went into it blind - readingly speaking. So it was a delightful surprise to discover how much I was enjoying this book as it went along.
Miranda Grey, our heroine, was a mess. As the blurb says, she was barely coping and was on the verge of total collapse at the beginning of the book due to her ability to read the thoughts and feelings of those around her with no way to turn it off. She was defeated and the only thing keeping her going was her music and her gig as a singer at a small bar. Her life changes though, when one night on her way home she is viciously attacked and raped. This event acts a kind of a catalyst and she releases her rage, along with some pretty powerful abilities she wasn't aware she had. But she's still left in pieces at the end until she is rescued by our hero David Solomon.
Now I've gone on the record as not being too fond on the whole of vampire heroes, but there have been exceptions and David Solomon is certainly a wonderful example of those exceptions. Although he is the Prime - the leader - and ruthless when it comes to enforcing the rules he set in place when he took over as Prime; rules that include making sure humans aren't killed and butchered like the way they were under the old regime, he has a tenderness in him. He does what he has to do, but it hurts him that he does. And this tender side is really brought out when he rescues Miranda and works on showing her how she can shield and ground herself. Through their interactions with each other, David and Miranda slowly begin to have deep feelings for each other. But he's a vampire and, well, she isn't.
Both characters are standouts in this book. I love that Miranda grew in strength throughout the story. She starts out as this broken character and slowly emerges as a strong, forceful woman who makes a good mate for David. And David is an equally fascinating character. Although he's a vampire, he's also a computer geek and are a number of times I smiled at this geeky, tender, alpha vampire.
All in all, I was more than pleased with this book and if you're a fan of vampire series, readers who are, should check out this books with it's strong and compelling hero and heroine
Grade: 4.75 out of 5
A Little Texas by Liz Talley
Why this one: Again I'm not sure what made me pick this one up. I got it at the same time I bought the latest Karina Bliss book. I've never tried this author and I haven't read any reviews on this book so again, I was testing new waters.
Steam Level: Though it takes a while, once it gets into the steam, it's very warm in the room.
Blurb: Growing up in Oak Stand Texas, gave Kate Newman all the Texas she'd ever want. Her bold personality is better suited to a city that never sleeps. So coming back to take care of unfinished business is like squeezing into last decade's jeans. A bad idea all around. Her only diversion is Rick Mendez. Enigmatic and irresistible, he's got a heart as wild as her own.
They're so good together, Kate dares to peek beyond the end of her stay. But what are the odds for a guy with deep roots in the same soil a girl can't wash off fast enough? Seems more likely that when Kate heads for the bright lights, a little piece of her will be left behind.
My Thoughts: This was another book that I was quite pleased that I took a chance on. I've really been enjoying this line by Harlequin and this is another reason why.
Kate owns a business in Vegas that's in trouble. Desperate for money, she decides to blackmail the man who fathered her, but refused to acknowledge her. She figures he owes her something, if only child alimony from when she was dirt poor, living in a trailer park and being raised by her grandmother. But her plan backfires when her father demands that in exchange for the money she needs, she spend at least two weeks with he and his wife. He's had a narrow brush with death and he wants to make amends to those he has hurt and number one is his illegitimate daughter. He sends Rick Mendez after her. Rick was a good friend of Kate's legitimate brother, a young man who died to early. Rick is also depending on Kate's father Justus Mitchell to help him with a program he is setting up to help former gang members start a new life. Rick himself is a former gang member who changed his life around and wants to help others do the same.
The attraction between Rick and Kate is flammable, but one of the ways Rick has changed in no more one night stands and that's all it would be with Kate as she has every intention of returning to her old life once she does her penance.
Kate is a somewhat bitter heroine. I didn't mind that for the most part though as she's certainly had a rough go of it. She did get a tiny bit tiresome in her bitterness as she seems to have quite a few friends and supporters in Oak Stand. But I know as adults things are often different than they way they seemed as children and sometimes we still see things through our inner childs eyes so all in all I understood why Kate acted as she did.
And whatever I may have found frustrating in Kate is balanced out by Rick our hero. He's a yummers, that's for sure. It's different reading a story where the heroine is the one in pursuit and the hero is the one holding off for a more meaningful relationship so I found it rather refreshing *g*. I'm not sure how realistic it was, but it was atypical of most romances. This one is actually the third book in a series and after finishing this one, I went and purchased the first two as ebooks I enjoyed it that much.
Grade: 4 out of 5
Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelly
Why this one: Well (yep, long story coming up) first off I read a review that Wendy did and her review intrigued me enough to want to try it.
(OK - I just checked Wendy's reviews to link and it seems it wasn't at her place I read the review. So if someone else did this book, let me know who you are so I can link and give you a big thank you)
Anyway - continuing on with the long story.... I wanted to get the previous books by Liz Talley, I compared prices at EHarlequin and Chapters. EHarlequins prices were better so I bought them there. And then spent the next half hour or longer trying to figure out how to get the darned things loaded onto the Kobo - with no luck. The older I get, the more....shall we say child-like my little tantrums can get. I emailed Harlequin and asked them if I could get a refund since no matter what I tried I couldn't get the darned things over. So, with frustration boiling over, I then went to Carina Press to see if it was me or if it was Harlequin. Sweet as Sin had been sitting in my cart ever since I read the review not at Wendy's. I added a couple more and bought them. And tada!!! I got them over to my Kobo with no problem. And as a footnote, I heard back from Harlequin and they very graciously are refunding me for the two Talley books I couldn't get loaded and so I will still get them - only with less stress from Chapters *g*.
Steam Level: Oh Mercy yes! And yes and yes!!
It was really driving me mad as to where I read a review and I couldn't let it go. Thankfully I found out where and no temper tantrum ensued. I read the review at Mandi's Smexy Books!
John Murphy is tormented by nightmares. A bestselling young-adult author, he writes the ultimate fantasy: stories where good always triumphs. He knows better. His past has shown him the worst in people—and in himself. When he moves next door to the sexy, vibrant Livvy—a woman completely unlike his usual one-night stands—he's driven to explore every curve of her delicious body.
Pastry chef Livvy knows that giving in to the temptation that is John Murphy won't lead to anything permanent, but she deserves a passionate summer fling. John discovers she's as sweet as the confections she bakes while Livvy slowly unravels his secrets. But what will happen when she uncovers them all?
My Thoughts: Right off the bat -I said it earlier and I'll say it again - THANK YOU MANDI! I LOVED this book. I started reading it late last night. I reluctantly put it down and picked it up again today. I read it at the doctors office. I had to renew some prescriptions so after dropping them off, I read it in the food court while I waited. I read and I read and I read. I glanced up ever so often and there were 3 different groups of people at the table nearest me that came and went while I was absorbed in this book. I simply couldn't turn it off.
John Murphy has just moved into the neighbourhood when a sexy lace bra that blew off the line ends up on his side of the fence. He returns it and is smitten with it's owner, bake store owner and pastry chef Livy. They are instantly drawn to each other, but Livy is reluctant to get involved with John or Murphy as she calls him to avoid the Grease name similarities. He comes across as the typical 'bad boy' and that's not the kind of guy she wants to get involved with. But as they get to know each other, her attraction to Murphy can't be denied.
I loved both these two characters. In some ways, although completely different, it reminded me a bit of Broken Wing by Judith James. I think many of you may remember the kind of love I have for that book *g*. In this book, as with Broken Wing, Murphy is broken almost beyond repair. He has suffered horrible, horrible abuse when he was young and that abuse has messed him up big time. Although it wasn't the sexual abuse that Gabriel suffered, it still completely warped how Murphy saw himself. He spent years protecting his younger sister from the monster that raised them. Once Livy begins to get a sense of what Murphy is hiding and what he has suffered, she is determined that nothing he does will drive her away.
Murphy, for his part, is heartbreakingly afraid to believe in love. For every little part of his heart he lets Livy into, he keeps her out of another. At one point in the latter part of the book, he really goes for the jugular in order to drive Livy away and if we, the reader, didn't already have our hearts broken by what he has gone through and if we didn't see how much pain he was in, it might be hard to forgive him. But because we do, we only want what he needs and that's Livy.
One of the fascinating parts of this book is the stories that John writes. Because he dealt with monsters as a child, he has made those monsters work for him in his professional life. He's a writer of YA fiction; a series about monsters and Inez Kelly also parallels the story of John and Olivia along with the latest book that John is writing and it's almost as interesting.
This is a book that will have me thinking of it long after I finished and that's the mark of a Real Good Book for me!
Grade: 5 out of 5