For some reason or other I haven’t been reading as much as normal. It could be the fact that after three years, I got cable installed in my house and now I spend an inordinate amount of time watching Chopped and Iron Chef along with the odd sprinkling of Storage Wars, Parking Wars, Love It or List It, Dancing With the Stars, and others I’m too embarrassed to admit to. I’m beginning to remember why I decided against getting cable when I moved three years ago. Now that I’ve pretty much satiated my curiosity about what everyone seems to be watching all the time… and the fact that most shows are doing the “fall finale” thing … I’m back to reading and went on a bit of a e-book buying binge.
It seems that there is always a slew of new books released every month through BSB, Bella, and many of the other publishers and I’m finding it increasingly difficult to keep up on reading them – and in some cases increasingly disappointed when I make selections that are disappointing reads. So I figured I’d do a quick look at several new releases and give my first impressions.
This week’s reading was kind of a catch-all, running the gamut of speculative fiction, romance, uber, and erotica. At least I didn’t get stuck in a rut.
If you haven’t read the Garoul series, stop reading this review and start reading the books. Seriously. Silver Collar is the fourth book and I like the way that the series and McKnight’s style is evolving. There’s still a wonderful undercurrent of humour in this one, especially with some cameos from Hope and Jolie (and yes the damned dog), but also a darker more serious tone, similar to Indigo Moon. Luc, the villain from Indigo Moon, is on the run – but not making it far as the mysterious illness is sapping her strength and her rationale. She ends up trapped by a scientist who is intent on revealing the Garoul’s secret to the world in order to avenge her father’s death years ago. Luc and Emily are at odds though most of the book in a “who’s got who” kind of struggle. I was curious to see how McKnight would handle transforming the manipulative and amoral Luc from Indigo Moon into a hero of her own story. It works well – pitting her against Emily who has no problem standing up against her and pushing right back. There were a few “Really?” moments in the book, but McKnight is adept at mixing in a bit of absurdity and I found myself more than willing to suspend my disbelief, giggle a bit and eagerly move on with the story. This is definitely a strong addition to a great series and I’m looking forward to seeing more of all the characters she’s introduced so far.
Rad’s newest medical romance delivers what you would expect – hot doctors, emotional baggage, romance and HEA. Crossroads takes place in the Philadelphia and we get some cameos of characters from past books set here – Jett, Linda, Honor and Quinn. I have mixed feelings about having past characters make appearances in new books – there are fans of Honor and Quinn that love the chance to check in on their fave couple to make sure things are still going great; but, the scenes with Honor and Quinn detract from the budding romantic relationship between the protagonists.
The main characters are new – Hollis Monroe, the gorgeous and dedicated obstetrician who specializes in high risk pregnancy cases, and Annie Colfax, the lovely and wilful midwife who has some trust issues when it comes to doctors. There’s quite an obstacle for them to overcome early on and, refreshingly, they seemed to manage it like mature adults rather than wringing the angst out of it for half the book. This is a solid romance and it was nice to see the relationship build between the women rather than the instant soul mate attraction that sometimes rears its head in lesbian fiction. At the same time, Crossroads doesn’t deliver the same slow burn smolder that Fated Love or Turn Back Time did. I enjoyed this one more than the last few of Rad’s books – it had a believable plot and characters that were given time to develop – and I really do think she shines when she writes medical romances.
I just hope I never have to have surgery if I’m in Philadelphia, because none of the Doctors there ever get a good night’s sleep.
Love Match started out as online fiction and I will admit that it sold me on Ali Vali as a writer and got me to buy her early published works. With the published version of Love Match, Vali has made some changes – added a bit more exposition about both the characters and switched up a few things in the plot to give it a bit of a different flavour. It is still definitely an uber story and it managed to bring back all the things I loved about reading uber – the smart and sassy characters, snappy dialogue and a good dose of humour. There’s still some uber trope that irked me, but overall I quite enjoyed reading the more polished version and was quite happy that I took the plunge and bought this one.
When Parker King, a champion player both on and off the tennis courts, meets Sydney Parrish, a rather stern and serious commercial pilot, things get off on the wrong foot. Despite this, the sparks start to fly and Vali spends time developing both the characters and their growing romance. Sure, Parker is broody, rich and misunderstood and Sydney is spunky, stubborn and cautious to risk her heart again… but it’s a lesbian romance and its roots are uber. It works. There’s a few subplots conspiring to keep our lovers apart and injecting the requisite amount of danger and suspense. At times I kind of wish Vali skipped these and focused more on the developing romance. One expanded subplot didn’t sit well with me and I suspect that it was added and an extra justification but I found the additional POV distracting from the main story and it was a bit distasteful.
Is it just me, or is it rather hot in here? This is the second in the Rosso Lussaria series and I would strongly recommend that you read Darkness Embraced first or you may be a bit lost. This is a different kind of vampire series, breaking from the current norm of having the vampires living openly or at least among humans and sometimes other supernatural creatures. In this series, the Vampires are isolated in their Clans, with little to no communication with other groups and next to no integration with humans – very unlike her Kassandra Lyall
series. I found both books in this series (and the Kassandra Lyall series) to be thoroughly enjoyable thanks to Pennington’s writing style and the characters.
Summoning Shadows picks up shortly after Darkness Embraced, with another attack on the Clan. Epiphany, Renata and Iliaria, after a good long roll in the hay, set out to forge alliances in order to protect the Rosso Lussaria and other vampires from the rogue Dracule who seems intent on destroying them all. It was nice to see the characters leave the Sotto – one of my main complaints with the first book is that it all took place in the underground home of the Rosso Lussaria and there was little interaction with anyone or thing outside that rather insular world. The second book expands the world and we get lots more action and world building – and I’m quite fascinated with the Dracule and Azrael. The characters are more than engaging – even the ones you aren’t supposed to like – and as the main character, Epiphany’s confidence in herself as well as her own powers is further developed.
This is a book that I would classify as bordering on erotica – there is a fair bit of very hot and heavy sex in it and a bit of kink. If that interests you, definitely pick this one up. If it doesn’t, you may want to give it a try because Pennington’s writing is strong enough to keep a good balance so that the sex doesn’t overwhelm the plot and her characters are compelling. Just don’t read it on the bus.
** All these books are available in e-book format through www.boldstrokesbooks.com and www.bellabooks.com. Kindle books are released a few weeks after the paperbacks come out.**