Friday, May 09, 2008

Drive-by reviews, monthly recap

Absolutely no gumption for full-length reviews of late. And it is NOT for lack of fabulous reads. Just busy.

In March and April, I managed to read a handful of titles that were aging on my TBR list. I think A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole lingered on my TBR list for two years. Another multi-year entry was Allison Brennan’s The Prey. Lisa Kleypas’ Mine Till Midnight languished for a year and a half and both Mine To Possess by Nalini Singh and Ice Storm by Anne Stuart came close to lapping this year’s follow-up releases.

The not-so-old releases included Virgin River by Robyn Carr—a book I saw on more than one best-of-2007 list—and Blue-eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas. Still, I am as far from the bleeding edge as I’ve ever been. LOL

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole – Wow. Just wow. There is an intensity in paranormal romance—in both characterization and circumstance—that I rarely find elsewhere. I can think of a few historicals that wield the same grip—Lord of Scoundrels, Dreaming of You, The Spymaster's Lady. Contemporary romance? Maybe one of Linda Howard’s darker books, like All The Queen’s Men, or an early Robb installment, back when Roarke’s need for Eve overpowered all else. In all of these titles, I found deeply compelling characters, men and women barely holding on to conscious choice in the face of overwhelming desire and need. Paranormals offer a wider selection of such characters obviously, because that formula picks fate over choice every chance it gets. But man, when an author gets it right, wow. Cole’s Lachlain is more a force than a being. Heroine aside, everyone else (particularly the reader) travels along in his wake. He definitely fell in the more-man-than-I-could-handle bin, but I enjoyed his magnetism nonetheless. Although not as intense, Emmaline was compelling in her own right. Cole did a fabulous job of balancing these two--giving us Lachlain’s pain right upfront while holding Emmaline’s story back. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Compelling, compelling, compelling. No other word fits like this one does. Loved it. Just finished No Rest For The Wicked and loved it just as much.

The Prey by Allison Brennan – Page-turner. More for its suspense elements than for its romance, but that is not a drawback for me. I really enjoy suspense. As my first Brennan book however, this was a close call. The set-up of the first brother as potential love interest, overshadowing him with his Delta Force brother, then killing him didn’t work for me. Took away from the story and left me wondering if Brennan was going to butcher her suspense tales with botched romance attempts. Having started The Hunt, I’m reasonably assured this won’t happen and look forward to more page-turning suspense in that smooth, economical writing style.

Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas – Early complaints that Kleypas pulled a bait-and-switch here—not giving Cam his pre-baited heroine Daisy—were responsible for my delay in reading this one. I think. At any rate, none of that mattered once I started reading. This was classic historical Kleypas, wholly captivating and very, very satisfying.

Mine To Possess by Nalini Singh – I love Singh’s Psy-Changeling books. No question. But this was the first one to grip me on page ONE. Literally, I was pulled under instantly. And no, before this, I hadn’t paid much attention to Clay. As a secondary in earlier books, he never really stood out to me. But man, Singh set his story up and hooked me before I could blink.

Ice Storm by Anne Stuart – Fabulous. There hasn’t been an entry in this series that I haven’t loved.

Virgin River by Robyn Carr – I don’t think I qualify as a true contemporary romance fan. I need suspense with my present-day romance and the inherent period confines/conflicts in my historical romances. Somehow, I’m rarely moved by stories of men and women just working it out as they go about their daily lives. Virgin River was good. But its remote setting, military-cum-mountain man and emotionally vulnerable heroine didn’t set off any sparks for me. They did hold my interest, but they didn’t involve me. Not sure whether I’ll continue on in the series. If I do, it will be for Carr’s clean prose and storytelling pace.

Blue-eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas – A disappointment. It lacked maturity and depth, IMO. And its first person narrative fell considerably short of pulling me headlong into the story. I think Kleypas handled the issue of spousal abuse with honesty and care, but those moments of real connection with her heroine (the story’s narrator) were short-lived—her short attention span and stereotyped relationships with family, friends and coworkers inevitably bounced me out of the story. I haven’t read Sugar Daddy. Should I?

I also read:

River Road by JoAnn Ross – Good romantic suspense—heavy on the romance. Not an author meticulously documented or tracked on my TBR list, but one I keep an eye out for at paperback swaps and UBS. I should probably step her up to my lists to ensure I get through her backlist and receive alerts to any new releases.

The Second Time Around by Marie Ferrarella – Contemporary and category. Definitely stepping outside of normal for me, but it was a unique, interesting and humor-filled read. I enjoyed myself, a lot. Thank you Anne for the rec!

Abandon by Carla Neggers – A completely random (romantic suspense) selection from my library’s paperback swap shelf. Excellent read and a new-to-me author I can begin tracking ruthlessly. LOL

Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich was good in the usual way—kind of like having lunch with girlfriends you haven’t seen in awhile.

Dangerous Games by Lora Leigh was what I expected it to be. I thought her August brothers series ground-breaking, but couldn’t get into her Breed series. Talking to Leigh fans, these are the two series to read. Unfortunately, the titles I’ve tried since Leigh’s move from Ellora’s Cave have all felt formulaic--sure, it’s Leigh’s formula, but still repetitive. This one was no different. Still, I enjoyed it for what it was. In the same month, I picked up Cheyenne McCrays’ Chosen Prey and Shiloh Walker’s Hunting The Hunter. DNFs, both of them.

And finally, I read Deadly Game by Christine Feehan. As I read it out of order, I was a bit lost—particularly at the beginning. But once on my way, I couldn’t put it down—not even long enough to go back to the beginning of the series and catch up. I’m doing that now. This is another paranormal series (Ghostwalkers) that I’ve heard mentioned over the last couple of years and wish now that I’d listened more carefully. Good stuff.


  1. I'm glad that you finally read a Ghostwalker book. I a huge fan of Christine Feehan and love what she's doing with this series!

  2. FIANLLY, someone else who didn't LOVE Blue-eyed Devil. I thought it was ok, but I didn't care for Haven very much. Every other review I've seen or person I talked to who read it loved it as much or more than Sugar, not so much.

    Glad you enjoyed the Ghostwalker, I can imagine it was hard to read out of order but hopefully you liked it enough to start at the beginning (Shadow was one of my favs).

    I loved the Robyn Carr series, but I love Contemps. I can't wait for more in the series!

  3. WOw, what a great monthly round up. I miss reading so much *sniff sniff*

    I have those Kleypas books in my TBR. I'll get to them soon enough, I hope.

    Of all the series books that Lora Leigh write, the August Brothers are my faourite. I liked the early Breeds... the ones she did in eform, however, her print breed books have not been up to par.

    I loved Virgin River. The last two book after it were not that great, imo. There was just too much happening and not enough time spent of the H/H of the books.

  4. As you knowe, I'm a huge JoAnn Ross fan. Glad you liked it :)

    I actually haven't read The Prey and The Hunt, but they are her first two books. Having read the next several, I can see Brennan's growth, so I'd suggest you stick with her. I've enjoyed her. She's not on par with some of the masters, but she's enjoyable.

    I read Virgin River and really liked it. Not loved, but liked it.

    Enough that if I find the others in a used pile, I'll definitely read them, but I won't go out of my way to get them, ya know?

    And I completely agree. I've been reading up a storm, but have no gumption to do reviews. I need to get off my ass and write up a few, even if they are drive-bys.

  5. Damn it. Now I have to do my recap. LOL

  6. Hi Ladies!

    Jessica and Mollie - Wonder why we don't hear much buzz about Feehan's Ghostwalkers here in blogland? Is it because it's been out there so long it fell from center stage to assumed auto-buy? Man, if I'd heard more consistent talk about it, I might have caught on sooner. :-) It is fun to be at the beginning now, with the whole series in front of me.

    Mollie - Was Sugar Daddy better in your opinion?

    Chantal - Thanks for the update on the follow ups to Virgin River. Still think I'll read them, but more in a when-I-get-around-to-it way.

    Lori - I didn't know you were a huge Ross fan, LOL. I'm happily going through her backlist and taking cues from Anne on which next to read. And, with my TBR list growing, I'm almost afraid to look at Brennan's backlist. Don't think I'll ever catch up with her or Karen Rose. With you on Virgin River.

    Off to read your recap Anne.

    Thanks again for commenting all!

  7. I'm so glad you love Cole's paranormal. I'm hooked on them. Ditto Nalini's Psy-Changeling series. Anne Stuart's Ice storm is up next in my TBR pile.

  8. I have not read Lora Leigh August brothers but I like her breeds so I will put this on my too read list

    It seems like I ALWAYS come into a series partway through. I caught the ghost walkers on the second book and had to retrace back to the first one too.

    Glad you liked it- thanks for the review

  9. Thanks to your review, I bought the paranormals by Kresley Cole. I, too, enjoyed them. I've also bought her historicals. In for a penny, in for a pound! LOL I liked Virgin River much more than you did. Loved the whole series. I was also disappointed in Blue-eyed Devil and probably won't read Sugar Daddy. Isn't is amazing that Singh just hasn't missed? Every book has been wonderful.

  10. I agree about Cole's paranormal. I am a huge fan for paranormal/romance novels. One that I would highly recommend would be Take Me There. It has a choose-your-own-sexual-adventure element. :)

  11. I totally agree on the Singh and the Cole books. Loved them!!!!

  12. Hi Ag - I'm lumping Cole's paranormals up there with Ward, Singh, etc. I wish I could do the same with Feehan--maybe I still can. But I went back and read the first one and it didn't ring for me like Deadly Game. Of course I read it during a very, very distracting week...could have had something to do with it.

    Hi Loraine - Hope you like Leigh's August brothers. They are different.

    Waving hi to Linda! Yup, on everything you said. LOL

  13. Ok Melissa, now you've piqued my interest. Off to check out this title.

    You're enjoying the Singh books Sarah? Cool! A convert. LOL


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