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.