Category Archives: Paranormal Romance

Red Glove

Black, Holly. White Cat (2011).  325 Pages. Margaret K. McElderry. $17.99

The Curse Workers | Book Two

Please be aware that because this is the second book in a series, there may be spoilers for the first book, White Cat. Proceed with caution.

Also included in this post, my opinion on “Lila Zacharov in 13 Pieces,” which was a teaser to bridge the gap between White Cat and Red Glove. (I loved it.)

From Goodreads

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

First Lines

I don’t know whether it’s day or night when the girl gets up to leave. Her minnow silver dress swishes against the tops of her thighs like Christmas tinsel as she opens the hotel door.

I struggle to remember her name.

“So you’ll tell your father at the consulate about me?” Her lipstick is smeared across her cheek. I should tell her to fix it, but my self-loathing is so great that I hate her along with myself.

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Seduced by the Wolf

Spear, Terry. Seduced by the Wolf (2010). 416 Pages*. Sourcebooks Casablanca. $7.99*

Heart of the Wolf: Book Five**

From Goodreads

Cassie Roux is a wolf biologist who has studied real wolves for years, trying to prove to the world they’re not the evil predators so many people believe them to be. A red lupus garou, who lost her pack and was raised by real wolves, she has dedicated her life to their preservation. Now for the first time, she discovers a female wolf, her mate dead, and the pups and the mother in real danger, and Cassie does everything she can think of to protect them. Until she runs into one stubborn alpha pack leader—werewolf kind—who has other plans for her.

Leidolf Wildhaven is a red lupus garou pack leader of Portland, Oregon and has more troubles than he ever thought possible what with running a pack, a ranch and other businesses, dealing with a couple of cantankerous new lupus garous, and a myriad of other problems when a little red wolf of the lupus garou variety is spotted in his territory. She’d be perfect as his mate, if she agreed. Only the headstrong woman has other priorities, saving real wolves from extinction, when he’s more worried about his own kind’s extinction and winning her heart.

First Lines

Except for a couple of cars parked outside the town hall, the lot was empty, and it appeared the wolf biologist speaking here tonight wouldn’t have much of an audience to lecture to.

The Oregon air surrounding him felt damp and cool, not like the drier, much sunnier weather Leidolf Wildhaven had left behind in Colorado. He kept telling himself he’d get used to it.

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Zombies vs Unicorns (Anthology)

Black, Holly & Justine Larbalestier (ed) Zombies Vs Unicorns (2010). 415 Pages. Simon & Schuster. $16.99

The thing which actually made me want to read this anthology was Diana Peterfreund’s addition “The Care and Feeding of your Baby Killer Unicorn,” which is set in the same universe as Rampant. However, I am glad I took the time to read this, since I enjoyed almost every story in the book (at least on some level.)

The offerings are mixed, but are all labeled as either “Team Zombie” or “Team Unicorn,” with only one (I think) that has both zombies and unicorns. Additionally, the top corners of the pages are also marked by either a Zombie or Unicorn logo, making quick-scans for specific stories easy. A few of them were sweet, one or two romantic, and a couple actually bleak. I’m glad I took the time to read this, though.

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Sorcery & Cecelia

Wrede, Patricia C & Stevermer, Caroline. Sorcery and Cecelia (2003 ed.) 316 Pages. Harcourt. $17.00

The full title is, of course: Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: being the correspondence of two Young Ladies of Quality regarding various Magical Scandals in London and the Country, which I absolutely think was a brilliant choice considering their setting, and the tone of the work as a whole.

From the Back Cover

There is a great deal happening in London this Season.

For starters, there’s the witch who tried to poison Kate at the Royal College of Wizards. (Since when does hot chocolate burn a hole straight through one’s dress?!)

Then there’s the strange spell that’s made Dorothea the toast of the town. (Could it possibly have something to do with the charm-bag under Oliver’s bed?)

And speaking of Oliver, just how long can Cecelia and Kate make excuses for him. Ever since he was turned into a tree he hasn’t bothered to tell anyone where he is!

Clearly, magic is a deadly and dangerous business. And the girls might be in fear for their lives.. if only they weren’t having so much fun!

First Lines

8 April 1817

Rushton Manor, Essex

Dearest Kate

It is dreadfully flat here since you have been gone, and it only makes it worse to imagine all the things I shall be missing. I wish Aunt Elizabeth were not so set against my having a Season this year. She is still annoyed about the incident with the goat, and says that to let the pair of us loose on London would ruin us both for good, and spoil Georgy’s chances into the bargain.

Thoughts

Apparently, Wrede and Stevermer decided to play “the Letter Game,” which started out as a bit of fun, and turned into something which could actually qualify as a book. They cleaned it up a bit, fixed up some bad storylines, and bits that led nowhere, and got it published (originally in 1988). Despite its humble origins as a fun writing exercise, it became quite an entertaining mystery.

Cecelia and Kate are fascinating characters, cousins who are very close, and who were upset to learn that they would not be debuting together. Unfortunately, because of the “goat incident,” Cecelia was left behind. (Kate’s younger sister Georgina could not debut before her, so Kate was taken to London.)

There’s a lot going on here; Kate and Cecy have had unfortunate encounters with wicked wizards, and they know that something is afoot, if only they could figure out what. It’s fascinating to watch them work it out, as they drag you further and further into their contemplation of the mess.

It’s a fun story, with a hint of Austenesque humor, and a solidly built regency setting. It’s fascinating to see what changes the addition of magic makes to the society of the times.

I was in high school when I first attempted to read this; Sorcery and Cecelia had just been re-released in paperback format, and knowing how much I loved Patricia C Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles and Caught in Crystal, I opted to pick up this book as well. I wasn’t ready for it then, as I lacked the familiarity with and appreciation for Austen or regency settings. I’ve since discovered a love for both, so I decided that it was high time to try reading this book again. (I’m glad I did.) There were a few times when I was genuinely laughing, moments of true puzzlement, and occasional distress as I wondered what was going to happen next.

This volume gets a 5 of 5, for being clever and fun without being too young, or stupid.

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The Dead Girls’ Dance

Caine, Rachel. The Dead Girls’ Dance (2007). 238 Pages. Penguin. $6.99

The Morganville Vampires: Volume 2

From the Back Cover

Claire Danvers has her share of challenges– like being a genius in a school that favors beauty over brains, dealing with the homicidal girls in her dorm, and above all, finding out that her college town is overrun with vampires. On the up side, she has a great roommate (who tends to disappear at sunup) and a new boyfriend named Shane… whose vampire-hunting dad has called in backup: cycle punks who like the idea of killing just about anything.

Now a fraternity is throwing its annual Dead Girls’ Dance and– surprise!– Claire and her equally outcast best friend, Eve, have been invited. When they find out why, all hell is going to break loose. Because this time both the living and the dead are coming out– and everybody’s hungry for blood.

First Lines

It didn’t happen, Claire told herself. It’s a bad dream, just another bad dream. You’ll wake up and it’ll be gone like fog…

Thoughts

I was warned that book 1 was a cliffhanger, so I had book 2 at hand to continue. I would advise doing the same, should you choose to read it.

The story definitely shifts a bit from volume 1 to volume 2. There is some major violence, and quite a bit of angst and drama in this volume, which works well, considering the storyline. Things start to get more involved, and the end result is a story which keeps drawing you in, making you want to know even more than Glass Houses told.

Things are complicated by the fact that the vampires aren’t very happy with the residents of Glass House. None of them are safe, and it’s a difficult thing to read about. There aren’t any strong females, and none of them rise to the challenge. There is a moment of potential gang-rape, and I was unimpressed by the character’s inability to help herself at all.

There is a complete story arc here, but it’s clear that there is much, much more to come.

It gets a 3 of 5.

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Kiss Me Deadly (Anthology) Part 2

Telep, Trisha (Editor). Kiss Me Deadly (2010). 430 Pages. RunningPress. $9.95

Review: Part 2 (Part 1, Part 3)

Because I have so very much to say about all of the stories in this anthology, I’ve opted to break it into parts. You can find Part 1 here, though, in short, I’ll say that Diana Peterfreund’s “Errant” is excellent. I’ve been slowly enjoying the next few stories, and I figure four is enough for another post. I hadn’t heard of any of these authors before reading this anthology, but I’ll be finding more works by a few of them after this.

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Shiver

Stiefvater, Maggie. Shiver (2009). 390 Pages. Scholastic. $9.99

Despite reading about this book in many blogs, and having several friends recommend it, I didn’t pick this book up for a long time. In fact, it took until I was standing in Borders, staring at it (and Linger) on the shelf before me for me to pick it up. When I flipped through a few pages, and noticed that the text was blue, and the paper a true white, I was sold.

I find unusual bindings, or printings, to be completely fascinating. I love when authors and publishers work outside of the box a little bit, and play with a well-established medium. (Within reason– it still has to be readable.) That is part of why I love Alice in Wonderland– things like the Mouse’s Tail, and other such playful printing.

I was hopeful, especially since I had just read Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Hounds of Ulster” in Kiss Me Deadly and had enjoyed it. She manages to use pretty language without going over the top, and it feels like she does get teenage emotions.

Anyway, Shiver is about Grace and Sam, and what happens when they are finally together. Grace has been obsessed with wolf!Sam since he saved her from a wolf attack. Sam has been obsessed with Grace since the same day. But they could not be together– he was a wolf, and she was a human. When he was human (in the summer) he could not find her because he did not know who she was, and because he could not reveal that he was her wolf. So Grace and Sam love each other from afar.

The story is set in motion by a wolf attack; a local high schooler is killed, and his father has enough money to get the town motivated to exterminate the menace. Grace is distraught, and rushes out to the woods to try to save the wolves she has grown to love. Except that she does not really succeed in doing anything. She is escorted home, which is where she finds Sam, naked, and wounded, curled up on her back porch.

It does not take very long for Grace to figure out that this is her wolf– Sam. His grasp on his humanity is tenuous at best, because the wolf-change is caused by cold, and it is wintertime in Minnesota. Grace and Sam cling to each other, desperate to spend every moment together until he loses his ability to stay human. Sam knows that this is his last winter, that when spring comes, he will not be human again, and he wants to spend as much time as  he can with Grace.

Things cannot be that simple though, and there is a lot more going on. Grace’s parents are self-absorbed and negligent. Grace’s friends and classmates are difficult. And there are two very, very dangerous wolves in the woods. Sam has to deal with feelings of ineffectiveness, because when human, he lacks many of his wolf strengths, and Grace finishes growing up, and even calls her mother on her neglect at one point.

I had some reservations– boy and girl are in love but cannot be together. Boy and Girl are different, girl is human, boy is werewolf. Boy and Girl sleep in the same bed, but do not give in to hormones and have sex… for a while*. Boy and Girl are a little obsessed with each other. I mean, a lot of this sounds like Twilight, and in a weird way, it is similar. The overall obsessive tone was a lot less disturbing here, in part because there was a sort of explanation– he’d saved her life.

In Conclusion:

The writing grabbed me; it was fluid, lovely, poignant. Their love was the center of everything, and it was interesting seeing it grow from a distant love to a real, I’ll do anything for you sort of love. I feel like the emotions in the book could have been too advanced for high schoolers, except that neither of them were truly their age. Grace and Sam had both had to grow up far too fast, and had a lot more maturity than other kids their age, and that worked. It could have been obsessive, and a bit creepy– there was a fine line, and I feel like it managed to stay on the good side. This book scores a 5/5, because it manages to be all about Sam and Grace, without being just Sam and Grace.

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* They give in on P. 294, but it’s one of those quiet “we got naked and then… CUT” sorts of scenes that seems to flourish in Y.A. fiction. I think if I suddenly had a gorgeous guy that I had loved for six years in my bed, we would not wait weeks. But that’s just me.

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Soulless

Carriger, Gail. Soulless (2009). 357 Pages. Orbit. $7.99

The Parasol Protectorate: Book 1

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, he’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquitte.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire– and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart? ( From the Back Cover)

There’s a lot going on in my brain right now, largely because of this book, which I really enjoyed reading. On the one hand, I hate you– those of you who reviewed Soulless and made it sound so very appealing, so I had to start reading it, which then led to me staying up all night reading it because I just could not put it down– and on the other hand, I wonder how you guys felt about some of the issues brought up by The Book Smugglers when they reviewed it.

“It’s an awful lot like Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody.” (among other issues) which could very well be the case, and which I could perhaps agree with, if I’d ever read the series in question. Coincidentally, I have several Elizabeth Peters books sitting here– I was digging through boxes and boxes of books which my grandmother gave me last time I went to visit. The vast majority are mystery/suspense/thriller, which is not my genre of choice, so they’ve sat, largely untouched, since she gave them to me. I was going through them, trying to ascertain exactly what I had in the boxes, so we could deal with them appropriately. ( My mom and I intend to go through them and figure out which ones we each want to read, and which ones neither of us are interested in, so we can donate/sell those that we are not interested in.) So perhaps my next read will be one of those Elizabeth Peters books.

Disconcerting similarities to already-published works aside, I’m pretty sure I really liked Soulless. I didn’t notice any of the issues which so perturbed the ladies at The Book Smugglers, but perhaps that is because I had no trouble suspending my disbelief, and had no experience with similar characters. Despite the (inappropriate) Fantasy/Horror genre tag which my copy sports, it was definitely supernatural/paranormal period romance. I was expecting that, so it didn’t throw me too badly. I also really enjoyed the characters, their banter, the way it was so clear they did care about each other, even though they didn’t really know it yet.

Lord Akeldama annoyed the hell out of me. (From page 46:)

He minced into the room, teetering about on three-inch heels with ruby and gold buckles. “My darling, darling Alexia.” Lord Akeldama had adopted use of her given name within minutes of their first meeting. He had said that he just knew they would be friends, and there was no point in prevaricating. “Darling!” He also seemed to speak predominantly in italics. “How perfectly, deliciously, delightful of you to invite me to dinner. Darling.”

Gee, wonder what his sexual orientation might be? I mean, he takes more badass out of vampire than sparkling in the sun did. Ugh. I don’t have a problem with gay characters, but I do have a problem with inexplicably flamboyant, annoying characters who are described as speaking in italics. Ugh.

That aside, I think Alexia was an interesting character, to a point. She was a little too inclined to lean on being half-Italian* as an excuse for well, being blunt. What I loved was the whole idea of a preternatural, set in Victorian England. I wish this had gotten a bit more page-time, because it was perhaps the most unique and outstanding thing about the entire book, and it really got glossed over. She’s soulless– enough so that the book is titled Soulless– and per a few early comments, this has a lot to do with her ability to relate to other humans, and her grasp of emotions, but she has absolutely no problems with lust or “love.”

In Conclusion:

I’m pretty sure I liked this book. I mean, I started reading it at about 10pm, and could not put it down until 4am. That is a very good sign in a book, being that involved in it. It gets a 4.5/5 because it wasn’t until well after I was done reading that I began to even think about the flaws (which is a good sign.)

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* No love from me here. I’m basically 50% Irish, 50% Italian. Acting like that’s a handicap? Not cool.

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You Suck: A Love Story

Moore, Christopher. You Suck: A Love Story (2008) 352 Pages. Harper Collins. $13.99

Sequel To: Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story (1995)

As I have said previously: I am not allowed to read Christopher Moore in public. It has become increasingly obvious to me that I should also avoid reading Christopher Moore at work. When you’re sitting awkwardly in the corner of the break-room giggling to yourself, coworkers tend to ask questions like: “What are you reading?” Sometimes, that’s not a problem, but there are times when I just want to read, and do not want to be asked. (Nor do I want people leaning and moving to where they can read the cover without asking, because that is somehow more annoying).

Anyhow, because this is a sequel, my review will likely contain at least a few spoilers for the first book. (Though I will try to keep a lid on any spoilers for the book at hand.) Proceed at  your own risk…

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Kiss Me Deadly (Anthology) Part 1

Telep, Trisha (Editor). Kiss Me Deadly (2010). 430 Pages. RunningPress. $9.95

Review: Part 1 (Part 2, Part 3)

This was a definite impulse grab. I was at Borders, looking for a specific book, though at the moment I can no longer remember which book I sought. I don’t think I remembered what I was looking for then, either. When I walk into a building which contains more than a few books, I tend to get a little sidetracked. So I was staring at the Y.A. Paranormal section, feeling a little concerned for the sheer quantity of Twilight-knockoffs — we all know them, they’re the generic vampire romance that has exploded since sparkly vampires were first published — and my eye fell upon Kiss Me Deadly. I had a moment of oh dear, not another, but I’m such a fan of anthologies as a way to sample new authors that I couldn’t help picking it up.

I know it wasn’t an author’s name that grabbed me, because I have to admit that I do not know a single author from this volume. (Though I did also grab Shiver while I was there, because as a fan of romance, paranormal, and young adult, it seemed like a reasonable combo.)I think it was the Editor’s Note which opened the volume which got my attention;

Love in the time of… Zombies?

Somehow, that just doesn’t have the classic ring of Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s famous novel Love in the Time of Cholera* …  my bet, after titles like Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter**, is that this is likely in some publisher’s pipeline somewhere, probably slated for publication next year, or the year after that. (Intro)

Anyway, in a sort of gimmick-y “paranormal = horror” way, there are 13 stories in this volume. Because I do intend to talk at least a little bit about each of them, I’m going to cut this into several posts.

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