31 May 2009

Column: Monthly Overview @ Leontine's Book Realm

Monthly overview MAY

My sis has turned 31 years young and I spent the weekend with friends; Pearl and Dream-Mistress to celebrate the occasion. It was a hoot and we went to the movie Angels & Demons, more about this movie in THIS post.

Talk about movies, last night I watched Brokeback Mountain, it was just as gripping as the first time I watched it and tissues were needed in the end. The portrayal of two men who each express their love for each other in their own way is beautifully showcased in this film. The fear of a gay relationship with the dire consequences of prejudice in the sixties is evident and what makes the end so fraught with emotions. Bittersweet is the knowledge of Heath Ledger, whose stunning performance shaped this film, is no longer among us. I haven’t been a longtime reader of M/M Erotica or Romance but I think the fascination started when I watched this movie for the first time…

Earlier this month I added a poll to my side bar and asked my visitors which author I should acquaint myself with and the historical genre is not willingly letting me go; Karin Tabke with Master Of Surrender is the first book I will read from this author. I will let you know how this experience turned out *wink*

Interviews:

I also had a generous month in reviewing, not only could I add a few ROOB ARC reviews to my Blog but various authors like Lorelei James, Jennifer Ashley, Anne Bishop and J.R. Ward were all consumed by me. I’d like to mention the wonderful interview ROOB did with Lorelei James last month. You can find it HERE.



We have recently added another spectacular interview to the ROOB; Author, up close and personal section, with Rona Sharon revealing all about her Royal Blood novel and we entered:

~Michael’s secret chamber ~
~The Viper's Cabin ~
~Lord Ashby's Townhouse ~


I had a blast reading this interview and loved the excerpts, characters profiles and comprehensive answers of this wonderful author. I still have to read Royal Blood but thanks to Dream-Mistress I already read My Wicked Pirate & Once A Rake. This is above and beyond storytelling and can’t wait what Rona Sharon dishes out in Royal Blood.

Also, she has given ROOB three, yes you read it correct, THREE copies of Royal Blood to give away to our visitors YAY All you have to do is answer the following question:

Who are the hero and heroine in Royal Blood?

For more information check out the interview @ ROOB ~click here~

Retail Therapy:

Though life is not always picture perfect at the moment I had an ultra luxurious month in acquiring books LOL Retail Therapy and two MBags with 2 months of book buying arrived from Sandi (Hard To Find Books) I only noticed when my section in the sidebar got longer and longer. Final damage:
Hardcover:

J.R. Ward - Lover Avenged
Monica McCarty - Highland Outlaw / Highland Warrior / Highland Scoundrel
Anna Campbell - Tempt the devil
Kresley Cole - Kiss Of A Demon King
Lara Adrian - Veil At Midnight
Shane Abé - The Treasure Keeper / Queen Of Dragons
Susan Elizabeth Phillips - What I Did For Love

TPB:
Jean Johnson - The Flame & The Mage

PB:
Nalini Singh - Angels' Blood
Kathryne Kennedy - Enchanting The beast
Lora Leigh - Coyote's Mate
Elizabeth Vaughan - White Star


I think this month was indulgent enough LOL

Received on 5/26/2009:

PB
A signed copy of Alyssa Day's Atlantis Unleashed and ARC: Atlantis Unmasked YAY *doing a happy dance*

May is such a book rich month for me LOL

Received on 5/29/2009:

TPB
Maya Banks - Sweet Surrender & Sweet Persuasion

PB:
JoAnn Ross - Freefall
Lavinia Kent - A Talent For Sin
Sherry Thomas - Not Quite A Husband

The CC is so gonna hurt this month LOL I already read J.R. Ward and you can read the review by scrolling down. Anna Campbell and Kresley Cole are hardcover replacements of my paperbacks, Yeah, I’m nuts but I need me precious in hardcover. Lara Adrian is an author with a series I still need to start in but yes, I do have the complete series present on my shelves *rolls eyes at self* Nalini Singh with Angel’s Blood, Raphael, do I need to say more?? Shane Abé and Susan Elizabeth Phillips are new to me but they sounded very interesting with above novels. Kathryn Kennedy had me at hello with her Relics Of Merlin series and I’m wondering what Enchanting The Beast will entail. It is a novel I really want to read soon, her combination of a historical setting mixed with fantasy is superb in my opinion. Lora Leigh and her Breed series is an addiction I thank Pearl for *wicked grin* her enthusiasm for this series was so contagious that it got me infected quickly. Elizabeth Vaughan, I so heart her Warprize trilogy and while she produced an enjoyable read for me with Dagger Star it could not sweep me off my feet the way her first trilogy did. I am going to give White Star a try soon. Sherry Thomas is one of those historical authors who captivated me from their first novel and Not Quite A Husband is wandering the top of my TRP *gg*

JoAnn Ross – Lavinia Kent & Maya Banks are all authors bought thanks to the Blogosphere. Someone caught my attention with these authors which inevitably makes me light up the Google highway and search their websites and in result I got me some new authors to grace my shelves.
Alyssa Day is something that was an utter surprise to me with her offer to give me Atlantis Unleashed and the ARC of Atlantis Unmasked, I so heart Alexios. In preparation I am now reading Ven – Atlantis Awakening and up till now it is gooooood!
Oh….totally forgot what came in the mail yesterday *gg* Over @ Erotic Horizon I was given the recommendation of M.L. Rhodes – Under My Skin and since this novel is only available in TPB at amazon.com I purchased:

M.L. Rhodes – Under My Skin and Always, this came in the mail yesterday (Saturday May 30, 2009)

While I already ARC read S.J. day – Eve Of Destruction for ROOB I had to get me a copy and this too came in the mail yesterday.

My last package for this month was the TV series of The Tudors, I heard so much about this TV series and a good period piece always bears my interest so a 2 for 1 deal sealed my decision and I bought first and second season of The Tudors, looking forward to rainy days in front of the TV :D

Man Candy:
A guy I stumbled upon while searching the net for booty-liscious men and he wasn’t all that hard to look at; Raphael Verga…





















Cover Love:
I am such a cover junkie, I LOVE me some enticing cover love, purely for the pleasure of the eye and this is my offering for the month may:




















A duology with Kresley Cole & Gena Showalter Coming November 2009.

A brutal vampire soldier about to know love for the first time...

Murdoch Wroth will stop at nothing to claim Daniela the Ice Maiden--the delicate Valkyrie who makes his heart beat for the first time in three hundred years. Yet the exquisite Danii is part ice fey, and her freezing skin can't be touched by anyone but her own kind without inflicting pain beyond measure.

A Valkyrie aching to be touched...

Soon desperate for closeness, in an agony of frustration, Murdoch and Danii will do anything to have each other. Together can they find the key that will finally allow them to slake the overwhelming desire burning between them?

I hope you had an incredible May, what were your highs or lows this month?? Grab a latté and talk *wink*

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30 May 2009

I Heart Disney

I just absolutely love Disney's TOY STORY 1&2. Next to being a booklover I am a true Disney gal to the core. Not everything they dish out is up to my liking but Toy Story is my first love with Pixar animation studio and whenever I am down and need a pick-me-up this dvd knows its way to the recorder LOL

Now I am in ecstasy for TOY STORY 3 is in the making and has a due date of June 2010. I already saw a sneak peek trailer and can't wait to return to Woody and Buzz. My inner kid is squeeling with joy!

Trailer:
'Toy Story 3' is released worldwide from June 18th, 2010.
Woody, Buzz, and the rest of their toy-box friends are dumped in a day-care center after their owner, Andy, departs for college.



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Bar Cynster Challenge - Devil's Bride

~click on the cover to buy a copy~
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Avon (March 1, 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 038079456X
ISBN-13: 978-0380794560

Summary:

TO HAVE. . .
When Devil, the most infamous member of the Cynster family, is caught in a compromising position with plucky governess Honoria Wetherby, he astonishes the entire tom by offering his hand in marriage. No one dreamed this scandalous rake would ever take a bride. And as society mamas swooned at the loss of England's most eligible bachelor, Devil's infamous Cynster cousins began to place wagers on the wedding date.

. . .AND TO HOLD
But Honoria wasn't about to bend society's demands and marry a man justbecause they'd been found together virtually unchaperoned. No, she craved adventure, and while solving the murder of a young Cynster cousin fit he ill for a while, she decided that once the crime was solved she'd go off to see the world. But the scalding heat of her unsated desire for Devil soon had Honoria craving a very different sort of excitement. Could her passion for Devil cause her to embrace the enchanting peril of a lifelong adventure of the heart?


Introduction:
I am starting these first few months in my Bar Cynster challenge with several re-reads from my twenties and Devil’s Bride is no exception to this. As this month progressed I thought of Devil and always got this strange butterfly feeling which I couldn’t place. No scenes came to memory, no quotes or character descriptions. Just the lingering impression that Devil and Honoria were so wonderful to read about and their story once must’ve beguiled me. As I opened Devil’s Bride I looked at the family tree and saw their names: Devil, - Scandal, - Vane, - Demon, - Gabriel, - Lucifer and a grin wider than the Grand Canyon split my face. I can tell ya that their names appealed to my wicked nature and the thought of them as a group, the connection they share and their loyalty to one another made me look forward to each of their stories.

With a somewhat busy month I looked at my calendar en noticed it was already May 25th *eek* and I still had to read Devil’s Bride *dang*. I absolutely abhor doing things at the last minute so I quickly opened up Devil’s Bride and started to read.

Review:
This is the first novel published in the Bar Cynster series and for me, as I read the last pages, turned out to be one of Lauren’s classics in this series. It showcases her pillars within the story; an autocratically and vigorous male, opposite a fiery and smart woman, who have an instant chemistry and a plot that infuses the story with a touch of suspense. Somehow I feel this will be the blue print of many Cynster novels to come and I am looking forward to finding out if Stephanie Laurens can keep it fresh and entertaining.

On a tumultuous night of thunderstorms Honoria finds a young man shot and he’s in dire need of help. They are both quickly found by Devil and he decides to seek shelter in a lumberjack’s cabin while together they try to save the young man’s life…and fail. The next day Honoria is under the impression she can go straight back to her employees but Devil instantly knew this was going to be his bride, his duchess, and the hunting instinct of the Cynsters was coursing through his veins full force.

With the murder of Bartholomew Cynster a.k.a Tolly a blow to the heart of the Cynster clan is given and everybody is grieve stricken. There are six men who will not rest until the murderer of their cousin has been held accountable for his or her actions. However, none of them expect the interference of one very stubborn woman.

The first chapter was immediately attention grabbing with not only the instant palpable sizzle between Devil and Honoria, it is also the suspense which from the get go commences as many questions arise. While I read this book in my native language I was instantly there in that stormy night in Somersham, Cambridgeshire. The writing style made it easy for me to picture the scenes of them soaking wet, the dying Tolly in his last hours and Devil with a bare chest riding his steed as various emotions torment him. The whole story flows from this moment and it grabbed hold of me as I tried to remember the revelation of who-dun-it?

Sylvester Sebastien Cynster, sixed Duke of St.Ives, nicknamed Devil by those who are so familiar with his nature. He nurtures an aristocratic arrogance like certain men can have in positions of leadership and power. He is loyal to his family, he is confident without becoming high-handed and by nature a fierce hot-blooded male.

Honoria Prudence Anstruther-Wetherby is all I can want in a heroine; adventurous, smart, stubborn and driven when she is passionate about something. She is of mind that a woman can contribute to the world of men instead of just being a china face doll sipping thee and be pretty. She swiftly acquires the approval of the Cynster women, the dowager Helena Cynster included.

Because of Devil’s nature he is very sure in his statements towards Honoria of her becoming his wife. This of course gives a friction with the self sufficient person Honoria is. The back and forth dialogues are like duels with sharpened blades and it sparkled with each parry. It is exhilarating to read how two people can fight their attraction verbally but ultimately let the body speak and in the end, their hearts. With Devil’s Bride I would tell you to prepare for seduction scenes in gardens and alcoves, for independent minds at play, it speaks of blossoming female passion which gets entangled in male heat seeking virility.

Devil is such a heartthrob of a man I couldn’t help myself but thoroughly enjoy the complete package of assets. The hunt of a man for his woman is something Stephanie Lauren’s displays in all its dramatic emotions while still keeping it light and easy to read. From start to finish the capitulation of a woman to a man and vice versa was deliciously increased from chapter to chapter and crested at the right time and at the right place with an über romantic epilogue I can wallow in as a romance reader.

Of course the Cynster clan marched by in this episode, a plethora of uncles and aunts, the dowager Helena, the twin Amanda and Amelia with their brother Simon who were so endearing but it was the core of six males that demanded attention. Every other character in this family and household forms the backbone but these virile men know how to entice the reader and become the center of attention. Scandal, - Vane, - Demon,- Gabriel and Lucifer are supporting characters whom I know have their own story, but had I read Devil’s Bride on release day I would have cheered for their own story. They each walk the walk and talk the talk of a handsome, innate sensual and strong minded male. It makes me look forward to the next tale in this series until each and everyone has their happy ever after.

With an easy flowing story, an interesting whodunit plot, heartwarming romance and burning desires (for the time of publication) I am, once again, infatuated with the Cynster clan. Devil’s Bride was but a distant memory and it was with the re-read that everything vividly blossomed again!

Dutch quote:
De Cynsters – zonder hen zou de ton niet hetzelfde zijn. Ze waren een soort op zich – onstuimig, hedonistisch en onvoorspelbaar.

Free translation on my part for my English readers:
The Cynsters – without them the ton would not be the same. They were a separate species – fierce, pleasure seeking and unpredictable.

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26 May 2009

Review: J.R. Ward - Lover Avenged

~click on the cover to buy a copy~
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: NAL Hardcover (April 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451225856
ISBN-13: 978-0451225856

Summary:

Caldwell, NY, has long been the battleground for the battleground for the vampires and their enemies, the Lessening Society. It’s also where Rehvenge has staked out his turf as a drug lord and notorious nightclub that caters to the rich and heavily armed. His shadowy reputation is exactly why he’s approached to kill Wrath, the Blind King, and leader of the Brotherhood. Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood, even though his sister is married to a member. Because he’s a sympath, his identity is a deadly secret- the revelation of which will result in his banishment to a colony for sociopaths. And as plots within and outside the Brotherhood take their toll against Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in a darkening world- Elhena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has its hold on him- and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.


With the wait for my copy I already heard some buzz about Lover Avenged and I got more curious by the minute how this story would be received by me personally. Last week I received my copy and I took my time with it, trying to absorb it all and with the last page read, with the cliff-hanger in the air, I have experienced beautiful highs and ground leveling lows.

As a secondary character Rehvenge worked really well for me in the setting of ZeroSum but was wondering if he could satisfy me as a leading character. Rehv is the leahdyre of the Glymera council yet also runs a place where women are for hire, where just about every possible addiction is served and he doesn’t shy away from physical force. He is one poster guy for the antihero and what makes Rehvenge so intriguing is that as I read on I got deeper in to his psyche where I found protectiveness, honor and love. This surprised me but most of all how J.R. Ward pulled it off to make him a male of worth. While I wasn’t emotionally connected to Rehv I did enjoy the duality in him, the growth and deepening of his character. Ward truly fleshed out his character and made him understandable and added another angle to the BDB world with the Sympaths.

Ehlena is a nurse at Havers clinic and she is honest, caring, sincere and giving. All in all an intrinsically good woman and a true female of worth who finds her backbone and strength in tough situations. She is endearing without becoming weak or bland as a character and becomes a great opposite for Rehv. From the moment I was acquainted with Ehlena I liked her and this didn’t falter throughout reading Lover Avenged. She made choices I understood, felt feelings I could empathize with and I liked the effect she had on Rehv.

The ground leveling lows in Lover Avenged started with the fact that I really had a hard time getting – in what I am now calling – my BDB mammoth of a story. I did not expect this after the first sentence of; ‘The king must die.’ At page hundred twenty seven I was more than ready to toss de book aside in my frustration, was this going to be another let down from Ward? It took about two hundred pages where I suddenly felt somebody flip a switch and changed gear from just being “an okay story” to “a story fraught with emotions”. Which was a much needed improvement that kept me going and entangled me more with each story thread.

Another irritation that reached its peak in this novel is the use of slang. It is kind of a signature thing for Ward’s books but it really annoyed me since I know the meaning of just a handful. You can use a dialect, slang, pimping the brand products and so on to enhance the uniqueness of writing style and it can add to the reading experience but the danger is to overuse it. It felt like Ward took a stick and beat this element to death. We are talking about larger than life vampires, both literally and figuratively, saying words like addies, peeps and ”I’m outtie” and it doesn’t add to the picture it subtracts.

Something that excited me were the moments where I was completely connected to the story, the characters and where events unfurl itself in all its glory. Where Ward’s hallmark emotional writing excels and brings back everything I once reveled in upon reading a BDB novel. These scenes and chapters made my heart pound in anticipation, the BDB was still alive, still able to sweep me off my feet and deliver some off the charts scenes. But then, after such an event or chapter, the story went back to being entertaining and fine which kicked me off that high again and left me hungering for the feeling.

Rehv and Ehlena in their love story were appealing and as their story progressed it was steeped with enough emotion to make it a rounded romance. With this it is a step up from my feelings regarding Lover Unbound and Lover Enshrined. Both leading characters in the romance are coming alive with obstacles to overcome as a connection and growth is spawning from that which was portrayed believably. Whether Rehv and Ehlena will captivate you emotionally is, as always, subjective to personal taste. I more than welcomed their romance, what they brought to Lover Avenged and I cared about the outcome of their beguiling connection. Since Butch and Marissa I haven’t finished a BDB novel for the romance and this changed with Rehv and Ehlena.

There were other, equally important storylines, like Wrath and Beth. Some of the most moving scenes are between them and they introduce the Black Dagger Brotherhood vibe back in to this series. I loved how certain facets of Wrath and Beth were explored, deepening their relationship and shaping the face of vampire royalty in a fresh way. Another major storyline was John Matthew with Xehx. It turns darker, it turns for the worse and with both JM and Xehx I got a different perspective on a shared attraction. I understand their development, I definitely want to know where it is all going but in the end I rode one hell of a déjà-vu feeling.

Tohr and Lassiter are also secondary characters who create ripples within this novel. Tohr just by the male he is, struggling with his situation but also giving glimpses of the Tohr we knew. Lassiter is one fallen angel I want to get to know better, the combination of his sardonic humor and his interaction with Tohr put him on my radar. And then there’s Lash, with him the Lesser society received a distinctive face. In previous novels I could easily trade Mr. X for Mr.Y and I didn’t feel like I lost something. I did not sport this feeling with Lash, he has aspirations, brings visible leadership to the Lesser society with purpose and goals and has pure evil stamped all over it.

There are moments I will always remember when thinking of Lover Avenged; like Tohr in the cave, Ehlena and Rehv’s dinner, Rhev alone at Zerosum, Wrath at the staircase with the brotherhood, Wrath and Beth together in various moments it all stirred my emotions and I inhaled it like an addict with her new fix. This is where I felt most connected to the story and the characters, where I wanted to shout out my joy just because I once again felt it and rapidly was flipping the pages in my need for more.

All of the strong continuing storylines fused together, worked together, to give me a solid entry in the Black Dagger Brotherhood. It is funny, while I am not ecstatic or completely over the moon with Lover Avenged I am hopeful for the future and will come back next year around, asking for more with Lover Mine. I want to catch up again on all the characters who, in one way or another, have become so near and dear to me. Because Ward can still deliver a plot, developing and intriguing overall characterization which is spiced up with sensuality and emotions.

Rehv and Ehlena kept me within the folds of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series as I was a novel or so away from deciding to leave.

Quote describing Lassiter:
And what did you know, they’d taken on a mascot, evidently. Off to the left, a glowing Oscar statue of a guy stood tall in combats, his blond-and-black hair making him look like an eighties headbanger looking for a backup band. Lassiter, the fallen angel, didn’t seem any less fierce than the brothers, however. Maybe it was his piercings, or the fact his eyes were all white. Fuck it, the guy’s vibe was all hardcore.

Quote Wrath:
Payne nailing him in the face woke him up.
George brought him back his independence.
But Beth handed him his crown.

Quote Wrath:
Getting back with the program, he said in the Old Language, “No stronger allies, no greater friends, no better fighters of honor could a king behold than these assembled afore me, mine brothers, mine blood.”

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25 May 2009

Column: Going To The Movies


GOING TO THE MOVIES:

I had a wonderful weekend with my friends Dream-Mistress, Pearl and my sis Ashleagh. We celebrated Ashleagh's upcoming birthday with cake, pressies and saturday night we went to see the movie ANGELS & DEMONS because we all enjoyed, loved and/or are addicted to the novels written by Dan Brown.



In the cheerful company of sis and friends we arrived at the cinema and I got myself some coca-cola and popcorn as I settled along with the gals. After a few minutes, more like 10-15, the movie started and I was munching down my popcorn wondering if I would get that same pulse-pounding vibe as when I read the book. Well, I can honestly say, no. Perhaps the lessened impact was also due to the fact I read the book a couple of times but the movie felt a bit rushed. The scenery of the various churches and the Vatican was wonderful, the acting was good, though Tom Hanks is not completely working for me as Langdon. The film kept a good pace, the music swelled and subsides at the appropriate moments and I was entertained, blown away, nah not that much, but still entertained!

The film THE DA VINCI CODE did not impress me all that much, I enjoyed it of course but the cliché of “the book is better than the movie” definitely applied to my thoughts and feelings. Still, it was ANGELS & DEMONS that enthralled me so as I read the book. Heart in throat moments, pulse racing and from start to finish I read it in one evening and actually felt sad it ended. So I hoped with ANGELS & DEMONS that the feeling of heart-in-throat would return with watching the film. It did have some spectacular moments and stunts that took me by surprise and I would love to take a sneak peak in the Vatican's archieves *wicked grin* The history one can encounter there *sigh*

I think most of the times it will be a handicap if you’ve read a book. A novel, when well written, appeals to my imagination and I form my own visions of characters and how things go down. A film is a different format of telling a story and some things might not work in a film when it does in a book. ANGELS & DEMONS did have a few storylines out of order in the film and I truly missed the journalist from the book who played a very good secondary part in it. So, once more, I must say that the book overrides the movie and I will re-read rather then watch the film again.

What do you think; Is it a handicap to have read the book before going to the movies?

With going to the movies the inevitable promo-trailers and posters are screaming: watch me!!! And I’ve got a few that really triggered my interest:


~WOLVERINE~ What can I say, Hugh Jackman is my chocolate on any day!

Click HERE for info


~TRANSFORMERS, REVENGE OF THE FALLEN ONE~ I thoroughly enjoyed myself with the first, Optimus Prime's voice, auto-bots... roll out! It was everything I expected and can't wait what the directors dishes out with this one. Clike HERE for information.




~NINE~ I saw a short trailer of this movie, which is a musical ala Moulin Rouge, and I thought it was a wonderful cast for such a film, loved the teaser. Click HERE for more information.



~HARRY POTTER & THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE~ I must confess that I still need to read the books but the movies have been standard issue from the first one. The trailer was impressive! Click HERE for more information.



~Coco Chanel~ After wachting the movie PERFUME I saw actor interviews regarding this film and was intrigued to say the least. I love character portaits in movies and who hasn't at least heard of the name Coco Chanel? Click HERE for more information.



~FAME~ I saw the trailer at the cinema and I immediately wanted to see the movie. When I was younger, way younger, I saw the tv series but this is right up my alley, good music, fantastic dancing and what I am hoping is going to be a great storyline! Click HERE for more information.


There is much on my movie list but for watching dvd's it is a very short list. Not that I have much time to watch dvd's but these two are really in my hot-zone:


~CHANGELING~ I once saw the trailer and the storyline just grabbed me. What would you do if your child went missing and when returned by the police isn't your kid? Yet no one wants to believe you... And I think Angelina Jolie is an actress who can give depth to the movie with genuine emotions and natural acting. Click HERE for more information.


~THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON~ Now many must have already seen this movie too but I haven't come around to it. This movie also presents a very intriguing storyline and I am defintely desiring to see this one soon LOL Click HERE for more information.

Thanks to some peeps in blogland my attention was captured for this series:

I haven't seen any good period tv series lately. ROME was the last I tried to follow but somehow I couldn't keep up due to lack of time. Thank the Lords for dvd's and this one will defintely receive a try from my side. Somehow I feel (or perhaps I am finally noticing LOL) that the Tudor court period is getting a whole lot of attention this last year, not only with this tv series but also in novels it is a backdrop I encountered a time or two in recents months:

Secrets of the Tudor Court: The Pleasure Palace (Paperback)by Kate Emerson

Royal Blood (Paperback) by Rona Sharon

The King's Rose (hardcover) by Alisa Libby

My calander this year is rapidly filling up with movies, dvd's and tv series and I hope I can watch it all, I sure as heck am going to aim for it all. Let me know what you're hoping to catch and watch at the cinema or at home, vegging out in front of the tv ;-)

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22 May 2009

Review: Alyssa Day - Atlantis Rising

~click on the cover to buy a copy~
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (March 6, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425214494
ISBN-13: 978-0425214497

Summary:

Eleven thousand years ago, before the seas swallowed the Atlanteans, Poseidon assigned a few chosen warriors to act as sentinels for humans in the new world. There was only one rule-desiring them was forbidden. But rules were made to be broken...

When she calls... Riley Dawson is more than a dedicated Virginia Beach social worker. She's blessed with a mind link that only Atlanteans have been able to access for thousands of years. Being an "empath" may explain her wistful connection to the roiling waves of the ocean, the sanctuary it provides, and the sexual urges that seem to emanate from fathoms below...

He will come. Conlan, the High Prince of Atlantis, has surfaced on a mission to retrieve Poseidon's stolen trident. Yet something else has possessed Conlan: the intimate emotions-and desires-of a human. Irresistibly drawn to the uncanny beauty, Conlan soon shares more than his mind. But in the midst of a battle to reclaim Poseidon's power, how long can a forbidden love last between two different souls from two different worlds?


After standing so long on my shelf it was time. Time for the Warriors Of Poseidon to make their entry in to my reader’s world and they did so with Atlantis Rising, the story of High prince Conlan and social worker Riley Dawson. I love the myth of Atlantis, it speaks of such mystery, magic, technology that surpasses our own and intelligence, and I wondered what Alyssa Day would come up with to give it all shape. Well, she starts with the veritable bang when the High prince returns after seven years of absence.

Conlan was introduced to me as the heir to the throne of The Seven Isles but with his disappearance seven years ago many presumed him dead. Now with his return it is a catalyst for many events to unfurl itself. After what Conlan went through while in the hospitality of Anubisa he may not feel it, but he has a regal leadership imprinted in every part of his nature and ways. He is commanding, has a veneer of composure but his temper can rise to the surface verily quickly under certain circumstances. Yet when it comes to Riley he is all hunger and scorching sensuality.

I met Riley while she was doing her job as a social worker. She is outspoken, compassionate, resilient and has a quirky sense of humor to rebound from the darker shades of life and has a need for the ocean. After a rough day and put through the emotional wringer she meets a few vampires who just want another piece of her. That is when she meets Conlan…

The meeting of Riley and Conlan is to read about instant combustion that singes the edges of the pages. Their connection was imminent and almost a tangible force between them, pulling at them, demanding to be recognized. Still, it is the journey of them both as a love-set pair in all the ups, downs and revelations that makes it so exhilarating to read. This was just the kind of hot romance I was in the mood for. Because that is what you are getting: Instant need bottled up and sometime later in the story erupting full force setting the tone for a fiery romantic tale.

Conlan and Riley’s lives got entangled together as the plot plays its devious games. The Seven of Conlan are also an intricate part of this story and their introduction was chocolate for the paranormal romance lover. Alyssa Day took the classic concept of a group of warriors fighting an epic battle and made it her own. Not only with an intriguing brand of warriors, who all vary and have their distinct strengths and problems. But also with a world that is inhabited by vampires and shapeshifter who alter the balance of right and wrong creating a signature world that stirred my want for more. With so many strong warriors tempers rise and the interaction born from that delivers some great moments.

Let me introduce you to these wonderful warriors: We have Ven, Conlan’s brother and the King’s Vengeance. All mighty Aleric, High Priest and childhood friend of Conlan. Then we have the scarred Alexios, the blue haired Justice, and the cursed Brennan. And last but not least, Bastien and the young Christophe. They all stirred my interest on some level and I am glad some of their stories are already out there so I can quickly return to their world and the ongoing story arc.

Now if there is one thing that I consider a treat is when an author can introduce a true to the core villain, or in this case, a true villainess, for Anubisa is that and more. Feeding of pain and torture she defines evil and with the vampire Barrabas as her second they become great opponents for the Warriors of Poseidon. It fuels the plot with action, a bit of blood and gore and Poseidon magic. In this, Aleric definitely caught my attention as the High Priest. He and Quinn are a seemingly would-be couple for a future story and they hit the interest button full force. Their interaction implies more and Aleric’s control is torn in shreds whenever he is near her. They are definitely personages to keep my eye on!

Though there is intensity in the story the writing style of Day is easy going and with a rich sense of humorous undertones in dialogue the pages are quickly turned and before I knew it, I had read every last word of Atlantis Rising. Where some would go all dark and gritty with their paranormal story Alyssa Day has a knack to infuse her introducing story with an amount of humor to elevate the sometimes spine chilling actions. It provides a diversity in the genre and I for one appreciate that, turning Atlantis Rising in to an instantly devouring read!

The story contains an inviting premise to a new series, the introduction of the Warriors Of Poseidon was an alluring one and distinct, and I immediately held a personal favorite, the scarred and wounded Alexios. Atlantis Awakening, here I come!

Quote introduction warriors:
Conlan measured the tenor of his men, realizing anew how lucky he was. There was nobody he’d rather have at his back.
Alexios, fierce, scarred face grim
Brennan, emotionless but for the whitened knuckles on his blades.
Justice, blue-tinged hair in a braid to his waist, the handle of his sword rising from its sheath behind one shoulder. The member of his Seven who Conlan understood the least – trusted least. But a warrior to be reckoned with, by anyone’s measure. Bastien, towering over others. Nearly seven feet of pure muscle and honed battle instincts.
Christophe, skin glimmering faintly with the residue of barely controlled power.
Finally back to Denal, the youngest of the Seven and newest to the role.

Quote Conlan:
He finally turned to look at her, his body clenched so tightly he thought it might snap. Burning with need, yet icy with fear that she should go. “because if you stay, I’ll take it as a yes. Yes to Atlantis, to our cause, but – most of all – yes to me.”

Quote Quinn:
“If we’re done with the pissing contest, let’s go,” Quinn said, reaching for Riley with one hand and pulling a very deadly looking gun out of her pocket with the other. “People to meet, vamps to blow away, et cetera, et cetera…


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19 May 2009

Review: Lauren Dane - Relentless

~click on the cover to buy a copy~

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (May 5, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 042522760X
ISBN-13: 978-0425227602

Summary:
In this erotic universe, passion knows no rank... Since the first settlers came through the portals from Earth, fifteen Families have held the rule of the Federated Universes in their hands. There's never been a better time than now to throw out the old and usher in a new order. Give voice to the unranked. Abbie Haws has spent her life battling the system. A fighter, she's always been too busy and driven to pay much attention to finding love. But when she's granted audience with Roman Lyons, the head of House Lyons, who stands for everything she hates, her instant attraction catches Abbie off-guard...

It's common knowledge that the Known Universe revolves around Ravena--and that Ravena revolves around Roman Lyons, bred to lead since birth. Roman dreads his meeting with a defiant--if stunning--rabble-rouser. But, sometimes, headstrong personalities in the conference room make for hot-and-heavy, guilty trysts in private....

Now, Abbie will show Roman the parts of her world he wouldn't otherwise get to see. And he'll give her a glimpse of the Families' age old tradition and unleash a sexuality he'd never given rein to before.


Review:
In Relentless Lauren Dane deftly combines storylines of political scheming, a star-crossed couple, fiery sensuality imbedded in a romance and a world which is spinning on it axes regarding the inevitable upcoming changes. If I knew what I was signing on for because I read Undercover, I had another thing coming! Relentless, or better said, Roman and Abbie, took me deep in to the world of the Known Universes where Ranked Families rule and Unranked people have no say in how their cities are being governed.
It is Abigail who gave me a way to further explore this world. She is a Barrister, whom is a legal defender in court and her case load is swamping her. If this wouldn’t keep her busy she is also a spokesperson for the Movement of Representative Democracy. Her passion to achieve a say in how their people are being governed burns like a flame, fueling her actions and speeches. When she has an appointment with the head of House Lyons she is ready to give him a piece of her mind.

Now Roman has troubles of his own, treachery and betrayal has invaded the Ranked Family, trouble is brewing and voices rise even stronger, voices such as that of Abigail Haws. While he is not closed minded to her cause, he is the eldest son of a Ranked family and raised in a particularly way. Their first meeting ended up in Abbie leaving his building, never to have met him. The second one she scolded him for his unprofessional behavior and she ended up on the carpet with his hand between her legs. To say they created a volatile sexual tension was to say to the least but Roman was Ranked…and Abbie was not.
I must admit that the diversity in sex play was within the boundaries of normalcy regarding the genre of publication but I cannot complain since Lauren Dane gave me a couple who burn up the pages with their attraction for each other. With a tragic feel to their almost impossible romance I never really gave it more than a passing thought or two. The intensity of what they felt, knowing it couldn’t work was like a sword of Damocles hanging above the couple and casting shadows upon their growing need for each other and I hungered to see them find a way to be together. The rules stated they could never be together, I knew that as I read the story but I was still going through the motion of them at it together both physically and later emotionally. When those rules pressed for decisions my heart crushed for them both.

At first they are so very much opponents with their interaction simmering in passion for what they believed in. I could easily imagine them standing nose to nose arguing, and the next, having their way with each other on the office floor. With this Lauren Dane created another set of leading characters whom almost leap from the pages in their personalities. The writing is fraught with potent emotions, combustible as it is sensuous, presenting a challenge of both mind and body for the lovers and I reveled in the way the story unfolded for them both.

Roman is also one of those Alpha heroes whose change is so interesting to follow throughout the story. He is a well bred gentleman of one of the leading Ranked Houses, he married young to give the family heirs, led his House with a convincing hand and raised his sons when his wife died young. He was very much a product of his world yet he was no longer the young pup but a man in the prime of his life with grown sons. Abbie stimulates him to shed his exterior and come more in to his natural self. Which means he can set himself free and it results in some hot sex talk between the sheets and I found out it was an erotic seduction all on its own?

Abbie is a woman solely focused on the mission at hand and this was to get a right within the Council only to be ambushed by her emotions for a Ranked man. Abbie is a multi-faceted woman, easy to attach to and a persona at the epicenter of all the political changes and I loved the voice she brought to the story. Not only do I love to cheer for the underdog who fights for their rights, I also believe in the intelligence of a woman and her need to leave a mark on the world. While this is very much a romance story it is backed up by an exciting plot that kept me reading page after page, filling my lazy Sunday afternoon.

The plot reveals that the power of the vested order, namely, the Ranked Family and their Houses, is shaking on its foundations. With on the other side the Unranked people with their voices who become more impertinent in their wish for a say in their own lives. This is all personalized with Abbie and her job as a Barrister and her job as a spokeswoman for the MRD. Two cases get the spotlight and tie Roman to the overall picture when the son of his PA and good friend is indicted with murder. Two worlds, two visions of life, two people falling for each other and Lauren Dane steeped it with gut-wrenching emotions, well paced suspense and the plot that spirals it all to exciting heights, keeping the reader firmly planted on the couch!
There is also a variety of additional characters who also made this story an exhilarating reading experience. The family of Abbie takes a prominent place but also the people closest to Roman add their voices. Daniel, Nyna and Georges, siblings to Abbie gave the expression; “there’s no place like home” meaning. Especially Daniel held my interest with a secretive job and sometimes brooding ways. It is his way with Abbie that reveales such a strong sibling bond and got me even more curious about him. I also enjoyed the interaction between Roman and his PA Marcus, although they are employer and employee you could feel the friendship through their discussions.

Relentless is a bittersweet yet a beautiful romance set off by a high-octane in fiery sex play and political scheming, turning it in to a heated story from beginning to end! A great but also different sequel to Undercover and surprising in every way!

Quote Roman:She worshipped him with her mouth, made him feel totally desired. Totally masculine. He relished it at being Roman and Abbie. A man and a woman, finding some refuge with each other in the quiet spaces in daily life.

4 stars
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15 May 2009

Review: Catherine Kean - A Knight's Temptation

~click on cover to buy a copy~

Mass Market Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Medallion Press (1 April 2009)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1933836520
ISBN-13: 978-1933836522


Summary:

Aldwin Treynarde, a squire who shot Lord Geoffrey de Lanceau with a crossbow bolt after being deceived by Baron Sedgewick, is ordered to retrieve a stolen ruby pendant before it falls into the baron and Veronique’s hands. Haunted by his guilt over being manipulated by the baron years ago, Aldwin wants to prove his worth to his lord. If he excels in his duty, he might even be awarded knighthood. Such an honor would also help redeem himself to his respected parents who, ashamed by his reckless near-murder of de Lanceau, told him never to return home.

Lady Leona Ransley, in an effort to help her depressed father, only wants to hand over the pendant, collect the reward, and vanish. When she arranges a meeting in a seedy tavern, she never expected to face Aldwin, who almost caused her death twelve years ago when they disturbed a bee’s nest during a childhood game. Although Aldwin doesn’t recognize her, he’s reminded of Leona and is haunted by his belief that she died from the bee stings from that day twelve years prior. Believing that the woman before him is a courtesan and has information on the conspirators’ whereabouts, he takes Leona hostage and spirits her away, meaning to deliver her and the pendant to de Lanceau.

She, however, fights him at every chance. He desires his warrior captive more than any noble woman he has ever met, and when hediscovers who she really is, he knows he has one last chance to protect his lady’s life. Only by resolving what happened between them and by fighting side by side can Aldwin and Leona defeat the conspirators and surrender to their greatest temptation—love.



Review:

Sometimes an incident has such a profound impact it will alter that person forever and it is such an event that occurred between Aldwin and Leona as children.
Now, in the present, their lives are once again intertwined as enemies plot the downfall of Lord Geoffrey De Lanceau.

With A Knight’s Reward still vibrant in my memories I opened A Knight’s Temptation, glad to wander back into the world of chivalrous knights, fiery damsels and mysteries to solve. Catherine Kean did not disappoint me as she initiated her story by capturing the innocence of childhood with Aldwin and Leona. In that faithful sunny afternoon a bond was forged between them, what should’ve been an adventure erupted in a threatening situation. I instantly knew that the impact of the situation would be felt throughout the story and I quickly turned the page to start in the first chapter.

With that first chapter I met the all grown up Leona, she was fiery-spirited and impetuous but with a loyal and a kind heart to her subjects in and around Pryerston Keep. She takes matter into her own hands with the arrival of Veronique Desjardin and the Baron Sedgewick. It is with her attempt to fill the empty coffer of Pryerstone Keep that she meets trouble with a capital T. In a tavern she meets Aldwin again and while she recognizes him at once he doesn’t seem to recognize her.

Aldwin has a past event rekindled again and again in a chanson and it is something he isn’t proud of at all. He has a tendency to let his impulsive nature rule and at the same time tries to constrain it with discipline. He focuses on honoring the Knight’s code with loyalty, chivalry and honor being the very things he tries to live by but when meeting Leona again she tests his resolve to the limit. For he has to take her to his Lord as she will spill all she knows what is going on at Preyerstone Keep.

The plot positions Aldwin and Leona as a captor and captive on the run from mercenaries which makes A Knight’s Temptation a very one on one character driven tale. It becomes a very intimate setting where emotions from past and present mingle and hot-tempered personality traits fuel the story with a clash between the genders. Neither of them will back down from their own personal goal and while it is a story as old as time I succumb each time to it. Their heartfelt intentions towards those who rely upon them, their dreams, their attraction, it all radiates a passion that made me flip the pages until the late evening hours.

The writing style of Catherine Kean not only is easy to read but allows historical life to bloom in all its aspects. Whether it is the day to day life in a town or at a Keep, there is a hierarchy of characters who portrait a lifelike picture and one of the things that will draw me to read a Catherine Kean novel each time. The lovers-to-be made me root for avoiding the mercenaries each time but there are also two enemies at the other end of the plot whose sole purpose is to indulge their every want for coin and power. Especially Veronique is a character who made my temper rise with each of her actions. The lines are very clearly drawn between good and evil and the plot holds certain aspects that originates from the first novel; A Knight’s Vengeance. I will say that each novel can be read separately but as always, to enhance ones reading pleasure I would say; read this series in order so certain emotions or reasoning can aim for a deeper impact.

Of course there is a lovely supporting cast, from the loyal Sir Theodore Wrenleigh, Twig for short, and Sir Reginald the co-conspirators of Leona’s plan, to Dominic, right hand to Lord De Lanceau. Yet it is Ward, the brother of Leona, who binds the leading characters together. Each one shaped and deepened the world of Moydenshire, England anno 1195. Whether they aided Aldwin and Leona in their journey or were those who tried to prevent the couple from reaching Branton Keep, they enlivened the romance story as a wonderful supportive cast can do.

A Knight’s Temptation was definitely a temptation for me to read on and turned in to a one sitting read. It is a beautiful and tender historical romance story of making mistakes, redeeming yourself and falling in love. Ingredients I can’t get enough of in a historical setting, add a plot, embolden characters and this story whisked me away to another time and place. Catherine Kean writing embellishes all these ingredients to produce another marvelous entry in her Knight’s series.

The valiant Knight’s code has never been more alive than in Kean’s A Knight’s Temptation.

Quote Aldwin to Leona:
“Why did you kiss me? Because, somehow, I tempted you? Because I shared memories of Ward? Because I confided in you about the pendant?”
“Because you are you Leona. ‘This reason enough.”


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14 May 2009

Review: Meredith Duran - The Duke Of Shadows

~click on the cover to buy a copy~

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star (March 25, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416567038
ISBN-13: 978-1416567035

Summary;

In a debut romance as passionate and sweeping as the British Empire, Meredith Duran paints a powerful picture of an aristocrat torn between two worlds, an heiress who dares to risk everything...and the love born in fire and darkness that nearly destroys them.

From exotic sandstone palaces...

Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion, Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiancé's betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn.

To the marble halls of London...

In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous -- and that a single decision can alter one's life forever.

Destiny follows wherever you run.

A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth: no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned...and some passions never die.


Review:

I still remember the buzz for Meredith Duran’s debut novel; The Duke Of Shadows and how many regarded it as the best historical romance novel of 2008. For a historical romance novel to make it on my keeper’s shelf is no easy feat, about a handful authors like Anna Campell, Rona Sharon and Sherry Thomas has done so over the last two years. So when I read the prologue it was quite an attention grabbing one where I was confronted with a woman struggling to hold on to life. I instantly wanted to find out how she ended up there, where she was going, and get to know her better in general…and that is what I did with the remainder of the story. It unfolded in all the grandeur of historic times as it took me to British India.

Emmaline Martin survived, a young woman with a wonderful talent and zest for life. Her nature was in want of exploring life in all its facets, but was she going to find it with Marcus Lindley? British society with all its rules and stipulations was suffocating her creativity and assumptions were made that generated gossip to flow from many lips. If there was one thing crystal clear is that Emma was internally warring with herself. At one hand she wanted to honor her parents but her soul wanted to soar, she wanted to be free to discover everything of her interest. Through the artistic eyes of Emma a vibrant, lush and colorful British India came to life, allowing me to experience its tapestry and culture.

Julian Sinclair with his aristocratic features and aloof ways is the inheritor of a Dukedom but his lineage isn’t of impeccable state. Julian is part of the society and yet looking from the outside in due to his tainted blood. His upbringing makes him the man he is today, by society standards he is a rake so naturally women are very intrigued by him.

So there you have it, the rake and an young artist are the two leading characters and their first meeting was in a garden. After that moment it didn’t take long for the drama to explode through the pages as the native people of India attempt a mutiny on the British soldiers. The despair of the innocent who suffer under cruel acts of war, the anger unleashed with the men tired of being suppressed. I was entering chaos in the best of ways where I was absorbed by the images put in front of me by the author. A backdrop that kept me spellbound to the pages as Julian and Emma tried to make for safety.

The Duke Of Shadows is told in two parts. Part one holds the seed of everything that is said and done in part two. It nurtures dramatic events of almost life altering proportions which engulfed me in the urging sense to see Julian and Emma safe. Their emotions were magnified by the dire situation; it made their gestures more meaningful, their kisses more intense, and their interaction fraught with emotions. Duran showcases their time together as well as their individual journey and my heart went both ways. I was still very much in the climactic events of part one when the story takes pause to move on to part two…and it is three years later.
Part two stuttered in the beginning for me as I had to get back into a different rhythm and vibe regarding the portrayal of the characters. With the first part I felt so connected to Emma just to lose it a degree in the second part. It all has it reasons as I let the implication of the circumstances sink in and it was heart wrenching. I came to understand her again but the contrast at first was like a u-turn for me to read. This was also a time where the plot started to play a significant part and was adding another incentive to read on.

Romance like that between Julian and Emma is seeing an everlasting flame ignite, two people forming an undeniable bond and all I wanted was for them to get a chance to strengthen that bond. I was swept away in their inner struggles which were grippingly showcased by Meredith Duran. Gestures, a simple look, the conflicts, it was all imbued with the need to be connected again, to openly reciprocate feelings again and to say: “Let me love you for I belong to you with heart, soul and body.”

If there was another thing I noticed while reading this story was Meredith Duran’s manner of writing and how it is standing out within its genre. It holds a classic essence that influences the perception of the story and the experience of emotions. There are sequences that hold such steep emotions and is written with such a fluent grace that it magnifies the impact of those sequences. Emma and Julian where the center of my attention but there were also secondary characters in this novel of whom I at least want to mention Lockwood. Someday I hope Duran will write up his tale. He is from the Ton, mysterious, influential, and there are intriguing facts involving his character that raise questions demanding to be answered. Another equally important character is Marcus Lindley, he is all about honor but if he knows the meaning of the word is something everyone should find out for themselves. All I can say is that he is imperative to tell the story and for that I enjoyed him greatly. There are more supporting personages who are also well drawn and complementing the overall joy of reading.

The Duke Of The Shadows is about two extraordinary people falling in love under abhorring circumstances, then to come full circle on another continent. A novel that is the summary of a romance-laden storyline balanced by a devious plot. It contains gut-wrenching action combined with bittersweet feelings. It is a celebration of the indomitable human spirit and it is all given a voice through an exquisite way of writing!

Meredith Duran has shot herself straight to my keeper’s shelf!

Quote Julian:
There was so much to be said and asked between them. Being with her felt like charting the sea; there were marvels beneath, and they lured him, and he wondered whether he ever might reach the bottom.

Quote Julian and Emma:
He smiled. “No, I think you have rakes figured wrongly, Emma. The art lies in omitting the emotion. No connection other than the physical.”
“A shame I am not a man then. I should enjoy being a rake. Perhaps I would excel at it.”
“Do you think so?” he asked softly.

Quote Emma:
[Delphinia] would not fathom how the prospect of feeling – really feeling, after such a long, blank, white stretch – might outweigh any sacrifice of name or station.

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What was your best historical romance novel of 2008?

13 May 2009

Review: S.J Day - Eve Of Darkness

~click on the cover to buy a copy~
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (April 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765360411
ISBN-13: 978-0765360410

Summary:

Cursed by God, hunted by demons, desired by Cain and Abel... All in a day's work.

For Evangeline Hollis, a long ago fling with a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks just became a disaster of biblical proportions. One night with a leather-clad man of mystery has led to a divine punishment: the Mark of Cain.

Thrust into a world where sinners are drafted into service to kill demons, Eve's learning curve is short. A longtime agnostic, she begrudgingly maneuvers through a celestial bureaucracy where she is a valuable but ill-treated pawn. She's also become the latest point of contention in the oldest case of sibling rivalry in history...

But she'll worry about all that later. Right now she's more concerned with learning to kill while staying alive. And saving the soul she'd never believed she had.


Review:

Have you ever read the story of Cain and Abel? S.J. Day takes a spin on it that left me very excited after reading the first entry in this series; Eve Of Darkness (May 2009). With an attention grabbing first chapter and an evocative writing style the author introduced me to a set of characters who instantly ensnared me to follow their journey. From the first chapter I was taken back to the day where Eve was branded by the Mark of Cain which instilled a sense that serious mayhem was coming soon for Eve.

Evangeline Hollis is on top of her game as an interior designer. She loves what she does and is confident about her abilities. When she meets Reed Abel she is struck by the resemblance he has to her first love Alec Cain. Ending up in a stairway with Abel she is branded by a triquetra, known as the Mark Of Cain, and life as she knew it has stopped. Now she has Abel for a handler, assigning her to certain missions and Alec Cain strolls back in to her life as her mentor in the field. Eve now has to work for her absolution and she doesn’t know when it will be granted.

Eve is the embodiment of the UF genre’s heroine, who resonated with me and will with most Urban Fantasy readers. Her sassy sarcasm, along with a smart and independent mind becomes a formidable opponent for Abel and Cain. This book created vibrant dialogues that had me consuming the pages with body scorching sensuality and a connection between the three of them that became irrefutable. With Eve I got a taste of the Celestial hierarchy within the world of the Marked and I sometimes was just as surprised and infuriated as she was.

As Eve staked her claim on me as a reader, the two men opposing her in this story also had me at their introductions. How could I not be completely swept off my feet by two rivaling brothers whose relationship is intricate, dark and mysterious? A part of their story is told in the Bible and within that shred of information lays a complex history which I am more than willing to unravel. Alec Cain has a shared experience with Eve and he is well matched to her. He is a powerful warrior, blatantly sensual, walks the line when it comes to the rules, and is very well trained in the job he does. However, when his emotions play havoc, all bets are off in what he should or shouldn’t do. Reed Abel is almost painfully correct, follows the rules but underneath that proper veneer hides a passionate man with hopes and dreams of his own.

Both men entranced me with Eve stuck in the middle. Though I did not envy Eve most of the time, she held her ground and there were definitely benefits to this. The appeal in their trinity lies in the fact that while each is a headstrong person and wants to draw their own plan, it is their varying emotions that feed their core and bind them to one another. I welcomed the author’s insight in the leading characters thoughts and feelings, unraveling more of their inner natures which kept me intent on reading Eve Of Darkness in one sitting. With a multiple point of view it enhanced my involvement regarding various characters and kept my interest at a constant high level.

I was very impressed not only by the layered characterization but also by the plot that enhanced Eve Of Darkness to greater heights. I learned about Eve’s new world which came with a whole new set of dos and don’ts. But it is the complex plot that appealed to my inquisitive nature. As S.J. Day masterfully teased in the beginning of the book, I knew a lot must have happened between Eve’s marking and the events in that first chapter. There are several major players, who influence the outcome of this first episode in the Marked series with thoughts of Armageddon not being out of the realm of possibilities. The plot is constantly changing holding my attention and I revel in the fact that an author can engross me so.

There are a few strong supporting characters, who gave even more depth to the opening of the Marked series and those are: Raquel, an Archangel who has jurisdiction over Eve. He makes my skin crawl since you never know what he is up to. However, I love the effect he has by keeping things exciting since he is a bit of a wild card. The endearing, elderly next door neighbor along with Eve’s mother form Eve’s safety net as her whole world comes crashing down. We all want a neighbor such as Mrs. Basso, always there with a warm smile, good nature and advice yet also a bit nosy at times. However, when a woman thinks Hugh Jackman is a hunk she is okay in my book. Add two fiend enemy creatures like Nix and Tengu intent on Eve’s demise and trouble becomes Eve’s middle name.

There is definitely a celestial element in this tale with Archangels, who run their firms and have an absolute devotion to the Lord. But also where Marks have to work to earn their absolution and Hell spits out its own creatures. At the epicenter are Cain and Abel, who hasn’t heard of their story? I am very curious as to where S.J. Day is going to take their relationship and how it is all going to affect Eve. The divine element is done with a healthy dose of respect and credibility encased with the author’s creative freedom. Eve is no angel but the fact that her Mark burns every time she curses makes me smile, since to take the Lord’s name in vain isn’t the wisest of choices when you’re working for an absolution.

Eve Of Darkness delivers a very strong opening in the back to back releases of S.J. Day’s Marked series, with upcoming; Eve Of Destruction (Tor/June 2009) and Eve of Chaos (Tor/July 2009). The world of saints and sinners has never been so exciting with a heroine we can root for and two men who are the epitome of sexy. Either one or both will become this reader’s favorite!

Quote Dragon to Eve:
He snorted, which shot a burst of fire out of his muzzle. “I’ve heard about you. You’re no threat to me.”
“Really?” She tilted her head, frowning in mock confusion. Demons used sarcasm, evasion, and lies to their advantage. Eve did, too. “When was the last time you got an update on me? Does Hell have a newsletter? A chatroom? Otherwise, you’re probably behind the times.”

Quote Cain to Eve:
“If you’re looking for a buzz,” he bit out, “you won’t get one here.”
She paused mid movement.
“Your body doesn’t process alcohol – or any mind altering substance – the same way it used to.”
Her hand fell as a fist into the counter. [..]
“Are you saying I can’t get high?”
“You can orgasm from here to eternity,” he said roughly. “That high enough for you?”
“Fuck.”
“I’m happy to oblige.”

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