Article

Trinity Blue by Eve Silver

Trinity BlueTrinity Blue by Eve Silver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As far as plot and atmosphere go, this 35 page novella leaves some novels that I have read behind. There should be more stories about Daemon and his kind (if there are more like him). Totally intriguing!

Jen and Daemon are great characters that deserve more exploration. I understand there are more books set in the same world as this novella but it seems Daemon is a one time character. Pity really! I loved him, what a handyman (among other things) to have around. For such a short story, it packs a punch.

View all my reviews

Article

Highland Sorcerer by Clover Autrey

Highland Sorcerer (Highland Sorcery, #1)Highland Sorcerer by Clover Autrey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK, next time I really must not forget to have a look at the heat index of books. I had automatically assumed there would be at least some love scenes, but no. Towards the end when there were only about 30 pages left and finally H and h were together again after an exciting rescue mission, I figured now would be a good time – and was disappointed. They had such a good connection, and a love scene would have just been the icing on the cake. I’m sure Clover Autrey would have done a brilliant job, too. Then again, how can there be a love scene when Col has been dragged into a time rift, Shaw has been abducted by Aldreth and Edeen is in a sort of coma? At least there is good reason for not having sex there and then.

Anyway, once I got over that, I was quite pleased with this story. It was a free book from All Romance and turned out to be 130 pages on my Sony, not too shabby. The plot was quite good, evil witch trying to take over the world with the help of a powerful sorcerer who would not have any of it. A spunky healer who stops at nothing to help her (future) lover. Perfect! Time travel, magic, Highlands, very nice. Thank God the oh so popular Scottish accent was kept to a minimum.

The story ended with a huge cliffhanger and will be continued with “The Vampire and the Highland Empath” (what a title!), which has a higher heat index. Just saying. However, reading the synopsis of the following titles I am not drawn to them. Shaw’s storyline featuring monsters that ate humankind to extinction (?) doesn’t do it for me, I am afraid.

View all my reviews

Article

Perilous Partnership by Ariel Tachna

Blurb:

A year after the end of the war that brought them together, Raymond Payet and Jean Bellaiche have found a balance in their relationship: Jean drinks only Raymond’s blood; Raymond sleeps only in Jean’s bed. The demands of their public roles as president of l’Association Nationale de Sorcellerie and chef de la Cour of the Parisian vampires keep them busy dealing with fallout from the war and the alliance, particularly the not-always-successful partnerships between vampires and wizards.

The foundation of an institute to research and educate wizards and vampires about the implications of the partnership bonds only adds to those responsibilities. When political factions, both vampire and mortal, oppose their leaders’ decisions, the stress begins to affect Raymond and Jean’s deepening relationship. And when political opposition turns to vandalism and then to violence, they’ll have to find a way to reconcile their personal and professional lives before external and internal forces pull them apart.

My thoughts: 

If you liked the Partnership in Blood series as much as I did you will enjoy this spin-off. However, it is much different from the previous four books. Why?

It mainly concentrates on one couple, Jean and Raymond, instead of telling the stories of various couples. We meet Orlando and Alain, Sebastien and Thierry and others, but the main focus is on one couple. All the others are only side characters about whose lives we learn only very little if anything.

The story is less energetic. The war is over and there is no immediate danger to fight against. Therefore the pace is slightly slower until some occurrences force everybody to get out of their happy living routine and try to find out what is going on. There are some obstacles to overcome in regards to their plans with the institute, but they are not that big an issue.

The main couple is an established one. Jean and Raymond have been living together for some time and now they have to deal with how to shape their future together. There is no new love interest to pursue, no discovering the personality of someone new. Some anxiety, yes, but not the usual “I’m falling in love, does he love me back” kind.

Once I got my mind wrapped around all this, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this “sequel”. And it is a sequel as well as a spin-off. It picks up after the war with Raymond being the president of l’ANS and a new institute to be opened to research the partnerships in more depth. At the same time it is supposed to educate wizards and vampires on how partnerships work and help them to  find partners if they wish.

I had a problem with that education. It is a good idea to tell people beforehand what they are getting into, however, the instructors are not as open as I would have wished them to be. L’ANS is accused at some point of pandering, which is, of course, ridiculous. However, after those accusations Thierry points out that all partnerships (maybe with the exception of Marcel and M. Lombard, but they are a different league) turned sexual at one point, regardless of the previous preferences of the persons involved. Wouldn’t that be a very important aspect that needs addressing in those educational classes? It seems that all they tell the “students”, though, is that people can decide if they want to form a partnership before an actual blood exchange by checking if they are compatible in other ways. They say that they are in control over how the partnership develops. Nobody ever mentions that once blood is exchanged chances are you will have a sexual relationship. Even Jude and Adele who were NOT compatible in any way and hated each other’s guts had a sexual relationship, if you want to call it that.

At one point Raymond came over as the old prejudiced guy I thought he had shed. When Jean offers the Aveu de Sang his reaction was way over the top. He could have said, he will have to think about it instead of answering in such a dismissive way. Did Orlando treat Alain like cattle? I found this comparison with the branding quite unfair and harsh. It would have befitted a researcher of Raymond’s calibre to stop and think and maybe get an opinion of someone who knows before declining in such a rude manner. Jean must have considerable thick skin to not walk out the door for good after such a rejection.

Apart from those minor things it was a great continuation of the series which I liked a lot. I don’t know whether there is anything more planned, but the ending does not immediately suggest another spin-off or sequel. I really would have liked to see Adele and Jude come together. But that would have probably been a task to difficult even for Ariel herself :).

For readers who liked the Partnership in blood series, this is a must read. To all newcomers I recommend to read the previous four books first, otherwise you won’t get much fun out of this one.

Title Perilous Partnership
Author Ariel Tachna
Publisher Dreamspinner Press
ISBN

978-1-61581-634-7

Buy link Buy Perilous Partnership
Article

Upcoming Partnership in Blood spin-off

I have to admit that I never have a look at upcoming releases in any shop, so I totally missed the fact that Ariel Tachna is going to release a spin-off of the Partnership in Blood series in October. How exciting!

The book is called “Perilous Partnership” and continues the story of Jean and Raymond. When I started reading the series I didn’t think I would ever say that, but Raymond has really grown on me and now I love him to pieces.

I am so looking forward to reading that. The blurb promises some serious trouble, so I expect an exciting read once more.

Article

Wolf at the Door by Christine Warren

Blurb: Sullivan Quinn didn’t travel 3,000 miles from his native Ireland and his wolf pack just to chase rabidly after the most delectable quarry he’s ever seen. Quinn is in America on a mission—to warn his Other brethren of a shadowy group willing to use murder and mayhem to bring them down. But one whiff of this Foxwoman’s delicious honeysuckle fragrance and he knows that she is more than a colleague or a conquest…she is his mate.

Anthropologist Cassidy Poe is a world-renowned authority on social interaction, but the overpowering desire she feels around Quinn defies every ounce of her expertise. Working by his side to uncover The Others’ enemies poses risks she never expected—to her own safety, to those she loves, and to her heart, as every encounter with Quinn proves more blissfully erotic than the last…
Now, with no one to trust but each other, Quinn and Cassidy face a foe that’s edging closer every day, threatening to destroy the life they’ve always known, and the passion they’ve just discovered…

My thoughts: Somehow I must have overlooked that this book is by the same author as “Fantasy Fix”. Had I known this I probably wouldn’t have gotten this book, since Fantasy fix really got on my nerves. However, I liked “Wolf at the door” quite a bit. According to amazon both books belong to the Other series and Fantasy Fix (now called One bite with a stranger) is book six, while Wolf at the door is book 1. Fantasy Fix was written much earlier and as far as I can remember had no references to the Others at all, but maybe the re-release is quite different from the first one.

Anyway. I liked the point of departure in the story. The Others are not only weres and vampires but practically everything you can think of. Faeries, brownies, selkies, animi, gargoyles, you name it, the Others got it. They are now threatened to be exposed to the humans and have to take action in order to prevent this, possibly by anticipating the opponents’ move and “unveil” themselves.

That plot was not a very complicated one, still didn’t get resolved completely by the end of the book. The Others did find out who was pulling the strings, but the direct enemy never got exposed and the way it looks they won’t be in the next book either. Doesn’t matter, I still enjoyed reading this story, mostly for the humour in it. Cassidy’s wisecracking towards the end was a bit over the top for me, but still nice to read.

As far as the romance goes, it took up a fair amount of the book and there wasn’t much doubting, angst or anything. The chemistry was immediate, Quinn (why he was always referred to as Quinn I didn’t get, his first name is Sullivan) had made up his mind about Cassidy from the start and she didn’t take long to come around to the fact that there is something more meaningful between them than just a fling.

A nice and entertaining story. I checked the following books for a sequel about Richard, the selkie, but it seems no such luck. Richard is the character I’d have like to read more about. Oh, well, I think there are more Others books to come.

Wolf at the Door is available at amazon

Article

Reparation in blood by Ariel Tachna

The war is at a fever pitch with both sides stretched to the limit, when the dark wizards score a shocking victory and capture Orlando St. Clair. Haggard with worry and grief at the separation from his lover, Alain fears that even if they find Orlando, the vampire’s heart and mind may be far too broken to save.
Knowing the Alliance teeters on the brink, Christophe Lombard, the oldest, most powerful vampire in Paris leaves his self-imposed seclusion to join the fight. Alain’s lost friend Eric Simonet, who betrayed him to join the dark wizards, is faced with a choice between revenge and redemption. And Jean, enraged by Orlando’s capture, faces the most agonizing decision in his unlife as the final battle looms: Will their actions lead to the shattering of the Alliance or the salvation of the world?

Finally I read the long awaited last instalment of the Partnership in Blood series by Ariel Tachna, “Reparation in blood”.

It is quite some time ago that I read “Conflict in blood” and even longer that I read the two previous books (I reviewed Conflict in blood in May 09). I know now that I should have re-read it before reading this. Some situations that were mentioned I had totally forgotten and they left me wondering what people were talking about. I strongly recommend that you re-read at least the third book in the series before you start with this one. Not because you won’t be able to enjoy Reparation in blood but simply in order to get the most out of it.

I’m not going to go into how much I like the series or Ariel’s writing. I already said enough about that in my previous reviews. I’d rather comment on some things that happened in the book instead.

Right on the first page it is clear that Alain is beside himself. Like in the last book I found the difference in how Alain and Orlando kept themselves up astonishing. I would have thought it would be just the other way around. As it happened Alain was a complete wreck, snarking at people, using language I’d never have expected from him and generally acting irrationally and unreasonably (even if all this was understandable). Orlando, however, was strong, withstood Serrier and kept cool and calm.

The main pairings again play important roles and develop their relationships into something more or, like in the case of the love/hate couple Jude and Adele, into a strictly business partnership. Those two might have found their match, but how that match will ever turn out positively I don’t know.

David and Angelique finally overcome their misgivings and find each other. This was done in such a sweet way that those two quickly became one of my favourites of this book.

Monique and Antonio didn’t play a big part in this book at all. Monique was mentioned a few times, but only by people on the other side as the prime example of a successful defector, and a bit later on when we hear about her sentence after she was tried.

What I liked was the fact that the war was not dragged out ad infinitum, but ended somewhere in the second half of the book. A lot of time was spent on describing how things were wrapped up and how people dealt with loose ends. In fact I found that the war ended rather abruptly. I didn’t mind that, but I would have expected a longer battle. Once the milice finally found Serrier’s hiding hole, however, they made short work of him (with some help admittedly).

After the war we hear more about the aveu de sang together with Thierry who learns something about it he doesn’t like too much. All the time I was hoping along with him, only to see my hopes crushed in one sentence.

Lots of things get wrapped up nicely. Eric’s friendship with Alain and Thierry gets, well, re-established might be too strong a word, but at least they get over the animosities and maybe will find back to how it used to be.

The extorris Couthon is dealt with swiftly, something, I’m sure, every reader wanted to see. One of the most interesting points was a short flashback into Orlando’s past that told us more about his first days as a free vampire after Thurloe was executed.

Vincent’s trial takes place as well, so we see a glimpse of what the future will bring to him and Eric.

There is an epilogue which I liked a lot. It finishes Alain’s and Orlando’s story off, so we won’t have to deal with them again. I loved the couple from page one, but in the second half of “Reparation in blood” they became too sweet for me. I didn’t think that was possible, but, yes, it was.

Ariel is writing a sequel about one of the couples, set about a year after the war, she said. So what couple could that possibly be? As far as I am concerned I’d like to know more about either David and Angelique, but even those two seem to be in sync now and don’t need any further exploration. So I’d settle for the couple I love to hate, Jude and Adele. Their situation is not clear at all, we have no idea what their future as a couple (if they ARE a couple at all) will be like and there is enough tension and potential for conflict to keep the story going.

So, as the last book in a series, it brought everything to a satisfying end, but leaves enough room for more. I’m looking forward to it.

If you are interested to read my thoughts about the first three books in the series, you can find them below: 
Alliance in Blood
Covenant in Blood
Conflict in Blood

Available at Dreamspinner Press

Article

Release party for Reparation in blood

Finally “Reparation in blood”, the fourth and last part of Ariel Tachna’s “Partnership in blood” series will be released on Friday, Oct. 30 at Dreamspinner Press. Even though I can’t wait to read how the whole story will be wrapped up and who is going to survive the war I’m extremely sorry to see the series come to an end. Ariel promises us discussions, contests and other goodies, as well as exceprts from Reparation in blood and from her upcoming releases.

Come and visit her blog on Friday from 8am Pacific time on Friday.

Article

Conflict in Blood by Ariel Tachna

Blurb: As the Alliance wizard-vampire partnerships grow stronger, the dark wizards feel the effects and become increasingly desperate to find enough information to counter them, unaware of the growing strain of the blood-magic bonds on the wizards and vampires alike.
The conflict is spreading. The strife of uncomfortable relationships, both personal and professional, is threatening to tear up the Alliance from the inside, despite the efforts of Alain Magnier and Orlando St. Clair, Thierry Dumont and Sebastien Noyer, and even Raymond Payet and Jean Bellaiche, leader of the Paris vampires, who is fighting to establish a stable covenant with his own partner so he might lead by example.
As the war rages on and heartbreaking casualties mount on both sides, the dark wizards keep searching for clues to understand and counter the strength of the Alliance, while the blood-bound Alliance partners hunt through ancient prejudices and forgotten lore to find an edge that can turn the tide of the war once and for all.


My thoughts:
“Conflict in blood” is the third book in the “Partnership in Blood” series and you shouldn’t read this as a stand alone. If you haven’t read the first two books you will be at a loss as to what is going on. I’ll just talk about my thoughts about events and various couples while reading the book.

This contains SPOILERS!

Couples:

Orlando & Alain: It’s time for Orlando to get over all his hang-ups. I know he and Alain met only three weeks ago, but to me the time felt much longer (and I think it also did to the characters). Thank God that towards the end of the book Orlando took some action and started to see this himself.

Sébastien & Thierry: What a great couple. When I started reading Alliance in blood I didn’t care too much for Thierry, but he’s really grown on me. Once he overcame his uneasiness and acknowledged his attraction he was great. Sébastien’s qualms were understandable, but since they were for other reasons than Orlando’s he was much quicker in letting them go. He’s a different calibre than Orlando and I like him a lot.

Luc & Magali: I’d like to see more of them, but am not at all sure this will come to pass, since they are tugged away in Amiens. I liked the little interaction that we got to see.

Jude & Adèle: I understand what’s driving them, and I can relate to a certain point, but the aggressiveness that is underlying every time those two are together is grating on me. They seem to be caught in a lust/hate relationship. The constant fight for supremacy between them is aggravating. When they had sex for the first time, before anybody knew what was going on, I disliked them even more. Once I found out the reason for their behaviour I sort of forgave them, only to find out later that they both had that petty “I need to get the upper hand” streak that I really hated. Adèle even more so than Jude. She is a intelligent, independent woman and shouldn’t let feelings like this get to her in that way. From Jude I didn’t expect anything better considering his background. The scene where he gets his revenge for her leaving him behind earlier was pretty bad. Yeah, she desired it (he tasted that) and enjoyed it (and this he didn’t anticipate; in fact he counted on that she wouldn’t, which makes the whole scene a bit dubious). Those two have found their match, I suppose, but I still don’t like them.

Eric & Vincent: Now here’s a surprise. A nice touch to work in a relationship which is not the common wizard/vampire connection. I suppose those two will play a big part in the last book.

David & Angelique: Another pairing that still have to find a way to settle their disputes. I thought they finally got around to it, but then they regressed into their standard behaviour. Still, from the latest events I understand that maybe there is still hope.

Raymond & Jean: Until the end of book two I had misgivings about Raymond, but I must admit that now he and Jean are almost my favourite couple. The dynamics between them were very good, balanced and they seem to have come into their own. I loved them when they were together.

Antonio & Monique: Good set up. I liked that Antonio found his partner among the enemy and how that worked out later on.

Story:

A point I don’t understand is why no re-enforcements are being called in from other places. The war must concern everybody. It seems that the dark wizards are all in Paris gathering around Serrier, so I would think that getting in more wizards and vampires from other cities (e.g. Amiens) would help the cause. And it also would make more powerful pairings possible.

What was the scene with Christophe about? He wasn’t mentioned again afterwards and neither was his fear of what might happen in the future. Is this some foretelling, so we know to be prepared?

Slowly but surely the loyalty of Serrier’s supporters (which in a lot of cases must be based on that they don’t see a way out of what they’ve gotten themselves into) is faltering. That process was shown in a subtle way, which I appreciated. By now Eric & Vincent would probably leave the minute they see a chance for it. Not necessarily to defect to the militia, but rather just to leave the whole affair altogether. And the way Monique made the switch was more than believable after everything that had happened.

The way Orlando is keeping up is astonishing. I would have expected him to be far less unassailable than he turns out to be. Alain seems to be in a worse state than he. Amazing! But thank God for that. That way the book ended on a positive note – if you can say that considering the trouble Orlando is in and given the fact that the wizards and vampires seem to be at a loss at the moment as to how to proceed to free him.

What I like about the whole story the most is that it is a story that focuses on the people and their interaction. Yes, there is a war going on, and war events play a part, but we are not constantly witnesses of battles and strategy meetings and what not (there are some, of course, but they are not the main theme). What we see most is how the couples deal with what happens to them and with each other. Everybody is entwined with everybody else. What happens to one affects all the others in some way or other.

One thing that made me very happy was that FINALLY someone meeting a really old vampire considers doing more than just sleeping with him. Not once in all the vampire books I’ve read the vampire’s lover / partner/ companion ever mentioned that they would like to actually pick his brain about past events. Except for Raymond. From the first vampire story I read I was wondering why nobody ever asked them anything about historical events or situations that they witnessed. You would think that people would go crazy over the opportunity to get first hand information from someone who was around a thousand or more years ago. Obviously not! Except for Raymond. Because of this I find him even more endearing now.

This was another great read. If you have already read the first two books in the series, “Alliance in blood” and “Covenant in blood” you will certainly pick this one up. And if you haven’t yet, I strongly recommend to get those two first. This series is fantastic. Once more the only drawback is that we have to wait until November to get the fourth and last part of the story.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

Article

Release party for Conflict in Blood

By now you probably know that I’m a big fan of the “Partnership in Blood” series by Ariel Tachna. Finally “Conflict in Blood”, the third book in the series of four, will be released at Dreamspinner Press on Monday. Ariel is having a virtual book signing and a release party on her blog all day tomorrow starting 8am EST. She promises excerpts, not only from “Reparation in blood” but also other work in progress, discussions, a contest and other goodies. Sounds like a good way to spend some time tomorrow.

Edit: Ariel provided the link to the whole thread of posts for the party. You’ll find everything you need to know there. 

Article

Excerpt for “Conflict in blood” available now

If you have read my reviews of Alliance in blood and Covenant in blood you will know that I absolutely love the “Partnership in blood” series by Ariel Tachna. The third volume “Conflict in blood” will be released in May and an excerpt is now available on Dreamspinner. The excerpt is about Jean and Raymond, not one of my favourite  couples in the book, but I enjoyed reading it nevertheless. If you are interested, I strongly recommend you read the first two books, otherwise the story won’t make much sense to you.

Article

Covenant in Blood by Ariel Tachna

Synopsis: The war between the wizards is raging on affecting the natural balance. Meanwhile the wizards and vampires slowly realize that the connection between the couples entails more than just giving and receiving blood and the vampires’ immunity to the sun. Some couples are completely happy with each other, while others are struggling. Still they have to make it work so that the alliance will remain intact. Marcel and Jean, the leaders of the two groups, are preparing to announce their alliance publicly, to even get more support in their fight against the dark wizards around Serrier.

Review: Again the story kept me reading all night. More details are coming out about the bond between wizards and vampires that make the stories about the various couples even more interesting. The "aveu de sang" (blood vow) between Alain and Orlando is still strong, but due to Orlando’s past and all his hang-ups the relationship between the two becomes more difficult. Alain would like more than Orlando is able to give. I can’t wait to learn more about how those great guys will overcome their problems.

All the characters, who were already quite distinct in the first part, are getting even more fleshed out in the second one. The relationship between Thierry and Sebastien is getting more room in this book, and I’m already looking forward to reading even more about them in the next one. The same goes for Jean and Raymond and some other couples.

If you like vampire stories with a great story arc that stretches over more than one book, great love scenes and lovable characters, this is the series for you. It certainly is the series for me.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

[rating:5]

Article

Alliance in Blood by Ariel Tachna

Synopsis: For some time a conflict has been brewing in Paris. Dark wizards are trying to upset the natural order of things and take over. The milice wizards see a chance to gain a decisive advantage by persuading the vampires to join their forces.
In order to start negotiations Jean, the leader of the wizards sends his captain Alain to meet with an emissary of the vampires. As soon as Alain meets Orlando there is an instant attraction between the two.
It turns out that wizards and vampires can form a mutual bond that enables the vampires to face the sun, which makes them even more powerful allies than the wizards thought they would be. The bond depends on a certain chemistry, not every wizard is right for every vampire and vice versa. Thus there are some who struggle with their forced choice of partner, others are a perfect fit.
One of those latter couples are Alain and Orlando. They click from the first moment and decide to not only be partners in the alliance but much more than that.
Meanwhile the war with the dark wizards is raging on…

Review: Ariel Tachna says she has never read a vampire story in her life (haven’t I heard that before?), so I was expecting something  in the line of Twilight as far as the vampire culture was concerned. Was I wrong! She did a great job building a complex world with a lot of characters to keep track of. All the characters are fleshed out and have a distinct personality. Just the thought of all those wizards and vampires walking around in beautiful Paris is so exciting. From what I understand the whole story of the war was written as one book and then later divided into four parts. This first part has no conclusion and at the end I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second part.

The idea of wizards and vampires forming some blood bond is fascinating and really kept my interest up. Since Alain and Orlando are the first two to pair up (and not because they had to, but because they chose each other), this part mainly deals with them. However, a lot of  other characters are being introduced in a way that was neither forced nor seemed rushed in any way.

Now,  Alain and Orlando: wow, what a couple! I have hardly ever read a romance with such an (instant) attraction and such devotion to each other. From the word go they hit it off and don’t waste any time on beating around the bush. Some people might complain about this being totally unrealistic, and so on, but so what? Yeah, this might not reflect reality, but after reading this you wish it would. This is a true love story. The way Alain wants to help Orlando overcome his insecurities and the way they interact is just beautiful. Of course, there are a few love scenes, but this story also offers scenes in which the love and tenderness between Alain and Orlando shows without all the plain sex. I have read my share of vampire stories by now, but I have never read a scene describing a vampire bite as sensual and erotic as in this book. There are no idiotic misunderstandings, problems are being dealt with immediately. Those two guys are the epitome of a couple truly loving each other.

What a fantastic read! I’m now halfway into book two and know I’ll have to wait until May for the third part to be released. Bummer!

Available at Dreamspinner Press

[rating: 5]

Article

Gothic Dragon by Marie Treanor

Synopsis: Stuck in an uninteresting job and settled in a safe but vaguely unsatisfying relationship, the only bright spot in Esther’s life is her writing. She’s fascinated by colorful life of her ancestor Margaret Marsden, a nineteenth-century Gothic romance novelist. A woman who mysteriously disappeared without a trace.
A weekend away turns into a hunt for clues when Esther stumbles across Margaret’s lost novel, The Prince of Costanzo. Though desperate to read it, every time Esther opens the book, she falls asleep, and headlong into amazingly vivid dreams about Costanzo.
But in this dream world where war, magic and poisoning are commonplace, nothing is as it seems. Least of all the supposed villain of the novel, the enigmatic sorcerer Prince Drago. She finds herself kidnapped to his castle and subjected to a seductive interrogation that curls her toes. As their feelings for each other grow more powerful, she begins to wonder – is he the real villain, or a hero who only wants to save his kingdom? All she knows is that now that she’s had a taste of Costanzo – and Drago, her real life troubles seem insignificant.

Until they come crashing around her, threatening to cut her off from the man she loves. Forever.

Review: I like the idea of the reader to be sucked into a book. However, usually you’d expect her to experience the story described in that book. Here the story that Esther was transported into was quite different from the contents of the book. The explanation that was given as to why that was and how Esther could be drawn into the book in the first place was a bit far fetched and too complicated for my simple mind. But I’m a reader willing to overlook almost everything, from inconsistencies to illogical reasoning to incomprehensible explanations as to the why of the story, if only the story is good. And good it was.

The dreamlike, gothic atmosphere was quite compelling, you could picture Drago’s castle, the whole country Costanzo, its peasants, everything. It was like looking at one of those vivid paintings of some medieval scenery.
The fact that Drago, who was introduced as the super villain, turned out to be the hero was a nice touch here. He was as great a hero as you could wish for in a romance. Esther realistically didn’t fall for him the second she set eyes on him, but slowly came to care for him.
The real villains (there are some in either timeline) turned out to be quite villainous indeed and added the necessary suspense.

I’m a sucker for the “waited all my life for you” sort of story, so this was a really enjoyable read for me.

edit: There is a free short story available at The Samhellion called “Gothic Wolf”, which is a sort of sequel to “Gothic Dragon”, featuring Esther’s sister and Arturo.  Check it out!

Article

Dragon Heat by Allyson James

Synopsis (from amazon): Lisa Singleton has an unusual roommate-a fifty-foot dragon named Caleb who has glittering scales and a bad attitude. Little does she know that Caleb is actually a powerful warrior sent to protect her from those out to steal her magic and destroy the world. Or that Caleb can take the human form of a sexy hunk. Now, if he doesn’t stop distracting her with those gorgeous bedroom eyes, they may not have time to stop their enemies before all of existence is wiped out. At least Lisa and Caleb will have savoured every last minute.

Review: I usually don’t like books which feature more than one couple, since I think this distracts me from the main story. In this book, however, the second blooming romance (if it can be called that, after all Saba was enthralled with the black dragon through magic) was a blessing. Malcolm was a much more interesting character than Caleb. Whereas Caleb seemed insipid and one-dimensional, Malcolm showed more facets of personality and was altogether intriguing. Even though he was the villain in the piece, I was inclined to root for him and the rest of the world be damned (literally).

The love scenes between Caleb and Lisa were particularly uninspired. First they were constantly interrupted…how often do you "need to talk first" or can a cell phone ring? How bothersome! Then when they finally got together somehow the scenes always felt to me like some kind of intermezzo that was squeezed into the story, because, after all, it is classified as a romance. They were strangely unconnected to the story. I also didn’t feel tension between the two protagonists, even though it was said to be there constantly.

The last third of the book turned out to be quite enjoyable. Finally Lisa and Caleb stop blundering into situations. Finally it is revealed what on earth is going on here and what Lisa’s legacy is.
Still the fact remains that there wasn’t any particular connection between the main couple. The scene that satisfied me most in that respect is one between Saba and Malcolm in which he explains to her why he doesn’t want an emotional connection with her, her reaction to this and in turn again his reaction to hers.

Why Lisa left for the past even though she knew Donna would be coming soon is another thing that bothered me. She shouldn’t have done that, leaving the others exposed and she knew that. But she "had" to go for some reason. Well, yeah, the reason is that had she not gone the whole revenge plan of Donna’s would have been non-existent. Still, it didn’t make sense that she left knowing the situation at the time.

Conclusion: I didn’t care too much for this couple, but I’m totally intrigued with Saba and Malcolm. That is the reason why "The Black Dragon" is already sitting on my shelf. So I suppose I have to give Allyson James some credit after all.

One more word about the book cover. Really, does anybody think those covers will encourage people to buy those books? Can it get any cheesier than that? I have no idea where they dig out those guys, but please, spare us in the future. The cover on "Dragon Heat" might reflect Caleb in certain ways (I won’t go into great details here), but the cover of "The Black Dragon" is an insult to Malcolm’s character. I don’t need a hunk on a cover (and I mean hunk in it’s broadest sense) in order to imagine a hunk, after all.

[rating:3]

Article

Lord of Danger by Anne Stuart

Synopsis: "Lord of Danger" is the story of Alys and her sister Claire. Both are called to their half brother Richard the Fair’s castle where one of them is to be wedded to Richard’s advisor Simon de Navarre. Simon is feared by everybody. Due to his reputation of being a demon’s spawn and a Lord of the Dark Arts they call him "Grendel". When asked to choose between the two sisters he surprisingly chooses Alys, the somewhat drab but smart one, instead of Claire, the beauty. His plan to dispose of her in a convent as soon as she doesn’t suit his purpose any longer goes awry when he falls in love with her. And there is still Richard and his machinations to be considered…

Review: The books hasn’t been in my TBR pile for long, but I had been waiting to read it for a long while before I could finally get a copy. So my expectations were extremely high, additionally fuelled by the good reviews it got.

This was my second book by Anne Stuart and it will be my last. The book has a great story to tell and it was quite funny at times, but I just didn’t care for the way the story was executed.
I dislike books that deal with 2 romances in 1 and this is what Lord of Danger does. Claire’s love story takes up almost as much room as Alys’ and Simon’s – at least it felt like that for me.

Simon was a great hero, smart, strong, handsome and cunning and Alys a good heroine who doesn’t believe in Simon’s carefully crafted evil reputation. I liked that, but somehow the supposed tension between the two just didn’t show.
The scene on the parapet (two lovers meeting on the parapet in the midst of a thunder storm, you get it) that I had heard about beforehand was unexciting in spite of its potential and the ending, especially the last chapter, was rushed to the extreme. Simon’s "declaration of love", if you can even call it that, fit his character – I must give the author that – but was totally unsatisfying to a romance reader. For the real thing you had to revert to the secondary couple – not good!
Last, but not least, but this is a matter of preference, the love scenes were too tame for me. If the same story had been told by another writer, whose style is more to my taste, it would have been perfect, but as it is, it just wasn’t up my alley – at all.