Wednesday, August 26, 2009

REVIEW: "Wild, Tethered, Bound" Stephanie Draven, Silhouette Nocturne Bites, August 2009.

I really enjoyed Stephanie Draven's first Bites MIDNIGHT MEDUSA. So much so, that I made a comment (at the Silhouette Authors Blog) about Renata in that story being one of my favourite Nocturne heroines. Stephanie then asked me what I thought of her newest release, WILD, TETHERED, BOUND.

A lot of the comments that stand for this current story would also stick for MEDUSA, which is a testament to Draven's consistency.

From Stephanie's Goodreads Profile:

Lieutenant NICK LEANDROS is a battle-hardened American soldier who thinks he’s seen everything. But nothing prepared him for the horrors he encounters when he’s separated from his patrol in a dark Afghani forest. What he sees there fractures him–body and soul. Split into three separate men with three savage wills, he struggles to tame the cunning creatures and hold them inside. His only hope of salvation is DESSA, an ancient dryad who lost her Heart Tree on that war-ravaged day. Without a forest to guard, Dessa is bound to Nick by mystic forces and she alone understands the nature of the chimera that he’s become. She also knows that Nick is the only man who can give her the child she’s longed for and the only man who can ensure the future of her country. But the cruelest, most lustful, part of him demands her submission as the price for his help and with her powers waning every day, time is running out for Dessa to save the last forests of Afghanistan…and to heal the man she’s come to love.

This is the offical blurb:

While most dryads had abandoned their woods to live amongst mortals, Dessa continued to guard her forest in Afghanistan and waited for a man to eat the fruit of her heart-tree and become her mate. But when her tree is destroyed, Dessa tries to live in the mortal world--where she is reunited with Lt. Nick Leandros, the soldier who once ate the nuts from her tree and now struggles with the trauma that turned him into a Chimera with the ability to split into three different bodies.
Dessa longs to help Nick and save her lands--but to do so, she will need Nick to giver her a dryad child....

Emmeline's TAKE:

I enjoyed this book a lot. As with Draven's first Bites, MIDNIGHT MEDUSA, this is an intelligent and well-written story. It is refreshing to read Bites that stray from the norm of weres or vamps, and this one links current affairs that people are (or should be!) aware about with a challenging love story. I just love Draven's application of mythical creatures to things that are happenign in our time.
The conflicts and emotions were real and believable, the premise was clever and well-thought out. I enjoyed the characters, particularly the hero, Nick, although the heroine (Dessa) was also very appealing, earthy and deep.
I felt that the relationship between the tortured, resolute hero and the mythical, strong heroine could have been explored a little more, but I understand that these Bites don't allow much room for movement.
I'd love to see a full-length from this author, where the relationships could be more detailed and the build-up of sexual tension more developed, because the rest of her story rocked. :)

Thanks for the chance to read it, Stephanie!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

REVIEW: "The Highwayman", Michele Hauf, Silhouette Nocturne July 2009

WORKING ON: Desire Deep Blue, paranormal short. Very. Slow. Going.

READING: I've just popped a new Goodreads widget down there. I've decided to go with Goodreads. Their mobile site is far better than Shelfari's. If you're on Goodreads, hook up with me!

FEELING: Good. Sparky offered to take me out for dinner. I declined (kids are sick), but loved the notion.

LAST SONG: Freak Me, by Silk. I used to love that song. Now, I'm my thirties it makes me feel a bit grotty. Sigh. Middle-age me.


A while back, on the eHQ boards, I made some wonderfully witty comment about the differing covers on the Nocturne novels (It went something like, "I like the American ones waaaayyy better..."), and Michele Hauf made a comment about the thinness of the Aussie Nocs and the weenyness of the writing. She'd seen one - she'd like to see more.

Me, being one of those people that jumps first and thinks later, offered to mail Kiss Me Deadly over to her when it came out. Deal.

In return, she'd mail me a new one of hers. Cool. Ditto deal.

When the package arrived in the post, with not one, but THREE Michele Hauf books - I plotzed. Right there at the post office. Embarassing, I realised later...

All signed, by Michele and in the case of Faeries Gone Wild, the other authors as well.

I tell ya. Ms Hauf is doing nothing to pour cold water on my author fan crush.

So, first I read The Highwayman because I have a thing for the cover. It's very yum.

Here's the Goodreads blurb:

Max Fitzroy, the legendary Highwayman, had slain scores of demons with a razorlike whip and a burning need for revenge. Now, to rid himself of the demon inside him—who'd cursed him with immortality and stolen all sensual pleasures—Max needed a witch's familiar, the one creature he'd made a career of killing.
But the Highwayman wasn't prepared for the familiar named Aby. The sleek and sexy conduit to the demon world saw past his swirling shadow as easily as he scaled the walls she'd erected to protect herself. Max needed Aby to grant him his freedom, and then he needed to slay her. But how could he destroy the only creature he'd desired in centuries?

Outside review I stole from Michele's website:

"With dangerous encounters, a myriad of paranormal beings and even some subtle humor, THE HIGHWAYMAN is an enchanting love story packed with riveting adventures." —

And another one:

"Ms. Hauf shares a compelling tale of demons, witchcraft, and the strength of love. The Highwayman is a well-told and fast-moving adventure as romance unfolds between two strong, but lonely, adversaries. I’m so looking forward to Severo’s story in book two of the Wicked Games series. Moon Kissed is due to hit shelves on September 1, 2009." — Darque Reviews

Emmeline's TAKE:

Anyone who has read here knows I have a Hauf thing. And now I have a bigger thing.

I adored this story - The characters had depth, were true to form and completely likeable. Hauf has a wonderful way of linking characters, names, background, premise, conflict and storyline so that the story is a seamless read.

The backstory is complex, and if you've read some other Hauf stuff, you'll recognise it. Not that you need to read other stories to get this one.

It also has a few nice flashback scenes that are well-placed.

Character motivations are real, never forced and particularly in the case of Aby, refreshing.

I am also consistently in awe of Hauf's dialogue. It flows beautifully. We're of an age, so I wonder why mine sounds like a four year old talking to an imaginary friend. Heh... I imagine it's practice.
I read it in a sitting. Which, I think, is high praise for an author.

If you like a bit of action, paranormal fiends, tension and hot love, grab this one - I was quite happy to buy it just for the guy on the cover!

Thanks again to Michele for mailing it over - lucky for me, sometimes the jump firsts pay off... :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

REVIEW: "Aequitas I: Betrayal" by acMason, Lyrical Press 2009 and where the hell have I been?

You might ask of me. I've been limiting my computer time, or spending it more wisely (or not).
It's going oookay...

WORKING ON: Desire Deep Blue, paranormal short.
READING: The Devil Wears Prada, on audio, ever. so. slowly. Just finished AEQUITAS I: Betrayal, by ac Mason. See below for the REVIEW.
FEELING: Torched, man. I worked yesterday (I know, most of you work EVERY day! Well, I'm crap at that...)
LAST SONG: Don't know what it's called - The Letter, mebbe? Hoobastank and Amorosi.
WALK COUNT: Last week was great, this week is um..., 1 of 4. Um. EDIT: Caught up quick, now 4/4. Yay me...

I read ac Mason's, AEQUITAS I: Betrayal. I won this, and promised I'd review it. It is planned as part of a trilogy, and currently Mason is working on part 2 - Punishment.

Here's Mason on Mason:
Facts about me Born: Dec 15 Where: New Waterford, Nova Scotia, Canada About me: I can’t live without hats, boots and coats.
At the age of nine, a.c.Mason made up a zombie story at summer camp. It scared the other kids so much that the camp counselor called her parents asking them to ensure she never did such a dreadful thing again. From this, she learned the power of storytelling, and the seed of the author was planted.
A youth filled with dichotomies and moving from place to place produced a young French brown woman with a curiosity to explore through writing the seedy side of our nature and desires. Add to that her fascination with theology, horror, and erotica and her love for politics and history and her unique voice surfaced.
She wrote off and on since her early teens as a hobby and for friends. Her work has always converged with other worldly ideas and creatures; ghosts, vampires, witches, warlocks and mystics of all kinds. She enjoys delving into the realms of the unknown and blurring the caution lines.
a.c.Mason is fluent in French and English. She’s an avid traveler, including most of Canada, both of the United States seaboards, England and Europe. Her studies were in the computer field. She advocates the preservation of our natural and cultural riches for future generations.
Take a journey with her characters and come face to face with what lays beneath their illusions. Emerge…on the other side changed.

AEQUITAS 1: Betrayal is Mason's debut, it came out with Lyrical Press in June. Mason calls it a paranormal thriller.

Here's the blurb:

The Aequitas, part angel and demon, have kept the balance between the forces of good and evil -- until now. When Etienne Grant is kidnapped and transformed into an Aequitas, marriage to Auria is the only thing that will save his soul. Auria is a beautiful but efficient Aequitas, a General who wants nothing to do with love. A former lover has plans to prevent any hope of happiness with her new husband, and after murdering his own best friend and forcing Auria to join his rebellion, the balance between good and evil spirals out of control. Can Etienne's tenderness melt Auria's cold heart and heal the pain of their secret pasts? Their very survival depends on it.

Emmeline's TAKE:

I must admit to a bit of trepidation as a write this. I am conscious that I have promised Mason a look! Being aware though, that everyone has a right to their opinions and authors know this, and that I need to write what is right for me, I plow on...

I thought that Mason's world building was great (if you've read here before, I'm a fan of a good world), the premise and concept behind the Aequitas - the angel/demons - was interesting and challenging. I enjoyed the opening, not dissimilar to your every day urban Nocturne setting. Then the hero takes the heroine's hand and it's bye-bye to things you know.

The sexual tension between Etienne and Auria (pretty names...), was excellent, if drawn out beyond my preference. It was complex, tightly written and I found few, if any I recall, errors or typos (being an anal type, they whisk me out of the story and make me remember my washing...).

I originally asked Mason if I could have the book in .pdf file, in order to read it on my laptop, but found I just wasn't picking it up. So, I transferred it to a pdf reader on the phone, which handles big files, but is clunky to use. I definitely think that this has also coloured my reading experience. I actually got a little lost. It got too complex for my wee brain. I find this if I read some of the Sherrilyn Kenyon's or a Mercedes Lackey tome, so maybe it's really a good thing for Mason's book. Heh.

I enjoyed the first half of the book, but the change (not saying no more than that!) in Etienne threw me. I couldn't pick up the thread again. It is a good book, and worth a read if you come across it, particularly if you like them cross-threaded and multi-faceted.

Having given that slightly-warmer-than-luke-warm-review, here's one that I came across. As I say, different person, different values, different opinion. It might work stunningly for you:

It's also worth a look at Mason's webbie, and her recent comments on RWA.

Until next time.

Oooh, and check my Ecstasy Unveiled countdown doodad. Noice.


I love some other people's stuff, and if I use your stuff, I try to tell everyone that it's not my stuff - it's someone else's stuff. But, if I have used some of your copyrighted stuff here and you would like me to remove your stuff, let me know.... It's all for non-commerical use...