Sunday, June 29, 2008

Alexandra Benedict - Too Great A Temptation - Too Trilogy 1

Once he was a notorious sinner, he was called the Duke of Rogues, but when his brother dies at the hands of pirates, Damian Westmore has only one thing on his mind…revenge. He is forced to take a job on board a merchant vessel when he is broke and needs to return to London. Never in a million years did he anticipate to join the same crew who killed his brother or come across a stunning siren, who just happens to be the captain’s sister. She stirs up all these emotions he has kept in check for so long and there is no denying their attraction for one another. How is he to strike down the pirates without hurting the feisty siren, the one who touches his heart…

Determined to be a pirate and to escape a dull life on the mainland, Mirabelle Hawkins has stowed away on board her brother’s pirate vessel. The infamous captain Black Hawk and her three other brothers are not happy to see her but decide to give her one chance to prove herself, provided that she is no distraction to the crew. From the moment she meets Damian she knows he is a temptation too great to resist. She cannot avoid him on board the ship nor can she reject his touch and kisses, but Damian is not who he appears to be. How can she give in to her desire for the one man who is bent on destroying her family…

Too Great A Temptation by Alexandra Benedict is the first part in the Too trilogy and it pleasantly surprised me for it was such a joy to read. From the first page I was immerged in a captivating story that demanded my full attention till the very last page and left me hungry for more. This story has a typical historical romance vibe, but at the same time it is refreshing and fast-paced to read.

A great part of this story takes place on board a pirate ship and this author lures you into her world with her superb writing skills. With a keen eye for detail she describes the day-to-day life on board the vessel, the struggle of being a woman in a man’s world and she builds up the underlying tension between her main characters to perfection. The dialogues sparkle, are snappy and full of wit. The plot is simple and human, but it keeps you enthralled.

You will immediately fall in love with the mesmerizing and charming characters in this book. The main characters are Damian and Mirabelle (Belle), they are well-drawn and rounded, giving their romance a depth that will resonate with the reader. Damian is easy to figure out, he used to be a sinner all the way but he is weighed down by the guilt over his brother’s death. Now he has to clean up his act and is trying to redeem himself by avenging his brother. Belle is not your average type of heroine, she is a feisty, pretty woman who speaks her mind and wants to be a pirate. However, most of all she wants to be accepted by her brothers and belong somewhere. Belle has to be assertive otherwise her overprotective brothers will completely carp her. Their interactions are dynamic and curt, they brighten up the pages.

Damian to Belle and vice versa:

“You speak your mind most freely. It’s not what a proper miss would do.” “And what do you know of a proper miss, Damian?” “I know enough to suspect an innocent maid would never speak of things lustful … which leads me to believe you might not be a very innocent maid.” “Who I am is none of your affair.” “But you are my affair, Damian.”

The secondary characters immediately caught my eye. Belle’s brothers are hilarious, witty and they supply you with lots of snappy bickering. James is the leader, William is the even-tempered one, Edmund and Quincy are the youngest of the lot and are always at each other’s throats, they don’t care about propriety or order. Your heart cries out for Belle who has to deal with her overprotective, “loving” brothers. With secondary characters like these Hawkins boys you will keep flipping those pages faster and faster.

Quincy to Edmund and vice versa:

“What is the matter with her?” wondered Quincy. “I don’t know,” said Edmund, his attention back on his finger. “Maybe she’s having her monthly courses.” Quincy looked back at his brother. “I’m going to knock your teeth out for putting that thought in my head.”

With Too Great A Temptation Alexandra Benedict has written a story you will remember long after you have finished it. This story is the perfect combination of a heart rendering romance, fast-paced action, captivating characters and witty dialogues. In short, Alexandra Benedict provides you with top-notch reading material!

4,5 stars

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Gena Showalter - The Darkest Kiss - LOTU 2


A long time ago a group of immortal warriors, protectors of the gods, opened up Pandora’s box and unleashed a horde of demons upon the world. The warriors were punished severely, they were forced to house the demons inside themselves. Now the gods look down upon them, humans fear them and they are hunted by Hunters. The only way they can free themselves is to once again lock up the demons in Pandora’s box, however the box is missing and time is running out for they are not the only ones in search of the box...

Lucien is the leader of the Budapest warriors and the keeper of the demon Death, to keep the demon inside him satisfied he is forced to take souls to the hereafter. Tormented over the death of the woman he once loved, he avoids love and women all together. Then he meets Anya and she stirs up all these feelings in him he thought were long gone, but is she for real? To make matters worse the new cruel king of the Gods, Cronus, blackmails him to take her soul, if he does not obey his warriors will pay the price. Now he is forced to choose between his warriors and the one woman who makes him feel alive ...

Anya is the goddess of Anarchy, she cannot love a man completely because of her curse. She has never known any pleasure and as a result of her mother’s actions she is scorned by the other gods and is treated like an outcast. For the first time in her life she feels a strong attraction for a man, Lucien, if only he would see her for who she really is, but Lucien also represents danger and death. The king of the gods, Cronus, is chasing her, for she possesses something he wants and she is not willing to give it up. Now, thanks to Cronus, the one man she craves is coming after her to take her soul. How is she to change the mind of the keeper of Death? If only she could make him love her and trust him enough to tell him her secret...

The Darkest Kiss is the second part in the Lords of the Underworld series by Gena Showalter and she sure brought it off to create a new series that is unique, refreshing and exciting to read. The story immediately grabs your attention and does not let go until you know the whole story and then it leaves you craving for more, more of those sexy, muscular warriors.

Gena Showalter created a whole new world that is magical, dazzling and dangerous by mixing elements of the Greek mythology with hot looking, tormented warriors and of course a heart rendering love story. She carefully builds up this new world with pieces of information without overwhelming you, making sure that the romance is in the spotlight. At the same time she is dropping hints about other future story lines, that alone will leave you hungry for more!

The main couple in this story is Lucien and Anya. Lucien is a tormented warrior who feels responsible for the cruel fate that is bestowed upon him and his warriors because he was the one to open Pandora’s box all these centuries ago. Now he is completely numb for he does not want to feel any emotions or get his hopes up for anything. Anya is a beautiful, radiant woman who is a little rebellious, likes a little mischief and fights her own battles, she quarrels with the gods all the time, but she is also lonely and wants to belong somewhere. You will immediately sympathize with this couple, their interactions are leaping off the pages and will make your heart beat faster and faster.

The supporting cast of family, friends and enemies is very diverse. The warriors all have their own personalities and demons. They are prepared to die for one another and some of them will have their own story in the future. The Hunters have but one goal in life to rid the world of the warriors and find the box. And then you have the many different gods and mythical creatures, who like to play pitiful games and are only looking out for themselves. This concoction of all these various characters gives this story a certain depth and diversity. It is refreshing, original and a joy to read.

The Darkest Kiss is fast-paced and intriguing, filled with many well-drawn passionate characters, a superb plot and a sizzling hot romance. This reviewer cannot wait to return to the compelling, seductive, mythical world of Gena Showalter and those hot, sexy warriors. The new Lord of the Underworld series is just as addictive as chocolate!

4,5 stars

Thursday, June 5, 2008

J.R. Ward - Lover Enshrined - BDB 6


Fiercely loyal to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Phury has sacrificed himself for the good of the race, becoming the male responsible for keeping the Brotherhood's bloodlines alive. As Primale of the Chosen, he is to father the sons and daughters who will ensure that the traditions of the race survive and that there are warriors to fight those who want all vampires extinguished.

As his first mate, the Chosen Cormia wants to win not only his body but his heart for herself-she sees the emotionally scarred male behind all his noble responsibility. But while the war with the Lessening Society grows more grim, and tragedy looms over the Brotherhood's mansion, Phury must decide between duty and love.

Lover Enshrined is the sixth part of the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series (BDB) and features my favorite BDB warrior, Phury. It was a long wait after Lover Unbound so the minute I had the book in my hands I plunged right into it, only to rise to the surface to eat and breathe. Miss Ward is a gifted writer because so far she has always been able to bring about a BDB fever every time a new part of this series was about to hit the shelves.

Since the fourth part of this series, Lover Revealed, Ward has taken a different road with her stories, less romance, more plotlines and action. Lover Enshrined confirms that Ward continues to travel down this road. Lover Enshrined basically has several different plotlines and in this book she constantly switches between these plotlines which made it difficult to immerse completely into the story.

So what is it about Miss Ward’s stories that keep millions of romance readers utterly spellbound? It is that special BDB vibe, the interactions between those sexy warriors, the rituals, the ceremonies and the romance with their heroines. This is exactly where the shoe pinches. In this story, that for a big part takes place in the Mansion, you would expect lots of BDB interactions, well just as in Lover Unbound you’re craving for this vibe but will not be satisfied, only at the very end of the book do we see some brotherly interactions and can we feel that vibe again.

Phury is the hero in this story, he has to deal with his own paltry past and his guilt towards his twin, Zsadist. He is always sacrificing himself for the others, he is emotionally tormented by all this. Then there is this Primale business to consider and his celibacy, he is on this downward spiral and is completely lost. Towards the end of the story he is outlined as a junkie and although he makes a strong recovery and finally finds inner peace, I cannot help but feel he was wronged by the Warden, for the other Brothers completely turn their backs on him. I thought this was entirely out of character for everything the Brotherhood stands for.

Cormia is this sweet young lady, but she really is unworldly. She has no clue to how the world works, she only knows the world of the Chosen. Being a Chosen one is not really her thing, throughout this story, just as Phury, she finds out who she really is. The attraction between Phury and Cormia is nice but certainly not spectacular, their romance was just not explored in depth and the love scenes lacked intensity. However, I do like the twist Ward has given to the Primale plotline, it certainly showed that Phury has great leadership within him.

What keeps this story interesting are the different plotlines with all these secondary characters. The plotline with John Matthew, Quinn and Blay pulls at all your heartstrings and gives you a little of that BDB vibe you so crave for. Rhevenge’s plotline is interesting and the war with the Lessers and the Omega gets so much more intense, for the Omega plays out his master card which means a whole lot of problems for the Brotherhood. Also, Lassiter finally makes his attendance, now that particular male is going to be trouble with a capital T. Ward has done an outstanding job with the plotlines and she leaves you guessing what will going to happen in the next parts of this series.

But with all these interesting and emotional gripping plotlines going on, you can’t shake the feeling that the romance between Phury and Cormia is completely snowed under. The balance between the romance and the other plotlines has completely been thrown out the window, you do not get connected with Phury and Cormia as a couple, simply because they did not get enough pages in the book to tell their romance.

So we can say for sure that Ward has taken a different road with the last two parts of this series, Lover Enshrined confirms this. The road she travels now will not lead back to that special BDB vibe we have come to know and crave. This story will certainly leave you with mixed feelings, we will just have to except that the romance part plays second fiddle as of now and move on. Needless to say that Ward excels at writing superb plotlines with a twist. I am eager to read what the future will bring for the Black Dagger Brotherhood, only time will tell.

3 stars