Friday, December 21, 2007

J.R. Ward's Dark Lover - A Good Start to a Great Series

Today's Book:

Dark Lover

J.R. Ward

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: The Black Dagger Brotherhood (Book 1)
Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Signet (MM) (Sep 6 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451216954
ISBN-13: 978-0451216953

Warning - If you aren't a fan of paranormal romance this book probably isn't for you, otherwise read on!

Rather than jumping into the middle of a series to review a book I just set down I've decided to dig into the old memory banks and review a book I read almost two years ago. Am I bored and out of reading material? Not quite, I just want to give you a chance to get hooked on a fresh new series by an author who is gaining popularity and momentum with every week. Dark Lover, the first book of J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series is an incredibly intense thrill ride that, like most paranormal romances, makes you forget the fact that most of the cast is made up of vampires and things that go bump in the night. The men (and there are plenty of them) are a fascinating collection of alpha-male he-man types but Ward does an excellent job of fleshing them out as individuals (and making you want to read their stories asap) and our heroine, Beth, is a nice compromise between the classic strong "Buffy" types that populate most of the genre and your average girl next door. She's tough when she needs to be but unlike the stars of some of the lesser entries in the genre, she isn't a master of martial arts, a bounty hunter or any other form of butt-kicking superwoman.

There are a few little quirks that can catch you off guard if you aren't expecting it. The men's names (Wrath, Zadist, Phury...) are a little cheesy as is the incessant descriptions of their sumptuous wardrobes (as one friend said - it kind of reads like gay porn in places - I'll take her word for it!). Thankfully these little foibles (and the incessant pop-culture references that are going to feel really dated in a few years) are easy to overlook and once the story hooks you, you'll stop noticing them entirely. Like many first entries in a series Dark Lover definitely has a few freshman hiccups and does suffer from some pacing and consistency issues in a few places but for the most part it delivers exactly what the title and evocative cover promise, a scorching romance filled with men we'd love to love and women who we can see ourselves in. Once you've read this one be sure to check out Lover Awakened and Lover Eternal, my two favourites from the series (and are just too good to write an objective review on)!

Rating: 3 1/2 stars of five (sorry folks, still no graphics until I get my laptop fixed!)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lori Foster's Simon Says - Great Library Book But Not On My Must-Own List

Today's Book:

Simon Says

Lori Foster

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: SBC Fighters Series (Book 2)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley (July 3, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425216586
ISBN-13: 978-0425216583

Amazon Page:

Let me just start by saying I wanted to love this book, I really did. It had all the elements for a great read - a hot hero with a slightly troubled past, a smart, sassy heroine who kicked butt (literally at times) and a few creepy bad guys lurking in the wings to keep things interesting. Unfortunately the little bomb featured on the cover was about as sizzling as it got in this rather by-the-numbers tale from one of America's favourite authors. Don't get me wrong, the characters, the chemistry, and the sex scenes are all scorching enough to make this a fun read but the somewhat lackluster plot and a rather weak central premise make it tough to remember this story once you've set it down.

Our heroine, the improbably named Dakota Dream, is an up and coming PI with an abusive ex-husband, a creepy and controlling stepfather and some serious emotional baggage. Dakota has been blackmailed by her stepfather into finding Simon "Sublime" Evans, a fighter and coach with the SBC who has recently thrown himself back into the ring after a disastrous split with his cheating "ring-bunny" girlfriend. Naturally of course they meet, sparks fly, and things proceed pretty much as expected, which wouldn't be a problem were it not for the fact that Dakota keeps a few crucial secrets from the soon-to-be love of her life which of course spill out at an inopportune moment, leading to a "you lied to me and I've been lied to before so I'm leaving despite the fact that this situation clearly has absolutely nothing in common with the past" conflict which is resolved in almost the same number of words used in this synopsis.

Overall this is one of those books that you will almost certainly enjoy, Foster's writing is as energetic and entertaining as always, but I wouldn't advise setting aside space on your bookshelf for it. Even in a genre known for sacrificing original plot twists at the altar of characterization and chemistry this plot is a bit on the mundane side.

Rating: 3 hearts of 5 (no graphics today due to technical issues)

Thanks and happy reading!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Karen Marie Moning's Bloodfever - Not Your Typical Romance But Fantastic Nonetheless

Today's Book:


Karen Marie Moning
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: "Fever" Series - Book 2
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (October 16, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 038533916X
ISBN-13: 978-0385339162
Amazon Page:

Hot, fast, addicitve. These are a few of the words I would use to describe the latest entry in Moning's "Fever" series. Our favourite southern belle turned Irish fae-slayer MacKayla lane is back trying to fight the bad guys, save the earth and maybe even figure out just who the heck her mysterious landlord/boss/knight in tarnished armour Jerico Barrons really is. Of course like most great early books in a series this one poses far more questions than it answers and by the time we reach the last page Ms. Moning has us positively salivating for the next entry (Faefever - out sometime in the not-too-distant future) without actually making much of a dent in the central questions of the series. The final scenes between Mac and Barrons leave you positively breathless with anticipation, making you want to whip out your credit card and preorder Faefever on the spot (you can't yet - I tried).

A number of fans have commented that this isn't really a romance at all, our heroine saves herself as often as not, there aren't a lot of steamy sex scenes (well not as many as a book populated with so many positively drool-worthy men should have) and nothing about the ending leads you to believe this is going to end with a neat and tidy "happily ever after". Somehow this suceeds as a romance despite all of these strikes against it. This is a book of carefully leashed passion and intrigue and we all know what happens when anything that powerful it kept tightly leashed - sooner or later it's all going to come out and Ms. Moning ensures we enjoy the ride while we wait. Overall this is probably not my first choice for newbies to the paranormal romance scene and those of you who didn't read the first book in the series (the good but less intense Darkfever) may feel a touch lost at the beginning but for those who like a little danger to add some spice Bloodfever is a sure bet.

of five

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Welcome to Romance Raves

Hi my name is Shaleigh, and I love to read romance novels...

Is that so hard to admit? Come on, give it a try, you know you want to.

After years of being ashamed of my decidedly unintellectual reading tastes I've decided to come out of the literary closet - I'm a perfectly normal, happy young woman with a great education and a good job and I love to read romances. I read hundreds of books each year including everything from soft, weepy southern tales in the style of Nora Roberts to fast moving futuristic tales of paranormal romance like those of J.R. Ward or Sherrilyn Kenyon and while I definitely have my favourites (and not so favourites) I love the fact that there is a genre that is all about falling in love.

Now don't get me wrong, I know the difference between fantasy and reality, I know that the storybook endings and improbably fantastic sex probably aren't in the cards for most of us but I'm okay with that. I have a busy life and a bright mind and when I have time for a book I really don't feel like reading a deep weighty tome that will leave my head spinning. I want something that I can dive into, fall in love with and just lose myself in for a few hours. That's why I read romance. Before I post my thoughts on today's book I'd like to take a moment to invite you to post your thoughts on what draws you to the fastest-growing but most ridiculed and least respected genre of literature that we all (secretly) love to read.

I know at this point you're probably wondering why on earth I feel the need to start a blog like this. To be perfectly honest, I'm tired of taking my pile of books to the checkout counter at the bookstore or library and watching the censure spread across the clerk's face as they realize that I'm reading such mindless tripe (their words not mine). I want to feel free to talk about the books I've found and solicit the opinions of others without feeling the need to blush or defend my choices. Most importantly I want to make it easier for other readers to find great books and authors that might otherwise have gone unnoticed because of the secretive, hush-hush attitude most of us adopt towards our favorite books. If you read a review and it reminds you of a book you once loved or hated feel free to post your comment, with any luck it will be something new for me to pick up and read.

Okay, enough of the boring introductory stuff, let's get on to the reason you are here - the books. Most of what I read tends to fall into the contemporary or paranormal romance genres right now but I am an open-minded, voracious reader and over the years I've consumed many books in pretty much every sub-genre of romance I've found. If I'm concentrating too much on a particular genre, feel free to let me know and I'll see if I can't add a little bit of spice to the mix next time.

Thanks and happy reading!

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