Darkfever (Fever series 1), by Karen Marie Moning

3 Stars

darkfever

I’ve been a fan of Karen Marie Moning since I read her Highlander series. It wasn’t an especially deep saga, but it was a great deal of fun and written fairly well, with likable characters. I’ve started Darkfever several times, but so often, when I’m in the mood for a paranormal romance, I expect romance. While the plot of Darkfever is not only engaging, but quite original, Jerricho Barrons comes off as exceptionally abrasive in this first installment. At times, he even seems cruel. Coupled with the Sookie Stackhouse-esque exaggeration of Mac’s southern charm, while I could tell this one would be worth the effort, for the longest time, I just couldn’t put it forth.

I’m glad I finally committed. Jerricho’s edges smoothed out a bit and Mac toughened up a touch, but I mostly just really liked this story. Unlike vampires, werewolves, and witches, the fae haven’t been overdone in books and television, so there’s a lot of room to expand on the lore, and expand Moning does. This is one of those delightful paranormal stories that includes a glossary in the book, because the author has gone so deep in her creation of the world. Sadly, though, world building seemed to make up the majority of this tale. This is not a stand-alone title, rather clearly the set-up for a series and it reads like one. That’s not a bad thing, as long as you’re looking for a commitment to character development and intricate plot details.

Review Word Count: 247

Series Order
1. Darkfever
2. Bloodfever
3. Faefever
4. Dreamfever
5. Shadowfever
6. Iced
7. Burned

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Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changelings 1), by Nalini Singh

4 Stars

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I ignored this recommendation for months. I mean, for realz, yo, look at the cover art. Read the title. This must be nothing but trash. I’m so glad for my habit of reading titles because they look awful. Sometimes it leads me to some real gems, like the Psy-Changeling books. This series is told in the style of J.R. Ward and Kresley Cole, detailing an over-arching plot through the individual tales of different couples. It’s most definitely paranormal romance, but the story surrounding it is just so fun and original… and also broken up with explicit sex scenes.

The Psy are a cerebral species, connected to a neural network and possessing psychic powers. This made them all batcrap crazy, so they got rid of emotion 80 or so years ago. The Changelings are shape shifters that exist in packs, based on their animal. Changeling leopard Lucas strikes a deal with Nikita Duncan and is intrigued by the warmth he feels from her daughter, Sascha. When a neighboring pack is certain a Psy has taken one of their own, Lucas must work with Sascha to catch the villain before war breaks out.

Lucas is a definite alpha male and Sascha is a bit too weak at times. The language can be a touch redundant as well, but these issues are standard for the first installment in a series. The overarching plot is unique and the characters are enjoyable. This is a great beginning to a paranormal romance series.

Review Word Count: 247

Psy-Changeling series order (sans novellas)

1. Slave to Sensation
2. Visions of Heat
3. Caressed by Ice
4. Mine to Possess
5. Hostage to Pleasure
6. Branded by Fire
7. Blaze of Memory
8. Bonds of Justice
9. Play of Passion
10. Kiss of Snow
11. Tangle of Need
12. Heart of Obsidian
13. Shield of Winter
14. Shards of Hope

Keep Me Safe (Slow Burn 1), by Maya Banks

2 Stars DNF

keep me safe

I don’t like to review DNF’s, but I tried, y’all. I really tried.

The problem with Keep Me Safe isn’t the plot. It was pretty original, mixing romantic suspense with paranormal romance. That’s why I gave it a second go (and star) after only having made it through 25% the first time. You have to be in the mood for Banks, because she loves her damsels. These aren’t KA damsels, mouthy and impulsive. These are old school Disney damsels, too stupid to refuse an apple from a stranger or prick their finger on a glowing spinning wheel. These gals are weak and need saving from the badasses who fall in love with them instantly… which can be fun to read. In fact, this theme worked particularly well in Banks’s highlander series and the first half of her KGI series, which, admittedly, takes a hilariously hard left turn.

Keep Me Safe’s major flaw isn’t the plot or characters. It’s the writing. I don’t know if Banks has jumped the shark or if she’s writing too quickly, but this book was unbelievably repetitive. In the first few chapters, Caleb confesses that he’d do it all over again at least four times. It takes away from the effect and is exhausting to read. On top of that, I know this is romance, but oh my stars, Caleb turned into such a vagina. I just could not take another redundant heartfelt speech from this “badass.” It was beyond nauseating. I quit at 66%.

Review Word Count: 246

Slow Burn

1. Keep Me Safe
2. In His Keeping
3. Safe at Last

Bitten (Women of the Otherworld 1), by Kelley Armstrong

4 Stars

bitten

Bitten is definitely paranormal romance, but there’s a lot more action and adventure to the story than is usual for the genre. That’s both the reason for the high rating and the reason I didn’t award that 5th star. The relationship between Clay and Elena is too central to the story not to categorize the title as romance, but also lacks the emphasis of a typical love story, because of the heavy and engaging plot. At times, I couldn’t decide if I wanted more Clay and Elena or if I wanted to hear more about this whole wolf thing.

The plot itself is original and complex, and a truly unique take on werewolf lore, without creating a new supernatural breed. Honestly, though, I think my favorite aspect of Armstrong’s writing is her characterization. None of her characters are truly perfect. Elena is sort of cold and angry. She holds a wicked grudge against Clay, who is pretty unforgivably barbaric at times, his choices differing greatly from the show. The choice between Clay and Phillip isn’t obvious to the reader, because Phillip is never painted as a villain. Once again, the relationship is not the sole focus of the story. Typically, with PNR, we enjoy the tale, but we know how it ends. This isn’t so in Bitten. Characters die. Hearts are broken. Not everyone is forgiven. It’s quite refreshing in the genre, if you’re looking for refreshing. There’s also the joy of the closely based Canadian show, now available on Netflix.

Review Word Count: 250

Women of the Otherworld
1. Bitten
2. Stolen
3. Dime Store Magic
4. Industrial Magic
5. Haunted
6. Broken
7. No Humans Involved
8. Personal Demon
9. Living With the Dead
10. Frostbitten
11. Waking the Witch
12. Spellbound
13. Thirteen

Dark Desire (Dark Saga 2), by Christine Feehan

1 Star

dark desire

“The Queen of paranormal romance.”
USA Today

I’m a masochist. That’s the only possible reason I continued this story. In fact, there is a story here. Feehan just buries it under a junkyard of redundant melodrama. I seem to find these books engaging from the start, but quickly lose interest once the initially strong and defiant female characters cave to the sexy force of their alphas, cuz vaginas, yo. Besides the repetition, that’s my major issue with the writing. The characterization is just irritatingly inconsistent. We start with an independent survivor and end with one of those creepy sex dolls you can order online.

Shea has a blood disease and must take “transfusions”… orally. Oh, she’s also a doctor and doesn’t realize that that’s not a thing. That’s just drinking blood, but whatevs. She travels to the Carpathian Mountains to find information on her birth father while looking for a cure. There, she finds Jacques, her (unbeknownst to her) Carpathian lifemate, who’s been buried for seven years. Imagine her shock when he also has to have oral transfusions! She saves his life and then… well, nothing really happens. There are some Bad Vampires trying to kill them. There’s a battle scene. There are several timeline inconsistencies (kind of Feehan’s thing). The book is finally over after 300 pages of this shit. I’m pretty much done.

Review Word Count: 224

Series Reading Order (sans novellas)
1. Dark Prince
2. Dark Desire
3. Dark Gold
4. Dark Magic
5. Dark Challenge
6. Dark Fire
7. Dark Dream
8. Dark Legend
9. Dark Guardian
10. Dark Symphony
11. Dark Descent
12. Dark Melody
13. Dark Destiny
14. Dark Hunger (manga)
15. Dark Secret
16. Dark Demon
17. Dark Celebration
18. Dark Possession
19. Dark Curse
20. Dark Slayer
21. Dark Peril
22. Dark Predator
23. Dark Storm
24. Dark Lycan
25. Dark Wolf
26. Dark Blood
27. Dark Ghost

Dark Prince (Dark Saga 1), by Christine Feehan

2 Stars

dark prince

I’m not sure what sounds more suffocating: sleeping in the ground or being a Carpathian’s lifemate.

Regardless, the unhealthy relationships depicted were not my reason for giving this a two star review. In fact, I was initially excited by a new series, especially one so long. Each book is told in the vein of J.R. Ward or Kresley Cole with a new couple as the focus and there are twenty-seven of them. Sadly, the first one, at least, was extremely disappointing.

While the plot was engaging enough, with its fairly original take on vampires that are more terrifying than dreamy, this book suffers most profoundly from poor writing. Drink every time someone says “do this thing for me” or Mikhail calls Raven “little one” and you’ll be dead by the midpoint. The redundancy was my biggest issue. Repeatedly, the reader is told that the Carpathians cannot survive eternity without their lifemates, or they’ll turn to darkness. We’re told in exactly the same way, multiple times, in every chapter. When the storyline FINALLY picks up, the repetitiveness STILL causes a significant lag. Furthermore, numerous errors were made in continuity, such as a character going from standing to sitting, to standing again. Ultimately, I was bored and saddened by the fact that this story had real potential and was so poorly executed. I’ll continue reading, under the hopes that the promising plot will thicken and the writing will improve exponentially.

Series Reading Order (sans novellas)
1. Dark Prince
2. Dark Desire
3. Dark Gold
4. Dark Magic
5. Dark Challenge
6. Dark Fire
7. Dark Dream
8. Dark Legend
9. Dark Guardian
10. Dark Symphony
11. Dark Descent
12. Dark Melody
13. Dark Destiny
14. Dark Hunger (manga)
15. Dark Secret
16. Dark Demon
17. Dark Celebration
18. Dark Possession
19. Dark Curse
20. Dark Slayer
21. Dark Peril
22. Dark Predator
23. Dark Storm
24. Dark Lycan
25. Dark Wolf
26. Dark Blood
27. Dark Ghost

Review Word Count: 239

Claimed (Brides of the Kindred 1), by Evangeline Anderson

1 Star

claimed

The most important part of writing a book review is to consider a title solely within its own genre, taking care not to compare East of Eden to The Hunger Games… and Claimed still gets one star. Intended as campy sci fi erotica, this isn’t the next Star Trek, so much as the next Deepthroat Nine… and I was cool with that. The problem was that, even after pinpointing the author’s target, Claimed was still one of the worst things that has ever happened to me (of course, I recommend it as a Hate Read).

The tale opens with some vague back story, about how the Kindred saved Earth from the Scourge for the low, low price of our ladies. There exist three species of Kindred. Beast Kindred are larger, angrier, and have penises that swell up so they get stuck to their gals while they Forever Bond. Tranqs are basically alien vampires. Twins are exactly as kinky and incestuous as they sound. Alrighty. Let’s have some alien sexy times… or not.

While there were a few sex scenes in this erotica, it’s mostly just angst. The heroine is completely unwilling and hateful, despite having feelings for the hero. The hero is heartbroken that he’s unwanted. The household appliances are alien creatures… and that’s about it. We get just a glimpse of the villain, because he’s not sexy, but mostly we read about how miserable the leads are, which is not even hawt on a completely ridiculous alien spaceship.

Series Reading Order
1. Claimed
2. Hunted
3. Sought
4. Found
5. Revealed
6. Pursued
7. Exiled
8. Shadowed
9. Chained
10. Divided
11. Devoured
12. Enhanced
13. Cursed
14. Enslaved
15. Targeted

Review Word Count: 250

Golden Dynasty (Fantasyland 2), by Kristen Ashley

2 Stars

golden dynasty

I didn’t have as many issues with this book as some, but it wasn’t my favorite. Yeah, it was pretty rapey at times, but this was clearly a shoutout to the Khaleesi and Drogo, so I could adjust to the more… primitive sexuality (yeah, we’ll go with that).

What frustrated me the most, though, was actually the pretend language employed in this story. Several chapters included large blocks of gibberish text that were only explained at the END of the chapter, which was intensely distracting for a Kindle read. Smaller words weren’t always explained at all and I kept having to download the PDF dictionary. It was just unnecessarily difficult to read, for this reason.

description

Furthermore, while I could deal with the more brutal sexual themes, this was probably the book where KA is most guilty of victim blaming. After the hero does the most unthinkable and despicable things possible, we get to hear the heroine’s nosy and obnoxious best friend (what’s a KA novel without one of those?) blame HER for “holding a grudge” and causing HIM to abuse his men. That, coupled with all that rape and spousal abuse, was just a bit too much for me.

Series Reading Order
1. Wildest Dreams
2. Golden Dynasty
3. Fantastical
4. Broken Dove

Review Word Count: 200