Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

About Shuzluva

Sydney (better known by her handle, Shuzluva) knew that she wanted to be Han Solo's copilot after seeing Star Wars at the tender age of 5. She fell in love with romance novels over 20 years ago when she got her hands on Sandra Brown's Texas! trilogy, and in the mid 90's was overjoyed to discover romance writers had branched out into the world of SciFi/fantasy. While she enjoys the occasional contemporary or historical novel, the world of SciFi holds an unshakable fascination for her. Some of her favorite authors include Nalini Singh, Catherine Asaro and Kresley Cole, and she's always interested in adding new authors to the list.

Posts by Shuzluva :

REVIEW: Wars of the Heart by Inari Gray

REVIEW: Wars of the Heart by Inari Gray

Dear Ms. Gray,

When I read the blurb for Wars of the Heart, I was utterly confused. Let me explain; or better yet let me sum up the blurb, which goes something like this:

Katherine Morgan is a diplomat from Earth, she thinks that someone is out to destroy Earth’s Ozone Shield, and goes to the Peace Keeping Intergalactic Council (PKIC) for both assistance and an investigation. But the PKIC can only offer up someone else’s muscle. Of course, the muscle is King Ja-el Lamar, the guy whose heart Katherine broke a long, long time ago. So she’s told by the PKIC that she has to “force” an alliance with Ja-el or else he will lose his kingdom. Oh, and Ja-el has his own scheme.

Wars of the Heart by Inari GrayYep. There’s a powerless council that will force a king to do something, a diplomat that is apparently in charge of Earth’s environmental well-being, and a king that is described as impetuous and at the mercy of said diplomat. You may ask why I would bother to read this after such a strange and WTF-laden blurb. Well…it’s space + romance. Let’s face it, I just can’t get enough of space and romance combined, and I’ll try anything that’s billed as SciFi Romance once. And after reading the first five pages of the book I was in serious hope that things would get better.

They didn’t.

But before I delve into my issues with the book, let me sum up for realz:

Katherine Morgan is a diplomat for Earth, working hard at a job she’s always wanted. She’s discovered that there have been strategic attacks on Earth’s Ozone Shield, targeted at the most important loci to do the maximum amount of damage. Fearing that Earth is in danger of attack and will become a scarred wasteland, Katherine appeals to the elders of the PKIC for help. During a video conference with numerous representatives, they admit that they can offer technological assistance but the only planet that can offer true military backing is Salatiel, but it’s representative, King Ja-el Lamar, doesn’t bother to dial in to the meeting. In a twist (ok, not really), Tobias Laivir, the head of the Elder Council and Katherine’s ex-boyfriend, moves to send Katherine to Salatiel to tell Ja-el to “yield” or the PKIC will be forced to take action.

Katherine goes to Salatiel and Ja-el refuses to see her immediately. Katherine has conversations with her ex-mentor Laramie, who happens to be Ja-el’s political advisor, Ja-el’s military master and member of the PKIC Elder council, Neelam Reybak and her father who is an Elder member of the PKIC. Katherine delves into memories of her time on Salatiel for diplomat training, goes for long walks on the beach, and pretty much accomplishes nothing. There’s a lot of what is supposed to pass for political maneuvering; Ja-el makes Katherine wait to see him and Katherine makes noise to the PKIC, but it just reads as two kids sniping at each other. Ja-el is also…er…enjoying the benefits of a princess of a neighboring planet. She’s none to thrilled that Ja-el is unable to give her his heart, or any sort of emotion whatsoever. But apparently they are having some hawt sex.

The plot…er, I should say, the Ozone Shield plot, becomes more confusing with different twists added. There seems to be some weird things going on, but no one shares information with each other. As I read the book I realized that a lot of clues were thrown out, but nothing was tied together in a way that made complete sense. In addition, everyone on Salatiel is operating in their own little bubble, existing on bitter feelings and reliving glory days, none of which move the plot or the romance forward. The lack of communication between the characters means you have one giant clusterfuck of a who-did-what-to-whom-and-why storyline. On the romance side, the heat between Katherine and Ja-el is nonexistent. There seems to be more going on below the belt and mentally with Ja-el’s princess paramour. The Katherine/Ja-el romance is flat and uninspiring and there are times when it feels like I’m reading about to bratty teenagers rather than a king and a diplomat.

But my real issues with the book are Katherine and Ja-el. She met Ja-el and they fell in…something when she was sixteen. Oy. I couldn’t wrap my head around that, or the fact that yep…Ja-el “did” something to her to tie them together forever back when they were in “training”. Two: the writing was so…out there with descriptions that I had a hard time imagining what people were really thinking or feeling. Take a gander:

In the center of the screen, eyes brighter than glowing amethysts stared at her intently. Exasperation showed in the constricted brows that towered above them. Katherine looked at the man they belonged to, a vision of fairytale-like beauty with striking features and wispy sandy brown hair. Behind the mask of his attractiveness, his violet stare was cold as stone.

Is she looking at his constricted brows? What the hell is a constricted brow? But the weird descriptions go on:

Her tongue felt thick, too heavy to form coherent words. “I was just about to go find you.” He didn’t respond. He simply stared, deathly silent, unnerving. She fought the urge to recoil. His eyes pierced hers as though they saw a web of lies beneath the surface of her skin. Honesty, she reminded herself, though the urge to lie came more naturally. “There’s something I really wanted to discuss with you,” she said, when the silence stretched to an uncomfortable level.

I would have thought the piercing of her eyes was more uncomfortable than the silence.

Finally, Katherine neither acts nor thinks like a diplomat, a grown woman, or someone who is in a position of authority. Ja-el neither acts nor thinks like a king, a mature man (ok, that might be an oxymoron, but nonetheless…), or again, someone in a position of power. There’s zero strategy from Katherine and a bit more than a thimbleful from Ja-el. I plowed through this one, but unless you’ve got a hard on for space-based romance like I do, I wouldn’t bother. C-

~ Shuzluva

Since anything else might veer into spoiler territory, I’ll refrain from saying more about the plot.

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REVIEW: Must Love Lycans by Michele Bardsley

REVIEW: Must Love Lycans by Michele Bardsley

Dear Ms. Bardsley,

About 1/3 of the way through this book, I realized I’d read another in the Broken Heart series. I think it was Cross Your Heart; I remember something about a ghost and some sort of evil. That was the only book I’d ever picked up in the series, and it was amusing but didn’t push me to jump on another series wagon. I have to admit, I pulled Must Love Lycans off the TBR stack because I liked the fact that Damian (the hero) shows up naked. Yeah, I needed a thrill while on our family vacation since the door to our bedroom never closed.

Must Love Lycans by Michele BardsleyDr. Kelsey Morningstone is a psychotherapist who is lucky to have a job. After allowing a psychotic killer to manipulate her, Kelsey was sued by every relative of the killers victims, lost everything including the shirt off her back and was repeatedly interviewed by the FBI. Adding insult to injury, Kelsey’s mother, a famous psychotherapist (think appearances on Oprah), has cut off all communication. But Kelsey manages to land a job that pays off all her debts and takes care of all her associated problems at the Dante Clinic, a privately funded psychiatric hospital that seems a lot more like Promises in Malibu than Pilgrim State Hospital. It’s weird enough that I wouldn’t take that job, but Kelsey is an empath, hides her abilities, and knows her options are limited to the Dante Clinic or nothing.

Damien is a new patient that is brought into the clinic. Suffering from amnesia, Damien doesn’t know who he is, where he’s been or what’s happened to him. But the minute he senses Kelsey, it all starts coming together for him. Kelsey’s first encounter with Damien is her observation of him after he’s been brought to the clinic. He’s naked, has a giant wang, and hair that the Herbal Essences chick would kill for. So she falls for him immediately. You may be wondering why I’m not writing much more about Damien here. Since the book is written in first person from Kelsey’s POV, I had a hard time getting much of what Damien was thinking or feeling beyond what Kelsey thinks about. As the story progresses, Damien bites her and wants to mate her but fights it because his bite could end up killing her. Surprisingly, the sex was well written for first person, but it could have been in a vacuum because I felt so little connection to Damien.

Kelsey, on the other hand, has an amazing backstory and crazy parental and barely-explored sibling relationships. But obscuring a lot of this (and confusing me) is the fight between the parakind (author’s word) and ETAC (the Ethics and Technology Assessment Commission, tasked with destroying anything alien) which is the thread that helps link all of the Broken Heart novels together. I found following the Para/ETAC stuff and reading all of the Glossary’s (there are three of them) mentally exhausting. Damien has two brothers that are sequel bait, and there is a giant cast of characters that were all in the previous Broken Heart novels. I was able to glean enough from the text to not have to go through all of the Glossary entries with a fine tooth comb, but I’m sure I ended up missing a lot of the humor and how and why all of these people are connected to each other. With all of that, I still managed to read the book in a day and a half, while playing with five kids, four in-laws, swimming, biking, running, hitting the beach and getting hit by a hurricane (Irene). Because I had to repeatedly pause for clarification and couldn’t get more from Damien, this one gets a C.

~ Shuzluva

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