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REVIEW: Heartless by Nathalie Gray

Dear Ms. Gray,

d_307Now normally I don’t read paranormals, erotic romance or novellas as I’ve found they usually don’t work for me in any combination or alone. So imagine my surprise when this one does. Work, I mean. I just goes to show what luring me in with a story about ancient Egypt and Rome can do.

Only, it’s not really about ancient Egypt or Rome. Well, not that much since the bulk of the story actually takes place in modern Montreal. Gaius was a shit back when he was alive. Years of soft living and boredom broke down his integrity and drew him into orgies, mistresses and assorted whatnot. He coldly ignored the pain he caused his Egyptian priestess wife until she took matters into her own hands and devised a punishment that’s kept on giving…and giving…and giving for over 2000 years.

Now his life – such as it is – and any possible chance at redemption are tied to a canopic jar which has changed hands over the millennia until now when it’s located in a private gallery in Montreal. Which is where antiquities liberator, so to speak, Anne-Marie Valois gets her hands on it. And discovers a horror such as she’s never known. And a man for whom she’s willing to risk everything. But can they beat this thing or will the curse continue to destroy Gaius and kill Anne-Marie in the bargain?

I just happened to read this after watching “The Mummy” which gave me some great visuals to go along with your chilling descriptions of the curse. And let me say how much I admire the way you portrayed it. It truly gives it a visceral punch beyond the usual curse. Here’s one that not only ruins your life but laughs at the pain it causes while it does so.

Gaius is a world weary hero who’s seen almost everything the world can throw at him and who almost dreads the next day just because he knows the struggle he’ll endure to survive it. He’s a bit like Sisyphus and Tantalus mixed together. Plus he’s dead and not a vampire! Be still my beating heart – kind of like his is, now that I think of it. He’s had enough time to think on what he did and repent at leisure so satisfy me of his worthiness of a HEA after what he acknowledges he did to his wife.

Anne-Marie is a strong heroine who’s never actually kicked ass before though she does catch on quickly to the necessity and handles herself quite well. Thank you for having her fight her innate attraction to this strange man she’s never met and wonder at her sanity – even if she does end up gleefully hurling herself into the hot smexing a short time later. I am curious about her future job plans though I guess fighting off a curse like this would entitle one to having a few past illegal activities wiped off the slate, karma wise.

The way the curse is broken is fairly standard with twue love conquering all. I also noticed that Anne-Marie’s unique sensory skills towards the curse are never fully explained – but it is a novella and there’s only so much room. But I’m willing to just go along with this since I’m enjoying the ride in most other respects. This story leaves me fairly satisfied in and of itself and interested in what else you’ve got to offer. B

~Jayne

This novella can be purchased at Red Sage in DRM FREE ebook format.

This book was provided to the reviewer by either the author or publisher. The reviewer did not pay for this book but received it free. We do not earn an affiliate fee from Red Sage through the book link.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

28 Comments

  1. Shiloh Walker
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 13:30:03

    Hmmmm… pretty cover…

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  2. Chrissy
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 15:46:45

    I’m with Shiloh. That cover is hypnotic.

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  3. Kalen Hughes
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 15:55:52

    Ok, this is a collection of things I avoid, but I don’t think I can resist something that Janye likes this much (plus, yeah, that cover is calling to me).

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  4. joanne
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 16:30:09

    2000 years of punishment seems about right in my estimation but when I click on the link the page won’t load. I can get to Red Sage but clicking on the cover there also brings me to another non-loading page.

    Can everyone else get to the buy page and do I have to have another loooong talk with my comp?

    Thanks for the review Jayne.

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  5. Theresa Stevens
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 16:55:02

    Joanne, I just checked the links through the buy process and they worked for me. Please let me know if you continue to have a problem, and I can put you in touch with our customer service people.

    Jayne, I’m so pleased you enjoyed the story. There’s a story behind that cover, but maybe I should let Nathalie be the one to tell it. :)

    Theresa

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  6. Nat
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 17:25:22

    What do I see with my brand new eyeballs just lasered to 20/15 perfection? Review goodness!

    I’m so thrilled that you enjoyed the story, Jayne. Thank you. I’ve always loved Egyptian and Roman cultures/history and have travelled to both places, so I figured, dude, I should write a story about that. Plus, Montreal is my home and I always try to find a way to include that. I even destroy it in another book (Agent Provocateur, from Red Sage)!

    Thank you for the compliments about the cover. I did it! I totally did! As Kanaxa, I do covers for Red Sage and Samhain. This man has the sexiest eyes. Mwar.

    And in my head, the heroine will keep stealing artefacts and antiquities because that’s what she does. I might even write a sequel where she absconds with the Manneken Pis.

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  7. Jayne
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 18:34:58

    @Kalen Hughes: Isn’t it just? A collection I mean. But it just goes to show how preconceived notions could have smacked me down and away from a good read.

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  8. Jayne
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 18:39:33

    @Nat: Well, alright! It’s about time some city other than London, Paris or New York gets destroyed. Go Montreal. ;)

    You did that cover? Rwaarr Good job.

    And I’m so jealous about your eyes. I would love to have that done but fear I’d be the 1 in 10,000 whose vision gets worse and mine is bad enough already….

    So is Anne-Marie eyeing Gaius’s antiquities or will she leave them alone?

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  9. Jayne
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 18:41:59

    @joanne: One thing I really liked about the story is this guy isn’t some faux rake who, in reality, did little to merit the punishment he endures. The dude fucked up and gets to pay for that. And yeah, I think 2000 years is just right.

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  10. Nat
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 18:48:05

    @ Jayne She’ll get one of Gaius’ goodies in exchange for the canopic jar she “lost”. Plus I’m sure she’s the kind of woman who takes what she wants. :)

    And 2,000 years sounded right for being such an asshole. These “faux rakes” as you call them (love that word, can I use it and pretend I’m witty enough to invent it?) make my inner Chihuahua want to gnaw her paw off. They fuck up, sometimes really, really bad, yet all it takes is teary eyes and a hug in the final scene?! Hello. If you fuck up, in my books, you’re going to suffah. And Gaius suffered. It had to be proportional to the hurt he caused to his wife. But when the price is paid, it’s paid.

    And Montreal is blown half off the face of the planet in Agent Provocateur. Plus, I reduce a gorgeous neighbourhood into a 24th century slum. Mwa ha haa.

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  11. Kaetrin
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 18:50:59

    Sounds interesting. I think I’ll have to check it out.

    Thanks for the review Jayne.

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  12. Jayne
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 18:57:22

    @Nat:

    And Montreal is blown half off the face of the planet in Agent Provocateur. Plus, I reduce a gorgeous neighbourhood into a 24th century slum. Mwa ha haa.

    Fucking awesome. Equal opportunity destruction, I say.

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  13. Heather Massey
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 19:11:06

    I even destroy it in another book (Agent Provocateur, from Red Sage)!

    Loved that story. Edgy & intense. Nathalie Gray is an author to watch.

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  14. SonomaLass
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 20:53:55

    I’m with Kalen; this is a collection of stuff I usually avoid, but if Jayne likes it….

    And the cover is totally hot — Nat, I’m blown away by your cover-artistry!

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  15. Theresa Stevens
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 21:37:57

    And then there’s the Faux Rake with the Clever Nickname — Sir Sinsalot, Duke Demon, and Blackjack Inyerback — who is about as regular as a regular joe can get. His entire reputation is based on, er, um, well, nobody knows, exactly. But it must have been bad because he’s so scandalous and all, even if he lives a totally blameless life. Except he might have had a cocktail in chapter four. Naughty man!

    I’d much rather read about the man who actually is a devil and the woman who pulls his ass out of the fire.

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  16. Miki S
    Dec 01, 2009 @ 22:25:52

    Okay, I was tempted until I went to the website and saw the price. $5.50 for a freakin’ novella?!

    Uh. No.

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  17. Nat
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 04:41:02

    “$5.50 for a freakin' novella?!”

    Red Sage novellas are usually longer than those of some other publishers. From their website, RS novellas are 25,000 to 40,000 words, which is tickling the category-novel length. Others start as low as 15,000 words and can go up to maybe 35,000.

    Anyway. We all have our boundaries, financial and otherwise. Thanks for following the link, eh :)

    @SonomaLass: I’ve always liked and recognized your online “name”. Love it. And hey, if you want more visual goodness, my portfolio is at kanaxa.com

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  18. Jayne
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 08:23:13

    Miki, it formated to 150 pages on my Sony reader.

    ReplyReply

  19. Nat
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 08:27:12

    Plus, Red Sage has bonus material in their books, too. Part of first chapters, substantial sneek peaks, etc.

    Ah, I didn’t know how many pages it ran on a Sony eReader. I’ve asked Santa for an e-reading device for Christmas. We’ll see how it goes, eh. :)

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  20. K. Z. Snow
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 10:15:57

    ACK! That’s Hosea Booker from my Bastards and Pretty Boys cover. Give him back! His lover Charlie is not into time travel.

    ReplyReply

  21. Lisa J
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 10:28:34

    I tried to buy it yesterday and just went to try again today and it won’t load the book to buy it. Why?

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  22. GrowlyCub
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 10:56:25

    Did you all notice how it’s ‘discounted’ to $5.50 from $6.50?

    I’m twitching at paying 8 bucks for 300 printed pages and they want me to shell out $6.50 for less than half that? Don’t think so! And I don’t consider chapters from other books or sneak peaks a desirable extra that justifies super inflated prices.

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  23. Theresa Stevens
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 12:14:44

    Thanks for the feedback. I’ve asked the person in charge of pricing and the website to look into your comments.

    ReplyReply

  24. Moth
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 01:40:04

    @Miki S:

    I have to agree. I mean, sheesh! I was really tempted to buy this but not at that price.

    ReplyReply

  25. Gillian
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 04:46:05

    @GrowlyCub

    That’s one of my pet peeves with Samhain. The end of every single book has more than one excerpt chapter. That page padding bugs me. I hate reading along thinking I have 20 more pages and the book suddenly comes to an end.

    ReplyReply

  26. Nadia Lee
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 09:16:40

    @Nat:

    Plus, Red Sage has bonus material in their books, too. Part of first chapters, substantial sneek peaks, etc.

    I don’t really consider them “bonuses”. They’re more like ads for the publisher’s other titles, and they do not necessarily benefit the readers who bought the book in the first place.

    Stuff that I consider to be true bonuses include exclusive character interviews, world maps, glossaries, behind-the-story materials and cut scenes. They aren’t advertisements and they do allow readers to get more enjoyment out of the story (should they have liked it enough to spend more time immersed in it).

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  27. DS
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 12:31:35

    I wonder if this is a difference between people who were buying from epresses before the readers came out? Buying a novella or novelette or even a plain old short story by itself is not something I would consider doing in a general way. Apparently however, shorter works are very popular items on epress sites.

    ReplyReply

  28. Dear Author Recommended Reads for December | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 14:01:38

    [...] Heartless by Nathalie Grey [...]

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