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What Jane’s Been Reading, week ending September 15

Lord of the Abyss by Nalini Singh. This is a December release. It’s a full fledged fairy tale with an ugly heroine (described as having a hook nose, walks with a limp, and a misshapen body) and a somewhat virginal hero. He’s been Lord of the Abyss for as long as he can remember and has had no woman in that time. I read no other books in the series and wasn’t lost at all. I was disappointed in a reveal at the end and that marred my enjoyment of the overall story. Full review to come in late November.

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Ravenborne by Chandra Ryan.  This is an alternate reality paranormal romance which had intriguing world building but suffered from either a lack of focus or an attempt to shoehorn too much into one story.  I did go and buy a second story in this series which predates “Ravenborne” but have not yet read it.  The story opens with a scene in which a dragon shifter on the losing side of a war but with much power is condemned to live a number of lives before she can be free of her servitude.  She is called the Oracle because of her ability to foretell the future and to measure the power of others.  Magic flows through some families and it is the strength of magic that determines the rulers of the kingdom.  Saraphina Raven is conscripted into the king’s guard because he wants her to use her telepathic ability to suss out those that might be plotting against him. Kavin Hunter, the head of the king’s guard, and old friend of Saraphina is ordered to bring her to the castle.   The journey is beset with challenges to Saraphina’s life, betrayal, and a growing but improper attraction.  I liked the world and the concept but felt the romance was shoehorned in.

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Hot as Hades by Alisha Rai.   This is an erotic take on the Hades and Persephone story.  Hades is a misunderstood lord of the underworld and Persephone is unclear of her power.  They must be separated, per the myth and Rai colors in the reasons why. It’s a short story and a decent read, but doesn’t have much staying power for me.

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Altered Destiny by Shawna Thomas. This is a high fantasy story set in a land where they use horses (middle earthian?) There are two basic types of folks: humans and Svistra. Svistra are bloodsuckers. They are great fighters but small in numbers. They had been hired by the human kings to fight in battle with them but given their predilection for blood, they are cast out and driven back to a northern, inhospitable climate. The Svistra, however, are tired of being outcasts and are mobilizing an army. Selia is a human that owns a tavern. She stumbles upon a wounded Svistra and nurses him back to health. Her world is upended by the coming war, the conscription of her adopted brother, and her growing feelings for the Svistra. The book kind of peters out toward the end because so much denouement is stuffed into the last two chapters. Full review to come.

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Deadly Descent by Kaylea Cross. Years ago I read an article about these awesome female helicopter pilots and I thought it would be great if one of them were the basis of a romance heroine. “Deadly Descent” features a female soldier in the Army who pilots Black Hawks on extract missions. I thought the military parts were really well done in this book and I certainly felt like I was amidst the action. However, in reading articles about females in combat there has been a concern that the males in combat would be endangered by their own protective instincts toward the females and I felt that the story actually fed into that belief rather than combatting it and that was unfortunate. Full review to come but it is a book I would recommend with some provisions. Full review here.

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Cover of Darkness by Kaylea Cross. After I had read “Deadly Descent”, I wanted to read another Cross romantic suspense book and I remembered that she had sent me a book for review last year. According to my gmail archives that book was “Cover of Darkness”. The good news is that Cross has really grown as an author. The bad news is that I had a hard time reading this one (and I suspect that is what happened when I first received the book for review) and ultimately I have to score this as a DNF for me. In the first chapter, the heroine is saved by a team of SEALs in the Middle East. She’s injured and placed in a military hospital along with a wounded SEAL. A medic on the SEAL team comes in and just lays a big fat sloppy kiss on her while she is recovering from her wounds and her father is elsewhere, likely dying. I wanted to put the story down right there, but given that I had liked Cross in the past, I thought I would give it more of an effort. Unfortunately, the story really didn’t improve for me. Instead, I met more testosterone who were obviously sequel bait and the insta lust between the two characters continued apace. I did skim through the book to find out what happened but I wasn’t interested in reading the rest of the series. I’ll wait for more Cross books from Carina Press.

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The Crown Affair by Lucy King.  There isn’t anything particularly wrong with this story. The hero wasn’t a huge asshole and the heroine wasn’t too much of a doormat, but I was never engaged by this couple.  Neither had an interesting storyline and even though the story was about the heroine remaking herself from being passive to more aggressive, I never bought into that transformation.

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Sex, Gossip and Rock and Roll by Nicola Marsh.  This was an opposites attract story but the insta-lust between two people who didn’t like or trust each other was tiresome.   Charli Chambers manages rock stars and other celebrities for a man who saved her from the streets.  Luca Petrelli has been asked by the same man (and also his purported grandfather) to step in and manage the money for the tour of a rock star that Charli is managing. Both believe the other is ripping off the old man.  I stopped reading after the fourth chapter. DNF.

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The Kanellis Scandal by Michelle Reid.  I love Reid’s books but this one was a big disappointment.  Neither character was likeable. Anton Pallis lies and virtually kidnaps Zoe Ellis from her home when her parents die because she is the guardian of the heir to a fortune.  Zoe’s father was the son of a wealthy Greek man who was disowned when he married against the wealthy man’s wishes.  Now Zoe’s father is dead and the wealthy Greek man wants his heir and sends Anton to fetch the both of them. Zoe spends most of the book alternating between ripping Anton’s clothes off and insulting him greviously. She was 23? in the book but acted about 16. It was a chore to spend time with either character.

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Doukakis’s Apprentice by Sarah Morgan.  Sarah Wendell suggested I read this and it was as enjoyable as she suggested.  Polly Prince’s company is taken over by Damon Doukakis who believes that everyone on the payroll, particularly Polly, are lazy and incompetent.  The Prince company must have at least one creative talent, however, because it is stealing ad campaigns from the Doukakis firm.  Damon knows it isn’t Polly though, who wears loud stockings to work, and allows her co workers to have plants on their desks.  Of course, Polly is the creative genius behind the Prince firm and has been for a long time.  I think someone at DA will review this next week. Full review.

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Animal Attraction by Jill Shalvis.  Jade Bennett is only in Sunshine, Idaho, temporarily. She suffered something bad back in Chicago and she ran and ended up in Sunshine 18 months ago. She promised her family she would return after a certain time and her deadline is approaching.  As the deadline is approaching, Dell, her boss, and Jade decide to embark on a temporary affair, mostly because Jade believes that Dell can’t make an attachment.  This is something that is repeated throughout the story but the problem is that the declaration didn’t match the text.  He was devoted to his brothers. He took in Lilah, a woman in town and treated her like his sister. He had a solid vet practice and had his own pets. Everything about him screamed permanency. So while I liked both characters, I felt that neither characterization was very authentic.  What Shalvis told us we should believe wasn’t what she showed us.

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Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis.  After I kind of complained about “Animal Attraction” on Twitter, a bunch of readers told me to try Head Over Heels out.  So I did and I liked it a ton better.  The hero is  Sheriff Sawyer Thompson who used to be a rotten teen and turned his life around. He’s all about permanence, stability, and up right citizenship.  Unfortunately, the one woman in town that really turns his crank is Chloe Traeger, the youngest of the three sisters featured in the Lucky Harbor series, who is nicknamed the Wild Child.  I hadn’t read any in the series before so I hadn’t any feelings toward Chloe one way or another. Apparently she is a pill in the previous books.  In any event, I thought that there romance was quite sweet.

One huge problem for me was that Chloe didn’t want to change from being wild, coloring outside the lines, in order to be loved.  Yet, in the end, she opted for a very conventional life with the sheriff, enforcing exactly what she struggled against.  If the message was that you didn’t have to completely remake yourself  to find true love, I felt that message wasn’t delivered in the end.  That said, I loved both characters.  Sawyer is the tall, silent type (and I love that type) who needed a person like Chloe in his life.  You could really see in the text of the story that these two were a good pair, that they balanced each other.  And Sawyer is a really loving guy.   This is a late November release which I plan to review.

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The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis.  I liked Head Over Heels enough to go and purchase The Sweetest Thing which I kind of regret because I saw that Forever is re-releasing the first two in the Lucky Harbor series as one volume for the price of $7.99. Curses.  Anyway, I didn’t love it as much as The Sweetest Thing.  Ford is an olympic medal winning sailor whose home base is Lucky Harbor.  Tara is his teenage sweetheart.  Their teen romance ended badly but their feelings for each other haven’t ever wholly died.  Ford knows that Tara’s time in Lucky Harbor is temporary (does that remind you of any plot?) but pursues her avidly.  Why?  So that they could have casual sexy times. I didn’t really understand either characters’ motivations.  Tara says she didn’t want to stick around in Lucky Harbor but I wasn’t shown that she had a good life away from there.  She was presented as this woman who was so amazing that she had two awesome guys pursuing her.  The best part of the story was the competition between Ford and Tara’s ex husband.

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Season for Temptation by Theresa Romain. This came to my attention in a glowing post by Courtney Milan. I wrote the publicist immediately for a copy but even before I received a response,  Ms. Romain kindly sent me a copy. It was a nice historical but not much agnst. Sarah Wendell calls these types of books “visiting” people and I think that is what it was. Admittedly I like more romangst in my historical romances. Full review to come in October.

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Clearly I need to read more historical romances. Again.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

12 Comments

  1. library addict
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 14:37:11

    Jane, do you plan to read the first Lucky Harbor book Simply Irresistible? I loved the first three-fourths, then the story gets bogged down and the heroine gets overly mad at the hero, but overall it’s a book I would recommend. I haven’t read book 2 yet. Glad to know Chloe is more likable in her own book as I didn’t like her in book 1. I’ve got the first Animal book in my TBR pile. I may wait until all 3 are out before starting it.So far I’ve enjoyed her Wilder Adventure books the most, though I also really liked the second book in her Sky High trilogy.

    I’ve got the Carina Kaylea Cross book on my wishlist.

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  2. Darlynne
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 17:18:02

    So Anton Pallis and Zoe Ellis hook up presumably, which means she could become Zoe Ellis Pallis one day, and somewhere there is a Kanellis, too, because of the scandal. Well, Lauren Bush is now Lauren Bush Lauren, so stranger things happen, but I confess the names would drop me right out of the story.

    Not as badly, however, as Damon Doukakis, however. I’m sorry, every mention of that name makes me think of a man in a too-large helmet, driving a tank.

    I feel so terribly shallow, but I would not be able to get past the names.

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  3. John
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 18:34:30

    Your bout of fantasy seems interesting. I’m very excited to read Sarah Morgan’s latest – she always delivers for me. Historicals, for me, are the books that usually work for me on a higher percentage rate than the other subgenres.

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  4. Jane
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 18:40:04

    @library addict: I’m working my way backwards in the series and thus haven’t made it there yet. I am starting my December/January books so it might sit on the shelf for a while.

    @Darlynne: The son changed his name to Ellis when he was disowned.

    @John: I usually love historicals so I need to read more.

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  5. Lindsey
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 20:44:40

    It’s a shame to hear that there’s a big reveal in the end of Lord of the Abyss that ruined it for you. I know you probably won’t answer (spoilers, and all that), but is it something like the ugly heroine was under some sort of curse and is actually beautiful after all? Because I know that would probably put the book in a less than positive light for me, as it’s so typical for the genre that the hero can never truly accept an ugly heroine.

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  6. Jane
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 21:05:25

    @Lindsey I don’t want to spoil it for anyone yet (I will include the spoiler in my review).

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    I’ll say that it stays fairly true to its fairytale roots.

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  7. Kaetrin
    Sep 18, 2011 @ 01:59:37

    I finished The Sweetest Thing last night. I liked it but I felt it lacked any real conflict. The story had some amusing parts and I really like Shalvis’ writing style but there wasn’t anything keeping Tara and Ford apart = no conflict. Still, it was an easy fun read. I think I enjoyed the first book slightly better, as it had a bit more to it but I do enjoy all the characters and I really like how she writes guys both relating to each other and with their SO – they sound authentic to me.

    I’m looking forward to Head Over Heels because I’m so curious to know how Chloe gets to have sex without ending up in hospital – it’s something that’s mentioned in both earlier books, that sex brings on asthma attacks.

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  8. helen
    Sep 18, 2011 @ 21:47:59

    Ok, did I miss an entire Singh series? This is listed as #4 in goodreads Lord of the Abyss (Royal House of Shadows, #4)
    But I can’t find books 1,2,3 anywhere? Has anyone read the first 3 or is it misnamed in goodreads?

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  9. Mikaela
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 08:09:38

    @helen: It is a multi authored series. The first book was written by Gena Showalter, and then there is two more books by other authors before Nalini Singh’s book is released.

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  10. Jane
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 09:37:52

    @Kaetrin: I felt that way about Animal Magnetism, that there was a lack of conflict.

    As for Chloe’s asthma and sex, I thought that was handled fairly well and Shalvis used it to show how much Sawyer truly cared about Chloe. It was pretty sexy.

    @helen: What Mikaela says.

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  11. SonomaLass
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 22:13:12

    My issue with the earlier Lucky Harbor books was that the distance/conflict felt a bit contrived; a little bit of honesty would have resolved things, and I didn’t really feel that the reasons for secrecy were compelling. Particularly in the first book. But I enjoyed them despite that, and I am looking forward to Chloe’s book.

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  12. Books I didn’t buy today | Shuffling Through A Bookless Desert
    Oct 03, 2011 @ 20:33:05

    [...] up.  And one of my favorite HP authors, Michelle Reid, has a new one out this month but I remember Jane saying that she wasn’t impressed with this one so I left it on the [...]

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