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Lisa-Marie-Rice

REVIEW: Nightfire by Lisa Marie Rice

REVIEW: Nightfire by Lisa Marie Rice

Dear Ms. Rice:

Sometimes authors and readers have some kind of strange sychronicity where everything that author writes hits all the buttons of the reader and everyone else on the outside looks on in befuddled wonderment.  Objectively I can see that there are things that don’t work very well in this book. There is the excessive use of the unsexy word vagina.  It is often clenching.  There is the ever constant reminder that the previous couples in this Protector series are blissed out on happiness as if they are mainlining pixie dust every morning. There is the fact that monetarily everyone in this book is so rich and so talented and so beautiful that I was momentarily blinded by the bright shining light emitting from the ARC.  But my response is to run around with my fingers in my ears and repeating “la la la la I can’t hear you.”

nightfire by Lisa Marie RiceI received an arc of this book and gobbled it down the same night.  And the truth is, those issues aside, there is some great stuff going on in this book. Like the hero acknowledging being a manslut is actual NOT a thing of honor.  How many times is the manslut held up like some diety because he’s slept around so much that his dick has logged more miles the transatlantic frequent flyer?

Like scenes that are filled with real tension and suspense and enough armory that they could have been ripped from a Michael Bay movie.  And that’s a good thing because there is nothing worse than an action scene that is limper than a overripe head of lettuce laid out in the sun for three days.

Like the heroine being bad at everything from cooking to singing to keeping a house but being awesome in her own right in direct contrast to the previous two heroines (one of whom is amazing translator and so beautiful angels sing and the other who is an amazing singer and an amazing bookkeeper).

This is a story that is told in essentially three simple parts.  The first part is Mike and Chloe meeting and falling for each other.  This takes a day.  The second part is Mike and Chloe ripped apart because of something Mike does.  Kind of.  The third part is Chloe in danger and Mike riding to the rescue.  Cue sunset.

Mike Keillor is a manslut. He goes out to those bars where women go specifically for one night stands.   Even his friends refer to him as ” Mike, the man-slut. Mike, the man who’d nail anything that moved.”  This is recognized by everyone as a character flaw, something which results from Mike being broken.  While being a manslut doesn’t always arise from wanting to erase some terrible past, I really appreciated this type of portrayal which is unusual in the genre which generally elevates the man whores.

Mike’s most recent pick up is a mistake and in the midst of coitus, Mike realizes this. He is screwing a cokehead who wants him, no begs him, to beat the crap out of her.  His erection deflates and he can’t get out of the random apartment afterward.  A day later, he meets what will be the love of his life, Chloe.  All his mania subsides when he is near Chloe. Oh, except for his penis.

She rested against him and he wanted to keep her there forever, but when he felt himself harden, he moved away subtly, mentally rolling his eyes.

Goddamn. His dick had never known how to behave itself.

Oh man, way to turn this moment into something that belonged in the dives he frequented when he got his black moments.

He couldn’t really blame his dick, though. His dick was right to move. He felt it wasn’t getting erect so much as trying to get closer to her, close to all that silk and gold.

Chloe has a special connection to Mike’s foster brother, Harry, and because of that Harry exerts pressure on Mike to not sully Chloe with his brokenness.  I was a little surprised that Harry acted in this fashion because Harry himself had been broken but I also liked it because I felt like it added some grittiness to what had been a fairly sweet, maybe even saccharine, beginnning.  Even though Mike, Harry and Sam were close as brothers, Harry wasn’t going to stand with Mike, not this time.  I wasn’t sure whether Mike deserved it and thus the ambiguity of the situation added spice.

I also appreciated the soliloquy of Mike’s when he pushes Chloe away.  He tells himself it is because he is afraid he will hurt her but then recognizes that his refusal to extend himself emotionally isn’t because he is afraid that Chloe will be hurt, but really because he is afraid of being hurt. I loved this scene:

Right now he was sending her to his room without even a hug. And why? Because he was a coward.The whole hurting her thing was true but was also bullshit of the highest order.

He didn’t flail around while fucking. He didn’t bite or twist limbs. He could control himself enough not to physically hurt her. That was all a line of crap.

The truth was he was scared shitless. There was nothing here he even remotely recognized as familiar, except his hard-on. And even that felt somehow different. It wasn’t a normal hard-on, the kind he had when an available woman was around. No, it was a Chloe woodie, through and through. Impossible to deal with, impossible to get rid of.

Chloe Mason hadn’t had a great upbringing, something she lays out in great detail in chapter two of the book.  Abandoned and then adopted, raised by indifferent parents, then nearly raped by her adopted father, sent off to boarding school, and left alone in the world when her parents died, she comes to Mike Keillor’s business seeking out a connection.  When the connection is affirmed, Chloe finds herself drawn into the cocoon of protectiveness that is the RBK family – Mike, his brothers, their wives, and their daughters.

When Chloe inadvertently places the Russian mafia on her tail, Mike does everything he can to protect her, and this serves as the catalyst to finally bring them together.

The tension in the story is primarily external but much of the emotional drama comes from Mike’s point of view, particularly his own feelings of worth and sex.  Chloe’s position in the book is more static and less dramatic but that has often been true in LMR books.  And frankly, I read these books for the portrayal of the guys.  It’s not that the women are doormats and uninteresting but through the lens of the awestruck male, these women are perfect. What you are selling here, though, isn’t that the women are perfect but for this one man, this one woman is divine.  For Mike, Chloe is everything good and right in the world and luckily for him, the feeling is reciprocated.  The emotions of the characters are writ large.  Every feeling is the most heightened feeling. Every orgasm the most amazing ever felt.

Every sense she had was heightened, her entire body turning into one huge receptor. Absolutely every sensation her body was receiving was delectable, particularly the desire.

Oh my. She’d read about it, endlessly. Listened to friends talk about it, thought about it, but never understood it.

The entire book is written in this fashion such that while you are immersed within the story it all makes perfect sense.  Stepping back, it seems over the top, extreme, and flawed but inside the story, inside the world with Chloe and Mike and its oversized, exaggerated fun house mirrors?  It’s just right.  Grading this book is like an exercise in futility for me. I think from a technical aspect it is likely a C to a C+.  There were pacing problems, particularly at the beginning.  It seemed like it took 100 pages to get to any real conflict.  There was the love that blossomed, nearly knocking me off my metaphorical reading feet in its immediacy.   I wished I had seen more development of Chloe.  She was surprisingly well adjusted for all of her past traumas and her emotional movement could have been played up for greater conflict.  But I gobbled this book up like it was the first thing I had to eat after a four day fast.  We’ll compromise at the B-.

Best regards,

Jane

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Reading List for Jane, Ending October 4, 2011

Reading List for Jane, Ending October 4, 2011

I’ve been reading a lot of ARCs so most of my reading list are for titles not published until November, December and January. I hope that is okay with the readers.

Contemporary:

Holiday Kisses, an anthology by Shannon Stacey, HelenKay Dimon, Jaci Burton, and Alison Kent. I liked all the stories in this contemporary Christmas anthology although Burton’s was my least favorite. Burton’s story was about the ex husband of the heroine’s sister and I felt that the short story format didn’t allow for nuance (ie. perhaps the sister and the hero were just two different people rather than the sister being the evol one). I probably liked Stacey’s story the best although Dimon and Kent’s were also heartwarming. It’s a good follow up to last year’s Christmas anthology. Maybe next year, we’ll have some non Christian holiday celebrants in the collection.  Full review to come in December.

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Behind the Scenes by Natalie J. Damschroeder. This is a romantic suspense. The heroine is a security expert and she is asked to provide security for movie that is being directed by a friend of hers. She falls for the main lead. I believed in their love story. The hero was really attracted to the heroine and her passionate belief in the services that she provided. I wasn’t necessarily sold on this hero as an actor. He lacks a certain gravitas and hubris that I associate with celebrities. Full review to come in November after the October 31 release date.

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Fatal Heat by Lisa Marie Rice. I recommend this for LMR fans only. It’s short on  substance and long on total unbelievability. At least it was only $.99.  Hero is SEAL who was wounded and sent to his CO’s condo to heal. He is not returning to the teams.  Heroine is CO’s niece and researcher. One look at the heroine and the hero gains a new lease on life. Heroine’s life is endangered. Hero does really amazing physical things to save her. HEA.

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Mouth to Mouth by Erin McCarthy. This was a reread after the post by Maili regarding deaf characters. I really like the story and I thought that McCarthy did a good job of showing some of the challenges of a deaf person. There are a lot of things that McCarthy got wrong as pointed out by Maili. I didn’t recognize those so they didn’t affect the reading experience for me but I can see how it would be a challenge for someone who was hearing-impaired to be fully satisfied with the rendering.  Full review here.

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Whispers in the Dark by Maya Banks.  I liked it but didn’t love it.  Features a heroine who has a psychic connection to the hero.  I felt like there was too much telephathic talking and way too much PDA.  Fans of the series will probably enjoy the series. At least the heroine isn’t from outer space.

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Historical

Mad About the Earl by Christina Brooke. I haven’t read Brooke before and I found the “Ministry of Marriage” concept to be kind of ridiculous and the cast of characters is huge. I actually stopped reading to go to the author’s site to see if I could find a character guide or something. The author doesn’t have much of anything on her site but it was enough to provide a basis by which I could return the book. Essentially there are six Westruther cousins that were all wards of one man. He apparently does not have an heir and I suspect that there will be a story for him at a later date. Problematically, is that there are several titled individuals who have the same name (deVere or Westruther) and it was a real challenge to keep everyone apart.  Having said that, I did enjoy the book once I got a handle on the cast. Full review to come in January 2012.

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Category

The Man Every him Woman Wants by Miranda Lee. This is a December Harlequin Presents. The hero is a former soccer great who now represents other athletes. The heroine is an attorney who reviews his contracts. She asks him to pose as her boyfriend and he agrees. It’s a sweet story and they were both cute characters–No alpha asshole–but the endless exposition toward the end was a little much.

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A Christmas Night to Remember by Helen Brooks. Another December Harlequin Presents. Heroine, a dancer, is hideously scarred as a result of an accident and wants to leave her husband, a famous director. She can’t compete with the glitterati and thinks she is bound to lose him because of her scarred body. He pursues her relentlessly and won’t let her push him away. It was okay.

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Craving the Forbidden and In Bed with a Stranger by India Grey. This is a December and January HP release, respectively. There is an HEA in both but the second book does feature the same characters. The first one, the heroine poses as the girlfriend of her gay bestfriend and falls for said best friend’s brother. I like them both and would recommend them. Full reviews to come.

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Sweet Betrayal by Helen Brooks. This is a Harlequin Treasury book. As I said in the podcast with Sarah this is all about a heroine who jumps to awful conclusions and says awful things as a result of those awful conclusions and I just could not stand her.

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Heart of the Desert by Carol Marinelli. I liked the tone but not the storyline which portrayed the heroine Georgie as an irresponsible chit when she didn’t want to tie herself down to the rules imposed by the desert kingdom in which her sister lived. I did like that her sister and her didn’t have a hearts and roses relationship given that the sister was a former HP heroine (ha, that sounds funny). I did like the mysticism that the desert held for the people, though.

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Missing Mother-to-Be by Elle Kennedy. I wanted to give this a negative grade I disliked it so much. No worries. We will have a full review full of quotes and everything.

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The Most Coveted Prize by Penny Jordan. Hero is gross. Sets out to seduce a virgin and discard her so he can win a contract from her half brother.  Not because he needs revenge or any ridiculous HP ideal but because he wants this final contract to cement his place as a financial power.  She’s 19.  He’s in his 30s.  The power dynamic, not to mention the very skeevy way in which the hero set out to seduce the heroine, was quite disturbing.

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The Ice Prince by Sandra Marton. The hero delights in being a sexist jerk. Isn’t reformed into a non sexist jerk, just a sexist jerk who loves the heroine. Essentially, this is an opposites attract story where the hero owns some land in Sicily and the ownership of the land is challenged by a mob boss in the U.S. Mob boss sends his daughter, a lawyer, to Italy to negotiate a deal. Hero and heroine strike sparks off one another, first in anger then in passion. He grovels heavily to her brothers and then goes to her and proposes marriage. Whilst he was groveling to her brothers, I kept wondering why he wasn’t abasing himself before her.

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PNR

Ilona Andrews was looking for reviewers of Silver Shark and I volunteered. Silver Shark is a short story set in a futuristic world. I thought Andrews did a great job of imparting little details like vegetation to provide authenticity for world. I thought, though, the heroine embraced her lust for the hero too quickly, particularly since she was supposed to be shut down emotionally.  I do need to do a review of this and will next week.

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Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews. This is an ARC of a December release (late November). Heroine is a magically gifted Edger who is trying to make it in the Broken as a private investigator. She thinks she loves the normalcy of it. Unfortunately her con artist father gets her to participate in one last heist which leads her to be the target of the very evil group called the Hand, a kind of special police of a magically gifted faction in the fae land called the Weird. She gets some help from an agent of the Mirror and the brothers of Rose, the heroine in On the Edge. The agent of the Mirror is the cousin of Cerise Mar from Bayou Moon. Enjoyed this quite a bit and would recommended. Full review to come in December.

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Of course, this led to a re-read of Bayou Moon and On The Edge by Ilona Andrews.

Envy by JR Ward. This book just showed up on my doorstep. I opened it up and I start reading and the next thing I knew, I was hooked. I actually stopped reading Ward after the ghost story and lost interest in the BDB series. I thought the Fallen Angel series was much more urban fantasy than romantic but I found Envy to be very romantic.  Thomas DelVecchio Jr. is the son of an infamous serial killer.  He blacks out and when he comes to a suspected killer is savaged and Veck thinks he might have done it.  IA officer (not detective?) Sophia Reilly is called in to investigate. She clears him pretty quickly as the savaging was done by a wild animal (or so everyone thinks) but there is a battle over Veck’s soul.  The battle is the overarcing series plot pertaining to a contest between good and evil.

I then went and bought the previous 2 books and I tried to read Crave and could not get past the 1st chapter again so that was a waste of $7.95. Tried Covet and again that book did not work for me in any fashion so I just did a search and find so I could read the parts about Jim and his new love that is kind of referenced in Envy. And I chalk that up to a $16 mistake. (I’m sure at one time the publisher had sent me Covet and Crave in paper but I’m also sure that I don’t have those anywhere in my house).

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I also re read some of Nalini Singh’s Archangel series. Not very productive behavior.

Erotic Romance

Double Shot by Christine D’Abo. I can barely remember what this book is about. Sadie is part owner in a catering coffee shop. Her family business is asked to cater a party at a sex club. This is all an effort for Sadie and sex club board member to get in each other’s pants. I felt the hero was too emo and the primary sex scene in this novella featured a “Sadie, may I” game which got old after the second “Sadie, may I” but you have to endure it for at least a half a dozen times. That was five times too many for me.

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Sapphire by Jeffe Kennedy.  BDSM books with the male as a dom who knows everything have always bothered me and this is no different.  The hero came off as very smug and superior who felt like it was his duty to show the heroine what a true “sub” she was.  A very “father knows best” sort of tone.  And it wasn’t as if the hero sensed this *just* about the heroine.

This is a guy who has mechanical controls in his library and bedroom including hooks and rings that come out of the floor and lower from the ceiling. Did he just troll the streets looking for those secret subs?  And when he was whipping her with his belt, it was because he said she wanted it and needed it to free her of her own inhibitions.  I hated his know-it-all smugness and how I felt he took advantage of the heroine’s competitive nature. She did not want to give in to him and say the safe word.  There is a slight turn around in the end, but by that time, I just despised the hero.

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