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REVIEW:  Bound by Night by Larissa Ione

REVIEW: Bound by Night by Larissa Ione

Bound-by-Night

Dear Ms. Ione:

I’ve been on a contemporary romance kick for a good long time now, and felt like maybe it was time to switch it up. I remember enjoying your first few Demonica books, so when Bound by Night and your new release, Chained by Night were offered to Dear Author, I decided to request them.

A WOMAN OUT FOR BLOOD
Nicole Martin was only eight years old when the vampire slaves rose up in rebellion and killed her family. Now she devotes her life to finding a vaccine against vampirism, hoping to wipe out her memories—along with every bloodsucker on the planet. But there’s one thing she cannot destroy: her searing, undeniable attraction for the one man she should hate and fear the most . . .

A VAMPIRE OUT FOR REVENGE
A member of the renegade vampire MoonBound Clan, Riker is haunted by demons of his own. When he recognizes Nicole and remembers how her family enslaved his loved ones, his heart burns for vengeance. But when he kidnaps Nicole and holds her in a secret lair, his mortal enemy becomes his soul obsession, his greatest temptation, and, perhaps, his only salvation—a hot-blooded lover who could heal him with her touch . . . or bury him forever.

As a child, Nicole Martin lived in the ostentation of a wealthy family, having multiple vampire slaves, including her beloved nanny, Terese, who nurtured and loved Nicole as her negligent, if not downright unloving parents did not. One day, the vampire slaves rose up against her family and killed them, and Nicole was attacked by Boris, a vampire in the household. He’d been defanged, so his attack on Nicole had been brutal and painful. Nicole survived the attack and was sent to live with her aunt in Paris. Leaving her father’s company, a conglomerate that neutralizes vampires and sells them as slaves to others. Nicole is happy living in Paris, where she is a vampire psyshiologist, studying their bodies and medications that might slow or negate the infection that causes vampirism. However, when she is 28, her father’s will kicks in and forces her to return to the Pacific Northwest to take control of the company. Her half brother, Charles, has been running the company in her absence. While Nicole has reluctantly taken control of the company, she has plans for it. She wants it to stop purveying vampires and focus on the medical side of their work. This decision is unpopular with the board of directors, and Nicole is in jeopardy of being voted out of control all together.

Riker, the second in command of the MoonBound clan, a group of free vampires who hate all things human, has a tremendous grudge against the Martin family. His mate was Terese, Nicole’s nanny, who was killed by the Martin family while pregnant with his child. He’s vowed revenge and is determined he’ll have it. His opportunity comes after a special healer that MoonBound had borrowed from the ShadowDwellers, another vampire clan, is kidnapped while  being provided safe passage back to her clan. The ShadowDwellers blame MoonBound and are threatening war, if they do not get their healer back. MoonBound has intel that the Martin family’s company has the healer. Riker sees this as his perfect opportunity to take something from the Martin family. He’ll kidnap Nicole and exchange her for the healer.

All goes according to his plan until Nicole escapes him and is almost taken by the ShadowDweller warriors. Riker is injured in the process and Nicole saves him. They begin a cautious partnership. Riker returns Nicole to his clan’s lair to decide what the next steps should be in getting the healer back. Nicole contacts her brother and finds that her company has been conducting some horrifying breeding programs on vampires and that he was the one who authorized the kidnap of the healer. Nicole determines that she must go to the lab with Riker to rescue the healer. Riker can’t believe that she’s willing to risk herself like that. The more he gets to know Nicole, the more attracted he is. She’s nothing like he expected. She’d brave and brilliant, and all kinds of gorgeous. But how can he be attracted to a woman whose family destroyed his family and is now dedicated to taking away the freedom of his race? As their mission unfolds, and the more they learn about each other, their attraction grows. But how will they overcome their long history of wariness toward the other race and give in to the feelings they have for each other?

I quite enjoyed this book. While I felt that you had to spend a lot of time setting up the mythology of the series, it was relatively easy to follow. I liked Nicole very much. She has a ton of agency and while it’s clear that she is terrified, she is smart and willing to save herself. Riker frightens her to death, but she stands up to him and uses her prodigious smarts to get herself out of bind after bind. Riker was a bit harder for me to get a handle on. He’s got the “tortured vampire” thing going on, and a ton of rage. Plus he’s very hot and cold with Nicole, which I found a bit off putting. But when he finally warms up, he’s all in, which I appreciated. They do quite a bit of stomping off after harsh words, which I always find childish, and they left things unsaid time after time when they’d clash. I did feel like that fact detracted from their chemistry, which was a bit disappointing. The love scenes between them are as hot as I remember your love scenes being. The book sets up a number of other possible heroes, in particular Hunter, who is the hero of book two. The series has a great mythology, deep with Native American tradition, which I really liked. While I felt the book had its issues, I’m really excited to read book two. Bound by Night gets a recommendation from me, as not your usual vampire romance. Final grade: B

Kind regards,

Kati

 

 

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REVIEW:  The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

REVIEW: The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

The Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister #3) by Courtney Milan

Dear Courtney Milan:

It’s not often I find a book, of any genre, that makes me want to cheer – let alone a book in the wonderful, yet somewhat repetitive Regency / Regency-feel romance field.  The character choices and plots tend to be a little limited.  Rakish bad boy meets wallflower / slightly off-beat heroine, throw in one or both of them fleeing from marriage or commitment, add in a dash of interfering families and /or wacky hijinks, and you have a recipe for the normal Regency happily ever after.  I about cried with happiness when I realized that you’d taken that formula, tossed it in the wastebasket, and merrily went on your own way, doing whatever you pleased.  And it worked.  I never thought I’d say this – but it really, honestly, worked.

In this, the third book of the Brothers Sinister series, we find Violet Waterfield, widow and Countess of Cambury daughter of scandal, living in Victorian England (not to be confused with Regency England).  Between a father who committed the unpardonable sin of taking his own life, and a mother who scandalized everyone by penning a work on a lady’s proper behavior (the unspoken rules as well as those everyone knows), not to mention a sister who, by her own admission, gets pregnant every time her husband sneezes in her direction (she’s at 11 children and counting), Violet doesn’t quite stand a chance at a normal life.  Especially given her radical views on marriage and propensity toward scientific endeavors – endeavors she has to hide from everyone, save her best friend, confidante and conspirator, Sebastian Malheur, a simple mister.  While Violet is the brains behind the experiments, Sebastian is the presenter and the public face of the scientific genius – not to mention a man who has known her his entire life, and loved her for most of it.

As familial alliances change and the society around the protagonists undergoes a transformation, so, too, do Violet and Sebastian change.  One of the things I absolutely loved about the book was the chance to watch the characters change and grow.  Despite feeling a touch repetitive in places (how many times can Violet lament her marriage and her husband’s untimely death), it was an absolute joy to watch these two people slowly mature, to see their relationship evolve.  Of course we all know what’s going to happen, given that this IS a romance, after all.  But the romantic bent isn’t overwhelming at all – it’s a subtle spice added to a tale of women’s suffrage and the growing equality movement.

There are some truly beautiful moments peppered throughout the novel.  I particularly like the denouement of the relationship between Violet and her rather intimidating mother.  My husband actually asked me just why I was doing a happy chair dance.  For me, it was completely and utterly satisfying, rather like a gooey caramel sundae topped with real whipped cream and two cherries.  Another absolutely lovely piece of the book is the easy, comfortable interplay between Sebastian and Violet.  It’s very rare that a relationship simply flows over the obstacles in its path rather than pushing through and over them.  Sebastian’s reputation as a rake ensures an utter lack of respect from his dying older brother, while Violet’s prickly, eccentric ways mean she’s usually left to her own devices.  I expected a bit more of the typical angsty awkwardness, but there was none to be found.  All I could see was a very believable, sweet and sensual relationship that flew in the face of expectation – both societal within the story and reader, on the outside.

Now that I’ve burbled happily about the things I enjoyed with the book, let me move on to the slightly less than perfect bits.  My only major complaint with the book was how long it felt.  At 250 pages, it’s considered rather “normal.”  There were times when it felt as though you were going back over the same ground to ensure that I, as a reader, understood that yes, Violet is apparently broken.  Yes, Sebastian has a bad relationship with his brother that’s colored every aspect of his life.  No, life in England during that time period was not kind toward the poor, dogs and women.  I was surprised to find that this is the third book in a series – it stands on its own quite well.  Though I wouldn’t have minded just a hint more history, a few more details about some of the other characters who made themselves known.

For the first time in a very long history of reading historical romances, I’ve found one that’s not only an entertaining read, but somewhat powerful in the presentation of strong, vulnerable, realistic characters presented in believable relationships.  Thank you so much for sharing this world with us – I can’t wait to get my hands on your back list!  A-

Mary Kate

As a reader who’s old enough to know better and young enough to not care, I’ve breezed through the gamut of everything books have to offer.  As a child, I used to spend summer days happily ensconced in one of the Philadelphia public libraries, reading everything and anything I could get my hands on, thanks to the love and support of my parents and aunts – teachers, mothers and/or librarians all.  One aunt started me with Nancy Drew books (whose pages are worn from hundreds of re-reads) while another thought I needed introduced to C.S. Lewis’s land of Narnia.  By the time I was 8, I’d read everything the library’s children’s section had to offer and had “graduated” to the adult room downstairs.  Fortunately for my very supportive parents’ sanity, I didn’t discover romances until college.  My days are currently spent working in law enforcement (dispatchers unite!), working with first responders, and trying to dig my writer/editor/reviewer husband out from his latest pile of books.  I’m a devoted fan of all manner of romance (though I prefer my romance to have a hint of laughter and self-awareness), mysteries, and urban fantasy.

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