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What January is Reading – 2/11/2012

What January is Reading – 2/11/2012

I’ve had a mixed bag of reads lately.

Demon Bait by Moira Rogers

I’ve wanted to try a Moira Rogers book for some time, as they come highly recommended. I do not think I picked up the right one to start with, however. This story was interesting, but it also felt like fifty pounds of plot stuffed into a five pound bag. I had no idea what was going on for the majority of the story, and the continuity with the demons confused me. Why were there so many half demons if humans would lock down entire cities against demons? I had been picturing demons similar to zombies, but that didn’t make sense in the context of the half demons. I was also unclear for the majority of the story as to what purpose a summoner served. I did like the heroine, but I’m not inclined to read the next one in the series despite the really attractive cover.

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Dragon Actually by G. A. Aiken

This was another book that came highly recommended as a different sort of paranormal romance. The heroine is Annwyl the Bloody, a warrior who is the head of an army and currently fighting her evil brother. She suffers a near-fatal wounding on the battlefield and is rescued by the dragon Fearghus. Fearghus doesn’t know what to make of Annwyl, but he finds her fascinating. I thought the set-up for this was terrific but the more we got to know the characters, the more it lost its allure for me. For a fearsome dragon, Fearghus was very mild and beta-hero-ish to Annwyl’s raging alpha heroine. When the attractive ‘human’ male showed up at the same time that Fearghus would disappear and Annwyl was incredibly attracted to him, I felt that we’d fallen into the same sort of story that’s been told a hundred times before and put this one down. It was a DNF for me. Nothing wrong with it other than it wasn’t to my tastes.

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Dire Needs by Stephanie Tyler

Another DNF for me. This one started out interesting and was an intriguing set-up for me. Biker males who were also immortal dire wolves. The hero and heroine’s initial meeting scene made my eyebrow raise, and I had questions about the world building. I put the book aside when, in the first thirty pages or so, we are given a run down of the sequel bait – namely, the other dire wolf bikers named Jinx, Vice, Stray, Rogue and Harmony. Yes, Harmony, the immortal dire wolf biker who is also a rock star. I think authors should get an auto-DNF for that.

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Odalisque by Annabel Joseph

This was a quick, sexy book that Jane sent and suggested I read. The set-up is that the hero is tired of relationships with all that ‘relationship’ drama, so he just wants someone he can fuck without having to think about. He purchases the contract of an odalisque, a trained modern woman who is paid $500k a year to be the love slave of whatever man buys her contract. The heroine of this book is deaf, which I thought was intriguing. Sadly, this story would have been much better if it would have had a different hero. This one was childish and revolting, and treated the heroine’s disability as if it were a burden that he must tolerate in order to fuck her. Good writer, but not my kind of book. Full review here.

The Auction by Kitty Thomas

Thomas has been recommended to me as an author to try for edgy reads, but this one fell into the same category that Odalisque did – flat main characters and scenarios meant to shock the reader, but it was a read without heart. I probably won’t try this author again. The story felt bland despite the titillating elements and I liked neither lead. Full review to come.

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Heat by R. Lee Smith

I read this one a few weeks ago and it’s still with me. Two very different alien heroes. One is an extreme alpha, and the other is almost beta. One is law, one is chaos. There is a hella lot of rape in this book, too, but despite all of the problems, I devoured this read and looked for more books by this author. The full review is here.

Olivia by R. Lee Smith

Spoilers to follow. After reading Heat, I purchased Olivia without reading the sample. It sounded like the same sort of set-up. Woman is taken away by brutal alpha male and must learn to adapt to life with him. This one had the twist in that the alpha male was a monster. The bat-like men of this book steal a bunch of women from a small town and carry them off to their mountain to make babies with them. The women of the bat-people cannot breed anyone but monsters or children that die young, so their people are dying off and new mates must be acquired and impregnated. The heroine of this book is Olivia, naturally, and she starts out with a lot of promise. She’s taken captive by the leader because she doesn’t show as much fear as the others. She doesn’t try to escape, ever, and soon adopts the bat people as her own and becomes a leader of the human slaves and the apprentice of the spiritual leader of the bat people. All of this takes place inside a mountain with a slowly dying culture, and the worldbuilding in this one is again top-notch. However, when Olivia has sex with another guy despite being the mate of the leader, and then another woman shows up possessed by one of the gods of the bat people, I started to get an uncomfortable feeling about where the story was heading. I skimmed ahead and it looks like the book takes a very mystic turn and the ending is pretty depressing, so I put this one aside at 40% (which was 9,000 places in Kindle, the equivalent of two full length books). If you put the book aside at Olivia’s pregnancy, it’s pretty decent. It’s not the most romantic, but the culture that Olivia adapts to is very interesting, despite Olivia being a rather passive heroine who too eagerly adapts to her captivity. DNF

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Currently reading:

The Scholomance by R. Lee Smith

So far this one seems to be about a demonic version of Hogwarts.  Mara is a woman who can read the minds of those around her. As a result, she’s very jaded about how people truly think and how they act. She’s the caretaker of her mother, who has descended into insanity, and seems to be very lonely. Her best friend Connie disappeared two years ago, searching for ‘the Scholomance’, which is where people go to learn magic powers. Ten students are accepted but the cost of the admission is the death of one of the ten. Connie went in search of the Scholomance two years ago and has not been heard from since, until the day that Mara gets a letter asking her to come and rescue Connie. It’s very interesting so far, but Mara is a rather remote and closed-off heroine. It’ll be interesting to see if this one is romantic or horrific. Or both.

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On the TBR pile:

I have a copy of HP Mallory’s Witchful Thinking next up to read. I haven’t read the first two, but this one is supposed to be stand alone, so we shall see how stand-alone it is. I read the first chapter and it seems cute. I have also started Joey W. Hill’s Something About Witches. Very well written so far, but the world feels very kitchen-sink-ish. I’m going to get back into this one as soon as I finish The Scholomance.

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There seem to be a lot of witch books lately, aren’t there?


REVIEW: In the Air Tonight by Stephanie Tyler

REVIEW: In the Air Tonight by Stephanie Tyler

Dear Ms. Tyler:

I choose this book because I like romantic suspense stories  with former special forces heroes (and heroines), I liked Hard to Hold, the first in your previous series, and this story featured a sister and BFF of an older brother romance.  The blurb alerted me to the fact that there was a supernatural element in the story and while that’s not a favorite trope of mine, I decided to wait and see.  Of all the things that bothered me about the book, the supernatural element was not one of them.

Into the Air Tonight stephanie tylerMace Stevens is a Delta Force operative who also runs a bar in upstate New York when he isn’t off saving the world.  (I found this to be implausible, but what do I know).  Mace’s crew was captured and tortured and one of its members, Gray, was killed.  His body is shipped back to his family where he is mourned by his father and stepsister, Paige Grayson.

Paige has a special ability that allows her to see a person’s thoughts, memories and emotions by touching them with her hands.  So of course, she goes into nursing because if one is haunted by one’s ability, you choose something that puts you in near constant contact with people who are in pain and suffering, correct?  But an incident at the hospital brings Paige unwanted publicity and the local newsrooms dig out her story of being the sister of a boy who shot up his high school and killed several classmates.  Paige has suffered from this ever since because she knew her brother, Jeffrey, was bad. She could sense it every time she touched him.  Jeffrey was in the psychiatric ward of a maximum state prison, but he’s still haunting her.

Paige decides to quit her job and seek out Mace to find out what really happened to her brother.  There are two competing stories going on in this book.  The first is a continuation of a previous storyline involving Mace Stevens’ Delta Force team that was captured and tortured.  One of the members is dead and another has amnesia.  Caleb can’t remember what happened to him and the implication is that he may have killed Gray.  Throughout the story, Caleb is interchanged with Cael.  I thought that this was an editing error because it just made no sense at all.  I was told later that it was a nickname.  Not once in the book, however, was it mentioned that Cael was a nickname for Caleb and why wouldn’t it be Cale v. Cael.  This was actually a big deal to me because I constantly was wondering if there was another person in the room.

But Mace’s were just beginning. He’d had the feeling in his gut all day, couldn’t shake it, had snapped at Caleb for no reason and now Keagen, the other bartender, was also giving him a wide berth.

Cael, not so much. He was used to Mace’s moods—even with Caleb’s memory loss, he seemed to understand instinctively that his friend was, and always had been, a moody bastard.


He didn’t wait for a response before he left, which was good, since Mace had frozen at Cael’s words, was still staring where the man had been standing, although Caleb was already long gone.


Caleb had been drugged simply by luck of the genetic draw. Reid had been down for the count and the three of them that were left—himself, Gray and Cael—were equally capable, but Caleb was broader, definitely the biggest of the men, and DMH had figured they needed brawn.

There just didn’t seem any rhyme or reason as to when they called him Cael or Caleb.  I think the constant switching between Caleb and Cale confused me because some of the writing was rough and I would spend a long time puzzling over the meaning of a sentence rather than being engrossed in the story.

Mace needed to keep busy—goddamned, mindnumbingly busy—contemplated going for a ride on the ATV, until the liquor truck came skidding up the road, toward the bar.

“You’re not okay, Mace, so don’t try to pretend with me,” she said simply.  Not unkindly, and it was all he could do not to tie her to his bed and not keep there until neither of them could see or walk.

But how am I supposed to pick it all apart?  How am I supposed to tell the difference between the men he’d been ordered to kill in the line of duty and the man he’s not?

When he pulled her hips out and spread her legs, she gripped the sides of the sink, harder than before.  When he sank his tongue deep inside of her, she felt as if she could rip it off the wall.

The second part of the story is the suspense plot in which random bad things are happening to Paige that can be traced back to her brother, Jeffrey.  Jeffrey is just a stock crazy, icky villain.  There is nothing in his past that made him bad and there is no exploration of the childhood that Paige and Jeffrey shared to see why one kid turned out wonderful (and gifted) and the other didn’t.  Given that Paige had a supernatural gift, it seemed odd that this was not explored.

The emotional arc of the characters seemed to go from A to Z with no discernable path in the middle.  For much of the first part of the book, Mace and Paige are at odds and then suddenly, they give in to their passion and start copulating.  I guess I was supposed to find that the lust was too great for them to overcome but why at the particular time? Why not when she first comes to find Mace?  When does Mace go from the solitary independent man to not being able to breath without being physically attached to Paige and vice versa?

Paige’s gift is inconsistent, although no reason is given for this. The inconsistency is convenient, sometimes she can see whole swaths of a person’s past, but when it comes to Caleb/Cael, she only gets feelings but later she’s able to watch nearly every memory of Mace’s, practically experiencing his entire life through her hands.

Finally, I was frustrated when all  these random guys began showing up. I kept wondering a) why are they here and b) more importantly, where the heck are they all going to sleep?  How do they all fit into that tiny house? I felt like it was such an obvious ploy to say “see, look how many sexy guys I will write about in the future” but I wasn’t intrigued but irritated.  It’s possible that part of my problem had to do with jumping into a series at midpoint but you can’t blame everything on that.  D

Best regards,


P.S. I know that the commenters will say “where is the editor or copyeditor” but one thing I learned from publishing folks is that if an author is very late with her work or if she is not a very clean writer in the first place, these things are not always in control of the editor or copyeditor. I don’t know who is to blame, I only know that it was distracting.

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