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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Blast from the Past: Review for Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (1995)
This is the first of my "Blast from the Past" reviews.  I am attempting to focus on the newest releases for my regular posts, but there are some books that are just so amazing I feel compelled to write about them, even if they are a few years old.  Lord of Scoundrels is damned near perfection for a romance novel.  I could re-read this baby a million times over (and I've come close) and each and every time I finish with a sigh of envy.  (Penelope has aspirations to write the Great American Romance Novel, and this book makes me want to quit the game.) Even if you don't like historicals. Even if you don't like romance.  You must read this book.  The characters are outstanding, complex, compelling.  Jessica and Dain are without a doubt my favorite romance pairing of all time.  He is the arrogant Lord Beelzebub, she is his elegant and brilliant nemesis. Their chemistry is incendiary. The plot is utterly engaging (from the first meeting in the antique shop, to the confrontation in the Parisian townhouse, the dramatic shooting by an enraged lover, the rescue of the forgotten bastard son, and the list goes on....).  The writing is exquisite. All of my favorite authors have a "special" voice, and Chase is no exception.  Her writing is one of a kind.  Lord of Scoundrels is funny, touching, sexy, and most of all...oh, so satisfying as Jessica tames the "Beast" and heals his tortured soul.  The scene where Jessica presents Dain with the Russian icon on his birthday, the first birthday gift of his life, is powerful indeed.  In conclusion, I would like to say....thank you Loretta Chase for this little piece of heaven. Truly, there is no grade good enough for this book. Grade: A+ (A for A Little Piece of Heaven)
Your humble host, Penelope

Review for Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole

Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole
Kresley Cole's Immortal After Dark Series is one of the finest paranormal romance series on the market right now. In fact, it is just as good as JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood Series, although Cole's name is not as well known. The first book of this series, A Hunger Like No Other, may be the best paranormal romance ever written and is on my all-time favorite list. However, it's difficult to stick with the program while writing these long-winded series, and even great authors such as Sherrilyn Kenyon and JR Ward have begun that nose dive to mediocrity after starting out with a bang. (I hope and pray that both of these exemplary authors will somehow find the magic again with their series, since their earlier books rocked the house!). Anyway, Cole's writing is mesmerizing. Her paranormal world fascinates, the sex is unbelievably hot, and her characters literally come alive. Also, the fun, witty repartee of the various members of the Lore (including valkyrie, witches, demons, vampires, etc) is riddled with pop culture references and adds a real spark to Cole's unique voice as a writer as well as a fresh twist on a paranormal setting. Now, after that stellar introduction, I must admit I was somewhat disappointed with Kiss of a Demon King.  For the simple reason that I did not like Sabine, Sorceress of Illusions.  I didn't like her at the beginning, and I didn't particularly like her at the end, either.  That's a problem. If your heroine isn't likable at the beginning of the story, you better make sure she's likable by the end.  Also, Rydstrom and Sabine did not have the same incredible chemistry as Lachlain and Emmaline from A Hunger Like No Other.  I still enjoyed the book and cannot wait for the next installment...Cole knows how to whet the reader's appetite for the next story by introducing a bevy of intriguing characters in each book. Kresley Cole's bio states that she was a world ranked athlete prior to her career as a writer. Unfortunately, Kiss of a Demon King is only getting a silver medal in my romance Olympics. Grade: B
All my best, Penelope

Monday, January 26, 2009

Review for A Mermaid's Kiss by Joey W. Hill

A Mermaid's Kiss by Joey W. Hill
My good friend Michelle once gently suggested that I check out an author named JR Ward, not knowing that I would turn into one of those (slightly) deranged fans who actually joined The Black Dagger Brotherhood message boards on this author's website.  Point being, Michelle is chock full of excellent recommendations.  This past weekend she told me to check out Joey W. Hill and offered me her copy of A Mermaid's Kiss (which, let's face it, she's never getting back!).  I am in love! What an amazing author, what an amazing book...it has the perfect combination of lusty sex and that emotional love connection I crave in romances.  It also has an awesome paranormal world with angels, demons, witches, mermaids, fairies, dragons....you name it, she's got it. Jonah (an angel who is the Prime Legion Commander for the Goddess) is the kind of tortured hero I cannot resist.  As he struggles with his inner demons, Anna (an innocent and loving mermaid) reawakens his will to live.  Hill is one incredible writer...I was sucked into the story from page one and totally forgot I was reading a book until my kids got back from school and ran screaming into the house. (Then I set them up with a snack and locked myself in my bedroom until I finished). I am now going to Amazon to order the next installment, A Witch's Beauty. Thank you, Michelle...I owe you one! Grade: A+
With happiness in her heart, Penelope

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Review for Running Hot by Jayne Ann Krentz

Running Hot by Jayne Ann Krentz
My favorite type of romance novel seamlessly mixes sexy characters, paranormal elements, humor and a dash of mystery.  That's one of the reasons that I truly adore Amanda Quick, aka Jayne Ann Krentz, aka Jayne Castle.  She's got the recipe down pat.  Her Arcane Society Series is a heady combination of quirky characters, fascinating paranormal abilities, and mysterious circumstances that draw the reader into her delightful world.  I absolutely loved Second Sight, which is a historical installment of this series.  (I love that she is following the origins of this secret society, and then jumps into contemporary times to follow the members' descendants...totally cool!) Anyway, Running Hot is a great addition to this series.  Luther and Grace are a terrific combination, and the threads of various stories that are woven together in the book are wonderful.  My favorite is La Sirene, who uses her supernatural voice as a weapon of destruction.  Krentz' observations about opera music are superb and almost make me a believer of the paranormal (she's so convincing!).  I highly recommend this book and look forward to the next installment of the Arcane Society Series. Grade: A
Your humble servant, Penelope

Review for Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood

Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood
Let me start by saying I am a die-hard Julie Garwood fan.  Her historicals got me hooked on the romance genre.  That being said, I am not a huge fan of contemporary romantic suspense.  I still feel that Garwood's historicals are by and far her most stellar works...in fact, I consider The Secret, The Bride, Honor's Splendour, and The Lion's Lady among the best romances ever written (and believe me, I have read a lot!). However, I really enjoyed Fire and Ice, Garwood's newest contemporary romantic suspense.  It is a very engaging, well-paced suspense, with enough sexual tension to satisfy those of us addicted to romance.  Since I personally have a background in science, I loved the biologist's journal entries dispersed throughout the book which serve as tantalizing clues for the reader. Garwood throws in enough surprise twists to keep you guessing until the end, and her secondary characters add a huge amount of flavor to the book. I would have to admit that I found this latest installment a very satisfying read.  For those of you who are new to Garwood, I highly recommend taking the time to read her older historicals as an introduction to this talented author.  For those of you already on the Garwood Bandwagon, this is probably her best example to date of her contemporary work.  Happy reading! Grade: A
Yours truly, Penelope

Review for A Veiled Deception by Annette Blair

A Veiled Deception by Annette Blair
Technically speaking, A Veiled Deception is not your typical romance. It's actually a mystery. But if you have enjoyed Blair's Witch Series, I guarantee you will not be disappointed with this fun, flirty, adorable story which combines a funky heroine, vintage clothing, and, of course, a little bit of witchiness.  What a delicious combination!  Blair has written her best book yet and I am looking forward to more of these "romantic mysteries" from her.  I am not a big fan of bloody, violent romantic suspense books.  A Veiled Deception is perfect for those of us who like our mystery stories on the "light" side (yes, there is a murder, but no, it's not gruesome or too disturbing).  My favorite part of Blair's writing is her unique voice (also fun, flirty and snappy!) which lends itself perfectly to this genre.  I literally could not put the book down until I finished (midnight of the day that the man of my dreams, I mean the UPS man, delivered the box from Amazon).  I highly recommend A Veiled Deception, and bestow my first grade of 2009 upon this wonderful book. Grade: A+
Penelope

Review for Faefever by Karen Marie Moning

Faefever by Karen Marie Moning
Oh Lord, have mercy on my soul! Karen Marie Moning's newest series is a gift of epic proportions to paranormal romance fans.  Two of Moning's Highlander series are among my favorite time-travel romances...The Highlander's Touch and Kiss of the Highlander...yum!  The new Fever series is definitely a departure from her time-travel books, and fans expecting more of the same may be disappointed. (By the way, Faefever is the third installment of this series; Darkfever is number 1, and Bloodfever is number 2, and yes, you must read them in order...no cheating!) However, I implore you to give these a chance.  They are tremendous.  Moning's talent as a writer has truly flourished over the years, and this newest series is a testament to that.  This first-person narrative is brimming with Irish lore, mysterious, sexy characters, and a dark, sensual tone that is addictive.  I LOVED this book and cannot wait for the next one. Grade: A+
With the utmost sincerity, Penelope

Review for Murder Game by Christine Feehan

Murder Game by Christine Feehan
Murder Game is Book 7 of the Ghostwalker Series by Feehan.  For those of you who love dark paranormal romances, this series is for you.  And I do mean dark.  Feehan is not for the faint of heart.  She handles some seriously disturbing themes in her books, and this one is no exception. Tansy Meadows (love the flower names!) and Kadan Montague are the two enhanced Ghostwalkers who fall in love, and lust, in this intense novel. Feehan is an absolute master of the paranormal...discovering the range of abilities for her Ghostwalkers is always a fabulous adventure for the reader. (My favorite part of this one is the modifications to Kadan's fingertips, allowing him to stick to any surface and crawl like Spiderman).  I know it sounds ridiculous, but you're a believer once sucked into Feehan's world. Tansy is forced to experience a sort of mental torture as she touches objects used by the perverse killers playing this murder game. The violent images she must endure may be too much for many romance readers. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this book.  If you're a fan of dark paranormals, then Murder Game is a must-read.  It also continues (in the same tradition as the television show Lost, I suppose) to reveal some answers about the mysterious Ghostwalkers and their creator Whitney, while introducing more questions to be addressed in future installments.  I also recommend starting with the beginning of this series (Shadow Game) and working through the books in order, since there is a lot of fascinating back story. Also for your amusement, check out Christine Feehan's website to see her video ads for the Ghostwalker Series...they're a hoot!  Grade: A- (minus is for excessive violence)
Sincerely, Penelope

Review for Where the Heart Leads by Stephanie Laurens

Where the Heart Leads by Stephanie Laurens
No one can write a love scene like Stephanie Laurens.  I once read a review that criticized Laurens' long-winded love scenes, but I say....bring it on! Her prose is eloquent, her historical settings are fascinating, and yes, her love scenes are long.  But they are also beautifully and romantically written, with just the right amount of melodrama that we romance lovers have grown to expect and appreciate.  Starting with the wonderful Devil's Bride, Laurens has enthralled her fans with the Cynster series since 1998. Although she seemed to have lost her way a bit (the premise for Gerrard Debbington's book The Truth About Love was preposterous...but I digress!), she appears to be back on track with Where the Heart Leads, the story of Barnaby Adair and Penelope Ashford (and yes, I have a fondness for heroines with the name Penelope). I also have a penchant for heroines who wear glasses, or in this case "spectacles." Laurens has successfully woven her lovers' story, an intriguing mystery, and as always the fascinating backdrop of Regency London, into a well-crafted and sensual book. Laurens' fans will not be disappointed.  Grade: A
Sincerely, Penelope