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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interview and Contest With Emily Bryan!



I am thrilled to be hosting Emily Bryan today at Penelope's Romance Reviews. She and fellow authors Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson have just released their adorable Christmas anthology, A Christmas Ball. Emily has graciously agreed to share some of her quirky traits, favorite Christmas traditions, and her intriguing elf-y paranormal tendencies. Please leave a comment for Emily and you will be entered to win a free copy of one of her backlisted novels (my personal favorite is Vexing the Viscount!)

Let's get started!

Penelope (P): Thanks so much for joining me today, Emily. As you know, I adored your story My Lady Below Stairs. I was wondering if you approach writing a novella somewhat differently than writing a full-length novel, in terms of pacing, introduction of sexual tension, etc.

Emily (E): First of all, thanks for having me here today, Penelope! Yes, there are some differences in writing when you're going for a shorter format. The pace of necessity has to really pop. It's rather haiku-ish in that sense. No wasted words or fillers.

I handled the introduction of sensual tension by dropping my readers into an already established relationship between my hero and heroine. They haven't "done the deed" yet, but they're both thinking about it when the story begins!

Characters always have to have someplace to go emotionally. If there's no growth, there's no story. They have to learn something about themselves and each other during the course of the novella that changes them from that moment on. In a novella, they just have to be quicker on the uptake!

P: Well, you did a fabulous job with the pacing and sexual tension in your story. I got sucked in right away, and couldn't stop reading until I finished. Love that!

As my fans know, I am a huge sucker for Christmas romantic fiction (and movies and cookies, etc. etc). Do you like holiday stories? What's your favorite holiday romance novel?

E: Love them. I adore The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Barbara Robinson), and The Other Wiseman (Henry Van Dyke) is a must-read for me every December. Favorite Christmas romance novel: Eloisa James' An Affair Before Christmas, but then I love everything she writes. 

P: Oh, thanks for the recommendation! I've never read that story by Eloisa James. I will definitely add it onto my TBR pile! 

I am curious if you knew what your co-authors were writing about in this anthology? Did the publisher give you the Christmas ball theme and let each of you run with it?

E: I had no clue. All our stories are completely independent of each other, except for the common place and time. A Christmas Ball is the brain child of my brilliant editor, Leah Hultenschmidt. She conceived the idea of an anthology where all the stories take place, or at least spend part of the time, at the same Christmas ball. We had to coordinate on the hosts of the party, the floorplan of the mansion, the decor, etc. But otherwise, we were given free reign to come up with our own unique stories and I have to say, there's plenty of diversity in A Christmas Ball!

P: Did you plot or pants this?

E: Because this was a "by invitation" sort of contract, I didn't have to come up with a synopsis ahead of time. So, I decided it would be a good time to try my hand at pantsing. It was like flying without a net. I'd get up every morning and wonder what my characters would do that day. However, I found it very freeing and if a writer has a good time with a story, I think it shows. My editor peppered my pages with LOL's and I've never turned in a manuscript that had fewer revisions.

A Christmas Ball was written during a particularly low time in my life. I was diagnosed with colon cancer 65 pages into it. (Don't worry, I'm OK! I had surgery. My prognosis is excellent and I now preach the virtue of a screening colonoscopy-I had no symptoms!-to everyone I meet!) But being able to retreat into the fictional world of A Christmas Ball was wonderful therapy while I recuperated.

P: Oh, Emily! I am so glad your health is better, and totally impressed that you forged ahead with your writing while dealing with all that stress. I must say, that your description of pantsing is exactly why I love writing. It's an adventure everyday to find out what's going to happen with your story. I'm glad that sort of excitement helped with your recuperation, and I agree with Leah about the humor in your story. It is wonderful! In fact, this novella reminds me of a historical farce, which I love! Have you ever read Kate MacAlister's Noble Intentions? It is hilarious.

E: I love Katie's work, but I have to confess I've only read her hysterical paranormals.

P: Oh, you must read Noble Intentions. I know you will love it! 

One of the things I love about your writing is your mix of humor with a lusty, sexy historical. Have you ever written anything "serious"-- no humor?

E: Yes, before I wrote as Emily Bryan, I had three historical romances published as Diana Groe, Maidensong, Erinsong, and Silk Dreams. These are dark, angsty tales with Viking heroes set in 9th century Scandinavia, Ireland and ancient Byzantium (of all places!). 

P: Have you ever tried a different genre? Paranormal, romantic suspense, etc?

E: Yes, I've tried romantic suspense, but my agent says I have no talent for it. And I've tinkered with a paranormal, but the problem is, I'm not a vampire fan (cold men don't do it for me!) and I'm not really into shape-shifters (don't want to sing "My Guy Has Fleas" when I tune my guitar) either. I tried creating my own brand of hero with something extra (a race called the Firstborn--think Tolkien-esque elves--who are able to harness the power of light and can send a human partner back in time through the "bonding"), but the problem becomes a marketing one. Where does it fit in the bookstore? Who will want to read it if it's not vampires or were-beings?

Think I'll stick with historicals for now. It's where my heart is.

P: Well, to answer your question....I would want to read your paranormal! I think it sounds totally cool, outside of the box, and very intriguing! I think readers are jonesing for new approaches to romance....ergo the new Steampunk trend. 
Although I do adore your historicals, I don't think you should give up on your paranormal idea just yet. Screw the market. If you have a cool idea, seize the day. (The Quirky Ladies are laughing right now, thinking....watch out Emily, Penny is going to talk you into writing a novella about the Firstborn!!! hee hee...just kidding....sort of....I can get a little bit bossy sometimes!).

All right, then, back to Christmas! What's your favorite Christmas tradition? Movie? Cookie? Do you sense a theme here? Hee hee....

E: My favorite Christmas tradition is when we all gather around while my dad reads the Luke 2 passage on Christmas Eve before we open presents. If I read that scripture to myself, I always hear it in his voice.

I love A Christmas Story, with Ralphie and the eternal war with the smoking furnace, the major award and "You'll shoot your eye out!"

Oh, let's not talk about cookies. I so need to lose weight!

P: Emily, that is a sweet Christmas eve tradition. I, too, love the movie A Christmas Story (although Elf is now my new fav!), and you're not allowed to worry about calories over the holidays. It is not permitted! I'm going to bake you a batch of Mexican Wedding Cakes and we'll discuss!

Inspired by The Quirky Ladies, tell us 5 "quirky" things about you!

E: I have...
Ridden an elephant.
Driven a snow-machine all the way across Yellowstone Park without freezing anything off.
Learned to surf at Waikiki.
Spent one of the best days of my life at the National Art Gallery in London.
Used to be able to touch my elbows together behind my back. (Ah! The skills that are wasted on the young!).

P: Oooooo....good ones, you are quirky, Em!  If you had one of your books made into a movie, which one and who would play the leads? (And you can't pick yourself and Hugh Jackman!)

E: Aw! You're no fun! How about me and Clive Owen? Matt Damon? Orlando Bloom? Seriously none of them can hold a candle to my DH, so I'll have to pass if the casting director ever calls.

Ian Michael, my hero in A Christmas Ball, is a head groom. Well-muscled and rough about the edges, he's handsome but not in the pretty boy way. If Daniel Craig wasn't a blond he'd be a good candidate.

My heroine Jane is sweet, determined, and hard-working. She's got a vulnerability about her, although she's unyielding when she has to be. Maybe Jennifer Love-Hewitt.

P: Are you hitting up your husband for a diamond or something? Seriously? Well, anyway, you can't have Daniel Craig--I've already decided he's going to be Sven Klaus when I make Sweet Inspiration into a cheesy movie. (I also have spots for Hugh, Eric Bana, Viggo Mortensen...um, what were we just talking about? Sorry, just lost my train of thought for a second there....)

Okay, so what's on the horizon for 2010? Spill!

E: In June 2010, Stroke of Genius hits the bookstore shelves. I'm so excited about this story. I had help from my readers in naming one of the characters in a contest earlier this year. You'll be hearing more about it in the months to come. It's sort of Cyrano de Bergerac meets Pygmalion. 

Right now I'm a little at loose ends because I just typed "the end." It's time to begin brainstorming a new set of characters. If you'd like to know what happens next, please visit my website and blog

Thanks so much for having me, Penelope! I'd love to offer one of the commenters here today their choice from my backlist. So let me start off the discussion with a question. I have a "keeper" shelf, even in the limited space in my condo. There are some books I know I'll want to revisit and won't part with. With space at a premium, it takes something special for a book to earn the right to a place on that shelf. What makes a book earn a spot on your "keeper" shelf? (If you're an avid reader, I know you have one!).

P: Thank you so much for hanging out at Penelope's today! Best of luck with your Christmas anthology. And I'm thinking we need to get together, have a cup of hot cocoa, and talk about Firstborns! (I promise I won't harass Emily about her paranormal! Sheesh!). Thanks to everyone for stopping by--don't forget to leave a comment and earn the chance to win a free book.

To read an excerpt from A Christmas Ball, please stop by Emily's website.

Penelope

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pumpkin-licious!


I love, love, love Fall! Carving the pumpkins, picking the apples, watching my daughter dress up like goth-vampira girl and inhaling enough candy to induce a coma. It's all good. One of the cool things about the smaller e-pubs/presses is that they have the flexibility to publish holiday-themed, shorter stories. Just the kind of thing I love! How cute does this book look? It's Pumpkinnapper by Linda Banche, and the release date is 9-30-09. The blurb looks adorable...

Pumpkin thieves, a youthful love rekindled, and a jealous goose. Oh my! Last night someone tried to steal the widowed Mrs. Emily Metcalfe's pumpkins. She's certain the culprit is her old childhood nemesis and the secret love of her youth, whom she hasn't seen in ten years. 

Henry, Baron Grey has never forgotten the girl he loved, but couldn't pursue, and so decides to catch Emily's would-be-thief. Even after she reveals his childhood nickname--the one he would rather forget. And even after her jealous pet goose bites him in an embarrassing place. Oh, the things a man will do for love.

This is so right up my alley. Humor, pumpkins and romance! Better than pumpkin pie, baby! Can't wait to read it. In the meantime, the UPS guy should be arriving with Touch Me by Jacquie D'Alessandro, The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide (I'm finally going to read the story about Zsadist and his baby! Weeee!), and Eternal Seduction. And, as a special treat I'm going to the farmer's market today to get pumpkins, fall mums, and maybe some candy corn!
Embracing Autumn With All Of My Heart,
Penelope


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Updates, Contests, and All That Jazz!


Howdy to all! Happy Tuesday. Just wanted to remind everyone that Penelope is hosting Emily Bryan next Wednesday (9-30) to celebrate the release of her new Christmas anthology A Christmas Ball. I'm not sure if there's a way to insert Hugh Jackman into the interview, but darn it, I'll give it a try. One lucky commenter will win a book from Emily's backlist (might I suggest Vexing The Viscount! Oo la la!) Also, my reading schedule for this week includes an e-book from The Wild Rose Press, Courting Trouble by Renee Knowles. She's a Mama Writer, and it got great reviews. I just ordered Eternal Seduction by Jennifer Turner. Got rave reviews on the Amazon boards and the blurb sounds very intriguing, so I decided to give it a go. Had a really fun NECRWA meeting this past weekend, learning fighting techniques from Lesley Mathews. Maybe I'll add some rocking elfin fight scenes into my WIP? Elves with nunchucks? It could happen! Finally, please stop by The Quirky Ladies blog if you are so inclined. We are introducing ourselves this month with a "What's So Quirky About..." series. Are you quirky? Let us know. Tara Truesdale is up for this week. Hope everyone is having a romantic week!
Penelope

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Review for Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning


Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning

Somewhere in Karen Marie Moning's brain is a section labelled "Imagination." Unlike the rest of us mere mortals, who have an "Imagination" area that is probably flanked by a bright red door with the letter "I" on the front, hers is actually a non-stop display of pyrotechnic fireworks, exploding with super sonic booms, brilliant flashes of color and light, and instilled with some sort of magic that creates a powerful addiction in the mere mortals who follow her. Honest to the good God, this book is in a league of its own.

It's hard to believe that this is the same author who wrote the lusty romantic Highlander series (which, by the way, I totally adore). Those books have everything a romance lover is looking for...larger than life characters, super lusty sex, and enchanting stories. But this Fever series is something altogether different. It's not really romance, either, but the who the hell cares? This book is absolutely riveting...riveting. By far, the most fascinating book I have read this year. 

I sort of miss the details about Dublin we got in the earlier books, but at this point in the series, the details about the supernatural world have pretty much superseded a "normal" setting anyway. The grotesque Unseelie creatures, the Sifting Silvers, the objects of power, Interdimensional Fairy Potholes (!!), the list goes on and on. Moning's imaginary world knows no bounds, and it is staggering in its rockability. Her characters, especially the elusive Barrons, are amazing. Mac's transformation is one of the coolest "character arcs" I have ever read. While I found her somewhat irritating at the beginning of this series, she has morphed into an incredibly appealing heroine, warts, black leather, halo and all.

I mentioned in my latest Jeaniene Frost review that I finally understood why first person narrative is supposed to be so cool. Well, to say that Moning has become the master of first person POV does not quite do her writing justice. This book is magic, and Moning's talent is off the charts. 

Some folks are pissed about the cliffhanger ending, but I think it's brilliant. Every aspect of this book is brilliant...the POV, characterization, pacing, world-building, sexual tension and drama, secondary character development, action scenes! It has everything. And the mystery about who Mac really is (and of course who Barrons really is) continues to gain steam and promise an awesome ending to the series (Shadowfever is up next). Yeah, it's gonna be a long year waiting for the grand finale, but it will definitely be worth the wait.

Hands down, my favorite book of 2009....Grade: A+ 

Penelope

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review of Dark Slayer by Christine Feehan


Dark Slayer by Christine Feehan

Wow. Wow. Wow.

In a million gazillion years, I could have never guessed that Christine Feehan would completely, irrevocably, inexplicably, undeniably redeem herself with this beautiful love story. I am in complete shock. This book was wonderful, and....sweet! And, the hero was....a beta male, not an alpha male!!!!! A freakin' Carpathian beta male hero....will wonders never cease??? This is completely unlike any other book in the Dark series, and in my not so humble opinion, one of the best. I LOVE Razvan, the gentle Carpathian hero. I LOVE Ivory, the kick-ass survivor heroine. Their love story is truly beautiful. Feehan has not lost the magic, but she sure as hell is taking a convoluted path with her other violent books. (See my rant against violence in romance novels).

Finally, the mystery surrounding the constant miscarriages in the Carpathian race is answered. Finally, a solution has been found. And I LOVE the mother earth angle! Feehan outdoes herself in several regards with this book. One is the gorgeous description of the gem cave...it is breathtakingly beautiful. Another is the tension-filled battles, which are at once gory, horrifying, and invigorating. I also love the relationship between Ivory, Razvan, and the Carpathian wolves (that's right! Carpathian wolves!!!! Feehan's creativity knows no bounds!- what a totally cool concept!). I always like the books where she brings back old characters we have grown to love, and the magnificent scene where Savannah's twins must be saved rocks the house. Syndil, Shea, Natalya, and Skyler are fabulous here. Girl power! ;)

My only criticism (which is more like a unfulfilled wish) is that I wanted Skyler to have a bigger role in this book. She is my favorite character of this whole series, and I can't wait for her and Dimitri's story. 

Well, Holy Guacamole, Christine Feehan just hit one right out of the damned park. I hope and pray this is a kinder, gentler approach to her novels, and that the trend will continue. This book is really wonderful, and I think that Feehan fans everywhere will be overjoyed to read it.
Grade: A

Penelope

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Are You Kidding Me?

Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig are starring together in the Broadway play A Steady Rain. Something tells me those tickets are gonna go fast! :)

I'm thinking...I'm thinking....Gregor Klaus (Hugh with a goatee) and Sven Klaus (Daniel with shaggier hair)? Oh, the possibilities are endless...this is simply too good to be true!

Pondering the possibilities,
Penelope


Review of A Christmas Ball by Jennifer Ashley, Emily Bryan and Alissa Johnson


A Christmas Ball by Jennifer Ashley, Emily Bryan, and Alissa Johnson

Right off the bat, let me just say....I have a thing about Christmas romantic fiction. As soon as the weather cools and the apples are ripe for picking, I rush to the nearest bookstore (or my handy Amazon website) to check out all of the new Christmas romance novels. I love long ones. I love short ones. I love paranormal, historical, contemporary, etc. etc. I LOVE Christmas anthologies. Among my favorites are Mary Balogh's Under the Mistletoe (I adore the story A Family Christmas) and Christine Feehan's Dark Celebration. In fact, I love Christmas romantic fiction so much, that I decided to write one myself, and it's being released December 2 (Sweet Inspiration). 

So, I was super excited to see that two of my favorite authors, Emily Bryan and Jennifer Ashley, were part of a Christmas anthology coming out in 2009. Yippee! And I was lucky enough to get ahold of an advanced copy for review. I did something with this book that I have not done in a long time. I read it totally fresh, without reading any blurbs, reviews, etc. I had no idea what the story was about. There is something wonderful about diving in with no preconceptions whatsoever. 

I started out with Emily Bryan's My Lady Below Stairs. I got hooked on this story immediately and was extremely curious about how it would play out. I really did not know if Jane and Ian would end up together. Would Lord Eddleton be cool or an ass? Maybe he was her true love? 

The best thing about this story is all of the unexpected surprises. Giovanni, the impassioned artist, is not who he seems. Sybil, the spoiled daughter, is not as shallow as we think. Ian, the head groom, is more clever, determined and madly in love than we could imagine. Bryan weaves a multitude of threads together in this story, and as the threads come together, you know that you're in for a wonderful surprise. I LOVE stories that weave together a bunch of different POVs. Usually, you can figure out what's about to happen far in advance. But Emily Bryan really surprised me at the end with all of the revelations about the characters. I adored the final scene in the library, written with all of the wit and humor that is characteristic of this author. It borders on a historical farce, which is one of my favorite things!

It is extremely difficult to write a novella. Some authors are able to "capture the magic" with 50,000 words or less, and some aren't. (Stephanie Laurens crashed and burned with one of her novellas--badly. Emma Holly wrote a brilliant novella in the anthology Hot Blooded, called The Night Owl, which is one of my favorite stories of all time!). Bryan totally nails it. This story has all the things I love about her longer historicals...it's beautifully written, has lusty love scenes, wonderful humor, and a very satisfying ending. 

This story is truly like an unexpected Christmas gift...I opened the package having no expectations, and I found a real treasure. Thank you, Emily, for this sweet Christmas story.

Next up was Jennifer Ashley's The Longest Night. Before I go any further, let me just say that I thought The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie was brilliant. Brilliant! It totally blew me out of the water. So, I had very high expectations about this story. Unfortunately, Ashley did something that really irritates me with novellas. She obviously was writing about characters introduced in another book. I have not read her other works, but I have heard great things about them. However, when I read an anthology, I want them to be stand-alone stories. There was clearly a large history going on with the families involved, and as a newcomer to this paranormal historical world, I was feeling a bit out to sea. Having said that, I still enjoyed The Longest Night, and was quite intrigued about the "logosh" concept--a demon/shapeshifter? Valentin is a great hero, with a lot of potential. I would like to see him in a longer novel.

There were several other concerns about this story. One, the introduction of the paranormal aspect was rather jarring. I assumed that this story was also a regular historical, and the fact that there was a shape-shifter involved was totally unexpected. (Typically, anthologies have all of the novellas within the same sub-genre...historical, paranormal, etc. The fact that 2 of these stories are straight up historicals, and one is a paranormal historical, is a bit strange. But I digress.) Also, there is a disturbing background story about Valentin's sister that really bothered me. Christmas stories should be light-hearted, sweet, and well, Christmas-y. I don't want to hear about someone being brutalized. My take on Ashley's story is this...as a stand-alone Christmas-y novella, it fails. If she is trying to get new readers to try her other books, then it works. I was sufficiently intrigued about the logosh legend and the country of "Nvengaria" to check out her other titles.

After reading this story, it became apparent that the Christmas angle for this anthology is that the characters are attending the same ball. As far as gimmicks go, it's a cute idea. But I was expecting some overlap with the characters. More of a Christmas "theme" going on. Ashley's book mostly takes place at another location, and the ball seems pretty unnecessary. Both Bryan's and Ashley's novellas could have been set in the summertime at a ball, and it wouldn't have made much of a difference. 

Finally, I read the last story, Traditions by Alissa Johnson, a totally new author to me. Oh my goodness! Utterly delicious!! As delicious as a Buche de Noel. As delicious as creamy cup of hot chocolate. As delicious as a platter of rich, chewy gingerbread men. I adored this final story of A Christmas Ball! Johnson focuses on what is most important...the characters. They are wonderfully real and fully formed within this short novel, which is a very difficult thing to do. I love anal retentive heroes (like my own Nicholas in Sweet Inspiration!) who learn a life lesson about enjoying the spontaneity of life. I adore heroines with glasses with a few hidden quirks (like stuffing an entire piece of cake into her mouth! awesome!). Patience and William are an adorable couple, and this story really captures the essence of what a Christmas romance should be. The importance of family is a wonderful and touching Christmas theme, and Johnson does a marvelous job weaving a magical, sweet and satisfying tale with Traditions. Bravo!

I am very excited to be hosting Emily Bryan for an interview on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Please stop by and leave a comment for Emily, and you might win one of her back titles! (what a nice xmas gift!). 

Overall Grade: A- 

Happy Happy Holidays,
Penelope

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

4 Book Labor Day Monday


Had a fabulous Labor Day Weekend! Hung out and relaxed with the fam. Yesterday was a gorgeous, sunny, cool, fallish day here outside of Beantown, and I lounged on the deck with a parcel of books. For some inexplicable reason, I sucked down 4, yes 4! romance novels yesterday. Lest you think I wasted the entire day doing this, I would like to point out that I also completed a 2-hour hike with the fam, and hosted a "hot schmoes night" (s'mores) at my house for the neighborhood kids. I am an extremely fast reader, especially with re-reads. (For the record, 5 books in a single day is the Penelope Record!).

Here's my Labor Day Labors:

1) Amanda Quick's The Paid Companion: Have re-read this a zillion times. I love Amanda Quick, and this book totally rocks. 

2) Christine Feehan's Dark Legend: Gabriel, I love you! One of my favorites of the Dark series, this book introduces Skyler, who will hopefully soon have her own book. 

3) Eloisa James' Duchess by Night: This is a seriously funky, outside-of-the-box historical romance. And I really like it for exactly that reason. Not your typical romance novel, but a very satisfying read.

4) Patricia Grasso's Enticing the Prince: First time reading this author. Some quirky things about her voice happening here, but nevertheless had an excellent plot and I couldn't put it down. In fact, I am now going to order the rest of the books about this cool Russian family. Made me want to eat blinis with caviar. Yzumitelno! (marvelous!)

This week I have 2 new books coming my way from Amazon...Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning, and Dark Slayer by Christine Feehan. Hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Penelope

Friday, September 4, 2009

Creature Multi Feature: Review of Jeaniene Frost's Huntress Series


Destined For An Early Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Just finished book #4 of the Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost, Destined for An Early Grave. Read One Foot in the Grave (#2) and At Grave's End (#3) over my summer vacation week. This series is absolutely spell-binding! There are so many utterly great things about it, I'm not sure where to begin exactly. Okay, for the first time in my romantic fiction-inspired life, I understand why first person POV is supposed to be cool. I become Cat when I read these books. I experience every heart ache, every round-house kick, every gin and tonic. Frost's use of first person POV is stupendous. I completely forget I am reading a book and become immersed in her paranormal world.

Next, Bones. Bones. Bones. Jesus H. Canola, Bones is the man (I mean, blood-sucking vampire). Everything about him is fab. His sense of humor. His sexy hot British accent. His complete devotion to Cat. His relentless pursuit and bloody destruction of his enemies. Freakin' fantastic.

Frost's pacing in these books rocks--fast, tension-filled, no lulls ever. The tension in this book may have been a bit too good. I was so nervous about the big break-up between Bones and Cat that I suffered from a sick stomach ache until it was resolved. Oy! I'm already on 4 prilosecs a day. How much more can a girl take?

More good stuff...sex (hee hee). The sex scenes are explosive. You might think it would be difficult to write really juicy sex scenes using first person POV, but Jeaniene Frost will prove you wrong. They are lusty!

And the action scenes! The action scenes are hands-down the best I have ever read in a romance novel. She is the master of flying silver knives, gymnastic moves, slicing, dicing, twisting, and more. An army of undead zombies! Bring it on! Exploding vampire heads...oh yeah! More, baby! The final duel between Gregor and Bones...magnificent!

The cast of characters is wonderful. (Fabian the ghost was a great touch in this book!) Reminds me of Kresely Coles IAD series. Colorful, creative, believable secondary characters add a whole new dimension to a paranormal series, and this one has got it going on. The shocking twist about Cat's mom is heart-breaking, but I can't wait to find out what Frost decides to do about it. (I'm harboring secret fantasies about her become a kick-ass vampire slayer wearing tight leather pants. It could happen!). I am bummed about Rodney's demise, but I am hoping it will jump start Justina's transformation into something other than a whiney pain in the ass.

Another thing I love...the dialogue! It is wickedly funny, tart, sometimes shocking (in a really, really good way). Makes me laugh out loud. 

I have just a few teensy, weensy things that are bothering me. First of all, what happened to Tate? He was a major player in the beginning of the series, and he was mentioned once in DFAEG. Whad up with that?

Starting to get irritated with Cat and Bones questioning each other's loyalty/love....Frost has to get a new conflict. This is getting tiresome.

Didn't buy the idea that Cat still secretly harbored a hatred for vampires, and that's why she couldn't open herself emotionally to Bones. We're in her POV, and there is no indication of that whatsoever. Not buying it.

Nevertheless, I am still completely enamored with this series, and I cannot wait for the next one. Jeaniene Frost is a true master of paranormal romance, and I bow to her greatness. She does an extraordinary job balancing humor with an edgy paranormal scenario, which makes for my favorite of romance combinations. I also cannot wait to find out what all of Cat's powers are as she grows into a master vampire. Also on the horizon is First Drop of Crimson, a spin-off novel about Cat's friend Denise. Looks great.

Grade: A

Yours truly,
Penelope

Friday Quickie Update


First of all, I just finished the novella "My Lady Below Stairs" by Emily Bryan in the Christmas anthology A Christmas Ball, which will be released September 29. Oh my God!!! Adorable, fun, sexy, sweet...everything a Christmas story should be (and I guess I'm sort of the expert on that!). I did not have a chance to read the other stories yet, but I'll get to them soon. Review coming soon! 

Also just finished Destined for an Early Grave by Jeaniene Frost. Frost continues to astound me with this series. I have a couple of teensy, weensy irritations that are cropping up, but overall this book is totally killer and I can't wait for the next one (and for First Drop of Crimson, the spin-off novel about Cat's best friend Denise). Review coming soon. 

Finally, I read the excerpt for Joey Hill's December release A Mermaid's Ransom, which is the story of Alexis, the daughter of Jonah and Anna from A Mermaid's Kiss (which I adored, see my review). Oh boy, I am psyched for this book!!!!!! This excerpt is fantastico, and I cannot wait to read the rest of this one. (Drumming my fingers on table...waiting...still waiting....ugh!) This is gonna be tough. After a lot of disappointments lately, I know that Joey Hill will not let me down!

Hope everyone is having a happy, healthy reading week!
Happy Labor Day To All,
Penelope

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wazz up?


On the news front....

Eloisa James has a new chapter for A Duke Of Her Own on her cool website....it's cute! I hope she is planning a book for Tobias. Hmm...maybe I'll email her and ask? I also just joined her facebook site. Stalker much? 

Also, Christine Feehan's newest Dark book is out....Dark Slayer. I have been really looking forward to this one, since it's Razvan and Ivory's story. However, in light of the recent debacle Hidden Currents, I decided to wait and get some feedback on this baby before purchase. (My unread copy of Hidden Currents is in the basement gathering dust where it will probably be discovered by archaeologists in the year 2098). Based on four customer reviews on Amazon, Dark Slayer is looking good. I'm going to wait for a few more opinions before I take the plunge. Anyone out there read this book yet? If so, please let me know if it's good and not filled with too much disturbing violence. I'm up to four prilosecs a day, and my stomach can't take much more. 

I'm also about to read an advanced copy of A Christmas Ball by Emily Bryan, Jennifer Ashley, and Alissa Johnson. I LOVE Christmas romantic fiction, especially anthologies. Can't wait to read this one since I love Emily Bryan and Jennifer Ashley. Looking forward to checking out a new author, too. 

I'm about halfway through Jeaniene Frost's Destined For An Early Grave. I think J. Frost is my "favorite new discovery of 2009!" (aside from my Williams and Sonoma margarita maker, that is!). 

Hope everyone is having a great week. Today was back to school day for my kiddies! I will finally have time to work on book #2 of the Klaus Brothers Series, Sweet Magik. I'm hoping to have that one out for Christmas 2010, as a follow up to Sweet Inspiration, which will be out this December. And now, I'm off to celebrate the first day of school by purchasing a gigantic frappacino at Starbuck's! 

Happy September,
Penelope