Archive | February, 2009

February 2009

28 Feb

* * *Books* * *

Books bought / ordered: (most of them thanks to a gift certificate)
Tori Carrington – Restless
Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry
Kristin Hardy – Always Valentine’s Day; Her High-Stakes Playboy (2 in 1): Certified Male; U.S. Male
Larissa Ione – Desire Unchained
Carolyn Jewel – Scandal
Julie Anne Long – Like No Other Lover
Anne McCaffrey – The Rowan
Sophie Kinsella – Can You Keep a Secret?
Lisa Kleypas – Blue-Eyed Devil
Linnea Sinclair – Hope’s Folly
Anne Stuart – Cold As Ice; Ice Blue; Ice Strom; Fire and Ice
A. N. Wilson – The Victorians

Books read:
Connie Brockway – All Through the Night (TBR Challenge; 3,5/5)

davis-justine-backstreet-heroJustine Davis – Backstreet Hero
romantic suspense (“Redstone, Incorporated” series; #9)
Backstreet Hero is a solidly written story with likable characters and a romance between an older woman and a younger man. Because it’s in Silhouette’s romantic suspense line, there’s a mystery concerning attacks on the heroine. The hero is there as her bodyguard but they know each other for some years now because they both work at “Redstone, Incorporated” and the hero was half in love with the heroine from the moment he first saw her.
Only quibbles: the Redstone cheering was a bit much and I really would like to read a straight contemporary from Davis again because she’s good at writing believable relationships between characters with common sense. A decent read (3,5/5).

jewel-carolyn-scandalCarolyn Jewel – Scandal
I loved the first chapter and the story told in this novel. I loved the hero and I loved the heroine’s struggle with the question of “power.” I “loved” what happened with a secondary character because it was surprising and it definitely wasn’t what one would expect. And yet, this was all more a cerebral appreciation than an emotional one. I didn’t feel connected to the story and, at times, to the heroine. In light of that discrepancy (cerebral – emotional) I think that this is probably a case of it’s-not-the-book-it’s-me and I’ll probably need to read Scandal again to figure out what it’s going to be.

Sophie Kinsella – Can You Keep a Secret? (3,5/5)

Sophie Kinsella – Remember Me? (4/5)

Caroline Linden – What a Rogue Desires (3/5)

Kathleen O’Reilly – Nightcap (4/5)

Anne Stuart – Black Ice (5/5)

stuart-anne-cold-as-iceAnne Stuart – Cold As Ice
romantic suspense (“Ice” series, #2)
Cold as Ice started off strong. Although not as tightly written as Black Ice, I enjoyed reading it. I liked the hero’s and heroine’s interaction and I really liked that the heroine wasn’t floored the first time she saw the hero. It was only later, when the heroine edged too close to being stupid with her argumentative streak, that I lost some of my interest and Cold As Ice went from being a really good read to a good read. (4/5)

J. R. Ward – Lover Eternal (Re-Read Challenge; 4,5/5)

Favorite novel:
Anne Stuart – Black Ice

New-to-me authors: Sophie Kinsella, Carolyn Jewel

New-to-me authors I would read again: Sophie Kinsella, Carolyn Jewel

* * *Games* * *

Games bought:
Persona 3: FES

Games played:
Puzzle Quest (PS2)

Comments: Games
I’m stuck at one of those damn chase sequences in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within so this game didn’t get much playtime this month. I just can’t get the timing right to make it past that point in the game. Grrr. I mostly played Puzzle Quest.

Re-Read Challenge: “Lover Eternal” By J. R. Ward

28 Feb

re-read-challenge-2009

Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009
This month:Re-Read Challenge: February!

ward-j-r-lover-eternal
GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Signet, 2006

SERIES: “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series, #2

AVAILABILITY: still available


The back blurb:
“In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war raging between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other – six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Possessed by a deadly beast, Rhage is the most dangerous of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Within the Brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He’s the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover – for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Owned by his dark side, Rhage fears the times when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.
Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships, is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant on Rhage’s protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. She lost her faith in miracles years ago. But when Rhage’s intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves …”


Then

It was in November 2006 that I read Lover Eternal for the first time. I ordered it right after I finished Dark Lover and I loved it. It’s my favorite in the “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series and it’s the gorgeous-hero-wrecked-for-the-plain-heroine thing that gets me.

Since then, I read it a few times more. That is, I read the parts with Mary and Rhage. It’s easy to skip the other parts (lessers, Bella & Zsadist, John Matthew) since they don’t contribute all that much to the romance although I think the parts with Bella & Zsadist and John Matthew quite interesting. For this challenge, I read it all again.

I wrote a comment about Lover Eternal, I wrote a post about the things that irritate me with this series, and I wrote a post about reading the first half of Lover Eternal in German (which left me with a slightly different impression of this novel) so this novel is rather covered and I can be lazy concentrate on quotes (tried not to be too spoilerish) to show why I like this novel so much.

Now

It’s in chapter 8, page 59, that Mary and Rhage meet for the first time. So there’s more than enough time to establish the two most unsurmountable obstacles to their relationship – Mary’s illness and Rhage’s curse. The reader also knows how important it is for Mary to deal with her illness alone and how much Rhage hates his curse and what he is forced to do to keep it somewhat in check; in particular how it makes him a different/two-females-a-night kind of guy when he actually just longs to settle down with one woman.

Lover Eternal is fast paced and big on obstacles, and I love how the heart wrenching is pushed to the max in this story because of all these obstacles and a hero totally wrecked for the heroine. Scenes like this (the words in blue are in italic in the book but this doesn’t show in the blockquote):

His voice was like sandpaper. “I need to tell you something.”
I’m a vampire. I’m a warrior. I’m a dangerous beast.
At the end of this evening, you aren’t going to remember you ever met me.
And the idea of not even being a memory of yours makes me feel like I’ve been stabbed in the chest.

“Hal? What is it?”
Thor’s words echoed in his head. It’s safer. For her.
“Nothing,” he said, releasing the belt and getting out of the car. “It’s nothing.”

or this:

“I’m sorry Rhage. I’m…sorry…”
She moved to get off his hips and realized he was still thick inside of her. He hadn’t even finished.
Oh, God, this was bad. The whole thing was bad.
Rhage’s hands clamped on her thighs. “Don’t ever regret that we were together.”
She stared into his eyes. “I feel like I just violated you.”
“I was more than willing. Mary, it’s all right. Come here, let me kiss you.”
“How can you stand to have me near you?”
“The only thing I can’t handle is your leaving.”

or this:

Vishous looked over to the bed, and Rhage must have nodded or shrugged, because the man said, “He betrayed the Brotherhood to be with you. He had to make amends if he wanted to stay with us and keep you here.”
Mary stopped breathing. This was all for her? Because of her?
[…]
I’ll make it safe for you, how about that?
She had absolutely no context for this kind of sacrifice. For the pain he was enduring for her. For what had been done to him by people who supposedly cared for him.
“I can’t…I feel a little light-headed. Will you excuse…”
She backed away, hoping to stumble into the bathroom, but Rhage struggled up on the bed, as if he were going to come after her.
“No, you stay there, Rhage.” She went back to him…

and all the other parts I marked for quotes get to me no matter how often I read this novel.

What really struck me in re-reading were the little details and how they are connected to the bigger issues of the romance in the novel, making Lover Eternal actually a rather tightly plotted novel. Like Rhage knowing the time he has to live with the curse down to the days: ninety-one years, eight months, four days, and what happens at the end.

Or that talking plays an important role in this novel: John Matthew can’t talk, Mary’s work, that Rhage is first attracted to Mary’s voice, the effect Mary’s voice has on Rhage (and the beast), how Mary keeps things to herself so that Rhage at one point says: “Christ, Mary, can you at least once let me in?”

This is not the most unsurmountable obstacle to the romance but it’s the obstacle which is there nearly for the whole time, which pushes on the heart wrenching factor big time, and which makes Lover Eternal one of my favorite hero-wrecked-for-the-heroine stories.

Verdict: 4,5/5 – The grade for Lover Eternal is mostly based on my enjoyment of the romance between Rhage and Mary, taking only slightly into account some of the more irritating things about this series (see link above), the weak lessers parts, and the deux-ex-machina ending. But re-reading it for the challenge, I actually think I now love this novel more than I ever did, mostly due to my new-found appreciation for the little details and my (solidified) impression that Lover Eternal has a rather well plotted romance.

New Books Thanks To My Gift Certificate

26 Feb

Only four of the books were ordered today (the others last week) but since I bought them all with the gift certificate I got for Christmas, I show them off together.

Reasons for buying:

  • no-brainer: Linnea Sinclair, Kristin Hardy
  • enjoyed the previous one(s) in the series: Tori Carrington, Larissa Ione, Lisa Kleypas
  • on a “glom”: Anne Stuart (at first I thought I could get Shadows at Sunset, too, but it was an error in the shop’s database)
  • me being a sheep: Carolyn Jewel
  • bargain price: Julie Anne Long

There’s only one big surprise on the list: Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry.

I can’t remember where I saw a review of it. But there was something that made me write down name and title and buy my first YA since forever.

Here’s the description from the author’s website:

A modern tale of star-crossed lovers with a fresh urban twist. At Fairfield High School, on the outskirts of Chicago , everyone knows that south-siders mixing with north-siders can be explosive. So when Brittany Ellis and Alejandro “Alex” Fuentes are forced to be lab partners in chemistry class, this human experiment leads to unexpected revelations – that Brittany ’s flawless reputation is a cover for her troubled home life, that Alex’s bad-boy persona hides his desire to break free from gang ties, and that when they’re together, life somehow makes more sense. Breaking through the stereotypes and expectations that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart, Perfect Chemistry takes readers to both sides of the tracks in a passionate love story about looking beneath the surface.

I’m on a book-buying roll but sadly, the gift certificate is done now.

Adding To My Favorites: Anne Stuart’s “Black Ice”

24 Feb

stuart-anne-black-ice

The job was a killer.

Living paycheck to paycheck in Paris, American book translator Chloe Underwood would give anything for some excitement and passion–even a little danger. So when she’s offered a lucrative weekend gig translating at a business conference in a remote chateau, she jumps at the chance to shake things up.

Then by chance Chloe discovers her employers are anything but the entrepreneurs they appear, and suddenly she knows far too much. Her clients are illegal arms dealers, and one of them is ordered to kill her. But instead, Bastien Toussaint drags Chloe away, and the next thing she knows she’s on the run with the most terrifying and seductive man she’s ever met. What were his motives–and would she live long enough to find out?

* * *

I started to read this late one evening/night last week. I wanted to read for one, maybe two hours and then go to bed.

Fast forward a few hours. It’s 2:30 a.m. and Chloe just got on a plane to the States, also known as page 301. I have this feeling/knot in my stomache I get when I’m reading a special-to-me book, but I have to get up early the next morning, so I need to sleep and page 301 is a good place to stop. And since I’m really responsible, I get up and go to bed.

Fast forward ten minutes and I get up again.

I have to finish this novel.

* * *

One of the first things I think: this is different that the other romantic suspense novels with serial killers I have read so far. I’m not much for spies in historicals, but I really dig the secret agent angle in this one. It reminds me of movies like the Jason Bourne trilogy and some James Bond. I love it.

One of the first things I realize: Stuart isn’t afraid to put her characters through the wringer and I love it.

Black Ice is a tightly paced novel. There are only two POV characters: Chloe and Bastien. No detour to other characters for whatever reason. The story is focused with nearly no noticeable padding.

Black Ice is a stark, economical and tightly written novel:

But just as she was about to let herself sink into the pleasure of it, nasty little warning bells stopped her. He was, oh, so adept. He knew how to kiss, how to us his lips, his tongue, his hands, and if she were just a little more stupid she’d be awash with desire.
But something wasn’t right. It was a performance that even she could see through. He was making all the right moves, saying all the right things, but some part of him was standing back, coolly watching her response.
Her hands, which were just about to clutch his shoulders, pushed him away instead.
[…] she wanted to see what it would be like if he really kissed her. Not a performance, meant to dazzle her. But something he wanted as much as she did.

because later you get this:

“I’m going to kiss you, Chloe,” he said in a quite voice. “Just a simple kiss goodbye. And then you can forget all about me. Stockholm Syndrome is nothing more than a myth. Go home and find someone to love.”
She didn’t bother trying to explain. She simply stood there as he cupped her face in his hands, warm, strong, hands that had protected her, killed for her. His lips were whisper-soft against hers, just a touch. He kissed her eyelids, her nose, her brow, her cheeks with the tears streaming down them, he kissed her mouth again, a slow, deep, gentle kiss that held all the promise of what they would never have. It was the kiss of a man in love, and for a moment she simply floated, lost in the perfect beauty of his mouth on hers.
He released her. “Breathe, Chloe,” he whispered.

“Breathe, Chloe” probably doesn’t have much impact when you just look at the quote alone. But I included it because when you read the novel, there is this build-up with these words throughout the story, and when you read them in this quote – and the other times this line is used – all this build-up is there and…well, “breathe” really got to me.

Then there is the use of the color black and the ice-imagery and on the whole a story that makes no compromise and doesn’t hold back and it’s far from pretty so pretties like “breathe” really get special, and there is the last sentence of the novel…

…and I’m blown away.

Breathe.

Verdict: 5/5