Tag Archives: Larissa Ione

Larissa Ione – “Snowbound”

15 Feb

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Samhain Publishing, 2007


WHY THIS NOVEL: I had a gift certificate for an online ebook shop, this was available for a reduced price.

Passion hot enough to melt the slopesand their hearts. Thanks to a devastating medical diagnosis, ski patroller Sean Trenton has endured two years of celibacy. Two long years that have chipped away at his confidence. Now, with the career opportunity of a lifetime on the line, he’s ready to remedy the celibacy situation, and sexy snowbunny Robyn Montgomery is just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, the last thing reliable, intense radio station manager Robyn Montgomery wants in her suddenly turbulent professional and personal life is a thrill-seeking former Olympic skier even if he is a total hottie. Shes had it with guys who hog the spotlight and leave her in the shadows. So why is it that even an icy blizzard can’t temper the combustible heat between them?

Robyn is the successful music director of a radio station in Chicago. That’s probably as far as you can get from the fat, teased and scorned teenage girl she’s been in high school in a famous ski resort where everybody expected her to never leave town and just take over her parents’ bakery. But in this story, she’s going back for a high school reunion. She intends to show them all how far she has come. For that, she’s planning to bring along a (semi) celebrity (her ex) and she’s also volunteered to organize the traditional charity auction.

Only, it doesn’t work out as planned. Her ex cancels at the last possible moment which doesn’t only mean she has to show up at the reunion alone, it also means she has no celebrity to emcee the charity auction. She’ll look like a bungling idiot again. Her best friend Karen urges her to worry less and instead take the time to enjoy herself and “find some hunky ski guys to play hide-the-mitten with.”

Sean Trenton seems to fit that bill. Instant attraction, sexy hunk, a ski patroller (no celebrity!), fun and easy to talk to – the perfect material for a fling for the time Robyn stays in her former home town. That is, until Robyn realizes who Sean exactly is: a former winner of an Olympics medal (skiing). And just like that, Sean is out of the running. Robyn doesn’t want another involvement with someone famous because when it’s over (as a fling tends to do), there’ll be constant reminders of their time together thanks to the celebrity status.

Sean is at a crossroads in his life. Two years ago, he had to leave behind his life as a very successful and famous skier because of an accident. He settled into his life as a ski patroller fairly well but he’s looking for a change to spice things up and make them more like they had been before. For that, he contemplates a career in media as a sports announcer which would give him back some of his former life, he thinks – fame and an easy access to women. Of course, for the women part to work out it would help if he could work up a real sexual interest for the first time in two years. On top of that, or possibly the reason for it, there’s also something mysterious going on which makes Sean afraid to go horizontal with women.

So Sean is on the lookout for a likely candidate to get him over his anxiety concerning bedroom activities. For that, he’s at a bar after work together with his friend Todd. Sean sees a woman who is exactly the type of woman he went for before his accident – and who looks like a “sure thing” – and nada. He sees Robyn, he takes notice and things perk up. Robyn’s very different from the type of woman he went after before but Sean isn’t about to complain or question his attraction.

And that’s only the beginning. Robyn’s and Sean’s reasons for getting involved with each other and what they want from each other change again and again as they get to know each other better. Paralleling this, they also figure out who they are and what they want for their lives. Robyn faces her past and Sean faces his future. I liked that their problems partly revolved around the same issues (like the question of fame, for example). Both Robyn and Sean deal with their problems in a slightly immature way in the beginning (Robyn wanting to show off, Sean more or less hiding from it) but this changes. I also liked that they get to know each other (translation: they talk), their attraction and chemistry, and the dialog in general.

Todd leaned back in the booth and threw an arm over the back, blocking her. “Come on. Take pity on the guy. His dry spell has lasted longer than the Sahara’s. Help him get the ball rolling again.”
If Sean could have crawled into a hole and died, he would have. The heat in his face now had nothing to do with Robyn or the fire crackling nearby.
Robyn’s lips quivered with the need to smile, and her husky voice dripped with laughter. “I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in rolling Sean’s balls.”
“Sean’s ball,” Todd corrected, “I said he’s trying to get his ball rolling, not balls.”
“You know,” Sean said in the lightest tone he could manage, “I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this conversation about my balls.”
“Or lack of them.” Todd grinned. (ch. 2)*

If I would be asked to come up with something to complain about, the only thing that comes to mind is that it’s rather predictable in what will be the big conflict. You know the stumbling blocks on their way to their HEA the moment they’re mentioned the first time in the story. You know that it’s coming but before that you’re treated to watching two people trying to figure out what they want from each other and what they could mean to each other. You see them making a connection and building a relationship, as unlikely as that might have seemed at the beginning.

Nearly in the same vein, predictable but not really bothering, I see the reason for Sean’s reluctance to get intimate with a woman and the way Robyn’s former tormentors at school act today. I wasn’t exactly disappointed, that’s too strong a word, but maybe resigned because it wasn’t the big deal I was lead to expect based on the way he behaved (which seems to be the case rather often with romance novels). But then again, Sean’s story is about finding himself and growing, so it fits. And the way Robyn’s former high school tormentors treated her after all these years…let’s just say I have the impression that in this kind of story, romance novels are peopled with characters who don’t grow up by obligation. Or as Sean says:

“Yeah, it’s amazing,” he said and Janice and Gigi exchanged looks of mutual satisfaction. “Amazing that ten years later, you still act like you’re in high school.” (ch. 11)*

Snowbound is a nice, fun, warm and heartfelt straight contemporary romance with two likable and well-drawn protagonists who share a strong attraction and have good chemistry. I really enjoyed reading Snowbound and I would love to read more contemporaries by Ione.

Verdict: I liked it. (strong 4/5)

* the page wouldn’t tell you much because I read it as an ebook

Paranormal Reads Over The Weekend: Adrian, Cole, Ione

6 Apr


Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian

paranormal romance; Dell 2009; “Midnight Breed” series #5

Veil of Midnight on Lara Adrian’s website

I like this series and Veil of Midnight is probably my favorite novel in this series so far. It was only near the end that I thought the story faltered (a bit). Interestingly enough, for a romance novel, I thought the action and suspense part better developed. There are quite a few twists and turns, and in the beginning, it doesn’t look all that good for Nikolai and Renata. I liked this “edginess.” By comparison, the romance seemed a bit underdeveloped. Nikolai and Renata appeared to be in love mainly because of a vision and some blood drinking.
I think the new development (Hunter) interesting and I’m looking forward to reading Andreas’s story, Ashes of Midnight.

Verdict: I liked it (4/5).

* * * ~ * * *


Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole

paranormal romance; Pocket 2009; “Immortals After Dark” series #6

Kiss of a Demon King on Kresley Cole’s website

Oh, how could I forget how much fun this series is? Really, I think this series funny, tongue-in-cheek, and clever at the same time.
My favorite part in this novel: the heroine, Sabine. She has the best lines and just cracked me up. I loved her character and her unapologetic behavior, and really, she has a point: she was raised to value different things. I liked this clash between “good” and “evil” and how sometimes “evil” can be just what is needed.
I loved Rydstrom’s bafflement and bewilderment about Sabine and how his world and his priorities got turned upside down by her. And I really like that the world in this series is so “alive” – stories seem to be everywhere but they don’t necessarily are sequel bait.
Kiss of a Demon King is one of my favorite entries in this series. When does the next one in this series come out again?

Verdict: I really liked it (4,5/5).

* * * ~ * * *


Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione

paranormal romance; Grand Central 2009; “Demonica” series #2

Desire Unchained on Larissa Ione’s website

Desire Unchained is a novel full of interesting ideas and it’s an action-packed novel. It’s fast-paced and because there’s a lot going on, sometimes it seemed too busy as in all the interesting ideas didn’t get played to their fullest because the next thing was just around the corner. While this isn’t necessarily bad, more like a matter of taste, there’s one thing I thought the lack of time/pages mattered: Shade’s “special gift.” To me, it appeared to be there more to up the kink than really integrated well into the story.
Runa and Shade face near unsurmountable odds and there’s a lot of high and low in their relationship. Overall, Runa and Shade make a well matched couple. Gem’s and Kynan’s story continues in Desire Unchained and they have a scene that nearly had me teary-eyed. I liked the darkness in this novel, the glimpses of other characters, Wraith especially, and I thought the three brothers had a nice dynamic to their relationship.
I’m looking forward to reading Passion Unleashed.

Verdict: I liked it (4/5).

Larissa Ione – “Pleasure Unbound”

29 Jan

GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Grand Central Publishing, 2008

SERIES: “Demonica” series, #1

WHY THIS NOVEL: I read some favorable comments and I felt like reading a paranormal.

The back blurb:
“Tayla Mancuso is a demon-slayer who hungers for sensual pleasure–but fears it will always be denied her. Until she lands in a hospital run by demons in disguise, and the head doctor, Eidolon, makes her body burn with unslakable desire. But to prove her ultimate loyalty to her peers, she must betray the surgeon who saved her life.
Eidolon cannot resist this fiery, dangerous woman who fills him with both rage and passion. Not only is she his avowed enemy, but she could very well be the hunter who has been preying upon his people. Torn between his need for the truth and his quest to find his perfect mate before a horrific transformation claims him forever, Eidolon will dare the unthinkable–and let Tayla possess him, body and soul…”

One of the first things I thought when I read Pleasure Unbound was that it was a huge mix of familiar paranormal elements while at the same time it was able to stand on its own.

There is a lot going on in this novel. At the center is the romance between Tayla and Eidolon which features an attracted-to-the-enemy premise and the mystery that brings them together: who mutilates demons to sell their parts on the black market? Eidolon thinks the Aegis, a society of human warriors that fights demons, is behind that while Tayla, a member of Aegis, can’t believe that and well, demons are Eeeevil. Also, as the first novel in the series, quite a few characters and hints of future stories get introduced.

There are strong shades of Buffy with all the demons and vampires, and Eidolon and his brothers reminded me of other paranormal romance series. But it was all good because Ione makes them all her own and she seems to enjoy writing the story, like when she references Buffy by making “Buffy” a name demons use for Aegis warriors, for example.
The thing that really struck me about the world created in this story is that it is a very sexual (Incubus demons) and really gory world. The lines between good and evil are blurred, there is a lot of gray, and there is violence, torture, pain and loss. Love and caring seem more an exception than the norm. Tayla’s voice and thoughts offer a welcome relief from that.
The demons and creatures Ione introduces are quite imaginative whereas the inner workings of the world so far are mostly left alone, leaving a more sketchy impression overall. But as the first in the series, I have no problem with sketchy and what I read about Heaven/Hell was promising so I look forward to what will come there.

The main characters, Tayla and Eidolon, are enemies but both have to deal with more things than just being attracted to the enemy: Tayla gets her world turned upside down and Eidolon, a dedicated healer, faces a transformation that basically means he’ll lose everything important to him: after the change, he will be driven to procreate indiscriminatingly and think of nothing else. Only finding a mate before that will keep his nature in check. Phew.
There are also interesting bits about Eidolon’s two brothers and a few other secondary characters, like the half-demon nurse or the leader of the Aegis society, Kynan.

For quite some time, what Tayla and Eidolon share is sex and not love, and sex against their better judgement at that (mortal enemies yada yada). Love is something that sneaks up on them. But talk about some hot scenes between these two. Of course, the stakes were in favor of that with Eidolon being an Incubus demon, Eidolon’s approaching transformation, his being unable to get off on his own, Tayla’s problem, and so on, but oh my. Even better: the romance still worked.

Some thoughts:

  • I liked the reversal of roles in this story: the hero is the healer while the heroine is the fighter.
  • I also liked that the heroine’s problem with sex didn’t vanish into thin air just because the hero showed up. No five orgasms the first time here. Quite the contrary. But Ione goes further. She makes the hero an incubus, a demon species that has women orgasm practically by default, which I thought nicely exaggerated the usual virility of hero’s in romance novels. And Tayla…her reaction is not what Eidolon’s used to there.
    (But still, the resolution happened too fast in my opinion and I also was a bit disappointed with the reason for the problem).
  • I liked that there is a lot of gray in this story and its characters. The lines between good and evil are not clearly defined and there are a few surprises on the way.
  • I was especially drawn to a certain character/”story” ever since I read the first whiff of it. I’m really curious how that will turn out.

Verdict: I was pulled into the story right away. It was near the end that I thought the pacing faltered some: there were quite a few plot lines to deal with and I thought some important ones didn’t get the attention they deserved because of that. Everything was wrapped up rather fast. So Pleasure Unbound went from being a good to a decent read (3,5/5). But I enjoyed reading it a lot and I look forward to reading the next one which fortunately comes out in a few weeks.
Sometimes it isn’t so bad to be late to the party.