Tag Archives: paranormal romance

Recent Reads (2)

17 Mar

Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole

In exchange for her life, Lucia the Huntress has made a promise to the Goddess Skathi, a promise she is determined to keep. Like her saviour, Lucia is now an Archer, but her immeasurable skills as a hunter are on loan, and conditional upon her word.

If she is to defeat the evil Cruach once and for all, and save her world from apocalypse, she cannot risk her talents as a hunter. But when she meets Garreth MacRieve, prince of the Lykkae, her extraordinary strength of will is truly tested.

MacRieve is determined to win the Valkyrie, as mysterious as she is beautiful. He aches to mark her as his own, and keep her safe from harm, but despite the surprising force of her attraction to him Lucia will not give in, she cannot. It is not safe for her to be with MacRieve, but whenever she sees the fierce werewolf with his smouldering eyes, Lucia’s resolve weakens.

The secrets she harbours could destroy her – and those she loves – and every day brings more danger. MacRieve could help her, but will she trust him with the truth?

I was astonished to see that this is the 9th book in the series. But then, I only read the single titles so that maybe explains it. Pleasure of a Dark Prince was an okay read to me. Nothing special, nothing surprising. In general, I had the impression that it was a repeat of other books in this series in terms of character and how the story develops. I also thought it less humorous than some of the others. In particular, I was disappointed with the romance. I actually was looking forward to this couple because of the glimpses I had of them in the previous novels but alas, I thought they lacked chemistry. The romantic conflict and tension relied too much on the heroine keeping the reasons why they couldn’t be together to herself. It didn’t help that I thought her reasons for not telling him were explored too flimsy to make me take them seriously. So an okay read but nothing more.

A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore

What happens when a lady desires not one man, but two?

Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, has finally moved on. After seven years mourning the loss of her husband, Garrett, at Waterloo, she has married his cousin and heir, Tristan. Sophie gives herself to him body and soul. . . until the day Garrett returns from the Continent, demanding his title, his lands-and his wife.

Now Sophie must choose between her first love and her new love, knowing that no matter what, her choice will destroy one of the men she adores. Will it be Garrett, her childhood sweetheart, whose loss nearly destroyed her once already? Or will it be Tristan, beloved friend turned lover, who supported her through the last, dark years and introduced her to a passion she had never known? As her two husbands battle for her heart, Sophie finds herself immersed in a dangerous game-where the stakes are not only love . . . but life and death.

Reading A Hint of Wicked, I realized once again that I read romance novels above all for the falling-in-love part. While I was really intrigued by the premise of this novel – one woman between two men – and looking forward to reading it, I felt cheated reading it. The characters were already in love, it was the question who the heroine would choose (as far as she could choose, that is).

I don’t know what I expected – I knew what the story was about – but reading A Hint of Wicked I couldn’t lose the feeling that I wanted to read how Sophie fell in love with her first husband or how she fell in love with her second husband much more than reading about Sophie caught between the two. It didn’t help that I was fairly sure who Sophie would end up with (although there were some intriguing twists to keep it from being too obvious). And even more than that, I thought the mystery took away much from the internal conflict of the three. Sure, it helped to make the final solution more palatable, but in a way, that was an easy way out and in general, I thought it too much drama and slightly over-the-top.

So, interesting premise, some surprising twists I liked a lot concerning the love triangle, but overall, A Hint of Wicked didn’t really grab me.

Also read:

Liked them all.

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Kathryne Kennedy – “Enchanting The Lady”

18 Jan


GENRE: Romance / Historical (alternate reality)
PUBLISHED: Love Spell, 2008

SERIES: “Relics of Merlin” series, #1

WHY THIS NOVEL: I liked Enchanting the Beast, book #3 in this series.

In a world where magic ruled everything, Felicity Seymour couldn’t perform even the simplest spell. If she didn’t pass her testing, she’d lose her duchy–and any hope of marriage. But one man didn’t seem to mind her lack of dowry: a darkly delicious baronet who had managed to scare away the rest of London’s Society misses.

Sir Terence Blackwell knew the enchanting woman before him wasn’t entirely without magic. Not only could she completely disarm him with her gorgeous lavender eyes and frank candor, but his were-lion senses could smell a dark power on her the same kind of relic-magic that had killed his brother. Was she using it herself, or was it being used against her?

One needed a husband, and the other needed answers. But only together could they find the strongest magic of all: true love.

Felicity grew up with her aunt and uncle and their son. Besides her lack of magical abilities, she’s also often overlooked by other people and even forgotten. It goes so far that people who want to sit down on a chair sit on her because they didn’t see her there. It’s been that way for as long as Felicity can remember so she’s accepted it as the way it is and doesn’t think to question it or finds it strange. She’s rather naive and clueless in that regard. Then she meets Terence and he notices her. Without any trouble at all.

Terence doesn’t understand why people don’t notice Felicity. She’s beautiful and makes him forget his mission – to find the relics. What’s more, she does it even though he senses the dark power of a relic on her and he knows his brother died because he fell head over heals for a woman – a woman who was connected to a relic, too.

Enchanting the Lady isn’t a character-driven story. The romance and the mystery are to keep the reader reading. While the romance is nice enough I also found it more on the bland side of things because there were no real surprises and (as I said) not a strong focus on character development. The problem is, I also thought the execution of the mystery and the way Terence and Felicity dealt with it weak. The romance wasn’t compelling enough to make up for that in my eyes.

It was rather obvious to me what the problem and reason behind with Felicity missing magic was. But because it’s often that way in such a story, I actually didn’t mind. I had more trouble believing that Terence noticed the way Felicity was overlooked by everybody and that there must be a spell on her and then not once asked himself why Felicity would put such a spell on herself. It makes herself feel insignificant. And if Felicity really had access to the magic of the relic, wouldn’t she use it to keep her inheritance and pass the testing? I thought this omission a too obvious way to keep the conflict between the character going without much trouble.

Later Felicity has her suspicions about her aunt and uncle but nevertheless she goes to confront them without the help of her dragonette (a pet she was given by Terence to protect her) or someone else. She gives the dragonette to her maid instead because the maid shouldn’t be alone. Also, she fears the dragonette might set a curtain in flame inadvertently. Okaaay.

Then, when Felicity’s aunt and uncle confirm her suspicions and tell her that Terence lied to her about his reason to marry her, she just believes them even though they lied to her for years and years. She does this even though a friend of Terence, a “seer,” told her to believe in Terence’s love, no matter what it might look like at some time. She just forgets about that and readily believes her aunt and uncle. The only mediating factor is that she’s slightly drugged at that time.

These three things hurt the mystery, IMO. I had the impression that the story had to go a certain way and for that, the characters had to act a bit stupid at times. It influenced my impression of the novel considerably even though it might seem only nitpicking.

I want to finish by saying that there are also quite a few things I like about Enchanting the Lady. The world created for this series and the setting and premise, for example. And Kennedy’s writing style and her voice. So actually, I’m looking forward to reading Double Enchantment, the next in the series.

Verdict: 3/5

Kathryne Kennedy – “Enchanting the Beast”

28 Nov


GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: 2009

SERIES: “Relics of Merlin” series, #3

WHY THIS NOVEL: I noticed it for the cover, then the blurb suggested it was an older woman/younger man romance + it seemed Gothic.

Grimspell castle. With its dark, imposing stone walls, it certainly looked haunted. As a ghost-hunter, Lady Philomena was accustomed to restless spirits. But she found the dark, imposing nature of the castle’s owner far more haunting than any specter. London Society might not approve of shape-shifters such as Sir Nicodemus Wulfson, but firmly-on-the-shelf Philomena rather enjoyed the young baronet’s sudden interest in sniffing around her skirts. She’d even consider giving in to him altogether if not for a murderer on the loose–a beast that might just be Nico himself.

I only noticed after I’d ordered Enchanting the Beast that it’s actually part of a series and book #3 at that. But as far as I can tell, it didn’t matter that I missed the first two novels in this series, at least when judged by my enjoyment of this novel: I liked Enchanting the Beast and Kennedy’s voice. So much that I’m going to buy the other novels in this series and will look if Kennedy published more novels.

Enchanting the Beast does indeed feature an older woman/younger man romance: Philomena is 40, Nicodemus is 27. It’s also set in a Victorian England were magic still exists. Philomena is a ghost hunter and Nicodemus is a shape-shifter. (I just love the characters’ names.)

Shape-shifters are immune to magic and Nicodemus, Nico for short, is skeptical about Philomena’s (Phil) ability to communicate with ghosts. But nevertheless, he hires her to help his brother, Royden, who sees and is haunted by ghosts. Royden visibly suffers and his health deteriorates more and more. Something must be done.

What Nico isn’t skeptical about is his attraction to Philomena. He knows he wants her and even Philomena’s repeated rebuffs (the age difference) don’t deter him. Their romance was a delight to read, especially because Nico honors Philomena’s wishes to stay a gentleman even though his attraction to her grows and grows. I thought that refreshing because, after all, he’s a shape-shifter and in paranormal romances this usually means the beast takes over when it’s attracted to a woman. And even though Nico is as sensitive as a block of wood re ghosts (= he can’t see/feel them), after he believes in Philomena’s ability, he’s there to support her. He’s actually so attuned to Philomena, he knows when a ghost is around.

I liked Philomena. She was reasonable and logical, and she does indeed see and can communicate with ghosts. But because she can’t command them to appear or talk to her, she doesn’t mind faking it when necessary:

It appeared the late Lord Stanhope had chosen not to linger in the physical world.
Which didn’t make one whit of difference to Phil. Lady Stanhope had paid her for some peace of mind, and she would give it to her regardless. (2)

The ghost were sufficiently Gothic and although I had an idea about how the mystery would resolve, the denouement came with a twist to it. There were only two things that I thought needed more explanation:

1) Why did Nico’s brother remain at the castle even after Philomena arrived? She knows that ghosts (usually) are bound to a place and Royden became very ill because of their haunting. Wouldn’t she have thought of sending him away (sooner)?
2) [Spoiler] [highlight to read] Why did the ghosts scare Royden when they actually wanted his help? Was he that easily scared? [/Spoiler]

But these were small niggles and overall, I enjoyed reading Enchanting the Beast a lot.

Verdict: I liked it. (4/5)

Sherrilyn Kenyon – “The Dream Hunter”

7 Aug

Kenyon, Sherrilyn - Dream Hunter
GENRE: Romance, Paranormal
PUBLISHED: Piatkus Books, 2007

SERIES: “The Dream Hunter” series #1 (“The Dark Hunter” series #???)

WHY THIS NOVEL: I found it for 3 € in a bargain bin. Finding books in English there = rare; finding romance novels in English = rare, rare, rare, so I bought it.

In the ethereal world of dreams there are champions who fight to protect the dreamer and there are demons who prey on them …

Arik is such a predator. Condemned by the gods to live for eternity without emotions, Arik can only feel when he’s in the dreams of others. Now, after thousands of years, he’s finally found a dreamer whose vivid mind can fill his emptiness.

Dr. Megeara Kafieri made a reluctant promise to her dying father that she would salvage his reputation by provin his life-long belief that Atlantis is real. But frustration and bad luck dog her every step. Especially the day they find a stranger floating in the sea. His is a face she’s seen many times … in her dreams.

What she doesn’t know is that Arik has made a pact with the god Hades: in exchange for two weeks as a mortal man, he must return to Olympus with a human soul. Mageara’s soul.

I’ve already mentioned that I had trouble getting into this novel. It took me nearly a week to finish it. Even more damning, I had to persuade myself to read instead of doing something else. To be fair, I was very distracted by one other thing that took up nearly all of my free time in that week. But I also think the fact that I had no trouble putting the book down, or not even picking it up, for something else is telling, too.

I also wondered about how much of my trouble getting into this novel stemmed from the fact that I hadn’t read the other novels in this series. The Dream Hunter is my first novel by Sherrilyn Kenyon (although I’ve read and liked Born in Sin which she’s written under the name Kinley MacGregor).

The plots

So with these two mitigating circumstances out of the way, I also think the book is all over the place. Really, look at this:

  1. The hero, Arik, makes a bargain with Hades so that he can experience in the flesh the incredibly sex he has with the heroine, Megeara, in her dreams. The price: Megeara’s soul. She has to die after the two weeks Hades granted Arik are over.
  2. The Onoroi keep dream hunters like Arik (called Skotos) in line so that they don’t mess with human dreams too much. With Arik going human, they are afraid that Zeus will catch on to the fact that the curse which denies dream hunters emotions is weakening. To protect themselves, they sick the Dolophonis on Arik to kill him.
  3. Artemis isn’t happy that Megeara is looking for Atlantis. She sent one of her servants, Kat, to keep an eye on Megeara. She also meddles on her own.
  4. Then there’s Zebulon, or ZT, a Chthonian or god killer because they have so much power that they could. he watches over mankind is pissed at what’s happening.
  5. Arik’s brother Solin has his own agenda why he’s helping Arik.
  6. Kat seems to have her own agenda, too.
  7. And lastly, and I think that’s supposed to be the most important point besides #1, Megeara’s finding and poking around Atlantis might release Apollymi, the Destroyer, from her seal. And that’s something none of the various gods and factions wants really to see.

That’s enough plot for several novels, IMO.

Other problems

Add to that two main characters who seemed to be written according to a checklist and who often just go blithely along, forgetting what happened a few pages before, and The Dream Hunter seemed like a rather “whimsical” novel. It jumped from one thing to the other. One moment it was this, the next it was that without a real connection. There’s for example the fact that Apollymi, if released, is very likely to destoy the world in her wrath. But that doesn’t seem to enter Megeara’s mind when she considers making a deal with her because Arik’s life is at stake.

The erratic impression is strengthened even further by the several (necessary) POV characters. But even though the various sub plots require a lot of POV characters, Kenyon does change POV characters more often than is really needed, IMO. Like in one of the dream sex scenes, for example (140/141). It’s like ping pong so that you get the emotions and feelings of both characters involved. And was is really necessary to interrupt an upcoming action scene for two pages to give me the details of all of Arik’s ten attackers (144-146)?

So all that kept me from getting into the story. But there’s more. Like Megeara’s special specialness or the often forced humor (Artemis language problems? Too silly on top of all the other things for me). Or the fact that Arik has kept his powers in his dreams while he’s human even though this shouldn’t be possible (but it allows for some hot kissing because Megeara is rather frosty by day). In general, I thought the story relied too much on deus ex machina devices.

So why did I continue to read it?

  1. I wanted to find out how (or if) Arik’s attraction to Megeara turned from being based on lust and sex to being based on her character. Why does he love her?
  2. I was interested in seeing how Arik handled to suddenly have emotions, which is compelling conflict, IMO. I guess I was thinking of Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series.
  3. I expected a laugh or two out of the fact that the world in dreams and the world in reality follows different.

And yeah, I finally settled into reading. But sadly, I have to say that at the end of the novel, I still have no idea why Megeara and Arik love each other. And there wasn’t much about point #2 and #3, either; maybe some interesting tidbits concerning Arik’s deal with Hades (on 2-3 pages). But overall, nothing much came of all the plots. Most of them meander off to who knows where, and all in all, I think this novel would have been better off as a short story.

Final thoughts:

  • I thought the Greek mythology background fun, something different.
  • I thought it ironic that Mageara is so willing to let the whole world go to hell if only Arik won’t get executed upon his return to his world (never mind the fact that if the whole world is blown apart, Arik being human will kill him jsut the same) and that Arik, on the other hand, recognized how wrong his deal with Hades was.

Verdict: This probably wasn’t the best introduction to Sherrilyn Kenyon’s world and I don’t have any idea if my impression would have been different if I’d read the whole series. As it is now, I see The Dream Hunter as a novel that has too much going and barely touches open the surface of its elements before it moves on to the next crisis/melodrama/idea which most often get solved by deus ex machina devices. Especially the romantic conflict and the romance itself suffered under it and felt rather underdeveloped. (2/5)