Desire Unchained (Demonica #2) by Larissa Ione - B/B-. The world building was much easier to follow this time and I felt there was a more complete resolution to the story. I liked Shade quite a bit. I have the other Demonica books on my TBR.
The Reluctant Nude by Meg Maguire B-. An enjoyable story about a sexy French sculptor and a biologist who's roped into posing nude for him. I really liked Max but I'm not sure I really understood Fallon. The cover picture is wrong wrong wrong - Fallon is described as having curly shoulder length auburn/red hair.
Cut & Run by Madelaine Urban & Abigail Roux - C- I found this a frustrating disjointed story. The dialogue was confusing and the actual time Zane and Ty spent together was way too short. Just when I was starting to get into it, the story would take a sharp right turn. I don't generally like stories where the h/h spend long periods apart and I didn't really understand the why of it here. I liked the characters, but the story got in my way. I understand that things pick up considerably in books 2 and 3 so I will probably still give them a try as I did like the characters quite a bit.
Games Girls Play by Deanna Lee B+. see my full review here
Money, Honey by Susan Sey, B-. This is a story about an FBI agent and an ex-theif working together to bring down a counterfeiter. At first I thought it was going to be a light hearted humorous book and there were aspects of it, but then the story would swing into series territory. I felt it would have been better to be one or the other, but as it tried to be both at times, overall the book suffered for it. I think this is the author's debut. There was certainly enough enjoyment here for me to pick up her next one, Money Shot, which is out just about now I think and features the Secret Service agent with the unattractive nickname of Goose (Maria di Guzman) who is a secondary character in this book.
How It Should Be by Madeleine Urban & Rhianne Aile - C. Cute short (24 pages) story about 2 lovers who want to show their best friend what a good sexual m/m(/m) experience can be after a disappointing first time with a stranger. Some of the dialogue was a bit unbelievable - I don't think guys actually talk that way (but then, what would I know?).
Be My Valentine by Madeleine Urban & Rhianne Aile - B. This was actually a very sweet and sexy story about a manager and one of his reports and how they finally admit (and act on!) the crush each has on the other. Only 19 pages but I really liked it.
Caught Running by Madelaine Urban & Rhianne Aile - B. Story about 2 teachers who had been at the same high school together many years before. One is the coach of the baseball team (Jake) and science teacher (Brandon) gets roped into helping with the team. It had a slow start - there wasn't even a kiss until well over the halfway mark of this 195 page book. So, on the one hand, it was slow but on the other, there was actually a good believability factor to the build up of the relationship - I'm so contrary!! There were a few plot points that didn't go anywhere - I'm not sure what the point of Misty chasing Jake about was as it just fizzled out and there wasn't an explanation of the email job offer at the end - what was going to happen about it? I would have liked more information about how they would handle the long term - the story hinted at potential problems if their relationship became public knowledge - but I liked the characters and their connection to believe in the HEA regardless. Also, the sex, once it appeared in the story, was hot hot hot.
Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelley - DNF - I only got 35 pages in but in that time there was a lot of telling not showing and I didn't see any chemistry between the characters - they actually seemed kind of mean and I didn't know why, beyond the physical attraction, they were interested in each other. I think it was meant to be snappy sizzling banter but to me it came off as just sniping and aggressive. Maybe I will go back to it one of these days and will feel more kindly disposed to finishing but right now, I'm just not interested. This book has received other great reviews (that's why I picked it up) so I am an outlier as far as my response is concerned. And, hey, maybe it gets better. I'm not ruling out another try at some point.
**pick of the month**
Paris A to Z by Marie Sexton - A-. I love these Coda boys. I'm only sad that this is (apparently) the last book of the series. Paris closes of the Angelo & Zach story but there is a fair bit of Matt & Jared too as they sort through the various exes they have to deal with. My only real complaint (and really, that's too strong a word) was that there wasn't enough of Cole & Jon. They are my favourite couple of the series. I can only hope that Ms. Sexton will write us a few little shorts about their lives in the future. Also, I think I have found a pic of Jared - he's actually an Australian Masterchef contestant who's also a professional lifeguard but he's quite like my mental picture of Jared. I tweeted the author and she said she thought he was "ver Jared-esque". There's footage on the Masterchef website of young Haydon in full lifeguard mode but I couldn't work out how to take a screen shot to post here. :) **pick of the month**
|Haydon from Masterchef Australia We were recently treated to vision of him in Speedos and he is actually one of the (very) few who can make them look good! :)|
Stroke to His Cox by JL Merrow - C+. Cute (very) short story about a rower and the cox. Probably would have been more enjoyable if I understood the rowing references.
Snowbound by Larissa Ione - DNF This isn't actually as bad as the grade sounds. The book is an early work of Ione's and it happens to feature my least favourite (I have discovered) romance trope - the big misunderstanding. As I'm getting older, I'm finding I have less and less patience for this - it isn't how I work personally - I'm more the terrier type as far as NOT letting things go is concerned and I get so frustrated by not TALKING about something and just jumping to conclusions. I was enjoying the story well enough but I could just see the Big Mis coming and I couldn't stick around for the torture of it. It was heading for a C/C- before I decided to move on to something else. It did seem less polished than the Demonica books I have read and I put that down to being an early book - On the plus side, the hero was fine.
Three to Tango - (book 1) dirty/bad/wrong by Lauren Dane C- Poorly edited and therefore somewhat confusing story about a girl coming back to her hometown and catching up with 2 old lovers (who are now lovers themselves) m/m/f. With better editing this would have been much more engaging. One example; one of the guys enters the story by coming up and kissing the other man very passionately, but later in the story, we find out that he's not comfortable with being lovers with the other man and they've only had sex 3 times over 10 years and that was when he was drunk. It didn't fit the initial picture. (There are 3 other stories in the anthology but I havent' gotten to them yet).
Baby I'm Yours by Stephanie Bond - C. Okay short about a man proposing to his high school sweetheart while on leave from the army, when a tornado is on its way to town. The beginning was prmising but there was too much going on and not enough pages to tell the story - not enough of Shelby and Emory together to me to really care about their relationship.
Blaze of Memory by Nalini Singh - C+/B-. It actually took me 2 goes to get started with this book. I was quite thrown by the early references (seemingly without much explanation) of Dev's affinity to metal/machines. I'm not sure I really understood it even by the end, but there was more information about it about 3/4 through the book. I kept thinking I'd missed something. Anyway, once I re-started the book and put aside my confusion, I started to enjoy the book a lot more. The first bit was a C+, the latter a B/B-. I thought I'd enjoy Katya's story and I did, but just not as much as I thought I would. The almost/not quite of the physical relationship had me a bit frustrated (in the non sexual sense :) ) and I thought the ending was just a bit too convenient/deus ex machina. However, there was a lot to enjoy, it just wasn't my favourite of the series.
Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh - B I think I remember seeing/hearing about the place shortly after its release that this one wasn't as popular with readers as other books. However, I really enjoyed it. It's the story of human cop Max Shannon (the Irish name with the Asian eyes, so I had to keep mentally re-jigging my image of him) and Sophia Russo, a Justice Psy. J-Psy's haven't really featured a lot in the series, so learning about them was interesting to me and there was some interesting stuff in the wider story arc too. That's not why I read the series of course - I'm in it always and forever for the romance. What I enjoyed about this book was that the conflict was external. Max & Sophie have an instant connection but the appear to be star-crossed lovers - she's fracturing because of her "J-ness" and her personal history. She cannot leave the PsyNet. Max is a human who doesn't trust the Psy. But, he never doubts her. I actually like this type of story from time to time - and I did like the way Singh uses the J designation to so totally isolate Sophie - this means that she hasn't touched another person in years - so, when she touches Max, and then touches him skin to skin - it is a special experience. I was actually thinking when I was reading that Singh has created a very clever world where the virgin heroine is actually believable and does not cause eye-rolling. On p129 however, was the thing that drew me in the most -
No one had ever before chosen her. No one.It touched a chord and I was totally caught up in their relationship. I like Max very much and I enjoyed Sophie too - she was, for all her vulnerability, a very strong heroine. I would have liked more of River, background and more detail at the ending (that felt a bit rushed) - maybe we'll see him in future books?
Play of Passion by Nalini Singh - B. This is Indigo and Drew's story. Changing it up once again, Singh tells the story of two SnowDancer wolves - Indy is 4 years older than Drew and her wolf is the more dominant. Sorting the dominance and pack hierarchy out is the relational conflict in the story. Drew is a charmer and very yummy - I enjoyed reading about him very much. I could also relate to Indy's vulnerability - how will her man cope when she has to give him orders on the job? Will he think because they are lovers, he is now "in charge"? I appreciated how the conflicts were resolved - the characters stayed true to themselves but sorted it out. There was also a little more of Hawke & Sienna too, just to whet my whistle.
Next up: Kiss of Snow!!! I've seen excellent reviews but haven't read any so as to avoid spoilers. Hawke is 35 or so and Sienna is only 19. Can Singh pull it off? I'm "desperately hopeful".
Full review to come.
The Spymaster's Lady by Joanna Bourne, narrated by Kirsten Potter - B In the end, I got used to the American narration in a totally non-American story. This is a great book and I thought Ms. Potter's narration improved as the story went on, as did her French accent for Annique. It did throw me at first that the non dialogue parts were done in an American accent - the characters are English or French and the writing is clear as which language is native to the POV - so in my head when I read the book, those narrative portions which were told from Annique's point of view had a French accent to go with the French syntax. And similar with the British side of things. So, to throw in an American accent was a bit of a curveball for me. However, by the end, I'd mostly gotten over it.
Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh, narrated by Angela Dawe - B+ It's been ages since I read StoS and frankly, I'd forgotten how much I loved it. Angela Dawe does a great job of the narration and it was a very entertaining listen. I do think that Dawe has only one "male" voice so while I'm looking forward to listening to others in the series, I don't think I'll be doing back to back listens (not that all the books are out yet anyway) because otherwise I think I'll notice too much that all the male characters/heroes sound the same. Vaughn, the next hero is quite different to Lucas, so it will be interesting to see what Dawe does with him.
Soulless by Gail Carriger, narrated by Emily Gray - B+ This was my first steampunk book and I was a bit surprised by the paranormal aspects at first - silly me, I though that steampunk was just about extra inventions. Emily Gray is a very very good narrator and I enjoyed Lord Maccon's growly Scottish accent quite a bit and I appreciated how she infused her narration with the humour which is evident in the story. I'm not sure whether I'll actually listen to the next two as the focus isn't (I understand) on the romance but on Alexia solving crimes/mysteries. I'd rather read romance so I will probably choose others from my mountainous TBL before coming back to this series. However, this book is very much a romance and greatly enjoyable.
Judgement in Death by JD Robb, narrated by Susan Ericksen - B+ - Another excellent book in this wonderful series. The drunk scene between Eve and Mavis is priceless and oh so much funnier on audio!
Betrayal in Death by JD Robb, narrated by Susan Ericksen - B. Good story, strong narration, great characters. I did wonder slightly at Eve's sympathy for the "villain" in this book - his crimes were pretty nasty I thought - I don't think I would have been so generous.
Seduction in Death by JD Robb, narrated by Susan Ericksen - B. I know the narration isn't as good on this one because it was Ericksen's first go round at the series. Roarke's voice is pretty much the same but Eve's has become more defined. Feeney, Whitney, Mira, Trina, Mavis and Charles are basically the same but there are quite distinct changes made in subsequent narrations to Peabody, McNab and Louise. Especially with Peabody & Dallas, there isn't much between them in this audiobook to make it easy to tell who's speaking. That's not the case with most of the series. Still, this is one of the excellent books in the series and I think the story is good enough to make up for the lack in the narration. Having said that, the only lack is really the way Ericksen does the voices - the emotion and the rest are, as usual excellent. I am glad she's defined Peabody's voice etc - when I first started listening to the series, I thought Peabody's voice was a bit on the strange side but I have gotten used to it and, having listened to this one, really appreciate that Ericksen makes the voice very different and therefore easily recognisable. I love this series. I can listen to book after book and not get sick of it.
Interlude in Death by JD Robb, narrated by Susan Ericksen -C+-. I'm trying to listen to the series in order so I'm putting the novella-audios in where they belong in the sequence. I've actually listened to this one before, but I decided to re-listen so I don't miss anything in the wider story arc. It's only 3 hours, so not a big commitment! An enjoyable story but perhaps not the strongest one in the series.