Tag Archives: romance

Book Review: Serpentine by Laurell K Hamilton

51iv37oe7cl._sx166_sy265_Book Review: Serpentine by Laurell K Hamilton

Summary: Anita Blake travels to Florida for Edward’s wedding where half snake people are trying to hide their presence and where the bodies of dead wedding guests have been found.

My Rating: 3

Why I chose this novel:

So I’ve been rereading series that caught my attention the first time through. Anita Blake is one of those series. I think what caught me most about this series was the way the magic felt real and dark. Anita investigated crime like a cop. Her relationships with the other characters developed with her understanding of the world around her. Anita is not in a one-pantheon kind of world. The stories are not wholly modern, Greek, or Indian in nature. Also, I tend to like kick-ass and strong characters, whether they are women or men.

My Thoughts:

The problem I have with the Anita Blake series is two part: too much evolution and not enough evolution. Anita started out as very strict in her beliefs: she didn’t like vampires; shape changers were dangerous; she didn’t trust them; they were the enemy. Then she changed. She fell in love with both a werewolf and a vampire. Then the magic got out of control. Anita became part of the triumvirate, the power took control of everyone’s lives, and the books became about sex. Men came and went (don’t get my started on the Cynric plot which needs to be permanently cut from all the books). Then Anita attempts to cut me from her lives. While all the romance was, or was not, happening, Anita went from being aligned with the cops, to being the target of crime, to being a one trick pony who didn’t need to investigate. I was completely fine when there was positive evolution happening; however, the magic/sex overtook this series.

The romance with the core characters became overshadowed with the sheer numbers of new lovers. When the old lovers appear, there is no emotional development with them. Even in Serpentine, when Anita is with three of her core men (Micah, Nathaniel, and Nicky) there is no real deepening of that connection. Micah indicates he is will to try intercourse with Nathaniel; however, that is not an emotional deepening, just another area of sex to explore. Michah and Anita acknowledge that their work keep them from Nathaniel, but the resolution is to have more sex when together. Again, this doesn’t allow for the emotional connection I wanted, it allows for more sex scenes, which I don’t necessarily need. So the romance is being overshadowed by the sex, and unfortunately, the evolution of the magic kind of required it in someways because the core magical base became sex.

That magic also took over the investigative elements of the books. When I think back on my favorite Anita Blake books, I think of the story of: Raw Head and Bloody Bones, where Anita investigated the murder of the children, chased after fairies, fought off the evil developers, dealt with scary vampires that meant to take over, bullied her way into a local killing, and participated in a dangerous hunt; Obsidian Butterfly, where Anita investigated the walking dead, discovering the local legends, learned about necromancer black magic, dealt with would be gods, and battled the enemy; Burnt Offerings; Circus of the Damned; The Harlequin; and Skin Trade. Most of the Anita Blake novels I remember afterwards are ones with hunts that required investigation and a show of power. Serpentine doesn’t have that. It does have a tactical advance at the end and the interview of at least on suspect, but honestly, Anita was basically investigating the evil before there was a crime and there was ever only one group of suspects. There was no real mystery or suspense for me. If I had to guess, the overdeveloped magic took over this series and the underdeveloped mysteries and romance was abandoned.¬† Therefore, three stars.

This is one of those series where I might recommend specific novels but not necessarily the whole series.

Book Review: Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews

Book Review: Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews

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Summary: Nevada and Conner are getting married, but Nevada’s sisters are planning the wedding. Catalina is the head coordinator and must figure out who has taken the family wedding tiara before the ceremonies.

 

My Rating: 3 stars

 

Why I picked this novel:

This is part of the series I have been rereading. I reread all the Ilona Andrews’ series: Kate Daniels, the Edge, Innkeeper Chornicals, and A Hidden Legacy. At the point I reread the series, Sapphire Flames had not been released.

I chose to reread the Ilona Andrews series because each of them has captured my attention. They explore new and interesting worlds, where magic does not behave as expected. There are little hints of science behind the magic, like the genetic traits in A Hidden Legacy, that I enjoy.

 

My Thoughts:

First, the things I like best about this series are the types of magic, the genetic inheritance of magic, the tight-knit Baylor family, and the detective work. Each novel has a clear detective plot, and the characters actually investigate, such as in this novel where Catalina sets up cameras, questions potential suspects, and examines the crime scene.

However, I couldn’t give this story more than 3 stars. The stories have a tendency to become redundant. A larger than necessary number of the Andrews novels use similar plot devices and wording. So many of her characters are the type to stand in front of the window, watching the rain, holding a flower to their lips. What’s that about? No, thanks. Move on. She has strong women (which I applaud) and strong men (also, yeah) who have an immediate attraction then a misunderstanding, followed by a long resistance on the woman’s part while the man chases her down. At some point, the woman displays her personal power, the man acknowledges and is turned on by the woman able to stand up to him on her own. Then they get together. Rinse. Repeat. Instead of carrying on with Mad Rogan and Nevada, this series is switching to Catalina, so that she can go through the multi-novel love cycle. While I still enjoy the style of writing and the stories on an individual basis, these books don’t evolve beyond the initial romance. I hoped to see true development with Kate Daniels, but the novels skipped from falling in love to having a kid. Done.

So my recommendation is read the Ilona Andrews novels, but don’t read too many of them close together. The writing is entertaining, the characters are fun, but they are all very similar. So indulge in other stories between these series.

Book Review: The Thief by J.R. Ward

91wm7gckhql._ac_ul436_ Book Review: The Thief by J.R. Ward

Summary: Assail’s mind is broken after withdrawing from cocaine, and his cousins have gone to retrieve his love, Sola. Sola returns reluctantly, fearing that she will be pulled back into the illegal life of drug trafficking and theft.

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Why I chose this book:

So over the winter of 2018/19, I decided to reread¬† bunch of series that I have loved. The Blackdagger Bortherhood is one of those series. I hadn’t read any of this series since about 2012, so I had a lot to catch up on.

One of the things that pulls me toward this series is the family feel to the characters. This is not one of the series, where the reader falls in love with a couple then moves on. Instead, the characters layer on top of each other. When a new couple is introduced, the old couple is still there and dealing with their own problems, whether that is broken relationships, babies, or rekindling desire.

When I added this series to my list of rereads, I added it to my “dark romance” list, but after rereading it, I think I would remove it from that list. Yes, the series still has a gritty, street feel to the world. Yes, it deals with “dark” topics like drug addiction. Yes, the vampires are still drinking blood. Yet, overall, the good guy wins, there is a lover waiting in the wings for even the bad guys, and death does not truly touch the main group. I believe the “dark” part of this series is mostly in the earlier books with the major death in book 1.

My Thoughts:

I gave this specific novel in the series a 3.5 because the series has a couple of turning points that break my interest. For instance, from the early books in the series, John Matthew, Blay, and Quinn are major minor characters. Their love stories are drawn out over multiple novels and kept me very interested watching the developments while enjoying the other stories. Then each of them gets their featured novel, and it felt like the ending of an era. Then in the middle of the series, Layla finds the man she is drawn to, and there is some drawn out tension before her featured novel, but again her featured novel closed a big door on the building tension in the series. Next, we ran out of Black Dagger Brothers, and the series switched to the trainees. Again, it jolted the quality of development in the series. Then Saxton, who is broken in Lover At Last, magically finds his mate with no drawn out relationship for him. Anyway, all the little breaks make me less and less invested in the overall series, but the series is still great. Each novel gives the happily ever after for the core couple, which is what I want when I sit down to read a romance. The rest of the team is in each novel, so I get a “fix” of the characters I already love.

On a critical point, the novels are almost too much about the other characters. Each novel has less of the main couple, and the plot lines around the main couples are becoming very straight forward. However, I would still pick up this series and read it from book one sometime in the future.

Book Review: Wraith

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Wraith by Helen Harper

Summary:
Saiya lives in a town under siege. Gobblins rule the city and gobblins wait outside the city, cutting the city off from supplies. To survive, she detaches her shadow and finds secrets that she can sell or exchange for food. Her luck changes for the worse, when her shadow is capture.

Gabriel is a dark elf emissary visiting the city for the first time. While he enter the city wanting to see the atrocities caused by the goblin, he did not expect to be threatened by a shadow assassin, find his soul mate, and end up on a mission to find a magical stone that could give the goblins reign of Scotland.

Rating: 5 stars

My reasoning:

Biggest reason this story gets 5 stars from me, I liked the story line. This is a romance story. Two characters are fated to be together, which I’m ok with, particularly because it doesn’t stop the relationship struggles. Yet, this isn’t a romance book. The damsel in distress is captured by her unknown true love and must save herself. She is on a mission to save her friend, and when the city is bombed, she runs into the bombing to pull her friend out of a prison. When things get really bad and everyone including the host goblins trying to poison the lovers, Gabriel is the one weakened, and Saiya rescues him.

Characters that originally look like they will fall into a standard role do not. The pretty rich girl who is after Gabriel could have easily become the jilted lover or jealous girl; instead, she is a rescuer and leads a silent rebellion. The benevolent prime minister has weakness in decisions. The rough information trader isn’t the one the drives the time urgency and isn’t the betrayer. Frankly, I enjoyed the main characters too. Saiya has an aversion to touch but is the kind of character you want to hug. Gabriel isn’t the standard male lead but has his hang ups such as telling Saiya the world would be better without any shadow wraiths.

I really enjoyed the world in this book. It’s set in Scotland, but it is not the rolling hills and old-fashion towns. This is a city, complete with its ancient castle and slum housing. The story features interesting locations, such as the information trader doing business from an abandoned bowling alley and the secret tunnel which is in a school.

So overall, I really liked this one.