This book turned out to be very different from what I was expecting, and has once again reinforced the old adage about not judging a book by its cover-- or title -- or publisher. The title and cover suggest a romantica or erotic content, but the book is in fact a mystery/suspense, light on the romance. This didn't turn out to be an issue for me- I think it was actually a strong point in this novel that the romance was not the main focus but rather the long time friendship of the main character and her two BFFs. That said, it was difficult getting into this novel at first, and there are a number of plot holes and inconsistencies-- apparently the MC and one of her friends were on the super express plan through college and grad school to get PhD's in their chosen fields and the third friend is a female pro boxer and financial analyst. The author is apparently also a stand up comedienne, and I could see that in some of the set ups and situations the MC encounters. With a bit more polishing, there were moments here that could have been laugh out loud hilarious. I didn't love, love, love this book, but it ended up surprising me and engaging my interest in the story and characters so that if the author ever came out with a sequel (and I hope she does) I would pick it up.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this as I have had a run of bad books lately, especially in this vein (ha!). The book started out a bit slow, and a little too 'shopaholic' as vampire- I will be so glad when pop authors stop with the constant brand name dropping- but then begins to pick up when our heroine is kidnapped and finds herself coerced into working for a shadowy government agency as a combination spy/crime fighter. Her co-spies include a spunky and funny vampiress originally hailing from Branson. Mo and a sulky, wanna-be Broadway dance star vamp who provides a nice- and again, funny! allusion to another pop culture vampire novel. Daphne discovers a natural aptitude for her new job, and a new purpose for existence. She finds new love in the form of Darius DellaChiesa, a fellow spy although from a rival organization, and as it turns out, a vampire hunter. Further potential entanglement is hinted at between Daphne and her handler, J., as the two recognize their at first unwilling attraction to one another.
The urban fantasy parts of this book work the best, although the plot feels labored at some points and full of holes at others. The sex scenes are somewhat strangely handled/described. Daphne has been holding out for some 200 years folllowing the death of her last great love, Lord Byron, but suddenly falls into bed with Darius,a total stranger for meaningless sex? And speaking of Lord Byron, the author clearly had trouble deciding how to play that relationship- for drama or for laughs- and ends up with a confused mish mash of the two that is unconvincing and weakens her character. The sex scenes gain something in emotion and lose some of the mechanistic quality as the book goes on and I suspect the author is attempting to show Daphne's growing feelings for Darius. But the first time the two characters get together, it seems very cold and its hard to figure on why Daphne feels she must be with Darius- it doesn't even seem like that much fun.
I am also hoping Russe resists the urge to write the character of Benny (the Branson Mo. vamp) as over the top zany. Benny worked well as she was until the end, when the author couldn't seem to resist the temptation to make her a charicature. The best of Benny is when she is written as the self-aware, just-a-girl-from-Branson type who doesn't take herself too seriously and trades on her 'Southern Belle' accent and proclivities to accomplish the aims of the mission. The jury is still out on Mar-Mar- Daphne's mom who has hidden depths and secrets of her own. She too could be a great and compelling character if Russe can avoid over doing the comedy.
I liked this book more than I than I expected to- although it certainly has its flaws. I plan to seek out the next book and hope that the author gets better showing Daphne's romantic motivations!
I had high hopes for this anthology;I really enjoyed Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and was interested in what some other authors could come up with combining elements of fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, horror etc with a historical setting.I also have read a number of "steam-punk" writings and find the combination of 19th century culture with the sci-fi premise interesting and fun. Anthologies can be a 'mixed bag' so usually, the strongest offerings are up front to draw the reader into the world/theme.In the case of this book, I found the first two stories did nothing to draw me in. There seemed to b e little understanding/knowledge of the era or subject, and the fantastic elements poorly handled.The dialogue and actions of characters in those stories set "in period" was often anachronistic to the point of throwing me out of the story entirely- and I don't mean the dialogue and actions related to the fantasy elements. It may be that a reader with little to no familiarity with 19th century history and culture may find this a better read than I did. In point of fact,this was a DNF for me and I may well have missed a buried gem.
In a word, eww.Generally, you expect erotica, romantica or erotic romance(whatever label you are using) to be sexy- not turn you off sex. The set up is promising- anyone who has ever worked in a resort area restaurant knows the kithchen and behind-the-scenes can be brimming over with sexual tension! Unfortunately, the author drops a promising premise like (sorry) a hot potato in favor of nonstop bad sex. One wonders how this Inn was ever a going concern- who is meeting the food vendors or running the place- everyone seems to be, well, tied up. More unforgiveably, the author betrays the ancillary lesbian character by suggesting that she really just wants a man. That Emma Holly wrote this is a bit surprising as I have read other books and stories by her that were much, much better. This one was such a stinker, I contemplated just throwing it out after throwing at the wall, but maybe it is just what someone else is looking for.
Ok- to start. I really like most all of Katie MacAlister's books. They are always funny,sexy,romantic and exciting. But the titles...the current trend of trying to give them cute pop-culture reference-y names isn't working for me and doesn't have anything to do with the actual plot of the book itself.
That said- this is a book two of a 'mini-series' I guess I'd call it, that started with Zen and the Art of Vampires. This story continues the romance between Pia Thomason and her Dark One, Kristoff, picking up at a point just after the last book left off with the vampire and his Beloved seperated through misunderstanding and miscommunication. Pia is not given long to patch up her broken heart before she is hauled back into the battle between the anti-vamp Brotherhood of the Light, who insist she is their Zorya- some sort of ritual ghost/spirit guide- and the Dark Ones- who have summoned her to answer for various crimes including the disappearence of Alec, a Dark One who had been, well,a friend 'plus benefits' to Pia before she found herself Kristoff's Beloved and wife.
Pia and Kristoff must team up to solve the mystery of Alec's disappearence and the murder of the previous Zorya as well as saving some of the spirits Pia left hanging around at the end of the last book. Oh yes, and they must discover how to work out the apparent mistake- they think- of their link as Dark One and Beloved.
I enjoyed most of the book- with some reservations. MacAlister works waaay too hard at trying to write funny/zany secondary characters.This never works- without exception these characters are annoying to me and detract from the story. If the heroine is already smart, witty and/or clueless in an amusing way, it is just overdoing it with the 'extra' comedic factor. The secondary friend characters would work much better as 'straight men' to the main action- or at least tone down the zany... a lot.
It isn't the worst thing to bring in characters from previous books, but again, the attempt to make them funny doesn't quite work. Let the characters be themselves as they were in the previous book- and enough with the jokes about petnames etc. Yes this is a fantasy novel, but the characters can act somewhat like normal folk, or at least converse like them in that it just seems odd to have them divulging their bedroom secrets and intimate pet names to total strangers whom they have just met, in front of large numbers of other 'people' listening to the conversation.
So far, I have been pleasantly surprised by this series. I have read all of the books thus far and while this wasn't my favorite of the series, it isn't the worst either (I thought the first one was kind of a clunker.)In the main, a fun read, but Katie, if you are listening, ditch the 'zany friends,'please!
From the get-go, let me state that I did enjoy this book- the characters were engaging,the action was brisk and the plot was light as a feather. That being said, if you are a historical romance/Regency purist, this book will likely set your teeth on edge as characters engage in anachronistic dialogue, wear unlikely clothes and generally break any sort of rules,societal or literary placed on the usual book of the genre. In fact, the sense of time is much more "generic nineteenth century"- skewing to the later period- than it is a Regency,despite the cover image.I am not sure if this is the author's first work or not, but some definite "rookie" errors show up in some places- errors that could have been fixed if the book had been edited properly. The main character is supposed to be unusually tall for a woman of the time, yet descriptions of her height compared to the hero have her growing larger and smaller like Alice- (the Wonderland Alice). One minute, they are "nearly eye to eye," the next she has shrunk in size beside him- and how has "little delicate hands". This not only was confusing, but led to some odd visualizations of the main character that took me out of the story.
The author also has issues with vocabulary- there were a number of point where an incorrect word was used. In one instance a person's appearance was described as "reticent" of his dead father.Now,as far as I know,someone's appearance can not be "reticent" of a deceased parent, but rather should be "reminiscent" of the dearly departed. The person may, however, certainly be reticent to speak of such a loss if the departed was not so dear. Malapropisms such as this appeared sprinkled throughout and undermined the author's attempts to establish setting and tone successfully. Again, I think this is an issue an editor would/should have caught.
Despite the issues- which in other books would have caused me to throw the offending volume at the wall very hard- I genuinely liked the characters and enjoyed the machinations of the author as she worked to bring the characters together.If you do not ask for too much sense or reality from your pleasure reading, this book may serve well to while away the time.
In short- PBS did a nice documentary covering the murder case at the center of the book, interviewing Schama extensively for his knowledge of the case, watch that rather than trying to wade through this.
Schama writes very well and engagingly but has too much going on in this one to draw the connections completely convincingly (sorry for unintentional alliteration). He is trying to draw together the death of General Wolfe during the Seven years (French&Indian) war with the scholarship of Francis Parkman and the murder of Parkman's uncle George. Yes a connection exists (Francis P, of course), but the meaning of this or its significance to history is not clear other than being an interesting footnote to F. Parkman's bio. Also, while his first chapter presents some great primary source use for the battle, his interpretations are in many places flawed, over generalized or unsupported by his evidence. Granted, his subtitle is unwarranted speculations but he is making an argument that still requires it have support. He does a bit of fictionalizing, imagining what various people were thinking with no evidence that what he presents has any truth and while this may make the book more interesting for the lay reader who is not a historian, it builds on previous flaws to decrease the reliability of his overall argument. In a nutshell- some interesting parts about historical events, the 'creation' of history by the historian and the role of cultural memory that deserve greater examination, but the premise is flawed and his argument is weak
Loved this book! This is the book for the adult Twilight fan, especially if the reader also appreciates mystery and suspense thrown in. I avoided this series for quite awhile as I was soooo tired of the vampire/paranormal romance genre, with the same old cliches or Anne Rice-isms. The allusions to the "vampiric canon" are cleverly done, with a nod to the King of Rock and Roll as well. I can't recommend this one enough!
Good book and author for the YA reader. Interesting in taht all issues are not solved or mistakes forgotten by the end of the book. I read this with a tutorial student of mine and it was a great springboard for discussion of taking responsibiloity for one's actions and thinking about potential unintended consequences of seemingly innoculous acts.
This was the first book of hers that I had read, and i throughly enjoyed it. Goodman does a good job evoking the feel of the earlier time period (late 19th/early 20th century- arts and crafts movement) and making the connections to the modern day. Many twists turns and a boatload of red herrings before the story is done. After this, I immediately sought out another of her books and have raced through that as well!
I wanted to like this book, I really did. This urban fantasy/horror had elements that were intriguing,creepy and, of course, horrifying. I think my basic criticism is that the book is simply too long and convoluted;there are at least two other books in here struggling to get out. As a result, plot lines and characters are interwoven that are never resolved or resolved in a manner that is entirely unsatisfying after the set-up that Peters puts the reader through. Peters switches viewpoint throughout the novel, perhaps to give a sense that all the characters are both actors and pawns in the action (although some have the ability to act more than others) but the shifting doesn't let the reader get a real sense of the main character other than the reactions she has to revelations thrown at her from all sides. Finally, I was worn down by the inconsistancies in the plot such as the relative powers and freedom to act of the characters: at one point some characters are depicted as nearly omniscient or even near omnipotent, but then are dispatched by more minor characters as if no more than straw effigies.
All told, the first third of the book worked well, providing suspense and creep factor to spare, but the book as a whole was dragged down by the overlong and over complicated last 2/3.