Book Review: Ignition

review-cover-ignitionTitle: Ignition [The Escaping Demons Saga 2]

Author: Stacy McWilliams

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Life has never been easy for Jasmine Johnstone, but failing for Nathan Stevenson brings a whole new level of difficulty. Since she arrived at his home he’s blown hot and cold with her, turned against her and revealed a deadly threat. He is sworn to kill her, and fights against his love for her more than ever, but he knows he can’t live without her.

As they run from monsters, and each other, can their love survive?

Time begins to run out and with new friends and enemies in the strangest places, will they learn who to trust in time?

With their love stronger than ever, but forces pulling them apart, is love enough to keep them together or will Nathan’s parents succeed in pulling them apart?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was a mess. Yes, a mess—and I’m being generous. I had some hopes after the first book that maybe this book would be better. Maybe the author would explain things, maybe Nate would somehow beautifully and tragically save Jasmine as to redeem their relationship in some matter. Anything… but what I got was an even bigger tangle of absurdity than with the first book.

The book was littered with typos. Missing words, improper grammar, misspellings, omitted words, even lack of clarifying punctuation. There were too many mistakes for a book that had a professional editor. On the plus side, the writing, for the most part, remained clear despite these problems and flowed along reasonably well.

My biggest problem with this book was the egregious amount of plot holes, obvious plot devices, contradictory phrases, and just the plain absurdity of what the characters were saying, doing, or thinking at any time. I literally broke down into hysterical laughter after about the 15th time the male demon love interest, Nate, shed a tear and Jasmine noted that she’d never seen him break down and cry before. REALLY? I cracked up laughing and exclaimed “Where have you been? He never stops crying!” Nate was constantly sobbing, breaking down into tears, or shedding a tear over everything. Their relationship was in a never ending loop that went something like this: “Baby, I love you more than anything, more than my life!” “I hate you. I never loved you.” “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I was protecting you! I love you! Please forgive me!” repeat ad infinitum. I lost track of how many times this cycle of love/hate repeated itself, but it was painfully predictable.

Also painfully predictable, was the number of times Jasmine tripped, fell into something, or got a head injury. The girl should have serious brain damage. More worrisome perhaps, was the author’s penchant for softening the blow of all the tensest moments by going meta and explaining what was about to happen. “I didn’t know then that…” became a common theme.

As the book wore on the writing got more and more absurd. Bits of information were thrown in to move the plot along that reasonably, the main character should have never known. She somehow learned magic and how to identify wild herbs out of nowhere when it was needed, even though she’d been orphaned and in the foster care system since she was little. When she needed to drive, it mentioned that she had taken a few driving lessons a few months before. When? When did this happen? She’d been living in the demon household for over a year at that point, and I really can’t imagine that they let her out to take driving lessons. She suddenly identified a witch trap even though until that moment, witches had never been mentioned in the books. She identified an obscure Japanese mythological creature by name even though she didn’t know they existed until that moment. It never ended. Things kept getting introduced into the story, and suddenly Jasmine knew what they were or how to deal with them “although she didn’t know how she knew”—and that was the best explanation we got.

At one point, we were even introduced to the fact that Jasmine had a little brother and sister… (which were never mentioned in the first book), that she somehow forgot existed. Soak that in.

Frankly, the book was badly written and a bit ridiculous. The romance between the two main characters was abusive—full of lies and physical abuse—and every opportunity Jasmine had to get away, she quickly went back on before the page was even over. She was constantly playing the victim, and it got to be both irritating, and after awhile, sickening to read. I honestly don’t understand how this book got so many 4 and 5-star reviews because it’s probably one of the most infuriating and repetitive books I’ve ever read. This is not something I would recommend. Period.

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Book Review: Devil’s Cove

review-cover-devil's coveTitle: Devil’s Cove [Tortured Souls 1]

Author: R.C. Matthews

Genre: Historical, Gothic, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Shrouded in unspeakable horror and spoken of only in whispers, the abandoned Devil’s Cove Manor lures Captain Devlin Limmerick and his unquenchable thirst for revenge to its doors. Feared as the Devil on the high seas, the pirate’s desire to avenge his past is matched only by his hunger for the powerful young medium he has coerced to aid him in his nefarious quest.

Blinded from youth and touched with an ability to communicate beyond the grave, Grace is both feared and revered by the uneasy town folk. Yet she is powerless against the unrest brewing within the manor walls and finds herself drawn to the Devil’s darkness. Still, she refuses to sacrifice her soul to set Devlin’s unspeakable plans in motion.

But an evil lurks within these walls, and their very souls are in jeopardy. Grace’s presence at the manor spurs inexplicable happenings, forcing Devlin to believe nothing is as dead as it seems – not even his heart. Plunged into the throes of passion and danger, they discover the only way out is to search deep within and summon the courage to believe in true love.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Devil’s Cove by R.C. Matthews was a little outside what I normally read in historical romances. I can honestly say that this is maybe the first Gothic Romance I’ve ever read—and I got quite a kick out of it. The characters were interesting and unique, the plot was wholly different than what I’m used to in a historical romance, and there was a dark edge of danger to the plot that I found fascinating.

Technically speaking, the book was well edited. I ran into a few typos, but nothing that pulled me out of the narrative. The writing flowed easily, the dialogue seemed fairly natural, and I greatly enjoyed the plot. The only real problem I had with the technical side of the book, was perhaps the language. There were definite moments when I doubted the words used and if they were appropriate to the historical theme of the book, and on the opposite side of the spectrum, there were a lot of moments when I saw true historical bits throw in, but they were done so in a way that made me stop and go “oh. the author wanted me to notice that they did research.” There was no need for it, and it was a little clunky.

That aside, I greatly enjoyed the plot and the romance. Devlin and Grace were dynamic characters and though vastly different in nature, melded well. Their backgrounds, though often painful to read, were interesting and provided genuine context to their personalities. I really enjoyed them! Josephine seemed to be a character straight out of a horror film, and as seductive and evil as she was presented, I couldn’t help but love her as well. She wasn’t a cardboard villain in a black hat—and I loved that about her. She was a real person with real motivations, and she was both dangerously evil, and sweet at the same time.

And as a side-note… I was so thrilled to see Neptune’s Ballroom included in the story because it is a fantastic site that I’ve seen and heard about in previous instances and always thought was a fascinating place! I squealed with joy when I realized where the ballroom was—almost as soon as Devlin pointed out that no one had found it. I just –knew- it was going to be where it was, and was overjoyed to be proven right. Well done!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The kind of ill-handled historical aspects of it aside, I thought it was a wonderfully colorful book full of great characters and an interesting plotline, and if you’re looking for a fast gothic romance to enjoy, I would highly recommend you pick this up!

Book Review: Awakened

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Title: Guardians: Awakened [Pantheon 1]

Author: Kimiko Alexandre

Genre: Urban, Contemporary, Fantasy, Paranormal

Rating: 4 (4.5) Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Raegan Fischer is eye candy for the rich socialites of the world…she also uses that pretty façade to protect them. When she gets dragged into a murder with “supernatural” like trappings, she never believes it’s going to not only test faith she doesn’t realize she has nor ever wanted, but make her enter a world of Angels, spirits, and the unknown.

Blackmailed into helping, she must find a missing angel and her sister while protecting a gargoyle that holds the soul of a mass murder. It’s believe or risk a whole host of costs that are too high to bare.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I was so excited to get ahold of this book, and it didn’t disappoint. Guardians: Awakened by Kimiko Alexandre tells the story of Raegan, an ex-military woman working as a body guard who gets sucked into a war between angels and other supernatural forces. Suddenly everything she thought she believed about angels, demons, possessions, and herself is wrong, and she’s smack dab in the midst of it all.

On the technical side of things, the book was decently written. There were a few pet peeve moments for me when conjunctions were used to start sentences (that is a very specific hatred of mine) commas were misplaced or missing, and a few clumsily worded passages at the very beginning of the story that knocked me out of the narrative a little, but overall, I don’t have any major complaints. The narrative was pretty easy to follow, the dialogue moved along at a good pace and wasn’t overly dramatic or forced. The only complaint I had in that department was one small section where Raegan’s name was repeated twice in a very short period of time. (Loc. 747 on Kindle)

“Give me just a moment, Raegan. The girl needs some attention.” Her voice sounded otherworldly, with her eyes shining bright. All nodded.

“We’ll get this sorted out, Raegan, now that Ariel is here we can get you back into your body. I’m sure you’re freaked. I’ll explain as much as I’m allowed,” Trace said.

Other than that, the only technical errors that really stuck out was the ONE time a quote was misplaced (Loc. 90 on Kindle):

“Perhaps you can call your boss as you intended,” Chris stepped in without hesitation,” and he can verify we should have been on the list.

Honestly, I’m being nitpicky. I can admit that the editing set off my worst pet peeves possible. Overall, the technical aspect of the book was very nearly spot on—I only wish a really good editor could have made it just that much tighter to make it perfect, because I loved the story so much once that aspect was set aside.

I really enjoyed the characters as a whole, though Raegan could be a little dense at times. There were at least two or three instances where the author very clearly hand-held the audience a little, letting important bits of info pop up in hints that Raegan just didn’t pick up on. It didn’t really irritate me, but it did make me stop and go: “Why is she surprised at this? Didn’t we already establish this was happening?” Apparently, Raegan wasn’t great at hints—it sort of fit her personality though. Raegan could be bull-headed in the best way, and I dearly loved her for it. She was the type of heroine who really felt genuine because she reacted in a very believable fashion to what was happening. She stuck to her opinions, even when she clearly knew she was wrong. She swore at angels—despite the fact she knew they could smite her if they so chose to. She even pouted internally over taking care of her ill grandmother—because she really didn’t have the time or patience level to do so. She was a flawed character, and it was nice to see such a strong female lead that wasn’t always morally perfect.

As for the other characters? I enjoyed Trace, Ben, and Tobias (go figure, the three hot guys), but it was a little hard to get a read on the other characters. There was so much going on with the plot and with the myriad of characters (some of which we didn’t get to know very well, like Raegan’s sister Jessica) that it was sometimes hard to keep track of who everyone was and what their relation to the plot was. I’m not going to hold that against the story however. Like I said, there was a lot going on, and Raegan’s head wasn’t usually up to cataloguing the people around her when she was busy worrying about possessed hobos.

I really enjoyed the plot and world building. The book felt exactly as it was meant to—a bit of an urban paranormal murder mystery with some thriller thrown in for good measure. The lore was easy to grasp, and the different aspects of mind reading, astral projection, and visions was an interesting twist that I hadn’t expected. My only criticisms are that I wish the story had been much, MUCH longer so that I could have dallied in the world a little more—and I wish there had been romance (though I can admit that’s a personal preference). The author clearly marked that this was NOT a paranormal romance, so I know I shouldn’t have expected it, but when the main character kept mentioning how hot all these male and female characters were, and her blatant attraction to Tobias… I’ll admit, I was kind of hoping for some sort of romantic push.

Overall? I really liked the book. I wish a really fantastic editor had tightened a few bits here and there, but I genuinely enjoyed it regardless of my nitpicks. It was a solid first book in the Pantheon series, and I’m excited to move on to the next book as soon as it’s available. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys urban paranormal books with a little bit of a thriller edge.  It’s not a terribly long book, so if you’re looking for a series to invest into that isn’t going to take a week to slog through, this may be the perfect start for you.

Book Review: City of Bones

 

cover-CityofBones

Title: City of Bones [The Mortal Instruments 1]

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy, Action & Adventure

Rating: 5 (4.5)

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Description/Synopsis: When Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder. Much less a murder commited by three teenagers covered with odd markings. This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons–and keeping the odd werewolves and vampires in line. It’s also her first meeting with gorgeous, golden-haired Jace. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in an ordinary mundane like Clary? And how did she suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know….

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

First of all, great cover. Second, it was about time I got into this series. I avoided all the hype when the books first came out and started to become popular, but when the movie came out, I felt it was finally time I look into what the hype was all about. The first thing I did was watch the movie, which was pretty good – if a little all-over-the-place at times. Having enjoyed it, I jumped right into the first book, and without delay, subsequently finished all five.

Honestly, overall, and I’ll probably repeat this when I review the other four—I enjoyed the novel series a lot more than the movie. It, (like most book series), felt more complete and put-together. The plot made more sense, and there were a lot of little moments (like Simon being turned into a Rat) that didn’t make the cut into the movie, but seemed to suit the books just fine.

Like most YA novels, it had it’s moments of unnecessary drama (that’s just how teenagers are), but overall the writing was clear, concise, and fast-paced. I never found myself shaking my head at the narrative or skimming bits. I didn’t feel the need to throw things at the characters (okay, maybe at Simon), and although Clary sometimes did really stupid, dangerous things, I didn’t get annoyed at her character like I do with some YA heroine’s.

I think overall, if you liked the movie even remotely, you should give this book (and the entire series) a chance. The characters were a lot more personable in the book vs. the movie, and their motives, a little easier to understand. Jace especially was easier to connect to in this version of the story, though I think Clary possibly lost a bit of her coolness-factor. Simon still irritates me, but no surprise there. Anyways, it was a good book and I’d recommend it to any YA (or even adult) reader. The entire series is age appropriate for anyone 13+. A little later in the series (towards the last two books) there are some racier bits if you’re considering gifting this series to your teen, but the author was very careful not to go into great detail of any sexual/romantic encounter even that late in the series, and I’d certainly feel comfortable recommending it to anyone 13+ who enjoys paranormal fantasy. The world-building was a nice mix of fantasy/paranormal that leaned a bit towards the grittier side, with conniving not-so-nice fairies, vampires, werewolves, demons, and avenging angels.

The –only- reason this book got a 4.5 rating from me rather than a full 5 stars, was because a little later in the series (the last two books in particular) the story gets even better. This wasn’t my favorite book in the series, but it was still a good read. Take a chance, pick up a copy today. This one’s going on my keeper shelf.

Book Review: The Darkest Night

 

cover-TheDarkestNightTitle: The Darkest Night [Lords of the Underworld 1]

Author: Gena Showalter

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis: All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she’ll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member — a man trapped in a hell of his own.

Neither can resist the instant hunger than calms their torments… and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction — and a soul-shattering test of love…
Though they carry an eternal curse, the Lords of the Underworld are irresistibly seductive — and unimaginably powerful…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

First of all: The cover. I think it was well done. It’s seductive in a way that isn’t super-flashy, and the color scheme works well. *thumbs up*. It’s one of those few romance covers that wouldn’t embarrass you too much out in public. As for the book itself, I’m not sure where to begin. Gena Showalter is an author who’s popped in and out of my periphery for awhile now, but I hadn’t picked up any of her books until just recently. I went on a bit of a paranormal romance kick last week and shoved a bunch of random titles onto my Kindle, and this was one of them. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed The Darkest Night.

The story revolves around Ashlyn Darrow, a young woman with an extraordinary gift that allows her to hear conversations–ALL conversations– that have ever happened in a specific location. Because of this gift she’s stayed isolated most of her life, working for a scientific group that works to find supernatural creatures, help them flourish, and also at the same time, use their abilities to help the world at large. Unfortunately, Ashlyn doesn’t appreciate her gift as much as you may expect. To her, it’s more of a curse. People, even those at the institute, treat her badly because she’s privy to everything they’ve ever said… and that includes a lot of secrets. Desperate to remove this curse, she seeks out a group of supernatural beings that have been rumored to be Angels near Budapest. She’s heard all sorts of information about how they seem to help the town, supporting it with charity and keeping outside forces from hurting the townspeople. There’s also a few rumors that maybe the men living in the secluded compound are demons, but that can’t be true. Right? She desperately hopes that these supernatural men will know more about her ability, and possibly help her rid herself of this so called “gift”.

From there the story stems into an action-packed, supernatural gore-fest as Ashlyn learns the truth behind the so called “angels” of Budapest, and is taken hostage by the wary group of demon-possessed warriors. She even begins to fall for one of them, despite trying her best not to. The story is dotted with mythology of titans and greek gods, immortal warriors and demons from the deepest, darkest regions of hell. I found the world building compelling without being so over the top that I felt I was watching a history lesson in mythology. There was just enough to build up the world and set the stage without overshadowing the romance of the plot or the struggles of the characters, and I certainly appreciated the way it was done. The writing itself from a technical stand point was clear, engaging, and well written. The only thing that really drew me away from truly adoring it was that the author’s voice tended to be a bit… sugary. I guess is the best way to put it. This was a dark story, but the writing wasn’t always dark. In fact, one character in particular, a child of the gods, was downright vivacious. I think I would have preferred the silliness to be toned down a bit considering the plot of the story, but I’m willing to let it slide, because it didn’t keep the story from being believable.

As for the characters: I loved them. Even the evil demon-possessed warriors at their worst were loveable. Ms. Showalter did an excellent job of balancing the proud, honor-bound personalities of the demon-possessed men with the darker sides of their nature. I had no trouble believing that they were good men, and by the same token, didn’t have a problem believing that they were capable of horrendous things. It’s often so hard to reach that sort of balance in a character and have them remain believable, but the author did it effortlessly.

There were a few things that weird-ed me out about this story, mainly having to do with the outside help of the Greek god’s daughter (I still have no idea what her name was) and her sassy attitude. Her personality seemed so out of place next to all the very serious characters of the book. Another issue for me was the way Ashlyn basically clung to Maddox from the very beginning. On the one hand, I understand that she was desperate for his help and the silence he provided just being around her. (though I should remark that it was never explained why she couldn’t hear anything when she was around the demon-warriors). It seemed like she was a kid clinging to a stuffed rabbit. Despite the obvious danger she was in and the very real situation of being held captive (and even starved in a dungeon for a night), she was almost… loyal… to Maddox. She wanted to be around him all the time. I can see the appeal of the silence, like I said, but I have a hard time believing she’d throw personal safety out the window so eagerly. Another (small) issue I had was that I really wish more time had been spent on the overthrowing of the Greek Gods. It was mentioned and there were certainly some things that cropped up in the story because of it, but there just wasn’t a lot of time spent on the upheaval or the consequences as they trickled down to the warriors. I was expecting more to happen (and that’s one of the big reasons this is only four stars). Maybe the series will get more into that with subsequent books, but I certainly felt the absence in this one.

Those points aside, I really have nothing else to complain about. I really liked this book despite it’s few flaws, and I’m mostly willing to let them go. Overall, I’d certainly recommend the book to anyone who likes Paranormal Romance. (specially if you’re like me and like brooding domineering men in your romance novels). It was different than I’d expected the story to be, but I ended up liking it because of that rather than despite the fact. I’ll certainly be looking into the rest  of the series, and more titles from this author.

Book Review: Shadow’s Claim

cover-shadow'sclaimTitle: Shadow’s Claim [The Dacians 1]

Author: Kresley Cole

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis: Shadow’s Claim features Prince Trehan, a ruthless master assassin who will do anything to possess Bettina, his beautiful sorceress mate, even compete for her hand in a blood-sport tournament—to the death.

He won’t be denied…

Trehan Daciano, known as the Prince of Shadows, has spent his life serving his people, striking in the night, quietly executing any threat to their realm. The coldly disciplined swordsman has never desired anything for himself—until he beholds Bettina, the sheltered ward of two of the Lore’s most fearsome villains.

She’s bound to another…

Desperate to earn her guardians’ approval after a life-shattering mistake, young Bettina has no choice but to marry whichever suitor prevails—even though she’s lost her heart to another. Yet one lethal competitor, a mysterious cloaked swordsman, invades her dreams, tempting her with forbidden pleasure.

A battle for her body and soul…

Even if Trehan can survive the punishing contests to claim her as his wife, the true battle for Bettina’s heart is yet to come. And unleashing a millennium’s worth of savage need will either frighten his Bride away—or stoke Bettina’s own desires to a fever-pitch…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was not entirely what I was expecting. Just this past month, Vaginal Fantasy, the romance book club I belong to, put Shadow’s Claim on it’s reading list. I didn’t have time to get around to it, so I watched the group hangout, read some reviews by my fellow book club members, and then picked this book up to give it a read. I’m glad in a way that I heard other people’s reviews about the book before I actually read it, because it gave me the opportunity to look out for some of the things people mentioned had bothered them, and I think it gave me a bit of a different perspective on the book. Every time I came to an issue someone else had, I paused, looked at it, and tried to decide if it bothered me as much as it had them. In some cases, they did, and in others, I was left scratching my head wondering if they were off their rocker.

When I first started reading the book, I’ll admit, I was really thrown. I was greeted with a glossary of terms and histories of all the different clans and planes within the elaborate world of Lore (yes, that is what it’s called), and it was a bit intimidating. Frankly, I’m glad I read it. The author really didn’t take the time to explain any of the world building or terms in this book, so if I hadn’t read the glossary, I probably wouldn’t have understood the story. Odd terms and names of places and people in the culture were constantly been thrown at the reader, and not once did the narrative explain them. The first time the word “Trace” came up, I had to look back to the glossary to remind myself what they were talking about. As a reader, I’m somewhat disgruntled about it. I’m one of those people that demands two things from a story:

  • All unfamiliar but crucial terms must be explained to the reader within the story.
  • All books in a series should be strong enough to stand up alone outside the series.

I think this book failed the first of those bullet points. Without the glossary, I would have been dead in the water, and probably set the book aside. The first chapter was an exercise in flipping back and forth between the story and the glossary, and even having read the book, I’m not entirely sure I fully comprehend how the world works.

That aside, I really enjoyed the story. Once I could get past all the weird terms that I didn’t understand, the plot was fast-paced, interesting, and full of steamy sex scenes. I’ve only read a few books where the main character was a demon, and I like looking at the different way certain authors handle the lore. It was nice to see a demon character that wasn’t wholly evil, but didn’t blink at doing morally questionable things.  When it came to the world building, unlike most of my fellow book club members, I really didn’t care for it much. Maybe it’s because I’m not a huge fan of books that try to smash a lot of fantastical creatures into one story… it always comes across as silly to me. I’d rather have a selective array of well-fleshed out species than dozens of species that were barely touched upon. That’s just a “me” thing. I think for the most part, the books strength lay in the romance between Trehan and Bettina.

Honestly, I didn’t like most of the characters. Raum and Bettina’s sylph (I can’t bother to remember his name) as far as I could tell, were completely needless in the story. Neither one did anything in the book that couldn’t have been perpetrated by another character. In fact, Raum was barely present in the story at all. The sylph’s main purposed seem to be raunchy dialogue and making Bettina uncomfortable. Bettina’s aunt, on the other hand (again, can’t seem to bother with her name) seemed to be present only to give snarky comments and threaten people. She was an odd bird, as they say, and I really didn’t like her, which is funny, because most readers seemed to. She was manipulative and childish, and I really couldn’t stand her. As for Caspion… I never really understood the attraction, or even the friendship between him and Bettina. He wasn’t a good guy. Sure, he was good looking… but he was a man-whore. Everyone knew it. She knew it… and still she was madly in love with him. The woman was out of her mind I tell you. Caspion was skeazy. He was interested in only one thing: himself–and it showed with every action.

In contrast, Trehan was loving, attentive, manly, sexy, and deadly. I was amazed at how long it took Bettina to really consider him as a love interest. If you don’t want him Bett, I’ll take him. Thanks. As for the (many) sex scenes… they were steamy. A big deal was made over the amount of “manly fluid” throughout the book in a lot of reviews I went through, but really, if you read through it, it was only mentioned three -maybe- four times, and not egregiously so. I’m kind of baffled by the overwhelming mention of it. Since most of the steamy scenes were written from Trehan’s viewpoint, the mention of “manly fluids” seemed appropriate and not overwhelmingly mentioned.

As for Bettina… she was annoyingly stupid considering how brilliant she was supposed to be. She let everyone walk all over her, spent the better part of her life fawning over a man-whore, and was afraid to even go outside alone. Her only redeeming qualities were her weapon/jewelry work, and her relationship with Trehan (who is my favorite character). Overall, I think if the romance hadn’t been as strong as it was, the book would have slipped to a solid 3 on my rating scale. Luckily, it was there, and it was H-O-T.

In the end, I really did enjoy the book despite it’s many flaws. There was action, passion, and gore.. which are three of my favorite things, and the lack of character depth and confusing world-building took a back burner to those portions of the story for me.Would I recommend it? Yes. I liked it, and I think many others would too, possibly for different reasons than me. It’s one of those books where the different elements of the story will draw an array of readers who may not all agree on which are the best portions of the story, and that’s okay. It works.

Book Review: Secrets [Guardian Trilogy 1]

ImageTitle: Secrets [Guardian Trilogy 1]

Author: Liz Schulte

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis: While Olivia Martin observed life through her camera, the Abyss gazed back at her. Mysterious men follow her around, people close to her are dying, and her dreams are no longer her own as she falls head over heels for a perfect stranger. A chance encounter leads to an obsession that could destroy everything she has ever known or loved.

WARNING – SPOILERS WILL ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This is one of those books where I really wish I hadn’t read any reviews before I read the book. I -rarely- listen to other reviews, but when I do I have this tendency to focus on the negative ones. Why? Because usually I find they’re the most honest (though not always). In this case, I couldn’t disagree more with the negative reviews, but I realize that not everyone will share my opinion.

I think in a lot of ways Secrets is a really good paranormal romance. It manages to do something that not a lot of books in it’s genre do: it keeps the paranormal part of the book secret until really far into the story. I really appreciated the fact that as I was reading, I knew there was something paranormal going on, but it wasn’t until more than 2/3 in that I realized what kind of paranormal it was. Was the book epic and mind-blowing? No. Not really, and there were a few editing mistakes that should have been cleaned up in the first draft… but it was a very good book, and it managed to do a couple of things that I almost always base my good ratings on.

First, the characters were full of depth. Yes, I wish I had gotten to learn more about the histories of the characters, especially Holden, but despite the lack of explanation of his background, I found all of the characters had very unique personalities, and they portrayed a lot of emotions without being horribly angsty. I can appreciate that. On the flip side however, I do think the author had a bit of trouble differentiating the gender of the different voices in this novel. Maybe it’s because the story was written in first person, and maybe it’s just because the author isn’t great at creating unique voices, but I’ll admit that sometimes Holden narrated like a girl. I can’t really explain the difference between how a male and a female character sound different when narrating, but you can almost always tell the difference when you read them. In this case, it was hard to figure out who was speaking until you ran across a name or the actions betrayed who they were.

Second, I think the author did a spectacular job of portraying the romance and attraction between Holden and Olivia. It was clear they loved each other, and it was clear that there were a lot of obstacles in their way. The two characters fought with themselves as well with each other, but their attraction always won out in the end, and thank goodness, they were both willing to sacrifice for the sake of each other. I have to tell you, I was really surprised by the ending. I didn’t think Holden had it in him to shoot Olivia – and was quite startled when he did even though clearly it had been an option for a long time. On the one hand, I was really upset with him for shooting her, but on the other hand, I think it was a perfect tragic end. He needed to shoot her in order to show just how much he really did love her; it really locked in their relationship for me.

I also really liked the twist of the mythos in this book. There are a lot of demon and angel stories, but rarely are they pulled off in such a unique way, and so convincingly. It didn’t feel like this was another angsty-demon superior-goody-two-shoes-angel story. Whatever their labels, it was very clear that they were solid people to me. Whether they were good or evil was a side note, and very much a grey area between them. That balance in character where an evil character can do good things and a good character can do bad things is something a lot of authors skim over, and I thought the author did a wonderful job of balancing their personalities and actions.

I do have to say that one thing I didn’t absolutely love was the way the chapters were set up. There’d be one chapter from Olivia, and then the same chapter from Holden’s point of view. While it was interesting to see how the scenes played out from both character’s side of the story, in Holden’s case, because his chapter always followed Olivia, a lot of the time we were re-hashing the same scene and skimming over the same conversations got rather repetitive. Did that stop me from reading the book? No, but it did bother me at times.

Overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed the book. There were some things that maybe weren’t handled the best way, but in the grand scheme of things, that didn’t keep me from enjoying the book. I was engaged, and I read through it without feeling the need to put the book down and do something else. If an author keeps my interest, then they’ve won me over. Despite the fact I gave this book 4 stars, I have already added the second and third book to my wishlist, and fully intend to read them both. I’m hooked.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes paranormal romance or fantasy with a little bit of mystery thrown in. Right now it’s FREE on Amazon, so grab it while you can. You have nothing to lose.