Book Review: Witch Hunter

review-cover-witch hunterTitle: Witch Hunter [Witches of the Woods 1]

Author: Steffanie Holmes

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Historical

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Europe – 1351. Centuries ago a curse was placed on Ada’s family; every seven days a woman from her line must sleep with a man – any man – or the entire coven will lose their powers forever. As a fledgling witch, it is Ada’s turn to continue the seven-day cycle, but with the plague wiping out more men every day, who will she find to take into her bed? BBW Ada goes to a sacred grove to perform a ritual to bring a man to her, and a man appears. But he is as dangerous as he is handsome …

Ulrich of Donau-Ries is a battle-scarred witch hunter, tired of the stranglehold the church has over his destiny. His heart hardened by violence and the woman who betrayed him, Ulrich is determined to never again fall in love. But that all changes when he finds Ada, naked and waiting for him. She is the first woman to loosen the chains around his black heart.

When Ada is accused of witchcraft, Ulrich seizes his chance to be close to her once more. In Ulrich’s dungeon, they find solace in each other, and innocent Ada learns to embrace her lover’s dark fantasies. But will Ulrich’s heart thaw in time to save Ada from being burned alive at the stake?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m actually a little surprised to say that I really enjoyed this book. I’m not huge on BDSM or dungeon play in my romance. I don’t particularly have a problem with it, but I don’t actively seek it out, and it’s always left me feeling a little uncomfortable when it pops up in my romance reading, so when I went into Witch Hunter by Steffanie Holmes, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about that aspect of the plot. Surprisingly, I was completely fine with it—though I know there will be some people out there that won’t. So before I get much further into this review and waste your time, let me say that there are quite a few scenes held within this book where the main female lead is strapped into or onto torture devices. She was in pain… BUT she was also consenting and enjoyed herself. If that isn’t your thing, then feel free to move on.

That being said, even though there was a fair bit of somewhat torturous BDSM involved, I never felt like Ulrich was being intentionally cruel or harmful to Ada, even when she was in genuine pain. I never questioned that she was happy to be put in the situation she was in and she enjoyed it. The situation was tricky, though. She was, after all, in a real dungeon dealing with a man who “tortured and burned witches at the stake” for a living, and I can understand how some more sensitive readers may find this book a little much to handle. To each his own, right?

Personally, I thought the story was fabulous. I loved Ulrich as the dark and brooding anti-hero and Ada as the sadly naïve newbie witch. The characters were colorful and distinct, and though I didn’t like all of them (I’m looking at you Bernadine), I felt they were necessary to the plot and well written.

Now, I was holding onto an ARC copy, so there were a few typos here and there (all of which I turned into the author/publisher), but none of them were distracting or particularly detrimental to the story. For the most part, the writing was clean, easy to follow, and well paced.

My only nitpick was one particular scene where Ada had been held in a dungeon for days on end before she was ravished by Ulrich, and I just kept thinking “omg… I bet she smells so bad right now.” She’d had rotten food thrown at her, she’d been locked in a damp cell with little food or water, and she certainly hadn’t had a bath… and I’m sure the guy loved her dearly…but… ew.

Overall? I really enjoyed the book. It was a great romp into medieval paranormal fantasy. If you’re a fan of Dark Romance, give it a try. You may really enjoy this book! If BDSM/Dark Romances are your thing,  you may want to look for something a little fluffier…but you’ll be missing out. Personally, I can’t wait to read further into this series, and I look forward to the next book!

Book Review: Deliver Me [Holmes Brothers 1]

cover-deliver me

Title: Deliver Me [Holmes Brothers 1]

Author: Farrah Rochon

Genre: Medical, Romance, African-American, Contemporary

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

LEAVING AN IMPERFECT PAST…

Monica Gardner is starting over. The broken-hearted St. Louis native has nothing left at home any longer: her future is being an ER doctor at a New Orleans hospital. Her first day makes for a bumpy start as she continually runs into handsome but irascible Dr. Elijah Holmes—a man who could make her change her mind about finding true love.

FOR NEW EXPECTATIONS

For years, Dr. Eli Holmes has been living up to his own high expectations—and is burning himself out in the process. The only time this “Super Doc” ob-gyn slows down is to notice the beautiful eyes of a newcomer, Dr. Gardner. He’s pleased to know that she’s more than just a pretty face, she’s also an ace physician. When they work together, sparks fly. But with both Monica and Eli trying to hard not to fall in love, they realize they can’t resist this affair of the heart.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This was a bit of a lack-luster read for me. The writing was clean, and technically, well done. The book kept a pretty even pace throughout as far as the tension was concerned, and I never felt like I was being dragged along.

The story itself was a bit cliché and formulaic, I admit—but I’ve never been one to turn up my nose at what works. Yes, the “fake boyfriend/girlfriend” thing has been done to death in romance literature, but there’s a reason for that: it’s cute, and it sows tension. My biggest complaint about this book, was that the romance itself, as well as a few tidbits I’ll get into, were rushed.

First off, I do not appreciate opening a book on a scene where the author is blatantly trying to deceive me, as was obvious with the very first page.

SPOILERS: The author wanted me to believe that going into this story, the main male lead was taking advantage of a teenage girl, and they were about to have sex in the back seat of a car in an alleyway.

Of course, I quickly realized that wasn’t happening at all—but it still irked me that the author had tried it. It was a dirty tactic, especially at the beginning of a romance novel. In an erotica, I probably would have let it slide, but it certainly didn’t sit right in this instance.

From there the story delves into a passion-filled romance between the two main characters, Eli and Monica, and while the pace is rather well set in the first half of the book, by the second half, things are going out of control. Literally from one chapter to the next the main characters went from fake relationship to having sex. It was that quick – and not in a steamy “this was bound to happen and we just couldn’t stand it any longer” sort of way. Monica had complete reluctance about the relationship in one moment, and then next was stripping off clothes. It felt horribly rushed, as did the ensuing sex scene.

Now, I appreciate a good not-too-explicitly-worded sex scene. (I’m sorry, I can admit that once the language of the scene starts sounding like a dirty porno, I’m not interested. I don’t particularly care if what they’re doing is explicit—more power to the characters!—have some class.) Explicit wasn’t this books problem… instead, it almost felt as if the author was very shyly trying to skim over the sex as quickly as possible. I don’t know if she found writing sex to be embarrassing, but that’s how it felt. It was over in the blink of an eye, and on the story went. In fact, from that point forward, all the sex scenes were conveniently skipped over entirely. It felt really odd for a romance like this to skip all the sexy bits… that usually only happens in YA fiction.

Another sticking point for me was the odd bits of story that were obviously thrown in to sow tension…but didn’t quite make it. For one, the story between Amanda and Jeffrey. It had absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the book except that Eli was their doctor. Other than that, it didn’t tie in at all. The two characters never met the rest of the cast, and had nothing to do with the relationship between Eli and Monica. It felt like filler that’d been thrown in to fill space. Another of these points was the psychotic ex-girlfriend of Eli’s. She showed up in the first few chapters of the book and I really began to think that there was going to be a tension-filled subplot of this stalker following him around and perhaps even attacking Monica.

SPOILERS: Instead, the girl (whose name I can’t be bothered to remember… she was only mentioned twice) didn’t show up again until after 80% of the book was finished (I’m not kidding, I looked at the page number)—and then, only to make Monica upset. She never showed up again, Eli never explained her presence to Monica, and the stalker ex-girlfriend never attacked anyone or caused any further trouble.

The whole point was completely glossed over, and it was left feeling unfinished. Everything was tied up in a neat little bow immediately after, and the story ended.

Overall? The story was decent. It was a quick read, it was interesting to read through… but I don’t know that I’d read it again. I prefer a little more substance to my reads, and a little less skimming. In the end I was left with a book that felt very much like the author had stopped half way through, took a deep breath, and then scrambled to throw the rest of the story together so she could move on to another book as quickly as possible. I don’t think enough attention was paid to wrapping this story up after the first half.