Tour’s Books Blog

October 1, 2009

Three Hot Paranormal/Furturistic Romance Reviews

Well, it’s been lean picking with new releases for me and those few I found have been back burnered so I can get reading done for various book swaps on PBS or to get books to various friends.  But I did read a few hot to erotic paranormal romances and here they are.

  • Title: Seeing Eye Mate
  • Author: Annmarie McKenna
  • Type: Paranormal erotic romantic suspense
  • Genre: Werewolf/psychic mate  – serial mate killer
  • Sub-genre:  My grandmother is a ghost who talks to me – your twin might be a serial killer
  • My Grade: C (3.2*)
  • Rating: NC-17 to X
  • Where Available: ebook from Samhain or print at Amazon

This is not a new release.  I got this book through a PBS swap.  Much of the trope is old and familiar to both romance and thriller readers.  You have an alpha werewolf who scents his mate in a bar and a psychic that also has her dead grandmother who talks to her in her head.  The alpha has a twin, but no ménage here, thank heavens.  You do have the serial killing of wolf mates.  Caelan Graham, an alpha werewolf and Prime  of his pack, is deeply worried about the murders of mates of werewolves in the surrounding area, even though none, so far, have been in his pack.  He and his playboy brother are having a beer in a bar when Caelan, who was just being thankful he hadn’t found his mate, suddenly scents her.  His brother Eli spots his ‘woman of the day’ and it’s the same woman. His brother laughingly takes backs off when he realizes what she is to Caelan.

Tieran Jones is a research librarian who lives and works as far from people as she can be.  She comes from a long family of ‘gifted’ women, but her particular ‘gift’ is more like a curse.  She has visions and touching people often sets them off.  She lives as separately from others as she can.  Tonight her car broke down on the way home, her cell phone is dead and she needs a bathroom NOW!  The kind of rough looking bar is the only choice.  After taking care of things and calling for a tow, she settles on a bar stool away from everyone, but she can feel someone watching her.  Not one someone – two.  Identical twins!  Wow.  Very HOT identical twins.  And the one is making her very nervous.  Her grandmother is there ‘talking’ to her in her head.  Apparently she likes the look of the one twin.  Thank heavens the driver arrives.  Maybe.  The guy is like a bad joke and seems to think Tieran should be suitably ‘grateful’ to him.

Caelan comes to her rescue and Tieran heads home now that her grandmother has stopped messing with her car.  Caelan’s mate might have eluded him for moment, but he doesn’t run a security business for nothing.  With her plate number and name, he has a full dossier come morning – including the fact she’s physic and helped police catch a serial killer, even though they didn’t believe her and she and her mother moved her back here so she could escape the unwanted publicity.  Maybe she can help with their problem, tracking the person responsible for killing the mates.

Caelan goes to Tiernan’s house – and learns it has a mind of its own thanks to years of being inhabited by ‘gifted’ women.  Despite Tieran’s grandmother insisting she can trust Caelan, she’s very reluctant to do so, but there’s no denying their passion.  The battle between Tieran and Caelan forms the core of the story while the murders, seen through the eyes of the killer are interspersed through the story along with Tieran’s ‘vision’.  It gets a bit much at times.  When Eli arrives at Tieran’s house and she ‘sees’ the killer with an identical scar on his shoulder, she becomes convinced Eli is the killer.  Caelan insists she’s wrong.  His brother loves women and has no desire to be Prime.  Convinced she is again being dismissed as the police did in the other case, she’s hurt and tries to put some distance between herself and Caelan, but he’s having none of it.  She already carries his pup and she’s his mate, no way is she getting away.

Caelan eventually hauls her off to him home, a remote farm, so she can meet his parents and pack – belatedly realizing how difficult it would be for her to have all the physical contact wolves are used to.  It’s here that Tieran finally realizes Eli isn’t the killer – but the real killer kidnaps her before she can get away.  The final resolution occurs and BAM! suddenly the book is over!

This is an erotic romantic suspense so sex is pretty dominant, to the point where it overtakes the core story.  Tieran and Caelan were very one-dimensional characters and the chip on Tieran’s shoulder combined with her constant distracting silent conversations with her grandmother, became an annoyance and detracted from the story with Caelan. Somehow the balance between sex and suspense misses the mark as well.  Ms McKenna tries to juggle too many pieces and they fracture rather than mesh together as a cohesive tale. The ending is so abrupt, it felt like a slap in the face.  Seeing Eye Mate had some good parts, but mostly, it just never quite pulled its multiple parts together to a cogent, believable story.

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  • Title: Mating Flight
  • Author: Shay Lacey
  • Type: Futuristic Romance
  • Genre: I, Virgin
  • Sub-genre: I Married an Alien, but it was an accident! – heroine as world savior
  • Length: Full novel; about 100,000 words
  • My Grade: D+ (2.4*)
  • Rating: NC-17
  • Where Available: As an ebook from New Concepts or as a used book

Mating Flight is not a new book, but it is new to me.  I wasn’t that impressed with the world building or the characters.  Dr, Sheleigh O’Brian (is that spelling just too cute for words, or what?) is an anthropologist with the inaugural expedition of the USP (Unified Sentient Planets) to the Averan homeworld.  This planet is one of contradictions.  They have some technology that seems quite advanced, but no history of its evolution.  They live in caves on hillsides, avoiding the ground, never building there.  (How farming is done, I’m not sure.)  Population density if low and the locals very fearful of outsiders.  They hope to convince the Averans to join the USP, but they have effectively rebuffed the overtures and seem to tolerate, rather than encourage the expedition.

Shel is finding herself not just baffled by the obvious fear the Averans have for outsiders, but the equally obvious interest of Kleet Kryszan, the heir to the leader of the planet, in her.  Kleet ends up giving her a hand job in her office (so professional) and she agrees to meet him the following morning for sex. Did she ask why morning and why meet him?  Well, no.  One of her team mates, Dr Marne Vorndran, overhears and gives her a very hard time.  She had rebuffed his advances on their trip to Avera and they’ve had a shaky relationship ever since.  She dresses up and goes to a formal reception where Kleet’s parents eye her with intense interest.

Next morning Kleet and Shel meet on a cliff and he asks her to strip.  A virgin, something he knows, she’s reluctant to undress in front of the men stationed there.  Space travel and modesty, hummmmm.  Anyhow, he gets her in the buff in the chill air and then he strips and she sees his wings!  So that’s what their capes hide!  (duh moment)  The real shocker is when Kleet dives off the cliff and then penetrates her for the first time while they fall.  (Let me just mention here, humans are born with only one fear, falling.  Getting over that instinctive fear response is LEARNED and you still get the adrenalin rush.  I don’t care how sexually aroused you are, climaxing in the air while falling – not happening!)  One on the ground he mates with her again.  (Now here she should have hit him with a rock or something.)

After all this, Shel learns this was an Averan wedding ceremony.  Then another round of, “I don’t want anyone to see me naked” and back to the rulers house – AKA, dear old dad. Congratulations, your my wife and oh, by the way, you’re pregnant and the doctor has to confirm that.   Then the elders have to accept this and they must have proof.  Oh, yes, the whole thing was captured and recorded.  GAH!  And one other thing, you can’t be far apart for months because he’ll need to screw your brains out regularly.  Aren’t you thrilled?  One other thing, the ever ‘magical cum’ has changed your DNA.  And no, your parents can come and visit because they can never know about the whole ‘wing thing’ and you can’t go back to the UPS.  Congratulations!

Kleet becomes convinced Shel isn’t truly bound to him as he is to her, so he decides to do more ‘mating flights’.  Then one morning, they’re attacked from the ground.  Shel saves them by manipulating Kleet’s damaged wing, but both are injured.  Kleet becomes withdrawn and pushes her away when it becomes obvious he will never fly again.  The brings to light something the USP expedition has managed to miss.  Averans are evolving into wingless people, but there is a huge amount of discrimination against the winged and the wingless.  Over the last 10 generations (much to short for evolution, by the way) they have moved from flyers to gliders to now wingless people, all because a man (ONE MAN) crash landed on the planet and taught these relatively unevolved people (scientifically speaking) about his equipment.  How they developed the manufacturing infrastructure, construction, nation building – oh just forget it.  It all happened.

Apparently, they can copy but not invent (sounds like an old Star Trek episode to me) and have these wing vs. wingless problems, even though with a human mate, the heirs children will be wingless.  (Does this remind you of another old Star Trek episode with the two guys with opposite side black and white?)  So the marriage is rocky when Kleet’s father is killed by discontent wingless Averans.  But the only way they could have known enough about what happened was through inside information.  Naturally, Shel works out who it is and he takes the time to explain why.  At the trial, Shel makes this huge speech and WOW!, the widow, her mother-in-law applauds and she carriers the day.  The shy virgin bride who doesn’t know anything about a culture except what she learned over a few weeks, and she reshapes it entirely without a single false step.

Just to be certain that she’s a true heroine who saves the whole civilization, she also gets 3 young Averan engineers to create a hang glider.   Why, since their society was already altered by outside interference, she can’t just call up the specs for a freaking hang glider is beyond me.  That like telling someone who has space fight they can’t have the specs for a Webber grill.  Good grief.  The complete lack of logic was maddening.  Shel ends up saving the planet, getting them in the USP, saving her marriage, giving her husband a way to fly again and probably painted the nursery in environmentally responsibly paint in her free time.  Who needs a crown when you have a halo?

This book did not gel on so many levels.  The Sheleigh character was just too much to be believed.  Her whole speech before the ruling body sounded so over-simplified it was dumb.  I mean really, who is going to undo thousands of years of prejudice in 20 minutes or less – especially when they’re an outsider and in a tenuous position at best?  Who believes it’s that easy?  Look at ANY society and their prejudice and you KNOW you can’t change perceptions easily – or even get people to see them as prejudicial bias.  It takes several generations.  Society does not fall to its collective knees and see the light.  I find this kind of simplistic logic beyond irritating.  Not to mention she comes off as superior and undermines her own husband’s power by not discussing this with him first.  GAH!  Spare me these self-righteous crusader types as heroines.  Plus, did she HAVE to be a virgin?  And why in hell didn’t she just get the specs for a hang glider rather than reinventing the damn thing?  None of this makes sense and poor Kleet – he’s emasculated and marginalized for most of the book.  Then again, he is rather an asshole, so I didn’t care all that much.

The love story part of Mating Flight had zero appeal and frankly was just poorly built.  The characters were not especially sympathetic or likable and aerial sex thanks to the hang gliders was the extent of the whole big HEA.  Mating Flight is just a lame duck and not recommended.

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  • Title: Night Raven
  • Author: Lyssa Hart
  • Type: Futuristic Paranormal erotic romance
  • Genre: Near Cyborg Breeds and a human thief
  • Sub-genre:  polyamorous
  • Length: Novel – about 75,000 words
  • My Grade: B- (3.7*)
  • Rating: NC-17 to X
  • Where Available: ebook is available at New Concepts; print book not available at this time

The author is Lyssa Hart but Night Raven reads like a Kaitlyn O’Connor book.  The characters are so similar to one of her Cyborg books, it’s almost eerie.   Here we have something like O’Connor’s Cyborg meets Lora Leigh’s Breeds mixed with Issac Asimov’s I, Robot stories.

Nika is an industrial technology thief living under the government radar in post apocalypse America.  The world has been wracked by natural disasters, vast parts of the population wiped out by earthquakes, tsunamis, and raising seas.  Now there’s little personal transit, people have GPS chips embedded at birth – supposedly for ‘security’ reason, woman are encouraged to have children and banned from working, the few jobs available are filled by males, but it’s cyborgs that do everything from surgery to manufacturing.  They’ve been less successful building robot soldiers.  There’s a LOT of competition for the lucrative government contracts for battle cyborgs that can follow more complex decision making paths.  Nika has been sent into the headquarters of a rival robotics manufacturer to steal their cutting edge technology secrets.

The information that Nika received isn’t complete, but hopefully the combination to the computer will work and she can get the data she needs to get paid.  Unfortunately, she wrote the combination on paper using a pen.  She’s really into antiques. (Like the Lt, Lenina Huxley character in Demolition Man)  He makes an error entering the code and a vault door opens.  Inside are – well, humanoid creatures in some kind of stasis capsules.  She rushes to get the download and flees as the alarms sound.

The cyborgs realize they’re in danger from poison gas and guards are shooting at them.  The flee the building, those that can fly, do, while the others take the one transport available.  Raven and his squad go after the thief.  She was sprayed by tracking pheromones and they follow the scent, but some of them need to stay hidden.  Bull has horns and Raven has wings.  Cham and Lynx can pass as humans.  The other flyers, Eagle Squad and the third squad will rendezvous with them later.

Nika takes the data chip to the CEO of the rival robotics company and he claims it’s a decoy file.  These aren’t robot plans.  Now he wants more than the files and the photos she snapped when the vault opened.  He wants her to bring him one of the cyborgs.  She gets home and finds four of the in her tiny apartment – watching porn movies.  Movies she, ah, marked as ‘favorites’.  Thier porn marathon depleted her credits badly and she’s so pissed, she forgets to be afraid of them.  The cops arrive and the 5 of them have to make a run for it.  Raven is obviously the leader of the group, but he isn’t acting like a cyborg should.  And since when did cyborgs come equipped for getting hard-ons?  And man, she so so felt his when he grabbed her.  And why do all four of them look like they’d like nothing better than to jump her bones?

Nika leads them into the now abandoned and mostly forgotten subway system.  As she continues to interact with the 4 cyborgs, the more she thinks they aren’t really cyborgs at all.  They’re human-animal genetic experiments with cyborg augmentation – but they just aren’t cyborgs.  Not only that, she’s turned on.  Like the Cyborg books by O’Connor, these mutiple partners are at best and uneasy relationship among possessive males.  While the characters seem like a mishmash of various other characters from other books and movies, they do have a life of their own, but what makes the book is the emotional impact that learning the truth about what they are does to the men and what seeing the truth about the rebels does to Nika.  The ending is clever, but I am left wondering if Eagle squad made it or were killed.  I’m rather hoping they made it and there will be a book 2 in the series.  The world building is slow to evolve but makes sense.  The supporting characters, other than the doctor, are just sketches to fill in the background.  The title would lead you to believe that Raven dominated the love interest portions of the book, but that’s not so.  Yes, he’s the squad leader, but it’s Bull and Lynx that are the primary relationships.  Later Cham is added, but Raven is more complex and the last to be drawn in.  Overall Night Raven was a very worthwhile read and it’s recommended for fans of O’Connor, Leigh’s Breeds, and Lara Santiago.

WARNING – RANT:

New Concepts Publishing continues to stay true to their miserable editing quality in this book – to the point where it was actually distracting.  Here are two examples:

“The parameter is secure,” Cham, his own squad mate, announced. Yup, that did say ‘parameter’ and not perimeter.

It what Con said was true….. No that’s not me transcribing incorrectly, that’s the ACTUAL TEXT!

“And a test kit. The water underground is fairly safe, though—still pretty high levels of ridalin, valium, and so forth—commonly prescribed drugs back in the early part of the century to ‘calm’ people ………  Apparently we have a new spelling for ritalin. OK – maybe I should let that one go.  I work in the pharmaceutical industry and I’m just more aware of the correct drug names. By the way, Valium is a TRADE NAME and is supposed to be capitalized.  The lower case generic name is diazepam.

What does NCP have against quality editing?  They’ve substantially cheapened the quality of their print books – riddled not just with these gross text errors, but crappy typesetting, the print job from hell and bindings that allow pages to come loose if you breath too hard on them.  I happened to read an NCP book from a few years back, Weremones, and it was lightyears better than what they’re doing now.  Is this a sign that NCP is in financial trouble?  I hope not.  They have some excellent futuristic/paranormal writers – who in all honesty deserve better than this.

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