Tour’s Books Blog

June 16, 2010

And Still MORE Super Short Reviews – Assorted Genres

Yes, there are still MORE reviews of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, mystery, and erotic romance to get through.  So here we go again!

  • Title: Quick Study
  • Author:  Maggie Barbieri
  • Type:  Mystery
  • Genre: Amateur sleuth college professor
  • Sub-genre:  Professor with cop boyfriend steps on law enforcement toes
  • My Grade: B-  (3.8*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full length novel; about 80,000+ words for $6.99
  • Where Available:  book available at at any book store; 4-for-3 program on Amazon
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased hardcover book from online bookstore

This third installment in the Alison Bergeron series is an entertaining read.  Alison is late thirties, divorced from a ‘serial philanderer’, and college literature professor with an indomitable curiosity and a talent for finding trouble.  Written in the first person, Alison is a likable character who realizes that age is no barrier to her acting like an idiot.  Her ‘boyfriend’, divorced police detective Bobby Crawford, could decide she’s more trouble than she’s worth.  Her childhood friend, now a priest, keeps hoping she’ll get interested in his too handsome brother, and best friend Max is a drop dead gorgeous TV personality married to Bobby’s caveman like partner.

Alison is working her community service hours at a soup kitchen where an extended Latino comes once a week for a family dinner.  She hires the father and his nephew to do some painting in her house in Dobbs Ferry.  When the nephew turns up dead on a piece of land in Brooklyn that’s being developed by a former boyfriend of Max’s, Maggie gets involved in trying to find out what really happened.  The action just keeps moving and the plot has plenty of surprises, so settle in and enjoy.

The verve is fun and interesting.  Though some characters are ‘central casting’, it’s kind of hard not to get interested in Alison and her chaotic approach to life in general.  Fans of amateur sleuths can enjoy a fun read.  Good summer choice!

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  • Title: Caleb
  • Author:  Sarah McCarty
  • Type:  Steamy Paranormal Romance
  • Genre: Vampires at war
  • Sub-genre:  Cowboy vamp and clueless baker lady
  • My Grade: D+ to C-  (2.8*)
  • Rating:  NC-17
  • Length and price:  Plus length novel; about 100,000+ words for $15.00 (discounts available)
  • Where Available:  book available many book stores; $10.20 on Amazon
  • FTC Disclosure:  Book from online book swapping site

This book got seriously bad reviews on Amazon and slightly better ones on Paperback Swap.  I came down somewhere closer to Amazon –  for a good reason.  Though long, it was tedious and very disjointed.  When reading a steamy book, regardless of genre, you don’t expect the love scenes to be abruptly ended mid-stream (or mid-steam, as it were).  Plus Allie is one of those females who gets on my nerves, though at the end she shows some steel, and Caleb is just the stereotypical stoic eldest brother with a guilt complex.  One he deserved as far as I’m concerned.  Neither is especially interesting, so you need to rely on the plot – and that’s an issue.

The story line flows for awhile then jumps all over and leaves readers confused and frustrated.  Many give up – understandably enough.  You just manage to get back into the story, when BAM! – you’re left picking up pieces of fracture plot lines and unresolved issues.  While the sum total makes some sense, it’s just not enough to make the whole thing worth the effort.  I usually like Sarah McCarty.  I enjoy her werewolf series in Running Wild and Wild Instinct, but the Johnson brothers and their werewolf allies and adversaries, and the real ‘bad guys’ just never evolve into a coherent whole.  Unfortunate, since several concepts were worth some effort.  I had to fight too hard to even stay interested.

I wouldn’t waste money here, but if you can get it used, cheap, or on a book swapping site, try it for yourself.  It is has enough going for it, some vamp fans will still love it.

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  • Title: I Married a Dragon
  • Author:  Beverly Rae
  • Type:  Paranormal romance
  • Genre: erotic romance; unsuspecting marries a dragon
  • Sub-genre:  Cheeky, fun contemporary paranormal
  • My Grade: B-  (3.8*)
  • Rating: NC-17
  • Length and price:  Full novel; about 75,000+ words for $4.40 to $5.50
  • Where Available:  book available on Samhain website ($5.50) or Amazon as a Kindle book ($4.40)
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased ebook from publisher’s website

I like Beverly Rae and I enjoyed the first book in her Para-Mates series, I Married a Demon, so I didn’t hesitate here.  Chrissy Taylor figures her love life is really going the wrong way when the best offer she has for a weekend is a birthday bash for her very gay friend and his friends at a lake house.

Chrissy does not believe in the supernatural.  Period.  Being the owner of Debunkers, Inc – a spook and supernatural myth busting service kind of makes it a conflict of interest.  Then some ‘thing’ with red eyes attacks her while standing on a dock at the lake.  Maybe the love gods are finally smiling – saved by a handsome hunk who somehow caught and tossed the …. whatever away.  And that red-eyed ‘thing’ was just a figment of her alcohol fueled imagination.  RIGHT?  But lust at first sight with Kaine Delcaluca is very real.

A rush wedding in Vegas and then a strangely distant Kaine, who seems fixated on having a child, slowly leads to the revelation that supernaturals exist – and Kaine is one of them.  It also makes Chrissy wonder if she just made the biggest mistake of her life.  But Chrissy thinks marriage, even one made in haste, is a serious commitment and she isn’t just walking away.  She made her choice, now she has to wade thru all Kaine’s flunkies and ‘protectors’ who don’t like her and want her gone from his life to establish some kind of real relationship with her new husband.

This story is told in the first person and Chrissy makes for a lively narrator.  Just a fun paranormal romance without a lot of serious tension, a wry and witty heroine with a backbone, some good second string players, and enough action to keep things zipping along. Consider it a steamy beach read with laughs.  Is it worth the price?  I thought so.

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  • Title: Zellia’s Blade
  • Author:  Kitty DuCane
  • Type:  Paranormal romantic suspense
  • Genre: erotic romance; shifter action thriller
  • Sub-genre:  shifter merc who does the tough jobs finds mate who has ‘gifts’
  • My Grade: B-  (3.7*)
  • Rating: NC-17 to X
  • Length and price: Short full novel; about 60,000+ words for  $5.99
  • Where Available:  book available on Loose ID website
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased ebook from publisher’s website

Yes, I am a sucker for shifter books.  I am NOT a fan of the Loose ID site.  Their search engine sucks and is an endless source of frustration for me.  yes, Amazon has spoiled me for crappy search engines.  Look for Kitty DuCane and it pops only 1 book, Zellia’s make, but they also published the first book in the series, Dominating Victoria – which I haven’t read.  Really frustrating.  These are the only 2 books that Ms DuCane has in print and I do hope someone picks up more of this series.  Still, this one is hunting down.

Take Cherry Adair, Tara Janzen, and Gerard, add a secure alpha wolf with wit and a sense of humor, a heroine who is no wimp and thirst for revenge and an absolute determination to find something precious taken from her, a whole bunch of action and a decent plot line beyond the romance, some steamy sex, and you have Zellia’s Blade. I was hooked with the opening dialogue and enjoyed the whole book, despite it being short.  Yeah, there were a lot of trite elements that seem inescapable in romantic suspense of this sort, but it was still fun.

Zellia is used to being largely ignored by males.  Trained as a doctor and sold by her father to a drug lord, she’s been a captive, and a doctor to the narco criminals.  Held over head is a threat to her daughter – a daughter she’s never seen and an experimental subject of a selective breeding program.  Zellia is blessed – or cursed – with a certain level of prescience.  Her father wanted to breed someone with great gifts, but was disgusted by her badly damaged leg that left her a partial cripple.  At least being crippled saved her from rape, but what she wants is her daughter.  She a heroine with guts and determination who is confused and flustered by the interest of the big mercenary she just can’t seem to get rid of when she escapes the narco lord’s compound in the chaos of an assault.

Blade is big, and bad, and an alpha werewolf.  Zellia is his mate.  Now, he just needs to convince this determined doctor she really is his – and that someone is trying to kill her.  A very odd courtship in the jungles of Columbia.  I liked Zellia as a character.  This story could easily have fallen into the pathos and tear jerker category, or worse – a D/s sexfest, two of my least favorite tropes.  Somehow the author resisted the temptation and kept Zellia strong without being suddenly and uncharacteristically tough.   Blade is a bit of a stock alpha male, but he has enough rough charm to work here.  Some mild BDSM, but not enough to annoy me.   One of the few Loose ID books I’ve bought lately and it was an enjoyable one.  About 15% overpriced.  $5.99 is just too much for such a short ebook.

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