Tour’s Books Blog

July 29, 2010

3 Short Reviews: New Release Mystery, Erotic Paranormal, Erotic Romance

It’s a mixed bag this week, so see if anything appeals.

  • Title: Tomb With A View
  • Author:  Casey Daniels
  • Type:  Paranormal mystery
  • Genre: Amateur sleuth; Pepper Martin series; an obnoxious volunteer dies in the Garfield Memorial
  • Sub-genre: President Garfield helps Pepper Martin solve several crimes
  • My Grade: B- (3.7*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel; 90,000+ words for $7.99; some discounts available
  • Where Available:  book available at any book store
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from online bookstore

Casey Daniels writes the popular Pepper Martin series that takes place mostly in Cleveland’s Garden View Cemetery.  In Tomb With a View, the main ‘ghost’ is that of the cemetery’s most famous resident, President James Garfield.  Ms. Daniels includes nice historical facts about Garfield, including his well documented extra-marital affair and his slow death after being shot by a disgruntled campaign worker turned stalker.

I only read one other book in this series, Dead Man Talking, and frankly, I was completely unimpressed.  I was glad I gave this book a try.  What I found more interesting in this book was the layers of different mysteries.  Pepper is a fairly likable main character.  She not an idiot, she’s curious and she wants to help the ghosts passover where they belong.  Ever since hitting her head on a tomb, Pepper has seen and talked to ghosts.  The ones with unfinished business, can’t passover and seek her out for help.  That doesn’t mean she doesn’t rack up a few new bodies along the way.

I like the characters here, even President Garfield.  It was entertaining and Pepper didn’t languish in misery over Quinn’s rejection of her when she told him about seeing – and talking to – ghosts.  It might be a bit ‘wikipedia’ in it’s historical information, but you really don’t need a heavy history lesson in a cozy.

There are several different tales going on here, including a ‘gentleman thief’, the murder of obnoxious docent Marjorie Klinker, who claims descent from Garfield’s illegitimate child, a scheming antiques expert, and of course, why is President Garfield still hanging around.  Pepper also has a stalker who is scaring her badly.  Pepper seems to show spunk without the annoying edge of stupidity that far too many cozy heroines seem to display.

My recommendation on Tomb With a View:  A good summer ‘read and enjoy’ cozy.  Fans of the series will be pleased and there’s enough entertainment value to make the it worth the $7.99.

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  • Title: Revelation
  • Author:  Lauren Dane
  • Type:  Paranormal erotic romance
  • Genre: Second in the De La Vega panther series; witch and shifter battle evil magic in an ongoing story
  • Sub-genre: Extension of Trinity story about witches, mages, panther shifters
  • My Grade: C+ to B- (3.5*)
  • Rating:  NC-17
  • Length and price:  Novel; 70,000+ words for $5.50 ebook; some discounts available
  • Where Available:  book available at as ebook at Samhain
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher website

One of Lauren Dane’s best early books is Enforcer, the first of the Cascadia Wolves series.  The early books were published by Ellora’s Cave and the later ones by Samhain.  Trinity bridges the Cascadia wolves and the De La Vega panthers with a story that ties Jack Meyers, National Pack Enforcer, and Galen De La Vega second son of the leader of the De La Vega panthers, called a Jamboree.  Jack and Galen both find their mate in Renee Purcell.  As that story evolves and Renee’s repressed memories surface and her power as a witch emerges.  Her family, in the form of her sister and aunt show up along with Galen’s family.  The characters of Max de la Vega, heir to the Jamboree Alpha, and Kendra start their story there and Revelation picks where it left off.

Kendra has moved to Boston and gotten a job teaching at a private school and starting to teach her sister the basics of magic and power control.  Unlike wolves who meet and mate immediately, cats imprint over time.  Max has been slowly imprinting on Kendra.  Unlike Renee, Kendra was raised by her grandparents and aunt Rosemary.  Still, she suffers from problems with abandonment issues given the way her mother left her.  Max is almost TOO patient and understanding to be true, but his character serves to highlight the different natures of wolves and cats.  With Kendra’s and Renee’s father still lose with his evil wife, Susan, the attacks on Renee remain a threat.  Kendra is determined to keep Renee safe, and Max is equally determined to make Kendra his.

The story here is fairly well paced, despite recovering some of the same ground from Trinity, and mixes Jamboree politics, witch politics and various prejudices together with a slow romance.  It has it’s steamy moments, but not on par with Trinity.  In large part, that seems due to very different nature of cats and in part, it’s Max himself.  The ultimate patient hunter. As threats come from within and without, Kendra slowly lets herself be loved and loves in return.

The change in Kendra’s magic, and its strength, is considerable after she and Max begin their relationship.  She even takes on a cat without mac biting her.  This book opens a lot of questions about how shifters and witches, normally very separate groups, draw from each and what happens when they mate.

Unlike Ms Dane’s Federation series, there are a lot of different story lines here to keep the reader’s interest.  The problem is is the lack of polish in the writing.  Obvious redundancies really should have been caught by her editor and the rushed ending was rather unsatisfying.  Max was so perfect and patient that be bordered on bland.  His character seemed to need more oomph to really pull this off as a compelling character drama.  Kendra dominated the story, perhaps because she had the most changes to make.  The introduction of witch enforcers from a coven in Rhode Island suggests the canvass of this tale will spread even further.  As with Trinity, Revelation deliberately leaves problems unresolved for the next installment.  Kendra and Renee are still at risk, but they do get a small piece of the puzzle and new allies in the witch Hunters.

My recommendation is buy Revelation as an ebook, especially if you like Lauren Dane’s Trinity, but understand the erotic romance is more steamy than erotic.  It was interesting, despite its flaws.  I liked Max, even if he was too good to be true, and Kendra evolved nicely.  This has the potential to be better than good, but with the author running several series as well as novellas for anthologies, the quality is slipping a bit.  That seems to be a universal problem as writers try to churn out more and more material, not better quality work.

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  • Title: Into the Crossfire
  • Author:  Lisa Marie Rice
  • Type:  Romantic suspense
  • Genre:  He’s big and bad, she has obligations and a bad guy after her
  • Sub-genre: Another SEAL melodrama
  • My Grade: C- (2.7*)
  • Rating:  NC-17
  • Length and price:  Full novel; 90,000+ words for $13.99; some discounts available
  • Where Available:  book available at any bookstore
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from online book seller

How many times can you read “robbed of breath”, “breathless”, “forgot to breath”,  “world’s most beautiful woman”, “shoulders so wide they ….” choose all that apply 1 – filled the door 2 – were wider than the chair, 3 – took up all the space, before you scream “ENOUGH ALREADY!”  If there is a cliche about delicate, fragile beauty from the right side of the tracks (Nicole Pierce) and big, tough, rough male from a brutal childhood turned Navy SEAL (Sam Reston), Ms Rice had it covered.  Again, and again, and again, and again.

The first seven pages were essentially the same few pieces of information written and rewritten every way she could just saying the same thing over and over again while making zero progress.  Understand something, I really like Lisa Marie Rice a lot.  Her Midnight Man is one of my favorites.  And yes, she has a thing for gentle, fragile, sweet, beautiful women in over their heads and big, tough, alpha males with military and police backgrounds, so ‘woman in jeopardy’ is her thing.  Usually, she manages to wrap a good story around it.  What happened here is beyond my comprehension.  Plotting gave way to page after page of breathlessness to the point where I wanted to tell them where the nearest oxygen bar was.  The two leads kept being turned mute by the sheer wonder of each other.  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Then we had a few pages where a guy in France gets killed by terrorists, but manages to get out word to Nicole, owner of Wordsmith, a translation service, before he dies.  Now she on their hit list and we’re on page 102 where Sam and Nicole are both being breathless and mute on the elevator ride to his condo for some down and dirty sex.  GAH!  Was Ms Rice’s editor ASLEEP?  Give me a break.  The first  third  of the 300+ pages, could have easily been tightly written in 25-30 pages.   The story picks up a bit in both pace and tension at about the mid-point.  The last 100 pages or so are what I would normally expect from Lisa Marie Rice, if just as cliche ridden.   There was more sex than usual, but even that had a bit of a rerun feel the third time through.  Why do all males in these books suffer with priapism?

The first book in her new series is much weaker than her usual work.  Lots of sex, her trademark angst about being to ‘rough’ a male for such a ‘fragile’ female.  It’s a theme she usually does better than here.  Neither Sam nor Nicole really jump off the page – other than the whole ‘not really handsome’ dangerous alpha male and ‘most beautiful woman alive’ who is also really outstanding with languages routine.  Ms Rice usually handles this classic and well used combination to much better – and far more creative – advantage.

My recommendation for Into the Crossfire is – the book lacks too many key elements to make it a recommended buy.  Expect fans to buy and read it happily.  Try and get it used or wait for remainders, which can be a long wait for her books.  You really won’t get your $10+ to $12 worth of entertainment for a new book.

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