Tour’s Books Blog

July 30, 2010

Short Reviews: Two New eBook Releases from Samhain

  • Title: Bear Necessities
  • Author:  Dana Marie Bell
  • Type:  Erotic paranormal romance
  • Genre:  Shifters; expansion of the Halle Pumas series; bear meets mate
  • Sub-genre: Bear shifter falls for Outcast wolf when visiting cousin in Halle
  • My Grade: B+ (4.3*)
  • Rating:  NC-17 to X
  • Length and price:  Full novel; 80,000+ words for $5.50; some discounts available
  • Where Available:  ebook available at Samhain
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher’s website

I followed Ms Bell’s Halle Pumas series and generally liked her books, but with Bear Necessities she kicks it up a notch and writes a well balanced story with humor, suspense, and lots of hot sex.  It helps that I loved Alexander ‘Bunny’ Bunsen, the bear shifter hero and I really liked Tabby, his Outcast wolf mate.

Bunny and his cousin Ryan have come to Halle to visit Ryan’s little sister, Chloe, a student at the university there.  Halle is a shifter town of mostly a puma pride, but with human and other shifters living there.  Tabby’s arrival was told in book 5 of the Halle Puma series.  Now she an established member of the town, a tattoo artist with lime green hair who is getting hassled by a trio of wolves attending the university.

Bunny and Ryan hit town on their motorcycles looking for Chloe to try and figure out what’s bothering the little fox shifter.  Bunny scents his mate in a tattoo parlor, and a bit later, so does Ryan.  Tabby is getting her roots touched up when her mate walks in.  OMG, no way can he see her with orange roots!  Her two human friends, roommates and co-workers, Glory and Cyn cover for her and make a dinner date for that night.  But it doesn’t end the way Bunny and Tabby expected.  On the way back to his hotel, Bunny scents blood – his cousin’s blood.  She’s near death, beaten and bloody on the roadway.  Julian Ducharme is a Kermode, a rare ‘spirit bear’ that even among bears are mostly legend.  He saves her life, barely, but nearly kills himself doing it.  Bears all carry the gift to heal, and the urge to do so.  Kermodes are nearly compelled to heal and they also see things in the future.

Unlike cats and wolves, bears live in family units and have no ‘community’ hierarchy like packs or prides.  Tabby lost all sense of belonging when she was Outcast by her Alpha, losing the packmate bonds.  It’s taken her years to come back to living as a human and having friends and connections, though deeply feels the lack of a pack bond.  It doesn’t help that Gary and his two wolf buddies have been escalating their harassment of her and tried for attempted rape the last time they met.  even after Bunny arrives and mates Tabby, threats continue escalating.  But the threats are more sinister than anyone expected – and the attacks on Chloe and Tabby are related, just not in the obvious way.

Ms Bell ably weaves the characters and various plot elements together without resorting to cheap melodrama.  She doesn’t take the easy road of going for tears and pathos, instead, she makes Tabby a strong person with hurts that get healed by her mate and the Alphas that return her to Pack status.  Bunny is just a terrific character who is outside the mold of the usual alpha male type.  The product of a black mother and white father, he is confident without arrogance, loves his family, and is crazy about the green haired tattoo artist.  The other main characters surprisingly well developed and all have distinctive personalities, so this is more of an ensemble cast than usual for erotic romance.

This complex story moves right along with the relationship between Bunny and Tabby at its heart, but plenty of other action going on.  It also serves to highlight the differences between how various shifter species interact with each other.  Bare Necessities was an engaging, exciting, and suspenseful book – and most importantly, it made me want the next installment NOW!

Bear Necessities has the three things that make for a good erotic romance – a well told story with suspense, drama, and humor,  likable and believable lead characters, and plenty of hot sex.   It does help if you’ve read the Halle Shifter books as many key secondary and main characters are carryovers from the puma stories, but Bare Necessities can be enjoyed as is.  As the first book of a new series, it’s a really good one.  The threat to off-spring of mixed marriages – in this case two different shifter breeds will unfold over the next books.  Yes, you could say it has things in common with the story lines running through Shelly Laurenston’s current Pack and Pride books, but the two world’s created by the authors are very different.  I look forward to the next installment!

My recommendation: If you like shifter erotic romance, Bare Necessities is a strong buy recommendation.  At $5.50, you’ll get your money’s worth!

**************************************************************

  • Title: A Little White Lie
  • Author:  Mackenzie McKade
  • Type:  Erotic contemporary romance
  • Genre:  City girl wants a cowboy romance, he’s not exactly what he seems – the classic ‘Big Mis’
  • Sub-genre:  Life changing epiphany of trout fishing in Montana and hot cowboy sex
  • My Grade: C (3*)
  • Rating:  NC-17
  • Length and price:  Sort novella about 26,000+ words for $3.50; some discounts available
  • Where Available:  ebook available at Samhain
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from publisher’s website

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, novellas are a tough writing format to make interesting.  Too short for any real character development or compelling plot, they generally rely on familiar character types and and story lines and it’s up to the writer to find a fresh take.  This average and predictable story is a pleasant enough, but not in any way memorable, good or bad.

Ms Mckade isn’t my favorite erotic romance author simply because I’m not fond of the stories she seems most comfortable with, mostly personal drama type things that lack that edge of surprise that appeals to me.  She’s a solid enough writer, just not my personal preference.  In Little White Lie, Ms McKade pens a pleasant enough tale of Stella Sinclair, a young career woman determined to make in a NYC advertising firm chasing a key account in Billings Montana, not exactly her kind of place and JD Foster, the grandson and heir to man she was pitching that day – only she doesn’t know that.

Stella find herself in a cowboy bar, desperate for a bathroom.  Her designer shoes were made for walking on sawdust covered floors and just as she’s about to fall on her fanny, a handsome cowboy catches her.  He turns away the other very interested men while she’s using the facilities.  They dance.  They leave.  Hot sex.  He has a commitment to kids to take them fishing.  She goes.  She catches a fish.  Suddenly, Montana is looking pretty damn good.  Granddad shows up and blows JD cover – and puts Stella in the middle of the battle of wills the two are having.  Next it’s JD’s turn to learn about his granddad’s offer to Stella at the picnic.  She goes home brokenhearted.  Granddad must fix his mistake.

You likely read a hundred variations on this theme set in every time period from ancient history to distant future.  It’s a workable plot for a novella and Ms McKade does alright with it, just nothing special or fresh.  It’s just a pleasant and forgettable 1-2 hour’s read.

My recommendation:  Little White Lie is a harmless and readable bit of fluff for someone looking for a short format romance.  Not too spicy, but just barely hot enough for erotic romance reader wanting a quick read.  Thing is, at $3.50 you’re not getting much value for the money.   Bare Necessities is three times the length and lightyears more interesting for just $2.00 more.  Buy it if you like the novella format and classic story.

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1 Comment »

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