Tour’s Books Blog

March 11, 2011

Short Reviews: Paranormal, Erotic Romance, Mystery, Action Thriller

My tastes in reading range far and wide, but mostly, I just like a good read.  Some here were, some weren’t.  Consider this a snapshot of my TBR mountain.

  • Title: Under Wraps
  • Author:  Hannah Jayne
  • Type:  Humorous paranormal with an UF edge and a mystery
  • Genre:  A magic resistant human gets involved in investigating a serial killing with a handsome detective
  • Sub-genre:  Quirky blend of ordinary woman in a paranormal world who’d love to kick ass, but lacks the instincts and skills
  • My Grade: C-  (2.8*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel – about 80,000+ $6.99
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore

In Under Wraps, Hannah Jayne spins a yarn that seems to borrow from several other authors, notably Diana Rowland’s Kara Gillian’s series Book 2, Mark of the Demon.  The world building is interesting, but I knew who did it and why because it was straight from Rowland’s book.

What’s Good?  Sophie Lawson is a human immune to magic and charms.  That means she sees through the disguises that name supernaturals use to pass in the human world.   She ends up the executive assistant to Pete Samson, werewolf head of the Underworld Detection Agency – a registry for supernaturals, all known as demons.  A series f killing that appear related to magic or demons has humans spooked and Detective Parker Hayes has been sent to the UDA to get help to see why these people were killed as they were.  Chief Oliver went to college with Mr Samson.  When Sophie gets assigned to help Hayes, she has these fantasies of herself as one of Charlie’s Angles.  This is one of the strong points of the book.  It’s just so realistic, the kind of daydreams we indulge in – the ones where we’re tough, and cool under pressure, and kick butt.  But she’s none of that, and the author doesn’t suddenly imbue her with hidden powers.  Thank heavens for that.

Another strong point is Sophie’s easy acceptance of the supernatural world that she deals with every day, from the troll with a crush on her, to her fashionista vampire roommate Nina and Nina’s 200+ year old angsty nephew who is into the Vlad Dracula look and comes for a ‘visit’.  Sophie is nicely done and very real.  Parker Hayes is a classic romance hero, but nothing quiet seems to fit together.

What’s wrong? Well, first is the cover, which is really misleading.  Sophie is no gun toting.  kick-ass heroine.  Second, the ‘mystery’ plot which borrowed way to much from other books.  Finally, the ending – or maybe the unsatisfying ending where Pete Sampson and Parker Hayes are concerned.

Under Wraps had its moments, and some were really good, like when Hayes tries to teach her to shoot.  Sophie’s fantasies vs. reality are fun and parts are played for laughs and deliver.  She is a very ordinary human, with the usual fantasies we all have of being ‘more’, but plot just never really becomes compelling.  maybe because the book can’t decide if it’s a romance, a UF, or a paranormal mystery.  Regardless, what’s left are some striking moments and some highly unsatisfactory ones.

Was Under Wraps worth $6.99?  Not really.  There are just so many good ones out there, let’s see if Ms Jayne can step up in book two and get this thing moving.

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  • Title: Enchanting the Beast
  • Author:  Kathryne Kennedy
  • Type:  Paranormal historical romance; alternate history
  • Genre:  A lady ghost hunter is attracted to a werewolf baron who has problems with ghosts
  • Sub-genre:  Older woman is reluctant to become involved with a younger man while trying to determine what has disturbed the ghosts in his castle
  • My Grade: B- (3.8*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel – about 80,000+ $6.99; discounts available
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  acquired through an online book swapping site

Well, this paranormal romance set in late 1800’s England was unexpectedly good.  Enchanting the Beast is the story of Lady Philomena Radcliff is at ball at the request of Lady Stanhope to summon the late Lord Stanhope so she can tell him she loves him one more time.  Baron Nicodemus Wulfson sort of crashes the seance.  When Lord Stanhope does show up, it’s not Lady Stanhope he goes to, but her best fried and his paramour, Lady Montreve.  Getting rid of a denizen of Hell, Lord Stanhope’s current residence, causes Phil to collapse.  Everyone is gone when she comes around except Nico Wulfson.  He has a problem and needs a ghost hunter, even though he doesn’t believe she’s a real one.  She needs the money.  Phil’s heading to the country thanks to his very generous down payment, despite her inexplicable attraction to the man who is MUCH too young for her!

When Phil and her assistant Sarah, a snake shifter, arrive in the town nearest the castle, she learns just how much the locals distrust those of a magical bent.  But once at the castle, Phil is enthralled.  And yes, it is haunted, but in a strange and at times frightening way.  On top of that, there have been two deaths apparently caused by a wolf, a black one.

Ms Kennedy crafts a well developed tale with a curse, a hero knight ghost, a strong female lead, and were-wolf hero determined to win the lady despite her protests.  The ending had a nice twist and the total story held together really well.  Good cast, good atmosphere, well done all around, though I would have liked just a bit more heat.

Is Enchanting the Beast worth $6.99?  For those who enjoy paranormal historical romance, yes it is.  A cut above average.

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  • Title: I, Sniper
  • Author:  Steven Hunter
  • Type:  Action thriller
  • Genre: Bob Lee Swagger in action against a billionaire looking to bury his past
  • Sub-genre:  Avenging crusader style thriller
  • My Grade: B- (3.7*)
  • Rating:  PG-17
  • Length and price:  Full novel – about 100,000 $9.99; discounts available
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  acquired through an online book swapping site

Steven Hunter created Bob Lee Swagger in Point of Impact, one of his best books ever.  In between Point of Impact and I, Sniper is an uneven trail of really good (A Time to Hunt) and awful books (47th Samurai) books that continued the Swagger saga.  After two horrible detours in the 47th Samurai and Night of Thunder, Bob the Nailer is back in his milieu, sniping. No, I, Sniper does not measure up to Point of Impact or A Time to Hunt, but it is a decent action thriller – even if Hunter does make obvious ‘characters’ of Jane Fonda and Ted Turner with his ‘Joan Flanders’ and ‘T.T. Constable’.  That was actually annoying.  Then is ‘Carl Hitchcock’ for Carlos Hathcock, the famous Marine sniper, is a continuation from his earlier books.  Bob Lee is to some extent patterned after the self-effacing Hathcock, an Arkansas native.

Nick Memphis, the FBI agent that helped Bob Lee in Point of Impact, calls him in to look over evidence that says Carl Hitchcock is the killer.  The reasoning goes that Hitchcock, having lost his number 1 sniper ranking to another marine that to a reporter running a story about 96 kills by this other man, breaks under the cumulative stress of losing his self-image (a recurring theme in Hunter’s books), the death of his wife, and fighting a losing battle with age.  To regain his leadership with the most he he shoots 4 anti-war activists – Joan Flanders, Jack Strong and Mitzi Reilly – husband and wife violent liberal activists, and finally Mitch Greene – a low level anti-war comedian.  Then, hunted by the FBI, Carl kills himself before he’s caught, leaving a note tying it all up with a bow.  Since he’s accused of multiple murders, he is not given a military funeral.  It’s Bob Lee who pays for his service and interment and flies out from Idaho to attend.  There he meets Chuck MacKenzie, the man with 96 kills.  The former Marine snipers have coffee and Chuck offers Bob Lee money to look into what happened.  He has a letter from Hitchcock that makes what just happened sound very unlikely.  Bob Lee refuses and goes to catch his plane home, but gets curious and starts asking questions.

Just as Bob Lee lands in Idaho, Nick Memphis calls him and asks him to look over everything the FBI has on the killings.  Something just isn’t sitting right with Nick and wants a sniper of Hathcock’s era to look it over and see what’s wrong.  What  goes from here is predictable, but stays exciting.  It doesn’t have the twists and turns that his best works do, and the guilty party is obvious, but it’s fun to see that cunning country boy, Bob Lee in action on one of his crusades.

One of the problems with Hunter is he always has Bob Lee make this big speech about his lack of education, and then before you know it, he’s using complex syntax and vocabulary that should be well beyond him.  While the plot is predictable and Hunter telegraphs his moves like insane emergency signal, it remains a decent read.  Like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, we all know who wins, we just aren’t sure how the bad guy will lose.

Is I, Sniper worth $9.99?  For Bob Lee fans, maybe, for those yet to meet him, read Point of Impact and A Time to Hunt.  Both are on my ‘keeper shelf’, but this one won’t be.   Buy I, Sniper used.

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  • Title: Secrets of a Reckless Princess
  • Author:  Annabel Wolfe (Emma Wildes)
  • Type:  Erotic romance si-fi/futuristic
  • Genre: The Starlight Chronicles, Bk 4 – ménage;
  • Sub-genre:  Marriage of state and one of the heart, can they combine?
  • My Grade: C- (2.8*)
  • Rating:  x
  • Length and price:  short novel – about 50,000 $4.99
  • Where Available:  Available as ebook on Siren website or Amazon
  • FTC Disclosure:  ebook acquired through publisher’s website

The Starlight Chronicles is one of the better executed si-fi series offered by erotic romance publisher, Siren.  I had enjoyed the previous books, but this one was just too superficial to care.

Princess Jayla, heir to the throne of Anasta, and childhood friend Damon Le Clerc, son of her mother’s most trusted adviser, are on opposite sides – seemingly – in the argument for the need for an overhaul of the political and economic systems.  His newsletter has been shut down and he is under arrest, despite his position.  Jayal is determined to save him – by being caught kissing him and having the kiss broadcast on the palace monitors.

Her ploy works, but it also awakens an unexpected attraction to Damon just as Marc Kartel, son of Ran Kartel, is flying to Anasta to see if a marriage can be agreed to between him and Jalya – and to speak with Damon Le Clerc, a man he has come to admire through his writings on restructuring the economic arrangements between the worlds to prevent possible revolutions.  Damon’s progressive thoughts and his visions align with Marc’s own and his father’s.  Ran, being on the Universal Council, and it’s most powerful member, recognizes the urgency of change before the system splinters.

But Mac does not expect is attraction to Jayla to be so strong – nor how much he enjoyed seeing Damon with Jayla.  Agreements are made and a ménage formed, seemingly with no issues.  But there is a group of extremists in the city that want a war – and they want funding.  Jayla ends up a bargaining chip when she’s held hostage.

The story lacked excitement and all three lead characters were flat and 2 dimensional.  Blah!  Even the sex was lukewarm.  It wasn’t bad, and as always, Annabel Wolfe/Emma Wildes, has a smooth writing style.  Unfortunately, she did a fly-by on the story.

Was Secrets of a Reckless Princess worth $4.99?  Not really.  Very shallow and lightweight.

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1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for the reviews! I did like the first of the Starlight Chronicles, and I’ve been getting really into sci-fi erotic books, but it sounds like I can skip the latest. It’s good to see reviews that are a real buyer’s guide rather than a positive-only synopsis.

    Comment by Tia — March 16, 2011 @ 9:19 pm | Reply


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