Archive | August, 2013

Review: Angel in Chains by Cynthia Eden

9 Aug

This is a book review that was originally published on the Smart Bitches Trashy Books website as part of their RITA Reader challenge where they asked their followers to review RITA nominated books. This book got a B- grade from me.

I put my hand up to review this book because I got excited by the summary posted on Amazon. Hot and angry Angel of Death saving a girl from snarling panther shifters? For the love of all that is paranormal, batman, sign me up! So I bought the book, put the kids to bed and got ready to stay up all night reading. Only, I didn’t. I was actually able to put it down after 3 chapters and go to sleep! This was my main problem with this book. Even though it had so many things going for it and I really wanted to like it, I never got into it the way I do with the really good books. You know the maybe I’ll just sneak a couple of paragraphs at the stoplight good.

Here are the things that I DID like about the book. It was an interesting premise and I liked that it started out exciting right away with big and bad Az saving Jade in the first chapter. The rest of the book is basically Az and Jade and a few other secondary characters along the way running away from and plotting to kill Brandt, a psycho panther shifter who is Alpha of a pack and is also crazy (as in CRAY CRAY) obsessed with having Jade as his mate.

This was the first and only book of the series that I have read and even if I read it out of order I was able to pick up the story and not get confused which was another thing that I appreciated.

I liked that the world building was interesting and just a bit dark. The whole idea of Fallen Angels is in turns fascinating and vaguely horrifying. It is a completely different take on Angels than Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series where Angels are not from Heaven or have any sort of religious convent school like undertones to them. Cynthia Eden’s Angels have the whole heaven, hell, redemption theme going. There’s even talk of the different kinds of angels: punishment angels, death angels and guardian angels which brings to mind early childhood catechism classes.

I liked that it wasn’t one of those stories where they were fated and therefore fell in love with each other automatically. At the end of the day Az and Jade made the choice to believe in each other and be together, no one else made the choice for them.

One of the biggest things that I DIDN’T like about the book was the main characters. They just weren’t all that likeable. Jade is feisty and has been through hell and back running away from Crazy Brandt who kills everyone that is close to her. She is tough and can take care of herself, as she has been for years but all of a sudden has a blind and total faith in Azrael even if people are telling her he is using her? Just a little hard to swallow. I should have liked her but for some reason I didn’t.

Same goes with Az. One of the best things for me about reading a romance is being able to secretly swoon about the leading man. Az had all the elements but didn’t quite get there for me. In most of the novels that I read authors usually use italics to show the inner thoughts of their characters. This third person omniscient point of view of writing is my favourite because I like being able to read the thoughts of all the main characters of the book, but I found some of the writing of Az’s thoughts really weird. There’s this one scene in particular written from Az’s point of view that was pure WTFery for me:

Her legs curled around his hips and her neck arched as Jade choked out his name.

Thrust. Thrust. He couldn’t get deep enough. (p.105)

So… he is lost in the moment and thinking to himself Thrust. Thrust?! And then later on down the passage the author uses it AGAIN.

Az never wanted to let her go.

Couldn’t.

Thrust. Th-

At which point I thought to myself, Laugh. Laugh.

It totally spoiled the scene for me.

My other major dislike in the story was Brandt the bad guy. He was your totally cookie cutter crazy mad baddie. He killed people left, right and center including those most loyal to him but wouldn’t kill Jade no matter what she did. One of the most unbelievable parts of the story was when he killed his second in command for making a remark he didn’t like. It just didn’t make sense to me at all but then again that may have been the point so who knows?

I really wanted to like this book and give it a higher grade but I couldn’t. Would I read another Cynthia Eden book? Definitely. It was entertaining, the world building was really interesting and the storyline was exciting. Was it a great book? In my humble opinion, no and this probably just comes down to personal taste. Jade and Azrael unlike Eve and Roarke, Rafael and Elena, Rain and Ellysetta are not a couple that I will remember very clearly or with particular fondness.

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So What About Those Sex Scenes?

9 Aug

I love romance novels. I love them sweet, but I especially love them steamy. Give me a virile man hungry for his woman and I am one happy romance fan girl. Sad to say though that some sex scenes can be WTFery fodder like no other. There are plenty of stock standard sex scenes that have me shaking my head and thinking ugh, no. There are others that really just defy the laws of gravity and biology. Here are a few of my (not-so) favourites:

Everyone goes on and on about morning breath in morning sex scenes. I on the other hand think about having to wee. Because really people, isn’t that the first thing that you do in the morning?! I can’t think of anything worse than being bounced on with a full bladder. Shades of Gray aside (and oh my, will THAT series get another little entry of its own) I can’t see how a full bladder is conducive to sexy feelings. Enough said.

Speaking of bathrooms… how about the shower sex scenes? Now well written shower scenes can be romantic and (pardon the pun) steamy. But I have to admit that when the scene isn’t written particularly well my undisciplined mind does take a wander down the practical path and thoughts like ‘don’t the tiles hurt their knees?’ and ‘How does that work if the girl is a whole foot shorter than the massive 6’4 man pounding into her from behind’ start to intrude. And Oh my God, how about the one where the poor girl had to hold her breath underwater to pleasure her man in the tub?

The whole getting out of the shower without drying off and then getting rowdy soaking wet, in the bed, IN THE MIDDLE OF A SNOWSTORM without feeling cold at all because hey, heat of passion and all that also elicits snorts of disbelief from me. And isn’t it funny that the hot water runs out and turns icy cold JUST when the deed is done? Because no one has ever had hot water run out on them in the middle of a sex sesh. Really.

All this talk of soaking wet sheets does bring to mind another thing that can bring me out of a great story- the implication that there will be a lot of very annoying housework to do after the fun is finished. You know, it’s the soaking wet sheets that have to be changed, the sex play with chocolate syrup on the carpet (!!!) and some people’s favourite- the big dramatic sweeping of crockery/paperwork/other breakables off the table so that they can have very energetic sex ON said table. I know that these are all supposed to be swept away by passion type moments but sometimes all I do is wince through these scenes thinking of the hellish clean up afterwards.

There was one book where the hero and heroine spent the whole day tromping around in boots all day and then at night the hero sucked the heroines toes as foreplay after removing aforementioned boots that made me cringe. There was also that one book where the hero and heroine made love on a moving horse. ON. A. HORSE. As it was galloping along. Need I say more?

And then there are the ménages. If done well a ménage scene can be seriously hot… and there are the other ones where I actually catch myself tilting my head and book to the side while reading as if that would help me figure out who was touching what and where! Cirque de Soleil anyone?

A really good love scene can make my heart flutter in my chest, cause tingles and generally adds to the overall experience of the book. Even though the scenes above take me out of the story more often than not, a really skilful writer can get me so into a story that I don’t care about the hows and the whys. One of my favourite books of all time had the hero and heroine making love “in Spirit only” and underwater (and no they were not mer people of any sort). Another one had two angels making love in the sky, WHILE FLYING. How’s that for improbable? But that particular author wrote the scene so well that my mind didn’t wander off to what in the world would happen if a 747 should pass by. Talk about in flight entertainment.

What are your favourite/ least favourite sex scene tropes?