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Review: Wolf’s Challenge by Christina Lynn Lambert

26 Feb

 

wolfs-challenge-c-lambert

Taking risks, especially risks of the handsome male variety, is currently out of the question for Sydney Reid. She will make no exceptions for tall, gorgeous Derrick Porter. Never date a player-it’s rule number one in Sydney’s book, and the charming lawyer constantly devouring her with his eyes is every inch the reason. Despite her best efforts to keep Derrick in the friend zone, sparks fly between the two of them, and Sydney isn’t entirely sure she wants to throw water on the flames.

Can Derrick convince the shy, sexy Sydney to give him a chance, something more than her elusive “maybe”? More importantly, should he? Derrick has a few secrets, the least shocking secret being that he can transform at will into a powerful wolf. He’s still trying to forgive himself for being at the wheel during the accident that killed his son. Losing Sydney when she learns the truth might break him, but he’s pretty sure not having her would be just as bad.

And with an obsessed stalker on their tails, more than their hearts are at issue.

I really like paranormal romance. I like reading about characters and their relationships and emotions all with the added benefit of some kickass world building and the supernatural. I think that the best paranormal romances are those whose main focus is still the relationships and the growth of the characters as people in spite of the fact that they may drink blood, have super strength or go furry once in a while. Some of my favourite authors, Ilona Andrews and Nalini Singh for example, do this particularly well.

The first few chapters of this book drew me in immediately as the focus was on the characters and their internal struggles. There’s a prologue that hints at a tragedy in the hero’s past that shapes his internal conflicts. There’s not as much dedicated to the heroine’s past at first but her history of some very bad luck with past relationships slowly unfolds and it becomes clear why she’s so gun shy when it comes to relationships.

I really liked the first half of the book. I loved the “meet cute” of the hero and heroine via a well-meaning matchmaking friend who also happens to be a coach of a running club so both of them are forced to run/train for a race. I enjoyed the focus on the characters and how they fought and then gave in to their attraction all the while sweating and forcing their legs to go that extra mile. Given my own love/hate/love relationship with exercise I really like reading about other people (fictional or otherwise) suffering through it as well.

The dialogue was natural and not stilted and the tension build up in the first part of the book was done really well. It read like a really interesting contemporary where the main character happened to turn furry once in a while instead of the paranormal elements being the focal point to the detriment of the story.

However, I did feel that the book did take a turn somewhere in the middle into crazy town. I like a certain amount of crazy sauce in my books as I love escapism but I did feel that there were one too many elements inserted into the plot that the book could have done without and it would have streamlined the book a bit and kept the focus on the relationship between Sydney and Derrick. There were also chapters that were told from the point of view of the antagonist and this is never my favourite thing to read- but that is just a personal taste for me and does not reflect at all on the writing of the author.

All in all I liked the book and I really liked the first few chapters. I would definitely read this author’s work again because I liked her characters and the way she writes dialogue. Given my different reactions to the different parts of the book I feel that I need to give two ratings. I’d give the first half of the book a B and the second half a C.

Note: I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review

 

 

 

2014 in review

30 Dec

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Audio Book Madness

10 Nov

The Collector N RobertsRock Chick K Ashley

 

I have to admit to being a little bit late to the whole audio book thing. I only started a few years ago when the traffic and commute to work started becoming unbearable and I needed something to take my mind off the daily grind. I THEN discovered just this year that I could download these books straight onto my phone and listen to books WHILE DOING THE HOUSEWORK. My house has never been so clean and I now clean up (semi) cheerfully while someone tells me a story.

As a sidenote, I also like the fact that now I can listen with earphones and therefore don’t have to turn the volume way down during sex scenes because of the very real fear that some stranger will hear the moaning and groaning and look at me like I’m a freak…

I’ve written before about my absolute love of Ilona Andrews and how much I adore the Kate Daniels series- in both the written and audio formats. Renee Raudman, the narrator of this series is so fantastic and I got real book hangover just from listening to these books. After finishing the last book in the series I went in to mourning for a day and then was like a junkie scrounging for the same kind addictive hit. I  decided to go look for a Kristen Ashley book to go for something very different but also has that cracktastic quality and I’m so glad I did!

Audible gave me a big discount on the price of the books since I had already purchased the Kindle version so off I went into Rock Chick land. As Shirleen would say- Oooowee! I glommed onto these audio books and listened to all 8 in one month. Yup, you heard it, all EIGHT in ONE MONTH.

Susannah Jones, the narrator of the books, was very good with handling all the different characters and voices and was a younger, happier sounding narrator which fit into the whole vibe of the books perfectly. She was excellent at injecting the fun neurosis into the female characters- especially their panicked self-talk when they know they’ve gotten into trouble. I have to admit that coming off Renee Raudman’s narration and the way she did all the different voices so distinctly I sometimes felt that Susanna didn’t differentiate characters as well especially between books but that’s more about how good Renee was than any sort of lack on Susanna’s part.

I again went into mourning after finishing the last book, Rock Chick Revolution but cheered myself up trying to decide who of the Hot Bunch was my favourite. Book boyfriend fantasies aside, the next book I put into my phone was The Collector by Nora Roberts performed by Julia Whelan. Props to this reader for doing really good guys’ voices. There is nothing more distracting than a girl trying to sound like a guy and doing it badly but Julia did it so well it added to the story rather than detracting from it.

I am such a fan of Nora’s work but have to admit that I when I first read it I liked this book but didn’t LOVE it the way I did say, Birthright or Angels Fall or Naked in Death. The funny thing is that I am halfway through the book now and am utterly drawn into the story in a way that I wasn’t when I read it. It’s again proof positive that you pick up things listening to a book that you may have missed reading it.

So it looks like this love affair of mine with audio books although a late bloom may end up being an enduring one. I have only ever listened to books I’ve already read so am interested in seeing what happens when I listen to a book before reading it. Do you have any recommendations for audio books?

Books I Was Reading When I Should Have Been Writing July 2014

15 Jul

Waiting on You K Higgins A murder of crows It happened one wedding Magic Bites I Andrews Then Came You

I’ve been on a bit of a contemporary and paranormal kick lately and can’t seem to drum up any enthusiasm for historicals although I have a fair few in my kindle just waiting to be read. That said, I’ve read a few really, really, really (REALLY) good books lately:

It Happened One Wedding by Julie James– First of all it really must be said- SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE! This book was amazing! I cannot begin to recommend it highly enough. For those of you who may not have discovered her yet, Julie James is an author of contemporary romances usually centring around the lawyers of the US Attorney’s office and the FBI agents that they work with. Although most of her books are excellent this one had a little special something going for it that truly blew me away. The way JJ wrote the slow build romance between the hero and the heroine who by the way started out disliking each other and then liking each other very much was just clever and beautiful. Sidney, the heroine in this story completely rocked as a kick ass investment banker. She’s a strong powerful woman who knows her stuff (work wise at least) and she OWNS it. Vaughn is a tough, alpha FBI agent who is funny, smart and knows himself really well. Both of them, even when they were at their bitchiest to each other were supremely likeable and the dialogue between them was so sharp and funny. It has to be said again- I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop- I am a huge romance fan girl but I am also a big fantasy/ urban fantasy fan. The books that I love are the ones that meld the two together seamlessly. This is not the case for the OTHERS series of Anne Bishop as it’s still really light on the romance, although you can see the build up to it and just that build up is enough to give me the tingles. But you know what? This is another series that I cannot recommend highly enough. This is the second book in the series following the first book, Written in Red. The world building in this series is done very well. Interestingly enough from a purely objective standpoint, AB does not give us anything ground breakingly original. There are vampires and shifters and elementals and there are the prophets and humans and everyone is just trying to get along and live together. Enter a young woman who is trying to make her way in the world and you have a pretty familiar trope. Familiar though does not in any way mean ordinary. This series for me is proof that it’s not all about the story but how the story is told. In the hands of a skilful writer, the familiar becomes new and cracktastic. There is action and magic and hot shapeshifters all in a very interesting world. I can’t wait for the next instalment in the series.

Then Came You by Jill Shalvis– I went on a bit of a Jill Shalvis reading spree and read the last 2 books of both her Lucky Harbour and her Animal Magnetism series in a week. If you like your contemporary romances with a lot of humor in them you have to read her. Her Lucky Harbour series is set in a small town in the NorthWest while her Animal Magnetism books centre around the lives of a veterinary practice in a small town in Idaho. You can’t pass by JS when you want a feel good, small town romance. Of the books I read my favourite has to be Then Came You- the story of Emily and Wyatt. The laughs start with the premise of the story- what do you do when you show up to your first day at a new job and realise your new boss is that hot guy that you had a one night stand with? The one that you thought you would never see again? There were several laugh out loud moments and anything with a bunch of animals in them can never go wrong for me. The conflict was largely internal and had to do with both Emily and Wyatt having to learn to bend and let go of preconceived notions of what they want out of life. It’s a solid 4 out of 5 stars for me for this one. As an aside, I follow Jill Shalvis on Facebook and twitter and she is as funny and crazy in real life as her characters. Which leads me to another crazy writer that I like who is a very good friend of hers…

Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins– When I want funny contemporaries that will make me laugh and then make my chest hurt while giving me tingles throughout the rest of my body there are a few authors I turn to: Susan Mallery, Jill Shalvis, Susan Elizabeth Philipps and Kristan Higgins. KH writes hilarious contemporary romances with witty dialogue. Her latest in her Blue Heron series is a great addition to a really fun series. One of her great skills is in writing heroes who have issues but never cross over into Oh-God-Get-OVER-Yourself-Already territory. Colleen O’Rourke is the part owner of the local bar in her small town. As the resident bartender, she is also the resident matchmaker who sets other people up successfully but mysteriously doesn’t manage to do it for herself until her first and only love pops back in town and into her life. Shades of Emma this book is another example of a familiar trope made entertaining and different in the hands of a skilful writer.

Kate Daniels audiobooks by Ilona Andrews– This entry has already gone on for way too long and writing about all these books that I love has made my heart start pounding so hard in my chest I’m scared I’ll give myself an aneurysm if I continue but I simply cannot let this entry end without talking about the Kate Daniels audiobooks. I’ve written about Ilona Andrews and how much I love this series before. I thought I couldn’t love this series any more than I already do but hot damn was I WRONG. I thought I could listen to these books in traffic/while on the treadmill/while cleaning to keep my mind entertained. I purposely chose books that I already read since I would be doing other things and didn’t want to be too distracted. Instead, I became obsessed (obsessed I tell you!) with these books all over again. A wonderful side benefit is that my house has never been cleaner! It made the monotony of doing chores SO much easier and just for that I could build a shrine in gratitude to Ilona Andrews . I’d already read all the books in the series more than once because I love them. Listening to the books instead of reading them gave me a whole new perspective though and there were bits that I missed while reading that suddenly became more apparent while I was listening. While I’m talking about these books, I have to give props to Renee Raudman who is Uh-MAY-Zing!!! I now hear HER voice in my head when I read the books. Her “voices” are so distinct and never overdone or exaggerated. Even if you’ve already read this series do give these audiobooks a try you won’t regret it!

Meh books and Alphaholes

25 Feb

Reaper's Legacy Knight

I’ve been really disappointed with all the books that I’ve read in the past few weeks. It’s been a good long while since I’ve read any that made me want to write about it squeeing in delight… and I want to squee my way through a book, dammit.
I think the problem with me this past month is that I have gone for the free books and the .99 cent (or so) books on Amazon thinking to save myself some money. What HAS happened is that I have bought heaps of books that I then skimmed and then promptly forgot about or simply did not finish (DNF). This resulted in me spending more than I would have if I had just bought a few really good books at a higher price point that I could really enjoy. It’s like when you’re eating at a buffet with a lot of not-so-good food and you keep eating and eating and eating looking for that taste you’re looking for, not finding it and then feeling slightly ill afterwards. That is how the past few weeks have been for me in terms of reading- too much meh stuff that has left me feeling vaguely dissatisfied.
(This is not to say that you can’t find some really amazing books out there for free or cheap, I’ve just had really crappy luck with them these past few weeks)
The other thing that I am seeing with some of the books that I am reading is the emergence of a breed of heroes I call the alphahole. I know that the whole imperfect, grittier hero is a hot trend at the moment but I find myself getting exasperated with it. What the heck is so wrong about a nice guy? You know, one who does NOT have a stable of prostitutes that he makes his money with or one that does NOT call women bitches or whores?
I’m a HUGE fan of alpha heroes. I love their take charge attitude, absolute belief in themselves and their need to take care of their women. LOVE. THEM. However, lately I’ve found that some authors disturbingly blur the line between an alpha and an alphahole (which is basically an alpha asshole). I get that there is this movement towards realism and angst. I get that they’re trying to portray heroes that are in stark contrast to sickeningly perfect, gorgeous, intelligent, billionaire, philanthropist heroes of the past. For me though, there’s imperfect and tortured and there’s just being an abusive, misogynistic pig.
I’m learning that there are certain things that I just will not accept in a hero. Salty language and dirty talk? No problem. Being derogatory to a woman and calling her a whore, slut etc and then justifying it to the heroine saying it’s okay because I’d never do that to YOU? Not okay. A man hitting a woman? Never okay.
I read a book recently where the hero was absolutely APPALLING to women. He had no respect for them aside from them being receptacles for his magic wang. He would call them bitch and forcibly evict them from his house, throwing their clothes out- after taking them home with him the night before! How in the world is a man like that hero material? This hero THEN goes on to say that yes he would hit a woman if she was “asking for it”. Arrrgh. Just typing that made me so mad! And it makes me even more mad because he then says he would never treat the heroine like that because she wasn’t a slut like all the other sluts he slept with. Given that he actively participated in the aforementioned activity this would make him a hypocrite of the highest level.
Being imperfect, sleeping around, having a tragic past, being surly and not too good with social situations- these are all fine and I can live with those. Being in any way abusive even if that abusive behaviour is not targeted towards the heroine, I’m sorry I simply cannot stomach. As a psychology major the whole “Oh baby I treat OTHER people like shit but I would never treat YOU like that” really pisses me off. I get that some of the romance heroes of old may have been a little too perfect but do I really want to read about a hero who is a pimp? Uh, NO.
There are authors who push the envelope of the alpha male but manage to pull them back right before they cross over that invisible line for me into alphahole. A really good example of this would be Kristen Ashley’s Chaos MC boys who are really rough around the edges but never cross over this line for me versus those in her Unfinished Hero series (Knight, ugh!) and Joanna Wylde’s Reaper’s Legacy which was a good book overall, but there were moments with the hero that left a really bad taste in my mouth. He is SO never going to be one of my book boyfriends. Although that cover is admittedly really nice to look at.
What do you think about this new trend in alphahole heroes?

More Sex Scene Funnies

29 Jan

Late last year wrote a blog entry about some things that I found strange, disturbing and hilarious about sex scenes: https://romancefangirl.com/2013/08/ . One of my absolute favourite romance blogs, Smart Bitches Trashy Books recently published an article on sex scenes that had me rolling-on-the-floor-oh-my-goodness-I’m-going-to-wet-my-pants laughing. I then read all the comments that other romance fan girls like me made on the article and there commenced another round of undignified snorting and snickering. Any long time reader of romance novels is sure to have her (or his) particular pet peeve when it comes to these scenes.

Anyway, here is the link to the article:  http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/blog/10-things-i-hate-about-sex-scenes. Enjoy y’all. If both these articles left something out that has you rolling your eyes when you read it, I’d love to hear from you!

Random Fan Girlness November 2013

25 Nov

HAIYAN

First off I have to admit to being a naughty little fan girl about adding new entries the past couple of weeks. I was so caught up in that awful typhoon that hit the Philippines. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families. In spite of a lot of things that went wrong with relief efforts, the generosity of the human spirit from all around the world was also so beautiful to see.

ARCHANGEL’S LEGION

Another thing that delayed adding to the blog was that I decided to do a review of Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh and because I loved it so much I took a lot of time writing the review as I wanted to do it justice. I also have to sheepishly admit that I got so excited about the book while I was doing the review that I had to read the book again (for research purposes mind you). And THEN because I read that book I was reminded of how awesome all the OTHER books were in the series and yup, total romance fan girl moment, read the whole series all over again. FYI there are now 6 full length novels in the series, so you can imagine that this took a bit of time.

COPYRIGHT LAWS

As mentioned earlier, November was a good month for me as a lot of my favourite authors released new books. This brought home a bit of a sore subject with me however- the fact that Australia and New Zealand have delayed releases as compared to the US. There are some books that I can’t even purchase if I don’t live in North America and this is SO FRUSTRATING for me- especially in this age of ebooks. I could understand a delay in terms of shipping actual hard copy or printed books overseas but when a digital book can be ordered, paid for and downloaded in less than 2 minutes I really can’t understand the delay. I know from reading posts that this is due to copyright laws being different for North America and the rest of the world but as a consumer it is maddening. Hmph.

ARCs

I’m really new to the blogosphere but have been following other romance blogs such as Dear Author and Smart Bitches Trashy Books for years and therefore have picked up some of the lingo. One term that I picked up and totally envied is ARC or Advanced Readers’ Copy. A call came out recently for bloggers to put their hands up for ARCs for some Christmas anthologies and thinking it couldn’t hurt, I did and I got them! Total romance fan girl moment! I was absolutely thrilled to bits and can’t wait to read and review them!

BOOKS I THAT I READ WHEN I SHOULD HAVE BEEN WRITING

  • Susan Mallery’s A Fool’s Gold Cookbook
  • Kinked by Thea Harrison
  • Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter Series (again)
  • Sealed with A Curse: A Weird Girls Novel by Cecy Robson
  • A Cursed Embrace: A Weird Girls Novel by Cecy Robson
  • Born Wild: Black Knights Inc by Julie Ann Walker
  • Jagged by Kristen Ashley
  • Play it Safe by Kristen Ashley
  • One Perfect Night by Bella Andre

Reviews to follow!