Book Review: Shadow Fall by Erin Kellison

7938254Title: Shadow Fall
Author: Erin Kellison
Series: Shadow #2
ISBN: 9780505528308
Publisher: Leisure Books
Pub. Date: July 2010
Source: Publisher
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Fantasy
Pages: 322
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: Sacrifice
Custo Santovari accepted pain, blood, even death, to save his best friend. But a man with all his sins just isn’t cut out to be an angel.
Mystery
One moment he’s fleeing Heaven; the next, he’s waking up stark naked in Manhattan. In the middle of a war. Called there by a woman who’s desperately afraid of the dark.
Shadow
It gathers around Annabella as she performs, filled with fantastic images of another world, bringing both a golden hero and a nightmare lover.
Wolf
He pursues her relentlessly, twisting her desires even as she gives herself to the man she loves. Because each of us has a wild side, and Annabella is about to unleash the beast.

 

My Reveries and Ramblings:  If you haven’t read the first book, stop reading now and go read it (Shadowbound).  Now, for those of you who have read Shadow Bound, get ready for a whole dose of action, romance, and suspense. The story begins with Custo in heaven. He’s somehow ended up as an angel, much to his displeasure. Wanting to help and warn Adam of a betrayl, Custo tricks Shadowman into switching places with him. Lost and trying to find his way back to Segue, Custo sees a woman dancing and is drawn to her power, just as the wolf is. Wolf has been hunting Annabelle trying to find a way out of Shadow and into her world. When Custo accidentally lets him into the real world, both his and Annabelle’s worlds are upturned.  My favorite thing about this series is Ms. Kellison’s characters. She doesn’t write her characters in terms of good or bad. Each character has good and bad qualities. Custo is my favorite example of this. He’s not good. And he knows it. At the same time, he’s not evil. Every choice he makes is based off what he can gain. This is true of every character in literature, except that Custo is very selfish. The only times he is not selfish is with Adam and Annabelle. There are so many layers to Custo’s character-I love it!
Annabelle was also different from most heroines. She’s a principle ballerina in her company. Having sacrificed so much and worked so hard, she starts to reap the rewards. However, after Wolf notices her hidden power when she dances, he becomes obsessed. Cue Custo. After he saves Annabelle, she is forced to accept protection from both Custo and the Segue Institute. Throughout the book, Annabelle is torn between her love of dance and her love for Custo. Her journey to find the balance between the two was interesting to read.
I really liked this book, even more than Shadow Bound. I adored Custo and all of his complexities. Wolf is a creepy, perverse, and terrifying villain-which made this book all the more absorbing. This book is very well written, engaging, and so worth reading!

 

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Shadow Fall (Shadow, #2)

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Book Review: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

22238196Title: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Series: Strangely Beautiful #1
ISBN: 978-1428511453
Publisher: Leisure Books
Pub. Date: August 2009
Source: Publisher
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Historical Romance/Urban Fantasy
Pages: 322
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Hidden in the dark heart of Victorian London, the Romanesque school was dreadfully imposing, a veritable fortress, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met its powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadows of the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She saw simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gift. This arched stone doorway was a portal to a new life, to an education far from what could be had at a convent and it was an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  I was shocked! I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. Ms. Hieber captured me in the very first few words. Her world is so gothic and romantic. I just love it! It was like Jane Eyre meets Harry Potter meets Ghostbusters.
The Guard was blessed with powers to rid the civilian population of evil ghosts/spirits and other demons. In order for them to succeed they must work together. As soon as they split, they weaken. Besides ridding the world of evil beings, they are looking for the reincarnation of Persephone, the goddess who gave them their powers. All they were told was that she would be their peer, to look for a doorway, and to be careful of imposters.
When Percy Parker arrives at Athens Academy after leaving the convent that raised her, she is immediately regarded as odd. With her white hair, glowing eyes, and uber-pale skin she has always felt she was different. By covering herself up, she protects herself from the gawking stares of others. That is until she starts spending her nights being tutored by Prof. Rychman, who insists she removes her “barriers.” The first time Alexi, Prof. Rychman, sees Percy without all the scarves and glasses he becomes mesmerized. During the course of their tutoring sessions, Alexi becomes more and more convinced that she is Prophecy. However, the Guard refuses to believe that she is their seventh since she is not a peer but a student. Instead they do everything they can to convince Alexi that the real Prophecy is Miss Lindon. Alexi must choose between the two. The wrong choice could mean the end of the world.
Ms. Hieber’s writing blew me away. I find that most historical romances have great stories, but the writing is weak. That was not the case in this one. When the characters spoke, their word choice as well as their sentence structure was appropriate for the time. I was so happy to not hear the words “yeah” or “Oh my god” or even worse, “buddy.” Nothing ruins a historical romance like 21st c. talk. Ms. Hieber’s Victorian era writing is itself ,enough for an applause. Her word choice and descriptions were just perfect. Seriously, this book could have been written in the Victorian era and there probably wouldn’t have been a difference in word choice or style.
Now onto characters. When we are introduced to Percy Parker, she is scared and alone. Her friends see her as “strangely beautiful” while others avoid her, if not for her strange looks then for the possibility of being mad. When she arrives at Athens Academy, she finds that her professors don’t think she is crazy when she (rarely) talks of seeing visions (or dreams) and speaking to ghosts. One professor in particular finds her fascinating. His name? Professor Alexi Rychman. Before I continue I must say his name bears a striking resemblance to one Alan Richman (aka Professor Severus Snape). After reading about half of the book I found out that Professor Snape was who Ms. Heiber had in mind when writing this character.

tumblr_nyw8l2yylq1ud2p0eo3_500 Alexi is cold, mean, stiff, and lonely. He is hard on Percy and considers her failure to do well in his class a major flaw. However, he falls more and more in love with her over the course of the book. Alexi was so frustrating (and oh so swoon-worthy). Shortly after reading The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, I watched BBC’s North and South. The second Richard Armitage came on screen, I almost fell out of my chair! It was Alexi! This was exactly how I had envisioned my Alexi! This was before I found out that Miss Hieber had actually mentioned him in an interview (at Darkly Reading) as an alternative to Alan Richman (too old now) for Alexi.
The romance was knit with so much sexual tension, you could almost see the sparks. Yet, there was very little kissing. The tension alone just made me want to scream “Get together already!” It was awesome. There was also a few subplot romances going on within the Guard which were equally fun to read. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books to see more of those play out. This book doesn’t really have a cliffhanger. These books are more like Harry Potter where there is a beginning, middle, and end, but there are certain story arcs that span across the whole series. Although I do want to find out what happens with Alexi and Percy. Basically, I love this book. I’ve read it several times since finishing it, stopping every once in a while to daydream about Alexi *sigh*. I love the eeriness of it-very gothic.
If you like: retellings (ancient greek myth of Persephone), Historical romance (Victorian era), Paranormal (ghosts, demons, etc.), Gothic Romance (swoon-worthy hero, eerie qualities), and apocalyptic scenes, then you’ll love this book.

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The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Strangely Beautiful, #1)

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Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison/ My Guest Post

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Hi Everyone! I did a guest post/review this week on the Dorchester Publishing Blog. Check it out!

Shadow Bound by Erin Kellison Review

Dorchester Publishing is hosting a giveaway. The winner will receive a copy of Shadow Bound.

Book Review: Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward

42898Title: Lover Revealed
Author: J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #4
ISBN: 978-0451412355
Publisher: Signet
Pub. Date: March 6, 2007
Source: Gift (B-day)
Genre: Paranormal Romance/ Urban Fantasy
Pages: 480
Rating:  3/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com): In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York there’s a war raging between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defender of their race. But now an ally of the Brotherhood is about to encounter his own dark desire…
Butch O’Neal is a fighter by nature. A hard living, ex-homicide cop, he’s the only human ever to be allowed in the inner circle of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And he wants to go even deeper into the vampire world to engage in the turf war with the lessers. He’s got nothing to lose. His heart belongs to a female vampire, Marissa, an aristocratic beauty who’s way out of his league. If he can’t have her, then at least he can fight side by side with the Brothers…
Fate curses him with the very thing he wants. When Butch sacrifices himself to save a civilian vampire from the slayers, he falls prey to the darkest force in the war. Left for dead, he’s found by a miracle, and the Brotherhood calls Marissa to bring him back. But even her love may not be enough to save him…

My Reveries and Ramblings: Lover Revealed is Butch and Marissa’s story. Butch is taken by the lessers very early on in the book after saving a civilian vampire. He is tortured for information about the brotherhood, but never gives in (Go Butch!). However, something truly evil is done to Butch before he is left for dead in the middle of nowhere. After the brotherhood rescues him, they question his fate and allegiance. Butch is no longer the same “cop.” After healing from his stay with the lessers, he starts to notice some changes: his body is letting off an odd spice scent around Marissa, he is much more aggressive, he can suck lessers into himself, and his blood turns black whenever he destroys the lessers his way.
Marissa and Butch’s relationship had so many “aw” moments but there was one thing that seriously annoyed me; when Butch called Marissa “baby,” I cringed. I really don’t know why that bothered me so much. Other than that, everything was fine. Butch wasn’t my favorite character, even in the beginning, and this book didn’t really change that for me. Although, there were some aspects that really stood out and made me love Ms. Ward’s writing even more.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is a romance book series (just look at the titles). The characters in the series have so much depth, not often seen in adult romance novels. With each book, Ms. Ward astounds me with the way she skillfully balances the passionate love scenes with actual plot. In Butch’s story, just like Zsadist’s, the central characters grow and change through the story. Butch starts out insecure in his place in life. Later in the book, when Butch is telling Marissa about his past he comments, “I’ve always been different from other people, not just in my family but when I was working here on the CPD force, too. I never fit in…until I met the Brotherhood…I’ve been living on the fringes all my life…(p. 325).” As the story progresses, the Butch becomes a part of a family, a part of something he never had. Marissa also finds herself. Even though Butch and Marissa fought a lot in this book, I think it was appropriate. Neither were secure with themselves. After Havers forced independence on Marissa, she started to follow her “Rule Number One: Right or wrong, she made the choices in her life. No one else did (p. 402).” Of course, Marissa doesn’t become independent overnight. In fact, she moves in with the brotherhood. Slowly, she begins to become her own person. Her transition from flowing gowns and corsets to pants and turtle necks was very symbolic of her transformation from a push over, aristocrat to a fully independent woman, free of the cage her brother and the glymera had forced her in all her life.
Lover Revealed was definitely a huge step forward in the war between the vampires and the lessers. What happens to Butch changes everything. The Black Dagger Brotherhood have a whole new deadly weapon in the war. As the Scribe Virgin said, “Now the new era in the war begins (p. 399).”
In this installment, Vishous and John Matthews also share some narration time. Vishous has to deal with his confusing feelings towards Butch and Marissa. John Matthews has to come to terms with Wellsie’s death and Tohr’s leaving. Honestly, I felt bad for Vishous (his book is next!), but not John Matthews. Seriously, John truly annoys me. I feel like every time Ms. Ward writes a John Matthews part I have to fight the urge not to skip forward, mostly because all he does is whine! It’s all poor-weak-me. I’m not strong enough to beat up Lash. I’m so weak. Etc. *
While this wasn’t the greatest of the Black Dagger Brotherhood books, it definitely is worth the read. Fair Warning: like all the BDB books, there are quite a few graphic sex scenes, violence, profanity, and of course blood and gore. If you haven’t picked these books up yet, then I suggest you buy them…yes, buy them. They are too amazing not to purchase because you will want to reread them over and over again.
*note: I’ve actually read up until and part of the way through Lover Mine (John Matthew’s book) and I do like him, much much much better, in that book.

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Lover Revealed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #4)

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Book Review: Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

Title: Lover Awakened
Author: J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #3
ISBN: 978-0451219367
Publisher: Signet
Pub. Date: September 2006
Source: Kindle
Genre: Paranormal/Romance/Urban Fantasy
Pages: 464
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads:  In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, a deadly turf war rages between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Of these, Zsadist is the most terrifying member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.
A former blood slave, the vampire Zsadist still bears the scars from a past filled with suffering and humiliation. Renowned for his unquenchable fury and sinister deeds, he is a savage feared by humans and vampires alike. Anger is his only companion and terror his only passion-until he rescues a beautiful female from the evil Lessening Society.
Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for each other begins to overtake them, Zsadist’s thirst for vengeance against Bella’s tormentors drives him to the brink of madness. Now Bella must help her lover overcome the wounds of his tortured past and find a future with her.

My Reveries and Ramblings: First things first:  Black Dagger Brother series by J.R.Ward is OUTSTANDING! Okay, got that out of my system, now on to the review.  This book was hard to get through.  Zsadist rescues Bella after she was kidnapped in the previous book, Lover Eternal.  Zsadist was the only one who didn’t give up.  Everyone else assumed she was dead since she was kidnapped by lesser.  The lesser who kidnapped her, David, wanted her to be a replacement wife since she looked so much like his dead wife.  When Zsadist finally finds her, she is beaten to a pulp, unconscious, and has David’s name etched into her stomach.  The brothers bring her back to the main house.  There they try to get Zsadist to leave her alone, but he won’t.  He insists on caring for her.  After Bella awakes she tries desperately to get him to want her.  Zsadist does want her! His past keeps him from doing anything.  The other brothers are also hesitant to allow Zsadist to spend time with Bella.  The other story arcs are also in this installment.  Phury’s character and history are discussed.  J.R. Ward also shows life in the Wellie-Tohr-John Matthews family.
J.R. Ward wrote such amazing characters in The Black Dagger Brotherhood series. All the characters are so complex-especially in Lover Awakened.  For romance novels, these have a ton of depth.  Zsadist is a very tortured character. Having been a blood and sex slave (I’m leaving out all the gruesome details….and believe me its quite horrifying) before being rescued by Phury, Zsadist finds sex revolting.  He is mentally as well as physically scarred by his past.  The abuse he suffered caused him to think he was dirty, evil, and impure.  When Bella wants to be with him, he refuses.  He thinks she is too pure, good, and beautiful to be soiled by him.  Over time, however, Bella breaks down most of the walls that Zsadist built.  This huge change, from feeling hatred to love, causes Zsadist to become confused.  He spends most of the book sorting through his issues.  J.R. Ward also used a bit of symbolism in Zsadist’s eyes.  The eyes are windows to the soul.  His soul and state of mind were reflected in the irises of his eyes.  Phury, Zsadist’s brother, also loves Bella.  He is torn between his love for his brother and his love for Bella.  She is the only female that has ever threatened his vow of celibacy.  However, when he sees the transformation happening to Zsadist, he backs off, but not happily.
After being kidnapped, Bella has some issues, although no where near as terrible and complicated as Zsadist’s.  While she was being held captive by David, she prayed, hoped, and wished Zsadist would come for her.  After ending up with the brotherhood, Bella tries everything to be with Zsadist.  At first she’s not that successful because whenever she gets close to him, he pushes her away.
David, the main villain in this story, was sick and twisted.  Ugh!  I hated him….awful…terrible….evil…..I could go on forever.  Before becoming a lesser he was married.  He was physically and emotionally abusive to his wife.  When she died, his insanity got worse.  After joining the lessers he started looking for his “wife.”  One day while searching Mary’s house for her he saw Bella walking across the yard.  Since she looked like his dead wife, he kidnapped her.  He never raped her, because, well, he can’t really feel anything like that down there so it would be pointless.  But he did use her as a punching bag.  He’s very violent so whenever he was upset, or angry he would take it out on her.  He would then follow the abuse with an “I love you.”  Poor Bella.
This series is amazing!  I’ve been getting these books from the library, but after this one I’ve decided to go ahead and by the whole series.  Every time I had to return one of the books, I wanted to cry.  Lover Awakened is my favorite in the series so far.  Zsadist, who was more of the villain on the good side, turned into the true hero-so touching.  This book is very emotional.  You might find yourself crying, laughing, and screaming.  A side note:  Zsadist and Bella’s story reminded me of a rated R and slightly altered version of Beauty and the Beast.  I highly recommend this series.

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Lover Awakened (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #3)
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Book Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

Title: Bayou Moon
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: The Edge #2
ISBN: 978-0441019458
Publisher: Ace
Pub. Date: September 2010
Source: Purchased
Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Paranormal
Pages: 447
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: Cerise Mar and her clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect. But all is not as it seems.
Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge-and Cerise’s life.

My Reveries and Ramblings: Bayou Moon is the second novel of Ilona Andrews’s The Edge series.  It follows William’s story two years after the events of On the Edge.  William is sent on a mission by The Mirror to find the object that Spider, the villain, is looking for.  On his way to the Mire, a swamp area in the Edge (where Spider is), he is forced to travel with a homeless-looking girl, Cerise.  He later finds out that it was only a disguise.  As soon as he sees what she really looks like, he wants her.  Then, when he sees how she fights, he wants her more.  Cerise’s parents were handed over to Spider by her family’s enemy.  After running into several creatures and hunters looking for her, William decides to stick with her, for the time being anyway.  Nothing is as it seems.  Lies, blood, and death surround Cerise as she tries to find her parents and destroy those that get in her way.
Ilona Andrews floored me with the amazing characterization in this book.  William was so complex!  He is a changeling-both human and wolf.  There are times when he acts and thinks like a human.  However, with every strong emotion, the wolf comes out-maybe not physically, but mentally.  Whenever this happens his thoughts go from normal and rational to “I want….” and “Must have…..”   Very primal.  Cerise notices when he switches to wolf-mode.  She can see it in his eyes, but she doesn’t know that he is a changeling.  Andrews juggles the two mind-frames very well.  Changelings, in their fundamental nature, act on instinct, not thought.  William always has to remind himself that he is also human and he cannot just take what he wants; he has to ask for it and be ready for rejection if it comes.  This was very sad yet admirable.  He really wanted to be with Cerise for most of the book.  He always reminded himself that women didn’t want him; he was a monster that could not be loved.  William had to deal with a ton of inner conflict, besides the wolf/human one.  He was always scared that once Cerise found out who he was, she wouldn’t want him anymore.  Before he can be with Cerise, he has to come to terms with his past and that it does not define him-his actions define him.
I felt so bad for Cerise.  After her parents are kidnapped she has to lead the family in a battle not only against their rival clan, but also Spider.  Meanwhile, her younger sister is slowly going insane-thinking she is a monster who deserves to live in the woods.  Because she is the new head, she has to hold her emotions in so that the family respects her.  The only person she truly lets in is William.  She trusts him, and loves him.  Because he looks like a Blueblood, noble of the Weird, she calls him Lord Bill when she first meets him.  Even though it was just used to mock at first, she continues to call him this as the story progresses.  I love the nickname, its so cute.  It has a teasing/flirty edge to it in the book.
There were a lot of different elements mixed into Bayou Moon.  First, there was a lot of gore, violence, and family feuding going on.  The action is suspenseful and bloody.  The fight scenes were depicted with a great attention to detail.  I felt like I was in the middle of them.  There were times when I was definitely shutting my eyes and muttering “ew.”  Second, there was romance.  William and Cerise’s relationship was intense.  There were a lot of “almost” scenes.  They were both obviously attracted to each other.  Cerise even admits to her family that she loves him, but he can’t take a hint.  William is very straightforward and doesn’t understand flirting.  He also doesn’t believe she wants him so he always pulls himself back when he wants to kiss her (or more).  This leads to many tension filled scenes that had me screaming “Just kiss her already!”
I liked On the Edge a bit better than Bayou Moon.  Not too sure why, but Bayou Moon is still a great book.  It’s emotional, action-packed, and romantic.  The other characters, besides William and Cerise, are for the most part three-dimensional.  There were so many, I thought I’d get confused (especially within Cerise’s big family) but Ilona Andrews did such a great job writing them, that it never was the case.  Rose, Declan, and the boys from On the Edge appear briefly at the end-which was nice.  All in all, I thought Ilona Andrews crafted an excellent book.

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Bayou Moon (The Edge, #2)

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Book Review: Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

Title: Lover Eternal
Author: J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #2
ISBN: 978-0451218049
Publisher: Signet
Pub. Date: March 2006
Source: Kindle
Genre: Paranormal/Romance/Urban Fantasy
Pages: 464
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads:  The Barnes & Noble Review

J. R. Ward returns to the shadows in Caldwell, New York, and the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood in her second intense paranormal thriller that will have new fans and old begging for more.
Once again, the plot revolves around a band of highly trained vampire warriors who have been targeted for extinction by the Lessening Society, but this time the spotlight is on Rhage, the best fighter, the most voracious lover. As a result of a curse by the Scribe Virgin, Rhage is left with an inner demon unlike all others; Mary, the mortal woman he meets falls in love with, has been cursed by her own kind of inner demon — cancer.
Readers will love their evolving relationship, at turns passionate, tender, and fierce, as well as the heart-pounding pace as the two try to escape their enemies. Again, a glossary introduces the reader to the structure and history of this new world. Ginger Curwen

My Reveries and Ramblings: I did not expect to love this book.  I guess I thought that it would be too similar to all the other books I’ve read, even though I loved the first BDB book, Lover Eternal.  I was so wrong.  Rhage is different from Wrath as well as the rest of the brotherhood.  He has his own demons to face, personality, and way of thinking.  The character depth in this installment surprised me.  There was definitely more of it in this book than in the first.
Lover Eternal is Rhage and Mary’s story.  Rhage meets Mary when she and her vampire friend, Bella, take John Matthews, a 23 yr-old mute guy, to see the brotherhood.  At this point Mary doesn’t know her friend is a vampire and that John Matthews will eventually turn into one.  Since John Matthews doesn’t speak, Mary goes to be the translator using ASL.  That is where she meets Rhage.  Rhage immediately falls for her, but Mary pushes him away because she has cancer and will most likely die.  Despite her best efforts, she falls for him and moves into the house.  They have a very bumpy relationship.  Mary is constantly having second thoughts, mostly due to her worsening health.  Rhage’s inner beast/curse wants to come out whenever he is around Mary, putting her in danger.  The lessers are also planning on taking Mary.
Goodness, I was gushing throughout the entire book.  What Rhage does to keep and save Mary was just so amazing selfless.  Now that’s true love! I’m not going to give anything away, but its just sooooo cute.  Also, the mystery behind John Matthews, the pre-change vampire with the mark of the brotherhood begins.  Zsadist story line with Bella starts out in this book and will continue in the next, Lover Awakened.  There were many moments in this book that tore at me emotionally.  I find cancer to be very scary, even though I’ve never had it.  Mary’s struggle with the disease was frightening.  Even though J.R. Ward didn’t go into too much detail with it, I still found myself getting nervous and scared.  Rhage was there for her, which was so nice.  Mary needed to stop pushing him away.  At one point, I remember saying out loud “Come on! Stop it already.  He loves you.  Deal with it.”  Rhage and Mary fought quite a bit, which annoyed me because he was trying to help her.  At the same time it was realistic because couples sometimes fight no matter how much they love each other.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is about love and fighting for what you believe in.  This isn’t just a romance novel (and series).  J.R. Ward created complicated characters.  That’s one of the best things about this series.  I haven’t read too many romance novels, mostly because the characterization is just not there.  Many have flat, clichéd characters.  The mythology surrounding the world J.R. Ward built is multifarious.  The characters inhabiting the world are full of personality and refreshing.  Their decisions are ruled by their past and who they are as individuals instead of a formula created by an outline of what is in a romance novel.  These books do have romance, don’t get me wrong.  There is plenty of erotic love for everyone.  But there is so much more to these novels then the sex.  This is what makes them unique.
I thought this book was fantastic.  I liked the first one a bit more, probably because it was the first and my introduction into J.R. Ward’s exciting and remarkable word of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  She created an engrossing story filled with love, pain, passion, and violence.

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Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #2)
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Book Review: Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

Title: Dark Lover
Author: J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #1
ISBN: 978-0451216953
Publisher: Signet
Pub. Date: September 2005
Source: Kindle/Paperback/Library
Genre: Paranormal/Romance/Urban Fantasy
Pages: 416
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads:  In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly turf war going war going on between vampires and their slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers like no other-six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Yet none of them relishes killing their enemies more than Wrath, the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood…
The only purebred vampire left on the planet, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed – orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate – Wrath must usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead…
Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn’t there, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of brotherhood and blood frighten her. But his touch ignites a dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both….

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Wow! I had heard a lot of really great things about this series, but I wasn’t expecting to love it this much.  It’s a romance book so obviously there’s more than a few graphic sex scenes.  However, the book dives deeper.  I was drawn into a world inhabited by vampires, humans, and lesesrs.  A world where vampires are heroes, humans are blissfully ignorant, and lessers are pure evil.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is about a group of vampire warriors who are as close as brothers.  They protect the civilian vampire population, as well as the humans from the lessers, people who sold their soul for immortality.  The lessers freaked me out.  They were so evil; it was difficult to read some of the parts that included them.  I found myself skimming over some of the Mr.X, the main lesser in Dark Lover, parts.  The lesser are led by Omega, a nefarious villain.  Dark Lover tells the story of Wrath, the Blind King, before he ascends the throne.  After one of the brothers dies, Wrath goes searching for that brother’s half-breed daughter, Beth.  Vampires cannot turn people to make more vampires.  They have to be born.  However, they are born as a “human,” and go through the change in their twenties. If Beth is going to survive the change, then she needs to be around and drink the blood of a male vampire.  Beth had a hard life, from being orphaned to foster care to being very nearly raped; she takes life day by day.  When Wrath shows up, she becomes captivated by him.  She sees the real Wrath under his hard exterior.  Wrath did not plan or want to fall in love with Beth, but he did.  She not only becomes the center of his life, but also the object of the Mr. X’s impromptu plan.
The Black Dagger Brotherhood is addicting.  I loved Wrath.  Actually, let me correct that, I love all the brothers.  J.R. Ward is so talented.  These books aren’t only about sex, but also about love.  True love.  Love that lasts forever.  The lessers pissed me off so many times with what they did.  They were/are merciless.  Thank goodness the Brothers fight them.  J.R. Ward made the Brothers into real, three-dimensional characters. Each of the brothers has their own personal demons they have to face.  Those demons define how they act and what they do.  The BDB series has a feel similar to the Underworld movies- very urban fantasy with lots of guns and leather.  Ward changes POV throughout the book, even though the focus of the book is on Wrath and Beth.  I don’t know what I’ll do when the series ends, and there will be no more books.  I’m getting depressed just thinking about it.

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Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1)

Fan-made Music Video:

(one of my favorites for this series!)

Book Playlist:

[spotify https://open.spotify.com/user/121171848/playlist/2IDqY2Qb329vdB3ZMrf3Ep]

Book Review: Claimed by Shadow by Karen Chance

Title: Claimed by Shadow
Author: Karen Chance
Series: Cassandra Palmer #2
ISBN: 978-0451461520
Publisher: Roc
Pub. Date: April 2007
Source: Library
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romance/Time Travel/Paranormal
Pages: 374
Rating:  2/5

From Goodreads: Clairvoyant Cassie Palmer has inherited new magical powers-including the ability to travel through time. But it’s a whole lot of responsibility she’d rather not have. Now she’s the most popular girl in town, as an assortment of vamps, fey, and mages try to convince, force, or seduce her-and her magic-over to their side. But one particular master vampire didn’t ask what Cassie wanted before putting a claim on her. He had a spell cast that binds her to him, and now she doesn’t know if what she feels for him is real-or imagined.

My Reveries and Ramblings:   Cassandra Palmer escapes the Senate with a duffel full of weapons only to be attacked by the Circle.  Pritkin and Cassie are forced to become allies due to a common goal-although she never truly trusts him.  Besides Pritkin, Cassie is helped by Billy the ghost and Mac, a tattoo artist mage.  Cassie’s Pythia powers drag her into the past to save Mircea from Myra who is set on making sure Cassie never lives to get her powers.  By going into the past, Cassie accidentally sets the geis, a bonding spell Mircea had cast, in the future on the past Mircea strengthening their bond.  This becomes problematic for both of them since they can’t seem to keep their hands off eachother when together and when separated are in total physical pain (a pain that has led others under the same circumstances to commit suicide).
After reading the first book in the series, Touch the Dark, I thought this can only get better.  I was a bit disappointed. I mean, yes it was action packed.  And yes, there was never a dull moment. But the plot didn’t really progress until the last 10 pages or so.  Also, I love Mircea, and I hated how he was barely in this book.  He showed up briefly in the present, but only for short periods of time in the past.  Also, the whole thing with Tomas at the end was weird.  I did like Cassie’s spirit in this book.  No matter how many times she was knocked down, she just got right back up again.  All she wants is to find her father, kill Tony, and live a normal life.  But everyone else wants something from her.  They are all one-step ahead of her.  Even though the odds are in no way stacked in her favor, she keeps on fighting for what she wants.  Honestly, I like the series so I’ll keep reading.  I want to find out how it ends.
I felt rushed through the book, and I found myself confused several times wondering if I missed something but after rereading realized I didn’t miss anything.  By the end of the book I got the gist of what happened, however I was still lost.  Both in this book and the first I felt like I was thrown into the middle of it and was left to figure out what was going on.

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Claimed By Shadow (Cassandra Palmer, #2)

 

Book Playlist:  

[spotify https://open.spotify.com/user/121171848/playlist/62Mts8jgpVYFcV50OhiLwA]

Book Review: Touch the Dark by Karen Chance

Title: Touch the Dark
Author: Karen Chance
Series: Cassandra Palmer #1
ISBN: 978-0451460936
Publisher: Roc
Pub. Date: June 2006
Source: Library
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romance/Paranormal/Time Travel
Pages:  320
Rating:  3/5

From Goodreads:  In the hot-blooded vein of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake saga and Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series, Karen Chance’s debut novel is a contemporary dark fantasy revolving around a gutsy female protagonist with supernatural abilities that blends mystery and romance with hair-raising horror.  Cassie Palmer, a powerful clairvoyant who works part-time at an Atlanta club reading Tarot cards, is finding it difficult to escape her past. Orphaned at a young age and brought up by the undead, Cassie has the ability to communicate with the spirit realm, and her powers were abused time and time again by a ruthless master vampire named Tony. It’s been three years since Cassie — a self-described “ghost magnet” — has been free of the centuries-old bloodsucker, but now he’s back and eager to reclaim his human possession. Forced to turn to the Senate (a group of “really old vamps” who make laws for the supernatural community) for protection, Cassie is thrown into a complex conflict where control of the entire supernatural world is at stake. Rasputin (yes, the Mad Monk himself), a power-hungry vampire, is killing off the Senate members one by one. Aided by some impressive allies — including Dracula’s older brother, Mircea — Cassie must use everything in her paranormal arsenal to fight the encroaching evil — and somehow stay alive.  Fans of authors like Hamilton, Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, and Charlaine Harris will undoubtedly enjoy this fast-paced, blood-sucking romp through the supernatural underworld — yet another noteworthy addition to the ever-growing subgenre of fantasy/romance/mystery hybrids. Paul Goat Allen

My Reveries and Ramblings:  The Cassandra Palmer series is really interesting.  Karen Chance does a wonderful job of combining paranormal with mystery and romance.  Touch the Dark starts with the protagonist, Cassandra Palmer, nicknamed Cassie, living in hiding.  She has been on the run for three years from her vampire “master,” Tony.  He killed her parents and took her in as a clairvoyant when she was a little girl.  Now, in her 20s, Cassie works as a tarot card reader at the same club as her roommate, Tomas.  One night Tony’s men come to find her, and kill her.  She manages to escape, thanks to a mysterious tattoo and Tomas.  Cassie is now in the hands of the vampire Senate and Lord Mircea.  All Cassie wants to do is be free-she doesn’t want to belong to Mircea, Tony, or the Senate.  Simply running away isn’t going to help.  Those who don’t want to control her, want her dead because she has inherited the powerful pythia’s power.
Touch the Dark is filled with time traveling, sexy men and vampires, and a lot of action scenes.  Cassandra Palmer has one goal in mind-to get her father’s ghost from Tony and be free.  Everything she does is to get that done.  She doesn’t want power.  She doesn’t want to be under the protection of Mircea and the vampires.  By inheriting the pythia’s power, Cassie finds herself thrown back in  time. This is mostly because Myra, the girl who was supposed to become the next pythia, has decided to mess with the timeline.
Lord Mircea, a very sexy vampire, has appointed himself as Cassandra’s protector.  He knew where she was when she “ran away.”  I’d love to believe that he loves Cassandra, but I’m not sure.  His actions show that he does.  But at the same time he’s a first class manipulator so I’m not sure.  Same thing with Tomas, I think he has feelings for Cassandra, but at the same time, not too sure.
Karen Chance made sure the reader is never bored.  There is so much going on that you feel like you ran a marathon by the end of the book.  The only problem I had was that I felt thrown into the middle of everything.  There were so many action scenes, I would have loved it if the story slowed down for bit.  The time traveling scenes were a bit confusing, but still quite interesting to read.  The series is quite interesting-mixing mages/magic, vampires, fey, and even historical figures into a series of books.  I will definitely keep reading the series.

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Touch the Dark (Cassandra Palmer, #1)
Book Playlist:
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