Friday, 27 May 2011

Review: Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

Hey all, time for another review and today's pick is Dark Lover by #1 New York Times best selling author... J.R. Ward! This is the first book in her phenomenal Black Dagger Brotherhood series. 

Title: Dark Lover
Author: J.R. Ward
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Released: September 2005
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book #1
Source: My personal copy

From J.R. Ward's website:
In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There also exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Among them, none 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…

Wrath is the last purebred left in the vampire race, but due to a birth defect he has extremely poor sight. Wrath is also their King if he chooses to be. Too bad he really doesn't want to be King and that if you call him 'my Lord' he's likely to snarl at you or put you into a coma. Be careful not to become his enemy because if you are....he will hunt you down and tear you apart with help from the Black Dagger Brotherhood he leads. There maybe only be 6 of the Brothers left but that's more than enough to put a world of hurt on the Lessening Society (enemies of the vampire race). The Black Dagger Brotherhood is the elite group of warriors whose calling it is to exterminate the those humans who have sold their souls to the Omega (aka Lessers), who are killing off civilian vampires one by one. Lessers have the distict smell of baby powder surrounding them as well as hair and skin that turns white the older they get. All 6 brothers love what they do and are the ultimate alpha males of their world. The BDB is made up of; their leader Wrath, second in command Tohrment (Tohr), model gorgeous Rhage (aka Hollywood), tech-savvy, precognitive Vishous, and finally twins Phury and Zsadist. 

At the beginning of Dark Lover the brotherhood has 7 members but Darius is killed in an explosion, leaving his half human, half vampire daughter, Beth, unaware of her heritage or her fate. As a last favour to his fallen brother, Wrath decides he will help Beth through the transition from her half human state to becoming a full blooded vampire (something that occurs around age 25). Wrath becomes unexpectedly attracted to stunning Beth and his world is shaken up by her... he rejects his lust and attraction, fighting his feelings believing he is the last thing she needs...Beth, in turn, is frightened by this leather clad, muscled warrior who appears in her life telling her wild stories of vampires and her fathers involvement with them. However her attraction to Wrath is strong and soon they find themselves unable to live without each other...but the Blind King has enemies. Soon the Lessening Society is hunting them down, and the question becomes can they keep each other safe or will the Lessening society claim the lives of the Royal couple?

Wow, Wow, Wow.....Seriously..just Wow. I mean I'd read other people's reviews and knew it was going to be good, but I was still amazed at just how good Dark Lover was. This book has everything I could have ever asked for. Amazing characters, good plot and a genius author who pulls it all together with such brilliant writing that you can see what Wrath and Beth see, feel what they feel. I know I became so connected to these characters that I found myself willing them on.. hoping they'd see what's right in front of them, how good and perfect they are for each other . I must admit, I often found myself yelling at Wrath that he's an idiot for whatever he did to Beth this time to screw up their relationship! I could quite happily stay in the world J.R Ward has created for hours on fact I did...I read Dark Lover all in one sitting, completely forgot all about work and anything else I'd meant to do that day. It all became unimportant compared to my longing to know how Dark Lover turned out for Beth and Wrath. It was a decision I never regretted. Even the other characters who weren't the focus were complexly described so we could have an insight into them as well. Got to say I love Zsadist, can imagine his story's going to be brilliant. I've always had a bit of a soft spot for those strong characters with tortured pasts. The scar on his face, soulless black eyes plus the warnings the other BDB members give about him really intrigue me...there's going to be a deep story behind it all, something that will be equally as amazing, if not better, if J.R. Ward keeps this calibre of writing throughout the series.

The two things I've heard people don't like about Dark Lover are the language and the sex scenes. Ok well, the 'bad' language comes with the territory of these Brothers being the type of 'look at me the wrong way and I'll break you in two' men that they are so I have no problem with it. And the sex scenes were not so often as they detract from the book, just enough so that they add another dimension to Wrath and Beth's relationship, they're not too long and drawn out either, so again, this is not something I had a problem with.

LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT! Definitely one of the best books I own. If you love paranormal romance you have to read this!

My Rating: 5/5  

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Review: The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter

Time for another review I think...The Darkest Night by Gena Showalter is the first book in the amazing Lords of the Underworld series. Check it out...

Title: The Darkest Night
Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: MIRA Books
Released: September 2009
Series: Lords of the Underworld, Book #1
Source: My personal copy

From Gena Showalter's website:

All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she'll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member -- a man trapped in a hell of his own.
Neither can resist the instant hunger than calms their torments . . . and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction -- and a soul-shattering test of love . . .

Ok firstly, I love the cover! It's just, wow...I love the fact that it has the butterfly tattoo included, something all the Lords have, the design is great because it's bold and masculine...just like the Lords. Anyway this book is Maddox's story, Maddox lives in Budapest with five of the other Lords of the Underworld. As for what a Lord is....well once they were the loyal guardians of the Greek Gods and Goddesses. When a guardian needed to be appointed to guard a box (dimOuniak) inside which were demons too destructive that they could not be trusted even in Hell, (sounding familiar?) Zeus appointed Pandora as the guardian, something the Lords did not agree with about as they each believed that they were stronger than Pandora and she shouldn't guard something so important. To prove their point, all of the Lords stole the box away from Pandora and her guards, and released the demons inside.....once the demons were released however, the box vanished leaving the Lords unable to recapture the free demons. Zeus, as punishment, cursed each guardian to become a host to a different demon and cast them out of Olympus. Thus the Lords of the Underworld were born.
Several thousand years later Maddox, who is the keeper of Violence, lives in Budapest with five other Lords; Lucian (keeper of Death), Torin (keeper of Disease), Reyes (keeper of Pain) and Aeron (keeper of Wrath) and Paris (the keeper of Promiscuity). Each Lord is driven to do different deeds by their demon, else they can suffer horrendous pain. Needless to say that, as the keeper of Violence, Maddox loves a good fight. 
Maddox was the one responsible for Pandora's death after he's stolen the box from her. As punishment for Pandora's murder Maddox is subject to another of the God's curses. At 12 midnight every night, Reyes is forced to stab Maddox six times (as this was how Maddox killed Pandora) and once his body is dead Lucien escorts Maddox's soul to hell where he tortured for a good few hours. Possibly a little harsh? This nightly punishment takes up the majority of Maddox's life. As for what's left... he can't be around people for long without the stirrings of violence forcing him to lash out.
Maddox has never known love until the timid Ashlyn Darrow seeks out the Lords for help. Born with the ability to hear voices from the past (meaning she stands in one spot and is able to hear every conversation that has ever taken place there) Ashlyn is looking for a way to control her ability, and boy does she find one in the form for dark and brooding Maddox. His presence brings silence to her, where as Ashlyn's presence soothes Violence and reduces Maddox's need for it. Soon both the man and the demon crave her and brave little Ashlyn will change his life for all eternity.

All in all this is an enjoyable book, pretty well written with a new take on the Pandora's box legend and a good one at that. The men are all have troubled pasts and are haunted by the things their demons have done throughout their lives. The Lords aren't evil...but they aren't exactly angels either and their take on everyday things is certainly different as they don't exactly have much interaction with humans (well...except Paris anyway). The sex scenes between Ashlyn and Maddox are pretty graphic but don't take up a huge chunk of the book, just the right amount considering the length of the book. We get to meet some other Lords about half way through, Danika (a human kidnapped by Aeron) who causes Reyes no end of trouble, and a Goddess whose agenda is unclear. All in all an interesting story that held my attention throughout.

I look forward to reading Torin's book as he's a very intriguing character, unfortunately it's not published yet! Though I have the other Lords to keep me company while I wait, not a bad deal at all! Book 2 is Lucian's tale. Can't wait!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Review: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

For my 3rd review I've selected the 1st book in the Southern Vampires series by Charlaine Harris (aka The the series of books True Blood is based on).

Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace Books
Release Date: May 2001
Series: Southern Vampires Series, Book #1
Source: My personal copy

This book was bought for me by a good friend, Thank you!

Synopsis from the back of the book:

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of 'disability'. She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill: he's tall, dark and handsome - and Sookie can't 'hear' a word he's thinking. He's exactly the type of guy she's been waiting for all her life.
But Bill has a disability of his own: he's a vampire. Worse than that, he hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, with a reputation for trouble - the murderous kind.
And when one of Sookie's colleagues is killed, she begins to fear she'll be next...

Dead Until Dark is the first book in the Southern Vampire series and what a start it is as well. Since the vampires came out of the coffin 4 years before, Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress at Merlotte's Bar and Grill, has been anxiously waiting for her first vampire customer. So when one walks into the bar and sits in her section she couldn't be happier. The only problem is that he seems to have no interest in Sookie, that is, until she saves his life. The vampire introduces himself as Bill Compton (I had to laugh with Sookie because Bill is just not a name I would associate with dark and handsome vampires). Sookie finds Bill fascinating, not because he's a vampire but because she can't 'hear' him. You see, Sookie is telepathic (although most of the locals just think she's crazy). And she can 'hear' peoples thoughts, or at the very least get images or feelings from the person. But not Bill. Bill in turn is fascinated by Sookie as she isn't susceptible to Glamour (something vampires use to wipe the memories or control the actions of humans).

The storyline involves the murders of 2 girls Sookie knows (an old classmate and a fellow waitress at Merlotte's). The police believe Sookie's brother Jason could be the killer. In an attempt to prove Jason's innocence Sookie begins to look into the murders herself using her ability. With Bill's help she gains entrance to a vampire club both women had visited, catching the eye of Eric Northman (a 1000 year old Viking who is the most powerful vampire in the area) in the process. Something that she will come to regret later on.
The killer is targeting women who associate with vampires and because of Sookie's association with Vampire Bill she becomes the next target. When someone dear to Sookie is the next victim her whole world falls apart.

Overall this is a pretty interesting read. It's a pretty light hearted take on the world of vampires rather than being the dark and sinister world you would usually expect of a vampire novel, though there are parts that stray into that area. Needless to say Sookie is not your average lead character either, despite being 'just a waitress' she manages to attract all sorts of trouble supernatural and human alike. She also hold the affections of Bill and Sam Merlotte (her boss) as well as the interest of Eric (though for him it seems to be purely business). Also the vampire politics involved were new to me and held my attention as it was different to anything else I'd ever come across, it'll be interesting to see how that works in more depth in books to come. Vampires are not the only supernatural creature involved.....someone is keeping secrets about who they truly are and looking at the rest of the books in this series..vampires were only the beginning.

The only problem I had with this is that the ending was a disappointing conclusion to the serial killer aspect, with Sookie more accidentally discovering the perpetrator rather that finding clues in order to figure it out. Plus whenever Sookie is injured it's just a case of 'here, have some vampire blood' and then everything's back to normal which seemed a bit pointless to me.
Despite this I would recommend this book to fans of the Vampire genre.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Ok time for my second review, and I've picked Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews. This is a series I've recently discovered but have completely fallen in love with. GO KATE!

Title: Magic Bites
Author: Ilona Andrews
Publisher: Ace Books
Released: 2007
Series: Kate Daniels Series, Book #1
Source: My personal copy

From Ilona Andrew's Website:
Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for magic… One moment magic dominates, and cars stall and guns fail. The next, technology takes over and the defensive spells no longer protect your house from monsters. Here skyscrapers topple under onslaught of magic; werebears and werehyenas prowl through the ruined streets; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds. In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, she must choose to do nothing and remain safe or to pursue his preternatural killer. Hiding is easy, but the right choice is rarely easy…

This has my favourite pair of characters in of all time, Kate Daniels (our heroine) and Curran (Beast Lord). The plot is pretty good and easy to follow, starting with Kate's guardian being murdered whilst investigating the disappearances of young women as part of his job as the Knight Diviner for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid. Kate subsequently decides that she will find and slowly and painfully kill the one responsible so begins to do her own investigation. Naturally she ends up right in the middle of a nasty situation, involving vampires, shape-shifters and the Order. The plot has many good twists and turns, that lead to a pretty interesting conclusion where the reader is left wondering if there is more to some characters than meets the eye.

Sharp witted, sarcastic Kate is a mercenary for the Guild. As a Merc she doesn't earn much but she gets to do what she's best at...killing things. She carries a sword called Slayer everywhere with her in a back sheath. Her waist length dark hair is usually kept in a plat (practicality I suppose). I think she lets it down once when's she's out to dinner in an elegant dress with heels that, having being seriously injured earlier, were uncomfortable to say the least. As for her features... well she says 'Beautiful I would never be. Striking, that I could manage', which I suppose sums her up. Kate has a tendency to piss off the wrong people including the idiotic head of the Order but namely Beast Lord Curran who she meets during her investigation. You can't tell if they hate, like or even respect each other and that is what makes the scenes between these two engaging and pretty funny. Kate has a knack of getting under Curran's skin with her retorts, comments...basically her general behaviour, and vice versa. Curran is the Beast Lord, the leader of the Atlanta shape-shifter pack. He looks younger than his 30 or so years and is supremely strong, has short blond hair and is heavily chorded with muscle. He has a handsome face but his nose looks to have been broken at some point, which according to Kate means 'someone must have pounded his face with a sledgehammer' as shape-shifters heal rapidly. Curran does not take kindly to people undermining his authority, unfortunately Kate does this with practically every breath, starting with the comment 'Here Kitty, Kitty' what she first meets Curran. He the ultimate alpha male and wants Kate to do exactly as he tells her, when he tells her....All I can say is dream on buddy, Kate is hardly a pushover. The interactions between these two never fail to bring a smile to my face. I hope they keep this up in books to come because it's just fantastic.

Mystery and intrigue surrounds both Kate and Curran's pasts and heritage as they both seem stronger than your average Merc or shape-shifter should be, what with Curran being over 5ft tall at the shoulder in his lion form...and striped somehow. Though Kate especially seems to have an interesting past as she says she was brought up knowing how to kill and it's very important to her that no-one gets a hold of her blood...something I am looking forward to discovering the reason behind.

This is just fantastically written and the characters are amazing, the connection with the reader is great, and you can't help but love Kate. I immediately ran to my computer to order the next in the series hoping it will be just as good! I'm telling you after you read this you will want to follow Kate anywhere, just to see the havoc she and Slayer will cause.

My Rating: 5/5

Review: Dark Prince by Christine Feehan

Ok guys this is my 1st ever review, so I picked the series that got me interested in the Paranormal Romance genre in the first place.

Title: Dark Prince
Author: Christine Feehan
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing/Love Spell
Released: July 1999
Series: Dark Series, Book #1

Source: My personal copy

From Christine Feehan's website:
A telepathic hunter of serial killers, Raven Whitney helps catch some of the most depraved criminals. But her work keeps her from getting close to others, and has drained her body and spirit. In need of rest and rejuvenation, she embarks on a vacation far from home.
Mikhail Dubrinksy is the Prince of the Carpathians, the powerful leader of a wise and secret ancient race that thrives in the night. Engulfed by despair, fearful of never finding the mate who can save him from the encroaching darkness, his soul cries out in loneliness. Until the day a beautiful voice full of light and love responds, softly soothing his pain and yearning.
From the moment they meet, Raven and Mikhail are helpless to resist the desire that sparks between them. But just as fate unexpectedly brings these life mates together, malevolent forces threaten to destroy them and their fragile love. Yet even if they survive, how can these two lovers – Carpathian and human – build a future together? And how can Mikhail bring Raven into his dark world without extinguishing her beautiful goodness and light?

First I'll give those of you who are not familiar with this series some background to the Carpathian people. Carpathians are a race of beings as old as time itself, their homeland is the area of the Carpathian mountains. They have an endless lifespan, but don't get me wrong they can be killed, it just takes an awful lot to do it. They do not take nourishment from food, rather they live on blood. THEY ARE NOT VAMPIRES, though male Carpathians can 'turn', basically they kill while feeding and become soulless, evil shadows of the proud warriors they once were. Carpathians also have immense power, control the elements, compulsion, memory wiping, shape-shifting the list goes on.
Their race is dying out, each Carpathian has a lifemate who completes the other half of their soul. Without a lifemate, male Carpathians are far more likely to turn the older they get. Lifemates are rare and especially in the last 1000 years or so the number of lifemates being found has dropped dramatically, and only a handful of infants make it past their first year, all of them male. Not good.

Ok background over, hopefully that was helpful. I absolutely love this series and who better to start it off with than the leader of the Carpathian people aka. Mikhail Dubrinsky. Mikhail is 1000 years old (give or take a couple of decades) he has gorgeous long black hair and his body is in fine form for someone his age. But the pressures of being leader of a dying race are starting to overcome him and he doubts his his people will survive much longer. He has given up all hope of finding the other half of his soul when he stumbles across Raven (or rather she stumbles across him). Raven is an American human, who also happens to be telepathic. She's staying in the Carpathian region after using her power to hunt down some of the more depraved serial killers in America. One night Raven feels Mikhail's despair (even though he is miles away) and reaches out with her telepathy to comfort him. Her life will never be the same as Mikhail discovers she is his lifemate and intends to make her fall in love with him. He basically follows her trying to keep her safe, which, because of who Raven is, is not the simplest of tasks and she is not the kind of woman who lets someone walk all over her, even if he is a handsome Prince.

This is a very good start to the series and you learn all you need to about the Carpathian lifestyle within the first few chapters so it's easy to follow. We also get introduced to some interesting characters including Mikhails fearsome bodyguard and best friend Gregori Daratrazanoff, he basically is so powerful that other Carpathians avoid him and Vampires do not want him hunting them, it's not a fight they will win. Anyway back to Mikhail, he's quite dominating at first, wanting to control Raven's actions and change her nature in a misguided attempt to keep her safe. Raven is not someone who does something just because Mikhail tells her to though and she ends up in trouble a few times, attacks from both vampire and humans alike does not a calm Mikhail make. Despite these troubles love blossoms between these two and there are several beautiful scenes between them (though some become quite erm... descriptive shall we say).

Overall a pretty good book, one I re-read often because it's a story of the kind of love every girl dreams of, and in the end, Mikhail is the perfect match for Raven. If you love paranormal romance, this is one to look out for.

My rating: 4/5

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