Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review of SOUL DEEP by Anne Hope

Soul Deep

(Dark Souls, #2)
by Anne Hope

Rating: 4.5♥s Excellent/Highly Recommended
Sensuality: Mild
Audience: Adult
Length: Novel
Cover: 4.0♥s
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date: February 5, 2013
Editions:
Kindle Edition
NOOK Book
eBook



From the publisher:

Save her life…or save mankind. His choice could cost him his soul.

For nearly two centuries, Marcus has been the Watchers’ most faithful soldier. Sworn to protect humanity, driven by an unrelenting compulsion to atone for past sins, he has rarely found a compelling reason to question his mission, let alone defy his leader.

His partner, Regan, is his exact opposite, an enigma he longs to solve. A free spirit and reckless to a fault, Regan acts first and thinks later. Her smart mouth and tender heart have fascinated Marcus for decades, but the Watchers’ strict vow of celibacy has forced him to ignore the sizzling attraction between them. Until now.

When Regan goes rogue to protect a very special little boy, Marcus is forced to make an impossible choice—commit an act of treason or watch the woman he secretly loves die.

Hunted by enemies and allies alike, Regan and Marcus run for their lives, fighting to thwart an age-old prophecy and guard a boy whose destiny may very well be to destroy the world…or save it.

My analysis:

Marcus and Regan are compelling characters. Even though they're soulless Watchers, they feel emotions, attraction, and desire when they shouldn't be able to. In addition, Marcus is weighed down with guilt when he betrays the leader of the Watchers, Cal. He chooses to go rogue with Regan in order to save her life and the life of the powerful boy, Ben, that she is protecting. But he is adamant about not breaking that final vow to Cal, the vow of celibacy, even though his soulless heart and body need her. His stubbornness over the years had a surprising consequence.

Regan has always been able to access her feelings. When she discovers Ben in tragic circumstances, her maternal instincts kick in. An indefinable instinct kicks in, too. Both Regan and Marcus are drawn to Ben in a way that they can't explain. The answer is intriguing, and the result changes fate.

Cal determines that Ben is the prophesied False Prophet—having potentially tremendous destructive abilities—and he must die. Regan determines to protect Ben at all costs. She takes Ben on the run, and Marcus follows Regan to protect her from the Watchers who are out to kill both her and Ben. And to protect Regan from their enemies, who also want Ben for the power that they would gain with his death. Their life on the run is suspenseful and dangerous, yet all the while they grow even more mysteriously attracted to each other.

The page-turning action races at the end, when lives are on the line, the future of humanity is at stake, the plot twists, and motives are revealed. I particularly liked what was revealed to Marcus <snicker>, and the appropriate gift that Regan received.

Soul Deep is a story of trust. Regan trusts her instincts over the very people she had entrusted with her life. Marcus has to decide whether to trust Regan's instincts or Cal, to whom he owes more than his allegiance. Regan's son, Jace, must decide which side he's going to trust. Cal trusts … well, you'll see.

Soul Deep is also the story of Marcus's personal journey. I won't spoil the end of that journey, because it's also the last line of the book.

Anne Hope's writing style is lyrical and a pleasure to read on a deep level. She imbues inanimate objects with human characteristics in order to bring her settings to life and evoke atmosphere and emotions. Sunlight, moonlight, shadows, and the weather also play important roles in the setting and characterization. 

I've glossed over the world-building here, because it's not germane to my summary. However, the world of Dark Souls is rather complicated, with Watchers, Hybrids, Rogues, Kleptopsychs, Fallen angels, Seraphim, and Nephillim. I recommend that you start reading with Soul Bound. That way you'll not only be introduced to the world, but to the characters in Soul Deep.

In Soul Deep we get to know Adrian a bit, Marcus's Rogue son. Adrian will be featured in a prequel novella, Soul Thief, coming out in the fall of 2013. Book 3 is also about Adrian. Book 4 is about Cal, and I can't wait to see what happens to his vow of celibacy …

Until then, enjoy Soul Deep!




ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


The Dark Souls series:
Book 1
Soul Bound
4.5♥s
Book 2
Soul Deep
4.5♥s



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Review of EDGE OF DAWN by Lara Adrian

Edge of Dawn

(Midnight Breed, #11)
by Lara Adrian

Rating: 5♥s Outstanding/Don't Miss
Sensuality: Hot
Audience: Adult
Length: Novel
Cover: 4.5♥s
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Vampire

Release Date: February 26, 2013
Editions:
Hardcover
Kindle Edition
NOOK Book
Audio CD





My recap:

It's now twenty years after the hysteria of First Dawn, when humans learned that the Breed existed. The current peace between Breed and humans is tentative and uneasy, and there is an underground war going on between the Order and anti-Breed rebel factions.

Mira was a child during First Dawn, known for the visions that people could see in her naked eyes. Now she is a warrior for the Order, captain of her squad, and an unmated Breedmate. Kellan Archer—her childhood friend, and her only love and lover—was killed in a rebel explosion eight years ago. She's been in mourning ever since, and hates rebels with a vengeance.

Walking the line of vigilante justice, Mira breaks one rule too many and is demoted to security duty. She is to escort an eccentric, young, genius scientist to an awards ceremony. She gets caught up in his kidnapping by a rebel group. When taken to their headquarters, she discovers that the group's leader is none other than Kellan Archer. Alive and well. Her best friend and lover has become her enemy.

Kellan had his reasons for disappearing after the explosion eight years ago. Reasons that he believed were valid and that would keep Mira safe from a horrible fate. But now he is reunited with the only woman he has ever loved and destiny has been jump-started. Their love for each other is rekindled, and they are faced with the insurmountable task of reconciling their opposing missions and saving Kellan from a rebel's fate with the Order.

My analysis:

Keep the tissues handy, because Edge of Dawn will both warm and break your heart early and often, not letting up even at the final, poignant line. It's a touching, tender love story played out on the backdrop of truly impossible odds in the fight against a heart-rending fate. I believe it's the most moving Midnight Breed book Lara Adrian has written.

In the beginning of the book, Mira is someone we don't recognize. She's not the playful, wise-beyond-her-years child we knew from previous books. She's hardened by Kellan's loss. She's a fighter, but for all the wrong reasons. After eight years of bitterness, she's lost her way.

Kellan has made mistakes in judgment and is full of regrets. But he still has a steely core of honor that drives him, and is an admirable man in spite of being a rebel. His love for Mira never died, but he knows that he and Mira can never have a future together. He has kept his distance for that reason, and believes he must continue to keep his distance.

You'll be sucked into Mira and Kellan's love story, their fight against destiny, and the mystery surrounding the kidnapping that sweeps them up into a sticky web. Some will want to savor the book, others will want to devour it. All will want to turn page after page to see what happens next.

Fans will be delighted to catch up with all the warriors of the Order—and their families! Lucan Thorne plays a large role and his son, Darion, is introduced. We see Mira's adoptive parents, Nikolai and Renata. Tess and her son and daughter have their parts to play. But Edge of Dawn ushers in a new era for the Midnight Breed series. There is a new generation of warriors, a new and unusual enemy, and a new mission. The next book is Crave the Night, and Adrian has said that she's sketched out 6 more novels after that. We have much more Midnight Breed to look forward to!

Happy reading!




ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Midnight Breed Series:


Book 1
Kiss of Midnight
4.5♥s
Book 2
Kiss of Crimson
4.5♥s
Book 3
Midnight Awakening
4.5♥s
Book 4
Midnight Rising
4.5♥s
Book 5
Veil of Midnight
4.5♥s
Book 6
Ashes of Midnight
4.5♥s
Book 7
Shades of Midnight
4.0♥s
Book 8
Taken by Midnight
4.0♥s
Book 9
Deeper Than Midnight
4.5♥s
Novella 9.5
A Taste of Midnight
Book 10
Darker After Midnight
4.5♥s
Book 11
Edge of Dawn
5♥s
Book 12
Crave the Night

Monday, January 14, 2013

Review of PRINCE OF POWER by Elisabeth Staab

Prince of Power

(Chronicles of Yavn, #2)
by Elisabeth Staab

Cover: Prince of Power by Elisabeth Staab
Rating: 4.0♥s Very Good/Recommended
Sensuality: Hot
Audience: Adult
Cover: 4.5♥s

Release date: January 8, 2013
Editions:
Mass Market Paperback
Kindle
NOOK Book
Kobo eBook
iBook





My recap:

Vampires and wizards are mortal enemies, as wizards kill vampires, eat their hearts, and thus gain the vampire's powers. Anton, son of the Master of the wizards, has spent his life doing his best to avoid the heinous acts of his people. When he is tasked with watching Tyra—the half-vampire sister of the King of the Vampires—and kidnapping her, he falls in love with her instead. He is beaten by his father, cast out, and left for dead. But Tyra is still in danger from the wizards.

Anton comes clean with Tyra, and offers to help the vampires kill his father. Tyra doesn't know if she can trust Anton to help her, or if he's leading her—and her people—into a trap. When she begins to fall for him, she must decide if she can trust him with her heart. And what will happen when their devastating secrets come to light? Will they tear them apart?

My analysis:

Anton is a likable beta hero who did what was necessary throughout his life in order to survive. He's assailed by guilt, but as honorable as they come. He is protective of Tyra, and is brave enough to go toe-to-toe with those stronger and more experienced than he is to keep her safe. He doesn't like some of the nasty things he is forced to do, but he will do anything—anything—for Tyra.

Tyra is a kick-butt heroine who is Anton's opposite. Like many of Staab's characters, she has an attitude. She is strong and experienced in fighting. Where Anton is in  touch with his feelings, she buries hers. Can they reconcile their differences and balance each other out?

The story is gripping and Anton and Tyra are in mortal danger repeatedly. They are both willing to sacrifice themselves to kill the Master in order to protect each other and the vampires as a whole. This self-sacrificing nature is a source of conflict between them throughout the book. Trust is a major issue. Can Tyra trust Anton? Can the king trust him on behalf of the vampires? Can the vampires of the estate accept his presence and his help?

Anton's plan results in unintended consequences, which leads the series in a new direction. A parallel story line involving Lee and Alexia leads into the next book, tentatively titled Hunter by Night. It's scheduled to be released in January 2014. Judging by what we've seen of Lee and Lexi so far, it should be a good one!

Until then, enjoy reading Prince of Power!




The Chronicles of Yavn series:
Book 1
King of Darkness
4.0♥s
Book 2
Prince of Power
4.0♥s

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Review of DEATH'S ANGEL by Heather Killough-Walden

Death's Angel

(The Lost Angels, #3)
by Heather Killough-Walden

Cover: Death's Angel by Heather Killough-Walden
Rating: 4.5♥s Excellent/Highly Recommended
Sensuality: Hot
Cover: 4.0♥s
Audience: Adult

Release Date: December 31st, 2012
Editions:
Mass Market Paperback
Kindle Edition
NOOK Book
Sony eBook
Kobo eBook
Audible Audiobook
Audio CD
iTunes Audiobook




From the Publisher:

Since the beginning of time, the archangels have longed to know true love. When four female angels were created for the four archangels, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Azrael, a chaos spurred by jealousy erupted, and the archesses were secreted away to Earth. The four favored archangels followed, prompting a search that has lasted millennia...

As the Angel of Death, Azrael could never be like his brothers. While the others fell to Earth in human form, Azrael descended as a vampire. Today, as the lead singer of a popular rock band, he keeps his true nature hidden--a powerful darkness constantly at odds with his angelic self. Beneath his mask, Azrael holds onto the hope that he will one day find the archess who will complete him.

At his brother Gabriel's wedding, Azrael set his golden eyes on Sophie Bryce, the maid of honor. He is certain she is his destined mate, and will do anything to make her his. But Sophie is unaware of her archess identity, and is haunted by unspeakable demons of her own.

When supernatural forces emerge from the shadows, threatening Sophie, Azrael is the only one who can protect her. But to do it, he must reveal his true, savage self.


My recap:

At the wedding of Gabriel and Juliette (Messenger's Angel), the archangel Azrael and maid of honor Sophie Bryce see each other for the first time. The attraction is instant, and it's overwhelming for Azrael--he is certain that she is his archess, or the mate who was created for him by the Old Man.

Sophie is also overwhelmed, but for a different reason. She has always been "into" the masked lead singer of the most popular rock band in the world, Valley of Shadow. And now she finds out that he is Azrael, he's hotter than she imagined, and he's an archangel to boot. With her tragic past, she feels she's not worthy of him. And he's got an archess out there that he's searching for. So, he's off-limits to her.

Instead of blurting out to Sophie that she is his archess, Az wants a chance to earn her love. Especially before he drops the bomb on her that he's a vampire. He begins a casual courtship, but enemies, both old and new, threaten Sophie. He must reveal himself to her to keep her safe, but will he drive her away? And will his vampire and archangel powers, even combined, be enough to defeat the threat to her?

My analysis:

I give Death's Angel 4.5♥s in large part due to the character of Azrael. He's the dark yet compassionate former Angel of Death, the seductive voice of the rock band Valley of Shadow, the powerful King of the Vampires, the tall, muscular, impossibly handsome archangel with the golden eyes. Yowza! It's no wonder Sophie practically hyperventilates when she first sees him in person. But we also see a different side of Az in Death's Angel than we did in the first two books--he actually smiles and laughs around Sophie. That lighter side might seem out of character, but it adds to his appeal.

Sophie is a character with a difficult past who is trying to make a better future for herself. She wants to be independent, and so she fights her attraction to Azrael. Her independent streak ends up having critical consequences.

The story is fast-paced, with old enemies pursuing Sophie, and supernatural beings who have been hidden for ages suddenly coming out of the woodwork. Sophie is in mortal danger, Az battles supernatural beings against impossible odds, and unknown magic is at work. Sophie faces a new, mysterious player in town who is a formidable opponent for the archangels. The archangels themselves face death.

With its shift in enemy forces, Death's Angel is a game-changer for the series--another reason I give it 4.5♥s.  At least one bombshell is dropped, and a mysterious stranger makes a brief, cryptic appearance. They're intriguing glimpses that will have you looking for the next book in the series. As of this writing, no date is set for Michael's story. But until then, enjoy Death's Angel!

Happy reading!




The Lost Angels series:

Novella 0.5
Always Angel
4.0♥s
Book 1
Avenger's Angel
4.0♥s
Book 2
Messenger's Angel
4.0♥s
Book 3
Death's Angel
4.5♥s