Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Forever is the final book in the Mercy Falls trilogy, and it's just as gripping and filled with emotion as the first two, Shiver and Linger. Beginning a few months after Grace has shifted into a wolf, we find Sam and Isabel waiting for her return as the weather warms, and Cole still intent on discovering a cure. Meanwhile, suspicion has turned on Sam due to Grace's disappearance, and Isabel's father is determined to rid Boundary Woods of all wolves, no matter the cost. When he gets lawmakers on his side, Isabel knows time is running out and she has to do something.

I love Cole St. Clair. I just had to say that. He is comic relief, determination, arrogance, and romance all rolled into one character, and while his story is secondary, he's actually the one I felt closest to throughout Forever. I loved the banter between he and Isabel, and the scene in her mother's clinic is perfect. Don't get me wrong, I love Sam as well, but Cole...he's the most three dimensional figure in the series.

Forever runs mostly on emotion, with the love and longing of Grace and Sam taking center stage. I love how these two work together and I swear I could feel the longing between the two when Grace kept shifting. Both characters have a lot of childhood issues to deal with in Forever, and things don't always work out as planned. It's during those times that both Isabel and Rachel shine; I would want both of these girls on my side in a crisis.

Possible spoiler...While I loved Forever, and feel it's a strong finale, I am disappointed in the ultimate ending. For the last of a trilogy, it's just too open-ended. I can imagine what I hope will happen, and the title of the book gives me a clue that perhaps I'm right. But to leave things unsettled really bothers me, to the point that I took a star off my final review. I felt as though, rather than making a statement, the ending was almost a cop out; perhaps the author had originally intended for either Grace or Sam to die and then just couldn't do it herself so she left the possibility? And if she wanted them to live, why not just extend the book a bit more or add an epilogue? It just doesn't make sense in a series that has been carefully plotted and developed so well up to that point. Don't get me wrong, I loved Forever and will recommend this series to others. I just will always wish the author hadn't left it up to me to decide the ultimate fates of two people I'd grown very close to over the course of three books. One way or the other, I needed more closure than was provided, and that mars my overall enjoyment (slightly) of this book.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lover Unleashed (Or Why I Love the Black Dagger Brotherhood)

Lover Unleashed, Book 9 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, is ostensibly the tale of Vishous's twin, Payne, and her troubled love life with surgeon Manuel Manello. The book opens with Payne unable to feel anything after her accident in book 8, and Doc Jane revealing herself to former boss Manny in order to get him to agree to treat Payne. Naturally, sparks fly (even though Payne is paralyzed from the waist down), and Manny's not allowed to recall the surgery or Payne once he leaves the Brotherhood Compound. And of course he can't get over the feeling that *something* happened during the missing hours of his life, and it affects his work to the point where he's asked to take a leave of absence. Still, it's not apparent that he will be able to stay with Payne, even after her deeply scarred brother retrieves him once again to treat his sister. Throw in the fact that Manny feels something has been missing from his life, an injured race horse, and sex as a way of healing, and you've got the basic plotline...well, sort of. 

This is, as I said, the story of Payne and Manny, but then again, they are only part of the show. This book is every bit as much about V and his coming to terms with his abusive father and absent mother, as well as his feelings for Doc Jane and Butch, as it is about the "star" couple. V and Jane's story may have been told a few books back, but there were some loose threads that Ward ties up in this novel. Not sure if she just felt she needed to pad the story since neither Payne nor Manny were characters to which the readers had any long attachment, or if she wanted to bring the original six Brothers to the forefront again, or what. I was glad to see a focus on V, though; he's one of my favorites and his story did need more completion. The relationship he has with Butch is unique and deep and is dealt with brutally here; V's dark side is in full evidence. So while I may not have felt as vested in Payne's story, having V there to flesh his out was a welcome addition. 

What I still don't get is the inclusion of two side stories, though I have to feel that we are being set up for more ahead. The first set up is about Xcor and his band of fighters and their need for revenge and a challenge to Wrath; it's an all right story, but honestly, I don't get how easily at least part of that was solved. The second side story involved a serial killer and a local cop who used to work with Butch--lots of lurid sex and nastiness to be had, but still, what was the point? Though I wonder as well if maybe Ward is seeing a spinoff series? It was an unnecessary distraction, honestly. 

My moaning and groaning also extends to the love at first sight between Manny and Payne; I mean, really? And as another reviewer has pointed out, Layla needs to take her Chosen rear far, far away and stay there. 

BUT...all said and done, I loved this book. I adore the world of the Brotherhood, and any time I get to spend with my oversexed, volatile, humorous guys is a good time. I love the side story of Qhuinn and his longing for Blay; theirs is a story that I can see going in so many different directions. I love the brand-dropping, the music naming, and most of all, just the relationships. The Black Dagger Brotherhood is never going to be high literature and frankly, I'd be sad if it was. I love the impossibility of it all because that's what fantasy is supposed to do. I'm here for the long haul.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Original Sin by Lisa Desrochers

Original Sin, the second book in the Personal Demons series, picks up just a few weeks after Frannie and Luc (a former demon) have been tagged for Heaven, hopefully putting King Lucifer behind them. Luc in his newly human form has never been happier, and Frannie is delighted with both her boyfriend and her relationship with her dead twin, Matt, who is now her guardian angel. Even though Gabe has left, things seem to be going well until new demons arrive in town, still determined to get Frannie and her Sway, and a mysterious young woman moves into the apartment next to Luc's and begins to infiltrate their lives. Suddenly Frannie's final summer before college is not so easy; Luc must defend Frannie and himself against demons determined to take them both to Hell; and Matt just wants Luc out of the picture.

Original Sin is gut-wrenching and very, very dark; we get first hand looks at Hell and Lucifer, and the demons who come after Frannie will stop at nothing to get to her. Luc's admission for how he feels about Frannie is an absolutely stunning moment, but what comes next is even more heartbreaking. I love that Frannie and Luc are not living in a vacuum; the community at large is reeling from what they've done and how far Lucifer is willing to go to get his hands on Frannie's Sway. Possible spoiler...My one issue is how Frannie falls apart later in the book, though with all she goes through, it's understandable. I just want her to remain strong at all times, unrealistic though it might be. And while I can understand her attraction to both Luc and Gabe, the waffling gets a little irritating, but not enough to distract from the overall storyline.

I am amazed at how well done Original Sin is; I love that Ms. Desrochers is not afraid to go wherever her characters lead, however dark it may be. I'm impressed that much of what she writes seems based in biblical fact, and the depth of feeling she evokes with her writing is astounding. I wasn't expecting what happened, but I'm totally on board with it. This is a young adult paranormal series that is head and shoulders above most of what's out there right now. I'm just ill that I have to wait so long for the third installment!


Thursday, July 07, 2011


Ingenue, the second book in Jillian Larkin's Flapper series, picks up a few months after Vixen left off, but it thrusts us full force back into the lives of the four main characters. It's now summer and Clara has followed Marcus to New York City, looking for a new start in the place where she was formerly known as the wild child flapper. Also in New York is Lorraine, who finds herself running a speakeasy due to Ernesto Macharelli's influence, rubbing elbows with the Mob and still out for revenge against former best friend Gloria. That leaves Gloria and Jerome, who are still having to sneak around for their forbidden love affair, living in poorer circumstances than either has ever known, and desperate not to be found. When Jerome's younger sister Vera discovers that Jerome's life is still in danger from the vengeful Carlito Macharelli, she (and friend Evan) hightail it to NYC to find Jerome and Gloria and let them know about the danger.

Lots and lots of action fills Ingenue: secret Mob dealings, romance, deception, betrayal, and flappers galore abound. I loved how Clara starts to come into her own, but suffered right along with her when she struggles with her relationship with Marcus. Gloria and Jerome's story is well done but I still feel that, for the times, it is unrealistic and cannot possibly end well, but we'll see if love triumphs. Lorraine? Well, I've never warmed up to her, and her ridiculous vendetta and uber-foolishness really sent me over the edge this time. But if there's someone I really felt was extraneous, it was Vera, at least for the first 3/4 of the book; it wasn't until Evan's life is threatened that she finally comes to life. She spends way too much time wandering around and when she finally sees Gloria, she disrupts an entire ballroom? But she does manage to make up for it later on so I suppose I can forgive her earlier traipses around NYC.

Ingenue isn't high literature by any means, but it is good, gossipy fun set in the decadence of the twenties. The girls may be in the big city, but they are in way over their heads and it's gonna be a bumpy ride yet. Enjoyable, light, and engaging...what more can you ask?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Elizabeth Chadwick's Lady of the English

I'm always faced with a conundrum whenever I read a new Elizabeth Chadwick novel; I want to inhale it because I know how good it's going to be, yet I also want it to last as long as possible so I can luxuriate in the story. Let's just say that with Lady of the English, I managed to make the novel last nearly a week so I could continue to spend time in the magnificent world and lives EC has re-created. In fact, days after I finished, I'm still thinking about the story and marveling that Ms. Chadwick was not only able to stick to the historical facts but to bring them to life so vividly that I feel as though I actually know these characters.

Lady of the English might be more aptly titled Ladies of the English, in that it focuses not only Matilda, daughter of Henry I and rightful heir to the throne, but also Henry's wife Adeliza. While the majority of the action centers on Matilda's abusive marriage to Count Geoffrey of Anjou and her bids to attain the throne that her father had made his vassals swear to uphold for her, Adeliza is no minor character. Her barren marriage to Henry and her piety, as well as her friendship for her headstrong step-daughter give a perfect counterpoint to the often unlikeable Matilda. Matilda herself is brought to life in a way that keeps her from being the shrew she's often portrayed; while it's evident that she could have done many things to ensure her position, it is also just as evident how strongly she felt for her country and her family. Ms. Chadwick does a very credible job with both women, as unlike in temperament as they were. Added to this story is the unbelievable actual history which occurred (constant side changing, incredible escapes, daring raids) and you've got an epic adventure.

Lady of the English is everything I'd hoped it would be, and my appreciation for Ms. Chadwick as an author who successfully uses true historical fact to create high quality fiction is unbounded. While I'd known something about Matilda, I definitely feel as though I've been brought closer to an elusive woman whose tenacity and courage still comes through across the centuries. I'm glad I chose to luxuriate in this story because my knowledge is richer for it. Bar none, Elizabeth Chadwick is writing the best British historical fiction today, and Lady of the English is highly, highly recommended.