Steamy reads with a dollop of magic, mystery and hot... hot men

A great story and characters will suck me in every time, no matter the genre. But I do have a weakness for PNR, SF, UF and I'll melt completely if you throw in some humour and a breathless romance.

Midnight's Kiss (A Novel of the Elder Races)

Midnight's Kiss (A Novel of the Elder Races) - Thea Harrison After the HORRENDOUS Night's Honor (book number 7 in this series), I was more than a little hesitant to read Midnight's Kiss. And nor did the cover overly inspire me - for some reason the over-muscled hunk depicted on the cover appears to be channelling his best 'blue steel' pout.
Melly (God, stupidest girlie name...ever) was a pleasant surprise as a heroine, she was resourceful, stubborn and smart.
Julian - as our H, was little one dimensional. But the pairing of the two was a good one, so forgivable.
Great baddie in Justine, though I do think the author could have used her even more and to better effect.
The humour has returned in this book, mainly thanks to Melly, and about time.
This book was by no means perfect but it was still streets ahead of Night's Honor, Harrison's previous effort set in this same vampire world.
Am hoping in the next book that she can finally get back on track with this series, ditch the over serious/kind of boring vampires and get back to Dragos and the gang.
I won't be re-reading this one like I do several of Harrison's earlier books in this series - but it gives me hope that the series can still be redeemed, am crossing my fingers and hoping like hell.

The Better Part of Darkness

The Better Part of Darkness - Kelly Gay Am so tired of these types of books. Described as gritty - it would have been more appropriate to term this novel as grim. Likewise the h - supposedly edgy, driven, capable etc - but in reality I found her annoying, stubborn, unlikeable, and nowhere near my definition of kick ass - sure she gets her ass kicked a lot - but being able to heal from one is not the same as being able to fight back.
I'm not adverse to gritty/dark novels but give me an underlying derisive humour to lighten the mood - for pity sake, otherwise it's like wading through darkness.

Dead Heat

Dead Heat  - Patricia Briggs 3.5 star read. On the whole I enjoyed the book but found all the horse descriptions/focus kind of dull. I ended up skimming these pasts, which is never a good sign.
Still, Anna and Charles are always good value as a couple, perfectly matched but not perfect.
Loving the fae element in these novels.

Forged by Desire

Forged by Desire - Bec McMaster This book really peeved me - now I haven't read any of the earlier books in the series and maybe that's where the disconnect is, but considering some of my problems with the book I think the responsibility must fall back upon the author.
- Why the hell do the Nighthawks exist? None of the blue bloods fear or respect them. All they seem to do is squabble amongst themselves. They have no power, no mission and are too caught up in their internal strife and personality conflicts to be taken seriously.
- The female lead Perry; I assume she has to be kick ass to join and stay with the nighthawks for 9 years - so why the hell wasn't she? Instead she's frozen in fear, hysterical, weeping, cold, recklessly/blindly running into danger due to her fear (?) And she keeps running away - from everyone, from her earlier traumatic incident, from Garrett - several times. Lots and lots of women are dead (both from Perry's first traumatic incident and now) but Perry refuses to tell anyone about who might be behind it all because she's afraid - just what sort of nighthawk does that make her? A pathetic one if you ask me. Besides from her sword training with Lynch, Perry is never proactive, never kick ass and never shows me why the Nighthawks keep her around.
- The romance. So one night Perry gets tarted up in a dress and I'm supposed to believe this event opens her best friend's eyes to her as a woman and he's suddenly attracted to her (after nine years?) More and more it felt to me as if Garrett's rising craving levels were to blame for his attraction to Perry - which the author completely failed to convince me meant that he was truly in love with her.
This book - just really annoyed me. The set up of the world - could have used a quick couple of sentences to elaborate for a newbie. But overall the romance - due to the drab heroine - was the clincher for my dislike of this book. I'm puling the pin at the 60% mark - I just don't care what happens to this couple.

Fair Game

Fair Game - Patricia Briggs Enjoyed this tale, though identified the bad guy almost from the start. I like Anna and Charles as a couple. He's protective and so very old, and his love for Anna is both a gift but at the same time is a point of weakness for him.
Anna, has overcome so much. Trying to deal with her Omega powers and a mate who can be non-communicative when there is a problem is tough for her.
Our couple are a great match - and though they are mated, and love one another - they are not perfect, they struggle to communicate and understand each other - which I can appreciate.
Always enjoy visiting this world.

Personal (Jack Reacher, #19)

Personal (Jack Reacher, #19) - Lee Child Forget the average movie -starring Tom Cruise - I have.
I like the Jack Reacher novels for several reasons. Sure they are formulaic, sure most of the set ups are two steps beyond plausible but above all else I just like the character.
Jack Reacher may be 6.5ft loner, and a bit of a brawler but he never stops thinking, looking at all the angles, and cutting through all the bullshit out there.
I often find myself learning something, whether it be about the army, tactics, weaponry, or just plain old human nature.
Lee Child has created a unique character with very few ties to the world but who is rooted in a rich and colourful past that just won't leave him alone. I come for the action, but I stay reading because of the character.

Trust No One

Trust No One - Jayne Ann Krentz This was a solid 3 rating read for me.
It was like old times for JAK, suspense, no magic, and all about the romance. Overall the story was well written and advanced at a nice pace.
Still, just like her recent effort 'River Road' this feels like a draft that was written some 15-20 years ago and recently dusted off, given a re-write and published. And it has all the usual JAK standbys - to the ninth degree.
The h, is lost, her career stalled and she doesn't know what she wants to do next (seen it before in countless JAK heroines) she's a vegetarian and buys only organic fruits and veges (again, been there, done that) She has kind of a hippy dippy, up beat life view (tick) She's been to therapy (tick) does meditation (tick)
The H, as always, is in direct contrast to the h. He's wealthy, magnetic, hardened - clearly attracted the h, despite finding her a little hippy dippy. (tick, tick, tick)
But the h, can see through him to the good man beneath and knows how to handle him.

I can forgive the retro feel in this novel more than I could in the re-hashed River Road - mainly because the story flows better here and the bad guy/s are more developed and their motives (okay a little crazy) but to a degree understandable. Though there was a crazy chapter very early in the novel where the h is chatting to her girlfriends about finding the body and the POV was all over the place and just beyond messy (didn't feel like JAK or an editor had looked at it at all)

Jason (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter)

Jason (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter) - Laurell K. Hamilton LKH finally went and done it - shed all pretence of plot and just wrote a book about sex - people doing it, people talking about it, people planning on doing it again.
So for once she actually stuck to the book synopsis and delivered exactly as promised, I guess that's a step in the right direction.
Except this novella (no way was I wasting my money on it - thank you library) in many ways takes the author and the readers ten feet back, way back.
Okay, so the girl on girl was new - but kind of inevitable, as there are so few boundaries left for Anita to cross. But as a veteran Anita fan I just kind of yawned and read the ho-hum sex scenes - I was far from shocked, it felt like another stab in the gut for this once noble (dare I say likable/relatable) do-gooder who once upon a time just wanted to keep the world safe but now can't seem to keep her legs closed for longer than three pages.
So many justifications - I get it, we all get it, do you get it LKH? She has a poly lifestyle - and WE DON"T CARE. Give us a frigging story for pete's sake.
And it seems Anita is finally getting it as well, but now instead of having a lot of mixed feelings/guilt over her sex life (even though she always ended up inevitably having sex) - because Anita needs something to worry about LKH has decided she needs to dwell on her inability to actually LOVE most of her lovers back the way they deserve. Sigh
And give us a break on all the descriptions too, she's short, Jason's short, a paragraph on Nathaniel's purple eyes, we know all these characters back to front, we don't need the repetitive info - though it jarred when the author couldn't seem to decided Dominio's height, five ten, five eleven - except LKH always knows, so why are we guessing?

Light My Fire

Light My Fire - G.A. Aiken The couple in this take a backseat to the story -as a heap of familiar characters also get mentioned and involved in the action - which was very good. As I didn't really relate to the h and found the H, kind of annoying.
Loved hearing more about all the kids, and Dagmar's kids are a riot - destruction, ho!

Blood of Eden

Blood of Eden - Tami Dane The rear cover blurb for Blood of Eden sounds promising; genius Sloan Skye gets an intern job with the new paranormal unit of the FBI. Unfortunately the reality of this book is a confusing mess. Working to catch a killer, Sloan's role as an intern places her in highly improbable situations; acting as bait for the killer, going off alone to investigate. Not only is Sloan kind of whiny and annoying, she has a distracting romance with one of the FBI agents. The romance fails to ring true, he's an older man and an agent, she's supposedly much younger and an intern.
I confess I had to stop reading at the half way point. The story just got too bizzarre, and Sloan really failed to engage me as a heroine I gave the slightest damn about. I skipped to the final chapter hoping that it might provide me with enough incentive to go back to where I stopped and try to read the book again. Let's just say the final chapter is such a convoluted mess that I'm surprised any editor let it go to print. What a terrible book. Is there a rating less than one star? If so I give this a point 5 of a star. If you decide to buy this book I suggest you stand in the bookshop and read the first three chapters. If you decide to purchase it than do so at your own risk.

Under Wraps

Under Wraps - Hannah Jayne An excellent premise is let down by a poor storyline and two very annoying leads. Sophie Lawson has almost no likeable qualities, she spends all her time making up stories in her head based upon TV shows. Which seems ridiculous given that she works at the Underworld Detection Agency (UDA) and her real life is much more interesting than most. But she's too busy sniffling, whining and moping over her lack of a normal childhood to embrace the moment. And why an "administrative assistant" should be assigned to work with police detective Parker Haynes is never properly explained, big deal she has access to the right files all she does is spend her time getting hot and bothered over Parker's hot bod - even though he's not a particularly nice guy. Where's the plot, the emotion or even the fun in this novel? Great looking cover and premise are seriously hampered by a storyline that limps along with no likeable characters and a really hard to relate to female lead that is just too inept and whiney to live

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams Such a distinctive voice as an author, beyond funny and one of the first authors that showed me that humour and excellent writing/story telling did not have to be mutually exclusive

Hard Bitten

Hard Bitten - Chloe Neill Put a fork in me - I'm done with this series.
I liked (but never loved the first few books) - but I saw real promise in the series/concept/main character but I've come to realise with this book that my hope for this series turning into something great with a strong female lead that I can root for through thick and thin is never going to happen. Our h has become a limp, neurotic, mess and this has become a soap opera.

The Unleashing

The Unleashing - Shelly Laurenston I love Shelly Laurenston... but honestly this is a bit of a dud.
Let's take a step back - Hunting Season, a book previously published by Shelly was set in the same Crows/Raven world - it was a great book and several of the characters were kind of paired up - so I was hoping they would feature in future books... unfortunately that is not the case here.
With The Unleashing, we start in a new city - L.A, with a whole new raft of characters and for some reason the author treats us like newbies to this world and dumps information on the reader that we already learnt in Hunting Season (though with little sign of the deft touch she used in that novel) and proceeds to dump a whole lot more info on us about nine other clans, an other groups that kind of didn't sink in because it was too much too soon.
But that was just the starting point with this novel.
- The main character Kera, starts off all kinds of kick ass and we are told her special Crow power is extra strength. Okay, but then Kera quickly becomes this rudderless wishy washy mess, unsure of herself, harping on about her past with the Marines but seemingly unable to move on in this new second life she's been granted. Considering all her training, you'd think she'd pull herself up by her bootstraps and take over the whole damn mess of Crows.
- And the Crows! What a bunch of vapid bitches. They treat Kera so very badly from day one, they refuse to answer her questions or provide her any training, then laugh at her when she throws up after her first flying experience. The Crows declare constantly they are a sisterhood that have each others backs - but honestly they treat Kera 'new girl' like she's the enemy. I'm all for bitches who have your back and would die for you (Hunting Season) but in this book they're more likely to tell Kera her thighs are too big and then ignore her.
- If Kera's power is super strength then why, when she and Erin are fighting, are they so well matched? Doesn't make sense.
- Why do Kera's wings appear only after 2-3 days when it took most of the girl's 6 months or longer - is that an adjustment period it takes to be a Crow? If so, why doesn't Kera get it? And what actually brings her wings out, is it Vig seeing her bare breasts or her flinging herself accidentally out the window? Still confused on this one.
- Vig, the hero. Super large and super scary, but really just a big old marshmallow who follows Kera around like a puppy dog
- Brodie, the dog. Didn't get why this was added at all. Interesting, but adds nothing to the actual story
- Kera hesitating to kill - scared she'll turn out like her crazy mother. Problem is, to get away from her mother Kera joined the Marines, did she not think she might have to kill someone in that line of duty? So the Seer shows her the first Crow/Slave who has no name and this memory somehow gives Kera the fortitude to kill? Ummmm.... really think I missed something.
- Let's get back to the Crows for a moment, in L.A, their all superficial actresses and models, and we're to believe that's what the Goddess Skuld would want for her warriors? Then we meet all these famous dead past Crows... actresses, first lady's, etc This just felt forced and wrong.
- Lastly, too many characters are thrown at us too quickly. We get first names and last names and shortened nick names and the author jumps around those names, tossing them out faster than I can keep up and connect to which person is actually speaking. And because the women are all bitches and the men are all horny there is little to tell me who is speaking, so I had to back tread a couple of times to work out who a character was or who was speaking - never a good sign.
I've loved everything written by Shelly in the past - Shifters/Dragons - but this book - I kind of find it hard to believe the editors or beta readers didn't try to rein this in. It had the bones to be great (Hunting Season proves that) but unfortunately it's a misfire and a bit of a mess.

Pocket Apocalypse

Pocket Apocalypse - Seanan McGuire This was a solid 3.5 rating - the extra .5 is awarded because the Aeslin mice feature so predominantly. HAIL.
I'm still not sold on Alex as a lead character - though I did prefer this over Half off Ragnorak (third in series but Alex's first outing as lead character)
There was a lot of tension that kept this book barrelling along and a good number of misdirects.
I like Shelby and Alex as a couple of lot more in this book - but that may have been because her family (every single one of them) was hateful, bigoted, insulting and beyond mule headed. By writing them like this though, the author made Alex a lot more of a sympathetic character (guessing this to be deliberate as so many of us readers complained about how bland he was as a lead character).
Unfortunately though as I read - and Shelby's family only grew worse in their treatment of Alex - he only seemed to grow more pious and irritating - seriously dude, haul off and hit someone already.
My final niggling problem was Shelby's insistence on calling her father - Daddy, like she was some six year old girl in a pink Princess outfit - it made me flinch every time.

Dark Triumph

Dark Triumph - Robin LaFevers Certainly this was a more interesting read than the first book in the series. Our heroine, Sybella, is rightfully more damaged and she finds herself alone in a world of danger - surrounded by her own family.
The bad guys are great and the danger to Sybella feels constant and suffocating.
For three quarters of this book I was enjoying the intrigue, Beast (our hero) and their journey to save the day - and each other.
Then at the 75% mark this book become a love/forgiveness fest - sucking all the momentum out of our heroine, the story and even the bad guys.
That's it for me with this series - the author has a great premise but neither her characters (ick - the wishy washy Ismae from book one) or her plots can be counted on to sustain a good read.