I am a 29 year old mother of two who reads entirely too much (if there is such a thing).
I review all things romance for my blog, The Romanceaholic, at http://www.romanceaholic.com
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Smashwords book reviews by Jess R.
- Eternity Embraced
on March 29, 2011
Let me begin by saying that I consider myself a Larissa Ione fangirl. I have completely devoured the Demonica series in its entirety, and am anxiously awaiting her new Lords of Deliverance series, the first book of which (Eternal Rider) is due out in April.
That said, while I certainly enjoyed this read, I wasn’t entirely blown away by this short story.
What worked for me:
I love the entire Demonica world, with the prejudices of the Aegis, and its slayers, as well as Larissa Ione’s unique writing style. Even though there are really only a few actual settings in this story, you can feel that they’re all part of a much larger world.
I loved Kaden’s backstory with his previous lover, and why he’d been reluctant to move his relationship forward with Andrea.
I’m also a big fan of the “affair that turned to love” storyline in romances. Even though the vast majority of
Andrea and Kaden’s relationship occurred prior to the beginning of this story, there was enough rehashing that we got that sense that they’d both intended for their relationship to remain exclusively physical.
I loved how even with a minute word-count, both Andrea and Kaden felt quite well-developed, as did their relationship.
What didn’t work for me:
Despite claims to the contrary, I didn’t feel that this story would’ve worked well as a standalone.
Fans of the Demonica series will of course appreciate glimpses into not only other Aegis chapters, but also a cute, albeit short, interaction between Tayla and Eidolon. I did feel, however, that readers unfamiliar to the series would end up more confused towards the end than they would in reading a story that was not intended as an aside for an already established series.
As much as I adore Larissa Ione, I’m going to have to say that this one was only a 3.5/5 for me.
- Taming A Tycoon
on March 29, 2011
What worked for me:
I’m a big fan of “Cinderella stories”, where a down-on-her-luck, practically penniless heroine is swept off her feet into a lifestyle of riches and luxury by the dashing hero. Of course, to keep things from being syrupy, it helps that Dexter really can’t stand Savannah at first, and is only using her to get back at the press, but still.
I liked that while Dexter was a very giving man, he was also a cunning businessman and had the potential to be completely icy when angered.
I really enjoyed the banter between Savannah and the servants, specifically “Robbie”, the over-starched yet awesome butler.
What didn’t work for me:
I really, really felt that they fell in love with each other much too quickly.
This was a light, quick romantic read, perfect for summer reading by the pool. While the attraction and tension between Savannah and Dexter was delicious, the steam rating on this one is merely warm, so it’s appropriate for young readers, or those more interested in actual romance than any physical relationship. Overall, a very fast enjoyable read. 3.5/5 Stars
- Two-Fisted Tweets
on May 16, 2011
I won a copy of this book from the author, ironically by following a link I saw on Twitter.
A very short work, this book contains only a few pages, but I admit, if I'd seen most of these as Facebook statuses or on Twitter, I'd almost certainly have shared/retweeted them myself, because several literally made me LOL.
Told "Twitter style", each "story" is told in 140 characters or less, just as a tweet would be. While a couple of them fell flat for me, I especially loved the zombie one, Thomas the Train's thoughts, the stalking conference, the one about a mother's eyes, and the review for the New Yorker.
The only thing I wish was that it was longer (and don't men hate when women say that??). If Mr. Hutchings could publish a version that had, say, 200+ of these amusing shorts, I would not hesitate to spend my hard-earned money on it.
4/5 Stars, despite the fact it's very very brief.
- To Find a Thief
on July 30, 2011
I literally LOL'd! That will most certainly teach those people to start taking the elderly a little more seriously ;)
Short and sweet, this was definitely a fun little read.
- Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
on Oct. 05, 2011
What Worked For Me:
* I loved how quickly it read. With the word count clocking in at over 100K, I was afraid that it would take forever to read. Instead, it turned out that the pacing was perfect, with humor, romance, and action spilling from every page and I quickly found that I literally couldn't put it down.
* I had a love-hate relationship with Jolie, though I admit, it leaned much further into "love" than "hate". Graced (or cursed) with girl-next-door looks, she was vaguely insecure, incredibly skeptical, occasionally so naive you wanted to shake her, but had a wicked sense of humor and an impressive temper. While there were a few moments where I felt that she could have benefited from a good smack upside the head, in general, I loved her.
* I also loved all of Jolie's love interests. Rand was delicious (and holy hell the sexual tension between the two was panty-dropping hot), Terry was great in his own right, and Sinjin... Well, let's just say I'm happy Sinjin features in future books ;) Om nom nom.
* Another thing that was great about this was the the action. While Jolie isn't some supah tough warrior woman like many other UF heroines, she is slowly learning to hold her own, and I can't wait to see where her newfound powers are going to take her.
* I really enjoyed Jolie's powers with necromancy (for lack of a better term), as well as the hint at future story developments to come surrounding the prophet Bella is trying to resurrect.
What Didn't Work For Me:
* I was a little put off by how quickly Jolie chose to trust certain people when they insisted they were there to help her. Talk about naive! One would think that after having been betrayed by someone she trusted, she wouldn't have been so quick to just believe whatever the next badass told her.
* Despite being so sexually inexperienced, Jolie really seemed as though she wanted to hump pretty much anything with a penis. While I understand that a lot of it stemmed from the fact that all otherworldly creatures are attracted to other... otherworldly creatures, it still seemed like every time you turned around, she was drooling over someone else.
* There was a most definite TSTL moment there towards the end, and I really wanted to pimp-slap Jolie for it.
While this is an Urban Fantasy, and therefore sadly lacking in the HEA department, I actually didn't care, because instead of frustrating me, it simply made me want to read more of the series.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. While it was a bit on the long side (over 100k words), it passed very quickly, without a lot of heavy drama to pull the reader down. There were plenty of fantastical elements, ranging from various species, Jolie's developing powers, and even a visit to the fairy realm, but there was also quite a bit of action to keep both the characters and the readers on their toes.
I think the thing I liked the most about this book was how much fun it was. Instead of bogging the story down with heavy drama and gory action, the humor, sexual tension, and whirlwind pacing left me closing the book with a smile on my face.
I personally recommend it for any fan of lighthearted, fast-paced urban fantasy.
A cheerfully solid 4.5/5 Stars
- Scent and Shadow: an Aether Vitalis Novel
on Nov. 18, 2011
College student Amanda Bairns is finally about to take control of her own life. Getting her degree and finally getting out from under her mother’s thumb should mean this is one of the happiest times in her life. But when Gabriel, a friend from school, turns out to be a psychotic vampire intent on making her his newest fledgling, her dreams of the future turn into a nightmare filled with blood, mind control, violent sex, and murder.
With the transformation incomplete, Gabriel promises Amanda one month to choose between the seductive power of vampirism or the frail weakness of being human prey. Four weeks seems like a small enough time to hold onto her humanity, but with each passing day, the new seductive powers she’s discovering, the physical changes, and the blood lust thrumming in her veins all become harder to ignore.
Amanda’s transformation is not their only concern, however, when it becomes apparent that there are outside forces whose interest in Gabriel’s newest fledgling could mean a major shift in power not only in the city of Madison, but in the supernatural community as a whole.
What Worked For Me:
* This book is not what I would call a “traditional” paranormal romance. Instead, it was very dark, and while there were certainly romantic themes on occasion, it also toed the line of a horror story quite well. There was just something about Amanda’s reluctant attraction to Gabriel, her horror and disgust at what he was and what she was becoming, and her struggle against the very real feelings of power and superiority that she was beginning to feel towards other humans, that just made this book impossible for me to put down.
* Gabriel was awesome. A true sociopath, he was incapable of feeling emotions the way humans do, and with the blood lust on top of that, he thrived on the fear and pain of his victims, and enjoyed toying with them — keeping some as “pets” before killing them. Really, I shouldn’t have liked him as a protagonist, because frankly, the guy is scary as hell, but I couldn’t help but enjoy his character.
* I really liked Amanda as well, and the journey her character took was incredible. As Gabriel said, the change to vampirism doesn’t change your personality, and Amanda soon learned some unpleasant truths about herself, such as how addictive it can be to control other people, and how easy it is to think of others as chattel instead of individuals. I think what I liked the most about that was the fact that most people who get their first taste of real power would have the very strong potential to feel the same way, and how frighteningly easy it could truly be to let your humanity go in that sort of situation.
* I. Loved. The ending. Loved it. It was quite unexpected in some ways, but in others, it just fit so perfectly with all of the changes that Amanda had gone through over the course of her time with Gabriel. While certainly not a traditional “Happily Ever After” by any means, it was… right, for this story and really and truly couldn’t have ended any other way.
What Didn’t Work For Me:
* BIG, BIG issue for me here was Gabriel's actions in a particular scene. It's a spoiler, so I can't say what it was, but it crossed the line for me.
* The shifting POV’s could get a little disorienting at times. While they certainly added depth to the story, at times I felt myself a little overwhelmed by the number of main characters. I think I just wanted to focus on Gabriel and Amanda so much that seeing what other characters were up to just wasn’t a high priority for me.
* Not really a “negative” for me, but I was never quite certain why the book was set in 1999 instead of just not specifying a year. There were only two references in the entire story that “dated” the story, and that was a reference to Star Wars: Episode One in the theaters, and a small reference to the whole computers/Y2K thing. It’s possible that the reasoning was mentioned or explained, but if so, it truly didn’t stick with me.
This book was a bit of an adventure for me. You see, it’s not what I would call a “traditional” romance. Instead, it’s more of a horror novel with romantic elements, which I admit threw me off a bit. However, if you approach this story as less of a romance and more of a sexy horror story, I think that you will get the full effect of the novel.
Even though I do tend to prefer traditional romances, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Gabriel was sexy and terrifying, and Amanda was so incredibly real that I couldn’t help but love her. She, as like most people, preferred to think of herself as someone who would never even be tempted to abuse or harm another human being, but as her transformation progressed, she quickly realized the intoxicating abilities of pure, unadulterated power. This, more than the blood and gore, was probably one of the scariest things about this novel — the idea that it doesn’t require a sociopath to start thinking of other humans as beneath you once you get a taste of real power.
While there was one scene that troubled me greatly, the overall story captivated me from the very beginning and wouldn’t let me go. The ending was absolutely fantastic despite being perhaps a bit unexpected, and I would recommend it for any fan vampires who are actually scary rather than sparkly*.
A very solid 4/5 Stars
*For the record, I am a Twihard, so that was not a bashing of Twilight fans lol