Embry Hollister is a woman with a mission. A mission that involves Ultimate Fighter Cade Shepherd, or, as she once knew him, Gage Dempsey. I shouldn’t really be surprised by how three-dimensional she seemed. Her author does have a degree in clinical psychology after all. Embry’s not just any one thing. There’s real depth there. In fact, there isn’t any character in Forsaken by Shadow that struck me as flat. Kait brings quite a few side characters into the fray that I could definitely see myself wanting to get to know better.
Even Matthias, a character that I suspect we were supposed to see as an asshole. I couldn’t help myself. I have Fall In Love With Side Character Syndrome. I’m hoping one day Kait might give him an HEA of his very own, if he doesn’t already have one. Not to mention Orrin, who’s tentatively been set as the next hero in Relevations, the second novella in the Mirus series.
Kait dabbled in Romantic Suspense for awhile and I think it shows in her work. In a good way. A very good way. There’s quite a number of nail-biting scenarios the couple finds themselves in. And Kait sure as hell doesn’t make it easy for them to get out of. She doesn’t pull punches. Ever. There’s no fluff, no sugar-coating what so ever. That grit, the inner brutal streak in a writer, is what keeps me comming back to their work. And Kait’s got it.
There’s also a fair amount of intrigue in FBS. A lot of the Mirus world is teased into the story. Dashes of it, like spice. Just enough to seduce potential readers for later books while still keeping them grounded in the story, the situation at hand.
And as if that wasn’t enough. The sex scene is scorching. (Literally.) And the fight scenes are absolute WIN. They were concise, I could follow them easily and, if my admittedly short time in Karate serves me well, very realistic. I was pumped any time Gage got into the ring.
This novella was better written than a lot of full length Paranormal Romance novels I’ve read lately. I frickin’ kid you not. I cannot wait for Revelations and any other work she has in the pipeline because what ever it is? I. am. SO. there.
It started with Kept…
But if I’m being honest, I liked Claimed even more than I did it’s predecessor. For one, Vampires never get old for me. I will always read books featuring them. Even if some leave me going ‘wtf?’, I still hold out for the stories about these bloodsuckers that will make my toes curl.
Claimed is one of those books.
Charlee and Anthony’s dynamic had me curious in Kept,but as I saw their relationship shift and change and evolve in Claimed, it only became more intriguing. I was absolutely enthralled with each and every interaction between the two of them.
Even when separated “on screen”, I loved both of their characters individually. For an odd reason.
They both had incredibly selfish moments. You may think it weird, but that struck me as realistic. You know, considering we’re talking about a Vampire. (I don’t care what anyone says, Anthony’s confession was just right for his character. I. LOVED. it.)
And I loved Zoe’s take on the Vampires. I’m convinced it might be my favorite take on the old myth thus far. I’m loathe to spoil anyone but I will say that Zoe’s vamps are manipulative as hell. And they LIKE being what they are.
And I loved it.
Zoe seems to have really come into her one both in her world and her writing in this novella. It’s subtle, but the writing feels more confident and refined while still having that quirky humor I so adored in Kept and that had me giggling both appropriately and inappropriately. I’m just that kinda gal, I guess.
We’re also introduced to a character named Jane, who is the main character for Mated. I’m frickin ecstatic and cannot wait to get into her story. She strikes me as an enigmatic character, and those are some of my favorite heroines. She’s not quite what she seems and we got a little hint of that in Claimed.
Over all? Favorite Zoe Winters book and couple thus far. We’ll see if that remains the same or if Zoe kicks it up a notch (which I suspect she will if Claimed is any indication) with Mated. After all, I love werewolves even more than I like vampires…
We first meet Jane in Claimed, where Charlee, the protagonst, views her (Jane) as a helpless, if spunky, vampire groupie. Goth clothes, make up and pink hair to boot. As Claimed heats up though, Jane's true nature as a hardened survivalist seeps out of her little by little. Totally won me over. And she was only a side character then.
In what I'm affectionately calling "true Zoe Winters' fashion" Mated kicks off right where Claimed ends. Only, some things have definately changed since Anthony, the hero from Claimed, took over as King. Paul, Anthony's underling from Claimed, lets his true nature shine too. And it's pretty damn ugly. I was thrown for a loop. I knew when I'd first read the synopsis that something must have happened to Paul for Jane to have been "sold off" as it were. After all, he'd (paul) been so affectionate with her (jane) in Claimed and seemingly protective of her that I didn't even think he'd been the one to do it.
But I've already established that Zoe Winters is a dark writer. Or maybe just a realist. But stuff happens.
Stuff happens to Jane a lot.
So, Paul, the little DB, gets more than a little indulgent. Not because Anthony, his main man, is now Vampire King, but because he feels neglected by said King. And whenever something doesn't go Paul's way, there's Jane. To be smacked around at his convenience.
You may have noticed I'm not a fan of abuse, but I love a writer who doesn't shy away from it. And I love a heroine who overcomes it even more.
Of course, she has help.
Cole is the big sexy alpha of the local pack and Paul's lost one two many poker games to him. Not usually one to be led around by his neither regions, he can't deny the fierce need to protect Jane when he witnesses Paul's latest beating.
I think Dayne and Anthony had a few things in common while still remaining separate entities but Cole is ...different. Gentler. But not a Beta by any means. He's the Alpha wolf after all. You'd think after what I said about Anthony that Cole wouldn't do anything for me.
Hello? Multi-dimensional here. I don't have a "type". Not in real life and not in my fictional one. And in case you missed my last review: Werewolves top Vampires for me. Blasphemy you say? You'll get over it.
Of all of Zoe's heroes, Cole was definitely my favorite. (Claimed is still my favorite book though.) And as always, Zoe totally delivers on the sex scenes. ..I may have panted a few times. *g*
Another thing I like about this author is that she always brings a new twist on the mythos of the creatures that go bump in the night. She laid out one DOOZIE of a new twist in Mated, that I'm totally not spoiling. But I'll give you a hint as to what it entails. Ever wonder why Vampires and Werewolves really hate eachother?
And of course, I have to gush over the world building. The werewolves in Mated were tech savvy and I digged it. It was a nice departure from the norm. They still had reclusive ways, but on an upgraded scale.
Zoe has a knack for ending her stories on an almost perfect note. I always smile at the charm of the last line. Or the wit. She does both rather well.
I'm looking forward to the next book. Zoe's proven that she'll always deliver an entertaining and enjoyable romance...with a little blood on the side.
Just the way I like it.
I’m more than a little stunned. Not because I didn’t expect the book to be so good. Hell, I’ve read Kept, Claimed, and Mated. I know Zoe Winters has some mad story-telling skills. Having mad story-telling skills, however, isn’t the same as having the skills to make me believe a romance is possible between an Incubus and a human. This is why you should NEVER. EVER. tell a writer what they can and cannot do because they will do it out of spite and it will blow your mind every time. In the hands of a capable writer, anything is possible. Zoe’s proving to be much more than a capable writer.
I have only one criticism, and you know? I’m not even really sure it counts as one. I think Zoe’s style has matured a lot since Kept, and it shows because for most of the story, this book didn’t feel like it was even written for the same universe as the Book 1. Except, it’s not supposed to. Totally different setting. And we expect to have other places feel different right? The world of the Preternaturals is expanding, branching out. I can appreciate that, especially when we found out about-but no, that’s a spoiler.
I did see the HUGE TWISTY PLOT TWIST, that I also absolutely WON’T be sharing with any of you, coming but I did so with a gleeful chuckle and lots of evil palm rubbing. It made the whole story come full-circle in a spectacular way, in my humble opinion. So it makes me feel smart when I could say ahead of time “Oooooh! I see what you’re doing here.”
There were other things that I didn’t see coming though. Things that I D’ohed for not even thinking about.
I’m going to warn you though. After reading this book, you’re going to wish you had a significant other around. Sufficed to say, Save my Soul reeks of sexual tension, and what a delicious reek it is. Luc definitely has a spot on my Favorite Heroes list. One that I have to get around to re-writing one of these days. Anna too (Heroines, obviously). Ms. Winter’s writes brilliant snark. Her heroines might get tossed around, betrayed, and have their lives do a complete 360 but they always have a sense of humor about it. Probably to keep from going insane like the rest of us probably would if we were faced with the same events. Maybe.
Something I wanted to mention also was how much I loved how Winters wrote the friendship between Anna and Tam, one of the supporting cast. It was refreshing for once to read about a female friendship that didn’t involve lots of backstabbing and BS similar in office politics. They weren’t friends just because girls aren’t supposed to be mean so anyone you have even the vaguest familiarity with counts as a ‘friend’. They gave a damn about one another, and didn’t secretly wish to be anywhere but in the others presence. They enjoyed one another’s company. Like the way it should be. Their banter made me chuckle, more often than not because it reminded me of the way I am with my friends, and thank you Zoe for portraying what a healthy female friendship is like.
I’m hoping Tam might show up again, since there seems to be a running trend for Zoe to give supporting characters their own books. But either way? I don’t think I’ll be disappointed by a Zoe Winters read.
Frickin’ Sweet. That’s what I think any time Kait Nolan’s work is involved. Sure, this is only my second Nolan read, Forsaken by Shadow being the first, but I’ve learned to trust my gut when it comes to certain authors. And the Mirus books are turning into one hell of an awesome series. Devil’s Eye is just as good as it’s predecessor. Though, since the author saw fit to mention it herself, Devil’s Eye is more of an Urban Fantasy with Romantic elements than ParaRom (which FBS definitely was). Given the constraints of the novella (Devil’s Eye takes place in little over a few hours) I didn’t think twice about it, but then I’m not fussy about Romance. I thought the development between Mick (whom I absolutely LOVE, not that it has anything to do with him being a wolf-shifter, of course not) and Sophie was sufficient and while I’d definitely love to read the rest of their story, I don’t feel let down by the lack of an HEA.
I did not want to stop reading Devil’s Eye. Kait has a great skill for fast-paced action and a well-thought out plot. She doesn’t seem to mind getting a little gore-ie in her fight scenes too, not a bad thing in my book. I was often floored by her ability to use as few words as possible to create the greatest impact on the reader (well, this reader anyway).
I’m fascinated by the Mirus world and my curiosity was just that much more piqued with Devil’s Eye. After a long long time of reading a lot of UF and ParaRom, I don’t expect to be surprised much.Yet, I found myself surprised by some of the turns Kait seems to be taking the Mirus series down, and very excited to see further possibilities.
Short stories are such huge teases.
Having said that, this haunting collection of short stories left me with an insatiable appetite. But, um, not for human flesh, or, you know, braaaaaaaaaaaains. Nope, I’ve got a fever. And the only thing that can cure it? Is more work by A.M. Harte.
Although, if you want to throw in some cowbell, that’d be nice too.
Right. Less irreverence, more review.
Ms. Harte really took Zombies to a whole new level for me. She took the mythos, turned it on it’s head, and spun it right round. Multiple times. Threw them all in a box and then went way, way out of the box. Especially when you consider that the entire collection are little more than love stories.(She said, as if love stories are somehow small, fragile things she knows they’re not.)
Ms. Harte writes with such beautiful subtlety that I really needed to pace myself reading Hungry For You. I could not go through the stories at a dead sprint, I needed time to let the stories simmer in, to really take in the full effect of the passion that drove the majority of the stories. It was a winding experience. I loved it!
Because these were the sort of stories I’d been hoping to get when I revamped this blog under ‘Fiction with a Dark Side’. This exploration of the darker side of love, the lighter side of death, the grays and in betweens.
Usually with anthologies, I like to go through the stories one by one and tell my readers here why I liked them. I’d really like to do that now but the temptation to give something away is just two great. One of the best things about Hungry For You is the subtle, yet powerful twists. I read each slowly, with awe, trying to anticipate ‘how is she going to do it this time’, and often than not, I failed, delightedly. Too caught up in the stories.
Well, ok. I totally saw how Swimming Lesson was going to end but I’m pretty sure she just threw that one in there so we can feel smart for figuring it out.
I really enjoyed every single story (all eleven of them!)-because every single story reeked of creativity and bit of tragedy and oh-don’t act like you all don’t know I’m a hopeless romantic complete masochist.
However my Favorites were:
Hungry For You - Yep! The Antho’s name sake is a story. “A police sergeant struggles with a very unusual victim…”
A Prayer to Garlic- This one is just so delightfully quirky I can’t even think of a way to describe it without completely ruining it.
Dead Man’s Rose - “A young wife is trapped in a house hiding unimaginable evil….”
The Perfect Song-“A dying musician turns to tea for inspiration.” Were I forced to choose, I would have to pick this one as my favorite. One of the driving concepts behind it-involving tea- just tickled the heck out of me and I think any writer, aspiring or pro, could relate to the protagonist’s frustration.
This a brilliant collection that I recommend to any Zombie lovers (especially those of you that like to see new takes on the mythology, you’ll get them in spades in Hungry For You ) , those of us who like our fiction on the dark side, or for readers who love love, no matter what it does to you.
I. Love. Werewolves. And not just the sexy ones that hail from Urban Fantasy (although I’m even more fond of those than UF Vampires). Oh No. I love the ones that go bump in the night for blood and unchecked rage. So I was only too eager to dive right into McCarty Griffin’s Monster Story.
I made the mistake of reading a few pages one night when I couldn’t sleep and only ended up giving myself the wiggins. (“Wiggins?” Who the fuck says “Wiggin’s” anymore SJ?” Sorry, been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer lately. I’m on Season 3! Right, none of you care, back to reviewing). In the end I had to turn on the TV and watch the Food Network to lull my very aware subconscious into believing that nothing was going to appear out of the shadows to attack and or make a meal of me. Because I’m 12, apparently.
Having said that, I liked that McCarty went the route not often taken. Because this isn’t a werewolf story to me, it is exactly as the title states: a monster story. The “were” is just as feral and horrifying as the “wolf”. In some ways more, because as humans, I think we have a hard time seeing anything that looks like “us” as monsters and Christy and friends spend a lot of time wondering about the moral ramifications of dealing with what they are dealing with because of that.
There are a few scenes I would suggest investing in a night light for. And this is definitely not your book if you are in anyway squicked out by even the slightest suggestion of gore. Oddly, I’m not as bothered by it in books as I am in movies, even though my imagination has sent me on some doozies of a fear trip. Make of that what you will.
Other things I liked….well, there is a sweet little romance subplot that I wasn’t expecting and found charming in it’s understated way. Graeme stole most of the scenes he was in and became my favorite character of the piece. (Next to Jabba. *g*) Christy and Graeme’s bickering nicely toned down the tension. And, without spoiling anything, I had an uncontrollable gigglefest when the author pulled a Han Solo moment. Objectively, it worked well in the scene, I was just tickled by it.
There were times when I felt the dialogue and exposition to be unnecessarily repetitive but nothing that can’t be overlooked.
At 67 pages, Half-Inch is a great little afternoon read filled with murderous plots and spouses! Now you would think the page length would make it difficult to give an in-depth review but actually, I have a lot I want to discuss.
My only real criticism is that I don’t feel that the book cover meshes with the over all tone of the book. The cover impresses upon me that I should expect to be afraid but…actually I found myself gleefully chuckling right along as Pammy plots out her husbands demise.
Huh. I’m not sure if that says something entirely inappropriate about me as a person, like having an incredibly bleak and warped sense of humor. Since I’m not yet ready to admit I’m insane, I’ll chalk it up to the author’s skill at making Pammy both a sympathetic protagonist and fun- if slightly insane-villain.Pammy’s transformation from cowering waif to murder mastermind was dealt with a subtle and frighteningly realistic hand. (Or maybe I just watched too many Snapped episodes?) I feel McCarthy was very thorough in making Pammy sympathetic on a basic human level, while also not giving justification for her actions.
What brought the story home for me- without spoiling anything- is that Pammy never really escapes being a victim, even in deciding to take things into her own hands. I fount it a very intriguing character study, one that I think can be interpreted multiple ways.
While I never really agreed with the character’s decisions on a moral level, there was one part of her plan involving a character you’ll come to know as “Miss Big Tits” that didn’t sit well with me at first. After careful consideration though, I realize Pammy did what she thought was necessary in order to ensure she’d get away Scott-free. Which she may or may not have done. Why are you still here? Go read the book.
Initiate is the first book of a new series, The Unfinished Song, by Tara Maya. As such, there are a few things I feel that you should know up front. First, if cliffhangers piss you off, be sure you have the second book, Taboo (which was just recently released), ready to dive into once you're finished Initiate. I wasn't bothered because I pretty much knew what I was getting into right off the bat but the Amazon description doesn't much give the cliffhanger impression to potential readers so I'm just giving you all a heads up.
Also, this is VERY much an Epic Fantasy. While I feel one of the book's strong points is Tara's exceptional dedication to the World Building, I do know that some readers would find it off putting if their not huge culture fanatics. Some people have complained that they were disoriented/confused by the various names and political systems, but I found the seven tribes utterly fascinating and I felt Tara explained them all well enough without ever going into a huge, long, drawn out info dump. Tara also manages to be very lyrical with her prose without it becoming meandering. I always felt rooted in the story.
I liked that Dindi, our heroine, is not only conscious of her differences but embraces them despite insurmountable criticism from her clan. She beats to the tune of her own drums and doesn't give up on her dreams no matter how others might view them. I'm looking forward to seeing how she'll change as a person in the light of the events at the end of Book 1. I have to give it to Tara for being gutsy with her ending. That's all I'll say about that.
While I never got to the point where I "liked" Gwenika, Dindi's friend, I found her relate-able. Her self-sabotage was very interesting in a tragic way.
Kavio, thus far, has the makings of a good hero. I love "lone wolf" heroes. Vindicated, honorable, but rough around the edges.
And yet...I feel my "side-character love" creeping up. Meira, my favorite character (which is to say, the one I found most intriguing) , is the one I can reveal the least about. She almost got my "favorite quote" vote but the one above was simply too deliciously bitter for me to pass up on.
I would recommend this book to Fantasy lovers and lovers of Fairy Tales. And by Fairy Tales, I don't mean those of the watered down Disney variety.