Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dance of the Gods by Nora Roberts


The Circle Trilogy - Book 2

The second one was better than the first - Morrigan's Cross. I will admit to falling a little in love with Larkin, this book's hero. It was refreshing to read about a light-hearted, fun-loving, shape-changing, always thinking of sex or food first and foremost, guy. And make no mistake about it, Larkin is a GUY. A guy after my own heart - he can turn into a dragon (amongst other things). *grin* 

Blair, the heroine, a is tough, smart, pretty - not gorgeous, no-nonsense chick and I found myself liking her a lot too. The suspense was a little more evident in this second of three volumes as the ante gets upped by Lilith and her 'army of darkness', and the move is made from present day Ireland to the mythical land of Geall. The sense of war on the horizon becomes a little more real and close; and the Circle of Six becomes closer and tighter. And the romance between Larkin and Blair is a fun ride. I mean seriously, the guy can turn into a dragon!

Nora never disappoints, always delivering a good read at the very least.

To The Limit by Pamela Britton


I'm a new Nascar fan. As such, how could I resist Harlequin's Nascar series? I wasn't expecting much, genre romances are what they are. Fun, mindless, feel-good entertainment. And this one had spots of fun, didn't take a tight focus to read and yeah, it made me feel good at the inevitable happy ending. So in that it was a success. 

My favorite character, however, was not the hero, the heroine or even the second male lead - nope, it was the hero's bodyguard. HE was the one I wanted to know more about. *grin*

Sea Swept by Nora Roberts


Chesapeake Bay Saga - Book 1

I loved this book! And I realised why I love Nora's books so much. The men hold the POV stage just as much if not more than the women do. 

The scenes of the hero, Cameron Quinn, with his brothers were sheer delight! They made me laugh out loud and wish there were more. The growing brotherly relationship between Cameron and Seth was touching and real. I mean, really, what man notices a boy needs new shoes, for instance? Not Quinn! The ensuing man-trip (all 4 brothers) to the shopping mall was hysterical. 

The romance between Quinn and Anna was hot and sexy for one thing, and it was refreshing to see the trust grow on BOTH sides, in an adult fashion, as opposed to the usual romance thing where it's usually all one-sided. And the other refreshing thing? People curse. Men and women. Kids too. *grin* That's life. Nora's dialogue is real and seldom, if ever, reads as contrived. 

I couldn't put Sea Swept down once I started it and now I know there's another trip to the second-hand bookstore in my very near future to pick up the other two volumes of the trilogy.

Through It Came Bright Colors by Trebor Healey


This book was not a light, entertaining, escapist read.

That being said, it was a beautiful, lyrical (even in, and possibly especially in its darkest moments), at times eviscerating, at times glorious work.

"Love hurts, love heals - that's the crystalline message at the core of Trebor Healey's complex, accomplishing coming-of-age story about a cautiously queer suburban kid whose heart is unexpectedly squeezed hard by a young junkie's quicksilver mind and beautiful lean body. Healey's refreshingly original tale hums with the potency of poetry."

That's what Richard Labonte, reviewer at Book Marks and Q Syndicate, had to say about this book and he said it better than I ever could have.

It was dark, it was gritty, it was cruel and it was filled with love and humour and moments of deep affection. It was difficult to read, especially having lost both my parents to cancer (the hero's brother's disease is a main part of the story), but it was familiar and real and touched me in spots I'd thought long-since healed.

I read this passage, where Neill, the protagonist muses about the taking care of his invalid brother, while I was in the cafeteria at work... "In the end, I think his wounds made it easier to love him as they taught me something I didn't know about love. My mother knew it; mothers do. Love was a much more physical thing thank I'd ever understood it to be. It lived where his fingers touched mine; it's what made the water bead up on his shoulders and roll off; it's what made his skin warm, glowing and soft. I'd always thought love was some feeling in the mind, but this was the physicality of love: the love of the body, so much simpler; so much more useful. It felt real, substantial, like proof--like what I needed. Cancer gave me that."... and I had to pause, wipe actual tears from my eyes and then read it over and over, marvelling at the obvious simplicity of something we tend so often to complicate.

So yes, this was a hard book to read, but so beautifully written and thought-provoking; and in the end ultimately very rewarding. The story of Neill; his lover, Vince and Neill's brother, Peter, is so much more than a love story, yet that's exactly what it is.

California Demon by Julie Kenner


Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom - Book 2

Buffy grows up, marries a mundane and becomes a soccer mom. It was a quick read, simply because it was rather fluffy. Heh... Fluffy Buffy.

The Stone Prince by Fiona Patton


The Brannion Realm - Book 1

What made this book stand out for me, I must admit, was the portrayal of the relationship between Demnor, The Heir to the Flame and his Companion, Kelahnus. I'm a sucker for intimate and romantic relationships between men; it's what I like to read and it's what I like to write. Fiona Patton has created a word where gender doesn't matter, be it in love or in society. It's refreshing! This is the reason I gave this book 4 stars.

As far as a good fantasy read goes, well, this book has a few problems in my opinion. For instance, the plethora of aristocratic titles. There are more than can be found in 4 Georgette Heyer novels, I swear. They got very confusing after the first few chapters, as the cast of characters continued to grow. 

The story itself, the plot, the action - I thought Fiona could have done so much more with it. Demnor coming to terms with his heritage, his familial relationships, his future could have been been explored more in depth for my taste. It all seemed slightly skimmed over. Of course, that may have made the book 800+ pages instead of the 542 that it is. *grin* 

I also thought that the conflict between Demnor and his sister, the Prince Quindara merited more attention. Indeed, I think many of the relationships between the characters needed more depth. And I would have liked to see more of the workings of The School of Companions, which is definitely more than just a training ground for courtesans. So, while I really did enjoy this book, I think it could have been made so much better; maybe buy making it two volumes?

Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts


The Circle Trilogy - Book 1

Nora Roberts is one of my favorite romance novelists and I'm particularly fond of her trilogies. That being said, this one appears to have everything - vampires, old gods, witches, sorcerers, time travelling, alternate world bridging, shapechangers; you name it, I think it's got it. And maybe it's a little too much?

I found that the romance between the two main characters, Hoyt and Glenna, seemed to get lost within all the plot set-up and character introductions. My favorite scenes were actually between Hoyt and his brother Cian. Their strained relationship was much more compelling than the supposed love growing between Hoyt and Glenna. And let's face it, folks, I read Nora for the romance, so I was a little disappointed in this first book of a trilogy that most of my fellow Nora readers absolutely adore. That doesn't mean I won't be adding books 2 and 3 to the collection, however. At the very least I want to see how Hoyt and Cian iron out their differences. *grin*