Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bump in the Reading Road

So I've finished 14 of 63 chapters... yes, that's right, 63 chapters of Riders by Jilly Cooper and I have found one small character that I like. One. A 12 year old girl. All the others, the adults that the book is about are so unsympathetic, I want to smack them all. So, I'm setting it aside for now - not crying uncle - and starting on Jordan L. Hawk's Threshold, before I throw my eReader across the room. *LOL*

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham


The Dagger and the Coin - Book 1

This is Book 1 of The Dagger and The Coin series and as such is really not much more than setting up the characters and world of for what promises to be the real meat of the series. Luckily, the adventures that take place and serve to introduce us to the various important folks have enough to them to keep me from putting the book aside and look for another read.

Abraham uses the same narrative device of focusing on one of the major characters per chapter, much like George R.R. Martin does in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. We meet Marcus, the general turned mercenary, Cithrin, the orphan and budding banker, Geder, the bumbling lesser light that goes from being a puppet to something much more worrisome and a few others. And they are lovely characters, I have to say. The strongest part of the book was watching their growth or their unveiling over the chapters.

A couple of my favourite characters of all, were really minor players. Dawson's wife, Clara and their erstwhile bodyguard, Vincen Coe. At one point, they are very much in danger and I feared for them, much more than I thought I would. Master Kit, the leader of the travelling theatre troupe was another favourite with his hinted at mysterious ways and means. I think I know what he's about, thanks to the very final bit of the book, the "entr'acte", but I'm probably a bit off base with that.

There is a bit of an interview with the author added to the book and in it he refers to the House of Niccolo series by Dorothy Dunnett and I have to admit, unlike many people, this is the Dunnett series I have read. (I have the Lymond series on my TBR list and have the first 2.) It's a series about a medieval banking family and oh, can I see the influences in this series. That's a good thing!

So, while this book was a bit of a struggle to wade through, by the time I got to the last say.... 5 chapters of approx 30+, I was invested in these people and really felt that the story was just getting going. Maybe that's what Abraham intended, since Master Kit says in the very last line... <i>"It's begun."</i>

I will definitely be adding the next book of the series to my list.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Special Delivery by Heidi Cullinan


Special Delivery - Book 3

Heidi is one of my all-time favourite authors. Not only do I love her books, they tend to touch me in a deep place that not many books make it to. Tough Love is the 3rd book in the Special Delivery series and while the 2nd book, Double Blind, is still my favourite, I think this one is the most intense and the most challenging read of the trilogy.

This is BDSM like I've not seen it in the m/m romance genre. I have read more than a few BDSM genre books over the past couple of years and most of them have been interesting and enjoyable, but this one, it gets into the minds of the characters in ways that the others have not. Maybe it's as simple as me loving the way Heidi writes? At any rate, whatever it is, this book is not for someone who has a tough time with the BDSM lifestyle. Heidi goes there. Not only do we have a flogging scene that was so intense that I had to put the book away for a few hours, there is also blood play, needle play, puppy play, watersports - you don't see that stuff in m/m romances every day.

The main characters, Steve and Chenco are so beautifully created. You begin by thinking that it's Chenco who needs the most help to become the man he dreams of being; that he needs Steve far more than Steve needs him... but man, it's so not that! It's Steve that is the most damaged, the most in need of Chenco, the family and someone to give HIM the strength he needs. And the boys are back and featured prominently - Mitch and Sam, Randy and Ethan - oh, and Crabtree (who is so very fascinating. *g*). Chenco is the little half-brother that Mitch discovers when he comes home after his father's death. And Chenco is a drag queen. A glorious, wonderful, stunning drag queen. I loved the way Heidi chose to show us how Chenco and Caramela are two separate entities, yet not.

Part of the reason that Mitch's buddy, Steve, is so... knotted up inside himself, let's say, is because of Steve's childhood friend, Gordy. OMG, the character of Gordy scared the piss out of me! But I have to say... remembering things about spouse #2 (who had his problems bigtime), I can't say that this guy isn't possible. Maybe that's why he scared me so much?

The journey that Chenco takes, discovering the world of BDSM with Steve and the others was fascinating, and it sheds a lot of light, I think, on how the community and lifestyle actually is and offers insight into the mindset of those who are part of it. It's certainly not for everyone.

On a bit of lighter note, one of my favourite scenes in this book was when Ethan asked Chenco to dance and they ballroom danced and Ethan was so elegant. (Yes, Randy might be my fave of the Special Delivery boys, but Ethan is close behind.)

So I said that this was the 3rd book of the Special Delivery series and honestly? I do hope it's the last one even though I love these characters with all my heart. Leave the audience wanting more, y'know? I'm fairly sure Chenco would agree with the sentiment at least. ;)

This is a wonderful series and this book a fabulous part of it! LOVED IT!!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook


Iron Seas - Book 1

This is my first steampunk book and I loved it! I took the plunge with this one for a couple of reasons. First off, more than a few authors whose work I enjoy have spoken highly of Meljean Brook, including Bree Bridges (one half of Kit Rocha and Moira Rogers). Secondly, the steampunk theme...setting... alternate universe... whatever one would call it has intrigued me for a while now. And thirdly, the book was on sale at Amazon for only a couple of dollars. So, in I jumped.

And I really, really enjoyed it. I was fascinated from the get-go by the world-building - it's intricate and it's logical and it holds together and it forms the bedrock of the love story between Rhys and Mina. It was so fascinating to me that I went hunting for more and more detail and background on it.

Our protagonists are Rhys, the Iron Duke and Mina, the clever police investigator. I loved them together. And I loved their journey for the most part, although during the last maybe, quarter of the book, I thought that maybe a little more actual talking between these two might have gone a long way to each of them knowing where the other stood. But this is a romance at heart and as such, we need these tropes and I have to admit, Meljean does work them very nicely. Oh, and I really appreciated that neither Rhys nor Mina felt insta-love or even insta-physical-overwhelming-attraction. It grew with proximity. I liked that. There was curiosity before there was "Oh My God, I must have him/her!".

I have to admit here that maybe I'd have liked Mina a little better if I liked her name better. It's not that I dislike 'Mina' so much - it's a diminutive for Wilhelmina - it's that I keep picturing a little birdlike grey-haired lady whose mind is half gone whenever I hear it. Names of characters don't usually affect me in such a way, but this one did. The other thing that I found that annoyed me, that annoys me in a lot of romances, be they f/m or m/m, is that the hero's penis Must Be Huge. Really? I can't think of anything more unpleasant, to be honest. And less needed. Good and hot sex doesn't come from a telephone pole of a dick no matter how well it's written.

The supporting characters were wonderful and disparate and very interesting - much more than cardboard cutout plot pushers. I loved Scarsdale, Jasmeen, Mina's family, Tinker Anne, the Blacksmith and, of course, Constable Newberry,

The plot on which the love story is built was, to my mind, just the right level of importance to hold up the love story and keep things interesting and moving along. A few mysteries have been solved, but there are more to be had, especially concerning The Black Guard. And what I liked the best? As I read further and further into the book, it became obvious that this was a series because of the 'big picture' of the plot, NOT because of some unnaturally high-lighted character or couple being pushed at me. Oh, I appreciated that like nobody's business! Kudos, Meljean, kudos!!

So my first foray into steampunk was a romance and it was damned, damned fine. I will be reading more of Meljean Brook's novels (bless you for writing full novels!) and novellas and highly recommend them.

(Thanks for that final push, Bree!)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Reading Progress- The Iron Duke

I've read 18 out of 378 pages.

I'm trying a new-to-me author, Meljean Brook, on the recommendation of Bree Bridges, one half of the authors Kit Rocha and Moira Rogers. I've read precious little steampunk, but have always been intrigued. I'd heard Meljean Brook's name bandied about as a good author and when Bree confirmed, I took the plunge.

I've just begun, but already I am fascinated. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Black Dog by Cat Grant


Bannon's Gym - Book 1

(This was recommended to me by my longtime buddy Zoe X. Rider (she's an author as well, and you can check her out at her website .)

So, there's not a lot of romance here. Not even much in the sexytimes category either. But what we do have is a tale of two men who had been separated by a tragedy in their past, woken up by the arrival of a young man who is suffering a tragedy in his own life in the present time.

At first I thought the story was going to be about the young man, Tom. Then I thought it was going to be about him and the fellow who takes him in off the street, Eddie - a sort of younger man/older man type of relationship. Eddie would be in his 30s, I figured. Then we met Eddie's friend and one time young love, Danny and oh... okay... whatever lovestory there is going to be is going to be about Eddie and Danny. Cool. I'm a sucker for both main characters being past the first blush of youth.

So the action centers around Bannon's Gym - Eddie was once a boxer and Danny an MMA type guy and there's tai kwan do happening and other martial arts - and Eddie's diner that he runs with his mom, Grace. Eddie finds the abused Tom and takes him in, sheltering him with Grace and giving him a job at the diner. Danny helps out by channelling Tom's natural fighting talent at the gym. While this is going on... Danny and Eddie reconnect and get past the dark tragedy in their past.

It's a novella and honestly? I wished it had been longer. I wanted more about Danny and Eddie. I LIKED them together and I wanted to see more of them operating as a couple, discovering each other, being surprised by each and recognising familiarity in each other. I'm assuming we're going to get Tom's story at some point, because this IS Bannon's Gym #1 and it IS m/m where the series' abound!

Anyway, this was a good read. I'm glad Zoe recced it to me and I'll probably read the next one. :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Iron & Velvet by Alexis Hall


Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator - Book 1

What a fun paranormal romp! I was a little hesitant about this one, seeing as Glitterland by the same author had left me rather cold, but the first big bonus - NO DIALECT!!! Earned a star just for that, I swear. :)

So Kate Kane is a bisexual PI (paranormal investigator) who drinks too much and is very hard-boiled and snarky. She has had liasons with vampires in her past, and witches/mages, and is the daughter of a fairy queen whose power she really isn't very fond of. People are dying... well, people... werewolves and vampires. This might incite a paranormal war between the tribes type of thing, so, when the Prince of Cups demands Kate's presence, she heeds the call and takes the case. Oh, and the vampire Prince of Cups? A woman. I know... I'm not sure about it either. Maybe it's a Tarot thing? I dunno... See, I think that sometimes authors want to be different, want to turn gender expectations on their ear and as a result, there are an awful lot of females running the world of current paranormal London. I found this a tad distracting because there were just SO MANY of them! That's maybe my problem though. :) The burgeoning relationship between Julian, the Prince of Cups and Kate is sexy and fun.

The one problem I did have with the book, and it's not a huge one, really, are the references Kate (Oh, I didn't mention, the novel is written in the first person) makes to events prior to the events taking place in the book. The death of her partner... how she knows so many of these people... what exactly happened with her ex Patrick... etc... But since it's a series, I assume we'll learn more about some of this stuff in books to come.

The secondary characters were terrific and nicely drawn. They have big parts to play and they don't fade into the background or each other. I LOVE Ashriel, the demon - the reformed sex demon, to be exact and Jack.. the um... I don't know how to describe him. :) And Elise, Kate's new assistant. She is a HOOT!

So yes, I totally enjoyed this book despite the few pauses it gave me and I will definitely be continuing the series. And thank GOD, Alexis Hall stopped with the dialect shit. :) His writing is too good, he doesn't need that quirky hipster stuff.