Monthly Archives: October 2013

Review of Tenaya Jayne’s Forbidden Forest

A quick note before I get on with this review: For all of you who have sent me review requests, I haven’t forgotten you. Nor am I purposefully ignoring you. I’ve been through the list each time I picked a new book to read. It’s just that I still read for fun and nothing on my request shelf currently appeals to me. This doesn’t mean it won’t tomorrow though.

Forbidden ForestOK, on with the review of Forbidden Forest (Legends of Regia, #1), by Tenaya Jayne. It’s free on Amazon.

Description from Goodreads:
Born in shame. Cast from society. Shape Shifter/Elf hybrid, Forest must fight for any respect she can get. Targeted in her youth by a vampire noble who placed an illegal slave mark on her, she is forced to obey him, no matter what.

Slipping the grip of her master and abandoning the prejudice of Regia, her native world, Forest takes a job on Earth, guarding the portal, using her skills as a warrior to enforce Regia’s laws. Now, called home for a black ops mission, Forest must put aside her own prejudice to transport the vampire prince, Syrus, through enemy territory in a time of war. 

Prince Syrus, mage and master of the Blood Kata, wants Forest more than he’s ever wanted anything. In spite of their mutual mistrust, their attraction cannot be denied. Through the danger of their mission, and the secrets they both keep, it doesn’t matter what they feel. Forest is forbidden.

 Review: 
Ok, for the record I’m writing this review while T’ed off because I’ve just had a bit of a shock to the system. Yep, it was the sudden and unexpected “The End” that I ran up against. The story doesn’t frickin’ end. Seriously, what good does half a story do me? Why do authors keep doing this? It pisses me off every single time.

So, looking past the lack of ending (I can do this, really), I thought that the story was pretty good. It was predominantly a love story, since the whole ‘gotta get Syrus through the Wolf Forest’ just seemed to be an excuse for the two of them to be thrown together. Very little actually happened in regard to the supposed dangers and many of the solutions felt miraculous since we were given so little of Forest’s history ahead of time. (She knows her way around the living maze of a forrest because she grew up near there. Oh, ok, didn’t know that. She is mysteriously protected because she befriended a ghost at some earlier time. Oh, that’s nice for them. Can bluff her way out of Philippe’s clutches because she’s traded with him in the past. Great. etc)

So even though I thought some things went a little too smoothly for the pair I did enjoy their back and forwards banter. I like how fragile Syrus could seem at one moment and then badass the next. I like how strong Forest was supposed to be, even if she did little more than cry and fall apart in actuality.

To recap, I was pleased with the general story. There is obviously a lot more going on, with political intrigue on the horizon and the whole Leith situation yet to be resolved. But I had a hard time settling into the story for a few reasons. The rather abrupt switch from modern Austen to medieval Regia threw me for a loop. I then kept spinning since the language was undisputedly modern and there were a lot of modern earth wares popping up as smuggled items. (See here, we have to eat out Lucky Charms by torchlight and wear a sword with our Levis.) The history between Forest and Leith is just barely sketched out but immensely important. I needed to know more about it. And finally I just basically needed to get to know Forest more. It’s not that her character is shallow or anything, but we’re told that there is a lot more to her than we see and it would have been nice to get if those detailed. Then of course, on the other end of the book, after finally settling into the story it just up and ends on you.

Review of Tigris Eden’s Enslaved in Shadows & Burned in Shadows

Enslaved in ShadowsI picked up Tigris Eden‘s Enslaved in Shadows (Shadow Unit, #1) from the Amazon free list. I then bought the sequel, Burned in Shadows.

Description of book one:
A man’s Past leads to his Future……

Agent Stone of the Shadow Unit’s job is simple, most days. Work in the Shadows, police his own Kind.

When an unwanted assignment turns out to be his darkest fantasy from the past, Draven can’t help but be conflicted by the memories of the past and his responsibilities in the future. But his decision has been made.

The Heart of a woman is Tested……..

Jes can’t let the tall dark agent back into her life.
How can she trust any man after what she’s endured. Years of abuse have broken her down and she doesn’t have room for more. The man she turns to for help hasn’t abused her physically but he’s tormented her emotionally. A past betrayal left her scarred, but also brought her life.

Can she accept him into her heart and trust him again?

One will survive and adapt, the other will realize hearts can be mended even if it’s a bit too late.

The road to forgiveness sometimes only brings more pain. Unexpected events set their lives on two separate tracks leading to one outcome. Lives will be changed and an emotional battle to save their souls will leave them both trapped and enslaved in their need for one another.

Review of book one:
I’m of two minds, having finished this book. On one hand, I found myself really irritated with the book in general and the cliffhanger ending in particular. On the other hand, I apparently liked it since I was willing to go out and buy the sequel. The latter probably trumps the former.

To address that first issue, what annoyed me the most was the fact that the whole thing is just so darned wordy. What I mean is that Ms. Eden often takes pages and pages to say what could have been accomplished in two sentences. And while this sometimes worked really well, painting a vivid mental picture and setting the scene for the characters to shine in (and they often do), at other times I found myself thinking, ‘Oh. My. God. Have we really not moved on yet?’ Unfortunately this latter thought struck me more often than I would like to admit.

This excess verbiage also means that, even though the book is 232 pages long, very little seems to happen. Even less once you factor in the fact that half the book is sex scenes. This is to be expected, of course, so mentioning it isn’t a complaint. But it leaves the plot to consist of essentially a one-night stand, a meeting, a car trip, a kidnapping, a rescue, and a cliffhanger. That’s not much for 200+ pages.

As I said, I did go out and purchase book two…or open up my laptop and click ‘buy now.’ So there were obviously things about the book I liked too. Most notably I liked Royce and Ronin, who Burned in Shadows is focused on. Their mystique was intriguing and I want to know more about them.

I liked the way Eden made Draven’s over-bearing, alpha nature feel almost like more of a cultural misunderstanding between him and Jes than anything else. From a werewolf’s perspective it was obvious that their situation would work out and that Jes would come around in time. She has to, she’s his mate and therefore biologically unable to do otherwise. From a human perspective however, he had no right to do some of the things he did and take those choices from her, regardless of what the end result would be.

I liked seeing Draven come completely unglued over his woman and adjust to the idea of a child. I liked the banter between the members of the Shadow Unit and the mystery of their species. All-in-all I liked the general world Eden created here. I could have done with a little more world-building, so that I had a firmer grasp of it though.

Burned in ShadowsDescription of book two:
Royce Zarides has accepted his hand dealt by fate. He’s loved and left far too many women. In the bedroom that is. But one kiss from Belinda Raine Ignis was all it took for his eyes to open. Is she really the woman meant for him and his brother Ronin? Or will history only repeat itself? That’s the million dollar question he doesn’t want to answer.

Ronin does not believe that Belinda is for him and his brother. But one night with her isn’t enough. Even when he sees her for who and what she really is, Ronin still has a hard time expressing his emotions where Belinda is concerned, and time is running out now that she’s to ascend to the status of Matria of the Phoenix Enclave.

Belinda (Bells) Ignis is good at ignoring men. She’s had her share of heartache. Jilted at the altar by her first love, she’s sworn all men off for good. Her mother and Matria of her community has other plans in mind, as well as the Zarides brothers. When faced with the heated glances of Ronin and the smooth tongue of Royce, what’s a girl to do?

The clock is ticking down for certain members of the Shadow Unit. Draven assumed dead, leaves a sour taste in every ones mouth. Jes’ new found abilities make for a great addition to the team. But when things seem to settle, they only get worse, as the team sets out to discover the origins of Mr. Black and the notorious Red Sun Organization. Secrets are uncovered and deals are made that result in a deadly blow to all involved.

Review of book two:
You ever read a sequel and then wish you hadn’t, so that it could have retained it’s potential awesomeness a little longer? Yeah, that’s how I feel about this book. It could have been pretty good, but I finished it on a disappointed sigh.

First off, who was the book about–Jes and Draven or Bells, Ronin and Royce? The description says  the latter trio, but at least half the book is dedicated to Jes and Draven’s continuing drama and that left Bells, Ronin and Royce feeling like mere side characters, especially Bells. She seemed like little more than a puppet for the brothers to lust after. I didn’t feel like I knew her at all and barely knew the brothers any better, mostly because all the actual action is dedicated to Jes and Draven. Bells, Ronin and Royce’s ‘action’ is almost all bedroom play. How much personality can you glean from how well someone performs Cunnilius?

Problematically, despite being the second book dedicated to Jes and Draven, I didn’t know either of them in this book either. I realise characters have to grow and change for a story to progress, but Jes and Draven seemed like…no, they were different people. They took different names, different speech patterns, different attitudes, different abilities, and different behaviours. There was nothing recognisable about them.

What’s more, I didn’t like the new them. Granted, that’s understandable with Draven/Black. He turned into a baddie for a while (though I’m baffled about how). But Jes/Zea just mysteriously changed. I’m still waiting on a little clarity on that issue. And Zea was just too much to believe. She suddenly developed unbelievable powers. She became so powerful that the Shadow Unit accepted her as a member and within 6 weeks was sending her on serious undercover assignments. Really, does this organisation not have any training requirements or standardised entry requirements? How very convenient.

My biggest complaint however has to be the ending. I have no idea how or why the situation suddenly resolved itself. No one seemed to do anything to save the day, but somehow everyone was rescued. 

Lastly, the book needs an editor, especially one who can address the to vs. too, passed vs. pasted, and comma placement issues. I noticed a few errors in book one, but this second book is riddled with them. It’s also often really unclear who is speaking or even thinking. I often mention editing in reviews, but I’m actually generally pretty forgiving of it. I considered giving up on this one at one point. 

I’m not trying to be mean here. Eden has developed an interesting world. I still liked all the different species interactions and the way they each held their cards close to their chest. I liked how they ragged on eachother, but still got the job done. I’m sure there will be those out there who will love the book. I’m thrilled for them. I want to see every story find it’s perfect audience. Unfortunately I’m not it for this book. 

Review of Sleeves, by Chanse Lowell

Sleeves

Sleeves, by Chanse Lowell came from the Amazon free list. (At the time of posting it was still free.)

A friend of mine said to me recently that he was beginning to think that bulging biceps are to women what lush breasts are to men. Hmm, maybe. But for me it’s a well-muscled back. Keeping that in mind, you can probably imagine that this cover appealed to me. I hardly even read the description if I’m honest, just grabbed the pretty picture and went with it.

Description from Goodreads:
Kel isn’t at all the animal locked in a cage that he appears to be. Secrets keep him there, hidden from those who hunt him. But what does a man do when he needs physical contact to survive, but can’t stand the burning pain that comes with another’s touch? He’s found a way to get a small fraction of his needs met at the nightclub, Sleeves. What happens when he lets in an unknown woman with a healing hand? Casey can see past the vulgar mouth to the affection-starved man hiding inside. When she does, all hell breaks loose, and the past finds him. Will he be able to avoid the agency, or will they add Casey to their twisted experiments? She entered the cage with him, and now it seems there’s no way out.

 Review:
A previous review referred to this book as a ‘Hot Mess.’ And while Hot Mess isn’t a phrase that I’ve ever found myself tempted to use, I find it describes this book aptly. It’s not that it’s necessarily a bad book, it’s not, it’s just all over the place and full of holes the reader has to overlook to enjoy the story. They are overlookable, but it would be a little ridiculous to pretend they aren’t there.

To start with and probably most importantly, it’s never said but I’m gonna have to assume that Casey has some sort of preternatural power of super-empathy, because nothing in the book makes any sense otherwise. If she doesn’t then she just fell in love with a man who, in their single 30 minute interaction, forced her to jack him off in front of a crowd while calling her a slut, bitch, whore, cunt, and probably more I’ve forgotten. She in turn told him he was a beautiful, sweet man. (WTF!?) So unless she can magically see through his shit, to his kernel of true-self she is either really, really stupid or masochistic.

What’s more, her main strength seems to be in her ability to accept any verbal abuse thrown at her with aplomb and willingly offer up, “anything you need, baby.” Now, I get that this is supposed to show how much she loves Kel and maybe how brave she is. But what it mostly says to me is that she must be one of those women who is so desperate for a man that she will do, become and take anything without complaint. It makes me wonder if she really has any sense of self herself. And while we kind of find out what warped Kel (and I say kind of because it’s not a complete explanation) we don’t really find out what whacked Casey out. Which suggests that we’re not supposed to see her behaviour as inappropriate. (WTF!?) We do get a little of her sob story, but I couldn’t see how it would result in her willingness to accept Kel’s shit (and it is shit) so openly.

I did really like her ability to banter though. She didn’t have Kel’s foul language, but she had no problem slinging a one-shot back at him on occasion. This verbal sparring between the two of them was by far the best part of the book. And it’s good.

Kel in turn swung wildly from angst, clingy teenager to angry, dangerous alpha man with a tenuous grasp on sanity and back again, over and over. Now I’ll give you that when he was in his charming, boyish charm phase he was about as cute as they come. In these moments I really loved him. I even kinda liked his weird clingy, needy side. It was creepy as hell, but still kinda cute. Unfortunately his angry instability was truly scary and his inability to go two sentences without calling Casey some foul name often curled my toes…and not in a good way.

The thing is though, even though his language was deplorable and Casey didn’t deserve to be called all the names she did, it generally just boiled down to a whole heck of a lot of dirty talk. Because the actual sex was pretty clean. It never actually crossed into abusive, as his verbal description would suggest. Plus, even as he was playing Mr. Dominance he never failed to worship Casey and be honest about how much he needed/wanted her, which made it quite obvious that all of the mastery he held in their sexual relation was given to him by her. I found this dynamic damned sexy. 

This book is in desperate need of a little world building. It’s set in 2023, so I accept that there should have been some social evolution and scientific advancements. But the reader isn’t ever told what these might be. Everyone did seem to accept the whole ‘a secret organisation experimented on me and is currently hunting me’ with awe-inspiring ease. Not a single person raised an eyebrow at the fact that Kel had some strange sensory issue going on and apparently displayed regular feats of strength on stage, not to mention some truly horrific social skills. 

I also have to wonder if another thing that isn’t said, but must be true, is that people are…I don’t know, educated in their sleep or something. I mean Kel was apparently kept in a cage with a filthy, blood stained mattress and little else. So if his basic hygiene wasn’t worth taking into consideration I can’t imagine his education was either. But somehow he was a genius–able to create mysterious genetic cures and micro technologies. How did he learn these skills?

I think the best way to describe this book is what happily ever after would look like if two damaged nymphomaniacs found each-other. The actual sic-fi aspect of the story is a…well, a Hot Mess. It’s never explained what the secret organisation was actually trying to accomplish with Kel, for example, or what the mysterious ‘serum’ does to a person, or how the cure reverses it, or why Kel needs touch, or what will happen if he goes without it, or why it hurts, or why he treats women so badly. But the sex is a lot of fun, and for all their many faults, Kel and Casey are too.