Author Shari Nichols sent me a paperback copy of Haunted.
Description from Goodreads:
When medium Karly Matthews agrees to move into a haunted inn, she’s not sure what’s more dangerous, the ghost or the sexy innkeeper she tries to resist. She’s can’t deny the intense rush of desire she feels every time he’s near. When she agrees to embark on a no-strings-attached relationship, she finds herself thrust into a world of mind blowing pleasures. Now she must face the aching truths of her past.
Hotel heir Thayne Harper has a laser-like focus on success that doesn’t include the help of his family. He’s always been the black sheep, living in the shadow of his dead brother. His dreams are put to the test when a supernatural entity threatens to ruin everything. The one bright spot is the woman who intrigues his mind and heats his blood.
If only he can convince her that, despite his bad boy ways, he can change for the good. Her love becomes his only salvation. Passion burns white-hot as a dark threat looms. The ghost doesn’t want them to be together and sets her sights on Thayne, luring him to a place that goes beyond death. Will Karly be able to save him before it’s too late?
This was ok; certainly, the writing was readable and I didn’t notice any particular editing issues. I just think it wasn’t really my sort of book. I thought the lust and then the love were too instant and there wasn’t anything to support it. Further, I thought the manner in which Thayne pursued Karly felt more like a skeevy come-on artist than legitimate feels and the way, no matter what scene was happening, sexual thoughts were interjected cluttered the narrative.
I don’t actually mean to suggest it wasn’t a good book. I just think there are plenty of people who will enjoy it more than me. I was pretty so-so on the whole thing.
I received an Audible code for a copy of Emma Hamm‘s The Faceless Woman.
Description from Goodreads:
Once upon a time…
A town will only suffer the presence of a witch for as long as she is useful. Aisling watches the flames lick her thighs and prays for a quick death. But when an Unseelie prince appears through the smoke, she does what any self respecting witch would do.
She curses him.
Bran should never have traveled to the human realm, and is shocked when a witch binds them together. His life is hers and he refuses to die. He saves her from the fires, casts a hex on the townsfolk for good measure, then whisks her away to safety. His only stipulation? She has to remove the binding curse.
Unfortunately for them both, she can’t. Witch and Unseelie must travel across the Otherworld to break the ties that bind them. Secrets and lies stand between them, but both will stop at nothing to save themselves.
I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I love that almost every time I thought it was going to fall into some PNR trope it subverted it. Here’s an example (I’m paraphrasing), during the only (mild) sex scene Bran trotted out the common “say ‘no’ now, I won’t stop after this.” I hate when heroes do this and you hear it all the time in PNR, like the hero he isn’t saying “I’ll just go ahead and rape you if you try and stop me past this point” and the reader is supposed to feel it’s something else, romantic even. I groaned when he said it and then cheered when her response was, “I don’t want you to stop, but if you think I couldn’t stop you if I wanted to, you don’t know me well.”
That’s Aisling in a nutshell, never afraid to call someone out, never making herself smaller, never dulling her shine for someone else, but also never falling into harridan or shrew. I so much appreciated that both she and Bran were as honest with each other as they could be, never faulted the other for what was out of their control, and Hamm never took the easy ‘misunderstanding’ or ‘angry over secrets’ plotting path.
I look forward to reading more of this series, maybe going back and starting at the beginning. And if I can get the audio, even better, because Siobhan Waring did a marvelous job.
I received and Audible code for a copy of Erica Steven‘s Frost Burn.
Description from Gooreads:
After years of running, Quinn has finally found a town to settle down in while she searches for the man who tore her life apart. Despite her every intention not to, she’s started to put down some roots and make friends. However, the small bit of solace she’s found is quickly shattered when a group of vampires walk into the bar where she works and turn her life upside down.
Looking only to stop for a few nights and have a good time, Julian never expected to stumble across someone like Quinn. Determined to keep her free from the vampires looking to use her as a weapon, Julian is stunned to discover himself starting to care for the mysterious woman with a dark past she’s unwilling to reveal. It doesn’t take him long to realize that the vampires after her are only a part of the problem. This quiet little town is hiding a violent secret of its own; a secret that not only threatens the town, but Quinn in particular.
Honestly, I just didn’t like this. I thought Julian was an arrogant a-hole and Quinn a bit of a limp rag. It’s not that she was a weak heroine, there just kinda didn’t seem to be much to her. I didn’t feel their relationship grow and I was often annoyed.
What’s more, the book starts with the mystery of Quinn’s origins and why vampires are after her. Then, it immediately swerves off into an unrelated and immensely less interesting human investigation. The fact that these two end up being related is merely luck on the part of the characters and felt like nothing more than a manipulation of the plot on the part of the author.
I do want to address the fact that this is the first book in a spin-off series. I have not read the original series, but the author assures us that we don’t need to have read it to enjoy Frost Burn. I call BS on that. Yes, I could follow Frost Burn. But the characters and events of The Kindred Series are so often referenced that I 100% felt that I was missing out on vital information. What’s more, Julian so often reminded the reader that he’d been a bad man that I believed him. That’s part of why I didn’t like him. Maybe if I’d read the previous series and seen his moral transformation I would feel different. And there is absolutely no character development of side characters. I assume that is because they are known from the previous series. So, I recommend reading The Kindred before this.
Lastly, I think I have to give in and accept that I don’t like Meghan Kelly‘s narration style. That’s not to say it’s objectively bad, just not for me. I’ve listened to several of her books and while they are competently done, I find I just don’t like the way she voices people.
All in all, just about nothing worked for me about this book.