Hot Head by Damon Suede – B- I liked but did not love this one. Sarah Franz at Dear Author gave it an B+ and her thoughts so often match mine when it comes to m/m romance that I was a bit surprised actually. I felt it took too long for Griffin and Dante to actually get together, there was a bit too much ‘will they or won’t they’ - even though, given it was a romance novel, I knew they would, which made the experience frustrating for me. However, there was a lot to like, I just didn’t like it as much as Sarah.
Simple Gifts by LB Gregg – B- This was a short sweet story about a lonely man who has had a crush on his best friend’s older brother for ages. There is history and when he comes home from the war in Afghanistan for good at Christmas, they meet again. I’ve a feeling I would have enjoyed it even more if it had been longer and I’d had more detail about the history between the two. There is also origami.
(part 2) In my November reads
post I reviewed the first 2 novellas. Here, as promised, is my review of the final 2 in the anthology.
It’s Not Christmas Without You by Helen Kay Dimon – B- An enjoyable story about a couple of love each other but want different things. My reading was interrupted by holiday stuff so my experience and my grade may have been affected by this. The story was very sexy and I think that an established couple works really well in such a short format. I thought the solution to their problem was fairly obvious but I liked that in the end, the obvious problem wasn’t really the only core issue – it was also Austin trusting that he was “good enough” for Carrie and that she would stick with him, which gave the story a bit more depth for me.
Mistletoe and Margaritas by Shannon Stacey – B+ This was the pick of the bunch for me. It was funny and sad and sexy and sweet all at once. Claire’s husband Brendan died 2 years ago. Their best friend Justin has been Claire’s rock. But he’s been in love with her since the night he and Brendan met her (Brendan got in first) and it’s becoming more difficult to hide it. Claire’s libido is waking up and she starts to notice Justin in a new way. She already loves him; they hang out, do everything together, have platonic sleepovers regularly but now she sees him as the hot man he is. The conflict here is really Justin’s guilt about cracking on to his best friend’s widow. I had much less trouble with the concept than Justin did, probably because I didn’t really get to know Brendan in the story. I did like that Brendan wasn’t either villified or lionised in the story and I think my angst factor would have been increased by some of Brendan and Claire together at the start but I guess space is at a premium at this length. I would have liked just a titch more of Justin and Claire’s HEA but it was a great end to the anthology. I liked how Brendan and Justin were different men and Claire never mistook one for the other but rather, appreciated the differences in both. I am really loving Ms. Stacey’s contemporaries and this is no exception.
Men Under the Mistletoe Anthology – B+. See my review here.
Bad Boyfriend by KA Mitchell – B+ KA Mitchell is back in fine form in this one. I didn’t like Bad Company as much as her previous releases (mainly because of the premise) but this was very very good. Quinn Maloney has been in a (closeted) relationship with Peter for 10 years. Then Peter (aka, the bastard) tells him he’s leaving him for a woman who he’s knocked up while he’s been cheating (the bastard). Problem is, Peter’s family have become Quinn’s family and letting go of Peter would mean letting go of everyone. So he doesn’t. It sounds doormat-y but the way it’s written, it comes across as very understandable. I did wonder how Peter (the bastard) and Quinn had managed to stay together for 10 years though – I think that’s maybe because he was in the Navy for a lot of it?
Anyway, fast forward about a year and Peter’s son is being christened and Quinn doesn’t want to attend alone. He meets Eli (Nate’s friend from Bad Company) and he’s perfect – his look screams gay and Quinn kind of wants to rub it in Peter (the bastard)’s face. But, Quinn finds in Eli a lot more than a hot date to a christening. I would have preferred a little more time for the relationship to grow – there was a touch of the insta-love about it which I found a bit jarring given Quinn’s nature (and by that, I mean that given his history with Peter (the bastard) he doesn’t seem prone to quick decisions). Also, some of the conversations seemed unfinished to me. I guess the author had extracted what she wanted to tell the reader but they were often interrupted rather than finished and mostly, those conversations were never revisited. I’m the kind of person who hates that in talk shows and conversations so it’s something I notice. I would have liked to have known what became of Chrissy (Peter – the bastard-’s) wife – I felt a bit sorry for her actually. But then, maybe she shouldn’t have married someone she barely knew just to be married to the baby daddy so you know, caveat emptor. And, after all, the book wasn’t about her.
However, I loved Eli and Quinn and I loved them together and I wanted more more more. I love KA Mitchell’s style and the way she writes super hot sex and I love the way she writes the romance – “never let me leave” *sigh*.
Finally, my Sony told me that the book was 175 pages long, but the last 15 pages were excerpts. You are warned.
Unraveled by Courtney Milan – A- full review to come.
Can I just say I’ve had an AMAZING listening month – I only found time to listen to 4 books but they were all excellent and I know they will be ones I’ll revisit in the future.
On The Edge by Ilona Andrews, narrated by Renee Raudman – B+. I actually enjoyed this one better the second time around. I can’t say for certain that it was Renee Raudman’s narration that made the difference for me – I think a large part was familiarity with the world of the Edge, the Weird and the Broken so that I could concentrate more on the story of the interactions between Declan and Rose, and William, George and Jack. Renee Raudman’s narration was, as usual, very very good but from book to book, unless the character has an accent (eg, French or Southern USA), the main characters tend to sound the same. It’s not a complaint as such but I’ve noticed it and given that I said the same thing about Angela Dawe, I felt it only fair to mention that it’s pretty much the same with most narrators, even ones as good as Ms. Raudman.
Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews, narrated by Renee Raudman – A- I think this series just gets better. This story follows William, the changeling from the previous book, as he goes on a mission for the Adrianglian secret service, The Mirror, into “The Mire” in the Edge. He is trying to hunt down a particularly nasty Louisania (the Weird Louisiana, not the Broken one) “Hand” operative, called Spider. In the course of his mission he meets the lovely Cerise Mar, whose parents have gone missing, taken by the Hand.
William is a very interesting character and I loved the way the author kept him consistently changeling in nature – he was a mature man, but he had a lack of social skills and didn’t understand a lot about women and this remained throughout the book – slowly improving as he came to know Cerise, but never completely going away. It made for some amusing and “awww” moments for me. Also, William unashamedly likes action figures – he never had a childhood and he enjoys them now and that’s just fine. I enjoyed William so much – he really carried the book for me.
Once again, Renee Raudman’s narration was excellent.
Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews, narrated by Renee Raudman – A- Wow. Kalder Mar is Cerise’s cousin and he’s got a vendetta against the Hand. He’s now an agent for the Mirror and he’s set a task to recover a stolen item before the Hand can get their mitts on it. Audrey Callahan is an Edger, currently living in the Broken, who has the magical talent of opening locks. She was involved in the theft in question and Kalder tracks her down to help and hot on his heels are evil Hand bad guys, including one lovely lady who has a penchant for skinning people alive. Then, there’s George and Jack, Rose’s younger brothers, who are significant characters in the book.
Kalder is a rogue and a grifter and a ladies man but he meets his match in Audrey. In many ways, she’s his female equivalent. There is excellent witty banter between the two with various attempts at one-upmanship by each, with mixed results which makes for some really fun listening.
Given that I’m a romance reader/listener first and foremost, you’d think it would have bothered me more that Audry and Kalder don’t actually meet up until a couple of hours into the narration. But, the world is so interesting and catching up with Kalder and George and Jack and geting to know Audrey a bit too, kept me hooked until the sparks started to fly. From the time they first meet, they are basically together, which is a very good thing as they really do strike sparks. The romance is perhaps less obvious – there’s only one sex scene really and for a lot of the book, Kalder and Audrey are flirting but not necessarily meaning it. So, it is subtle in that respect. However, because Audrey and Kalder are interacting all the time (once they meet) the heat and connection between them becomes obvious, so there is definitely joy for the romance reader – I think even boys who shudder to think of reading romance could happily pick this one up.
As to the narration, it was of course, wonderful. The only thing which threw me a little, was that Renee Raudman uses a particular voice for the parts in the evil Hands operatives’ POV. Later in the book, Kalder uses a disguise to infiltrate a special gathering and he uses an upper crust Adrianglian accent – except this voice was the same as the bad guys voice – having got used to that voice equalling bad guys, it was a bit of a shock to hear it coming out of the hero’s mouth.
Serpent’s Kiss by Thea Harrison, narrated by Sophie Eastlake – A My review of this excellent book is up at AAR here. The short version? Loved. It. It’s my **pick of the month**.
“I will always come for you, always hold on to you. I swear it. I will never let go of you, never fail you, I will hold steady, no matter what.”
In the Air Tonight by Stephanie Tyler, narrated by Johanna Parker – C- (but B/B+ for narration) – watch out for my review in an upcoming Speaking of Audiobooks column at AAR.
And that makes 240 books (including audiobooks) read and reviewed in 2011. Hmm. I had thought I’d read more than that – well, there’s always 2012!