Where Demons Fear to Tread by Stephanie Chong – DNF Not a success. See why here.
Something Different by SA Reid – A-/B+ see my full review here.
The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne – B+ full review to come.
Head Over Heels (Lucky Harbor #3) by Jill Shalvis – B+ full review to come.
Holiday Kisses Anthology – 4 contemporary Christmas novellas. So far I have only read 2 of them. Warning. I seem to be an outlier on these two novellas. I liked, but did not love them.
I’ll review the other 2 stories in December’s round up. Maybe I’ll be feeling more of the love by then 🙂
This Time Next Year by Alison Kent – C+ Brenna is driving up a snowy mountain to visit her Gran for Christmas. Afterward, she is jetting off to Malawi to volunteer in a clinic there for a year (she’s a nurse). Brenna has an accident after narrowly missing a deer in the road and ends up in a deep snowdrift. Riding to the rescue, literally, comes Dillon, a doctor and former military man who carries scars from his tours in Afghanistan. This one had its moments for me but there were some things which struck me as a little odd – hello stranger danger – I mean, he could have been a serial killer – he wasn’t of course, heroes never are, but she didn’t know that. Also there were some leaps taken emotionally (from attraction to love) in 2 or 3 days which I couldn’t quite get on board with. The last little bit was unusual as they only had access to each other via snail mail and in this day and age, I would have thought that skype or email would have been possible even from Malawi.
I did like that Brenna still went to Malawi, that she didn’t just chuck her life in to be with him but I would have liked a previous connection or a slower fall into love to fully believe the HEA. Still, a year had passed and they had each had time to process and Dillon had had time to heal. Part of me was sad this was done off page as more Dillon is not a bad thing – I would have liked to have a deeper understanding of him. Part of me was very glad that his healing wasn’t actually because of her. He did it for himself. Maybe she was the inspiration but the rest was all him. I felt that by the end they were each getting whole people as partners but I wondered if the story was just too big for the length of the novella?
A Rare Gift by Jaci Burton – C We first met Wyatt Kent in Jaci Burton’s 2010 holiday novella All She Wants for Christmas, which was brother Ethan’s story. Wyatt is cynical and solitary after a bitter divorce. Calliope Andrews is the sister of Wyatt’s ex-wife. The Kent brothers have a construction company and Calliope runs a day care centre that needs an extension. That is what brings the couple together and the URST is obvious once their in the same room together.
The sticking point for me was the whole dating-my-sister’s-ex-husband thing. There was very little, particularly early in the book, which addressed the squick factor of the former sister-in-law becoming the the new lover/wife. It’s not my favourite type of story as I do see a squick factor here but I feel if it’s going to be done, the elephant in the room needs to be addressed. Maybe it’s only me who sees the elephant though because it seemed to be glossed over to me.
The other aspect which didn’t ring true was that bitter, twisted Wyatt had ONE conversation with his ex-wife and all of a sudden the bitterness was gone. I’m not sure I really understood why he was so bitter in the first place, especially given that it seemed to be solved so easily. Leaving aside those 2 things, I did enjoy the rest of the book. Ms. Burton can surely write a smokin’ sex scene! Apart from that though, there was connection and affection between Calliope and Wyatt and I liked them, separately and as a couple, but the “elephants” were too big for me to truly buy into the premise and that has affected my grading.
Survivor in Death by JD Robb, narrated by Susan Ericksen – B+. This is one of those books which made me cry in print and the audio was no exception. Susan Ericksen is so good at conveying the emotion of Nixie, the little girl whose family is killed while they were sleeping. I’ve always thought that this author excels at making me care in a few short paragraphs about the victims in this series and there are plenty of examples of just that in this book. Also, because one of the children killed was a sleepover guest who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, as a parent, this story had me a bit chilly.
Gideon by Jacquelyn Frank, narrated by Xe Sands – C+ As much as it amazes me that Xe Sands can make her voice do that low growly baritone and not hack up a lung after, I found this book a bit….slow. There was a lot of time when nothing really happened and I think there is a contender for longest love scene ever in here. Because there was little action and I can’t skim listen the way I can skim read, this was less enjoyable for me than I’d hoped. I did enjoy Xe’s narration though.
Born in Fire by Nora Roberts, narrated by Fiacre Douglas – B-. watch out for a review over at AAR.
Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs, narrated by Holter Graham – A- First of all, why why WHY is the novella Alpha and Omega not available on audio? 🙁 I’ve read the novella so the story makes much more sense to me but without it I really wonder about how listeners can get the true Charles/Anna relationship. The novella is a complete story but it also serves as the (effectively) first few chapters of Cry Wolf, as the book starts off right after the novella. It’s a crying shame I tell you!!
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, on to the actual review. I love this book. I’ve read it twice and now listened to it as well. Anna is an amazing character – abused and scared, she is nevertheless brave and strong and heroic. What I like about Patricia Briggs’ female leads is that they always participate in the final takedown of the bad guys. Charles rescues Anna from a bad situation in Chicago (in Alpha and Omega) but Anna’s skills and courage are needed to defeat the evil in Cry Wolf. I love that Anna is part of it rather than that things just happen to her.
This book starts when Bran and Charles return to Montana with Anna, after the events in Alpha and Omega. There is a rogue werewolf killing humans in the Cascade mountains and Charles and Anna head into the cold to find and deal with the threat, which, of course, is not all as it first seems to be.
I enjoyed Holter Graham’s narration quite a bit. He doesn’t try to do a female voice for Anna, he just softens his tone a little and this was quite effective. At first I thought his voice for Charles was a bit… wrong but after some thought, I changed my view. Charles is not a talker. He’s not good with words and he thinks before he speaks (and during the speaking too). Mr. Graham had him talking in a deep slow voice which reflected that. Initially I mistook the slow for stupid. And Charles is NOT stupid. But, when I listened to the words in the description of Charles, Mr. Graham was right – Charles does speak slowly.
This series is more romantic than the Mercy Thompson series, mainly because it features Charles and Anna as a couple working together to solve various conflicts. Having said that, it is more on the “sweet” side of the heat level. Which just goes to prove that hot smex does not necessarily a great book make.
Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs, narrated by Holter Graham – B+ Hunting Ground takes place shortly after Cry Wolf ends and the relationship between Anna and Charles is still quite new. They are dealing with the fallout of the abuse suffered at the hands of her former pack in Chicago and Charles is getting used to having a wife – he’s been a loner for most of his life. Charles and Anna head to Seattle as ambassadors for Bran to meet with the European delegation regarding their opposition to Bran’s plan to reveal the existence of werewolves to the world. The European wolves can’t stop it from happening – Bran is the Marrok and in the US, his word is law for werewolves, but he wants to calm their fears and help them out as much as possible. While in Seattle, a group of hired vampires attack and/or kill various cast members and it becomes clear that Anna is a target.
I liked this book but not quite as much as Cry Wolf. In this one, I kind of had to cross my eyes and hunch to make the plot make sense to me (in terms of who the ‘bad guy’ was) and, after getting used to. Also, after coming to the conclusion that Holter Graham’s voice for Charles in Cry Wolf was spot on, he went and changed it for this book!! It is particularly noticeable listening to the books back to back. In this one, Charles had a normal guy’s voice – deep and pleasant to the ear but different to the one previously used. I liked the first one better. Still, a very good listen and I highly recommend this series as well as the Mercy Thompson series – either on audio or on paper/ebook.