Friday, December 23, 2016

Firelight by Kristen Callihan (Darkest London #1)




200 Pages | Forever | Historical Paranormal |Darkest London #1 | 2012

She's a woman with a secret, he's a masked man with a curse. However the mysterious Lord Benjamin Archer appears to be hiding more than just his face when a trail of dead bodies start piling up and all signs point to him as the murder.

I picked up this book because I read a review that mentioned this was a romance with a strong a plot, which is my jam in romance.

Firelight is a mush of genres having to be both a historical, a romance and a paranormal at the same time, but I never feel fully immersed in the world because it felt like we were experiencing each genre separately.

There is a slow (almost imperceptible) reveal of the paranormal aspects so fhe first half of the novel read more like a straightforward historical, and the dramatic moments involving Archer and Miranda read as romance, which at times was over the top, and when the paranormal element comes into play it takes over everything. There was at times to much going on and not enough story for every element.

This is Callhan's debut novel and I like a lot of her concepts and how she works mythology, lore and magic into her dark version of Victorian London. Callihan is a visual writer and she does some fun wordplay that ever so slightly hints at the other worldliness of her characters.

Speaking of characters Callihan has a tough female character who can hold her own, and a brooding secretive hero with a dark past. I don't think it's spoilery to say she swaps some traditional gender roles at the end and the heroine saves the hero. Like he is legit passed out during the climax.

The other reason I picked up this book is because I was enjoying Moira Quirk's narration of The Raven Prince and since I had some technical issues with the file,  I went in search of what else she did. Quirk is a master of accents and she melts into the narrative with a seamless non-obtrusive narration

I'm open for reading book 2



Fun Fact

I never watched it but for you GUTS fans, Moira Quirk was the "Mo" of Mike & Mo, the host of Nickledon's Guts. Also this audio won a 2013 AudioFile Earphones Award. Well deserved

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Playing Dirty by Helenkay Dimon



8 hrs 55 minutes| Avon | Romantic Suspense | Bad Boys Undercover #1 | 1/27/15

Things are moving pretty fast between Shay Alexander and Ford Decker, the hot IT professional who just moved into the Dupont Circle property she manages. What Shay doesn’t know is that Ford is actually an undercover operative for Alliance, a clandestine black ops organization, and he’s been tasked with watching her while Alliance searches for a deadly toxin her cousin stole. Ford has been trained to  be prepared for anything…. but he wasn’t prepared to fall in love with his mark.


This is the first romance I’ve read where the hero and heroine are in an established relationship from page one and I kind of liked getting past the meet cute stuff. But I really hated that for most of the book Shay has no idea about Alliance and what Ford really does, even when it starts to directly involve affect her. Every time they were alone together I was screaming at Ford:




I’ve been listening to The Scandalicious and The Nerd Herd podcast and they always talk about heroes doing a grovel and for me this hero had to have a big grovel...and he did.


Lying for Your Own Good aside, I really enjoyed this book. There was a lot of Rule of Cool, action, and twists as Ford begins to suspect there is a mole within the Alliance organization. I really want Weston Brown, the ex-marine enforcer of the Alliance team story next.


The narrator of the audio is Christian Fox who I think has the perfect romance hero voice and is really good at creating different male voices. Ford is the leader of  the 4-person Delta team, and Fox managed to give each team member a unique voice. For one character he had this uncanny way of just removing  most of the base from his voice.  That said his accents and female voices aren’t great. In the book Alliance is made up of former CIA and MI6, so there are a lot of Britsh voices and I’m pretty sure one of the British guys  was just him doing a Sean Connery impression.


There seem to be a lot of teams within Alliance so I imagine this series is going to expand and possibly have an overarching story line, with only three books and a novella out I say this is a great series to get in on the bottom floor.


SIDE NOTE

I really dislike the title of this book, I mean the protagonists aren't really bad boys. Also, Playing Dirty is such a popular title for romance novels.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fly With Me by Chanel Cleeton (Wild Aces #1)






I’d like to think that I’m not "one of those people” who are all judge-y about romance but sometimes a flippant comment dismissing certain types of romance sneaks up on me.

When I first saw Cleeton’s fighter pilot series making its way through the blogosphere I assumed it was some Romancelandia version of fighter pilots like Romancelandia’s version of billionaires. I thought the fighter pilot aesthetic in this book would be all about sexy uniforms, alpha dudes using their Awesome McCoolname call signs and maybe there’d be a scene where the hero takes the heroine for a joyride. Needless to say I was so very wrong.  

When Florida boutique owner Jordan Callahan meets Air Force fighter pilot Noah Miller in a Vegas nightclub she deems him the rare “Chubacabra”of men. From the first few chapters I thought this was going to be a snarky, sexy Victoria - Dahl-esque romp com, but man this book takes a turn as Jordan and Noah try to build a long distance relationships while dealing with the realities of Noah’s Air Force lifestyle. It quickly becomes a story about what is means be a military significant other, the sacrifices of service members and some of the dangerous realities of being a fighter pilot.

According to Cleeton’s blog her now husband was going to fighter pilot training when they met, and I think this is what adds so much realism to this book. She really gets into the nitty gritty of what fighter pilots do on a daily basis. There are a lot of fighter pilot / military terms to learn in this book and while we get some spoonfeeding through Jordan’s POV,  the jargon used during Noah’s POV are just sort of thrown around so you kind of have to pick it up in the context clues.

I think most people’s context of fighter pilots’ come from the movie Top Gun and I really like how  early on in the book when Noah and Jordan are first meeting Noah sort of goes through the list of things that are real and fake about fighter pilots based on that movie.




"So do you guys wear the white outfits?” she asked, a speculative gleam in her eyes.

Fucking Top Gun
“That’s the Navy.”
“Oh.” She flashed me an apologetic smile. “Those are kind of hot.”

I choked back a laugh. “Not letting you around any sailors. Check.” Her eyes twinkled with amusement. I hadn’t been wrong last night. She definitely liked to play.

“How about the one from A Few Good Men? You know, the black one with the gold and the cool hat.”

“Still the Navy.”

“Just out of curiosity, do you know anything about the military that doesn’t come from a Tom Cruise movie?”




This book is written in first person, which is kind of uncommon for romance novels. I personally like it because that’s what I’m used to reading mostly YA, but I do think that will be a barrier for some romance people.
I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to finish the series. This three book series follows the other male pilots in Noah’s Wild Ace’s squadron, but seriously my entire kingdom for a female fighter pilot romance.



SIDENOTE

Monday, December 5, 2016

Strip You Bare by Maisey Yates (Deacons of Bourbon Street #4)



200 Pages | Loveswept | Contemporary | Deacons of Bourbon Street #4 | 1/5/16

The last show I really binged (like 3-4 episodes a day) was the first few seasons of Sons of Anarchy and all  I could think while watching was; hmmm... this needs more romance.

Contemporary romance seems to be getting grittier and grittier theses days and motorcycle club romance fits in perfectly with its dominant, alpha, violent men. Yates is a relatively young author who often talks about feminism online,so  I was curious to see her take on some of the inherit misogyny in biker culture and.... she actually just kind of embraces it.

I just realized this is the last book in the series (with each book being by a different author) and I get the feeling there is some established "mythology" to the motorcycle club but I was able to keep up.

After the Deacons of Bourbon Street MC is temporarily disbanded  Micah “Prince” Carpenter runs to San Diego and goes legitimate. He  becomes real estate mogul (as you do) but after decade of being legit  Micah is pulled back in to the MC for one last job.

The Deacons discover the patriarch of the Delacroix family, one of the wealthiest families in New Orleans,  has left  his mansion to the MC and Micah is assigned to babysit the house while they figure out why. The only thing Micah doesn't count on is Sarah Delacroix, the Delacroix granddaughter who fully intends to use the mansion for her Christmas party.

I liked this book and it did give me some of the Sons of Anarchy feels but with a softer touch. I don't usually love the alpha male with beta female but Yates made it work. Micah is super alpha without being an alphahole and Sarah is the young sheltered virgin but I never wanted her to DIAF. I think what made these tropes work for me is how Yates also subverts the tropes. Sarah is a virgin, but she's not dumb and Micah is alpha, but he never forces Sarah into anything.

Although I will say, I'm not exactly sure I like how books like these still get HEAs. I know a lot of romance readers despised the  nontraditional HEA of a certain biker romance and while I haven’t read it...I get why an author would write a nontraditional HEA. Motorcycle clubs  are  misogynistic,  and breeding grounds for toxic masculinity. The women inside the club--no matter how strong or snarky-- are still property and it kind of bothers me that they get HEAs

Big Spoilers
At the end of this book we find out that Micah accidentally killed Sarah's father while doing work for the MC. Then a few pages later we're at the super sweet epilogue and it left me kind of cold. I kind of wish Micah had gone to jail or something for manslaughter and then the epilogue is him getting out.

I probably won't read the other books in this series since I accidentally read the last one, but I see Megan Crane has a spinoff series for the  Deacon's rival gang, The Devil's Keepers, that I may keep my eyes out for.

UPDATE: Lol, never mind, I just bought two more books in this series !

SIDENOTE

I really hate this cover. It makes the book look more erotic than it actually is.