Genre: Fantasy

Retro Review: Raintree: Inferno by Linda Howard

Posted May 24, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 6 Comments

Retro Review: Raintree: Inferno by Linda HowardReviewer: Holly
Raintree: Inferno by Linda Howard
Series: Raintree #1
Also in this series: Raintree: Sanctuary
Published by Silhouette
Publication Date: May 1st 2007
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Fantasy
Pages: 288
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three-half-stars

Two hundred years after the Raintree clan defeated and abandoned them on a small Caribbean Island, the Ansara wizards are rising again to take on their bitterest foes. Despite their extraordinary powers and supernatural origin, the Raintree have largely blended into the modern world. They are bankers, cops, husbands, wives and lovers in the society of humankind.

But now, from Nevada to North Carolina, the rejoined battle will measure the endurance of their people. It will test their loyalties and relationships. And it will force upon them all new lives they could barely have imagined before.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

I think about this series every now and again. I may have to go back and re-read it at some point. Just to see if my opinion of it still stands. 

This review was originally published May 14, 2007

I’ve been hearing a lot about this book the last few weeks, most of it not so good. Jane at Dear Author and Rosie both reviewed it and neither had very good things to say about it. I’ve been a LH fangirl for years now, but her last few releases, with the exception of her Blair Mallory books have left a lot to be desired, so I wasn’t too keen on reading this before I read the bad reviews. After? Yeah, so wasn’t going to touch it.

But then last week I read Tara Marie’s review and changed my mind. You see, there are some things I find I can’t stomach in a novel, and brain rape is one of them. From what Rosie and Jane said, I was under the impression there was quite a bit of that in this novel. But Tara Marie shed a bit more light on the subject and I decided to see for myself how bad it truly was.

Side Note: Spoilers below. I don’t think I can say what I truly felt about this book without them. :End Side Note

Lorna Clay has been spending a good amount of time in Dante Raintree’s casino. Normally that wouldn’t be cause for concern – quite the opposite in fact – but she never loses. Never. She’s not winning massive amounts of money at one time, but she’s walking away with enough to make Dante and his main casino dude a bit skeptical. They can’t seem to spot how she’s cheating via video, but they’re sure she is. So they drag her upstairs to “question” her and both she and Dante seem to have a rather…electric connection to one another.

Now, Dante is a Raintree, which is a psychic type of people that have been around for hundreds of years. They have a feud going on with the Ansara clan that’s lasted for centuries, and as soon as Dante figures out that Lorna has psychic abilities, he starts to wonder if she’s Ansara.

To quote Lorna about the Raintree/Ansara situation:

“You’re the weirdo equivalent of the Hatfields and the McCoys?”

She’s not. Lorna doesn’t even realize she has powers. She just thinks she’s really lucky. While in Dante’s office, a fire breaks loose in the main part of the casino, 19 floors below them. As one of Dante’s powers is the ability to control fire, he immediately heads down to help fight it, dragging Lorna along with him.

Now, this is where Jane and Rosie seemed to start having major issues with the book. I’m just going to tell you what happened. This is still relatively early in the book (the 2nd or 3rd chapter, I think) so you probably won’t be hurting yourselves if you read this part, but beware, major spoilers below:

Dante goes down to the main part of the casino to fight the fire and he can’t. He isn’t sure why – if it’s because his powers have been depleted trying to help the guests get out, or if it’s the fire itself – but he can’t get it under control. At this point, he and Lorna are pretty much surrounded by the fire. There’s no way for them to get out alive. He’s placed a protective “bubble” around them, but it’s starting to crack and he knows they don’t have much time left. Plus, the hotel that’s attached to the casino is at full capacity and he’s afraid of how many lives will be lost if the fire spreads that far.

He knows if he had another Raintree there to connect minds with he’d be able to pool their power and contain the inferno, but there’s no one but him and Lorna. That’s when he realizes – duh – she has powers and he could use them to boost his own. That’s when he “brain rapes” her by pushing himself into her mind and combining her powers with his.

I honestly don’t see what the big deal is. When weighing a situation like that, your death along with possibly hundreds of others, or forcing yourself into the mind of another for the greater good, well…I just can’t say I blame the guy. No, it wasn’t pleasant for Lorna and yes it was a gross invasion of her privacy, but he didn’t do it to find out if she was Ansara, or to purposely cause her pain. He did it to save her life. And his. And possibly hundreds of others. No big deal.

What comes next is a bit harder to swallow. He uses a mind “compulsion” to keep her from running once the fire is under control and they’re out of the building. Basically, if he tells her “Don’t move” she’s literally stuck in one spot. Because he’s not convinced of her innocence – in either the gambling or the fire – he binds her to him and forces her to remain against her will. At one point he even orders her to silence.

I had a hard time with this. Perhaps it’s because I’m a fairly independent woman and I would hate to have all control of myself taken away. Or perhaps that has nothing to do with being independent or a woman, but simply a human being. In any case, the next chapter or so was hard for me to get through. The way Dante pretty much forced her home with him and then checked her out to see if she was Ansara left a bad taste in my mouth.

But I persisted and you know…I ended up really liking the book. Really liking it. I can’t say it’s LH’s best work, but it more closely resembled the classic LH I fell in love with than anything else she’s produced in recent years.

Lorna was a fabulous heroine. She suffered numerous shocks in a short period of time, but rather than bowing under them, she kept her chin up and her sense of humor. She was sassy and sarcastic, and though I thought she forgave Dante a little too soon for his mind control of her, her reasons for doing so made a lot of sense.

As for Dante, he was a typical Howard Alpha and I thought he was great for what he was. For those of you who enjoyed some of her earlier category type books and works like Dream Man, you should enjoy him.

The ending was a major cliffhanger, but the relationship aspect of the story was all wrapped up. Since this is the first of a trilogy, I wasn’t too upset with the ending. I am annoyed that I have to wait for the next 2 installments, but otherwise? I highly enjoyed it. Well, once I got over being pissed at Dante, that is.

I’m giving this a 3.5 out of 5.

I’m not sure how I feel about the whole 3 author trilogy, though. Having never read the other 2 authors, I can’t say for sure how excited I am to read them. On the other hand, I am anxious to see what happens next, so I’m sure I’ll purchase them.

The series is as follows:

Raintree: Inferno by Linda Howard
Raintree: Haunted by Linda Winstead Jones (to be released June 1, 2007)
Raintree: Sanctuary by Beverly Barton (to be released July 1, 2007)

This book is available from Silhouette Nocturne. You can purchase it here.

three-half-stars

Guest Review: Frostbite by Alexandria Bellefleur

Posted April 26, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Frostbite by Alexandria BellefleurReviewer: Tracy
Frostbite by Alexandria Bellefleur
Published by Less Than Three Press
Publication Date: April 26th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, m/m
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three-half-stars

After his sister touches a lethal Frost Flower and succumbs to Frozen Sickness, Rainor seeks out the mysterious Dragon, who purportedly holds the only cure for the fatal disease. In gratitude for saving his sister's life, Rainor agrees to bring him fresh bread twice a week—despite the man's insistence he wants for nothing.

As Rainor makes his deliveries, the two slowly become friends, and Rainor finds in the Dragon all the things he never found in his little village. But on his way to make his latest delivery, the unthinkable happens, and Rainor fears that if he asks for the cure he needs to live, he'll lose the man he's coming to love…

Rainor loves his sister and she means a lot to him.  When he takes her out to the lake and then accidentally falls asleep his devastated when he realizes that she’s touched one of the Frost Flowers.  He knows that he must get the cure to her quickly or she’ll be dead within 24 hours.  The doctor tells him the only cure is up in the mountain cave with the Dragon.

When Rainor arrives in the cave he’s shocked to see how homey it is.  The man they call Dragon isn’t a dragon at all – just a man.  He gladly gives Rainor the cure and asks for nothing in return.  Rainor insists on bringing him bread every three days to pay for the cure and Dragon, actually named Drachen, finally agrees.

At first Rainor is afraid of Drachen but as the days go by and Rainor continues to take the bread, they start to talk and become friends.  Rainor learns the horrible tale of how Drachen came to be living in the caves – evil witchcraft.   When that very witch tricks Rainor into touching one of the Frost Flowers Rainor thinks he can get the cure without bothering Drachen but his decision ends up turning on him.

This was a great little fantasy short story.  It had wonderful characters and the story was well written.  I liked the way that the author wrote Rainor as he was such a good person and rarely put himself first.  This fairytale was a lovely, sweet m/m romance that I truly enjoyed.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

Guest Review: Betrothed by Wanda Wiltshire

Posted April 19, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Betrothed by Wanda WiltshireReviewer: Tracy
Betrothed (Betrothed #1) by Wanda Wiltshire
Series: Betrothed #1
Published by Pantera Press
Publication Date: July 1st 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 341
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two-stars

Amy Smith has always known she was different. Severe allergies, fragile health and taunts at school have made life an endurance test for the adopted seventeen year old.

When Amy starts having strange dreams, everything changes. Night after night, she becomes trapped in a shroud of black - a void of silence but for a male voice calling for a girl named ‘Marla’.

One night, the darkness clears, Leif is revealed and Amy discovers that she is the girl he has been searching for.Immediately the two are swept up in a passionate yet forbidden love. Leif isn’t like the other boys Amy knows. Breathtakingly gorgeous, he speaks with her telepathically … not to mention, he can fly …

Desperate to find a way to be with her, Leif tells Amy of the terrifying threat to his Fae homeland, the danger to the people, and of an unforgivable betrayal to his King. He urges her to seek her true identity…. But Amy is confused... isn't it all just a dream?

Amy has always felt different than the other kids in her school.  She has severe allergies and can hardly eat anything.   The kids at school have always taunted her except for a small core group of friends – especially her best friends Jack and Hilary who are always there for her.

For the last few months Amy has been dreaming about being lost in a dark place with a voice calling for a girl named Marla.  When she finally meets this man in her dreams she falls in love almost immediately.  He says he is a prince of the Fae and that Amy, whose real name is supposedly Marla, is Fae as well.  He tells her that she is his betrothed and that they will be together in the Fae kingdom as soon as he physically locates her.  Of course there is one glitch…his father, a king, forbade Marla’s parents from having children and she did anyway and then hid her away.  The prince, Leif, thinks that he managed to get the decision overturned.

Marla is understandably confused by everything she hears so searches for her true identity.  It actually points to the fact that Leif could be telling her the truth.  She also believes he’s a figment of her imagination so when he shows up and she finds that he’s actually real she’s blown away.  Now that Marla knows who she is she can’t wait to get to the Fae kingdom and be “normal.” Of course there are many things standing in her way.  Her human adoptive parents, the whole “I really wasn’t supposed to be born” thing and then of course Leif’s father who hates her who will stop at nothing to keep Marla out of Telophy.

Betrothed had a decent blurb and I was interested in the premise when I read it. Unfortunately there ended up being too many things about this book that just didn’t gel well with me.

My main issue was Amy/Marla – throughout the book.  She drove me batty with her indecisions.  With Leif is was insta-love.  Of course in the Fae the men are born and then send part of their soul out to find their soul mate, or in this instance betrothed, and then she’s born.  There is no greater love in their culture.  I don’t normally mind insta-love but the fawning and falling all over Leif was ridiculous.  Maybe it was her age (17) but whatever it was had me rolling my eyes on a regular basis throughout the book. Leif I didn’t mind so much because he definitely more mature than Marla was.

I also had a huge issue with Leif’s father – one of the more important kings in the Fae land.  The author made it so that every woman loved the king and wanted to be with him.  They couldn’t refuse, either.  What a load of rot.  That drove me crazy, especially when the author had the king using his kingly influence against Marla.  It was just downright creepy and disgusting and kind of icing on the cake for this book.

I kept thinking that the end would make it all come together in the end but that didn’t happen either – we were left hanging with Leif and Marla completely apart (because of the bastard king).  So not only do we get a frustrating story, the author ends it with no HEA.  Ugh!

Overall I found the book…frustrating.  The writing wasn’t horrible but I really disliked the story a lot, sorry to say.

Rating: 2 out of 5

two-stars

Guest Review: Dragon Soldier by Mell Eight

Posted March 10, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Dragon Soldier by Mell EightReviewer: Tracy
Dragon Soldier by Mell Eight
Series: Supernatural Consultant #5
Also in this series: Dragon Consultant, Dragon Deception, Dragon Dilemma, Dragon Detective, Dragon Adventure
Published by Less Than Three Press
Publication Date: March 8th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, m/m, Romance, Paranormal
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three-half-stars

The aftermath of the last battle has left Nickel weak in bed and grounded for the next decade. Despite being in trouble, Nickel wants to return to the battle as soon as he can, but thoughts of Platinum, the dragon helping to nurse him back to health, keep distracting him.

Platinum can't believe how much his life has changed. He went from being a lonely fugitive on the run to part of a family in only hours. The last few days have been his happiest, especially now that he's met Nickel. He knows it's only temporary, though. The enemy that kept him captive for most of his life isn't finished with him yet, and even Platinum and Nickel's combined powers might not be enough to save them.

In the last book Nickel was hurt by a scientist who had stolen dragon magic.  He is put into a medically induced coma so that he can heal, which he does, but it’s a very slow process.  (In the blurb is says “the next decade” but I’m thinking it just seemed like a decade to Nickel because in truth it was only about a month or so, not 10 years.) Nickel wants nothing more than to get back in the game of finding the horrible scientists that are torturing dragons and stealing their magic. Unfortunately he has to get his strength back in order to do that.  One that that makes it all worthwhile is Platinum.

Platinum was taken from his mother at a very young age and grew up for the last 16 or so years in captivity.  He was tortured and operated on almost daily until he escaped.  Well, he thought he escaped but it was all a plan by the scientists to lure another dragon in.  Luckily they didn’t succeed.  Platinum is now living in Mercury and Dane’s home with all their kits, and his twin who was saved 10 years earlier.  He’s getting much needed schooling, helping Dane at his office and mostly looking after Nickel.  When Nickel awakens Platinum knows that there’s something special between the two of them and when Nickel says “mate” he knows that feels right.

Both Platinum and Nickel need to find their place in the world they live in.  Each of them want to find and stop the scientists but once that’s done where do they each go from there?

Dragon Soldier was another lovely look into Mercury and Dane’s little dragon family.  Adding Platinum into the mix made a huge difference in the lives of Platinum and Nickel, even though the younger kits just went with the flow.  🙂

I really loved Platinum and Nickel together.  There’s was a very new relationship but was very comfortable.  Watching the pair get to know each other but yet find comfort in the other was quite sweet and I liked the way Eight wrote this little slice of their lives.

The smaller kits like Lumie, ‘Ron and Alloy are still up to no good.  I’m still hoping we’ll get to see them grow up cuz there’s a lot of mischief in those three bodies that I’d love to read about. 🙂

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

Guest Review: Bluebeard’s Curse by Regine Abel

Posted February 13, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Bluebeard’s Curse by Regine AbelReviewer: Tracy
Bluebeard's Curse by Regine Abel
Series: Dark Tales #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: February 15th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 82
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three-half-stars

King Eric Thorsen, also known as Bluebeard, is once more widowed. Like all the others before her, his late wife succumbed to the lure of the curse that plagues him and threatens the realm. Willing maidens gather at the castle in the hope of becoming the next Queen. However, that title comes with a steep price: the King’s new bride must first resist temptation for one year and one day, or die trying.

Eric is tired of getting married.  He’s at a ball and he has to pick a new bride – his 28th bride to be exact.  All of his previous brides have died as he is cursed.  The bride must outlast the curse for 1 year and then it will be broken but so far the longest one has lasted only 6 months.  When Eric sees Astrid he’s intrigued.  She’s not his normal type but he can’t take his eyes off of her.  He thinks that maybe because she’s not like the others she can break the curse.

The pair marry and Astrid seems to be doing well but soon the temptation starts to get to her.  Eric has done the worst thing possible and fallen in love with Astrid.  Knowing she will probably die tears him apart but he hopes she can beat the curse.  Unfortunately, other people get involved and after that breaking the curse may become impossible.

Bluebeard’s Curse was a good story.  It was definitely different from your average romance and had a bit of a twist that was unexpected.  I wasn’t quite sure what the time period was or where it was set – seemed like an old Viking story but I wasn’t sure.  Despite that the added paranormal twist/curse was a wonderful aspect to the story.

Eric and Astrid were pretty great characters although since the book was so short it really focused on the “now” and didn’t get too much into their pasts.  We knew why Astrid had gone to the ball to be picked for the bride and eventually we learned of why Eric was cursed but that was about as deep into the past as we got.  Their relationship was the main focus it was definitely erotic as Regine Abel wrote some pretty wicked sex scenes.

Overall I liked the book a lot.  If you’re looking for a short fantasy/paranormal read that doesn’t involved vampires or werewolves then this would be a good one to pick up.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars