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Guest Review: Kiss and Hell by Dakota Cassidy

Posted June 11, 2009 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 3 Comments

Publisher: Berkley, PenguinGenres: Paranormal Romance

Nath‘s review of Kiss and Hell by Dakota Cassidy

She’s never seen a sexier ghost.

Delaney Markham doesn’t just see dead people, she hears them too. And FYI-communicating with tortured souls all day can really wreak havoc on your love life. After all, no one wants to date the crazy chick that talks to herself. Sans boyfriend, Delaney makes the best of her gift by holding séances and earns a pretty penny for them too, that is until one incredibly annoying ghost just won’t go away.

Now, if she could only get her hands on him.

When he materializes wearing nothing, Delaney knows something’s up. Besides being sinfully hot-in a college professor sort of way-all signs point to Clyde Atwell being much more than the ordinary spirit. In fact, he’s a newbie demon whose first assignment is to take Delaney back down to hell with him. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen on the first date. If Delaney’s old nemesis Lucifer thinks she’s going down without one hell of a fight, he’s got another thing coming…

Hmmm, lately, it seems I’ve read a lot of okay-meh books. I don’t know if it’s a case of: “It’s not you, it’s me” or if it’s the book. So here is my opinion of Kiss and Hell by Dakota Cassidy. I’d say, if you read her books previously and loved them, then don’t pay any attention to my review. This is the third book by Ms Cassidy that I’m reading and so far, none of them I’ve really loved… so I think it’s a case of incompatibility.

The story is about Delaney Markham who is a medium. Yes, she can truly see and hear ghosts. She is conducting a séance in the hope of earning money to pay her rent and feed her 6 dogs (Dog #1 to #6 is their name :P), when Clyde Atwell makes his apparition and basically ruin all of her hard work… One little problem though, Clyde is not a ghost, but a demon who was sent to bring Delaney’s soul down to hell!

Clyde died three months ago in an explosion and somehow, found himself in hell. He didn’t even get the choice, he simply woke up there. Convinced that there is mistake somewhere – because although he was focused on his work and a bit arrogant, he never did anything that bad to deserve to be in hell. Now, he has a month to rectify the error and he isn’t above using his new demonic powers to threaten and blackmail Delaney.

I’m going to start by saying that the storyline had a lot of potential and could have been very interesting. I also liked the hero a lot, nerds are cute and Clyde was definitively yummy 🙂 I can imagine him wearing the pink bathrobe and trying to pull it down LOL. Unfortunately, there were also some severe drawbacks.

First, I didn’t like Delaney’s character. I’m glad that she wasn’t the meek medium heroine who’s scared and scarred by all of the ghosts she’s encountered. She seemed well adapted to her powers, but resigned to a lonely life. Kudos for doing some good and helping ghosts finding the light. My problem though was her attitude. I didn’t quite like it, she was somehow rough and the way she treated Clyde at first, as if he was an irritating bug… that bugged me ^_^; Okay, so he ruined her seance and she’s in a pinch… Still, if you’ve decided to dedicate your life at helping ghosts… you could be a tad nicer. So I found her irritating, although she did get a little bit better. I think if this book wasn’t at the first POV and I didn’t know everything she was thinking, I wouldn’t have minded her that much.

I said earlier that the storyline has potential, but I think that the pacing ruined it. The story was very slow-building, it took a lot of time before the action started. Actually, just having Delaney finally listening to what Clyde had to say took forever… and then, another while before she believed him. The storyline seemed to go nowhere for a long time and then, it finally picked up, but by that time, it was a bit too late to catch my attention.

Finally, the slang. It’s one thing to hear it, listen to it, but another to “read” it. Reading sistah, brotah, playah throughout the book is annoying. I think that I even read: You thung? as in you think (although I read an ARC, so it could be a spelling mistake). I understand that the author is trying to give a certain characteristic to her characters… make them stand out a little, be their own. However, I think that the author tried too hard. Did anyone ever hear of having sex being referred as “boffing”? Some common slang slipped here and there, readers will overlook it… but when, there’s too much, it’s distracting and laughable. Best example is the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward.

The world building could have used some more information, it wasn’t totally clear to me. Overall, Kiss and Hell kind of reminded me of Stephanie Rowe’s Immortally Sexy series. I would really have liked to enjoy this book more and I really did try. Like I said, the story had potential and Clyde was yummy 🙂 I think I’m definitively crushing on nerds lately 😛 Unfortunately, there were some aspects that I didn’t like which prevented me from being totally absorbed in the book and enjoying it 🙁

Grade: 2.5/5

This book is available from Berkley Sensation. You can buy it here .

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Guest review: White Star by Elizabeth Vaughan

Posted May 20, 2009 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 5 Comments

Publisher: Berkley, PenguinGenres: Paranormal Romance

Nath‘s review of White Star (Star Series, book 2) by Elizabeth Vaughan

There is one m.ore adored.. Everyone knows that the Lady High Priestess Evelyn is virtuous and noble, one of the leaders of the rebellion against the unjust usurper, as well as a gentle healer who channels the powers of the gods to help the sick and injured.

There is no one more despised… Orrin Blackhart, the Scourge of Palins, is renowned as an evil man. As the war leader of one of the usurper’s supporters, he has killed many and stood by while the sorceress he serves created an army of the undead.

And there is nothing more unexpected than passion… When Orrin takes Evelyn prisoner during the war, each will discover there is more to the other than they expected. And souls that should have clashed will be forged together in desire, redemption, and glory…

I’ve become a fan of Ms Vaughan after reading her excellent Warlands Chronicles trilogy. I loved everything about the Warlands Chronicles: the strong heroine, the ambitious hero, the meeting of two worlds, the journey, the secondary characters… everything!

After such a wonderful series, it is understandable why my expectations for this new trilogy would be high. I hoped for Ms Vaughan to follow-up with something great. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the case. Dagger-Star was somewhat disappointing and looking back on my review, I realized that I’ve been generous with the grade 🙁 I would have to agree with Li that Dagger-Star was more in a C-range… Still, I wasn’t going to give up on Ms Vaughan and I looked out for White Star. This second installment is better, but it still hasn’t met my expectations.

The beginning of White Star actually overlaps with the timeline of Dagger-Star and readers find out what happened to Evelyn once she was kidnapped by Orrin Blackhart, the Scourge of Palins. I have to say, that is a cool nickname LOL 🙂 In White Star, we discover that the fierce warrior that everyone seems to fear and be wary of is a man, a normal man who is tired of holding down the fort. Yes, at first, his baroness seems to have a good idea – raising an army of undead and using them to fight and take possession of the neighbouring lands… However, when your mistress turns out to be a bit loopy – okay, a lot crazy – and it’s up to you to see to the well-being of an entire army and population… well, it can take its toll. So Orrin Blackhart is just a man who is tired, exhausted by the burden of his responsibilities towards his men. He knows he’s made a mistake supporting his baroness, but at this point, it’s too late.

When news come that his baroness has died at the hands of the mysterious Red Gloves, Orrin knows that they have lost. He only hopes that the life of Evelyn and his surrender will spare his people’s lives. Thus, Orrin is taken back as a prisoner and is sentenced to death, while Evelyn is given a boon for the role she has played in making the prophecy come true. Upon hearing the voice of the Lady telling her to save Orrin’s life, Evelyn uses her boon… and Orrin is given one chance to obtain a pardon for him and his men – he must get rid of the remaining undead…

Overall, I enjoyed White Star better than Dagger-Star, mostly for Orrin. I really liked his character and his sense of honor. Yes, he did a lot of wrong in the past – but as a warrior, it’s to be expected. He regrets his action, did his best to make up for it and protect his people. I like his entourage, his team. They had very good chemistry and their interaction was fun to read. Evelyn was an okay heroine. I thought she was a bit too stuffy for me and haughty. As if the fact that she initiated the rebellion gave her some rights, you know? And if I remember correctly, she even acknowledges it as well. I understand why these two characters would be attracted to one another, unfortunately, I think the chemistry wasn’t there. Perhaps if the author had time to develop their relationship a little bit more…

My main problem with White Star though was the plot. I think that the overall idea was more interesting than Dagger-Star and had great potential, but the execution was poor. Everything went too fast, the action was not well developed… it’s as if we zipped through it all. I felt that Ms Vaughan had too many ideas and she tried to cram them all in one single book and as a result, it did not work to her advantage. Oh, I like the storyline… only, it could have been more. It could have been more engaging to the readers… The thing is, because all the events happen so fast one after another, the readers don’t have time to engage their emotions, get involved in the storyline and connect with the characters. In addition, I feel like the voice is a bit impersonal, it simply relates what happens. Perhaps if she was going back to first POV (I can’t believe I’m saying that LOL).

In addition, because there is so much action, I think that the world building was a bit neglected. We know that the Star trilogy takes place in the same world as the Warlands Chronicles, but in a different kingdom. We know that Palins is divided into different regions and each is governed by a baron. The politic part is okay… but I mean, it’s hard to reconcile Palins with the world we know from the Warlands Chronicles. How can magic exist in this kingdom and not another? Also, elves?!? I thought these things would be explained in this book, but it wasn’t 🙁

Again, it’s very unfortunate because I really like Ms Vaughan as an author. I said it in my previous review that I liked the whole idea of the prophecy and rebellion… for the chosen one to get back the throne… I would have liked it to span all three books. As it is, I will still pick up the last book, although to be honest, I’m not really interested in Bethral and Ezren’s story ^_^; (although I want to know more about Ezren… it’s more Bethral that is meh) I’m actually looking forward to the next trilogy, because I believe there will be one 🙂

Grade: 3.25/5

This book is available from Berkley. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest review: Tempted at Midnight by Jacquie D’Alessandro

Posted May 12, 2009 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 9 Comments

Nath‘s review of Tempted at Midnight by Jacquie D’Alessandro

Lady Emily Stapleford never dreamed that the burden of saving her family from financial ruin would rest on her lovely, resourceful shoulders. Since she’s only willing to marry for love, and not money, Emily pens a story she hopes will bring her fortune — only to have it rejected by every major publisher. After all, what respectable reader would dare embrace a vampire heroine?

Not to be dissuaded, Emily generates publicity by attracting attention with a vampire masquerade. Overnight London is abuzz with the sightings. With renewed interest in Emily’s book, she’s guaranteed success — if it wasn’t for the mysterious American, Logan Jennsen. He’s on to Emily’s duplicity and he has every intention of using it to his advantage. If only he wasn’t falling in love with this unabashedly creative hothouse flower. And if only he didn’t have a scandalous secret of his own — one that’s putting both their lives in danger…

Genre: historical romance
Series: Mayhem in Mayfair, book #4

Tempted at Midnight is the last installment in the Mayhem in Mayfair series and came out earlier this month. I really enjoyed Sleepless at Midnight and Confessions at Midnight (reviews here and here), but was a disappointed in Seduced at Midnight (here). I was hoping that the author would rebound with this book…

The Story: All right, so basically, Emily and Logan have been attracted to each other for a long while (which is why they’ve been snipping at each other), but have only realized it after they’ve shared a kiss at the end of Seduced at Midnight, at Julianne and Gideon’s wedding. After three months of not seeing each other, they are still frustrated because they can’t forget the kiss nor the kisser.

Emily is back in London and she was told by her parents that she must marry this Season and preferably to someone with money in order to save the family from financial ruin. Emily has no intention to marry for any other reason than love and as a result, hope to sell her novel instead. To generate publicity and increase the interest, Emily has come up with a plan – to “become” a vampire or at least, masquerade as one just long enough to be seen and generate a buzz.

Logan is an American in London. He knows he’s only tolerated because he is wealthy and he is fine with it. Lately, however, he’s been feeling uncomfortable. He has the feeling that he’s being observed… and thought he spot someone from his past, it’s impossible because the person is dead.

My Opinion: Okay, so unfortunately, Tempted at Midnight didn’t work for me 🙁 My main reason is Emily. I liked her in the first book, I thought she was bold, outspoken and direct. However, as the series advanced, she lost her shine, her luster… I understand what the author was trying to do – the whole bickering because we’re attracted to each other and usually, I like it… but with Emily, I felt she was too snobbish and haughty. Her whole attitude was too much and too negative in my opinion and there were a lot of prejudices. If at least, she knew him better, then it would have gone better with me. One of the scene in particular – when Logan comes to talk to Emily’s father about the debt. Emily immediately jumps on her high horse and accuses Logan of harassing her father for repayment. First, that was not Logan’s purpose and second, she never let him explain- not that he tried, and anyway, I don’t think she would have believed him. In the end, I felt her sharpness came out wrong and as a result, she grated on my nerves a lot. It’s really unfortunate, because I really liked Emily’s character in the beginning of the series… and I knew from the beginning that she and Logan would be a couple.

One of the main problem also is that I didn’t feel the connection or chemistry between Logan and Emily. Sure, they were attracted to each other, but that was pretty much it. Even at the end, after Logan marries Emily because they were found in a compromising situation, they suddenly were in love with each other and everything was fine. It felt phony ^_^; Finally, I have to say, the different storylines – Emily masquerading as a vampire, Emily and Logan’s relationship and Logan’s stalker – didn’t blend well together. It was very clear-cut and didn’t intertwine very well.

Of course, there were parts I enjoyed… I liked the brief scenes with Emily’s family – meeting all of her siblings. I wished we could have a bit more. I liked Caroline’s side-story, it was nice to see her again and to see the friendship between the women. It always seemed like Caroline and Emily had a bond between them and it was nice to see it. Although the storyline was nice, I thought 1) it seemed like Ms D’Alessandro was filling the pages and 2) why couldn’t Caroline remain childless? I mean, that was one of the important points in her book right… I guess I just felt everything was a bit too convenient.

So yep, this book didn’t really rock my boat. It was quite disappointing because this series started off quite well. The storylines were quite original and interesting… and then, it dwindled down. Hmm, I think it lost its sparkle somewhere along 🙁

My Grade: 2/5. It really hurts me to give Tempted at Midnight this grade and perhaps, it was a case of me and not the book, although I doubt it… However, despite everything, I’m still looking forward to Ms D’Alessandro’s next book 🙂

This book is available from Berkley. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

Other books in the series:

Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

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Guest Review: The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

Posted May 4, 2008 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 5 Comments

Nath‘s guest review of The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Cruise. Originally published with Bantam‘s Loveswept in 1996.

I love Jennifer Crusie, LOL 🙂

I discovered her a couple of years ago with Strange Bedpersons and she’s one of the few authors whose books I hunted down on ebay. When I first discovered Jennifer Crusie, most of her category/silhouette romances were out-of-print; however, I’ve been able to get my hands on most of them… even Sizzle. The only one that I haven’t read was The Cinderella Deal… Well, thanks to Holly and Book Binge, I finally got my hands on a copy of this book 😀

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

published by Bantam Loveswept in 1996

Heroine: Daisy Flattery
Hero: Linc Blaise

Hmmm, I can’t find a synopsis, so here’s a quick summary…

Daisy Flattery is an artist. Four years ago, she quitted her job as a teacher to focus on her art. Now that her savings have been spent, Daisy is having doubts. She’s tired of being worried and scrambling for money and not having time to paint…

Linc Blaise is a history teacher with great credentials, writing his second book. Problem? He’s too busy teaching to write. That’s why he’s looking for a new position at private Prescott College. The hick? The dean seems more interested in Linc’s marital status than credentials and now, Linc has to bring his imaginary “fiancee” to his jobtalk audition. So Linc turns to his Little House On The Prairie on acid, downstairs neighbor, whose job is telling stories for help.

Genre: contemporary romance

What did I think? This book was a quick and enjoyable read. The premises reminded me a lot of Strange Bedpersons: both heroines are happy-go-lucky while the heroes are straight, dignified and very serious. Then of course, there is the fake “fiancee” plot… The difference is in The Cinderella Deal, Daisy and Linc do not know each other – they’re just neighbors that actually don’t really get along well. However, they both agree to this asinine plan because it advantages them both… Daisy needs money while Linc needs a fiancee. They also take it a step further than Tess and Nick from Strange Bedpersons by getting married. The whole resolution at the end however, is a bit similar.

Personally, I enjoyed Strange Bedpersons better. I thought it was funnier and I really enjoyed Tess and Nick – it helped that they had a relationship before. The Cinderella Deal is enjoyable and perhaps, more well-written. The plot is also a bit more realistic (as realistic as you can get for a fake fiancee plot). The whole marriage is pretty much a secret marriage of convenience, without the sex. I liked that Linc and Daisy didn’t jump into bed right away, that they got to know each other. I also liked that the storyline spanned several months, it just made it more real.

I enjoyed Linc and Daisy as characters a lot. Linc is serious, he has goals and is willing to do a lot to reach them. It’s a bit sad how oblivious he is to Daisy’s efforts at first, but once he got to really know and understand her, he was there to offer his support and help whenever she needed. I like how Daisy put colors, warmth and friendship in Linc’s life. Daisy is a fun character; however, she kind of faded away in the middle of the book. It’s not just that she conformed to what Linc wanted, but also because all the positive changes came from Linc… but I really like her character.

All in all, The Cinderella Deal has all the successful ingredients from Jennifer Crusie: great H/H, wacky animals, complicated situations and lots of weird secondary characters. It’s just too bad that there’s a sense of deja-vu to the storyline.

My Grade: 3.75/5

The book is currently out-of-print and I don’t know if there’s any plan for re-printing it.

You can check out more reviews from Nath on her personal blog Natuschan

and her joint review blog Breezing Through.

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Guest Review: Breathless by Laura Lee Guhrke

Posted April 30, 2008 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 4 Comments

Nath‘s guest review of Breathless by Laura Lee Guhrke, published by Pocket Books in July 1999.

I’ve been on a Laura Lee Guhrke kick lately, so after Not So Innocent, here is my review of Breathless 🙂 I’ve seen Breathless and The Charade around, I even own a copy of The Charade, but for some reasons, I never felt like reading them. Perhaps it’s because the setting is in America instead of Europe… I finally did read Breathless… and what did I think?

Lily Morgan may be Shivaree, Georgia’s most talked-about lady. Everyone in town knows about the bitter breakup of her marriage five years before, when Daniel Walker, her husband’s tough, uncompromising lawyer, tore her reputation to shreds and left her with nothing but a wish to get even. But now something about Daniel makes her blood boil and her pulse quicken . . . not with righteous fury, but with passion.

Daniel has returned to Shivaree to once again match wits with Lily Morgan. The thought of a rematch with Lily delights him, for he has never forgotten her hot temper–or her lovely looks. But when a shocking murder shakes the town, Daniel joins Lily to find a killer, and their unexpected partnership sparks something between them they never expected–desire. Now Daniel, the strong-willed lawyer for whom winning is everything, realizes he must win the one reward he can’t live without: Lily’s forgiveness–and her love.

Exceprt available here.

This was such a great read! I really, really enjoyed this book 🙂 The storyline goes as followed: Daniel is a lawyer with political ambitions. Indeed, he wants to present himself for the next senator election… this would go to prove how much he has achieved in life, how successful he has become and how far he has come from his humble beginnings. The wealthiest man of Atlanta is ready to give Daniel his support; however, there’s a price. Daniel must go to Shivaree and convince the judge to re-open Shiravee’s Gentlemen Club (read high class brothel), one of his most profitable sources of money. Problem is that Lily Morgan stands in his way. Five years ago, Lily lost all of her respectability when her husband asked for divorce and accused her of adultery. Thus, every year on the date of her divorce, Lily goes to the judge and ask for the Gentleman Club to be closed… finally, she has gotten what she wished for and she’s not about to let Daniel Walker, the one who contributed to ruin her life, re-open it.

Lily Morgan was such an enjoyable heroine. She’s a very strong woman who stands up for herself. She has a short temper and flaws that she acknowledged and once she’s determined to do something, she puts all her energy into it. I really liked her… I felt so bad that nobody believed her and everyone treated her so badly. I almost cried, because it was so unfair. The only thing I didn’t like was that Lily cared too much about what others thought and how she wanted back her respectability. After what she went through, she must have known that it didn’t matter, that’s respectability from those people is not worth it. I understand why she wanted it, but I thought she’s been through so much… that she didn’t need it.

As for Daniel Walker, he’s the typical hero – kid of the town’s drunk who achieved great things. He’s very focused on what he wants and a bit selfish as well. He doesn’t seem to ever look back… I liked how throughout the book, he became a bit more compassionate and started doubting himself over some actions. I mean, it’s good to be confident; however, it’s better to be sure that you’ve done nothing wrong in your life and be confident 😛

As for the story, I like how packed it was and how fast it moved. I mean, the book wasn’t just about Lily and Daniel falling in love or the re-opening of the club. There were actually a lot of things happening and it added suspense to the book. It added layers to the book in my opinion. I also liked how Lily and Daniel got to know each other before falling in love with each other and also, how their feelings didn’t change overnight. Seriously, Lily was right to resent Daniel abot the divorce… My only complaint is the part where Lily and Daniel finally got together was a bit short, although it did fit the storyline well.

All in all, a great book: great characters and storyline 🙂

My Grade: 4.25/5

This book is OOP from Pocket Books. You can buy it here.

You can check out more reviews from Nath on her personal blog Natuschan
and her joint review blog Breezing Through.

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