Tag: 3.5 Reviews

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

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Guest Review: Find Her by Elisabeth Rose

Posted May 18, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Find Her by Elisabeth RoseReviewer: Tracy
Find Her by Elisabeth Rose
Published by Escape Publishing
Publication Date: May 15th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 140
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three-half-stars

A chance sighting leads to second chances – for hope, for family, and for love.

Five years ago, teenager Antonia disappeared. With no compelling evidence, the police eventually called her a run-away, and dropped the case. Her teacher, Jax, has always regretted not speaking up about the rumours she heard circling the school that day, but a random sighting at a train station raises the possibility that Antonia is still alive – and not too far away.

Antonia’s father, Connor has never given up hope that his daughter will be found and returned to her family. When her old teacher, Jax, calls him with a small spark of a lead, he seizes it with both hands, determined to chase it down.

But there’s more at play than simple teenage rebellion and the path Jax and Connor travel rapidly becomes more dangerous than either could have imagined, and opens up new possibilities that neither could have expected.

Jax is a teacher at a school in a town where Antonia, a student of hers, disappeared 5 years ago.  There wee rumors at the time with a couple of her friends but Jax didn’t pay much attention to them at the time.  When she’s on her way back from a vacation she happens to look across the train platform and she sees Antonia.  She’s so sure it’s actually the missing girl that she contacts Antonia’s father, Connor and tells him what she saw.

Connor never believed that his daughter was dead and never stopped looking for her.  He and his wife separated and then divorced as their lives changed after Antonia disappeared.  He’s so excited to hear of her sighting that he heads to the train stops and hands out flyers with his daughter’s picture on it asking questions.  He finds someone who recognizes her but can’t find her after that.

Jax decides to finally follow up on the rumors she heard about Antonia and finds out that Antonia was pregnant and looking to terminate the pregnancy – because of this they find a lead and eventually figure out what happened.  Getting Antonia back from her abductor, however, will threaten everyone’s lives.

This was a lovely story with a pretty darned good suspense story.  I have to say I was pretty much on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what happened to Antonia.  The way that the author crafted the story was creative and I really liked the different ins and outs of the story.

This was also a romance  with  Jax and Connor becoming closer while searching for Antonia and falling in love.  I wish I could say that it was sweet and romantic but the circumstances just didn’t call for that.  Connor was a bit of a stubborn ass at times but both he and Jax worked out well together.  It wasn’t that strong of a romance, unfortunately.  I almost wish that it had been a suspense story only but that’s just my humble opinion.

Overall it was a good suspense story and one I enjoyed.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

Posted May 16, 2017 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth UnderdownReviewer: Tina
The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown
Published by Ballantine Books
Publication Date: April 25th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 304
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three-half-stars

'VIVID AND TERRIFYING' Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six...

1645. When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.
But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women's names.
To what lengths will Matthew's obsession drive him?And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?
'A richly told and utterly compelling tale, with shades of Hilary Mantel' Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat
'Anyone who liked Cecilia Ekback's Wolf Winter is going to love this' Natasha Pulley, author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
'Beth Underdown grips us from the outset and won't let go...at once a feminist parable and an old-fashioned, check-twice-under-the-bed thriller' Patrick Gale, author of Notes from an Exhibition
'A tense, surprising and elegantly-crafted novel' Ian McGuire, author of The North Water
'Beth Underdown cleverly creates a compelling atmosphere of dread and claustrophobia... Even from the distance of nearly four hundred years, her Matthew Hopkins is a genuinely frightening monster' Kate Riordan

To begin with, I don’t really read a whole lot of historical fiction. But there is something about the subject of witches that catches my attention. Call it some sort of fascination if you will, but I don’t actually know. I just know that the subject is intriguing and the cover really drew me to the book, so I submitted my request to receive a review copy. \

When I got the copy of The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown in the mail I was actually surprised. Especially since it is not really typical of what I read. (Whether this has any leverage on the books you are chosen to receive I have no idea…) The first thing I noticed it that the cover is awesome! If I would have saw it on the shelf in a bookstore, I would’ve picked it up immediately as something about it just makes me want to know more. And then of course, the subject matter….witches. Who doesn’t remember sitting in school and listening to the teacher tell us about the horrible things that happened to people (mostly women) who were accused of being witches? Like I said, it is just a topic that pulls me in.

The Witchfinder’s Sister is a well-written and carefully researched book. It is a mixture of so many genres. We have historical fiction based on a real story, there is mystery and suspense, and even a little horror mixed in with the depiction of what happened to all the people accused of witchcraft. A little something for every reading taste to be sure.

I found the book a little tough to get through in the beginning. For me it was a little slow in places, although the book is packed with vivid description and emotion and has an interesting storyline. I still would recommend this book, as it did hold my interest and the writing was vivid and well presented.

I would like to thank the publisher for the opportunity to review this book. I think the author did an awesome job keeping the subject matter interesting and for providing such vivid description. I would actually have rated it 3.5 to 3.75 stars if the rating system here would’ve let me.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

three-half-stars

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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: Magic, Fantasy, Romance, m/m, Fairy Tales & Folklore
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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

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Guest Review: Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray

Posted April 12, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie RayReviewer: Tracy
Don't Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray
Published by Entangled Crush
Publication Date: April 10th 2017
Genres: Young Adult
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three-half-stars

For most of her teenage life, CeCe Edmonds has been dealing with the stares and the not-so-polite whispers that follow her around Edgelake High. So she has a large scar on her face—Harry Potter had one on his forehead and people still liked him.

CeCe never cared about her looks—until Emmett Brady, transfer student and football darling, becomes her literature critique partner. The only problem? Emmett is blindsided by Bryn DeNeuville, CeCe’s gorgeous and suddenly shy volleyball teammate.

Bryn asks CeCe to help her compose messages that’ll charm Emmett. CeCe isn’t sure there’s anything in his head worth charming but agrees anyway—she’s a sucker for a good romance. Unfortunately, the more messages she sends and the more they run into each other, the more she realizes there’s plenty in his head, from food to literature. Too bad Emmett seems to be falling for the wrong girl…

Cece meets Emmett the first day of school in her literature class.  They seem to get along and Cece can’t help but notice how hot Emmett is.  Of course she doesn’t think anything will happen between them because of a scar that she has on her cheek.  Despite knowing most of the kids at her private high school there are still times when someone sees her for the first time and is horrified by her face.  Cece tries to take it in stride but sometimes it just hurts.

Cece is the captain of her volleyball team at her private school and she’s not one to mess around with it.  You’re there to work and to win.  The school even recruits a girl from California to come and play on their team.  The new girl, Bryn, is insanely beautiful.  Despite a rough start with Cece and comments about her scar the pair actually become friends. The problem is that Emmett is awestruck with Bryn’s beauty and asks if he can text her.  They exchange numbers.  Bryn is soon asking Cece for help because she’s just not good talking to guys.  Cece texts Emmett for Bryn but ends up telling him her feelings for him.  Of course he thinks that it’s Bryn where does that leave Cece?

This was a cute book.  It’s a play on the Cyrano de Bergerac story but slightly different. It’s also has a very close resemblance to the 1987 movie Roxanne, also a Cyrano story.  Cece talking under Emmett’s balcony acting like she’s Bryn, Cece giving a dozen better insults to her scar after a girl comes up with a
“unoriginal” one – even prefacing the insults as Steve Martin’s character did in the movie.  It was funny, don’t get me wrong, but a little too close to the movie.

Emmett and Cece are truly perfect for each other but Emmett likes her as a friend.  He’s so blinded by Byn’s beauty that he can’t see anything else.  Bryn is a great girl but not all that intelligent.  When she asks Cece to text and email Emmett she has no idea when they’re saying and just doesn’t care as long as she can sleep with Emmett.  Totally shallow but that’s Bryn.  While I found Emmett and Cece intelligent I found them to be almost too mature for their 17 or 18-year-old selves.  I kept having to remind myself that it was YA because it read like a super mature NA novel.

Despite those couple of things that I found a bit annoying I have to say that I really liked the book.  Emmett was a great guy and Cece was a wonderful girl.  They were written so well and I loved their perceptions of the world, literature and music. The supporting characters in the story were well written as well and they made things more young adult in the end.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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