Take it Like a Vamp by Candace Havens

Publication Date: July 21st, 2012
Entangled Publishing
Format: Kindle Edition
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
Vampire Nick Christos might have been born in the Middle Ages, but those days seem tame compared to the last eight years spent ruling the Supernatural Council. The only respite in his long days of governing is with his sweet neighbor Casey Meyers. Sure, he’s forced to take a cold shower after every encounter, but no way will he risk anything more with a human. Not with his blood thirsty ex on the prowl and out to ruin Nick’s life.
But when said crazy ex shows up at the ball and flies her freak flag high, Nick has more to worry about than keeping his hands off his neighbor. He’ll have to stay closer than ever if he hopes to keep her alive, but will she want to leave him forever when she learns the truth?

Take It Like a Vamp is different; it’s chick-lit in disguise and PNR that predominantly lacks the dark themes characteristic of its genre. More often, I find myself surprised with the mere mention of Nick Christos’ werewolf/vampire nature – and it’s because the novel was written in such a way that could very well be considered as contemporary fiction.

Nick Christos was a werewolf turned vampire (or is it the other way around?). He doesn’t melt under the glare of the sun. He doesn’t need that much blood – in fact, he didn’t drink because he was thirsty during the entirety of the novel. He drank because Casey Meyers was being possessed by an evil vampire and she needed Nick’s blood to fight her. The werewolf, or the beast in him was also er, shy. The point of the matter is, the paranormal element was barely existent and that I thought that it was better off marketed as contemporary romance.

Nick worked too hard to keep a lot of secrets from Casey – which, in retrospect, I truly understand. After all, how often do you find out that the man of your dreams is, in actuality, a vampire? And what’s going to stop her from running to the hills? What he didn’t anticipate is how easy Casey accepted who he was. Way too freaking easy. The woman has no sense of reality when it counts. She couldn’t accept that an Adonis like Nick would actually love her but she readily accepted all the bat-shit craziness that surrounded them with just a tiny bit of hesitation. What I don’t get is he kept piling it on; even after Casey’s acceptance. It just seemed like it was a ploy to drag the story longer or an attempt to create a conflict when really, there  shouldn’t be any more.

Casey Meyers tend to abuse herself; and I don’t mean she physically hurts herself but her self-deprecation was ramphant. It’s hard to digest just what kind of woman she is. In Nick’s eyes, she’s a va-va-vavoom goddess; through hers, she’s a big-boned loser magnet. Sigh. Just once, I would like to read about a confident woman. Someone sure of herself and who hadn’t an ounce of hang-ups about her body.  Is that too much to ask?

THIS MAKES ME SOUND LIKE A DIRTY READER: Nick was a tease. He held off having sex because he had a case of I don’t want to hurt you but I’ll give you days of groin pains instead. The sexual chemistry between these two was off the charts but when they finally did the deed, it was…a whole lot of fade-to-black. Boo-urns. I want sex, dammit! Crap. Did I say that out loud?

VERDICT: The banters between characters are fun; the secondary characters even more so. From the transgender Aunt Teddy, to the too-hot-to-be-straight designer, Linc, this book had all the makings of a quirky modern day romance. I enjoyed reading most of this book but with the added paranormal story arc, the result was a very enthusiastic…meh.

Thanks to TheJay2XA for the recommendation. 🙂

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Once Burned (Night Prince #1) by Jeaniene Frost

Publication Date: June 26th, 2012
Avon Publishing
Format: Kindle Edition
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
She’s a mortal with dark powers…
After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire…
He’s the Prince of Night…
Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don’t call him Dracula. Vlad’s ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him—a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

Leila has the deadly touch; an accident left her with a power lethal enough to kill anyone. As such, she grew up with as minimal contact with anyone, most of all her family. She also has psychometric abilities – the power to see the past, present and the future of a person with one touch. These made her susceptible to any forces who’d want to take advantage of her powers. When she was kidnapped by a group of vampires, her quick thinking landed her right in the path of the most powerful vampire of all – Vlad Tepesh. But could she trust him enough to be an ally? or would he be an eventual enemy? Leila must learn to use her powers to full capacity as she’s thrust into the world of Vlad – where old enemies has a way of resurrecting hatred and revenge that spans centuries old.

Vlad Tepesh…this king of vamps seems to be so forgettable in the Night Huntress series – to me anyway. I can’t seem to remember him but that’s probably because it’d been too long since I’ve been back in the world of Cat and Bones. I think I’m still two books behind on the series. I didn’t have any preconceived expectations about this book other than the fact that I knew Frost would never disappoint. Well, she delivered.

For the most part, I think this initial offering to a brand new series had the triumvirate of a good PNR read: romance, legendary characters right out of mythology, and the right blending of the fantastical and realistic world. Not to mention a human heroine who can go toe-to-toe with the best of them. I especially loved Leila’s powers and how she came upon them. And like Cat, Frost just gave her enough chutzpah to make for an admirable, believable character.

VERDICT: Much like Frost’s Night Huntress series, Night Prince promises to be a series to watch for – an annual itch to be scratched. With lead characters who could give Cat and Bones a run for their money and pages ripe with action and romance, Once Burned perfectly encapsulates Frost’s innate ability to deliver an electrifying and addicting read. A couple of pages in and I was right in the thick of things, wanting to read faster but hesitant to do so. I just know that the wait for the next book would be painful.

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Review: The Missing by Shiloh Walker

Publication Date: November 4th, 2008
Berkley Sensation
Format: Paperback, 313 Pages
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
Her psychic gift drove away the man she loved and years later has drawn him back to her
As a teenager, Taige Branch hated her psychic gift. No one could understand, except for Cullen Morgan, the boy who stole her heart. He did his best to accept her, until his mother was brutally murdered, and he couldn’t forgive Taige for not preventing it.
Now a widowed father, Cullen Morgan has never forgotten Taige. But what brings her back into his life is another tragedy. His beloved little girl has been kidnapped, and Taige is his only hope of finding her. Working together against the clock, Cullen and Taige can’t help but wonder whether, if they find his daughter in time, it isn’t too late for the overpowering love that still burns between them

I inadvertently bought The Departed without knowing that it was a part of a series. I didn’t want it to be BDB all over again where I bought the eighth book of the series first without realizing that there were already seven books published ahead of it. I had to make sure I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. The synopsis of the book sounded fantastic so I ordered it right away. I had high hopes that its entirety would just be as gripping and you know what? The Missing did not disappoint. I was hooked from the very first sentence.

I’m not going to bother you with my own interpretation of the blurb. If the little summary of this book didn’t pique your interest at all, then this book might not be for you. I, on the other hand, have always had a penchant for stories of destined love – not the paranormal type of destiny where your past lives were connected but just two people who are just meant to be type of love. Cullen and Taige had that kind and it’s a double win because their story spanned over the years with most of them spent in separation. Yet, through all the years the connection between them wasn’t severed. Their minds are attuned to each other by way of strange bouts of visitations through their dreams.

This book dealt with a lot of disturbing, dark themes. Be prepared to read some pretty uncomfortable, distressing situations. There were also a lot of gore and some pretty explicit sexual scenes. I haven’t read any of Shiloh Walker’s work but I do have some of her books. I didn’t realize they were on the side of erotica until I read this (sorry! I’ve been buried in YA books that I’m unfamiliar with Shiloh’s work). By the time I finished The Missing, Ms. Walker have garnered another fan in me.

Although Taige’s ability is the major draw of this book, I’m still resolved that the riveting romance was the first and foremost. I enjoyed reading about their love, heartbreak and eventual reunion. I always found third person POV to be quite tasking that I sometimes find myself bored with a story told in this method. This book, however, had my full attention. Because it’s a psychological thriller, I found myself focused on every single word. I didn’t want to miss a thing and I wanted to be able to solve the murders. The only complaint I have is the lack of suspects, which I think is an important element to a good mystery novel. In here, the eventual killer was someone I did not suspect just because there wasn’t any clue at all that he was the one doing the kidnappings and killings. You can argue that this is the best attribute of a mystery novel but I digress. It felt like this aspect was not developed properly.

In summary, The Missing was a fantastic read. It’s got an enthralling romance and gripping suspense that will have you by the nose until you get to the end of the story. The only thing that worries me is the lag of time between publication. This was published in 2008 and its sequel was just recently released. I don’t think I have the patience to wait that long!

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Waiting on Wednesday (4): Lover Reborn by JR WARD

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Expected Publication: March 27th, 2012
Lover Reborn by JR WARD
#10 Black Dagger Brotherhood

If you guys haven’t checked out this series yet, you must do so stat! It’s probably one of those books that I’ll never get tired of no matter how many times I whine about vampires being a thing of the past.

The synopsis is not available but I believe this is Tohrment’s story. I really hope he gets his happily-ever-after this time, the poor brother. 

I can’t wait to read this!

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Review: Nocturne by Syrie James

Publication Date:  January 4th, 2011
Vanguard Press
Format:  Hardcover, 224 pages

When Nicole Whitcomb’s car runs off a Colorado mountain road during a blinding snowstorm, she is saved from death by a handsome, fascinating, and enigmatic stranger.
Snowbound with him for days in his beautiful home high in the Rockies, she finds herself powerfully attracted to him and soon comes to realize that the feeling is mutual. But there are things about him that mystify her, filling her with apprehension—and Nicole can’t shake the feeling that he doesn’t want her there.
Who is Michael Tyler? Why does he live alone in such a secluded spot and guard his private life so carefully? What secret—or secrets—is he hiding?
Nicole has secrets of her own and a past she is running from—but Michael understands her better than anyone she has ever known. Soon, she is falling as deeply in love with him as he is with her.
But as the sexual tension between them builds, the clues mount up. When Nicole learns the terrifying truth—that her host is an ages-old vampire who is torn between his love for her and his desire for her blood—there’s nowhere for her to run but into the blizzard raging outside, and he’s the only one who can save her life.
Filled with unexpected twists and surprises, Nocturne is a page-turning, haunting, and deeply romantic story of forbidden love that will grab your heart and not let go.

This book was sitting on the Teen Fiction shelves at my local bookstore. I picked it up because I was drawn to two words that were on blurb of the book: FORBIDDEN LOVE. What can I say? I’m a total sucker for this type of romances, no matter how much of a cheese-fest the book turned out to be.

Thankfully, Nocturne, didn’t turn out to be a big ball of cheese. In fact, this is probably one of my favorite romance reads of the year. I found out much later that this book didn’t belong in Teen Fiction section; I think it was placed there by mistake. First of all, the characters were adults; and second of all there were explicit sex…well, explicit by my standards.

After attending a friend’s wedding, Nicole drove through a snow storm en route to the airport. Unfortunately for her, the rental she was driving skidded off a mountain road that ended up buried in a ditch. She was saved by an enigmatic recluse, Michael Tyler, whose distaste for company was as obvious as his masculine beauty. Forced to suffer each other’s companionship, Nicole and Michael fought their attractions with one another, (futile though as it may be) and discovered each other’s past. They found love along the way but had to face the brutal fact that the two of them together was pretty much an impossible reality.

I rarely pick up adult fiction on my bookstore jaunts. I think it was by divine intervention that I found this book.

I absolutely loved it!

The snowstorm created a more eerie, mysterious backdrop to this sensual vampire tale. The characters were well drawn that captivated me from page one to the last. Their conversations were very intelligent and every scene screamed sexual tension. Michael’s inner struggles to fight off his true nature were as palpable as Nicole’s constant need to discover more about her very private host.

It’s got an amazing plot that didn’t drag nor was it told at a break-neck speed. Each layer of Michael’s identity was revealed in such a way that made me feel like rushing on to the next page.

Although this book didn’t end the way I would have liked it to end, I still don’t feel a single regret for gushing about this absolutely heartrending novel.

Syrie James’ writing is exquisite as is her talent for taking her readers to historic voyages. The lady knows a thing or two about history, that’s for sure. I’ve only read one of her works in the past, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, which, I’ve enjoyed very much. And after reading Nocturne, I think I’m going to check out her other works as well.

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