My Favourite Books of 2012 – Tina

Tina

I have lost count of how many books that I have read in 2012! Most were purchased and read on my Kindle, Amazon being the usual vendor, although I do purchase and download from other online sites such as the excellent Smashwords, Ellora’s Cave and Whiskey Creek Press. I was lucky enough to download some books for free due to various promotions on offer at the time. Others were purchased as paperbacks, both new and pre-loved, either over the internet or from local charity shops or a local market stall dealing in used books. A significant number were loaned from my local library. Some books were newly released in 2012, whilst others were published earlier, but had only come to my attention this year.

As my list is long I have split it into genres. Those in italics have content which is considered adult (i.e. erotic, BDSM, ménage, master/slave etc.) and should only be read by individuals considered an adult within the country where they live. I am very broadminded in what I read and do not wish to offend anyone. Please let me know if you share any of my favourites.

Paranormal Romance

Captive (the Captive Series Book 1) – Erica Stevens
The Heat (the Big Bad Wolf Series) – Heather Killough-Walden
Lover Reborn – J.R. Ward
From out of the Shadows – Linda Mooney
BAIT (The Angler) – Annie Nichols
Darkfever – Karen Marie Moning
Bloodfever – Karen Marie Moning
Faefever – Karen Marie Moning
Dreamfever – Karen Marie Moning
Deadly Captive – Bianca Sommerland
Deadly Captive (Collateral Damage)- Bianca Sommerland
Awaken My Love – Robin Schone

Science Fiction Romance

Eden – Louise Wise
No Words Alone – Autumn Dawn
Deep Penetration (Alien Breeders) – Kaitlyn O’Connor
Dark Solstice – Kaitlyn O’Connor
Cyberevolution (The Awakening) – Kaitlyn O’Connor

Fantasy Romance

Warprize – Elizabeth Vaughan

Post Apocalyptic/Futuristic Romance

Surviving Passion (The Shattered World Book 1) – Maia Underwood
Surviving Seduction (The Shattered World Book 2) – Maia Underwood
Tsunami Blue – Gayle Ann Williams

Historical Romance

Unraveled – Courtney Milan
Lord of a Thousand Nights (Medieval London)- Madeline Hunter
To Burn – Claudia Dain
Thief of Shadows – Elizabeth Hoyt

Western Historical Romance

The Surrender of Lacy Morgan – Suzanne Ferrell
Eyes of Silver Eyes of Gold – Ellen O’Connell

Contemporary

Mercy – Annabel Joseph
Captive in the Dark – C.J. Roberts
Big Sky – Kitty Thomas

Seasons Greetings

pictures dec 2012 218

Happy Christmas Everybody!

Please visit our book review blog again soon. We have lots of exciting developments planned for the next twelve months.

Tina and Caroline xxxxxxx

The Heat (Book 1 of the Big Bad Wolf series) by Heather Killough-Walden

The Heat (The Big Bad Wolf, #1)

 A Smoking Hot Werewolf Romance

Heather Killough-Walden’s Big Bad Wolf series has been near the top of my to read pile for some time and after finishing ‘The Heat’ I am asking myself why I left it so long! This book has made me seriously reassess my usual preference for vampires as this author’s werewolves are not only smart and uber dominant, but have an earthy get down and dirty sex appeal.

In ‘The Heat’, 28 year old Lily St Claire returns to her childhood town of Baton Rouge, which she left after high school, to take up a post of Social Worker at a local hospital. The plot opens with her having a girly night in with her lifelong friend Tabitha, with whom she has kept in touch with. Daniel, Tabitha’s big brother (an alpha werewolf) has just been promoted to Police Chief, soon arrives at the scene. Daniel was attracted to Lily at school, but was warned off her by Tabitha. Daniel contented himself with meaningless short term flings, many of which were with Lily’s friends, to compensate. Lily for her part has always been attracted to Daniel, but believed that she was not his type as he always kept a distance. She has been having vivid dreams about Daniel changing into wolf since her teenage years. Now Daniel is older he immediately catches Lily’s scent and recognises that she is a true dormant and therefore a potential mate. Dormants are in decline and highly valued as werewolves can only get their chosen mate pregnant and thus ensure the future of their race. He vows to succumb to his attraction this time and Lily, although knowing nothing of the werewolf world, is equally attracted.

Lily mentions to Tabitha that her favourite mystery author, Malcolm Cole (of whom she has also had vivid dreams), is in town and that she plans to attend his book signing. Malcolm is a very powerful alpha werewolf who is also a violent killer who has avoided prosecution by both werewolf and human law. Tabitha warns Daniel who fears that Malcom recognises that Lily is a dormant and plans to make her his mate, a situation he cannot tolerate.

To protect Lily Daniel virtually kidnaps her and takes her back to his home intent on explaining the situation to her to protect her from harm. He manages to explain that Malclolm is a killer but then he is called away to a violent scene of carnage and murder at the Mayor’s home and only has time to mark her as his mate, without explaining his true nature or what he is doing. This scene is sexually charged and highly erotic. Lily is very angry and confused when she wakes up. Fortunately Tabitha, sent by Daniel to watch over her, is able to reveal the existence of werewolves and to apologise on Daniel’s behalf, explaining that his actions, although appearing callous were carried out to protect her from other alphas, principally Malcolm Cole. She explains that only dormants dream of werewolves in their true form and that Lily is likely to be Daniel’s intended mate.

I will not divulge any more of the plot, but suffice to say that it involves a Malcolm Cole determined to have Lily as his mate at any cost, numerous fight scenes and black magic, lots of sexual tension and a number of erotic sex scenes. We are also introduced to the respective members of Daniel’s and Malcolm’s packs and hunters determined to eradicate werewolves as they view them as evil. We have to wait until the book’s exciting conclusion before we find out if Lily and Daniel complete their mating bond and find their HEA.

The author’s character descriptions and development are strong. I found Daniel to be a sexy, dominant werewolf, full of Southern charm and very protective of those close to him. However, as a relatively young alpha, he can act a little impulsively and will have to learn to curb this trait as he becomes more powerful. I found this slight flaw to be endearing and I am sure that Lily will be more than a match for him to keep him in check. Lily is a strong woman, showing strong empathy. She is brave and does not hesitate to sacrifice herself to help others. Whilst attracted to Daniel, she is understandably resentful that he marked her without her consent. There is also strong chemistry between her and Malcolm, although she does her best to resist it as she is repelled by his murderous past.

I adored the character of Malcolm Cole. At 94 years old he is a very powerful werewolf with a dark history. He is a tortured character and desperate to find his true mate and does not care how ruthless he needs to be to ensure that Lily is his. Lily’s dreams help explain his actions but Malcolm is not keen to discuss his past. The scenes between him and Lily are also very erotic as they engage in a battle of wills and sparkling repartee.

Secondary characters include Tabitha, Daniel’s sister and Lily’s friend, who is very defensive of Lily and furious with how Daniel forces his mark on her, Jennings, a human, who is one of Daniel’s trusted team members on the force and James, also an alpha, who is allied with Malcolm, but is very protective of Lily and thinks that Daniel is not good enough for her.

The novel is both sexy and fun. It has its dark moments and does contain some violence, but it also has a humorous side. The author’s descriptions of the nature of werewolves and aspects of their culture were also well done. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy paranormal romance or urban fantasy. I will certainly not be leaving it too long before I read the next book in the series.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Bloodroom by Naima Haviland

Bloodroom 

 

A dark paranormal romance

In Bloodroom we meet Julian Mouret a master vampire have his loyalties torn between upholding vampire law and letting the human he has become obsessed with survive when he is honour bound to kill her.

Natalie Heyward, a ballerina with the Charleston ballet troupe, saw Julian’s true nature when she and her dance partner Andrew came across Julian when he was engaged in a feeding frenzy on some wolves in a local wood. Julian retaliated quickly, tossing Andrew in the air and pursuing and attacking Natalie, whom he could not bring himself to kill. Andrew, who now resides in hospital, never saw his attacker’s face. However, Julian knows that Natalie did and seeks her out, under the guise of patron of the ballet company, intent on killing her to prevent her from revealing the existence of vampires to humans. To cope with the horror of that night Natalie’s mind has blocked out her memories of it. Julian and Natalie have an immediate mutual attraction which develops into a deeply obsessive and erotic sexual relationship. Throughout the novel Julian intends to kill Natalie once he has had his sexual fill of her but he cannot seem to get enough. He knows that he must kill her as soon as she shows any signs of remembering that night and what he really is. Thus we are embroiled in a roller coaster game of cat and mouse with Natalie’s memories – will he, won’t he kill her and when and how? The story is both a paranormal romance and a thriller, with elements of pure horror. It is also very dark and erotic. All the while we are waiting for Natalie’s memory to resurface, wondering that when it does whether her demise will swiftly follow.

Natalie is immediately drawn to Julian. Sexual tension between them is high and soon develops into lust and an obsessive love on her part. Natalie’s parents died when she was very young and she craves love and affection and very soon feels that Julian is the one to fill that void. She is very protective of Andrew, who is now hospitalised and is recovering from his injuries. She is called to his bedside on more than one occasion when Andrew is apparently harmed whilst under medical care, necessitating blood transfusions and he reports that he has been attacked by a woman with fangs. Natalie begins to believe that something is not right about this or the initial attack and becomes fixated on recovering her repressed memories and finding out what really happened that night. She enlists Julian’s help in this and trusts him to help her. She begins to research the history of Lion’s Court, Julian’s ancestral home, near to where the attack in the woods took place, to see if it can shed light on the matter.

Julian is a stickler for upholding vampire law where other vampires are concerned and we are given graphic examples of this. He is swift to act, delivering, through Mick, his chief executioner, the ultimate punishment when other vampires do anything to threaten the security of the vampires. His feelings for Nalalie are thus conflicted to say the least. He is attracted to her as he has been attracted to no female before and yet he also knows it is his duty to extinguish her life. There are a number of scenes in the book when he is about to do the deed but he is prevented from doing so and these scenes are very harrowing. Julian’s mind is torn between acting the attentive lover to Natalie and releasing the desires of the beast within him.

The main supporting characters include the Swisher, a hauntingly beautiful yet deadly, cigar smoking vampire, barely out of adolescence when turned and Mick, a vampire who plays the role of cop, executioner and internal affairs, appointed to Julian by those higher up in the vampire world. Swisher and Mick are lovers, but Swisher, is also attracted to humans. Swisher’s reactions to learning of Julian and Natalie’s affair and her actions move the plot to its denouement.

The descriptions the author gives of the graveyard and its mausoleum, adjacent to Julian’s mansion, are gothic, whilst the descriptions of the bloodroom (to which the book owes its title) and the activities of the vampires at play are truly horrific. The originality of the plot and the vivid imagery contrasting the beauty of the ballet and the ethereal and fragile beauty that is Natalie and the dark, evil doings of the vampires makes this book extremely memorable and it has haunted me since reading it. The author does not shy away from showing the true nature of vampires, their boredom, capriciousness and total lack of humanity. I found myself drawn to Julian (almost against my will), yet repelled at the same time. His obvious attraction to and care of Natalie changes instantly when he gets a hint that she will remember and he plots throughout the book about how he will kill her. As the days go by we are left wondering what will happen to Natalie and whether Julian has a spark of humanity left to enable him to redeem himself or whether he will succumb to his vampire nature and uphold the law. The whole book and final denouement kept me on the edge of my seat and I could not have possibly predicted the ending. I read the book several weeks ago before writing this review and the storyline and the emotions that it evoked have remained with me.

I would recommend Bloodroom to lovers of dark paranormal romance and horror, especially for those with a love of the modern gothic and the erotic. Naima Haviland is an author who is new to me, but I will definitely be looking out for her other works.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Tsunami Blue (The Tsunami Blue Series) by Gayle Ann Williams

 Tsunami Blue

An Original Vision of the Future

Tsunami Blue, a post apocalyptic paranormal romance, is set in the year 2023, when most of the Earth, following a series of cataclysmic tsunamis, becomes covered by water with small isolated island communities. Modern technology and conveniences have all but disappeared under the waves, which continue to plague the world.

We meet Blue, the 24 year old heroine, who has lived alone on an island with her dog since her uncle was murdered by Runners, violent pirates who rule the waves. Blue is special – she ‘listens’ to the sea and can predict where and when the next big waves will hit. She transmits this information over the radio. Blue chooses to remain alone due to this ability, knowing how valuable she would be to the Runners if they captured her and her gift used by them to extort valuable goods and punish and terrorise communities.

Blue’s peaceful existence is shattered one day when a man washes up on the beach, half dead. Blue rescues him and saves his life, learning that his name is Gabriel Black. She is kidnapped by him the next day and forced to flee her island and her home, as it is overrun with Runners looking for her and trying to take her away from Gabriel. She is left wondering what Gabriel wants with her and what her fate will be. Suspicious that he too is a Runner, she tries to prevent the growth of their mutual attraction and resolves to escape him.

The story is narrated in the first person. This is effective in that whilst we are privy to Blue’s personal feelings and motivations we too are uncertain of Gabriel’s true intent and this both heightens and prolongs the suspense, which added to my enjoyment of the novel. In fact I could not put it down until I had finished it! I liked the author’s writing style, which was sharp and descriptive enough to paint a vivid picture of the post –apocalyptic world, without getting bogged down in detail. I imagined the world to have elements of ‘Mad Max’, ‘Waterworld’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’ The dialogue between all of the characters was witty and entertaining, particularly the repartee between Blue and Gabriel.

Blue is a strong heroine with an interesting past. She prefers her life of solitude as it gives her the freedom to broadcast what she knows about the next big wave in the hope of saving others. Life has taught her valuable survival and combat skills and she has plenty of chances to put these to use in the book – she does not just use her knives to filet fish! She is devoted to her dog Max and is loyal not only to Gabriel, even when she is suspicious of him, but can also be relied on by other characters, who the author introduces us to. She despises Runners and suspects that Gabriel, the man she is overwhelmingly attracted to, is one, thus creating a great deal of tension, not least sexual, throughout the book.

Gabriel, is all male and Blue is instantly attracted to him. I wondered what he wanted from Blue and whether he could be trusted not to hand her over to one of the groups of Runners who were pursuing her, particularly as he appears to be a Runner himself. He is clearly attracted to Blue and has a compassionate side, which he exhibits from the start, not just in relation to how he treats Blue, but others. He also has a wicked sense of humour and is a skilled fighter.

The other main characters include Trace and Indigo, the leaders of the two opposing factions of Runners who are eager to capture Blue and use her for their own nefarious ends. Both characters were twisted and evil and there are descriptions of many violent scenes within the book, in a society where only the strong survive and it does not pay to exhibit a weakness. The violence highlights how social order has collapsed since the apocalypse. The author did well to also imbue the sea with feelings, to the extent that it becomes a character in its own right, its actions adding to the twists and turns in the plot.

The romance between Blue and Gabriel was both sweet and hot, but not graphic and it provided an excellent counterpoint to the violence going on around them and the fear of where and when the next big wave would come. The paranormal elements of Blue’s communication with the sea were well done and there is a nice twist at the end, which I did not see coming.

I would recommend this book to lovers of post apocalyptic tales, particularly those who enjoy romance with the story. I believe that the style of the book and the witty dialogue, along with violence and ‘kick ass’ hero and heroine, would also appeal to lovers of urban fantasy. I was totally absorbed in the book and will be reading the next in the series.

Reviewed by Tina Williams