Will is a Goth who sees ghosts. Alona is a cheerleader who met an early demise. They’ve forged an awkward relationship built on opposites attracting and cooperation, which serves them well as they help other ghosts gain closure. But now there’s a new girl mucking things up, and she introduces Will to an entire society of ghost whisperers. While they provide him with insight into his abilities, they don’t seem all that altruistic. Meanwhile, Alona becomes trapped in the body of a comatose friend, a fate worse than death. It’s time for them both to figure out what they really want. This charming romantic comedy has surprising depths, and plenty of soul.
Archive for category Romance
Finlay Jayne is a young woman with a secret: a dark side which exhibits a violent streak and superhuman strength. On the run from a previous employer, she’s rescued by Duke Griffin King, who, like his friends, possesses unusual powers. Even as they try to understand Finlay’s true nature, the small group struggles with internal turmoil and external threats, locked into a game of wits with the insidious Mechanist. In this quirky, exciting vision of an alternate Victorian England, automatons and dirigibles mix with superpowers and teen drama. With its comic book elements, steampunk trappings and romance sensibilities, this playful adventure marks the start of a fun new series.
The Kingdom has been in upheaval for years, plagued by bizarre weather, failing crops, and unnatural creatures. An emissary from the Fae invites human representatives to meet with their Queen, to restore the balance. Among those who are chosen are Kaede, daughter of the Chancellor, and Taisin, a powerful sage-in-training. The perils of the road are many, and slowly the two girls fall for one another, a bond which proves life-saving when they confront the true threat to two kingdoms. This gorgeous fantasy combines heart-pounding adventure and gentle romance. Filled with lush imagery and lovely words, it’s a genuine treat.
As a gay teenager living with his little brother and grandparents on an island community of only 4,000, Zach feels like an outsider, relying on the Internet for peace of mind and interaction with the outside world. When he’s grounded for forgetting to take out the trash, and denied Internet privileges, his desperation for diversion leads him to attempt astral projection. After he tries and fails, he puts the whole thing out of mind, even though the woman at the New Age store totally swore the special incense she gave him would help next time. And then Zach’s little brother, Gilbert, goes missing, and Zach once again tries to astral project in the hopes of finding him. This time, it works. In the astral realm, Zach can track his brother and his kidnappers, but can he find a way to alert the police before something bad happens? Luckily, in the process, he runs into Emory, another astral projector who’s much better at it … and apparently into Zach as well. Together, they can try to save Gilbert and give one another strength and comfort. That is, if the dark creatures stalking the astral plane don’t get them first.
There’s a lot of raw emotion and adolescent fervor woven into the pages of this relatively short roller coaster of a tale. Zach comes off as pretty high-strung, especially once the subplot regarding his little brother kicks into gear and he gets caught up in the tension of the moment. He and Emory hit it off with genuine chemistry, although something about the pacing seems a little off, even rushed. One can chalk it up to the excitement and adrenaline of the situation, but it still feels like they needed more time before reaching the depths of connection that they did. I’ll be honest: I never really bought into the astral projection element as a compelling factor in the story. As a metaphor for escaping one’s bounds and limitations, it’s dead-on perfect and applicable to the characters. At the same time, it fails to capture me as a reader. Certainly, the logic in which Zach decides to use astral projection, which he doesn’t even believe is real and has never successfully accomplished before, as a tool for finding his missing brother, requires a certain leap of faith on the reader’s part, lest the whole thing collapse. Of course it works, and of course the only other person he meets on the astral plane who isn’t trying to kill him, turns out to cute, gay, single, and of the right age. This is a good book, and I’m thrilled to see a YA paranormal featuring a gay teen and a hint of romance, but as a paranormal story goes, it never quite gels. I think it could have benefited from expansion; with a more leisurely plot, a less frantic atmosphere, and a less pressing deadline, this could have been great instead of good. It’s still a nice change of pace, and maybe we’ll get to see these characters again under less intense circumstances, and get to know them better.
The vampire queen is dead, long live the new vampire queen. Helena Drake may be in charge following a brief, messy struggle, but the troubles aren’t over yet. The evil Lord Montmartre is still out there, and still eying the throne, and still determined to take it by kidnapping and wedding Helena’s daughter, Solange Drake. Luckily, the Drakes have Isabeau St. Croix, a resourceful young woman who survived the French Revolution before being transformed into a vampire and buried for centuries, on their side. Isabeau, now a fierce warrior known as a Hound, will do anything to protect her allies, especially if it means getting her revenge on the man who entombed her for two hundred years. With the dashing Logan Drake at her side, Isabeau must help foil the best-laid plans of Montmartre and his allies. And if Logan and Isabeau fall for one another along the way, well, no one’s about to object.
Alyxandra Harvey’s attention to detail, and ability to create complex, sympathetic characters, are what separate this book out from others of its ilk. In the small but growing field of “vampire princess books,” it’s characters like Isabeau and Logan, with their easy chemistry and genuine relationship, and supporting characters like Lucy (the token human and sassy stealer of scenes) who sell the story and make it shine. This is one series I always enjoy visiting.
Once upon a time, there was a scared, abused woman with a gift for mathematics, who won a spaceship in a card game, and saw it as her way free from a family who misused and underappreciated her. She eventually met a dashing young pilot, secretly one of the most powerful man on the planet, and they fell in love. Her wicked brother tried to stop her and steal her ship; she survived despite his efforts, and was reunited with her new love, to live happily ever after. Such was recounted in the classic Liaden novel, Scout’s Progress.
Until now, we never knew what happened the next day. Aelliana Caylon has finally started to come out of her shell and live for herself, content in the knowledge that Daav Yos’Phelium, Delm of Clan Korval, cares for her, looking forward to flying her ship and establishing a measure of independence. But things are never as easy as they seem. Her clan refuses to let her go, determined to get their full value from even the most wayward of unwanted members. Propriety and balance must be maintained in the status-conscious, honor-obsessed society of Liad. Customs must be observed and procedures followed, and both Aelliana and Daav have a ways to go before they’re ready to give themselves to each other as fully as they like. And for those who have seen the future of the Liaden series, they know that this is a love story where happily ever after doesn’t necessarily mean forever.
It’s a testament to Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s superb characterization skills, subtle plotting, and rhythmic use of language that this book can appeal to the heart as opposed to the more visceral senses. It’s easy to get caught up in the ebb and flow of the dialogue, the allure of the setting, and the steady movement of the players, and never miss the lack of more dynamic plot. Aelliana and Daav’s courtship and the stumbling blocks thereof make up the majority of the book, to such a degree that a more action-oriented sequence close to the end actually feels like an intrusion. Like the book this follows, Mouse & Dragon is essentially the bastard child of Regency romance and space opera, and in less capable hands, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as captivating.
I’ve always enjoyed the Liaden series, and of those, Scout’s Progress is my hands-down favorite. Thus, to have this continuation of Aelliana and Daav’s romance was an unexpected treat, one which hasn’t disappointed in the least. A lot of authors have tried to blend romance and science fiction, but very few do it anywhere near as well as Lee and Miller. Mouse & Dragon soars on all levels.
Ever since she broke up with her mortal boyfriend Seth, succubus Georgina Kincaid has been in a royal funk, and it’s been getting worse ever since she reluctantly agreed to help plan Seth’s wedding to one of her best friends. Acting noble and self-sacrificing when all you really want to do is steal the groom-to-be away is hard at the best of times, downright impossible when you’re a creature of Hell whose job is to corrupt the good and steal their life energy. Georgina’s always been a woman of drastic contrasts, though.
The more down she gets, however, the more it seems like some strange outside force is trying to lure her away, stalking her at her most vulnerable. So she throws herself into work, tries not to obsess about Seth, and attempts to discern why another succubus is in town “on vacation.” When she learns just what’s after her and why, she realizes all hope may be lost. Because caught under their power, she’ll relive the worst and most defining moments of her centuries-long life, and be driven to the breaking point of despair. Can the love and obligation of her friends save her, and if so, at what cost?
Now onto its fifth book, this series about the succubus with the moral streak just keeps getting weirder and more engaging. All along, Mead’s been dropping hints that Georgina isn’t like other succubi, and that there may be irregularities with her contract with Hell. Here, the plot thickens and progresses a little; there may not be concrete answers, but we get more insight into her checkered past, seeing who she was long ago and where she started to rebel against her Hell-given directives. We also see more of the strangely compelling interaction between the forces of Heaven and Hell, and it’s becoming ever clearer that it’s not a struggle of absolutes. We’re already familiar of the odd friendship between Jerome, Georgina’s supervisor, and Carter, his angelic counterpart for the Seattle area, and now it seems there really is something else going on behind the scenes. Naturally, the rest of Georgina’s friends are present, and the subplot involving the vampire Peter, who has the hots for a cute little Gothlet who rejects him for not being vampiric enough for her tastes, is sure to raise a few laughs.
Internal mythology aside, this series continues to straddle the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, with the continuing thread of Georgina’s on-again off-again relationship with Seth, who was her favorite author until he became the love of her life. Clearly, the feelings still exist on both sides, even when they’re apart, and it’s entirely possible that their bond exists on a deeper level than either expected. Unfortunately, explanations will have to wait for another book, though there’s some interesting progress made here.
What else? Well, as to be expected when one’s reading a story about a succubus, there is sex, and the sex varies between tawdry and sleazy (when Georgina’s seducing some mortal scumbag to jack up her internal energy lvels) and blisteringly hot (when it’s someone she cares about). Mead’s good at finding that line between erotic and explicit, so it doesn’t impact the overall flow of the story, like it might in some books.
Fans of the series will undoubtedly enjoy this latest installment of Georgina Kincaid’s adventures, and appreciate the development of the slow-burning overarching storyline that’s been present in each book. It’ll definitely be interesting to see what Mead has planned for future books.
Following a bizarre lab accident, computer technician Jack Fletcher and his flighty sister Hallie are literally blown into another world. They wake up aboard the airship Tesla, commanded by the dynamic Octavia Pye, a red-haired, corset-wearing ray-gun wielding firebrand who captures Jack’s heart and libido from the second he sees her. Once Jack comes to terms with his new surroundings, he’s thrilled; a steampunk aficionado whose life has always taken unexpectedly strange turns, this is a world he was born to inhabit. Now he’s living the good life, traveling by airship, fighting pirates and saboteurs, romancing Octavia, and dealing with international intrigue. Just toss him a pair of goggles and he’s all set.
Octavia’s not sure what to make of her weird new stowaway, who seems way too fascinated by her corset and keeps muttering things about goggles and steampunk … whatever that is. He’s not a spy, and possibly not a raving lunatic (much) and there’s a distinct chemistry between them, and while she can’t afforded to get distracted, she’s allowed a little fun, right? They’ll have to rely on one another if they want to prevent an assassination attempt which could spark a war. Oh, and as for Hallie? When she’s not catatonic, she’s losing her grip, running away, or getting in trouble. Never mind her. She’s just there for the sequel.
Steamed is … interesting. As billed, it’s a comedy steampunk romance from the prolific and talented Katie MacAlister, her first real stab at this particular subset of science fiction. She wastes little time in setting up her male lead and thrusting him into an alternate world, and wastes little more time in making sure he and the female lead meet and start to doing what romantic leads do. Everything else – the traveling, adventures, action, airship piracy, assassination attempts – is just window dressing for the romantic entanglements of Jack and Octavia. (I’m serious: Jack’s sister really is excess baggage for much of the book, and if there’s not a sequel where she gets her own man, I’ll eat my hat.)
Based on the premise and setting, I wanted to like this book a lot. But I can’t help but feel something was lacking. In a word, it’s shallow, with very little extra thought given to fleshing out the history and details of the setting, beyond what’s needed for the immediate moment. You get the feeling that if you turn the corner too quickly, you’ll find the actors catching a quick smoke while waiting for the next show. In fact, the entire book has an oddly fetishistic tone to it; you’ve got all the trappings of steampunk with very few of the complexities. Airships, corsets, ray guns and weird mechanical widgetry don’t embrace the true depths of steampunk, but rather the easiest outward manifestations. Were it not for the passages told from other points of view, it would be all too possible to interpret this book as a hallucination brought on by the explosion in the first chapter, all conjured up by Jack’s subconscious and some toxic smoke. Certainly, he gets everything he could ever want, including the hot redhaired airship captain and the chance to play pirate.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you. I mean, sign me up for the same thing. But still, it was odd to read through this and come away feeling as though I was missing something. Admittedly, there’s some real chemistry between the leads, and the intimate scenes have a real spark to them, and there’s plenty of good-hearted humor to be found along the way – all hallmarks of MacAlister’s writing and to be expected – so not all is lost.
The final verdict? Steamed scratches an itch and fills a niche I didn’t realize existed, but it nonetheless comes off as flighty and superficial, preferring to leave the subtleties and complexities for other endeavors down the line. It’s great popcorn reading, but could have been so much more.
When Jackie Brighton wakes up in a Dumpster after a particularly vigorous night of drinking and ill-advised cheap, meaningless sex, she doesn’t realize that it’s the end of life as she knew it. Gone is the plain, boring, dissatisfied-with-her-looks museum docent. Hello, succubus. Now sporting a body that drives men mad, an insatiable sexual appetite, and assorted powers she’s still figuring out, she’s inducted into a strange new world where angels walk in the daytime, vampires stalk at night, and people like her are caught securely in the middle. Remy Summore, succubus and porn star, takes poor Jackie under her wing and shows her the ropes, while bad boy vamp Zane and the irresistible angel Noah flit in and out of the picture with the passage of the sun. In between sex fixes, Jackie gets caught up in the Byzantine schemes of Heaven and Hell, and sent on a quest for an artifact which could tip the balance once and for all. What’s a girl to do?
With her debut, Jill Myles starts a new series which dwells somewhere in the Venn diagram created by paranormal romance, erotic fantasy, and comedy. How else can you explain a story where the main character can describe two people having sex as going at it like “rabid wombats during mating season”? How else do you account for the spicy, enthusiastic, sometimes explicit sex the main character must indulge in every few days? It’s certainly an interesting combination of elements, especially given that the protagonist is more than happy to blow off a life of porn and sleaze for a job as a museum tour guide – a profession roughly on the same level as librarian, schoolteacher, and secretary as far as repressed sexuality goes.
As one might guess, this was not one of my first choices for reading material. My wife stole the book I’d just started, and left me this in its place, like a literary pack rat, and I was desperate. Hey, I don’t mind romances, even the paranormal semi-erotic kind, but the bare-chested Fabio-type on the cover wasn’t a good sign…. To my surprise, what I found was a rather enjoyable, if occasionally silly, read. While it doesn’t quite stack up to Jackie Kessler’s Hell on Earth series, or Richelle Mead’s Georgia Kincaid series, both of which also star succubi doing what they do best, this initial entry in the Succubus Diaries is a lot better than one might expect. The main character has a lot going for her (besides her new bra size) and there’s a genuine spark between her and both of the men who’ve come into her life. Toss in Remy, who acts both as voice of reason and comic relief, and you’ve a good, solid cast to wrap the story around. The sense of humor laced throughout the narrative certainly helps, and there’s every possibility I’ll sneak a peek at the next book. (I’m buying it for my wife, you see….)
It’s not easy being a succubus in love. Worse still to be a succubus still suffering from a painful breakup with the love of her life. With author Seth Mortenson out of her love life (and now dating one of her mortal coworkers), Georgina Kincaid has, to put it mildly, developed an attitude problem. After Georgina sleeps with her therapist for a quick energy fix, her demonic boss Jerome decides that it’s time for a scenery change. And off Georgina goes to Vancouver, Canada, to help another demon deal with an embarrassing case of Satanic cult in the area. Canada. Land of Tim Hortons.
Of course, things don’t go easily at all. The cultists may be idiots, but there’s a genuine supernatural entity manipulating them, and Georgina suspects it’s all part of demonic politics and jockeying for territory. Her fears are confirmed when Jerome vanishes, leaving Seattle without a demon-in-charge and the immortals under his control powerless. Just like that, Georgina loses her powers and succubus need for life energy, making her closer to human than she’s been in many centuries. While her vampire coworkers go off to try and get a tan, Georgina throws herself into finding Jerome and solving the mystery of his disappearance. But was it Cedric from Vancouver, or Janette from Portland, or some other demon that would benefit from a little local reorganization? And how does the Army of Darkness fit into the plan? To further complicate matters, Georgina and Seth are drawn back to one another, even though he’s dating Maddy and Georgina is sleeping with bad boy magician Dante. Can they resist temptation, or will Georgina’s newfound ability to get physical without sucking out life force be enough to justify rekindle the flames of passion?
In Succubus Heat, we get to see our heroine at her most vulnerable, emotionally, physically, and supernaturally, but it doesn’t slow her down for long. Even bereft of her powers, she’s still following her nature, trying to do the right thing for her friends even though she’s technically a creature of evil. One thing you can say about Georgina: she’s predictable. Also loyal, stubborn, foolhardy and impulsive. You just know she’s going to make some dumb mistakes along the way, which is half the fun. And when the men in her life all manage to converge, it’s not just her dating life that’s going to take the hit.
It’s the little touches which continue to make this series fun, like Georgina’s mortal job as a bookstore manager, and her love for cats and salsa dancing. Or Jerome’s insistence on looking like John Cusack. Or the vampires who hit the beach when their nocturnal status is temporarily negated. Or the Army of Darkness and their lame Satanic-worshipping pranks. Or Tawny, the world’s worst succubus. Or Carter, the grunge-wearing angel who has a special interest in Georgina’s fate. Things like this really make the world memorable and entertaining.
There’s a genuine mystery underlying the plot here. That, coupled with adept characterization, some intensely hot sex scenes (what else do you expect when a succubus is involved), and wry humor, makes Succubus Heat as enjoyable as its predecessors in the series, and worth checking out. I’m still interested to see just where Richelle Mead plans to take things in books to come. I suspect it won’t be what any of us expect.