I read/listen to a LOT of paranormal romances. So much so, that sometimes they all start to sound alike, blur together and lack... something. Romances in general seem to have gotten so "formula" lately, full of eye-rolling moments and predictable stupid/silly, contrived conflict... But when it's good, it's really good, so I keep reading mediocre to find the "gems."
For me, the Immortals After Dark series is a standout. And probably one of the reasons I keep reading the genre. I'm never disappointed with a Kresley Cole book!
Take this one... It's not only deliciously sexy, but it has an exciting and nail-biting story. And the characters... I not only didn't want to scream at the heroine for being an idiot (well may-be once, but not like most stories I read) but I found the characters interesting, and sympathetic.
The narrator -- Robert Petkoff, who reads all the books in the series so far -- was an acquired taste for me. I didn't know what to think of him initially. I loved his male voices, but hated his female ones... But he's VERY talented at accents and his dramatic reading grew on me. His male voices are incredibly masculine and sexy, which is a huge attraction. But a very male voice trying to sound feminine... *cringe* It's a testament to the story and to the otherwise excellent narration that my annoyance can be mostly forgotten. After an hour or two, when I'm into the story, I hardly notice that the female characters all sound like drag queens. I wonder how much better it would be with a woman narrator reading the female parts.
FYI - I gave this story 4 stars (4.5 to be more exact), which means above average to me. I like to reserve 5 stars for books I think are epic and extra special. (Like Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon.) I give most of the books in my library 3 stars. Enjoyable, but forgettable. The 2 star books have moments, but very few of them, and the 1 star books are downright irritating.
Molly Harper's books are always funny and clever and an auto "buy" for me (except when she writes about icky witches - the only book I passed on). I especially like her vampire and werewolf stories.
This book was hysterical, as usual, and I was enjoying it alright until it hit a sour note with the very unfunny and malicious behavior of the mayor and "hero" of the story. Romance is alway a perk in Molly's stories, but this one didn't work - at all.
The author tried to create conflict in a way that was a little contrived -- the heroine tells the worse of her plans without explaining right away the solution that made it a NON problem. So of course misunderstanding flourished and seemed a little ridiculous. But the way the mayor lashed out was vicious and should have killed an attraction that was in it's infancy. Did for me. With a poison pen he tried to sabotage her project, trash her reputation and threaten her career. And just when all is about to be forgiven (amazingly), he acts like an asshat again. But the romance had ceased to be cute long before that.
The book seemed really short to me -- but I was ready for it to be over. I laughed at the authors funny lines right up to the end, but the story was not up to par. When I saw it was only 5 hours long, I got irritated. I don't waste credits on short books as a rule, so I was not happy with Rhythm and Bluegrass as an audio book.
And I'm never disappointed! LOVED this story! Even though I have to say that Sorceresses are not my favorite "Lore" beings (ultimate hedonists seem like the ultimate selfish, shallow, pointless creatures...), I really came to care about the heroine and her Reckoner. The slow development of their relationship as they narrowly escape one sticky spot after another was very entertaining. I finished it and immediately listened again. Amazing how Cole creatively weaves the story lines of so many characters in her fantasy world. Love the "fated" romances and the sexy times, but that alone is not what makes her stories so good. There is adventure, character development and actual PLOTS, which makes everything she writes an automatic buy for me.
I rarely give 5 star reviews, but Outlander is a stand out.
The only gripe I have is that it's raised the bar so high, I don't enjoy the shallow plots, insipid silliness and lack of research that make up most historical romances these days.
This story just meandered around so long I stopped caring what happened to anyone. I thought it was supposed to be a romance, but I would not call it that at all. The main character cares for no man in particular, outside of her father and brother for 90 percent of the story. So, I had expectations that were sorely disappointed. If you want a romance, be warned.
The only thing keeping me halfway engaged was Davina Porter's voice. (She's my favorite narrator and the main reason I gave this book a chance.)
I love Jane Austen, historical romances AND inspirational stories. And this book falls in that category -- I guess -- but I these characters started to bore me after awhile and their little lives were just not that interesting. To me anyway. Obviously some people did like them. But I was glad when it was OVER and I could move on.
BTW - If characters referring to God or praying occasionally offends you, it happens so little in this book, I can't imagine it would even be a distraction. But I've read some reviews where people complain it was too "religious." They obviously have some pretty serious issues, because it's NOT.
I've listened to worse and overall I liked it ok... It didn't irritate me and the story was not the same old thing. But there was something rather disappointing about it.
There was plenty of intrigue, but in the end, the plot twist was (without giving it away) that the hinted at extraordinary and romantic was not reality, but the very ordinary was. The end was all so very anti-climatic, even though technically the heroes get the expected HEA.
The narrator had a lovely voice and the story was very gently, s-l-o-w-l-y and carefully read... which added to the lack of excitement. I found my attention frequently wandering.
Like I said, it was not bad. I liked it. I just didn't love it.
I was so bored with this, I returned it. I wasn't even going to bother with a review, but I feel like there are too many people - obviously - who don't like to be negative and so all you get are fawning reviews from the easily impressed. I mean, that's my best guess.
I liked Fifty Shades, but this wanna-be, copy-cat really lacked the depth, character development and plot that Fifty had - and since the latter wasn't exactly great literature, that's saying a lot.
It was weak when the heroine's impression and inner dialogue told me that the "hero" was "dominate" before she had a real reason to think so. I guess we were just supposed to know from all the other similarities to Fifty...
There seem to be so many knockoffs of popular books... and I, like others, go looking for for another compelling read in the same vein, but all too often are disappointed.
At this point, there is momentum created with so many reviews, that people like me get sucked in, and so on... But I frankly did not see what the big deal is.
I like that the story was a bit different in some ways, but was surprised at what a blatant RIPOFF the main character was from Sookie and Buffy. Except I did not find "Mac's" obsession with pink, fashion and mani/pedicures to be cute in the slightest. She was DENSE and FRIVOLOUS. She is dangerously close to being in the "too stupid to live" category. I frankly don't care much about what happens to her at this point. Which is probably not a good recommendation for continuing with the series.
But then I look at all the reviews... And I love a good series... And the plot was just left hanging with no resolution what-so-ever. (Yes, this was all set up and no conclusion.) So I'm torn.
BTW - The narrator drags down an already ridiculous character. Her southern accent is over the top and matronly. It also sounds fake as it slips at times. Her rendition of the "Pict/Irish" male lead is also pretty bad. He sounds like a little old leprechaun with a head cold. I just cannot imagine tall, dark and mysterious with that croak!
It had it's cute moments but overall nothing much happens...
Stuffy, self-absorbed bachelor is charmed by orphaned family who impose on his distant connection to them. He is compelled to help launch the sisters into society and simply passes them off to one of his sisters. But his reluctant involvement grows as he is pulled into various hijinks. He eventually comes to care for the down to earth and responsible Frederica, who is in charge of her younger siblings. She is fairly oblivious to the thought of romance for herself and to caring for him...
But a "romance" between the two is not what the story is about. You want it to be, but in the end about 3 minutes of story is devoted to those two together. VERY unsatisfying.
The main characters are well developed, but there are SO MANY names thrown around, after a while I gave up trying to figure out who all the side characters were. It didn't matter to the plot anyway, because again, nothing much happens.
I had listened to These Old Shades and really liked it. So I was looking forward to another by Ms Heyer. It had a great start, but after awhile I realized the plot was just meandering around social events and banter with some hijinks by the young brothers. Like I said, it had moments, but overall I found it tedious. I was not irritated, just bored. I couldn't wait for it to be over in the end.
This book starts out promising. It begins as a DRAMA with gritty and exciting action. The heroine (Mairin) is abducted by a brutal clan leader, bent on forcing her to marry him for her dowery. His physical abuse of her is shocking, but she is realistically brave when a child needs her protection... But shortly after she comes to be in the hands of the hero's clan, the story morphs into a silly ROMANTIC COMEDY, and Mairin becomes a bit of a modern day brat. The transition was a bit jarring.
Far from being an independent woman, who makes good decisions, Mairin can't stand to be told what to do. She's like an adolescent, stomping her foot and screaming, you're not the boss of me. Given the time period the story is set in makes it all the more ridiculous. Her fits of temper of course stupidly endanger herself and others.
We're told Mairin was hidden in a convent (not sure why) and raised by nuns. Yet when she marries Ewan - the laird of the his clan - she of NO experience decides to take charge of the keep by judging disputes and firing men. I think we're supposed to find her bumbling "cute," but I just found it wholly unrealistic and eye-rolling.
I liked Ewan... He was no crush-worthy hero, but good.
The drama returns towards the end and the story gets briefly interesting again - hence the second star. But the resolution happens too quickly and simply, like the author was ready to be done with it.
Overall it was disappointing. There was a lot of potential and it started strong, but got sloppy fast. I don't think the author spent more than 10 minutes researching historical detail. The dialog and themes are modern and shallow. There are lessons in woman's lib given to medieval men with bows and arrows.
As for the "steaminess" factor... Meh. May-be because I didn't see Mairin as much more than a child, I just wasn't bowled over by the "loving."
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