Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quick (and similar) Summer Reads

I had picked up two books recently at one of my local libraries "Friends of the Library" bookstore- which I'm ADDICTED to. Just yesterday I picked up some random romance novels, and Melissa Marr's "Wicked Lovely" in new condition. My last visit I got bagful of 2008 released historical romances, and "Demon Moon" is perfect shape by Meljean Brooke, all for $4! Anyway, enough mooning over my book oasis! :) I was in the mood for a quick, light read and I liked the synopsis on the back of the book so I chose Indulge Me by Isabel Sharpe. I discovered the "Blaze" titles in my junior year of high school. My friend Carly was reading one and couldn't stop telling me about the steamy sex scenes- so of course I *had* to read it after her. ;) We kept talking about it in our psychology class and my friend sitting on the other side of me, Ashley, kept listening it. She couldn't believe the sex scenes we were talking about (the direct quote being "Girl, you crazy!") As crazy as we might have been, she demanded to read the book as well. I was pretty dedicated to them for a while, Jo Leigh being my favorite author of them. I think I overdosed though, and I haven't picked one up for years. The new, super slim size was perfect for my comeback- though I do think if they were going to cut these books down the price should also be reduced. i was lucky enough to get my glossy copy for 25 cents, but for the woman who originally paid $5- I salute you!
Anyway- to the book. Darcy Wolf has spent the past few years of her life taking care of her father before he succumbed to cancer. Closely following that, she broke up with her boyfriend- and on his upset drive home he got in a car accident. Out of guilt, she took care of him for a year, but finally had to get out of there. Now she's ready to have fun, and she's inherited the money to do it. She's fixing up the house she inherited to sell it, then she's traveling America. While it's being worked on,
she's enjoying lounging by her backyard pool and watching the sexy house painter, Tyler, work. He's enjoying watching her too. In the past she's been very chaste, but she's so turned on by Tyler she decides to throw caution to the wind and be a little slutty. She has a list of three sexy things she wants to do before leaving (including touching herself in a public place and hopefully having a sexy guy catch her!), and she figures this will be a great warm-up. She puts on a strip show in the room of the window he's working on, and begins touching herself. He's aroused but tries to get her attention to let her know she's being watched- and he figures out she WANTS him to watch, and he starts touching himself. Soon he's summoned in, and they have wild (but clean) "stranger" sex. It's a small town though, and Darcy soon learns her sexy "mystery man" is actually a guy she knew a bit when they were in school together! She's embarrassed but their attraction to so hot they decide to have a fling before she leaves town. But when emotions start heating up as much as the sheets have been, how will they deal with her moving?
The H & H in this book had AMAZING chemistry, and both characters were well-drawn and a joy to spend time with. I really rooted for their relationship. Darcy's best friend is also a great character, and the side plot of her husband working out with a hot younger woman and her insecurity about that was a great addition. I also loved the contrast between Darcy's fantasies- which were basically standard "sex with strangers" porn almost-plots-
and how they actually came off in reality. The book was only 224 but fit in a lot of good character development in that time, and the ultra-short length actually served the light plot very well. A very fun read, highly recommend. 3 out of 4 stars.
Next up is Jaci Burton's Magnolia Summer, which is actually my first "romantica" (erotic romance) and Ellora's Cave novel. I didn't really notice the similarities to both books plots when I picked this one up right after "Indulge", and if I didn't want to get it listed on Paperback Swap I might have put a few books between them. Similarities?
* Small-town girl longing to get back to or get to a big city? Check.
* Loyal local guy wanting her, but angry at her for not appreciating small-town life? Check.
* Getting an inherited house ready to sell so they can get out of town? Check.
* Hunky love interest working on the house in some capacity? Check.

I like to mix up the books I read so I don't get sick of anything, and also because it's unfair to give a book a lower grade just because I may be burnt out on their genre. If i read a historical, a paranormal is usually next, then maybe a contemporary, something non-romance, etc etc.
Thankfully, Magnolia Summer was a very charming book and not hard to read at all. The plot was wisp-thin, though I did enjoy Jordan working with the local community theater- though some more humorous scenes with them would have been great. The relationship between the H & H though... I didn't really buy into. He apparently had a hidden torch for her in high school, and she had a crush on him. They did the normal "clash, then slowly warm to each other than fall in love" thing, but it felt like it happened because it was SUPPOSED to happen, I didn't actually feel the warming of the relationship and their personalities meshing.The sex scenes were HOT, wow. The book came with a warning about the "steam" level and language, but I still found it a bit misleading. They said the book "may" contain the word "pussy, when in fact the book contained multiple uses of the "c-word". Just a heads up. For what it is, I give it a 2.5 out of 4.

Also, is it just me or does the male cover model resemble Adam Corolla? Corolla is a funny guy, though I'm not sure if I consider him romance book hunk material...

Both books were short, fast reads perfect for summer- though the hot levels of both didn't make them ideal for cooling down. ;) The books in total cost me 50 cents, and I think I made out like a bandit.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hunter Kiss & The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu

What?: Hunter Kiss, a short story in the Wild Thing paranormal anthology (is that cover gorgeous or what?) It's a prequel to the novel The Iron Kiss.
Marjorie M. Liu. Also known for her Dirk & Steele romance series- the first is "Tiger Eye".
Where? (Genre): Urban fantasy/paranormal. The Iron Kiss is the first of a brand-new series.

Romance/Sex Level?: While Hunter Kiss is in what's basically a paranormal romance anthology, the romance is much more laid back than most and secondary to the main plot. The Iron Kiss really contains no romance what-so-ever, so going into the book expecting lots of steamy love scenes will be disappointing.
The Meat: While I have Liu books in my TBR, The Iron Kiss is actually my first book by this author. I found "Wil
d Thing" at my local UBS *after* I already started "Iron", so I was in the interesting kerfuffle of reading the prequel AFTER the first "chapter"- George Lucas would have been proud! Factoring that in, I don't think it hurt the reading experience for me. While I still recommend reading the short story before the book, I was still fully able to follow everything going on in book- HOWEVER. The plot is one where events start taking place before it's fully explained- and what events they are! We have zombies- who's name is explained in the short story, as these aren't your run-of-the-mill George Romero zombies- a modern day pied piper (but for possessed "zombies") and adorably demonic tattoos, aka The Boys, (which are passed down mother to daughter in the Kiss family) that make our heroine virtually indestructible.
It's a darn good thing she has then, too. A veil separates the world we know, and one containing a blood red sea that's teeming with lost souls and demons who long escape that realm and live in ours. Sadly (for both us AND them) the only way to "cross over" here is to take possession of a humans body- usually someone weak in some capacity, physically or mentally. While us muggle humans may just think someone has turned into a jerk or picked up a drug addiction, Maxine Kiss can literally see the
demon form playing puppet master inside the human- it's up to her to un-zombiefy them.
The plot is packed to the gills, but Liu manages to keep everything very clear and the action is always moving at a satisfying clip. While it's certainly no horror novel,
The Iron Kiss does contain scenes of The Boys dispatching the zombies in a number of disturbing ways- though I gotta admit, sometimes it's pretty funny too. They're little black cuddly creatures that can eat something much larger than themselves, then burp loudly afterwards. After that, I started imaging them as...

Nibbler, from Futurama. Awww!

The tragic drawback to her protective tattoos is we are told that eventually Maxine will HAVE to have a daughter (to the point that The Boys will force her if she doesn't eventually get pregnate, yikes) and once she reaches they'll transfer to her. Literally the minute after transfer, Maxine will be vunerable and will be murdered- just like her mother and her mother before her and so on. We are shown glimpses of Maxine's mother (and even a wonderful scene with her grandmother), who is so cool she could have a successful series herself. Liu has made Maxine wonderfully flawed, so much so that when compared to her mother it seems almost unfair.
The relationship between Maxine and her boyfriend have a relationship that can best be described as "cool". They don't talk much, and while they have sex occasionally and always have each others back, they seem mainly like friends with benefits. Reading the short story sets up their relationship much better, by just reading
Iron Kiss one might see no point to their relationship at all.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book- the world building was wonderful and unique and it was refreshing to have a heroine who wasn't flawless and sure of her every action. She constantly second guesses herself (especially when comparing herself to her confident, capable mother) and she's disappointed in herself for letting her training go and depending solely on The Boys. I'm looking forward VERY much to the next book in the series, and I highly recommend this to fans of the genre and the author.
Skip To the End!: Overall rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars. The stories were original with refreshing twists included into the staples I love so dearly in paranormal and urban fantasy series.