Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Gray Man by Mark Greaney

The Gray Man (Court Gentry, #1)The Gray Man by Mark Greaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Gray Man is an action-packed, suspenseful ride that I didn't want to put down. Court Gentry is the kind of hero I am always looking for. He is resourceful, driven to get the job down, and a stone cold survivor. As I read this book, I was thinking, "Really? Did that just happen? I'd be so dead now!" Of course, I wouldn't want a wimpy heroine like myself in Court's shoes. Which is why I read these books, because I love seeing a tough character get himself out of some highly sticky situations that I'd be so dead meat in. And Mark Greaney through Court Gentry more than delivers on that front.

The storyline had me holding my breath, and muttering things I probably shouldn't be saying under my breath. Court is placed in a very tough situation, with many people out to kill him, and limited resources. The fun of this story is being along with Court on the ride as he faces all these top level death-bringers and gets himself hurt again and again, but manages to do some serious damage to the bad guys. I didn't enjoy him getting hurt so bad, but I did enjoy seeing this Energizer bunny keep taking his licks and keep on ticking. I love these kinds of characters. Although Court is a series bad*ss, he's also very moral in his own way. He believes in doing the right thing, and only kills bad people or to protect himself. I liked that even in the desperate situation he faces, Court doesn't lose sight of what he values. He's definitely the kind of guy I'd want on my side.

For readers who enjoy an adrenaline-infused story, but one that also engages the brain, I'd recommend this novel. The whys and wherefores take this story to higher level. I am officially adding Court Gentry to my roster of certified Grade A Kickbutt Artists, along with Scarecrow Shane Schofield, Joe Pike, The GhostWalkers, The Prakenskiis, Anne Stuart's Ice heroes and Jack Reacher. Believe me, that's a huge compliment!

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Undone by His Touch (Mills & Boon Modern)Undone by His Touch by Annie West
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Happy Sigh! Lots of angst, passion, and true love. And a hero who reminds me of Edward Fairfax Rochester. I'm not sure if that was deliberate or not. Declan is a nice mix of wounded, grumpy and tortured. Even at his worst, I couldn't hate him. I guess I could see pain behind his actions. With his brother's death and his feelings of guilt that he had failed him, it was hard to see clearly. On the other hand, I could see why Chloe couldn't settle for what he had to give her. She had fought too hard to claim a sense of self-esteem in her life.

I loved how the courtship between Declan and Chloe bloomed. I got that feeling of Jane Eyre in their interchanges. How Chloe might be his employee, but she won't kowtow to him. And also how Chloe is the light in the darkness to Declan. I found that bond and growing feelings between them very romantic. And the sexual tension and sensuality culminates beautifully.

After Declan finds out just who Chloe is, I wasn't sure what would happen next. I respect that Ms. West managed to keep the story on a mature level, even though Declan does act like a jerk. I loved how Chloe was able to hold her own and keep her dignity even in the way Declan was treating her. He might be her boss, he might seem to have the upper hand, but he didn't, because deep down, she wouldn't be allow him to be control her.

And yes, the end might be sappy to some, but I found it deliciously romantic.

Conclusion: Another winner by Annie West.

Final rating: 4.5/5.0 stars

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

The TrapperThe Trapper by Jenna Kernan
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Tracker was an excellent western historical romance that delivers a great story, a passionate romance with intensity and emotional connection between its characters, and exciting adventure. This is my fourth book by Jenna Kernan, and she hasn't let me down yet. She takes me back to the 19th century, when the American West was still young, and where a man or a woman proves his or her mettle against the unforgiving wilderness, and the dark heart of humanity of all colors and creeds.

What stands out in this romance was its hero, Troy. Troy Price is a man of mixed blood. His mother was of the proud Cherokee people, one of the five civilized tribes. They lived next to whites and held similar beliefs, but when gold is found in the ground beneath their land, they were uprooted and forced on the Trail of Tears. Even though Troy's father was a white man (Irish), he was deemed not good enough for his young lover, Rachel. Since the tragic end of their love affair, Troy has sworn to stay away from white women. He couldn't bear being rejected again, or causing the despair that loving an Indian would bring to her. I loved Troy, for the man he was. He was a mover and a shaker, and a man of deep integrity. I loved his ability to survive in the wild, and his way of looking deep inside a person and seeing not who they seemed to be, but who they were at their heart. Many times, I told Eleanor if she thought she wasn't good enough for Troy, I'd be happy to take him off her hands! Troy was definitely my kind of hero!

When he shows up at the docks to pick up his latest group of scientists for a tour up the Yellowstone, he sees a beautiful, elegant white lady who is the only one of the group to survive a Cholera outbreak. He refuses to take her, until she questions his honor. No man likes having his honor questioned. And for a half-breed with little to his name, his honor is his prized possession. He reluctantly takes on the redheaded greenhorn, who knows about as much about surviving in the wilderness as he does of navigating the ballrooms and parlors of Boston. Troy is convinced that Eleanor Hart will come to her senses when she gets a small taste of frontier life, but she proves to have more mettle than he expected.

Eleanor comes off as being very ignorant and closed-minded. She has lived in a smaller world than she realized, raised by bigots and social snobs who know only about power and status. Her parents' loveless marriage and procession of lovers is the model for what she can expect for the marriage she agreed to contract in exchange for this trip out West to paint wildlife. She really doesn't want that future, but how can she go back on her word? I never disliked Eleanor, who Troy calls Lena, even though she makes some very thoughtless, prejudiced comments to Troy, pouring salt into his wounds about being treated like less than a man because of his Cherokee blood. I could see she wasn't a bad person, just a person who had no real understanding of what makes a man or woman honorable or worthwhile. It's not race or heritage, or about money or status. It's about integrity and grit. This trip shows her exactly what she needs to learn. She did frustrate me as she continued to hold on to her ideas about the rightness of the society she was raised in. However, I could see that Troy and this trip out West had awakened the woman she was meant to be, and I cheered her on.

This novel touched me on an emotional level, and I also loved the action and adventure as Troy and Lena face life in the wilderness. The ending had me on the edge of my seat, and I hoped that Troy and Lena would fight for each other, and the life they could have together. I knew that being together on their own terms (not society's) was the right choice for both, but they had to come to that conclusion for themselves. And Kernan doesn't take it easy on the reader as you see just how painful that choice will be for Lena (and in ways I didn't imagine initially).

Because this book gave me pretty much what I wanted in a book when I read it, I am rating it 4.5/5.0 stars.

Recommended Casting:

Rachelle Lefevre as Eleanor 'Lena' Hart

Joe Lando as Troy Price

Recommended to western historical romance lovers

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

NightsongNightsong by Carolyn Davidson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nightsong has languished on my tbr pile for years. I started it but put it down because I wasn't been in a mood to finish it at the time.  Yesterday, I felt this strong urge to read a western. Those urges come on me, and I felt it best to indulge.  My eyes fell on it tucked into the large bookshelf in my room, and I started reading it again.  It was the right book for my present mood.

Nightsong has that feel that I enjoy in a historical western.  Strong people living their lives, facing adversities, and adhering to their personal sense of honor.  Debra is a woman of two worlds:  her mother was Indian and her father was white. Both worlds have rejected her to some extent.  As a result, Debra has found her own world to live in. When hard-eyed Ethan Tyler comes along, determined to live with her at her homestead, she doesn't like the idea, but she can't make him leave.  Before she knows it, they are married.  And she falls in love with her husband, a man with torment and dark memories in his eyes.  Before they can found a future, Ethan has to face his past. He is a fugitive, having killed the man who killed his wife and young son, and a bounty hunter has come to take him back.  Honor dictates that Ethan go back and prove he was right to kill that man.  Will this man she has come to love as her husband return to her, or will she be forced go back to living alone, on the edge of two worlds?

I liked the steady narrative, which was light on dialogue and heavy on description. Admittedly, this doesn't always work for me, but it did for this book at this moment in time and space.  It showed rather than told who Debra and Ethan were.  They are characters in which actions speak louder than words, so it was fitting.  Through their interaction in the world around them, with each other, and with other pivotal characters.  (view spoiler)[ I especially liked Gray Wolf, Debra's brother who shows up. I wonder if he had a story. I'd read it.  (hide spoiler)]

It's an interesting thing how much reading depends on mood, at least for me.  At times, this sort of book wouldn't be what I wanted to read. Other times, like yesterday, it was what the doctor ordered. It satisfied my craving for a western, and left me wanting more.  That's why I gave it four stars.

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Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr

Daggerspell (Deverry, #1)Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Daggerspell is an epic fantasy novel built on the idea of reincarnation. If we have failed to fulfill our destiny in one life, we are compelled to return to this life in another form to do that. As I read this novel, I was confronted with my feelings about that inalienable destiny. There are some people that you have in your life that seem only to bring pain and hardship, and the comfort is that when you leave this life, you leave that pain they cause you behind. In this novel, that is not the case. And more importantly, a person cannot run from themselves and the anguish their own actions will deliver them. In some ways, that was a bitter pill to swallow as I read. The blessing in this novel was that one man, Nevyn, which sounds like ‘no one’ has lived through three lives and walks that anguished road with those people who he failed to help the first time.
Another integral part of this novel is the Welsh-like feel to their world. I’m not an expert on Welsh language, so if I’m wrong, I apologize. But it felt as though this novel used some of the Welsh language particulars and it felt pretty distinct and authentic to me. I was afraid that the names and the language would be an issue, but it wasn’t. After I read the novel, I read through the glossary, and surprisingly, I was able to discern what most of the terms meant through context.

The Characters:
Nevyn and Jill were standout characters for me. I felt deeply for Nevyn. The huge burden of seeing people he had cared for in the first go-round suffer through their Wyrd (destiny) again and again until they got it right. That was tough. I loved that he had followed his own destiny, not without loss or sacrifice, and had used this incredible skills as a dweomerman (magician/wizard) to help people and to fight for the forces of light. In the first life, he made a selfish choice, and it cost the life of a woman he loved. He had vowed to help her find her destiny, and it took him three life cycles to do it. That’s determination. Jill was young but she had substance and a strong heart. One of her choices in this novel gave me heartburn. For a romantic, I was surprised I didn’t want her to follow that path and go in another way. I’m glad that this worked out despite my apprehensions about it. Cullyn was also a compelling character. He had me worried a few times. He was a man who had one heck of a wyrd to work out, and it was a rough one. What I loved is that he was able to overcome that dark destiny through the power of his integrity and love for his daughter. Rhodry was a character that didn’t quite convince me he was worthy of Jill. He was a decent person, a little spoiled, but I didn’t feel he was Jill’s wyrd, at least not in a good way. I guess the author knows better than me about such things. In the first life cycle, it was like watching a car wreck before it happens, I mean literally. That really took me out of my comfort zones. I was actually shouting at the book, saying, “Please don’t do that.” It took some fortification to keep reading after that, but part of me couldn’t let go of this story because like any good fiction novel, it made me ask the central question. “What happens next?” I’m not a believer in reincarnation, but the way things work out for the characters in that life cycle kind of made me glad that it exists in this novel.

Magic and Magical Folks:
I loved that Jill could see and interact with the Wildfolk. Especially the cute gray gnome who was often her boon companion and her comfort through her tough young life. I liked this idea that those marked by the dweomer are able to perceive the Wildfolk. It was also interesting how many ‘normal’ folks feared the magic and many more didn’t even believe in it. It seemed strange to me since this felt so real, and their lives were deeply affected by the power of the magic around them. I appreciated how within this landscape of humanity there were pockets of legendary creatures, such as a dwarf metalsmith who gives Jill her silver dagger, and the Westfolk, who are actually elves. I really liked the elves!

My final thoughts:
I went into reading this cold. I had never heard of this book until it was recommended on the fantasy group. I saw it at the bookstore and thought, “Why not?” And I am glad I read it. I think the writing was strong, the storyline interesting, although a bit on the tragic side in some ways. It felt intricate and complex and deep, and that appeals to me. The idea of having to work out the consequences of the choices you make in life resonates with me, and for a foundation of a fantasy novel, it works surprisingly well. I think I would like to continue this series to see where Kerr takes this story and the characters next. I recommend it to readers who enjoy epic fantasy.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

No Way to Begin by Michelle Reid

No Way to Begin (Harlequin Presents, #1478)No Way to Begin by Michelle Reid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No Way to Begin is a weak four stars read. I found the passionate aspects very appealing. I loved that Anton is a possessive, jealous hero (one of my favorite types of heroes), and that he fell like a ton of bricks for Nina months before the book takes place. That part of the story reminded me of Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers, #1) by Lisa Kleypas where Simon falls for Annabelle and indulges in a lighter form of heroine stalking. Yes, the stalker-type hero isn't for everyone, but I like them. Don't judge me! I don't condone real-life stalking at all. I also like that he clearly is willing to do anything to get her, and in his own rough way tries to take care of Nina.

On the other hand, I think some parts were a bit dry. I don't know if it was a mood thing. I have gotten where I love to see a lot of snappy dialogue and back and forth between the couple in a romance book, and so the older books don't seem to have that as much. I think good dialogue builds up and enhances the chemistry and dramatic tension in a romance book. I felt that Nina was a bit too much the fainting/wilting heroine. I do have to acknowledge that for a 20-year-old who is not worldly, that makes sense, but I wished she was a bit more feisty at some times. Yes, she does do the slapping/hitting thing when cornered, but that's not really what I consider feisty. I think I prefer a heroine who is mouthy and can tell the hero off when it's warranted. Not in a fishwife type way, but a don't cross that line with me kind of way--setting boundaries. I do give her props for how she got her mother-in-law told. I wish she had done that a little more with the hero. He was older and a bit on the domineering side and I feel she should have established some boundaries a bit more with him. I guess I have to take into consideration that she felt she was in a rock and a hard place. One part that really annoyed me was when Anton tells Nina she has to give up college. Oh, my blood pressure went through the roof on that. Because, why? His excuse is he wants her with him. It felt more like a 'my wife doesn't need school because I can take care of her and I want her dependent on me and at my beck and call' sort of thing. That attitude always gets my goat. Might not bother another reader at all, though.

So I think four stars is fair, because some things really worked for me:

*I love the blackmail marriage scenario!
*Possessive/Jealous/Stalkerific heroes give me shivers in a good way!
*The ending was great when they both lay their emotional cards on the table. That alone helped to bump this book up a notch when I was feeling a bit bored.
*Although this is a fade to black book, I thought the sexual tension/chemistry parts were off the charts.
*Good visuals of Greece, and the use of symbolism and allusions to Greek mythology to draw the contrast between Nina's redhead English looks and Anton's dark Greek looks worked for me.
*The reveal on Nina's father's enmity towards Jason, her first beau, and what had gone on with her mother--classic vintage HP drama!

I forgot to add one thing I didn't like:

Anton calls Nina a bitch like four times near the beginning. Hard to describe the situation without spoilers, but I am not fond of verbal abuse, so it didn't work for me.

Overall, a good read. I'll add this to my keeper shelf, although I prefer Michelle Reid's newer books overall.

I recommend it to fans of forced marriage and intense, stalkerific heroes who are magnetic and signficantly older than the heroine.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Alessandro's Prize by Helen Bianchin

Alessandro's PrizeAlessandro's Prize by Helen Bianchin

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This book was a middle of the road read. I didn't hate or love it. I ended up giving it 3.5/5.0 stars because of its good and not-so-good points.

What I liked:

*I love a good hero in pursuit. I have an issue with player heroes, so I was feeling tough towards Alessandro at first, thinking he might view Lily as another conquest. However, he proved himself that his intentions were sincere towards her. There were several moments where he could have pushed her into sexual intimacy and he refrained, knowing she wasn't ready for that. I ended up liking and respecting him a lot for that. I also liked that he was steadfast in his regard for Lily, despite her cold shoulder. I could feel that he truly loved her. Also, I liked that he was self-made with a tough life behind him. He had turned his life around with the guidance of Lily's aunt and her deceased husband.
*I loved that Lily was a fully-qualified chef and actually had a job that she put a lot of time and energy in. I also liked that she was a woman of independent means. I think Bianchin managed to show that Alessandro could afford to shower her with material things (because that's just obligatory for an HP hero, isn't it?), even though she didn't need them. (view spoiler)[ It was a bit sneaky how it turns out that he owns the restaurant where she gets hired as an assistant chef and her apartment building. I had to laugh, because his tendency to own everything reminded me of Roarke from the In Death series by JD Robb! (hide spoiler)]
*I loved all the food descriptions. What can I say, I'm a foodie?

What I didn't like:

*The fashion descriptions bored me to tears. It's not that I don't like fashion, but getting a list of what Lily wore every time got really old.
*Normally I like how HPs will have details about the different locales, but this one didn't do much for me as far as describing Milan. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it.
*I just didn't get very excited about this book. It wasn't badly written. I just think she needed a little more zing in the story, and I don't mean sex. Just more tension and hop in the storyline. The annoyance factor of the continual post-mortems on Lily's failed relationship and her using that to keep Alessandro at bay was an execution issue, not so much that I don't like having the reluctant heroine who is afraid to love again. I liked that she didn't fall into bed with him immediately, so I'm not sure that insta-sex would have solved the lack of sizzle problem for me.

Overall, a decent read. Not one that I will find especially memorable, but I did like the fact that Alessandro is a solid hero who definitely shows he's worthy of love. When you have a heroine who has gone through what Lily did with her ex, you need that kind of hero. So it was a success on that front.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Lover Reborn by JR Ward

Lover Reborn (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #10)Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***Bigtime Spoiler Warning. I can’t write this review without them. Sorry!

****Super-duper Long Review Disclaimer! I have so much to say!

When I started reading this series back around 2005 or 2006, I was drawn into the dark, seductive, dangerous world of JR Ward’s vampires, and something took root in me. I knew I would come back for more when I finished Dark Lover, and so I did. Again and again. Every year, I look forward to a new book in this series, and rightfully so. I believed the culmination of my love for this series would be Lover Mine, since John Matthew and Xhex are two of my favorite characters. While that book will always have a special place in my heart, I am happy to say that I still believe this series has more to offer me with every book.

I knew I would enjoy Lover Reborn, but I had some anxieties about it because it’s a pivotal entry, and a difficult storyline to read about (and to write about, from Ward’s perspective). So many expectations! I am happy to say I believe that Ward has stayed true to who she is as a writer with this book.

Tohrment always seemed like the most grounded, stable, mature member of the Brotherhood. When this series began, he was a family man, happily mated to Wellesandra. He was the voice of reason in the Brotherhood, and many looked to him for advice, leadership, and moderation. All that disappeared in a single act of violence, one that tore his beloved shellan and their unborn son away from Tohr, leaving a broken wreck of a male behind.

The opinions are varied. Many feel that it was too soon for Tohr to find another mate. Some believe he never should be mated again. Some want Wellsie to come back. As much as I love Wellsie, the realist in me didn’t expect her to be brought back. I feel that this would be way too fairy tale a resolution for this quite dark series. Personally, I would rather someone who had lost their wife/husband to move on and find love again. If I died, I would want my husband to be happy in this life. I believe Wellsie definitely felt the same way. Although I’m not a widow and I haven’t lost my soulmate, I have lost people that I loved, and grief is a part of life. It hurts like nothing else, and the loss makes a void in one’s life that cannot easily (nor should it be) be filled with anything else. Yet, over time, you feel those horrible claws of loss easing their way out of your soul and psyche, and you feel the healing begin. I for one feel that Ms. Ward did a very good job at portraying this with Tohr’s journey in this book.

There is no question whatsoever that Tohr loved Wellsie. But I loved the message that part of loving her was letting her go, and allowing her to go to her eternal resting place, and moving on and living his life. It felt right to me how the storyline showed that Tohr was actually keeping Wellsie from going to the Fade by his horrible, wrenching, unchanging grief. Although this is fiction, I do believe in the message about healing from grief being so integral to the process. And that felt so real to me.

My other concern was how Tohr and No’One’s relationship would develop. I didn’t want the whole book to be about how No’One would never measure up in his eyes, and that she was just a consolation prize, since Wellsie was gone. On the other hand, I didn’t want Wellsie to be forgotten about like being gone meant she didn’t matter anymore. That makes a very hard path to walk for a writer. For me, there was a lot of symmetry in how Tohr and No’One came together. It was naturalistic to the story, and I was satisfied with the outcome. Like most of the courtships in these books, there was a rocky road; but both Tohr and No’One both learn and grow from the experience.


Many readers have speculated on her, and how she could end up being Tohr’s mated shellan. In Lover Mine, I learned enough about her to think that there could be a foundation between her and Tohr.

Although Tohr spent many years with Wellsie, and their love was the cornerstone of his life, he also had a very crucial relationship with No’One in his formative years. As a young vampire, he helped to save No’One when she was kidnapped and abused by a sympath male. He nursed and cared for her through her pregnancy, and he buried her when she killed herself, with his dagger. From a spiritual perspective, an unbreakable bond formed between them that is pivotal to the healing that is necessary for both. So it made sense for them to come together for me. She wasn’t just a random female that dropped out of nowhere.

Regardless, Tohr doesn’t make it easy for No’One to claim his heart. He is truly mean to her a couple of times in this book, and I wanted to slap him upside the head. And she hates herself so much, that she doesn’t feel she has the right to be loved. So No’One has to go through a sea change to claim her happiness in this world, this time around. It was painful to see how she hurt herself emotionally, how she denied her right to happiness, but that too was realistic. How often do we blame ourselves for the mistakes we make and the bad things that happen to us in this life, which aren’t our faults? We feel that we have to claim that misfortune and assume that we deserved it. No’One had an elephant’s weight of guilt sitting on her back, and until she divested herself of it, she could be no freer to love than Tohr was. There was balance in that.

Tohr and No’One

Tohr is a really good guy. Despite all the horrible grief he suffered, he still tried to be courteous and to make sure that No’One had what she needed, as far as he could give it. Other than his two freakouts, which were pretty nasty, I think he treated her well. He didn’t make any false promises. I loved how he gave her a new name that he felt was worthy of her because she refused to go by her name when she was a young member of the Glymera. Autumn is a very fitting name, and I loved it. I liked how it tied into the cover so well. And it also ties into the whole storyline. People think of Autumn as the harbinger to the darkest part of the year. Autumn is a time of transition. It has a beauty all its own. It’s the season when the bright beauty of summer edges into the crisp purity of winter. Autumn is like a time of rest for the earth. To me, that is representative of what Tohr is going through. He is learning to live without Wellsie and to find joy and beauty in what had promised to be a very dark future.

The love scenes between Tohr and No’One/Autumn were very good. It showed that although Tohr’s first shellan had died, his heart didn’t have to die with her, nor his body and his capacity to feel desire for another woman. I liked that they eased into it over several months. I also liked how Autumn was able to see that she could have joy in a physical relationship with male. Being kidnapped and assaulted by the sympath male had made her feel disgust for males. With a gentle, loving male like Tohr, she was able to embrace the physical side of being a female. It felt right to me.

No’One and Xhex

I loved the bonding moments between No'One and Xhex. They were able to meet as adults and to see each other outside of the fact that Xhex was conceived in a horrible way for No’One, and she had given up Xhex. Xhex realized how much her mother valued and felt pride in her, even though she didn’t meet the Glymera’s standards for beauty and success for a woman. These bonding moments made me happy because Xhex didn’t have a lot of people in her life to open up with and feel acceptance from, and she was going through a rough time with JM and how the Brothers tended to have a sexist viewpoint of her abilities in the field. They could meet on equal ground as women in love, and be there for each other. Those parts warmed my heart. I’m glad they found each other again.

Tohr and John Matthew

Since Tohr views JM as his son, and vice versa, this was a crucial part of the novel to see them come together again. JM was able to help Tohr with his grief, and Tohr was able to give JM advice on his relationship with Xhex. Together, they faced the unresolved pain of Wellsie’s loss, and those moments affected me deeply. Their relationship is so important to this series, so I’m glad Ward came through in this manner.

Xhex and John Matthew

I was kind of frustrated with the issues in their relationship. They had been through so much, I wanted them to have smooth sailing. Regardless of my discomfort with their relationship troubles in this book, I have to say it made sense. JM had to learn to deal with his issues with his mate going out in the field and risking her life, and how that affected his bonded male emotions. I like that he did get past those issues and respect the fact that the female he’d fallen in love with wasn’t the stay at home type. She was a warrior in her own right (actually for many years before JM). That was why he loved her, because she was a tough, strong, independent woman. Who was he force her to turn her back on that? From Xhex’s standpoint, I don’t think she was being unreasonable. She had the right to be herself, even if she was JM’s mate. And it was annoying how the Brothers and even Rehv weren’t taking her seriously because JM wasn’t dealing well with the idea of her being in danger. I felt bad for her, because she really does love JM, and wants to be with him, but doesn’t want to deny who she is, and she’s been through too much to let go of her sense of identity just because she was in love. I could also understand JM’s fears, especially seeing how Tohr losing Wellsie destroyed him. He didn’t want to go through that by losing Xhex, because she is his life. I’m glad that they were able to get past this. Since they are my favorite couple in this series, I loved seeing a lot more of them, even if there were some troubled times in their relationship.

Band of Bastards

I wasn’t sure how things would go with the new storyline of the BoB. I have to say it was very interesting. I don’t view them as villains. I think that things will turn around for them to be allies with the Brotherhood, but it will be hard going. Xcor is a right b*stard, but he has grown on me. I hurt for him. I hope that he does find a female who finds him worthy, and hopefully that will be Layla. We’ll see. I was glad to get to know the other BoB, who now have names! Throe is still my favorite. He reminds me of Phury, in that he is a courtly male. That ain’t a bad thing at all, since I love me some Phury.

Qhuinn and Blay

Honestly, Qhuinn has gotten on my nerves a time or two, but overall he is a worthy male and I do believe that. In this book, I really liked him. He has matured beautifully. I felt bad for him that he had to see Blay with Saxton, but in some way, the eating his heart out has been good for him. I think now he will fight for what he could have with Blay, and I’m looking forward to that.


He cracks me up! I want to see more of him. I liked how he was a huge influence in getting Tohr and Autumn together and in helping them get past their issues. I want to see what this guy will be up to in the future, so I’m glad he’s sticking around.


I have a feeling I will like this character. More please!

Where is Murhder???? I need some Murhder!

Now…..If there was one thing I hated about this book…..

Why did Layla and Qhuinn have to sex because she went into her needing? It just felt all kinds of wrong to me. I am really unhappy about this outcome. If Qhuinn is going to be with Blay and Layla might end up with Xcor, what is the point of them having a child together? I just don’t see the blended family scenario working well in this series. I could be wrong. Maybe the WARDen will work it out. As for now, I am very unhappy about this! Sob! (Danielle admits that she thought about this all night‼)

Overall Thoughts

Unlike some fans (and former fans) of the series, I wasn’t worried that this book would suck. I knew I’d enjoy it because I truly love JR Ward’s writing. I feel that she truly wanted to give Tohr a good story, and the end results show it. I’m sure it was a hard book to write, with many emotional struggles for Ms. Ward in the process of putting it on paper. Even though I don’t always like some twists in the stories, the whole package works for me.

This book touched me in so many ways. It had me laughing outrageously. It had me so sad that I couldn’t even cry. It made me happy. It was smoking hot as far as the plentiful love scenes, but it was also romantic. I felt she had given me resolution on some issues that were hanging out there in the air for me. I loved seeing some of my favorite characters who don’t get enough page time, like,….Phury. Too bad I didn’t get to see much of Cormia or Mary. I ain’t gonna lie, I would love more Rehv, but at least he was around in this book. It was great seeing Marissa again. I always feel great when I get to revisit my favorites, but part of me wants more! Heck, I think Ward tries. If she had pages of each of the characters, these books would be 1000 pages long, so I am not hating on her about it. I loved seeing all the Brothers stand up in support of Tohr in his difficult time. That was so necessary to this book. It warmed my heart big time.

So, for this reader, the magic is still there. I am afraid of the book slump I see coming since I have finished this latest BDB book, and the countdown begins for the next book. Next year. I can make it! I know I can!

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