Snowing Outside, Reading Inside

So how about this weather? It totally sucks right?  But at least I’m getting a bunch of reading done.  My boss at Borders called and said I didn’t need to come in tomorrow since we’re expecting 10 inches of snow overnight.  I stopped at the USB (used bookstore) after my dentist appointment today so I’m stocked up on reading material.  I have done some reading the last few days during the last snow storm.  So here are my reviews.

Another One for the SFR Challenge #6

Shooting Star by Colby Hodge – 4 stars
Published November 28th 2006 by Love Spell

I had read this before but had forgotten almost all of it. A very nice story of a pilot who crashes his space ship on a primitive planet while searching for his brother. He is looked after by a slave woman and her son. This story takes place mostly on the planet so the world building aspect is more important that the gritty space tech aspect. But that part is at least addressed and the space flight details have been thought out.

The story involves drug runners and a race of mind controlling witches that have been in other books in the series. I like the details of the space faring civilizations that have been thought out and set up. Then different stories in the story arc can be told within the framework.

The romance between the pilot and the slave woman was very sweet. Heat level was very low. But the romance was complete and believable.

The plot made sense and the writing is well done. The story moved right along and did not have any dragging parts.

Recommended to SFR lovers.

Romantic Suspense

Blood Stains by Sharon Sala – 3 Stars

Expected publication: February 1st 2011 by Mira

This was a solid story from Sharon Sala. It was easy to read and quite enjoyable. It was not one of her best though. She can write a more edge of your seat, tense, page turning sort of novel. She can also write a story with more intense characterization. Because I expected more from the writing of Ms. Sala, I gave it 3 stars instead of 4. This is apparently going to be another 3 book series where all the stories take place simultaneously. The last such series started off with the weakest story and then got better and better. I will definitely read the rest of the series to see if that is the case here. Even if the series doesn’t, this is still well worth reading.

Bodie was a nice man. He was shown as a competent, caring cop. I liked that he was shown doing his job other than just with the heroine’s case. Maria was not as well characterized. I believe because we are told she is a rancher and a horse trainer but are never actually able to see her do it. At least she goes to the police for help solving her mother’s murder and doesn’t spend her time doing stupid things that put herself and others in danger.

Things that I didn’t like so well – we knew who the killer was right away. We were in his head too early and he wasn’t different enough to make that particularly interesting. Also, the romance developed very quickly. Bodie was in love and wanted to marry her within a week. Sometimes that can work in a novel but here it just felt rushed.

Things I liked – Some people died, but kudos to the author, not the people you expected to die. I like it when an author takes a less obvious choice.

Harlequin Superromance

A Message for Julia by Angel Smits – 4 Stars

Published December 7th 2010 by Harlequin

The back blurb on this romance is a bit misleading. It makes it sound as if the story might be told with letters or at least include letters from Linc who is trapped in a mine collapse to his wife Julia. But it isn’t.

This story was very good and very different. For most of the novel the hero and heroine are parted by the mine collapse. They have been having marital problems and throughout the wait for the miners to be rescued, they think over their past (only one scene is told in flashback) and realize that they still love each other and that their marriage is worth fighting for.

I typically have a very low tolerance for romances where the H/h are separated for such long periods, but here I barely noticed and the book just flew by. There were a couple of times that tears threatened even. A very strong story. You meet the men that Linc is trapped with as well as their families waiting above ground with Julia for news.

Strong writing and strong characterization and good research on mines and mine collapses. I will definitely try this author again.

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Yummy Alien Romance

Captured by Julia Rachel Barrett

#5 for the SFR Challenge

5 stars

If you love alien/human romance like I do, this was a good one. It was one of those books you just don’t want to end. The relationship between the alien male, Ekkatt, and the human woman, Mari, seemed real and solid. The characters grew over the course of the book particularly Ekkatt. Parts of the story were hard to read. This wasn’t just a fluff alien/human romance. There were difficult ethical dilemmas these two faced. There was some pretty major forgiveness needed for their relationship to grow. It was well written and the character of Mari was what allowed the reader to forgive the alien slaver, Ekkatt. I would love to see a sequel to this story. The plot was straight forward and made sense. The world building was well done. The alien world of Atunn wasn’t explained in detail but was drawn in the actions of the characters and some well placed description. Very good love story that focused almost entirely on the two main characters. Highly recommended to SFR fans who like alien romance.

Even though this is listed as erotic, I wouldn’t consider it as such. It had a couple of explicit love scenes but they were of a normal level for romance these days. The main thrust of the story is the love that grows between the alien man and the human woman.

Book 4 for the SFR Challenge

From the Ashes by Maree Anderson

4 Stars

I received this free from the publisher for review.

I enjoyed this Science Fiction Romance. It hits the high points of what I consider the necessary criteria for Sci Fi Romance.

First good world building. I could visualize the settings in which the action took place. There were two planets involved in addition to the ships. The first planet was a desert planet. The description was clear and the dangers were clearly described and pertained to the story. The populated planet where the majority of the story took place was easy to visualize. It was a hedonistic pleasure planet and the characters actions, either in accordance with the mores of the society or contrary to custom, caused them to either get along in the place or have problems. The cultural mores of the planet were clearly shown in the actions of the characters not just told to the reader.

Secondly the romance was well done. The hero and heroine spent enough time in each others presence for real emotions to form. They grew to know and depend on each other. They didn’t just hop in the sack arbitrarily. They did spend a large portion of time in the middle of the book apart but struggling to get back to each other. I would have preferred that they hadn’t been apart but that is a personal preference and doesn’t mean that that part of the story was bad or unnecessary. Just not the way I would have preferred it. But I didn’t write it did I? 🙂 The emotions seemed real and there was some pathos and sacrifice involved.

Third – Characterizations in general for all major characters where clear and well motivated. The hero and heroine both were solid characters who grew over the course of the story. The secondary characters were clearly differentiated and were true to their stated motivations. The heroine was a kick butt kind of girl. She was tech savvy and could defend herself. When things got screwed up, she came up with a plan and acted on it. He was coming from a very different place and had to grow from being a slave to learning to be his own person. He seemed very three dimensional and real.

Fourth – The plot made sense. There was a clear beginning middle and end. Actions taken had logical consequences. There was a lot going on and much of it was fun. Some of it was sad and a lot of it was tense. Not a one note book at all.

These final two thing are not common to all SFR but were pertinent here.

Alieness and sex scenes.

There were some aliens but most of the characters were human or mutated humans. Humans had come from Earth so long ago that Earth was considered a silly legend and those who believed in it were scorned. Our heroine was unmutated and was a believer in Earth. The hero was from a planet of mutated beings who had been designed as sex slaves and they had a second set of genitalia. Only a man was described though so I don’t know what the women from that planet might have had. He was well written and the whole Phoenix aspect was new and interesting and really had a lot to do with the plot.

The sex scenes were not gratuitous. There were maybe 3 or 4 and only one that was completed as it were. Since he was born as a sex slave, that aspect of the story was pertinent but most of it was about what that meant to them in their personal relationship. I will say however that it didn’t seem really necessary that he have two penises. I guess it just illustrated that he was mutated to be a sex slave. An outward symbol of the inner purpose of his race. It did seem like it might be a little tedious to have to do both ‘ahem’ entrances every time you wanted a little nooky.

The writing in general was good. The sentences flowed and I didn’t notice any annoying word choices etc. There were some good quotes (example below) and it was very readable overall.

“If he found Calista hurt or damaged in any way, Asher would go after Nate and make him regret the day his father fucked his mother and inflicted their son upon the universe.”

Book #3 for the SFR Challenge

Alien Overnight by Robin L. Rotham

Book #3  – 4 stars

I gave this one 4 stars for several different reasons.

First, I like SFR. Good SFR is hard to come by and this one was pretty good. It wasn’t perfect but it was much better than most offerings I’ve found in eformat. A lot of thought went into the plot and all the elements worked together and made sense and actually pertained to the plot. It also pulls an extra star just for being more than 80 pages long. It was a complete story with plenty of time and effort put in to really developing the culture and actions of the alien race. A lot of time was spent developing the romance between the three main characters. There wasn’t a lot of time devoted to the alien/space tech but this story really didn’t need it.

The menage aspect was treated in a realistic manner. In that it was not a perfect fit and just the gosh darndest best thing any of the three had ever experienced. They were forced into it because of the lack of women on the Garathan world after a bio weapon killed them off. The men were forced into multiple marriages by law so that more men would have an opportunity to have a mate. But Shauss, the second male, was too alpha to really fit well and it bothered him that Monica really loved Kellen best. He was only persuaded to stay in the relationship with the understanding that when he found someone who would love him best, he was free to go. And Kellen was very jealous of Monica with Shauss but put up with it because of the law and because Shauss was his best friend and he didn’t want him to have to do without. Also for those like me who don’t like M/M action, these guys were totally hetero and had no interest in each other.

The plot was well done and left room for more books to explain what was going on with the bio weapon and who was behind that whole thing. One really interesting aspect was that the Garathan society had been matriarchal until the bio weapon had killed off most of the women and the men had been very subjugated including sexually and they were determined not to go back to that way of life with the new women they were getting from Earth.

While I don’t normally like made up new holes in the female anatomy here at least it made sense and had a tie in to the plot of the story in that the alien men were physically unable to come if they didn’t have a hole above the vagina to lock into. If that sort of stuff squeeks you out, you might want to stay away from this book.

Monica’s transformation into an alien sexpot also made sense. Unknown to anyone previously, she was a human alien hybrid and had not been subjected to the right alien male hormones to inspire her maturation. So it wasn’t just some out of the blue thing but was a well thought out part of the plot. And it wasn’t a poofta easy transformation either but took time and had physical consequences.

One thing that I didn’t really like was how dominant the two men were in their actions towards Monica. I guess for two reasons. One, I wasn’t reading a BDSM book. When I go that route I’ve already agreed to buy in to the female being dominated by the male thing and so I mentally have no complaints. Here though that was not the case and I felt like they were treating her like a dumb little woman when she hadn’t agreed to be treated that way. So I felt a bit during the middle of the book like they were disrespecting her. That totally pushes my buttons in real life and I don’t like it in a romance either. Why it bothers me in one type of book and not the other I don’t know, just does I guess.

Another One For My Sci Fi Romance Challenge

SFR Challenge Book #2

Torn by K.D. King – 1 Star

I was not real impressed with this short story/novella. I felt like I was on a train and the story was like scenery whipping by the windows. You only caught a glimpse of what was going on.

She saw the hero on a planet. She follows him to a cave. She glows. She returns to her homeworld for 30 minutes. Then she goes to a library(?) planet. Then she is captured. She meets her long time enemy, takes a bath, gets a tour, falls in love, has a meal, plans to blow up the ship, makes love to him in a corridor, goes to his world, meets her long lost brother, fights with the hero, learns to hate her father whom she’s always loved, goes to save her mother whom she’s always despised, gets married in a public sex act. All that just whooshed by. I felt like someone snatched a book out of my hands while I was yelling “Wait! I was reading that!”

The book was just too short for the amount of story the author had to tell. The book seriously needed some filling out and some details. Here is an example of the kind of thing I mean.

She sees him on this planet that she’s on for a reason we don’t know. She followed him through the city out into the desert to some caves and snuck in to the caves. Okay so into the desert with no supplies? What did the desert look like? For that matter what did he look like? If he was described, it was so brief that I have no idea what he looked like. I think he was white from the cover illustration and the fact that the author made a big deal out of how he thought her ‘chocolate’ coloring was so pretty. So we know she is black but have no idea of what her facial features look like.

He knew someone was following him. Why didn’t he just stop behind a boulder and wait up and catch her? Why were there no guards or at least a doorman at the entrance to the caves where all these people live? What do the caves look like? Sound like? Dripping water? Dry rustling? Why are these people living in a cave? Then when she finds herself glowing because he is her mate, although she doesn’t know it, she bolts. The hero chases her because he does know the glowing means they’re mates. She escapes through the use of some sort of call button that brings down a space shuttle I think. Tell me just a little about the space ships and other tech stuff. There is little to no description or explanation.

The relationship between the hero and heroine would have benefited from a lot more time/scenes spent on their interaction. Most of their relationship consisted of him showing he was a gentleman by escorting her around his ship then showing her to her room and leaving her alone.

This was almost the best example of telling instead of showing I’ve ever read. The author also almost always used short sentences which added to the overall feeling of brevity.

All that being said. I think the story had potential. With all that was going on, it needed to be a novel not a novella. I liked the glowing when you find your mate. I liked the convoluted plot details. I liked the hidden evil etc. The actual ideas and happenings were interesting but there just needed to be more time to develop the whole story.

If it’s important to you, there were some sex scenes. They were not the best sex scenes I’ve ever read. Kind of included details I really didn’t care to know, like how much she gushed when she came. There were two public sex scenes. In fact the marriage was performed during the act of sex. Well fine, but why? Absolutely no explanation of why that had to be so it was just gratuitous. In fact, all we know about his culture is that she’s heard they have a lot of sex. All we know about her culture is…wait. Nothing.

This book was provided to me free from the publisher.

Vampire Loving

Hungry for You – Lynsay Sands

A comfort food. I like most of the offerings in this series. The vampire mythology is good for me as I don’t like the whole undead vampire thing so any explanation that makes them not dead and not have to kill the one they love is good with me. This one is more like the earlier books in the series instead of the last few. In other words it focuses more on the couple and less on the evil set of vampires who are warring with them. It is light hearted but not in a real campy way. Usually the things the old vampires go through to try to reconnect with the modern world once they meet their lifemate are amusing. The hero was a likable man and a gentleman and the heroine was a strong self sufficient woman. If you like the series, you’ll probably like this one.

My Goodreads Reviews

If you’d like to check out what I’ve reviewed over the last year or so see my page on Goodreads.

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