Friday, December 30, 2016

Reading Assignment Challenge: The Englor Affair by JL Langley

Reading Assignment Challenge: Then Englor Affair by JL Langley

In hiding who he was, Payton found himself and the man he would grow to love.  After his brother is kidnapped, Prince Payton Townsend masquerades as an Admirals assistant in order to track the culprits through the tangled mysteries of the planet Englor.  He finds way more than he bargained for in the form of Marine Colonel Simon Hollister.  Simon is no ordinary soldier.  He's heir to Englor and his life is mapped out for him: throne, bride and eventually an heir.  He never expected a dalliance with Payton to blossom into love, or that the organization that taught him to lead would threaten that love and their lives.  Danger and intrigue abound as they learn more about their shared enemy, and about each other.  What they learn could help them rise above to an enduring love or pull them apart.  

What fun!  I really loved this one from start to finish...Payton and Simon are great characters on their own, but together they really shine.  Payton has accompanied Nate to Englor to try to break the encryption on a message retrieved from those believed to be working against the Regelence royal family.  There are a lot of questions that Payton and Nate are trying to answer: Who on Englor was working against Regelence?  What do they want?  What are they going to do next?

Payton takes on an undercover disguise as a Lieutenant in the Intergalactic Navy and his job is to break into the secure computers on the Naval base and retrieve any data that might give them answers.  He is nervous and excited about his role...being in line for the royal throne on Regelence means that Payton has always had to have a chaparone and his freedoms on Englor are both eye-opening and nerve-wracking.  When he first goes to the gym to try to get gossip on the heir to Englor's throne (and an officer in the Englor Marines who work with the IN) he can't believe that there are naked men just walking around the locker room...and then he spies a red-headed Adonis and has a new "rising" problem, ahem.

Simon is worried because the spy he had placed on Regelence has been out of contact for a very long time.  He knows there are problems going on and he believes his mother to be in the thick of them...he just doesn't know exactly who wants what or why.  To add to the stress, he is a gay man on a planet where it is frowned upon and his mother is also leading the charge in Parliament to establish morality laws targeting homosexuals.  When Simon first lays eyes on Payton, he is intrigued.  He determines to find out more about the man and soon the two are working out together and then as they begin to trust in each other, they realize they are both investigating the same people and they begin working together.

Simon has a lot of stresses as both the heir to Englor's throne and Payton is one of the few who can really understand what the position entails (even though Simon is unaware of who Payton is for a very long time--even after they start working together).  The demands on him as a royal increase partway through the book and then he and Payton get caught in a compromising circumstance.  With all of these pressures on both men, how can they sustain a healthy relationship?  Watching them figure that out was both wonderful and heart-wrenching.  At the end of it all, I really believe that the two of them will successfully lead Englor while enjoying each other and their friends and family.  

Friday, November 4, 2016

Reading Assignment Challenge: Earth Bound

Reading Assignment Challenge: Earth Bound by Christine Feehan

After escaping from a cult, Lexi found refuge with her sisters on the farm that more than sustained her body--it nurtured her soul as well.  But she never forgot the terror she left behind or the always present fear that the cult would find her again, and claim her.  Then her nightmare came true. 

Lexi was discovered and threatened--only to be suddenly saved by a stranger.  He is Gavriil Prakenskii, and he's awestruck by the woman he has rescued.  She is destined for him.  He can feel it in his soul.  But how can Lexi find happiness with a man steeped in secrets and shadows, one intimately acquainted with violence, and whose very love could be the death of them?

Another amazing entry in the Sea Haven series!! While I didn't love it as much as I did Air Bound, I still thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Lexi and Gavriil.  I have been intrigued by Lexi since I first read about her, the youngest sister of the heart has always seemed fragile and yet she would do anything to protect those she loves.  I wasn't let down!  Lexi is out tending her beloved farm, the first place she has felt safe since she was eight years old, when she decides to take another peek at the adjoining land her brothers-in-law are in the process of buying.  It is there, away from the safety of the farm, that her horrendous past revisits in the form of Caine, the man who kidnapped her as a child and "married" her in a cult which used the twisting of God's word to get away with heinous crimes.  Lexi freezes in panic but is able to use her connection to the earth to trap Caine.  It is at this point that Gavriil Prakenskii glides in and helps Lexi escape.

Gavriil has been another object of interest to me; the brother that was stabbed viciously seven times while protecting an important Russian physicist.  He endures pain every moment of his life but has learned to coexist with it in order to continue to do what he does best: kill those who would harm the ones he protects.  He has a violent past and doesn't expect anything from his future until he sees Lexi.  The itching no his palm signals that his plans have just changed and for the first time he gives in to impulse and ties Lexi to him with the Prakenskii brand.  It turns out that this broken man is perfect for Lexi who has spent much of her adult life putting the broken pieces of herself together as well.  

Lexi and Gavriil have both had everything taken from them in violent ways: their families, their innocence, their sense of safety.  And yet Lexi and Gavriil both coped in incredible different ways.  Together they shore up each others strengths and weaknesses in surprising ways.  While Air Bound felt like one long non-stop action adventure, Earth Bound is much quieter with the main focus being on Lexi and Gavriil's budding relationship.  All of the story takes place on or near the sisters' farm emphasizing the quiet intensity of the story.  While there wasn't as much external action, the internal conflict of two souls who are trying hard to build a relationship when their only common ground is heartbreaking history keeps the tension strung tight and the pages turning fast.
Lissa also stepped into the limelight in a way she hasn't up to this point, and I am beyond relieved to get her story next!  I can only hope that Casimir is as amazing and sexy as the rest of the Prakenskii brothers.  Another delightful book that I am sure to reread again.   

Friday, October 7, 2016

Reading Assignment Challenge: Air Bound by Christine Feehan

Reading Assignment Challenge: Air Bound by Christine Feehan

For as far back as she can remember, Airiana Ridell has always been aware of her extraordinary gift.  She can intuit revealing and illuminating "patterns" in the air around her--whether in a spray of mist, in billowing clouds or in the dense swirls of an impenetrable fog.  her abilities led to her placement in a secret government training facility when she was a child, but everything changed after her mother was murdered.   

Airiana fled the program , but she couldn't outrun the desperate members of a shadowy cabal who want her, who need her, who will kill to get her.  Kidnapped and held aboard a ship bound for dangerous seas, her only chance for rescue is Maxim Prakenskii.  He has his reasons for helping her, but he isn't about to reveal them to Airiana.  Not yet.  Not as the two are drawn together as moth to flame.  Not when there are so many secrets yet untold that could shatter the quaint community of Sea Haven and all who reside there...

Wow!! This just might be my new all-time favorite Feehan novel...It is for sure my favorite book in the Sea Haven series and it is all due to Maxim.  He is a wonderful hero!! I love Airiana, too, but Maxim really stole the show for me.  The things he would say to Airianna made me swoon at times and laugh out loud at others.  His absolute belief that he was meant to be alone took a hard beating when he kidnapped/rescued Airianna from her farm in Sea Haven.  When he saw her courage, strength and trust once he had her aboard a cargo ship in the middle of the ocean his lone-man past was a dead man walking.  And watching him interact with the children he rescued from a human trafficking ring was the last nail in his coffin.  

This book has a lot of action but throughout it all the strong romantic thread never got lost.  It was, for me, the perfect balance and I both couldn't turn the pages fast enough and wanted to slow down to savor every word in the first read of a book that I know I will reread again and again.  Maxim grew up without anyone to count on, trusting only himself, and being forced to do horrible things to stay alive.  He is most comfortable in the shadows and spends the majority of his time rubbing shoulders with the scum of the earth.  When he is given the mission of protecting Airiana, he sees everything he has been missing from his life.  Even knowing that three of his brothers have made marriage work, he doesn't think that his future can hold love.  But the more he is around Airiana, the more he is intrigued and impressed with her as a beautiful woman who earns his respect when few ever have.  

Oh, watching Airiana consistently breach Maxim's defenses without event trying was the best entertainment and Maxim, who is NOT used to being defenseless has no idea what to do in response.  And once he decides that she is it for him?  Holy hotness, Batman!!  I buckled in and enjoyed one of the most romantic stories I have read in some time.  And while the romance between him and Airiana was beautiful, watching Maxim take on four children whose lives have been shattered by violence beyond their imagining was also heart wrenching and heartwarming at the same time.  It was its own love story of sorts as these four brave souls placed their absolute trust in this man who would die before he let them down.  Soul melting stuff!  

Friday, September 9, 2016

Reading Assignment Challenge: Wild Cat by Christine Feehan

Reading Assignment Challenge: Wild Cat by Christine Feehan

It was a simple request for Siena Arnotto: deliver a gift to her grandfather's friend.  One look at Elijah Lospostos, hard bodied and stripped to the waist, and Siena succumbs to a feline stirring she never felt before--and to Elijah's reckless and pleasurable demands.  But when that pulse-throbbing moment ends in the murder of an unexpected intruder, Elijah accuses the shaken and confused Siena of setting him up.

Then Siena discovers the truth of her leopard heritage, of the secrets in her grandfather's inner circle and the sinister plot of revenge that has put her in jeopardy.  When Siena's grandfather is assassinated, she realizes the only man she can trust is Elijah.  Now, as her leopard rises from within, Siena and Elijah share not only an animal instinct for survival--but a desire so raw and wild it may be the only thing that can save them.

Whew.  I'm still now completely sure how I feel about this book...

Siena has spent the majority of her life at boarding schools and university since her beloved grandmother passed away when she was six.  Her parents had already died and her beloved nonno feared for her safety--a concern that turned into more of an obsession after not one but two kidnapping attempts.  Siena wanted nothing more than to be normal but she always felt apart from others, isolated at school and constantly surrounded by bodyguards.  She became determined to learn everything she could about wine making so she could take over her grandfather's vineyards and finally prove that she was worth having around.  When her father's right hand man, Paolo, starts to act strangely around her and her grandfather hints broadly that he would like nothing more than for them to share a future, she finds comfort in her university sanctuary.  Finally, however she has all the degrees she needs and she heads home to take her place in her grandfather's businesses.

One of the first tasks her grandfather asks of her is to drop off a case of wine to family friend, Elijah Lospostos, for his birthday.  Siena remembers Elijah from a couple of dinners she attended while home from school on break.  She developed a strong crush on Elijah, whose taste in women was always clearly the opposite of her, leaving her with a compromised sense of self esteem.  When she arrives at Elijah's mansion, sparks fly (along with clothes) as they share a quick, violent coupling on his foyer floor.  Before Siena can get her wits about her again, Elijah has grabbed a gun, shot an intruder, spat vile, vicious accusations at her, and thrown her, naked, out of his house and his life.  Siena, stunned after her first sexual experience leaves her witnessing a murder and being assured that she is the worst sexual partner in the history of sex, fumbles her way home only to be physically assaulted by Paolo, who apparently really expects to marry her and who is infuriated that she slept with another man.  When Siena picks her bruised and battered self up to inform her grandfather of Paolo's assault, her grandfather calls her a whore.  

In the midst of all of this, Siena is getting ready to go through the Han Vol Dan when her female leopard will emerge.  AND, frosting on the cake, her grandfather is shot and she is pretty sure she knows exactly who did it and she has no plans to stick around so he can kill her as she inherits everything her grandfather was involved in and it is quickly becoming clear that much of he activities were both illegal and carefully hidden from Siena's eyes.  She now has a large target on her back as many criminals wanting the Arnotto territory need only to take Siena out to gain control.  When Siena seeks help from Drake Donovan, a man she has been assured is above board, she runs into Elijah and suddenly the one hope she had is gone.  She runs and is promptly grabbed by Paolo putting her in danger once again.  

And that is all within the first 56 pages.  The action is this book was jam packed and I loved that aspect of it.  What I wasn't quite so sure of was the over-the-top dominance exhibited by Elijah. I am all for Alpha males but Elijah was ALPHA-going-on-asshole and while he showed tenderness and sweetness at times, I never did feel that he groveled for the harsh (SO HARSH!!) things he spat at Siena in their first interaction.  He pretty much told her that she knew he didn't mean it and she needed to get over it.  NOT AN APOLOGY JACKASS!  And, there was a lot of him stating that Siena needed to "get this" or "get that" (seriously, at times it seemed that every conversation involved him telling Siena to "get" something through her head).  I won't lie, I had been looking forward tremendously to Elijah's story and his behavior really took a lot of enjoyment out of things for me.  I am hoping that future rereadings will allow my feelings to mellow but this first read had me feeling uncomfortable and kind of hoping Siena would leave Elijah and hook up with Alonzo instead.  Alonzo is very intriguing and I am hoping that his character doesn't turn out to be quite so over the top as Elijah.  


Friday, August 26, 2016

Reading Assignment Challenge: My Fair Captain by JL Langley

Reading Assignment Challenge: My Fair Captain by JL Langley

Talk about a compromising situation!
A storm of political intrigue, murderous mayhem and sexual hungers is brewing on planet Regelence.

Swarthy Intergalactic Navy Captain Nathaniel Hawkins ran from a past he had no intention of ever reliving.  But when his Admiral asks him to use his peerage, as an earl and the heir to a dukedom, to investigate a missing weapons stash, he's forced to do just that.  As if being undercover on a Regency planet where young men are supposed to remain pure until marriage isn't bad enough, Nate finds himself attracted to the king's unmarried son.

All Prince Aiden Townsend has ever wanted was to be an artist.  He has no interest in a marriage of political fortune or becoming a societal paragon.  Until he lands in the arms of the mysterious Earl of Deverell.  One look at Nate's handsome face has Aiden reconsidering his future.  Not only does Nate make a virile subject for Aiden's art, but the great war hero awakens feelings in Aiden he has never felt, feelings he can't ignore.

After a momentous dance at a season ball, Aiden and Nate find themselves exchanging important information and working closely together.  They have to fight their growing attraction long enough to find out who stole the weapons and keep themselves from a compromising situation and certain scandal.

Why did I wait so long to begin this series???  I have had this on my Kindle for a very long time and have even begun reading it several times but never got past the first few pages...this time I settled in determined to get into the book far enough to give it a fair shot and I ended up finishing it in one evening.  Nate is from Englor where M/M relationships are not encouraged and to protect his paramour he engages in a duel with no intentions of harming anyone, however, when he is shot as he is pulling the trigger, his arm jerks and he ends up killing his opponent.  When his family disowns him (the man he shot was his father's best friend's son) he joins the Navy where he climbs the ranks for the next twenty years.

Aiden is an artist and one of five sons of the King of Regelence.  Regelence, like Englor, is based on Regency England.  One major difference from Englor, is that Regelence not only recognizes M/M relationships, all the offspring of those with titles are genetically engineered to be male with a preference for their own gender.  And all of the restrictions that Regency England put on young women are put on young men in Regelence.  Until the age of 25 (or until Aiden takes a consort), he is expected to always go about with a chaperon, to stay sexually pure, and to observe the rather strict expectations of society.  Aiden is lucky in that his fathers are happy to let him marry for love rather than pressuring him into a relationship for political gain.  

When Aiden and his brother cause their castle's computerized butler (think security system that serves) to turn off so they can escape to pursue their own interests without anyone tagging along, they open the door for the theft of weapons.  Aiden also lands in trouble when he is caught alone sketching the docks and three men attempt to kidnap him to be raped and sold.  His father saves him in time but the incident (along with the theft at the castle) underscores the need for extra protection.  They ask the Intergalactic Navy for help in discovering the perpetrators of the crime and Nate is chosen to go undercover.  He might not use his title from Englor anymore, but it gives him the perfect excuse to live with Regelence's King and to go about in society looking for the culprit.  Nate's adopted son will act as his valet and be of use in interrogating the servants.

Aiden and Nate meet when Aiden falls out of a tree.  It is a very cute meet and they are both smitten from then on.  Nate is both relieved at the acceptance of same sex relationships and worried about his need to be extra vigilant in not allowing himself and Aiden to be caught in a compromising situation.  Nate knows his future lies in the Navy and Aiden's lies in Regelence.  Aiden is surprised when something finally interests him as much as his fact images of Nate soon take over all of Aiden's sketchpads.  These two quickly begin getting closer and closer together, and when Aiden realizes there is more to Nate's presence than just an Earl visiting they both discuss it like adults and Nate, understanding the help that Aiden can offer, brings him into his confidence and they begin working together.

I loved this book...something about the juxtaposition of science fiction space travel and technology alongside Regency England values, architecture and fashions really made for a fun combination.  One of my favorite details were the thumb-print dance cards...the men interested in a dance would scan their thumb and voice record which dance they wished to claim.  Aiden and his friends meanwhile had a fun competition to see who could lose/destroy/hide their cards both the fastest and in the most original way in order to avoid the marriage market.  Nate "saves" Aiden's card knowing full well what Aiden was trying to do in order to claim a waltz and that is really the turning point where they went from dancing around each other (pun intended) to actually engaging in a relationship they can't deny they want any longer.  

This book has some action but is primarily focused on the relationship between Nate and Aiden and their investigation into who has committed the theft and why.  The resolution at the end of the book implies that we have only begun to see the tip of a very deep iceberg that will be fleshed out further in later books.  I know that there are only three books in the series and neither of them are about the couple I really want to know more about which causes me to worry that at the end of the series I will be left with unanswered questions...however, I loved this book enough that I can't see that stopping me from reading them anyway.  As far as I know, JL Langley hasn't published anything since 2012 but that doesn't mean I can't hope that she won't return to the series at some point!  

Friday, August 5, 2016

Reading Assignment Challenge: Cat's Lair by Christine Feehan

Reading Assignment Challenge: Cat's Lair by Christine Feehan

Cat Benoit has finally escaped the past--and the man who was the source of her nightmares.  She's off the grid, underground but watchful, and creating a new life for herself in Texas, far from the torrid dangers of her native New Orleans.  She's safe.  He'll never find her this time.  Cat has to believe that.  It's the only thing keeping her sane.  

Yet she can't escape the attention of Ridley Cromer, the instructor at the martial arts dojo where Cat take lessons.  She arouse the animal in Ridley--and something feral comes to life when their body heat rises.  Cat is in no position to let her guard down with anyone, especially someone who could be endangered by her past.  But Ridley has secrets of his own--secrets only Cat would understand.  If she dares to trust him.

Classic Feehan!! Tough, domineering male fighting to protect his mate against evil so dark and twisted it is almost unimaginable.  Sweet, smart female doing everything she must to survive a horrific past that is always waiting to pull her back into the darkness she barely survived.  Alpha male finds himself shaking his head trying to figure out how the quiet, small female has come to rule his heart and his life.  Manly man retaliates with rules and lots of dominate sexy-times while loving woman simply does what she wants knowing that she is the most important part of his life.  This book felt so reminiscent of Burning Wild which up to this point has been my favorite book in this series.  Cat's Lair now ties with Burning Wild for my favorite...

I don't want to tell too much of what happens because this is definitely best read with no spoilers!  I will say that this has one of the hands down sweetest and best beginnings of any book I have read in a long time.  Watching Ridley Cromer carefully, gently, slowly draw Cat out of her shell was pure pleasure!  I loved his quiet confidence and his absolute devotion to watching out for her.  He knows she is running scared from something and he wants to be the one she trusts in her new future.   Seeing Cat slowly let down some of her walls was beautiful--and Ridley's absolute adoration at the sass that slips through Cat's barriers was a hoot.  And then...well, that is best read on your own so I am ending my review here.  Please just trust that if you haven't read this entry in the Leopard series, you need to go get it RIGHT NOW!  

Friday, July 8, 2016

Reading Assignment Challenge: Leopard's Prey by Christine Feehan

Reading Assignment Challenge: Leopard's Prey by Christine Feehan

From a tough stint in the armed forces to stalking the unknown as a bayou cop, leopard shifter Remy Boudreaux has been served well by his uncanny gifts.  And right now, New Orleans could use a homicide detective like Remy.

A serial killer is on the loose, snatching victims from the French Quarter with pitiless rage and unnatural efficiency.  But something else is drawing Remy into the twilight--a beautiful jazz singer bathed night after night in a flood of blood red neon.  

Sultry, mysterious, and as seductive as her songs, she's luring Remy deeper into the shadows than he ever imagined.  And as their passions swell, his keen instinct for survival will be challenged like never before.  By a killer--and by a woman.

Bijou is the daughter of one of the most famous rock singers of all time.  He could have been a contender for World's Worst Father up to the point of his death four years prior.  Bijou has spent much of that time following dreams that weren't hers and she is ready to put her foot down and live the life she wants to live--regardless of her manager's anger, her fan's possible desertion by her switch to jazz and blues, and despite many threats from her father's fans who take obsession to new levels.  Add in a tabloid photographer with a personal vendetta against Bijou and a prison thug who is always with her manager and it makes sense that Bijou isn't sure who, if anyone, she can trust.  

Remy is dismayed to find a serial killer from four years earlier killing in his city again.  When the first victim is someone he has known all his life it becomes personal.  The killer is both audacious and torturous in his murders leaving few, if any clues, behind at his macabre death scenes.  Remy is determined to stop the killer regardless of what it takes.  The problem is an abundance of suspects and a lack of solid evidence.

When Remy finds that Bijou has returned to the bayou, he is quick to lay his claim on the beautiful singer.  One of Remy's biggest regrets was not rescuing Bijou from her horrendous childhood with her father and he has carried that regret heavily on his shoulders for sixteen years.  Now that he sees the amazing, courageous woman she has grown up to become, he is more determined than ever not to repeat past mistakes and quickly works his way into her life to protect her from the many different people who would harm her.

The plot in this book is jam packed keeping the pacing fast and wild.  I loved almost everything about it, even (or perhaps especially) the over-the-top action that takes place at different points throughout the book.  One thing that I didn't love was how crazy dominant Remy is with Bijou when her leopard is first emerging.  I felt he crossed a line and never quite adequately groveled enough.  However, by the end of everything I was still quite satisfied with the HEA.  I also am not completely in love with who the serial killer turned out to be...I almost feel that Feehan was trying too hard for the reveal to be a complete surprise for it to be completely believable, but I wasn't so dissatisfied that it affected my overall enjoyment of the book.  While it isn't my favorite title by this author, I certainly zoomed through it at breakneck speed and was quite happily immersed in her leopard world for the duration.