Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: For the Love of the Goblin Warrior by Shona Husk

Initially, I wasn’t going to read Shona Husk’s For the Love of the Goblin Warrior because after I got a copy of the book, I found out it was the third book in the Shadowlands series. I feel an obligation to read series from book one. But after a few people assured me it wasn’t necessary to read the earlier books in the series to enjoy this one, I went ahead and read it. I’m glad I did.

In the beginning of the book, a man covered in gray dust is brought in the emergency room where Nadine, a nurse, works. He doesn’t seem to speak English and he’s confused. But Nadine is kind to him and he feels drawn to her and she’s certainly curious about him.

When their paths cross again, they begin a tentative relationship, starting with coffee. Normally, I would be scoffing at someone picking up a man who clearly seems to be a homeless guy, living in the park, but I felt like Nadine knew what she was doing. (This is fiction after all, so the characters are allowed a bit of carelessness.) This was written in such a way, that I found their attraction to each other to be believable and convincing. The two characters had great chemistry with things as simple as their hands touching or brief kisses resulting in steamy moments.

These two people both have pasts filled with tragedies, and are both haunted by nightmares. Only after they get to know each other do they realize the connection between the tragedies in their lives. When Nadine was a child, her mother told her a fairy tale about a Goblin King. For Meryn though, the fairy tale was his reality.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It has plenty of romance and the story is interesting. Being a fan of fairy tales, I liked the way the magic seeped into real life. Also, I agree with those who said it it’s necessary to read the earlier books in the series is necessary to understand this story. However, I do plan to read them because I liked this book and want to learn more about the world in which these characters live.

I received a review copy of this book via Netgalley.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A book boyfriend for Valentine's Day

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to share some of my book boyfriends with you.  These guys are everything you could possibly want in a guy, and you don’t have to clean up after them or cook for them or deal with any of the icky stuff associated with real men.   

So here goes…

First and foremost, Heathcliff, from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

This is the man who ruined me for all men - real or fictional.  He may seem cruel and possessive and angry all the time, but he loved Catherine with an intensity that knew no limits.  He may have given the impression that he hated everyone, but he worshipped Cathy.  She was everything that mattered to him.  When he lost her, he lost everything, including his soul, and to prove it, he created a hell on earth for those he believed responsible for taking her from him.  For anyone who wants to argue that it was an unhealthy obsession or abusive or whatever, let me remind you that Cathy felt the same for him.  She was in a difficult situation and wrongly believed she had no choice but to marry another – someone more suitable – thinking that with her marriage of convenience, she could also provide for Heathcliff.  Heathcliff’s love was not unrequited, but rather terribly inconvenient.  Cathy wanted him as much as he wanted her, but times were different then.  Despite her love for him, she couldn’t just run off with the orphan boy her father had adopted.  Heathcliff took off in the night after hearing Cathy say they could never be together, but he didn’t hear the whole story.  He was young and foolish and acted impulsively.  But whatever he did, he did it out of his love for Cathy. 

“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.” -- Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
To love someone like that, to be loved like that.  I read this as a teenager and it’s the standard by which I hold all other love stories.  It may wrong and silly of me, but whatever.

Recently though, I discovered a more current book boyfriend which comes awful close to rivaling Heathcliff.  Matthew Clairmont of Deborah Harkness’ Discovery of Witches.  He’s a fellow of All Souls College at Oxford, a geneticist who spends a lot of time doing research in a lab, plus he knows all about wine and does yoga, not to mention he has a castle in France, and yeah, he’s a vampire (shut up, I’ve always had a thing for vampires), and he’s in love with a witch.  Vampires aren’t supposed to love witches, he’s risking everything, bringing about what could be a war between creatures in order to pursue his love for this witch.  And he’s so sexy, tall and beautiful, and so very, very smart.  They met in a library, not just any library, the Bodleian in Oxford.  Good grief people, this is like the story I would write if someone asked me to set up the perfect love story.

He’s got his flaws.  He has something of a temper and a tendency to be a bit of a chauvinist – blame it on his advanced age.  But he adores Diana, who is fierce and independent and has no problem putting him in his place when he gets a bit too old- fashioned with his views about women. 

“My ideas about vampires may be romantic, but your attitudes toward women need a major overhaul,” Diana says to him at one point.

The only thing I really disliked about Matthew was his family.  Too much family: the mom and the brothers and the vampire son.  But I suppose that’s a minor inconvenience.

As far as I'm concerned, this guy is pretty much perfect, and no man can ever come close to being this amazing.  So I just keep re-reading this book.  I’ve marked my favorite passages, and on days when I hate the world, I get out the Kindle and re-read my favorite parts.  Yeah, I know, I'm kind of pathetic.

A few other book boyfriends worth a mention – oh, and be warned, I tend to prefer my men to be of the non-human, supernatural variety:

You can’t go wrong with any of Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld.  I read the entire series this summer, and at this moment, I can’t recall exactly how many Lords there are, but there are nine books. (I’m going to guess maybe eleven or twelve Lords?)  There’s bound to be one that suits your pleasure. 

Punished by the gods centuries ago, they’re literally battling demons within themselves.  Each possesses a different demon, and each has their own unique struggles associated with their particular demon.  What I like about the Lords is that while they are tough and ruthless warriors when necessary, who never hesitate to destroy the bad guys, they're nice and generous and always take the time to make sure the women they love are happy.

 My favorites were Reyes (The Darkest Pleasure) who fell in love with an artist and Aeron (The Darkest Passion), who fell in love with an angel.  (Complete truth: I just noticed that.  Kind of awkward.)

I’m not a big fan of “bad boys.”  If a guy wants to be rude and horrible, he can be on his way.  I have no patience in real life or fiction for trying to redeem a bad boy.  I like the nice guys.  Of course, I still want them big and strong with the potential to create major destruction when danger is near.  But ultimately, I want them to be good guys and I want them to appreciate the women in their lives.  That’s what I find with the Lords of the Underworld.

A few other books with boyfriend worthy heroes:

I adored Nathaniel in Hailey Edward’s Soul Weaver.  He’s a fallen angel who suffered so much loss in his attempts to save his family.  Then he meets Chloe who is having such a difficult time with life.  And he’s so sweet to her.  I loved this guy.  (And I’ve noticed the ebook is only 2.99 on – so if you want to spend your Valentine’s Day with Nate, three dollars is a great deal.)

Then there’s Alan in Karen Michelle Nutt’s Magic of the Loch.  Who would have guessed the Loch Ness monster would be so sexy?  Again, he can shift into a big, scary monster with the potential to create all kinds of havoc, but with Michaela, he’s kind and gentle.  Loved him so much.  (This ebook is .99 on amazon.  If you like romance novels, get this book.  It’s so good.)

Another guy that I liked quite a bit in a book I recently read is David in Lori Sjoberg’s Grave Intentions.  He’s a grim reaper.  Scary, right?  But actually, he's really nice.  He’s had a tough life, or rather, afterlife, I guess, but when he falls for Sarah, suddenly his life is worth living again.  He's one of those guys you read about and think, wow, I want someone just like that.  Well, not a grim reaper, but you get the idea.

And if supernatural isn’t your thing, I’ve got one name for you:  Braden Carmichael.  He’s the hero of On Dublin Street and oh, damn, he’s sexy.  On some level, he may not even fit into my whole “nice guy” requirement, but he gets there eventually.  You quickly realize he’s not quite the jerk he appears to be in the beginning. He’s used to getting what he wants, but he doesn’t flaunt what he has.  (Without going too far off topic, I just want to say I hate this whole “billionaire” trend in romances.  Throwing your money around to impress someone isn’t sexy, it’s gross, but despite Braden being wealthy and successful, I didn’t get that vibe with him.  He doesn’t use his money as a means to obtain power over Joss.)  Suffice it to say, he's hot, very hot, and I say that as someone who usually finds non-paranormal romances to be kind of blah.    

So, no reason to spend your Valentine's Day alone or disappointed with some guy who doesn't understand you or bores the hell out of you.  There are plenty of book boyfriends to pick from.  These are just a few of my favorites.  They seldom disappoint.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Review: The Love of My (Other) Life by Traci L. Slatton

First, because I tend to mention the cover of books, I would like to point out that this is not a book I read because of the cover. I don’t like the cover of this book. It has nothing to do with the story. Yes, there are mentions of Tessa posing nude, but for paintings, specifically Picasso-like paintings. So maybe use a painting of a nude for the cover?

However, I was very drawn to the description of the book. Tessa’s an artist – and I’m interested in art, so I usually like stories about artists – and there’s the whole parallel universe aspect. I’m kind of fascinated by the idea of parallel universes, seems like my early twenties involved a lot of late night, alcohol-fueled conversations about parallel universes. Yeah, so maybe my friends and I are kind of nerds.

This story explores the idea that in different universes, our choices lead us to different points in our lives – for example, in one world, Tessa gave up art to pursue music which took her along a very different path – but our soul mate remains the same, regardless of the path we take.

Because Brian is a physicist, I pictured him as Leonard from Big Bang Theory. This whole story seemed like something he would do. He’s created a device that will allow him to travel to a parallel universe so he can see his soul mate, Tessa. The reason he feels the need to do this isn’t revealed until later in the book, so I’m not going to reveal it now because it might spoil the story.

In his world, he and Tessa are married. However, in this world, Tessa’s life is a mess. Everything around her is falling apart, but rather than try to solve her problems, she’s ignoring them and she keeps going to work at the church, taking care of elderly people, and not caring that she isn’t making enough money to pay her bills. This isn’t working out for her.

Brian’s strange appearance in her life is the best thing that’s happened to her, though she thinks he’s a crazy homeless person. At first, she feels she should run away from him, convinced he’s out of his mind. But she can’t deny the instant connection she feels for him, even though she’s certain they’ve never met. Brian’s influence enables Tessa to think more clearly and make better decisions about her life. Being with him feels right, and soon she finds out that their amazing connection extends to the bedroom. He seems to understand her much better than her ex-husband ever did.

This book isn’t for everyone. It’s a little strange and the characters end up in some silly situations – there are some dealings with a shady art thief and dealer and an accidental foray into performance art. But it’s pretty funny. This isn’t a book that should be taken too seriously. This book is kind of artsy and a little nerdy. Tessa goes on and on about the value of art and her hatred of modern art and art that isn’t beautiful. That didn’t bother me, because, as I said, I’m involved in the art world on a daily basis and could relate to what she was saying. But someone who isn’t that into art might not find it at all interesting.

This is a very quick read. I read the entire book in one sitting. It’s a very sweet love story and a pleasant way to spend a few hours. If artsty and nerdy is your thing, you’d probably enjoy this, I certainly did.

I received a review copy of this book via Netgalley.