Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Review: Beautiful Danger by Michele Hauf

I started to read this book while I was on vacation, but it takes place in Paris, and I was in London at the time, so I decided to wait until I returned home and wished I was somewhere like Paris.  Paris is one of my favorite cities, so any book set there already has points in its favor.  Add in a kickass heroine and a mentally unstable vampire and yeah, it's ranking high on my list.

I liked this book so much.  Beautiful Danger is all the things I want a vampire novel to be – dirty, sexy, bloody, with emotionally conflicted characters, and lots of danger.  I’ve loved vampires for as long as I can remember, and as a teenager, devoured every vampire story I could find.  But now, for me, it seems to be a struggle to find vampire books that I really like.  Seems like vampires have gotten a little too normal, too safe and too often seem like just regular guys who happen to be vampires.  Not the case with this story. 

Domingos LaRoque is messed up.  He’s suffering from extreme UV sickness and struggling to cling to his sanity, forever in a battle against the voices in his head, or worse the screeching cats that refuse to be quiet.  All this is the result of being tortured by werewolves and forced to participate in their brutal blood games.  In order to survive he had to kill other creatures, most likely other innocent creatures, who were also being held prisoner – all for no reason other than to provide entertainment for the werewolves.  And to make the situation worse, he was never especially happy about being a vampire, having been turned against his will only five years earlier.  He’s bitter and he’s not quite sane.  But there’s something about Lark that gives him a sense of peace, and maybe a glimmer of hope.

Lark is a knight of the Order of the Stake.  Her job is to hunt vampires and she’s very good at her job.  She’s supposed to kill Domingos.  But then he saves her life when some werewolves attack, and they make a deal.  She’ll let him live for 24 hours, that’s all.  However, during that time, she begins to see him as more than just a deadly, bloodsucker.  She sees him as a person, a damaged person, suffering from demons similar to her own.

She became a knight to avenge her husband’s death.  Her goal was to kill a vampire for every day they held him prisoner, then she’d move on with her life.  But then she begins to question whether all the killing she is doing is really helping her.  Domingos never takes innocent victims, he’s specifically going after the wolves who tortured him, and he saved her life, knowing she planned to kill him. 

These two characters have both suffered so much in the past.  As strange as it seems, this vampire and vampire hunter need each other.  They have an understanding of the pain they’ve each been through.  I very much enjoyed reading about how they began to gradually set aside the baggage from their past in order to finally reach some sort of peace in which they could focus on their present lives, and maybe even a future. 

I was slightly hesitant to read this book, because the last few Harlequin Nocturnes I’ve read have seemed very tame and kind of boring.  I was afraid that was standard for that line of books.  But this was hot, very hot and all kinds of steamy.  Nothing at all tame about this book.  Lots of messy, dangerous sex, complete with teeth, the way vampire sex should be.  

Along with the romance, there’s quite a bit of action, several fight scenes.  I loved that Lark was such a badass knight.  Sure, Domingos helped her out in the beginning, but she probably could have held her own.  She saves Domingos as often as he saves her.  Nothing weak about this character with regard to her fighting abilities. 

Overall, I really liked this book and will be recommending it anyone who enjoys vampire stories. 

I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley. 

Monday, July 01, 2013

Review: Couple Who Fooled the World by Maisey Yates

At the end of the second week of my three and half week trip, I was repacking my suitcase, about to get on yet another plane - my 7th flight in two weeks  – this time from Zurich to London – and I was panicking because I’d finished what I was reading the night before and needed a new book. I usually know exactly what I’m going to read next, but had decided to be more spontaneous on this trip – that’s the point of having a Kindle, right?  You can carry your whole library around with you.
I turned on the Kindle to try and figure out what I wanted to read next and was very happy to see The Couple Who Fooled the World had appeared on my Kindle’s home page.  I’d pre-ordered it weeks earlier, and had forgotten when it would be released.  Also, when traveling, I lose all sense of dates.  No more worries about what to read that day.

I got to the Zurich airport hours earlier than I needed to be there.  Then my flight was delayed.  But none of this bothered me at all, because I was fully immersed in the adventures of The Couple Who Fooled the World.

I absolutely love the characters Maisey Yates creates.  I’ve yet to be disappointed with any of her books.  In this case, we have two very wealthy, very successful leaders in the tech field.  Ferro and Julia each own their own companies – creating things like phones and navigation systems.  They’re fierce competitors, but in order to beat out their mutual competition for a project, Ferro suggests to Julia that they work together.  His system is more sophisticated, hers is more user-friendly.  But in order for their plan to seem convincing, they’re going to pretend like they’re dating.  It’s only until they get the project, then they plant to go back to being enemies.

Sometimes things don’t quite work out as planned.  In order to pretend to date, they have to start spending time together.  And while they’re spending time together, their attraction for each other is growing.  They’re both adults, they can do this, no strings attached, then go their separate ways.  No problem, right?

But these two, as successful as they are in the tech world, are completely messed up emotionally.  As a teenager, in order to get off the streets of Rome, Ferro worked as a prostitute.  Even though he’s moved far beyond those days, he still feels tainted by what he did.  Mentally, he’s still trying to run from his past and feels that he’s undeserving of ever having a real lover.  And Julia’s avoided men most of her life after a traumatic experience she had as a teenager.  Her whole life, she’s been made to feel that if she was herself she would be regarded as weird or strange.  No matter that her “weirdness” turned her into a successful billionaire who designed a very popular smartphone.  She has a team of people hired to make her appear “normal” to the rest of the world. 

They’re both damaged enough to be perfect for each other.  They manage to see in each other what they’re missing in life.  Ferro convinces Julia that she doesn’t need to keep hiding who she is, and she finally makes him believe that he doesn’t have to keep living in shame for what he did to survive as a teenager.  Of course, it takes them a while to get to that point, but what a fun journey that is.

Another excellent read by Maisey Yates.  Glamorous setting, interesting, complicated characters, lots of hot sex and romance.  This book is very fast paced.  I couldn’t put it down.  It was a bit awkward reading some of the um, sexy times, while sitting next to two college boys who were getting smashed on Scotch on the flight to London.  They kept wanting to talk and be friendly and didn’t seem to understand that the book I was reading was much more interesting to me than they were.  I ended up finishing the book that night.  I sort of wished I hadn’t rushed through it because I wanted more time with the characters, but was glad to have had the distraction during what could have been a long, boring travel day.