Category Archives: book reviews

Review: Hearts in Darkness by Keri Arthur

Having read the first book in Ms Arthur’s Nikki & Michael series and really enjoying it, I just had to get hold of the remaining three books in the series and read them. I’m glad that I did!

So here’s my candid review of this paranormal romance book by Keri Arthur.

Hearts in Darkness
Keri Arthur
Life has never been so insane for Nikki James. There’s another teenager missing. She has another vampire to contend with. Her partner and best friend Jake is in the hospital dying. And a madman is kidnapping the wealthy. Just when it seems nothing else could possibly go wrong, Michael returns-but not for her. This time, however, Nikki has no intention of running from either the case or from what still lies between her and Michael. And she isn’t going to let him run, either. 

The last thing Michael Kelly needs is a confrontation with Nikki-especially when his control over his bloodlust is still so tenuous. But when a kidnapper steps up his agenda to murder, he’s forced into a partnership with Nikki to keep her safe. Soon Michael discovers the biggest danger he faces may not be from his need to “taste” her, but from his desire to make her a permanent part of his life-a life that is sure to get her killed. 

Nikki is determined to make Michael see that life apart is worse than death. But before she can make him see the light, a specter from Michael’s past rises that could destroy any hope she has of a future with him. Because this time the threat isn’t physical. It’s a matter of the heart.Nikki must compete with the woman-the vampire-for whom Michael gave up life.

The second book in the Nikki & Michael series, Hearts in Darkness was another slice of paranormal romantic suspense that had me gripped until the last page. I didn’t want to put this one down, and yet again it was probably thanks to the leading vampire in the book, Michael. Michael is the sort of tall dark and deadly that I love. At the end of the first book, he leaves the heroine Nikki because she gave her blood to him in order to save her life, unwittingly releasing the darker vampire side of him that he had kept on a tight leash. It’s that darkness and the feeling that he could be just as much a bad guy as the next vampire if it wasn’t for his iron will and the depth of his desire to protect the world from his sort of evil, that really draws me to him, along with the romantic notion of wanting to protect Nikki from everything including himself.

This book opens six months after the first and Nikki is heartbroken even though she knew that Michael was going to leave her, and she’s been searching for him whilst continuing her job as a private investigator. Good luck with that since he’s brooding in a remote cabin and quietly pining for her. Her latest case leads her to a run in with a female vampire and her vampire minions from which she barely escapes alive, and together with another case that points towards the same location in Wyoming, it leads her back into Michael’s life. Convinced by his superiors at the Circle to take up a case at a resort called Jackson Hole and to take Nikki with him because she’ll die if he isn’t there to protect her, Michael reluctantly returns to her and convinces her to play newlyweds as a cover during their investigation. Okay, it’s an obvious plot device along with another one in this book that I won’t mention, but it works for bringing them back together and that’s fine with me.

I’m glad that this time Nikki has the good sense to do all in her power to make Michael stay and convince him that his life isn’t the only one full of danger and darkness and that she can handle it if he’d just let her into his world and his heart. We didn’t get the repetition of her feelings this time, although we were treated to a hefty does of repetition of set phrases by the author and a few grammatical errors / wrong word usage. I can overlook those but Ms Arthur really did repeat a couple of things to death, such as licking dry lips and snorting softly, and rubbing her arms. I’ll forgive her for now though as the repetitions this time weren’t as irritating and the plot was great, full of characters and emotion, and suspense too. These books are chocked full of that. The plot is detailed, description is vivid enough to allow you to picture things, and the suspense is enough to hold you in place on your armchair and keep you reading. The romance really blossoms in this one and although it takes half the book for the lovebirds to realise that there’s just no use fighting each other, it didn’t irritate me. I didn’t want them to rush their relationship as I was enjoying just how pigheaded and stubborn the pair could be. They’re a match made in Heaven. Nikki is stubborn as Hell in her desire to conquer Michael’s iron will and determination to keep her at arm’s length, Michael is steadfast in his desire to protect her from his darkness and the evil in his world regardless of the pain he would feel in living without her for eternity. Perfect!

All in all, I’m going to say that if you’re a fan of darker paranormal romances that have plenty of suspense and plot, then pick this series up and fall in love with these characters for yourself. I didn’t um or ah this time about the rating. It’s a straight four hearts from me, and I’m off to read the next book in the series as I want to know what’s going to happen and what changes are going to take place next with Nikki’s evolving powers!

ETA: Elizabeth, one of the antagonists, is supposed to be 800 years old, but at one point Michael thinks about how she loves to pit vampires against each other in fights and puts it down to her being born in the time of roman gladiators. Well, not if she was only 800 she wasn’t! Pretty basic historical inaccuracy.

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Review: Love Bites by Lynsay Sands

I found myself with some time last weekend after my birthday party, so I decided to indulge in some reading and ended up deciding to give Lynsay Sands a second chance and read the next book in her series. I devoured Love Bites, a paranormal vampire romance book, in one sitting. This book was made infinitely better by the fact it was the first I read on my shiny new Kindle 3, and therefore I attribute some of the rating I gave it in the end to the excitement of owning such a wicked good e-reader!

Here’s my candid review:

Love Bites
Lynsay Sands
Etienne Argeneau’s three hundred years of bachelorhood are at an end. He can only “turn” one human in his lifetime, and most of his kind reserved that power for creating a life mate. He has to save Rachel Garrett. He doesn’t know her very well, but the beautiful coroner had saved his life. To save hers he would make her immortal. Rachel Garrett awakes surprised. All she’d wanted was to get off the night shift at the morgue; now here she is staggering to her feet naked and in a strange place. Then she sees the man of her dreams emerging from his…coffin? She just hopes he tastes as good as he looks.

Love Bites is a far better offering than the first book in the series, A Quick Bite, and is probably suitable for readers looking for a lighter paranormal romance who don’t mind sacrificing plot for the sake of their warm fuzzies and who can overlook some fairly glaring wrong words and poor editing (whoever missed some of these errors should be shot).

Etienne Argeneau doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem that a deranged psychopath is trying to kill him. In fact, he finds it quite amusing and a harmless bit of fun that he keeps ending up in the morgue. Rachel Garret is the night coroner who runs into Etienne’s corpse twice throughout the story. The first time he convinces her that she’s hallucinating because of her flu, and the second time she saves his life from the nutjob who, unsatisfied with the charred remains he turned Etienne into, has come to finish his work with an axe. Cue Rachel trying to save Etienne’s life and having a brush with death that is only stopped by Etienne giving her his blood. Welcome to life as a vampire. The rest of the book passes pretty much in Etienne’s home as he tries to keep Rachel around by giving her bad blood that she therefore can’t stomach and won’t leave him because she thinks she’s a clutz and can’t feed, rather than seeing the truth of the matter–the man who apparently loves her is poisoning her with the crappy drugdealer / homeless people blood unfit for consumption by his kind. Nice. Very romantic. To say anything else would be to give away pretty much the whole book since the plot is flimsy as usual with this series.

It’s a quick read and the character development in this novel is certainly better than in the first, although the plot seemed terribly familiar towards the end. It seems Ms Sands likes to have her protagonists kidnapped in order to give a little conflict to the story. The characters are more likeable though, and I did find that the hero had a certain attractiveness about him and wasn’t as flat and one dimensional as the hero in the first book. I’m not sure whether this is just because he’s a vampire this time and therefore inherently more interesting to me.

I think this is a series that will improve as it progresses and hopefully the writing and editing will too. I don’t really have much else to say about it. If you don’t mind a flimsy plot and very little conflict, and want something that basically equates to fluff, with a hero who isn’t too vapid and flat but could use his masculinity / alpha side pumping up a touch, then you’ll probably enjoy this.

I’m giving it three stars because it’s a vast improvement on the first book, which gained a single star from me.

It’s a throwaway quick read but not wholly satisfying.

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Review: A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands

I had a hospital appointment on Wednesday and they always run late, so I ended up reading A Quick Bite by Lynsay Sands, a paranormal vampire romance book, and decided to finish it when I got home. Here’s my candid review:

A Quick Bite
Lynsay Sands
That hot guy tied to Lissianna Argeneau’s bed? He’s not dessert—he’s the main course!

Lissianna has been spending her centuries pining for Mr. Right, not just a quick snack, and this sexy guy she finds in her bed looks like he might be a candidate. But there’s another, more pressing issue: her tendency to faint at the sight of blood . . . an especially annoying quirk for a vampire. Of course it doesn’t hurt that this man has a delicious-looking neck. What kind of cold-blooded vampire woman could resist a bite of that?

Dr. Gregory Hewitt recovers from the shock of waking up in a stranger’s bedroom pretty quickly—once he sees a gorgeous woman about to treat him to a wild night of passion. But is it possible for the good doctor to find true love with a vampire vixen, or will he be just a good meal? That’s a question Dr. Greg might be willing to sink his teeth into . . . if he can just get Lissianna to bite.

Okay, so I’ve read a later book in the series and it was good enough (borderline) to make me want to read the series from the start, but now I’m not so sure.

A Quick Bite is the story of Lissi, a vampire with hemaphobia, and Greg, a psychiatrist kidnapped by her mother to help her overcome her fear as some sort of twisted birthday present, although I wasn’t quite sure throughout the whole book why she couldn’t have just made some appointments for her daughter instead since the family is supposed to be oh-so-normal and not vampire-like at all.

I have to admit now that I was skipping parts of this book because it wasn’t holding my attention, and the reason for that is as follows.

The story in A Quick Bite was very flat, the writing was childish and in DIRE need of a good editor and perhaps a few lessons in plotting and character creation, and I just couldn’t get past the fact that a psychiatrist who was apparently a genius was acting completely idiotic about what sort of people he was suddenly kidnapped by, and later in the story accepted life as a vampire far too easily. Kudos for having him suffer great pain as part of the transformation, but post-transformation he was perfectly at ease with his new self, happy to bite away and drink blood without any trace of revulsion, and seemed fine with everything that was happening to him. I have great suspension of disbelief but not when characters can do everything without a bit of fight or fear involved and take it all in their stride.

Everything happened far too easily in this book. There was minimal conflict, and minimal fear on the side of the hero. I spotted an insane amount of errors, so much so I was questioning whether I had the wrong version of the book, like an ARC or something rather than the proper release. I scanned my later book, the one I had originally read, and that had errors too, including calling the hero by the WRONG name. It’s unacceptable to get your Hero / Heroine’s name wrong.

I’m still going to read the next one because I have the whole series, but I’m seriously hoping it’s better than this one and that the characters and writing dramatically improves, and the author dumps a hefty dose of conflict and plot into the book!

I don’t recommend this book at all though.

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Review: Dancing with the Devil by Keri Arthur

I started reading Dancing with the Devil by Keri Arthur many moons ago, and then forgot about it due to the massive workload that comes with being a writer and also holding down a full time job. It’s a shame, because at the time I was really enjoying the story, so I’m glad that I was able to pick it up again recently and finally finish it. So here’s my opinion on this paranormal romance book by Keri Arthur.

Dancing with the Devil
Keri Arthur
Private Investigator Nikki James grew up on the tough streets of Lyndhurst and believes there’s nothing left to surprise her. All that changes the night she follows teenager Monica Trevgard into the shadows-and becomes a pawn caught in a war between two very different men. One fills her mind with his madness, the other pushes his way into her life-and her heart. Nikki knows how dangerous love can be, but if she wants to survive, she must place her trust in a man who could easily destroy her.

Michael Kelly has come to Lyndhurst determined to end the war between himself and another brother of the night. For 300 years he has existed in life’s shadows, gradually learning to control the life from death cravings of a vampire. Nikki not only breaches his formidable barriers with her psychic abilities, but makes Michael believe he may finally have found a woman strong enough to walk by his side and ease the loneliness in his heart. But will his love be enough to protect her from a madman hell-bent on revenge? Or will it drive her into his enemy’s deadly trap?

Only together can they overcome the evil threatening to destroy them both. But the secrets they keep from each other might prove to be the greatest threat of all.

This is the first book I’ve read by author Keri Arthur and I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Dancing with the Devil is the first book in the Nikki & Michael series written by Ms. Arthur and it held my attention, gripping me enough that I managed to mostly ignore the repetitions of the heroine, Nikki, as she tries to resist the lovely slice of vampire that is Michael (which does get frustrating when she’s repeatedly telling herself that she has to stay away from him, can’t love him, yada yada).

Nikki is a woman with telepathic / telekinetic abilities who has dragged herself out of a life on the streets to become a private investigator and her latest client and job leads her to a run in with the tall dark and handsome that is Michael. He’s got a secret, as do most males in this sort of book, in that he’s a vampire. I like Keri Arthur’s take on vampires. She subtly nudges the usual vampire boundaries to make the species her own, and I like her for that because it’s the sort of thing I do with my vampires. Michael is as broody, distant and detached as most vampires come, and I think this is what drew me to him. As with the last book I reviewed (Kiss Me Deadly by Michele Hauf), it’s the hero who steals my attention in this book. He’s stoic, has principles, and also a dark side which he battles whilst he simultaneously fights both the evil Jasper, baddie-of-the-book, and his desire for Nikki. I definitely liked him more than I liked the heroine. He stood by his values and wasn’t going to waver, even though he knew it meant walking away from what could be the love of his long life. The heroine’s job at this point, in my opinion, is to get out there and bloody well change his mind. That’s what my heroine would have done in this situation. Instead of rolling up her sleeves and getting stuck in with the task of making the hero damn well love her and crumble in his resolve to leave, Nikki frustratingly pushes him away and hence we get a lot of repetition about why she can’t love him, and why she can’t be with him. I got the point already. Give it a rest.

The vampires in this have the potential for vast destruction and great evil, which will always lure me in. The bad guy flexes his muscles in this capacity, and we’re left with a notion that Michael might not be a saint either, since he’s done his share of killing and is barely able to restrain his own darkness.

The story flowed well, and there was plenty of tension and drama to keep me turning pages, and since it’s the first book in a series about this hero and heroine, I’ll forgive the author for the lack of interaction and romance between them. It’s a set up book for the romance between the two and I’ve been there and done that with my Prophecy Trilogy, so I know it’s going to get better in the next books. Which I will definitely be hunting down and reading. I believe there are four books in this series, and I’m hoping that was intentional and not because the series was stopped before the end due to money / publisher ditching it or something.

All in all, I’d recommend this to readers who want to read a short series of four novels and are looking for an interesting paranormal romance with a strong hero and potentially strong heroine, and who don’t mind having to play the waiting game for the romance to blossom in a realistic way. I flitted between giving this 3 or 4 stars. It’s sort of 3.5 to me, so I’ll be kind and up it to a 4.

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Review: Kiss Me Deadly by Michele Hauf

I’m going to start reviewing the books I read on my blog. Just quick thoughts on the book. I’m not a professional reviewer. I’m a writer, so this is more like an opinion with a rating. Lol.

First up is Kiss Me Deadly by Michele Hauf.

Kiss Me Deadly
Michele Hauf
Death cocktail is what the vampires call a witch’s blood. It’s poisonous–a drop will destroy a vampire within minutes. Nikolaus Drake is the rare vampire who has survived his first taste. Now he’s on the hunt for the witch who almost brought him to his demise–Ravin Crosse.

A witch who spends her nights hunting vampire tribes, Ravin has three obligations to fulfill to set her soul free. One of those obligations–crafting a love spell–twists her world upside down when Nikolaus draws the spell from her veins. Natural enemies rarely make the best bedfellows–but is it possible their intentions are really, truly the same? Can Nikolaus’s tribal loyalty survive if he surrenders to desires far darker than his own?

I downloaded this free from Amazon Kindle a few months ago and finally decided to read it. It was a decent enough premise, but it really could have been so much better. The ideas are there, but the heroine is so weak when she’s supposed to be kick-ass, and the writing in places needs drastic improvement, as does the editing.

But let’s start with the heroine. Ravin is apparently bad-ass, and has killed a lot of vampires during her vendetta, including on Nikolaus Drake. Nikolaus miraculously survived her poisonous blood and gradually heals, nurturing a nasty yearning for revenge at the same time. He wants the witch bitch dead and he’ll stop at nothing. Well, except the accidental ingestion of a love spell, which halts him in his tracks.

The moment Ravin casts the love spell on the big bad vampire, making him into her love puppy, things go drastically downhill. She’s throwing herself at him every opportunity she has. Considering how heavily we’re told in this book that witches and vampires HATE each other with a capital everything, and how she’s supposed to be on this mighty vendetta against all vampires, including the hero who she has unsuccessfully attempted to kill, she’s damn quick to be tossing herself into his arms. She barely fights against him, letting him have his way, which more often than not ends in her bed and makes her rather vapid as a heroine. We’re told in the story that the spell didn’t affect her, so why isn’t she at putting up a bit of a struggle against the hero? Or perhaps staking the bastard the moment he goes all lovey-dovey?

I was severely disappointed by the heroine. Can you tell? I hate it when they throw aside their principles and everything they stood for, and then throw themselves at the hero (even when he’s her deadliest enemy) without any trace of reason or any apparent change in her values.

Also, found a few wrong words and editing glitches, which just shows that no author is infallible, including published ones. My favourite was the word snuggly in place of snugly.

This book could have been superb with a stronger heroine, the one we’re promised at the start. I’ll forgive the hero, because he does go nasty vampire again once the spell is lifted, but then slowly realises that he loves the witch after all, but I can’t really forgive the heroine.

If you have this book for free too, then it’s probably worth the read but I wouldn’t force yourself, and don’t expect something amazing.

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