An ordinary girl is transformed into a superhero.
Verity Chambers lost her eyesight in a car accident when she was twelve. Her parents decided that her sweet sixteen birthday present should be an eye transplant. Verity is at best ambiguous about the idea of become sighted again but her parents throw her into therapy until she learns to see. The trouble starts when she is given not a normal pair of eyes but the eyes of the last veil-seer. The veil-seer is the only one who can pierce the veil between the worlds and see the otherworldly creatures that walk beside mankind. Cassandra appears at the hospital when the bandages are removed and whisks Verity off to Haven.
According to Cass, Haven is a sanctuary for half-breed children who fight the dangerous others. Verity soon learns that all is not as it seems at Haven. She meets Haydn who runs Haven's competition Helm and has a surprisingly similar mission statement. She stays at Haven in spite of Cass' increasing abuses and her own feelings of isolation because she is attracted to Kaydn, Haydn's brother. Things start to fall apart when Verity realizes that Cass and Kaydn are an item. However, she is still willing to stick things out until Kaydn betrays and almost kills her. At that point, Verity asks Haydn to take her home and she tries to go back to her family. Can Verity still have a normal life or will she be forced to go to Helm to protect those she loves?
Gryffyn Phoenix's work is largely derivative. HAVEN AWAKENING reads like the Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare. Gryffyn Phoenix's lines are clearer than those drawn in Mortal Instruments which ends up making Verity look foolish. Haven is clearly a bad place to be and the people there, especially Cass, are overtly abusive to Verity. Since there is a clear alternative to Helm, it is very unclear why Verity stays at Haven. She and Kaydn do not have anything more than a flirtation and she soon learns he is unavailable. Kaydn is also abusive to Verity long before he throws her into the pit. The plotline seems forced and it is hard to sympathize with Verity when she brings much of her troubles on herself. Combining Helm and Haven would make a better novel though it would be even closer to the original model. If you loved Mortal Instruments this is worth a read while waiting for Ms. Clare's next novel. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=17383#sthash.7qLvR2h5.dpuf
Liz Jekyll is the Omega wolf-were of pack Beo. An Omega wolf, in Jenny Schwartz' world, is the emotional center of the pack. Liz's grandfather is the leader of the pack and, amid rumors that he will soon designate a replacement, his granddaughter has found herself overrun by beaus. Her most persistent suitor is Brandon Moffat, the only one of the three front-runners who is still single.
Brandon believes Liz's hand in marriage will be the edge that wins him the leadership. Liz isn't interested in marrying Brandon, but is unwilling to hurt his chances by publicly discouraging him. She is also hiding a secret that makes it hard for her to get close to anyone right now.
When Brandon refuses to heed her hints, Liz turns to Carson Erving, an alpha wolf-were and American biologist. Carson has his own secrets that have made him fight his growing attraction to Liz lest he bring her into a dangerous situation. Still, when Liz claims him as her boyfriend, he is all too happy to play along.
Then it is revealed that Liz is harboring Daria Gretsky, the chief witness against human trafficker Andrew Thirkell. Carson, though he is involved in growing gentian, a plant believed to be the key to immortality, puts his plans on hold to protect Liz and ensure Daria is cared for. Once it becomes clear that Liz is a target and one of their own has betrayed the Beo pack, the hunt is on, but will justice or revenge prevail?
Jenny Schwartz writes with a light touch. Her novel is fast paced and the reader comes to know both Carson and Liz. There is also a side story where Albert, the mage who warded Carson and Liz's homes, romances Daria. The antagonist of the story is less well developed, as the reader comes to know him only in broad strokes. He appears to be motivated simply by greed; it would have been nice to gain some more insight into his character. The man gives up a respected position in his community, the support of his peers, and a loving family to become a slave trader. Some insight into his thought process would be nice. Even if his thoughts are something along the line of it's easy money and no one will ever notice, which appears to be how Ms. Schwartz is characterizing him.
A more minor irritant is that the author calls the weres wolf-weres instead of werewolves. She does introduce other types of weres such as leopards in the novel and this appears to be the reason for her odd terminology, but the grammatical inversion is annoying and slows the pace of the novel. This term may also be an attempt to purposefully alienate the reader, in which case it works, but a better way would be to stick with traditional naming schemes. Always make your novel unique in positive ways, such as the Gentian plant that holds the promise of immortality, and the fact that Ms. Schwartz' weres aren't already near immortals.
DOCTOR WOLF is an interesting take on weres that anyone interested in urban fantasy should try. The idea of the Omega wolf as the heart of the pack is a particularly fascinating concept that Ms. Schwartz uses to great advantage in her novel. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=21638#sthash.cRDyIwcn.dpuf
A case of love at first sight, in CINDERELLA BUSTED, billionaire Rhett Buchanan sweeps gardener Lily Foster off her feet. All Lily Foster has ever wanted is to make her father Hank's greenhouse Bloom & Grow the best it can be. She has succeeded in that dream beyond her wildest dreams, with Bloom & Grow becoming the best place to buy specialty trees in the U.S. The greenhouse has also just launched a wildly popular new interiors line. Yet, Hank didn't live to see Lily's success and some developer is trying to force her to sell by seizing the small cottage she lives in on the property. The cottage apparently violates the building code. Rhett Buchanan is the owner of BDC development. When he meets Lily at her greenhouse, he thinks she's a customer. Lily doesn't correct him because she doesn't think he'd ask a gardener out and she really likes him. Lily is a millionaire in her own right, but landscaping is hardly glamourous. She wants Rhett to fall for her as hard as she has for him before she admits she designs lawns, not gowns. Unfortunately, Rhett's ex, Delia, has other plans for Rhett and spills the beans. Rhett accuses Lily of being a fortune hunter and tells her he never wants to see her again. The second half of the book mirrors the first, as Delia breaks the once-again happy couple up by staging a scene where it looks like Rhett was cheating on Lily with Delia. Lily is devastated and immediately breaks up with Rhett. There is also the underlying question of just who the developer is after Lily's home and business, and what will happen when the truth comes out? Will there be a happily ever after for Lily and Rhett or just a new golf course for BDC? CINDERELLA BUSTED is a modernization on the classic tale. Yet this Cinderella has neither a stepmother nor stepsisters nor is she poor. She lives in her cottage alone and runs her business with the support of her best friends Rob and Tammy. The only element of the classic tale that Petie McCarty has kept is that billionaires are the princes of the modern world. Miss McCarty may be better off not drawing such a close parallel to the story of Cinderella as it twists readers' expectations in ways that her story doesn't go. Delia, Rhett's ex-girlfriend, and Whittenhurst, the lawyer, are the antagonists of this story. Had the story had a more neutral title, it would have allowed readers to draw their own conclusions. Instead, the title creates a preconceived storyline that Ms. McCarty then throws out the window. This is a pity as it undermines an otherwise interesting, though overly structured, storyline of love at first sight. Ms. McCarty not only develops Rhett and Lily as real people with real concerns, but creates a supporting cast of their matchmaking friends. Delia makes a great villain with her egocentric view of reality. As long as this is read with the understanding that Lily is not Cinderella, it is a great read. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=20255#sthash.eaKmaQCs.dpuf
Vampires are real and the battle for humanity has begun. Five years ago Blaze Knight, a half-breed vampire with the ability to control fire, was captured and tortured by vampires working for Cyrus Chimola for seven months. His brothers then managed to find and rescue him. He is now heavily tattooed to hide the physical scars from his experience. The emotional scars are less visible, but no less enduring, and he has only been clean two years. Before that, he tried to use heroin and booze to run from his demons. Once again, his brothers saved him, this time from himself. He has even started seeing a girl, Elena. Valerie Medeiros is a member of the NYPD. When Blaze's girl Elena is found brutally murdered, covered in hand prints of flame and drained of blood, Blaze becomes the prime suspect. Once Val meets Blaze, she realizes he couldn't have killed Elena, and they team up to hunt down her killer. Blaze's one-time captor Cyrus is back in town and gunning for him. Cyrus is a rogue vampire and has learned that drinking Blaze's blood will allow him to control fire and walk in daylight. In exchange for Blaze, Cyrus has sold this secret to the vampire Sire of New York, Alek Konstantinov, causing Alek to come gunning for the rest of the Knights. Can Blaze escape Cyrus and forge a new life with Valerie or will he be forced back into captivity and madness? RELEASING THE DEMONS is a fast-paced adventure that grabs the reader from the first page and never lets us go. L.D. Rose chooses to tell the story of Blaze's captivity mainly through flashbacks interspersed throughout the novel and triggered by the novel's action. The flashbacks add to the reader's understanding of Blaze's character and, by not placing them all together as a coherent prologue, Ms. Rose avoids information overload. The short scenes give reasons for Blaze's actions in the present without overloading the reader with drawn out scenes of torture. The author uses the same format to explain Valerie's extreme aversion to vampires, as we learn in snippets about her younger sister's murder. What is confusing is that the abilities of Blaze's brothers seem at odds with his past and his current physical condition. Blaze is covered in scars and has lost all feeling in his hands because of his prolonged torture. Yet, the reader learns that Blaze's brother Kasen is a healer whose power is so great he can heal broken bones with a touch. So why hasn't Kasen healed Blaze's scars? There are presumably limits to Kasen's gift. We are told for instance that he feels the pain of those he heals, but those limits need to be made clearer. At the moment, it just reads like Kasen didn't feel like fully healing Blaze. This is unlikely to be the case since it is made clear throughout the novel that Blaze's brothers love him. That is why it is so odd that it took seven months to find him when he was still in New York and one of the brothers, Rome, is a powerful physic. Again, the limits of the brothers' powers need to be clearer. Yet, this is a minor irritant in an otherwise amazing book. If you are into urban fantasy or dystopian fiction this is a great read. It is also nice to see a novel where the vampires are the bad guys. There are too many Twilight knock-offs out there. RELEASING THE DEMONS is something else. This novel speaks to the new shift towards dystopian fiction. Yet it offers hope and even love in a world overrun by evil. Ms. Rose's vision of a shattered Manhattan where humans and vampires wage war every night is eerily real for a fantasy novel. A must read. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=18793#sthash.EUDihBfg.dpuf
What happens when dreams come to life? Elle Q. Sabine explores the links between our unconscious and conscious minds. For the first eighteen years of her life, Meghan Quinn dreamed of a warrior who vowed to protect her. Then, when tragedy struck and she needed him to fulfill his promise, he wasn't there. Valor has waited a millennium for his vamp and was overcome with joy when he felt her enter the world. He immediately moved to establish an outpost in her world near where she lived so he could watch over her and wait for her to grow up. When she was eighteen, he left for a short trip home to get courting advice from his mother. He returned to find her gone and her mind closed to him. Ten years later, Meghan ventures off the antidepressants and sleeping pills that she has been living on. She is ready to face the nightmarish murder of her parents and track down the only family she has left. Valor, once more able to hear her thoughts, tracks her down. This time, he has no intention of losing her. Meghan, on the other hand, has no intention of letting him derail her plans. She means to track down her brother Red and see if she can be a part of his life. Even if it means leaving Witness Protection and attracting the attention of a killer. Everything comes to a head as it turns out that Red's new job is for Valor and Valor might be more involved with the events of ten years ago than even he knows. HUNT HER is fast paced and has a well laid out plot with no holes. Ms. Sabine has taken the novel approach of creating vampire fay. Her vampires are Tuatha Dannan whose people became immortal blood drinkers as a side effect of a serum that saved them from a deadly plague. They then learned to travel the Sidhe or between space in their quest for mates as the serum had killed their own women. Yet Valor's stalking of Meghan, his overly possessive behaviour, and his wish to dominate her are never fixed by her love. Which does add a depressing kind of realism to the story. Valor's behaviour is excused by his extra-human abilities and his abiding love for Meghan. He is more than human so it is okay for him to act like he owns her. Ms. Sabine even claims this relationship as one between equals. It is hard to like Valor or see Meghan's acceptance of his behaviour as a happy ending. Still, if you like alpha males, Ms. Sabine spins a good yarn and while Valor never learns his lesson he does get his happily ever after. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=22431#sthash.h3gk2LeH.dpuf
Love at first sight is often described as eyes meeting across a crowded room. Sinclair Jayne breathes new life into this tired cliché as she explores how we fall in love. What happens to cause that spine tingling lust at first sight to grow into something more? When Colt Ewing, an acting army ranger home on leave, first sees Talon Reese serving drinks at Grey's. He can't take his eyes off of her. He decides that the outcome of the bachelor auction is unimportant and that it is Talon he is going home with. Talon's friends notice Colt's interest and decide that the best thing they can do for Talon is to buy Colt for her. When Colt approaches her after the auction, he is introduced to her seven-year-old adopted son Parker James. He also learns that she has been driving the truck he thought destroyed since it had been sent to his abusive uncle after the death of the army buddy he stored it with. Talon hands the keys over to him and he drives her home only to learn that she has been staying at his now dead uncle's place while waiting for the heir to return. Talon invites him into what she is convinced is his home, but overwhelmed by the terrible memories of past abuse, he refuses, though he does stay in the property's cabin. Parker is fascinated by Colt and desperately wants a male role model. Can Colt overcome the memories of his past and build a future with Talon and Parker? Ms. Jayne integrates her novel with the others in The Bachelor Auction Returns series in some ways. For example, Code mentions how the widow Benedict is meant to be his date. Yet in Bachelor for Hire, Colt and Code are incredibly close because Colt slept over all the time to escape his abusive uncle. In SEDUCING THE BACHELOR, it appears that no one knew of the abuse and Colt was isolated even from his friends. Taken as a stand alone the novel it provides an interesting twist on an old cliché. Lust at first sight develops into love as the Colt and Talon come to know and respect each other. Parker is never seen as a barrier to the relationship. By itself this is an interesting read and well worth the time. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=21882#sthash.pHuzJlCJ.dpuf
Love is timeless. Hank has been through two divorces and has been drifting since he lost his IT job. His first marriage broke up because he didn't want children and his second fell apart when he caught his wife in bed with his best friend. Having been given the boot by yet another woman after losing his job, he is now travelling the country in an RV and making ends meet by taking contract jobs. He has become lost, drifting through life. Then he stops in Texas by the Laguna Madre and meets Esmeralda. She blows him away and he thinks that love may still have a role in his life. Esmeralda is desperate. According to her father's will, if she doesn't marry before her birthday, half her grapefruit farm and oil rights will go to her cousin. This means that she will no longer have enough money to live on. Having spent her entire life looking after her father and tending the farm, Esmeralda can't imagine any other life. The only problem is that she's also never had a man in her life and fears that she is too old for love. Then Hank asks her to dance. Though leery of Hank's previous failures and afraid he is a fortune hunter, Esmeralda still allows him into her life. As their relationship develops, Hank helps Esmeralda understand her oil payments and Esmeralda brings Hank's ambition back to life as he wants to provide for her. Yet Esmeralda dreams not only of love but of a child. Has Hank grown enough to give her the life she wants? Ms. Roman has a light and breezy style. She skims over the surface of the story and rushes readers to the finish line. This causes the story to lack depth. It has the broad strokes but lacks fine detail. There is a point where telling is needed. Scenes need to be set, characters developed, themes and symbols added. Ms. Roman is very good at showing and if you are looking for a light, breezy read this is it. To be something more than a one-time read, the author needs to add more flesh to the solid bones of her story. She has hold of an interesting idea and it would be nice to see her fully develop it. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=20886#sthash.2VrsyFwY.dpuf
Celebrity is the new royalty. Mia Troy has been a famous actress since childhood. She has come to the Victorian Rose Bed and Breakfast in North Salem for a month-long vacation before filming her new movie in Boston. Mia wants some time to be herself and not a famous actress. Sean O'Brien runs the bed and breakfast with his mother Maureen. He has spent his life taking care of his family. Still, Sean has not completely given up his own dreams and he has just completed his Master's from MIT in Physics. Both Sean and Mia are searching for something more. Mia feels instantly drawn to Sean. She asks him to the town's block party and is impressed by the way he protects her from the town drunk. As Sean and Mia get to know one another, Mia falls in love. Sean is unsure of his feeling. He feels tied to North Salem by the B&B. To complicate things further, his father, who walked out during his senior year of high school and left Sean to support the family alone, has reappeared. Mia helps Sean work through things with his father and half-sister. His mother ends up getting engaged and setting up the B&B so that a manager can run things. This leaves Sean able to live his own life for the first time in years. Will he be able to find love with Mia or will stubbornness spoil his happily ever after? This is yet another Cinderella story, though the prince is a princess. Ms. Tetreault uses gender inversion to try to breathe new life into an old tale. In some ways she is successful. Her characters are on an equal footing at the beginning of the novel. Sean is highly educated, though not living up to his potential, and Mia is famous and unhappy. Mia inspires Sean to get a job in his field and Sean makes Mia happy. Yet Mia stops acting and appears to become a housewife at the end. The story ends up raising Sean and lowering Mia so they can be together. Mia becomes the little woman. This does not seem to be the author's intent. Ms. Tetreault appears to unconsciously reflect masculine authority into her writing. Surely there is a way for Sean and Mia to come together that does not cause Mia to lose? This is a stereotypical contemporary romance and as long as its message is taken with a grain of salt, it is a good read. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=14141#sthash.VBQUUQp1.dpuf
Memory is subjective and a single story can be told a thousand different ways. Colleen Donnelly plays with this concept in her novel MINE TO TELL. Anna Crouse's great-grandmother Julianne has been maligned for years as the bad woman. When Julianne disappeared for two weeks and came back pregnant, her husband banished her to a house at the edge of the property. Anna wants to know what really happened. Her neighbor Kyle joins her in this quest for the truth since as a child he was fascinated by Julianne's house. Anna finds the story Julianne left behind and translates it with Kyle's help. As the novel opens, Anna is engaged to Trevor. She is horrified by the way he takes her for granted, but seems unable to express her concerns as more than a general anxiety. She decides now is the time to find out what happened to Julianne. This will allow her to lift the stigma of "bad woman" that has attached itself to the Crouse women. She moves into Julianne's house and discovers that Julianne has left her story hidden in the attic, encoded into the family bible. At this point Kyle enters the story and helps Anna read Julianne's words. As Anna uncovers Julianne's story, she grows as a person and is able to reach for what she wants. This is a story of life of which romance is only a piece. It makes it very difficult to rate because it is not a romance novel and so by that yardstick is a poor read. Yet taken simply as a novel it is a compelling look at how truth is based on perception. How expectations shape how we see the world. This is a story that looks at life as a whole. If you are interested in general fiction, this is an interesting read. If you're looking for a romance novel, look elsewhere. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=21801#sthash.iq2bx2b6.dpuf
Everyone dreams of a second chance at the one that got away. Gavin Clark and Ally Beaumont were high school sweethearts who broke up when Abby believed the jealous lies of a third party, Jenny Gaston. Abby has never forgotten Gavin and still regrets their break-up. She has tried to move on and was even engaged. Still, she admits to herself that she wasn't brokenhearted when Lars left her at the altar in favor of his yoga instructor. She is, however, vindictive enough to sell Lars' ring to get enough money to purchase Gavin when she learns about the bachelor auction. At first, Abby sees Gavin as a someone from her past that she can trust to stick it to Lars when she is forced to attend a wedding where Lars is one of the groomsmen and she is the wedding planner. However, old feeling soon re-emerge. Gavin has always seen Abby has his ideal woman. When he went off to college, he saw his future laid out before him. Gavin would marry Abby as soon as she graduated, the two of them would attend college together and then settle down and have kids. Abby walking away from him that first year of college tore out his heart and he has never met a woman who could compare to her. When she buys him at the auction he doesn't know what to think. What if she runs again? What if she doesn't? WEEKEND WITH HER BACHELOR: THE BACHELOR AUCTION RETURNS is part of a quartet of books in which four different authors each follow one of the four bachelors who are auctioned off that night at Grey's on their path to true love. The idea is a great way for a writing group to collaboratively produce a body of work. Yet the small details don't mesh across the series. Gavin is sold for $25,000 and in the other works the bid on Code for $10 is mentioned as the highest bid. The guys have differing conversations depending on which novel you read. Since this is supposed to be the same characters over the same time period, their characterization and conversations should be the same even if that ends up repetitive. With that caveat in mind, the novel provides a well fleshed out characterization of both Gavin and Abby. Gavin's distrust of Abby is not without cause nor does it appear out of left field. Taken as a stand alone novel, this is well written and provides a lovely story of reunited sweethearts. - See more at: http://www.theromancereviews.com/viewbooksreview.php?bookid=21961#sthash.WlzHdVUH.dpuf
Elizabeth Ramsay is English tutor and ESL Teacher.