The Darkest Day by Britt Bury

The Darkest Day

by Britt Bury

Book one in the Immortal Heat series

Genre: Romance, Paranormal, Highland, dystopian, erotica, demons

Expected publication: July 3rd 2012 by Grand Central Publishing

I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher for review

Izel Campbell was raised to believe she is an immortal Fionn with the magical skills of persuasion. But when she travels to Scotland to visit her ancestral home, Izel discovers that she is actually the world’s last living human. Forced to run for her life, Izel crosses paths with Kelvin Kerr, the Campbells’ greatest foe—and the most magnificent warrior she has ever seen.  A thousand-year-old battle chief of the Kerr clan, Kelvin lives only to avenge his father, who died at the hands of the bloody Campbells. Honor demands he kill the Campbell heir, but when he learns that the lovely Izel is both Campbell and human, Kelvin is torn between duty and desire . . .

Oh yes, Britt Bury, yes!

This is exactly what I have been looking for.  I have massive love for PNR (Paranormal romance) but nothing has really captured me since the early Black Dagger Brotherhood books.  Well finally something has.  I just loved this book.  It had everything; action, drama, humour and romance.  It was just great.

Ok, so what made this book so great? I will start with the idea.  I think Britt Bury is incredibly smart because she has taken the top three (or there about) romance sub-genres and somehow mixed them together.  This is a Highland novel, it is set in Scotland.  Our hero, Kelvin, is a Scottish clan warrior…but he is also something else.  Kelvin is a paranormal being, closely related to shape shifters (although his species doesn’t actually shift).  This novel might look and feel like a Highland novel but it is set in the modern world.  So it is a highland, PNR, urban fantasy novel…but wait, there’s more (stick with me here.) This modern world has no humans (almost) they all died out.  The world is full of paranormal beings but things are still somewhat derelict.  So to conclude The Darkest Day is a highland, PNR, Urban Fantasy, Dystopian novel.  Sounds a bit too much doesn’t it? Except for the fact that it works perfectly.  Bury has written this book so well that the joining of so many genres doesn’t distract from but enhances the reading experience.  This book is written in a way that is also utterly entrancing.  I struggled to put this book down.  It was engaging from beginning to end.  The prologue set the tone immediately and that atmosphere and intensity stayed with the book the whole way through.

Let’s move on to the characters.  Essentially there are only two characters in this book.  There are others who pop their heads in (I think/hope this was more for the next books in the series) but there are only two people who really matter in this book, Kelvin and Izel.

Izel is a great female lead.  She is funny, smart, sassy and just all round awesome.  I didn’t once find her irritating or weak.  She was not kick-ass or unemotional but she was no doormat either.  Kelvin (honestly if you could see what this guy looked like in my head you would faint) is just devastating.  If I met him I wouldn’t stand a chance.  He is strong, hard and tough.  He has responsibilities and obligations.  He at times probably comes across as a little scary.  He is rash, stubborn and infuriating.  But behind all the brutishness he is loving, gentle and fairly emotional.  When he loves he does it with all of his heart and he would do anything to protect that person.  Like Izel he was not once annoying.

The romance between Izel and Kelvin was just amazing.  I loved the growth of their relationship, from enemies, to annoyances, to lust then finally to love.  Sure, there are some bumps along the way but it was not done just for the sake of drama.  Most of the humour in this book came from the banter between them.  In the beginning the sparred verbally back and worth which gave the book a light-hearted feel but slowly that turned to something darker.  The tension and chemistry between them poured off of every page, it was fidget inducing brilliant.  It oozed from the characters and created bucket loads of sexual tension.

The Darkest Day proves that there is still some imagination in the romance genre.  It is by far the best PNR I have read in a while and I strongly recommend it.  I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

My rating 4 out of 5 stars

check out the links: Goodreads, Author’s website

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Skin Deep by Pamela Clare

Skin Deep

by Pamela Clare

Genre: Western, Crime, Romance, erotica, Drama.

Kindle Edition, 181 pages, Published May 15th 2012 by Pamela Clare
Book 5 in The I-Team series, althought it can be read as a stand alone.
Megan Hunter has worked hard to get back on her feet, leaving the nightmare of her teenage years behind. The last thing she wants or needs in her life is a man. But when she is attacked by someone from her past, a scarred stranger intervenes, saving her life and that of her little girl. Looks can be deceiving, for despite the man’s rough appearance, she feels safe with him. And for the first time in her life, she knows the stirrings of desire.  Nathaniel West paid a high price serving with the Marines in Afghanistan. He returned to his family’s ranch in the Colorado mountains to heal—and be alone. Disfigured as he is, he has put all thoughts of sex and romance aside. But something about Megan brings him back to life, heats his blood, makes him feel like a man again. As danger pursues her, and the truth about her past is revealed, he vows to protect her—and to heal her wounded spirit.  But confronting the past is never easy—especially when it’s carrying a gun. Megan will have to learn to trust Nate to survive and to claim a passion that is much more than …  Skin Deep.

There is something about a scarred and broken hero; I fall for them all the time.  (See Z in BDB, V in V for Vendetta and The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera for examples of scarred and broken men who own me.)  Add in the fact that the male character in this book is not only scarred but ex-military AND a cowboy and well, I never stood a chance.  I was in love with Nate before I even read the first page of this book and luckily he didn’t disappoint me.

I really liked this story.  It was short, sweet and had all the elements needed for a good book.  I loved the story line even though I have seen similar stuff before.  What is different with Skin Deep is the way the characters handle the situation they are in.  There is no unneeded angst or drama.  Megan isn’t some self-pitying, dramatic victim that we are all used to reading about.  Nate is not some over protective borderline abusive Neanderthal.  In Skin Deep the characters act like actual human beings, which was really refreshing.

All the characters are likeable in this book apart from the bad guys who are just awful.  They were all well-rounded and believable.  The author has also managed to write a child character that is not teeth grittingly annoying, instead she is cute.

I loved the romance in this book.  It was not about sex; instead it was about two people learning to trust again, it was about rebuilding your life after losing everything.  I liked Megan and Nate apart but I loved them together.

I have read a lot (and I mean A LOT) of western/rancher romance this year and so far Skin Deep is by far my favourite.  I look forward to reading more from this series and more from this author.

My Rating 4 out of 5 stars 

Check out the links: Goodreads, Amazon, AmazonUK, Authors Webpage

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig (Arc review)

Title: Blackbirds (Miriam Black book 1)

Author: Chuck Wendig

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Adult, Fantasy.

Expected publication: April 24th 2012 by Angry Robot    

My rating: 4/5

*The publisher provided me with this book for review, via Netgalley.*

Blurb: Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.  But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.  No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

 

Blackbirds has a fair amount of hype circulating around it.  There is a lot of expectation here.  The cover alone promises the reader multiple things and for the most part Blackbirds delivers.  I was intrigued by this book long before I requested it for review but I was scared that it would just not do it for me but in the end I really, really liked it.

The best thing about this book for me is that it dares to be different.  This book takes the Urban Fantasy genre and turns it on its head.  If you took every urban fantasy book you have ever read mix it with some Sin City and add a splash of Tarantino, Blackbirds is what you would create.  It is smart and engaging yet manages to be philosophical at the same time.  Behind all the violence and swearing Blackbirds actually asks some pretty big questions about death and fate, about good and evil.

The characters in this are full of life (which is funny considering this book is essentially about death) and at the centre of it all you have Miriam.  Miriam is a fighter, a survivor.  I think as a reader you don’t exactly like Miriam.  She is the type of person you wouldn’t associate with, a person you would look down your nose at.  She is white trash, an alcoholic and a criminal.  She is unlikable.  But it doesn’t matter because in some way you admire her.  She is strong and sassy.  She can hold her own and there is something to appreciate in that.  Yet, behind all the sarcasm, and nonchalant attitude you can see a glimpse of who she really is underneath all the layers of hurt and grief and you know that inside she is not a bad person.

Then there is Louis.  He looks like a criminal he is a scarred hulk of a man.  But really he is soft, caring and kind and he just might be the one to show Miriam that life doesn’t have to be as dark and dreary as she makes it.  He is instantly likable, he is someone you can root for and to be honest I wish there was a little more of him in this book.

The other characters are great but are mostly dislikeable (apart from Frankie who, despite everything, turns out to be impossible to dislike) they are villains of the most disturbing kind.

I have heard a lot of fuss about how this book would have been better if it was written by a woman.  I could not disagree more strongly.  Some have said ‘don’t read this book unless you are a guy’ well, I am a girl and I really liked it.  I have heard that this book is just to ‘man.’ Well, so what? There is nothing wrong with a male voice in fiction, and just because the story is about a girl it doesn’t mean that it has to be less gory or about love.

But I should warn you that this book is not for the faint hearted.  It is grim and grimy (something I imagine you will hear a lot in reference to this book).  It is violent and gory.  There is sex (not the swoon worthy, erotic kind) and swearing.  There is also a decent amount of characters (mostly male) that you want to drop kick.   Be warned if that is not something you can handle then this book, unfortunately, is not for you.

But if you can handle that and you feel like you like could use a little darkness in your life then I strongly recommend this book.

Goodreads / AmazonUK / B&N / Authors website / Authors twitter

 

 

FBI/US Attorney series – by Julie James

Title FBI/US Attorney series

Author: Julie James

My rating 4/5 for the whole series.

Something About You: Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends with a death. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago- and for nearly ruining his career.  Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it’s no joke; the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes- and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension.

A Lot Like Love: Jordan Rhodes is invited to all of Chicago’s best parties, but there’s only one the FBI wants to crash. To get her brother out of jail, she agrees to take Agent McCall as her date. But when the mission gets botched, requiring their “relationship” to continue, it starts to feel less like an investigation-and a lot like something else.

About That Night:  Though Rylann Pierce tried to fight the sparks she felt for billionaire heir Kyle Rhodes the night they met, their sizzling chemistry was undeniable. But after being stood up on their first date, Rylann never expected to see him again. So when she finds herself face to face with Kyle in a courthouse nine years later, she’s stunned. More troubling to the beautiful Assistant U.S. Attorney is that she’s still wildly attracted to him.  Just released from prison, Kyle Rhodes isn’t thrilled to be the star witness in a high-profile criminal case — but when Rylann comes knocking at his door, he finds she may be the one lawyer he can’t say no to. Still as gorgeous and sharp-tongued as ever, she lays down the law: she doesn’t mix business with pleasure. But Kyle won’t give up on something he wants — and what he wants is the one woman he’s never forgotten.

I could not have a book blog and not say something about the FBI/US Attorney series by Julie James.  I really, really like these books.  As contemporary fiction goes they are pretty awesome and pack a punch that a lot of other books in the genre just do not have.

So why do I like this series so much? I will start with the ease of James’s writing.  She manages to put together detailed descriptions, tense moments, erotica and snappy dialogue seamlessly.  These books never stray into cheesy, over the top territory.  Somehow James manages to keep the flow of the books going and it never fails, not once in the three books in this series.

She crosses the clichés without harm and dares to do things a little bit differently.  These books are also a lot funnier than they have any right to be, which I absolutely love.

James manages to create characters that you care about.   Every single one is likeable and easy to get behind.  What helps is then fact that at least one of the main characters

(in a secondary role) in the book before so you are already familiar with them.

The romance in every book is believable.  The sex scenes are hot but not overdone and bogged down with too much detail.  You are given the perfect amount of loving at perfect moments in the book.  (Not nearly the whole second half like a lot of other romance novels)

Sure these books are not perfect, they are not going to win major awards but they are great fun.  If you like crime/romance then I think you would love these books.

Goodreads