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!

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Sunday Book Haul (1)

On Sundays I will be posting the books I bought/borrowed/was given this week!

I got some great books this week, here is what I got:

From Publishers for review (ARCS):

 

Read any of these books? What did you think?

What did you guys get this week?

The Booby Trap by Anne Browning Walker

The Booby Trap

by Anne Browning Walker

Genre: Romance, contemporary

Expected publication: June 1st 2012 by Pixel Entertainment/Butler Books    

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

 Welcome to The Booby Trap, a seedy bar where waitresses’ skirts are high, necklines are low and customers show up for the eye candy.
When brainy, beautiful, Harvard Ph.D. candidate Bambi Benson wants to study the women of the the Booby Trap for her dissertation, she goes undercover and joins them.  All is going well for Bambi until handsome local celebrity Trip Whitley enters the scene.
Hoping to shock his high-society family by dating a bimbo, Trip offers to pay Bambi to pretend to be his girlfriend.  She accepts his offer and bides her time, waiting for the right moment to reveal her true identity and teach Trip not to judge based on appearances.
After a series of dates carefully orchestrated for their publicity value, Bambi’s trap is set.  But there’s one problem: the predator might have fallen in love with her prey.

  

I had problems with this book from beginning to end.  It started when I realised the main character was called Bambi Benson (I’m sorry but every time I read her name I cringed, I couldn’t help it) and it continued from there.  The Booby Trap is not a bad book, it has a lot to like about it and I think that some people will really like it, but the goodness couldn’t override the issues I had with it.  All in all this book is alright; it is a quick read and had moments of fun but was just too unrealistic for me.

Another problem I had was the characters.  Bambi is ok but she seems to change her mind a lot and I never felt any connection with her.  She does have moments of greatness but again it is not enough to cover for the weaker parts of her character, I just wanted her to have more personality and substance.   I found Tripp to be pretty unlikable.  For about seventy percent of the book he came across as a spoilt brat he was stroppy and selfish.  I just couldn’t get behind him as a main character or love interest.

I also found the relationship between them to be unbelievable.  I felt like half the book she was completely uninterested in him and he was interested in someone else.  Then suddenly they were falling into bed/love with one another.  Their feelings took quite a long time to manifest and when they did it seemed to all happen too quickly.

By far the biggest problem with this book was that it was completely predictable.  There are a million other books and movies out there that are about the same thing.  This is a plot that has been overdone and there seems to be no more originality in it.

I liked the messages in this book; it has some strong themes about feminism and the different forms that takes.  It is also about not judging a book by its cover.  I have a lot of time for books that have positive messages in them and so I applaud Walker for adding a little substance.

My rating 2.5 out of 5

Want to find out more? Visit these links: Goodreads

Agree or disagree with this review? Let me know in the comments.

The Wrangler by Lindsay McKenna

The Wrangler

by  

Lindsay McKenna

Genre: Romance, Adult, Western, Thriller

Expected publication: June 19th 2012 by HQN Books

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

Can a city boy make good in the Wild West? After Wall Street collapses, investment banker Griff McPherson trades in his suits and ties for Stetsons and cowboy boots. He returns to the Wyoming ranch he co-owns with his brother, but it’s not exactly a happy homecoming. So to prove to everyone, including himself, that he belongs back in Jackson Hole, he takes a post as a wrangler on another ranch.  Air force lieutenant Val Hunter has just returned to the Bar H ranch to help her ailing grandmother run the property. While it is full of unhappy memories, Val is determined to do right by her home. Her new hire is easy on the eyes and a tough wrangler to boot, yet her instincts make it hard for her to trust him. When a nefarious neighbour endangers her land, Val is forced to accept Griff’s help-but will she finally be able to open her heart?

I really, really wanted to like The Wrangler.  I liked the premise and I like cowboys.  Western ranch romances tend to get under my skin, there is just something about them I love.  So you can imagine how excited I was to be given a copy of this book to read and review. I was over the moon.  But I am afraid the excitement was for nothing and I ended up coming away disappointed.

I felt like the story started too quickly, you were instantly thrown very matter of factly into Val’s bleak history.  I know you have to get to these points in books I just wasn’t expecting it right on at the beginning.  It would have helped if the information was delivered in an interesting and engaging way, but it wasn’t. Instead I got a bland and very structured conversation that felt unnatural, something that happens a lot in this book.  The way the conversation is put together says a lot about the writing to be found here. Technically it is fine, it is understandable it flows…but there is just nothing to it.  Everything felt a little sparse, a little empty.  There is a lot of unnecessary talking, a lot of long-winded conversations that were not needed.  The characters tell us how they are feeling by the way they act and by their thoughts, we do not need them to then talk about their feelings with one another.  All of this leads (partly) to there being a lot of repetition.  The characters seem to say the same things a lot, not only that but there it a lot of repetition of phrases as well.

I felt like there was a good story here.  If everything was scaled back a bit and focused more on the romance between Griff and Val then this review would be totally different.  Instead, there are a lot of subplots involving drugs, FBI agents and feuding brothers that were not totally needed.  The brothers were a nice touch, and ties into another book in the series which is fine.  But the other sub plots were not interesting enough and were not tied up at the end. The romance takes a back seat to a lot of this and only really kicks off around the 80% mark.  It was as though the writer couldn’t make up her mind what kind of book she wanted to write and so tried to do both.  This lead to everything feeling half-done which, in turn, made a boring book.  I hate it when I see unused potential and this had it in spades, I just wish more was made of it.

The best thing about this book is the characters.  For the most part they are strong in their roles.  Gus is a great-grandmother she is a complete cheese ball.  Honestly, the things this old lady says! But she gets away with it because she is sweet and has the most amazingly strong backbone. Another good character was Curt.  He was awful and filled the villain role perfectly.  He really was a snivelling weasel and there was nothing likable about him at all.

Unfortunately, the weakest character was the main one.  Val is really quite bizarre.  I liked that she started off standoffish and untrusting but then grew to love and live again, her journey was great but it was the way she thought about things that bothered me.  Firstly she acts as though Griff being attractive is a real inconvenience and problem. Sure a good-looking guy can be a distraction but a burden?  Never! Also Val feels like she cannot trust Gus or any other man because her dad used to beat her, I get it, I have no problem with that.  Apart from the fact that she used to be engaged and in love with a guy who was lovely to her and never hurt her.  She was happy with him and trusted him…so why does she find it nearly impossible with other men especially one that treats her as well as Griff does.

The main selling point of this book is Griff.  He is not just attractive he is also charming, kind and sweet.  Sure, he is strong and big and manly but he also has a shyness about him that is endearing and a softness that is refreshing.  He is not pushy; or broody instead he is head and heart smart.  He is just a genuinely good guy.

At the end of the day the biggest problem with The Wrangler is that I feel like I have read it a million times before, there are hundreds of books out there just like this one and unfortunately for The Wrangler some of them are better.  The romance in this is lacking, getting to it is like pulling teeth and in the end I lost my patience.  I like a slow burner but I also like a story to move forward, at times this felt so slow it almost stopped. 

This book had a lot of potential but unfortunately I found it lacking.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.

Want to find out more? Goodreads, AmazonUK, Amazon.com, Authors Website

Where There’s Smoke by Karen Kelley

Title: Where There’s Smoke

Author: Karen Kelley

Genre: Adult, Paranormal romance, Supernatural, Erotica

Expected Publication May 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks Casablanca

My Rating 2.5/5

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

Blurb: When sexy wannabe-demon, Destiny Carter, is kicked out of Hell, she lands in Ft. Worth, Texas with one week to corrupt a soul. Or else. She slips into a slinky red dress, and heads straight for the delicious, corruptible looking cowboy at the bar.  But Chance Bellew has his own agenda-saving souls. He’s not your typical angel. He’s a nephilim, to be exact. Centuries ago, angels came down from Heaven and mated with mortal women. When the women bore children, a new race was created. Immortals with powers—demigods, nephilim.  But the children don’t live by the same rules as mortals, or that of the typical, robe-wearing, bright light-surrounding-them angels. Hell, most of the time the nephilim are breaking the rules, and making up new ones as they go. As long as they don’t cross over to the dark side, everyone pretty much stays out of their way.
But sometimes a demon-in-training, who looks like Destiny, comes along and all Hell breaks loose.

Where there’s smoke by Karen Kelley is one of those weird ones to review.  I really, really struggled with it; I lost interest I found myself skimming a lot but not because the book was bad.

This book had everything that a book like this should have.  It had an ok story line, a female lead character that you could relate to and a male character that makes you a little weak in the knees.

The sex scenes are just right, they are not overdone and they are not under done.  In fact some of them are top-notch.

So why did I struggle so much? I did find it a little far-fetched and a little repetitive but that is something I am used to when reading Paranormal Romance.

At the end of the day I think that this book just wasn’t for me.  For some reason I just didn’t connect with it.  I just found it all a little flat.  There was just something missing.

Despite the sex I think this is supposed to be a love story more than anything else and I didn’t feel the burning romance as much as I think I should have.  I think that is where my problems came from.  I wanted more.

Despite that I would recommend this book to fans of the genre.  I think people will like it.

Goodreads / Amazon / B&N / Authors Website

 

 

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