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AUTHOR SEARCH lists all authors reviewed on this Blog. CREATURE SEARCH groups all of the titles/series by their creature types. The RATINGS page explains the violence, sensuality, and humor (V-S-H) ratings codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their Ratings. The PLOT TYPES page explains the SMR-UF-CH-HIS codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their plot types. On this Blog, when you see a title, an author's name, or a word or phrase in pink type, this is a link. Just click on the pink to go to more information about that topic.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Update! Rhiannon Frater's AS THE WORLD DIES TRILOGY


I have just updated a previous post for Rhiannon Frater with a review of the second book in her AS THE WORLD DIES TRILOGY: Fighting to Survive.

Click on the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Friday, March 30, 2012



I have just updated a previous post for Jennifer Estep with a review of the sixth book in her ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN Series:  By a Thread.

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"The Hunger Games"—From Print to Film

Since this is a book review blog, I've analyzed the film only as it relates to the book. For an in-depth look at the movie itself, click on the link below to go to Lisa Schwarzbaum's excellent critique that appeared in Entertainment Weekly magazine. Overall, I agree with Lisa and give the film an A-.

Click HERE to read Lisa's movie review in the 3/29/12 issue of Entertainment Weekly. Click HERE to read my reviews of all three books in the trilogy.
This comparison is NOT a microscopic analysis of every single discrepancy between the movie and the book. As we all know, a book's transformation into a movie requires certain adjustments. Film makers are forced to make compromises that frequently alter or eliminate certain detailseven characters and scenesas they write their screenplay. Keep in mind that Suzanne Collins was one of the screenwriters, so she approved, or at least consented to, all of the changes. Still, a reader/viewer is entitled to a divergent opinion. The points that I make here are ONLY those that seemed most important to me as I watched the movie.

Each of the pink links below will take you to the appropriate page on the Hunger Games Wiki.

                           THE PROS                           

Effie & Katniss

The casting is mostly perfect. Jennifer Lawrence does a great job as Katniss, getting her grit and uncertain social skills down perfectly. Three other standouts are Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, and Amandla Stenberg as fragile little Rue. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and Liam Hemsworth as Gale are also well cast. We'll be seeing more of Hemsworth in the later movies. Alexander Ludwig is particularly good as Cato, the primary tribute villain. Woody Harrelson is O.K. as Haymitch, but his film Haymitch isn't as intensely mean-spirited as the book Haymitch. 

Trueness to the Book: 
The movie follows the book quite closely, but there are a few exceptions, mostly minor. For example, in the book, Madge, the mayor's daughter gives the famous mockingjay pin to Katniss, while in the movie Katniss herself gets the pin from Greasy Sae as a gift for Prim, who gives it back to Katniss as she leaves for the Capitol. Also, in the book the revolution in District 11 doesn't begin until after Katniss and Peeta stop there on their victory tour. 

The Violence:
Director Gary Ross wanted to keep this a PG-13 film, so he filmed the violence in an impressionistic way. There are no lingering, slow-motion shots of heads falling off shoulders or blood dripping down arms and faces. Sword slashes are seen as seconds-long flashes. You see blood, but the images are thrown at you so fast that you get just a horrific impression of the violence. For me, the initial Arena scene conveys the brutality in manner that is blood-curdling perfect.

The Capitol
The Look of the Capitol: 
The Capitol itself is stunning with its minimalist architecture and sweeping lines, and it fit with my mental image from the book. 

The Fiery Outfits: 
I admit that I doubted that the filmmakers could successfully portray the coal-fire chariot suits and Katniss' fiery interview dress, but the costume designers are apparently just as good as Cinna because the flaming costumes looked terrific.

The Gamemakers: 
Seneca's beard
In the movie, we get more details about the Gamemakers and their actions during the Arena time than we do in the book, and this is a huge improvement over the book. The vast room full of computerized gadgetry and emotionless technicians makes a great contrast to the mayhem that resulted from their actions. Plus...I love Seneca Crane's fancifully sculpted mustache and beard!

                     THE CONS                     

On the down side of the casting, I have trouble believing Donald Sutherland as President Snow. He just doesn't come across as evil enough, and his shaggy hair and beard definitely don't fit with President Snow's meticulously neat, rose-embellished persona. (I have to confessand this is NOT a political statementthat I have always pictured President Snow as looking exactly like Newt Gingrich. What do you think?)

Trueness to the Book: 
The story in the book has much more detail than a movie could ever include, so I strongly recommend that you read the book before seeing the film. Two areas that would have enhanced the film if they had been emphasized more are the scenes in the Hob with Greasy Sae and the scenes between Katniss and Rue. (Although, I must admit that teenage girls sitting near me were sobbing during the flowery death scene.) The mutts are handled differently in the movie than in the book, where they were dog-like apparitions of the dead tributes. That connection isn't made in the film, and that totally changes the meaning of the scene, making it a plain vanilla horror experience when it should have had a much deeper, and even more horrible, significance to the characters and the viewers alike.

The Look of the Capitol: 
The clothing, hair styles, and hair and make-up colors are somewhat true to the book, but the ensembles aren't nearly outrageous enough. They don't look much different from the styles shown at the recent New York fashion week, and the hats were quite similar to those seen at a certain British royal wedding. Plus...nobody has green skin.



       1.  Read the book first.
       2.  Then, enjoy a very good movie. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stephanie Tyler: ETERNAL WOLF CLAN

Author:  Stephanie Tyler
Plot Type:  Soul Mae Romance (SMR)
Ratings:   Violence--5; Sensuality--5; Humor--2
Publisher and Titles:  Signet Eclipse
          Dire Warning (e-book novella prequel, 2/2012)
          Dire Needs (3/2012)
          Dire Wants (11/2012)
          Dire Desires (7/2013)  

     This post was revised and updated on 8/9/13 to include a review of the third novel in the series, Dire Desires. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and reviews of the first two novels:

          NOVEL 3:  Dire Desires         
     As in the previous novels, Tyler gives us several story threads, but the primary story features the romance between the immortal Dire wolf, Jinx, and Gillian Black. Jinx and his twin, Rogue, have the ability to communicate with ghosts (Jinx) and spirits (Rogue). In the previous book, Jinx was tricked into opening a portal into Purgatory, allowing some dangerously demonic creatures to escape. In order to keep his actions secret from his fellow Dires, Jinx manipulates Rifter (the Dire pack leader) into banishing him from the Dire Mansion so that he can go off and hunt down the escaped monsters on his own. As the book opens, Jinx is living in a penthouse with his new partner, Jez, a vampire. When Jinx learns that a supernatural monster from Purgatory is terrorizing a local psychiatric hospital, he and Jez go after it, but instead, Jinx finds Gillian, a young, unshifted, Dire female who has been incarcerated there for the past five years. Jinx rescues Gillian, only to discover that she is the adopted daughter of a rich and powerful family who posts a huge reward for her return, causing all sorts of problems for the Dires. The fact that Gillian is adopted rings all sorts of warning bells for paranormal fiction readers, who know right away that Gillian's  biological heritage will be an important part of the plot. (And we'll be absolutely correct about that.) Gillian's adoptive family believes that she is a violent, mentally ill schizophrenic, and they will do anything to put her back in her locked cell.  

     The primary plot follows the romance, along with the connected story of Gillian and her mysterious family heritage. Gillian, who is on the verge of her 21st birthday, has her first shift soon after Jinx rescues her. Within days, she is stunningly adept with her new Dire powers and with the ins and outs of the Dire culture. This all happens way too quickly, with no transitional learning period to speak of.  

     The book includes several secondary story lines. One involves Rogue's awakening from his long-time coma and dealing with the fact that the tattoos covering his body connect him directly with Hell. Rogue and Jinx begin to regain their twin-sibling relationship but find that the empathic powers that have always connected them have changed. An additional story line for Jinx involves his guilt about opening Purgatory and his attempts to corral the monsters that escaped through the portal during the brief time it was open. This Purgatory story thread is connected with another story line involving Jez and his brothers.   

     And then there's the story line involving the ongoing romance between the werewolf Cain and the FBI agent Angus Young, a relationship that continues to have its ups and downs and which winds up in a cliff-hanger at the end of this book.  

     We also follow the progress of Liam, the new werewolf king as he establishes his authority, fights off rebellious wolves, and resolves the situation with his ex-mate, Max, who gives birth to a child in this book. You'll be surprised when you learn the identity of that child's surrogate father. We also meet Violet, the Were female who will probably become Liam's mate in a future book.  

     As in the previous novels, the two weaknesses in this book are in the handling of the dialogue and in the numerous story lines. In the dialogues, Tyler frequently fails to signal who is speaking, and this is exacerbated by her frequent failure to include paragraph breaks between speakers. But then other times, she places paragraph breaks between two speeches by the same characterall with no textual clues as to the identity of the speaker. Frequently, even after re-reading a dialogue section, I couldn't figure out who was saying what. Then there's the problem of having too many unconnected story lines. I imagine that each one will be developed in a future book, but in this book, they feel fragmented and disconnected, and they frequently interrupt the action of the primary plot.  

     One other plot problem involves the constant ambushes by the weretrappers. We are constantly told that the Dires possess extraordinarily strong scenting abilities. For example, they can get a villain's scent from a key after much time has passed and many other people have handled it. But the weretrappers are able to sneak up on the Dires time and time again, and the Dires are completely shocked and surprised each time it happens. The Dires are always on the defense with the weretrappers, never on the offense. Another problem with the weretrappers is that they are presented as a faceless villain. Groups of them hide in the Dires' forest and shoot them with tranquilizer darts, but we never meet any of them or get any back stories, which makes them an annoying plot contrivance that doesn't really support the plot in any substantial manner and certainly doesn't do much for the Dires' big, strong, alpha reputation. The weretrappers are like noxious mosquitos who could be swatted away for good if the Dires would just use the proper defensive maneuvers.

     The sensuality for this book is "5," primarily due to the inclusion of sexually explicit homoerotic scenes between Cain and Angus. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Dire Desires (scroll down the page a bit to find it).        

     This series comes across as an knock-off ofor, at the very least, a borrowing fromseveral venerable paranormal romance series. There are distinct similarities to both J. R. Ward's BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD (BDB) and Gena Showalter's LORDS OF THE UNDERWORLDright down to the cute male names, the sarcastic gibes among the alpha heroes, the fancy homes, and the bitter curse of immortality. Sprinkled throughout are traces of other series, including Lora Leigh's BREEDS (i.e., a very special male mating characteristic). So...the series is complicated, and it is definitely derivative. Click on the pink links above to read my reviews of the Showalter and Leigh series. Read my review of BDB in my book, Fang-tastic Fiction: 21st Century Paranormal Reads

     Set in the Catskill Mountains of upstate of New York, the series follows a pack of six Dire wolves as they protect regular Werewolves (aka Weres) and safeguard humans. The immortal Dires are over-sized, extremely strong werewolves, each having a particular magical talent. Currently they have disguised themselves as big, bad biker dudes. Their history goes back to the age of the Vikings—specifically, to the Norse trickster god (Loki), his son (Fenir, the wolf), and Fenir's son (Hati). The Dires are ruled by a council of three cranky Elders. This small pack of Dires survived the Elders' purge of the remaining Dire population while the six were off on their Running, which is a take-off on the Amish custom of Rumspringa, in which adolescents are allowed to go off and mingle with the general population as they decide whether they wish to join the community or go off on their own.  

     Here is Rifter as he explains the Dires' history to Gwen in book 1: "The Elders council was created six years before they instigated the Extinction, and they told the Dires to revere the abilities found in some young Dires, not fear and destroy them. They were told that Harm would be their new king and that they should not harm any more humans. But the Dires didn't heed the warnings...and the Extinction was put upon them....We were spared because the Elders asked Hati to do so. We work with the Elders to keep the Weres in line and to help the humans our kind once hurtand we also keep Hati happy. The Weres were created to continue to worship Hati and chase the moon with him." (p. 183)

     The villains are an alliance of two diverse groups: witches and weretrappers. The witches are dabbling in black magic by summoning demons to help them control the Weres, and in some cases, the witches themselves are possessed by demons. The weretrappers are human fanatics who capture and/or kill Weres in order to experiment on them for various nefarious reasons.

     Another group—the Hunters—is made up of humans who police the supernatural world. "Hunters were like Switzerland. They were equal opportunity, believing live and let live. They policed humans and shifters alike. They lived above human and shifter law, hated by trappers and rogue wolves, tolerated by most Weres and other shifters. Most humans didn't know who or what hunters were, as they were also still in the dark about the existence of the supernatural world." (Dire Desires, p. 103) The Hunters don't show up until book 3.
Here are brief biographies of the Dires:
  >  Rifter (Rift): The reluctant king of the Dires. He was cursed by a shaman at birth to dream walk—to go into the dreams of other werewolves, push back their nightmares, and absorb their pain and fear.
  >  Harmony (Harm): The appointed king of the Dires, who refused to return after his Running and has spent his life living with humans. His ability is to charm and control people and Weres with his singing.
  >  Vice: Born with all of the seven deadly sins as a part of his sexy body and dark soul, he is ruled by his vices, but can sometimes use those extremes to help others find their balance.
  >  Jinx: Twin brother of Rogue, he has the ability to communicate with ghoststhe dead who are still earthbound.
  >  Rogue: Twin brother of Jinx, he can communicate with and control spiritsthe dead who have gone on to the afterworld. As the series begins, he is in a coma-like state that was induced by a witch's spell.
  >  Stray:  He is not an original member of the pack, but was found on the streets and adopted by the Dires. Although he has not admitted his talent as the series begins, he has the ability to read minds. He and his brother, Killian, are the key to a prophecy that foresees world destruction.
These are the continuing supporting characters:
  >  Sebastian (Seb): An Adept, or master witch who was Rifter's best friend for centuries but then turned his back on the Dires and joined the witches' coven. Now he is one of the Dires' greatest enemies. He is the witch who put the coma spell on Rogue.
  >  Cyd and Cain: Werewolf twins who were driven from their pack for moon madness, they have been adopted by the Dires.
  >  Liam: The new werewolf king. In book 1, the Dires save his life after from a brutal attack by weretrappers and witches.
            NOVEL 1:  Dire Needs            
     As the book opens, Rifter (the hero) picks up Gwen (the heroine) in a Were biker bar and takes her back to her home for a night of sex that is interrupted when Gwen has one of her increasingly frequent seizures. Gwen is a medical resident who has been told that she has a terminal brain tumor, which is supposedly what is causing the seizures. When Gwen's home is attacked by witches and weretrappers, Rifter moves her into the Dires' home for protection. The plot follows the couple as they fall in lust/love in between attacks by their enemies, who are desperately trying to capture Gwen for reasons unknown to either Gwen or the Dires. The romance is the first and foremost focus of the plot, with the attacks as the secondary story line. Eventually, even the FBI gets involved. There is one more slender plot thread that follows Liam's doomed love affair with a human nurse who works with Gwen. The bedroom scenes between Gwen and Rifter are graphic enough to earn a "4" in sensuality, but I bumped up the book's overall sensuality rating to "5" because of a detailed threesome scene involving Vice and a Were couple. 

     One of the major problems with book 1 is that it is overstuffed with exposition, much of which is repeated several times. This is a series that could definitely have used a Prologue to get the mythology out of the way once and for all, because the Dires' history is told, retold, and told again throughout the bookway too many times. Also repeated ad nauseum are the cutesy wolfy phrases "big bad wolf" and "huffing and puffing."  

     Additionally, there are several holes in the plot. I can't go into detail on many of the plot problems because I want to avoid spoilers, but I will describe one of the worst. (Although it is a spoiler, I don't think that it will ruin the story for you because I am confidant that you will have figured out Gwen's situation long before it is formally revealed.) Throughout most of the book, Rifter and the rest of the Dires believe that Gwen is fully human, and she comes to live in their house very early in the story. Then, very late in the book, we learn that their house is visible ONLY to supernaturalsthat NO humans can see it. Now, I ask youhow could these supposedly intelligent Dires not wonder why the supposedly "human" Gwen had no trouble living in and walking in and out of their "invisible" house for days and days? My guess is that the author needed the house to be invisible for a key scene near the end of the book, but she didn't bother to restructure the story to deal with Gwen's habitation of the house. The author tries to fix things up in a six-line dialogue between Gwen and Rifter in which Gwen tells Rifter that the house was never invisible to her (Duh!) and he says, "If you'd said that earlier, it would've been my first clue that there was something going on with you." (p. 342) Totally illogical and unbelievableand very sloppy story plotting. conclusion, I'm not really impressed with this series. It is a mash-up of the mythologies of several other (better) series, and book 1 is overloaded with repetitious exposition. This first book is nearly 400 pages long, and it could easily have been edited down by 40 or 50 pages just by telling us about the mythology just once. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Dire Needs (scroll down the page a bit to find it).    

           NOVEL 2: Dire Wants           
      The second book tells the romantic story of the mind-reading Dire, Stray (aka Steele), and the witch, Kate Walters. The Dires have been searching for a powerful witch to assist them in overcoming the villainous sorcerer, Seb, and his army of Dire ghosts. When Stray finds Kate, she is being pursued by Shimmin, the leader of the weretrackers. Stray carries Kate off to the Dire's magically hidden house, where the two fall in lust/love almost immediately. The romance is the primary focus of the plot, but it is closely connected to all of the action story lines: the upcoming battle with the Dire ghost army, the rescue of Rogue from the evil spirit who has him paralyzed, the mystical prophecy regarding Stray and Killian, and Jinx's attempts to close the portal to Purgatory that he inadvertently opened at the end of book 1. In addition, there are a few other thin story threads, the most substantial of which is the developing romance between the FBI agent, Angus, and the young werewolf omega, Cain.

      Once again, we have an extremely cluttered plot with multiple story lines and numerous points of view. Although the primary narrators are Kate and Stray, we also have many scenes narrated by Jinx, Gwen, Cain, Angus, Seb, and Killian. Trying to juggle so many POVs and story lines is a difficult task—one that the author mishandles more times than not. Time after time, the chopped-up narrative bumps along an error-filled path. Characters answer questions that aren't asked. They do things that don't track with what happened a paragraph or two earlier. For example, on page 235, Kate begins to read a grimoire that she and Stray just found that very night. In the same scene, on the next page, the narration says, "As she got to the chapter she'd stopped on originally a few weeks back...the same nervous feeling...fluttered in her stomach..." Wait just a minute! She is not reading the witchcraft book that she was reading a few weeks ago; she is reading her newly discovered grimoire. This is one of many examples of sloppy writing/editing.

      Copyproofing errors compound the problem, especially when a reference to a particular character is made using a different character's name. For example, on page 263, we have this dialogue between Stray and Kate:
      "Don't use your powers out here," Stray admonished. "you don't know who's watching. Bad enough we had to bring you out."
      "I can't stay locked inside forever."
      "It's not the time to argue with me. Stay close," Stray told her... He turned to talk to Stray for a minute, his hand still on hers.

      Notice that in the final sentence Stray turns to talk to Stray—to himself—when the line should have said that Stray turns to talk to Killian (his brother). If this were the only mistake of this type I would be more forgiving, but it is just one of many. All in all, this is not an easy or a pleasant reading experience.

      The lead characters—Stray and Kate—are barely developed. Yes, we get the details of their back stories, but we never really get to know them as the people they are now. They fall in love almost as soon as they meet (which is a stereotypical action in paranormal romance novels), but they spend so much time mistrusting and misunderstanding each other that it's hard to see how their deeply professed love could develop so quickly under such unpleasant personal circumstances.

      Kate is definitely a TSTL heroine who puts herself and her mate in danger more than once. And then there is the manner in which Kate develops her witchy powers, which is totally unbelievable. When the story begins, Kate doesn't even know that she is a witch. Then, as soon as she touches the grimoire she is instantly able to chant in strange languages and cast all kinds of spells. This might have worked better on the page if the author had developed some kind of mythology to explain it all, but that doesn't happen. That is quite surprising, because the author spares no ink when it comes to detailing the whole mythology of the Dires, which she explains over and over again, both in the narration and in an extensive glossary.

      Another problem is that the Dires' planning process for their battle with the ghost army is slapped together so haphazardly by so many different players that it's difficult to understand exactly what is going on. I found myself going back and rereading paragraphs just to figure out who was saying what to whom and what was really happening. Unfortunately, when that battle scene finally arrives, it turns out to be the same old wolf-on-wolf combat that we've seen so many times before—in this series and in many others. You'd think that a Dire-vs-ghost battle would have a little something extra going on, but no, it's the same old thing. I was hoping that this series would improve, but that hasn't happened. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Dire Wants (scroll down the page a bit to find it).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012



I have just updated a previous post for Laurie London with a review of the third book in her SWEETBLOOD SERIES: Tempted by Blood.

Click on either the author's name or the book title above to go directly to the updated review.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Top-2012 Cover
Bottom-2003 Cover
Author:  Alexandra Ivy (aka Debbie Raleigh)
Plot Type:  Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings:  Violence--3; Sensuality--2; Humor--2-3
Publisher and Titles:  Zebra
          My Lord Vampire (reprint, 2/2012)
          My Lord Eternity (reprint, 11/2012)
          My Lord Immortality (reprint, 12/2012)

    This post was revised and updated on 12/31/13 to include reviews of the second and third books in the series, My Lord Eternity and My Lord Immortality. Along with a review of book 1, the three reviews appear in chronological order below, following an introduction to the series and an overview of the world-building:

            INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES             
     These books are all reprints of Zebra Regency Romances originally published back in 2003 under the name of Debbie Raleigh. Take a look at the past and present cover art for book 1 to see the difference in emphasis. The top image is the newest iteration, with its focus on the dark and mysterious vampire lovercheck out his eyes! The bottom image is the much tamer 2003 version, with the focus on the lovely lady in her bright red gown. Note also the difference in the backgrounds: the moonlit bare trees vs. the lush garden. Tastes in paranormal fiction have definitely changed since this series first hit the bookstoreswith urban fantasy competing with romance for sales. The new cover is definitely a play for the urban fantasy market. The content of the stories, however, is definitely old-school paranormal romance. 

   In this world, vampires are born, not made. These vampires once lived among mortals, dining regularly on human blood, but their leader, Nefri, wanted to move her people away from their savage and brutal ways, so she used a magic Medallion to cast a veil, behind which the vampires have been living for the past two centuries in security and peace. Now that they don't need to hunt down human prey, they have no need for their previous vampiric powers: shape-shifting and mist walking. These vampires have no traditional vampire traits (except for their immortality and quick healing). They walk in the sun, eat regular food, are peaceful and kind, never flash their fangs, and aren't any stronger than a human. This lack of supernatural traits essentially makes them non-paranormaland kind of dull.

     Naturally enough, some vampires want to go back to the old ways when they were the superior society and humans were just a food source. To prevent the rogues from lifting the veil and forcing all vamps back to their old lives, Nefri has broken the magic Medallion into three amulets, giving the pieces to three young mortal women in Regency London. The rogues are now trying to hunt down the three women so that they can take possession of the amulets.

     When Nefri gave out the amulets, she bound each woman to her amulets so that she can only give it up by freely choosing to do so. It can't be taken forcefully from her. Aside from hiding the amulets in the human world, Nefri is also doing a bit of matchmaking, as she sends three sexy, handsome vampire men to protect the women and their amuletsThe rogue vampires are stronger than the three protectors because the rogues have drunk human blood and have regained their abilities to mist and shape shift, while the non-blood-drinking protectors must rely on their physical strength, their intelligence, and their abundant charm.

     This series has a connection to Ivy's GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY series in the character of Nefri, who has a romance with Santiago, Styx's best tracker. Their story is told in Darkness Avenged, which will be published in June 2013. My guess is that reissuing the three IMMORTAL ROGUES books just before publishing the Nefri-Santiago book is no coincidence; it's a money-making effort on the part of the author and the publisher. My opinion is based upon the fact that Ivy includes a lengthy excerpt from Darkness Avenged at the end of the second IMMORTAL ROGUES novel. Click HERE to read my review of the GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY series.

            BOOK 1: My Lord Vampire             
Top-2012 Cover
Bottom-2003 Cover
     The first heroine is Simone, Lady Gilbert, a blond beauty, supposedly a widow, who is causing the hearts of all of London's eligible males to flutter as she refuses to settle down with any of them. When she first meets Gideon Ravel, her vampire protector, she believes that she can use her beauty to control him just as she does every other man. But Gideon, of course, cannot be controlled. Against their wills, the two gradually fall in love. Meanwhile, the vampire rogue, Tristan Soltern, uses various violent and devious means to get his hands on Simone and her amulet. The plot follows the romance as the two must learn to trust one another and share their personal secrets in order to defeat their common enemy. 

     This is a stereotypical paranormal romance in every way, with lots of thick and heavy melodramatic dialogue (e.g., "Ah, my love, you do not know how you torture me." "Oh, my sweet, you fill my heart with joy."). The hero and the heroine are good and pure, if a bit arrogant, and the villain is evil to the core. You expect him to twirl his mustache and bellow, "Bwaaa, haahh, hahh!" like a cartoon villain every time he appears in a scene. Here, he mutters dramatically to himself, "Soon, my lady,...Soon you will be in my power and I will sink my teeth deep into you." (p. 214) The plot has several bumpy spots. For example, when Simone sees a centuries-old portrait that looks like Gideon, she doesn't consider for a moment that it might just be a painting of one of his ancestors. No, that wouldn't move the plot along quickly enough. Instead, based solely on this incident, she immediately concludes that Gideon is not human. 

     If you are a fan of the old-time paranormal romances, you'll probably enjoy this series (if you didn't read it back in 2003), but if you like more action and sensuality, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.

            BOOK 2:  My Lord Eternity             
Top-2012 Cover
Bottom-2003 Cover
     In the second book of this trilogy, the lovers are vampire Lucien Valin and Jocelyn Kingly, a beautiful young women who is living on her own on the edge of a London slum district rife with prostitutes, pickpockets, and hoodlums of all sorts.  Jocelyn wears the second piece of the magical Medallion. She was cast out by her parents after a "scandal" (which turns out to be much ado about nothing), and she has turned her energies toward saving the prostitutes and the abandoned children in the neighborhood. That is the first major weakness in the plot. It's impossible to believe that in Regency London an upper-class young woman would be living in a house by herself, much less a house in a slum. She also owns a farm nearby where she sends the prostitutes she "saves" so that they can live a normal life. Since laws at that time prevented women from owning property, how could she own both a house in town and a farm in the country? And who can believe that her parentsno matter how reprehensible they arewould allow their daughter to live like this, particularly after they threw her out for a far less scandalous action? The entire premise is completely implausible. 

     Lucien has always been a laid-back, fun-loving dude who hates responsibilities of any kind. He's not happy to be assigned as Jocelyn's protector, but he mans up and agrees to do his duty. When Jocelyn advertises that her attic rooms are for rent, Lucien answers the ad and talks her into letting him move in. Soon, he is accompanying her on her charity rounds and winning their games of chess and cribbage (claiming kisses for his reward). That's when the villain shows up in the form of Amadeus, one of the three vampires who are determined to retrieve the three parts of the Medallion and achieve world power. Amadeus is a boring villaina one-dimensional, all-bad, psychotic killer with no redeeming qualities and no depth to his character.

     As in the first book, the plot follows the romantic couple as they quickly fall deeply in love and try to keep the villain from achieving his goal. Once again, the language is over-the-top flowery and dramatic. Here are some cringe-worthy examples: 
     "In the silken night his long-denied passions shimmered with incandescent heat." (p. 78)
     "He would devote his heart, his soul, and his very life to her. He could offer no more." (p. 140)
     "Oh, my dove, you do know best how to touch my heart." Her breath caught at the fragile, wondrous moment. (p. 173)
     "Was it possible that less than an hour before, this maiden had been filled with the glorious, dazzling warmth of love? He would give everything he possessed, his very soul, to feel that warmth once again." (p. 1914)

    The silliest scene is the one in which Lucien comes upon Jocelyn as she is sewing a shirt for one of the homeless children. Lucien immediately picks up needle and thread and begins mending another shirt with perfect "tiny, utterly precise stitches." (p. 171) Even Jocelyn is surprised by Lucien's stitching ability. She says, "Everything you do is perfect....Do you have no faults whatsoever?" Lucien admits that he does have faults, but we never see them. He is an absolutely perfect herowhich makes him an absolutely uninteresting one as well. Earlier in the story, Jocelyn describes Lucien's perfectness: "Blast it all, he was so utterly beautiful. The chiseled perfection of his features. The faint bronze of his skin. the tawny satin of his long hair. The pure gold of his eyes. And above it all, the shimmering appreciation for life that crackled about him with an irresistible force. It seemed rather unfair that one gentleman should be so blessed." (p. 121)

     If you enjoy old-fashioned romance novels with big, strong heroes who rescue/protect/seduce lovely, fragile maidens, you might like this series, but if you're used to reading modern paranormal romances, this series is not for you. One last point: Although there are 344 pages in this book, the novel itself is just 286 pages long. The remaining 158 pages are devoted to lengthy excerpts from two other books: My Lord Immortality (third book in this series) and Darkness Avenged (an upcoming GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY novel featuring Nefri as the lead character). 

            BOOK 3:  My Lord Immortality             
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Bottom-2003 Cover
     In the final book, the lovers are vampire Sebastian St. Ives and Amelia Hadwell, a beautiful young women who wears the amulet containing the third piece of the magical Medallion. Jocelyn is living on the edge of a seedy London neighborhood with her mentally challenged brother, William. She took William away from their parents when Mom and Dad threatened to commit him to Bedlam, an insane asylum. Amelia's brother is her greatest weakness, and as soon as sweet, gentle William is introduced, we (the readers) know immediately that the villain will use him against Amelia in an effort to get her amulet. That villain is Drake Ramone, an arrogant, psychotic, not-very-smart bad guy who is almost an exact replica of the villains in the previous two books.

    In this book, however, a new super-villain emerges. We got a hint of this mysterious scoundrel at the end of book 2 when Nefri began to suspect that the three villainous vamps who are after the Medallion are being controlled by an evil master vampire. 

     The plot follows Sebastian and Amelia as they work together to try to outwit Drake and fall deeply (and quickly) in love with one another. When Amelia gets the news that her lover is actually a vampire, she is more calm and controlled than the previous two heroines were. Once again, the hero and the heroine are perfect people with nary a negative trait between them. They are both extremely attractive, intelligent, reasonable, self-controlled, brave, courageous, kind, gentle, etc., etc., etc. I don't know about you, but I get kind of bored when the lead characters are flawless. It seems to me that a few imperfections make a character a great deal more interesting and considerably more fun to watch.

     As you might guess, the whole Medallion situation is resolved in the final scene, and the good guys come out on topa foregone conclusion since page 1 of book 1. Once again, the language is flowery and dramatic, the plot is extremely simple and straightforward, the villains are summarily defeated, and the lovers get their immortal HEA.

     Just as in book 2, this one ends with a lengthy excerpt from Darkness Avenged, the love story of Nefri and Santiago that is part of the GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY series. That book is due to be published in June 2013. 

     This series is not for everyone, primarily because it takes such an old-school, bodice-ripper approach to the romance. If you enjoy Amanda Ashley's paranormal romances, you might like these books. Both Ashley and Ives have the their virtuous couples waiting until after marriage to make it into the bedroom, and both adhere to rather formal language as they tell their stories. You should be aware that this series is nothing like GUARDIANS OF ETERNITY and that you won't need to have read this series to understand what's going on in Darkness Avenged.