First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World #1) by Jeaniene Frost
- Genre: Paranormal Romance, Action, Adventure, Horror, Gore
- Notes: The first of the spin-off series from the Night Huntress Novels. Not my favorite one, but I do really like this one. As far as the cover art goes: WTF?!
- Recommended For: Fans of Frost, The Night Huntress Novels, Vampire Novels, Fans of True Blood, Fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Fans of The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series.
A book that continues the plot and adds to the Night Huntress canon while also being a pretty good book in of itself … This is the first of Frost’s spin-offs that delves into the relationship of Spade, Bones’ closest friend, and Denise, Cat’s best friend.
The night is not safe for mortals. Denise MacGregor knows all too well what lurks in the shadows—her best friend is half-vampire Cat Crawfield—and she has already lost more than the average human could bear. But her family’s past is wrapped in secrets and shrouded in darkness—and a demon shapeshifter has marked Denise as prey. Now her survival depends on an immortal who lusts for a taste of her.
He is Spade, a powerful, mysterious vampire who has walked the earth for centuries and is now duty-bound to protect this endangered, alluring human—even if it means destroying his own kind. Denise may arouse his deepest hungers, but Spade knows he must fight his urge to have her as they face the nightmare together …
Because once the first crimson drop falls, they will both be lost.
So being the first spin-off, I was of course skeptical, but I really ended up liking this book. It falls after the fourth Night Huntress novel, Destined For An Early Grave, and afterwards comes the second spin-off titled, Eternal Kiss of Darkness.
There were several things I enjoyed about this book and overall I had a fine time reading it. I wouldn’t call it my favorite as it didn’t fully stand-out to me, but if you enjoy the rest of the series you’ll enjoy this.
As for what I liked: All the things I love about Frost are in this book. Her humor, her ability to introduce new exposition while keeping the current story moving, and her well-written characters. One thing I loved about this book that is completely different from any of her previous books in the series: You get to read from the hero’s perspective. Spade tells half the story and Denise tells the other half. I found that to be so new and different in this series, as we never read from Bones’ perspective. Oh how I wish we did.
The last we’d read about Denise, she was pulling away from the paranormal world after losing her husband to a zombie attack, and then seeing Spade kill a would-be rapist infront of her. Here Frost expands the paranormal world to introduce Demons. Which she previously had not included in her Night Huntress universe.
Overall I found this read fun, entertaining, and quick if a little underwhelming. Spade and Denise aren’t my romance-couple type. They’re more mushy, less bad ass. But that’s fine and it gets the job done. I think my only true critcism comes in the form of design.
What the hell was Frost thinking allowing that to be the cover?! I have to admit, a little bit before I started this series and knew anything about Jeaniene Frost, I found this cover and joked about it. Literally pulled it off the shelf and had a huge laugh with my friend about this.
What’s wrong with this cover, you might ask?
1) Why does his head pull away from his neck at that awkward similar-to-a-giraffe angle?
2) Why does that girl look bored and tired, when there is a silk shirted, spineless, lothario glaring over her shoulder?
3) A silk shirt? Really?
4) She looks more vampiric than he does, she’s whiter than Edward Cullen!
5) Why does he have two black-eyes?
6) That is, maybe, the most unattractive and creepy face I’ve ever seen on a romance novel cover.
There’s just so many things wrong with this cover, that I can’t imagine it was even checked before they sent it to print. I mean I can’t imagine that no one tried to say anything about this. Even as simple as, “I mean, this is Frost’s first spin-off novel. Maybe we should try and market this a little better?”
We know Frost has a great sense of humor, but you think maybe she’d be like – “Who’s the freak on the cover of my novel? And why is he creepily gripping the heroine whilst trying to Tyra-Smieyes the reader?”
My friend and I laughed about this so much, I made a spoof of it later:
Yes, indeed, I made “First Drop of Creeper” featuring my creeped-out friend, before ever reading a single Night Huntress Novel. I regret nothing. I also understand that romance novels, bodice-rippers, chick-lit all have their own sort of theme when it comes to cover design. I’m thinking about doing a post solely on RomNov cover designs. But this takes the cake. It’s like a blog post from GoFugYourself.com - A silk shirt, and no spinal cord? What more can a woman want?!
Clearly I could talk about this all day, but I’ll end simply by saying. Aside from the horrific cover art, the book is a nice read that I recommend, especially if you want to continue with the series as it introduces a plot-line for the next Cat-Bones book.
I even give this book ★★★★ because I believe it to be well set-up, a good, interesting plot, and a overall fun jaunt back into the Night Huntress universe. Enjoy with a bottle of gin. Just make sure you don’t make eye-contact with the creeper on the cover.
OH MY GOD THAT PHOTOSHOP I AM DEAD YOU ARE AMAZING
Destined for an Early Grave (Night Huntress #4) by Jeaniene Frost
- Genre: Paranormal Romance, Action, Adventure, Gore, Horror, Drama, Angst.
- Notes: Weakest premise of all the series so far, but also some of the strongest moments of character development.
- Recommended For: Fans of Frost, Fans of The Night Huntress Series, Fans of True Blood, Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
If only Frost had laid more ground work for this books premise, it would have been the strongest in the entire series … This books plot line has so much to do with my critique that I’m going to put it first:
Her deadly dreams leave her in grave danger
Since half-vampire Cat Crawfield and her undead lover Bones met six years ago, they’ve fought against the rogue undead, battled a vengeful Master vampire, and pledged their devotion with a blood bond. Now it’s time for a vacation. But their hopes for a perfect Paris holiday are dashed when Cat awakes one night in terror. She’s having visions of a vampire named Gregor who’s more powerful than Bones and has ties to her past that even Cat herself didn’t know about.
Gregor believes Cat is his and he won’t stop until he has her. As the battle begins between the vamp who haunts her nightmares and the one who holds her heart, only Cat can break Gregor’s hold over her. She’ll need all the power she can summon in order to bring down the baddest bloodsucker she’s ever faced … even if getting that power will result in an early grave.
Before I start to say what I found failing in the book I want to preface it by saying, that although I found the journey weak, the destinations were monumental. That being said, the entire plot line rides on the belief that Cat met a man name Gregor at the age of 15 and was whisked away conveniently to Paris all before she met Bones. But she doesn’t remember any of this because for some reason Mencheres was able to wipe her memories using strong green-eyedness and magic.
OK. Wait- what? The first time I read the beginning of this book I wondered if I could hire Sassy Gay Friend to go have a chat with Frost. I had that similar SGF thought at Frost, “What- What- What are you doing?!”
I can go along with a lot of plot lines – I mean I’m reading about a vampire-human hybrid that hunts vampires with her vampire husband and works for the government. Clearly I’m on board to stretch the realm of possibilities. But when you start to go so far off your own developed storyline to create a fresh villian, I have some problems.
It’s not that I don’t think the premise is a good one – It’s actually pretty interesting. The problem is it’s weak hold onto the rest of the canon. How can I believe that all of this back story happened when in earlier books Frost has gone out of her way to show that Cat can’t be “green-eyed”. The only hint Frost gives that there was any ground work for this exposition is that Cat has always disliked and distrusted Mencheres. So I’m not saying it’s completely impossible in canon, I’m saying that it seems a little too convenient. Like a sewed patch on a pair of jeans. It fits, kind of, but you know it’s patched on after the fact.
The first time I read this it took me awhile to get into the story. I couldn’t get over the critiques I’m mentioned, but let me say I am glad I did.
While I don’t applaud Frost’s method of getting to where she does in this book, I do applaud her outcome. This book has one of the most, if not the most important character development scenes in the Cat & Bones relationship. Many of their underlying issues, some of which as a reader I didn’t notice until they were named, are addressed in the way I like them to be – ANGST ANGST ANGST.
I’m an angst fan, I’ll admit. And I don’t mean Harry Potter Book 5 whiney-angst. I mean betrayal and heartbreak and what-ifs. That is the angst I find dramatic. Pre-pubescent bitching isn’t angst.
This book delivers in the angst category, but it also defends the purpose. While I am a fan of angst, I’m not a fan of poorly written, meaningless angst. There is nothing meaningless in the drama between Cat & Bones in this story. This may be the darkest their relationship gets – at least so far in the series.
Beyond the wonderful angst there is also a sub-plot that Frost develops in preparation for the next book. I’m not going to say what as it is a spoiler, but I wanted to bring it up to point out another amazing thing Frost does as a series writer. Frost is able to fully develop and maintain a rising action, while introducing a new exposition or introduction for the next book. Which is why I criticize so harshly the exposition for this book. She doesn’t introduce it at all or even hint at it in any of the previous novels. The reader is truly blind-sided by it, making it even more noticeably awkward in the scheme of the whole series.
Overall, my only complaint is the weak justification of the exposition, but I absolutely love reading this book after you get over the initial “WTF?!”
After all that I wonder – did anyone else feel it was shoddily constructed in the beginning? I’d love to know what you thought.
In general, I feel like I can see the seams of Jeaniene Frost’s world - by which I mean it’s not perfect worldbuildling and sometimes with the plots I’m like “Uh, what was that just now.” For example, in the first book, I did NOT buy that Bones had fallen in love with Cat. That said, I think that these books are better than the average paranormal series and Cat and Bones’ relationship was enough for me to keep reading.
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor #1) by Lisa Kleypas
In A Nutshell
- Genre: Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Chick-Lit
- Notes: Not the strongest Kleypas I’ve ever read, but a perfect, short holiday themed jaunt perfect for the festive season.
- Recommended For: Kleypas fans, and people looking for a Holiday themed romance that isn’t complete crap.
Not my usual style read, but perfect on a snowy day in December with some hot chocolate … It would probably make more sense to review this during the holiday season, but as I recently read it I wanted to get this review out now so that people can potentially benefit from it next Christmas. Or not, you know, whatever.
As I sat on the bus one day I realized that I was really lacking the Christmas spirit. Being an unnaturally warm winter, it didn’t feellike Christmas. I decided to look up and see if there were any Christmas romance novels that might strike my fancy. When I googled Christmas Romance Novels, I found Kleypas’sChristmas Eve at Friday Harbor pretty easily. Hoorah for her SEO advisors. The “Friday Harbor” series is actually her current project. I didn’t realize this was a series until after I finished reading this first book.
ONE LITTLE GIRL NEEDS A FAMILY One rain-slicked night, six-year-old Holly lost the only parent she knew, her beloved mother Victoria. And since that night, she has never again spoken a word.
ONE SINGLE MAN NEEDS A WIFE The last thing Mark Nolan needs is a six-year-old girl in his life. But he soon realizes that he will do everything he can to make her life whole again. His sister’s will gives him the instructions: There’s no other choice but you. Just start by loving her. The rest will follow.
SOMETIMES, IT TAKES A LITTLE MAGIC… Maggie Collins doesn’t dare believe in love again, after losing her husband of one year. But she does believe in the magic of imagination. As the owner of a toy shop, she lives what she loves. And when she meets Holly Nolan, she sees a little girl in desperate need of a little magic.
…TO MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE Three lonely people. Three lives at the crossroads. Three people who are about to discover that Christmas is the time of year when anything is possible, and when wishes have a way of finding the path home…
Ok, so after that synopsis you know this book is going to have sappy moments. But I haven’t been disappointed in Kleypas yet, so I thought for $6.99 (on Nook) why not give it a shot? And as luck would have it, I enjoyed it and read it in 2 days (mostly on my commute to work.) Sometimes you don’t need the next great american novel, or even just a Romance Saga. Sometimes, what you really want is to have an episode of romance. That’s what this book is. A quick look-see into a sweet and feel-good story. It’s low on angst but very big on heart.
Did it define my life? No. Did it get me into the holiday spirit? You know, it actually did. Mark is believable as a bachelor suddenly saddled with his lovable but heartbroken niece. Maggie is fun with her down to earth personality and her nuturing nature.
One complaint I do have? For a Kleypas novel it felt rather quick. Not just short, but it moved quickly and it was short. I felt a little cheated out of the story, but at the same time I didn’t feel like I was missing any of the plot. I’m just spoiled by her other contemporary novels (See The Travis Series (Sugar Daddy,Blue-Eyed Devil, and Smooth Talking Stranger)) and expected a longer story.
But what this book emphasized in it’s brevity, was an aspect of Kleypas’s storytelling that I forget to mention as I usually love everything she does. The way she writes her conversations between her heroine and hero are always fun, never boring, and extremely entertaining. When was the last time you read a romance novel because you like the conversations? Am I right?
In the end I’m going to give this ★★★, not because it wasn’t well done, but because compared to Kleypas’s other novels, I did feel it lacked oomph. But if it was anyone else I’d give it ★★★1/2 – ★★★★, because it was just what I was looking for at exactly the right time.
It’s a feel good story, between a realistic and charming couple. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a really great Christmas Romance Novel or even just a great, short and sweet romance novel. Read it on a dreary day, curled up in a warm chair with a warm mug of joe.
One Foot In The Grave (Night Huntress #2) by Jeaniene Frost
Review from The Biblio Files
In A Nutshell
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary, Action
Notes: I almost count this as #1.5 since I rushed right form #1 to read this and devoured it almost in the same day as the first book.
Recommended For: People who enjoyed the first book. Seriously read the first book first! People who like vampire romance (i.e, True Blood aka The Sookie Stackhouse Novels)
Cat is back but she’s now got some government backing … If you haven’t read the first book in this series, Halfway To The Grave, you should. This book and all the subsequent novels in the series are meant to be read in order and as I reader and lover of these books, I can assure you that it would be confusing to read them out of order. It also could spoil you for some great twists and reveals.
Half-vampire Cat Crawfield is now Special Agent Cat Crawfield, working for the government to rid the world of the rogue undead. She’s still using everything Bones, her sexy and dangerous ex, taught her, but when Cat is targeted for assassination, the only man who can help her is the vampire she left behind.
Being around Bones awakens all her emotions, from the adrenaline rush of slaying vamps side by side to the reckless passion that consumed them. But a price on her head – wanted: dead or half-alive – means her survival depends on teaming up with Bones. And no matter how hard Cat tries to keep things professional between them, she’ll find that desire lasts forever … and Bones won’t let her get away again.
I found this book to be a fast-paced, action packed, sexy sequel to it’s predecessor. I read it in a single day (mostly because I shirked all other responsibilities and curled up in a chair with a blanket and this book.)
This was a great sequel for a number of reasons, in my opinion. First, it quickly gets to the plot that was left as a cliff-hanger from the first novel. Second, it introduces new characters subtly but with strength while re-introducing old characters and maintaining our attention the whole time. Third, Frost picks up this new plot line while setting up the next plot line seamlessly. As far as structure goes, this might be my favorite novel in the series. It’s not hard to see why. Frost set up all the exposition in the first novel, while still having a great plot, but in this novel she really picks up from where she left off and you get right into the action.
Another reason I devour these books is because it’s a singular and unique adaptation of an over-used premise. A book series about a girl who fights vampires. Been there – a lot – done that. Right? Well when was the last time this girl had government backing? If you respond Buffy The Vampire Slayer season 4 you would still be wrong. Riley has the government backing and they just try to use the slayer. In this version, the entire program is essential built around Cat. And she thrives as a leader.
I have to admit, my biggest weakness in novels is characters and Frost knows how to write good, interesting, lovable, hatable, annoying, sympathetic, you-get-the-idea characters. I mean, I usually hate spin-off novels, but when it gets to her two spin-off novels about the characters “Spade” and “Mencheres” I read those too and liked one and loved the other.
If I had to give a criticism to this book? … I’d say it went too quickly. But that’s just because I glutton myself on this series.
If you haven’t read this series but you love paranormal (especially vampire) romance? You must read this series. “It’s a moral imperative.” If you found this review intriguing but you want to know more about the first novel, go ahead and click the title here: Halfway to the Grave
Couldn’t agree more. I think the this one WAY surpasses the first.
“Smooth Talking Stranger (Travises #3)” by Lisa Kleypas
In a Nutshell
- Genre: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit
- Notes: Arguably my favorite book in the Travis Series. Certainly the fastest moving one of the trilogy.
- Recommended for: Fans of Kleypas, Anyone who’s read any of the first two, Fans of Contemporary Romance.
A book that shows sometimes the only obstacle between you and what you want is yourself … This book is, as I said above, arguably my favorite in the Travis Series. As opposed to Sugar Daddy and Blue-Eyed Devil, the beginning of this book gets right down to business.
Billionaire playboy, and all-around ladies’ man, Jake Travis has a reputation as big as the state of Texas. He drives too fast, lives too hard, and loves too many women to count.
In her advice column, and her love life, Ella Varner is always practical. So when she’s left holding her reckless sister’s baby, she decides to ask Jake Travis to take a paternity test.
Ella is instantly struck by Jake’s bold good looks and easy charm—but she’s not falling for his sweet talk. This big sexy tomcat needs to take responsibility for his actions, and Ella’s making him stick to his word. Now if she can only ignore the unspoken attraction that smolders between them…
Okay, first of all, his name is Jack Travis and has been since the first book. I love the person who completely screwed that up. I could go on about romance novel’s synopsis writers and romance novel’s cover designs, but that should be a post in-0f-itself.
As for Smooth Talking Stranger, I honestly wasn’t overly intrigued by the premise. It seemed to overly similar to the premise of Sugar Daddy. Girl is left to take care of a relatives child. But I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assumption.
First of all, Ella is a completely different character from Liberty in Sugar Daddy. Liberty was eager and and motherly from the beginning of her having to take care of her half-sister, Carrington. On the other hand, Ella is someone who never even wanted to get married let alone raise children. Having a less-than-desirable role-model of a mother, Ella only takes care of her sister’s fatherless child in the beginning because she’s always been the one to “take care of her family’s messes.”
I found the growth of the character of Ella to be a fun and informative read. Having gone to a lot of therapy in college to deal with her childhood home life and eventually becoming a columnist, Ella is very self-aware and truly an independent heroine.
In the character of Jack Travis I was able to see a realistic, lovable hero. He has his flaws, but he has principles and a past. He’s the traditionalist in their relationship, which I found refreshing from many other novels out.
Kleypas does a great job of showing the bond grow between Luke, the baby, and Ella. It’s subtle and believable and also heart-wrenching. I also found the immediate acceptance of the baby by Jack Travis a wonderful, if not completely plausible, part of the book. If I hadn’t read the whole series I don’t think I would have so readily believed his role in Ella’s dilemma.
I would say if you’ve read Sugar Daddy and/or Blue-Eyed Devil and liked either/both of them you are missing out if you don’t read this one.
Read more reviews by Katie at The Biblio Files
Warprize (Chronicles of the Warlands #1) by Elizabeth Vaughan
In a nutshell
- Genre: Saga, Adventure, Romance
- Notes: I was surprised how much I liked this series. An unexpected fun read.
- Recommended for: Fans of theVoyager series and Marillier fans
If this is a sacrifice, sign me up as the next warprize … I found this book as a recommendation on Goodreads, which I hesitated on but the reviews were positive and I was looking for something different but still romantic: Found it!
SHE MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN HER PEOPLE AND HER FREEDOM…Xylara is the Daughter of the Warrior King, Xyron. With her father dead and her incompetent half-brother on the throne, the kingdom is in danger of falling to the warring Firelanders.Before she was old enough for a marriage-of-alliance, Xylara was trained as a healer. She can’t usurp her brother or negotiate a peace–but she can heal the brave ones injured in battle.
But not only her countrymen are wounded, and Xylara’s conscience won’t let Firelander warriors die when she can do something to save them. She learns their language and their customs and tries to make them as comfortable as possible, despite their prisoner-of-war status.
She never expects that these deeds, done in good faith, would lead to the handsome and mysterious Firelander Warlord demanding her in exchange for a cease-fire. Xylara knows must trade the life she has always known for the well-being of her people, and so she becomes … The Warprize
This book isn’t written in the stylized beauty of ancient myths reinvented, like Marillier’s own style, but the story itself reminded me of her same plot techniques. I found the writing to be done well but not brilliant, but above all the plot was exquisite.
Xylara as a character was dynamic, relatable, strong, but also disagreeable at times. Like a friend you really admire but don’t always see eye-to-eye with. She’s a girl born in the wrong time and society and finds herself thrust away from all she knows and given away to save her people. It all sounds very melodramatic, but it was extremely fun to read.
As for the “Warlord”, as the synopsis names him (it’s a spoiler to say the name so I won’t), I found his character to be difficult to understand at times, but I feel that has more to do with the fact that the story is told solely from Xylara’s perspective and she struggles to understand him at many points. That’s half the fun.
Aside from characters whom I loved: some of which are detestable villains and some loyal but honest friends, the other positives of the book are not hard to find. The old romance novel cliché of “Oh no! I’ve been given as a sacrifice to a barbaric warlord who’s extremely attractive” is answered and then made more respectable, at least in my eyes, by the lost-in-translation addition. In many of these similar themed novels, the heroine has no problem adjusting to the culture at least in the every-day life transition. Other novels usually invoke a rival woman to get in the way or something similar, but this book truly shows what it’s like to go from one culture to another. Xylara is given to these people and while she has a good grasp of the language she sometimes misses some things, she also doesn’t understand their proper boundaries, she is introduced to foods she hates, and she makes many a faux pas. I found that so refreshing. As anyone who’s traveledanywhere knows: people have different expectations and traditions from state to state let alone from country to country. One of my favorite parts of this book was reading about how she acclimated to the Firelanders culture.
My only two criticisms would be, as I said before, that Vaughan’s writing sometimes felt stilted and awkward. Like this was the second to final draft and they decided “Well, we could change this or add this but I want to publish this so badly! Good enough.” The other would be that I felt she could have included more in the story. I felt some aspects or key interchanges could have made the character interactions more dynamic.
That’s not to say I didn’t like it, and I realized immediately upon finishing this that this was a series of three novels: Warprize,Warlord, & Warsworn. I will review the other two soon, but I wanted people to know if you have quite a few insensibly silly chick lit novels on your list and you’d like to temper it with a good romantic and adventurous book, this is a good one to try.
Heady Over Heels by Jill Shalvis - One Minute Review
This was my fav out of the series so far (third book) because Chloe is bad (in a good way, e.g., stealing dogs so they won’t be used in fights) and HAS DANGEROUS ASTHMA which severely cuts into her sexxy times because SHE COULD DIE, yo!!
She and Sherriff Sawyer Thompson have a contentious relationship because he needs to uphold the law in his strong and silent sexy way, and Chloe is a bad girl who is always seeking that adrenaline rush because SHE COULD DIE AT ANY TIME!
So, since she’s always bad (and because Sawyer is besties with Chloe’s sister’s boyfriends) they are always thrown together until they just cannot deny that they totally want to get it on with each other.
Of course, Sawyer is so damn hot that the first time they actually do it—in Sawyer’s outoor shower (wow, playah, you go!)—Chloe gets to come all over that luscious law-abiding peen (yay!) but then…GASP…no, literally, GASP, because she gots a breathing disorder, man…she has a viscious asthma attack (damn, Sawyer, YOU ARE A GOD) and passes out.
And Sawyer doesn’t get to finish eating his cookie because he is AWESOME and saves her life and learns all about how to have sex with an asthmatic so he can have sex with an asthmatic! Seriously, SWOON, and not because I am having an asthma attack during sex.
There’s a secondary story wherein Sawyer is trying to track down nasty drug runners, and of course, Chloe ends up in a Dangerous Situation during which she suffers another life-threatening asthma attack—did I mention that SHE COULD DIE AT ANY TIME—and she is saved.
Oh, yeah, and she and her sisters complete the circle of their bonding, and it is wonderful. Loved this one!