Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What I Read When I'm Sick & Need Comfort

So, as some of you may know I haz the plague. I am working on bronchitis. I have a lovely sinus infection that gave me a lovely set of laser red eyes (conjunctivitis in both eyes) which fortunately makes my blue eyes really stand out. I also have meds now. The lovely dr gave me four prescriptions, so I am sick and drugged and in need of a couple comfort reads. So, here are my last two reads and what I have to say about them.

1) Blackwolf's Redemption by Sandra Marlton

Jesse Blackwolf—uncompromising, determined and an undeniable success. He has no desire to deal with the outspoken bundle of femininity he's found trespassing on his land!When Sienna Cummings awakes to find herself pressed against a muscled chest, she's shocked and stunned! Where is she? Who is this man who holds her so possessively with passion glinting in his eyes? It's more than confusion that makes Sienna's heart beat faster—she suspects his untamed wildness hides something that maybe only she can set free…. 

 So, when I'm stressed, tired, sick, don't wanna have to think too much or am just in the mood for a guilty pleasure, I reach for a Harlequin. Depending on my fancy, it could be a Presents, a Desire, or a Blaze. These are just so much literary junk food, and that's not necessarily bad. There are definitely good ones that are both entertaining and emotionally engaging and the writing is good, but even those are like a Chocolate Death Cake. Chocolate cake, luscious dark chocolate mouse filling, chocolate cream cheese icing and giant chocolate buttercream flowers all drizzled with chocolate liquor and raspberry sauce, I mean oh my god, that's ridiculous! And possibly will kill you! But it's so worth it. That's a good Harlequin. Then there are the bad ones, that are so bad that they're funny or so bad that it's like an all night bender of jagerbombs, only to wake up the next day swearing that you're gonna die and if please god you should survive, you will never touch the stuff again. And next weekend you're back for more.

Well, I could have gone to any number of my stash (yes I have a stash, so what?) of HQs to satisfy my need for a short and easy read, but I had recently picked up a new one that I hadn't read yet and I decided to be adventurous and try that one out. I mean, how could I go wrong? An amnesiac heroine, a hot brooding Native American landholder hero, and possessive passion? Cha ching! I'm on that like stank on a monkey. 

Sadly, I have mixed feelings about this one. It's a time travel story which are really not my cup a tea to begin with, although I have read a couple (ok, ONE) that worked for me, so it already had that to work against with me and then.....well....then there was the time we travel to.....the '70s. Yep, you heard me, the 70's. 1970's. Because apparently we don't make men like we used to in the 70's, although after I said that all sarcastic like, I was forced to concede that we really don't make them like that anymore. Hmmm.....food for thought. Anyhoo, the time travel thing wasn't that bad but honestly it felt more like a device so the author could try to write an 80's romance a la Jayne Ann Krentz (writing as Stephanie James!) and let me tell you, that didn't work for me. I only put up with shit from JAK, because she can do no wrong, amen and amen. 

The heroine starts off in 2010 all "I'm a modern woman with a college edumacation, kiss my ass you cavemen assholes, hear me rawr!" And the moment she goes back in time and sees the hero she transforms into a raging idiot heroine that was perhaps de rigueur circa 1970's and 80's, but it just made me roll my eyes and rant on twitter. But it was late night and no one was listening. *sad sigh*

All my bitching and issues aside, the hero, Jesse was a hottie with disappointments in his past and he was definitely a good guy that any girl would love. He really wasn't much of a true dominating, chest beating male of the 70's (or as the author says they were). He seemed pretty standard hero material though much less of an asshole than most HQ Presents heroes tend to be. The heroine......and I can't be bothered to look up her name right now, was ok. She was annoying in a lot of ways but as we got past the fluttering and stupidness and the "I'm a modern woman and one day you'll have to treat women like people instead of.....(not sure what they were treated like back then)" antics, she had her good qualities. You can tell that these two are star crossed lovers that find comfort and home in each other. There was plenty of obviousness in this one, but it wasn't marred by the usual 'asshole hero stomps all over virgin heroine who then forgives him too easily because either pregnancy killed her brain cells or he said the magical words "I love you" which we all know makes EVERYTHING better' trope which was refreshing. The end was sweet, but left me thinking too much. Like, how could they explain that to the authorities? And, how would they adjust to this?

In conclusion, it wasn't the worst, but it certainly wasn't the best HQ I've ever read and it wasn't all that memorable (see lack of heroine's name in review).

Next up is Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews. I know I talked about this one briefly before as a good example of a short story, but I didn't really give it a review and it's definitely one I read when I want a lil comfort and a guaranteed short, good read.


Old hatreds die hard. Old love dies harder.
On Meli Galdes' home planet, the struggle for power is a bloody, full-contact sport-in business and on the battlefield. For years her lethal skills have been a valuable asset in advancing her family's interests. She's more than earned her right to retire, but her kinsmen have one last favor to ask.
Kill the man who ruined her life.
Celino Carvanna's razor-sharp business acumen-and skills with a blade-won him the freedom to do as he pleases. There's only one thing he can't seem to control-his reaction to the mysterious woman who tantalizes his senses. Her eyes alone set his blood simmering, stirring ridiculous adolescent fantasies about breasts and honey. With a few words she dissects his soul. Who is she? And how does she slide so easily under his well-guarded skin?
It's almost too easy to draw Celino within the kill zone. Meli plans to revel in him. Drink him in. Wring every drop of pleasure out of every moment.
And when she's sure he belongs to her, she will finally repay a decade's worth of pain-in a single, brutal dose of reality.
Warning: Contains a heroine who excels in moving targets, a hero who can't get into her pants fast enough, and implant-enhanced sex (no, not that kind of implant-).

I love this story. Ilona herself described this one as kind of a Harlequin Presents, mafia families, futuristic sci-fi romance (I'm paraphrasing), and it totally works. There's the dramatic plot of the alpha asshole (only way hotter than most asshole alpha heroes, Ilona's great at that) hero and the wronged heroine who's out to make him pay. Except she doesn't half ass it and give up merely because he says, "Sorry, and oh yeah, I love you." Plus you get the futuristic sci-fi aspects with technology that flows seemlessly into this lush world of good food and fine wine (seriously, I wanted a cookbook of what she made in this story), beautiful flowers and passionate people on a new planet that has been colonized and made into a thriving society that feels like a mix of old and new. 

Meli is a great character. She's tough, but you can totally tell that she feels deeply and passionately, she knows it and owns it, she just doesn't let it get in her way. She's earthy and smart. She's both an enigma and yet very real and honest. You believe her lies because they're layered with the truth. She's as much or more dangerous than our hero, Celino and by the end, everyone knows it.
Celino, the hero, is no one to sneeze at. He's rich and powerful and he's also dangerous and deadly in his own right. He's intelligent, ruthless and arrogant. He's very hot, but honestly, I don't think anyone but Meli could handle him. She's definitely his equal. 

Their history and present circumstances are believably constructed and their passionate relationship is wonderful to read.
All this is handled in the context of a short story. The amazing thing is, even though I could easily have read a full novel filled with these characters and set in this world, I never felt like I was shortchanged or cheated out of anything in this story. The plot is there, the romance is there, the character development is there and it's all done in a way that feels effortless. 

My final grade for Blackwolf's Redemption would be a C+
Final grade for Silent Blade would be an A

Well, thanks for playing along with my sick induced ramblings, and happy reading!



Amanda P. said...

Well I must thank you for your review of Silent Blade I have read the Magic Series by Ilona and The first in her other series. However, I was a little iffy on whether or not I wanted to try this one. I will definetly be trying it and I'm sure I will love it like all her others. Harlequins can be a good quick read and there is a variety for whatever mood you may be in.

The Queen B said...

I'm glad you want to give Silent Blade a try. I do highly recommend it.
Yes, the beauty of HQs, there's almost always something for everybody. They're an addiction ;)

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