A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

ColeAHungerLikeNoOtherWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: Robert Petkoff

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (2011)

Length: 11 hours 33 minutes

Series: Book 2 Immortals After Dark

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone novel. I heard from other readers who have enjoyed the series that this was the first book published and later a prequel, which became Book 1, was published.

Emmaline Troy, a half-vampire, half-Valkyrie, is out on her own for the first time in Paris seeking answers about her dead parents. Werewolf Lachlain MacRieve, recently broken free from his captivity, hunts his mate. While their initial meeting will be tumultuous, they will have to join forces to face down a mighty foe – the leaders of the vampire horde.

This isn’t my typical read but I have been trying to expand my book horizons a bit. However, this wasn’t the book for me. I never became particularly attached to the characters and I found several aspects boring to distasteful.

Lachlain is an immortal, which means he can heal from nearly anything. The vampires have been torturing him for 150 years by having him chained over a fire, letting him cook to death, regenerate, and cook again. Lachlain senses his mate above him on the streets of Paris and that gives him the strength to finally break free. When he finally tracks down Emmaline, he’s still a bit crazed with disgust for all vampires and remembered pain from the fires. And that’s when things get a bit a rapey. Consent is sexy. Forced hand jobs are not. Obviously, I found it hard to see Lachlain as the hero after that. And it’s not just one instance of non-consensual sexual acts; there’s at least 4. Even if you can understand where Lachlain is coming from (his recent years of torture and deep hatred for vampires), it doesn’t make his actions excusable.

To be clear, there are several consensual acts in the book. In fact there is even one that is rather rough but both parties are enjoying it and clearly wanting to continue it. That made it steamy hot. Plus there was lighting in a moonlit forest, so that was an awesome image. However, these events occur between a kidnapped sexual assault victim (Emmaline) and the man who committed those acts (Lachlain), so I still found it hard to wish a Happily Ever After ending for them.

Emmaline’s character was nearly as disappointing. She never really sets boundaries for Lachlain. Most of her time is spent being beautiful and gentle. That’s her role in this story and I found that rather boring. She does eventually have a few moments of small glory, but because her character has been devoid of such characteristics, they felt out of place and rather forced. Emmaline, like all women with Valkyrie blood, has an acquisitive nature, which boils down to the fact that her interest can be bought with material wealth. Sigh…. Let’s not forget that Emmaline is only 70 years old, which is just out of childhood in the immortal world. Meanwhile, Lachlain is at least 900 years old. Emmaline is a virgin, never even having kissed a man. Meanwhile, Lachlain has plenty of experience under his belt. Sigh….

The plot is OK, though rather predictable. Lachlain, king of the Lykae clan, wants two things: Emmaline as his mate and revenge upon the vampires. Lachlain’s immediate friends and family accept his return really easily, which struck me as odd but the story marched on without giving it more than a squint and a blink. Emmaline plans to find out more about her parents. Her Valkyrie aunts want Emmaline back, as well as their long lost Valkyrie queen. In step the  evil vampires who want domination over all immortals. Through it all, Lachlain and Emmaline will have to find love for one another and a way to hold on to it. It was pretty easy to guess who Emmaline’s father was once we had all the characters introduced. Also, the Beauty and the Beast theme wasn’t subtle about wending it’s way through the plot.

Some of the side characters were fun, but most were exaggerated in some way or other. They were mostly there to provide drama and comedy. Regan made me chuckle a few times with her blunt remarks about other people’s sex lives. Nix was fun because she’s obviously working on a different plane where the future is open to her but the immediate present may escape her notice. Kat, who came into the story late, was interesting because she was so straight forward about everything, lacking emotions. Gareth, Lachlain’s brother, doesn’t make a showing until late in the book and then he ends up standing side by side with a vampire named Wroth.

All in all, it was a rather disappointing story. I was turned off early on and the story never really recovered because Lachlain doesn’t learn quickly or thoroughly. The story piled on themes that bored me because it made the outcome predictable.

Narration: Robert Petkoff did a fine job with this book. I’m not a good judge for accuracy when it comes to Scottish accents, but I can say Petkoff was consistent and had a variety of sexy voices for the Scottish werewolves. His female voices were very good, being pretty darn believable. There were a handful of other accents he performed as well, like Louisiana southern accent for Emmaline and a general European accent for Wroth.

What I Liked: Regan’s blunt wit; some of Nix’s silly remarks; one hot sexy scene in the woods; the narration.

What I Disliked: Lachlain’s forced sex acts; Emmaline’s character; Valkyrie interest can be bought with expensive shiny objects; very predictable story.

What Others Think:

Dear Author

Vampire Book Club

 

Dreams of a Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole

ColeDreamsOfDarkWarriorWhy I Read It: Valkyries, Berserkers, & vampires – how could I turn that down?

Where I Got It: Review copy via the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: If you enjoy the possessive streak in your lover, you might be OK with this.

Narrator: Robert Petkoff

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2014)

Length: 14 hours 53 minutes

Series: Book 11 Immortals After Dark

Author’s Page

Note: This book works fine as a stand alone even though it is Book 11 in the series.

The book started with a young Valkyrie, Regin the Radiant, beating up some viking Berserkers.  That was pretty amusing and I was enjoying the give and take (both verbal and with blades). The lead Berserker, Aidan, recognizes she is an Immortal, but a rather young one who is still frail and can be injured. He take her under his wing and then proclaims that she will be his wife once she is full grown. In the meantime, she is to wait out her days at his mom’s house while he fights 200 battles in Odin’s name to earn the right to immortality himself. Regin, while young, isn’t really down with that.

So, 9 years later, they meet up again. She’s full immortal, totally able to take care of herself, and busy kicking vampire ass in the Dark Ages of northern Europe. Aidan hasn’t been victorious in 200 battles yet, but he is racking up the points. Regin has to admit that she is plenty curious about coupling in general and in specific, coupling with Aidan. Aidan is all good with this since he claimed Regin for his bride 9 years ago and hasn’t changed his mind on that one bit. In fact, his possessiveness towards Regin came on really strong.

Too strong.

And I had to start this book twice because the main masculine love interest was creeping me out in a rapey sort of way. His possessiveness leaves no room for Regin’s say in the matter and she’s a big part of the equation. This possessive streak is a main theme throughout the book, even with Aidan reincarnated into the modern covert ops soldier we come to know as Declan Chase. I want to believe that the author was setting us up early with a character flaw that Aidan/Declan has to overcome in order to be triumphant, but it didn’t work for me.

First, let me tell you about the characters, the plot, the action, the sex. Then I will come back to this creepy possessive trait. Regin is a lot of fun, always ready with the quip, and a blade if necessary. She starts off strong with plenty of punches, claw marks, and tossing of men twice her size. While she keeps a lot of her spunk throughout the book, she diminishes in her ability to fight and I think this was done to show how strong Aidan/Declan the Berserker is. Declan himself is a troubled man. Unknown to him, his violent dreams are memories of his past lives and past fights and past deaths. He gets lost in it all as a teen and takes up drugs. But then one night a horrible fate falls upon his family and himself, from which he barely survives. And that is where he takes up with this super secret underground military-like organization that hunts down, captures, interrogates, experiments on, and kills any and all immortals. I really enjoyed Declan’s backstory and got into his character, mostly.

The book is fast-paced with plenty of interesting side characters. My favorite was Nix, a Valkyrie gifted with foresight. But that gift also makes her a little crazy. She has a pet bat named Bertie. Then there are several characters we meet in the immortal prison such as the good farm boy Thad, a wicked ancient vampire, a London faerie, and more. They were all enjoyable. Several of the sex scenes were very hot and involved full consent. The partners were into each other and giving and taking equally.

But then we have the love story between Declan and Regin. Declan has a violent streak. At first, he just sees Regin as another immortal, like all the other immortals he has hunted, captured, tortured, and killed. So his initial violence towards Regin didn’t bother me. It was part of the story. And Regin is faced with this horrible decision to either awaken his memories of his past and trigger the curse that has killed each of his reincarnations upon full memory retrieval, or ride it out, try to escape, and hopefully never run into Declan again.

This is my biggest issue with the book. Aidan/Declan has a big possessive streak that goes way beyond being tolerable. It’s not sexy. There are multiple times in this book where Regin flat out refuses sexual contact and Aidan/Declan presses on anyway, once with full penetration. Now Regin does get around to enjoying herself and whatever sexual act is forced upon her, but there is this whole initial lack of consent. Folks, full consent is sexy. Aidan/Declan can declare all he wants how wonderful Regin is, how he will always protect her and cherish her, but the forced sex really negates all that sexy male protectiveness.

So, for me, while this book had a lot going for it, but the overly possessive nature of the main male love interest killed this book for me.

The Narration: Robert Petkoff did an excellent job. He had a variety of accents to pull off as well as male and female voices. He didn’t hesitate with the sex scenes either. In fact, he may very well have orgasmed once or twice while narrating the steamiest scenes. His male and female voices were distinct. Oh, and there was this one character, La Dorada, for which he had to pull off this awful creepy witch sound – he raised the hairs on the back of my neck!

What I Liked: Plenty of action; lots of fight scenes; Regin is full of flippant remarks; Nix and Bertie the bat; some of the sex scenes were quite good; lots of supernatural beings shoved into close contact and forced to play nice.

What I Disliked: Some of the sex scenes initially start out with forced sexual contact; Aidan/Declan’s super possessive nature really wore on me; I never fully grasped the title for the book and how it relates to the story.

What Others Think:

Love Vampires

All About Romance

Fiction Vixen

Lilith’s Paranormal Romance Blog

I’m Lovin’ Books

A Bookworm’s Haven

Interview: Aaron Paul Lazar, Author of the LeGarde Mysteries

LazarTheLiarsGalleryFolks, please welcome Aaron Paul Lazar, author of the Gus LeGarde mystery series, to the blog today. We chat about side characters, surviving a desert island misadventure, the influence of family, and more. Sit back and enjoy!

Who are your non-writer influences?

Hi, Susan. Thanks for having me here today. When I read through your questions in advance, I was thrilled to see they are not your usual collection of “where do you get your ideas?” or “how do you find time to write?” Thank you in advance for making this a unique and interesting interview!

Re. your first question about non-writer influences on my writing…I would say my family is probably the number one influence in everything I do, including the characters I create and the struggles they must get through. In the beginning, when I was a young man poring through all the books in my parents’ collection, they were exclusively mysteries, which definitely nudged me into my primary genre.

Now, later in life, my wife Dale and I have had a wonderful, but challenging life as a couple (33 years!), with frequent bumps in the road due to health issues and more. Getting our three daughters through the teenage years was harrowing, and it’s when my silver hair started to sprout at my temples. But now they’re grown and having families of their own, so the joys and problems have shifted. Many of our life experiences filter into the books, including some of the funny stories created by my beloved grandchildren. There was one hilarious story about my two-and-a-half-year-old Grandson that inadvertently made it into two of my series. He must have been a chef in his past life, because he started to make a twelve-egg omelet and a pot of soup in our kitchen while everyone slept at 5:00 AM! (I’ll tell you about that if you ask, LOL!)

I’m also, I must admit, influenced by the world around me in the form of friends and media. When a friend’s wife contracted a mysterious heart virus and she almost died, I couldn’t help but imagine how he felt, and of course, I’d put twists on the scenario in my constantly whirring imagination. Or when my boss’s daughter died of cancer, I couldn’t help but empathize with his pain. When I hear about horrible events on the news, after suitable sighs of dismay, my mind tucks away the possibilities of turning it this way or that, and what if… So in truth, there is nothing that happens in my world that doesn’t present possible ideas for the next book in the works. ;o)

LazarDevil'sLakeIn writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?

In general, I haven’t progressed to the lofty ideals of turning my bad guys into good guys at the end of a story. Most of my character arcs occur with the “regulars” in my series who can be seen in each book. There are featured characters that come and go, and the villains usually just have one appearance in one book of the series.

But I do see the evil character redeeming himself more and more in literature and in the movies, and I’m in awe of people who do it well like S.W. Vaughn in her House Phoenix series (the Jenner character) or like the Korean man (I think his name was Jinn-Soo Kwon) in Lost who turns from a mafia type killer to a helpful, loving man.

My bad guys are admittedly evil, nasty creeps and I want my readers to stand up and cheer when I dispatch them, like I always do. In my most recent book release, DEVIL’S LAKE, I created a monstrous guy who kidnaps and hurts young women. I hate him. Oh, do I hate him. And it felt SO good to deliver a nice chunk of “payback” to him. I was cheering myself at that point. LOL.

LazarLadyBluesAs a published author, what non-writing/reading activities would you recommend to aspiring authors?

I often get asked questions by fellow writers about how to deal with writer’s block, and my answer for that is similar to my answer to this question about what non writing/reading activities can help an aspiring author. I tell them to go out and simply live their lives, but with their eyes wide open. Go hiking in the woods. Grow a lush garden and revel in the tastes and fragrances it produces. Wander through a small town festival. Observe details, including all the sounds and sensations in the environs. Try to enjoy (instead of dread) a trip to the grocery store where a multitude of character types and conversations wait patiently for you to take notice. LISTEN to these voices so your own dialog can sound authentic.

Living life is how we absorb the sensual beauty of the world around us as well as collecting new characters and situations for books to come. It’s all about watching and listening to everything with awe and wonder, paying attention to the details, tucking these observations away for later, and letting them come back out in your next book.

How did you celebrate that first time experience of having a piece accepted for publication?

Oh, gosh, Susan. You’d think I would remember. It was in 2004 when I first received a contract for Double Forté. I remember being exhilarated, feeling almost like a “real” writer, and telling my wife, who was quite calm about it. She’s still very blasé about my writing, which does take time away from our life together. But when The Seacrest paid for our vacation this summer, she smiled. So I’m making progress. I especially remember, however, when the first print copies of Double Forté arrived on my doorstep and I opened the box. Now, that was a thrill!

The Desert Island Collection: what books make it into your trunk and why?

I’m going to include audio books in this collection, and I will make sure to bring plenty of batteries or chargers so I can listen, because some of my favorite books in recent years have been in audio format:

All of the Alan Bradley books featuring Flavia DeLuce. (six in the series so far)
All of John D. MacDonald’s books, hardcover or audio by Robert Petkoff.
All of Dick Francis’s novels, particularly those read by Simon Prebble.
A selection of titles by these authors, who I just love: Polly Iyer, Ellis Vidler, Michael Prescott, Laurie R. King, Jenny Milchman, Joan Hall Hovey, and so many more!

LazarSpiritMeAwayWhat is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Okay, don’t spread this around, but there is one really funny argument my wife and I always have. She’ll wake up and find me already working on a book at the crack of dawn. After our good mornings to each other, sometimes she rolls her eyes and says, “What else did I expect.” She shakes her head and goes for her coffee, mumbling, “Aaron and his computer.” I always rise to the bait. I say, “It’s not me and my computer! This is just a tool. It’s me and my WRITING.” But it never fails. It’s like she thinks I am having an affair or obsessed with a electro-mechanical gizmo every time. I admit. I am obsessed with my parallel universes and there’s no question about that.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

One of my new favorite authors is Polly Iyer. She writes great books and her characters just jump off the page. In a recent book, Hooked, I fell in love with many of the minor characters. Hooked is a slick, sassy, sexy thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. I fell in love with the characters, who in spite of their failings were incredibly memorable and unique. Not for those seeking pure and wholesome stories, this examines the seedy underbelly of the call girl world in New York City, but it isn’t what you might expect. This book was full of humor, intrigue, and romance, but who would expect to take a liking to a whorehouse owner? I did! I loved Polly’s character, Benny, and recommend the story to thriller lovers everywhere.

In my recent work, it seems folks have fallen in love with octogenarian Kip Sterling, the gentlemen featured in Lady Blues: forget-me-not, who has lost his memory, but with the help of a new Alzheimer’s drug, is beginning to remember things about his life. Most important, he’s remembering the long, lost love of his life, Arabella DuBois, a black nightclub singer he had a torrid affair with in 1946. Gus LeGarde tries to help him find out if she’s alive, and if she is, if she still remembers Kip.

AuthorAaronPaulLazarFinally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I’d love to share two new books I just released last week – here are the details.

Devil’s Lake – Synopsis
After two years of brutal captivity, Portia Lamont has escaped and returned to her family’s Vermont horse farm—only to find her parents gone to New York attempting an experimental treatment for her mother’s cancer, and her childhood friend Boone Hawke running the place. The man Boone has become frightens her to near paralysis, but she’s too traumatized and physically devastated to keep going.

Like the rest of her family, Boone has never given up hope that Portia would return. But when she turns up battered, skeleton-thin, afraid of everything and unable to talk about where she’s been, he does the only thing he can—try to help her heal. He summons the town doctor and Portia’s parents, and sets out to put this beautiful, broken woman back together.

Through her family’s love and Boone’s undemanding affection, Portia gradually begins to come back to herself, and to fall for her old friend in a whole new way. But a dark stain threatens her fragile hopes for recovery: The man who took her promised that if she ever escaped, he’d kill her. Slowly. And someone is definitely watching her… waiting to make a deadly move.

The Liar’s Gallery: a Gus LeGarde Mystery
The last place Gus LeGarde expects to find his old friend Byron Cunningham is in a plane that crashes in a field near his farmhouse. But that’s just the first surprise in a series of shocking events beginning with the discovery of a Monet painting crammed into the plane’s fuselage. Is it real? Or fake? The trail leads Gus into a twisting trio of dangerous art world conspiracies.

Gus fends off some very pushy collectors and soon realizes he may have crossed paths with treacherous criminals, putting his family at risk. As if that isn’t enough, he must also contend with a problem that’s close to his heart: his daughter, Shelby, is growing up too fast. She’s determined to sing professionally and is now under the spell of a wolf in tenor’s clothing, handsome Greek student, Dmitri. When she vanishes with the family car, her frantic parents desperately chase the fading trail.

A slew of Facebook messages on Shelby’s computer lead them to The Eastman School of Music, where both Shelby’s new flame and Gus’s old friend have been hiding secrets linked to the art scandal. There’s a real Monet out there somewhere, and nothing—including murder—will stop the desperate man who wants it.

All of my books can be found at www.lazarbooks.com, and I love to hear from readers and writers who want to connect with me.

Thank you, Susan, for having me here today. It was a pleasure being here and I wish you and your fans/friends well – happy reading and writing!

Places to Stalk Aaron Paul Lazar

A little more about Lazar & his books!

 
Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. An award-winning, bestselling Kindle author of three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming releases, SANCTUARY(2014) and MURDER ON THE SACANDAGA(2014).
AWARDS:
The Seacrest
  • 2014 Best Beach Book Festival WINNER, Romance category
  • 2013 ForeWord Book Awards, Romance, FINALIST
Double Forté
  • 2012 ForeWord BOTYA, Mystery, FINALIST
Tremolo: cry of the loon
  • 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Grand Prize Short List
  • 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Awards: Honorable Mention, Eric Hoffer Legacy Fiction
  • 2011 Global eBook Award Finalist in Historical Fiction Contemporary
  • 2011 Preditors & Editors Readers Choice Award – 2nd place Mystery
  • 2008 Yolanda Renée’s Top Ten Books
  • 2008 MYSHELF Top Ten Reads
For the Birds
  • 2011 ForeWord Book Awards, FINALIST in Mystery
  • 2012 Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Top 10 Reads
Essentially Yours
  • 2013 EPIC Book Awards, FINALIST in Suspense
  • 2013 Eric Hoffer Da Vinci Eye Award Finalist
Healey’s Cave
  • 2012 EPIC Book Awards WINNER Best Paranormal
  • 2011 Eric Hoffer Book Award, WINNER Best Book in Commercial Fiction
  • 2011 Finalist for Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice
  • 2011 Winner of Carolyn Howard Johnson’s 9th Annual Noble (not Nobel!) Prize for Literature
  • 2011 Finalists for Global EBook Awards
 Terror Comes Knocking
  • 2013 Global Ebook Awards, Paranormal – Bronze
For Keeps
  • 2013 Semi Finalist in Kindle Book Review Book Awards, Mystery Category