Master by Colette Gale

Master I immensely enjoyed Colette Gale’s debut novel, an erotic retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, so when I heard that she was coming out with another book, I was excited. I was even more enthralled when I read that she was offering a free copy in exchange for a review of the book on blog or website. Hey, I can go for that! πŸ˜‰

Gale’s sophomore release is a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo. Now, I’m at a slight disadvantage since I haven’t actually read the original novel. Does watching the movie count? ^_^ Thus, I can’t comment on any differences between the original book and hers; though, I can say the ending is quite the pleasant surprise πŸ˜‰

The basic premise of TCoMC is that a young sailor brought to good fortune is betrayed and falsely convicted of treason. He spends years locked away in prison until he finally manages to escape. He spends the next ten years planning his revenge against the people who wronged him, including his fiancee Mercedes. The actual body of the story is about the implementation of his revenge–or in this case, also a detailed account of various characters’ sexual exploits.

I found Master a hot and intriguing read, with plenty of imaginative, steamy sex. (Though nothing quite tops the harp scene in Unmasqued!) The prose has a lyrical flow, and the characters come alive in the erotic tapestry Gale weaves. I love the way she personifies Mercedes and Haydee in ways that weren’t shown in the movie, or, I trust, the original story.

The one thing I would note for readers about the story is that the sex is very edgy; in some cases, consent is dubious. It’s most certainly erotica. If you don’t like historical-based stories with lots of extreme sex, this book probably isn’t for you. If you do like it, on the other hand… read and enjoy. πŸ˜‰

Whee!

It’s been a hectic weekend. First off, it’s looking like we need to replace our car sooner than we’d anticipated, so my plans to go to RWA Nationals this year are more than a bit moot, unless Morgan should manage to get a significantly better job in the next couple months (given his recent health, not very likely). Needless to say, I’m pretty bummed about that. πŸ™

We went to Boskone, a local science fiction and fantasy convention, with a couple friends. Unfortunately, due to a fubar on Boston’s part (parts of the subway line we needed to take were shut down for this weekend only), we didn’t get to the con until 4pm on Saturday, so I missed quite a bit of the panels I’d wanted to see. Still a lot of fun, though, and I got to meet up with some people I hadn’t seen in a year or more.

I might be going to Lunacon next month. Smudge and Pen are going and offered to split a room with me and the male. Morgan has had to take a lot of time off work, so he wouldn’t be able to, but Pen lives close enough that we can probably carpool. It’d be a lot of fun–and hey, it’s in New York, which is one place I haven’t been to yet. Not that I’d do much besides hang around folks at the con, but still!

In other news, I’ve received a few awesome reviews these past couple days. Cocktail Reviews, a new review blog, gave The Twilight Deception five champagne flutes (their second highest rating!) and Wasting the Dawn four flutes. A couple quotes:

“What an utterly fantastic read. I havenÒ€ℒt read a book that has affected me in this way for a while.” — Wilga Hill Boomerang on Twilight.

“Ms. Drake has an exceptional voice and a unique Γ’β‚¬ΛœthingÒ€ℒ that just shines from the page.” — White Russian on Wasting.

Annnnnnnnnnnnd…

About a month or so ago, I sent a query to Mrs. Giggles for The Twilight Deception. I happened to check the website today, not so much because I wanted to check, but because I love her site… and she’d posted the review.

She rated it an 83.

For Mrs. Giggles, this is high praise, indeed. I’m still bouncing off the walls. A long-ish quote: “Elisabeth Drake has an interesting alternate world in this story. Vampires and witches are nothing new, but the otherworldly vampires here are not the usual vampires and their ability to pass themselves off as humans even in broad daylight allows some interesting possibilities. The author also knows how to tell a story in an entertaining manner – this short story has excellent build-up and ends most satisfactorily despite the book being only 75 pages long. I don’t feel that the story is rushed to a conclusion.”

I’d hoped she would like it, but… this is Mrs. Giggles. She is known for char-broiling manuscripts. While I’ve had several picky people crit/beta read my work, much less editors, I’m not going to assume that someone won’t think it’s crap anyway. ^_^

So, yeah, bouncing off walls. Whee!

Haunted by Lisa Childs

haunted.gifI think I need a new rule. I should not be allowed to read before going to sleep… or at least I shouldn’t be allowed to read Nocturne novels before then, ’cause they seem to have a 50% track record of pissing me the fuck off.

Lisa Childs’s Haunted has an interesting (albeit overdone) premise. There are three sisters, separated as children, who have different psychic gifts. The heroine of this book, Ariel, can see–and sometimes communicate with–ghosts. It’s both a gift and a curse (and is repeated ad nauseaum throughout the book.)

Oh yeah… and someone wants her and her sisters dead.

Ariel is involved with David, your average romance novel rich guy. Near the beginning of the book, he proposes to her, but she isn’t sure about it. See, she thinks that nobody can love her because of her “curse.” Or is it a gift? And she doesn’t trust David enough to confide in him. (Later on, she believes he might be the killer.)

Honestly, for a “romance” novel, there was little to no “romance” in this. Ariel is at least a two-dimensional character. David doesn’t even make it to that. There’s nothing more than hints about his past until the last fifty or so pages of the book, and he doesn’t show that he loves Ariel. Sure, he says it all the fucking time… like that’s supposed to mean something.

The characterisation in this book feels very wooden. For a book that’s supposed to be based around emotions, that’s not a good thing. I could sympathise with Ariel and her search to find her sisters, but it felt like David was more of an afterthought than anything else. This book would’ve been a heck of a lot better had David been left out entirely and it published as a paranormal “chick lit” (or women’s fiction, or whatever they’re calling it nowadays) novel. Yes, one of the major issues in the novel is Ariel learning to trust someone besides herself… but really, that does not equal romance, and that’s about all David and Ariel getting married boiled down to.

That and the constantly-shifting POV drove me bonkers. You know how people say that if you avoid head-hopping and stick to one POV per scene, you’re good? This book proves that ain’t true. It starts out with a brief scene several hundred years earlier, then pops forward to when Ariel was a kid, then hops to Ariel present, then to another person, and another, and…..

You get my point.

Except, David doesn’t have any POV scenes. But, of course, if you want the reader to suspect him of being the killer, then we can’t show inside his head, right!? Uhh, no. Skipping POV altogether is taking the easy way out.

This is one of those books that tries to be too many things. It tries to be a paranormal. It tries to be a suspense. It tries to be a romance. For me, it succeeded at none.

At this point, I’m debating whether or not to keep buying the Nocturne line. Might for awhile longer, but two wall-bangers in the first few months … doesn’t bode well.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

From the Dark by Michele Hauf

fromthedark.gif“Plain” Jane Rénan is a glass smith hired to design a stained glass window for an important client. Except she isn’t alone. Michael Lyndsay, lead vocalist of rock band The Fallen, is also staying there while on “break” due to his obsessive blood cravings. (Yes, you guessed it, he’s a vamp.)
Needless to say, one thing leads to another… πŸ˜‰

I have to say, I liked From the Dark. Most vampire romances these days are fairly standard. Anne Rice rip-off hero who haaaaaaaates himself falls in love with a woman who freaks out that he’s–oh noes!–a vampire. Frankly, I can’t stand that shit.

Jane doesn’t care that Michael’s a vampire. After all, her father’s one. Her biggest concern lies with her own blood. While her dad’s a vamp, her mum’s a witch, and witches’ blood is fatal to vampires. Think like stakes ‘n dusting in Buffy, and you’re not far off. Thing is, Jane she doesn’t know for sure that her blood possesses that quality; she’s never had a chance or reason to “test” that theory.

Let’s just say there’s quite a bit of conflict between Michael and Jane based upon her possibly toxicity and his bloodlust.

Overall, this is a very hot, intense book. The reactions of both the H/h aren’t what I normally expect, which was refreshing. My biggest issue is that some of the scenes felt… “over the top” and almost satirical as a result. It didn’t feel entirely “natural,” at least not to me.

That all being said, I’m looking forward to the next installment of Ms. Hauf’s “Bewitch the Dark” series. πŸ™‚

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Eternally by Maureen Child

eternally.gifI picked up Eternally despite my misgivings about the plot centering around a psychic bond (I have… issues with them, but I will go into that at a later date). A couple people I know had said they really liked the book, so what the hell?

Lord. and. Lady. on. a. fucking. pogo. stick.

The premise is interesting enough. Kieran McIntyre is a Guardian; the full details of such is not explained within the book, but, basically, he’s an immortal demon-hunter. Hot on a demon’s trail, he crashes a party at Julie Carpenter’s apartment. He warns her of imminent danger, but she writes him off as a crazy man and doesn’t believe him.

The next morning, she wakes up to find one roommate dead and the other in critical condition.

Like I said, interesting enough premise. By this point, I wanted to find out what happened next. πŸ™‚

Unfortunately, the story only went downhill from there. It turns out that there’s a legend of “Destined Mates” for the Guardians… and Kieran feels that Julie is his. Oh, and he can telepathically communicate with her–and apparently, only a Mate could hear his projected telepathic thoughts.

Kieran’s not happy with the idea of having a Mate. After all, he’s done well enough for ages without one. But the more he thinks about it, the more it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. After all, if he has sex with Julie, thereby realising the bond, they will be both be able to telepathically communicate with each other. And the bond that they have will allow him to telepathically connect to the demons to better track them.

… Yeah. You heard me right. A bond between the hero and the heroine will allow him to connect to the demons just by virtue of them having it. Even though neither of them have no connection with said demon!

Logic? What the fuck do we need that for?

I have to say, this is probably my hugest beef with paranormal romances. The authors don’t bother to make the worldbuilding make any damn sense! (If they have worldbuilding at all. I’ve seen books where the author stuck a pair of fangs on Ye Olde Harlequin Alpha and called him a vampire… but that’s another tangent.)

Right, so now Kieran’s still opposed to the idea… but if he has sex with her, he gets all these powers to help fight the Evil Demons! Yes, that’s his primary motivation for pursuing the bond at all instead of sticking his head in the sand like a demented ostrich.

At this point, the book nearly hit the wall. But I kept reading, even though the supposed “hero” seems to be nothing more than your average arrogant asshole.

Add to that, he constantly refers to Julie as “woman.” Like, constantly. You know how in some books, the characters always refer to each other by name in dialogue (even though I don’t know anyone who talks like that in real life)? Yeah. Think that kind of frequency, only “Woman,” this. “Woman” that.

I mean, really. What would you say to a guy who said shit like, “Woman, you try my patience”? ALL. THE. FUCKING. TIME.

(Me? The dude would be having a date with my fist. In the sensitive regions. But I’m a bitch. :twisted:)

But I was hormonal, tired, doped on way too much pain medication, and figured I’d keep trying anyway. Kinda like when you’re having sex, you know it isn’t working, isn’t likely to, and you should just give up and try later… but you’re stubborn and keep at it anyway. Yeah, that.

Cut about a hundred pages in which Kieran convinces Julie to come to his place for his protection, various incidents of mindless lust occur, Julie decides she’s not “safe” at his place and escapes (usually this falls into TSTL territory, but I can’t blame her; I’d have done the same thing), etcetera.

And then we get to the Big Fight. You know the one, about 3/4 of the way through most any romance novel.

In which Kieran tells Julie they’re Mates and that the only reason he wants her is so he can increase his power for the hunt.

Um. WTF?

I think it was supposed to be a confession, fight, and makeup scene, but I must, er, confess that I didn’t get that far. If the hero at this point is telling the heroine that all he wants is to fucking use her, then he’s not a hero. He’s just a fucking asshole.

I could not believe that Kieran loved Julie or wanted anything to do with her except use her. And, frankly, I don’t enjoy case studies of domestic abuse.

The book went flying.

The sad thing is, this could have been a really good story. The heroine is sassy and sensible, and there’s certainly enough conflict. Problem was the hero. If he actually had a heart, or had been portrayed in a more three dimensional fashion, this could’ve been awesome. Except the hero wasn’t much better than some villains I’ve read. That doesn’t make for a romance, sorry.

I want my $5.25 and three hours back.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

(This is an example of the “long” review. ;))

OMG! *squee*

I’d sent Waking the Shadows off to Literary Sass about a month back; they’re an especially harsh review blog. They’re veryh onest, though, and some of the things they’ve complained about, I can see and understand their reasons why. I didn’t expect I’d get totally shredded like some of the books they’ve reviewed, but …

They rated it a 1. Both reviewers.

Cue jaw dropping.

http://literarysass.blogspot.com/2006/07/shadows-and-shit.html

and

http://literarysass.blogspot.com/2006/07/staying-awake-with-elisabeth-drake.html

I’m also apparently the first author to make it into their “People who subbed their shit and made us love it” category. 😯

OK, someone needs to help scrape me off the ceiling now! LOL

Reviews and other good news

Waking the Shadows received a 3 cups review at Coffeetime Romance and a 4.5 stars review at Euro-Romance. I’m quite pleased, especially with the one from ER. Good thing I’m working on the presequel, huh? πŸ˜‰

In other news, I mentioned about a month and a half back that I’d entered Resurrection into Liquid Silver’s Satisfy Our Naughtier Side contest. It didn’t win, but I just heard back from Rachel Fox, the main editor. They rejected it, because they felt the heroine resurrecting the Dragonlord trodded too close to necrophilia, especially as a major plot element.

But … they said if I was willing to change this, they’d be happy to look at it again. πŸ™‚

So I wrote her back and asked if they’d want to see just the edited partial or the full edited manuscript. Now, just to wait and see … *crosses fingers*