Jewel of Atlantis – Gena Showalter

Jewel of Atlantis by Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Form: Book
Series: Atlantis Series

All Atlantis seeks the Jewel of Dunamis, which legend claims can overcome any enemy. Grayson James, human agent of the ultrasecret Otherworld Bureau of Investigation, has orders to keep it from the wrong hands – or destroy it. What he doesn’t know is that Jewel is a women, not a stone! But once he meets this precious gem, destroying her is the last thing on his mind…

Jewel, part goddess, part prophet, needs Gray’s help to win her freedom. Gray needs her wisdom to navigate monster-ridden Atlantis. But need blossoms into passionate love as they battle demons, dragons and vampires – and fight for a future that seems impossible…

source: back of book

I am a much happier camper now! Jewel of Atlantis, for me, was much better than Heart of the Dragon. The story as a whole moved at a good pace. There was no rushed battle scene (in fact, there were many action filled battles scenes in this book), and the ending was not rushed to an abrupt stop either. I loved Gray and Jewel’s first meeting, inside Gray’s head – it helped to build the intensity of the relationship having him so attracted merely by her voice. The story as a whole was much better built in my opinion. The danger that wraps around Jewel seems real and the story as a whole really gives you a good glimpse of the world of Atlantis that Heart of the Dragon did not allow you.

Some of my favorite parts include Jewel and Gray’s day at the market, and Jewel’s joy of shopping, followed by Gray pretending to be a God. It really just made for the perfect day, and the only few hours of relaxation the two get to share until closer to the end of the book. But my absolute favorite part was Gray himself. The handsome hunk of a man who unwillingly admits he’s falling in love with Jewel. His words, “You are mine, you are mine you are mine,” echo in my head as I think about this book. He is one of my favorite male leads to date, falling closely behind Adam Black & Daegus MacKeltar of the Highlander series.

Heart of the Dragon – Gena Showalter

Heart of the Dragon by Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Form: Book

Searching for her missing brother, Grace Carlyle never dreamed she would discover a secret world populated by mythological monsters – or find herself facing a sword-wielding being whos looks put mortal men to shame.

But there he was, Darius en Kragin, one of a race of shape-shifting warriors bound to guard the gates of Atlantis, and kill all travelers who strayed within its borders.

Now Grace’s life was in his hands, and Darius had to choose between his centuries-old vow and the woman who had slipped beneath his defenses and stolen the heart of Atlantis’s fiercest dragon.

…source, back over of book…

I was slightly disappointed with this book. I’m really not sure why that is. I love The Lords of the Underworld series, and perhaps I’m still caught up in that series that I’m having a hard time getting into this one? But really, the entire story seemed a little weak. I just can’t put my finger on why. There was everything a romance lover AND a paranormal lover would want. Dark, big, bad, beautiful. It bothered me that Darius just kept jumping back and forth – “she will be mine,”…”I can’t do this…” But I think the worst part was all this build up, all this getting ready for battle – and the battle itself was not that great in detail or dramatic, but then when he rescues Grace, it just seems to end abruptly. And somehow Darius has jumped from “NO HUMAN can pass through the mist…” to “hey, it’s all cool…bring your entire family! Got any friends for my brothers here?” Yeah, it just was too abrupt and too much.

This is not my favorite Gena Showalter book, but I don’t want to be all down and out and hard on her. She’s putting out multiple books a year – many of which I like. And it is more than I can say for some of my other favorite authors …cough couch – Stephenie Meyer, Karen Marie Moning – cough-cough…. I have the other books of the Atlantis series, I’ll be picking up another one shortly…and I’m sure you all will hear about it!

Dark Lover – J. R. Ward

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Form: Book

The only purebread vampire left on the planet. Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed – orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate – Wrath must usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead…

Racked by a restlesness in her body that wasn’t there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of brotherhood and blood frighten her. But his touch ignites a dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both…

Dark Lover was a very good start to a series. It not only introduced the main characters, Wrath and Beth, but also many other key characters (I’m assuming) for the entire series. While it is not the greatest book I’ve ever read, this book was amusing and hit the “vampire spot” in my heart. I have plans on picking up additional Brotherhood books soon.

Some high points would be the detail to the connection between Beth and Wrath. It is undeniable, if not maybe a little rushed in the book – but the two are perfect for each other. I like how Beth is not afraid to stand up to Wrath, despite his status or size. Some low points – the name of all the vampires, just names of darkness or evil – and some with trendy spellings. I found it a bit silly, but easy to overlook for sake of getting into the story.

To Tame a Highlander Warrior – Karen Marie Moning

To Tame a Highland Warrior by Karen Marie Moning
Genre: Romance
Form: Audio Book

A Woman’s Tender Touch

He was born to a clan of warriors of supernatural strength, but Gavrael McIllioch abandoned his name and his Highland castle, determined to escape the dark fate of his ancestors. Hiding his identity from the relentless rival clan that hunted him, he called himself Grimm to protect the people he cared for, vowing never to acknowledge his love for ravishing Jillian St. Clair. Yet even from afar he watched over her, and when her father sent an urgent summons, “Come for Jillian,” he raced to her side – into a competition to win her hand in marriage.

A Warrior’s Steely Heart

Why had he run from her so many years before? And why return now to see her offered as a prize in her father’s manipulative game? Furious, Jillian vowed never to wed. But Grimm was the man she loved, the one who urged her to marry another. He tried to pretend indifference as she tempted him, but he could not deny the fierce desires that compelled him to abduct her from the altar. She was the only woman who could tame the beast that raged within him – even as deadly enemies plotted to destroy them both….

To Tame a Highland Warrior was another good one from Karen Marie Moning. While I think it might actually be my least favorite of the entire series, it still offered the entertainment and general “goodness” I tend to expect from her. I did like the reversal of roles in this book which is different from every other Highlander book, where it is the female lead, Jillian, who must convince the Highlander, Grimm or Gavrael, to love her as he should. He does love her, but he’s so bent on who he is and his genetic inheritance – which his 14 year old self has somewhat botched up – that he cannot bring himself to allow him self to marry her.
This book was written before The Dark Highlander, but I think the male perspectives are similar. Both struggle with what they are which holds them back from loving their women as they should. The Dark Highlander is a much better rendition – just showing how KMM’s writing just gets better with each progressive book. The darkness that possessed Degas was much more alarming and sensual than the warrior hidden within Grimm.
I don’t really have a favorite part of this book. I guess perhaps maybe the fight and “make up” in the dining room, but really nothing really sticks out in particular as being the best part. I will say that the scene where Jillian is almost forced to marry Quinn and Grimm bursts through the door riding his horse, and leaves with Jillian, it just seemed like a stereo typical “romance novel cover” feel to it, and not something I’ve come to expect from KMM. I was sort of giggling at the cheesiness of the whole thing.
Two more books and I’ll have completed the Highlander series. Won’t you be so thrilled not to have read about them anymore?

The Immortal Highlander – Karen Marie Moning

The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
Fantasy Romance
Form: Audio Book

With his long, black hair and dark, mesmerizing eyes, Adam Black is Trouble with a capital T. Immortal, arrogant, and intensely sensual, he is free to roam across time and continents in pursuit of his insatiable desires. That is, until a curse strips him of his immortality and makes him invisible, a cruel fate for so irresistible a man. With his very life at stake, Adam’s only hope for survival is in the hands of the one woman who can actually see him.

Enter law student Gabrielle O’Callaghan. For Gabrielle, cursed with the ability to see both worlds, Mortal and Faery, it is the beginning of a long, dangerous seduction. But as Adam’s quest to regain his immortality plunges them into a world of timeless magic, the price of surrender could be their very lives. Unless they can thwart the conspiracy that threatens both Mortal and Faery realms…and give them a shot at a destiny few mortals ever know: glorious, wondrous, endless love…

The Immortal Highlander, as I thought it would be, was the my favorite book of the Highlander series. I still have 2 more I haven’t gotten through, but it’s going to be very hard to top this one as I have a bit of a thing for Faeries, and would love more books about them. Adam Black as the super sexy fae/human was wonderful. You learned so much about him in this book that you didn’t even get a glimpse at in the other books he was in. In The Dark Highlander you did get a touch of his human compassion, at which I was actually surprised at given his behavior in Beyond the Highland Midst. Here we learned a little bit more about his compassion, the extent of it as well as perhaps why for a time he lacked that compassion as well. For me it was heart wrenching.
Gabrielle was not my very favorite female lead, but she wasn’t bad at all. I like that I learned more about the concept of being a Sidhe Seer, the term I’d only first learned about in Dark Fever. She wasn’t really witty or feisty as some of Karen’s previous leads. In fact, I thought her character lacked some depth this time, although it didn’t really detract from the book. Hearing (the narrator for the Highlander books is excellent!) Adam Black say Gabrielle’s name was melting, and that was enough to make up for it. Gabrielle’s best scene actually was when she was telling the maids at Castle Keltar how awful Adam was as a lover. That was quite humorous.
Adam starts off the book as seriously arrogant, which was not very endearing really. I didn’t like he felt he had to “buy” Gabrielle’s trust and affection with gifts either. Watching his seduction change over to courting was great. The best part was when he realized that he thought he had been communicating his feelings to Gabrielle, but really was just confusing her. An age old mistake made my many a man, but he certainly made up for it wit his sacrifice I’d say.
A few of my favorite scenes include the train ride; just picturing Gabrielle sprawled against Adam in the train so intimately yet also innocently. Then when she tried to move away from him, my mind’s eye watching Adam try and keep hold of her as she realized she was in a different dimension and someone was sitting IN her. I just imagined him following her up to a sitting position, watching her with his deep eyes trying not to break physical contact, and keeping his head within a few inches of hers…– it was scorchingly sexy! Every time Adam says “You aren’t falling for me, are you Irish?” equally sexy. But the absolute best, made my heart pound out of my chest, part was when Adam recited the Scottish binding vows to Gabrielle. Once again, the narrator is the one who made that scene, but when his voice broke over the word “soul” I just smiled ear-to-ear. It was breathtaking to say the least!
The only complaint I have about Highlanders…..the hair. I do not like men with waist long hair. Maybe it’s just me, but in my altered version of the men, they usually have shorter hair that is wild long enough to run your hands through and even grab fistfuls, but nothing past the shoulders, or even past the ears really. I’ll never get the long haired hero of many a romance novel…what’s the deal? What’s the drawl? Muscles, yeah sure….but long hair???

Spell of the Highlander – Karen Marie Moning

Spell of the Highlander
by Karen Marie Moning
Fantasy Romance
Form: Audiobook

Jessi St. James has got to get a life. Too many hours studying ancient artifacts has given the hardworking archaeology student a bad case of sex on the brain. So she figures she must be dreaming when she spies a gorgeous half-naked man staring out at her from inside the silvery glass of an ancient mirror. But when a split-second decision saves her from a terrifying attempt on her life, Jessi suddenly finds herself confronting six and a half feet of smoldering, insatiable alpha male.

Heir to the arcane magic of his Druid ancestors, eleven centuries ago Cian MacKeltar was trapped inside the Dark Glass, one of four coveted Unseelie Hallows, objects of unspeakable power. When the Dark Glass is stolen, an ancient enemy will stop at nothing to reclaim it, destroying everything in his path–including the one woman who may just hold the key to breaking the ninth-century Highlander’s dark spell. For Jessi, the muscle-bound sex god in the mirror is not only tantalizingly real, he’s offering his protection–from exactly what, Jessi doesn’t know. And all he wants inexchange is the exquisite pleasure of sharing her bed.

Yet even as Cian’s insatiable hunger begins to work its dark magic on Jessi, his ancient enemy is about to obtain the final and most dangerous of the Unseelie Hallows–and the ninth-century Highlander must stop him from getting it. Nothing less than the very fabric of the universe and two passionately entwined lives are at stake–as Cian and Jessi fight to claim the kind of love that comes along but once in an ice age. . . .

I’m wondering if it’s about this time that Karen Marie Moning started thinking about her Fever series, as everything is coming together in this book to cause a series collision in the making. I enjoyed a little more Fae background in this book than what I got in the last few as well. It was so exciting for me that I’ve decided to get the 3 current Fever books on audio book so I can go through them again. I wonder how much more I’ll catch because of my new background information. I love it when author’s intertwine stories. The best I’ve ever seen is how Stephenie Meyer made the Twilight series several layers in story thick. I think I find more layers and something new everytime I re-read or listen to them.

Cian and Jessi’s story is a great one. I relate to Jessi very much. She’s not the kick-butt girl that Chloe was, but she does have some confidence in herself as well. She didn’t fight her relationship with Cian as much either. I liked that she gave in bit by bit, as opposed to being mean and distant in parts, she never really had an attitude that I’ve seen the past Highlander girls have. So, she seemed even more real. (This is not to say that I don’t like a feisty girl who likes to kick butt, or at least defend herself. I liked Chloe for that reason, and I really like Mackalya in the Fever series because she kids major butt…but I do like real characters too.) Cian possessed the darkness in him that I find that I enjoy, but was still very “good.” I’m not exactly sure that Karen Marie Moning intended this, but most of the time I just saw him as a misguided man. He inherited a household and responsibility when he was born, as his dad died before his birth. He had to make decisions as the head of house at a very early age, so naturally power and magic was very intriguing to him. I don’t think he ever meant to cross over to the dark-side – he just didn’t really know better until it was too late.

I also enjoyed the humor that Karen had in this book. I like it when characters tease, or when they just do something that is just plain laugh out loud funny. I think one of the better scenes is when Cian and Jess is having some make up sex, and Gwen is trying to convince everyone NOT to go into the hall. Very funny stuff.

For a series that I felt started off rather weak, the Highlander series has really been great. I have enjoyed the stories, and find that they are easy to read as individual books, out of order (which is what I’ve done), as opposed to being one big long story told throughout several different books. These series have been driving me nuts lately, because I want to know the end of the story, not be left hanging (cough…cough..HUNGER GAMES…cough…cough). But it’s also a series where you get an underlying full story as well. Karen is a very good author. She knows how to put together a story that will keep you going – especially if you are into a.) romance, or b.) fantasy fiction.

I finally got The Immortal Highlander and I am SOO looking forward to reading Adam Black’s story. I’ve been intrigued since I read the teaser a month ago.

The Darkest Pleasure – Gena Showalter

The Darkest Pleasure by Gena Showalter

Reyes is a man possessed. Bound by the demon of pain, he is forbidden to know pleasure. Yet he craves a mortal woman, Danika Ford, more than breath and will do anything to claim her – even defy the gods.

Danika is on the run. For months she’s eluded the Lords of the Underworld, immortal warriors who won’t rest until she and her family have been destroyed. But her dreams are haunted by Reyes, the warrior whose searing touch she can’t forget. Yet a future together could mean death to all they both hold dear….

Despite the fact that the books are sort of getting repetitive, I’m still roped into this series. They all sort of fall into the same storyline though. Handsome (in one way or another) demon possessed warrior falls for some girl, so far all of which have something extra special about them. They decide because they are a “monster” with a demon stuck inside them, that they cannot have the girl and fight the urge to be with her. Girl fall for guy as well. They have wonderfully beautiful….bedroom talk…and both parties decide that the have found their other half and will do anything it takes to be together. That’s it in a nutshell.

But then there is the underlying storyline, the one that has got me hooked. Where there are two (or three if you count the gods) sets of beings hunting for these treasures so that they can find Pandora’s box. I KNOW (just judging by the way the books have gone so far) that the Lords of the Underworld are going to do it some how, some way, but I like it anyway.

Danika was better female lead than Anya was for me. Although, Anya was still a big part of the book, and she still annoys me. She’s like an overgrown spoiled brat. Just my opinion. I’m sure there are those out there who love her. Danika has a unique ability, that was amplified through sex, which wasn’t my favorite part of their story. I like sex, but I’m not a fan of “sex is how my power shines through” or “sex IS my power” type things. I think it’s silly. Anyhow, I did like that she wanted to be everything that Reyes needed her to be, no matter how disturbing it might have been.

Paris…he’s the character I’m really waiting to be resolved. And I’m interested to find out how the “pet demon” is going to play out in the future books as well.

My favorite Lords book is still the first. There was just something powerful about Maddox and Ashlyn’s story to me that just made it the best. Now the wait is on for book 4, coming in the fall. Until then I’ll just continue through the Highlander Series, and I have a few other books that are waiting to be read as well.

The Darkest Kiss – Gena Showalter

The Darkest Kiss
by Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Form: Book

Though she has lived for centuries, Anya, goddess of anarchy, has never known pleasure. Until Lucien, the incarnation of death–a warrior eternally doomed to take souls to the hereafter. He draws her like no other. And Anya will risk anything to have him.

But when the merciless Lord of the Underworld is ordered by the gods to claim Anya herself, their uncontrollable attraction becomes an anguished pursuit. Now they must defeat the unconquerable forces that control them, before their thirst for one another demands a sacrifice of love beyond imagining…

I am enjoying this series. I enjoy equal parts action mixed in with the romance, it makes the stories fun and active. Unfortunately, I thought I had started from the beginning, but having checked Gena Showalter’s website I found that that just isn’t true. I am also excited to find out that there is another book coming out in September. So something else to look forward to, and add to my “must read” list – which I need to publish soon so I don’t forget. I’m thinking of adding a mini-calendar too, of the releases of books I’m looking forward to. Guess I am going to need to go back to a 3 tier blog set up.
While I did enjoy The Darkest Kiss, I liked The Darkest Night better, mainly because of Ashlyn. Something about Anya was all wrong. I didn’t like her pet names at all, or her repeated use of the word “Twinkies.” Her language and mannerisms were just annoying to me, I guess. Perhaps, because she was everything I’m not, and I could not really relate to her. I didn’t feel the attraction between her and Lucien or the desire as I did with Ashlyn and Maddox. I did like Lucien’s character a lot, and found him much more relatable and agreeable character. I loved their flash fighting. In fact, I enjoyed the fighting between Anya and Lucien a lot. I’ve said before, I like girl’s who can kick a little butt. I loved Lucien’s half-hearted attempts (most of the time) at catching her, knowing he really didn’t want to kill her. That was fun.
The book left me feeling especially sorry for Paris. I’m not sure what Gena has in store for him, but I hope there is something to make up for his loss.
I am looking forward to Rene’s and Danika’s story – I hope I grow to like Danika more than I did Anya. It is next up on my I’ll find out soon enough.

The Dark Highlander – Karen Marie Moning

The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning
Form: Audiobook
Reader: Phil Gigante

From his penthouse lair high above Manhattan, Dageus looks out over a glittering city that calls to the darkness within him. A sixteenth-century Scot trapped between worlds, he is fighting a losing battle with the thirteen Druids who possess his soul, dooming him to an eternity of sexual pursuit. When Chloe Zanders, student of antiquities, is drawn into his world, she finds the insatiable alpha male an irresistible lure.

I liked this Highlander book more than Beyond the Highland Mist. I thought perhaps jumping to some of Karen Moning’s latter highlander books I may enjoy them better, and I was right. I also, for whatever reason, seem to like the guy to be kind of dark and evil in a way, as this Highlander is. I kind of like the animalistic nature portrayed – it makes for fun sexy men in my opinion.
The tension and sexual frustration between the two main characters in this book is great. There were many parts where I literally laughed out loud (and when you’re listening to an audiobook at work, it can cause some weird looks). I liked Chloe much better than Adrienne as the female lead – she was fun and she also wasn’t going to take any crap. I like it when the girl is not completely helpless, and even the better when she’s willing to kick a little butt.
Some of my favorite points of the book; one would definitely be listening to it on audiobook as oppose to reading it. The reader, although I was a little leery of having a male reader for such a sexual book, was great! He did a beautiful Scottish accent. His girly voices were awful, but he definitely made up for it with the Scottish accent and his animated reading. He really got into the part, making it very very good. Another favorite part of mine was the way Dageus would look at Chloe and bite his lower lip and slowly release it. It caused sparks to fly, and near the end of the book ended up being their own sort of sexual dialogue. The story line was good to, filled with myths and druid histories and all sorts of fun little tid-bits. I don’t know if Karen made up a lot of that stuff, or if she got the information elsewhere, but I always like depth. I like the stories of the past that play into the here in now (in books). I like it when you can see a lot of though and effort went into making the book as real as it possibly can be, without being real of course. (Because, you know, time travel..just isn’t happening…yet.)
I’m growing attached to these romance novels. I’ve already got the library sending me The Immortal Highlander because I’ve been dying to know what happens to Adam Black after reading the excerpt from Beyond the Highland Mist. I’m going to have to go back to some normal books sometime soon to get some variety in my system. I also don’t want to be pegged as a “romance reader” or people to think of my blog as being mostly romance novels. I like being a semi-well rounded reader, although the romance is becoming a favorite. Especially when it is mixed with dark/evil or the paranormal/fantasy aspects. I’ve been having fun in make-believe worlds.

The Darkest Night, Gena Showalter

The Darkest Night
by Gena Showalter
Form: Paperback

All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she’ll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member – a man trapped in a hell of his own.

Neither can resist the instant hunger that calms their torments…and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction – and a soul-shattering test of love…

Now THIS is much better! 🙂 The characters were strong. The story was good. The romance was definitely present, but paired with the story it was great. I cannot say this one of the best books I’ve ever read…by far. But it was a good book. There were parts of it (the romance parts…) that had me clinching my fist and holding my breath. And I’m not really (well, I wasn’t anyway) a romance reader. I like romance pared with drama. Maybe I’m a convert, at least to the fantasy, or paranormal romance novel. I will be getting the 2 books that follow this one.

I do not think that the synopsis on the back of this book does it much justice. We’re dealing with a clan of men who are demons, and who are possessed with the spirits from Pandora’s box. But they try to be good guys…they don’t want to be monsters at least. But their struggles are great. Particularly Maddox, who is sentenced to die every night at midnight – 6 slashes of a sword, and then must suffer the remainder of the night burning in hell. So meeting Ashlyn is the greatest, and perhaps the worst thing that can happen to him. She provides the taming that his spirit needs, and he does the same for her. I think one of my favorite parts of the book was how Maddox and Ashlyn talked to each other in fragments. Ordinarily that would just be awful, but in this book, it worked.