by Dara Joy, ISBN # 050552337X
This is book two of Dara Joy's Matrix of Destiny series. It had the one character who I wanted to read about SO badly, but the story wasn't as exciting as the character needed.
We last saw Rejar, the half-familiar brother to Lorgan in KOATS, stepping into a vortex and vanishing. It seems that he has been teleported back in time to Victorian England, right into the arms of Ms. Lilac Devere, confirmed spinster at the old age of (you guessed it) 22. Lilac is surprised when a gorgeous black cat seems to jump into her lap from a moving carriage, but she adopts the cat with dual colored eyes, not knowing what it really was. Rejar, for his part, knows he's found his lifemate, and sets about to seduce her. However, how is the universe's most virile shapechanger going to react to the very strict chastity of Victorian times!? Disguised as a Russian prince, his attempts to woo Lilac win her hand in marriage but not necessarily her love. She won't believe him when he tells her what he really is, not a prince but a Familiar from another universe. He feels lost, having her with him but not her love. When Traed, a very close friend from his own world, finally finds the two he has to convince Lilac to come back with him.
The book has a happy ending, but it's actually my least favorite of the whole series. Lilac, to my way of thinking, just wasn't a match for Rejar. I suppose it might be considered funny that the big sexual animal Rejar falls for the prim, chaste Lilac, but the heroine was too 2-dimensional for me to really care about her. No, let me rephrase that: I didn't mind her character at all, but next to Rejar she was nothing. I was so looking forward to this book, all pumped up to read Rejar's love story, but it seemed more a sappy Regency romance. Oh, there were great parts though; with a character like Rejar how could there not be? When Lilac is "complaining" about her husband's love-making techniques, I had tears of laughter rolling down my face (got strange stares for laughing so loudly and suddenly too). The aunt was great, as were the side characters, but it almost seemed they had more character than the heroine herself. Rejar, the hero, was great however. Still up to his antics, but he had to restrain himself in that time period. I could feel his pain when he confessed to Traed that Lilac didn't love him, and that for the first time he understood what unrequitted love felt like.
Despite all that, I would still recommend the book, but try not to have expectations of grandeur. I went in thinking of how Rejar was such a wonderful character and how great this book would be (my head had been filled by others who said this was the very best book they had ever read!), and I came out disappointed. Perhaps if I hadn't had those ideas it might have gone over better, but I'm not sure. Still, if you like Dara Joy's books you'll like this one. It's a good book, but definitely not her very best. :-)
Mine To Take
by Dara Joy, ISBN # 0843944463
This is by far the very best book in the Matrix of Destiny series. It is book three, and it is proof positive that writers definitely get better the more they write.
Gian Ren is King of the whole Familiar race, but for now he is a prisoner to a sadistic ruler, Karpon, who wants to make him a pawn in taking down the rightful heiress. Jenise is that heiress to the throne, and when she gets wind of the plan she rebels against it, and frees Gian for a price. Gian does not mind what she wishes him to do, as he knows when she first sets foot into his cell that she is his lifemate. So he accepts her proposal to deflower her then and there, and she helps him escape. Gian knows that Jenise is his lifemate, but doesn't let her know it as she still believes she will leave when their journey is finished. When he invites her to the Familiar homeworld, she doesn't know what an honor it is or why he wishes it for her, nor that he doesn't intend for her to leave.
This is Dara Joy's best book yet, over all her previous books. Even if you didn't like the last two, you really need to try out Mine To Take. You are introduced to many familiar characters as well as new ones, and the worldbuilding skills in this one are better than the last two books. I especially love the scene in the crystal chambers, when Jenise makes it very much known she is going to leave. Three letters: H-O-T!
I recommend this one for anyone who likes futuristic novels, as well as extremely hot scenes. There is a lot of sex in this book, perhaps not as much as with Thea Devine or Susan Johnson, but it's definitely as hot as grandma's chili. Yet there is a definite love story here, and you don't doubt the devotion of Gian to his lifemate, or how Jenise falls for the beautiful familiar. I loved this book and recommend you pick it up for the story. Then again, the cover wasn't that bad either! :-)
Touch of the Wolf
by Susan Krinard, ISBN # 0553580183
Funny thing: I first heard about not this book, but it's cover. Isn't it great? The book itself isn't bad either; I liked it, at least. :)
Cassidy Holt was raised an American, but has always known of her werewolf heritage from her mother's side. She has family in England, and is never accepted by her American brethren, so she travels across the ocean to Greyburn, the home of her loup garou mother. There she meets Braden Greyburn, the leader of all loup garou who is trying to purify the werewolf species once more. At first, although attracted to Cassidy, he decides to match her with his brother Quentin. He learned his lesson with his first wife, and because of her lost something important to him (I won't say what it is, you have to read the book) so is loathe to trust another woman. Well, Cassidy will have none of that. Totally naive at first of Braden's intention for her to marry his brother, she innocently sets her sites on him. When it gets out, however, that she cannot change into her wolf form, Braden's plans go into an upheaval and allow him to marry her. But the misunderstandings, and on Cassidy's part the false hopes, pile up on one another until they finally explode.
I liked this book more than the previous two werewolf books by this author, but I think the hero was a bit harsh. Braden, for about three quarters of the book, is so obsessed with his duty to purify the loup garou line that he alienates his siblings and most of his family completely. I liked Cassidy's character, perhaps because she reminded me a lot of myself, always trying to see the better side of a person. I suppose I can understand Braden's character; he became what he had vowed he would never become, and sadly seemed to not even know it. He was a well-portrayed character, but from a romance standpoint was almost too much an alpha male (no pun intended - alpha wolf and all *g*). Still, I really liked the book, and look forward to the next two books in the trilogy. There was mention of an American werewolf for the sister, Rowena, so I can't wait to read that book. According to Susan, that's the next one! Once A Wolf will be coming out sometime this year (2000), and Quentin's story, the brother, will be out in 2001. Can't wait! :-)
Once A Wolf
by Susan Krinard, ISBN # 0553580213
Retail $5.99, July 2000
Once A Wolf is the second book in a trilogy begun with Touch Of The Wolf
last year. As TotW told the story of Braden Greyburn, so this book tells the
story of his sister Rowena. It's as much a western romance as it is a
werewolf paranormal, yet is not a far cry away from a historical.
Rowena is a loup garou who denies her heritage. She fled her brother and
England in the previous book Touch of the Wolf to escape his forcing her to
marry an American werewolf she never met, solely to purify the werewolf
line. And now, she finds herself about to wed the selfsame man, of her own
free will. Rowena has toned down since she fled from England. Where once
there was a smart-mouthed hellion, now there is only a woman halfway to
being broken, trying desperately to subdue her werewolf heritage and be a
perfect lady. She knows she will never be accepted by society, or by anyone
in general, if she gives in to her passionate werewolf side, so she heeds
the cold words of her betrothed who tells her he agrees with her wanting to
conquer her animalistic side. One man, however, has another idea in mind and
kidnaps her to keep her out of the marriage. Tomas Randall, aka El Lobo,
lured Rowena to the West then takes her prisoner to take his revenge on her
betrothed. He has his own personal reasons for hating Cole McLean, one of
which includes a family feud that migrated with the families from Scotland.
Rowena, trying desperately to stay the perfect lady, finds herself
succumbing to her passionate nature and to Tomas. And Tomas, whose plan
initially started out just kidnapping the woman whom he believed to be a
shallow society lady and seducing her, finds himself succumbing to an
awakening Rowena. In the midst of all this remains Cole McLean, who does not
take kindly to having his possessions stolen from him, especially from a
Randall, and is hot on their trail.
I really, really enjoyed this book, more so than the first of the trilogy.
The heroine and the hero went through a normal process of falling in love;
it wasn't necessarily love (or lust) at first site. Oh, there was an animal
attraction in the beginning (pardon the pun) that steadily grew stronger as
the book progressed, but it grew at a believable rate, not in spurts nor
suddenly at the beginning or the ending. Both the hero and the heroine had
problems they desperately needed to work out. Rowena had built a shell
around herself against her werewolf nature, refusing to acknowledge it and
therefore losing many of the inherent powers and abilities that should have
come naturally, yet still remained strong. Tomas battled with past actions
he believes make him unredeemable, and therefore unworthy of a woman such as
Rowena. Unlike many tortured heroes, I could understand why Tomas chose to
be like he was; it wasn't wholly unreasonable, nor overdone. He was who he
was, and I sympathized.
One of my absolute favorite parts of the book were the side characters.
There were many smaller characters, but three major ones stand out
particularly. Weylin McLean, the brother of Cole, has to get a book for
himself. Sim Kavanaugh is the epitome of a tortured hero; if Susan Krinard
can do a story for him and not weaken him in any way, she will truly have a
masterpiece in her hands. And Esperanza, a young girl with a powerful gift,
needs her own story as much as the previous two. Susan Krinard has said she
will probably be writing about the two male characters in this book, and I
REALLY hope so.
All in all, I highly recommend this book. Two thumbs up, ten out of ten,
five stars, etc etc etc. It won't be coming out until July of 2000, and I'd
recommend you read book one (Touch of the Wolf) to get a thorough handle on
the background, but I definitely think that if you like tortured heroes who
just happen to be powerful werewolves, this is a must read.
The Black Swan
by Mercedes Lackey, ISBN #
May 2000, $6.99
Best known for her Heralds of Valdemar series, she has momentarily strayed from that world to give us a retelling of the classic Swan Lake story. Baron Eric von Rothbart is a powerful sorcerer who is intent on punishing all unfaithful women by turning them into black swans forever only able to be human in moonlight. His daughter Odile is a pragmatic young woman, a powerful sorcerer in her own right yet desperate to please her tyrannical father. She is the caretaker of the flock of swans her father has 'acquired' in his travels, and longs to be acknowledged by her powerful father as something more than just a burden.
Odette is the "Queen of the Swans", a princess that was turned by the Baron. She manages to strike a bargain with the baron to allow the swans to be freed from their curse if she can make someone fall in love with her within the next month. The Baron's choice: the young Prince Siegfried.
The book was good, but the dynamics of Mrs. Lackey's writing was missing. Perhaps it was the story itself that wasn't up to snuff with her previous books. The daughter Odile was by far a favorite of mine, being strong and self assured, with her character learning to open up and find truths about herself she hadn't known. Odette and Siegfried's romance, however, was the sappy 'courtly love' one reads about in King Arthur's tales, yet Odile's pragmatic approach towards it, and her avowel that yes, it WAS sappy yet sweet, helped to lighten it a bit. All in all, it just wasn't up to the author's usual writing, but still a good book. A tip, though, maybe get it at a UBS as it's just not as hard hitting as others she has written.
by JC Wilder, ISBN # 1-892520-38-9
Dreams Unlimited (ebook), March 2000
We paranormal romance readers have been blessed this year with quite a fewgood books, as well as a few excellent beginnings to new series. This isone of the best that 1999 and 2000 has given us. This series has it all.Romance, shapechangers, vampires, witches, intrigue everything a paranormalromance reader could ask for. This is part three to the series.
Erihn goes out with Shai and a few friends to have dinner, a few drinks andlisten to poetry. Prior to getting up on stage to recite her poems Erihnsees Shai's husband and his buddy Fayne at the bar. Fayne is immediately physically attracted to Erhin. While Erihn is reading her poem Fayne comesup onto the stage and gives her a very seductive kiss in front of the whole establishment. Normally being a very withdrawn and inhibited person something comes over Erihn and she returns his kiss with a passion she didn't know she possessed. After the kiss and poem is over Erihn is soembarrassed that she runs off stage, heads for home.
Being a romance author Erihn goes up to friends house in the mountains toget some peace and quiet so she can contemplate the writing of her sequel toher last book, which was about a were-cat. Problem is she can't get hermind off of the man who kissed her. She fantasizes about him while she is in the hot tub. She can't get over how sexy and attractive he is or the fact that he kissed her or how she response to that kiss. Erihn's physical attraction to this man was something she thought she was incapable of feeling.
Erihn gets a big surprise when Fayne shows up and announces he's been living at the house off and on. Having been kidnapped, raped physically mutilated by a madman Erihn has a very great fear of being in a house alone with a man. Unfortunately when she is ready to leave there is a storm and a mudslide barring her way, so she is forced to stay awhile longer. The first night Erihn spends in the house with Fayne she wakes up next to what she thinks is Faynes' pet cougar, although she has no idea that it's actually Fayne.
Fayne has never been as attracted to a female as he is to Erihn. He sets about seducing her every chance he gets. Fayne eventually gets Erihn to start trusting him and they fall into lust then love. Up until a madman and a vampire show up Erihn is living every woman's fantasy.
The eroticism of Erihn's fantasies and her reality are something every woman would die for. The ending has a great twist and Fayne is more then any woman could wish for. This is definitely a must read. I will be waiting impatiently for the next book in the series.
Copyright 2000 Carol Castellanos