the raven, by sylvain reynard

the-raven-by-sylvain-reynardAs I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was uber excited about this book’s release. Sylvain Reynard is very active on social media and has been building the hype for about a year. On top of that, I loved the prequel novella, The Prince. And beyond even that, I adored Reynard’s Gabriel’s Inferno series that this was spun from. But, I guess it’s only logical that you won’t love everything written by an author and true to form, there was not a lot of love for The Raven.

This is a paranormal romance. And maybe that’s the first challenge for me. The only paranormal series I can read and enjoy is J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. But Reynard’s writing is lovely, so I figured I’d be fine. I wasn’t.

The story of  Raven–the over-weight, Plain Jane (incidentally, her real name is Jane) disabled art restorer–and William–the handsome, centuries old Vampyre Prince of Florence–has the makings of a unique and enthralling story. Unfortunately, it falls flat.

Raven’s story is told very slowly. And William’s is essentially all over the place. At 373 pages, their love story, and the book itself, don’t get interesting until about page 212. Until that point, you only marginally care about either character. I think Reynard was trying to do a deep dive into the character development but instead it’s long and drawn out without much sustenance.

Being a vampyre, William drinks human blood, can have sex for hours at a time, doesn’t like holy water or crosses, etc., etc. Essentially, every vampyre stereotype we’ve all heard. Reynard tires to create intrigue by making William impervious to certain tried and true myths associated with this species of the undead, but you wind up not really caring.

Raven, is essentially a pathetic martyr who will sacrifice herself for anyone. Elderly neighbor. Boy who doesn’t really like her. Homeless man on the street. Female vampyre who she barely knows and doesn’t like.

I am sad to say that for all of the excitement and anticipation I had leading up to this book’s release, I am very disappointed. I had to force myself to finish it and I have no interest in reading the next book in the series. Though my love for Reynard’s writing may get me to come back.

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the prince, by sylvain reynard

the princeIt’s no secret that Sylvain Reynard’s Gabriel Inferno’s series is by far one of my most fave romance stories. Reynard’s style of writing is not only romantic but it has the ability to transport you to places without being verbose.

The Prince is a novella that is a spin-off of Reynard’s Gabriel series and a prequel to his Florentine series, which kicks off its first full novel with The Raven, due out on February 3rd–can’t wait! In the spirit of full disclosure, The Prince is a paranormal story. For those who don’t normally read that genre–keep in mind this is a paranormal book being written by a prolific story-teller who gave us Gabriel and Julianne.

Set in Florence, Italy and its underworld, we are introduced to the Prince, himself at the Uffizi Gallery where Gabriel and Julianne are attending an event to share their copies of original Botticelli illustrations. Illustrations that once belonged to the Prince and which he very much wants back. He holds Gabriel and Julianne accountable for having purchased his stolen property and is on a quest to find out who originally stole the priceless works of art from him.

In the mean time, as the Prince plots his revenge against the Emerson’s, there is a battle going on for control of the underworld where the Prince reigns supreme. We also learn that Julianne is ill–something we are certain to learn more about in The Raven.

While a short read at under 100 pages, The Prince gives you just enough to whet your appetite for the full story to come. A week from today!

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Book Review: The King

the kingAs many know, The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is the only paranormal series that I read and I LOVE it. I waited, anxiously, for the most recent installment to come out–The King–and I was not disappointed!!!

In a Nutshell
There were several story arcs in this book, but not nearly as many as books past. The primary focus is on Wrath–the king of the race and last pure vampire–trying to have a baby with his half human wife, Beth. Between the assassination attempts on Wrath’s life and his service on the throne being brought into question, repeatedly, this is one more life changing decision–should it come to fruition. The angst, however, makes for a good read.

Speaking of the assassination attempts–the last one was spear-headed by Xcor, leader of The Band of Bastards. His relationship with a very pregnant Layla, continues to bud. But there are new complications in their already challenging situation.

One of the story arcs I’m really looking forward to seeing continue is that of Assail and Sola. She is a small time thief and he’s a big-time drug dealer. Their feelings were explored in the last book, but circumstances beyond their control brought them to the forefront. But is it destined to become an unrequited love? And is his drug dealing within the vampire race really prudent?

Throw in Trez’s responsibilities to the Shadow race along with his infatuation with Selena; a revelation regarding his brother iAm; and that will about round out the book.

Tara’s Take
The King is without a doubt one of my favorites in the series. It’s also the 2nd book I’ve given 5 stars to on my GoodReads account. The author, J.R. Ward, was said to be aware that the first book she wrote that was focused on Wrath, Dark Lover–also the first in the series–was not as strong as some of the other books. This one is stronger by leaps and bounds and definitely delivers. Wrath has endured much over the prior 11 books, so it was nice to see his complex personality shine and take center stage.

Previously, some of J.R. Ward’s book had so many story arcs going on it was hard to keep up and remember what was happening from chapter to chapter. With fewer plot-lines to follow and the clear evolution of Ward’s writing, The King delivers on many fronts. I simply can’t say enough good things about this book. The stories, the character development… I really hate that it’s all over for 2014 and I have to wait a year for the next book. Ugh!!!

Book Review: Lover At Last

I declared my love for the Black Dagger Brotherhood series in this blog a while ago. That hasn’t changed. The latest book, Lover At Last, number 11, came out (you’ll get the pun later) a few weeks ago. For anyone who has read the books, they know that for many readers this one was a long time coming. Each book usually focuses on one of the ‘brothers’ or someone in their world and then has another story arc or two going along side it. This book was about the long-awaited (for many) love story of Quinn and Blaylock (Blay). The twist on this pairing–Quay as devoted fans call them–is they are gay. While both are warriors within the Brotherhood, this book was not a heterosexual story–and for me, that was tough.Lover-At-Last-J.R.-Ward-e1339202451444

All of the books are known for being steamy, to say the least, and this one, while a bit tamer, did not disappoint in that area–but it was male on male. I found that I did not enjoy this book as much as most of the others. I applaud J.R. Ward for giving readers what they want and for tackling the tough subject matter. I think she did an exceptional job staying true to the characters, story lines, and her writing style. The tender moments between Quinn and Blay felt real, as did the way J.R. Ward incorporated their long history. I also think she knew that she was heading into touch territory (no pun intended). As such, I think J.R. Ward tried to over compensate for the readers that were not as appreciative of the gay romance by adding significantly more story arcs than normal. This book had not 1, 2, or even 3 other story lines going on, it had 7; yes, SEVEN–in total.

  • The Quinn and Blay love story
  • The budding romance between Sola and Assail
  • Xcor’s determination to take over the throne
  • Xcor’s love for/and connection to Layla (and vice versa)
  • Layla’s pregnancy
  • Beth’s ‘curiosity’ with Layla’s pregnancy
  • Trez’s avoidance of his prearranged marriage and what he and iAM were doing to manage that, including Trez’s infatuation with The Chosen, Selena

Of the reviews that I’ve read, quite a few readers found the other arcs extremely distracting. And to a degree, I agree. But I have to say I welcomed them and look forward to where some of them are headed. (I read that the next book, due in 2014, is going to be called, The King, and will be about Wrath (my all-time favorite character in the series, marginally inching out Zsadist) and Beth trying to have a baby. I am beyond excited for that one!!! I’m also intrigued by Assail. And Xcor’s love for Layla makes me not hate him as much–though he continuously plots against Wrath, so my distaste for him is only mildly squelched. I would be remiss in mentioning that J.R. Ward has a habit of bringing back characters that people often forget about. Several books ago, she brought to light a love story between Xhex and one of her past lovers that went insane and is now haunting an old bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere. Clever J.R. Ward, I haven’t forgotten…

On the whole, this book was not one of my favorites, but I am excited for what’s to come. I do miss seeing more of the brothers and their interactions because quite frankly, they’re hilarious and I love them. This book also strayed from the action and fighting we usually see with the Lessers; which normally, I can do without but, come on, this is about a vampire war going on. J.R. Ward has done a great job of keeping the series fresh, adding new characters, extending story lines, and keeping her loyal and devoted fans wanting more. I didn’t devour this book in 2 days like I’ve been known to do with this series, but 2014 and the next installment can’t get here soon enough!

 

One Month, One Vampire Series

Ok, I’m a little late to the Black Dagger Brotherhood book series, but better late than never right? I never read any of the Twilight books, or saw any of the movies, and I’m only up to episode 4 of season 1 of True Blood. So, it is safe to assume that I do not have an abnormal preoccupation with vampires—at least no more than anyone else. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

The brothers in the 10 book series (11 if you count the ‘Insider’s Guide’) are not your normal garden variety vampires. Yes, they’re big, strong, sexy alpha males. And yes, they drink blood and fight to protect their race, but that’s where the stereotype ends. Really. These vampires struggle with challenges we can all identify with: physical disabilities, substance abuse problems, unrequited love, and handicaps. J.R. Ward, the author, has done a great job of making them ‘human’. And trust me when I say, there’s a brother for everyone. The series starts out with six (and you’ll have to grant some liberties on the spelling of their names):

  • Wrath – The blind king who resists ascending the throne in favor of fighting with his brothers.
  • Tohrment – The level-headed brother, with soldier-like proficiency in leading.
  • Zsadist – The tortured and unpredictable soul who you can’t help but root for and fear all at the same time.
  • Phury – The underdog whose heart and compassion are as overwhelming as they are tragic.
  • Vishous – Mysterious, frighteningly intelligent, and just generally cool to hang out with.
  • Rhage – The lover.

It took me one month to read the first 9 books—the 10th wasn’t out yet, but I have since read that one too. The books have action in the form of fights, weapons flying through the air—and people—HOT love scenes, witty banter, and references to everything from the latest hip hop artists to descriptions of antique European decor. They are an addictive series with one book building on the other so I highly suggest reading them in order. But above all, I suggest reading them. (Amazon, anyone?)