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Book Review: Bits of Bliss – Volume 1 by Andrea Trask (Series, #1)

Book Review: Bits of Bliss - Volume 1 by Andrea Trask (Series, #1)Summary:
A collection of nine erotica short stories, mostly featuring elements of fantasy.  Covering everything from fairy tale retellings to vampires to a bit of scifi.

Review:
This erotica short story collection was quite hit or miss for me.  The stories that excelled were creative and unique, but the stories that did not featured some problematic elements that prevented me from enjoying the erotica.

When I read a short story collection, I always individually rate the stories.  My rating of the collection as a whole is just the average of those ratings.  The highest rating any story in this collection received from me was four stars.  There were three stories I gave four stars, and two of them were the first two stories in the collection, so it definitely started out strong for me.  One is a F/F story featuring a woman who is also a flower (or a flower who is also a woman).  It is poetic and heart-quickening.  The second story features a sentient house that has missed its owner and demands attention.  This made me laugh, and I enjoyed the oddity.  It read like a lighter-hearted, erotica version of dark fantasies where there is an evil house–this one is just horny.  The third four star read was enjoyable for a different reason.  It’s a scifi erotica where two lovers are in a spaceship that is running out of air.  They decide to make love, even though they will die quicker.  It was so heart-breaking and beautiful that I wished it was a whole book.

Four of the stories received three stars.  In each case I felt the story either didn’t take an idea far enough or the story wasn’t long enough to tell the story.  Take it farther, and these all could be just as good as the first three I discussed.

Unfortunately, there were two stories that were big clunkers for me, with each receiving only one star, and they both had almost the same problem.  “Hunting Hound” has a woman mating with a werewolf.  She meets him when she is out riding, and they start making out against a tree, with her a willing participant.  Then this happens.

“Stop” she said, and his face darted in toward her own with a low growl. “Too late to stop.” (loc 1650)

He proceeds to penetrate her.  There is nothing sexy about a woman asking a man to stop and him claiming it’s too late and proceeding to rape her.  It is never too late to stop, and it’s never too late for a partner to change their mind.  It really bothers me that this type of scene is still being presented as sexy.  I know everyone gets off to their own thing, but this is such a clear scene of consent being removed and then ignored that I just cannot say to each their own in this case.  I also want to mention that the book blurb claims that this story features “consensual sexual violence” but it definitely did not read that way to me.

“Summer Nights,” which also received one star, has a similar problem.  This story features a woman who keeps seeing the same mysterious man at parties.  She goes out to the woods behind the house at one of these parties, and he follows her.  She finds out he’s a vampire.  She stands in the woods talking to him, holding a wineglass, when this happens:

“he struck like a train, his swinging backhand sending the wineglass flying toward the treeline, and I faintly registered the tinkling shatter of it, perhaps hitting a rock, or a fallen log.” (loc 5654)

She finds the fact that he just hit a glass out of her hand to be massively sexy and proceeds to bang him.  This is, again, something I feel like I shouldn’t need to say, but there is nothing sexy about a partner violently hitting something out of your hand.  Nothing. Sexy. This is not a sign that oh man she should totally bang this vampire. It is a sign she should run because she is alone in the woods with a violent motherfucker.  This could have so easily been foreplay if, instead of hitting a glass out of her hand, he said something like, “I want you now,” and he gently took the glass from her hand and tossed it away.  Or if she said, “I want you so much,” and tossed the glass over her shoulder.  It would be so easy to have the same erotica about a powerful vampire alone in the woods with a woman without it turning into problematic territory.

I truly wish these last two stories were not in the collection.  The rest of the collection is creative, features some fun queer content (the F/F story and a gender-swapping story), and in the case of the best three stories, has some unique ideas.  Where the collection flounders is, interestingly enough, with the two most mainstream stories that take the agency out of the hands of the women in them and instead retreats to the tired idea of violent men being sexy.

Overall, if a reader is looking for some quick fantasy erotica, most of the stories in this book will satisfy this need, although I would recommend skipping over “Hunting Hound” and “Summer Nights.”  The reader who enjoys the other stories for their uniqueness will most likely be disappointed by the “sexy violence” in these two.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle copy from author in exchange for my honest review

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Book Review: Set Adrift by D.S. Kenn (Series, #1)

April 4, 2015 5 comments

Book Review: Set Adrift by D.S. Kenn (Series, #1)Summary:
Terric, nickname T, a half shifter half demon, and his girlfriend Jordyn, full vampire, have decided to move from New York City to Provincetown, Massachusetts.  T has an opportunity to work as head of security at a nightclub and bar that caters to the supernatural, and he thinks the move will be good for he and Jordyn.  Jordyn had a nightmarishly abusive past, and T has been helping her heal through a safe, consenting BDSM relationship.  But his love for Jordyn is not one of a mate; it is one of a friend.  He intuitively knows that his mate will be a man but he struggles to accept this, due to suffering he has endured in the demon realm.  When Jordyn decides it is time for her to stand on her own two feet and move out, she also encourages T to confront himself and grow as well.  But all T feels is set adrift.

Review:
Every November/December I open up to submissions for books to review in the upcoming year on my blog.  When I saw this one in the submissions, I was excited.  Not very much paranormal romance is submitted to me, and paranormal romance with a bisexual main character is nigh on impossible to find.  Plus, I love Provincetown.  This paranormal romance features a unique set of characters and a wide variety of sex scenes but its world building struggles some.

The strongest aspect of the book is that its main character Terric is so unique in paranormal romance.  Terric actually describes himself perfectly:

I’m an anomaly. A fucking bisexual demon shifter. Not really all of any one thing…. I don’t really fit in most categories, you know. (page 33)

First, I love love love the fact that the hero of the book isn’t just bisexual, but he actually uses the term to describe himself as such.  This may not seem like a big deal, but it is quite rare to have a character self-identify as bisexual and simultaneously have that character be one of the good guy leads.  I really applaud the author for going there.  Terric struggles with his sexuality but not for the reasons the reader might expect.  Provincetown, for those who don’t know, is known for being a small town with a large accepting queer community.  T’s community would accept him for who he is, but he struggles with accepting and loving himself.  The reason given for this is that when he is summoned to the demon realm (as a half demon, he is subject to hell’s dominion), he is sometimes subject to punishment that consists of rape by other male demons (or half demons).  The reason he has trouble imagining being mated with a man is due to this trauma.  Bisexual men experience a higher rate of rape than straight or gay men (source), and I think it’s a good thing that the author works this into T’s past within the context of his supernatural world.  The rape is not misrepresented as causing his bisexuality but rather as a trauma he must get over to fully embrace his sexuality for what it is.  It’s not a storyline seen very often, and it’s handled well.

Similarly, the BDSM subplot in the first half of the book is also handled well.  The BDSM is completely presented as something both partners have consented to with pre-agreed upon boundaries that are respected.  It is also shown as something that is therapeutically used to help Jordyn overcome her past trauma.  This is a use for BDSM that some readers may not know but it is clearly well-understood by the author and well presented in the book.  Plus, the BDSM scenes are well-written and just the right level of steamy.

Unfortunately, the world that T and Jordyn live in is not as well fleshed-out as they are.  In particular, the workings of the supernatural world are never fully explained and can be a bit confusing.  For instance, vampires can apparently have children (as in, conceive and give birth to them, not as in turning humans into vampires), but it is never explained how.  Also the logistics of mixing different supernatural races are unclear.  For instance, there is one character who is 100% shifter, but his parents are both half vampire and half shifter.  Even the character himself doesn’t know how that worked out to him being pure shifter.  Some readers probably wouldn’t be bothered by the lack of details and world building regarding the supernatural and just how it works in this world, but others will be.

There are a few minor editing mistakes, the most startling of which is that the book on page 142 suddenly changes from indenting new paragraphs to having a line space between them (like how paragraphs appear on this blog).  I have no preference for one over the other, but consistency throughout the book is preferred.  There is also one plot point that bothered me.  At one point a character is established as being tipsy.  He then kisses someone and, freaked out about it, decides to leave and states that he can because he is “sober as a judge,” and the other character agrees he is fit to drive (page 152).  Unless that kiss lasted an hour or two, there’s no way he went from tipsy to sober as a judge in the span of one kiss (unless something supernatural was going on that was not explained).  Similarly, sometimes the book veers too far into telling rather than showing, particularly in the scenes that are not sex scenes.  For instance, in one scene, this occurs:

He told Kevin a little bit about his own upbringing, just the basics. (page 144)

At this point, the reader does not know much about this character’s upbringing.  Why not write out the dialogue in which the character tells Kevin about it, rather than telling the reader that the character tells Kevin?  The sex scenes never veer into this telling rather than showing zone, and it would be nice if the plot points didn’t either.

There is also a chapter that is called the “epilogue,” which kind of bothered me since it is a direct continuance of the plot in the previous chapters.  No significant time is skipped, nothing in the future is explained.  It is basically the last chapter in the book.  I am uncertain as to why it is thus called an epilogue.  I was expecting it to update me on the future of these characters, not simply continue the story in a direct linear fashion from the last chapter.

Sex acts in the book include: anal sex (male on female), BDSM (male dom, female sub), and M/M kissing/touching.  Rape is mentioned as an occurrence in the past but is not depicted.  Those readers looking for more in-depth M/M scenes should keep their eye out for the next book in the series, as it appears that a M/M relationship will be building to greater intimacy in the next book.

Overall, this is a welcome addition to the paranormal romance genre, featuring a unique cast of characters, including a bisexual half-demon, half-shifter male hero.  The book contains a wide variety of sex scenes, including M/F BDSM and M/M kissing/touching.  Readers interested in in-depth world building may be disappointed by the lack of explanation of the supernatural world these characters inhabit.  Those looking for a quick, steamy read will enjoy these characters and the development of them that goes on in-between their well-written sex scenes.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle copy from author in exchange for my honest review

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Book Review: Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris (Series, #10) (Bottom of TBR Pile Challenge)

Cartoon style drawing of a blonde woman and blonde man reaching toward each other with a giant red rose in the middle.Summary:
With the Fae war at an end, Sookie tries to return to some semblance of normal, working on both physical and emotional rehab.  Although she has feelings for Eric, she is uncomfortable with his insistence that she is his wife, even if she technically is by vampire law.  Plus, his maker and his new vampire-brother show up, putting a strain on the relationship.  Meanwhile, the ramifications of the shifters coming out are beginning to be felt, and Sookie’s fae cousin, Claude, moves in with her, missing the presence of other fairies.

Review:
I just need to take a moment to point out two things.  1) The last time I read/reviewed a Sookie Stackhouse book was in October of 2010.  This is why I started the Bottom of TBR Pile Challenge for myself.  Books (even series books!) were getting lost in the pile!  2) Every time I look at that cover I think for a brief moment that Eric is bald.  Something is just off in that painting.  Now, on to the book.

Even though I read it almost three years ago (seriously, holy shit), I still clearly remember really enjoying the ninth book of the series.  It was action-packed with lots of development of both plot and character.  It reinvigorated the series for me so much so that even this much later, I was excited to pick up the next book.  I should have known it would fizzle some after the action of the last book.  It’s not easy to keep that much tension and action going, and it’s not like there weren’t any lulls earlier in the series.  What I can mostly say about this book is that nothing much happens.  Seriously.  It’s longer than some of the books but less happens.  I suppose technically things do happen.  Eric’s maker shows up with a new vampire-brother for Eric, the hemophiliac Romanov brother, who is just not quite right in the head.  This leads to some interesting development of Eric’s background, but not a ton.  And it just isn’t all that intriguing.  Similarly, even though logically it should be very interesting that Claude shows up at Sookie’s and the weres sniff out two fairies around, but it just isn’t.  They sound interesting on the surface, but when you’re reading the book it mostly feels like you’re hanging out at Sookie’s house eating a cookie and wondering if the calories are worth it to listen to her yammer on.

I think the crux of the problem might be that neither Sookie nor Harris is comfortable with Sookie being with Eric, in spite of the reader liking Sookie being with Eric.  If it’s not within the character for her to be with Eric, then a break-up needs to happen, regardless of what the readers like seeing.  It’s important to keep characters acting within character.  Interestingly, Sookie has started to notice that she is aging and thinking about what it will be like to slowly grow old and die.  She seems to be seriously considering her vampire options.  But we all know Sookie doesn’t want to be a vampire.  Sookie wants children. If she gives that up to be a vampire, it will make the series take an incredibly dark turn.  The next book will be an important one.  It’s basically a shit or get off the pot moment for character development, and in spite of the ho hum nature of this entry in the series, I am interested to see if things pick up in the next book in this regard.  They tend not to slump for long in Sookie Stackhouse-land.

There’s not too terribly much else to say about the book.  Weaknesses that are there earlier in the series are still there.  Sookie isn’t very smart and is kind of annoying.  The sex scenes continue to be cringe-inducing.  But the world is complex and fun to visit, even when not much is happening there.  Sookie does need to start taking some agency soon though, or being stuck with her first person narration may become a bit too much to handle.  Readers of the series will be disappointed by this dull entry, although it won’t come as a surprise since lulls happen earlier in the series.  Enough happens to keep some interest up to keep going with it though.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: PaperBackSwap

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Previous Books in Series:
Dead Until Dark, review
Living Dead in Dallas, review
Club Dead, review
Dead To The World, review
Dead as a Doornail, review
Definitely Dead, review
All Together Dead, review
From Dead to Worse, review
Dead And Gone, review

Friday Fun! (In Which I Become Part Cyborg)

November 19, 2010 6 comments

I have always been accident-prone.  It’s a running joke in my family, in fact.  I shattered more dinner dishes than I’d care to mention.  I was assured that walking into walls would go away with the end of my growth spurts.  It did not.  In fact, I’m currently sporting a bruise from walking into a wall last week.  I also managed to snap my leg in half on a swing-set when I was 11 years old.  Odd accidents are nothing new for me.  So it should come as no surprise that I managed to knock out one of my two front teeth this weekend.

The short version of the story is that it was Sunday afternoon/evening.  I had just mopped my kitchen floor.  I walk/jogged from the bedroom area of my apartment to the kitchen area in my bare feet, forgetting momentarily that I had just mopped.  And I managed to face-plant on the kitchen tiles.  Goodbye front tooth.

Now, when I was growing up the vast majority of the time we didn’t have health insurance.  Emergency care, therefore, is ingrained in my head as only for “real” emergencies.  Thus, in spite of multiple friends’ pleadings for me to go to the ER that night, I declined and said I would wait for the dentist’s office to open in the morning.  After friends helped me get cleaned up and tucked in, I popped some tylenols and went to sleep.

I probably should mention at this point in time that I had an exposed nerve.  Yet I was unconvinced this was an emergency.  I woke up Monday morning, waited until 8:30, which is when I believe doctor’s offices should open, and called my dentist.  The phone informed me he wasn’t opening until 10am.  Ok.  At this point I was in pretty bad pain, so I called the emergency number and left an incredibly apologetic voicemail explaining that I wasn’t certain if it was an emergency, but could he please call me back so we could discuss it.

My super-sweet dentist, who speaks with a lilting Arabic accent, called me back about 20 minutes later.  I lispingly told him one of my front teeth was gone, but the root was still intact so maybe it wasn’t an emergency.  I then started to half-laugh, half-cry at how much like a hillbilly I looked.  My dentist calmed me down and promised me he could fix my smile, this definitely was an emergency, and please come as soon as possible.

My wonderful friend Nina drove me to the dentist’s where I was greeted with shocked looks from everyone in the office.  To sum up all their comments, “Sweetheart, this is so bad!  You must be in so much pain!”  To which I responded, “Well, I’m a tough broad.”  The first thing they did was to numb my mouth, part of which included putting novocaine directly into the exposed nerve.  That is the only point at which during any of these procedures I cried.  They then drilled around, did things to the infection, and put a temporary tooth on.  They explained to me that the infection needed to go away before they could do the next step, so I walked out with prescriptions for codeine and antibiotics.  Let me tell you, that codeine has come in handy.

The next step was on Wednesday, and for the entire procedure I felt like I was suddenly in a scifi movie.  They popped off the temporary tooth and drilled around some more.  Then they informed me that today they were putting in the post and the cap, taking the molds for the new tooth, and then putting on another temporary tooth.  Post? I thought.  What the heck is a post? The next thing I know, the dentist is shoving a metal rod into my jaw.  He pauses for a moment, and the rod is literally extending from my upper jaw all the way down to my lower lip.  My immediate thought?  Haha, Ah’m a vahmpiiiire! Then they pulled it back out, put another one in, and it was suddenly miraculously tooth-length.  Then suddenly I hear the dentist asking the hygeniest  for the torch.  Say what now?! Yup, she had a torch that glowed blue flame, and he placed the tip of one of his tools into it and proceeded to burn part of my gum/teeth.  I was truly horrified/terrified and wide awake.  Also the smell of your own skin burning off at high temperatures is one I doubt I will ever forget.  At around this point in time they took the mold for my new tooth.  The gunk in the mold reminded me remarkably of what I’ve always imagined biting into flesh would taste like.  Haha, now I’m a zombie. Braiiiins I thought.  Then the dentist got this thing that looked like a glue gun, but actually shot out tooth-colored putty.  He applied this to my tooth area, and then the hygeniest used a laser–ya, a motherfucking LASER–to solidify it into my new temporary tooth.  Then the dentist checked the color of my teeth against a chart for the color of my new tooth.  He sweetly informed me that it’s going to be very awesome and ready in 2.5 to 3 weeks.

All I could think while I was walking out of the office was that my mouth now has a metal rod in it, and lasers were used on me, and when my new tooth comes in, I’m totally gonna be part cyborg.

 

Book Review: From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris (Series, #8)

Sookie and a vampire against a stormy background.Summary:
Hurricane Katrina and the bombing of the vampire assembly at Rhodes have left the Louisiana supernatural community reeling and disjointed.  This naturally creates the perfect atmosphere for attempted violent takeovers in both the were and vampire communities.  Sookie finds herself smack in the middle, as usual, both due to her telepathic abilities and her desire to help her friends.  Of course her telepathic abilities can’t tell her where her boyfriend, Quinn, has disappeared to.  In the middle of all this, she also finds out some interesting family secrets.

Review:
Not only is Sookie’s character developing and changing, but the series is as well, and that’s what’s keeping it interesting this many books in.  If you’ve stuck it out this long, then you’re clearly enjoying something that Harris is doing; however, I would say that the previous book and this one mark a stark change in the style of the series away from paranormal romance to just paranormal fiction.  I’m actually not sure what exactly one would call this genre, but From Dead to Worse definitely reads like modern-day fiction just with supernatural characters tossed in.  I really enjoy this partly because Harris’ sex scenes are cringe-inducing anyway, but also because it allows for that modern day connection but with problems that I will never have.  This makes it a relaxing read.

Unlike some paranormal series, the main character of Sookie has gone through significant character developments.  She went from a naive girl desperate to fit in to sadder but wiser woman who enjoys being different.  In the first book, we see Sookie being cared for by her grandmother; in this one, we see Sookie caring for not only the witch, Amelia, but also an elderly woman, Octavia.  It’s not just this that’s changing, however.  Sookie’s experiences leave her wondering if she’s a good person or not, and frankly the reader is left trying to figure that out as well.

Some readers will be thrown by the absence of sex in this book.  However, I enjoyed the various types of sexual and romantic interest tension Sookie has with the various men in her life.  It is evident that she’s attempting to figure out which direction she wants to go in her life before settling on a man.  Racking up this tension throughout one book is a great set-up for the next one.

My only gripes with this entry in the series are two-fold.  First, I really don’t like the Jason/Hotshot storyline.  Jason could be a very interesting character, as we know from the direction they’ve taken him in True Blood.  He’s not used well in the books, though, and I hope Harris fixes this soon.  I’m tired of cringing over the Hotshot scenes.  Also, this book yet again features a northern woman who yet again is an evil bitch in Sookie’s eyes.  This is obviously Harris’ own prejudice coming through as Sookie has been established as a person who is staunchly not prejudiced against anyone.  What is with this hating on northern women?  It says a lot about Harris that this prejudice seeps into her writing even when writing a character who is not prejudiced.  I’m sick of seeing it, and it stings as a northern female fan of the series.

However, in spite of these short-comings, the series is still enjoyable.  This book marks a distinct change in the writing from paranormal romance to simply paranormal.  Readers who’ve stuck it out this far will either enjoy this change as I do or give up on the series due to its lack of romance.  If you’re reading it for the characters and the world Harris has created, you will enjoy this entry into the series.  If you’re reading it for paranormal romance, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: PaperBackSwap

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Previous Books in Series:
Dead Until Dark, review
Living Dead in Dallas, review
Club Dead, review
Dead To The World, review
Dead as a Doornail, review
Definitely Dead, review
All Together Dead, review

Book Review: Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz (Series, #1)

April 26, 2010 6 comments

Female neck wearing a pearl necklace with bite marks against NYC skyline.Summary:
The students at Duchesne Academy in New York City appear to be your typical bunch of wealthy, elite teenagers.  Naturally gorgeous twins Mimi and Jack rule the school.  Bliss became part of Mimi’s entourage when her oil wealthy Texas family moved to NYC.  Schuyler is part of the crowd of misfits who wear goth clothes instead of the more typical Louis Vuitton.  They all gradually discover, however, that the secret to their families’ wealth isn’t just that they came over on the Mayflower.  They are Blue Bloods–vampires who retire from their human shells every 100 years or so then come back with the same blood.  Their teenage years are vulnerable ones, and someone or something out there is managing to kill some of the young Blue Bloods.

Review:
The vampire lore behind this story is not my style.  It is so much not my style that just writing the above summary made me cringe.  None of the official summaries of the book reveal much about the vampire lore, so let me tell you just in case it’s not your style either.  Blue Bloods is heavily steeped in Christianity.  The vampires are fallen angels who are attempting to atone for their rebellion.  They face hundreds of years of punishment trapped in human bodies that they must eventually retire then return in new ones.  The vampires accomplish this reincarnation by taking some of the blood from the dead vampire and implanting it into a vampire woman’s uterus.  It all rings as a bit odd when you have a teenage character who’s never done anything more wrong than sneak into a club be told that she must atone for this rebellion against god that she doesn’t even remember doing hundreds of years ago.  It really takes the bite out of vampires and makes them kind of pathetic.

Where the book is strongest is oddly where the vampire thing is on the back burner.  Schuyler and Bliss get to model for a jean company, and that scene was actually quite enjoyable to read.  If this had been your more typical murder mystery at an elite high school, I think it would have been a much better book.

Some reviewers had a problem with the presence of teenage drinking, drugging, and sex.  I actually thought the sex was handled quite well, with teens talking about it a lot but nobody actually managing to do it.  That read as very real.  The alcohol is kind of a non-factor, since vampires can’t be affected by alcohol.  My only confusion with this is if that’s the case, then why are they risking breaking the law to drink?  I suppose it seems minor compared to convincing a human to become your familiar so you can feed off them.  The drugs are entirely presented in a negative light the few times they are briefly mentioned.

What shocked me, and I can’t believe how infrequently this is mentioned, is that there is incest and the vampires accept it.  Gah!  There are times when incest is present in a book, and it is handled so that all sides of the issue may be seen–all of the accompanying emotions are delicately handled.  Here, the vampires just say that it’s the way it should be and are protective of the siblings.  Not much else is said of it, beyond a few teen vampires being grossed out, but it is made clear that their reactions are considered inappropriate by the vampires.

That said, it’s not badly written on a sentence level.  It reads naturally, which is probably the only reason I struggled through the cringe-inducing lore.  It is essentially Gossip Girl crossed with Vampire Diaries with some incest and Christianity tossed in.  If that’s your thing, you will enjoy it.  All others should probably pass though.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Source: PaperBackSwap

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Book Review: Club Dead by Charlaine Harris (Series, #3)

November 20, 2009 13 comments

Summary:
Bill has been acting oddly distant with Sookie lately, so she isn’t exactly pleased when he announces he’s going to Seattle on a mission for the vampire queen of Louisiana.  She soon finds out from Pam and Eric, though, that Bill lied to her.  He’s actually been in Jackson, Mississippi with his one-time vampire lover, Lorena.  He’s also been kidnapped.  Something he’s been secretly up to has put them all in danger, so Sookie must put aside her anger for now and try to help the vampires free Bill and prevent a vampire war between the kingdoms of Mississippi and Louisiana.  Along the way, Sookie gets to know a whole lot more about the werewolves–not to mention about Eric.

Review:
I have to hand it to Harris, I expected there to be trouble in paradise for Bill and Sookie, but I didn’t expect it this soon or this serious.  Reading Club Dead made me realize this series isn’t about Sookie’s relationship with Bill, but about Sookie’s gradual entry into the supernatural world.  Bill just kind of served as a door.  I tend to be a bit of a romantic, but I’ve never really liked Bill nearly as much as the other supernatural guys, so let me just say–woohoo!

The plot is complex.  There are multiple mysteries for Sookie to figure out on top of dealing with her emotions about Bill’s betrayal and her odd popularity among the supernatural guys.  I enjoy the fact that she was never desired by human guys, but is among the the supernaturals.  It’s akin to the awkward growing up girl finding her niche in her 20s.  At first Sookie thought it was just Bill who has the major hots for her, but it turns out she’s a hot commodity with lots of the supernatural guys, but it isn’t just about her looks.  They like Sookie for her personality.  Something it seemed to me Bill never seemed to appreciate much.

Harris does a good job writing a unique werewolf world.  Whereas the vampires are notoriously cold emotionally, the werewolves are hot-blooded.  They’re passionate, strong, and animalistic.  Harris has them mostly working blue collar jobs, but excelling at it.  Sookie’s escort, Alcide, runs a highly profitable family general contracting business.

My only complaint is that Harris doesn’t seem to trust her readers to remember the rules of the world she’s created.  We get told yet again that silver chains can hold a vampire down, shifters aren’t out yet, Sookie had a hard time in school, the Japanese created synthetic blood, etc…  It’s annoying, and it makes it feel like Harris thinks she needs to dumb down the story for her readers.  I understand a quick rehash at the beginning of the book to remind us where we left off, but as for everything else, I think the reader can be trusted to remember that silver chain nets are dangerous to vampires.  Those parts are easily skimmed over though, and the res of the book makes up for it.

I originally was uncertain that Harris could keep Sookie Stackhouse’s world interesting for seven books.  I envisioned repeated “Bill and Sookie solve yet another mystery” outings, but I am glad to say I was mistaken.  As the books continue, more of the world is revealed, and Sookie’s life becomes more complicated.  I’m looking forward to what she’s going to reveal next.

If you enjoy the gradual building of a world around a strong female character, you will enjoy the direction this series is headed.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Bought on Amazon

Buy It

Previous Books in Series:
Dead Until Dark, review
Living Dead in Dallas, review