As I am writing this post I can't help but think of one of my favourite Sesame Street songs - One of These Doesn't Belong Here. I am sure I have you singing along with me right now. It will make more sense why I reminded of this childhood tune so read on. I was feeling rather sorry for myself and really needed a little 'happily ever after' so I turned to a genre I have a love/don't love relationship with - PNR. I am mega fussy when it comes to PNR and whether I like it depends very much on how strong the heroine is or how early the romance/sex starts. If the hero and heroine are getting their clothes off too early then I am not interested. Likewise, if the leading lady is a bit of a wimp then I tend to lose interest quickly. I usually rely on Amazon recommendations to pick up cheap PNR novels and have come across a couple of good series this way. So enough waffle...what did I read?
I quite like Lilith Saintcrow novels and I spotted Taken on my Amazon Recommendations list. I read the book summary I thought it was going to be the book to just hit the spot. This is one of Saintcrow's stand alone novels and tells the story of Sophie who discovers that she isn't just another 'plain Jane' after witnessing the cruel murder of her best friend at the hands (or teeth) of a vampire. Unfortunately for Sophie, this discovery is revealed when she is kidnapped by Zach who is the reluctant head of what's left of his werewolf family. Zach wants to keep Sophie who he thinks will save his family but all she wants to do is go back to her ordinary life. Nothing is as straightforward as it seems as Sophie becomes the vampires' next target and it's up to Zach to prove he is a leader and win her affections. I liked this novel. Taken had just the right mix of action and romance. Saintcrow really likes to write damaged heroines and Sophie is another example of her portrayal of an abused female lead character. I think there is more of a story to tell for these characters but I don't believe this was part of a series. Luckily, Saintrcrow is a rather prolific writer so I have a lot of books to choose from.
Next to catch my attention was Dannika Dark's Seven Years which was the first in the Seven series. I have tried Dark's other novels and haven't enjoyed them, but this one came with a disclaimer that said it wasn't 'shifter erotica' so I thought it was worth a chance. Seven Years is the story of Lexi who is stuck in the same rut she was in as a teenager - having fun and working in a candy store. Her beloved brother died 7 years earlier and she realises that not much in her life has changed since her brother's death. Everything changes when she runs into her brother's best friend, Austin, who she hasn't seen since the funeral. She had always fancied Austin and now he was back in town looking more handsome than ever. When her Mom and little sister are kidnapped she turns to Austin to help her find them before it's too late. I also enjoyed Seven Years but I thought it was your fairly standard shifter story. I did think that Lexi was realistically written and she had a normal life, for a paranormal. She didn't have everything sorted and had been in a rut since her brother died. This was a refreshing change from the heroines who were either really successful or who had fled some terrible thing in their past. I also thought there was the right level of romance between Lexi and Austin and there was a definite evolution from childhood crush to hot, shifter love. This is great book for a cold and dreary day and when I need another PNR fix I may go for book 2.
Another PNR novel I came across was Bloodsworn by Stacey Brutger. In this story Trina is a witch who has been forced to eek out a life in the human world with her powers stripped away from her. When her sister is kidnapped by vampires Trina she is prepared to do anything to save her....even prepared to be the concubine to the local shifter lion. Merrick is more than intrigued when he discovers Trina hiding on his land. When he discovers that her blood may have the power to save his pack from a debilitating disease he doesn't want to let her go. I had high hopes for Bloodsworn as it had some quite positive reviews and I thought it sounded like an interesting twist on the traditional paranormal tale of girl witch meets boy shifter. However, I found both Trina and Merrick quite dull. I kind of felt let down by the lack of chemistry between these two characters and Trina hardly did anything to be considered Merrick's concubine. Plus, Brutger broke one of my PNR rules - if you are in the midst of a life or death situation you aren't going to be getting all sexy with your shifter honey. I am sorry but nearly getting killed by blood thirsty vampires and rogue shifters is a real romance killer! You also need both feet on the floor to dodge the next attack. I should count myself lucky that I liked 2 out of the 3 PNR books I just came across.
The fourth and final book I would like to tell you about is Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. This is my 'one of these things doesn't belong here' as this the only non-PNR book I read that week. I really enjoyed Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy and I was eager to read something else of his. It was a toss up whether I would read the Rithmatist or Steelheart but opted for the latter. This is the first in the Reckoners series and is set in a dystopian/alternate reality world where the 'Calamity' turned ordinary men and women into Epics - who each had weird and wonderful superpowers. Rather than using their powers for good the Epics oppressed everyone around them and treated anyone normal like slaves......well everyone but the Reckoners who were an group of renegades who wanted to take down the Epics. In the midst of this is David who witnessed the death of his father at the hands of the king of the Epics - Steelheart. He is resourceful and dedicated to bringing down his father's murderer. Revenge is the name of the game and David wants to be the winner. I enjoyed Steelheart but unlike 'the Hubinator' I wasn't enthralled. Where the Mistborn series was also YA fantasy this felt like it was written for a much younger audience and, therefore, I guessed at what was going to happen and what secrets the characters were trying to hide. Sanderson excels at world building and Steelheart is no exception. Despite a few misgivings this is a good start to what I hope is going to be a great series.
Well I am sure you have started to nod off at the length of this post but I had sooo much to say. I hope I have given you a few ideas of what you can read next and that I haven't cursed you with singing Sesame Street songs for the rest of the day. Until next week Happy Reading.