Saturday, March 21, 2015

REVIEW: Dragon Actually by G. A. Aiken

***This book was originally reviewed for GraveTells.***
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Summary:

It’s not always easy being a female warrior with a nickname like Annwyl the Bloody. Men tend to either cower in fear-a lot-or else salute. It’s true that Annwyl has a knack for decapitating legions of her ruthless brother’s soldiers without pausing for breath. But just once it would be nice to be able to really talk to a man, the way she can talk to Fearghus the Destroyer.

Too bad that Fearghus is a dragon, of the large, scaly, and deadly type. With him, Annwyl feels safe-a far cry from the feelings aroused by the hard-bodied, arrogant knight Fearghus has arranged to help train her for battle. With her days spent fighting a man who fills her with fierce, heady desire, and her nights spent in the company of a magical creature who could smite a village just by exhaling, Annwyl is sure life couldn’t get any stranger.

She’s wrong…

And just wait until you meet the rest of the family…

Thoughts:

Shelly Laurenston tends to write humorously with a lot of heat and wit, and writing as G. A. Aiken does not appear to have changed that at all. The characters are vivid and feisty and I can’t get enough of them. The story is compelling as well, especially since the romance is so unexpected under the circumstances of war and difference of species. The family dynamics between Fearghus and his siblings are hilarious, while Annwyl’s are tragic, easily demonstrating depth in both the characters and the plot. I love the balance between human and dragon in Fearghus and between woman and warrior in Annwyl.

The ending is cute with a short and sweet battle and fun family showdown. Fearghus’s siblings are so obnoxious I laughed out loud. His parents are a fierce mystery, which we thankfully get to see more of in the two following novellas that are included in the book itself. The first is the story of Fearghus’s parents, and the second is about Fearghus’s uncle whom we meet in the first novella.

There’s a little kink with some light spanking and brief rope play, but nothing that would necessarily label this as BDSM. However, once you get into the novellas, that changes. Chains and Flames in particular involves, you guessed it, chains! It certainly grabs your attention right from the start. The story is such a tug of war and is such fun, though I still liked the primary tale in the book better. It was really nice to have the “rumors” mentioned in Fearghus’s story explained during his parent’s story. And I absolutely LOVE the ending – so funny!

Tale of Two Dragons starts off as a prequel to Chains and Flames, but ends after it. This novella was a ton of fun, complete with someone getting tied to a bed, and I enjoyed it more than the previous one. Addolgar is so laid back and Braith is endearing. They have a very funny story and sweet ending. The political machinations were a little murky for me, but still followable enough. The ending is all that counts anyway.

The book in its entirety leaves SO much room for sequels, prequels, and everything in between with all the siblings among the various characters.

Dragon Actually is an easy read that brings the world of dragon shifters to vibrant life. The writing is so fun, sexy, and addictive with such vivid characters that you’ll only be left wanting more. I’m officially a fan of the series after only the first installment!


Saturday, March 14, 2015

REVIEW: Heart of Rock by Karyn Gerrard

***This book was originally reviewed for GraveTells.***
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Summary:

Irishman Brogan Byrne is at the pinnacle of 1974 rock-music success. Handsome, charismatic, with a three-octave voice, you’d think he had it all. But Byrne sinks to new depths of depravity with women, liquor, and drugs.

Carly Montgomery is an ambitious record executive offered an opportunity to be manager for the last leg of Byrne's tour. Though she’s detached and tough as nails, Carly’s cool facade comes under attack. Somehow Byrne manages to slip by her frosty defenses.

Brogan, for his part, is broken inside. A past memory weighs on his soul, affecting his actions. Is Carly the one woman to help him forget his guilt and heal his heart of rock?

Thoughts:

I have mixed feelings about this book in all honesty. I like the broken man needing healing angle, sure, but he really hits rock bottom at the beginning and it’s hard to like Brogan at all. However, as he’s forced to clean up and he realizes just how bad he’d gotten, he kind of grew on me. I like Carly, especially for how she manhandles Brogan, but she gets reckless with him. I appreciate his transformation and her role in making it happen, but I don’t know how much I liked exactly how it played out. Their love scenes weren't bad, but I think I liked their general chemistry better.

I loved a few of the secondary characters and I’m disappointed we don’t get more of them, such as Brogan’s brothers and Carly’s right hand man, Gio (he was definitely my favorite). Overall, I just didn’t fully connect with our hero and heroine, maybe due to how little we really know about them beyond one character defining experience, and I felt their relationship developed too quickly and easily, though the ending was realistic and heartwarming.