Requested Review: Coercion by Lux Zakari

Format: E-bookcoercion
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Erotica
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Lyrical Press Inc.
Hero: Michael Vartanian
Heroine: Valerie Mercer
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: August 2, 2010
Started On: May 18, 2011
Finished On: May 18, 2011

I didn’t know what to expect when I delved into Coercion by Lux Zakari but I have got to say that it certainly held my undivided attention throughout which had me going from the start to finish in one sitting, just taking a timeout for toilet breaks in between. I was utterly riveted and fascinated with everything that was going on and for the world of me I couldn’t have dragged myself away from the story that unfolded.

I have a hard time defining Coercion as a romance because simply put, this is not a romance novel. But, Coercion is a story that combines the power of love, the ability of mind numbing lust to obliterate everything else and the lengths to which humans would go to possess the ones that they love.

Valerie Mercer is an only child and an introverted and insecure one at that who in her aim to change her life for the better sheds 25 pounds and emerges with a new look just in time for the start of the new semester. Though guys who have never noticed her before seems to be doing the total opposite, the only guy that Valerie wants to be noticed by is the one and only Michael Vartanian, the proverbial bad-boy of Kenton.

Michael is the only son of a Reverend, whose mother just one day upped and left and never returned. Michael doesn’t seem to care about anything in his life apart from being with his on and off girl friend Kim Breza (Breeze) and getting his kicks from indulging in the forbidden.

When circumstances at first drives Michael to seek Valerie, she is more than willing to be driven out of her senses right up against her mother’s car. And though Michael has no intention of returning any of what Valerie so obviously feels for him, time and time again Michael seeks her out, and makes use of her only to discard her once the deed is done. There is nothing on Earth that Valerie wouldn’t do to keep Michael by her side, to earn his love and approval, even if it means going against each and every belief that she has upheld till now.

In the end, there is no happily ever after for either of them, but nevertheless it was a fitting end to the volatile stream of emotions that this novel seems to be able to invoke in abundance, leaving a bittersweet tang in the air, which had me wistfully wishing for a novel that would portray the new Michael that would emerge from what follows the conclusion of this story.

Coercion is a novel that delivers well in the angst department, drawing me in until I was as helplessly ensnared in the story as Valerie seems to be with Michael. Michael is a hero not many readers would be willing to take. But I applaud Lux Zakari for having the guts to come out and write such a hero and send out a huge thank you to Lyrical Press for publishing this novel as it is. Because whilst happily ever afters and rosy kisses at the end are all well and good, Coercion is a novel that rings true to real life in so many ways which makes this book all that much better.

Whilst Michael makes you want to sit back in horrified fascination it is Valerie that you want to shake up well and good to make her see that it is Valerie that gives Michael the ability to screw up her life in more ways than one. In the end, Coercion does leave one with the valuable lesson that in order to be loved for who you are, you need to love yourself for who you are – all that more.

I loved this utterly fascinating piece of work and would recommend this highly to readers who want something a LOT more different than the usual romance novels that your erotica generally delivers. This ones made of much more and if you are a reader like myself this one would leave you definitely wanting more of Michael, no matter how unlikely it may seem. And that is a testament to Lux Zakari’s ability to spin a well rounded tale which certainly lands her in my list of authors to look out for in the future.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo | Lyrical Press

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Review: Crimson Night by Trisha Baker

Format: E-bookcrimsonnight
Read with: Microsoft Reader & Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Horror
Series: Crimson, Book 2
Publisher: Pinnacle
Hero/Villain: Lord Simon Baldevar
Heroine: Meghann Katherine Agnes O’Neill
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 1, 2002
Started On: March 17, 2011
Finished On: March 20, 2011

Crimson Night picks up where Crimson Kiss, the first book in the Crimson trilogy left off. Fascinated as I was to continue with the tempestuous love between Lord Simon Baldevar, a 400 year old vampire and his at times reluctant and fiery consort Meghann Katherine Agnes O’Neill, I had to take a breather and read a bit of good old romance before rushing headlong into this one.

When I picked up the 2nd book in this trilogy, I was prepared to face more of the same variety of horror and macabre scenes that I encountered in book 1. However I was pleasantly surprised to find out this book tended to be a bit mellow compared to the first book and it delivered more on the development of the relationship and the feelings between Simon and Meghann.

This story kicks off with Meghann realizing that her last encounter with Simon has rendered her pregnant and Meghann continues to grow weaker as days pass by because of her body’s inability to hold in whatever blood that she tries to consume, something that is vital for her survival. What Meghann does not know is the fact that that very night Simon forged an unbreakable link between them that ties them together which would let Simon know the minute his Meghann needs his help, something which Simon is betting on to happen since he knows just what the rare happenstance of a pregnancy between a vampire couple means on the mother.

Frantic with worry and not knowing what else to do, Dr. Charles Tarleton, Meghann’s faithful companion and best friend in the whole world seeks out Dr. Lee Winslow, a brilliant gynecologist who also is an ex-lover. Though Lee is far from happy to hear from the man who broke his heart 10 years ago, there is a shared history between Lee and Meghann that makes Lee swear to do everything he can to help Meghann survive what looks to be a very risky pregnancy.

With an abortion totally ruled out because of Meghann’s weak condition, Lee barely manages to understand the complexity behind Meghann’s rejection of her natural instinct to drink blood and it is only Simon’s timely appearance that saves Meghann from wasting away until death comes calling. Once again, Meghann becomes dependent on Simon for nourishment which sickens her to the extreme but with no other viable option in front of her, Meghann concedes to Simon’s wishes for the moment in return for Simon’s acceptance in allowing Meghann to take care of her mortal ex-lover Jimmy who has been rendered insane by Simon’s cruelty when turning him into an immortal as a means of revenge on Meghann.

As any mortal pregnant woman, Meghann too is susceptible to mood swings and emotional upheavals from which she finds solace only in Simon, her Master’s arms, something that makes Meghann continually question herself on the reason as to why she feels such conflicting emotions when it comes to Simon.

Simon is a man who is biding his time, who has learnt from his past mistakes with Meghann, who swears that he would never hurt her again, and continues to charm her and woo her back into his life with his tender side, something that only Meghann is witness to.

Before long, Meghann has to face the true nature of her unchanging feelings towards Simon which proves to be the best thing that ever happens to her as Simon loves, cherishes and takes care of her in a way that totally melted all my antagonistic feelings towards Simon, which were at an all time high during the initial stages of the story.

What I loved most about the 2nd book was finding about Simon’s past from his point of view, which takes the reader along with Meghann on a journey of discovery as to why Simon is the way he is. Though there are no excuses whatsoever for his penchant for debauchery and despicable behavior, you can’t help but empathize with Simon and nod along in something close to understanding as to why Simon turned out the way he is. Simon’s take on his past life opens up the doors to a side of Alcuin, Meghann’s savior in book 1 that I always suspected of, but in the end I was surprised when Alcuin did not turn out  to be a true villain in the end.

It is the relationship that fosters and grows between Simon and Meghann that captivated me throughout the better half of the book as I reveled in the care and attention that Simon languished on the mother of his children. Though Meghann continually swings back and forth between her decision to stay with Simon and completely give herself to him at first, Meghann learns to accept the fact  that some part of her would always wholeheartedly love Simon no matter what cruelties lie beneath his beauty and charm. And it was quite refreshing to see Lee and especially Charles’s view on Simon take a turn for the better as he realizes that the immortal whom everyone keeps saying has no heart finally begins to show signs that he indeed has one, and is vulnerable towards the only woman he has ever loved.

This book invoked so many emotions from deep within me as I read along. Loathing and contempt towards Simon were one of the first strong feelings that took root inside of me during the first couple of chapters as I saw nothing in Simon that was worthy of my treacherous heart’s yearning to see at least one redeemable quality in my villainous hero. However as I read along, Trisha Baker managed to make my emotions do a total 180 degree turn as I was seduced right along with Meghann to fall bit by bit in love with a vampire who would cross no bounds whatsoever in his attempt to keep Meghann by his side. And towards the end, it was deep and utter sadness and a feeling of melancholy that spread through me as I realized that a happily ever after was not possible for Meghann and Simon, as the one thing that was supposed to bring them closer than ever ends up being the catalyst that drives them apart – for now.

I recommend this series for  those who are interested in reading a tale of love between vampires that is a tad different from what you normally encounter. But mind you, these stories are not for the faint of heart because you encounter many vicious and heartbreaking things before you get to the bittersweetness of it all towards the end.

I picked out some quotes from this book as well, scenes that just have to be shared in my review, which otherwise would be incomplete in my opinion.

God, she was exhausted—she had no energy anymore; she used it all up in trying to keep Lord Baldevar from reading her thoughts. Meghann shuddered—wondering what would happen if he knew of her constant, gnawing worry that he’d kill her after she gave birth and then her poor baby would be all alone with the monster.
“Yaahhh!” Meghann started at the icy touch to her cheek and looked up to see Lord Baldevar sitting beside her, holding out a dripping cloth.
“Little one,” he whispered tenderly before she could say anything, “if you don’t stop weeping, you’ll break the heart you insist I don’t have.”

“I don’t know” Charles started to say but Lord Baldevar’s putting one large hand over Meghann’s and gently pulling it from her hair caught his attention. He grasped her hands and Charles would never know what he said to her but the nervous expression left Meghann’s eyes and she smiled again. What did Lord Baldevar do to reassure her?
He reached into his tuxedo jacket and handed Meghann a valet ticket, and she reached up to kiss him good-bye no polite, social gesture but a full, lingering kiss that made Lord Baldevar wrap one long, tuxedo-clad arm about her waist and pull her against him before releasing her with a small groan that reached Charles’s keen ears.
The vampire gazed down at Meghan, and Charles felt the air between them nearly smolder. Good God, he’d never felt such an undercurrent of passion and sensuality as he did right now, observing Meghann with her lover.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Abe Books

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Review: Amidst a Crowd of Stars by Megan Hart

Format: E-book
Read with: Mobipocket Reader & Amazon Kindle
Length: Short Novel
Genre: Futuristic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Amber Quill Press
Hero: Keane Delacore
Heroine: Marrin Levy
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 1, 2005
Started On: September 21, 2010
Finished On: September 21, 2010

I have always come across rave reviews of books by Megan Hart and I think I did start out with one of her books sometime back which I never got round to reading more than a couple of pages. But after reading this book, I have the mind to hunt down the book I left hanging because Megan Hart writes a poignant story that really touches something deep inside of the reader.

Amidst a Crowd of Stars is a futuristic romance set on a planet called as Lujawed, a planet where the sun always shines relentlessly. The planet is harsh desert all around, the water hidden so deep within it that bringing forth water on such a dry land was a back breaking task in itself. Marrin Levy and her husband Seth with their two young girls make their way to Lujawed with her husband’s idealistic and unrealistic dreams to change their lives for the better. Lujawed had been one of those rare planets which had been settled without war. The native Lujawedians weren’t really forward minded people and didn’t give much thought to changing their lives for the better with irrigation, sanitation, roads, medical care and other such services Earthlings had come to depend on as the necessities in life.

When Seth had contracted a virus and died, leaving her with two girls and one more on the way with a mountain of debt in his wake, Marrin had been devastated to say the least. Many a time she had nearly given up and she would have returned back to Earth if they had had any money left, and nearly after 3 years of struggling in poverty, hunger and backbreaking labor had forced Marrin to send for what the Homesteaders called a “field-husband” with whom she had to enter into a contract which gives the husband conjugal rights in exchange for his labor.

When Keane Delacone steps onto Lujawed and smiles upon Marrin and her three daughters Aliya, Sarai and Hadassah and wins over the affections of the elder two right away, Marrin is taken aback even though she knows that Seveerans who didn’t reproduce where science had replaced childbirth, procreated solely via artificially inseminated and cultivated embryos, do not age like those from Earth. Technology had advanced so much for Seveerans that they had obliterated the aging process and their lifespans were limited only by accident or choice. Even then, Keane who had been 40 Earth years old when he had stepped onto Lujawed had looked younger than Marrin who had been 26 Earth years old then. But even then, Marrin had been taken in by the beauty that shone on the surface as well as deep within him, which she had come to acknowledge and love as one full rotation had passed with them living together, but never coming together as husband and wife.

With Keane by her side, life had prospered all around them. As love had  blossomed between the two, a love that had grown stronger with time, so had come about the realization of Seth’s dreams. The harsh desert landscape now yielded them with flowers and grass all year round, and Ashco their company had been borne, which currently was the largest supplier of fresh udeji melons in the entire county.

On a planet that rotated twice as fast around the sun as Earth does, the years had doubled for Merrin, but not her lifespan though her beloved husband does not look a day older than when he had first stepped onto Lujawed. I don’t think I can adequately describe the emotions that flitted through me whilst I was lost in the magic of the love between Merrin and Keane, a man so gentle and kind, the kind of man who knows what his partner wants and needs even when she doesn’t know how to voice her wants and desires. A man who is so patient as to wait for her to fulfill all that she wants in life and then some, to stand beside her in her victories and share every little thing in life that is important to her. Now, why can’t men like Keane exist in real life I wonder? *Huge sighing session begins*

The ending left me undoubtedly with tears in my eyes, made all the better with the unusual style in which the story is represented. Starting from the present day, Megan Hart takes us back through the years or rotations as they are called, beginning with a Merrin who was in her last days on the verge of death with an unwavering Keane by her side mistaken by the nurses at the hospital as Merrin’s grandson. Megan Hart then takes us on the journey of their life together which spans around 120 plus rotations during which her three children get married, start their own lives, Merrin retires on the request of her husband who has never asked for anything from her till then so they could spend whatever little time Merrin had left together. The ending which was bittersweet couldn’t have been more perfect than what it was and I am so very glad I read this short yet meaningful novel. My only wish as always is that this could have been longer.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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Review: Rainwater by Sandra Brown

Format: E-bookrainwater
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Hero: David Rainwater
Heroine: Ella Barron
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 3, 2009
Started On: August 13, 2010
Finished On: August 14, 2010

Sandra Brown has taken a leap and written a story that is so different from her usual books and this story has touched me so deeply that I can’t help but think about it every few seconds. I found myself unable to sleep long after I finished the book, a bittersweet pain that clutched at my heart and refused to let go.

The year is 1934, the period of a great drought together with economic depression that has hit the Americans hard. Ella Barron runs her boardinghouse in Texas and makes sure that life runs smoothly, as smoothly as it can under the circumstances. With an autistic son in tow, life is hard for Ella, during a time period when autism and its symptoms weren’t widely known. With a husband who had run out on them long time back, Ella makes do with what she earns from renting her home to boarders.

When the town’s doctor comes calling one day with a distant cousin of his in tow, Ella can hardly refuse to accept him into her home. And when she finds out that David Rainwater is terminally ill from cancer and is just biding away his time until death comes calling, she can’t help but look out for him. From the very beginning David shows an uncanny interest in Solly, Ella’s son and makes quite a progress with him, something Ella hadn’t been able to do which makes her at first jealous and then later thankful.

Things are hardly idyllic during a period of drought and economic depression. With hooligans ruling the town and employing scaring tactics to keep a stronghold on its residents, it is Mr. Rainwater who steps up and stands up to the group who intimidates and at last resort to murder. Meanwhile, no matter how hard Ella tries to keep Mr. Rainwater at a distance, nothing can prevent the deep awareness that crops up between the two, and the connection that these two establish during a few chance encounters after the rest of the household has gone to bed.

Throughout the book I kept praying for a miracle that would take away David’s cancer, and kept hoping that Solly would come to be a remarkable man with his uncanny aptitude for numbers. But the bittersweet ending in which David gives up his life for Solly when Ella and David had just professed to love one another kept the tears coming.

Reading the epilogue requires a healthy amount of tissues I have to tell you. Life after the death of Mr. Rainwater who leaves all his property to Ella who makes a name for herself in the business world, and Solly who dies at the age of 32 having never reached his full potential but having had a life as best as he could. And to find out that the antique store owner is none other than Mr. Rainwater’s son sealed the deal for me.

I realize after reading this why I am not so much of a fan of bittersweet endings, one of the reasons why I tend to stay away from books written by Nicholas Sparks. But I wouldn’t change even one sentence of this wonderful book, because this is a story that makes you think, makes you fall irrevocably in love and in the end cry for all the things that could have been. Highly recommended for all types of fiction readers. This is not just a romance, but a story about life, its hardships and its bittersweet offerings.

Until next time! *Sniff*

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard

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Review: Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle & Mobipocket Reader
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Night Huntress, Book 1
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Hero: Crispin Phillip Arthur Russel III (Bones)
Heroine: Catherine Kathleen Crawford (Cat)
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 1, 2007
Started On: July 6, 2010
Finished On: July 7 2010

I am not much of a fan of reading books of a series, mostly because the happily ever after that I am looking for doesn’t come about until the very last book has been published. Nevertheless apart from Twilight which I attempted reading a couple of days back and stopped, this is the first series that I am ever attempting to read and am determined to complete reading.

The night huntress series is an urban fantasy romance featuring half-vampire Cat Crawfield  whose the heroine featured together with Bones, a two hundred year old vampire whose a bounty hunter of his kind. Cat never knew that she was half-vampire or the fact that her mother bore her after getting raped by a vampire until she turns sixteen. Though Cat has always known she is different from the rest of her peers, its only when her mother explains about the “evil” that resides within her that Cat comes to realize what she truly is.

Her mother’s hatred for the vampire species has Cat out hunting for those who prey on humans for feeding and killing them without any compunction because Cat feels that she owes her mother for what she went through. It is during one of these hunting sessions that Cat comes across Bones. The scene where Cat first meets Bones is one that would always be etched on my mind because of the hilarity of the moment.

Before Cat knows it, she is captured and being interrogated by the fearsome vampire who moves as fast as lightning. A deal is struck between the two though Cat doesn’t trust the magnificent vampire who stands in front of her and raises her hackles so effortlessly. Bones promises that he would help Cat find his father in return for her services in hunting down and killing rogue vampires.

Bones trains Cat to be more efficient and to make the best use of her skills and assets which makes her a deadly opponent. However the hunt for a deadly vampire who has powerful friends in high places within the government becomes a deadly race against time when Cat’s family is threatened.

The sexual tension between Bones and Cat is sizzling hot and I found myself craving for a Bones for myself. Although this story is told in the heroine’s perspective in the first person, it doesn’t hinder any part of the novel,  in fact it just made things more interesting if I may say so.

But the ending is not a happy one with Cat and Bones going their separate ways, and I am thankful for the fact I won’t have to wait eons for the next book in the series to come out. Four books of the series have been published with the fifth one to come out on the 22nd of February next year with a total of seven books in the series as denoted on the author’s website.

I just have got to say, I am loving Bones and I don’t think I will ever get enough of him. I hope that the other books in the series continue with the same sizzling heat and adventure that would keep the pages turning.

My favorite line from the book would have to be when Bones says to Cat “If you run from me, I’ll chase you, And I’ll find you”. Sigh!! And you just gotta love his British accent, the way he calls Cat “Kitten” and the way he calls Cat “luv”. Drools!!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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