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Archive for the ‘fiction’ Category

The Gargoyle-Andrew Davidson

In fiction on November 15, 2010 at 12:10 am

A Haunting Story

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson is a touching love story of a man horribly burned in a car accident and a woman who comes to him in the hospital claiming they were lovers in medieval Germany when she nursed him back to health the first time he was burned.  Full of flashbacks and painful descriptions of a life considered lost but then found anew, Davidson’s story is one that stays with you long after you finish it. 

The narrator, a nameless man who is the center of the story, is a lost soul before the accident.  Born to a mother who died in childbirth and an absentee father, he bounces from relative to relative, through meth users and extended family members who don’t want him around.  By the time he enters adulthood, he’s good at two things:  sex and doing drugs.  He has to choose one to make a living at, so he becomes a porn star.  By the time of the accident, the narrator is in his early thirties and a coked up mess.

The accident changes his life, and for many months after he comes out of the coma from his massive third-degree burns, he thinks of little else but ending it all.  The life he’d been forced to leave behind, one of health and excess, is gone to him forever.  He has nothing to live for.  But a woman named Marianne Engel visits him one day and begins to tell him the stories that will make him fall in love with her.  A sculptor, Marianne tells him that she has lived since the middle ages and knew him then, the first time she nursed him back to health from burns.  Marianne’s constant caring of him continues when he is released from the hospital and into her care.  It’s then that he realizes that she is mentally unstable, but he doesn’t care.  Her stories of their love in ages past give him what he’s never had before:  a real relationship and the only real love he’s ever experienced in his life.

The Gargoyle is at times a painful story to read.  The descriptions of the care that burn victims must endure are difficult to get through, and they are plentiful in this story.  The details of what his body experienced in the crash and afterward during his recovery are at times simply too much.  But the reader is rewarded with a love story that is tender and memorable, and even heartbreaking at times.

This story may not be for everybody, but I can promise you that if you read The Gargoyle, it will touch you and stay with you.

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The Ruthless Charmer, Julia London

In author information, Book Reviews, fiction, romance novels, romantic heroes, Uncategorized on November 3, 2010 at 1:33 am

The Bad Reputation Of An English Rake ……..Is So Very Good…

Lady Claudia Whitney is disturbed at the re-appearance of Julian Dane, Earl of Kettering and notorious rake, during her visit to France.  Harboring hidden love Claudia flees, returning to England, unable and unwillilg to trust herself in his presence.  Julian is the unrepentant rake Claudia imagines, with one curious problem of his own.  He has loved Lady Whitney for the last few years.  The memory of tragic events their shared history evokes, and each one’s belief that their love is unrequitted threatens to keep them separated until the fateful party at Harrison Green’s London home.  Julian pushes further than he should with a proper lady of Claudia’s social standing when he realizes her desire matches his own; and when gossip-monger Mrs. Frankton happens upon them in a questionable position, Claudia’s reputation is bound for ruination.  Julian proposes the only acceptable alternative, marriage, and at her father’s insistance, Claudia has no choice but to marry the man she is certain will break her heart.

Julia London nicely brought the couple together in The Ruthless Charmer, however, once together the pair make one bad relationship choice after another.  Honestly, London’s male character has the more level head of the two, and for being a rake, he is quite responsible in his business dealings.  Overall, Julian Dane’s character is ably put together, London writing just enough torment into his soul and swagger in his step to make him tempting.  London also described some very passionate scenes between the newlywed couple worth reading.  Her heroine, Claudia, brings to light the plight of many womens’ sufferings in the early 1800’s through her extensive charity work, which was perhaps the most redeeming quality of Lady Claudia’s character.  Regency romances abound in drama, and The Ruthless Charmer, is no exception.  Readers should be prepared, for London’s drama in this novel is …..ruthless.

Recommendation:  * * * _ _   The Ruthless Charmer offers a smooth English rake for readers seeking that particular poison, but is otherwise an average period romance.

~Moira

Frankenstein: Lost Souls-Dean Koontz

In Book Reviews, fiction, horror on October 25, 2010 at 12:01 am

The Fourth Time Is Not A Charm

Dean Koontz returns to the Frankenstein story with his fourth book in the series, Lost Souls. The five remaining characters from the third book, Dead and Alive, are back:  Deucalion, Victor Frankenstein’s original creation; Carson O’Connor and Michael Maddison, former New Orleans police officer partners and now married private detectives and new parents of a little girl in San Francisco; and Erika Five, Victor’s fifth wife creation, and Jocko, the creature that grew from one of his creations and stays with Erika. Deucalion corrals them all to help him fight Victor again, but this time it’s a Victor replicant the human being created because they killed the real Victor in New Orleans at the end of Book Three. They all gather in Rainbow Falls, Montana, where the new Victor, now called Victor Leben has successfully created a new breed of replicants who are planning to exterminate all of humanity.

I freely admit that I read this series because I like what Koontz does with the character of Deucalion.  I continue to say that he is one of the best characters fiction has to offer today.  That said, this book is not one I enjoyed.  The story is filled with characters far less interesting than Deucalion, and he is in just a small fraction of the story (less than a tenth).  The vast majority of the book is about the townspeople of Rainbow Falls, Montana, and the almost boring descriptions of how they are all being done away with and replaced with replicants.  Koontz would be better off beginning the story with this already having taken place and the five main characters then having to act to end Victor’s reign of terror.  But that would mean only one book instead of three or more.

In addition, the reader finds out little that is mentioned in the blurb on the inside, front cover.  So what I must assume is that this book’s information is actually the information for other books to follow.  That seems like a bait and switch.  Do publishers not have to give information on the actual book I’m reading anymore? I’m only happy I didn’t buy this book but took it out of the library.  I can’t imagine how anyone would be satisfied if they bought this book thinking the write up on the inside flap was the story they would be reading. The story the reader finds in the book is far less interesting because it’s basically just the introduction to a story that will follow in future books.  That’s like reading the beginning of Dracula and only getting to the part when the main character gets to London.

Overall, this book seems like the prologue to the same story he told in the last three books. However, this one doesn’t even do as much as the first book in the series, Prodigal Son, did to set up the other two books after it.  As much as I enjoy the character of Deucalion, I don’t think Koontz does justice to the story he established in the previous three books with Lost Souls.
-Alexandria

Blood On Silk-Marie Treanor

In Book Reviews, fiction, romance novels on October 15, 2010 at 12:08 am

A Vampire I Could Sink My Teeth Into

Marie Treanor’s novel, Blood On Silk, is part romance, part paranormal, part Gothic, and all wonderful.  The story is about a woman named Elizabeth Silk, a Scottish academic who is researching in Romania for her PhD.  Her work continues to reveal one name:  Saloman, the name of an ancient vampire killed centuries ago.  The locals in the village she is staying in speak of him constantly, and when she is given the chance to explore where he’s buried by a man named Dmitriu, she takes it and finds herself at the beginning of an adventure that will bring her to Saloman’s bed and mortal danger.

Blood On Silk is a wonderfully delicious gothic romance.  Treanor has written a page turner, and her characters, particularly Saloman, are crafted well.  Saloman is a terrific vampire-what all vampires should be in romantic fiction. When he speaks, he seems to almost purr.  Treanor’s writing of his part is especially good. When Saloman is on the page, his actions almost glide across the page in front of the reader.  Elizabeth, the romantic heroine, is well written also, a rarity in romantic fiction. Treanor doesn’t have her behave in ways that don’t fit the story, which is not always the case in romances. All too often the heroine is either getting in the way of a good story or making life unnecessarily difficult for the romantic hero, ostensibly because this furthers the story, but usually because it just makes the story longer and the plot more tortuous.

I’ve read many vampire romances, from Christine Feehan’s  to J.R. Ward’s to Delilah Devlin’s and the list goes on, and never have I read a story with a vampire as fantastic as Saloman.  Treanor’s story is sensual and smart, just how this Broad likes them.  Read and enjoy!
-Alexandria

Mad, Bad, and Dangerous To Know….That’s How I Like My Vampires.

Elizabeth Silk is writing her doctoral thesis on the myths and legends of the vampire, and while researching the lives of men accused of vampirism in ages past, she is taken across Romania, Hungary, and the surrounding areas.  Interestingly, the name Saloman appears in a number of legends spanning centuries and countries.  Intrigued, Elizabeth searches for more information on the origin of Saloman, and is informed by a peasant that a nearby tomb contains his remains.  When Elizabeth enters the crypt, she awakens the last pure vampire from a 300 year imprisonment brought on him through betrayal.  Swearing to avenge his betrayal, Saloman seeks to consolidate his power and destroy his enemies in the vampire realm before beginning his ascent to power in the human world.  To regain his strength, he must drink the blood of his vampire betrayers, the blood of the descendants of the humans who helped them, and the blood of his awakener.

Saloman is the best vampire in the romance genre this broad has read.  Marie Treanor created a vampire character that was powerful, confident, murderous, and sensual.  This vampire will suck the last drop of blood from your body without remorse or shame.  Blood On Silk contained some great sexual tension.  Saloman’s enthrallment of Elizabeth in the club was an absolutely fantastic scene!  The dialogue between Elizabeth and Saloman was at times dreadful (I hate cheeky remarks from someone who ought to , by rights, be terrified), but at other times wonderful (I adore well worded professions of love in the midst of passion).

One disappointing aspect of the story was the eventual promise from Saloman to spare Elizabeth’s life.  The high risk stakes of gambling with life gave the story an edge and kept the tension high.  I’m not sure Saloman is quite as attractive after this, and both Alexandria and I wonder if the next book in the series will measure up after this confession.  Putting these concerns aside, this was a superb story.

Recommendation:  ****_ Good story, good vampire, good reading.

~Moira

Frankenstein: Book Three, Dead and Alive-Dean Koontz

In Book Reviews, fiction, horror on October 4, 2010 at 12:11 am

The Conclusion of The Frankenstein Trilogy

Dead and Alive, Book Three of Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein trilogy, concludes the story of Victor Frankenstein/Helios vs Deucalion, Carson, and Michael. Deucalion is set on his goal: to destroy his creator, Victor Frankenstein, who is now going by the name Victor Helios and lives in New Orleans, where he makes human replicants by the thousands. Helping Deucalion are a number of factors: the two New Orleans police officers, Carson and Michael, are his helpers in taking down Helios, but additionally, a flaw in the replicants which is making them act distinctly unlike Helios has designed them is helping the three. The action takes Deucalion and the cops from the building where Victor creates his “people” in New Orleans to a dump outside of Lake Pontchartrain where mistakes from his laboratory and former replicants who had displeased him are disposed of and to a variety of locales in between. The action is fast in this installment, and the majority of the book reads like the story is careening toward the ending.

This third book is bizarre in some parts, and unnecessarily so.  It’s already quite fantastical that a man has created thousands of creatures that look and act like humans but are as replaceable as worn out shoes.  It’s not necessary to up the weird factor and introduce characters into the third book that are just creepy and don’t further the plot a great deal.  Koontz introduces Jocko, a troll-like creature that grew out of one of the other replicants (one of the bad guys from the first book), and he befriends Erika 5.  Other than giving her a plaything and bringing out maternal instincts she’s not supposed to have because Victor has intentionally made every one of his creatures unable to reproduce, Jocko does very little to further the story and his dialogue ranges from silly to downright misplaced in parts.  Koontz also introduces the Chameleon, some kind of creature he made in his lab, but this character does nothing to further the plot other than reinforce the point that Victor is an evil madman.  Well, if you made it to the third book and didn’t know that, you just didn’t get the idea from page 1 of Prodigal Son, Book One in the trilogy.

The ending of Dead and Alive is contrived and involves the negation of rules the author himself set up.  If you write that if one character does something, all of his creatures will die (excepting Deucalion, who is a much older model that doesn’t follow the same protocol), and that first character does that particular something, then all the damn creatures must die.  You’re the author; you made the rule.  Now you must stick to it.  But no, Koontz does not, and the reader is left thinking, “Why?  This makes no sense.”

Overall, this series ends on a lackluster note for me.  The second book, City of Night, is the best in the trilogy, with the first book unsatisfying in its ending and the third book problematic in parts.  Deucalion, the original Frankenstein’s monster, continues to be a wonderfully written character in this book, but I would argue still gets too little face time compared to a myriad of sometimes bizarre but often just silly minor characters.  Yes, they are needed to show the breakdown of Victor’s whole world, but they shouldn’t take over the book from the character that exhibits some of the finest qualities in a fictional character I’ve read.

Finally, do not read the back cover blurb and think that is what the story is about.  I’m convinced the explanation of the story on the back is meant for a completely different book.  It’s that far removed from what actually happens in Dead and Alive.
-Alexandria