Bites

Published: March 3, 2009
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Vampire hunter Elena Deveraux knows she is the best- but she does not know if even she is good enough for this job. Hired by the dangerously beautiful archangel Raphael, a being so lethal that no mortal wants his attention, Elena knows failure is not an option—even if the task is impossible.

Because this time, it’s not a wayward vamp she has to track. It’s an archangel gone bad.

The job will put Elena in the midst of a killing spree like no other—and pull her to the razor’s edge of passion. Even if the hunt does not destroy her, succumbing to Raphael’s seductive touch just might. For when archangels play, mortals break. (goodreads.com)

I was expecting far more smut going into ANGELS’ BLOOD, but it was lacking. Not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, and it was there, filthy talk and sexual tension abound. But I adjusted my expectations quickly enough and settled into the story nicely.

I got the main character, Elena, who’s a strong woman and knows how to hold her own, acting and dressing and just existing in a way that I kind of adore. She has a don’t-give-a-crap attitude without being a bitch about things and she dresses in a way that makes sense for what she does. None of this skin tight crap. Cargoes and t-shirts and she’s this practically Amazonian woman who refuses to trade her strength in order to hook a guy. Instead she just goes for guys who can handle her strength, however grudgingly she does it.

The story’s a little slow to develop and there isn’t a whole lot of world-building going on, especially for a first in a series. This just seems like a world where angels and vampires and other creatures are part of the world and that’s about it. Nothing else to explain? Don’t know. But it isn’t a complicated world; just one where there are supernatural creatures with angels as the top tier having broken up the world into territories. It gets into Elena’s family history a little bit, shows her on a hunt, interacting with her best friend. And then finally she gets brought in for the big job run by a big angel.

No surprise there’s sexual tension between her and her boss, but I’m okay with it. It’s good sexual tension and they seem like a solid fit for each other. None of this bad boy bullcrap and she doesn’t swoon for the bad boy under her own devices so she gets a pass there. And somehow Elena also maintains an air of naïveté despite the world she lives in. It makes her more endearing.

It’s obvious the way future books are being set up in this one, with the vampires, the land wars among the angels, the development of some of the angels, and I’m looking forward to seeing were the series goes, especially with where the book leaves Elena. I also totally adore her relationship with the director of the guild there, whose name escapes me at the moment. They’re incredibly protective of each other and they stand by each other through thick and thin. It’s really nice seeing positive female relationships like this in books where one isn’t a sycophant to the other or they’re just enemies for whatever superficial reasons.

Looking forward in the series, looks like I have a whole pile of books to read in this world and I look forward to it. While I wanted more sex in the book, Singh creates an excellent balance of tension, play, character development, and plot that has me hooked, for sure.

4

Published: March 29, 2011
Publisher: Chafie Press
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

In 1692, when witch trials gripped the community of Salem, Massachusetts, twenty-six children were accused as witches, exiled, and left for dead. Fourteen of them survived.

The Survivors is the first installment of the tantalizing tales of the fourteen ill-fated Survivors and their descendants, who have been content in hiding for over three centuries. Isolated on a Montana mountainside, only Sadie, the rogue daughter, dares to abandon the family’s sacred hiding place. But no matter how far Sadie runs, something always pulls her back.

On a muggy summer night in Tennessee, she witnesses a shocking scene that will change her life forever. It is the first in a sequence of events that will drag her from the human world she’s sought to belong to for over a century and send her back to her Puritanical family and into an uncertain future filled with cunning witches, mysterious nosferatu shape-shifters, dangerous eretica and vieczy vampires, millennia-old mythology, and the search for her own mortality. After all…

HOW DO YOU KILL A SURVIVOR?

The Survivors will steal your heart and invade your mind. Fall into the pages of Sadie’s life, a world so frighteningly similar to your own, you’ll find yourself wanting to go to the Montana mountains to find the Survivors for yourself.

And it is only the beginning. (goodreads.com)

I’m not sure what I was expecting from THE SURVIVORS, but it certainly wasn’t this. There’s very little plot, next to no forward momentum and character motivation, next to no character growth. I felt like I was reading story fodder that had no business being published because it was the author working out the kinks in her story and finding out where the real story was. I mean I guess you could say it’s a character-based story, but there’s hardly any character development. The only character development that happens is Sadie devolving into a love-sick muppet when she meets Everett.

Sadie as a character is kind of crappy. She’s not relatable, she comes off as wooden, and she’s overly concerned with high fashion. I know more about designer fashion than anything else from this book. I mean there was so much fashion name dropping I half-expected to find Hansel and Gretel strutting the runway at the end of that crumb trail. It was just so much. And of course Sadie basically looks like a supermodel, but she doesn’t like all eyes on her, but of course she’s super modest because of her upbringing. She’s not an endearing character and to watch her go from T1000 for all the personality she had to a simpering pile of love-struck goo was just annoying.

The nanosecond of antagonistic tension in the story is dissipated within pages as we find out Mark isn’t a threat and he’s part of this larger family that oMG LOVES SADIE BE OUR SISTER SADIE. Gag me it’s TWILIGHT all over again. I mean the author even references TWILIGHT a couple of times in her book. Sadie turns out to be a total Sue, especially when she meets the Winter family and she falls in obsession with Everett, one of the brothers in this family of collected misfits who are all trying to control their bloodlust and blend in with humans. Plus Sadie’s super special with her purple eyes and her powers and she’s fantastic at everything. I honestly couldn’t help but think of the crappy special effects in the Twilight movies when the vampires were running every time Sadie and Everett went for runs as a means of traveling. C’mon.

I just feel like THE SURVIVORS is trying so hard to be something it’s not. I think the underlying concept of the book is interesting (otherwise I wouldn’t have picked it up) and I don’t mind all this mixing of supernatural elements. But this book was not a story. It was TWILIGHT and Glamour smashed together. There’s no motivation, there’s little to no tension, there’s little to no character growth, and at the end I don’t have many more answers than when I started. I feel duped. Instead of tension or thrills or mystery or even just a hint of something interesting I get a meandering expose told in a stilted voice about a woman who thinks rather highly of herself but in a clinical way falling unhealthily in love with someone she just met and by the end of the book you might have a hint of a story there. Might. I’m not sticking around to find out.

1.5

April 15, 2017

Published: 1991
Publisher: HarperCollins
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

A Love Triangle of Unspeakable Horror…

Elena
Searching for the ultimate thrill, she vowed to have Stefan.

Stefan
Haunted by his tragic past, he struggled to resist her passion.

Damon
Driven by revenge, he hunted the brother who betrayed him.

The terrifying story of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them. (goodreads.com)

Eh. I wouldn’t say it’s unspeakable horror. Or really a love triangle. That would insinuate Elena actually liked Damon, which she doesn’t appear to. At least in this first book.

I thought I was missing something all this time in never having read any of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES books. Nope. Can’t say I have. They wouldn’t have been my thing back when I was younger when these first came out and they’re definitely not my thing now.

Elena’s kind of a dick and is used to getting everything her way. When she sets her sights on Stefan she aims to get him, and eventually does. Of course she’s the special reincarnation of Stefan’s long lost love and the woman who originally turned him into a vampire. Of course this is also the same woman who came between Stefan and Damon and made their already antagonistic relationship even worse. And then it bred a centuries-old rivalry of Damon being the bad vampire who feeds to kill in order to absorb human energy and power, thus making himself more powerful, and Stefan. The “good” vampire who only feeds on animals and when he has to people whom he doesn’t kill, making him weaker.

And then there’s Elena, the vapid, superficial high school student who has to have the world revolve around her and throws a major hissy when she doesn’t. Blech. No thanks.

And the book just ends right in the middle of it all. Like right before a major confrontation. Done. WHY??? I mean obviously THE VAMPIRE DIARIES hit the mark because it practically spawned TWILIGHT and when it was revived with the re-release of the books and then the TV show people went nuts over it. It’s just in that segment of vampire fiction that doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t care for love triangles. I don’t care for whiny little brats getting what they want. I don’t care for instalove that transcends time for some unknown reason. It’s not poorly written. I just don’t connect with it.

Not my bag.

3

April 11, 2017

Published: November 8, 2009
Publisher: Warwick House Press
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Caught in a violent and abusive relationship, Serenity thinks there is no escape. Then she meets a stranger, Sebastian, who shows her the possibility of a different future.
Only Sebastian has a dark secret; he is a vampire.

As Serenity’s life takes a terrifying turn, she finds herself drawn into a world she never knew existed; one of murder, love, and immortality. She is forced to confront her own weaknesses to save both her own life and that of the vampire she has come to love. But in the end all that matters is; can she find the strength to be Alone? (goodreads.com)

This has got to be one of the most unoriginal, uninspiring books I’ve read in a long time, if not ever. It’s TWILIGHT but with adult characters. You have Serenity (a name I hate, but that’s completely unrelated to the book), this meek, sometimes simpering, psychotically manipulative woman stuck in a severely abusive relationship. There’s an added level of self-awareness there that I think is supposed to bolster her a little bit, but it doesn’t add to her character. It just makes her more annoying because she knows all these things are bad yet she does them anyway.

And then you have Sebastian, the brooding loner of a vampire who wants to be with Serenity but it’s too dangerous and he keeps trying to warn her off but she keeps coming back and he just can’t stay away from her and her blood is just so temping. Sound familiar?

The book’s plot spans a week at most and by the end of it they’re obsessively in love with Serenity getting panicky and withdrawn and possessive if Sebastian isn’t around. Enter in the red-headed female antagonist whose weak plot line serves as the tension in the story as she tries to drive a wedge between Serenity and Sebastian to the point where she threatens the poor little human and Serenity ends up doing something incredibly stupid by putting herself in harm’s way to save the vampire she loves. Sound familiar yet?

And of course Sebastian is rich and drives an Audi (a departure because I think Edward drives a Volvo) and he tries not to kill his prey. His and Serenity’s relationship is so unhealthy that on like day four Serenity threatens to kill herself if Sebastian leaves her. That’s a totally healthy and logical response to any situation. O_o

When she takes that “next step” in her relationship with her abusive husband I did find myself rooting for her. But then that was quickly watered down as she glommed on to Sebastian all the while being aware that she shouldn’t jump from man to man and she needs to stand on her own (I’ll refer you back to threatening to kill herself if Sebastian leaves her). Her personality is erratic at best, poorly written and inconsistent at worst. If she were a well-written abuse victim I’d feel sorry for her and pity her thinking and how she feels that what’s happened to her was her fault. But her personality is just peaks and valleys that play to the plot.

I didn’t realize so many PNR vampire cliches could even fit into a single book and such an obvious copy of a more popular book would actually get published. And if it’s not a copy then an eyebrow-raising coincidence that I’m going to remain skeptical of. If I wanted to read TWILIGHT, which I never want to again, I’d just read TWILIGHT (which was published three years prior to this book). I’m not going to bother with a story where the only practical differences are the ages of the characters and the names. I mean this rightly could have been a wave book trying to capitalize on the success of a given formula, but my god, man. For all of TWILIGHT’s failings at least it had its own personality. ALONE does not. It’s a pale copy of someone else’s that leaves words limp and lifeless on the page and a plot that leaves a whole hell of a lot of be desired.

The concept of being alone gets beaten over your head as a reader throughout the book and the tension with Madeline (the red-headed vampire who decides to war with Serenity over Sebastian because reasons) is so contrived and forced that I can’t help but wonder if the author couldn’t think of anything better. It’s so incredibly lackluster. TWILIGHT spawned a lot of wannabes, but I’ve yet to read anything that compares to ALONE with being such a pale, unimaginative reproduction. Don’t waste your time. That’s not to say the formula doesn’t work; just don’t give me a cheap reproduction of something. It needs to be its own thing and ALONE definitely is not that. I imagine that’s rather ironic.

1

Published: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Broken Angels (self)
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Eight years ago, vampire Justus de Wynter fell in love with bluestocking, Bethany Mead, and suffered the consequences. He was sentenced to exile as a rogue vampire, and she was imprisoned in a mental institution.

After years of searching, and dodging patrolling vampires, Justus has finally found his love. But even after he breaks Bethany out of the asylum, the challenges that face them have only begun. For Justus is still a rogue, with no territory to grant them safety, and Bethany is a fugitive.

As they flee across the English countryside in search of refuge, Bethany and Justus must overcome the challenges of their past and find out if love is possible on the run. (goodreads.com)

Ugh. I love Ann’s writing. I really do. With the way WYNTER’S BITE ended I’m wondering if this is the last of the series. Each book has set up the next book’s protagonist nicely and obviously. This one . . . it could be a couple different people. I’m wondering if the intent is to let the series lie with this one and if she decides to carry it on she at least has a couple options. Methinks that might be the case.

The one thing that stood out to me about WYNTER’S BITE against the other books was that the sexual tension wasn’t as fantastic here. I’ve always praised Ann’s ability to write panty-soaking tension with her character. She likes to build up, dangle a piece, and then take it away at least one or twice before the culmination actually happens. Here, though, the tension was subdued. I didn’t feel that squirmy anxiousness that I normally felt in the other books.

That could have to do with the character situations and pacing being vastly different from the previous books. In all the other books the female protagonist and love interest are new to each other. Here Justus and Bethany have known each other and he’s rescuing her. So we have some flashbacks to set up their meeting, flashing forward to the rescue, peril as they remain on the run, both for Bethany as an escaped lunatic and Justus, a rogue vampire, before they finally settle. So no surprise that in a book that deviates from the norm of the series it’s going to deviate in more than one way.

Just don’t think this is me saying that the book was bad. Not at all. It just stands out against the others and I wasn’t prepared for such a different take on the standard plot so it threw me a little bit. I still loved Justus’s development and Ann creates fantastic, strong female characters that fit the regency mold in their limitations but break clean out of it with their strong minds and strong wills. Ann uses women that would have otherwise been rejected from society and gives them life with other societal rejects in the vampires. I love it.

I do hope Ann keeps writing in the Scandals with Bite series, but if she is setting this one aside for now I would understand. She has plenty else for me to read, and I can always re-read some of my favorite books!

4.5

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.