This is just a mess. A ridiculous mess.
Lexi is a moron. She's supposed to be incredibly smart, but she keeps trying to get herself killed. She's supposed to not draw attention to herself, but proceeds to do just that. Over and over.
While she's trying to get herself killed, she's also supposed to be planning her older sister's baby shower. But her sister kinda hates her and Lexi feels the same. So why she was asked to plan the shower in the first place, I don't know. But the side plot of this baby shower is just silly. It doesn't further the story, it's just a distraction.
Then we get a love triangle, which makes no sense. Neither of the guys are fleshed out, all we know is that they're gorgeous. So Lexi is torn between two men whose only qualities are "being hot", which doesn't make her seem very smart. Especially when she literally knows nothing about one of them aside from his name. I wouldn't even be surprised if one of these guys turns out to be a villain because she hasn't done her due diligence in finding out just exactly who she's making out with. Not smart, Lexi. Not smart at all.
I will say that there are a few seriously funny moments. I would have DNF'd this earlier but then I'd catch a laugh and keep on. Unfortunately, I had enough of Lexi's blind stupidity and her repeatedly dragging her friend Lily into danger.
She's not very fabulous and she's not even armed, so screw this book.
God damn. God damn. That was awesome! I'm so glad I gave this story a second chance because it really did deliver.
Blue was a wonderful character. She has a sharp wit and a deep sense of honor. She's never had it easy, so she's become a pro at pulling herself up by her bootstraps and getting the job done. And all without becoming a jaded bitch, too. Jack was... interesting. I understood his reservations towards a relationship, but unless there is some prophesy that says their getting together would bring on Armageddon, I don't agree that there is a problem. His feelings towards Blue were loving and getting to see his POV was a nice escape from Blue's mind and a welcome glimpse at Jack's. I think they would/will make a lovely couple. But I don't know anything about him really.
The vampire mythology that Lilo Abernathy came up with was really interesting. It made sense - if vampires and demons and all that were real, this mythology would be entirely believable. I would have liked a little more information on the physical and behavioral differences between Daylight Vampires and Night Crawlers, but beggars can't be choosers. As for the Illustrissima... I desperately wanted to know what this was about and though I have a few ideas, I'm anxious to find out Blue's"true purpose".
As for the romance, there isn't a whole lot of it but the flip to Jack's POV keeps it interesting. It gets super hot and steamy for a bit, then simmers slowly before a surprising 180 at the end. I'm not sure where Jack and Blue stand now, but I hope they're together.
Now, onto the drama... dun dun dunnn! Lilo Abernathy gives us some seriously gritty crimes. This isn't just some wicked vamp ripping out throats - the villain is truly villainous and motherfucking evil. The bloody scenes are described very well, giving us a true sense of horror and blood without being salacious and overly done. I knew who the villain was immediately after they were introduced, but I wasn't sure if they were working alone or with a partner. So I was still anxious to get to the climax even when I knew who Blue would be confronting. Besides, they were seriously evil. You just knew shit was gonna be bad. No way to not look forward to that.
On the writing/grammar/editing front - I didn't notice any mistakes or issues. I stumbled over a few sentences that I felt were worded oddly, but I think that was related to it being written in present tense and I'm just not used to it. As for the present tense, it's something I've always had problems with. I literally read the first few sentences of this book, skimmed a paragraph to double check and then shut it down because it was written in first person. After speaking to the author, I felt it deserved another chance and I'm so, so glad I decided to read it. Reading quickly, my brain kind of glanced past the present tense and the story was so engaging, I was too involved to care if it didn't.
The story felt kinda slow at times, but then I realized it's not that the story slowing down, it just stays at the same pace. It's a steady road instead of a rollercoaster, which I ended up liking. Obviously, since I stayed up until 4am to finish it in one sitting. Pretty sure my feet are asleep.
My only real complaint is a dangling plot thread that I assume will be picked up in the next book. Blue is attacked by somebody and agrees not to press charges if he leaves her be. He agrees, but is then seen... "cavorting with Blue's enemy"... for lack of a better phrase. After that, he's never mentioned again. Honestly, I was really hoping for a resolution that resulted in a major triumphant moment for Blue and an entirely humiliating and possibly life-ending loss for the bad guy. Alas, the most immediate threat of the villain was taken care of, leaving the bad guy to cause havoc down the road while Blue tries to save the world for ungrateful humans.
I look forward to it!
Okay, I reread it so I can replace my review that mysteriously disappeared. I have a feeling I enjoyed this story more than first time than the second, but I've read a lot since then and my tastes or expectations may have changed a bit.
Delilah was a decent character, but we don't actually learn much about her. It's Samson that we learn about, really. That worked for me - I found him much more interesting than Delilah. She kinda felt like a placeholder.
The romance and sex were both steamy and sweet, though I felt horrible for Samson with his whole ED issue. Vampires are always seductive, sexual creatures in these paranormal romances, so to be basically neutered must have suuucked. The blood-bond was interesting and I wish we could have spent a little more time fleshing that out.
As for the drama, I didn't remember who the bad guy was from my original reading, so I was pleasantly surprised when the Big Reveal came around. I do think the story would have benefited a little from another (or more serious) physical threat to Delilah at the end. Really ratchet up the tension, you know? Alas, it was still decent - even though it was brought on by Delilah's TSTL moment.
We get some POVs from other characters, which I enjoyed because they weren't long and involved, pulling away from the main story. They worked well and gave us a little insight into the other players. Unfortunately, I didn't really feel much draw towards the other Scanguard vamps. I doubt I'll continue with this series unless a blurb really grabs me.
Oi vey, that was a alot of talking.
I loved the premise of this book, but the first person narrative kept me away for quite a long time. Finally biting the bullet, I gave it a shot and I'm not all that glad that I did.
Aside from Harper's original search and a quick side job, she didn't use her "grave sight" for much of anything. Mostly it was just being nosy and trying to solve a murder (even though that's not usually her thing) while townsfolk attempt to scare them into leaving. This is where a huge problem for me arises. She's been working around the country, using her gift to find dead bodies. So even if she's not buying commercial time during Super Bowl halftime, she's known throughout the country. One would think that that level of renown would come with a few connections. Connections that would help when this small hick town decides to band together to terrorize you in very illegal ways. You know,somebody you could call to be like "Hey, tell these fucking rednecks to lay off." and they could because they've got that much pull. Seriously? It sounds like Harper and Tolliver are just homeless people that wander the country doing odd jobs. And their lives sound miserable.
There really was no happy ending to this story. Harper and Tolliver dip the fuck out ASAP and it sounds like half the town is dead or in jail. The romance, which doesn't really exist, is literally cut off like a fish head in the last couple pages. It's almost like "The Big Breakup" scene was mysteriously missing from my e-book, it was so sudden. And just a total nonentity. Like the author was about to write "The End." and realized the romantic interest hadn't been wrapped up, so she just had the characters awkwardly wave goodbye and walk away. Everything is just kinda... over. So fucking weird.
The relationship between step-siblings Harper and Tolliver was doubly weird. The extreme dependence on Tolliver that Harper had felt bizarre. After the rough life she had, she could live well but instead clings to her brother and lives an empty sort of life. Since we're stuck in first person perspective, we don't get to know what Tolliver is thinking or feeling, but I felt like he resented her for making them live this life. I dunno, but the relationship felt close and strained at the same time.
The worst part, though, was that by chapter four, I knew the outcome. And I was 100% right about every single detail. Just two little sentences and the author gave away the whole thing. I kept reading - bored as I was - though, because I wanted to know how it was revealed and if there would be a big confrontation where Harper awesomely wins over the whole town (it doesn't, by the way).
I dunno, this whole thing was weird. It was boring and a struggle to get through. I wouldn't recommend it. At the same time, I feel like I can't give up just yet and I need to give the series a second shot with the next book. I'm having a crisis of faith or some shit.
God damn. This was so dark, I'm not even sure how to write a review that would recommend it. Because everything I could say about it doesn't sound positive. But it somehow ends up being enjoyable.
There is a lot of violence against women in this book, way beyond what I usually find in erotica and contemporary romance - even contemporary military romantic suspense. This shit was hardcore, dude.
But even though it's insanely violent, intense, and gruesome, I still really liked it. Susan Fanetti definitely knows how to drag me into Signal Bend.
And at the end of the story, the town is moving away from the crystal meth business, so the direction of the series seems to be changing a bit. The next book in the series will focus on Showdown (Isaac's second-in-command sorta guy) and the new girl in town instead of Isaac and Lilli. So I'm probably done with this series. I liked that I got more than one book about this particular couple and the story arc is wrapped up neatly. If you enjoyed these books, you would probably enjoy the following books - I'm just satisfied to stop here.
Let me just take a few moments to gush about this book.
For some reason, I have no idea what I expected. Maybe a rough and tumble erotica about a motorcycle-riding bad boy and some sweet little blonde that has no idea what she's signed up for in a small little town in Bumfuck Nowhere full of busy-bodies that try to shove the two of them together in various ways. That is not what this is.
That is so far from what this is, I'm not even sure how I ended up with that expectation. I'm pretty sure I meant to read an entirely different book and was too engrossed in this one by the time I realized things were not all bright and shiny. This is a dark book and the characters are not Upright Citizens. Horde Motorcycle Club Leader Isaac does not volunteer at the homeless shelter on Sunday afternoons. Little Miss Lilli did not move to Signal Bend to work on her writer's block and pen a bodice ripper.
Of course, I can't tell you why she moved to Signal Bend, because Susan Fanetti does an absolutely phenomenal job at revealing that information. Throughout the first two thirds of the book, there are brief interlude flashbacks that give us a little more information on Lilli. When the story begins, it's almost as if you've been dropped into the second chapter, entirely skipping the first which would have explained why we are where we are. Instead, Fanetti makes you go with the flow and doles out the information slowly. And at just the right time, too! They were perfect moments for a flashback - they kept you tense and curious for a longer period, but not so long that you lost the tension. Just long enough that when you flipped the page to the next chapter and read the first few lines, you were anticipating the answer just as much as the character.
The romance was disturbingly rough at times, but incredibly sweet, too. They beat the shit out of each other and then fucked like crazy. I mean, if that's you're thing... yeah. Anyway, Isaac and Lilli were equally bemused by their deeper feelings, but they didn't fight it. I like that a lot. Lilli was a tough chick and was well suited to be Isaac's old lady. I found both of them to be charming, even if they did have questionable morals.
One thing that was sort of addressed in this book - a man hitting a woman. It happened in the beginning of the story, so it's not a spoiler. Isaac is about to break up a fight when a woman attacks him from behind. So he backhands her. And I think most people would flip out, how dare a female author have her romantic male lead hit a woman, etc. But if you ask me, which you didn't, that bitch deserved it. True equality means women take their punches just like men, especially if they start shit. So kudos to the author for that awesome moment.
In the end, I felt like there were a few too many sex scenes. Not that the amount of sex was too high, but the time spent on each sex scene was unnecessary. Beyond that, I was kinda blown away. I loved Isaac and Lilli. Watching their relationship develop was a joy and the darkness was a part of it in a way that made it feel natural. I didn't like what these people were doing, but I liked them and forgave their actions because of it. I really liked this story and I'm excited to continue the story in the next book.
If you like rough sex, gruff biker boys, tough-as-nails confident women, and a slow reveal... you'll enjoy this story. Definitely recommended!
I'm not really sure how I feel about this one. It was an interesting story, with a labyrinth of a plot. The characters, on the face of it, were interesting. Assassin chick. Heart-of-Gold homicide detective. Rich best friends with connections in diverse industries and undergrounds. Magic and supernatural beings of all sorts. But really, Gin was barely fleshed out, Donovan even less. So the romance is what did me in here.
The romance was just... all off for me in this book. It didn't work. I felt like too much time was spent repeating things about the Elements (which are hardly used at all) instead of giving me a reason to believe Donovan is the one guy that would be able to crack hard-as-rock Gin. And seriously, when Gin dry humps him at the club, that made me feel totally awkward. I was like "If that were a guy doing the same to a girl, it would be sexual assault." I didn't like it at all. They didn't have fun banter or anything, mainly them just reminding each other that they have to wait until they finish their mission before they kill each other.
I'm really stuck on Gin not explaining to Donovan her reasons for the hit on his partner. It's like she enjoyed torturing him, forcing him to feel terribly guilty and upset over his feelings for her. She thinks about explaining... "I could explain why I murdered his partner, but..." - THREE FUCKING TIMES. And she notices his self-recrimination numerous times. He freaks out over it repeatedly. It's obviously a big freaking deal, so I don't understand why she doesn't just explain things to him.
The romance was so unbelievable and picked at my patience, while the plot was twisted but unsurprising, I had a difficult time with this one. I ended up skimming a few times until there was dialogue.
Also, how the hell are you gonna name a series "Elemental Assassin" and then have your assassin retire at the end of the first book?! God damn.
AND! What kinda bullshit pseudo-cliffhanger ending is that? Am I the only one that saw that coming a mile away? Estep is no good with surprises. Foreshadowing was poorly executed here.
So yeah, I'm really frustrated. I've been putting off reading this because it's written in first person from Gin's point of view and I have a hard time with those. But I read friend's reviews and they all loved it so much, I gave it a shot and now I'm kinda bummed. Partially because it's an established series and I would have had a nice chunk of new reading material, but also because I'm in the mood for lady-assassins right now.
I'm not writing the series off, but I'm in no hurry to continue anytime soon.
Rowan Summerwaite is actually one of my favorite UF/PNR heroines. She's a bloodthirsty bitch and makes no apologies about it. But she's not hardhearted or unfeeling. Rowan will cut out a vampire's heart and turn around to make out with Clive in the same breath. I'm not sure she actually does that in the book, but she would totally do that.
I enjoyed the political workings in this second book. If Rowan was just running around Vegas killing methed out vamps, I would have still read it. But I was really pleased that we instead went to The Keep in Germany. While Rowan certainly killed some vamps, we also got to meet the other Scions, witness more of Rowan's relationship with The First, and see the slow, but intense development in the budding relationship between her and Clive. Clive and her. Whatever. It opened up the world Lauren Dane built but hasn't really explained.
And that's something I kinda like about this series. The world isn't built up. You just go with it, jump right in. Various species of Others are mentioned once in passing, without an infodump explaining their origins and political standings. Maybe they are mentioned so the author can use them in future story lines, I dunno. But the story isn't bogged down with back story on anything that doesn't actually matter.
The romance is, oddly enough, tender and sweet. Between two bloodthirsty superbeings, that sounds really odd. But it's the icing on the cake. This story would work without the romance, but it would be bland and Rowan's personal growth would be nonexistent. Clive makes her better and visa versa. I adore their scenes together and Lauren Dane really throws down some great verbal sparring between the two of them (including the first book in this series).
So I look forward to the next book in this series, Blade on the Hunt - which I think comes out in November.