Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday's Treasure: WARCRY by Elizabeth Vaughan

  • Publisher: Berkley (May 3, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 0425241521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425241523

Heath of Xy has abandoned family, friends, and his fellow guardsmen  in the ancient city to serve his Queen in the Plains. There he learns the mysterious ways of the Plains people and loses his heart to one of their fiercest warriors.

Strong, independent Atira of the Bear desires to be bonded to no man. She rejects Heath’s offer of marriage, despite her undeniable feelings for him. To her, a bonding is little more than a lifetime of servitude ~ and she’ll have none of that. Besides, she’s of the Plains and Heath’s a city-dweller. They’re too different for a lasting commitment to be successful.

With the pregnant Xyian Queen nearing her term, Heath, Atira and a handful of Plains warriors escort her and her Warlord back to Xy to give birth. Their journey is awkward and tense because Heath has decided to no longer have a physical relationship with Atira unless she agrees to marry him.

But a threat to harm the bonded royal couple and their unborn child simmers behind the Xyian castle walls, forcing Heath and Atira to work closer than ever to quell the rebellion.  Proximity breaks Heath’s resolve.  Though he’s helpless to protect his heart, he’ll not stop risking it for Atira.

Atira’s exposure to the city-dwellers way of life gives her a new understanding of Heath and his proposal. She begins to realize that what he’s asking from her is a sharing of their lives, not a shackling.

When Heath thwarts the enemy’s maneuvers to declare the forthcoming royal heir illegitimate, a more sinister plan is set into motion.  It will take all Heath’s and Atira’s strength and battle wits to save the Queen, her beloved and their unborn child.  As the battle for a kingdom and its legacy erupts, Heath and Atira face the reality that they might have to sacrifice their love to win the war.    

Warcry continues the fantasy romance saga of the Chronicles of the Warlands by USA Today bestseller author Elizabeth Vaughan. I’m delighted to mention that Warcry reads beautifully as a stand-alone story.  Ms. Vaughan does a fabulous job of providing just enough backstory to explain the setting and circumstance without bogging down the read.

The descriptive detail is a perfect blend of landscapes bearing a certain familiarity but imbued with a rich essence that uniquely defines a place not of our world. The interactions between the Plains people and the city-dwellers showcase how different cultures perceive the world around them and yet at their core they experience the same needs and wants for love and family.

There are several scenes where the point of view character is someone other than Heath or Atira. This usually occurs in villainous scenes; however, there are short glimpses through the eyes of other secondary characters that give the reader a broader scope of the action. Although I’m not generally a fan of these types of switches, this technique works very well for this story. I didn’t find them intrusive or extraneous. Often, I found these scenes to provide key insights.  Seeing—through the villain’s eyes—how the deaths of his two sons embittered him, provides a depth to the story that can’t be achieved through another character’s perspective.

Heath and Atira’s introspections reveal their struggle to understand the cultural differences between. Only when they learn to see the world through the other’s eyes do they begin to truly accept one another and understand that self-sacrifice is the path to enduring love.

I found Warcry wonderfully entertaining. I especially loved the author’s voice. Her words blend seamlessly on the page, sweeping me up into the action and intrigue so that I couldn’t stop reading until the end. 

Heat Level : Campfire

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday's Treasure: Rush of Darkness

Rush of Darkness by Rhyannon Byrd
Publisher: Harlequin
Line: HQN
Release Date: Mar 29, 2011

Raine Spenser is on a mission to find and kill the Kraven who murdered her sister. Raine, herself, had recently been their captive, until the Watchman--Seth McConnell, set her free. 

Sneaking away from the Watchmen compound where Seth had taken her to recover, Raine sets her plan of vengeance in motion. After saving her once, Seth is determined not to let Raine enter harm’s way again. Not without him. He tracks her to Paris where he finds her fighting two Kraven—and losing. 

Seth kills Raine’s attackers, thereby rescuing her, again. Adamant about Raine not putting herself in danger, Seth offers to hunt and kill the remaining Kraven for her. He knows from experience how revenge contorts the soul and he doesn’t want it twisting hers.

 However, Raine refuses his bargain. She needs to follow her plan to completion so that she will regain control of her life. When it becomes clear that Seth will follow her all over the world if he has to, Raine allows him accompany her on the hunt.

While they track down the Kraven, one by one, and destroy them, Seton—the mastermind behind Raine’s initial capture, enacts a plan to trick Sean and Raine into freeing the Casus from the Merridian. If he succeeds, an unimaginable reign of evil will begin.

Raine and Seth have a volatile relationship from the get -go: fighting over Raine’s reckless behavior, fighting over Seth’s over-protectiveness, and fighting to deny their irrepressible attraction.  

Seth fights his attraction because he doesn’t want to hurt Raine. She’s been used and abused by men for her powers and he doesn’t want her to think of him that way. Raine fights her attraction because the hatred growing inside her makes her strong. If she opens her heart to Seth and love, she will lose the dark edge she’s gained and her sister’s death will go unpunished.   

Although the couple can’t deny their mutual attraction, neither is willing to trust the other. As a child, Seth survived a brutal vampire attack that left his entire family dead and prompted him to become a slayer. Raine is a vampire and can’t forgive Seth for hunting and killing her kind. Their inability to be honest with one another leads to mistakes that Seton exploits to his greatest advantage.

But love builds bridges; and, Seth and Raine do find the courage to reach across the great divide and unite to save the world, all the while, falling in love.

Rush of Darkness is the 7th book in the Primal Instinct series. The plot is character driven, tightly written, and a fast read. I found it more focused that the last Primal Instinct installment.

Raine and Seth’s characters are mirror images. Both are traumatized, scarred, and utterly empty without each other. Following along while they learn to trust is a gut-clenching thrill. There are a number of secondary characters that aren’t fully fleshed out, if you’re new to the series. However, fans will recognize the recurrent cast members and understand the connection without being overwhelmed with backstory. 

Rush of Darkness definitely held my attention. Each time I thought Raine and Seth had finally reached an understanding, something came along to push them back; but, their back-pedaling wasn’t simply a diversionary tool. The misunderstandings, the actions/reactions, were very much in character with Raine and Seth’s personality. Especially in light of their emotional hang-ups. 

Rush of Darkness has increased my appetite and I’m looking forward to more servings from the Primal Instinct series . Fans of Angela Knight’s Mageverse series and Jessa Slade’s Marked Souls series might enjoy Rush of Darkness. For those new to the Primal Instinct series, the glossary of terms provided at the end of the book is a good introduction to the world of the Watchmen.

Gold Coin Rating:     4
Heat Level:  Between Campfire and Bonfire

Reviewed for The Season

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Monday, May 2, 2011

That's a Wrap

April's mission was to blog every day, excluding Sunday, using the letters of the alphabet to prompt post ideas. Easy, breezy~ right?

Not so much. That's why the code name was A-Z Challenge.

When I was recruited, I envisioned that a theme in my posts would emerge. Like a compass to guide me to an understanding, or awareness, of who I am as a writer.

Looking back, I see the hodge-podge of topics I chose have only my stream of  consciousness in common and my stream of consciousness meanders here, there and everywhere.
Photo Source
Facebook's Status Shuffle got it right. I have ADHLS ~ Attention Deficit Hey Look a Squirrel.

All kidding aside, the A-Z Challenge brought me new followers and lead me to follow other blogs that I may never have found surfing the blogosphere. Although I wasn't able to post comments on all the blogs I visited, I did make daily rounds to fellow A-Zers. It was interesting to peruse all the different topics that people came up with, and I was envious of more than a few. 

 Here's a recap of my A-Z topics.

A -   Alicorn
B -   Bigelow
E -   Evanescence
I -    Imagination
M -  Mothman
N -  Nachos
P -   Phantom Evil
T -  Tennyson
Y -  The Yeti

Congratulatory hugs to all the bloggers who completed the A-Z Challenge. A big thanks to Lee at Tossing It Out, Talli at Talli Roland, Jen at Unedited, Candace at Misadventures in Candyland, Karen at Coming down the Mountain, Jeffrey at World of the Scribe, Stephen at Breakthrough Blogs and Alex at Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting this year's event.

And a special thanks to Elizabeth Mueller for gifting me with my newest blog award.

So, A-Z Challenge~ That's a Wrap!

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Writers Unite! Stand Up for Judy Buranich AKA Judy Mays

Photo Source
10th grade teacher Judy Buranich is being harassed because she writes erotic romance novels in her spare time.

Wendy Apple's finger-pointing brought the small town teacher's second profession to the forefront. Ms. Apple (a parent of a student attending Midd-West High School) reportedly stated that she simply wants Mrs. Buranich to be more discreet with her "secret identity," although Ms. Apple went public with the news. (News source PennLive.com)

To my knowledge, Mrs. Buranich hasn't mixed her day job with her writing. And, I've checked Mrs. Buranich's author website~ under pen name Judy Mays: www.judymays.com -- it shows no pictures of the author and mentions no specific details about her personal life. She even posts a disclaimer that you must be 18 to access certain parts of the website. Her double identity would've remained a mystery to most, if not for Ms. Apple ripping off her cloak.

Another parent, Deanna Steep stated that Mrs. Buranich should stop writing or stop teaching (News source PennLive.com). I hope the school board administration presents with more rational and political sense.

Photo Source

FREEDOM of SPEECH in the UNITED STATES is a protected civil right. The first amendment not only guarantees freedom of speech, it promises protection from imminent or potential violence against a person. Seriously, a threat to take away a woman's livelihood because you don't approve of her secondary employment is a blatant form of bullying, censorship, and (as I see it) a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

I support Wendy Apple and Deanna Stepp's right to voice their opinions; however, if the school board forces the issue, they may be infringing on Mrs. Buranich's basic civil rights and setting a dangerous precedent that could impact all writers.

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