A Guest At Secret Cravings!

In October, I have a paranormal novella, Leesea’s Books and Babbles, coming out from Secret Cravings Publishing.   I am excited about this and can’t wait to share Leesea’s story with you all.  With that being said, I am guest blogging over at Secret Cravings today, so please stop by if you get the chance.

Introducing upcoming SCP author Ava Riley

http://secretcravingspublishing.blogspot.com/2012/08/introducing-upcoming-scp-author-ava.html

Happy Reading!

Ava Riley

Review of Once Burned by @Jeaniene_Frost … 5/5 Stars

Book one in the Night Prince series.

June 26th, 2012

She’s a mortal with dark powers…

After a tragic accident scarred  her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a  person’s darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of  solitude…until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out  with a telepathic distress call to the world’s most infamous vampire…

He’s the Prince of Night…

Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest  vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don’t call him Dracula. Vlad’s ability to control fire makes him one of the most  feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against  him – a beautiful mortal with powers to  match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them,  threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop  an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.

(Taken from Frost’s website)

****

Oh my, my, my, my, my!  I will automatically start off by saying that if you have not read this book, run do not walk, to your nearest book store (or computer) and get your copy NOW!  I have absolutely loved all of Frost’s books (Cat and Bones are two of my favorite heroines/heros), but Vlad and Leila are AMAZING together.

Before I started reading Once Burned, I had read a few reviews on it (which I don’t normally do with authors I’m already familiar with because I don’t want to read any spoilers).  I saw some complaints about how the story was in Leila’s POV.  Let me just say this: I LOVED that it was her point of view.  She is a funny, intelligent, and strong woman.  I believe if she were anything less, then her POV wouldn’t work.  Also, we already know that Vlad is a badass, hello he’s the Prince of Night!  Seeing this story unfold from Leila’s perspective actually made me fall in love with Vlad even more than I already was (from seeing him in Frost’s Night Huntress series).  Add to it that she is sarcastic as hell and he can read minds added quite a bit of humor to the story.

We are taken on a rollercoaster ride of emotions with Vlad and Leila.  I found myself getting caught up not only in the danger they found themselves in but also in the love story as it unfolded.  Frost does an amazing job at showing how natural this relationship is.  Two very strong-willed people, with two extraordinary abilities doesn’t normally mean a successful relationship (especially when one is an arrogant vampire), but Frost made it work and made it work well.   To say Vlad is “sure” of himself and the fact that women (including Leila) would fall at his feet is an understatement.  Normally I am turned off by characters who are overly possessive or, but when it comes to Vlad, it absolutely works for him.  This sexy vampire and beautiful, strong-willed women heat up the pages in the bedroom (and other places) made this an exciting sexy read as well.  Every woman needs a Vlad in their lives!

When I got to the end of the book, I was both disappointed and excited.  Disappointed that it had ended and excited to know that this is not the only/last time that we will see Vlad and Leila.  Now I have to wait :(.  This is one of those books that will be added to my very short list of read again books.

I am giving Once Burned 5/5 Stars – this is a MUST read!!!!  If you have a huge To Be Read list, bump this one to the top – you will not be disappointed.

****

Happy Reading!

Ava Riley

Review of Heart of the Dove by @lara_adrian…4/5 Stars

From the back cover:

Everything Randwulf of Greycliff loved was torn from his grasp in a night of fire and terror. His wife and child slain, his manor destroyed, Rand now lives for one thing alone: revenge on the man who ordered the attack. Armed with a part of the legendary Dragon Chalice–the object his enemy most desires–Rand embarks on a deadly voyage to trap his foe. He will avenge his family . . . and let no one stand in his way.

On a stormswept shore in the wilds of northern England, a gentle maiden discovers a man lying on the beach, shipwrecked and in need of care. But helping him is forbidden. Serena has the gift of Knowing: with a mere touch, she can see all the secrets in a man’s heart. It is a gift that has kept her secluded from the outside world, wary of those who would use her powers for their own gain. But Rand’s wounded heart beckons, and his passionate nature draws her to him–daring her to surrender to a dangerous seduction that could destroy them both. . . .

(taken from Lara’s website)

****

When we were first introduced to Rand in Heart of the Flame, I felt so bad for him.  He lost everything and all that he had left was a pressing sense of revenge against the man who took all that mattered from him.  I had hoped that we would see him go from a tortured soul to a man with a purpose (outside of avenging his family).  I was not disappointed with Rand found himself in the company of Serena and her mother.  When Serena came into the picture I honestly thought, “dear lord, she is going to be one of those women that is all fragile and needy.”  But of course, Lara did not disappoint as all her heroines are strong women!  Even though Rand is an overpowering male, not to mention incredibly sexy, Serena takes on his pain and it is she who breaks past that hardened shell of Rands.  I really enjoyed this story (not as much as the first two, but definitely enjoyed it).  This story is a beautiful love story that not only reveals the strength of a woman (Serena), but also that proves that no matter what life throws at someone, love and salvation can be found.

I am giving Heart of the Dove 4/5 Stars only because for me, it moved a little slow in the beginning.  Otherwise the story of Rand and Serena is a fabulous read and you won’t be disappointed in picking up and spending time in their world.

Happy Reading!

Ava Riley

Review of Heart of the Flame by Lara Adrian – 5/5 Stars

Six months in an enemy’s dungeon might have broken a weaker man, but former Templar knight Kenrick of Clairmont has emerged from imprisonment with an unyielding determination, and consumed by a single daunting quest: to find the Dragon Chalice, a mystical treasure said to grant its bearer unlimited power. It is a dangerous chase, one that pits Kenrick against foes skilled in dark, deadly arts. But no obstacle will prove more treacherous–nor more seductively lethal–than the fiery beauty called Haven.

Caught up in the battle for the Chalice, Haven survives a night of terror that leaves her wounded and near death. Her memory scorched by fever, Haven awakens to find herself in the care of the forbidding, handsome Kenrick, who offers his protection in return for her alliance. A tenuous trust is formed between them, which soon ignites into a fierce passion neither can deny. But Haven’s memory of her past is slowly beginning to surface, and it will threaten the fragile bond she and Kenrick share–and embroil them in a fight for their very lives. . . .

(Taken from Lara Adrian’s Website)

****

I’ve tweeted this, but it is worthy to be noted again…The problem I have with Lara Adrian’s books, is that once I start reading them, life as I knew it ceases to exist until I am at the end.  I know that it may seem as though I never give her books a bad review, but in all honesty, I have yet to read a book of hers that I didn’t find myself enthralled in until the end and saddened that there was an ending.

This holds true for Heart of the Flame!  After reading Heart of the Hunter, I didn’t think that my emotions could be wrung out any more than from that story.  So wrong was I!  Kenrick and Haven’s story took me from wariness to  joy to an unbelievable clenching of my heartstrings.  Kenrick is a formidable warrior and scholar who has not been swayed from his purpose to thwart the evil that seeks the Dragon Chalice, that is until Haven stumbles into his life.  A broken woman who is uncertain of who or what she is finds herself in the care of Kenrick and no matter how hard she fights the attraction to him, she cannot deny her desires for him, nor can Kenrick deny his desires for Haven.  This is a beautiful story, not only about fate and love, but also about the unselfish sacrifice of one person for another.

The element in Heart of the Flame that I found most endearing, was not so much that two people who were attracted to each other found themselves in each others arms, although those scenes play out quite nicely…translation = hot, steamy, and you’ll need a damp cloth to cool yourself down.  The element that I found most endearing is that of sacrifice.  Sacrifice of one’s own desires, wants, and even life itself.  This made the characters real, lovable, and worthy of a cheering section.  No matter what transpired between Kenrick and Haven or what “secrets” were revealed that would have made a sane person run, I found myself silently yelling at them, “It doesn’t matter, you love each other.”  This is what made this book great, because I wanted things to work out for them and I genuinely cared for each character.

I also enjoyed that Braedon and Ariana continued to have a presence in the story.  Too many times I’ve seen characters fade away from the story and I really wanted to see these two still play a part in the quest that Kenrick still found himself on.

I am giving Heart of the Flame 5/5 Stars!  This series just keeps getting better!

On to:

 Happy Reading!

5/5 Star Review of Heart of the Hunter by @Lara_Adrian (Tina St. John)

Ariana of Clairmont would risk anything to save her kidnapped brother, a quest she knows is fraught with peril. Her only ally is Braedon le Chasseur, a formidable knight with a mysterious past, whose scarred face and brooding nature mask a soul filled with pain. Ariana fears this dangerous man and the secrets he strives to conceal—but Braedon’s touch is pure seduction, his kiss a potent lure that tempts her into a passion she is powerless to resist.

Once known as The Hunter, now haunted by a dark legacy he struggles to deny, Braedon lives in a world of shadow and isolation—until he is thrust together with an innocent beauty in need of his protection. Embarking on a journey that will lead them to a legendary treasure, Braedon will be forced to confront old enemies and the stunning secret of his true nature—or risk losing Ariana and the only happiness he has ever known. . .

Taken from Goodreads

****

I’ve never been interested in reading Historical Romance, but when Lara Adrian released this series – Dragon Chalice – again that she’d written as Tina St. John, I downloaded it immediately. I’ve loved all her work and I certainly wasn’t disappointed with Heart of the Hunter. As I read, I experienced such a wide range of emotions that I found it hard to put the book down. If my body would have allowed it, I would have gladly given up sleep to keep reading.

During the journey that Ariana and Braedon are fated to take to save her brother, Braedon must face his past and the realization that this stubborn woman has not only convinced him to help her, but has wedged her way into his heart. This is an exciting tale of action packed adventure along with a sensual relationship between Braedon and Ariana and the beauty of two hearts finding each other.  Adrian does a fabulous job of keeping the excitement of the story moving along, while building the relationship between Braedon and Ariana in a way that causes us to hope that in the end they will be together.  The innocent Ariana captures the pained heart of Braedon and Adrian does such an amazing job of allowing us to feel what both the hero and the heroine are feeling!

I truly, truly enjoyed reading this story and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in this series!  I definitely highly recommend Heart of the Hunter!  I am giving this a 5 out of 5 Stars!

Other books in the Dragon Chalice Series:

  

Happy Reading!

Ava Riley

Under a Vampire Moon by Lynsay Sands – 3/5 Stars Review

Christian Notte’s story, the sixteenth book in the Argeneau series is set on an island paradise called St. Lucia. After a bad relationship and an even worse divorce, Carolyn decides to go on a long overdue and much needed vacation with the ‘girls’. Only the rest of the vacationers didn’t get the memo. Around every corner there seems to be another couple celebrating their honeymoon or anniversary and the few single men she does see are far too young to even consider, including an irresistibly attractive rock violinist she meets. It’s really too bad he’s so young but in the end it doesn’t matter because according to his cousin, Giacinta, women in general aren’t Christian’s type. But there’s a catch, Christian needs Carolyn’s help. He needs her to be his beard (to play the part of his fake girlfriend) for the week to appease his ‘machismo’ family. Carolyn just can’t seem to say No and decides to help Gia’s cousin. The only problem is that being around Christian and acting like they are a loving couple is wreaking havoc on her emotions. Carolyn’s thoughts keep drifting back to places they shouldn’t, like kissing his full lips or feeling his broad shoulders under her fingertips… good lord, she’s in trouble.

(taken from Lynsay’s website here)

****

I am an avid reader of Lynsay Sands…I have read all of the books in the  Argeneau series and have loved them all (some more than others).  This I did not like, with the exception of a few sections (mostly the sex senes…the dream sex and the real sex, but even that at times felt a little rushed).  I was disappointed in Under a Vampire Moon because I really expected more from it.

Here are the issues I have (I may have spoilers…but I’ll try to keep them out):

First – I DID NOT like Carolyn.  She was not a likable person to me.  I honestly would have loved to have seen Christian get with Genie.  Carolyn was just one of those heroines that doesn’t have a backbone, is wishy-washy, and too many times I wanted to shake her or smack her around a bit.  I understood the reasoning behind her insecurity and honestly I didn’t have an issue with that, but I found her to be one of those women I run from for a friend because she’s such a buzz kill.  She’s in her 40’s but some of her language (speech) and mannerisms don’t fit her age.  All of the other women in the previous books have had issues, but they also had backbones and that’s what made them likable.  Carolyn is not likable.

Second – The dialogue (with the exception of a few places) felt forced.  It was so hard to sit and listen to the characters speak because honestly it wasn’t believable for me.  Now mind you, it wasn’t like this throughout the entire book, but for the majority of it and that took me out of the story someone.

Third – Paranormal – was almost non-existent!  Other than them drinking from blood bags, Carolyn seeing fangs, and Christian revealing that they were immortals, there was pretty much nothing.  And Christian spent and awful lot of time in the sun and we only really say one time where he was affected by it.  The second problem I had with the paranormal side of it, was that when Christian revealed it to Carolyn she almost immediately accepted it and we are talking about a woman who has major trust issues.  So with that, it made the characters unreliable.  Christian didn’t even bite her while they were having sex, which hello…it part of the eroticism of the sex between life mates.

Fourth – The ending!!!!!  It felt rushed and as if the author just wanted to finish the book.  It didn’t feel finished and honestly when I got to the end at 3 AM this morning, I was left with a feeling that there were pages missing.  The ending was not complete.

Things that worked for me (spoilers):

First – Some people were upset with Christian “playing gay” in this book to get to Carolyn, but I didn’t really have an issue with that.  I’ve seen that happen in real life.   So I think that actually worked.  Christian is actually the one character who worked in this piece (and Genie…which again I wish she had been the heroine).  Christian is hot, in a rock band, and knows how to play a woman for sure.  My only issue with him is that he seemed so “young.”  Yes, he looks 25, but um, he’s 500+ years old.   His personality seemed to have changed from the last time we saw him and he seemed more like a boy than a man.  Still hot though!

Second – As stated earlier, the sex scenes worked fabulously.  The were hot, sexy, and I found myself taking my time reading through them.  Again, my only complaint is that Christian never bit her.  Even after Christian told Carolyn everything and she accepted it, we never saw that intimacy we are used to in the other books.

Third – the secondary characters worked – the band members (I especially liked Zanipolo) and of course Julius and Marguerite were great (although at times their dialogue didn’t work for me).

I just didn’t get out of this book what I was hoping for and I was really looking forward to this one because of Christian.

I am giving Under a Vampire Moon 3 out of 5 Stars.

****

Happy Reading!

Ava Riley

Review of Dark Peril by Christine Feehan

Dominic, of the Dragonseeker lineage—one of the most powerful of the Carpathian lines—is desperate to go to the very heart of the enemy camp and learn their plans.  There’s only one way to do so: ingest the parasitic blood of a vampire.  He knows that it is a mission from which there is no return. With little time before the blood takes effect, he’ll get the information he needs, relay it to the leader of the Carpathians, and go out fighting.  There is no more honorable way to end his life.

Solange Sangria is one of the last of the jaguar people, a royal pureblood, a dying species that cannot recover from bad decisions made over hundreds of years. She has long been alone, fighting to save the remaining shapeshifters from the hands of Brodrick the Terrible: her own father, who slaughtered her family and everyone she loved.  Wounded and weary, she plans one last battle, hoping to stop the man who has made an alliance with the vampires, accepting that she will not come out alive.

They are two warriors who have lived their lives alone.  Now, at the end of their time, they find each other—an obstacle neither can hope to ignore.

(taken from Feehan’s website)

*****

Christine Feehan delivers another wonderful story of the power of a lifemate.  Dominic is a sexy, powerful Dragonseeker, the most powerful of all the Carpathians who has come to terms with the fact that he will die without a lifemate, but he will do all he can to rid the world of as many vampires and jaguar-men as he can before he passes over to the other side.  He resigned himself to that, until Solange, his lifemate, comes along and changes all that for him.

Together Dominic and Solange are strong together, working side by side.  This was a story filled with excitement, unexpected turns, and a powerful love story.  Solange’s fear that having a lifemate, a man in her life, will change who she is and change the jaguar within her, but Dominic’s love goes beyond that and he loves her for the person she is, not who she thinks he wants her to be.

This was a refreshing story that had me waiting to see what happened next and relieved that by the end of it, Solange and Dominic found peace in each other’s hearts.  Feehan does a great job of bringing about the hot, steamy sex and still keeping it beautiful between two lifemates.

I am giving Dark Peril 4 out of 5 Stars.

****

I am currently reading:

Love Cat and Bones!

Happy Reading!

Ava Riley