Nadine Mutas

Nadine Mutas

~ Wickedly Sensual Paranormal Romance ~

5 Stars
Skybound - Wendy Beck
I thought The Forgotten crushed me (in the best of ways). Then I read Skybound, and I had to set a new bar for "books that rip out your heart, grind it to dust and then sprinkle you with the sparkles." Or, in one word: awesomazing.

The intensity of the action, the height of the stakes, the depth of emotions, it all ratcheted up and left me holding my breath. I swear, my husband was close to giving me artificial respiration, because I'm sure I forgot to breathe.

The situations Skyler and Bastian get into in this last installment, the problems they face, the solutions they struggle to achieve, and the way it all weaves together in the end are the culmination of a multi-layered story that is ingenious in its coherent construction from the first book to the last. Know that feeling toward the end of a story when all the pieces fall in the right place and you sit there ooohing and aaahing because everything you read before just makes that much more sense? Yeah, this was one of those stories where I got that.

As the end of a trilogy, this was book was simply epic.
4 Stars
Summer Is for Lovers
Summer Is for Lovers - Jennifer McQuiston
Jennifer McQuiston has come to be one of my feel-good-authors. Her books just leave me with that nice, swoony, uplifting feeling that makes me smile and sigh.

Having read and enjoyed What Happens In Scotland (which is a hilarious version of "Hangover" in Historical Romance terms), I knew I was in for a treat with the sequel, and Ms. McQuiston did not disappoint. If anything, I enjoyed this book even more than the first one.

I wasn't completely taken with the first appearance of this book's hero, David Cameron, in the What Happens In Scotland, but he absolutely and quickly won me over in Summer Is For Lovers.

I rooted for the heroine, Caroline Tolbertson, right away, and I cheered for the two to get together, and when they did, it was a thing of beauty. I rarely cry when I read books, but a scene toward the end had my eyes tearing up -- with happiness.

I'll definitely keep Ms. McQuiston on my radar for when I am in the mood for a good historical.
5 Stars
The Forgotten
The Forgotten - Wendy Beck
This book. This. Book. It pulled the feels straight from my gut and still left me begging for more. Emotional torture at its finest, and I loved it!

The author continues the story of Skyler and Bastian, and let me tell you, it is becoming EPIC. At about 1/4 through the book, the plot grabbed me by the throat and didn't let go until the end. And of course it squeezed all sorts of feels out of me.

There were times I yelled "NO!" at the screen and contemplated threatening the author to make it all good in the end, because dammit, if she didn't, then I'd come banging down her door and -- well, let's just not go there.

One of the things I appreciate most about these stories and the author's writing is that there is no all-compassing EVIL, no antagonist that is bad just for badness' sake, with no reason or rhyme except he's TEH EVIL ONE. No, in these stories, the antagonistic forces arise from differing interests, interests that, taken by themselves and looked at from the point of view of the person holding them, make sense and are not evil at all. I could -- to a certain degree -- sympathize with the antagonists, and I could see where they were coming from, and that they are not, in fact, bad people. But their interests still are in total and complete opposition to our heroine and hero's goals, which makes for crackling conflict. And that is awesome writing.

By this second installment in the trilogy, I cared so deeply about these characters -- even about one of the (former) antagonists -- that I felt split between wanting to read on to find out what happened to them, and wanting to stall reading so I could just stay in this world a little longer.

Bastian and Skyler's romance deepens and is taken to the next level, as does the thread of events that was kicked off with the destiny-altering end of 9th Life. Things have been set in motion that go far beyond anything Skyler could have guessed in book one, and the threads of fate grow tighter around all of the characters, leading to a culmination of the story in book three that no one could have envisioned.

Or could they?
4 Stars
Beyond Jealousy
Beyond Jealousy - Kit Rocha
3.5 stars

I'm a huge fan of Kit Rocha's Beyond series, and I was so looking forward to Ace, Rachel, and Cruz's story. Unfortunately, it fell a bit flat for me.

The sex was HAWT, the world-building intriguing as ever, and I loved the glimpses of the other O'Kanes. I adored Cruz and loved seeing him open up and be honest with himself and everyone else.

My problem was the emotional conflict the novel centered around, namely Ace's Angst. Yep, that's Angst with a capital A. It felt a bit fabricated and ... just kind of imploded on itself at some point. It felt like the issues that drove the conflict never really got addressed by all three of them, least of all solved. Plus, I just got tired of reading about Ace's pity party. Really.

Overall, I still thoroughly enjoyed this installment in the series, and I'm eagerly awaiting Beyond Addiction.
4 Stars
Syphon's Song (Mayflower Mages, Book 1)
Syphon's Song (Mayflower Mages, Book 1) - Anise Rae
A lovely, compelling, engaging read with a wonderful romance.

I loved the alternate history setup and the intricate world-building of the mage republic. The different powers and spells, as well as the politics of the world captivated me and pulled me right into the story. I could tell that the author thoroughly enjoyed building this world -- it shone through every word and description.

Bronte is a likable heroine who lives with a secret power that might just be her death warrant if it is revealed. She constantly has to juggle her striving for freedom and independence with being outclassed in terms of power by those around her, and that conflict is also present in her budding relationship with Vincent.

Ah, Vincent. Yummy. One of those heroes that make me swoon-sigh. Tall, dark and intensely compelling, he's just bossy enough to push some buttons but makes up for it with his unconditional willingness to take care of the heroine. I love a hero who wants the heroine from the get-go, and is not afraid to go to some (sometimes questionable) lengths to make her his.

I'm already itching for the next book in this series.
4 Stars
9th Life
9th Life - Wendy Beck
This was one of the rare books whose world-building and characters drew me right in to the point where I lived and breathed in the story's world, and didn't want to leave it.

9th Life is an engrossing, fascinating story of love, sacrifice, destiny, and the exploration of the lines we'd cross for that which we perceive as most important. Beautifully told, with a lyrical quality to the prose and smart, intriguing dialogue, the story had me turning the pages to find out what would happen next to the characters I've come to care about.

It starts with a thoughtful build of the relationship between the heroine Skyler and the hero Bastian, which creates a slow burn that is all the more engaging for its careful, paced progression. I found it especially enjoyable that the author didn't rush the relationship or throw in tons of action just to create a faster pace -- the quiet intensity of the building romance between Skyler and Bastian had its own fascinating tension, and had me hungry for more, wanting to read on and see what the next step would be.

The culture of the Ailuro shifters was worked into the story in a beautiful, subtle fashion that established their "otherness" in a believable, authentic way. As mentioned before, the world-building as a whole was just so realistic and well-done that I felt fully immersed in this world and all its facets.

Having read the next two installments in the series, I can say that 9th Life is the beginning of a truly amazing trilogy that touched me on the deepest level, ripped out my heart and handed it back to me with a beautiful smile. So, in short: Fan-freaking-tastic.
5 Stars
Firelight - Kristen Callihan
I think I found a new favorite author. I loved, loved, loved this book. It's been a while since I read a book that really pulled me in (the most recent ones were meh-okay kind of books), but this one swept me off my feet and into the story right from the start.

What impressed me right away was the writing style. Smart, evocative, tight and engaging, it was a joy to read. Couple that with intriguing, well-fleshed out characters, a rich backstory, and emotion pumped into every page, and Kristen Callihan is almost up to par with my all time favorite author Nalini Singh.

And, oh, the characters. Especially one certain Lord Archer... I mean, the guy wears a mask. A freaking mask. He's a dream cross between the Beast from my favorite childhood movie and the Phantom from the musical that kept me hot'n'bothered as an adult. A romance with that kind of hero? Hells to the yes.

Another sign of a great book for me is when the feel I get for the characters and the story bleed into my real life and I find myself randomly musing about them and their world even when not reading. It was like this with Firelight. At the end I even procrastinated reading because I didn't want to finish the book - I wanted to stay in this world and with the characters.

I'll absolutely pick up the next book in the series, and anything else Ms. Callihan decides to put out there, as she's become an auto-buy for me with this book alone.

5 Stars
Shadowfever - Karen Marie Moning
I'd give this a thousand stars if I could. Abso-fucking-lutely amazing. That's as far as I can go to put into words how awesome this book/series is.

Just... one more word.

5 Stars
Faefever - Karen Marie Moning
Finished this last night before I went to sleep. Big mistake. Needless to say, I lay awake for hours, and the gist of what went through my head in endlessly repeating circles was "Ohmygodholyshitfuckinabucket." Or something like that.

I'm still reeling from the cruel ending, and right now I'm desperately jonesing for my next Fever fix, because that's what this series is - addictive like crack. There's a reason I have a shelf with that name. Something about these books, the writing, the dark world, the enigmatic characters (*cough* BARRONS *cough*) just draws you in, swallows you with a long, quiet slurp, and then never quite lets you go, even when it spits you out again at the end (with a mean cliffhanger, to boot!), and you sit there dripping with Fever, feeling dark and hungry for more.

I gave this five stars even though I felt it was a teensy bit weaker than Bloodfever, because overall it still had enough parts that gripped me, that were intense and fascinating, and at times I smiled and grinned, and bounced in my chair, and I might even have cackled at one point.

BUT, there was definitely not enough BARRONS in this book. Or rather, Mac and Barrons. I wanted more interaction, more bantering like in Bloodfever, more teasing glimpses of what could be, more ... just MORE. This is really the cruelest part of this series. KMM has a way of dangling the potential of Barrons in front of me, making me yearn for something more. She makes me hope along with Mac, only to crush and burn that hope and then stomp on it. Cruel. It's almost painful to just want that badly.

And speaking of Barrons, I have a hunch about his mysterious backstory. Those pages that Dani took pics of and gave to Mac, that account of this boy/man who got seduced and then enslaved by a Fae princess, held in Faery and then somehow escaped after hundreds of (human) years - I think that was Barrons. I think this is what made him, what shaped him, the reason he hates Fae and can speak of things like breaking and rape and surviving at all costs, and of losing things you loved. I just don't know how he became immortal and gained all those super powers yet... No clue about that. *grrrrr*

Favorite scene: MacHalo. 'nuff said.
5 Stars
Bloodfever - Karen Marie Moning
Oh, Barrons, let me count the ways in which I adore you... wait, I can't.

Okay, I found Barrons fascinating in Darkfever, but having finished Bloodfever, I am now a squeeing Barrons fangirl. There, I admitted it. I haven't been this excited about a fictional character since Hawke from Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series. I literally sat up straighter, grinned and squealed in delightful anticipation every time Barrons appeared on the page.

And he didn't disappoint.

Boy, did I LOVE the banter between Mac and Barrons in this book. It made me grin, and snicker, and laugh, and wiggle in my seat, and I just love, love, love the dynamic their ... um, relationship is taking. I rooted for Mac all the way and I gotta give her props for giving as good as she gets and standing up to a man like Barrons.

And just as a reminder what kind of man Barrons is (and because I damn straight adore these quotes):

Barrons has something the rest of us don't have. I don't know what it is, but I feel it all the time, especially when we're standing close. Beneath the expensive clothes, unplaceable accent, and cultured veneer, there's something that never crawled all the way out of the swamp. It didn't want to. It likes it there.

Barrons didn't fit in any more than I did. If I was a minnow and they were sharks, he was one of those yet undiscovered fish that lurk in the deepest, darkest reaches of the ocean where sunlight and man never go.

I don't get off on danger. I get off on a man with strong moral fiber. The closest Barrons ever gets to fiber is walking down the cereal aisle at the grocery store.

Being nearly naked around Barrons felt a lot like going to a shark convention lightly basted in blood.

Nuns? They'd take one look at Barrons and decide the devil himself had come knockng. He not only looked dangerous, he emanated something that made even me feel like crossing myself sometimes, and I'm not religious.

Okay, okay, I'll stop with the Barrons quotes now. Just... one more.

Being touched by Jericho Barrons with kindness makes you feel like you must be the most special person in the world. It’s like walking up to the biggest, most savage lion in the jungle, lying down, placing your head it its mouth and, rather than taking your life, it licks you and purrs.

The chemistry and sexual tension between Mac and Barrons in this book was off the charts (and damn, that KISS? I need a cold shower here, ASAP, or maybe a walk-in freezer, because - holy fuck - that mix of aggression and passion? Whew. *fans self*), and I LOVED (can you already tell how the five star rating came to pass?) Barrons little bouts of jealousy here and there. Oh, he tries. He tries so hard to hide it and would probably rather chew up his own tongue than to admit he feels that way, but it's there. Mac might not see it yet, but that's okay. I'd rather have her a bit clueless than falling head over heels for him too soon.

And on that note: Contrary to many other readers, I don't have a problem with Mac. I don't find her annoying or TSTL, in fact, I can understand where she's coming from most of the time, and even when she does something not quite so wise, I can follow her reasoning as to why she acted that way. She'd lived a very, very sheltered life before being thrown into a world of danger and darkness she is still struggling to come to terms with, and she's constantly being pushed around by forces beyond her control and people she can't trust. I'd have a hard time adapting to that, too. At this point in the story timeline, it's only been a few weeks since she was yanked out of her old life, and I can totally understand that she still grapples with all the changes and how much she's had to learn. It's only natural that she'll sway between wanting to take on the responsibility as a player in this new world on the one side, and fervently wishing to be back in her old, sheltered, carefree life on the other.

And because I really can't stop, I just have to include some more quotes:

“I couldn‘t tell the difference between the two of you anymore!" he roared.
I smashed my fist into his face. Lies roll off us. It‘s the truths we work hardest to silence.
"Then you weren‘t looking hard enough! I‘m the one with boobs!"
"I know you‘re the one with boobs! They‘re in my fucking face every fucking time I turn around!”

“I heard there are no male sidhe-seers.”
“Where did you hear that?”
“And which one of those are you in doubt about, Ms. Lane?”
“Which one of what?”
“Whether I see the Fae, or whether I’m a man. I believe I’ve laid your mind to rest on the former; shall I relieve it on the latter?” He reached for his belt.
“Oh, please.” I rolled my eyes. “You’re a leftie, Barrons.”
“Touche, Ms. Lane,” he murmured.”

I didn’t say, You are such a stuffy asshole. And he didn’t say, If you ever burn one of my quarter-of-a-million dollar rugs again I’ll take it out of your hide, and I didn’t say, Oh, honey, wouldn’t you like to? And he didn’t say Grow up, Ms. Lane, I don’t take little girls to my bed, and I didn’t say I wouldn’t go there if it was the only safe place from the Lord Master in all of Dublin.
"You might reconsider that one day." His voice was low, fierce, on the verge of guttural.
I gasped. "What?"

In short: This book was deliciously awesome.
3 Stars
The Darkest Kiss
The Darkest Kiss - Gena Showalter
3.5 stars.

I liked Lucien, all broody and dark and tormented, and I loved Anya and her confident, take-no-shit-from-no-one attitude, and I enjoyed the world-building and the glimpses in the lives (and curses) of the other characters, there were parts that made me laugh out loud, and in the end, I really felt for Lucien and Anya and their struggles.

So why did I not give it four stars?

I felt the bantering and bickering, the hot-and-cold, I-want-you-but-I-can't-have-you phase of their story was drawn out too long. The entire first half of the book was filled with Lucien and Anya's circling around each other with not much development in either way. She wants him but she can't give in to him. He wants her but he is ordered to kill her, so he won't give in to her either. They need each other but don't - can't - really trust each other. And so it went, back and forth, back and forth, and I felt like they were stuck in a stalemate with no way out. It was frustrating. I do like a little bantering, a little teasing and dancing around the obvious, but this... this made me roll my eyes at times and want to put the book down.

So by the time they finally did open up to each other and got together for reals, I'd been frustrated with the story for too long to whole-heartedly enjoy it. Sad, really. Because once they were together, those two rocked it. Death and Anarchy. What an awesome match. :)

Yeah, so though the world-building and storyline are still fun, the characters are intriguing (I want to read the other Lords' books!)and the romance had a satisfying resolution, the aspect mentioned above detracted from my overall reading enjoyment, and I can only give it 3.5 stars.
4 Stars
The Darkest Night
The Darkest Night - Gena Showalter
I loved this! Wasn't quite sure before I started, but I like her writing, love the characters, and the world-building is intriguing. Oh, and did I mention this woman writes some seriously HAWT scenes?

Looking forward to reading the next book.
4 Stars
Slave - Sherri Hayes
There are books that are quietly unputdownable. They don't have a lot of action going on, no shocking sudden twists and turns, no explosions or fights or chases thrown at you left and right, and yet they have a quiet pull that forces you to read on. This is one of them.

I almost finished this in one go, I was so enthralled and engaged in the story, the characters, and the burning question of how this would develop, what would happen next (in terms of quiet character development), and how this was going to end.

And because it has a mean, mean cliffhanger, I am now off to read the next one, ASAP.
4 Stars
This Is Who I Am
This Is Who I Am - Cherise Sinclair
I was looking forward to Master Sam's book for some time now, and Ms. Sinclair did not disappoint in her telling of his and Linda's story. To make me (<-- vanilla with a kinky reading taste, but not too sure about the heavier stuff) not only like a sadist, but actually <i>understand his needs and the way it worked out perfectly in a D/s relationship with a masochist, to make me feel and crave and enjoy the pain along with the characters even though it is something that is so far outside my frame of reference, now that takes some talent. Ms. Sinclair has it. In spades.

I just love this series, and I can't wait for Sally and the FBI agents' book. I think I squealed every time they appeared on the page. :D
4 Stars
Lover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 5)
Lover Unbound (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 5) - J.R. Ward
These books really are addictive. And not in the happy-go-lucky, I-enjoy-the-hell-out-of-this-with-no-regrets kind of way. There is a lot of darkness in these stories, mostly in the characters themselves, and it's a bit like watching a train wreck in-the-making - you sit there and see what's happening in front of you, and you know it's going to be gut-wrenchingly bad, still you can't look away and neither can you do shit about it.

There are a lot of things that bug me about the writing, but I'm always compelled to read on because I'm so invested in those characters and I have to find out what will happen to them. There might be a bit of self-inflicted torture here... Erm, yeah, anyway.

What I liked in this book:
- Jane. I loved her sass, her snappy comebacks and the way she talked to V and the other big guys, how she stood her ground and had some real spine. The bantering in the beginning had me laughing a couple of times. ^^
- V's relationship to Jane. I didn't really care about V at first, but I came to like him a lot, and I loved how he was with Jane. I think they are a perfect match for each other, since she doesn't take any crap from him and yet accepts him the way he his.
- V's talks with Butch. That really floored me, how they were able to talk so openly about everything. It could have all been incredibly awkward or unnecessarily overdramatic, but it was neither, and thank God for that.
- Butch. Can't believe how much I've come to adore that character, considering how much I disliked him when he was first introduced. Now he's my favorite of the Brothers, right next to
- Z. *sighs* Any scene with Z is a good scene. Even if he just jumps into the kitchen to get some stuff from the fridge, all flustered because he's late for teaching. *swoons* And the way he takes care of John... Melts my heart.
- The fact that we did not get ONE SCENE from a lesser's POV. HALLELUJAH! That just totally made the book for me.

What I didn't like:
- Phury's continuing depression. He did begin to turn around a bit towards the end, but, seriously, watching him slide down that hill of self-destruction annoyed the hell out of me. Reading his POV always makes me want to overdose on rainbows and unicorns and fluffy feel-good-books, it is THAT depressing.
- The flashbacks. I just don't like lengthy flashbacks. Found it annoying in Z's book as well. I like the trips down memory lane to be worked into the story more smoothly than that.
- The ending. A lot of readers seem to be disappointed/freaked out by the solution, and I am one of them. I feel like Jane and V got cheated out of the HEA they really deserved. Sure, they're still together (in a way...), but the idea of Jane being a ghost just totally creeped me out. Just the thought of V having sex with ... well, basically just an apparition - no. Just ... no.. Honestly, it leaves a bad taste, and when I think of them, I don't go "Awwww, the happy couple!" as I do with the others, instead I feel sad for them both. :(
- The name dropping. No words for that ridiculous mentioning of brands all over the place.
- The fact that all the males kind of talk the same. Even Manuel Manello, the chief of surgery at the hospital, uses phrases like "I'm going to food up." Seriously? The chairman of the department of surgery, a professional, sophisticated, middle-aged man in a position of importance talks like that? Please.

Will I read more of this series? Of course. Love me a good train wreck. :)
4 Stars
Bonds of Need
Bonds of Need - Lynda Aicher
Hmmm, yes, Lynda Aicher is officially one of my feel-good authors now. She has a way of writing her characters and the world they live in, that just leaves me with a generally positive feeling while reading, even if there is darkness and evil and problems galore. In the end, I finish her stories with a big smile on my face and a sigh on my lips.

What I also love about her writing: It's not predictable or cliché. There were a couple of situations in the story that could have easily veered into cheesy drama and I was thinking "Oh please, don't go down that road!" - and thankfully, Ms. Aicher didn't. :) Once again, as happened in the first book of the series, the characters surprised me with an unexpected maturity that was just ... like a breath of fresh air in the often overly dramatized world of fiction.

I am definitely watching this author and am looking forward to new releases in the Wicked Play series.