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Fire Bound: There’s Just Not Enough Fire in this Plot

Penguin2.3

Fire Bound (Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart, #5)

Fire Bound (Sea Haven, #5)

Sea Haven/Sisters of the Heart Book 5
Goodreads Rating: 4.16 Stars
400 Pages
Jove Publishing
Publication Date: April 26th, 2016
Get a copy here!

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sea Haven novels returns to the circle of the six sisters of the heart, bound by the elements—and to one who possesses the power to inflame the most dangerous passions of all.

Flame-haired Lissa Piner is a skilled glass blower whose delicate gift conceals a burning inner strength that can destroy as exquisitely as it can create. Commissioned to design chandeliers for a string of luxury hotels, her remarkable skills have taken her to Italy. But Lissa’s real mission there is a secret. For her entire life has been a lie, leading to a chance to avenge a terrible wrong.

Enlisted as her bodyguard is Casmir Prakenskii, a trained assassin living off the grid. In Lissa, he sees a kindred spirit—something unexpected and wicked, mysterious and sensual. But more than desire is about to bring them together: because both of their pasts cry out for revenge. And for two people with this many secrets, this much passion, and this many enemies, someone is bound to get burned.

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: a good amount of action/adventure; this wasn’t all sex, which I’m celebrating!; I’m not sure I believed the romance, regardless (maybe I’m just more cynical than I used to be?); stubborn, sassy characters; the banter was lively and fun; this is much more like the Feehan I used to adore

HALLELUJAH, for this book Feehan seems to be much more like the writer I used to adore! I mean, yeah, this still got only a 3-penguin rating from me…but GUYS! GUYS, this book wasn’t just sex scenes! This book didn’t only take place in the bedroom! It might seem like a little thing to celebrate, but I’m celebrating it anyway, because I can. You’re just going to have to deal.

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So let’s get into this, yes? I’ve always had a soft spot for Feehan’s Sea Haven characters. I think I started my obsession with one of the Drake sister novels–there’s just something fun and whimsical about the magical realism in these books, I guess. Although honestly, this one? Didn’t really focus on the Sisters of the Heart…. and I’m slightly disappointed with that, thinking about it now. Lissa, instead, spends the entire book AWAY from Sea Haven–and her chosen family–and instead the focus is upon her. Overcoming the demons of the past, figuring out the mysteries of things she never thought to question before, the budding romance with Casimir. You get what I’m driving at here, yes? And we didn’t even get much of THEIR powers, honestly. Casimir loses control all of ONCE, and sets a building on fire….but aside from that, the magical realism in this? Falls very, very flat overall.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong–there is action and adventure in this book. But…again, even then the writing is a BIT sub-par compared to the action/adventure scenes of books prior to this. While there’s a lot of fighting the bad guys, overcoming their struggles, etc… I feel like we only got a very small glimpse into this world, and this couple.

 

In fact, the romance itself seems flat to me. I’m not entirely sure I bought it completely. It feels like lately, Feehan has stopped trying to write up a romance realistically–with the fun arguments, and the entertaining drama, and the lively banter–and instead has been crafting more “insta-love.” Which, ICK?! What happened to our feisty characters who “fought” the romance? HELL, what happened to LISSA in this?! One second she’s snarling, claiming she’ll never ever let a Prakenskii brother brand her like the others have done to her “sisters”……..and the next, she’s doing exactly that very thing. What? I miss the badass characters who stood up for themselves, who didn’t immediately swoon at the sight of their destined partners, who put up a bit of a fight. The loves Feehan’s been crafting lately? Flat. And boring. And predictable, all things considered.

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So… while I was entertained, and enjoyed this read for the most part, I’m still pretty disappointed. Maybe I’ve just grown more cynical than I used to be? I don’t know. Regardless, this romance felt a bit like taffy–pulled and molded into some sort of rubberized mockery of love. Still, given how some of her recent novels have been for me, I’d recommend this to those who’ve read the rest of the Sisters of the Heart series–it’s cutesy, and dark, and there are some pretty steamy scenes (that HORSE scene, guys. That horse scene is my favorite).

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A Review of Spider Game (Ghostwalkers #12), by Christine Feehan

Penguin2.3

Spider Game (GhostWalkers, #12)

Goodreads Rating: 3.92 Stars
464 Pages
Jove Publishing
Get a copy here!

In the new GhostWalker novel by the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of Viper Game, a trained killer meets his match in a woman whose very kiss can stop a heart.

The Cajun dive in the middle of the godforsaken swamps wasn’t exactly Trap Dawkins’ idea of fun. But the GhostWalker wasn’t there for a good time. He was looking for her. Cayenne. It’s where she found her victims. Poor suckers. Then again, who wouldn’t want to leave a place like this with a woman like her?

It’s not Cayenne’s fault. Locked up, experimented on and never knowing kindness, she was bred this way—with a heart of pure venom. Trap understands her. He survived his own dark past and he shares her desire for getting even. But now Trap’s greatest danger is Cayenne herself. Because what’s inside her is hard to control—especially when it’s aroused by a lover as reckless as Trap.

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3.5Penguins
Quick Reasons: THIS is much more the Feehan I fell in love with!; kickass, stubborn female; flawed but mostly redeemable love interest; much more action outside the bedroom; less focus on the hot and steamy, more on the story and characters; still a few small problems with it overall, but MUCH better than her recent

Perhaps it’s due to how HORRIBLE I thought the last book I read was (the most recent Leopard people)…but this one seemed much closer to the Christine Feehan I originally fell in love with, when I first started reading her novels.

Granted, I still had some problems with this—mostly to do with the male MC, Trap. While most of the time he was pretty tame compared to some of the last few men in her books, Trap still had a very domineering, at times bordering-on-abusive personality. I still wasn’t given what I was looking for overall—that sense of true connection between and to the characters, that sense of “yeah, THIS is what true love looks like.” While I connected to the characters individually—particularly Cayenne, who is the only reason I picked this book up (I fell in love with her at the end of Viper Game)–I didn’t really get a true sense of them together. I didn’t get the sense that they were really, truly IN love, which was disappointing.

“What are you doing here?” Cayenne demanded, her hands on her hips.

“Saving your pretty little ass.”

Her chin went up. Her eyes narrowed. That only brought his attention to the beautiful green surrounded by all those thick, luxurious lashes. He really wanted her eyes open when he was moving inside her.

She toed Pascal. “I didn’t need help.”

“I wasn’t saving your ass from them.”

There were, however, some redeeming aspects about this read that I didn’t find in many of her recent releases. She does seem to be attempting to get back to her original story-telling roots: there was more action outside the bedroom, the drama was kicked up a notch higher than it has been recently, and that old sense of camaraderie between the rest of the characters was tangible and easy to find.

There’s also plenty of moments when Cayenne herself is allowed to take over, instead of sitting in the background playing ragdoll to the hero. In fact, many of the moments I enjoyed most in this book put Cayenne center-stage, using her abilities against either the MC or the villains (admittedly, her using them against the MC had me chuckling and pumping my fist in the air at the same time). So while Mr. Cool and Confident still had some flaws in this book, I think Cayenne took a much firmer role in the front seat of her story than several of the other recent female leads in Feehan’s books. Which is a good thing, in my opinion—it means maybe, just maybe, we’re getting the OLD Feehan back.

The next lurch sent her sprawling forward. Malichai caught her, grinning at her with his devilish smirk. “Falling into my arms again, woman? I know you find me pretty, but seriously, Cai, I’m not for sale.”

So, overall? The hero still had some pretty huge, uncomfortable jerk moments…but Cayenne stands on her own fairly well, and doesn’t take shit even from him. I really enjoyed reading about her more obvious abilities, though I’d have LOVED to see more of all the abilities than we’re given. While this is MUCH better than her recent releases have been, Christine Feehan still has a ways to go to redeem herself in this reader’s eyes—and get back to her original roots in writing. Enjoyable, but there’s still a lot of work to do to get this series back on track. Here’s hoping the journey up continues.

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A Review of Wild Cat (Leopard People #8), by Christine Feehan

Wild Cat

Goodreads Rating: 3.99 Stars
395 pages
Jove Publishing
Get a copy here!

In the new Leopard novel by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Cat’s Lair and Leopard’s Prey, passions explode like wildfire when a young woman’s feral instincts are ignited by a man who’s too dangerous not to desire…

A simple request for Siena Arnotto: deliver a gift to her grandfather’s friend. One look at Elijah Lospostos, hard-bodied and stripped to the waist, and Siena succumbs to a feline stirring she never felt before, and to Elijah’s reckless and pleasurable demands. But when that pulse-throbbing moment ends in the murder of an unexpected intruder, Elijah accuses the shaken and confused Siena of setting him up.

Then Siena discovers the truth of her Leopard heritage, of the secrets in her grandfather’s inner circle, and the sinister plot of revenge that has put her in jeopardy. When Siena’s grandfather is assassinated, she realizes the only man she can trust is Elijah. Now as her Leopard rises from within, Siena and Elijah share not only an animal instinct for survival—but a desire so raw and wild it may be the only thing that can save them.

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2Penguins
Quick Reasons: this book is crap; what the HELL happened to your writing, Feehan?; I’m supremely disappointed; trigger warning: lots of abuse, both emotional and physical; I just… I don’t even know what the hell this is

There will be no favorite quotes section for this review, because the entire book is pretty much varying degrees of either “super loud, obnoxious, rude yelling and cruelty” or “sex scenes that did nothing for me.” I refuse to try to find even the most salvagable quotes in this book, because it’s pure crap and I’m not happy about it.

First off: Feehan, what the HELL happened to your writing?! You used to be good. I’ve been reading her books since I was a senior in high school; up until the last year, I’d NEVER ONCE been disappointed with her novels. But the last…three? four? I’ve read have only gone downhill. This one is particularly bad—the “hero” is an abusive, manipulative asshole; the romance doesn’t exist at all; I didn’t once connect to either of these characters or their story… Nothing about this book makes me want to read more of her stuff. Which is sad, because I already bought her other new release.

There’s a fine line between “sexy” and “abusive” – between “dominating” and “control freak.” Feehan stepped over that line with this book…and made the read absolutely awful. I’m not going to sugar coat it: all this book is, is angry abuse/emotional manipulation…and sex I didn’t care a lick for, because there was absolutely no passion in it. The characters are flat. Elijah is a HUGE douche canoe, and I don’t say things like that hardly ever…but I LOATHED him. I absolutely could not stand him, at all. What happened to “building up the passion,” Feehan? What happened to “sensual chemistry” and “sexy foreplay” and making your story COUNT for something?

I just… Ugh. This book is 400 pages of pure ick and stomach-churning yuck, and I don’t recommend readers new to Feehan’s paranormal worlds start with this—trust me, her earlier work is much better. This crap she’s been spouting lately? I don’t know what’s up with it, but I’m beginning to think perhaps she’s hit her writing wall. Maybe she just has nothing new to add. Maybe she needs to step back, stop publishing five plus books a year, and instead refocus on the morals I thought she started out wanting to keep in her writing: that sex isn’t everything. That dominating males don’t have to be asswads. That there IS still passion in romance.

I’m disappointed. And angry. I think I need to find a new favorite romance author…because Feehan’s just not doing it for me these days.

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A Review of Earth Bound, by Christine Feehan

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The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Air Bound returns to the mysterious coastal town of Sea Haven where six sisters of the heart are bound by the elements, and one is stalked by an inescapable past…

After escaping from a cult, Lexi found refuge with her sisters on the farm that more than sustained her body—it nurtured her soul as well. But she never forgot the terror she left behind or the always present fear that the cult would find her again, and claim her. Then her nightmare came true.

Lexi was discovered and threatened—only to be suddenly saved by a stranger. He is Gavriil Prakenskii, and he’s awestruck by the woman he’s rescued. She is destined for him. He can feel it in his soul. But how can Lexi find happiness with a man steeped in secrets and shadows, one intimately acquainted with violence, and whose very love could be the death of them?

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Rating: 3/5 Stars

Quick Reasons: great character growth/development; a heart-wrenching backstory; a strong focus on family and friend relationships; a mixed bag of suspense and romance; not a lot of action overall

Now, THIS is more like the Christine Feehan I fell in love with! I’m still a bit disappointed—I’ll get to the reasons why in a few minutes—but I liked this read MUCH better than the last two from her, and I have hope things will get back to where they once were in regards to her story telling capabilities.

The characters in this are strong, independent, and supportive in their roles; they battle their own unique struggles, come to terms with the changes and chances thrown at them, and still maintain a clear sense of vulnerability and reckless heart-following. It IS a case of insta-love—or something rather close to it, at least. Maybe…insta-infatuation? That makes a little more sense. So if you’re not an insta-love sort of person…well, I don’t think the romance genre is going to be for you at all, but here’s your warning for this book regardless.

Our main female protagonist, Lexi, has a backstory that is BOUND to rip out your heart and leave you sobbing. She went through so, so much as a child…her emotions, her turmoils with change and paranoia and self-loathing, are a mixing pot of drama and heartache, and readers are sure to empathize with her immediately.

Gavriil, on the other hand, is not such an easy character to pin down. I feel like we didn’t get nearly as much from him as we usually do with our male love interests; he fell a bit flat, felt a bit like a stranger left stranded on the side of the road: you know he’s there, you know he’s got substance and potential, but he doesn’t quite live up to it all. This was the first reason I felt slightly disappointed by this read. I like to know both characters equally; in the past, Christine Feehan has made sure to delve into each character and their pasts without reservation. It felt as if Gavriil was a character she maybe hadn’t had the chance to get to know so well; as if in the process of writing, he leaped off the page and forged his own path without her permission. He just didn’t feel quite as human to me as Lexi; I wish we’d gotten more of him.

There’s also not much in the way of nail-biting action. I fell in love with Christine Feehan’s writing after reading my first Ghostwalkers novel; the suspense, the action, the romantic sub-plot…all of these things really came to life for me. Having read this novel… It’s not quite as action-packed as I’ve grown to know her for. It’s more…a carriage ride through the rain with maybe a hill or two of mud to overcome, where her past novels leaned more toward tornadoes and torrential downpour. While it’s not a bad journey, I wish we’d gotten the same level of “action” from this as from past pursuits.

What this book DID do well, however, was focus on things like family, friendship, the determination and willpower that can be found despite being broken down or cast aside. This novel was an awesome example of finding strength in yourself, finding confidence in who you are, BEING confident in being yourself. While the action and some character development were sorely lacking, I ADORED the fact that Christine Feehan took the time in this novel to put a few important morals to the forefront. And while there were a few well-chosen steamy moments, this book did something I haven’t seen from Christine Feehan before: it pulled away from the “sex” and instead focused on the creation of healthy, happy relationships. It’s like the author decided she needed to take a step back and rediscover what she started writing for…and succeeded. I really love that this book wasn’t as focused on the physical, but instead put importance on the emotional and mental aspects of a relationship—and the ways to find/create a lasting connection outside of the bedroom.

Overall, I enjoyed this read about ten times more than I did the last two I read from her; here’s hoping future installments from Christine Feehan continue on this path and become even better. Highly recommended to lovers of paranormal romance, and to those who have tried her last few books and been disappointed. THIS is more like it.

Trigger warning: there are references to rape, child molestation, kidnapping, abuse and violence.  If these things bother or trigger you, take them into consideration before reading.