Fire Bound by Christine Feehan

Housekeeping Note

Fire Bound is the fifth book in the Sisters of the Heart series that I have been reviewing on Mackenzie’s Mountain these last two months, in anticipation of the release of the last novel in the series, in March. If you are an avid reader, you might realize I skipped reviewing book 4, Earth Bound. I actually reviewed it when EB was initially released.

fire-bound

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 Casimir 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.

—                         —                         —

Fire Bound is the first book where all seven Prakenskii brothers make an appearance! Yes, we finally meet the last aloof two, Casimir, and Viktor.

I appreciated having a scene with the brothers we have already met introducing Casimir. Most of the book takes place in Europe, away from the family that readers have grown to love, so it was important to have those brief moments of interaction between secondary characters. The lack of this was one of my problems with Air Bound.

Lissa is one fiery red head. She was always a bit of a mystery in the other books, a holdout. She has a ferocious temper that is only matched by her protective instincts. Her desire to take revenge for her murdered parents AND kill the two powerful Sorbacovs who have targeted her brothers-in-law is the drive behind this story. She decides to sacrifice her life to allow her family members to live happily. Luckily, Casimir is secretly watching her back.

Each of the Prakensii brothers have been used for slightly different tasks. Ilya’s tasks were mostly legitimate as he was loaned out to Interpol. Others worked as assassins, influenced events in foreign nations, or went “deep” undercover (working for years at a time to reach a specific target). Casimir is the master of disguises. He went undercover, mostly for short period of time, in order to complete a kill. Throughout Fire Bound, he assumes many different identities, and Lissa also goes undercover for brief periods.

At first this creeped me out, because they both talk about “becoming” that character and refer to each other by those names, often even in private. But on a re-read, I could see their true selves bleeding through in their interactions with each other and it no longer seemed like a weird sex game.

To be able to survive the turmoil and evil surrounding them, Casimir and Lissa use their telepathic link to open themselves up to each other far earlier than any of the other couples, who were more reluctant to do so. They are also kinkier. Finally a couple who isn’t too prudish to introduce a sex toy or two!

Fire Bound provides a great introduction to the final chapter of the Sister of the Heart series, Bound Together. As many readers already suspected, Viktor met his wife Blythe while undercover five years ago and there is a lot of history between them, which will be explained in the final book, due out in March 2017. It was great to meet him before he becomes the hero though, because we got to experience Viktor through the eyes of his sister-in-law Lissa.

Viktor seems intense and scary and a man apart, even from his own brothers. I cannot wait to read Bound Together in June. Hopefully the first chapter is revealed online soon!

* * * * *

xx

Air Bound by Christine Feehan

Air Bound is the third book in the Sisters of the Heart series by Feehan. Although this is written as a series, it can definitely be read as a standalone. Unfortunately. I understand it is better for an author’s sales to write every book as a standalone because it is easier for new readers to try them out, but it is extremely annoying for a regular reader to keep having recaps in each book of a series.

air-bound

For as far back as she can remember, Airiana Ridell has always been aware of her extraordinary gift. She can intuit revealing and illuminating ‘patterns’ in the air around her-whether in a spray of mist, in billowing clouds, or in the dense swirls of an impenetrable fog. Her abilities led to her placement in a secret government training facility when she was a child, but everything changed after her mother was murdered.

Airiana fled the program, but she couldn’t outrun the desperate members of a shadowy cabal who want her, who need her, who will kill to get her. Kidnapped and held aboard a ship bound for dangerous seas, her only chance for rescue is Maxim Prakenskii. He has his reasons for helping her, but he isn’t about to reveal them to Airiana. Not yet. Not as the two are drawn together as moth to flame. Not when there are so many secrets yet untold that could shatter the quaint community of Sea Haven and all who reside there…

—                         —                        —

Air Bound has a lot more action than the previous two books in this series. It starts with the heroine, Airiana, getting kidnapped from her home by Maxim, one of the feared and mysterious Prakenskii brothers, and her true love, although neither of them knows this yet. He is working undercover and was a little bit of an enigma, compared to the three brothers who have already had their stories.

Maxim is less than impressed that he has found his soul-mate. In fact, he actually is angry with her for disrupting his life and is pretty damn selfish. I mean, Airiana was just minding her own business on her farm and he swooped in with a helicopter and a team of thugs and kidnapped her! But he doesn’t understand love and relationships and is frightened that she is tempting him to things he never expected to find in his life, and turning his well-ordered world upside down!

Love does that to you.

Within 12 hours, Maxim has Airiana (and four children they rescued) trailing after him and begins to feel a little bit like the Pied Piper. He is unused to others looking at him with trust or hope and shudders under the pressure of the others’ expectations of him as a man. He knows that he can return them home safely, but the emotional commitments that each expect is daunting to a man who has suppressed emotions for his entire life.

Air Bound is a good book, but it is my least favourite in the series so far. I liked the characters but did not find this to be the best example of Feehan’s writing skills.

The action is so non-stop that is feels like it drags on for 15 chapters. From the time Maxim kidnaps her, to the drama on the helicopter, to the ship and the sub and the yacht and back to the farm, there just wasn’t enough down-time for me to feel like I got a break while reading. These emotionally intimate moments are what grounds a story with lots of action, and after years leading up to these moments, the author has to know that fans are yearning for brotherly unification to play out on page.

As a reader, I felt cheated that we didn’t get to experience Maxim’s introduction to Stefan or Lev, or see the brothers greet Airiana after they rescue the couple. Especially since they are essentially greeting the brother who kidnapped their sister-in-law from under their noses, when they were supposed to be protecting her. And he wasn’t particularly gentle about it!

So why didn’t the author include these moments on the page, even at the risk of sacrificing a bit of action? Does she doubt she can do justice to the moment?

I have a theory that this book came in way over the word count and parts had to be cut. Airiana and Maxim seem to jump from being on the sub to being on the yacht without it happening on page. At first read, I actually missed this transition and had to go back and re-read a bit to make sense of what had happened. The only point of importance that happens on the sub is the introduction of a new supporting character, Valentin. I hope he turns up again in the series, but surely he could have been introduced elsewhere.

Overall, the book is another worthy edition to the Sea Haven saga, but it isn’t going to be on my favourite list any time soon. Air Bound could have used another round of beta readers or edits.

* * * *

xx

Fifty Shades Darker

csgdozpvuaakino-jpg-large

Well I went to see the new Fifty Shades today! I went to the “Stars and Strollers” matinee edition with three friends and two sweet little babes … that will be some story to tell them when they are older, that their first movie was Fifty Shades Darker!

I was surprised and very happy to discover that the movie was SO much better than the first! All four of us adults agreed. It still isn’t something that the actors will win an Oscar for, but the acting and pacing of the film were both better. Jamie Dornan, was much sexier in this movie, without that goofy haircut from the first film, and the actors seemed more comfortable with each other and the inherent sexuality unfolding on-screen.

It helped that I went with the girls I did, and that we were expecting a light-hearted movie that wasn’t too deep. We were there to bond, snuggle babies, and share some laughs.

And that is exactly what we did.

The actress who played Leila, Bella Heathcote, did a fantastic job entering the series. And I have always loved Max Martini as Taylor. I seriously hope that his role is expanded in the final film.

rs_1024x523-170103051202-bella-heathcote

Fifty Shades is the type of movie that you can’t take too seriously. It isn’t about abuse or the subjugation of women. It isn’t a high-class movie, with witty commentary, high stakes car chases or deep meaning. It is what it is and I am happy to report that we all had a great afternoon out.

mv5bmtaxmtcxntc0odzeqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mde0mtc0mdey__v1_ux477_cr00477268_al_

If you liked the books, you will probably enjoy this movie. If you hated the books and all they “stood for” then you will hate the movie equally.

* * * * *

xx

Drop Dead Fred (film)

Drop Dead Fred is a HILARIOUS movie that was released in 1991 by Universal Studies. It stars Phoebe Cates and Rik Mayall.

I have been looking to watch this movie for so long now. I couldn’t find it on DVD or streaming service anywhere, other than for rent on Youtube. Thankfully, my local library just got a new streaming service that is free to members and this movie was on there. Libraries for the win!

drop-dead-fred

From IMDB: A young woman who’s attempting to find her place in the world battles with her controlling mother and a womanizing husband finds comfort and confusion with the appearance of her childhood friend. It is a zappy movie that emphasizes self-actualization.

—                         —                         —

This movie is rated pg-13, but I watched it with my parents from a young age. Looking back, that is a little shocking because of the swearing in the movie, but I was never one for bad words so I guess my parents could tell that the language and occasional adult situation went over my head at the time.

Drop Dead Fred is a fantastic movie to watch as a family if your children are a little older. The rating is mostly for language, there aren’t any sexy scenes. Making out is about as heavy as it gets.

Drop Dead Fred is a hilarious coming-of-age story about a mousy young women taking control of her life that was previously run by her husband and mother. She overcomes the emotional abuse that was inflicted upon her as a child, with the help of her childhood imaginary friend, the rambunctious and heart-warming troublemaker, Fred. You will be in stitches over the situations that Lizzie and Fred find themselves in, both as children and as adults, and if you’re a neat-freak like me, you might just be cringing a little bit too.

The young child, Ashley Peldon, who plays Young Elizabeth in the flashback scenes does an amazing job. She is sweet and convincing in her role. It is more than a little heartbreaking to see how the mother treats her and all I wanted to do was hold her tight and love on her.

Trailer

I highly recommend this hilarious comedy for some hearty laughs on a cold and snowy winter’s night.

* * * * *

xx

Spirit Bound by Christine Feehan

Spirit Bound is the second book in the Sisters of the Heart series by Christine Feehan.

spirit-bound

Lethal undercover agent Stefan Prakenskii knew a thousand ways to kills a man—and twice as many ways to pleasure a woman. That’s what made him look forward to his new mission: arrive in the coastal town of Sea Haven and insinuate himself in the life of an elusive beauty who had mysterious ties to his past, and a link to a dangerously seductive, and equally elusive master criminal who wanted only one thing: to possess her.

Judith Henderson was an artist on the rise—an ethereal, and haunted woman whose own picture-perfect beauty stirred the souls of two men who have made her their obsession. For years she has been waiting for someone to come and unlock the passion and fire within her—waiting for the right man to surrender it to. But only one man can survive her secrets, and the shadow she has cast over both their lives.

—                         —                         —

Man, I love those Prakenskii brothers! They are sexy, dangerous, and possessive. Just what a lady loves in a hero. This lady at least.

Stefan is in the unique position of having to court his woman while undercover. This presents quite the challenge! He knows that she is the one for him and that he intends to make a life with her on her farm with her sisters and his brother, so he can’t lie to her. Neither can he tell her the truth about why he is in Sea Haven, or who he is.

I think he does a great job of giving what is true about himself to her while still keeping the secrets necessary for the security of his homeland and to protect Judith as well.

I love Judith. I would hazard to say she is the most powerful sister on the farm with her gift of spirit, but she is so unsure of herself. It is strange that she was unaware of her gifts until in her early twenties though. I can appreciate that she didn’t know until recently that she can boost other elements but she should have always been capable of telepathy with spirit ….

It was exciting to see Stefan and Lev interacting and meeting for the first time since childhood! I have been waiting for this moment longer than this series has been in existence, as most fans have been and I loved the moment. I wish that Ilya had been present more, and that Aleksandr’s supporting role had been expanded, but I will take what I can get for now!

There isn’t as much humour in this book as there was in the second and the ending is sadder, although the couple still gets their HEA.  Unfortunately, a long-time resident of Sea Haven, whom you know if you’ve the Drake Sisters series by Feehan, does not survive the final battle with the big bad 😦

* * * * *

xx

Bound by Vengeance by Cora Reilly

Bound by Vengeance is the fifth book in the Born in Blood Mafia Chronicles by Cora Reilly. You can read my previous reviews, starting here.

bound-by-vengeance

Growl
He’d never had something to himself, never even dared to dream about owning something so precious. He was the unwanted bastard son who’d always had to content himself with the leftovers of others. And now they’d given him what only a few weeks ago had been out of his reach, someone he wasn’t even allowed to admire from afar, one of their most prized possessions. Thrown at his feet because he was who he was, because they were certain he would break her. He was her punishment, a fate worse than death, a way to deliver the ultimate punishment to her father who had displeased them so greatly.

Cara
She had always been the good girl. It didn’t protect her.
She didn’t know his real name. People called him Growl to his face, and the Bastard behind his back. Both were names he couldn’t possibly have chosen for himself. His eyes were empty, a mirror to throw back her own fear at her. He was a brutal hand of the Las Vegas Camorra.
And now she was at his mercy.

—                         —                         —

What a mess. I had such high expectations for this book but have very few positive things to comment on.

The author previously and briefly posted on her official author facebook page that she was undergoing some personal problems in her life and that she would try to get the book out on time. Just TWO updates later, the book is finally published almost a year and a half late. As a reader, I felt let down by her lack of updates and seeming lack of dedication to fans.

I get that bad things happen in life. You don’t need to spill the details online or make apologies for that. Life happens! To all of us. But when you expect fans to remain loyal and pay for and promote your work, you do owe them something. When you cancel pre-orders because the book isn’t written yet and don’t offer any explanation or apology, and then do it AGAIN, and completely abandon your official social media accounts, you aren’t going to have much of a fan-base left.

I chose to buy Bound by Vengeance because I had high hopes and wanted to give it a chance. I’d seen teasers a year and a half previously, and had obviously wondered about the characters all this time. I should have saved my money.

Bound by Vengeance was awful. It was full of typos, plot holes, unrealistic writing and is more than 100 pages shorter than the first in the series. It reads more like a novella than a full length novel, which it was marketed to be. And there were a couple random German words in the text, like the author (who lives in Germany) wrote it in that language and then used Google Translate to convert it to English.

The “heroine” is Cara, an 18 year old airhead who is TSTL… Too Stupid To Live. And the anti-hero “Growl” is supposedly super smart and super vicious, willing to do anything instructed but is the most easily manipulated character in history. He will sacrifice himself and bring down the Mob he has kept in business for years for some little chit he met a few weeks ago and doesn’t even love?!!! Don’t think so. And don’t even get me started on the dogs.

I also don’t like how Reilly tried to spin the end of the book. Cara is secretly related to the feared Head of the NY mafia, whom we met in a previous book. Surprise! Not. Saw that coming from the beginning. I also realized the first scene we met him that Growl was the son of the head of the Las Vegas Mafia.

I really don’t have anything positive to say about this book. I wasn’t fond of the previous in the series and this was awful. I don’t recommend it. Stick to the original trilogy and then move on.

*

xx

Fatal Harmony by Anne Malcom

fatal-harmony

I may be the villain of the story, but at least I get a leading role.
Evil is a term thrown around history and literature as if it’s something so easily definable. A concept to fight against.
Evil doesn’t exist.
Neither does ‘good.’
Vampires do, though.
I just happen to be one.
I’ve cruised through the centuries managing to avoid all the wars, supernatural and human, but still going to all the best parties.
I would say I avoided bloodshed, but it’s kind of part of the whole ‘vampire’ thing.
I’ve lived on the fringes of a society that considered cruelty and sadism favorable character traits for almost five hundred years. Now I’m in the middle of a war that might just put my nonbeating heart in a lot of danger.
Battles, I can handle.
The impossible attraction between me and the vampire slayer, not to mention the penetrating gaze of the king of our race, on the other hand?
I might not get out undead.

—                    —                     —

Fatal Harmony is the first book in a brand new series by Anne Malcom, who is one of my favourite authors. She normally writes biker romance set in California, so a contemporary fantasy series about vampires, witches, werewolves, demons and slayers is quite the departure. I try to trust authors I’ve been following for a while though, and I always want to support them, so I had this pre-ordered on Amazon as soon as the link went live and read it the day it downloaded to my kindle.

I am so glad I made this decision. Not so glad about the one to stay up reading until 3 am just so I could finish book. Facepalm! I really need to start campaigning my work to provide paid “book days” to staff. I do work in a library after all. It is an expectation that we read and often. Let’s just call them professional development days, shall we?!

First off, Fatal Harmony is FUNNY! I love Isla. She could be my best friend. She always has a quip or a quick one-liner and is heavily influenced by the entertainment industry, one of the things that makes her so different from the rest of the vampire race. She is fashionable, a self-made billionaire and hard-working CEO who is incredibly sarcastic but not in an unkind way. Isla is unassuming. She is one of the best-connected and powerful of all vampires, due to her genealogical lineage and friendships with other otherworldly beings, but spurns the aristocracy and politics of her own race.

Malcom provides a fresh perspective on vampire literature. I am so sick of reading vampires but I love her take on them. They don’t sparkle. And they aren’t “turned” humans.

Vampires are their own race created by the gods in the dawn of time, just like witches and werewolves. And humans. Baby vamps are born to vampire parents and grow up remarkably human-like, until they reach the age of sexual maturity and undergo a transformation into vampirism … much like a second stage of puberty. Every few hundred years, vampire women experience an “awakening” for one year, in which their body basically wakes up and is able to procreate.

Malcom’s world is well thought out. All of her otherwordly explanations make sense to me which is incredibly important because I have a difficult time suspending disbelief while reading. I need to feel that the relationships and rules of a society are “believable” even in fantasy.

Along with the POV character Isla, we also meet a wide range of other characters. Her best friend is a bad-A witch with coven problems and her “not a side-kick” second-class vampire friend (vamp mom, human dad) has hidden depth. The King of the vamps is seriously scary and completely intrigued by our dear Isla, which is even scarier. He is one sexy and powerful potential relationship. I cannot wait to learn more about him in the sequel.

Finally, vampires’ mortal enemies Slayers, are back in town and one in particular has some pretty big secrets. And sex appeal to spare.

Life is gonna be interesting.

Fatal Harmony is the first book in the Vein Chronicles. The second is in progress but no word yet on a release date. Sounds like 2017 though!

* * * * *

xx