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…

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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.

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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.

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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 😦

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Water Bound by Christine Feehan

Water Bound is the first book in a new Sea Haven series by Christine Feehan, called Sisters of the Heart. It follows the last book of the Drake Sisters series but can be read as a stand-a-lone. The plot picks up on the same day as Hidden Currents ended.

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The last thing Lev Prakenskii remembered was being lost in the swirling currents of the ocean and getting sucked deeper into the nothingness of a freezing black eddy off the coastal town of Sea Haven. Just as quickly, just a miraculously, he was saved—pulled ashore by a beautiful stranger. But Lev has no memory of who he is—or why he seems to possess the violent instincts of a trained killer. All he knows is that he fears for his life, and for the life of his unexpected savior.

Her name is Rikki, a sea~urchin diver in Sea Haven. She has always felt an affinity for the ocean, and for the seductive pull of the tides. And now she feels drawn in the same way to the enigmatic man she rescued. But soon they will be bound by something even stronger, and their tantalizing secrets will engulf them both in a whirlpool of dizzying passion and inescapable danger.

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Water Bound was the first book I ever read with an autistic heroine and I love how the author portrayed her. She has lots of quirks and concerns but never comes across as stupid, ignorant or selfish. She knows that she needs things a certain way in her life and is mostly comfortable with that fact. She has sisters she chooses to make a life with and tries to overcome her taciturn, solitary lifestyle in order to give back emotionally to those she loves.

Rikki is incredibly independent and fears being a burden on her family, probably due to her background in foster care and state run facilities. I like how she and Lev work together and Lev’s journey into understanding how she thinks. Lev shows a remarkable understanding of what changes Rikki can accept and how to slowly introduce new things that challenge her perceptions of her limitations in life. Of course he makes mistakes sometimes but hey – to err is to be human.

I’ve included one of my favourite humorous scenes in the book. Rikki is caring for Lev after his head injury and he is getting pretty tired of eating the PB she thinks constitutes the perfect food.

<Rikki speaking>  “I’ll fix you a sandwich.”

He looked pained. “I don’t eat peanut butter.”

That genuinely shocked her. “Who doesn’t eat peanut butter? It’s the perfect food.”

He shuddered. “Even to make up for all the things I’ve done wrong, I don’t think I can do it.”

“For a man who carries around as many weapons as you do, you’re a bit of a baby.”

“It isn’t being a baby not to eat peanut butter. I don’t think babies eat the stuff.”

“That’s un-American.”

“I’m not certain I am American,” he pointed out.

She had to agree with him there. “Fine. You can put peanut butter on waffles. Blythe bought some of those frozen thingies that you put in the toaster. I’m not sure how old they are. Do frozen foods last like four years or more?”

He groaned and dropped into the nearest kitchen chair, pushing his head into his hands. “Death by peanut butter. I never thought I’d go that way.”

Feehan, Christine. Water Bound (Sea Haven-Sisters of the Heart Book 1) (Kindle Locations 2038-2048). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Water Bound introduces the idea of a new type of magic where certain people are born with a special affinity to control an element, but it’s more than just the ability to use fire or water. There is an emotional connection to it as well, and unlike the previous magical gifts we have experienced in Sea Haven, using element “magic” does not drain you of strength. But your gifts are also limited to that one element.

Clearly each of the remaining Prakenskii brothers are going to be paired up with one of the Sisters of the Heart <so called because they are not biologically related > in the series. I hope we learn more about them and get to see them reunite with each other.

The next book in the series is Spirit Bound so I will try to review it in the next few weeks, as I count down the days until the last book in the series is released in March!

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Earth Bound by Christine Feehan – a review

Christine Feehan writes four series that I love. The Sisters of the Heart series is definitely my favourite of those. I was super excited for the release of Earth Bound, book four in a series of six. Feehan writes books in such a way as they can be read as stand-a-lones, but you definitely get more out of them by reading in order.

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Blurb:

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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Earth Bound finally had one of the key moments that I have been waiting for since this series began! Hallelujah!

The brothers have finally started interacting! I wish we had seen even more between Stefan, Gavriil, Levi and Max, but you take what you can get. This was more interaction than we have gotten in the past, and finally, Ilya made his reappearance into the series! We haven’t seen him since Hidden Currents in the Drake series so I was beyond thankful that he is back.

One thing that sort of bothered me during my read.

It seemed a little weird to me that Gavriil was depicted as this guy who was scary and deadly, even to his brothers. They mentioned that even though Gavriil is still recovering from injuries through the whole book, he could kill them with his pinky finger without breaking a sweat. If you know the series, you know that these guys are all superbad A’s who were raised since childhood in a secret Russian government institution to become assassins. They’re pretty deadly. And Ilya got caught in his house, on his home turf, by his older brother. I don’t really buy that.

The author’s position was that all the brothers were taken from their family and put into the school at the same time. Ilya, being the youngest, was a toddler at the time and Gavriil, the second oldest of seven children, was about 12. So Gavriil may have been operating in the real-world environment for longer but Ilya was literally raised in it from his earliest memories and he is in his late 20s or early 30s now, so he also has a lot of real world experience. It makes it seem really weird to me that Gavriil and the oldest would be so much more dangerous. To me, the brothers should be about equal in skills and the youngest the most ruthless, since he doesn’t have happy childhood memories to ground himself with and understand everyday life.

Despite my tangent, I really did like the book and the increased interaction between the brothers though! It was nice to also see the characters interacting with the kids from Air Bound. I really liked that this book took place pretty much entirely in Sea Haven. Air Bound did not and it felt like that book existed in a bit of a bubble.

I like the romantic story between Gavriil and Lexi. They are such a good team and the author takes enough time for both characters to develop a friendship together before throwing them into the bedroom, which is important given Lexi’s past.

I debated quite a bit between giving Earth Bound four or five stars. I ended up giving it five, because my problem with the book wasn’t really with the plot or characters, so much as the writer and editor. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed an alarming trend the last year or two of these professionals making stupid, stupid mistakes, in series especially.

In a scene with a lot of characters, they’ll refer to “Jones” and his uncle when they actually mean “Kyle” and his uncle because Jones doesn’t have an uncle, he’s there with this brother-in-law. Or another time when a house magically gained two bedrooms, because the author either forgot they’d already mentioned the number or forgot the number.

This stuff makes me sooooo mad. It is a huge pet peeve of mine. If I am the reader and I catch it on my first read, than you should absolutely know your story and characters well enough to not make these mistakes. Clearly, the author/editor and whoever else is relevant is not carefully re-reading the book before submitting it for publication, and that is your job.

So in the end of Earth Bound, they are taking about the new baby who was born in the previous book in the series and multiple times use the words “daughter”, “she”, etc. Well, last book it was “son”, “he”. This isn’t a simple typo where the letter s was accidentally added to “he”, someone forgot the gender of this new child. And because it was the very end of the book, it soured my opinion of the story which really had been great up until then.

I went and checked out the author’s website and a lot of other readers also noticed this mistake. Ms. Feehan clarified that yes the child is male, and it was a mistake that she didn’t catch in Earth Bound. Mistakes happen, so I am still giving this book the five stars. But this author had another huge mistake of a similar nature in another recently released book and so have multiple other authors I’ve read recently, both indie published and traditionally published.

Can we just have a more professional calibre in the publishing world please?!!! But maybe that is another post.

Postscript: The next book in the series is called Fire Bound and will be released in 2016. It is the second to last book for this series and I just heard that both Casimir and Viktor Prakenskii will show up in it. I find that very reinvigorating 🙂

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