The Blank Canvas, Amanda Black
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Erotica.
I loved The Apartment, I didn’t know how on earth someone could write a book which would engross me, where the couple don’t know each others almost til the end, where they’re having hot and steamy sex from their first meeting, where one of them is already in a relationship. I was wrong though – this one gripped me, and made me need the rest, especially with that cliff-hanger at the end!! ( and everyone by now knows I Hate Those!!) Even the “cheating” aspect – which I don’t like – was made into something I could understand and sympathise with. Scott was really more a good friend, a type of adopted brother than a lover. Luckily I have this one for review, and hadn’t read the first, so bought that and was able to go straight on – no waiting. Its how I prefer to read these duo/trilogies, wait til each part out and go back to back.
So how did book two stand up? Well, we start with poor Lily still trying to cope with Ethan’s surprise departure. Why? Why did he do it? Why didn’t he say anything? Did their time together mean nothing? Did she scare him off with her talk of love and ending her engagement? She’s so full of questions, and no way of contacting him, she doesn’t know where he is or if she’ll ever see him again. Lily is a strong lady though, and she knows its time to try to move on. Yes she’s grieving but she still needs to live, so she puts a brave face on and makes some changes. Scott – she talks to him and after a bit of upset he agrees with her, they weren’t right for each other. She takes over the apartment Ethan had and moves in, putting her own stamp on it. She starts going out with her friends and Ethan’s family are among them. They’d guessed her secret, and are horrified at the way she’s been left and angry with him. I was feeling he’s been a real jerk but…then we get Ethan’s view, where he doesn’t want to ruin her life, where he’s scared she’ll give up Scott for him, and regret it when she knows him better, where he thinks she’ll end up hating him and he can’t bear to do that to her. He still thinks he’s not good enough for his family or for Lily to love. Rachel did a real number on him!
I love him though, and once I properly understood his reaction it made it easier to take. Lily too with her own unique view and nature helps me understand him. Then Eric tracks him down, and with the knowledge that Lily has still broken off with Scott and Eric’s (forceful!!) persuasion that maybe he could still be in with a chance he returns.
Its a lovely story, full of passion. The first book has such erotic, sensual scenes I thought they couldn’t be topped, but now they know more about each other it adds another layer on to the lust, a true love which shines through. Ethan’s way of wooing Lily, his insistence on taking time is so special, and the pages are on fire each time they are together. Its carnal, erotic sex, but also varied, tasteful, sensual, seductive, and not page after page of the same old boring, thrusting, moaning we too often get. That gets dull and I find myself skipping pages to get back to the story. This though is appropriate, fits the story and is a charm to read. His family too have each had this lightening effect instant love, so they understand and are able to make him see that its real, its not going to go away. They really are a terrific boost when he needs it, put him in his place when its warranted, show him the way forward, what to do and when, and support him all the way. Its all new to him, when he left with Rachel she was older and he fresh out of college and never dated, and she’d made him think they didn’t want him. Being with her ever since means dating and learning about someone new is all a different and unknown experience for him.
Stars: Five, its a great read and very unusual. I loved it
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
Vincent, Book 8 of The Vampires in America, D.B. Reynolds
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: fantasy/paranormal romance.
I found this series about 18 months ago and have been an avid fan since then. I was lucky in that the first few books were already out so I read them back to back ( my fav way of reading a series), and that gave me a solid insight into the world Debbie has created. Each book features one vampire meeting his/her mate, and along the way there’s a good story with lots of hot and sensual sex and some realistic and vicious danger. These vampires are tough, they fight hard, and kill easily when its needed. They’re moral too though, and most don’t kill needlessly or are cruel for no reason. When they need to though they’ll happily torture to get the answers they need from those who would overthrow the morality of their world.
Though each story is complete it also connects to an overriding story arc where the old regime, the vampires that have been Lords of areas of the US ruled with an iron fist, but some of them without any sense of morality, careless of the need to live within the human world and its rules. Slowly the old guard is changing, with new blood ( if you can call centuries old vampires new blood!!) taking over. Raphael – the vampire subject of books one and two, is incredibly powerful and has given his tacit support for some of these changes, not because he wants the power himself but because he sees a need for stability, and a strong Lord creates respect from his subjects, and they adhere in the main the the rules set for benefit of all. This time we meet Vincent. He’s number 2 to Lord Enrique, his sire. Vincent looks after part of Mexico, always aware its ultimate control is Enrique. There’s no love lost between them though, he has no respect for Enrique’s cruel and sadistic ways, and the all-seeing Raphael has set a plan in motion once again. Vincent is aware of this and yet he can’t quite work out Raphael’s machinations – that’s always fun for the reader, trying to see where the plots are going to lead, and I had fun with this one. I could see what was planned but not how, and as always Debbie takes us on a twisting, spiralling route full of detours before the big finale! It starts with Lana, a PI travelling to Vincent’s area seeking a very old vampire. Raphael is behind the request, she doesn’t know what she’s there for or why, but has been instructed to ask Vincent for help, and needs him to be there when she delivers a letter to the vampire. A puzzle but its work for her, along a line she hopes will develop further and expand so she’s going to do her best despite few clues.
What I like about the ladies in this series is they are tough, and Lana is typical, working in a male dominated environment, facing danger and well able to protect herself. Raphael’s mate Cyn once said that vampires are used to being the strongest, toughest baddies and don’t see humans as a threat, and that’s a mistake as though we’re weaker, we can use planning and stealth to win. She’s done it herself, and Lana shows here how well good planning can work. Its good to have some strong females, too often we get only simpering, twee, TSTL “miss” types that just knuckle under every request from the big, bad Supernaturals, and that just doesn’t appeal to me – I want ladies able to stick up for themselves, who I can respect, who have minds of their own and use them – Lana is just great.
As always Vincent of course is strong and sexy, arrogant as they all are but no less attractive for that, and its not too long before the initial antagonism between him and Lana turns to more, and they’re engrossed in some steamy, carnal moments. What happens when its all over though? Where do they go from there? Can they make things work together and do they want to, or is it just thanks and bye, see you another time?
Cracking writing, gripping story that links to the other books, and Debbie and this series is an auto read for me, one that I’ll abandon other books to read first, and that I will ( and have) re read.
Stars: Five, a fabulous series and I’m always mentally egging Debbie on to write more. Some series have a finite point that’s clear, this one can go a few more books yet IMO.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers