Saturday, March 31, 2007

And the winner is...


Congratulations!! I think you're gonna like it. I can't wait for your review (hint, hint).

I've made a list of the rock stars suggested by all, and me and Margee are going to have a great big Rock Star squee off. Two names will be drawn from the Islanders cap tomorrow for a competition of hotness.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Contest Time! **Sticky Post**

It's time for the first ever Is That A Stake in Your Pocket? contest!! Woo-hoo!!

Free book!! Woo-hoo!!

And nary a pointy stake in sight, although the guitar is quite a potent phallic symbol. I just read and reviewed Rock Star, the debut novel by Roslyn Hardy Holcomb. I really enjoyed it, and since I'm pleased to give a good review to a new author, I'd like to help promote Ms. Holcomb by giving away my copy. Despite the fact that I hate to give anything away for free. Never let it be said that I don't do anything nice for those of you who take the time to read my posts, rather than just watching that Bob Newhart sketch.

Here's how it works: go read the review, then come back and comment here. What I want to know is this: What rock (or country or rap or opera or whatever you're into) star would you want to run off with? Who do you listen to and imagine that he/she is singing to you? It doesn't have to be much, just a who and why. All commenters will be entered into a drawing for Rock Star on the morning of Saturday, March 31st.

As for me...hmmm, that's a hard one, I lust after a lot a musical types, for a lot of reasons. But if I had to pick just one...this is a little embarrassing...

I've had a crush on Henry Rollins and his big, tattooed muscles since I was 15. For those of you unfamiliar with Hammerin' Hank, he used to be the lead singer of Black Flag, and later the Rollins Band. He's also got his own show on the IFC channel. Though he comes off as somewhat of a pretentious prat, I love that he's done so many different things. I'd love to take him down a peg or two, then climb him like a tree. Margee I am not, with the fantasies.

You can make fun of me, it won't be the first time. C'mon, let's hear who you'd do!

Type rest of the post here

Monday, March 26, 2007

A couple of books...

I just wanted to mention the two other books I've read over the past two weeks as each was noteworthy in its way.

**Blood Secrets by Vivi Anna--My prior experience with a Silhouette Nocturne was a DNF, and I haven't seen too much good stuff being said about this line in general. So this was a pleasant surprise. This is the first book in the Valorian Chronicles, set in a alternate universe in which supernatural species exist alongside humans. They have been exiled to a city called Necropolis, where they have set up their own society and government. Caine Valorian heads up a CSI-type unit which is part of the police force, called the OCU (Otherworld Crime Unit). During the investigation of a murdered human, it is decided that it would be a good idea to bring in a human police officer, the intelligent and attractive Eve Grant, who causes the members of the OCU varying degrees of discomfort, especially the coolly controlled Caine. This was a fun, fast read. The world-building was a tad limited and cliched, i.e.,the fact that vampires "bond" is mentioned, but not explained, and why do vampires always have to have a master or mistress of the city? But I'm sure the shorter length is somewhat of a constraint. However, I liked the idea of Necropolis and a police force peopled by vamps, witches and werewolves. The characters were intriguing, with the exception of Eve, wasn't annoying, just not as interesting. Also the sex was good and the mystery was not bad. I'll be interested in upcoming installments.

*Wolf at the Door by Christine Warren--I am really enjoying this author. I must check out her backlist. Again, the world building isn't new or amazing, but she's got a light style, and a good touch with the characterization. This one features Sullivan Quinn, a werewolf who is the guth (historian) of Dublin pack, and Cassidy Poe, an anthroplogist who is a Foxwoman, a rare shapeshifter species. They are thrown together as the American "Others" are debating whether to make their presence known to the world at large (I know, what else is new?). Chemistry and solmateness ensue. Again the strength of this book is in the style. It has a fast pace, I like the variety of species included, and the characters and dialogue are fun, without being cheesy, awkward or forced. Quinn uses about every Irish-ism except for "Top o' the morning to ya" and "Begorra", but I really liked him. I love Irish boys, though. I'm looking foward to Warren's next release.

Simple Jess? Simply Hilarious!

A guest review...

Awhile ago, I had the brilliant idea of forcing friends who normally never read romance to read and review a book chosen by me, based upon their personality and proclivities. Margee, of Sportsquee, which gets many more daily hits than me, was my first victim. Margee is a production slave in the Sports division of a major network, and as such, works about 14 hours a day. She is also my baby sister. I don't really think she really reads all that much besides magazines, with her crazy schedule. At first I was going to go with the obvious, a sports romance, but then I read Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi. I thought that it would be unusual enough and well-written enough to melt her cold, dead heart. Let's see how that went, shall we? My comments will be in purple at the end. Straight from the Sportsquee bunkers in Wyandanch, here she goes:

Devon, my eldest sister, whose taste I trust completely, has asked me to guest-review the novel Simple Jess. Devon thought this would be a perfect read for me since the hunky hero of the story is mildly retarded. I’m not sure if that is a comment on my ex-boyfriends, my affection for the Thatcher clan of Life Goes On or my taste in music. Regardless, I was pleased to delve into a story containing someone actually referred to as “Simple Jess.”

Synopsis: Althea Winsloe, a widowed mother living in the Ozarks enclave of Marrying Stone Mountain is under siege. Her husband Paisley (sadly, we never get to meet his siblings Plaid, Polka Dot, and Argyle) has been gone for a few years now, done in by that romantic novel cliché of choking to death on a chicken bone. Now both her meddling mother-in-law and town elder Granny Piggot are insisting that she marry. Every rootin’ tootin’ bachelor in town has his mind set on courting her, mostly to get their grimy mitts on her deceased husband’s land and remarkable pack of hunting hounds. But the headstrong Althea is determined not to marry again, as Paisley was a bit of a douche. So when the slow-witted Jesse Best approaches her about fulfilling his lifelong dream of owning a hunting hound, Althea seizes the opportunity to screw over the dudes trying to come a-courting. She puts “Simple Jess” to work getting her and her grating son Baby-Paisley ready for the winter, and as payment he can have the dogs. But it isn’t long before Simple Jess feels hard down there, especially when he notices those round things with points that are peeking out of Miss Althea’s josie. And Althea can’t help but notice the strapping figure, innate kindness, and naturally blond hair of her new hired hand. Meanwhile, two suitors pop up. There’s Oather Phillips, who is reluctant to court Althea because he’s a closeted gay and handsome assbag Eben Baxley. Unfortunately, Oather’s sister Mavis, she of wild red hair and maternal instincts, tried to trap the ne’er-do-well ladies man Eben into marrying her long ago, by engaging in a moonlight tryst in the presumably filthy woods of Marrying Stone. And now Eben Baxley has come to town intent on wooing Althea, and humiliating/making a mistress of Mavis. To spare his sister the humiliation of having her erstwhile lover as a neighbor, Oather sets out to court the widow Winsloe. But our strong-willed widow’s round and pointy parts only notice one man: Simple Jess.
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The Bad: First of all, Devon, there were not nearly enough sex scenes in this book. Not even close. I had to keep re-reading the same one just to keep interested. Don’t get me wrong, when Simple Jess and Althea finally boned, it was pretty hot, but there should’ve been some josie-ripping within the first 30 pages to satisfy someone whose website focuses mainly on what athlete you’d prefer to hit it with. And the sex scene, like much of the book, was punctuated by moments of unintentional hilarity on the part of Simple Jess’ naïveté. “Ohmygosh, you’re holding it!” is a line I don’t think I’ve ever read in a love scene before. And it brought back so many memories from high school. And I know it was all in an attempt to set the Appalachian scene, but the language of the book was just a little too much for me. Unfortunately, I’ve somehow incorporated it into my daily life. I fear it’s caused some trouble at work. “I’m gonna be a-digitizing on this here deck. We ain’t got but one that ain’t rolling tape.” “The editors been done gone since the little feller done brought the Chinese food. But don’t worry, sugartail, I can get a-fixin’ yer sequence.” “I’m sorry, boss. I don’t fancy a rollix with you. I plan on beating the bed with none but my husband.”

The Good: Mavis and Eben totally hit it. Decently executed, but I could’ve used another forest-bound rollix or four. Also good, the author developed the story and the characters slowly. Like, glacially slow (again, no sex!). While it did little to satisfy my thirst for tingling thighs and ripped union suits, it did give a lot of credibility to Althea’s budding love for Simple Jess. I found myself completely believing that Althea could love the feeble-minded lug that gets hard at the sight of her. Simple Jess was well written as long as someone else was narrating. While his child-like view of his new feelings of love and desire was pretty affecting, his internal struggle to figure out what the josie-peeking round parts with the points were, made Apple Juice shoot from my nose.

All in all, Simple Jess gave me hope, and whole new set of dating criteria. The dating pool in New York is even crappier than the one in Marrying Stone, after all. I think I’ll head down to the Radio Shack in my finest josie now.

Ah well, I guess Margee won't be getting a pair of Simple Jess jammies to match mine. I adored this book. One of the things I liked best about it was the lack of unintentional hilarity regarding Jess . (Then again, I'm a much nicer person than Margee. Really) I also loved the innocent sensuality of it all. I love how Morsi was able to make it both hot and sweet. This one's a classic, IMHO. I've got to track down my own copy.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Rock Stars...

(I've had Willie Nelson on the brain the past couple of days, don't know why.)

I stumbled across Rock Star during one of the many discussions on race that were all over the place last month. The debut novel by Roslyn Hardy Holcomb featured a successful L.A. musician and an Alabama bookstore owner. I was immediately excited, because I do have rock star fantasies of my own. In fact, I believe that there is still documentary evidence out there of my 21 year old self predicting that in ten years I would own my own bookstore and be married to a musician. (Ten years later, I can tell you it's not happening). I am a huge music fan, and have always been attracted to musician types, although in actuality, I never dated any. But having been friends with plenty of them, I realized quickly enough, they're a pretty bad deal romance wise. They're always broke, and when they do have money they're more likely to spend it on guitar strings and CDs than on you. Of course, there was always that chance that they might write songs about you. Plus, I have an aversion to too much pop culture in my books. As a music fan and general pop culture junkie, the wrong pop culture reference can stop a book dead for me. So as excited as I was to read this (and a great big thank you to Ms. Holcomb for sending it to me), I was worried that A) at the end of the book I would think that in ten years the hero would be shtupping barely legal groupies while the heroine bitterly mourned the loss of her dreams and B) the rock star hero would be based on Scott Stapp or something and make me cringe.

So anyway, Rock Star begins as Bryan Spencer, frontman for Storm Crow, walks into an independent bookstore in Maple Forks, Alabama and is immediately smitten by its gorgeous, dreadlocked owner. Bryan is taking a sabbatical of sorts after his best friend and collaborator O.D's, which has sent him into an emotional tailspin. [BTW, his fictional band, Storm Crow, is supposed to sound like Alice in Chains, who are one of my favorite bands ever. So that reference totally worked for me and provided me with a nice mental soundtrack.] Callie Lawson is intrigued by the handsome, intense, long-haired, blue-eyed man before she even realizes who he is. But she has never dated a white guy (she hasn't dated much at all, a bit of a workaholic type), and when she finds out who he is, she is doubly unsure about getting involved with him. Why would a rich white rock star be interested in an introverted, small town black woman? But she is as drawn to him as he is to her, and a close friendship, then something more, develops between them, despite her misgivings. Unfortunately, the reality of dating someone famous comes crashing down upon them with an ugly incident. Can Bryan and Callie have their happily ever after, or are their differences too much to overcome?

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I really enjoyed this book. Ms. Holcomb totally made the rock star/small town girl thing work for me. My biggest issue with the book was that I felt the first few chapters were a bit tell-y, rather than show-y. Their friendship develops over a few months, and we are told a lot about it, and them, rather than seeing it through interactions. Bryan was pretty swoon-worthy from the get-go, but I felt like I really didn't get a good sense of Callie at first. I would suspect this is due to length constraints, and the book really hits its stride around Chapter 8, when Callie agrees to accompany Bryan back to L.A. to see the bandmates he skipped town on. From then, on I got totally absorbed in the story and the characters. And the fact that their romance developed slowly made it work much better in the end. Callie was a rather cautious and conservative gal, and if it had moved too fast, it would have seemed like she had got caught up in the excitement and novelty of it all. Instead, when they got physical, they had a strong basis of friendship and emotional intimacy underlying it.

As for the very bad thing that happens, in another book it might have smacked of stoopid big misunderstanding. Although, the incident itself (I'm trying not to be spoilery here) is somewhat ridiculous, it's not some excuse for Callie to hate on Bryan or something. She doesn't feel betrayed by him or anything, it just really makes her wonder whether she can handle the pressure of being with someone in the public eye, and how their relationship will affect the life she's built for herself. Which are completely valid concerns, IMO. And there is an added dimension of betrayal which makes it particularly heartbreaking for Bryan (again, avoiding spoilers). I was on the edge of my seat here, and even when the always dreaded serenade comes, I was actually verklempt, rather than groaning. No joke, tear in the eye, which should tell you something. As I mentioned, this is an interracial romance, which I feel I should touch on. While the race issue wasn't the main thing causing tension between them, it added another dimension as Callie tried to figure out whether or not she could deal with people's perceptions of her and as opposition comes from some surprising people.

My only other crictism is that the love scene were a bit rushed for my taste, and a bit dependent on cliched euphemisms. Also, there were some real people cameos, which are not my favorite thing. I'm grading this a solid B. This is an author to watch for sure. I read somewhere on her website or blog, that her work in progress involves a virologist and a stripper (Please, let the guy be the stripper. I love stripper heroes). Awesome. Also, there is a mini-sequel on her website, which I plan on reading tonight. This is the first non-Harlequin contemporary I've enjoyed in a long time.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Interesting things...

Another busy week. My brain is just not quite up to writing any reviews right now, so I thought I'd write about the fun weekend I had last weekend.

I went to a bachelorette extravaganza for one of my college buddies. There's about 8 or 9 of us who met in college (over ten years now!) and have stayed in good touch. So one of the last of us to get hitched is getting married in Goa, India in a couple of weeks. Needless to say, I will not be making it, as I barely have LIRR fare. But she flew in from London for the weekend, and so we came from New Jersey and Massachusetts, Long Island and Texas, to celebrate her impending nuptials, and to celebrate being a group of sexy, fun, smart ladies.

So one interesting thing we did was was to go to a pole dancing class at Crunch. The phenomenon of the fitness craze based upon stripping and exotic dancing has gotten a lot of press lately, but this was my first time trying it out myself. (Right: Actual photo of me pole dancing.) And I have to say it was a blast. I have an ambivalent relationship with exercise, for the most part. I have to force myself to do it, but once I get into it, I enjoy it, and am glad that I did. This was a lot of fun. The hour flew by as I attempted to execute the intructor's directions. I would definitely recommend trying it with at least one person you know, because you may feel a bit awkward and silly at first, and it's better to have someone to giggle with. After awhile I found that the awkwardness wore off as I got in touch with my inner stripper. As for the fitness aspect, I could definitely feel it in my abs as I was doing it. And my shoulders and upper arms ached for days afterwards. All that spinning and hoisting yourself up the pole. The muscles are definitely working. I would try this again. One caveat: the spinning around the pole can be hell on the shins.

Next we went back to my friend's apartment and had a bar party. A friend of hers who's an experienced bartender came over and showed us how to make different drinks. He taught us different tricks of the trade, like how much alcohol is in a highball drink vs....the other kind, and the counts that bartenders use to make sure the right amount of alcohol goes in each one. Now I must say, that I haven't been much of a hard liquor drinker since doing too many shots of super cheap vodka back in my college days. My drinking days are pretty much behind me, but if I do drink, it's beer or wine. So I found this all totally fascinating. Unfortunately, I have no head for numbers, so I've forgotten everything already. I wish I had taken notes, in case I have a party with more than a bucket of Rolling Rocks.

Next we wrapped up with the most interesting thing of all: a sex toy party! I know! It was just like a tupperware party or a home decorating party, but with sex toys. (Despite my husband's concerns that we would be sitting around trying out sex toys). Someone from Toys in Babeland came over to explain a selection of some of their most popular items: what they are and how to use them. Fascinating, and a bit shocking for the suburban housewife. You have to be in the NY area for a Babeland party, but I believe that there are tupperware type companies where you can find 'consultants' to do parties (or maybe I just read that in an EC). Did I buy anything, or try anything out yet? That's TMI, perverts!

Overall, it was a fun, and very educational weekend.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Stolen from Dylan...

Over at Coffee House Banter:

Go to, click on the decade you turned 18, find the actual year you turned 18 and copy the top songs for that year and paste.

Then bold the ones you liked, strikeout the ones you hated and italicize the ones about which you were neutral. The ones you’ve never heard will stay unformatted.

I'm going to do the Top twenty:

1. What Is Love - Haddaway
2. Come Baby Come - K7
3. Hero - Mariah Carey
4. In The Still Of The Night (I'll Remember) - Boyz II Men
5. Have I Told You Lately - Rod Stewart
6. Can't Help Falling In Love - UB40
7. Dreamlover - Mariah Carey
8. Supermodel (You Better Work) - RuPaul
9. Nuthin' But A "G" Thang - Dr. Dre
10. Cryin' - Aerosmith
11. Murder She Wrote - Chaka Demus and Pliers
12. Shoop - Salt N Pepa
13. A Whole New World - Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle
14. Show Me Love - Robin S
15. I'm So Into You - SWV
16. Hip Hop Hooray - Naughty By Nature
17. Rhythm Is A Dancer - Snap!
18. All that She Wants - Ace Of Base
19. When I Fall In Love - Celine Dion & Clive Griffin
20. Hey Mr. D.J. - Zhane

I'm not sure how this list was compiled. I remember most of these songs, but I thought that some were later. I think my 31 y.o. self is influencing my opinions, because my 18 y.o. self wouldn't have liked as many of these songs. I was more of a WLIR girl than a Z100 gal. Fun walk down memory lane.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Lover Revealed by JR Ward...

Where's Phury?

Warning: Will probably be spoilery...

I had said that I would wait until today to purchase Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward, but who was I kidding? I bought it on Tuesday (release day) while birthday shopping for the H-Bomb. It was 25% off! But I only allowed myself to read bits and pieces as I finished up other things that needed to be done. And you know what? It wasn't that hard to put down. Let's just get this out of the way right now: I think this was the weakest book thus far. I enjoyed it a lot, but I may say some things that are harsh, and its out of love, folks. I just finished the book an hour ago, and I want to get my thoughts down, so I can go blog hopping and see what's being said. I've been trying to avoid anything that might influence me unduly. As I said, it was a crazy busy week, so it wasn't too hard, but I am missing my blog fix.

I'm not going to spend too much time on a summary, because this'll be wordy enough as it is. Lover Revealed is the story of Butch and Marissa, who have been around since the first book of the series, Dark Lover. Butch O'Neal was the human cop and friend of Beth's who ended up becoming friends with the Brothers and roommate of Vishous. Marissa was Wrath's unwanted,untouched shellan (wife). The two were immediately drawn to each other, but remained apart for the next couple of books due to a "Big Misunderstanding" that happened offstage. As this story opens, they are both pretty frustrated and miserable with their lots. Both Butch and Marissa struggle with feelings of uselessness and self-doubt. They're both still longing for each other though. Not only do they have their poor self-images working against them, there are also class and species (Butch is human, Marissa a vampire) differences . It'll be a rocky road to HEA, but that's why we read paranormal romances, after all.

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The Good:
**Vishous: Man, I love this weird, perverted motherfucker! Can't wait for his story (coming to bookstores this fall). Very curious about his past. Much has been made of the overtones between Butch and V, and I'm impressed that Ward addressed it and pleased with the way she did. Butch and V are super close, and its definitely more than friends, but I think its because they have almost a symbiotic relationship. Plus, V doesn't really have feelings for anyone, so feeling so strongly towards Butch would defintely be confusing for him. I actually dig the homoerotic stuff, but I also need to buy Butch and V with women (rather than each other) and in the end I did. Anyway, V is a complicated character and I find him to be a real scene stealer (Is it September yet?)

**Marissa: Who thought she'd be the most interesting, well developed heroine Ward has created yet? Who thought she'd be a galvanizing presence for the other females? Previously, I didn't like her too much. She embodied the worst of the female characters in the BDB universe, wafting around the house in floaty gowns, with no apparent career or hobbies, waiting passively for a male to tell her what to do. She's just as disgusted with herself as I was with her, though. For the other of Ward's heroines, their personal journeys involved being saved by the Brothers and entering into (or deeper into) the cloistered vampire world. And although Marissa too ends up at the Brotherhood compound of hip-hop and hoyay, I feel like she pretty much saves herself, being proactive in finding a purpose and role outside of the house and sweaty sex with her mate. She was unsure and messed it up sometimes (I liked it when she almost set herself on fire), but she was fun. I also liked that there was no sappy forgiveness scene with her dicky brother.

**Greater development of the vampire universe--It was interesting to get more insight into the class and gender issues at work, which we got to see through Marissa's breaking out of them. Glad we're seeing more of the world that they inhabit.

**Wrath, Beth, Zsadist, Bella, John Matthew et al.--I was glad to see more of these characters and how they're shaping up. I particularly like the increasing development of Zsadist and John Matthew. And Rehvenge. Although I hope Ward's not going to make that chick Layla into a heroine, because she creeps me out. But where's Phury? There better be more of his one-legged ass in the next book.

**Less stupid slang--There was a definite decrease in jarring hip-hop speak, no? Although that brings me to..

The Bad:
**Enough with the product placement already!--the decrease in slang corresponded with an increase in the cataloging of everyone's clothing and how much it cost. I just don't give a fuck about Butch's Missoni overcoat and $25000 Patek Phillipe watch.

**Butch in general--Prior to LR, while I wasn't too into Butch, I didn't have anything against him either. But he got kind of the sad sack treatment here. No job, no purpose, living off the Brothers, drinks too much Scotch, former Cokehead, had unprotected sex with still my beating heart. I didn't hate him, but I was meh. I started picturing him with a paunch and bloodshot eyes, though I tried to stop. I definitely liked him at the end better, after the [edited for spoilers].

**The romance--LR was more interesting in how it advanced the overall BDB story arc, and further developed the alternate universe, than in the love story. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was because Butch seemed like kind of a loser. Or perhaps we had too much of them to start with. Butch and Marissa's feelings were well established before the book started, so some of the things that kept them apart seemed quite contrived. Just, like, knock it off already, and get married. It just lacked a zing that the other romances had. Their individual developments (and roles within the world) were more compelling than their development as a couple.

And the Unread (with apologies to Sybil):
**The Lessers--I still find myself skimming their bits until the action heats up at the end.

I am going to give Lover Revealed a B. I enjoyed it a lot, but pretty much for everything except the romance. Which is weird. Although it's better than most of the stuff I've read this year, my ambivalence about Butch and the lack of something keep it out of the A range. I'm going to read it again though, so we'll see if my feelings change. Ah well, the countdown begins til the next installment.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


I'm not going to review it...yet, but I just wanted to mention that I finished Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi last night. It was a real change of pace for me. I stayed up late to polish it off. And I loved it. Like rolling around on the bed with it loved it. Like wanting to have its babies loved it. So it turned out to be a good reading week.

I have a veddy busy week ahead of me. Many projects to take care of. So I decided yesterday to wait until Friday to buy Lover Revealed. Man it's going to be hard, it's been six months since I've had a fix, but my projects need my full attention and so does Butch. So in order to give each their due I must divide my time.

It the meantime, here is some Ward-related linkage.

AngieW's review
Bam's review plus fun with nutty Cellies
Janine's review at DA
Interview w/JR Ward in the Louisville Courier
And I do believe Ms. Ward will be blogging at Sybil's next week.

Have a good Sunday!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Is that a datalyzer in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

Devonfriend looooves Games of Command!

I usually don't read much Science fiction. I've mentioned it before too. I get sick of the silly fake curse words and words for fizznucking and boy and girl parts, and the stuff about the spaceships makes me dot out. But there's one theme in Science Fiction that always intrigues me, the one of man vs. machine, and where do you draw the line between the two. Think A.I., think Blade Runner, think Battlestar Galactica, hell, even Electric Dreams. The idea of artificial intelligence taking on a life of its own, having emotions, or even a soul, is endlessly fascinating. So I've been waiting for Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair since I was looking for a cyborg romance way back in October, and Bev suggested it. And it didn't disappoint. I devoured this book like it was an order of Chili's Southwestern Eggrolls followed by a piece of Coffee-Heath Bar cheesecake. It may have even snapped me out of my reading funk. I could barely remember what it felt like to be desperate to get back to a book.

I'm not going to attempt much of a synopsis. See Janine's review at Dear Author for more about the plot (and you'll see I agree with her about the book, pretty much). I'm just gonna talk about the main players a bit. First we have Captain Tasha Sebastian, pilot extraordinaire. Sebastian's kind of a rebel, a maverick, if you will, and she's got a secret past that could get her into lot of trouble with her current boss, Admiral Branden Kel-Paten. Her best friend is Dr. Eden Fynn, an empath who is the Chief Medical Officer on the Vaxxar. The two became part of the Vaxxar's crew as part of the Alliance Personnel Integration Program, an effort to unite two formerly warring factions: the United Coalition (which Tasha and Eden had been part of) and the Triad. Thus, Tasha finds herself working very closely with Admiral Kel-Paten, with whom she had had many tense encounters in the past. Kel-Paten, also known as the 'Tin Soldier', is a "biocybe", that is, he has been enhanced with all manner of metals, synthetic materials and implants to make him into a virtual war machine. He can plug into any system, instantly downloading and synthesizing information and actually becomes part of the ship's systems. He is brilliant, but also rigid, linear, and emotionless, which causes him to butt heads with the more unorthodox Tasha on occasion. He practically shadows Tasha, because he doesn't trust her, she suspects. At the beginning of the book, they are trying to survive a developing vortex (and, yes, my eyes were glazing over a bit at this point), and they do, and they come upon a ship containing one Jace Serafino, a freakin' space pirate and telepath. He and Kel-Paten hate each other a lot. Add to the mix a couple of telepathic feline creatures (Furzels) named Tank and Reilly, and a variety of internal and external threats, and what do you have?

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A recipe for fun, that's what! No joke, I really enjoyed this book. There is a lot going on here and Sinclair juggles the large cast and twisty plot very well. At first I was pretty nervous, with all the barked orders, and discussion of Graslan scales and McAbian readings and whatnot, but then I got sucked into Sinclair's universe, as I might with a paranormal, and I'm pretty sure I was on top of the political stuff, and the terminology. The overall plot kept my interest very well, and I didn't even mind the furzels. I'm not a fan of animal characters (remember I'm a children's librarian, I get inundated with animal heroes), but they were integrated well and used just enough. I didn't even mind their cutesy speak (see the top of the post), because they were not just there to be cute, they were important to the action.

If I liked the overall plot, then I loved the romance and the characters. Especially the Tin Soldier. You see, Branden Kel-Paten doesn't stick to Tasha like glue because he doesn't trust her, but because he's been madly in love with her for years, since they first met. He orchestrated her transfer to the Vaxxar so he could be near her. He's not actually supposed to feel emotions, and the fact that he does could be cause for dismantling him. He is constantly trying to get her to see him as a man rather than a biocybe, but he finds it extremely difficult to banter or flirt and it doesn't help the situation that he has to spike into the ship in front of her. It's like he gets so close to making a connection with Tasha, then can't quite follow through. His struggle to connect with Tasha, and his despair that she would not want to be near him were very memorable. So lovely, though I'm sad he had a space mullet on the cover. At first, I wasn't sure if I would like Tasha. She seemed like the sassy type that I don't really like. [And unfortunately, her real name is Sass, which...long story, but I have bad associations with that word and name.] But she grew on me, and really endeared herself to me with the vulnerability she showed as the book went on, worrying about whether Branden could love her after he found out her secret.

I was not as interested in the romance between Eden Fynn and Jace Serafino. It was more of the instant soulmate type thing. I was anxious to get back to Branden during their bits. But again, they were integral to the overall picture. There was a lot of interesting stuff about who could trust who, and who could trust themselves, for that matter...were memories and emotions reliable or manufactured? I give this one an A-. If you like sci-fi/futuristics, unusual heroes or just anything off the beaten path, give it a go. It has a fast moving plot, a well-relized world, great characters, and compelling romance. It's supposed to be a stand-alone, but I, for one, hope Ms. Sinclair revisits this world.