Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It Wouldn't Be An Island Vacation Without A Few Of My Favorite Books - Lea & Tori - Day 2

"Pleasure Unbound", is the first of the "Demonica", series of books written by Larissa Ione. If you have visited my spot then you know from the "shrine" in my sidebar the "Demonica", series is my current favorite. Pleasure Unbound is "Eidolon" and "Tayla's" story, it is erotic, laced with dark wit and the plot twists and turns and it is action packed.

The book opens at "Underworld General", a hospital created for the treatment of demons and all manner of paranormal creatures. It is here we meet the main protagonist of the book, "Eidolon", a charismatic (and I mean charismatic), demon physician who has endured many losses in an ongoing war with a society of demon hunters and exterminators. Practicing medicine is Eidolon's passion, however he is struggling to control dark impulses that are raging within him as part of the "S'genesis", a transitional phase inherent to his species.

Enter "Tayla Mancuso", a tormented human demon hunter who Eidolon reluctantly saves from certain death, to find that she awakens powerful desires within him. Tayla is a tough, determined and highly trained warrior that resists an overwhelming attraction to Eidolon. The conflict and barriers between these two unlikely lovers seem insurmountable. However, the sensuality that erupts between them is volcanic, literally sizzling off the pages.

There is a cast of well-developed and endearing supporting characters introduced and woven into the narrative that keep the entire read exhilarating and entertaining. Larissa Ione skillfully introduced Shade and Wraith, Eidolon's demon half brothers into the plot and they now have their own books, "Desire Unchained" and "Passion Unleashed". I have found all the books in the series to be equally outstanding and they hold a special place on my keeper shelf.

"Wicked Burn", is the emotional, poignant story of 'Vic Savian', and Niall Chandler, two tortured souls who find love and happiness together.

Vic and Niall live across the hall from one another in a high rise apartment building with paper thin walls. Vic has seen his beautiful neighbour on two occasions and felt an instantaneous sexual attraction to her, he wants her, badly. One night Vic hears raised voices in the hallway and despite never having heard her voice, he knows it is Niall and intercedes when she is being manhandled by an aggressive suitor.

Niall noticed her handsome neighbour during a silent elevator ride one day and when Vic invites her into his apartment for a drink after assisting her, she does something completely uncharacteristic and accepts. They have a drink, exchange a few words, she introduces herself and Vic gives her his first name. Then they exchange more than words.

I'm always looking for better adjectives to describe the attraction and eroticism writers pen between a heroine and hero in a good romance book. The best way I can describe the sexual tension and attraction between this couple is it literally BOILS, and the erotic encounters between Niall and Vic are nuclear grade hot.

However, this book isn't just hot sex, their love story tugged my heartstrings. Following a horrible tragedy resulting from violence three years previously, Niall is a member of humanity's walking wounded. Her life has literally disintegrated around her. She has her career at the Chicago Museum of Fine Art and she travels. However, she struggles with inner turmoil, her loss, guilt and the shackles of the unrealistic expectations of her old school Catholic parents. The story is about her journey to emotional wellness and renewed ability to share her pain and love with another human being. Niall is a tiny, delicate, sweet, vulnerable, woman. She keeps her past closed deep inside a little Pandora's box, fearful of what will happen if she opens the lid.

Niall, though previously married is relatively sexually naive and Vic not only awakens her passion, he introduces her to new levels of sensuality. He is demanding, inventive and dominant during their sensual encounters. She is submissive and responsive. There is also a tender side to Vic, which he doesn't always verbalize but was communicated through the third person narrative.

Niall's history isn't revealed early in the story and I had difficulty putting the book down because I needed to know more about her as much as finding if she and Vic would end up together. As with any romance novel, we need conflict to make it interesting. Niall and Vic's story is no different, the path to their HEA is not an easy one but in the end, as a reader I found it very gratifying.

Wicked Burn is my favorite contemporary read thus far in 2009. Beth Kery's books have been an autobuy for me since reading it and she hasn't disappointed me yet. :)

"Shibumi", was a gift from my late father and I read the book in the early 80's. I've read a number of thrillers over the years but never found one as well written or as riveting.

Trevanian was the pseudonym most often used by Rodney Whitaker, when writing his fiction novels. He described "Shibumi" as a super spy thriller, however it addresses a number of themes and IMHO was well ahead of it's time and continues popular today. Mr. Whitaker past away a few years ago, he was a brilliant wordsmith and author.

I don't know how I could ever do the book justice in a mini review, so I've taken the liberty of copying a synopsis from Trevanian.com, a website dedicated to Mr. Whitaker's work.

"Nicolai Hel was born in the turbulent China of the First World War, of an aristocratic mother and a mysterious German father, and educated in the spiritual gardens of a Japanese Go master. Surviving the destruction of Hiroshima he appears as the world's most consummate and artistic lover - though better paid as an assassin. Genius, mystic, master of cultures and languages, Hel's secret is his determination to reach that rare personal purity and state of perfection known as Shibumi. Living in an isolated mountain stronghold with a beautiful Asian companion, he meets his most sinister enemy, a vast monolithic spy organisation. The battle lines are drawn: merciless power and corruption on one side, and on the other..."

Hel was everything described above and more. A self trained assassin for hire who was an expert in the art of 'naked kill', he was also cunning and ruthless, basically an anti-hero. Hel was drawn out of his mountain fortress to battle a "supermonolith of espionage and money". The plot is so intricate and well crafted I had difficulty ascertaining who were the good guys and who were the bad until the closing pages. The best way I can describe Hel is perhaps an aristocratic "Jason Bourne", (Ludlum novels). I think Hel was the first hero in a novel I fell in love with.

Then there is Hana, Nicholai's magnificent Eurasian mistress. Their relationship was very sensual and unusual. To understand and get the full impact of this amazing story you would have to read it.

© All rights reserved. "Sanders Portrait."
Department of Canadian Heritage, 2001

The fourth book I'm bringing to the island is "The Love Poems and Sonnets of William Shakespeare". The bard's work has been a part of my life since my father introduced me to it when I was young. I have a hard cover of Shakespeare's tragedies and the poems at home so I thought instead of a book cover I would post a picture of "The Sanders Portrait", which, as near as I can tell, is still a contender to be authenticated as Shakespeare's portrait. There is however controversy surrounding it.

I didn't discover the Sonnets until later in my life. Shakespeare wrote 154 Sonnets, and this one is my favorite:


In Faith I Do Not Love Thee With Mine Eyes

In faith I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note,
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who in despite of view is pleased to dote.
Nor are mine ears with thy tongue's tune delighted,
Nor tender feeling to base touches prone,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone:
But my five wits, nor my five senses can,
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,
Who leaves unswayed the likeness of a man,
Thy proud heart's slave and vassal wretch to be:
Only my plague thus far I count my gain,
That she that makes me sin, awards me pain.


What can I say about William? I know academics argue about the influence of his work on the evolution of literature versus Chaucer and Thomas Moore. However, IMHO the genius of his work has never been surpassed. A wise friend said to me a while back that it was Shakespeare who penned the first erotic tale and I agree.

The Vampire Shrink, is written in the first person and told by it's heroine "Dr. Kismet Knight". “My Involvement with vampires began innocently enough.” This is the first sentence of Kismet's story and it speaks volumes.

Dr. Knight is a psychologist in private practice working in Denver, Colorado. At the opening of the book she meets a new young patient “Midnight”, who dresses ‘goth’ and claims, as their therapy session continues to be involved with a group of vampires at a bar called “The Crypt”, in downtown Denver. Kismet of course concludes that Midnight has created a fantasy world and is participating in dangerous activities with vampire ‘wannabees’. Midnight is completely enamoured with the leader of the ‘vampires’ whose name is “Devereux”.

Following the session with Midnight, Devereux pays Kismet a visit in the guise of wanting an appointment for therapy. Devereux has to be one of, if not the most charismatic vampire I’ve read. He is 6 feet tall, a studley, with long platinum hair and turquoise eyes. Devereux is 800 years old and Ms. Hilburn has written the vamps in her novels to become more powerful with age.

Needless to say, when Devereux claims to be a vampire, Kismet engages him as an insane delusional patient. The juxtaposition Hilburn creates between Kismet Knight and Devereux is fabulous. She is a modern independent woman with a Doctorate in Psychology whose analytical thought processes are founded in science. He is a 800 year old vampire leader of a coven who is an artist with essentially old world ideas. I hooted with laughter at some of the dialogue between these two characters as Kismet tries to school Devereux with respect to her expectations as a modern woman.

These vampires have varying strengths and abilities with respect to power, but I will say that mind reading, and entrancing humans are two of their gifts. The strength of their power depends on their sire and age. Devereux also has abilities as a magician that enhance his abilities.

There are a coterie of fascinating supporting characters that add to a plot that is exciting, suspenseful, a little frightening and full of twists and turns. As Kismet becomes more involved in the vampire underworld, her very existence is threatened. There is even a vampire with Dissociative Affective Disorder, now really; you don’t see that one every day! lol I have to say though that Kismet’s (Lynda Hilburn's) wonderful dark humor and tendency to psychoanalyze the vampires she encounters offsets any of the more frightening sequences.

A mortal FBI profiler “Alan” becomes involved when one of Kismet’s patient’s turns up in her office very nearly drained of blood. Alan is very handsome with a dark secret and he vies for Kismet’s affection but Devereux just pushes the poor guy aside. (This also adds to Kismet's confused feelings for Devereux).

I read "The Vampire Shrink", in early 2008 and eagerly awaited it's sequel "Dark Harvest", published in October of last year. "Dark Harvest", didn't disappoint. It is equally exciting, dark and humorous. Lynda Hilburn indicates a third novel will be forthcoming and I cannot wait!

So, there you have it, the books I wouldn't leave home without when going on an island vacation! Variety is the "spice" as they say and I while the bulk of my reading leans toward contemporary and paranormal romance I do try and step outside those sub-genres from time to time. Part of the fun joining the DIK gang has been "the round robin" events, choosing our books and heroes. I was delighted when I was able to bring the books I wanted and hope I didn't bore you all too much, chatting about them.

Tomorrow, the last day of my vacation, is Hero Day - WOOT... I have to say Tori has been very jealous of all these hotties running about, but what can I say? Sometimes us girls just "gotta have fun". ;)

Hope to see you all in my hut for the partaay tonight!! There will be lots of hot menz, drinks and most of all fun!! ;)


Kris said...

Thanks for the great summaries, Lea. I seriously need to read "The Shrink Vampire". That looks hilarious.

Lea said...

Hey Kris:

Your welcome. They were too lengthy, I know but I already had reviews written for 3 of the books so....

"The Vampire Shrink", is a great read IMHO. ;)

Have a great day!

Chris said...

Which way to the hot menz, plz? Any visitors from Underworld General?

Mary G said...

Hi Lea
You have a way - only you would make me like Shakespeare again.
I'm glad you're enjoying yourself.

Anonymous said...

Great post Lea!
I have the Demonica books near the top of my TBR pile and should be getting to them very soon.

Blanche said...

Awesome post Lea!! I'm looking forward to the party and the hot menz!! :)

Cindy W said...

Hey Lea! If it wasn't for your fantastic review of Wicked Burn, I would have never read it! I gotta get those Demonica books!

Lea said...

Hey Chris:

You'll have to stop back tomorrow for the UG guy... ;)


Hi Mary!!

Thank you, you made my day I love the Sonnets so much and Shakespeare's work in general. :)

I hope you have a great day!


Thanks Ms.M..

I hope you enjoy the Demonica stories as much as I did. :)


Hi Blanche!

Thank you. I hope it will be a great partaay!!



Thank you for saying that, it means more than you can know. I love that book so much. :)

You have a great day!

VampFanGirl said...

Great post Lea!

I loved learning what books you would take to the island and while the first two were no brainers I really enjoyed reading about your other faves as well. I imagine it was pretty difficult to pick your books. There's no way I could narrow down my island keepers. Yikes!

My best to Tori. I hope she's enjoying her island stay!

(((hugs))) VFG

Lea said...


Thank you, you are so kind to come over here too and leave such a nice note.

Well, it was difficult, but it was kind of fun too seeing all the different books everyone would bring.

Ms. Moonlight is here starting Thursday and I know it's going to be rocking over here!! lol She is so much fun..

Thanks again VFG, I really appreciate it. Tori is waving her paw.. lol


Renee said...

I loved reading your impressions of your book picks! I will have to get to The Vampire Shrink.
I can't wait for your heroes, tomorrow! :-)

Unknown said...

Hi Lea! *waving*

Hope you're enjoying your mini-vaca!

You've choose some great books to bring along, so no shortage of hot reads. I loved Vampire Shrink on your blog and it sounds just as good here! Our sweet friend Amy, just send me the Demonica series, can't wait to try them.

I'll take a hot menz over here please, if you don't mind sharing? I'll take a virgin whatever your serving, um, I mean to drink.

Dottie :)

Lea said...

Hey Renee and Dottie!

Thank you... You are both so kind.

Dottie - you are welcome to enjoy a "virgin whatever", ;)

Best to you both.

Tracy said...

What an awesome list Lea! The Vampire Shrink just sounds completely awesome - I'll have to look that one up. :)

Lea said...

Thanks Tracy

TVS is a great read IMHO.

Appreciate your comment. :)


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