DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR7 Review #3 Born of Shadows by Sherrilyn Kenyon
I picked this book out of a clearance bin, during an escape weekend to Halifax early in January,.thinking that it was one of the novels in the Dark Hunter series. Instead, I found myself swept into Kenyon’s science-fiction universe featuring star systems and worlds where the League is law.
Having devoured novels by this talented author before, I knew from the very first chapter that I was in for a treat. Once I got over my initial confusion at not being able to place myself into the Dark Hunter series during the opening chapter, I settled in to enjoy the complex tale and society that she had created. Science Fiction is one of those genres that is either masterfully written, detailing alien cultures and societies so intricate that we feel as if we grow to know them, or so badly crafted as to feel hokey and contrived. With her talent to create such memorable characters as the charming teenage “man dork” from her Chronicles of Nick YA series, I had little doubt that Kenyon could write believable stellar backdrops for this series of personalities. What took me by surprise, was the depth with which Kenyon took Band left me wanting to hunt down the others in this series like one of her League bounty hunters!
The fact that Born of Shadows seemed to be the fourth in the set meant little due to the way in which Kenyon satisfyingly pens her intricate plots that are able to stand alone by themselves against the larger tapestry of the universes she creates. I have no doubt that knowing more about some of the other characters that came to the rescue of Callen Dagan, galactic soldier of fortune, might have added a deeper level of enjoyment and understanding of potential inside jokes, but this book remained strong and true on its own.
In one frenzied reading, I found myself drawn into the tangled web of a street rat mercenary suddenly elevated to nobility when he turns out to be the long-lost son of a powerful planetary figure. Throw in a beautiful warrior princess from a nearby solar system and a vicious plot to pit their cultures against each other with some murder and you have a thoroughly enjoyable romp that steams and sizzles from cover to cover.
WIthout a doubt, I will now be trying to track down the other League novels in the series to add to my CBR7 challenge, regardless of whether they are in a sales bin or full price!
Hardcover format, 418 pages, published by Grand Central Publishing
I picked the hardcover copy of No Mercy in a sale bin at a local bookstore to add to my rapidly growing Kenyon collection. It felt a bit familiar as I read the first few chapters and I have a sneaking suspicion that I might have read a friend’s copy of this. Regardless, the story makes a lot more sense having now read the Chronicles of Nick series, Archeron and the other novels that I’ve acquired in the Dark-Hunter collection. Since I am not reading them in pure chronological order, there are a few gaps in background character knowledge that would probably make the reading experience slightly richer, but that is the beauty of having a vast set of books in your personal library – when you complete the collection at some point, you can go back and read them in sequence to fall in love with a sweeping series such as this all over again.
No Mercy deals with one of the most intriguing characters in the series, the Sanctuary club’s bouncer Dev who just happens to be one of 4 quads (4 hunky brothers) and a Were-Bear to boot. Kenyon has no shortage of imagination when it comes to creating unique characters that break beyond the traditional romance novel mold! Add a 5000 year old Amazon Dark-Hunter to the mix who is haunted by the death of her husband and child in a gruesome betrayal and you have two people with far more baggage to overcome than your traditional Harlequin lovers. The fact that Samia is being hunted by demons who want to use her psychometric powers to find out how to destroy the Greek God Apollo also makes their relationship a little more challenging.
Once again, Kenyon’s blend of riveting story line, fascinating characters and sensual lovemaking combine for a thrilling read from start to finish. The more of her novels I read, the better I understand how and why Kenyon has attracted such a vast and loyal fan base. As with previous stories, the characters triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds with determination, sarcasm and cultural references that had me laughing out loud. I can see that I will have to make more bookshelf space under the Ks again…
Hardcover format, 343 pages, published in 2010 by St. Martin’s Griffin
The sign of a good series or author is that they can totally distract you from the course you’d plotted out or the household chores you’d planned to do. I’d been meaning to go back and forth between the Darkover novels and the Dark-Hunter series, but a trip to Chapters uncovered one of the earlier Kenyon novels I’d been hunting for, so of course it needed to be devoured immediately.
Night Play is a fun, if somewhat predictable romp in Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter world. It falls a little closer to the formulaic twists of a standard romance novel except with paranormal characters. What was intriguing was the fact that the heroine has dealt with the body image issues that our modern media seem to exacerbate and that the Were-Hunter wolf Vane loves her just the way she is.
This novel added more details to fit into the growing tapestry of the Dark-Hunter world and was a thoroughly enjoyable read. For the first time, however, the story felt a bit “churned out” instead of lovingly crafted… especially coming right after reading a later novel so beautifully crafted. Night Play doesn’t deal with any heavy issues and is a fun, erotic read. If you like your romance novels spicy, edgy and unusual, then this is a perfect choice.
Paperback format, 362 pages, published in 2004 by St. Martin’s Griffin
If Dance with the Devil was one of my favourite books by New York Times Best-selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon, Acheron was the hardest of her stories to read so far. It wasn’t the length of the novel, but rather how deeply the main character suffered that caused me to take little breaks while reading this book.
Readers of the series know Acheron as the leader of the Dark-Hunters and the first one created as such by the Goddess Artemis. This powerful novel, however, finally reveals the suffering, agony and humiliation that he endured as a human, before becoming the cornerstone character of her novels.
I’d known from reading her biography that Kenyon had endured some hard times in her life. Until I read the author’s note at the beginning of the book, I had no idea that she was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse herself.
That someone could not only rise above such horror to triumph as she has but also then revisit some of the darkest moments in her memory, as she must have to write some of the scenes in this novel, is a true testament to her courage and talents as a writer. I hope it was healing for her. It was certainly empowering to see how this powerful character was able to triumph over their tragic situation and work towards healing.
Acheron is a brilliant novel but very descriptive and difficult to read in place. It makes your heart ache before it can soar. If you love this series, then it is a must read for all of the in-depth, key information… but it may move you to tears before you get to the funny parts and the sarcasm Kenyon is so famous for.
Paperback format, 800 pages, published in 2008 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Back I swing from Darkover novels to Dark-Hunter tales. I am feeling a bit obsessive right now as the pendulum swings back and forth madly, but it is actually very easy to keep both series straight in my head as I plow my way through them. For me, this is the true joy of being a natural speed reader. If only I could write my reviews as fast!
Dance with the Devil deals with a surly, unsavory, almost dislikable character from the previous novel named Zarek. Kenyon was able to plant just enough tiny glimpses of personality under all the gruffness and rudeness that I found myself wondering how on earth anyone could fall in love with this character she’d created.
Always trust a brilliant author.
This paranormal romance starts out in a manner you’d hardly expect. Astrid is an immortal who has been sent down to judge Zarek in order to decide if he should be executed or not. Her sight has been taken away so that she is not influenced by the outer appearance of the apparently uncontrollable Dark-Hunter Zarek that she’s been sent to judge. This is a good thing because none of Kenyon’s characters are ever ugly!
Dance with the Devil has ended up being one of my favourite Kenyon romance novels thus far. The sarcasm was at its most honed, the adventure was thrilling, the characters had other sides to them that made it a fascinating read and the redemption aspect was uplifting in a world where the headlines so often carry only the darkest of headlines.
Dance with the Devil is well worthy of being on anyone’s summer reading list!
Paperback format, 343 pages, published in 2003 by St. Martin’s Griffin
From Darkover back to Dark-Hunter novels again. Night Embrace is the 3rd book in Kenyon’s vast Dark-Hunter series that I discovered after reading her YA series the Chronicles of Nick. These paranormal romances certainly broke the mold when they first came out at the beginning of this century (that sounds so cool to say!) and Night Embrace is no exception. Like the first two novels, this pits a paranormally endowed character with a mere mortal so that adventure, mayhem, magic and most of all passion can ensue. What makes Kenyon’s books so enjoyable is that the characters are ones that the readers come to care deeply about as all their flaws and strengths are revealed.
Talon is a Celtic warrior who has been protecting humanity from things that go bump in the night for centuries, but when a God-driven runaway Mardi Gras float runs him over, the human woman he was trying to save brings him home to nurse him back to health. Sunshine Runningwolf is unaware of what she’s let into her house and her life. Her artsy, carefree way of life and open heart seems to offer Talon the perfect one-night stand opportunity as he heals… but will a single taste of her leave him wanting more than he’d bargained for?
The celtic theme woven through this tale made it interesting and engaging without feeling like I was being thumped over the head with historic details that got in the way of the story. As an author, illustrator and creative soul myself, I could totally relate to the things that kept distracting Sunshine or the clutter that crept in. All in all, Night Embrace was a wonderful read and it was fun to learn the unfolding details of the Dark-Hunter world that relate back to the Chronicles of Nick. What a complex world of characters Sherrilyn Kenyon has created!
Paperback format, 408 pages, published in 2003 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Unlike many of the more traditional romance novels, Night Pleasures does not feature a bare chested man in some heroic pose or a slender woman swooning against his rippling muscles. One of the many things that makes Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter novels so unique is the variety of ways in which they forge paths of their own instead of conforming to the expected.
Night Pleasures is Kenyon’s second novel in this amazing series. It details the struggles that the Immortal Kyrian of Thrace and paranormal-denying human Amanda Devereaux must face from the moment they awaken handcuffed together. The forces of evil have mistaken Amanda for her vampire-slayer twin sister, Tabitha, in the hopes that she and Kyrian will destroy each other before the God-forged handcuffs are removed.
The story starts with steamy scenes and handcuffs… then devolves into a romping adventure so blatantly sensual that I found the story hard to read if my teenagers were close by. Too many questions about why Mom is blushing that deeply! This book also features the first appearance of Nick Gautier (albeit an older version who has his driver’s license but is still a Squire) and Kyrian’s Spanish housekeeper, Rosa. There seemed to be a slight inconsistency or two in some minor details… but since The Chronicles of Nick deals with a future that keeps shifting slightly, these can certainly be chalked up to the eternal time paradox escape clause!
The more I read Kenyon’s works, the more impressed I am with her vivid prose, incredible sensuality and captivating characters. Her ability to carve out a new genre in the heavily saturated romance novel world is a testament to her writing ability. The Chronicles of Nick series certainly proved that she doesn’t need graphic sexual scenes to sell a good story… but with the summer on it’s way, I also don’t mind having a new author and a slew of steamy books to make any rainy weather more bearable! Very few “bodice rippers” written by anyone other than Nora Roberts have remained in my household library. Now that I am beginning to track down the Dark Hunter novels to read in the recommended chronological order, I will need to make more book shelf space among the Ks this summer to accommodate the growing collection!
Paperback format, 309 pages, published in 2002 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Having read and reviewed the first 3 novels in the Chronicles of Nick Young Adult series, I decided to pick up a few of Sherrilyn’s other novels in the Dark Hunter series to read how the adventures all began. Fantasy Lover was published in 2002 and laid the foundation for the incredibly detailed and riveting world or romance, magic and all things paranormal that Kenyon has become famous for.
Like many typical romance novels, Fantasy Lover begins with two apparently star-crossed lovers. Grace Alexander is a young, urban professional woman but Julian is an ancient Spartan warrior who has been trapped in a book by a two thousand year old curse. He may only be released to fulfill someone’s sexual fantasies as a love-slave before being trapped back into the book’s pages.
Reading the back jacket intrigued me. Reading the inside story caused my pulse to race on several occasions. I think that even Nora Roberts would blush at some of the vivid and passionate scenes contained in these pages. Small wonder that these books seemed a bit too risqué for some publishers a decade ago when most romance novels were historical but not also paranormal. What makes Kenyon’s writing so unique is not only the detailed plots and twists, but the strong, believable characters. There is plenty of pathos and compassion, heroism and selflessness as well as intrigue and attention to detail. There are also scenes that might make you blush!
The second book in this series, Night Pleasures, apparently deals with Nick’s mentor, Kyrian and the resolution of his particular Dark Hunter curse… so of course I had to venture out to the bookstore yet again…
Sigh! So many wonderful books and only 24 hours in each day…
Paperback format, 337 pages, published in 2002 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Infamous is the third book in the Chronicles of Nick YA series written by Sherrilyn Kenyon. After reading the second novel, Invincible, I decided that I couldn’t possibly wait for this next installment to come on sale or be published in a paperback format. That is usually one of the true tests for a series. As a voracious and speedy reader, I tend to try to stretch my book budget as far as possible. This year’s Cannonball Read #4 challenge has made me throw caution to the wind on more than one occasion and just indulge!
Infamous begins as grippingly as Invincible ended. Nick Gautier has just discovered that the man he thought was his uncle offering advice is actually his future self trying to undo a terrible reality that brings on the world’s destruction. Nick now knows that his father is not just a criminal, but a ferocious demon who choses to live in prison to feed off the evil energy that pools in such places. Talk about a heavy burden to bear at 14! Is the future set in stone no matter what? Will those closest to him still protect him or bring about his destruction once they learn the truth. Can he trust his own advice from the future or is he embarking on a new path because of the brave choices he continues to make?
This novel was probably the most satisfying of the series so far. Nick is still a wonderful blend of sarcasm, spunk and teenage cockiness, but the challenges that are now being thrust upon him push him to the limits of his emotional and physical endurance. Kenyon has known her own share of hardships in her life and somehow transposes some of her own indomitable tenacity into her main character. The story lines are touching and the adventure is EPIC! The way the characters weave together unexpectedly only makes this story shine. From the way Bubba’s mother gripes at him to the pathos of how people deal with tragedy, Infamous is a roller coaster ride that can have you laughing then tearing up in less than a dozen pages. Amid so many of the series churned out to entice young readers, the Chronicles of Nick stands out as one I would heartily recommend to anyone between 13 and 93 who loves great stories and doesn’t mind descriptions of things that go bump in the night. It will be a long wait until March 2013 when book 4 in the series Inferno is due out. In the meantime, I will explore her other adult romance novels where Nick first appeared and know that I will have the fun of rereading the first 3 once the 4th one is published, just to make sure that I remember all the great details!
Hardcover format, 468 pages, published in 2012 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Invincible is the second book in the Chronicles of Nick YA series written by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Like the first one, it is a wonderful romp into the Dark-Hunter world that Kenyon created, without the overtly detailed romance scenes that made her adult novels so popular. Nick Gautier survived the zombie attacks in the first novel and is slowly adapting to the idea that the world as he knew it is not all that it seems. While his fortunes may be turning around, the new football coach has a dark side that is far more sinister than anyone realizes and the powers of darkness are still intent on getting him to give in to an Evil destiny which could destroy the world. The future doesn’t have to be set in stone, but can the advice from “Cousin Ambrose” be trusted? Will those closest to him keep him from turning into a monster to rival his father or betray him in the end?
Sherrilyn Kenyon knows how to keep a reader on the edge of their seat and laughing out loud at the same time! The main character in this novel is so endearing and so full of teenage boy attitude that you don’t know whether to hug him or hit him at times. His ability to struggle with what is thrown at him and the strange powers that he is developing gives readers hope that they can face challenges in their own lives with half as much determination and tenacity. Despite incredible odds, Nick manages to find solutions that allow him to triumph in his own unique way, set against the rich, intricate backdrop of Kenyon’s Dark Hunter world. I found myself begrudging the times I had to put this book down for such mundane things as cooking supper and taking care of other household chores. I inhaled Invincible in a day and after reading the shocking last few sentences, I knew that there was NO WAY I could wait for the third book to come out in paperback… so it was added to the basket on my very next trip to the bookstore!
Paperback format, 420 pages, published in 2011 by St. Martin’s Griffin