I’ve read a couple of books that really impressed me recently, so I thought I’d post a little bit about them. First up is Cynthia Eden’s HOTTER AFTER MIDNIGHT. I'm a big fan of Cynthia’s Red Sage novellas, (we shared pages in SECRETS 15,) so I've anticipated this read for a long while. I’ve also worked with Cynthia. She's a talented editor, one of the top editors I have worked with and I’ve worked with a few now.
Cynthia has had several books signed by Kensington and HOTTER AFTER MIDNIGHT is the first of a paranormal series. As soon as I picked the book up I knew it was a winner. The plot grabbed me straightaway and wouldn’t let go. The pacing is terrific, the dialogue snappy and believable, and above all the storyline and romance are hot, edgy, and exciting. All the ingredients for a great paranormal romance.
The story follows Emily Drake, a psychologist who has a psychic gift when working with “the other.” The Other includes demons, vampires, witches, and the like. She is also working as an adviser to the police, and she’s teamed up with Detective Colin Gyth. Colin tries to hide the fact that he is a shape shifter, but of course Emily can sense it. She's also hugely attracted to him. The conflict and the erotic tension between the two of them is palpable, making me want to race through the pages to find out how and when they will give in to each other, and yet at the same time making me want to pause and savour each delicious morsel. Meanwhile, danger is all around as The Night Butcher stalks. During their investigation Colin and Emily have to face many foes, as well as learn to trust in each other.
I can’t recommend this novel enough! I also can’t remember having had such a good paranormal romance read since I last picked up an Angela Knight book! Oh yes, if you are a PR reader, Cynthia Eden is a new author to buy, read and follow.
The other novel I have had the pleasure of reading recently was M. Christian's PAINTED DOLL. Very different, but another absolute treat of a read. Now, this one is not out yet, but I'll be nudging you again when it is. M. Christian got in touch with me to ask if I would blurb one of his forthcoming novels. Gulp. He also said he admired my work. I confess I wondered if he’d sent the mail to the correct person! :) I’ve never been asked to do this before, and whilst M. Christian is a writer who I’ve shared pages with in anthologies before, I’m pretty much in awe of all that he does. His fantasy novel, THE VERY BLOODY MARY'S was a super, gripping, thoroughly entertaining read.
It was a great honour to be asked to blurb a new novel, and I set about the task nervously. Wow! My nervousness was nothing to the sheer uselessness I felt after having read the novel. I don’t know whether my blurb will be used, but I had to give the novel mention. If futuristics are your thing, you really have to watch out for PAINTED DOLL.
PAINTED DOLL is set in an eerie future world -- the type of world that always gets me, where things are both similar to what we know but also not of our experience, so that the vivid images we encounter tease along our perception uneasily. In this future world we encounter the story of The Painted Doll, a woman who works as a dominatrix in order to hide a secret past and her true identity. As the story progresses and The Painted Doll slowly removes the layers of her mask for us, we find out her story and the reasons why she’s had to take on a new identity and hide. I don’t want to say too much and spoil the plot, but The Painted Doll is on the run from some very bad people. Most importantly she has had to leave and hide in order to protect her lesbian lover from those very bad people. The novel is compelling, gritty, erotic, and at its centre lies an intense love story.
M. Christian is an author who straddles genres with apparent ease, as well as writing with literary panache. In this novel (and in his previous works) he plays with the recurring themes of sexuality, gender, and identity, questioning them by setting them at odds with what we know and understand. PAINTED DOLL resonates; it truly is a story that will stay with you. Out on Lethe sometime soon. Watch out for it!
On the film front, we finally caught up with THE ILLUSIONIST. I’d been wanting to see this one for ages, and I really enjoyed the unfolding story as I was watching it, (as in couldn't look away while it was on!) but it didn’t have as much impact as a film as I was hoping it might, based on advertisements I had seen. The attraction/romance was a wee tad neglected, I felt, and given that it was driving the story, it felt unbalanced. Perhaps that was it? Who knows? Beautiful and compelling to watch, but not as haunting as it might have been. Of course I’m sure I'd have enjoyed it more had Rufus Sewell been the hero, but that’s just me ;)