Tag Archives: paranormal romance

DemonsDaughter

Book Review: THE DEMON’S DAUGHTER by Paula Altenburg

Published by Entangled Select
Release Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Available in Paperback and Kindle

In Short: Hunter, better known as The Demon Slayer, is hired to find and retrieve a demon spawn. Airie doesn’t know it, but she is half-goddess and half-demon, the very creation that Hunter has spent a lifetime tracking down and killing.
Recommended: Yes, even in spite of the tawdry love scene.

“…[S]he was born of love, not hate No child should ever have to live with such a burden. Not even a monster.”

It is only fair to mention from the outset here that this author is known for her paranormal romance novels. Which means you will find within these pages a cheesy love scene where the young virgin is deflowered (blood on the sheets and everything) and yet manages to have an earth-shattering orgasm. There are the obvious internal monologues of self doubt where the main lovebirds make pathetic decisions not to talk to the other thus begetting more trouble. And yes, there is the scene where they each profess their undying love and one of them has to choose not to live as an immortal.

But despite all these campy insertions, and even if PNR really isn’t your thing, this book is still really good.

The minor characters within this book are fantastic. The one-legged assassin turned saloon keeper who wants to marry his oldest whore seems like a ridiculous idea, but he’s not, and not only because of the cleverness on Altenburg’s part of creating a situation where the main character isn’t the only exposition. Oh, and just for the record (spoiler alert), she turns him down – I love a romance novel where not every character gets a happy ending! There is also the slightly unnerving mute child who comes off as adorably grubby with a quirky knack of picking up roadside bombs. In real life that would be terrifying, but in the course of this story, it is completely endearing.

Of course, there are the two main characters with inanely obtuse name selections. Hunter was never going to be the currier on the Pony Express, and Airie isn’t exactly a name for the local librarian. The refreshing part is that she isn’t some vapid idiot blindly bumbling along a path of revenge or rebelling against a forced marriage, and he isn’t some surly ranch hand looking to get even with the no good, rotten varmint that…WOW! Waaaaayyyy too many summer romance novels during my teen years. Either way, these characters aren’t the trite cookie-cutter characters from the standard romance novel. Her paranormal abilities aren’t overblown and (here’s the geek) fall within the specific parameters of a world where magic can exist. She is as limited by her own skill set as any master of a craft without practice. He has his own nifty talents, most of them the province of the rugged outdoorsman. He knows how to survive in the wilderness and isn’t afraid to tame that sand swift.

The plot itself doesn’t have all that many scene shifts. It is a fairly standard boy-meets-girl, boy-questions-his-motives, boy-becomes-champion, girl-saves-the-world-from-evil plot. It is obvious that Altenburg wrote this as a romance, but then any paranormal reader worth their salt knows that it all about the character development that makes such stuff worth the read. This book delivers. The supernatural demons are suitably smarmy, the goddesses are accusatorily virginal and the backstabbing and betrayal are sublime. The best part is that there is a sequel on the way, with one of the minor characters being promoted to the lead. While this one certainly stands alone, it is nice to know that another adventure in this enjoyable world awaits.

– Danielle Roland

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Beautiful Creatures

Review: BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (2013)

Based on the novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Written by: Richard LaGravenese
Directed by: Richard LaGravenese
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Emmy Rossum, Emma Thompson
US Release Date: February 14th, 2013

In Short: Ethan Wate’s quaint southern lifestyle is forever changed when a new girl with mysterious powers moves to town.
Recommended: Not really.

LENA: You don’t know anything about me. You don’t know who I really am inside. I don’t know who I’ll be.

As much as I love the growing trend of Young Adult novels making it to the big screen, Beautiful Creatures didn’t do much to leave an impression. Overtones about First Love and discovering who you really are during high school are nonstop, and not even remotely subtle. It’s true to the genre, sure, but doesn’t offer anything new or unexpected.

Diehard fans of this book series will likely enjoy seeing some of their favorite characters brought to life, although I’m still not convinced about the casting choices. Alden Ehrenreich plays the POV character of Ethan, and while he definitely has more than a pinch of Southern charm, it’s hard to see him as a high school student, frustrated with his lot in life. Alice Englert does make for a great Lena, though. She manages to be awkward and unsure, while still believable as someone who could grow into quite a bit of power. A few days after seeing the movie, I’m still not convinced of how believable the two of them are together, which probably isn’t a good sign.

There were a few noteworthy performances among the supporting cast, but it’s hard not to enjoy Emmy Rossum as Ridley Duchannes. She does pissed off so well, and somehow manages to get you to feel bad for her at the same time. Emma Thompson is also pretty fantastic, but that’s hardly a surprise.

For the first half of the movie, things follow the plot of the book fairly closely, although quite a few noteworthy scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. By the second half, things get all kinds of confusing, and I genuinely have no idea what the writers were trying to accomplish. If you’ve been holding off seeing the movie until you can read the book, don’t bother. The ending seems to have been written almost from scratch, and doesn’t really add much of anything to the overall story.

If you’re still unsure whether or not this is a movie worth seeing, I’d recommend giving it a pass for now. If you’re in the mood for some magic and teenage angst, you probably won’t find anything better suited to you in theatres this year.

– Kellie Sheridan

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Warm Bodies

Review: WARM BODIES (2013)

Based on the novel by Isaac Marion
Written by: Jonathan Levine
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry
US Release Date: Friday, February 1, 2013

In Short: This Romeo and Juliet adaptation follows a zombie as he falls in love with a human girl.
Recommended: Yes!

R: What am I doing with my life? I’m so pale. I should get out more. I should eat better. My posture’s horrible. I should stand up straighter. People would respect me more if I stood up straighter. What’s wrong with me? I just want to connect. Why can’t I connect with people? Oh, right, it’s ‘cause I’m dead.

Warm Bodies was one of my most anticipated 2013 films, and while it wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch, it didn’t disappoint. This zombie-flick based on Isaac Marion’s novel manages to be both cute and romantic, while staying more-or-less within typical zombie genre conventions.

What I didn’t realize until it became blatantly obvious was the Romeo and Juliet origin of this story. Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s hard to miss, as R (Nicholas Hoult) and Julie’s (Teresa Palmer) relationship comes together despite some hard to ignore differences in where they come from. That being said, I suggest ignoring everything you know about Shakespeare’s story until the credits are rolling.

The movie starts off with odd-ball zombie R contemplating un-life, not long before he meets a girl, and eats a brain that changes everything for him. Hoult makes for a pretty charming member of the undead population, and he’s easy to root for. His Juliet/Julie is a young woman living within a walled society designed to protect the surviving humans from the zombie population. Teresa Palmer falls into the role well, and I think she was a great choice for the character. She works well with Hoult, and watching Julie and R try to figure each other out is a big selling point for the movie.

The post-zombie virus society that has been developed for the movie is a bit simplistic, and there are some logical lapses throughout the movie that can be hard to ignore if you’re the type of moviegoer who prefers their characters to make decisions for reasons other than a plot point. You’ll be doing a bit of fist-shaking at the screen, but not enough to leave you wishing you’d just read the book instead.

Warm Bodies is worth seeing at some point, no matter what genre you usually lean towards. This new take on the zombie psyche is good for a few laughs, and it’s hard to hate on the warm and fuzzy moments, which never get overly cheesy. Although, if you’re hoping to see some skulls cracked open or throats ripped out, Warm Bodies isn’t going to do much for you. Go into it in a good mood and with an open mind and you’ve got nothing to lose.

– Kellie Sheridan

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Crichton and Aeryn 2

THE TOP 13… GENRE TV COUPLES

From the FBI’s finest to Stargate Command’s bravest to the Jossverse’s most tragically doomed…

by The Geek Speak Staff

Elsewhere this issue we’ve been celebrated this Valentine’s Season of Love, for really no other reason than we never have before. With that in mind, it seemed to us that there could be no better way to explore those ephemeral matters of the heart than to take a look back at our favorite couples on TV — because what’s more romantic than watching TV, right? Whether they end up with a Happily Ever After or a Might Have Been, married with kids or stoically, self-sacrificingly alone doesn’t matter here. What we’re interested in is their journey (often strung out over multiple seasons, and occasional movies), their fascinating, usually frustrating, journey from enemies to friends to lovers to icons.

And so, with this… Happy Valentine’s Day!

1. MULDER AND SCULLY

The X-Files
Portrayed by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson

SKINNER: You told me Mulder wouldn’t allow it. Wouldn’t let me ruin my career over this. Over him. But what about you, Scully? I mean, my god, you’ve got even more at stake.
SCULLY: [voice cracking, nearly crying] I-I can’t take the chance that I’m never going to see him again.
– “Without” (08.02)

Really, who didn’t love The X-Files? The show signaled a sharp turn for science fiction, and had a large and rabid fan base; for the seven people who have never seen it, the show followed FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder, an ardent believer in the existence of extraterrestrials, psychic phenomena, Sasquatch, Atlantis, and everything else short of Scientology. He is also dangerously paranoid of the government for which he works. In an attempt to rein him in, the Bureau assigns as his partner Special Agent Dana Scully. She is a doctor, scientist, skeptic and pretty damned hot, to boot. The show (particularly the early seasons) was an ebb and flow of disagreements, frustration and underlying sexual tension between the two, set to a backdrop of general weirdness. Interestingly enough, in the original cut of the pilot episode Scully was romantically engaged, but the network asked to have that cut, in hopes of creating the tension.

To really appreciate Mulder and Scully as a couple, one must view them through the lens of the time period in which they existed. In the 1990s, our male role models were sullen and distrustful. Our female role models were strong and angry. The X-Files gave us a male/female partnership that was smart, disenfranchised, and armed. The internet was brand new, and still too slow for streaming video. Message boards ruled the day, and the question of whether the inevitable Mulder/Scully coupling should occur was second only to “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” The so-called “Relationshippers” (later: shippers) took to ICQ (remember ICQ???) in droves, crying out for their two favorite Federal Agents to make the beast with two backs, only to be ignored.

In 1998, the first feature film, The X-Files: Fight the Future was released, and the sexual tension continued to grow. Mulder and Scully are on the verge of the first kiss, the magic moment all of those still-frustrated shippers have waited for, when Scully passes out, having been stung by a bee poisoned with an extraterrestrial virus. (Pretty cliché, right?). As everyone would predict, the film ends with Mulder rescuing Scully from an alien laboratory/spaceship hidden under the Antarctic ice, just ratcheting up the tension that much more. A follow-up film entitled The X-Files: Duchovny Needs Work (or something like that) was released in 2008, and is set some years later, after the two had linked up romantically. As it turns out, that tension was important to the show, as the characters were flat and uninteresting this time around. The 2008 film was poorly received, particularly by the core fan base, leading to the proposal of this universal agreement: It never existed. Mulder and Scully exist as they did fifteen years ago: driven, paranoid, still armed, and on the verge of something that keeps getting closer, but may never happen.

Chris Nagy

HONORABLE X-FILES MENTIONS: Reyes and Doggett, Mulder and Krycek

2. BUFFY AND ANGEL

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel
Played by Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz

BUFFY: I killed Angel. Do you even remember that? I would have given up everything I had to be with… I loved him more than I will ever love anything in this life, and I put a sword through his heart because I had to.
“Selfless” (07.05)

Buffy and Angel… can you get any more star-crossed? Probably not. Buffy is a Slayer, the Slayer, a teenage girl chosen to kill vampires and save the world on a bi-weekly basis. Angel is a vampire, and sure, when they met he was a do-gooding vampire cursed with a soul, but he had also spent a good deal of his two hundred plus years ravaging his way across Europe and much of Asia. I think we might have a problem here. Still, despite their differences, the chemistry between the pair was evident right from the beginning of the series, and carried through into the final season of Angel, even though the two rarely actually saw each other in the final five years of their tumultuous onscreen relationship. The passion that Buffy and Angel felt for each other was intense every step of the way, fitting in perfectly with both teenage angst storylines and various apocalypses. Angel does get some competition down the line, as does Buffy – in the unlikely person of Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) – but everyone knows these two are meant to be together. Once Buffy’s cookies are done, or something.

Kellie Sheridan

HONORABLE BUFFY MENTIONS: Willow and Oz, Willow and Tara, Buffy and Riley, Buffy and Spike, Xander and Cordelia, Xander and Anya, Giles and Jenny, Spike and Drusilla.

3. AMY AND RORY

Doctor Who
Played by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill

THE DOCTOR: You’re very sure? This could be the real world.
AMY: It can’t. Rory isn’t here. I didn’t know. I honestly didn’t know until right now. I just want him.
– “Amy’s Choice” (31.07)

Introduced in the very first episode of the Eleventh Doctor’s reign “The Eleventh Hour” (31.01), Amy appeared to be the popular feisty girl destined to be the Doctor’s Companion, and Rory was her slightly wimpish best friend who was clearly deeply in unrequited love with her. But then it turned out that they were getting married! And then it turned out that Amy would choose the reality of Rory over the fantasy of her Raggedy-Man Doctor (“Amy’s Choice” [31.07]). So, Amy and Rory did get married (after Rory died, Amy kind of died, and Rory waited two thousand years for her as a resurrected Auton version of himself in the most epic love arc ever). Of course they lived happily ever after with the Doctor in the TARDIS…well, kind of in between having their daughter Melody be abducted and turned into the sassy River Song (Alex Kingston), becoming the Doctor’s in-laws, and not to mention Rory dying several more times. But they did end up living happily together in the past in New York when Amy chose Rory once more after he was trapped there by the Weeping Angels, even though it did tragically mean the end of the Ponds travelling with the Doctor.

– Rachel Day

HONORABLE DOCTOR WHO MENTIONS: The Doctor and Sarah-Jane, The Doctor and Rose, The Doctor and…well, pretty much every Companion that has stepped foot on the TARDIS, and let’s not forget the anti-ship, The Doctor and the Master.

4. CRICHTON AND AERYN

Farscape
Played by Ben Browder and Claudia Black

CRICHTON: That scares the hell out of me… From the first moment I laid eyes on you, I could never see the end.
AERYN: What scares me is I always could.
– “Bad Timing” (04.22)

In early 2000 America had just received a new science fiction show from Australia and we were introduced to one of the most badass and angst-filled couples in all of genre, John Crichton and Aeryn Sun. When Crichton first meets Aeryn, he finds out that despite looking quite human and attractive, she is also an alien, but when has interspecies dating ever stood in the way of true love? Aeryn, for her part, finds that due to her having spent too much time with Crichton and saved his life a time or two, she is stripped of her rank in the Peacekeeper Army and must slum it with John and his misfit group of aliens aboard their living spaceship. The two don’t hit it off at first, but like any proper ship-worthy couple, you know they are going to wind up in bed by the end, if only because the two characters are constantly bickering over the tiniest of details.

Aeryn and John are repeatedly thrown against overwhelming odds while facing down sadistic aliens, renegade generals, space-plagues, various forms of madness—the list goes on. They escaped annihilation on a few separate occasions and it was always because of the delightful mix of Aeryn’s handiness with automatic weapons and John’s quick-thinking. As the series progresses, the couple realize their feelings for each other and John stops looking for a way home and instead looks for a life with Aeryn. Of course, the universe had other plans for them, including actually finding a way back to Earth, John deciding to leave Earth, Aeryn’s death, a double of John and his death, Aeryn’s resurrection (it is a sci-fi show after all), and more death. Still John and Aeryn had great chemistry and just enough angst to keep us riveted to our televisions.

Kim Sorensen

HONORABLE FARSCAPE MENTIONS: D’Argo and Chiana, Zhaan and Stark, Pilot and Moya

5. JACK AND SAM

Stargate SG-1
Played by Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping

JACK: All right. Wait a minute. Let…Let me get something straight here. Engaged?
SAM: It is theoretically possible.
JACK: It’s against regulations!
SAM: I’m talking physics, sir. Though the whole concept of alternate realities, entire alternate universes, was predicted by Einstein a long time ago…
– “Politics” (01.21)

When the hit movie Stargate was turned into the even more awesome television series Stargate SG-1, the introduction of Captain Samantha Carter was definitely intended to create some sparks with leading hero Colonel Jack O’Neill. From the outset, the show had them seeking each other out sexually under the influence of an alien virus, trapped on an ice-planet snuggling for warmth with each other, and engaged to be married in an alternate universe (this is canon, not fan fiction)! In season four, the show took the unresolved sexual tension a step further when the two were forced to admit their feelings to prove they weren’t brainwashed but because of their duty to the Air Force, its regulations and to the wider Stargate program and mission, they agreed to leave their confessions “in the room”. Cue much angst over the next four seasons with Sam getting engaged to Pete (David DeLuise), Jack finding comfort with Kerry (Clare Carey), until finally they dropped the significant others, Jack declared he would ‘always’ be there for Carter, and they went fishing. Unfortunately, despite protests through the next two seasons of the show and two movies (which only featured Richard Dean Anderson briefly in guest appearances) about the ambiguity of whether they went fishing or fishing, there was never an explicit scene showing that the couple had indeed become a romantic couple. But the ambiguity also means that the audience can believe what it wants and most choose to believe they did end up together because who doesn’t love a happy ending?

Rachel Day

HONORABLE STARGATE MENTIONS: Daniel and Sha’re, Daniel and Vala

6. ZOE AND WASH

Firefly and its feature film sequel Serenity
Played by Gina Torres and Alan Tudyk

WASH: I mean, I’m the one she swore to love, honor and obey.
MAL: Listen—she swore to obey?
WASH: Well, no, not… But that’s just my point! You she obeys! She obeys you! There’s obeying going on right under my nose!
– “War Stories” (01.10)

When Zoe met Wash, she was a closed-off military veteran and second-in-command to the fugitive Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), and he was a laid-back goofball of a pilot-for-hire with a penchant for loud shirts and the most questionable facial hair this side of the Misty Mountains. “There’s just something about him I don’t like,” Zoe mused to Captain Mal. We’re not sure when it happened, but that changed, and soon enough Zoe was defying her captain for the first and only time in her life to marry Wash. Each brought something to the table the other needed — Wash softened Zoe’s hard edges and Zoe infused Wash’s spine with a little starch. And while Wash was usually more than happy to let Zoe be the family badass, Zoe was wise enough to let Wash be the hero on occasion… as long as he stayed (mostly) safe while doing it. And their obvious regard for one another was a bright spot in a show that occasionally went to some very dark places. On the subject of which, we’re just going to pretend that the ending of Serenity never happened. Curse you, Joss Whedon, for your sudden yet inevitable and gleefully sadistic plot twists!

Kate Nagy

HONORABLE FIREFLY MENTIONS: Mal and Inara, Simon and Kaylee, Jayne and Vera

7. RIKER AND TROI

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Played by Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis

LWAXANA: You had your chance with Commander Riker. Look how you ruined that.
TROI: I did not ruin anything! We’ve become very good friends.
LWAXANA: Well, all the better; you certainly wouldn’t wanna marry an enemy.
– “Menage à Troi” (03.24)

Right from the very first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, we knew there was much history between these two officers, both newly-assigned to the Enterprise-D. She, a half-human empath from the planet Betazed, he a rakish space cowboy of the Kirkian school, their off-screen, pre-series antics proved to be a source of much speculation throughout the series’ seven year run – and the subject of two best-selling novels – their love epitomized by the lyrical, made-up endearment “Imzadi.” (Betazoid for “beloved,” don’t you know.) It was left to the movies to wrap things up for this long-hinted at, monstrously stubborn pair: the questionable quality of Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis may have disappointed fans throughout Sector 001 to varying degrees, but they will always be notable for their romantic aspect, with the former giving a glimpse of domestic, couple-bathing bliss, and the latter offering up their wedding—which, while largely incidental to proceedings, still managed to raise a smile from even the most disinterested of Trekkies and –ers. Until Data died, anyway.

Rachel Hyland

HONORABLE STAR TREK MENTIONS: Picard and Crusher, Worf and Jadzia Dax, Bashir and Ezri Dax, Kira and Odo, Chakotay and Janeway, Paris and B’Elanna and, of course, Kirk and Spock.

8. HELO AND ATHENA

Battlestar Galactica (2004)
Played by Tahomoh Penikett and Grace Park

STARBUCK: He knows she’s a machine. He doesn’t care. He loves her anyway.
– “Home, Part 2″ (02.07)

Finding love is hard. Finding love in a post-apocalyptic war after being left for dead on a planet controlled by the Cylon enemy is even harder. However that is precisely what happened in Sci-Fi (SyFy) Channel’s 2004 reimagining of Battlestar Galactica. Karl “Helo” Agathon, left on his own on the Cylon-occupied planet Caprica is “rescued” by a Cylon he thinks is his pilot friend Sharon (call sign “Boomer”). The two travel around Caprica and Helo, who has always had feelings for Sharon, falls in love, and despite her programming she falls in love with him as well. Their love allows her to conceive a child and they return to Galactica with a lot of hostility because of another Sharon’s attempted assassination of the beloved Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos). Love is complicated in the apocalypse remember?

Helo and Sharon – the latter of whom later became part of the colonial fleet and went by the call sign Athena – had a huge amount of problems to overcome: racism, friends turning their backs on them, the “death” of their daughter Hera, and the discovery that their daughter was still alive and taken from them by President Roslin. The episode “Rapture” has one of the saddest moments for the couple as Athena begs Helo to kill her so she can resurrect aboard the Cylon ship and rescue her daughter. Thankfully the plan works, the Agathon family is reunited and they face many more obstacles including the return of Boomer (the Sharon that shot Adama) and her assault on Athena, seduction of Helo, and kidnapping of Hera. Yet throughout four seasons and every kind of problem Ron Moore could throw at them they survived both with their lives and their love intact.

HONORABLE BSG MENTIONS: Kara “Starbuck” Thrace and Lee “Apollo” Adama, Admiral Bill Adama and President Laura Roslin

9. MICHAEL AND NIKITA

La Femme Nikita
Played by Roy Dupuis and Peta Wilson

JURGEN: Michael loves you Nikita. I could grow to love you, but I could also live without you. I’m not sure if he can.
– “Third Person” (02.03)

There was always something infectious about the digitized conspiracy world of 90’s black ops caper La Femme Nikita — most probably the searing relationship of Operatives Michael and Nikita, who spent five seasons at at the center of it all. He, a soft-voiced Frenchman with an impassive face and a lethal accuracy, she a statuesque beauty with authority issues, their dangerous liaison is full of heat and meaningful glances by the score. Though they had their ups and downs – it turned out he had a wife and kid; she developed feelings for the guy from Grease 2 – there was really nothing that could keep them from the occasional fandom-pleasing night of post-mission…er… de-briefing. Eventually, the series ended on an ambiguous note (and we really couldn’t have expected any different), and though successors to the throne Shane West and Maggie Q have certainly brought the pretty on the rebooted Nikita, to anyone who experienced the sheer of the original, their attempt at romance can only be considered pale by comparison.

Rachel Hyland

10. FRED AND WESLEY

Angel
Played by Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker

GUNN: I gotta be straight with you, ’cause this is kinda blowin’ my mind.
WESLEY: Tell me.
GUNN: Fred and I are getting’ back together! She was so keyed up from last night’s fight, she asked me over. We ended up talkin’ for hours like old times. Then, all of a sud—I can’t even keep this up, ’cause your face is gonna make me weep. Wes, I am so messin’ with you.
– “Hole in the World” (05.15)

Buffy and Angel may have had it tough, but nothing cuts quite as deep for Buffyverse fans as the relationship between Winifred “Fred” Burkle and Wesley Wyndham-Price. These two nerds were clearly made for each other, but could never seem to find the right moment to consummate their joint adorkableness. Until they finally did… and then Fred was almost immediately killed, while her body lived on, inhabited by an ancient, blue-haired god. Not good. Until Fred’s personality started to peek through… and then Wesley died. It was pure, gut-wrenching heartbreak every time. The worst part is that it’s hard to even recall a happy memory that these two shared as a couple. Despite all the time Wesley spent pining after her dream girl, their relationship was ultimately fleeting, but still managed to bring up that soul mate vibe that Joss Whedon does so well.

Kellie Sheridan

HONORABLE ANGEL MENTIONS: Fred and Gunn, Wesley and Lilah

11. XENA AND GABRIELLE

Xena, Warrior Princess
Played by Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor

XENA: Gabrielle, if I only had thirty seconds to live, this is how I’d want to live them – looking into your eyes.
GABRIELLE: Stop this. Stop it.
XENA: Always remember… I love you.
– “A Friend in Need” (06.21)

A massively successful spin-off from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, this show followed the adventures of the warrior Xena who was trying to find redemption for her past crimes and evil deeds. In the first episode she meets Gabrielle, a farm girl who becomes her travelling companion, and in many episodes the voice of her conscience. Whether the two women were lovers was the subject of much debate with those against pointing at their many male lovers and those advocating that they were pointing to a hefty amount of subtext, not least the final episode where Gabrielle lovingly revives Xena in a mouth-to-mouth way, and the pair are declared soul mates who will find each other through all their reincarnations. Lucy Lawless also later proclaimed in an interview with Lesbian News magazine in 2003 that “They’re married, man!”

12. MAX AND LOGAN

Dark Angel
Played by Jessica Alba and Michael Weatherly

ALEC: Have they ever even once said “I love you”? No. No, Max, Max would choke on the words. Logan, eh, he’d say it…in an email. [imitating Max] “Oh, he’s not my boyfriend, we were never even like that, it was never the right time…” No, Logan is a repressed WASP and Max is…a broken toy. The two of them will never work out together.
– “Borrowed Time” (02.12)

Somehow, the couples that are most meant to be are the ones that will always have something standing between them. Dark Angel’s writers bent over backwards to keep these two apart, usually subjecting Logan to all kinds of tragedy to make sure he and Max would focus on the bigger, post-apocalyptic picture rather than their budding relationship. Dark Angel was not a show about making goo-goo eyes at your crush, but we still spent all of two seasons balling our hands into fists in frustration as Max and Logan remained apart despite a glaring mutual attraction. Even once they acknowledged their feelings, it never worked out as planned. But what it came down to was that Max and Logan were a team ahead of anything else. Save the world first, fall madly in love later—they both knew what their priorities were. That’s how we know they would still be going strong after the show was cancelled all too soon. NOW KISS!

(Interesting side note: Some people had trouble believing the chemistry between these two, which is odd because their time on Dark Angel began a three year real life relationship between Jessica Alba and Michael Weatherly, despite their twelve-year age difference. Eventually, it came to a crashing halt, whether because Weatherly came to his senses or because Alba became actually famous, we’ll never know.)

Kellie Sheridan

13. OLIVIA AND PETER

Fringe
Played by Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson

Special Agent Olivia Dunham was so devastated by the loss of her partner (Mark Valley) in mysterious circumstances that she embarked upon a quest for answers. Answers that led her to Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), an expert in an area of study known as “Fringe Science,” where the possible and the impossible meet. To gain access to Dr. Bishop, then ensconced in a psychiatric facility, Olivia must locate his estranged son Peter, and convince him to help her. Before the end of the very first episode, it is evident that the gorgeous, haunted FBI agent and the charming, clever dilettante are made for each other, an impression eventually borne out after several seasons and with more than a few obstacles thrown in their way (his dad experimented on her as a child, he’s from an alternate universe, she is replaced by an alternate universe version of herself, he is erased from the timeline—you know, the usual couple stuff). Happily, the final episode of the show set all to rights with their wacky world, and it is to be hoped that they manage to keep their daughter both with them and alive  this time around, otherwise apparently Peter will go crazy and they’ll just have to start all over again.

– Rachel Hyland

HONORABLE FRINGE MENTION: Fauxlivia and Lincoln

 

– The Geek Speak Staff

 

Why The Top 13?

Sure, there’s Saturn 3, Babylon 5, Blake’s 7 and District 9. But what number could be geekier than 13? Not only is there its inherent creepiness, but there’s also The 13th Immortal, The 13th Warrior and The 13th Floor. There’s spooky gore-fest Friday the 13th and those plucky, kick-ass comic book kids, Gen13. There’s Warehouse 13, The X-Files‘ oft-referenced 1013, and the 13 tribes of Kobol. Plus, the Munsters lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. So, we at Geek Speak Magazine bring you the Top 13 of… well, whatever strikes our fancy.

Just be glad we didn’t elect to go with The Top 1701…

 

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Simply Irresistible

Review: SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE (1999)

Written by: Judith Roberts
Directed by: Mark Tarlov
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sean Patrick Flanery, Patricia Clarkson, Amanda Peet, Larry Gillard Jr.

Movie Marathon: Romance

TOM: She cursed me. She said in this creepy little voice: “A man’s character is his destiny.”
LOIS: Oh. She’s a wise witch. She casts her spells in proverbs.

Magic happens. Sometimes it’s just in the glint of the sun on the clear blue ocean. Sometimes it’s because you really, really believe it will. And sometimes — just sometimes — it’s ’cause a rotund little cherub of a man makes you buy a magic crab in the Market.

Well. Okay. Skepticism noted and agreed with.

Nevertheless, that is what happens in Simply Irresistible, the charmingest of charming light-hearted food-related romantic comedies starring Sarah Michelle Gellar ever. (Yes, that is a category at your local Blockbuster. You didn’t know?) Gellar plays Amanda Shelton, a would-be chef in a failing restaurant, whose life changes dramatically when Gene O’Rielly (or, just as possibly, Gino Riley, if you don’t read the credits) forces her to buy a bushel of crabs, or whatever the collective of crab is, to turn into some as yet undetermined dish. Of course, one of the crabs — the magic crab, we soon discover — escapes, and it is through its intervention that we are introduced to obvious love interest Tom Bartlett, played by the similarly three-monikered Sean Patrick Flanery.

Ah. Sean Patrick Flanery. Let me count the ways.

Anyway, Amanda and Tom flirt some, then she heads back to work, crabs in tow, and he – a big shot at New York department store Bendel’s – goes to chat with his lovely assistant (Patricia Clarkson) about his commitment phobia (foreshadowing alert!), and thence to lunch with girl-of-the-moment, the gorgeous Chris (Amanda Peet). Through the intervention of a suspiciously familiar cab driver, they wind up at our heroine’s restaurant, The Southern Cross, where they are the only new customers for quite some time. And the meals that Amanda serves the couple – the hastily invented Crab Napoleon for him, the rudely-demanded chicken something-or-other for her – have a strange effect. Chris freaks out, breaks stuff, and dumps Tom, leaving him in blissful contentment from the meal he’s just eaten.

Oooh. There’s more.

Whilst shopping for replacement plates at Bendel’s – courtesy of Tom, naturally – Amanda and her gallant crockery-purveyor flirt, and flirt some more, and then they dance to an invisible orchestra. And it is just the most sweetest thing ever. Of course, Tom the Commitment Phobe freaks out, but he just can’t stay away from the object of his affection. She cooks him dessert, they kiss and kiss and kiss, and then a vanilla fog (which was one of the original titles of the movie) engulfs them both in the strangest of ways. That’s it, we assume. Case closed, call the wedding planner. It’s happily ever after here!

But, duh. The course of true love can never run that smooth. So the next day, while kissing, they start floating, and Tom accuses poor Amanda of witchcraft. (She’s a witch! A witch! Burn ‘er!) And when the big opening of Bendel’s gala restaurant is threatened by the huffiness of the all-important cliché temperamental French chef, Tom is subsequently horrified when a lust-struck Jonathan Bendel (Dylan Baker)  puts her in charge of the chef-ing.

Amanda’s horrified too. But she does it anyway. And as she cooks for this most prestigious of occasions, every emotion she is feeling goes into the dishes. Only Tom is not affected, as he chose not to partake… so it is a clear-headed lad who winsomely recalls his magical time with Amanda, and realizes, in true climactic form, that he just can’t live without her. Soon we see them dancing the light fantastic – literally – and they kiss some more, and as the credits roll to the strains of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” we can visualize the adorable pair spending eternity together… and weighing at least 200 pounds, if they keep eating those pastries like that.

I really love this movie. Sure, it’s the romance of it all – Gellar and Flanery are a spectacular couple, impossibly gorgeous and impeccably dressed – but there is also great dialogue and some really terrific supporting performances, most notably from Patricia Clarkson, who not only gets the best lines (“If you need anything call me, although I don’t know how to do anything except buy clothes”) but also delivers them with such charm of manner it is simply impossible not to love her, a trait she has put to good use in every role she’s had. Also of note is Amanda’s assistant at the restaurant, Nolan (Larry Gillard Jr.), who’s hilarious and somehow manages to look hot even in those wacky chef pants – what the deal with those, anyway? But yes, okay, it’s mainly the romance, I admit it. Watch this movie, and you’ll feel it too.

Tom and Amanda 4 Eva. At least till that magic crab bites it, anyway

– Rachel Hyland

Movie Marathon – Romance

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The Crow

Review: THE CROW (1994)

Based on the graphic novel by James O’Barr
Written by: David J. Schow
Directed by: Alex Proyas
Starring: Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott, Ernie Hudson, Bai Ling, Rochelle Davis, David Patrick Kelly, Angel David, Laurence Mason, Michael Massee

Movie Marathon: Romance

In Short: On the one year anniversary of his death, rock star Eric Draven returns from the dead to avenge his and his fiancée’s murder.
Recommended: Hell yes!!!

SARAH: People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can’t rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.

Almost twenty years after its original release date, no matter how many times I watch The Crow I still enjoy it just as much as the first time.

The film begins with the investigation into the death of Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and with his fiancée Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas) being rushed to the hospital, though we know that she is going to die also. The film then flash forwards to one year later and things get interesting. Kindly policeman Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) was never able to solve the murders; our spunky teen sidekick Sarah (Rochelle Davis) has had no one but Albrecht to watch out for her since the murders of her best friends; and her drug addict mother is too busy shacking up with one of said murderers. All in all, it’s a pretty bleak situation until a mysterious crow flies through the city and somehow brings our hero Eric Draven back from the dead. But where do you go from there? If you’re Eric Draven, you go back to your old home, the site of your murder and you mourn the loss of your soul mate and the injustice that she did not get to return as well. Then once you realize that you are indestructible (unless Bai Ling shoots your crow guide) you go around and kill everyone that hurt your woman and killed you.

For most of the film we see Eric taking revenge on his murderers and their boss, the super evil Top Dollar (Michael Wincott). There are also sweet and heartbreaking scenes between Eric and Sarah, Eric and Albrecht, and even sweeter and tragic flashbacks of Eric and Shelly.

You can probably guess what happens. In a very action packed, suspenseful climax Eric wins, bad guys lose. Eric says a tearful goodbye to Sarah and is reunited with Shelly and the two go to heaven.

The film has a haunted look and feel throughout its entirety. This town (Detroit) is the worst possible place to be. This is Gotham without Batman, a crazy punk rock dystopia ruled by crimelords with cops who are either too scared to make it better or are paid off to make sure that it doesn’t. Instead of having a typical hero to save the day we have a poetic rock star angel of death. I usually do not cheer so hard to have someone murdered, because that’s what Eric does, but the director and the writer put you into the mind of our hero and Lee’s acting makes you feel his pain so deep that you also want to find Funboy (Michael Massee), Tin Tin (Laurence Mason), Skank (Angel David) and Top Dollar and kill them for everything they have done, and will continue to do if no one stops them.

This film is perhaps best known for the tragic death of Brandon Lee on set, and while I would never say that his life and death shouldn’t be remembered, The Crow should never simply be referred to as the film that killed Brandon Lee. It is the best acting performance out of Lee and many of the other actors. It is still one of the best translations of a comic into film. I’m not sure if any other film to this day has blended the supernatural, action, suspense, poetry, dark humor, and romance as perfectly as The Crow did. It’s equal parts an action-packed blockbuster, supernatural revenge fantasy and tragic love story.

Though movie companies have tried to squeeze money out of this movie’s cult classic status by creating horrible sequel after horrible sequel (and now there are rumors of a blasphemous remake!), it is still an amazing cinematic experience that continues to entertain and inspire audiences, as well as being a romance that transcends life and death… and clown makeup.

– Kim Sorensen

Movie Marathon – Romance

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the-water-witch

Review: THE WATER WITCH by Juliet Dark

Fairwick Chronicles, Book 2
Release Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Published by Ballantine
Available in Paperback and Kindle editions

In Short: The writing is lively and the story is interesting, but the sex is jarring and the central romance is underbaked.
Recommended: Yes, as long as you skip all that icky love stuff.

When the three of them had come to banish the incubus from my house I’d joked that they were there for an intervention, but when four months later Diana and Soheila had come to break it to me that my lover, Liam Doyle, was that same incubus and that he was draining not just me but a dozen students of our life force, the joke hadn’t seemed so funny. I think they all felt a little guilty when we found out Liam was innocent of attacking the students. But he’d been an incubus and you couldn’t go on living with an incubus. Could you?

I’d like to start by just putting it out there that I am not a prude. I mean, I’m Geek Speak’s staff apologist for the Black Dagger Brotherhood, for Pan’s sake. I (((heart))) romance. And, of course, yay sex! Sex is awesome, amiright?!?

The sex in The Water Witch is not awesome.

Let me back up a little bit. The Water Witch, Book 2 in Juliet Dark’s Fairwick Chronicles, relates the continuing adventures of Cailleach “Callie” McFay, who is a professor of gothic literature at Fairwick College in upstate New York. Fairwick is an unusual town, full of witches, fey, incubi, and the like. The half-witch/half-fey Callie is herself a “doorkeeper,” one of the few individuals who can open the door between our world and the Land of Faerie. The last time she was called upon to exercise her special talent, she was forced to banish her lover, the incubus Liam Doyle, to the other side, and as The Water Witch opens she is still mourning that loss (as well as having some quite specific dreams about Liam, to which we readers are privy).

However, when her friends call upon her to guide a group of immature undines back to Faerie, she reluctantly agrees to help. During a perilous journey between worlds, she encounters Liam (and by “encounters” I mean “has sex with” [twice]) and manages to piss off a fully mature, totally vindictive undine named Lobelia, who follows her back to Fairwick and proceeds to make her life a watery hell. And that’s not all Callie has on her plate – the powerful witches’ society known as the Grove has joined forces with the shadowy Nephilim to close the door between the worlds permanently, an action that will benefit the Nephilim and the Grove but be disastrous for all the world’s other mythical creatures. And Callie herself requires training in the use of her growing powers and gets it from a handsome Brit named Duncan Laird… but is Duncan all that he seems? Or is he more than he seems?

I really enjoyed most of the book. The wrangling and maneuvering among the Grove, the Nephilim, and Callie’s friends is entertaining and well-done; there was more than enough to keep my mind occupied. But the love-and-passion aspects of the book are…poorly integrated? I’m not sure how to articulate this. It was like, I was reading along, and I was all into it and saying “This is really interesting! This is exciting! Whatever will Callie do now?…Oh, she’ll have sex with someone. Okay.” Thematically, I could see why Callie’s love life is included, but the sex scenes seem like they were written for a completely different book.

And then there’s the love story. Not too give too much away, but Callie does fall in love for real, after second-guessing herself for a couple hundred pages and wondering what she felt for Liam was truly love. But the lucky man is so poorly-drawn, he might as well be a ghost. He barely says two complete sentences to Callie before they’re, um, intimately entwined, and his personality is all but nonexistent. I got that he’s considerate and has brown eyes and a nice chest and… that’s it, mostly. Reading it, when I arrived at the part where things go awry – because naturally they do – I wanted to feel devastated, but I didn’t. And what’s more, even Callie didn’t seem more than mildly sad. So I was left… underwhelmed.

That’s a shame, because there’s a lot to like about this book, and I’ll probably pick up the next installment just to see what happens. I won’t be reading it for the love story, though, because that part of the book just made me shake my sex-positive head and murmur “Really?” and made me feel like, well, a prude. Which I am not. For the record.

– Kate Nagy

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Ysabel

Book Review: YSABEL by Guy Gavriel Kay

2008
Published by Roc
Available in Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook and Kindle editions

In the Stacks: Obsession

In Short: A Celt and an ancient Greek are both so obsessed with the same faithless woman that they relentlessly pursue her across time and space, inconveniencing an American teen on holiday in France.
Recommended: Yes!

“The past doesn’t lie quietly. Don’t you know that yet?”

Two thousand years ago, a bold and handsome Celt was betrothed to a woman he loved more than life itself. But on a dark night in a sacred grove, as the Druids chanted and the fires burned, the woman lifted the marriage cup to her lips, drank… and handed it to another.

A terrible fight ensued. One of the men was killed, and the woman spent the rest of her life with the other. Then both survivors died… only to return to life, over and over again, to recreate the triangle. Over centuries, the two men always return as themselves; the woman merges, body and spirit, with a mortal woman and takes on some of the mortal’s characteristics so that her preference, and therefore her choice, is different each time. Sometimes there’s a man-to-man fight; sometimes an entire war is fought over the woman; but each time, one man is killed, the other wins the woman’s hand… until all three are dead, and the cycle begins anew.

American teenager Ned Marriner doesn’t know any of this when he arrives in Aix-en-Provence with his father, a famous photographer, to spend a spring vacation helping his dad and his team of assistants – two young dudes and a diminutive, hyper-organized personal attaché named Melanie – photograph the area, including Saint-Sauveur Cathedral. (A real place!) Ned is a typical fifteen-year-old, worried about his mother – a physician working in a war zone with Doctors Without Borders – and somewhat awkward and shy around his accomplished but kindly father and his team of helpers. While visiting the Cathedral, he meets a geeky but whip-smart girl named Kate Wenger, and the two go exploring. (As one does.) But while poking around in the building’s forgotten nooks and crannies, they encounter a strange, scarred man, who soberly tells them “I think you ought to go now. You have blundered into the corner of a very old story…”

Oh, did I forget to mention that it’s the eve of Beltaine – a night of sacred mystery for the Druids? Ned and Kate find themselves in the grove where a Druid priest is conducting his rites… while a determined Melanie is making a beeline for the pair of them, intent upon returning Ned to his villa. The Druid summons the ancient woman back just as Melanie bursts in. Melanie vanishes, replaced by a beautiful redheaded woman: Ysabel. The strange, scarred stranger and a tall, golden hero promptly arrive on the scene. It appears that history is repeating itself.

Or maybe not. Ysabel demands that this time, instead of fighting to the death over her, the two men – Celtic Cadell and Greek (later Roman) Phelan – give her a head start and then locate her within three days. Whoever finds her first wins. The loser will be “sacrificed” by the winner. And now it’s up to Ned – young and confused, but feeling an odd, profound connection to the land – to find a way to end this vicious triangle and bring Melanie back from wherever she is, safe and sound.

Okay, can we just take a minute here and acknowledge that realistically-rendered romance is not one of the insanely talented Guy Kay’s particular strengths? I can only say that if my husband ever talked to me the way Cadell and Phelan talk to Ysabel, I would laugh really hard, and then plotz. On him. Repeatedly. Nevertheless, Ysabel works; Kay writes gorgeous descriptions of the French countryside, and his story, rooted in myth and magic, takes flight in spite of some rather implausible dialogue. (And what would “plausible” dialogue among a Celtic princess, a Druid-adjacent badass, and a Greco-Roman sea captain sound like? Hmm.)

Ned’s troubles are both reduced and magnified when his aunt, who understands some of his troubles all too well, turns up, and shortly thereafter his mother arrives on the scene. There’s been a bit of a long estrangement between Mom and Aunt Kim. It’s… complicated, and it’s resolved considerably more easily than one would expect an argument spanning a quarter of a century to be resolved, although, to be fair, the situation is sufficiently dire by that time that run-of-the-mill family feuds can start to look rather silly. (This is the weakest section of the book by a country mile.) However, all is forgiven, because Aunt Kim is someone who will be well known to and beloved of longtime Kay fans. In fact, I quite literally squealed aloud when the true identities of Kim and her multitalented husband dawned on me. (Check out the husband’s nom de guerre and just see if you don’t get a little lump in your throat.) If you haven’t figured it out already, far be it from me to spoil the surprise, but suffice it to say that fans of Kay’s early work can not miss this book.

Overall, this probably isn’t top-flight Kay, but it’s certainly a lot of fun, merging myth and modernity in an approachable, entertaining way. And if Ysabel – overidealized by the author, but not a particularly well rounded character — never quite seems worthy of the (literally) undying devotion of two such talented and accomplished men, well, what else are men such as Cadell and Phelan going to do to pass the time across the centuries? Plus, Aunt Kim! Ysabel may not be Kay at his best, but it’s still pretty darn good, and this Valentine’s Day you could do worse than to dig into this tale of a deadly, time-and-space-spanning love rivalry and obsession.

– Kate Nagy

In the Stacks – Obsession

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All for You

Review: ALL FOR YOU by Dana Marie Bell

The Nephilim, Book 1
Carina Press
Release Date: Monday, December 24, 2012
Available in Kindle edition

In Short: A hunky half-angel must save a tortilla-loving hairdresser from soul-sucking evilness.
Recommended: Yes.

“This is not funny. Do you have any idea how many sins I’ve committed just this week?” Abby froze, “Do I have to become Catholic?”

Seth is Nephilim, a half-human/half-angel with this cool power where he has superhuman strength and wings that pop out of his back. Neat. He and the other Nephilim half-breeds (who each have their own unique power, kind-of like a supernatural X-Men) work for Gabriel (yes, the Gabriel) and protect humans from Shemyaza, half-breeds that have decided to use their power for evil. Namely, eating people.

Seth’s neighbor/sister of his high-school friend, Abby, is an attractive hairdresser and has an unnatural love of Mexican food and décor. She also happens to be the target of a particularly evil (kicks more than just puppies and old people) Shemyaza who may or may not be in cahoots with her psycho, abusive, murderous, ex-boyfriend. (Bad boyfriends sometimes happen to good people).

Seth is assigned to protect Abby and, after the Shemyaza stalker mind-games escalate, the best option is for Seth and Abby to spend every minute together. “Why don’t I protect you, from the comfort of my own bed? I am sure you won’t mind because I am exquisitely hunky with smoky gray eyes that pierce your very soul. Oh, and I make a mean lasagna too.”

Abby, who has had a schoolgirl crush on Seth since she was an awkward teenager, is totally okay with this plan. Though, one of her annoying character flaws is to decide every fifty pages: “Seth and my family don’t deserve to be in danger. I will flee to Abu Dhabi to protect them,” and then Seth must talk her out of this foolishness, usually by kissing her. But most of the time, she is enjoying being the center of his attention. Traipsing around the country with him as they run from her stalker. Meeting his really nice family and insanely rich best-friend. Getting pleasured nightly.

Which, to be honest, it sounds kind of nice. The author really did make Seth the perfect man. He’s sensitive, strong, hunky, understanding, a good cook, always says the right thing and is a magnificent lover. He has zero character flaws. Seth is a prime example of why women who read too many romance novels become dissatisfied with their marriages.

Anyway, we all know that in the end they defeat the bad guy and then get engaged, because there are rules about this sort of things.

So, given my history with angel books, I am sure my editor totally enjoyed sending this one to me. But I liked it. If for nothing else because they quote Pinky and the Brain and Yoda. Yay, not taking yourself too seriously. The actual plot-line about the Shemyaza stalker is a bit draggy; okay, it’s a lot draggy and a bit tedious. And, there is a lot of food description. I am not kidding, every meal they eat during their two-week adventure is described in exquisite detail, and really, it’s not advancing the plot at all. It’s almost food-porn, because who really cares about the flavor of salad-dressing, or for that matter, if there was salad at all? We all know that you don’t make friends with salad anyway.

The angel/demon part, on the other hand, is surprisingly not annoying at all. There is no preaching, no long diatribes about God. Nothing. Just a band of merry (of course hunky) half-angels saving the world. In fact, when Abby finds out about this she asks “Wait, do I have to become Catholic? I am Agnostic.” A pretty light tone with the whole ordeal.

Abby had a pretty decent sense of humor (in fact, there is some witty dialogue throughout), but she’s got some odd characterization that I don’t understand. There is the Mexican obsession thing. And she has a gaggle of girl-friends who ask questions like: “Who is this yummy treat Seth?” Do friends like this exist outside of Sex in the City? And she likes vampire romance novels. Hrm, maybe Seth should have let her get eaten…

However, if you are a romance novel fan: this is a good read. Quick, fluffy, a hunky male-lead and pretty witty. And, it is not too heavy on the lore/supernatural stuff. Perfect.

On the Amy Paranormal Romance Scale: 1) At $5.09, a good use of the Amazon gift certificate you are getting for Christmas. 2) Pretty witty writing. 3) Seth and Abby are randy and willing participants. But, alas, they forget to talk about birth control until after sex. Will anyone ever learn? 4 & 5) No bonus points for .

– Amy Sharma 

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Gates of Rapture

Review: GATES OF RAPTURE by Caris Roane

World of Ascension, Book 6
Published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: Monday, December 24, 2012
Available in Paperback and Kindle editions

In Short: A fantasy novel with vampires who save the multi-demensioned world through lots and lots of sex.
Recommended: Die First. Is it a romance novel? Is it a fantasy novel? And why are there vampires here at all?

She was well named. A woman who could not have had more grace than the woman in his arms. She was a balm to his tortured soul.

Leto is a vampire. (Here we go again…) And in this world, the vampires are “ascended” and live in one of many dimensions, or realms (there are at least six). Here the good vampires have been fighting, off-and-on, for about 2000+ years against the bad vampires led by Greaves who is, of course, looking for world domination (what super-villain isn’t?).

Leto used to be a spy in Greaves’s organization, and he got addicted to “dying blood” i.e. blood from a human who is dying (the good vamps never partake of this blood). But then Grace came along and saved him and now Leto is back on Second Earth doing his bad-ass soldier of goodness thing. And Grace, who is somewhat of an avoidance-prone wimp, has finally returned to Second Earth to embrace the power of her obsidian flame and to hook-up with Leto.

Because, as we all know, only Leto and Grace’s love can heal their inner-wounds and conveniently enough, unleash the obsidian flame triad which can end the centuries-long war with Greaves. Along the way they spend a lot of time boinking and hanging out with the other good vampires. Who also like to boink a lot. There is a whole lot of boinking going on in this book. I mean, every ten pages or so we’ve got another boink.

There is also a whole lot of cussing as well. Someone once said that cussing is an uncreative form of communication, and, well, this book proves that it is. It just seems like maybe the author could have tried a little harder for some more creative dialogue. Instead, she just drops the f-bomb willy-nilly.

I also can’t tell what this book is. It is a romance novel in that there is a lot of nookie. And feelings. Good gravy! Lots and lots of inner-dialogue about healing old wounds and “is my love enough?” blah blah blech. But, any and all non-sex action is about war. So it’s got war and strategy, and, as this is a romance novel, the strategy revolves around feelings. Is this a war book? And what romance novel reader likes war books? As a side note, I dig a good action book, but these war parts are pretty draggy (says the girl who enjoyed Tom Clancy’s earlier works). I think they stink because of the aforementioned feelings bits. They are going to defeat Greaves with because Leto and Grace’s love unleashes an unstoppable power. Okay.

This is also mainly a fantasy book. And not fantasy as in hunky-men-feeding-me-chocolate, but fantasy as in trolls and elves and epic poetry. Except replace all that with vampires and cussing. There is a “glossary” at the end to explain all the words being used. And, multiple Earth dimensions. String Theory, I think, has less dimensions and is more understandable than this book’s universe.

Due to the fantasy vibe of the book, I just can’t figure out why the characters had to be vampires. These vampires obey absolutely none of my rules. Okay, they do drink blood and mainly from each other, and only really as a sex thing (which is common). But otherwise, they traipse around in the sunlight, they get pregnant. And, these vamps have wings, that appear from “wing locks” which are vagina-like openings on their backs (yes, the wing locks get used lot in many, many randy ways). But it seems these characters could have just have been people-like beings with wings. Why vampires at all? It made zero sense here.

What is good about this book? Leto sounds a lot like “Ledo” which is the name of a pizza place I used to enjoy as a child. So Leto reminded me of delicious pizza. Absolutely nothing to do with the book – but excuse me as I go and make myself a frozen pizza.

Oh, and before my pizza is ready: do not read this. Seriously. The sad part is that the author obviously put a lot of thought into this book. It is part of a series. There is actual character development and plot lines and twists. And aside from the cussing, the writing isn’t bad. But, I just feel dumber having read this.

So here it is: 1) Do not waste your Amazon gift card money on this one. 2) Despite the obvious effort put into making this book something other than sex-scenes, it is nothing more than draggy bits connecting a whole bunch of them. 3) Randy and willing participants. No condoms, but apparently Grace is barren? 4 & 5) No creative anatomy names or plot twists.

– Amy Sharma 

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