Return of the Mac: A Review of Burned


There have only been a few authors in my life that have left me almost not able to function until their next book comes out. That I read it as soon as I get my hands on it. In high school and part of college, that author was J.K. Rowling. Now, in my adult life, I have Karen Marie Moning.

It was actually my mom who discovered the Fever series seven or so years ago. I think back then there were already three or four books out, so I didn’t have long to wait until the next installment. (Now, the wait is longer, harder, but still totally worth it.) I was immediately sucked in to the seedy underbelly of Ms. Moning’s Dublin, where the Unseelie lurk and dark forces are at work to bring the walls between our world and the Fae’s down. I crushed on Jericho Barrons, a sexy, enigmatic antihero equal parts elegant and wild. And I loved the fever world’s kick ass heroine, MacKayla (Mac) Lane, who, over the series, transforms from a blonde, pink Southern girl without a care in the world to a fierce Unseelie fighter and a protector of Dublin, the city she’s grown to love even though it took her twin sister, Alina.

The first five Fever books are primarily from Mac’s point-of-view. Fans of the series know that the last book, Iced, was Dani “Mega” O’Malley’s time to shine, with some insight into Christian MacKeltar’s life as he made the agonizing transformation from sexy, Highlander druid to insatiable Unseelie Prince, as well as Kat’s POV and life with the sidhe-seers at the abbey. I feel like not too many people were thrilled with a book that was told mostly from Dani’s POV, and, although perhaps not my favorite in the series–I think that honor still goes to Shadowfever–I enjoyed Iced, and Dani’s story was definitely one that needed to be told.

In Burned, “Mac is back,” as it quotes on the front cover–and I think Ms. Moning’s got her groove back. The book was fun, sexy, packed with action and suspense, and I couldn’t put it down. Well, somehow I managed to for a few hours to get some shut-eye, but this morning I was right back reading, and I finished it within the day. Like I said, not many books have sucked me in quite like the Fever and Highlander series have. I devoured it, and when it was over I was in some sort of book haze/coma, wanting more but knowing that more probably won’t come for another year, maybe longer.

Ugh.

I’m not sure what to even say about this book–like Shadowfever, there are so many twists in it–and so many inklings of things to come–I’m not sure I can talk about it without accidentally giving something away. I can say, though, that it centers mostly around Mac and Dani’s relationship, which–if you’ve read the series–you know was tried when Mac found out Dani, of all people, was the one who killed her dear twin sister, Alina. (You find out even more about the circumstances surrounding this in Burned.) Mac and Jericho’s relationship, which was sort of wrapped up nicely enough at the end of Shadowfever (I will always remember the quote, “I will always be priya for this man.”), is also tested in this latest installment.

Although most of the story is told from Mac’s POV, we get glimpses of Barrons at the very beginning, the Unseelie king, Christian as he’s being tortured by the Crimson Hag, Kat as she struggles to maintain leadership of the sidhe-seers at the abbey, and even Lor. (I have to admit, out of all the POVs, I think I enjoyed Lor’s the least, although I guess he was kind of amusing. I just didn’t find it very convincing–it was a  little too much for me, although he and his budding love interest were sort of cute towards the end.) We also get glimpses of a new, ultra kick ass assassin, Jada–who, even though her dialogue is reminiscent of Seven of Nine’s in Star Trek: Voyager (everything is inefficient), she turns out to be oh so important. The transitions between the first (and third) person POVs works well for the book and, even though Ms. Moning conveniently labels each chapter with the character’s name, the styles are different enough that I think you’d be able to tell them apart, anyway–something I hope I can master.

There are also some very old friends in this book–namely, twins Drustan and Dageus MacKeltar from the Highlander series. They’re pivotal to the mission to save Christian from the clutches of the Crimson Hag. New troubles are also brewing in post-apocalyptic Dublin–problems even the Unseelie king may not be able to fix (and it’s questionable whether he even wants to). Although some issues leftover from Iced are resolved, and Mac comes to term with some demons from her past, there are still lots of loose ends at the end of Burned and a slight cliffhanger, which will leave you yearning for the next book.

This book got me right in the feels, and I know I won’t be able to shake it all week. I even called my mom to fangirl about it…which, in retrospect, was kind of mean because she won’t read it until I bring my copy home with me, lol. If you’re a fellow Moning Maniac, I know you will love Burned. If you haven’t read the Fever series–do it. Immediately. And the Highlander series, too–or at least the Immortal Highlander.

Book of the Week: The Immortal Highlander


I actually read The Immortal Highlander (Book 6 of Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series) a few months ago, but I never got around to reviewing it (a.k.a. going on an obsessed, fangirl rant), so it is this week’s book. You may remember that Adam Black and Darroc made my list of the Top 10 Bromances awhile back. But this post is dedicated to the entire book -every delicious page.

Summary: “BEWARE: lethally seductive alpha male of immense strength and dark eroticism, do not look at him. Do not touch him. Do not be tempted. Do not be seduced.

“With his long, black hair and dark, mesmerizing eyes, Adam Black is Trouble with a capital T. Immortal, arrogant, and intensely sensual, he is the consummate seducer, free to roam across time and continents in pursuit of his insatiable desires. That is, until a curse strips him of his immortality and makes him invisible, a cruel fate for so irresistible a man. With his very life at stake, Adam’s only hope for survival is in the hands of the one woman who can actually see him.

“Enter law student Gabrielle O’Callaghan, who is cursed with the ability to see both worlds: Mortal and Faery. From the moment she lays eyes on this stunning male, Gabby is certain of one thing: He could be her undoing. Thus begins a long, dangerous seduction. Because despite his powerful strength and unquenchable hungers, Adam refuses to take a woman by force. Instead, he will tease his way into Gabby’s bed and make her want him just as he wants her.

“Now, no matter how hard Gabby tries to avoid him, Adam is everywhere, invisible to all but her—perched atop her office cubicle in too-tight jeans, whispering softly from behind the stacks of the law library, stealing her breath away with his knowing smile…all the while tempting her with the promise of unimaginable pleasure in his arms. But soon danger will intrude on this sensual dance. For as Adam’s quest to regain his immortality plunges them into a world of timeless magic and the deadly politics of the Faery queen’s court, the price of surrender could be their very lives. Unless they can thwart the conspiracy that threatens both mortal and Faery realms…and give them a shot at a destiny few mortals ever know: glorious, wondrous, endless love.”

***

Before reading Immortal, I did read The Spell of the Highlander. (Yes, it’s Book 7. Yes, I’m reading them in reverse order. More about that later.) But I didn’t post anything about Spell because, although I enjoyed it and it still showcased Moning’s talent for expertly combining elements of romance, fantasy and mythology, it wasn’t my favorite of her books.

Immortal is a different story. (Pun intended?) It has the traditional formula of a romance novel, of course, but it lays the framework for her Fever series, which means it’s a little bit dark and full of meddling Fae. I was really disappointed when I read Spell and the Fae only cropped up a few times. Immortal was exactly what I was craving. In this case, our Highlander is actually a Fae trapped in his Highlander glamour when Queen Aoibheal punishes him by taking away his immortality. Gabby is a sidhe-seer and is the only one who can see Adam. She tries to resist him, but Adam Black is persistent in getting Gabby to help him so that he can return to his immortal form -and in getting Gabby for himself. Their dynamic is so entertaining, full of that typical love-hate tension, but the way Moning develops it, it feels fresh and exciting.

And in the background, we have Darroc trying to get Adam Black and his little sidhe-seer out of the way so that he can blinde-side Aoibheal and free the Unseelie from their prison. It was so much fun reading about Darroc as a Fae and the threads of what later transformed into Moning’s much beloved Fever series. I guess one could call it a prequel. I just love how Moning’s Fae are these majestic, epic characters operating in the background, tinkering (and sometimes more than tinkering) with the order of things on Earth, unbeknownst to humans. I don’t know why, I’m just obsessed with the idea, and I love how Moning incorporates it.

There’s an unexpected twist towards the end of Immortal, and also a few pages that made me really scared and nervous for the ending, even though it’s formula fiction and we know how it has to end. But still, it scared me. Not only does Moning nicely wrap things up, at the end there’s a scene that will just make you “awwwww.” Ugh, again, so perfect. I want to be able to write like her…

 Beyond the fantasy and sexual tension, there’s a nice touch of “reality” in it, so to speak, because Gabby’s dealings with and feelings for Adam go against what she was taught as a young girl -go against everything she’s read about Adam in her family’s books. Namely, that her fantasies about a sexy Fae prince are wrong -that the Fae are to be avoided, and Adam Black is especially to be avoided. This element actually makes what is definitely a fantastical book feel a little more down-to-Earth. We have a young woman who is learning firsthand the truth about a person she was taught to fear. Sure, some of what her family said about the Fae is true, but there’s much more too it than that, and some of it stemmed from their own prejudice.

So, what did I not enjoy about this book? That would be nothing. Seriously, nothing. It was epic, and it made me want to read the Fever series again. Which needs to happen this summer. After I get done reading all of the other books on my summer reading list…

As a last note, although the Highlander books aren’t as connected as the Fever series -each book is distinct and focuses on a different couple -characters from past books do show up in the later books, mostly brothers Drustan and Dageus. I read Spell and Immortal first because they were available at the library, and she gives you enough background information that you don’t get confused when she brings in these old characters. So I personally don’t think it’s super necessary to read them in order; however, this would probably bother many of you, so of course go ahead and read them as they were meant to be read. 😉 My OCD did kick in and I realized I should read them in some order, so it looks like that will be reverse order. No, really, I have The Dark Highlander (Book 5) sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read…

Upcoming Books of the Week (in no particular order): The Dark Highlander, The Gathering (Kelley Armstrong), City of Bones (Cassandra Clare)

 Related Reads:

The Urge to Write: Isn’t it Bromantic?

The Urge to Write: Sunday Showdown: Fever versus Iced

The Readist: On Saying Goodbye to Your Favorite Characters

LittleDallilasBookshelf: Darkfever

Pure Textuality: Burned release date

Dirty Words


Soil? Soot? Mud?

No, not those dirt-y words.

I can’t even believe I’m writing this as I’m doing it. This post is rated M for Mature and N for Naughty.

I started to ponder this because I’m currently (finally) reading one of Karen Moning’s Highlander books. (I don’t know which number it is…but I know it’s not the first one. So it looks like I’m going to end up reading them out-of-order.) As much as I love Ms. Moning’s work, she uses the word “impaled” (for, you know) a lot in this book. And for me it’s just not a sexy word.

I’m not being prudish…there are other great words and phrases out there to describe sex, whether it your characters are making love or just plain ol’ fucking. Depending on what atmosphere you’re creating, a man can enter a woman, ease/slip/slide/slam into her, pump in and out of her, grind against her. (I’m sure you can think of other/better ones?) But impale just sounds painful.

And what should we call the tool with which he pleasures/takes/fills her/brings her to the brink? (She could also shatter/dissolve/unravel/come undone.) Although there are many rather obvious choices, sometimes the possibilities sound silly as you’re reading. On the other hand, for a smutty book penis sounds a bit medical. How about his cock/manhood/hardness/shaft? (I can’t believe I’m coming up with these without using the thesaurus on Microsoft Word. The smut is just pouring out of me tonight.)

Wet is of course often used to describe when the woman is ready for her man to impale her. But use its synonyms with caution because they can end up sounding icky rather than sexy: moist/damp/clammy (wait, no, don’t ever tell your man that you’re clammy for him.)

Romance writers: What do you think? What are the best words/phrases to use when writing about s-e-x?