Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Hump Day - Let's Hear It For Authors We Love!

Deep breath let it out. You did it! Pat yourself on the back - you're halfway there! These boys are so proud of you....Mmmmm. High praise from the eye candy...the true blue calorie-free treat!

So my guilty indulgence this week has been to catch up on that rapidly expanding T.B.R. (to be read) pile. Laid up with a broken ankle is a fabulous excuse to skimp on housework and indulge in gratuitous many books, so little time.

So, in honor of some of our favorite authors (and yes, I do also LOVE Lora Leigh), and in light of the fact that I like my sexy paranormal men with a side of laughter, I am serving up a dish of Kerrelyn Sparks' latest release: Eat, Prey, Love. (Avon books, October 2010)

Having discovered Sparks several years ago when at the height of my vampire romance obsession, her Love At Stake series remains on my current favs shelf for a few simple reasons. First, it has great Alpha Males and strong spirited heroines - spare me from the self loathing that seems to be prevalent in vamp and shifter series heroes. Second, it has quick, zippy plot lines that grab you and secondary characters that lend themselves well to their own HEA stories. And last, but not least, they make me laugh! I can't help myself, I am a fool for fools - I love stories that make me giggle and snort one minute, fan myself the next.

WANTED: Bride. Must love children. Mortals need not apply.
When the last Love At Stake story left off, Carlos Panterra, hottie Brazilian were-panther was juggling his security work at MacKay S&I and acting as guardian for the orphaned shifter children he rescued from his home village. Caitlin Whelan, recently fired State Department liaison and long lost sister to Shanna Draganesti (from the 1st L.A.S. novel, How to Marry A Millionaire Vampire) accepts an invitation to her nephew's birthday party hoping to reconnect. When Carlos and Caitlin make eye contact - oh my, sparks fly, blood sizzles and a basketball smacks Carlos upside the head! Realizing the damage this woman has the potential to wreak on his life, Carlos endeavors to leave for his "mate finding" expedition. However, before he goes, he must teach the brilliant but physically inept Caitlin some self protection as she agrees to become MacKay S&I's newest employee. Whether it's gun, knife or hand-to-hand, Caitlin consistently nails the target's groin, all the while proclaiming "I was aiming for his chest!"

Caitlin's attraction to Carlos, her desire to help his orphans and her unique ability to learn any language in a few hours makes her a valuable ally. Carlos constantly fights his attraction in return, telling her he must mate with a were-panther for the preservation of his species. They travel to Bangkok to seek out leads on shifter myths in the area. The pair are caught in the lies they tell to preserve their cover story by the village chief who tricks them into marriage. Their later explorations land them in a scary, booby-trapped cave that proves deadly for their guide and points them toward a vampire gang that has been serial killing locally for a very long time. Through all this Caitlin and Carlos toe dance around their attraction and the incredible chemistry between them. Carlos admits Caitlin is perfect in every way for him, aside from the pesky mortality thing. Caitlin willingly aides Carlos in searching for a shifter mate, even though she's in love with him. It is, however, watching him die several times and resurrect (Cats have nine lives silly!) and learning that he could just bite her and change her into a were-panther that just about sends her over the edge. The very real possibility of dying in transition isn't enough to dissuade her, but it doesn't happen until they reach a passionate crisis while being held captive.

This series has it's own unique mythos on vampires and shifters, as most original series do. Similar to the Lynsay Sands Arganeau series and Mary Janice Davidson's Queen Betsy books, Sparks' Love At Stake series takes the paranormal, adds a dash of camp, a handful of kook and a whole lotta love. Her secondary characters steal scenes, her one liners are total party repeaters and her heroes and heroines are real enough to feel like old friends - I love to see them over and over growing through the story lines. Long story short - this is one author I will always buy because I am guaranteed a chuckle and a good HEA sigh! This Happy Hump Day girl gives Eat, Prey, Love - 4 Chocolate Covered Strawberries....Yummmmm!
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