Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chasing Paradise....all the way to Humpday!

Due to a glitch in the old brain computer (and a simple misunderstanding with google calendar) this blog is posting a wee bit late. But, as I always say and firmly believe....better late than never. I'd like to regale you with tales of Thanksgiving revelry and such, but honestly, it was the humpday from hell, sandwiched between a day off (yes yay but after working the entire weekend, no, not really....14 loads of laundry can NOT be tackled in one day) and Thanksgiving....blessedly cooking AND leftover free thanks to out of towners who chose buffet over me cleaning/cooking for the masses (no not reflection on my cooking, just large group with added guests who were kindly not imposing - I got goooooood friends!) Anyhoodle - needless to say, I am extremely thankful about that! Now, to share, a little Thanksgiving side dish....or just dishiness in general! Mmmmmm. (Will save room for pie, right?)

Our spotlight author, Sondrae Bennett, was a new one to me this week and, while a bit delayed in the reading, was by no means unenjoyed. I am not normally a warm and fuzzy with the first book in any series and I am tenative about my shifter series - they either have to be seriously funny or seriously steamy....most things in between leave me a bit flat. Not so with this series - and once I started, it was like a bag of halloween candy - couldn't stop til all available enstallments were devoured. So, having read Artic Winds, which was a really captivating kickoff to this new shifter series, I loved Jason and Samantha and was totally ready to see what was in store for middle brother Ethan....

Chasing Paradise, Sondrae Bennett, Lyrical Press, July 2011

He'll do whatever it takes to earn back her trust.

A vacation is exactly what Ethan needs to escape the mate hungry females in his pack. Determined to have fun, he can't think of a better way to start than sampling all the different flavors the shifter only resort has to offer, and not the food variety. But after he meets Gwen, no one else holds any interest for him. Ethan came on vacation to avoid mating. There's no way he's going to give up his freedom without a fight.

Gwen is devastated when she hears her mate denying everything they are to each other. She can't sit by, watching him fool around with other girls at the resort. Or worse, crawl back, unable to resist the mating pull but not really wanting her. She needs to get away and her own vacation sounds like the perfect plan. But she should have remembered what her mother always taught her, never run from a predator unless you want them to chase you. The hunt is on...

Chasing Paradise, the second in the Alpine Woods Shifters series, delivers more alpha males, more delightful heroines and the complete debacles that precede a happily ever after. Some things that Ms. Bennett does well: I loved just the right bit of dangling intro left to readers at the end of book one - made the anticipating of book 2 so much sweeter. I loved that the heroine of this story, Gwen, was an otter and that though she was small of stature and gawky on land, she was smart and business savvy and sleekly confident in her animal form. I loved the imperfection of the alpha male, fleeing from potential mate-dom, finding his dream mate on vacation and then putting his foot so firmly in his mouth that he nearly blows his own HEA. And I really loved that he figured out begging is wasted air and that actions speak louder than words.

This second installment was very well done and I felt it actually delved deeper into the psychological motivations of male/female relationship dynamics. Women place signficant value on sex - especially great sex. And men say really stupid crap when they get scared. It was interesting to see the relationship unfold from multiple perspectives and the secondary characters remained quite secondary - they were strong but not overpowering, their interference appropriate and the outcome was splendid. Watching the family give advice to the most skittish of the three alpha males was hilarious. The female bonding, a carry over from book 1, also caused a few snorts of laughter. There was a good amount of sexual tension, some tears over the pain caused by a misunderstanding and the fears of taking that leap of faith when you fall in love, and when they do come together, the chemistry sizzles on the page!

Some may feel things move quickly in these stories, keep in mind they are novellas and under 100 pages (or 200 for some reason on my Nook Color - maybe cause I blow the font up to stave off getting bifocals?) so how slow can they afford to go??? All in all, I felt like this series is worth a read - I really enjoyed the third story, The Wolf Within, which relates the love story of the brother's fully human sister, Julie, upon her graduation from college and return to their Colorado shifter town.

I give Chasing Paradise a tasty four chocolate dipped strawberries, a silky otter pelt and a happy Thanksgiving to all!
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