Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thrill Ride

The HaulDesire Unchained is the second installment in author Larissa Ione's Demonica series, and although it's been six months since I read the first novel, Pleasure Unbound, I had no trouble remembering the characters, the series premise, or picking up the storyline.

Desire Unchained offers two strong protagonists, a large and interesting cast of characters, and an earthy, dark fantasy adventure that pulls a double shift as both a paranormal romance and urban fantasy. The cover art is gorgeous and appropriate to the story, something I'm allowed to sigh in envy over.

If plots were thrill rides, this book would be a hybrid combo of Shriekra and Space Mountain. The writing is pure adrenalin rush -- you're sucked in on page one and she never lets you go after that. It's difficult to write a story that moves as quickly as this one does and still retain the chilling elements as well as the ongoing moments of dark humor. Larissa manages all three with the skill of a seasoned novelist (pretty cool when you recall that this is her second solo novel.)

Desire Unchained is a full immersion experience -- it can't be skimmed; the story is infused with the kind of world-building that creates a new alternative reality. Everything in this book is layered beautifully, especially the characters -- just when you think you've got them pegged, they reveal something about themselves that makes you wonder what the heck you were thinking. If you're a reader who prefers the black and white type story, with the obligatory Shining Knight, Mary Sue and Evil Overlord triumvirate, then you should probably give this one a pass. Also, vanilla, non-explicit sex scene lovers? No. Not for you.

I really enjoyed the energy coming off the page; you can tell the author had a blast writing it. I also liked the strong subplot that carries over from the first novel with Kynan (but you don't need to read the first book to pick up this thread; Larissa does an admirable job with weaving in the backstory.) The excerpt in the back from the third book, Passion Unleashed should have everyone who enjoys Desire Unchained preordering as soon as they finish the book.

If I can offer any advice to the author, it's for a problem that I wrestle with, too: adding more descriptive and sensory elements. The story in Desire Unchained moves so strongly that at times the action and the dialogue overwhelmed the setting and the colors of this world. I'd like to say I have a quick-fix suggestion for that, but I'm also a dialogue-and-action girl, so it's an ongoing combat situation. What I've been doing is trying to look for more opportunities for fleshing out a scene with color and sensory elements when I edit; at times doing a pass just for those aspects because I know they're an area I need to improve on.

As always, you don't have to take my word for it. In comments to this post, name a book you've read recently that you thought was a real thrill ride (or if you've been thrill-deprived, just toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Thursday, February 26, 2009. I'll draw five names at random and send the winners an unsigned copy of Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

56 comments:

  1. Surprisingly I thought that CL Wilson's Series has been thrilling to me in a non-smack in your face way. I find my self drawn in to the story which was a very pleasant surprise.

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  2. I just read Emily Bryan's Vexing the Viscount. It was so good that I could not put it down.
    It's a historical.
    It's about a young English Miss(Daisy who was raised by Pirates!)and throw in the hunt for a an ancient Roman treasure and a masquerade as a famous French Courtesan, and a darkly handsome Viscount.

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  3. I have not read Larissa Ione yet, but she just moved up several spots on my TB list :)

    Thanks for posting the reviews, Lynn :D

    theo

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  4. I love books that provide a great thrill ride. The last book I read that came close was You've Been Warned by James Patterson.

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  5. Oh I LOVED the first one of the demonica series...

    Hmm, let's see...recent thrill rides. Christina Dodd's Scent of Darkness, which was sufficiently thrilling to distract me from about 7 hours of a car trip, which is saying something.

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  6. Larissa's books are now on my TBR list. The past ones you've listed I already enjoy, especially Patricia Briggs. Which brings me to my thrill book of "Bone Crossed," with twists I was not expecting.

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  7. Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole - good thrills.

    I want to read the Demonica series so bad!

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  8. karmelrio1:07 PM

    Just finished Cindy Gerard's "Whisper No Lies" which is the third book in her Black Ops. Inc. series. Non-stop action married with great character development.

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  9. Haven't read a thrill ride book in awhile the last was Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon.

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  10. I've been looking forward to this book ever since I read the first one. I'm super excited that the next one will be out next month.

    As for a book that was a thrill ride, there have been quite a few of them. The one that I most heartily recommend (in choosing just one) is James Rollins's The Last Oracle that was released last July. I love his writing and he keeps you interested from the very beginning, especially for people who love bits of history woven into stories taking place in the current time.

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  11. PBW, don't enter me in the contest -- I've already got my copy on its way! (The UPS man better bring it today or else!) I loved Pleasure Unbound. I started it one night while cooking dinner and didn't go to bed until I finished it. Only a handful of authors have managed to do that. *cough* Lynn Viehl *cough *

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  12. Throwing my name in the hat --

    I've got Larissa on my watch for book list...so far I haven't seen her locally. Guess it's time for an online order LOL still trying to find a couple of your books.

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  13. The last I read was Fire & Ice by Anne Stuart. Wow!

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  14. Well, not quite recently, but I've been reading a lot of Suzanne Brockmann, and she's good for the thrill ride every time on her military romance. Oddly, the one I'm reading now is a contemporary romance and has a different feel but still a fun read.

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  15. (((Lynn))) You just made me all melty... :)

    And I completely agree with you on the descriptive and sensory elements! I have a tendency to do all dialogue and action in a rough draft, and then I have to go back and layer in emotion and description, but I've noticed that it's a lot easier to add the description/sensory elements in the first book, when the world is new.

    I think I worry about over-doing it and boring people who are already familiar with the world.

    This writing thing can be hard! LOL!

    Thank you so much for your generosity and advice! You know I treasure it!

    (((hugs!)))

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  16. Please throw my name into the hat.

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  17. While I've read a lot of good stuff lately (and, sadly, some not so great stuff) none of it has been in the "thrill-ride" category.

    The last unputdownable book I read was just the other day though, Looking For Alaska by John Greene.

    In terms of world-building, I was impressed by how easily he slipped in elements of scent, temperature, quality of light, even the arrangement of buildings. Usually long descriptive paragraphs get skipped in my reading (as in my writing), but he gave just enough info without slowing down the book.

    I just had to mention that since it was something I noticed while I was reading and something you mentioned here.

    ~Venus

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  18. I just finished Carrie Bebris's "Pride and Prescience" and I couldn't put it down! It grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let go until the last page. And I was sad to see it end.

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  19. Anonymous3:48 PM

    Hmm, latest thrill ride would have to be the Larissa Ione book (Pleasure Unbound) I received in the mail yesterday! Yep, I've already started it and if it wasn't for my stupid work interfering with my life (stupid, stupid job), I would still be at home reading it and probably almost done by now. Instead I am waiting for 5 p.m. so I can go home and read some more!
    Tami
    Jacksonville

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  20. Sounds good. I enjoyed Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready this weekend. Read it in a day. My review of it is on my blog if you're interested.

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  21. They're not exactly "thrill rides" but lately all the Sarah Mayberry contemp categories I've been picking up have really been page turners. Not because the plot's so intense or anything, just because they are so veyr enjoyable.

    Throw my name in the hat for this, though. I love books. I love free stuff. So what could be better than a free book? :P

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  22. Pleasure Unbound was fantastic! I'm looking forward to Desire Unchained.

    Cynthia Eden's Hotter After Midnight was a thrill ride for me.

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  23. Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy was great!

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  24. I just finished Underground by Kat Richardson. It started a little slow, but the buildup was nice and by the last third of the book, the pace was really moving. I recommend it to anyone.

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  25. I recently read Suzanne Brockmann's new book Dark of Night which has gotten a lot of buzz in the blogsphere but I really liked it. Also just read Elizabeth Lowell's Blue Smoke and Murder. If you haven't read Linda Howard's Dark Angel - amazing book where the heroine is the mistress of a drug lord and the hero is an hired killer.

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  26. My latest thrill ride was Samantha Gails' "Guarding the Coast."

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  27. I thought that Larissa Ione's first Demonica book "Pleasure Unbound" was thrilling. I sat up until 4:00 AM on a weekday to finish reading it. I just could not put it down. I am dying to read her next installment. I also love anything written by Lora Leigh. She brings "thrilling" to a whole new level;)

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  28. Karen W.7:33 PM

    I'd say the last two by Suzanne Brockmann: INTO THE FIRE and DARK OF NIGHT.

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  29. Anonymous7:57 PM

    Not so many thrill rides lately, more on the romance, so I´m just throwing my name in the hat.
    Lia

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  30. Unless you count my intro to astronomy book, I am currently thrill free. So, I am just throwing my name in the hat.

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  31. I just finished reading Lisa Gardner's PERFECT HUSBAND. Very very nice. :)

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  32. The last book I read was Kresley Cole's Kiss of the Demon King. Not sure if that is exactly a thrill ride, but I certainly enjoyed it.

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  33. Anonymous10:32 PM

    I'm currently reading "Kill for Me" by Karen Rose and I'm really enjoying it.

    Terri W.

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  34. I've been reading more historicals recently, guess it would have to be Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs,

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  35. Lee Child writing about Jack Racher is always a good read - I have recently read The Hard Way and have the next two books in the pile.

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  36. I have been thrill deprived lately. I have no time to read fiction while I'm in school, and Physics text books aren't exactly thrilling! Tossing my name in!

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  37. I have read a couple of really good books lately but not sure if they qualify as thrill rides. They were all very good, hard to put down titles.
    Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn!!!!!!!!!! Oh my gosh, this is the third in the Lady Julia Grey series. Historical with a great mystery and the yummiest man since J.D. Robb's Roarke! Almost read it in a day but had to get sleep.
    Second Skin by Caitlin Kittredge!!!Also third in the series (I am noticing a trend here). Very solid, had a hard time putting it down.
    Ravenous by Sharon Ashwood!!!!
    First in a series, very unique worldbuilding. Awesome stuff!
    Scattered Graves by Beverly Connor!
    This woman is so awesome. I have been following her for years. This is fifth or sixth in her series about a forensic anthropologist Diane Fallon.
    Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh
    This is the start of a new series for her. This woman couldn't write a bad book if she tried! This series is a little more gritty/graphic than the Psy/Changeling but great stuff!
    Wow, I had read more lately than I thought.

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  38. I thought Robin's pink book was fabulous (I'm another person who spotted it by the cover - when my eyes started tearing, I knew I had the right book). I loved Bone Crossed by Briggs of course. Before that it was the latest Jeannine Frost book, At Grave's End. And prior to that, my best thrill-ride book was Princeps' Fury by Jim Butcher. So many great authors out there today!

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  39. Keita Haruka9:48 AM

    Mmm. I wish I could say that any of the commercially pubished works I read lately thrilled me. Either I forgot how to have a book thrill me, or the books I read simply were not that great.

    More amd more these days I find myself browsing sites where unpublished writers offer their work...especially those works that I know a publisher won't touch with a ten foot pole. :P It's there where I found the real gems...stories by really excellent writers that simply cannot get their works published because it either caters to a small audience or, deals with unusual subjects or because...well, I really don't know why some of these stories are not published. It's a crying shame, really.

    So yeah. I guess just toss my name into the hat since i'm not going to say which books didn't thrill me (no PBW, it wasn't yours :P).

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  40. Haven't read any thrill rides lately :( BUT Graceling (Kristin Cashore) and Queen of Dragons (Shana Abe), both from a while back, are probably in my top two that can be placed in that category ;)

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  41. I'm reading Millenium Falcon.... it's a roller coaster ride of a book. otherwise, i'm pretty deprived.

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  42. Millenium Falcon (sorry if this is a double post)

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  43. Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series fits the bill. Just finished the second one Wanderlust and couldn't put it down until the last page.

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  44. I'm with you on this one. Just finished Desire Unchained and loved it! Thrill ride is such an apt description.
    *Please don't toss my name in the hat-I've got my copy*

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  45. Please toss my name in the hat! You made the books sound awesome.

    Books I enjoyed:

    Nalini Singh's Angel's Blood
    Alexandra Sokoloff's The Price

    I've been in hospitals and The Price really makes you wonder about evil walking the halls. Creepy.

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  46. Grimspace and Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre

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  47. Thrill ride, hmmm. I think Lora Leigh and Nalini Singh are two authors whose books are thrill rides, so I'll say the last Nalini Singh book I read, Hostage to Pleasure.

    Just thought of a historical I read that fits the bill--The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran. The beginning was especially thrilling, when they are in the midst of a mutiny and trying to get to safety.

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  48. I'm not generally much of a thrill-ride reader. I enjoy them, but I don't seek them out. That said, Patricia Brigg's Cry Wolf has been getting worn out, as I've read it about six times in the last three months.

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  49. That sounds interesting. I can’t decide whether I like historical and paranormal romances better – I don’t see why I’d have to anyway. The last books I read were: Lara Adrian’s Veil of Midnight, which was a very nice read. Caroline Linden, A Rake’s Guide to Seduction. Then I read Twilight Fall by... uh... forgot the name ^^ Then last week I read Passion by Lisa Valdez. Now that was a wonderful thrill ride! Romantic, passionate... I couldn't put it down! According to this pattern a PR should be next. I’m thankful for any suggestions, so I guess I’ll give Larissa Ione a chance even if in the end my name is not on the winner's list for a free copy!

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  50. I love how my TBR list expands so much every time these readers start throwing out authors and titles. I would like to say a great big THANK YOU to all of the folks making comments and suggestions. This blog so rocks!

    For my part, I just finished JD Robb's Salvation in Death. Not as much thrill as some of the others in the series, but I love how each book gives a lot of something. Sometimes the focus is on the thrill of the chase, sometimes it's character and relationship development. And always, these books make me want to go back to the beginning and read the series over.

    Thanks, PBW, for having a great blog and terrific readers :)

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  51. Name in hat! Name in hat!

    I just realized that I haven't been reading fiction lately. No wonder I've been so bloody off kilter. An anthropological text on strip club patrons is entertaining (G-Strings and Sympathy by Dr. Katherine Frank) but it's not the same. I must remedy this at once. Thank you!

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  52. I've been incredibly thrill-less of late. Unfortunate? yes. Fixable? Apparently!

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  53. No thrills of late, so just throwing my name into the hat.

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  54. Husband tooks kids away for four days and I sat on the sofa with Nora Roberts, Circle Tirlogy. Could not put them down. Was the start of reading Vampire stories and an obsession really. Should have been working and writing but could not stop reading.
    Since then Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark and Jacqueline Frank's Jacob kept me bound to the sofa, even after the family returned.

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  55. Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole was a thrill ride for me. Couldn't put it down.

    Cheers,
    Erin K.

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