Posts tagged “Raphael

Cover Reveal: ARCHANGEL’S HEART by Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh shared the very stunning cover for Archangel’s Heart earlier today – and while I was lucky enough to have a sneak peek a few days before – I am still stunned by how amazing Elena looks. (Yes, I am still lusting over her dress.) Fair warning, Elena, I will be spending more time in your closet. 🙂


However, we still have a while to wait before we can read about the occasion when Elena gets to wear this blue maxi as the novel does not release until November 2016 (which is really just in time for my birthday – just thought I should put that out there in case there are any ARCs lying around).

But till then, we will have to satisfy our readerly hearts with this tease of a blurb:

One of the most vicious archangels in the world has disappeared. No one knows if Lijuan is dead or has chosen to Sleep the long sleep of an immortal. But with her lands falling into chaos under a rising tide of vampiric bloodlust, a mysterious and ancient order of angels known as the Luminata calls the entire Cadre together to discuss the fate of her territory.

Accompanying her archangelic lover Raphael to the Luminata compound, guild hunter-turned-angel Elena senses that all is not as it seems. Secrets echo from within the stone walls of the compound, and the deeper Elena goes, the uglier the darkness. But neither Raphael nor Elena is ready for the brutal truths hidden within—truths that will change everything Elena thinks she knows about who she is…

Nothing will ever be the same again.

I feel like I have been waiting for another Elena and Raphael novel since the last one ended. If you haven’t had a chance to read about this angelic (kickass but not so innocent) power couple then you are very lucky – not only do you not have to suffer book withdrawal but you get to catch up with their story before the next one releases.

Happy reading,

Rika Ashton (aka Book Addict)

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Cover and Blurb Reveal: Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh

Wow, just wow! I had a mini attack of fangirl hysteria – and by mini, I mean HUGE – when I saw the cover for Nalini Singh’s upcoming Archangel’s Shadows, starring Ashwini and Janvier:

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s sensual and painfully beautiful Guild Hunter world in her new novel of sacrifice, loyalty, and the choices of love that can shatter the heart.

In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot—should not—be walking the streets.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

I love, love, love the cover! Yeah, it’s not exactly how I imagined Ashwini and Janvier (from what little we can see of him), but the models are decent and and I adore Ashwini’s outfit. 😀

I remember reading Ash and Janvier’s short story in Angel’s Pawn and thinking that the characters were too fun not to get their own novel, so I’m glad it’s finally happened. Of course, it’s going to be hard to beat Elena and Raphael for top spot on my favourites list, but Ash and Janvier have potential – especially if he’s as funny as I remember. 🙂

So, who else is excited for Archangel’s Shadows?

Rika Ashton

(aka “Hold on, I’m hyperventilating.”)


Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh – Sneak Peek!

So the excerpt for the upcoming novel, Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh, was released today!

Nalini Singh, the New York Times bestselling “alpha author of  paranormal romance” (Booklist) returns to an immortal world of violent  passion and lethal power…on the brink of a deadly archangelic war. 

Angels are falling from the sky in New York, struck down by a vicious, unknown force.

Vampires are dying impossibly of disease.

Guild hunter Elena Deveraux and the Archangel Raphael must discover  the source of the wave of death before it engulfs their city and their  people, leaving New York a ruin and Raphael’s Tower under siege by enemy  archangels.

Yet even as they fight desperately to save the  city, an even darker force is stirring, its chill eyes trained on New  York…and on Raphael. Rivers of crimson and nightmares given flesh, the  world will never again be the same…

If you haven’t had a chance to read it, click here.

Elena blinked as she always did when she remembered she was rolling in it. Not in comparison to older immortals, of course, and way below Raphael’s league, but her personal fortune was more than respectable when it came to a fledgling immortal. Earned in the hunt that had broken her back, made her bleed until her throat filled with the iron dark fluid, and brought Raphael into her life, the money was currently amassing ridiculous amounts of interest in her Guild account.

“Damn”—she whistled—“I need to start thinking like a rich chick.”

“I will be most amused to watch this transformation.”

Narrowing her eyes, she said, “Just you wait. Before you know it, I’ll be one of the angels who lunch.”

I’m hoping I’m one of the people that Elena invites to lunch! (How cool would it be to interview her?)

And I know, the question on everyone’s mind is – did I squeal?

Yeah, I pretty much turned back into a piglet when I saw this excerpt – only this time it was in the middle of the library…and contrary to popular belief, librarians do not “shush” you when you make a fool of yourself out loud, they only stare at you as if you’ve lost your mind.

So who’s counting down the days to October 29 with me?

Rika Ashton

(aka The Library Piglet)


Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh: A Book Review

WARNING: This book review contains MAJOR spoilers, so if you want to read Heart of Obsidian spoiler-free, turn back NOW!

First of all, I have to thank Wicked Scribes, for being awesome and hosting a Heart of Obsidian giveaway that I actually won. Thanks Kaleigha, you are wickedly awesome! 🙂

Heart of Obsidian  (Psy-Changeling, #12)

Step into New York Times bestseller Nalini Singh’s explosive and shockingly passionate Psy-Changeling world…

A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.
A woman whose very existence has been erased.
A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.
A deadly price that must be paid.
The day of reckoning is here.

My book arrived June 6 and I spent the entire day and half the next day reading – nay, devouring – the novel. The novel really lived up to its hype. Nalini Singh’s world building was as perfect as always – I could really imagine myself living in the Psy/Changeling universe, even as the devastation of the events in the novel wracked the world to pieces. This was not a tame novel by any means – some of the descriptions of dead bodies were horrific and the story was really as dark as the blurb implied.

Okay, so here come the spoilers…

If you’ve read Nalini Singh’s blog lately and the posted excerpts from Heart of Obsidian, you probably know that the anti-hero is Kaleb Krychek and many of us had guessed that the heroine is Sahara, Faith’s missing cousin. However, what we didn’t know – and could only speculate on –  was the history between the two characters. We know from the ending of Tangle of Need, that Kaleb had been looking for Sahara for seven years.

I’ve wanted to know what happened to Sahara ever since she was mentioned in Faith’s novel, Visions of Heat – I know, of course, that Nalini Singh would not have dropped her name without actually planning out a story for her. Plus, we knew there was more to Kaleb – he isn’t a usual Psy. He smiles – which he claims is an act, and he rescued Annie from the bullet train accident, in “Stoke of Enticement” (most recently in the Wild Invitation anthology).

Plus, there was the added fact that Kaleb was Enrique’s apprentice/protege. (Enrique, if you remember, is the kind of guy you’d want to shoot.)

I had wondered if Keleb (given his past) would be a hero, anti-hero or a very good villain. (Personally, I was leaning towards villain.)

Personally, I’m still not sure if he falls under the anti-hero or villain category – after reading the novel, I think he’s still a villain to some, but a hero to Sahara. (Which is awesome in its own way – I hate it when a perfectly badass character becomes good.)

Kaleb and Sahara’s history is likewise complicated due to the fact that she’s locked away her memories and he’s unsure of how to approach the topic. Kaleb feels guilty for his involvement in what happened to Sahara and she’s been traumatized by her experience, blocking out her memories of the day she was kidnapped.

When I got to the part in the novel where Sahara and Kaleb’s shared past is revealed, I thought it was the most romantic and heartbreaking thing I had ever read. (I also concluded that Kaleb’s never been Silent in the normal way of the Psy – or Sahara for that matter.)

Kaleb shook his head at the unexpected question. He’d lain bloodied and broken in from of Santano and his pet medics, but not one had ever looked at him like Sahara was doing – as if he was a person and not a thing.

But what I was really happy about was the chance to catch up with Faith and Vaughn – it’s been a while since their novel and they rarely make cameos in the other Psy/Changeling books. And I was pleasantly surprised when so many of the Changelings made cameos in the novel – most reviewers had mentioned that we don’t get to see much of the Changelings, but I’m glad I still had the chance to catch up, even if they came later in the novel. It’s true we don’t get to see Changelings interacting in their packs, which is always interesting, but it was nice to see DarkRiver accepting Sahara into their pack and interacting with her.

You’re too good looking for this,” she said to Vaughn. It was happy chance that he’d already been at DarkRiver HQ when she’d requested an escort. “That woman alost missed her skytrain, she was so busy eating you up with her big, brown eyes.” Sahara fluttered her lashes as the hapless brunette had done.

Vaughn shot her an unsmiling look, but she saw the amusement that prowled behind it. “Get to work, Ms. Kyriakus.”

Finally, we find out who the Ghost is – very late into the novel.

So who is it?

Kaleb, of course. (I should have figured this one out after reading the blurb, but the Twitter chat with the Ghost made me have a few doubts. The Ghost/Kaleb is really good at manipulation tactics.)

If there was one thing that I didn’t like about this novel, is that it had an ending. Honestly – and I’m not really trying not to gush here – this book was so good. A lot of times hyped up books don’t live up to reader expectations, but this one did! So go out and find a copy!

Conclusion: Kaleb is now a part of my alpha male book harem! 😉

I can’t wait for the next Psy/Changeling novel, which I’m really hoping will be about the WindHaven alpha because he’s been mentioned a few times and Kaleb made a particular note about him in this novel (and I think he’s harem-worthy, but I won’t know for sure till I read his novel) – but next novel/novella might end up being about Father Xavier.

But speaking of Nalini Singh novels, how many of us are looking forward to catching up with Elena and Raphael in Archangel’s Legion (October 2013)? And what are your thoughts on Heart of Obsidian? Did it live up to the hype in your opinion? Which character’s story – from the Psy/Changeling universe – should be told next?

Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter, #6)

Rika Ashton

(aka The Book Reviewer)

Disclaimer: All book quotes used in this review are the property of Nalini Singh © 2003 – 2013.


Book Love: Summer 2013 Releases and a Sneak Peek of MACRIEVE

It’s Summer! And for me, that means reading (and school, but mostly reading). Fortunately, there is a long list of anticipated books releasing this summer. (Not to mention movies, but that’s a post for another time.)

So for your reading pleasure, here’s a list of the books I have been most anxiously waiting for:

1. One Heart to Win by Johanna Lindsey. Ms. Lindsey only releases one book a year, so I always mark my calender for when the next one is due – this one hits the bookstores on June 11th.

Some young ladies marry for money and social standing, a few lucky ones marry for love – but Tiffany Warren is marrying to end a feud. Honoring her mother’s promise, Tiffany reluctantly travels west to meet her estranged father and his enemy’s eldest son, rancher Hunter Callahan. Once the Warrens and the Callahans are united by marriage, both clans will stop squabbling over a disputed strip of land.

In the chaos of a train robbery Tiffany seizes a golden opportunity: By assuming the identity of her father’s new housekeeper she can live with the father she never knew and assess his true character, as well as that of the neighboring cowboy to whom she is betrothed. But, too late, Tiffany discovers that the rivalry between the Warrens and the Callahans has escalated when the Callahans steal the Warrens’ housekeeper as soon as she steps off the train!

Now, Tiffany, who is pretending to be Jennifer Fleming, finds herself living in the enemy camp, under the same roof as her fiancÉ. All too soon she learns her intended is a handsome, sweet talking charmer whom she has to fight off because he can’t keep his eyes – or his hands – off Jennifer. After Tiffany’s charade is exposed she refuses to marry Hunter to end the feud. As Hunter goes about claiming his rightful bride-to-be, he knows that although he loves two women – proper, elegant Tiffany as well as spunky, passionate Jennifer – he has only one heart to win.

2. Deception Cove by Jayne Castle. The first novel of the Rainshadow series introduced us to the potential characters of the second novel and, now, here they are!

As a light-talent, Alice North has the rare ability to make things disappear, including herself—a gift that comes in handy during her magic act with her dust bunny Houdini.

Business mogul Drake Sebastian is day-blind, since his sight was nearly destroyed in a lab accident. But he’s the one man who can see Alice when she disappears—and he needs her.

On Rainshadow Island, two dangerous Old World crystals are missing, igniting a paranormal storm. Drake thinks Alice is the key to finding them, and proposes they head there, but only after a Marriage of Convenience.

Alice’s honeymoon on Rainshadow is guaranteed to be memorable, as the island—and the passion between her and Drake—is about to explode…

3. An English Bride in Scotland by Lynsay Sands. If you have read any of Ms. Sands novels before, then you know that this one will make you laugh out loud!

Annabel had planned to become a nun. But when her mother arrives at the Abbey to bring her home to marry a Scottish laird – her runaway sister’s intended husband – her life takes a decidedly different turn.

And though Annabel isn’t the wife he’d planned for, strong, sexy Ross McKay is taken with his shy, sweet bride.

Annabel knows nothing about being a wife, running a castle – or the marriage bed. But her handsome new husband makes her want to learn. When Annabel’s life is threatened, Ross vows to move the highlands itself to save her and preserve the passion that’s only beginning to bloom.

4. Macrieve by Kresley Cole. Alpha heroes and kick-ass heroines! I pretty much devour whatever Ms. Cole writes.

A Beast In Torment

Uilleam MacRieve believed he’d laid to rest the ghosts of his boyhood. But when a brutal torture revives those ancient agonies and destroys his Lykae instinct, the proud Scot craves the oblivion of death. Until he finds her—a young human so full of spirit and courage that she pulls him back from the brink.

A Beauty In Chains

Seized for the auction block, Chloe Todd is forced to enter a terrifying new world of monsters and lore as a bound slave. When offered up to creatures of the dark, she fears she won’t last the night. Until she’s claimed by him—a tormented immortal with heartbreaking eyes, whose touch sets her blood on fire.

A Full Moon On The Rise

With enemies circling, MacRieve spirits Chloe away to the isolated Highland keep of his youth. But once he takes her to his bed, his sensual mate becomes something more than human, evoking his savage past and testing his sanity. On the cusp of the full moon, can he conquer his worst nightmare to save Chloe . . . from himself?

(And for your early reading pleasure a 34-page free sneak peek of the novel. It’s a PDF file.)

5. The Darkest Craving by Gena Showalter. A friend got me hooked on this series, and I’m too addicted to ever kick the habit.

Having endured weeks of torture in the bowels of hell, Kane wants nothing to do with his beautiful rescuer, Josephina Aisling. The half-Fae female threatens to awaken the demon of Disaster inside him-a beast he’s determined to kill, no matter the price.

Josephina is hunted by a brutal enemy-her royal family-and Kane is her only source of protection. He’s also the only male to ever set her aflame, and even he succumbs to the heat.

But as they navigate the treacherous world of the Fae, they are forced to make a choice: live apart…or die together.

6. The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh by Stephanie Laurens. I love her Cynster family series and I’ve been waiting for this story for a while.

The Honorable Miss Mary Cynster always gets what she wants. As the last unwed Cynster of her generation, she is determined to remain in charge of her life and of the man she will marry. At the very bottom of her list of potential husbands is Ryder Cavanaugh, the daring and devastating Marquess of Raventhorne, an overwhelming and utterly unmanageable lion of the ton. But destiny has a different plan.

Ryder needs Mary as his wife, not just because she is delightful, fiery, and tempting, but because he values all she could be. When fate and circumstance hand him the chance, he claims Mary as his marchioness . . . only to discover what he truly desires is not just to take her hand in marriage, but to capture her heart.

7. The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrelyn Sparks. The series has been a bit of a hit and miss for me so far, but I’m open to giving this book a chance.

He’s out of control

Dougal Kincaid has something to prove. After being injured in a battle with the Malcontents, he’s ready for active duty protecting unsuspecting mortals from these villainous vampires who want to rule the world. But first he has to get control of himself . . . because just the sight of a certain lovely doctor has his injured hand doing some peculiar things, not to mention the sizzling sensation that burns along his dragon tattoo . . .

Vampires? Vampires?! As a scientist, Leah is having trouble believing that these immortal creatures exist. But there they are, standing in front of her, asking for help in solving a genetic puzzle that can save mankind. There’s even one in a sexy kilt! Just one look into Dougal’s gorgeous green eyes sets her pulse racing. But can she trust him – and the overwhelming desire that refuses to be ignored . . . ?

8. What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries. I’ve read everything that Ms. Jeffries has written under this pseudonym and I have yet to be disappointed.

Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons, accepted long ago that his kidnapped brother was dead. When a cryptic note from investigator Tristan Bonnaud claims otherwise, Max seeks out Tristan’s sister, Lisette—and is infuriated to learn that Tristan has also mysteriously vanished. Have the siblings perpetrated an elaborate hoax? Or is the fiercely protective beauty as innocent as she claims them to be?

Fearful that the powerful duke will destroy Tristan’s career in his zeal for the truth, the clever Lisette convinces Max to accompany her to Paris in a joint search for their loved ones. But their journey takes a seductive twist when they pose as an ordinary husband and wife—not an English duke with a tarnished family name and the illegitimate daughter of a viscount—and discover an exhilarating passion free from the damning secrets of the past. With the line between danger and desire enticingly blurred, they discover that some mysteries, like those of the heart, are answered tenfold in the bliss of a true and trusting love.

9. How to Entice an Enchantress by Karen Hawkins. Okay, so strickly speaking this one comes out in September, but I figured why put a limit on Summer. 🙂

Reclusive Viscount Kirk, horribly scarred by a tragic accident that stole the life of his beloved first wife, is a man defined by fury. For years he’s eschewed society, growing abrupt and curmudgeonly. But now, when he’d given up on life, he’s fallen madly in love with the refreshingly naive daughter of his neighbor, dainty and charming Dahlia Balfour. Desperate to win her attention, Kirk calls in a favor from the Duchess of Roxburghe and asks that she transform him into a fashionable suitor for Dahlia’s hand. But what’s easy to change on the outside, isn’t as easy to change on the inside…

Dahlia’s always dreamed of a fairytale romance. Although Viscount Kirk is only seven years her senior, because of his cantankerous ways and lack of social graces she thinks of him as her “older neighbor,” and is blissfully unaware that he sees her as anything other than an acquaintance. She is shocked to see him at the duchess’s grand house party, trying to fit with the very societal rules he so frequently mocks. Surprised by his attention, irritated at his bald honesty, and intrigued that he finds her worth the effort, Dahlia regards Kirk as the opposite of Prince Charming. Without the pretty words and grand gestures she yearns for, can true love find its way into her unwilling heart?

10. My Notorious Gentleman by Gaelen Foley. For those of  us who love the occasional darker toned read, there is Ms. Foley. (And this cover is stunning!)

Shy, warm-hearted Miss Grace Kenwood knows she has no chance of tempting her new neighbour, Lord Trevor Montgomery. Every eligible beauty is swooning over the brooding former spy. Even though he once kissed her senseless, he can have no interest in someone like her. Yet somehow, the seductive rogue unleashes her own inner devil . . .

Every lady loves a hero but Trevor has no interest in any of them – except for the refreshingly candid Grace. If he had a heart left, Grace might steal it. She insists he’s better than he thinks. He’s sure she’s absolutely wrong. Until danger threatens, and Trevor rediscovers how easy it is to be a hero . . . for the right lady.

11. Warrior’s Moon by Lucy Monroe. She is one of my newest, most favourite authors and I highly recommend the Children of the Moon series to fans of paranormal-historicals.

After being rejected by Caelis, Shona was forced to marry an English baron. Now she’s on the run from the deceased baron’s heir. Determined to protect her children, she heads north to Balmoral Island, to the only family she has left. And runs into the one man she never wants to see againand the only one who might be able to save her.

As powerful and charismatic as ever, Caelis has been charged with saving his pack from the corrupt laird ruling them. This time, however, he refuses to abandon his sacred mate. He lost Shona once and swears he will never be separated from her again. Passion and love urge Shona to join him. But she has to wonder if she truly comes before the pack, or if nothing has changed at all.

And that concludes my list of Summer reading recommendations. I’ll be posting a Fall/Winter reading list soon, with releases from Nalini Singh, Lynsay Sands, Jeaniene Frost, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jennifer Ashley, Julia Quinn and more!

What are some of your highly anticipated books for Summer 2013?

-Rika Ashton

(aka, “Kids are the future! Read books!”)


A Lesson in Romance Terminology: Alpha, Beta and Gamma

In almost every romance review I read the words: alpha, beta and gamma, used in some way or form. Heck, I use most of these terms myself! But it’s recently come to my attention, that sometimes we use these words out of context, or interchangeably, when in fact they are anything but.

An alpha hero the dominant male in a novel, one who can be and is possessive and jealous of the heroine, but also cares for her and wouldn’t hurt her himself. The alpha perceives anyone who comes between the heroine and himself as a threat, but also strives to protect those he loves. Alphas can also have hidden vulnerabilities, etc.

***A more updated definition, given by Noelle Pierce (thanks, Noelle) states that the alpha male of the following:

Sarah Wendell from SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com recently posted about this and coined the term, “alphole” to describe the past “alpha males” and how they’ve changed. In her words,“Just as every role in romance changes, the definition of alpha changes, too. In Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance (Simon & Schuster, 2009), Candy Tan, co-founder of Smart Bitches, and I described the “Alphole” hero. It used to be that romance was populated with alphas who were really assholes—autocratic chest-pounders with a tendency toward rape or at the least forced seduction. Alphole heroes still show up every now and again, usually as someone who is too assertive without any humility or honor—they’re not really dominant. They’re really just assholes. Alphole heroes are among my least favorite.

But now, readers are more likely to read about Alpha males with strong moral integrity, a hidden tenderness or the ability to be lethal while consistently choosing not to be—those make for some delicious heroes. Alpha heroes could be anything. They could be the alpha of a wolf pack, a literal alpha. They could be commanders or military officers or police chiefs. They could be lords or, depending on the mythology or theology of the romance in question, The Lord. (Heh—God, the Ultimate Alpha Male, particularly in the Old Testament.)” (Reference.) 

One of the best examples of an alpha male is Raphael from Nalini Singh’s “Guild Hunter” series. You may remember Raphael from two blog posts ago, when we counted down the top ten supernatural heroes – as defined by my reading buddies and to some extent myself – when he came in at number 8. Strictly speaking, if the contest had been between Alpha males alone and had not included criteria such as “sensitivity,” Raphael would be the KING OF ALPHAS by far.

As a character, Raphael is physically stronger than most all males in the series and enjoys the position of Archangel, a title never given to the weak and wimpy. Similarly, Raphael is also possessive of his heroine, Elena, to the point that even she – who is no pushover – gives in occasionally so as to prevent all-out wars between Raphael and the other male characters. Raphael’s big defining alpha moment in the novel: When he tells Elena to stop wearing silver earring, the symbol of a unmated female. Other moments include, risking his life for Elena and remaining celibate for a year waiting for Elena to wake from her coma, among others scattered throughout the series.

Other great alphas include, Bones from Jeaniene Frost’s “Night Huntress” series, the males from J. R. Wards “Black Dagger Brotherhood” series, the males from Kresley Cole’s “Immortals After Dark” and the heroes of Gena Showalter’s “Lords of the Underworld” series.

book cover of   England's Perfect Hero    (Lessons in Love, book 3)  by  Suzanne EnochOn the other hand, a beta is milder hero. A beta is more vulnerable and sensitive than an alpha. Though the beta hero is far from a wimp and can show instances of jealousy and possessiveness, these are never his dominating traits. These guys are nice.

I confess, I don’t read too many romance novels with beta heroes since I’m more attracted to the alpha hero. But one significant beta that comes to mind is Robert Carroway from Suzanne Enoch’s England’s Perfect Hero. Robert has the perfect amount of vulnerability, as a war hero who has survived a great trauma. Robert is a wreck of a man and is suffering from post-traumatic stress, depicted through his panic attacks. Robert shuns society, not wanting them to know how vulnerable he really is, but eventually opens up to Lucinda who he begins to trust first as a friend and then as a lover. Robert’s defining beta moment is his willingness to help Lucinda snare a husband, who is not himself, at the beginning of the novel, while a true alpha male nearly almost always screams “mine” from the moment he sets his eyes on the heroine.

Other great beta heroes are Jane Austen’s Mr. Knightley from Emma and Edmund Bertram from Mansfield Park.

Finally, there is the gamma hero. I found two competing definitions of the gamma once I looked it up. One blogger says that a gamma hero is a “combo of the alpha and beta. He’s got all the mad, bad alpha characteristics like being super strong and aggressive and being the guy you turn to if hell is at your door, but he’s not super arrogant. He cares about others (and not just the heroine; the gamma seems to have strong ties to friends and his family). Folks may think the gamma is the Big Bad, but usually his reputation is undeserved and if you look past the surface, you find a guy who was just misunderstood.” One the other hand, the consensus among Amazon reviewers – which is where I first read book reviews on novels I’m interested in – is that the gamma hero is one who is indifferent and is never possessive of the heroine.

So which gamma definition do we consider the correct one? Can the two definitions be combined into one? As in is a gamma hero considered indifferent towards the heroine because she is not the centre of his world, like she is for an alpha and even a beta or is there absolutely no middle ground?

When I looked up examples of gamma heroes a lot of readers directed me to Anne Stuart’s heroes, but once I read a  couple reviews of Breathless on Amazon, I found myself leaning towards the second definition of gamma more and more:

I’m writing this review because I wish I’d seen it before reading this book. When Anne Stuart is good for me, she’s golden. But when she’s bad, she makes me feel traumatized and violated. I think it’s a testament to her skill as an author that she makes me feel so intensely, but I also wish someone would silently point out the books that would traumatize me, so I could avoid them. I wish I could stop reading her altogether…but when she’s good, she is too good.

In order to explain this, I do have to give some mild spoilers for the end of the book. I won’t do that in this review but I will write a comment that details them for the truly curious.

I had a real problem with the hero of this book. Basically, it is this: in the very first pages of the book (this is not a spoiler: you can read the passage in the excerpt here on Amazon), he pays someone to abduct and rape the heroine and force her into marriage.

First, it’s quite clear when he discusses it with the man in question that he would have been perfectly fine if he had raped her, and so he gets full marks for the intention.

But more importantly–even though the heroine says “It hadn’t been rape,” I quite frankly don’t agree. In fact, that infuriated me hugely. To say that it wasn’t rape just because she realized he was strong enough to make it happen anyway, so she didn’t fight is just bull. He takes her against her will; she says no, repeatedly, he does it, and she decides not to fight because she doesn’t think she has a choice and he’s bigger than she is. That, in my book, is rape. And yet the heroine has almost no emotional reaction to it other than a general aversion because the oaf isn’t very good at sex. I found the scene hugely traumatic.

I kept reading, because it’s Anne Stuart. And I know Anne Stuart does bad heroes–not like fake bad, but really bad. When it’s good, it’s great. But when it’s bad, it’s awful. And this was…awful.

If the hero pays someone to rape the heroine, he is going to have to do something really spectacular at the end of the book for me to believe in it. But he doesn’t. There’s no hint of repentance. There’s no grovel. The only thing that remotely hints at some kind of redemption has as a background something he plans to have happen to her that is so foul that it is irredeemable. And in my mind, “deciding not to do something truly foul” just does not come off as sufficient grovel. Especially considering that he is basically awful through and through.

I loved her heroine–she was fantastic, which is why I’ve given the book two stars. But at the end of the book, I wanted her to shoot her husband dead and walk away laughing. (Reference.)

I’m sorry to say that if this is the best example of a gamma hero, I will endeavor to studiously avoid this type of hero. However, if someone has a better example please, please leave a comment and I’ll look this up. I tend to enjoy romance as a genre because thought the heroes can be flawed they are almost always redeemable…Lucien from Breathless was not, however, no matter what his motives.

The defining differences between all these heroes is in how they interact with the heroine. For instances, both the alpha and the gamma can be cold, but the alpha will never be cold towards the heroine. Also both betas and alphas can be vulnerable, but betas open up about their vulnerabilities more easily than an alpha. Similarly, both the alpha and the beta hero will remain faithful to their heroines, throughout the novel or a series. On the other hand, this trait is not always guaranteed in a gamma. However, the one trait that is common in all these heroes is their love for the heroine, which they will admit at some point in the novel. Although, the gamma sometimes never admits their love until the very end of the novel.

Of course, not all heroes fall into these categories…they are not black and white and merely guidelines. While a hero can be predominantly alpha, he may also have beta tendencies, etc. So the definitions provided should be seen as guidelines for when we are reading a review, but only by reading the book itself can we really know what the hero is like.

-Rika Ashton (aka The Hero Categorizer)

P.S: If any of my definitions are wrong/misleading, etc please let me know and I will correct the error of my ways.

P.P.S: If you have better examples of the gamma hero, please let me know as well…I would hate to write this type of hero off my reading list due to one bad example.


The Good, the Bad and the Undead

So has Twilight changed the ruthless image of vampires for life? Fortunately, not – at least not for me. Most vampires that pre-existed, coexisted and post-existed the Twilight saga are not only less sparkly but also infinitely hotter! Of course, I give props to Stephenie Meyer for coming up with a “glittering” vampire storyline that didn’t exist before.

So back to the point at hand, if Twilight didn’t ruin vampire novels for me then can I recommend some hot, fanged men that will make you swoon? Boy, can I ever! But vampires aren’t the only creatures that go bump in the night, are they? So can I also recommend demons, warlocks, werewolves, etc? Of course, you really didn’t have to ask. But what about the good in the “The Good, the Bad and the Undead”? Trust me, I can recommend some guys you’ll be sure to think are positively angelic.

These men were critiqued on the following qualities, as decided by the readers:

1) Looks. The superficial and shallow, but still all-important HOTNESS rating. Is this man a stud or a dud? Do you look at him and think “I gotta get me one of those” or think “those damn sparkles are irritating me eyes”? (Sorry, couldn’t resist 😛 )

2) Loyalty. Like a puppy, the men of the supernatural variety must be loyal and faithful or the heroine (and the reading population) must unfortunately kick him to the curb.

3) Intelligence. Like does he know the difference between a felis catus and a canis lupis familiaris…of course, since I could not give them a biology test, I opted to read between the lines and observe things like how fast does they figured out the bad guy’s plan, etc.

4) Being non-superficial. The supernatural man must be able to see below the appearance of the female (or any flaws she may have) to discover the person within. After all, the man has super-vision he might as well put it to good use!

5) Sensitivity. No, I’m not talking about their teeth or even the toothpaste they use but their ability to care for their heroine’s feelings. The supernatural man must be able to tell that when the female asks a question like, “Do these jeans make me look fat?” the best answer is “You’re perfect.”

6) “Alpha-ness.” Under reasonable circumstances the fanged, furry, or winged man is allowed to be protective and/or possessive, but these must be welcome or he will risk spending days in the doghouse (or the pound for men of the furry variety, because they might actually like it).

7) Ability to be a badass. Can these men pull off playing the villain or are they just too damn nice?

(Each criteria was given a total score out of ten and then compiled in a sum total out of seventy and ranked. Yes, I was hard-core about the scoring, you wouldn’t believe how shamelessly some of these men tried to cheat.)

So without further ado here are the top ten supernatural men as voted by readers and fellow writers!

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#10. Carlos Panterra

There were-panther hottie is from Eat Prey Love by Kerrelyn Sparks is smart, sensitive and all round, entertaining. He made it onto our list for the ability to dance in a sequined thong without losing his masculinity. He has a solid score of 60/70 losing some major points for “badass-ness,” because frankly he is just too nice. However, the strengths include being extremely protective of the heroine, when required, and having a sense of humour despite the heroine’s tendency to aim for male anatomical parts best left alone during training sessions. He also gets props for major basketball skills! 😀

#9. Cade

Our resident demon bad boy is Cade from Kresley Cole’s Dark Desires After Dusk. Cade delivers on the seductive demon promise that we all want, a possessive demon hottie with a tortured past. Unfortunately, Cade’s past doesn’t remain in the past and conflicted loyalties make his lose major points of trust with the heroine. (No, he doesn’t cheat on her just to clarify or he wouldn’t have made it onto the list at all. As it is his “past” is not a female problem but a problem of political intrigue.) He does reclaim points in the end for grovelling and keeping me entertained throughout his novel. Cade pulls of a solid 61/70.

#8. Conde Cezar

I can say one thing for Cezar – despite his name sounding like a Ceasar salad, he is definitely a man, of the fanged variety that is. This vamp gets majors points for being faithful to a woman for two hundred years to be precise with nary a sign from her. And of course, when he finds her again he gets to act protective and possessive, I found no fault with this considering how much Anna and Cezar loved each other. Like most of Alexandra Ivy’s “Guardians of Eternity” men, Cezar’s possessive protectiveness will simply make you swoon and hope he’s nearby to catch you. You can read all about him in Darkness Revealed and he scores a noteworthy 62/7o!

#7. Raphael

From resident bad boy to angelic good guy, Raphael has got it all. Beautiful gold-tipped white wings and blue eyes that can see into your soul, Raphael has got the looks category won. And Nalini Singh agrees that one book is definitely not enough to give us our fill of Raphael so he stars in not one book but 3, the “Guild Hunter” series including Angel’s Blood, Archangel’s Kiss, Archangel’s Consort. Best of all, Raphael knows how to be a possessive badass – bet you didn’t expect that of an angel did you? This archangel of New York knows that being bad can be, oh so good! Judges declare that Raphael receives the greatness score of 63/70.

#6. Acheron Parthenopaus

Oh, Ash, Ash, Ash…what to say, what to say? Actually, what not to say? When it comes to looks no one can beat him! No really, no one can. You see he was cursed a long time ago by his aunt the Goddess of Desire to be the most desirable man in the world. But, really, he would have had that title in the bad regardless being an immortal Atlantean god. When it comes to “badass-ness,” he got it down to an art form from his FU clothes to his never-the-same colour hair. But, unfortunately, Ash just doesn’t have enough opportunities to show his possessive side in his novel, Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon, to compete with the other males on this list. He scores a nice 64/70.

#5. Mick

This dragon knows how to turn up the heat. Good looking, badass but a sweetheart, distant but loyal Mick’s a mass of contradictions. Best of all he also has more than one book. Allyson James introduced Mick in Stormwalker, revealed more of his secrets in Firewalker and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in the upcoming Hexed anthology and novel Shadow Walker. But of course behind every great man is a woman and Janet Begay heroine and first-person narrator of the “Stormwalker” series is definitely makes Mick sound like a man I wanna know! Mick receives a nice 65/70.

#4. Lachlan MacRieve

Lachlan the lykae’s novel A Hunger Like No Other was the first book I ever read by Kresley Cole and he was the reason I come back to the “Immortals After Dark” series again and again. Lachlan is a tortured hero, whose sole purpose in life since the moment he breaks out of jail is to find his mate. Talk about dedication! Little does he know that his mate is a vampire, the very creatures who have tortured him for millennia. Lachlan and Emma get off to a rocky start, but Lachlan’s love and desire for Emma overcome his initial and the two reach their happily ever after! Lachlan struts into the sixties with a solid 66/70.

#3. Lucian Argeneau

Lynsay Sands’ Lucian from Bite Me if You Can makes number three in this epic battle between the supernatural. Lucien is cranky, arrogant, bossy and an all-round unlikeable vampire at the start of his novel. Nor is her very nice to Leigh, his life-mate – though he doesn’t know it – when he first meets her. Oh, he has very good reasons for the way he is, but nothing chased away my uncertainty with him as a hero until the moment he fell. And, oh boy, how the mighty fall – fall in love that is! He’s now everything a woman could want, sensitive, protective, generous and just plain amazing at everything he does. Lucian scored a worthy 65/70.

#2. Zarek

Zarek from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dance with the Devil is one lovable psycho Dark-Hunter…and yes, he really is psycho and not a wannabe psycho, I mean would a sane man battle with a polar bear with nothing buy his metal claws no matter how immortal he thought he was. Zarek has a reason for his craziness of course; he thinks he murdered everyone in a village that he was supposed to protect and has carried this guilt around for a long, long time. Enter Astrid, the beautiful but blind justice nymph who has been sent to judge Zarek by Acheron and Artemis. Zarek falls for her almost instantaneously after she shows him a kindness he’s forgotten how to accept, but doesn’t think he’s worthy of someone as great as her. But unlike some guys who turn into marshmallows after they fall in love, Zarek retains nearly all of his original “badass-ness” and is only ever a marshmallow for Astrid. He’s still an outcast, still hot and still a psycho but the best kind of each! Zarek pulls in a noticeable 67/70 points.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the number one overall SUPERNATURAL HOTTIE is…

#1. Bones

Jeaniene Frost’s Bones from the “Night Huntress” and the spinoff, “Night Huntress World” series is one of the biggest reasons why I have not been turned of vampires by the Twilight disease. Bones is too awesome in too many ways and that’s probably why he has over 6 books published, not including anthologies, and many more upcoming novels. But like I said before, every great man has an equally great woman behind him and Cat, Bones’ wife, is probably his biggest supporter in her first-person narrated novels. The way she tells it, Bones is funny, smart and infinitely preoccupied with trying to get his wife into bed every opportunity he gets…which makes him all the more fun to talk about. But more importantly, Bones scored nearly straight ten’s in all the categories, losing only one point each for sensitivity and “badass-ness.” Bones is not nearly as bad as Zarek, so he lost a point for that and not nearly as sensitive as Carlos, who is our resident nice guy. But Bones is still one hot vamp with a 69/70! (For a full list of Bones’ novels go to Jeaniene Frost’s website, because honestly there are too many to list.)

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That concludes the top ten supernatural battle royale. But if you want to learn more about the worlds these guys come from then I recommend reading their entire series because this was just a taste of what’s out there! How’s that for reading material to keep you busy for the next year or so? 😀

And because we love getting introduced to new supernatural hotties, who is your favourite all-time paranormal hero and why?

-Rika Ashton (aka The Judgemental)