Sunday, February 10, 2013

Michelle Jerott / Michele Albert -- Absolute Trouble

Michelle Jerott / Michele Albert -- Absolute Trouble

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {4.25}
Action: ♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦♦.♦ / Suspense: ♠♠
Action: 1.0 / Emotion: 5.0 / Romance: 5.0 / Sensuous: 3.5 / Suspense: 2.0  //  Laughter: 5 / Tears: 9

  RWA's 1997 Golden Heart Award for best unpublished contemporary romance
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Setting:     Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans, Louisiana
Era:           Present Day [1998]
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Having read all the books included under The Avalon Investigations Series of Michele Albert's book list, would like to divide this selection into two different series; naming them: {1} The Pre-Avalon Series (the first four books) and {2} The Avalon Investigations Series (the last three books).

Absolute Trouble is Michelle Jerott's debut novel and the first book in The Pre-Avalon Series.   Jerott has a winner on her hands with this book.   Although expecting a 'Romantic Suspense' novel versus a 'Contemporary Romance,' was pleasantly surprised at the depth of interest this book produced.   Even though I was unable to keep reading the book with minimal interruption -- the characters were so engaging they remained in the background of my mind until I was able pick up the book again.

Dulcinea "Dulcie" Quinn was on her houseboat, preparing for her doll show in two weeks, when her ex-partner, New Orleans detective Bobby Halloran, brought her a witness to protect.   Dulcie was no longer a cop because, although now mostly recovered, goons belonging to vicious drug dealer Jacob Mitsumi (known as Red Dragon) had broken her back during a bust.   Bobby brought Dulcie the man who could put Red Dragon behind bars because he was an eye-witness to Red Dragon committing murder.

Dulcie was not immune to the witness's dynamic, bad-boy good looks even though she knew better than to be attracted to, of all things, a male stripper.   Jerott knew what would draw a romance reader's interest by introducing the hero, Julien Langlois, as every woman's ultimate eye-candy:
The man walked with the self-assurance of a CEO in a thousand-dollar suit, although beneath the raincoat he wore nothing but boots, a sequin bow tie, and a black G-string.
Enjoyed every minute of the multitude of times that Dulcie admired the beautifully-sculpted, practically unclothed or shirtless Julien.   Julien unapologetically oozed Cajun charm and sex-appeal throughout the entire story.   In fact, Julien used his charm and Dulcie's obvious interest in his body to try and leave protective custody.

When Dulcie found out that Julien was about the cross the line (by killing Red Dragon for his role in the death of Marcel, his sixteen-year-old brother), she decided to use sex as a tool to save Julien -- to convince him to let the police arrest Red Dragon.   Jerott has that magic touch when it comes to writing sensual, heated love scenes.   Some authors use lots of graphic descriptions and language to bring forth the heat in the love scenes, but Jerott did it by writing scenes that drew forth strong emotions that drew the reader into the psyche of the hero and heroine and utilized less graphically descriptive language.   Absolute Trouble is the book to read if you love emotional, romantic, sensual love scenes.

Dulcie, however, found out there was more to Julien than just a great body and massive amounts of Cajun charm.   Julien was following the path of revenge because he was eaten up with guilt.   Julien felt he should have found a way to save Marcel.   Then too, there was Julien's feelings of being a failure.   Instead of appreciating the gift of music that flowed through Julien (revealed whenever he played his harmonica), his parents thought he was worthless for pursuing music instead of holding down a steady nine-to-five job.

Jerott seemed to know how to draw forth tears and laughter as Dulcie and Julien fought and loved their way through Absolute Trouble.   Dulcie was no push-over and she had some great smart-remark lines to throw at Julien as they engaged in verbal warfare over Julien's future (or lack thereof, should he continue to pursue his vengeful quest).   Dulcie's insecurities over her back injuries added further emotional angst to the story.

Two police officers joined Julien and Dulcie on the houseboat trip down the bayou.   These two characters added more depth to the story.   Les James was portrayed as the peacekeeper.   A man who had been on the force for twenty-five years and had a soft reasonable voice that Jerott so vividly described: "[Les] used the same tone of voice with foul-mouthed, frenzied delinquents that he used when ordering a hamburger off a menu."   (Loved that description.)   Although always present, Les seemed to be part of the background.

The other police officer was a pretty, petite black woman, Lucille Pettijohn.   Jerott displayed her talent at making her supporting characters feel real, seem more human -- like the fact that Lucy pops her gum and does not hide her blatant appreciation of Julien's body.   Jerott used Lucille's interest in Julien to bring out Dulcie's feelings of jealously and ownership towards Julien.   It is engaging and interesting that Lucille and Les both came to appreciate Julien as a man worthy of Dulcie as the story progressed and Jerott began unwrapping the layers that were wrapped around Julien's personality.

The forceful, dynamic, brightly dressed detective, Bobby Halloran was the main secondary supporting character.   It was obvious that Dulcie and Bobby had once been lovers.   It was also obvious that Bobby was all about the job.   His presence was strong and intense throughout the story even though he had minimal page time.   In fact, at one point it was easy to feel compassion for Bobby because Dulcie chose the "can't keep a job" stripper over him.   Bobby's bold personality added greatly to the enjoyment of the story and is a wonderful tool for Jerott to prompt her fans to continue reading her books, as Bobby will have his own book in this series.

As Absolute Trouble is categorized as a Contemporary Romance rather than a Romantic Suspense, it is not surprising that this book is all about the romance that built between Julien and Dulcie during the week they stayed on the houseboat.   There is one small action scene (regarding the final arrest of Red Dragon) and very little suspense to the book.   This book is all about the hero and heroine overcoming and accepting their pasts to find their happily-ever-after.

Michelle Jerott is a strong, vivid story-teller who knows how to reach deep into the heart of a romance reader by generating feelings of empathy for both the hero and the heroine.   Absolute Trouble is a must read for any romance reader who loves to become emotionally invested with the characters of a well-told story.

Yes, there are feelings of guilt because even through Absolute Trouble was a thoroughly enjoyable read, it received less than a five-star rating simply because of personal preferences.   While Jerott told a wonderfully entertaining story that kept me emotionally connected to Julien and Dulcie, she wrote a book that failed to feed the action, adventure and suspense yearnings residing inside this bookworm.   So through no fault of Jerott's, this book was a bit of a disappointment for no other reason than that it was a 'Contemporary Romance' rather than a 'Romantic Suspense' novel.   That's just not fair!

In summary, Absolute Trouble, the first book in the The Pre-Avalon Series, is a must read for 'Contemporary Romance' readers who love a book that features: {1} a confident, charming, strong alpha hero whose unique role as a stripper more than meets the need for eye-candy, and angst-filled past brings out feminine compassion in both the heroine and the reader; {2} a determined, strong-willed, Amazonian heroine who has the strength of character to bring the hero to his senses; {3} plenty of entertaining, snappy dialogue between Julien and Dulcie; {4} a heated sense of romance at the fast-growing feelings of lust that develop into a deep emotional connection to both Julien and Dulcie; {5} sizzling, heated, spicy lovemaking scenes add potency to the story; {6} the well-developed intriguing secondary characters add a realistic flavor and greatly enhance the plot development; and {7} although not filled with a lot of action and suspense, the story moves along at a quick, page-turning pace that makes the book difficult to put down.   This is a book you should pick up and read.
--Vonda M. Reid (Wednesday; March 2, 2011 : 2:47 a.m.)     [181]

Books In The Series: "The Pre-Avalon Series"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.09-1998Absolute TroubleJulien Langlois; stripperDulcinea "Dulcie" Quinn; former cop
02.10-2002Getting Her ManDr. Jack Austin; archaeology professorDiana Belmaine; Private Investigator
03.09-2003Off LimitsRobert "Bobby" Michael Halloran; detectiveEmma Frey; homicide detective
04.03-2005One Way OutDr. Alex Martinell; paleontologist; professorCassie Parker Ashton; treasure hunter

Books In The Series: "The Avalon Investigations Series"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.05-2006 Hide In Plain SightGriffith "Grif" Laughton; Avalon OperativeFiona Kennedy; bookstore owner
02.04-2007Tough EnoughWilliam "Will" Tiernay; Avalon OperativeMia Shaeffer Dolan; art restorer
03.03-2010Her Last ChanceVincent DeLuca; FBI Special AgentClaudia Cruz; Avalon Operative
04.hoping. . . Ben Sheridan; Avalon CEO. . .

Characters Found In "Absolute Trouble"
Character Description Also In
Julien Langlois[Hero] stripper; self-assured; easy, insolent grace (5) face and body that raised eyebrows, blood pressure and hopes; black hair; eyes dark and cold and flat (6) sleek, beautiful muscles; 6'3" (10) faint line of dark hair down his flat belly; beautiful, primal Acadian accented voice (14) early 30s; (41) interesting lines on face (41) long fingers; strong hands; muscular forearms; raw male (45) hot and dangerous underneath chill (56) smooth, cool good looks (65) body to die for and killer grin (90) 33-y-o; from heart of Lafayette; catholic (169) loved music; gifted; parents disapproved (257) romantic; strong emotions in everything (258) long, thick curling beautiful lashes (274) featured dancer, Ragin' Cajun' at Le Homme (322) spent hours lost in music (352) 1. Absolute Trouble
2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
Dulcinea "Dulcie" Quinn[Heroine] ex-cop (2) 10 years a policeman (5) 6' (10) red hair; long legs (20) hip-length ponytail (23) trim waist; bit of breast; 30-y-o (23) smart mouth (26) practical; cautious; chancy temper; nice girl; kind of conservative; individualist (30) metal pin in back, 9" scar (43) fine looking woman; auburn hair; gray-green eyes (99) long-legged purposeful stride (181) 30-y-o (186) 1. Absolute Trouble
2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
. . .. . .. . .
Alana[No Appearance] Julien married when he was 25; divorced when he was 26 (169)1. Absolute Trouble
Susan Carson[One Appearance] KJUN News reporter (347)1. Absolute Trouble
Delpuppy (236)1. Absolute Trouble
Gil[One Appearance] Bobby's backup (319)1. Absolute Trouble
Greg[Secondary Character] Mitsumi's man; bull of a man; bulging thighs; mountainous shoulders; loyal; obedient; smart enough to be trusted; stupid enough not to question orders (91)1. Absolute Trouble
Adam Guidreau[Secondary Character] old friend of Dulcie's (32)1. Absolute Trouble
Juan Hernandez[No Appearance] petty scum; killed by Red Dragon (7)1. Absolute Trouble
Robert "Bobby" Michael Halloran[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 3] asked Dulcie to protect and hide Julien until trial // Detective on New Orleans Police Department; Dulcie's friend; one time partner (1) wide Irish grin; handsome chest (3) devious; unscrupulous (13) tactless (32) Robert Michael (81) blue eyes (81) good ol' boy drawl; sunny good looks; sharp (86) sharpest homicide cop in New Orleans (102) mobile mouth (85) hot tempered; irresponsible (214) handsome (232) wore loud clothes; purpose of steel; relentless (244) quirky; intense (352) 1. Absolute Trouble
2. Getting Her Man
3. Off Limits
4. One Way Out
1. Hide In Plain Sight
Kurt Horowitz[One Appearance] dark, brooding body builder; Le Homme dancer (323)1. Absolute Trouble
Les James[Important Secondary Character] N.O. detective; solid belly (9) thinning brown hair (21) soft reasonable voice; used with everybody (73) diplomatic (96) heavyset (189) good man (203) practical; unflappable; stubborn; contrary as mule (204) kind, wise eyes (236) 1. Absolute Trouble
Office Judson Kirkpatrick[One Appearance] young cop (330)1. Absolute Trouble
Alex Langlois[Brief Appearance] Julien's brother (356) married 2-y-o; lived in Houston (370) 1. Absolute Trouble
Annie Langlois[Brief Appearance] Julien's sister; young; just graduated from high school; had crush on Bobby (370)1. Absolute Trouble
Anton Langlois[Brief Appearance] Julien's brother (356) had own farm; married high school sweetheart (370) 1. Absolute Trouble
Cecille Langlois[Brief Appearances] Julien's mother; short; round; old-fashioned print dress (355) 1. Absolute Trouble
Christine Langlois[Brief Appearance] Anton's wife (370) 1. Absolute Trouble
Elise Langlois[Brief Appearance] Julien's sister (356) army sergeant (370) 1. Absolute Trouble
Joe Langlois[Brief Appearance] Julien's youngest brother; 11-y-o (370) 1. Absolute Trouble
Joseph Langlois[Brief Appearances] Julien's father; tall; angular; weather-worn brown skin (355) 1. Absolute Trouble
Marcel Langlois[No Appearance] Julien's brother; 16-y-o; few brushes with law; junkie (108) died in a drive-by shooting (111) 1. Absolute Trouble
Paulette Langlois[Brief Appearance] Julien's sister (356) pretty; eloped month ago with cowboy parents barely tolerated (370) 1. Absolute Trouble
Samuel Marcel Langlois[Brief Appearance] thatch of black hair; ten perfect toes and fingers; sweetest little bowlegs; tiny, precious nose (368) 1. Absolute Trouble
Tom Langlois[Brief Appearance] Julien's brother (356) eldest brother; lived on family farm with wife and kids (370) 1. Absolute Trouble
Grace LeMieux[Brief Appearance] Julien's sister; pretty; dark hair (356)1. Absolute Trouble
Ed LeMieux[Brief Appearance] Grace's husband (356)1. Absolute Trouble
Detective Martindale[One Appearance] bruiser boy; detective in New Orleans Police Department (112)1. Absolute Trouble
Mike[No Appearance] owned cabin where Les, Lucille, Julien, Dulcie stayed for a time // friend of Dulcie's father; copy; retired; wife a teacher; in Atlanta with daughter going through divorce (256)1. Absolute Trouble
Chloe Mitsumi[No Appearance] Jacob's sister (82) beautiful; notorious (85) 1. Absolute Trouble
3. Off Limits
Jacob Mitsumi
"Red Dragon"
[Secondary Character] Julien plans to kill in vengeance for the death of his brother; Julien witnessed him committing murder // fire red dragon tattooed down his back; vicious drug dealer (2) prince of scum (7) 1. Absolute Trouble
3. Off Limits
Detective O'Donnell[One Appearance] bruiser boy; detective in New Orleans Police Department (112)1. Absolute Trouble
Rochelle Paine[One Appearance] Le Homme owner; short; plump; iron gray hair cut stylishly; mid-40s; attractive; hard-edged; shrewd; fair (322)1. Absolute Trouble
Lucille Pettijohn[Important Secondary Character] pretty black officer (7) pops her gum (74) grated on nerves occasionally; soft, generous heart (127) petite (180) bold as brass (282) 1. Absolute Trouble
Sean Quinn[No Appearance] Dulcie's brother; Bobby's friend; transferred to Baton Rouge from New Orleans PD (181)1. Absolute Trouble
Ricky[One Appearance] Le Homme acrobatic young black dancer; stage name Ali Baba (323)1. Absolute Trouble
Elena Sinclair[One Appearance] prosecutor (353) 1. Absolute Trouble
Tookie[No Appearance] beaming, busty blonde; big blue eyes; Kurt's girlfriend (323)1. Absolute Trouble

Locations, Organizations, Terms Found In "Absolute Trouble"
Location / Organization Description
MondayChapter One (1)
TuesdayChapter Four (50)
WednesdayChapter Nine (117)
ThursdayChapter Thirteen (161)
FridayChapter Nineteen (273)
SaturdayChapter Twenty (302)
Bayou Terre aux BoeufsDulcie steering houseboat down this bayou (87)
Crackerone of city's worst biker bars (4)
Delacroixarrived at Delacroix to get gas and supplies (174)
8th District Police Stationpolice station where Bobby works
Lake Pontchartrain, New OrleansChapter One Opening (1)
Le Hommeelegant ladies club; Julian was featured dancer, "Ragin' Cajun" (322)

"Absolute Trouble" Quotations
31A woman was attracted to a handsome man because her body was programmed to do so.   (Dulcie)
113Sometimes the law didn't punish the bad guys, it just tucked them away for a spell and returned them to the streets meaner than ever.   (Dulcie)
122Her warm tears dampened his shirt, and he envied her ability to let loose the hurt.   (Julien)
166"It's what I do best; run away and hide."   (Dulcie)
175"make sure they don't bury me in panty hose, okay?   I can't imagine going through eternity in those damn things?"   (Dulcie)
201Solitude could be a strength in the right situation, but it also cut one off from those who could listen, who could be around when their help was needed.   (Julien)
214Was lying wrong, if by doing so you managed to help someone?   Was it all right to play games and manipulate someone's emotions, if everything turned out for the best in the end?   (Dulcie)
214"a habit of believin' what you want to despite the facts."   (Julien)
227He could settle down and make himself belong, make himself grasp life by the horns and ride it through all the bumps, the spills, the wild exhilaration.   (Julien)
236Seen a lot in that time.   Lost good friends, and spent more than a few nights staring at a blank TV screen trying to understand why things are the way they are."   (Les)

"Michelle Jerott / Michele Albert -- Absolute Trouble" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
   Michelle Jerott's WebsiteAuthor
   Michelle Jerott's FacebookAuthor
B+ / Hot08-24-1998All About Romancewell-written, detailed review
4.59 average{32 reviews}Amazonas of: February 9, 2013 {mostly older reviews}
--{no reviews}Barnes & Nobleas of: February 9, 2013
8 / 8 / 810-22-2003Eye on Romance--Nathalie // good details
----Fict FactList of Books In "The Avalon Investigations Series"
----Fantastic FictionList of Michelle Jerott's Books
----Fantastic FictionList of Michele Albert's Books
----Fiction DBList of Michelle Jerott's Books
----Fiction DBList of Michele Albert's Books
3.53 average{30 ratings}Good Readsas of: February 9, 2013
3.79 average{12 ratings}Library Thingas of: February 9, 2013
3.50 average{24 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: February 9, 2013
4.50 Top Pick03-30-2010RT {Romantic Times} Book Reviewsby: Jill M. Smith / good
3.50 average{4 reviews}Shelfarias of: February 9, 2013
4.2502-10-2013Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥   Very Subjective Rating
♣   Will add your Absolute Trouble review link to table, just ask

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Brenda Novak -- Inside

Brenda Novak -- Inside

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {4.95}
Action: ♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠♠
Action: 3 / Emotion: 5 / Romance: 4 / Sensuous: 2 / Suspense: 5  //  Laughter: 0 / Teary: 1

Setting:   Crystal City, California // Pelican Bay Prison, California
Era:       Present Day [2011]
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Some books just reach deep into your heart and grab hold of your senses and will not let go.   Inside, the first book in The Bulletproof Trilogy, by Brenda Novak is one of those books.   Loved Loved Loved this book!   So many things were right about this book.   The unique story line.   The strong emotional pull.   The insight into the psyche of the characters.   The amazingly incredible build up of so much nail-biting suspense.   The unbelievable, undeniable romance.   This book is an un-put-down-able read . . . and worth every minute of it.   (Even loved the dedication page and the note to the reader in the beginning of the book.)

Chief Deputy Warden Peyton Adams is the ultimately perfect heroine.   Besides being beautiful and having a perfect body (without having to go to the gym to exercise like the rest of us mortals), she has a code of honor to which we should all aspire and a sense of compassion close to that of Mother Theresa.   Not only that, but Peyton is intelligent, strong-willed, willing to fight for what is right, and strives to make a difference in a world that is filled with the "worst of the worst" -- the world of the most notorious prison in America, that of Pelican Bay in Northern California.

Novak obviously did a phenomenal amount of research to write such descriptive and revealing scenes about the intricate workings of the life inside a maximum security prison.   As she drew readers deep into the lives of her characters, she managed to include interesting details about this prison and it's inhabitants.   She did such a phenomenal job of describing the prison and began to develop the contrasting personalities of the inmates and staff that she made the reader feel like they were there.   She even included definitions to the terms that the inmates and officers used on a daily basis.

A perfect heroine needed a perfect hero.   Virgil Skinner is a very original hero -- a man that Peyton could never have imagined being attracted to -- a convict -- or rather, an ex-convict.   In spite of being the handsome, hunky, hero that is a requirement in romance novels, Virgil is also a man with a past of such desperation and angst that it seems impossible for him to come out a man with heroic qualities.   In spite of being a hardened convict, a member of a gang (The Crew), and having killed two men while incarcerated, it is obvious that Virgil had his own special code of honor and was more honest that some of the very men who guarded him.

Virgil's story was not pretty.   At the tender age of eighteen, he was wrongly sentenced to life in prison for killing his abusive stepfather.   It was easy to understand his bitterness and anger at such an atrocity, but what increased his rage was the fact that his own mother and uncle were responsible for his incarceration.   After fighting to survive for fourteen years in a place that no young man should grow to manhood, Virgil is exonerated.   When Geraldine Lawson came forward with information about her ex-husband, Virgil's uncle, Gary Lawson, Innocent America re-opened Virgil's case.   Gary Lawson was charged with Martin Crawley's murder and Virgil was released from ADX Florence.   It was disappointing that Virgil's mother, Ellen Lawson Crawley, was not prosecuted as well.

The first chapter is filled with so much detail about the characters that are featured in this book, that you almost need a cheat sheet to keep everything straight.   But by the time you get to the end of the chapter, Novak has generated so much interest in the story and what is going to happen next that you cannot stop turning the pages in avid interest.

Virgil is introduced to Peyton as Simeon Bennett, a member of Department 6, who is willing to be incarcerated in Pelican Bay to infiltrate the gang called Hells Fury.   His mission is to find out who is responsible for the murder of Judge Garcia and to try and find out how the gang is communicating with their outside factions.   Peyton strongly opposes the idea of placing a man, any man, in such a deadly situation, and stands alone in a room full of five other men who all want Operation Inside to be implemented.

The man most determined to implement the plan is Rick Wallace, the associate director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.   Rick dressed in expensive tailored suits, thought himself better than others, and was determined to one day be the director of CDCR.   Operation Inside was to be his stepping stone.   Rick was so self-absorbed that he couldn't see past his own interests to consider Virgil as a man walking into a potential death trap.   Novak so richly developed Rick's character and gave him a point of view voice, as she began to build the intricate web of her story, that it was impossible not to contrast this arrogant, supposedly law-abiding man, who had it all, to the strength of character that Virgil, the murdering gang member possessed.   Like Peyton, one could not help but admire Virgil more than Rick.

Officer Frank Rosenburg, the Senior Investigator of Pelican Bay's four-member police force attended the meeting and was the only man who saw the fallacies to Operation Inside, but had no option but to bow to the command of his senior officers attending the meeting.   Frank did not appear quite as often as other characters, but when he did appear on the pages of the book, he came across as an honest man who was trying to do his job against incredible statistics.

A character that faded into the background shortly after he was introduced was associate warden, Joseph Perry.   During the introductory meeting, when Joseph was asked his opinion on whether Virgil should be allowed to infiltrate Hells Fury, he was a prime example of what many such officials of the prison system supported.   Joseph, basically, had no opinion one way or the other.   If his boss wanted to do this, then let's do this.

Peyton's boss, Warden Fischer, was the man who finally silenced Peyton's arguments against Operation Inside.   Peyton had been disagreeing with iron-fisted Warden Fischer ever since she arrived at Pelican Bay six months ago.   Although Peyton wanted to treat the inmates as human beings and try to offer methods of rehabilitation instead of brutal punishment, Warden Fischer was diametrically opposed to her reasoning.   After vetoing her objections and supporting Rick's plan, Warden Fischer then pulled Peyton aside and dropped the whole ugly ball in her lap, putting her in charge of Virgil and being the liaison to Rick.   Warden Fischer was determined that should the plan blow up in his face, Peyton would take the blame.   Although Warden Fischer appeared periodically throughout the book, he was mostly a slightly-developed character that supported the movement of the other members of the cast on the chess board.

The final man that opposed Peyton was none other than Virgil himself.   Virgil's compassionate nature was revealed.   Virgil was determined to go through with this plan for one reason only -- to save the lives of his sister, Laurel Hodges, and her son, Jake, and daughter, Mia.   Rick had contacted Virgil when he was exonerated and basically blackmailed him into infiltrating the Hells Fury by threatening to prosecute him for murder in the deaths of the men Virgil killed when defending himself.   Virgil was willing to be blackmailed because he needed Rick to make sure that Laurel and her kids were placed into the Witness Protection Program to keep them safe from his prison gang brothers.

Although Virgil had to join The Crew to survive in prison, he did not seem to possess a gang mentality -- he was too strong-willed and individualistic to bow and scrap to the demands of The Crew's leaders.   However, Virgil understood the gang mentality and knew that his brothers would come after him and his family because they believed he would turn on them once he was released.   This aspect of the story provided just another tool for Novak to weave a spell of suspense as she began to paint a realistic picture of what was going on in the minds of the many players participating in this suspensefully intricate game of chess.

Not only did Novak make the gang member Virgil an honorable man, with redeemable qualities that made him worthy of being loved, but she also delved into the psyche of what other members of The Crew were experiencing.   There were several prominent Crew members featured in this story.   Virgil's cell mate and the brother closest to him was Rex "Pretty Boy" McCready.   Novak revealed the conflict that Pretty Boy experienced as he was forced to join his other brothers in their search for a man he respected beyond all others.   Not only did Pretty Boy not want to kill Virgil, but he was half in love with Laurel, since Virgil shared all her letters with him.   Pretty Boy's conflict was more intense because he hated one of The Crew members that was a part of the team hunting Laurel and her kids.   Pretty Boy may have initially come across as just a minor character in this story, but in the end, he became a bright, shining hero as well.

The Crew member Pretty Boy hated was a psychopath named Ink, known for his legendary cruelty.   Ink was portrayed with the kind of personality and body full of tattoos that most attribute to a member of a vicious gang.   Ink played a major role in the story as he caused readers to cower in fear almost as much as Laurel that such a cold-blooded, soulless man was avidly pursing a women and her children to kill them simply because she was loved by her brother.

Pointblank Thompson, the third Crew member traveling with Pretty Boy and Ink showed readers that there was a middle ground between the brutal psychopath, Ink, and Pretty Boy, the member who still possessed a conscience.   Pointblank is probably an example of what gang life is all about.   He obeyed orders simply to have someone or something to belong to and gave up his sense of regret or conscience somewhere along the way.

The Crew chief calling the shots was Shady.   It was interesting that Novak gave Shady a point of view voice in the story to reveal that even though he was a cold-blooded killer who sold drugs, there were reasons for his intense hatred of "Skin."   Shady was portrayed as a leader who was jealous of Virgil's independence and his ability to inspire respect and admiration even though he wasn't a high-ranking member of The Crew.   And then she revealed that Shady's hatred was based on his own special brand of admiration because Virgil managed to fight being violated during his incarceration, even through he was imprisoned at a younger age than Shady.

The interpersonal dynamics that Novak created between all these characters was so well-written and so well-developed that they all felt real.   These characters could walk from the pages of the book they were so believable.

This book is so powerfully intense.   Novak was phenomenal as she kept the reader so deeply involved in the emotional relationship growing between Virgil and Peyton while at the same time slowly building the suspense level to such proportions that it was literally impossible to sit still and keep reading.   Novak has marvelously moved the characters around on her chess board with such well-written dialogue and inspiring such a richly stirring connection to them that it is impossible to imagine how she is going to say "checkmate" at the end of the book and save Virgil from death for the requisite happily ever after ending.

The suspense was not the only aspect of the story in which Novak excelled.   The romance in the story was just as potent.   The attraction between Virgil and Peyton is undeniable in spite of all the impediments making a relationship hopeless.   Virgil recognizes his unworthiness for such a woman as Peyton.   Novak wrote some of the most intuitive and incredibly empathetic thoughts regarding Virgil's feelings of unworthiness and desire.

Peyton's feelings toward Virgil were just an strong.   She was a woman driven to make a difference in a world that did not favor her gender.   She had spent her entire life pursing a career to make a difference in the lives of inmates because she lost her father, a good man, to a shank after he was imprisoned for embezzlement.   And she was about to lose all of that because she could not fight the attraction she felt for Virgil, a man she was supposed to be keeping safe.   Again, the thoughts Peyton experienced as she tried to come to grips with her heartfelt attraction to Virgil were amazing feats of prose.   Novak wrote so many dynamic passages that it was impossible not to identify with both Virgil and Peyton and pray they could find a way be together forever.
Their eyes met again and she saw what she hadn't been able to see before -- vulnerability, maybe even confusion, beneath a shield of male pride.   (Peyton, page 86)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
He wondered what she'd think if she knew it was just the opposite.   She tore him up inside, made him feel, too much.   The sudden influx of everything he'd been missing had knocked him off balance, and because he hadn't adjusted to the real word yet, his behavior was out of whack.   (Virgil, page 237)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Why?" he asked, those blue eyes of his as piercing as ever.   "Why me?"

He couldn't trust anything, couldn't accept even positive attention without examining it for danger.   He'd been forced to defend himself for so long he didn't know how to stop.   He reminded Peyton of a wounded animal that both wanted attention and snarled at anyone who tried to provide it.

Cupping his cheek, she ran her thumb over his bottom lip.   "Because you're so much more than you know."
. . .
"And you don't have to convince me of your potential.   I believe in you already."   (page 361)
Because of the nature of the story and the length of time involved, it was impossible for Novak to write sizzling, spicy, heated lovemaking scenes between Virgil and Peyton.   But the scenes she did write fit perfectly into the story and were full of passion, sensuality and emotion and added to the relationship growing between them.

Two other important characters were given point of view voices in this story.   The first, Virgil's sister, Laurel, was instrumental in getting him exonerated.   It was difficult to get a handle on Laurel's personality because she was in a constant state of fear and crisis as she fled from The Crew members searching for her.   Here's hoping that Novak can make her as memorable a character in her book, the second book of the series (In Seconds), as Virgil and Peyton.

The second secondary character that played an important role in the story was a corrections officer ("C.O.") at Pelican Bay, who showed a marked interest in Peyton, Sergeant John Hutchinson.   Novak used John's presence to not only build the suspense factor of the story, but to also contrast this guard of convicts to Virgil.   Again, Virgil presented himself as a better man than the one paid to keep him in line.

There were two "too stupid to live" reasons for not giving this book a perfect 5.0 rating.   First, was Virgil's moment of stupidity.   When Virgil is shanked in a fight, he is taken to the infirmary for treatment.   What was roaming through the mind of this big, bad, macho hero, who apparently felt he must finish his assignment as quickly as possible?   He has twenty-six stitches and he chooses to go back to his cell (to prove he's a badass) instead of staying at the infirmary to heal.   (Which, by the way, resulted in the less than satisfactory result of not being able to go to Peyton's aid when The Crew came calling.)

The second was Peyton's very typically-written moment of stupidity.   Even though she {1} understands the gang mentality (having worked in the corrections system 16 years), {2} knows there is a traitor in their midst (Virgil betrayed to The Crew), and {3} received a warning from Virgil that she was a target now because she revealed her love of him, she goes about her business as usual, thus setting herself up as a target.

What more needs to be said!   Inside, Brenda Novak's first book in The Bulletproof Trilogy, is a must read for Romantic Suspense Fans.   This book is definitely going to be placed on my "to be re-read" list.
--Vonda M. Reid (Friday, February 8, 2013 : 1:35 am)     [299]

Books In The Series: "The Bulletproof Trilogy"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.07-2011InsideVirgil Skinner; wrongfully incarceratedPeyton Adams; Chief Deputy Warden
1/806-2012Blood In, Blood Out [1]Rex "Pretty Boy" McCready; ex-conLaurel Hodges, Virgil's sister
02.09-2011In SecondsMyles King; Pineview SheriffLaurel Hodges: aka Vivian Stewart; Virgil's sister
03.11-2011In CloseIsaac Morgan; wildlife photogrpaherClaire O'Toole; Pineview hairdresser
[1]   This very short story is found in the anthology Love Is Murder {edited by Sandra Brown}.

Characters, Locations, Organizations, Slang Terms Found In "Inside"
Character Description
Virgil Skinner[Hero] served 14 years for a murder he didn't commit (bc) alias: Simeon Bennett: ice-blue eyes; employee of Department 6; looked as tough as any inmate; 6'4" (1) 225 pounds; could have been hewn from stone; bulging biceps and pecs; blond hair shaved in precise military haircut; intimidating appearance (8) in criminal justice for 10 years (8) white (12) hands had knicks and cars to suggest more than a few fights; words 'love' and 'hate' tattooed on his knuckles (13) prisoner ID number tattooed on arm; an ex-con; incarcerated 6 years for murder one; belligerent (15) exonerated (16) defensive; dark secrets; contempt; out 10 years; cop before going private; jailed when 18-y-o (17) chip on shoulder; mask on his G.I. Joe face; handsome; convicted of killed his stepfather (18) piercing blue eyes; resentful (19) uncle killed stepfather; mother put him up to it; a younger sister with 2 kids (19) // as Virgil: hadn't always struggle with authority; cliqued up with The Crew to survive corrections officers (32) ADX Florence; prisoner number: 99972-506 (39) out of prison less than a week (43) ambidextrous enough to fight with either hand (44) in 14 years; 32-y-o; incarcerated when 18-y-o (47) physically strong; angry; determined; resentful (48) trading his services for new identity for him and Laurel; a survivalist (49) honors his word (50) keen intelligence; knew the score (51) something decent and worthy in him (57) a less than reliable mother; 4 step-fathers (79) long, jagged scar on forearm (82) would receive $700,000 for false imprisonment (103) lived by his own rules; didn't answer to anyone; independence created difficulties with The Crew (123) understood more than Peyton wanted; looked far deeper, to the hard truth, blanching at nothing; at war with himself (138) beautiful face in raw-boned masculinity; grim reaper tattoo on shoulder; medusa tattoo over heart (147) wore Spanish coin from 1739 around neck (155)
Peyton Adams[Heroine] Chief Deputy Warden (bc) worked in corrections 16 years (1) second in command; at Pelican Bay six months (10) hair always sleekly arranged in tight knot at her nape (13) her philosophy differed from Wardens, causing frequent disagreements (21) had to prove herself every single day (22) idealistic when chose profession; salary: $120,000 (27) blond hair pulled into knot at her nape; wide brown eyes; quickly perceptive; satiny skin; looked to young to hold such position of authority (31) practical, yet stylish suit (32) beautiful; chief deputy warden (32) 36-y-o (47) still felt compassion (65) small, cabin-like home; deck face sea (67) white Volvo SUV (71) worked at Folsom Prison 15 years (78) bright eyes; beautiful face (97) perfect figure (98) basic decency; a certain sensibility that no one else possessed (110)
. . .. . .
Grace Adams[No Appearance] Peyton's mother; lived 25 more years after father imprisoned (30) ovarian cancer; died 29 months ago (78)
[Mr.] Adams[No Appearance] Peyton's father; middle-class home in Citrus Heights, a suburb of Sacramento; when Peyton 4-y-o, went to prison for embezzling the money to pay for mother's cancer treatments; served 5 years; stabbed to death 3 weeks before his release (30)
ADX Florence[Organization] federal penitentiary in a remote, unincorporated part of Fremont County, Colorado (39)
Ace Anderson[One Appearance] Hells Fury gang member; Weston's cell mate; participated in fight with Virgil; swollen hand (307)
Aryan Brotherhood[Organization] most dangerous of all prison gangs; small but ruthless; didn't accept many new members (291)
Tyler Bingham[No Appearance] one of Aryan Brotherhood's most powerful leaders; incarcerated at Pelican Bay (291)
Bruiser[No Appearance] deviant who wanted to make Virgil his bitch (90)
Carrie[No Appearance] Virgil took to homecoming dance; first sexual experience (76)
Ellen Lawson Crawley[No Appearance] Virgil's mother (101)
Martin Crawley[No Appearance] Virgil sent to prison for his murder // Virgil's stepfather; 46-y-o (99)
Crescent City, California[Location] city in which Peyton resided (26) called 'California's Siberia' (31) 400 miles from San Francisco and Sacramento; accessible via narrow, winding roads; dense forest of redwoods on one side; Pacific Ocean on other (31) description (33) populated mostly by corrections officers (33)
Buzz Criven [Secondary Character] due out of Pelican Bay next month (12) considered a Captain in Hells Fury (80) food allergies; irritable bowel syndrom; couldn't gain weight; hollow eyes; restless nature; unpredictable; tattoos covering bald head and part of face; hardened (225) despite gang ties, not much of a behavioral concern (225) teardrop tattoo on cheek; 28-y-o (227) series of devil tattoos sticking their tongues out (288) participated in fight with Virgil; few bruises (307)
Officer Dean[One Appearance] 'wet behind the ears' Pelican Bay C.O.; escorted Virgil to Joseph Perry's office to meet with Peyton (359)
Department 6[Organization] a private security contractor out of L.A. (1)
DeWitt[One Appearance] working the sallyport when Virgil arrived (320) 23-y-o; chubby; baby-faced; HACK (274) eager for opportunity to conquer, to punish; all talk (275)
Victor Durego[No Appearance] inmate in gen pop claiming to be suicidal (26)
Warden Fischer[Secondary Character] Warden of Pelican Bay for 3 years; 61-y-o; in corrections 32 years; worked at Corcoron and San Quentin; personal friend of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor who appointed him; ruled his prison with iron fist (9) not liked by either staff or inmates; stocky; barrel chest; bowed legas; scratch voice; brought to mind a grizzled hermit; rough edges; confused rehabilitation with punishment (10) yellowed fingernails (11) unattractive habit: pinched his nostrils, pulled and let go (12) sagging jowls (20) heavily lined face (21) sparse white hair (22) lived in Brookings, Oregon (149)
Judge Garcia[No Appearance] murdered (8)
Edward Garraza[No Appearance] Hells Fury member suspected of turning traitor; found in laundry with no toes, fingers, eyes (51)
Gibbs[One Appearance] Pelican Bay C.O.; already heard about new troublemaker's arrival (228)
Eddie Glover[Secondary Character] C.O. at Florence; made world of difference for Virgil (110) 5'11"; 180 pounds; red hair cut short; freckles everywhere (175) worked in prison 10 years (205)
Gunnison[Location] small ranching community where Wallace took Laurel (156)
Hells Fury[Organization] gang; probably responsible for murder of Judge Garcia (11) growing at unprecedented rate, in and out of prison; quickly taking over Pelican Bay and moving into the streets of Northern California (12) modeled their organization after the military (80) hybrid, part racist skinhead, part street gang, part prison gang (81) got started in Texas Prisons in 80s (82) colors: orange and black (83)
Lisa Higgleby[No Appearance] staff attorney for Innocent America (100)
Jake Hodges[Brief Appearances] Laurel's son (60) 5-y-o (40)
Laurel Hodges[Secondary Character] [Book 2] Virgil's sister; entering witness protection (34) beautiful; long blond hair; blue eyes, same color as Virgil's (39) 3-y-o daughter; 5-y-o son (40) janitor at hospital; moved to Florence 11 months ago; husband had been abusive (157) stepfather beat her regularly; ran way when 16; lived on street 2 years (162) looked like brother (327)
Mia Hodges[Brief Appearances] Laurel's daughter (60) 3-y-o (40)
Tom [Hodges][No Appearance] Laurel's ex-husband (40)
Horse[Secondary Character] The Crew member (112) giant of a man; pockmarked face; bulbous nose; shaved head (171) had bulk in spades; mean; not stupid; pimped out whores (171)
Secretary Hinckley[No Appearance] {California politician} supported the plan for Simeon to infiltrate Pelican Bay (8)
Sergeant Hostetler[Brief Appearances] Pelican Bay C.O.; brought Buzz Criven to conference room (221)
Sergeant John Hutchinson[Secondary Character] recently divorce; Pelican Bay C.O.; interested in Peyton; nice; not unhandsome; sandy-colored hair; hazel eyes; lantern jaw (169) reprimanded for using too much force (186) smuggling items, working with Hells Fury (269)
Marguerite [Hutchinson][No Appearance] John's ex-wife (270)
Ink[Secondary Character] The Crew gang member; 27-y-o man; shaved head; small patch of hair on chin; baggy jeans and over-large t-shirt; muscular body; even face tattooed; physical appearance frightening; 5'9"; almost as wide as he was tall; gold tooth; dark, dull, flat, shark's eyes held no sparkle (61) lightning bolts that served as eyebrows (63) bloodthirsty bastard; enjoyed abusing everyone and everything; maimed couple of prostitutes in L.A.; legendary cruelty gave him a degree of power in a group that prided itself on violence; no loyalty; no honor; no soul (124) short; muscular; lots of tattoos (164) psychopath (284)
Innocent America[Organization] organization that responsible for Virgil being exonerated (99)
"Cooley" Jager[One Appearance] 18-y-o; punk; drove old Corvette, radio blasting; tried to be a badass; cocky (267) tall; skinny; long, greasy hair; MMA t-shirt; tight jeans; Vans on feet; gangbanger; looked like skater; usual tats; foot soldier recruited by his brother, Weston Jager (268) met with John (267)
Weston "Westy" Jager[Brief Appearances] high ranking Hells Fury; in gen pop; could have placed hit on Judge Garcia (81) Cooley's older brother (268) fight with Virgil in dining room; busted nose, fat lip, cut on eye (307)
Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park [Location] Rick and Virgil drove through (32)
Jodie[No Appearance] Peyton and Michelle's friend; divorcee; went out together once a week (36)
Jimmy Keegan[One Appearance] U.S. marshal watching over Laurel; married (310)
Kim[No Appearance] Peyton and Michelle's friend; divorcee; went out together once a week (36)
Doug Lachette[One Appearance] Hells Fury gang member; participated in fight with Virgil; busted ribs (307)
Gary Lawson[No Appearance] Virgil's uncle; charged with Martin Crawley's murder; held without bail in L.A. (100)
Geraldine Lawson[No Appearance] ex-wife to Virgil's uncle; came forward with information that got his case re-opened (100)
Lieutenant McCalley[Secondary Character] Investigative Services Unit (220) investigating John Hutchinson for use of excessive force
Rex "Pretty Boy" McCready[Major Secondary Character] The Crew member; gotten name from good looks; Virgil's former cell mate (111) out of prison (112) respected Virgil; Virgil saved his skin many times (122) average height; average build; dark hair and eyes; clover tattoo with AB on the back of his hand (206) Rex (334) decent; just came from shitty family (373)
Don "Meeks" Meecham[Brief Appearances] older member of The Crew; still physically fit; already gray at 45; mostly gone legit; considered Pointblank a younger brother (384) Donald (402)
Tom Mills[No Appearance] one of Aryan Brotherhood's most powerful leaders; incarcerated at Pelican Bay (291)
Mona[Brief Appearances] woman Shady currently living with (171) stretch marks on stomach; crooked teeth; stoned; lost her 5 children to Childhood Protective Services (172)
Greg Mortenson[One Appearance] Pelican Bay C.O.; in dining room when fight broke out (404)
Regina Murray[One Appearance] Pelican Bay nurse; size and mannerism reminded Peyton of nurse in Misery; difficult to like (315) 5'10"; received unkind remarks from convicts (316)
Officer Nance[One Appearance] picked Virgil up from Peyton's house to deliver him to Pelican Bay (273)
Nuestra Family[Organization] Pelican Bay's most notorious gang; Operation Black Widow dented (82)
Operation Black Widow[Historical Data] encompassed 30 government agencies, including the FBI; took nearly 3 years; was one of largest, most expensive investigations of a U.S. gang to date (11)
Operation Inside[Term] the name of the operation for Virgil to infiltrate Hells Fury (17)
Officer Parquet[One Appearance] picked Virgil up from Peyton's house to deliver him to Pelican Bay (273)
Pelican Bay[Organization] one of most notorious prisons in America; located in Northern California (6) problems are reaching critical proportions; headquarters for gang violence (8) California's most notorious supermax (9) 3,343 inmates, considered the "worst of the worst" (10) opened in 1989 (33) sprawled over 275 acres 10 miles south of Oregon border (273) own fire department, water treatment facility, boiler plants, electric generators, full medical department, education department with teachers, school district superintendent; $180M a year to run (274)
Dr. Pendergast[Brief Appearances] Pelican Bay doctor (300)
Joseph Perry[Brief Appearance] associate warden at Pelican Bay; lower in rank than Peyton; wire-rimmed glasses; battled constant allergies (14)
Psychiatric Services Unit "PSU"[Term] 128 beds available (27)
Public Enemy Number 1[Organization] gang that divided into two camps; {1} true supremacists, {2} crime for profit (81)
Raliberto's Tacos[Business] on M Street of Crescent City; where Virgil and Wallace stopped to eat (33)
Rathman[No Appearance] Pelican Bay C.O.; testified against John (231)
Receiving and Release "R&R"[Term] where Virgil was brought into Pelican Bay (277)
Redwood Inn[Business] 24-room, garden-style motel; where departmental staff usually stayed (35)
Bentley Riggs[No Appearance] inmate John kicked when fell and cracked his head (231)
George Robinson[One Appearance] Pelican Bay corrections officer (295)
Belinda Rogers[One Appearance] Pelican Bay infirmary nurse; cute; petite; dark hair; young mother of two (299)
Rosalee[No Appearance] warden's assistant (399)
Officer Frank Rosenburg[Secondary Character] Senior Investigator of prison's 4-member police force; late 30s; wore police uniform instead of suit; charged with monitoring all drug and gang activity; investigated all other crime perpetrate in or originating from Pelican Bay (10) dark brown goatee (11)
Salano State Prison[Organization] Prison in California where Virgil's being held for killing his stepfather
Sandy[No Appearance] John's sister; saw Wallace at Raliberto's (177)
Security Housing Unit: "SHU"[Term] 1,200 Pelican Bay inmates resided in complete isolation (10) reserved for behavioral problems (27)
Shady[Secondary Character] the man calling the shots for The Crew (112) got nickname from resemblance to white rapper Eminen; had same slight build and forever-young face; appearance made it difficult to be taken seriously; no amount of weight lifting built bulk; sold drugs (171) soul patch only hair on his body (173)
Shelley[Brief Appearances] Peyton's administrative assistant; curly brown hair (25) large breasts strained against too-tight dress (26) jangling bracelet (27) smoker (277)
Felix Smith[One Appearance] Hells Fury member; attacked Virgil (408)
Lena Stout[One Appearance] running front desk at Redwood Inn (116)
The Crew[Organization] gang Virgil joined to survive prison and its corrections officers (32) once Virgil's friends, now his greatest enemy (34) offshoot of the Aryan Brotherhood; worse than all the other gangs (90) the worst people Virgil had ever known; hated them then and now (92)
Lee [Thomas][No Appearance] Michelle's ex-husband; corrections officer; lived block to the north of Redwood Inn (36)
Michelle Thomas[Brief Appearances] Redwood Inn manager; Peyton's friend; divorcee; 3 years younger than Peyton; went out together once a week (35) worked at Inn for 10 years; would not take kids away from father (36) not tactful; blurted whatever came to mind (195)
Pointblank Thompson[Secondary Character] The Crew member; gotten nickname from shooting cop at close range (111) tall man; thin line of hair along his jaw; pointy chin (205)
Transitional Housing Unit "THU"[Term] put gangbangers who decided to debrief
Ulnig[No Appearance] Pelican Bay C.O.; testified against John (231)
Mercedes Wallace[Brief Appearances] Rick's wife (93) nasty edge to her voice (94) gained some weight; let herself go (96) hazel eyes (97)
Rick Wallace[Major Secondary Character] associate director at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"); brought Simeon to meeting; forever conscious of his appearance; heavy-looking gold ring (2) as calm, cool and collected as a politician (13) wanted to be director of CDCR someday (20) used to being in charge; arrogant (30) smug; cocky; shallow; not particularly likeable (32) refused to divorce because came from broken home (94) son of Congressman (108) state-issued Chevrolet Impala (237) dressed in expensive tailored suits (256) arrogant; self-absorbed (259) hairless chest (260) put his own needs, wants, desires first (345) thought the whole world revolved around him (347)
Ruby Wallace[One Appearance] Rick's daughter (98)
Chester Wellington[No Appearance] was to go to trial in Judge Garcia's court; Hells Fury did not want that (11)
Detric "Deech" Whitehead[No Appearance] put out hit on Judge Garcia (11) general of Hells Fury; in SHU for past 10 years; manages to get his orders out anyway (81) "Deech" (272)
Trinity Woods[No Appearance] Jake and Mia's babysitter (157) gunned down on Laurel's doorstep (167)
. . . . . .
B.O.S.[Slang] beat on sight (92)
'chomos'[Slang] child molesters (269)
C.O.[Slang] corrections officer; job didn't require more than high school diploma; not always brightest individuals; Pelican Bay's accused of being racist, cruel (274) acted tough when had every advantage, merely attempting to cover their inadequacies (275)
'daddies'[Slang] men who used sex to punish or control
'debrief''[Slang] disassociating and divulging everything he knew about the gang to which he belonged (48)
'dropping the flag'[Slang] bailing out of the gang (164)
'HACK'[Slang] horse's ass carrying keys (274)
'in the hat'[Slang] marked to be beaten or killed by other inmates (26)
'J-Cat'[Slang] going crazy (340)
'kite'[Slang] a written message (271)
'lifeboat'[Slang] an exoneration (111)
'make a bitch'[Slang] make sex slave (90)
'punk him out' [Slang] make sex slave (90)
'survivalist'[Slang] joining gang had nothing to do with the ideology; it was about having protection when you needed it (49)

"Inside" Quotations
59The only way to survive in his world, at least without going mad, was to stop wanting.   Wanting made him weak.   (Virgil)
60The opportunity to finally touch, taste, feel, smell and see the outside world had made him greedy.   He wanted to grab what he could, experience as much real living as possible before it was too late.   (Virgil)
85"You know what I want from you.   If you want it too, you don't have to make me dinner.   You don't have to view me as an equal.   Hell, you don't have to do anything at all.   Just ask."   (Virgil)
86Their eyes met again and she saw what she hadn't been able to see before -- vulnerability, maybe even confusion, beneath a shield of male pride.   (Peyton)
120"I don't want to care about you."   (Virgil)
140she represented everything he couldn't have and everything he wanted all at once   (Virgil)
153He'd expected her to balk at some point, to escape the risk associated with him, and now she'd done that.   His anger made her feel rigid and judgmental and selfish -- all the things she didn't want to be.   (Peyton)
177The decisions that had previously been controlled by cognitive function had been lost to instinct and hormones   (Peyton)
188"Quit treating me like some sort of . . . pity project"   (Virgil)
237He wondered what she'd think if she knew it was just the opposite.   She tore him up inside, made him feel, too much.   The sudden influx of everything he'd been missing had knocked him off balance, and because he hadn't adjusted to the real word yet, his behavior was out of whack.   (Virgil)
262Men were the same everywhere.   If it served their purposes, they'd do whatever they felt they could get away with.   (Virgil)
305I can't care.   Not right now."   (Virgil)
361"Because you're so much more than you know."   (Peyton)
361"I believe in you already."   (Peyton)

"Brenda Novak -- Inside" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
---- Brenda Novak's WebsiteAuthor
---- Brenda Novak's FacebookAuthor
---- Brenda Novak's TwitterAuthor
3.0006-....-2011A Romance Reviewtotally disagree
B+ / warm09-02-2011All About Romanceliked, some valid points
4.85{27 reviews}Amazonas of: February 9, 2012
--05-15-2011Arms of a SisterReview // positive inflection
--05-15-2011Arms of A SisterBrenda Novak Interview // interesting
A- / 4.5004-02-2011Badass Book Reviewsalso on: Amazon
4.50 average{35 reviews}Barnes & Nobleas of: February 9, 2013
--02-01-2010Examiner . comBrenda Novak Interview
----Fact FictList of Books In "The Bulletproof Series"
----Fantastic FictionList of Brenda Novak's Books
--03-31-2011Feathered Quill Book ReviewsBrenda Novak Interview
----Fiction DBList of Brenda Novak's Books
--04-29-2011Fresh Fiction 
----Get Lost In A StoryBrenda Novak Interview
3.99{81 reviews}Good Readsas of: February 8, 2012
3.5007-31-2011Happily Ever After Readsreally liked // also on: Amazon, Good Reads
--05-10-2011I'd Rather Be Readingmore a comment than a review
C+07-12-2011Joyfully Retiredtotally missed what the book was about
5.0007-12-2011Joyfully Reviewedbuzz words review //also on: Amazon
9 / 306-14-2011Kat Latham / Reader, I Created Himliked, well-written
--12-06-2011Kiss and ThrillBrenda Novak Interview / "What I'm Reading"
4.0003-03-2011Leafs and Boundsokay // also on: Good Reads
3.58 average{6 ratings}Library Thingas of: February 8, 2012
5.0005-31-2011Long and Short Reviewsalso on: Amazon, Good Reads
--08-30-2010Long and Short ReviewsSpotlight on Brenda Novak
5.0006-28-2011Lori's Reading Cornerloved well-written review // also on: Amazon
----My Book, The MovieMarshal Zeringue picks people who could star in the movie
4.0009-21-2011One Good Book Deserves Anotherexcellent review // also on: Amazon, GR, Shelfari
3.90 average{45 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: February 8, 2013
4.00 / Mild--RT {Romantic Times} Book Reviews 
--{8 reviews}Shelfarias of: February 9, 2013
A06-28-2011The Book Pushersgood details // also on Good Reads
4.0006-13-2011The Book Vixengood details // also on: Amazon, GR, LT
4.0006-20-2011The Bookaholic Catliked // also on: Amazon, Good Reads
A06-29-2011The Good, The Bad, and The Unreaddisagree with some of Lynne's salient points
5.0006-18-2011The Romanceaholicexcellent review // shorter post on Good Reads
--07-01-2011True Crime Books Reviewsokay // positive inflection
4.00 / 4.0006-16-2011Under The Coversalso on: Shelfari
4.9502-09-2013Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥   Very Subjective Rating
♣   Will add your Inside review link to table, just ask

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Emma Merritt -- Lord of Thunder

Emma Merritt -- Lord of Thunder Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ . ♥   {3.90}
Action: ♠♠♠♠ / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦.♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠♠
Action: 4 / Emotion: 4 / Romance: 4 / Sensuous: 1.5 / Suspense: 4  //  Historical Flavor: 3.5 / Laughter: 0 / Tears: 5

Setting:   Kingdom of Glenmuir / Scottish Highlands
Era:       A.D. 626
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Being a bit disappointed after reading Emma Merritt's first book in The Lord and Ladies Series, Lord of Fire, it was a relief that Lord of Thunder, the second book in the series, was much more exciting, attention grabbing, and entertaining.   The plotting moved the story along at a fast pace and was filled with plenty of action and suspense to keep one turning the pages way into the wee hours of the morning.   However, near the middle of the book, there was a lull in interest because of the redundancy regarding the ongoing relationship battle between the hero and heroine.

It was easy to want to walk in the same boots as the spunky, feisty heroine, Cait nea Sholto, one of four cloister minstrels, who was trained to defend herself with a whip and 20 small silver daggers she always carried with her.   Cait was one of those heroines that inspires great interest because she was intelligent, strong-willed and determined to live life on her terms.   Cait was a compassionate, caring character, who inspired loyalty and love in spite of losing her parents to brigands when she was eight.

E.M. did a great job of drawing readers back into the dark ages by inserting legends of gods and goddesses into the story as she wove a web of intrigue involving the high priests who protected the sacred holy place where Cait lived, The Shelter Stone cloister.   Cait and her younger cousin, Rob, were adopted by Sholto, the most high priest and the 'Ancient of Nights and Days.'   It was especially entertaining how E.M. continued to use the theme of Night and Day throughout the entire story.   First there was the legend of Father Creator's twin sons, Night and Day, who were forced to fight Chaos, and eventually lost their magical sickle sword and shield in the sacred pool of The Shelter Stone.   Then there was the parallel story of the twin brothers, likening them to Night and Day.

Another strong theme that runs through the book is the instant and mutual attraction between the over-achieving, hunky hero, Michael Langssonn, and Cait.   Michael and Cait meet in the first chapter of the book, where he wrongly assumes (as do most men of that time) that Cait is free with her favors simply because she is a traveling minstrel.   Cait set Michael straight in no uncertain terms and then proceeded to give him directions to Northern Scotland that would lead him away from her home, since he was a Northman, an enemy to all Highlanders.

When Cait's close friend, Dacy, rode into the cloister to warn the priests that King Ido of Glenmuir and all his family were killed by Northland sea raiders, the story kicked into high gear.   A highlander named Gilbert and his warriors had saved Glenmuir from destruction and had been named the interim King of Glenmuir until an heir could be located.   Cait was named an outlaw and conspirator because she had spouted out words of revenge against King Ido when he had ruptured her betrothal to the warrior Brieve so Brieve could marry Ido's daughter.

Sholto, already concerned that someone was after the sacred treasure stored in the Gift Chamber, entrusted to Cait the Lydian Stone Breastpin, which marked the route to the Secret Chamber, and sent Cait across the wastelands of Athdara to Northern Scotland to seek help and asylum from High King Fergus.   As Cait fled the cloister, the suspenseful nature of the story increased when one of the high priests met Gilbert in secret to tell him the possible routes that Cait would take.

The second major thread to the story (a continuation from book one) was Michael's oath to Thor to kill the man who dishonored his father's name.   Michael's father, Lang, the chief of the Clan of the Wolf, had betrothed Michael to Jarvia.   When Jarvia ruptured the betrothal, Malcolm mac Duncan, her new betrothed, paid the rupture price.   Revenge became necessary because Malcolm's best-man, Lachlann mac Niall, had supposedly led a raid on Lang's ship and stolen the rupture endowment.

This thread of the story was of special interest because, having read Lord of Fire, E.M. had revealed that Michael and Malcolm were identical twins and that Gilbert, then called Ghaltair, is the traitor that stole the rupture endowment.   It was easy to become deeply involved in the story because there were so many knotted threads that needed to be untied.   First, how would Michael and Malcolm react when they came face to face, which, in truth, was a wonderful scene.   Second, how would Michael's birth mother, High Queen Muireall of Northern Scotland, react when she saw that her first son was alive.   And, third, would Michael still challenge Malcolm to a duel to avenge his father's honor since the family dynamic would have drastically changed.

But before all that took place, Cait was caught by Gilbert's number one man, Ardac, in Athdara.   Cait was not sure that she was happy to be rescued by Michael and his warriors when Michael bought her from Ardac, who named her a whore and traitor.   And so began the ongoing relationship war between Michael and Cait.   Michael wanted Cait and she wanted him in return.   But . . . Cait refused to be the possession Michael now considered her.   Michael and Cait engaged in many moments of passion and anger as they traveled to Northern Scotland.

While the romance building between Michael and Cait was constantly threaded through the story, the sizzle and spice when it came to the lovemaking scenes was more in the nature of purple prose than sensuality.
"Oh, my husband," Cait whimpered, "you make me feel like the river outside our cave."

"How so, my lady?"

"Desire for you rages through my body.   You are the thunder, the lightning, the rain."

As the lightning and thunder went together, so did she and Michael.   Because of him, Cait knew the joy of perfect communion between man and woman.   (page 377)
One of the things about this book that was lacking was the development of secondary characters.   The story would have been so much richer had E.M. developed the personalities of the supporting characters, and had given them a point of view voice.   For instance, it was incredibly disappointing that there was so little time spent with Michael and Malcolm as they came to terms with their extremely strong ties and brotherhood.   Michael was the only one who described his coming to terms with his brother, and he spent very little time doing so because his point of view voice appeared on the pages much less often than did that of Cait.   The emotional depth to this reunion of twins was missing.

Although E.M. neatly threaded the story of how Lang and Muireall met thirty years ago when she was fleeing the village being raided by Lang's father, the brevity of time spent on their relationship was frustrating.   Although E.M. did a wonderful job of painting heartfelt feelings between Lang and Muireall and how their respective sons reacted to their union, their story was just too brief -- wish there could have been more about these two fascinating characters.

Michael's best man and childhood friend, Kolby Ingerssonn, was a wonderful addition to the story.   The male camaraderie conversations between Michael and Kolby, while much too brief, were indicative of how close these two men were.   And even though Kolby is to be the hero of his own book (book four of the series, Lady of Winter), this story would have been more enjoyable if Kolby's personality had been more richly developed.   Even though it is obvious Kolby's skills as a warrior were comparable to Michael's, his persona was a vague shadow.

Another best man and the hero of book three (Lady of Summer) was introduced and given no character development at all.   Malcolm's best man, Brian mac Logan was the man who meet Michael and Cait and their party as they crossed the river that brought them into Northern Scotland.   And while Brian was constantly about, he was given no physical attributes nor individuality.   And why did E.M. name him Brian mac Logan, when she had another of Malcolm's best men in the first book named Brian mac Lagan, who was married with four children.   All through this book it was hard to separate the two Brian's.

One other nit-picky little thing that was annoying.   On page 183, Michael was left handed.   On page 212 (and throughout the remainder of the book), Michael was right handed.

E.M. failed to describe the magic tied to the twins and the sickle sword and shield in the closing of the book when the brothers faced Gilbert.   The closing finale started out with a bang and ended with a whimper.   Having read books where the author successfully brought tears when it was believed the hero died, E.M.'s attempt to do so was dismal.

That is not to say that E.M. did not write tear-inducing scenes in this book.   She did a great job of keeping the reader emotionally tied to Cait as she fled her pursuers and had to deal with the injuries Ardac and his men inflicted on her fellow Silver Daggers.

So while Lord of Thunder was a wonderfully engaging and exciting read, it did not inspire the kind of interest that makes me want to read the next book in the series.   Yes, {1} the hero was the gorgeous hunk of masculinity that inspires drool-worthy interest, {2} the heroine was spunky, intelligent and spirited, {3} the action kept one turning the pages, {4} the suspense kept the reader guessing, and {5} the romance was ever-prevalent, but for some reason this author's style of writing does not prompt me to put her on my favorite authors list.   Lord of Thunder is an enjoyable book well worth reading, but it is not a must-read book.
--Vonda M. Reid (Wednesday, February 6, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.)     [298]

Books In The Series: "The Lords and Ladies Quartet"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.01-1994Lord of FireMalcolm mac Duncan; chief of Clan DuncanJarvia; Law-Speaker of Southerland
02.08-1994Lord of ThunderMichael Langssonn; Norse VikingCait nea Sholto; Glenmuir minstrel
03.09-1995Lady of SummerBrian mac Logan; Highland WarriorLady Gwynneth; Pirate Queen
04.11-1996Lady of WinterKolby of Apelstadt;Lady Raven;

Characters Found In "Lord of Thunder"
Character Description
Michael Langssonn[Hero] (1) black hair; tall; formidable; sharp, angular features (1) black-enameled dagger; silver-hilted sword strapped around his waist; broad shoulders; massive chest; arms bulged with muscles; muscular legs; lean man; hard and tough as black leathern scabbard at his side; stance, physique and countenance bespoke power and might; piercing gaze (2) low, masculine voice (3) ring of iron in voice; spoke Gaelic fluently; big; formidable; seemed to be hewn from stone (4) vibrant, beautiful, startling, vivid blue eyes framed with long, dark lashes; eyes cold and emotionless (5) wore torque around his neck, three ropes of silver braided together, holding hammer of Thor (6) hard, masculine, sensuous lips (11) hard; strong; dangerous (14) trained in blind fighting (29) House of the Wolves (31) a man of his word (33) more formidable than his father; since childhood, obstinate opinionated, always one to do what he want, not caring what other people though about him; unusually gifted with a strength and wisdom that surpassed other children his age; excelled in physical contests, in endurance and agility, in might; intellectual curiosity and endless search for knowledge; educated himself; learned to read and write the runes; recorded his journeys to strange lands; learned to speak and write several languages; a mighty warrior; next chief of the House of the Wolf (34) always been single-minded, decided what he wanted and went after it (67) played flute (68) clean hands, nails cut short, calluses on base of fingers (91) thick, raven hair (92) beautiful long fingers clever and deft (93) physician (94) scholar; philosopher (145) headstrong; using to having own way (167) father instilled duties and responsibilities of leadership since baby; heir to the Clan of the Wolves (172) massive shoulders, slim waist; lean, muscled buttocks (174) never went back on his word (180) left handed (183) body all beautiful sun-bronzed skin and muscle (198) enigmatic man (202) predator; radiated power; right handed (212) 30-y-o (227) as child loved the dark, could see better in the dark than most (233) methodical (240) Lord of Thunder (245) honest; sincere (246) muscles rippled from his chest to his feet; chest covered in a mat of crisp black hair; lean, hard stomach (250) darkly handsome, face a study in rugged angles and planes (274)
Cait nea Sholto[Heroine] (1) trained to defend herself with a whip and blades; carried 20 small silver daggers with her (3) one of four cloister minstrels; first priestess of the Shelter Stone to become a cloister minstrel; king ruptured her betrothal to Brieve (8) name meant "the pure one" (11) 20-y-o; unusually beautiful; russet-colored hair; tawny gold eyes; provoking, alluring, mysterious, cat's eyes (13) slender; 16½ hands tall (14) wild and unruly like the Highland mountain cat (18) spoke several different languages, including Norse (20) vibrant russet-colored hair; tawny gold eyes; melodious lilt to her laughter; subtle fragrance of herbal scent (31) lived at cloister past 12 years since parents killed by brigands (37) trained to read and write the ogham, to use body signals for silent communication (59) a fighter (84) feisty (85) beautiful, husky, melodic voice (143) spirited; quick-witted (148) beautiful slender body; gently rounded breasts and hips (179) russet-colored tresses waved gently around her face, brushed seductively against her shoulders; small waist; full breasts (271) long, curling lashes (272) ivory white skin; long slender musician's fingers (272) Caity (385)
. . . . . .
Setting / Era / Chapter 1Kingdom of Glenmuir / Scottish Highlands / A.D. 626
. . . . . .
Ardac[Major Secondary Character] Gilbert's faithful warrior; seriously wounded; treated at Shelter Stone Cloister infirmary; worked as keeper of the grounds, found Shelter Chamber (64) older man; puffy scar running down his cheek (71) master of Gilbert's men (293)
Asgard[Term] Norsemen's god (111)
Astryd[No Appearance] Lang's wife; Michael's mother; daughter of Thorfin (229)
Athdara[Place] wild country, scarcely populated (27)
Blar[Major Secondary Character] Sholto's closest friend; priest of the shrine (9) Sholto's assistant, advisor (38) mammoth man; strapping man; booming voice; effusive personality; always able to see the good side of life; a man of strong emotion; never indifferent; a person never felt indifferent about him; nearing 50 years, physique of a 30-y-o man (39) white thick hair, cut short and brushed back from his face; twinkling blue eyes; guardian priest (40) good man; dedicated priest (50)
Bloodstone Breastpin[Item] an amulet on which engraved directions to find the Gift Chamber and the Secret Chamber (48)
Brian mac Logan[Secondary Character] [Hero of book 3] best-man to Malcolm; meet Michael at crossing to Northern Scotland (201)
Brieve[No Appearance] warrior; betrothed to Cait; betrothal ruptured by king; short time later married king's daughter; loved the power and position that king promised (9) one of Glenmuir's most valiant warriors (18)
Camshron mac Duncan[No Appearance] Michael and Malcolm's birth father (227) Camshron mac Duncan (340)
Catriona[Rare Appearances] 2-y-o little girl; russet hair; blue eyes; beautiful (210) abandoned orphan; Malcolm, Jarvia rescued and adopted (285)
Clete[One Appearance] Malcolm's elderly servant (344)
High Councilman Conn[One Appearance] Councilman of Glenmuir; sent Dacy to warn cloister of attack (53) 60-y-o (187)
Council of Priests[Organization] The Shelter Stone priests (9)
Dacy[Important Secondary Character] Cait's childhood friend; older than Cait and Rob; parents killed by brigands; left borderland to become a warrior of the king; green shirt and brown trousers, King Ido of Glenmuir's livery (51)
Dall[One Appearance] King Gilbert's man (289)
Dettra[Brief Appearances] seasoned warrior traveling with Silver Daggers; older man; huge; burly (24)
Dryad Cloister of the Grove[Organization] cloister of women priestesses who have taken a vow of silence and refuse to be seen by or mate with men (48) renowned goldsmiths (382)
Ern[Rare Appearances] warrior riding with Ardac; searched Cait (73) young; outrode other warriors (294)
Fagan[Rare Appearances] Silver Dagger (25) agile body flipping through the air in feats of stunning acrobatics (165)
Feich[Important Secondary Character] a seer (213) spindly body; wiry hair standing out in all directions (346)
Fergus[No Appearance] high king in Northern Scotland (59) died 2 months ago (205)
Finn mac Duncan[One Appearance] Malcolm's warrior; came to celebration to report that Malcolm's herd of cattle had been stolen (281)
Gerce[One Appearance] King Gilbert's man (289)
Gift Chamber[Place] secret chamber where the riches of the Shelter Stone Shrine were hidden; only the Ancient of Nights and Days and the Council of Priests knew the location; filled with great wealth (42)
Gilbert[Major Secondary Character] High Council asked him to act as provisional King of Glenmuir until heir to High Seat found because he and his warrior chased the invaders out of the village (54) rode into the village in the heat of the battle (55) stole rupture-endowment; previously known as Ghaltair; been declared a traitor for conspiring against High king (63) sheltered in wilderness of Athdara; wanted to be king of Glenmuir (64) hated Malcolm (66) huge warrior (403)
Glenmuir[Place] peaceful kingdom; had been for hundreds of year; highlanders considered the Shelter Stone Shrine hallowed ground (20)
Golden Ray[Animal] Malcolm's studhorse; liver-chestnut stallion with a silver mane and tale; superb animal (208)
Lady Gwynneth "Wynne"[Secondary Character] [Heroine of Book 3] hair, gleaming like spun gold, hung down her back in a long, thick braid; tall, slender body; soft laughter; strikingly beautiful woman; wide-set eyes; full lips; oval face; golden hair; combination of features that have her an appearance men found alluring; essence of summer, warm, cheerful, bright (378) wore shirt, trousers, boots; wore sword and dirk around her waist; a lady of war; twinkling gray eyes; luminous smile (379) Wynne the Seafarer; a Highland seafarer (380) keen sense of fairness (389)
Hag's Field[Place] large plot of ground between king's village and the cloister. Once belonged to old widow whose fields were the most fertile in Glenmuir; King Ido grew jealous because her vegetables and fruits tasted like none other, had warriors removed widow from land so he could live on it; widow cursed the land, had been barren ever since; Ido's first son stillborn; Ido moved from cursed land (53)
King Ido[No Appearance] King of Glenmuir; ruptured Cait's betrothal to Brieve (8) killed during raid (51)
Inga[One Appearance] hand-fasted to Rus (206)
Kolby Ingerssonn[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 4] Michael's best friend // Northman (19) as big and powerful-looking as Michael; dark and forbidding; hair and eyes golden brown (21) Michael's headman (21) trained in blind fighting (29)
Lady Jarvia of Southerland[Secondary Character] [Heroine of Book 1] widow to whom Lang had betrothed Michael; requested an honorable rupturing of the betrothal to marry Malcolm (31) Princess (161) kind; beautiful (202) beautiful young woman; hair the color of purest silver, hung in deep waves down her back (209) miscarriage (269) fair; hair hanging softly around her face and down her back, glimmered like the purest silver; lips and cheeks rosy; sparkling eyes framed by long, dark lashes (331) learned in the use of herbs and medicines (332)
Labyrinth Hill[Place] held the Chamber of Fire: place used for ancient worship; place for trials by ordeal (204)
Lachlann mac Niall[No Appearance] Malcolm's best-man; supposedly led raid on Lang's ship and stolen the rupture endowment (32) in the South negotiating with other tribes (215)
Lang[Major Secondary Character] older warrior; as massive and muscular as Michael; Michael's father (29) dark hair, silver at the temples, hung loosely to his shoulders; dark bear; muscular hips and legs (30) tall, burly man; a simple man (34) dark beard streaked with silver (163) massive man; dark hair, sprinkled with silver at the temples, hung loose to his shoulders (164) headstrong; using to having own way (167) chief of the Clan of the Wolf; suffered deeply when wife died; faithful to wife (193)
Lydian Stone Breastpin[Item] an amulet on which engraved directions to find the Gift Chamber and the Secret Chamber in The Shelter Stone Shrine; Sholto carried in brooch he wore; gave to Cait for safekeeping (47)
Magda[Animal] wolf Jarvia rescued; loyal to Catriona (333)
Malcolm mac Duncan[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book 1] man that Michael is seeking to restore family honor (31) Highland warrior (31) discovered Gilbert conspired against High King Fergus, then banished Gilbert from kingdom (66) elected High King of Scotland upon Fergus's death (186) breeds ponies (207) has a way with the ponies (208) deep voice (211) Michael's identical twin; predator; radiated power (212) left handed (212) self-confidence that bordered on arrogance (222) 30-y-o (227) Lord of Fire (245) darkly handsome, face a study in rugged angles and planes (274)
Muireall[Important Secondary Character] High Queen Muireall of Northern Scotland: birth mother to Michael and Malcolm // handsome older woman (210) blue eyes, the color of a warm summer day (223) dark brown hair (225) married to Fergus for 10 years (225) age added depth and beauty (226) deep husky voice (277)
Ongus[One Appearance] Gilbert's warrior; one of four sent after priests; killed by Michael (294)
Rath[No Appearance] Gilbert's man; will stay in king's village of Athdara (295)
Rob[Secondary Character] young warrior; short blond hair a mass of curls; Cait's cousin (23) a Silver Dagger; 17-y-o (24) lived at cloister past 12 years since parents killed by brigands (37)
Rudie[One Appearance] high priest of Northern Scotland (211)
Rus[One Appearance] hand-fasted to Inga (206)
Sea Wolf[Ship] Michael's ship (33)
Scully[One Appearance] a clan chief (276)
Secret Chamber[Place] room in The Shelter Stone; only the Ancient of Nights and Day knows location; must hide the treasure there if he feels it is threatened in the Gift Chamber (48)
Shelter Chamber[Place] held gifts that people gave to Silver Daggers for gods of Shelter Stone Shrine (41)
The Shelter Stone[Place] a holy place, a natural stone bridge hewn out of the mountain at the beginning of time by the twin gods Night and Day; pilgrims leave the gods extremely valuable gifts; revered by the Picts, the Scots, the Glenmuirians, the Athdarians, all Highlanders (6)
The Shelter Stone Shrine[Place] a natural rock bridge hewn out of the mountain by time and elements; spanned the Shelter Stone River and waterfall that plunged down the mountain into a deep, richly blue pool of water (37)
Sholto[Major Secondary Character] Cait's adopted father; priest of the shrine (9) high priest and the Ancient of Nights and Days (10) wise man, not given to hasty decisions (26) gaunt face (46) gray eyes (47)
Silver Daggers[Organization] cloister minstrels (8) dedicated to the gods, travel through the land, carrying news and learning about medicine, bartering, sowing, reaping, politics; share knowledge with other, dispense gifts to the needy; tend the sick and dying (10) trained to leave no trace of their presence (11) can move through forest without making a sound or leaving a trail (23)
Silver Prince[Animal] Michael's stallion (158)
The Small Hall[Building] houses Malcolm's personal warriors who are not married (207)
Sven[One Appearance] Michael's man; retrieved scattered ponies (112)
Thor[Term] Northmen's god of thunder and lightening (6)
Treacherous River[Place] dangerous river; Wynne used to deliver Michael and his warriors to Glenmuir (386)
Trevor[Major Secondary Character] Sholto's closest friend; priest of the shrine (9) Sholto's assistant, advisor (38) guardian priest; tall, muscular man; features were angular and solemn; hair white and thinning; kindly and spoke softly; Cait went to him with her troubles (39) good man; dedicated priest (50)
Ulf[Animal] Michael's loyal, ever-at-his-side pet // silver-white wolf (3) exceptionally smart (12) silver-blue gaze (103) rescued Michael from boar when a wolf pup (193)
Veld[Secondary Character] Michael's man; helped with caring for patients (90)

"Lord of Thunder" Quotations
121With every action he was binding her to him, making her his.   No matter how attentive he might be, or tender or interested, she was nothing more than his possession.   . . .   she belonged to him, and he intended to brand her so that all would know.   (Cait)
145". . . one never truly possesses what one takes."   (Michael)
145"respect must be earned and equally shared."   (Michael)
193". . . one day I shall reach a part of you that no one has reached before.   When I do, I shall destroy that shield you hide behind."   (Cait)

"Emma Merritt -- Lord of Thunder" Review and Information Links
Rated Posted Site Notes, Comments, Etc.
----Emma MerrittNovember 12, 1940 -- October 18, 1995
. . . . . .. . . . . .
4.00 average{1 review}Amazonas of: February 6, 2013 (mine)
--{no reveiws}Barnes & Nobleas of: February 6, 2013
----Compiled by Connie BeckList of Emma Merritt's Books
----Eye On RomanceList of Viking Romance Novels
----Fact FictList of Books In "The Lord and Ladies Quartet"
----Fantastic FictionList of Emma Merritt's Books
----Fiction DBList of Emma Merritt's Books
3.81 average{17 ratings}Good Readsas of: February 6, 2013
--{no reviews}Google Booksas of: February 6, 2013
1.67 average{3 ratings}Library Thingas of: February 6, 2013
3.40 average{9 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: February 6, 2013
----Romance Reader At HeartAuthors of Viking Romance Novels
----RT {Romantic Times} Book ReviewsGood Viking Romance Posting
4.00 average{1 review}Shelfarias of: February 6, 2013 (mine)
3.9002-06-2013Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Fiction DB, Good Reads, Library Thing, Shelfari

♥   Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥   Very Subjective Rating
♣   Will add your Lord of Thunder review link to table, just ask