A big family, a reading addiction, and the occasional celebrity scandal are the ingredients of life that create one woman's opinion on just about everything.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I've seen these two books and picked them up and put them down so many times I can't even tell you. Apparently I have a deep suspicion of people who only have one name. You know like Cher, Madonna, and Sunny. I won't go into the weird explanation of why, but one of the reasons I didn't buy these books was that the author only had one name. I told you. Weird. Quirky.

All of which is ironic because after I read MONA LISA AWAKENING (excerpt)
I had to go looking for more info on the author, the next book, you know the basic reader stalking when a book really yanks our chain. Adding fuel to the fire of my curiosity was the ABOUT THE AUTHOR remarks at the end of MONA LISA AWAKENING and her plog on Amazon. Sunny is a family physician and Vassar graduate who surprised herself by writing an erotic romance. She's also a stage Mom for her two children and edits for her husband who is also a writer, Da Chen. Once I knew her husband was a writer I had to go to his website and get the scoop about him too. Maybe I'm more, or as much intrigued by this fascinating and accomplished family than maybe I was by the books. Maybe.

About the books, by now most of you know that the Mona Lisa books are about a woman, Mona Lisa, who is living her life working as an RN like a regular person. Well, regular if you call being able to sense and know what is wrong with people and how to treat them just by touching them. Mona Lisa believes that with time she will even be able to heal people with her hands. She hopes. She likes working in the ER and she likes helping people even though men have a tendency to hit on her all the time which sucks because she just isn't interested in any of them until...

Mona Lisa meets Gryphon in the ER. Gryphon is a patient who is not exactly like other people. He is an injured Moniere that ends up in the Emergency Room suffering from silver poisoning from a wound he received leaving his previous Queen. Mona Lisa immediately knows Gryphon isn't your average guy. He looks different, he smells different and he really lights up Mona Lisa -- literally. This meeting and Mona Lisa's subsequent decision to help Gryphon introduces her and the reader to the Moniere people who are sort of aliens who escaped the moon long ago. Mona Lisa also discovers that she is one of the long lost mixed bloods of their people who also happens to be a Queen.

MONA LISA AWAKENING goes along way to introducing us to this world and how it operates. I did find myself not happy with the author writing herself out of a corner or conflict by either a new character arriving just in the nick of time or Mona Lisa discovering a new power "accidentally" but in time to save herself. That was a little too convenient and comic book for me. Still and all I found there are elements to like here in both books.

The best thing about the books was Mona Lisa herself. I'm a sucker for a powerful, strong, intelligent woman who also has heart. Mona Lisa certainly is those things. Of course, it didn't hurt that at many points where Mona Lisa has tough decisions to make in this new life and world that she makes choices that made sense to me, even when it meant personal sacrifice or pain on her part.

Sometimes it's easier to read a book where there is a specific enemy that is clearly defined and we know what and who to watch out for, this book doesn't have that. One of the delicious things about these two books is that there are enemies and pitfalls every where. Much of the conflict comes from Mona Lisa adjusting to her life in this world. Knowing some of the dangers and hazards doesn't mean Mona Lisa knows how to cope with them. There is a constant learning curve and nothing stays the same. The Moniere world and surviving it is one of wits, intrigue and political manuevering.

This undefined enemy is what I also found to be a drag at times. Sometimes I found myself thinking the author was covering the same ground over again. I don't like to be beat over the head with a point. In particular I'm referring to the Moniere Queens being territorial, jealous, and conniving bitches. I get it, and I get that Mona Lisa is different. Sometimes while I was reading the second book
MONA LISA BLOSSOMING (excerpt) I was thinking "Not again" or "Didn't we do this already?".

While I've mentioned Gryphon I haven't said too much about a M-A-N. Not to worry, there is man-o-plenty in these books. There isn't just one M-A-N. Mona Lisa has three guys who think she's all that. Gryphon, Amber and Halcyon. Three men -- all with pretty interesting stories and distinctive feelings for Mona Lisa. While most Queens of the Moniere seem to dally with just about anyone, anytime, anywhere, Mona Lisa is a bit more discriminating. None of these guys are your average boy-next-door and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mona Lisa.

There is also a coterie of characters in Mona Lisa's life and household that she adds through each step of her journey of discovery and adversity in her new world. Some of the Moniere are taking a look at the status quo and thinking that change is good and who better to align themselves with than the new Mixed Blood Queen with a penchant for doing things her own way?

At the end of the day, I have to recommend the books for having a kick ass heroine who doesn't know when to quit and who has alot of heart.

Sunny will be starting another series about the Demon World. The Demon World and it's inhabitants make appearances in the Moniere books. I've read the excerpt and have to say I'm looking forward to LUCINDA DARKLY, THE DEMON PRINCESS CHRONICLES (excerpt) due out in August 2007.

I caution mainstream romance readers that there isn't a traditional HEA to these books. It is an ongoing and continuing story more like episodic TV.

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Blogger Rosario said...

LOL about you having "a deep suspicion of people who only have one name."! Me too (unless it's Brazilian football players), and I confess that's the exact reason why I haven't given these books a try yet.

8:48 AM PDT  
Blogger ames said...

I have both these books on hold from the library, because Bam's review a looong time ago intrigued me. :P

I'm definitely recommending Keri Arthur's series to you. She's great.

10:13 AM PDT  
Anonymous scooper said...

I loved these books. I read a short story in an anthology first and it intrigued me enough that I bought both books the first chance I got. I wrote about the short story and the first Moniere book. If you let yourself go, the erotic trip is fun and worth the time it takes to read the book.

3:42 PM PDT  
Blogger Rosie said...

Rosario, I read about Sunny on her website and Amazon and it helped me get over my one-name phobia. :) It's good to know I'm not the only one.

Ames, I've got the first 3 Keri Arthur books in TBR. Right now I'm reading Meljean's DEMON ANGEL. I've put it off long enough and want to read it before the next one comes out.

Scooper, I remember your review of MONA LISA AWAKENING. I think it's what finally got me to pick one up. I don't have the anth with her short story because I've been shying away from anthologies because they have, for the most part, been a bust for me lately.

7:26 AM PDT  
Blogger nath said...

I wonder where I was when these books came out and got reviewed LOL They indeed sounds interesting... but I think I'm going to wait for a least one more before trying them. Me, I don't have a problem with the author one-name (I guess it's her pen name... Sunny, against aliens from the moon)... my problem is actually, the character's name: Mona Lisa. Never really liked that name and I keep having the peinture popping up in my mind.

10:09 AM PDT  
Blogger Zeek said...

"I've seen these two books and picked them up and put them down so many times I can't even tell you."

Me too! hmmmmmmm Maybe ...

ps I love Brazilian soccer players too!

6:47 AM PDT  
Anonymous katbites4 said...

I own all the books from her Demon Princess Chronicles, Monère, Children of the Moon Series , and perhaps if you read Laurell K Hamilton books , you might enjoy this series. I know I did.

11:52 AM PDT  
Anonymous Zathura said...

Funnily enough I started these books and had to stop because they read too much like Laurell K Hamilton for my taste. Too many easy solutions, unbelievably handsome men attracted to a character repeatedly described as unremarkable and solving problems due to the powers of her magical vagina. Entertaining read though if you are willing to wince through some things.

7:14 AM PDT  

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