I generally review romance, paranormal and urban fantasy. I tend to pick review books that I want to read, so generally my reviews will be positive. I always give my honest opinion: good, bad, and indifferent.
Note: on my blog I use a letter grading system. I've listed the ratings below. For sites with stars, I have listed the equivalent rating. If I didn't finish the book, I will not rate it with stars.
A+ Personal Favorite (5 stars)
A Loved It (4.5 or 5 stars)
A- Enjoyed A Lot (4 or 4.5 stars)
B+ Liked It A Lot (4 stars)
B Liked It -- Recommend (4 stars)
B- Liked It -- But I had a few small issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C+ Liked It -- But I had issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C Finished It -- Liked some, didn't like some (3 stars)
C- Finished It -- Liked a little, didn't like a lot (2 or 2.5 stars)
D Not A Big Fan (2 stars)
E Don’t Waste Your Time (1 star)
TW: Reading this book was like watching a Train Wreck
DNF: Did Not Finish
updated July 9, 2015
Niklas Phoenix left the Galactic Institute of Historic Preservation after his dreams were crushed upon realizing that his mentor and others were selling the artifacts for a profit. That was the day he left to become a treasure hunter with his brothers. Now the Institute wants him back for a never attempted before expedition of ancient Earth.
Nera Darc is a deadly treasure hunter who has long been the bane of the Phoenix Brother’s collection efforts. Loaner. Killer. Sneak. But Niklas believes there is more to Nera, and with each encounter, he wants her more and more. When he finds out she’s on the expedition to Earth, he decides it is time to make his move.
Nera and Nik’s connection, which began back with the start of the series, was thrust into overdrive when Nik decided it was finally time to make his move. I love how aggressive he became towards Nera once Nik finally decided it was time. He used to be broody, but now he’s optimistic and happy. I love the new Nick. Putting the pair into danger - it’s the pair against the world, literally - helped bring them together in a way only imminent death can. I think my favorite aspect of their dynamic is that Nik truly sees Nera as his equal. He treats her as he would any other; even better because he respects her, listening to her and not trying to protect her unnecessarily, trusting her to take care of herself.
Their romance is full of excitement, both in the bedroom and out. They are silly and tender, rough and passionate. “As Niklas walked alongside Nera the next morning, he felt sated and relaxed… but he had more than a few aches. The scratches on his back stung, he had a handful of bite marks, and his muscles were aching. None of it had anything to do with escaping from rampaging zombies. He smiled. He’d never felt better."
While I enjoyed watching Nik and Nera circle their feelings and finally connect, I had a few issues with the overall plot of the story. I understand that it’s science fiction, but when a Incan-descended tribe describes English as the “language of the ancients,” I had to raise an eyebrow. Additionally, for every trip onto the highly radiated planet, the teams had a set amount of time they could stay before feeling the effects of the radiation poisoning. Yet on their final journey, suddenly it didn’t seem to matter. At times I found the adventures a bit too over-the-top dangerous, and the plentiful perilous conditions started to feel repetitive. By the end, I just want them to get away and discover the secrets of the Institute.
Overall, I enjoyed Return to Dark Earth. Unfortunately, I think that this is one of those cases where I was waiting for the book for so long, that the hype in my head was bigger than the book itself. Not that it was a disappointing tale. I enjoyed Nera and Nik’s story, and it unfolded just how it should have - filled with passion and danger. I strongly urge readers to start at the beginning of The Phoenix Adventures to best enjoy Nera and Nik’s romance.
My Rating: B/B-, Liked It but I had a few small issues