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on August 19, 2011
It took me a few days to start getting into the first chapter, but I should not have waited. It matters not whom the author was inspired by, it matters that her mind is filled with wonders that enthralled me passionately, and kept me reading until I could not read anymore. Being the first of the series, Sunny manages to immerse her readers professionally with an thrilling story-line, unique characters with intense relationships and a main POV character you will fall in love with. I'm serious, it was an awesome book! I read a lot of romance novels and this one pleases me because there is no restriction, no babying around with cheesy stuff, it's raw and it's adult, sexy, violent, passionate and exciting. I took a chance on it and was not disappointed, not one bit! I recommend greatly!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2006
With the rich visuals and beguiling descriptions, I was hard pressed to remember that this erotic fantasy is actually set in current, modern time right in the good `ole U.S.A. For that, I say bravo to Sunny for creating a thoroughly engaging, unique world that pulses right underneath ordinary human noses. The world of the Monere, children of the moon, lives and breathes in a parallel existence with that of mortals, but is far more dangerous and elite than anything mere mortals could ever imagine.

Lisa believes herself to be human, albeit one with some seriously strange talents. Not only that, but a restless presence resides within her, something that yearns to be free...something that wants to walk with its own feet, be they two, maybe even four. At her job one night in a hospital ER, Lisa meets a beautiful man, one that speaks to her inner sanctum and calls to the power she feels resides there. When he spouts gibberish about Queens and children of the moon, Lisa automatically thinks him mad, but this meeting is in fact the beginning to an awakening, one where she will finally start to come into her destiny, that of a Queen and all it entails. Little did she know another world existed, one of strange beauty, heart breaking sacrifices and unbelievable cruelty. But women like Lisa, now Mona Lisa as is her proper name, are few and she is needed to serve. Can this youngest Queen take on the role she is destined to have and will her Mixed Blood heritage be her salvation or her downfall? Only time will tell and readers will delight in the first in this series, a strong and moving story that had me immediately in its grasp.

One thing I noticed right off is we are not inundated with an overload of the world and culture of the Monere to the point of overwhelming. This allows one to fully enjoy the romance that is immediately apparent between Mona Lisa and her hospital visitor, Gryphon. Sunny leaves plenty of room for readers to form questions and develop an interest in the books to come without being obnoxiously withholding of information in turn. There is an amazing cast of supporting characters, from Amber, Mona Lisa's other love interest to the powerful Prince Halcyon, a member of the demon dead. The often-cruel visuals presented are a harsh reality of the world of Monere, one that readers sensitive to acts of violence towards women should be aware of. Though violence towards women is never a good thing, Mona Lisa seems to be the first Monere to come along with the heart and passion to try and change that facet and make a difference. She is the kind of heroine that is both vulnerable and strong, one of amazing powers and powerful emotions. Five very well deserved stars to this fresh and unique fantasy romance. While some may feel this is similar to other works already published, I feel it does a better job. Looking very forward to the sequel, "Mona Lisa Blossoming", Feb. 6, 2007 and also her new series, the Demon Princess Chronicles, the first entitled "Lucinda, Darkly", Aug. 7, 2007.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2007
Seductive, spellbound, addictive as this author begins weaving a vivid Heroine with the otherwordly magnetism and intuitiveness of Mery Gentry with the conflicted spirit of Anita Blake.
The first couple chapters are little disorienting which as you read on reflects the intitial development of the character. But once pass them, you become enthralled and end up not wanting to put it down.
If you're a fan of Laurell K Hamilton you'll probably enjoy this writer. There are simularities yet Sunny manages to create her own seductive reality that draws you in, making you eager to know what will happen next.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2009
I wish I could give this book less than 1 star, because it is truly, truly terribly. My most heartful recommendation is to avoid this book. Not only does Sunny blatantly rip-off authors Laurell K Hamilton and Anne Bishop (she pretty much admits to it in her dedication at the front of the novel), she doesn't even do a very good job of it. She's stolen many themes, plot-devices, and even some of their terminology, then stirred everything together to make something truly heinous. The writing is second-rate, like I'm reading high quality fan-fic or something. Sunny must have connections in the publishing world because there is no way this could pass muster otherwise.

I won't rehash the plot other than to say Mona Lisa finds out that she's descended from a race of people called the Monere who came from the moon to Earth over 4,000 years ago. After that, much raping, running around pointlessly, raping, complaining about being raped, and more raping ensues.

Right. Good times for everyone.

So the moon is actually a planet that died out 4,000 years ago? Really? Come on! Even I could do better than that. And Mona Lisa never thinks, "Wow, I'm from the moon. Okay, so how did the 'planet' die out? How come we can't see remnants of their cities, etc from Earth with a telescope? Did they cover everything up before they left? How did the lakes dry up and the atmosphere disappear? And how did these people (who don't seem to have any fantastic technological advances) get to Earth in the first place?"

Also, the Monere gain their energy by Basking in the moonlight. However, sunlight is deadly to them. Did someone forget to tell Sunny that moonlight is just reflected sunlight? Or, that the moon is also bathed in sunlight just like the Earth is? Or, maybe 4,000 years ago, they all lived on the dark side of the moon, in which case, how would they be able to Bask if they were ON the moon and avoiding the sunlight?

The Alpha males... aren't. They're all weak and pathetic, and of course, instantly attracted to Mona Lisa---the best Queen ever. By the end of the novel, she's only been a Queen for approximately a month and yet somehow, she's the best. The 'alpha' males are also boring. I could have fallen asleep during the sex-scenes, but maybe it was because there were so many of them. At one point, I DID fall asleep. That was when Sunny felt the need to spend 4 pages detailing the proper technique for fighting with a dagger (pgs 249-253 in my copy). I dozed off, woke-up, and swore because I was still at the boring dagger training scene.

The only positive thing I can say about this horrid novel is that it moves quickly (except for pgs 249-253). Everything happens at a break-neck pace and is handily wrapped-up at the end in a neat little bow. Mona Lisa gets everything she ever wished for and only has to suffer a few paltry rapings / near rapings in the process. She learns she's powerful, smart, attractive, has all the men she can handle (even a spare for future sequels---aka Prince of Hell), is reunited with her family and accepted into her new community except for one or two bitter Queens who can be villains in the sequel (and who could probably be stopped with some hair-pulling and a brisk pillow fight). Life is good for Mona Lisa. If only we could all be so lucky.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2010
A new and exciting world of shapeshifters. I loved it! The book was def. not YA which is what I thought it was, and was totally taken off guard, but if you're alright with some steamy scenes this is a fun and interesting series.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I have to give Sunny credit where credit is due -- I cannot think of another urban fantasy author who actually made me want to tear off my own head.

And her debut novel "Mona Lisa Awakening" succeeds in being a reeking, oozing slab of pure wretchedness on every level -- it has a Mary Sue heroine, painfully purple prose, incoherent non-plot and an endless stream of rapes, icky sex and circus-freak penises. Urban fantasy has some real stinkers, but sadly Sunny's first novel surpasses nearly all of them.

Mona Lisa is playing the magic Florence Nightingale at a hospital, when she encounters an UberHawt man with a rotting side wound, whose name is Gryphon (really?). He reveals that he is a Monere (moon person), she is a mixed-blood Monere, and she's also a queen who has magic powers, super sex appeal (called "aphidy"), and "goddess tears" that can heal on her palm.

Oh yes, and she starts licking the blood from his injury. Evidently Mona Lisa has never heard of the Nightingale pledge.

After some quick sex at her apartment, Mona Lisa and Gryphon rush off to find an antidote for his silver poisoning -- and due to Mona Lisa's awesomeness, they are immediately caught by the evil Mona Sera. After repeatedly ordering professional rapist Amber to rape her, Mona Sera learns that Mona Lisa is actually her abandoned daughter. Since this is a good reflection on her, she whisks Mona Lisa to the High Court.

But the High Court turns out to have its own dangers -- and Sunny appears to be making up subplots and plot twists as she goes. Mona Lisa must deal with rapist guards, other Queens, rapists, the seductive "demon dead" Prince Halcyon, rebel bands of rapists, and so on. All this, while trying to be the only "good Queen" and locate her equally sociopathic little brother.

Take Anne Bishop's "Black Jewels" world, combine it with Laurell K Hamilton's ghastly heroines and sex magic... and then put them in a blender and hit "liquefy." With the top off.

If you did that, the result might be something like "Mona Lisa Awakening." Without benefit of a central plot, Sunny simply strings together a half-dozen stories centering on the awesomeness of Mona Lisa. And Sunny uses these stories to let her fantasies run amuck -- endless rapes, Hot Men with rotting wounds and third-degree burns, and a parade of "just jealous" women.

And even worse: her prose. Sunny crams this book with awful dialogue ("I've already found my hell-cat. None are as sassy as you") painfully unfunny witticisms ("Where did a Monere Queen live? In Queens, of course"), and the most basic factual errors (since when is the moon a planet?). And her style is absurdly purple and vaguely pseudo-Victorian ("a dear price for a fragile whore"), except she peppers it with modern phrases.

And I can only assume that Sunny has some very serious issues with men. All her men are evil gang-rapists or pathetic lapdogs, and Sunny even gleefully pens a scene where Mona Lisa tap-dances on a rapist's severed penis.

The worst part? Mona Lisa herself. Not only does Sunny glorify her by making every other woman a sadistic freak, but Mona Lisa is quickly established as being the fastest, strongest, most compassionate, sexiest, most alluring, and most unique Queen. She also heals people via sex, can dismiss pain or burn people alive with a wave of her hand, and has kung-fu skills that can subdue the best superhuman Monere warriors. Oh yeah, and she's so intimidating that she actually makes one man wet himself.

It's difficult to find a more ridiculous ball of ripoffs and cliches than "Mona Lisa Awakening," one of the most spectacularly horrific fantasies in years. This is urban fantasy's "Eye of Argon."
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2008
This is worse than reading fanfiction authored by teenaged girls fueled by hormones and ecstacy. I don't know what deal with the devil "Sunny" signed -- but I want in.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2007
I was very excited when reviews noted a similarity to Laurell Hamilton and Anne Bishop books. Unfortunately the heroin is very much a Merry Gentry, rather than an Anita Blake. The book also seems set in a very "Black jewels married 21st century" world. At first read it comes off as unoriginal and just a bad mix of these two wonderfull series. All in all - It might not be original, it might be a little too fast paced, but it will tide you over while you wait for another Anita installment.
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