I’m accustomed to powerful, grab-you-by-the-heart-and-never-let-go stories from Sophie Littlefield. The kin...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I’m accustomed to powerful, grab-you-by-the-heart-and-never-let-go stories from Sophie Littlefield. The kind that resonate for weeks and weeks after reading. Both the Banished and especially the Aftertime series rank among some of my favorite books ever. So to say that I had high expectations for HANGING BY A THREAD, her new standalone about a girl who gets psychic visions from clothing, is putting it mildly.
HANGING BY A THREAD is a very different sort of story than I’m used to from Sophie. It’s much quieter, much slower, and ultimately much less satisfying than her previous books. Essentially, the story is about a small town murder mystery. Clare and her mother move back to the town they left years before and immediately Clare’s psychic gift sets her on the trail of a potential serial killer. She starts poking in to the murders, questioning families, friends, and anyone suspected by the police including the local bad boy who was dating one of the victims.
Clare’s fascination with fashion leads to many detailed descriptions of clothes throughout the book, especially Clare’s own numerous outfits. It did make Clare seem like a true fashion devotee, but it also slowed down an already slow book. The beginning was extremely sleepy before the visions started and I probably would have stopped reading if this was any other author. The pace did pick up once the leads and clues started piling up, but even then HANGING BY A THREAD isn’t that gripping of a story and the characters are fairly unmemorable.
I still have Sophie Littlefield on my auto-buy list, but I’ll be hoping for more stories like the awesome Aftertime series and less of the sleepy mysteries like HANGING BY A THREAD in the future.
Things seem to burn around Gabriel Merrick. He’s hot headed, hot tempered, and just plain hot—literally sin...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Things seem to burn around Gabriel Merrick. He’s hot headed, hot tempered, and just plain hot—literally since the guy can manipulate fire. Both are volatile, dangerous, and once out of control there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. In SPARK, the second book in Brigid Kemmerer’s Elemental series, Gabriel is slowing destroying everything in his life by lashing out viciously at his twin and the rest of his brothers, his teachers, and the girl who inexplicably tries to help him. He’s such a delicious jerk–but there’s that layer of vulnerability hiding right below the surface that makes him oh so redeemable.
Layne sees that layer, and isn’t cowed by Gabriel’s harsh words. She’s fierce in her own right having had to endure her own bullies and the ones that target her younger deaf brother. She keeps her head down and tries to avoid attention as much as possible…until she catches Gabriel’s eye. The relationship between these two started out without even a spark of attraction or even interest. They each had an opportunity to step in and help the other—she with his math, and he with her brother–and things spiraled wonderfully out of control from there.
One of the many things I’m beginning to love about this series is that Kemmerer doesn’t feel the need to completely resolve her romances by the end of the book. There aren’t crazy cliffhangers, but like in real life, her characters are figuring things out as they go. Gabriel and Layne still have a lot to work through. Layne’s father would sooner see Gabriel in jail than near his daughter (my absolute favorite scene in SPARK was when Layne’s father catches them in an accidentally compromised position and goes ballistic. Gabriel immediately mouths off in what has to be the top worst things you could ever say to a girl’s father including telling Layne not to forget his box of condoms when she’s grabbing his stuff), and Gabriel’s got a team of hunter’s on his tail and the fact that he occasionally sets things on fire.
Packed with the same smoking hot brothers, supernatural secrets, and rich character driven plots, SPARK is a consuming read that burns brightly from beginning to end. The romantic development reminded me a lot of Simone Elkeles’s writing–though with less sensuality. There was nothing easy or instant about Gabriel or Layne, but it was obvious from that first inauspicious meeting that they would bring out the best in each other. I’ll be eagerly waiting for Hunter’s story in FEARLESS coming in May 2013.
Sexual Content: Kissing, mild sensuality. Sexual assault(less)
Long running series like Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunters and Meljean Brook’...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy See site review for similar titles
Long running series like Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunters and Meljean Brook’s The Guardians prove that readers are still clamoring for hot paranormal romances featuring angels. Hoping to feed the demand, Christina Ashcroft introduces a new series featuring Archangels with scorching hot romance. In ARCHANGEL OF MERCY, the hero delivers on the scorching hot promise, but may be too alpha for some readers.
There are going to be readers who are really put off by Gabe, the fallen archangel hero. He is initially very dismissive of Aurora (“I have no need to ever justify my actions to anyone. Least of all to you.”) and he has his own definition of the word ‘no’. He walks a very fine line between forced seduction and just plain force. Due to his supernatural senses, Gabe is attuned to Aurora’s involuntary physical responses, and totally dismisses her numerous and forceful protests (“Fight all you like. You’re not going anywhere.”). I get that he’s a millennial old being who has reason to disdain humans, and I get that he’s very accustomed to getting what he wants when he wants it, I even get that to him, he truly doesn’t see anything wrong with forced seduction. But for me, I’ll admit to feeling slightly uncomfortable in several places.
“Get off me.” She glared up at him, breasts heaving just inches from his chest, desire snaking through every word. “You bastard! Where the hell am I?” Her disrespect, far from enraging him, tightened the need in his gut, heightened the throb in his temples…“You’re where you belong.” The words were little more than a growl and to reinforce her position he dragged his hand from the back of her neck, curled his fingers around the top of her tank and ripped the material in two. Her entire body quivered beneath him and her free hand suddenly gripped his throat. It didn’t hurt. She was incapable of hurting him. But it was surprising. “I don’t belong here.” Her fingers dug in deeper… I like Alpha males who are controlling and cocky and even a little dangerous. I like that the kind of women who end up with them are just as strong. With Gabe, he’s an acquired taste. He pushes even my limits of acceptable alpha male behavior particularly during the hotter scenes that are told from his point of view. Keep in mind that this is from Berkley’s Heat imprint, so it is very erotic. Initially, Gabe sees Aurora as little more than a walking hole (something she rightly calls him out on), but even when he reigns in on the quasi criminal caveman behavior, the plot gets somewhat convoluted and pulls in one of my least favorite story tropes to explain Gabe’s ‘inexplicable’ attraction for Aurora.
Overall, not my favorite angel paranormal romance. It is hot, and I liked the semi Sci-fi direction they took with the angel mythology that nicely sidestepped any religious dogma, but Gabe’s behavior is challenging to accept. If you are at all sensitive to even a hint of dubious consent, you’ll probably want to skip this one. According to the author’s website, this is the first in a planned series. If I had to guess, I’ll bet Gabe’s friend Mephisto will be the hero in the next book.
Sexual Content: Several graphic sex scenes. Including hints of forced seduction
There really isn’t another series that I can compare The Disillusionists to. It’s wonderfully weird and off...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
There really isn’t another series that I can compare The Disillusionists to. It’s wonderfully weird and off in the way all truly fascinating things are. Unlike the previous three full length novels, DEVIL’S LUCK is much more a paranormal romance than urban fantasy. We get the his and her POVs, and the romance is the driving force behind the story.
Carolyn Crane is simply an excellent writer, really a step (or two) above most of the authors in this genre. She conveys emotion and intimacy in beautiful flowing prose that still feels raw and gritty, a must for this genre. In terms of writing, it’s the best thing yet from Carolyn. And the character development, the depth, the fullness of the story is just unheard of in a novella length story.
If you’ve read the other Disillusionists books (and you don’t need to in order to enjoy this story), you know who Simon is: the reckless gambler who lives on adrenaline, but wow is there so much more to him…shockingly good stuff. Fawna is a bit character in the series too, but honestly, I didn’t remember her. I won’t be forgetting her any time soon after reading DEVIL’S LUCK though. She is real. I believed every bizarre thing about her from her appearance to her fears and the way she was drawn to Simon in a way that frightens and exhilarates her. He lives completely in the moment. She can’t help seeing the future. Their relationship is volatile, combustible, and thrilling.
I’m so glad the Carolyn is fully committed to this series and that she keeps finding ways to bring more stories to us. I don’t care who publishes them, if they are long or short, or what format they are in. I just want more. More of this unique world, more of these endearingly messed up characters, and more of this staggeringly good writing. What’s next Ms. Crane? I already want it.
Sexual Content: Scene of sensuality. One brief, non graphic sex scene(less)
How does an almost 600 page book end up feeling too short? Masterful plotting, harrowing danger, meticulous...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
How does an almost 600 page book end up feeling too short? Masterful plotting, harrowing danger, meticulously detailed worldbuilding with a complex history, and truly human characters even when they aren’t actually human.
I called PARTIALS, the first book in the Partials Sequence, ‘the first truly great dystopian debut of the year!’ in 2012, and FRAGMENTS is even better. So much so that I’m calling the Partials Sequence one of the best dystopian series since The Hunger Games. The medical thriller elements are just as prominent as in the debut, and while the concepts became necessarily more complex, I found them to be more easily comprehended this time. We learn more about the geneticists who created the Partials, how and why they were made, and how the RM virus that attacks humans is connected to the expiration date for Partials. Not to mention Kira’s unique role and explanation for her existence.
Books with amazing concepts often fall into a rut with their sequels either regurgitating essentially the same story or breaking so far from their original premise that they alienate fans of the debut. FRAGMENTS neatly sidesteps both common pitfalls. Author Dan Wells has carried over his brilliant balance of characters who possess opposing viewpoints and has still made them all sympathetic to readers. He raises numerous ethical quandaries in FRAGMENTS and Mr. Wells respects both his characters and his readers enough not to give them easy answers. At the same time, he forces his characters into new environments and drops MIND ALTERING revelations that we rarely see in middle books for trilogies.
The beginning of FRAGMENTS was a little slow, and I did prefer the chapters with Kira more than Marcus back on Long Island (fortunately the ratio is 3:1 so most of the book follows Kira). The plot is crazy dense and amazingly well paced, but it didn’t leave a lot of room for character development until the showstopping end (which will leave readers breathless). But those criticisms are so minor in the face of everything that this book gets so right. The conclusion to the Partials Sequence can’t come soon enough.
Richelle Mead has proven herself to be a fantastically creative author time and again writing impossible lo...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Richelle Mead has proven herself to be a fantastically creative author time and again writing impossible love stories, dynamic characters, and sweepingly epic stories. But GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS, which promised to deliver Mead’s trademark excellence, fell so completely flat and tedious that I can hardly believe it’s the same author.
I scarcely know were to begin with defining the genre of GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS. It’s quasi futuristic with different gadgets and holograms as well as scientific advancements including genetic manipulation and enhancing implants. But it’s also semi dystopian with new countries and extreme laws (like no religions allowed, and hyper class-ism). And then there are the gods–sort of. We don’t even learn anything about the notion of gods until more than halfway through the book, and even then it’s so vague and poorly explained as to mean almost nothing until the very end. I guess I’d call it a bloated sci-fi thriller with very slight paranormal elements.
Honestly, the entire worldbuilding was so confusing and complex. There are all sorts of ideas and terminology that are never fully explained so that I ended up reading the book in a state of semi confusion half the time and then just sheer boredom the other half. Even the parts that made some kind of sense seemed to serve little to no purpose in the narrative.
There are three shifting point of views, and I’d be hard pressed to tell you which one I cared about less. The rakish addict who goes around debunking the fringe religions that spring up all while secretly hearing voices telling him he’s some kind of prophet, the enhanced super solder who gets tasked to protect him while nursing her broken heart, or the teen girl who gets plucked from the slum filled Panama to attend school in the elite RUNA. There is very little cohesion between the three characters,in fact the teen served no purpose that I could see apart from forcing the rake to deal with parenting issues.
What a boring, indecipherable mess. At no point while reading GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS was I engaged mentally or emotionally. It was a chore to keep reading and I only finished this one because I have such respect for Mead’s other series. As far as GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS is concerned, game over. I forfeit and don’t ever want to play this ‘game’ again.
Sexual Content: Several non graphic sex scenes, an attempted rape.(less)
Slightly misleading cover aside (I would have bet money this was a vampire book), IMMORTALLY YOURS, the fir...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Slightly misleading cover aside (I would have bet money this was a vampire book), IMMORTALLY YOURS, the first book in Angie Fox’s Monster M*A*S*H paranormal romance series is a fast, fun read with an out of this world premise. The old and new gods from Greek mythology are in an epic war and both sides are drafting from the human/semi-human population for life long duty.
On the front lines is Dr. Petra Robichaud, a half-fairy with a dangerous secret. She accidentally exposes herself to a demi-god in order to save his life and all hell breaks loose. The romance was primarily attraction based for most of the book, which is vastly preferable to insta-love, but did keeps things fairly superficial. Galen is the classic PNR hero: gorgeous, dangerous, and determined. Petra fits the classic mode too: smart, standoff-ish, and unknowingly sensual (according to the hero).
I completely loved the worldbuilding and setting–the series name says it perfectly. I also appreciated the lighter tone and humor that carried through IMMORTALLY YOURS. On the flip side, Petra had her moments of frustration for me. Her reluctance to get involved with Galen had no logical reason at first. She had zero prospects, and he was a hot hero who was totally in to her, yet she freaked out and tried to get rid of him numerous times…and much later on when we get an explanation for her hesitancy, it just felt contrived.
As my first full novel by Angie Fox, I can definitely see the appeal. The characters are smart and the dialogue is humorous. The mix of modern with ancient mythology feels fresh and provides a great backdrop for a series. Character motivations weren’t as strong as they could have been, and some of the paranormal romance tropes could be considered cliche rather than classic by some readers. I had enough fun that I’ll be signing on for another tour of duty when IMMORTALLY EMBRACED, the second book in the Monster M*A*S*H series, hits shelves in February 2013.
Sexual Content: Scenes of sensuality. Sex scenes (less)
Maggie Stiefvater is not a writer. She is a magical creature who spins stories and creates worlds so real t...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Maggie Stiefvater is not a writer. She is a magical creature who spins stories and creates worlds so real that readers can taste, touch, and breathe them in. THE RAVEN BOYS, the first book in the new Raven Cycle series, is a wonderfully strange tale that takes just a little time to sink into before running off with the heart and imagination of every reader fortunate enough to open it’s pages.
There are no faeries, werewolves, or murderous water horses in THE RAVEN BOYS, but it feels every inch as captivating , thrilling, and just plain ‘Maggie’ as her previous books. What is does have is ghosts, psychics, and heaps of magic. The three protagonists are as disparate as can be: Blue, the lone non-psychic in her female only family; Gansley, the obscenely wealthy and privileged boy obsessed with unearthing a mystical legendary Welsh king; and Adam, the quiet but strong boy who works three times as hard as his affluent friends. There are other important characters, but these are the three who tell this story.
THE RAVEN BOYS was the first Maggie book that I didn’t read in one sitting. It took several chapters before the characters grabbed hold of me in the way I’ve come to expect from this author. There are numerous characters introduced right away and the ‘Raven Boys’ don’t officially meet Blue until chapter 6, so I was a little unsure of where the story was going up until then. But after about the first fifty pages, storylines began overlapping and Maggie’s unparalleled gift for creating flesh and blood characters sucked me in.
The bad news is that there is a cliffhanger–several actually–and the worse news is that the next book in the Raven Cycle won’t be published until 2013. It’s torturous to have to wait any amount of time for new Maggie Stiefvater books, but it feels doubly so because Blue, Gansley, and Adam are such rich and wonderfully flawed characters that it’s easy to imagine their lives going on without us. I can only hope that Maggie can keep up with them.
Evie and Jack reminded me a lot of a teenage Mackayla and Jericho from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. A...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Evie and Jack reminded me a lot of a teenage Mackayla and Jericho from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. A lot. Evie starts out as this Southern beauty with a sweet if superficial disposition who begins seeing things that can’t be real–terrifying things. Jack is the wordly wise bad boy without an inch of softness. He’s ruthless and hard and he forces Evie to survive in the new world they find themselves in. Like Mackayla, Evie isn’t a shrinking violet. She surprises Jack again and again with her tenacity and resourcefulness. He mocks her and expects her to break, when she never does, we start to see the hidden depths of Jack.
With a couple as seemingly mismatched as Evie and Jack–she’s practically Southern royalty, he’s a dirt poor Cajun with a criminal record–you can imagine the romance was anything but simple. It was a slow simmering heat that fought through prejudice, mistrust, jealousy, survival needs, and enemies at every turn. But Cole knows how to deliver romance, and in POISON PRINCESS, she shows that younger characters can fall just as hard—and they take their readers with them.
As delectable as the romance was, part of the reason it worked so well was because of the raw and frightening post-apocalyptic world they were thrust into. There are slavers and cannibals, magic and zombies, dust storms and drought. Food and water are almost as scarce as women after the Flash. It’s as treacherous a landscape as you can imagine, and all the while that they are traveling, Evie is plagued by visions and burgeoning abilities that are potentially more dangerous than the world around her.
POISON PRINCESS is a brilliant debut that will snare readers of all ages with its vivid post-apocalyptic world, engrossing romance, and novel magic based on Tarot cards. The next book in The Arcana Chronicles just shot to the top of my wishlist.
Sexual Content: Kissing. Mild sensuality. References to sex. References to rape.(less)
We don’t see an abundance of male protagonists in urban fantasy, and we see still fewer that are really gre...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
We don’t see an abundance of male protagonists in urban fantasy, and we see still fewer that are really great. Fortunately, D.B. Jackson’s Ethan Kaille falls into that category. THIEFTAKER, the first book in The Thieftaker Chronicles follows a conjurer, or wizard, in colonial America who uses his magic to eke out a living as a thieftaker. Everything in this book is meticulously researched. The time period feels completely real. The dialogue, clothing, and numerous historical characters all lend THIEFTAKER an authenticity that allowed this magical story to shine.
Set against the back story of increasing political unrest in mid 18th century Boston following the Stamp Act, Ethan is called upon to recover a missing broach and, more importantly, track down a murderer who is using spells to kill. Imagine Sherlock Holmes meets Harry Dresden and you have a pretty good idea of what this book is like. Ethan must rely on more than just magic to find this killer, and constantly be aware of the very real threat that his conjuring could get him burned at the stake. There’s some lovely personal conflict as well involving Ethan’s first love, his years spent in prison, and the new woman in his life who loves him fiercely.
THIEFTAKER was a completely immersive and thoroughly entertaining book. Jackson’s well-researched historical details coupled with his fresh and comprehensive worldbuilding are not to be missed. Jim Butcher fans take note: Ethan could be Harry Dresden’s forebearer. I’m anxious for more of Ethan’s story in the next book in The Thieftaker Chronicles, THIEVES’ QUARRY, which is scheduled for 2013.
Magic and mystery mingle in a small New England town in Claudia Gray’s SPELLCASTER, the first book in a pla...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Magic and mystery mingle in a small New England town in Claudia Gray’s SPELLCASTER, the first book in a planned trilogy that is sure to enthrall readers. One of the big attractions has to be the magic system which is incredibly cool and unlike any I’ve ever read before. Nadia doesn’t mix potions over a cauldron or recite Latin incantations, her spells require specific emotions. For example, the first spell she casts calls for:
Terror so great it paralyzes.
Hope so desperate it aches.
Courage so strong it survives
In order to produce these emotions, Nadia recalls memories. They are always short little flashbacks, but they serve as great ways to reveal Nadia’s backstory without any dreaded info-dumps.
And speaking of first spells, I’ll admit the opening was a touch on the unimpressive side, but once Nadia started Casting, I was bewitched. The story doesn’t rely on the myriad of cliches that many YA titles fall back on. There are no unnecessary secrets that divide our couple, no ridiculous miscommunications that create problems where there are none. All of the main characters were refreshingly straightforward, even with themselves.
The secondary characters were, unfortunately, pretty stereotypical, but since they weren’t given a ton of page time, that’s a minor criticism. Less easy to dismiss was the underwhelming romance. It never really reached that heart pounding place for me. I’m not sure if it was because of the multiple POVs (there are four) or because of the very real threat of death that hung over them, but the romantic plotline was the least interesting to me. But again, the rest of the book was excellent, including the characters.
Be prepared for a hefty cliffhanger at the end of SPELLCASTER. This series has a very clearly defined beginning, middle, and ending. A lot of questions go unanswered and numerous storylines are left unresolved, but it all felt very deliberate. Claudia Gray knows exactly where this story is going and I intend to find out when STEADFAST releases in March 2013, and the Spellcaster trilogy ends with SORCERESS in 2015.
Lorelei King, the actress who also narrates Janet Evanovich and Patricia...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy See site review for similar titles
Lorelei King, the actress who also narrates Janet Evanovich and Patricia Briggs books, brings Charley to life in the most vibrant and hilarious way possible in FORTH GRAVE BENEATH MY FEET. It’s doubly fitting that this is the same actress who voices both Stephanie Plum and Mercy Thompson since Charley Davidson since she’s pretty much a blend of those two characters. Like Stephanie, she’s got a wacky group of friends and family, an indelible optimism, and a quick fire sense of humor. And like Mercy, she’s got a supernatural heritage, a tortured past, a protector streak a mile wide.
FORTH GRAVE BENEATH MY FEET may be the fourth outing for Charley, but it was my first book in the series. I obviously missed a lot, but Darynda’s characters are so easily embraced, so clearly written, that I was able to fully invest in Charley and her story. I do intend to go back and start from the beginning, but not because I’m lost. I just want to spend more time with Charley…and Reyes.
Reyes. Talk about the ultimate bad boy. He’s scary hot…probably because he’s the son of the Devil. He and Charley have a steamy and volatile past that I could not get enough of. When these two are together, the pages literally singe. Urban fantasy fans who like anti alpha heroes will fall head over heels for Reyes. He’s just the right amount evil to keep things interesting while holding the possibility of redemption just out of reach.
Funny, sexy, and smart. That’s Charley. Urban fantasy needs more heroines like her. The next book in the Charley Davidson series is called FIFTH GRAVE PAST THE LIGHT and will be published on July 9, 2013. Look for the audio book version once again narrated by the fantastic Lorelei King hits shelves on the same day.
Sexual Content: Moderately graphic sex scene. References to sexual misconduct
OTHERKIN, the first book in Nina Berry’s new paranormal YA series of the same name, hurls its protagonist i...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
OTHERKIN, the first book in Nina Berry’s new paranormal YA series of the same name, hurls its protagonist into a long fought war between the five remaining shifter species and the magic users–called conjurers–who are determined to destroy them. Magic, or shadow as it’s called, comes from another world and can be called into ours by certain people. Berry provides fresh and interesting details surrounding this idea and hints at even more revelations in the books to come.
The pacing in OTHERKIN feels a bit rushed initially, which didn’t immediately endear me to Dez. She was forced through a lot of emotions in a very short period of time learning that she’s a shifter, that she’s being hunted, and that she must leave her family behind and train at a secret school for shifters. There isn’t a lot of processing time for any of this. Even Dez’s mother pretty much goes with the flow with very few questions or concerns. I appreciated the idea behind condensing the reactions, but found it too unrealistic.
The other part of OTHERKIN that felt rushed was the romance. This is an action packed book with lots of cool fights and escape scenes. It also takes place over a very short period of time. Dez and Caleb do have intense, adrenaline filled encounters, but I had a hard time believing that anything beyond attraction could have developed between them given these circumstances. Hearing the L-word thrown around was a real stretch. I do see potential for them. Dez develops a good amount of maturity and bravery throughout the book, which makes Caleb’s interest in her very believable. And Caleb brings just the right amount of mystery and impulsiveness to make him a great love interest.
The next book in the Otherkin series is titled OTHERMOON and will be published in February 2013. Fans of shifter YA series like Kelley Armstrong’s Darkness Rising series and Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade series will find plenty to like here.
I get so irritated by characters who huff and puff, threaten to take whatever they want whenever they want,...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I get so irritated by characters who huff and puff, threaten to take whatever they want whenever they want, and whisper terrifying things about themselves only to never follow through. Too many of them are all talk. In Pamela Palmer’s A BLOOD SEDUCTION, the first book in the new Vamp City paranormal romance series, we get Arturo. Finally a love interest who walks the line between hero and villain.
Arturo is a vampire who rescues Quinn from another vampire when she unwittingly stumbles into Vamp City. But instead of rescuing her for noble purposes, he takes her back to his mansion, ties her to his bed and proceeds to make good on all his threats. He stokes her fear higher and higher. Biting her, touching her, and laying out exactly what he intends to do to her: Make her one of his blood and sex slaves. He never apologizes for being a vampire, nor having the appetites that he has. He’s harsh and dismissive of her situation.
Of course, in addition to being a delicious villain, he does reveal his hero side too (although only when it helps him). In his very limited way, he grows to care for Quinn, but he never completely sheds his ruthless ways, at least not in A BLOOD SEDUCTION. If Quinn wants or needs something, he demands a price for his help. He lies, he betrays, and sympathy is not an emotion he experiences. He reminded me of a mix between Eric Northam from the Sookie Stackhouse series and Jericho Barrons from the Fever series.
Without going into too much detail, the worldbuilding is super cool. A vampire city created by magic centuries ago for vampires to live openly. No sun, no rules, no mercy. Humans are caught and sold at slave auctions. Vampires feed on more than just blood. Some, like Arturo, feed on fear, other feed on pain. There are some very disturbing, but thankfully brief and without description, scenes with a pain feeder that mention horrifying torture devices that are of a sexual nature.
Overall, A BLOOD SEDUCTION was an excellent read. Unique worldbuilding, truly evil vampires as well as ones who dance with villainy and heroism. Strong characters, and a great setup for future installments. The next Vamp City book will be released in 2013. I’m already looking forward to it.
Sexual Content: Scenes of sensuality, sex scenes, references to rape, references to sexual torture(less)
The worldbuilding in THE UNNATURALISTS is top notch. Fantastical creatures, mysterious magic, deadly conseq...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The worldbuilding in THE UNNATURALISTS is top notch. Fantastical creatures, mysterious magic, deadly consequences for those who misuse it, and an origin story that is so good it deserves it’s own book. An entire society sprang up after Tesla–yes the Tesla–broke through to another world and took half of London with him. There is no way back, so New London has progressed from this point in several alternate ways from ours. The Victorian era never ended, and Steampunk/magic progressed. Science and Logic are the religion of the day with references to St. Darwin and St. Bacon. All these little details unfold beautifully and naturally throughout the book without ever resorting to dreaded info dumps.
Of the two protagonists in THE UNNATURALISTS, I only ended up connecting with Vespa, the curious and ambitious daughter of The Museum of Unnatural History curator. She had a contagious excitement about the creatures she studied and a reckless streak that got her into just enough trouble to be interesting without being foolhardy. Syrus fell a bit flat for me. He was written in 3rd person and is much younger. His life as an outcast Tinker just didn’t grab me even as numerous tragedies befell him.
There is a small romance in THE UNNATURALISTS, though not between Vespa and Syrus. It didn’t quite come together for me as I never fully bought into Vespa’s attraction for this guy. She fell pretty quickly and repeatedly threw herself at him. I would have preferred it if Vespa had kept her hormones in check and let the potential relationship simmer. I didn’t end up feeling her anxiety when various obstacles sprang up between them.
Splitting chapters between two protagonists slowed things down as ultimately only one had a compelling story. The romance also failed to entice. The real saving grace is the worldbuilding. The amazing New London and even more amazing history in THE UNNATURALISTS make it a good read for Steampunk fans. No word on a sequel, but the ending certainly leaves room for a potential series.
Norse Mythology, beautiful and deadly Valkyries, and teen romance blend...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy See site review for similar titles
Norse Mythology, beautiful and deadly Valkyries, and teen romance blend together in Ingrid Paulson’s VALKYRIE RISING. There’s a slow building mystery involving the abduction of teenage guys, a sweet if not especially exciting love interest, and an action packed showdown between members of the Norse Pantheon.
Ellie was a really level headed protagonist. Between her older brother’s constant overprotectivenes and Tuck’s teasing flirting, Ellie is quick to loose her temper, but just as quick to cool back down and apologize when needed. She’s also not afraid to confront people in her life when they have information she needs. These characteristics helped make her Valkyrie nature all the more believable as she began discovering who she was.
As the best friend of her brother, Tuck was the guy Ellie could never let herself fall for. I didn’t exactly see what made him so desirable apart from his ‘killer smiles.’ He seemed to toy with Ellie’s emotions, and lacked enough backbone to tell her brother he was interested. I was hoping for something more in a love interest. I did like that Ellie didn’t get all hot and bothered by the other gorgeous guy who was interested in her. He came on way too strong and totally freaked her out.
All in all, I loved the Norse mythology involved in VALKYRIE RISING, especially the trickster god Loki, and Ellie’s transformation from semi-invisible teen girl to save the town warrior Valkyrie was a lot of fun. But the romance was never that exciting or surprising and the mystery didn’t end up being as thrilling as it could have been given the source material. The ending does tie up most of the loose threads while still leaving room for a sequel. Given the growth of Ellie and the challenges that await her as a budding Valkyrie, I’d be interested in reading more.
The Immortal Guardians series by Dianne Duvall is one that continues to deepen its mythology and tell hot l...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The Immortal Guardians series by Dianne Duvall is one that continues to deepen its mythology and tell hot love stories that paranormal romance readers crave. In the third book in the series, former villain turned less villainous Bastien struggles to deny his growing attraction for Dr. Melanie, the one person who shares his desire to help the vampires condemned to go insane. They aren’t the most exciting pair, but Duvall injects their story with plenty of action to help liven it up.
Unlike Rowland and Sarah, and Marcus and Ami, the couple in PHANTOM SHADOWS didn’t have the most creative meeting or even the most difficult obstacles preventing them from getting together. That lack of excitement more than anything else kept me from enjoying this installment as much as the previous two. Duvall writes well and the action scenes are intense and plentiful. The Immortal mythology adds new and fascinating layers this time–especially one huge twist at the end that I can’t wait to see how it unfolds in the next book–, and the love scenes are flirty and sensual.
I had higher hopes for Bastian’s story since as a former villain I expected him to be much more tortured than he turned out to be. Likewise Dr. Lipton wasn’t that engaging either. Neither of them brought the type of heat or volatility that I’ve come to expect from this series. They were attracted to each other, he worried that she would get grief from the other Immortals who still viewed him with suspicion, she didn’t share his worries so they got together. That’s pretty much the course of their relationship. There were some fun secondary stories involving new enemies and drugs that posed a threat to Immortals, potential alliances with the vampires, and new hints regarding gifted ones’ DNA.
PHANTOM SHADOWS may not have knocked me off my feet with this particular couple (they would have made a much more satisfying pair in a novella), but paranormal romance fans who enjoy series like J.R. Ward’s Black Daggar Brotherhood will definitely want to invest time in the Immortal Guardians series. I’ll certainly be back for the next book.
SLIDE is a book that despite an intriguing premise and an appealing protagonist, unfortunately slid right o...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
SLIDE is a book that despite an intriguing premise and an appealing protagonist, unfortunately slid right out of my mind the moment I finished reading it.
The opening of SLIDE was rather awkward because the idea of Vee randomly ‘sliding’ into the minds of other people isn’t established for several chapters. And when it does finally happen, no explanation is given for how or when it started or really what theories Vee has about it. Eventually, yes, we do learn when it started (and it’s one of the stronger scenes in the book), but the delay really hurt my reading experience. What also hurt was how rushed everything was. The character growth, the romantic developments, the murder mysteries, and suspect motives. It’s unfortunate because the bones of the plot and the premise for the supernatural twist had real potential (see below for a few other similar but stronger titles).
SLIDE should have been twice as long in order to appropriately deal with all the complex and weighty issues it attempted to tackle. Eating disorders, bullying, teen pregnancy, adultery, sexual assault, suicide, and two other BIG issues that I won’t reveal because they would be spoilers. Hathaway writes well enough that it could have been great. Instead I suffered whiplash as all these serious issues were raised and then resolved (for the most part) in just a few paragraphs. The ending is especially grievous in that sense.
There is a sequel planned titled IMPOSTER that is scheduled for a March 2013 release. I can only hope that it’s page length is worthy of the topics it covers.
Sexual Content: Kissing, References to teen pregnancy(less)
I love trilogies. I love how clear and purposeful each book is. I especially love reading the final book, t...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I love trilogies. I love how clear and purposeful each book is. I especially love reading the final book, the one where everything comes together and all the emotional and plot driven story-lines converge. Reading BOUND by Erica O’Rourke, the third book in the Torn Trilogy, I was reminded all over again why trilogies are so satisfying. In both of the preceding books in this trilogy, the endings were fantastic. So powerful and exciting. As the ending to the whole series, BOUND captures the same energy and emotionally gripping feel from the first to last page, and delivers by far the best book of the series.
The magic of the Torn Trilogy has always been the fine balance between Mo’s mob connected family life and her accidental but irrevocable connection to the supernatural Seraphim. Each side has a guy that Mo is drawn to, a villain that wants to use or kill her, and an obligation to protect the innocent. O’Rourke’s skill has been making both world equally compelling, and finally in BOUND, thrusting the two together. The consequesces are just as severe as I would have expected. Betrayal, and bloodshed, and heartbreak follow.
My only real complaint is how the romance turned out. Not because I was rooting for the other guy, but because I thought Mo was too capricious in her choosing. She was in an intimate position with one guy declaring her love and readiness for sex and then in an almost identical situation with the other guy way too quickly for my taste. Her speech to the guy she didn’t choose was in complete contrast to everything she had been saying to him the entire book. It didn’t sit right.
As a series overall, the Torn Trilogy is unique and exciting. The mythology is new and inventive, and Mo as a character grows so much over the span of the series. I’m sorry there won’t be more books in this series, but the ending feels right for the plot and characters. After a series like this, I’ll be on the look out for whatever Erica O’Rourke writes next.
Sexual Content: Kissing. Scenes of sensuality. A non graphic sex scene(less)
I think I contacted half a dozen people at Razorbill/Penguin Teen trying to get a review copy of PAPER VALE...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
I think I contacted half a dozen people at Razorbill/Penguin Teen trying to get a review copy of PAPER VALENTINE. Not one person responded and I got denied on both Netgalley and Edelweiss. Thank goodness for the lovely members of ARC Swap for providing me with a copy or I might have missed this magnificently, hauntingly, wonderful book.
I first read Brenna Yovanoff in last year’s THE SPACE BETWEEN (which I reviewed for Tor.com). Her writing is arresting and–at times–uncomfortably immersive. It’s as if Brenna cracks open her characters skulls and lets all the messy and heartbreaking parts spill onto the pages. In PAPER VALENTINE, that same raw and naked emotion drips across every scene. As in THE SPACE BETWEEN, we meet a character whose life has been battered by grief. Hannah had to watch her vibrant, glittery best friend wither away and die–only she never ended up leaving Hannah. Lillian is like a super pissed off Jiminy Cricket, constantly telling Hannah what to do and disparaging the choices she makes. It would be funny if their relationship–both before and after Lillian’s death–wasn’t so tragic.
No one knows that Hannah still sees Lillian, not her overly protective mother, her boisterous and outgoing little sister, or her trio of Heathers-like friends. Certainly not the criminally inclined Finny who tormented her as a child. In the months since Lillian’s death, Hannah has tried to keep a smile on her face even as her friends become less friendly, Finny becomes more confusing and surprisingly tender, and girls start dying in gruesome ways.
There are so many achingly realistic relationships portrayed here. The most compelling is the relationship between Hannah and Lillian. It’s laced with anger and bitterness and a love so strong that it defies even the grave. The relationship that creeps up between Finny and Hannah is just as powerful, just as alluring, but for different reasons. Finny isn’t an obvious hero or love interest. But like all good characters, he’s got layers upon layers. And as Brenna peeled back one painful layer at a time, my heart could barely contain him.
PAPER VALENTINE is part Heathers, part Scream, and part Judy Blume. I couldn’t think about anything else for hours after reading it. The story will hook you, the writing will transport you, and the characters will forever reside in your heart. Whatever Brenna Yovanoff writes next–and I mean whatever–I will be ready to start bombarding Razorbill with requests again.
Urban fantasy series are becoming more and more diverse in terms of the paranormal elements that make up th...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Urban fantasy series are becoming more and more diverse in terms of the paranormal elements that make up their worlds. It’s not enough to just have vampires or werewolves, readers want it all. And that’s exactly what Kalayna Price delivers in her increasingly gripping Alex Craft series.
Witches, fae, ghosts, and grim reapers are just a few of the supernatural creatures that populate Alex Craft’s Nekros City, a magical meets mundane world where humans can buy charms for just about anything, the dead can be raised to testify against their murderers, and the fae have their own branch of the FBI. It’s an endlessly entertaining world that serves as a perfect setting for the story in GRAVE MEMORY.
Alex and her fellow Grave Witch friend (witches with the ability See and communicate with the dead) have recently opened Tongues For The Dead, a magical PI firm. Their first case proves to be more than either of them expected. As the body count rises, and Alex discovers much more than she was ever supposed to, her debt to Death may have to be paid. Death, as in the Grim Reaper, has always been my favorite character in this series. The flirtation he and Alex have always shared hints at so much more, and I loved getting to learn more about him and see him finally decide to risk it all for Alex.
Alex Craft is quickly becoming one of the heavy hitting protagonists in urban fantasy. GRAVE MEMORY makes more than a few bold choices that will have lasting implications on Alex and those she cares about (especially the ending! What an evil–but sooo good–way to end a book). The good news is that Kalayna has signed on with Roc for at least three more Alex Craft novels. Can’t wait.
Paranormal procedurals are becoming more and more popular as the demand for supernatural flavored everythin...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Paranormal procedurals are becoming more and more popular as the demand for supernatural flavored everything increases. In the Sloane Skye series by Tami Dane, the emphasis is decidedly on the procedural aspects of the story, with some paranormal elements rounding out the edges.
BLOOD OF INNOCENCE is an aptly titled book since the primary plot involves hunting a serial killer who preys on pregnant women and abducts their babies. The potentially gruesome topic is handled very delicately (thanks in part to a fun and witty protagonist), describing crime scenes and connected details in brief, non graphic language. Also helping to lighten the mood is a seemingly unrelated storyline involving Sloane helping a less than desirable elf prince hunting for a wife (online dating sites, speed dating, and even a Who Wants to Marry a Prince? type TV show), in order to avoid marrying him herself (she got semi engaged to him in the previous book). More wackiness comes from helping to plan her mother’s wedding (shopping for awful dresses etc.).
There is some romance in BLOOD OF INNOCENCE too. Both from her fellow intern with the Paranormal Behavioral Analysis Unit (also her ex), and an agent with the unit who is determined to get Sloane to break her no-dating-superiors rule. A third suitor presents himself towards the end of the book, but I think that’s mostly to setup a storyline for the next book.
The narrating voice of Sloane was very engaging, but the paranormal elements felt almost like an afterthought. And while procedural aspects dealing with the serial killer investigation were well done, the other semi wacky storylines felt like they belonged in a Stephanie Plum novel. It was an odd mix that I didn’t fully connect with. If you like procedurals with paranormal elements, you might want to keep an eye out for the third book in the Sloane Skye series, BLOOD OF DAWN, when it is published on December 1, 2012
There’s something very old fashioned about Amanda Ashley’s vampire romances. The time periods are often nom...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
There’s something very old fashioned about Amanda Ashley’s vampire romances. The time periods are often nominally modern with characters and dialog that seem more suited to historical settings. There’s a charm in this approach for readers looking for a nostalgic flavor with their paranormal romances. In the case of HIS DARK EMBRACE, that nostalgia wasn’t quite enough to compensate for a somewhat bland story.
The premise was appealing enough with a women returning to her childhood home and finding the older neighbor she grew up loving still there…and somehow doesn’t look any older. Suddenly the hot neighbor is looking at her as a woman and passion quickly sweeps the two away. There were a couple uncomfortable moments where Kaiden remembered Sky ask a child and later as a developing teen, but fortunately those were few and far between. In typical Ashley fashion, the romantic plot quickly gives way to supernatural suspense when a vengeful vampire hunter comes after Kaiden and a formula that lets him live as a human. That’s unfortunately where the story really floundered for me.
The romance was basically resolved by then, so the introduction of a villain didn’t really feel all that harrowing, especially since he mostly filled his chapters with plotting revenge but not actually taking any action. To further drag down the story, Sky’s MIA brother shows up and has an equally uninspired side plot.
If HIS DARK EMBRACE had stuck jut to the main romance storyline, and maybe gone for novella length, it would have been a sweet, subtly sexy story that I would have enjoyed (despite the somewhat weepy heroine). But with the toothless villain and boring brother story thrown in, the book just left me a little underwhelmed.
Sexual Content: Non graphic sex scenes/references(less)
The Persephone myth is one of the most tragic and romantic in all of Greek Mythology. Even in modern incarn...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
The Persephone myth is one of the most tragic and romantic in all of Greek Mythology. Even in modern incarnations, like Brodi Ashton’s Everneath trilogy, the story of a girl abducted and forced to remain in the underworld for part of her life still resonates. What the original myth doesn’t tell us is what happens after the girl breaks free, and in the case of EVERBOUND, chooses to return in order to rescue someone she loves.
As much as I enjoyed EVERNEATH and it’s modern take on the Persephone myth, I took issue with Nikki’s imbalanced focus on her boyfriend over her traumatized family. In EVERBOUND, that imbalance is even more glaring. Nikki’s mother was killed shortly before she was seduced into the Everneath. But instead of really mourning that loss, Nikki is so consumed with thoughts of Jack and how she can’t possibly live without him that she completely ignores her grieving father and confused little brother. The way Nikki reacts to her mothers death is given about as much weight as a dead goldfish. She barely acknowledges it. But Jack, her fairly new boyfriend, is gone for a couple months and she is on the brink of death herself. It just felt so wrong. I would have enjoyed this book so much more if just an ounce of perspective was given. Death of a loving mother should be so much more significant than a missing boyfriend.
The other irksome part of EVERBOUND was the info dumps. Most of the book takes place in the Everneath and characters are constantly stopping to explain some function or species or rule. It’s a fascinating world and the various myths are woven together very well, but there were a few too many ‘Everneath 101′ lectures. On the plus side, in order to find Jack, Nikki has to keep him foremost in her mind while in Everneath so there are a handful of flashback scenes from their relationship: sweetly awkward moments, fights, their first kiss. It really helped to explain why Nikki would risk so much for Jack and why his love had allowed her to survive the Tunnels.
Imbalances aside, Brodi Ashton writes well and drops plenty of surprise twists and revelations. The ending is particularly well done and shocking. It’s very much a Pyrrhic victory for Nikki: wonderful, awful, and inevitable at the same time. Looking forward to seeing how this one ends when the final book in the Everneath trilogy is released in 2014.
MIRAGE, the second book in Kristi Cook’s Winterhaven series, once again draws inspiration from popular sour...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
MIRAGE, the second book in Kristi Cook’s Winterhaven series, once again draws inspiration from popular sources such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Vampire Diaries, and Twilight creating a sequel that is no less fun for it’s familiar story types.
Yes, Violet is a mystically chosen vampire slayer who falls for a vampire. Yes, the Aiden refuses to bite her and despises his own nature. Yes, it turns out Violet looks basically like the clone of Aidan’s first love (something she discovers by finding an old picture in his room). And yes, there are plenty of other similarities, but just like with HAVEN, the blend and borrowing is mixed with just enough new twists and subtle differences to make the story work.
Apart from those basic premises, MIRAGE tells a unique story as Violet struggles to interpret her increasingly violent visions, harness her psychic gift with the help of a dreamy new teacher at Winterhaven’s school for skilled students. Aidan is consumed with his quest for a cure to vampirism no matter what the risk. All this happens while a vampire serial killer is stalking the streets. None of that detracts from the ongoing emotional and romantic entanglements that Violet and her friends experience during their second year at Winterhaven.
Familiar but fun, MIRAGE is a worthwhile read for anyone who loves vampire YA in any medium. The third and final book in the Winterhaven series will be published in 2013. I’m already looking forward to it.
Sexual Content: Kissing. Mild sensuality. References to sex. (less)
McKenzie Lewis, a human with the highly sought after ability to track fa...moreReview courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy See site review for similar titles
McKenzie Lewis, a human with the highly sought after ability to track fae, is back and once again embroiled in the fae civil war. In THE SHATTERED DARK, there’s not quite as much story development, but be prepared for non-stop action, intrigue, and a few bombshells that will leave you dying for book three.
While THE SHADOW READER was one of my best reads in 2011, unfortunately, THE SHATTERED DARK does fall into the trap that so many sequels do: not a lot happens to advance the story or characters. There are countless escape scenes after escape scenes that all tended to blur together. I also was let down by the complete standstill with the romance. The upheaval in THE SHADOW READER was so deliciously devastating that I was dying to see the fallout from McKenzie’s choices, but it wasn’t really there in THE SHATTERED DARK. McKenzie agonized internally about her past decisions without really making any new ones.
On the upside, the ending of THE SHATTERED DARK was excellent. All the big developments I’d been hoping for finally happened and they were absolutely worth waiting for. I’m right back to the dying-to-know-what-happens-next phase that the first book left me in. So while the majority of this book felt like it was stalling for time, the ending saved it. There are no details about the third McKenzie Lewis book, but look for it to hit stores in 2013.
Another solid supernatural anthology featuring some of the biggest names in urban fantasy.
Retribution Clause by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels’ world)
The magical world of the Kate Daniels series is unparalleled in urban fantasy. Truly. So it was great fun to read a story that takes place across the country from Kate’s Atlanta in Philadelphia. There are no character crossovers, but the hero is Saiman’s cousin and also a frost giant. The characters are impressively developed for the page length, and the Seek and Assassinate mission that Adam and his partner go on is packed with magic and mayham…and even a little romance. Fans of this world will love this and new readers will get hooked on this world.
Rating: 4/5 Sexual Content: Kissing
Bigfoot on Campus by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files)
Jim Butcher is the king of short stories. I’ve yet to read one that wasn’t thoroughly entertaining, and I think Bigfoot on Campus is the best yet. Professional wizard, Harry Dresden agrees to investigate a potential threat against his friend Bigfoot’s son. There aren’t any real clues as to when this story takes place chronologically in The Dresden Files, so longtime fans and newbies alike can jump right in. Harry’s trademark biting wit and sly observations are out in force here. Easily my favorite story in the anthology.
Rating: 5/5 Sexual Content: Kissing, magical lust magic that causes a orgy in a college dorm (no descriptions), a non graphic/vague sex scene.
Holly’s Balm by Rachel Caine
So glad to see Holly and Andy back. I loved them in the STRANGE BREW anthology and hope to see more of them in future short stories (or full novels). It reads a little like an early Anita Blake story…she’s a Resurrection witch and he’s an Old West gunslinger she resurrected and then fell for (read their first story in STRANGE BREW). The romance is sweet and hopeful which contrasts nicely with their hunt for a magical serial killer who is resurrecting his victims to kill them again. This story/series is unlike anything else Rachel writes and it’s one of my favorites from her. Here’s hoping she has future plans for these two.
Rating: 4/5 Sexual Content: One sex scene
Snow Job by Carole Nelson Douglas (Delilah Street)
Having read only the first book in the Delilah Street series previously, I felt a little disoriented reading Snow Job. The worldbuilding in this series is very good, but it’s complex and really difficult to grasp in these few pages. The author does explain everything, but that unfortunately hurt the story and emotions in my opinion. Too many info dumps. I image readers who are brand new to this series will feel overwhelmed rather than intrigued by this story which involves a missing rock star, a vengeful hell goddess, and a personal grudge between Delilah and Snow.
Rating: 2/5 Sexual Content: Kissing
Outside the Box by P.N. Elrod
A simple, straightforward story that appears to be separate from Elrod’s Vampire Files series in which a witch and a vampire work as partner’s for The Company, a bureaucratic agency that monitors new vampires. A supposedly standard rising turns into a search for a missing woman and a hunt for her sire/killer. A little lackluster in terms of excitement, but the world was intriguing.
Rating: 3/5 Sexual Content: N/A
How Do You Feel by Simon R. Green (Nightside)
The Nightside series features a diverse and densely populated world, and that is no more apparent in How Do You Feel. In this story, we follow an unwilling zombie (aka Dead Boy) on his quest to feel and track down his murderers. Nightside tends to be hit or miss for me, and I’m afraid this story falls into the latter category. It’s just bizarre. The ending especially since it involves a shapeshifting, self-aware car from the future as a love interest. Too weird for me.
Rating: 2/5 Sexual Content: N/A
There Will Be Demons by Lori Handeland (The Phoenix Chronicles)
Here’s another series where I’ve read the first book, but it’s been years and my memory is foggy at best. Not sure if these are primary or secondary characters from The Phoenix Chronicles series, but it involves fairies, dhampires, skinwalkers and fallen angles. Forced to partner together in a demon killing mission, Summer and Jimmy complete their bloody task and then fall into bed together. It wasn’t exactly clear, but there may have been reincarnation or soul mate destiny between these two. That or memory loss. Again it wasn’t clear enough for me which ended up leaving me more confused than entertained.
Rating: 2/5 Sexual Content: One sex scene
Cherry Kisses by Erica Hayes (Shadowfae Chronicles #4.5) Read an excerpt
Set in the world of the Shadowfae Chronicles, Cherry Kisses follows a resourceful con artist on a job that literally forces her to take a trip to hell to steal an object from a demon. A much too handsome and definitely too honorable guy has his own reasons for helping her. I’m so glad this story was included as it gave me the opportunity to enjoy Hayes’ writing without the darker, erotic tone of the full novels. There is a wonderful flavor to the writing that really brings the fae/vampire/demon infused world to life. One of my favorites in the anthology.
Rating: 4/5 Sexual Content: Kissing
The Aracane Art of Misdirection by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville)
According to the author’s website, this story is part of the Kitty Norville series, which I’ve read some of, but I didn’t recognize the characters. It follows a blackjack dealer in Vegas who spots a cheating scam and leads her to magician Odysseus Grant. A little on the slow side compared to the other stories in this anthology, but it is an unusual tale.