Favorite Quote: “Bacon is the nectar of the Gods. It’s blasphemy what they did to it “
Reincarnation is the theme of Ms. Schultz’s modern day fairy tale series. Emma Conner and Brendan Salinger first met in Spellbound when Emma, the new girl, catches the eye of the super hot bad boy Brendan. As these two go from frenemies to soul mates, we learn that Emma and Brendan have a past together. A horrible past that will keep repeating unless they are strong enough to destroy the curse that surrounds them. Spellbound ends with Emma and Brendan defeating their enemy and learning more about the destiny that surrounds them.
Spellcaster picks up with Emma learning about her new powers and Brendan trying to be a better person then he was in the past. Our hottie was a horn dog. Brendan’s past comes back to haunt him though when a former Vince A student’s hatred for Emma and Brendan seems stronger then their love. Emma and Brendan find their inner most fears being used against them as they fight to hold onto their love against this new unknown and powerful enemy.
Spellcaster, second in Ms. Shultz’s, Spellbound series, is a paranormal romance YA that comes on stronger with the paranormal aspects then in book one. A lighthearted, fast paced story that brings the Romeo and Juliet theme into the modern day world. I liked the casual realism that Ms. Schultz injects into her characters emotions and relationships. These are high school students; resplendent in their bitchy, cliquey, instant gratification ways. Ms. Schultz does well with incorporating teen subjects such as drinking, bullying, and homosexuality in a non judgmental way.
Emma is a comfortable heroine with her sarcasm and normality. I found myself laughing as we get her insights on the students of the school and her home life. She’s smart enough to know when things are not right and seeks answers instead of just accepting. She also has a strong loyal streak which becomes evident as she seeks to learn her new powers in order to save herself and the one person she loves more then anyone-Brendan. She continues to grow and comes out of her shell beautifully in here.
Brendon is still every high school girl’s fantasy. Handsome, rich, sexy, and mysterious, Brendan evolves both emotionally and mentally in here as he deals with his love for Emma and the fear he feels as more of his past comes to light. He is convinced that she will leave him for the things he has done and his insecurities tug at your heartstrings. I like how protective he is of Emma without trying to smother her.
Brendan and Emma’s romance continues to evolve and deepen. There is a stronger sexual undertone in here then in book one that surprised me. There are times throughout, when the romantic dialogue and scenes between Emma and Brendan become repetitious. You can only have so many “I love you and this is why” scenes and there are a lot of them. Yet a small part of me understands that this are teenagers and I remember what it was like to be in love in high school. Everyday with intense. While they have an appealing chemistry and banter between them, their romance does overshadow the villain and the main plot though. I would have liked to have seen a better balancing of the multiple storylines.
The secondary characters blend into the story and our protagonist’s lives perfectly with no awkwardness. They add humor and continuity as they help keep the story’s main plot line fresh and flowing smoothly. I liked that our hero and heroine were able to be more honest in here with their friends and that in turn allows them to turn to them for help. Kristan still plays the mean girl well but I’m still not sure where her animosity stems from. There is something more there and I look forward to its revelation. Emma’s outgoing cousin still plays the perfect foil to Emma’s shyness and Angelique certainly steps up to the plate as Emma’s new bff. I enjoyed seeing her play a much more active role in the story this time around.
The main conflict is action packed and filled with surprises as Ms. Schultz reveals the villain and the reasons behind their hatred. We learn early on who the villain is but Ms. Schultz draws out the suspense as we watch Emma and her friends learn to defeat this evil. The increase of magic in here certainly made for a more paranormal story and not just another romantic YA.
Favorite Quote: “You say you can see what lies within me, lady. Tell me I am not going to destroy the light.”
The Daemon Prism is the final installmentFavorite Quote: “You say you can see what lies within me, lady. Tell me I am not going to destroy the light.”
The Daemon Prism is the final installment of Berg’s complex renaissance based character driven trilogy, The Collegia Magica. It picks up not long after The Soul Mirror ends. Each book in this trilogy has been presented from one character’s viewpoint. The Spirit Lens was from Portier de Savin-Duplais, The Soul Mirror from Anne de Vernase, and our final journey is told from Dante, the catalyst in the whole series. Blinded and crippled after battling a vindictive enemy in The Soul Mirror, Dante is struggling to deal with the tremendous loss he feels he has suffered. Ms Berg’s wonderful use of prose makes Dante’s voice irresistible as he takes us on an incredulous journey fraught with mystery, intrigue, and fantasy. The incredible world building continues to superbly translate the emotions and feelings of Dante as he tries to come to terms with his blindness and eventual loss of magic. The overall storyline is elegant in it’s ebb and flow with a lyrical prose that dips deep into a well of darkness and despair that wasn’t present in the first two books.
Dante has made it his mission to teach the practical and stubborn Anne de Vernase how to wield and control her powerful magic. He knows the time will come when he will no longer be able to command the elements himself so he uses what little time he has left to pass his knowledge on. Anne, needing a rest from Dante and the insane pressures of his teaching, makes plans to visit her family. She departs, promising Dante she will return to him. When a battle scarred solder comes to Dante, begging help against powerful dreams of a magical crystal and a beautiful ghost, Dante sees his chance to be the man he once was. Dante knows deep down this is a trap and will probably be the end of him, but he agrees and is joined on his journey by an old companion, the chameleon chevalier, Ilario de Sylvae.
I love a well executed ending and Ms. Berg delivers that here in spades. Deception, sacrifice, madness, and redemption continue to be the main courses in which the reader sups upon when reading this final installment. A trap has been set and baited, with Dante as the prize. We follow his journey as it takes him to the truth of his own beginnings and destiny as he learns of his past, present, and possible future. Once again, past events are brought forth and viewed through various eyes, convincing us that what we have read and judged as absolute truth are nothing but wisps of facts and fiction, interweaving together to produce yet another version of the story. The explanations of the magic(s) involved continued to be overly elaborate and expounded on to the point of confusion. I found myself skimming through these parts to get back to the action of the story.
Various subplots run through out the main story, running independently until they merge together to form the big picture. Anne soon enters the narrative once she realizes why Dante has committed to this journey. His ulterior motives are finally revealed-he believes the crystal’s magic has something to do with his missing friend, Portier de Savin-Duplais. Both friend and enemy, Dante discovers that Portier is to be destroyed and his body used to raise the evil mage that Anne and Dante killed in The Soul Mirror. I loved once again seeing the connection between Anne and Dante. It gives a romantic element to the story in that they are physically separate throughout most of the book yet linked through their thoughts and actions. Dante realizes through this connection just how much he needs Anne.
Secondary characters, friends and foes alike, all hold exact places within the story, propelling it forward and imparting valuable information along the way. I will admit that towards the end we are subjected to rapidly switching narratives as everyone joins the fray and the story seems to stumble through these parts. Overall this installment didn’t have the same smoothness to it the last two had but in no way does it take away from your reading pleasure. The ending is a magnificent battle of wits, magic, and sacrifice as Dante struggles to find his way back from the Hell he has consigned himself to. I was hard pressed to imagine how Ms. Berg could end this epic saga on a satisfying note yet she managed to do so in a way that will keep these characters in my heart and soul for years to come.
Favorite Quote: “I understand now, Dez,” he whispered sleepily. “I understand the hand thing.”
Deznee Cross is an adrenaline junkie. When she comes across a mysterious boy hiding in the woods, the only thing she can think of is what a rush it will be when her dad sees him and flips out. Only Dez miscalculates her dad’s reaction when he already seems to know who Kyle is and attempts to shoot him. Dez and Kale escape only to find themselves chased by a group of men bent on capturing and returning Kale to where he came from. Kale explains to Dez about the Denazen Corporation and her father’s work for them. According to Kyle, the corporation is nothing more then a breeding program for genetically enhanced teenagers, called Sixes, who are used in covert operations. Kale escaped with the hopes of finding the only other Six who ever got away from Denazen. Kale is especially valuable to Denazen because of his power-death by touch. Dez uses her contacts to verify Kyle’s story and soon finds herself embroiled in a war that will pit her against her own father.
Touch is cross between X-Men and and the tv show Heroes. A fast paced somewhat erratic YA fantasy that takes our heroine, Deznee Cross, on a journey into the deadly world of genetic manipulation. The world building is straight forward and simple with an undercurrent of excitement that is appealing. Ms. Accardo does a fine job of setting up the main conflict and heightening the experience with additional sub plots and characters. Deception and betrayal are the main themes of the story and they are plentiful. As with any YA, this is a story of firsts. Even though we read and think to ourselves, “I knew that would happen,” we need to remember that our experiences and age has taught us the watch for and anticipate the pitfalls life has to offer. They are beginning at a point we have all since passed. Filled with challenges and obstacles to overcome, I found myself cheering and cussing in the same breathe. The dialogue is realistic; Ms. Accardo has a great voice and it translate well in the telling of the story.
Deznee Cross is portrayed nicely as a 17 year old teenager. She stands on the threshold of adulthood yet has her moments that reminds you of her age. I found her personality enjoyable with her straightforwardness and enthusiasm for life. She knows what she wants and goes after it with a vengeance. Used to being on her own, her father is nothing more then a presence in her life, she has no problem handling what comes at her.
Kale was adorable with his mixture of worldliness and naiveté. He knows a dozen ways to track and kill a man yet the simplest things like dvds, pictures, and other everyday items fill him with wide eyed wonder. Kale’s experiences in discovering all he’s missed in the outside world translates wonderfully from paper to your heart. You can feel his joy. His sense of honor and loyalty is unquestionable.
The romance is quite steamy for a YA. The chemistry between Dez and Kale leaps off the pages and leaves you remembering the excitement and thrill of your first potentially serious relationship. Inexperienced men seems to be the soup du jour this season and Ms. Accardo exploits that in here with the innocent Kale and the more experienced Dez. There is a small love triangle in here but I never really took Kale’s opponent to seriously. I did feel that at times the romance angle-not just with Dez and Kale-seemed to over take the main conflict at times. Dez seems to be a very popular girl and too often that was the reason given for some of the betrayals that are uncovered.
Vibrant and interesting secondary characters give the story line depth and add to the overall frantic feel of the story. I do wish there had been more girls added to the mix though. Perhaps in later books. I understand why, Dez’s personality and chosen “hobbies” are more guy oriented, but still…more girls would have given more balance. There is plenty of ribald humor to off set the seriousness at times and to remind us-these are teenagers. I loved the different sets of “powers” that are revealed.
A sticking point with me was the constant bombardment of obstacles Dez and Kale are forced to face. You get to a point where you ready for everything to calm down and allow for some breathing room. At times I did wish Dez wasn’t so trusting or would listen to her instincts more. Some of the problems she encounters could have been avoided had she just paid more attention. I enjoyed her adrenalin junkie persona but as I stated earlier, at times it becomes overwhelming and your ready for a less action and more emotional connections. I also think that more female characters would have balanced the story more.
The ending is climatic as all the subplots unite in one final showdown. Ms. Accardo leaves just enough open to allow us to slide into the next in the series, which is to be announced. YA aficionados will certainly enjoy this new author’s debut fantasy novel that promises a exciting adventure. I look forward to reading more about the Denazen Corp and the Sixes. While this is listed as a YA, the sexual content and scenes of violence and drugs has it teetering on the edge between teen YA and young adult.
Favorite Quote: “So. Are you going to see him again?" "Technically, I haven’t seen him at all . . ."
Lena Riddle is blind, but that has not stopped her in her quest to live a full and passionate life. A top notch chef; she has honed her other senses to make up for her lack of sight. When she hears a woman scream, Lena is positive the woman is hurt and suffering. When she calls the police, they are unable to find a woman or an evidence to suggest one was there. Lena’s blindness also has some brushing it off as a figment of her imagination. But Lena knew what she heard and feels sure that this isn’t the end, but the beginning of something bad coming to her town.
Ezra King, is a state cop on leave after he discovers his lover and partner is dirty and she shoots him. A grandson of a well revered resident, Erza is restoring his grandmother’s house and trying to come to terms with what happened. He feelings of betrayal and inadequacy leaves him emotionally barricaded from the world. When he first meets Lena he is completely blown away by her beauty and charm. He asks her out, but on the date realizes that Lena is the one person who could make him feel again so he shies away from her. When he hears of her scream and the lack of police concern though, Erza offers his help, all the while convincing himself that is what friends do.
If You Hear Her is the first in an incredibly suspenseful romantic trilogy by Shiloh Walker. A fan of Ms. Walker’s previous works, I found myself jumping at the bit to see where her imagination would take me this time around. Not only does Ms. Walker deliver her trademark scorching hot love scenes and dynamic, personable characters in here but she goes above and beyond in creating a suspense that will keep you perched on the edge till the very end. Fast pacing and a dramatic multi layered storyline will hold you hostage as the tension builds through the book, increasing with each new revelation. Ms. Walker gives us two wonderfully strong and charismatic protagonists in the form of Lena Riddle and Ezra King. The sparks literally light the pages on fire from the moment these two first meet. I like how realistic they and their problems were. Both are intelligent, independent, well adjusted. I like that there were no huge hurdles or misunderstandings to snag their story. The slow steamy sexual heat and tension these two generate will leave you panting as you watch them dance their way in to each others arms. What starts as lust develops into to a tender love story that is stunning to watch unfold. Though the romance takes a second place to the plot of the story, I found myself becoming heavily vested in their outcome.
A thoroughly maniacal, chilling villain paired with an extensive secondary cast has you looking over your shoulder and playing detective as you try to figure out who is the killer. Ms. Walker does not make it easy for you either. She uses If You Hear Her to set up for the other books in the trilogy so your being introduced to new characters and subplots throughout. She doles out the clues randomly only to do a 180 and have you questioning yourself. I have a feeling we will all be more than ready for book three-If You Know Her.
I will warn that since this is a three part trilogy; the romantic conflicts are somewhat resolved or at least on the right path but the mystery is not. I was so absorbed by this story that the end came as a total shock. I admit to shaking the book, hoping more pages would magically appear. Alas, they did not. Though not a fan of cliffhangers, this particular ones does nothing more than wet my appetite for the second in the series, If You See Her, which releases in January 2012.
The Shadow Reader (McKenzie Lewis #1) by Sandy Williams Urban Fantasy Paperback October 25, 2011 Ace
Favorite Quote: “I dedicated my life to my king. I should have dedicated it to you. “
McKenzie Lewis is a Nalkin-Shom-a shadow witch. She has a special gift that allows her to see and track the Fae by “reading” the shadows they leave behind when fissuring (teleporting). This gift has cost her family and friends; they believe her insane. From the time she was 16 years old till now (she’s 26) she has been in service to the King of the Fae, working to help track and capture the rebels who are bent on overthrowing the realm. She has also spent the last 10 years in love with the king’s sword-master; Kyol. She knows nothing can come of it, relations between humans and fae are forbidden yet she holds on against hope that someday they can be together.
McKenzie has been toying with the idea of retiring and begins taking collage courses to prepare herself for a normal life. When she is kidnapped by the fae rebel leader, Aren, that dream is shattered. He begins to show her the lies and half truths she has been told by the King. She finds herself starting to question everything she has ever known about the fae, it’s king, and her beloved sword master. When the war threatens to spill into the human realm, McKenzie has to choose who’ll she stand by during this devastating war for power.
Sandy Williams packs a powerful punch with her debut urban fantasy Shadow Reader. An energetic, explosive story that takes our world and intertwines it with fantasy. Our heroine McKenzie isn’t your average UF heroine. She has a gift but no special life saving powers or skills. She is an average human among a stronger and more deadly race. I admired her strength in the face of her gift. It couldn’t be easy to face the daily ridicule she experienced because of her ability to see the fae. The fact that Ms. Williams is able to develop her into an appealing protagonist instead of a victim says much about her characterization skills. The world building is fantastically complex with it’s political manipulations and geography make up. Though we only get a small sample of the territory, I look forward to peeling back the obvious layers and exploring what this world has to offer.
There are two story lines that run simultaneously and dependent upon one another. The main conflict and a love triangle. While I’m not a fan of love triangles, Ms. Williams does a remarkable job of setting it up in a realistic fashion and making it less an angst filled “oh who will I ever choose” and more a serious decision that will not only decide matters of her heart but also her future. Our two “heroes” are Kyol and Aren. Kyol is the king’s sword master. A serious warrior who’s loyalty to the king and his fellow fae is unquestionable. He loves McKenzie but the law forbidding them to interact romantically has him keeping her at arms length. We don’t see much of him till the near the end. Aren is the fae rebel leader. A charismatic, manipulative, chameleon of a man who at first sees McKenzie as a means to an end. He does not hesitate to use and lie to McKenzie but soon sees that she has been nothing more then a pawn in their war. Both men put the war first and use McKenzie in attempts to further their own goals. I will admit that I wasn’t impressed with McKenzie’s choice. I didn’t feel either of them deserved her.
The main conflict is a treacherous path filled with deception, misdirection, and betrayal. You never know who is telling the truth and just when you think you’ve figured it out, Ms. Williams changes direction and you are once again frantically trying to keep up. The ending felt like a roller coaster ride; relentlessly tossing me up and down, left and right as I screamed in both fear and excitement. This book will keep your emotions on overload till the very last sentence. Even though the book ends on a high note with an effective resolution; there is enough left open to allow for a second book.
I encourage all readers with a love of Urban Fantasy to run, not walk, to your nearest book store and get your very own copy. Ms. William’s Shadow Reader is a must read for 2011.
Favorite Quote: “This is why I was against casual Thursdays. There’s always one person who takes it too far.”
I’m a huge fan of Ms. James’s Rough Riders series so when I was offered this one for review thought, “Ride’em cowgirl!” Wrangled and Tangled is an erotic western romance that centers around two couples; one starting down the path of love and one trying to find their way back.
Janie Fitzhugh divorced Abe Lawson eight years ago when she realized being a rancher’s wife was slowly killing her spirit. She comes back to Muddy Gap to work the Split Rock Ranch for her friend Renner Jackson. Abe never stopped loving Janie but she is not the same woman he married. He finds himself intrigued by the woman she has become and when a series of events places her in danger, Abe offers to let her stay the ranch…figuring it’s only a matter of time before he gets her back in his bed and life.
Renner Jackson, manager of the Spilt Rock Ranch and Resort wants to get the resort finished…but when Tierney Pratt shows up to "help" he can’t help but wonder exactly why she’s here. Her father owns the property and Renner feels that the spoiled daddy’s girl is going to be nothing but trouble. Tierney has her own reasons for being at the resort and while she finds Renner be exactly what she wants in a man…she knows this rough and tumble cowboy will be is nothing but trouble.
I enjoyed the first half of this story. Lorelei James’s characters are imbibed with so much spirit and personality that they are indeed larger than life. Sassy independent woman and stoic sexy cowboys has the pages smoking as you follow their rocky path to love. Add in some suspense and mystery and you have a thoroughly engrossing read. Ms. James does a great job of blending the two separate plots into one storyline. Each able to maintain some semblance of independence of one another yet complementing and uplifting each other as you wade further into their lives.
While the town thinks that Janie is in Muddy Gap for a job, we learn that she is actually in hiding. A former boyfriend has been stalking her and she has a series of accidents that lead her to believe he has followed her here. When Abe finds out, he demands she come stay at the ranch. There he knows she will be protected. While there, he and Janie discuss what when wrong in their marriage and Janie sees that Abe has made a lot of changes to the ranch and to himself. The sexual attraction is still scorching hot between them but they slowly begin to rebuild the feelings that brought them together in the first place. Janie left Abe because once they married, she found herself nothing more then another piece of the ranch. Abe’s brother and sister lived with them so their was no privacy and she was forbidden from changing anything in or out of the house She wanted to be special and instead felt used, so she left. Abe realized after a few years, especially after his brother Hank got married, just how wrong he was in how he treated Janie and their life together. When Janie comes back to town, he realizes he has a second chance to make it up to her. I enjoyed hearing Abe’s POV as his insecurities about his life and Janie come into play. He really is sorry and it shows. You really don’t hear much of Janie’s POV beyond the past and the story suffers a bit from that.
Renner and Tierney have a love/hate relationship. Watching them argue and fuss at one another is funny, especially when they realize just how attracted they are to one another. Renner is a hard nose cowboy who has invested everything he has into the Spilt Rock Ranch. If it fails-he fails. After being married to one spoiled rich daddy’s girl, he has built a wall of iron around his heart. Tierney brings out the worse in him. He sees nothing but a rich little girl playing at being a manager and he thinks she’s here to spy on him. Tierney Pratt is nothing like Renner thinks. Her dad may be rich but she has fought for and paid for every thing she has. She left her dad’s company when she was passed over a promotion she knew she deserved. A numbers genius but lacking in people skills, Tierney is looking for the home she never had.
I loved watching Tierney break out of her shell and settle into Muddy Gap. She goes to the one place guaranteed to find acceptance-the local beauty salon. I have to say the best part of the book is the woman in the beauty salon. I laughed so hard at their antics. They have no boundaries.
“At least someone is dating. I don’t remember that last time I saw a live penis.”
“You saw several last week when we went to the ‘Crash with the Past” all male review in Casper smarty.
“Oh them penises don’t count. Them penises were in captivity. I was guaranteed to see at least one when we shelled out for the show. That’s not like finding a penis out there in the wild. Where at the end of the night when that zipper comes down and you find out if he’s hung like a horse or dangling a worm.”
I enjoyed the steaming sex scenes and the sexual tension that leads up to them. Ms. James is a master at invoking some heavy duty day dreaming when she writes of her cowboy loving. New territories are explored and boundaries pushed that kept my eyes glued to the pages.
It was in the second half when it fell apart for me. Janie’s stalker plot goes nowhere. The storylines begins to rush to the finish line and we end with pages of filler clichés. I am also not fond of bitchy people. There is bitchy-funny; snarky yet good natured. Then you have bitchy-annoying. Those people are bitchy because they are always right, even when they are wrong. They are quick to anger and quick to point the finger of blame. Janie and Renner are two very emotionally bitchy people, and not the good kind of bitchy. Janie is all about her and her feelings. She felt overlooked and lost with Abe yet she goes to the extreme opposite and becomes one those people who are determined never to be "taken advantage of" again. I tried to sympathize with her because of the way Abe treated her in the beginning of their marriage and a few other situations she’s been through, but her way of speaking to those around her was grating. She doesn’t ask-she demands. When she throws a hissy fit because she finds out she is last to know about a situation, I was done. The situation that had nothing to do with her. Yet, she threatens to "leave" because she can’t deal with the fact everyone figured it out but her. Abe talks to her, making her realize that she is being a prude and bitchy and all is forgiven but I couldn’t help but think a leopard doesn’t change it’s spots overnight.
Renner is no better with his bi-polar personality and always jumping to conclusions. He wants Tierney yet treats her abominably at times. One minute he’s sweet then the next he goes all alpha on her and says things that would have had me punching his lights out. When she doesn’t act or do what he wants or expects, he accuses her of all sorts of things rather then do what any sane person would do and ASK. Once they start having sex she turns in to a ‘yes" girl. I liked her better when she went toe to toe with Renner. If Tierney had a past with him I could almost understand it but they meet for the first time in here. There is one scene where she and Celia (Abe’s sister) tease the men with a little girl on girl flirting. It both angers and turns Renner on so he drags her outside, accuses her of being a tease and an exhibitionist and proceeds to engage her in sex out in the open. She enjoys it of course and that would have been okay, if Renner hadn’t been so angry and done it more as punishment then something for her enjoyment.
The ending was okay. It wraps up the main conflicts yet leaves enough open to let us know we will see more of these couples in the future. I would have felt better about it though if both couples had done more to settle their problems then just paying lip service to finish the story. While this one was one smoking hot read read, I find myself more enamored with Ms. James Rough Rider series. The characters in that series are more realistic and approachable.
Favorite Quote: “I knew you would be trouble from the start…”
Katy and her mom moved to Ketterman, West Virginia after her father passes away. Not thrilled to be starting over at a new high school, Katy makes friends with the girl next door, Dee. Dee is wonderful and Katy believes this year might not be so bad; if not for Dee’s twin brother Daemon. Gorgeous, sexy, arrogant, and mind boggling rude, Daemon and Katy are like two spontaneous chemicals that are guaranteed to combust when mixed. Daemon wants Katy to stay away from Dee but won’t give her a reason why. Katy isn’t one to run though so she keeps her friendship with Dee and tries to avoid Daemon. When Katy is attacked, Daemon comes to her rescue and she realizes that something isn’t right about Dee and her brother. As Katy tries to deal with who and WHAT Daemon and his sister are, she finds herself in the middle of an extraterrestrial war that will alter her life forever.
Obsidian made me laugh. Seriously laugh. A paranormal YA that has all the makings of a fabulous series. Action, suspense, intrigue, humor, snark, romance, and two outstanding protagonists whose similarity to Buffy and Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will have you fist pumping and laughing the whole time. Fast pacing makes this story a fun treat to read. Ms. Armentrout finds just the right tone to keep the story flowing smoothly and keep her readers entertained.
Katy, our heroine, is snarky, fun, and more then able to handle her own when it comes to life in general. Even with Daemon blowing hot and cold on her, she gives as good as she gets and watching them bicker is hilarious. She is attracted to Daemon but doesn’t see his “bad boy” persona as a flaw for her to change. She accepts he’s a jerk. She has a realistic attitude and her reactions are spot on when it comes to certain situations. (The spaghetti scene is a classic) The fact she is a book blogger only endeared her to me more. She has a great relationship with her mom and makes friends easily at school. No emo situations where we had the moody, shy new girl and the broody unobtainable hot guy.
Daemon. Our hero. Not sure what to say about Daemon. He is an enigma. The ultimate high school girl’s fantasy. And maybe a few moms’ fantasies too. Dark hair, impossibly green eyes, and ripped twenty ways to Sunday. *clearing throat* He has gone on my book boyfriend list. Maybe top spot. When Katy first meets Daemon he does everything possible to alienate her.
“You know, all I wanted was directions. This is obviously a bad time.”
One side of his lips curled up. “Anytime is a bad time for you to come knocking on my door, kid.”
“Kid? I’m not a kid. I’m seventeen.”
“Is that so?” He blinked. “You look like you’re twelve. No. Maybe thirteen, but my sister has this doll that kinda reminds me of you. All big eyed and vacant.”
I reminded him of a doll. A vacant doll? “Thanks," I muttered and added under my breathe, “Douchebag.”
And that folks, is the beginning and middle for Katy and Daemon. A bantering of insults, name calling, and Katy’s famous finger flipping. There were times when Daemon would say or do something so outrageous I would sit there with my mouth hanging open. He reminds me of a little boy who likes a girl so much that he spends his days tormenting her because that’s the only way he can physically show his affection for her. Daemon has his reasons though for trying to ruin Dee and Katy’s friendship. He is overly protective of Dee and the secret they are hiding could spell devastation and possibly death for them all if it is revealed publicly.
The chemistry between Katy and Daemon is off the charts; especially for a YA. While we do get one semi physical scene, it’s their dialogue and the intense undercurrents that permeate the storyline that will keep you glued to the pages. You never know what he is going to say or do and he keeps us on his toes as much as Katy. Even when in jerk mode though, there is something undeniable about him so you can’t fault Katy for her tiny crush.
When Katy learns the big “secret”, Ms. Armentrout does a fab job of keeping it real with Katy. She’s is shocked, scared, and certain her death is imminent. No thoughts of jumping Daemon’s bones after she finds out, this girl is ready to make a run for the border. I love how Ms. Armnetrout is able to take an overwritten subject matter and make it 100 percent hers. There were times when there were faint hints of Twilight in here. The prom dress buying scene comes to mind. Thankfully, they were far and few between and may just have been my thoughts & feelings intruding on the book.
A cast of appealing and well developed secondary characters rounds out the story lines. Each one a viable presence and able to carry their own story. I look forward to reading more in depth about Dee, Adam, and the rest of the cast and see where their personal stories led. The ending comes at us fast and hard. We are shown what exactly Daemon, Dee and their friends are hiding from and the build up to it is exquisite. Though the main conflict is resolved, we are left with some questions and clues to what’s in store for us in the second installment, Onyx, which releases May 29, 2012.
Obsidian is a strong start to what I predict will be a popular must have/must read series and I am looking forward to reading Onyx when it releases.
Favorite Quote: “We are all just chess pieces to you, aren’t we? Little dolls you can move around and play with however you like. “
Dark Frost, the third book in Jennifer Estep’s action packed Mythos Academy series, starts off with a BANG as Gwen and her fellow Mythos Academy students find themselves at the mercy of Reapers when they all meet up at a museum for a school report. With weapons flashing and blood spilling, Gwen shows off her improved swordplay while her BFF Daphne finally comes into her powers. When Gwen finds a map that one of the reapers drop, she realizes that the Reapers are looking for the last artifact they need to wake Loki, and they believe it is on school grounds. Gwen knows her mother hide the artifact and died protecting that secret so she feels it’s up to her to find it before the Reapers do.
I adore this series. Ms Estep’s voice is resplendent through here as she balances the normal everyday life of teenagers with fascinating, evolving mythological world building. Steady pacing firmly engages you into the storyline while witty, snarky dialogue keeps you entertained. This is a wicked fun series. We aren’t overwhelmed with intricate plots or long drawn out angst. Multiple subplots intertwine throughout but never confuse or isolate you from the main storyline. Heavily character driven, I found myself able to sink right back into Gwen’s world without a single misstep.
Dark Frost is the game changing book of the series. Friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness are the three key components this story is built upon. We see a huge emotional, mental, and metaphysical growth in Gwen that heightens the anticipation of where this series is headed. Gwen learns and deals with so much in here that it’s almost impossible to touch upon without spoiling. Lets just say that fans will NOT be disappointed.
The secondary characters continue to expand and develop; defining themselves into top spots with our protagonist. Daphne is the perfect bff for Gwen. Snarky yet supportive. Her love for her geek is sweet and I like the direction Ms. Estep has taken Daphne. Gwen continues to solidify her place at Mythos with new friends and deepening her relationships with others. Ms. Estep captures her characters perfectly in here. It is a realistic blend of child/adult. They speak and react as any real teenager might and it only adds to the overall enjoyment. Everything and everyone has their place and Ms. Estep knows exactly when and where to put them. Gwen’s romance with her Spartan bad boy continues to remain bittersweet though fans will be happy with some decisions that are finally made. They both continue to flirt and fight with one another throughout the story, which only adds to the enjoyment. While you experience the some heart wrenching moments with them, we really wouldn’t want it any other way.
The main conflict is a shocking mix of machiavellian proportions. Action packed with a heavy mixture of suspense and tension as we follow Gwen to the very end. I am thrilled with the direction Ms. Estep has decided to take the storyline and quite pleased with the ending. Ms. Estep leaves a lot open for us to think about as we wait impatiently for the fourth installment of this series-Crimson Frost-which is set to release in January 2013. Dark Frost is a fantastic follow up to Kiss Of Frost and a must have for all YA fans who enjoy a rich blending of fun and serious wrapped around a healthy dose of fantasy. I do not recommend starting here if you are unfamiliar with the series. Though the main conflict is resolved at the end of each book, the long reaching arc is a continuation that requires starting at the beginning.
Favorite Quote: “I want to start each new year with a kiss and I want to spend each and everyday of each and every one of those years kissing the man I love.“
New York socialite Sloan McKinley is tired of her mother’s constant attempts to marry her off so when her best friend, Grier, calls her from Alaska, Sloan decides that a change of scenery is just what she needs. When Sloan arrives, she realizes the trouble Grier has been having with claiming her inheritance and the town’s animosity towards her. Sloan decides that the only way to gain the towns acceptance is to become part of it so she makes it known she is planning a series of articles about the town and its annual Bachelor Auction. The Bachelor Auction was set up by the town matriarchs in order to marry off their grandsons. It has turned into a popular event that brings women from all over the US. When Sloan meets Walker Montgomery for the first time, she begins to think her stay in Indigo just started looking up.
Walker Montgomery, a ruggedly sexy man whose grandmother is one of the reigning matriarchs, has avoided the Bachelor Auction for years. A lawyer who was born and raised in Indigo, he and his cousins have refused to have anything to do with their grandmothers’ matchmaking attempts and like it that way. Walker has no urge to get hitched; he doesn’t believe in true love or happily ever after. His parents relationship has him fearing anything beyond a physical relationship. Meeting Sloan though has him rethinking his single status in more ways than one.
Baby It’s Cold Outside is a light hearted humorous romantic contemporary by Addison Fox. Set in the frozen tundra of Indigo, Alaska, this small town uses a contest to help the men in the town find true love. Or at least a nice warm snuggle partner for the cold winters. Eccentric characters, humorous dialogue, and silly situations will have you laughing and growling as our hero and heroine try to each figure out exactly what they want out of life and each other. I enjoyed the fact that we get both the hero’s and the heroine’s point of view in here. It makes it so much easier when your able to see what each person is really thinking and feeling about the same situation.
Sloan McKinley is self assured, funny, warm hearted person that takes no crap from anyone. She comes to Alaska to help her best friend Grier who is going through a rough time. She comfortable in her own skin and it shows as she jumps into the fray and defends Grier to the town with skill and vigor. Having spent most of her adult life on the receiving end of her mother’s marriage manipulations, she has no urge to get caught up in the town’s Bachelor Auction but when she is dared, Sloan is able to turn it into a business venture for herself. What I really liked about Sloan is she isn’t into games or deception. She has a wonderful gift of being able to look past the artifice and see the person behind the persona they show.
Walker Montgomery is the town’s premiere bachelor. Many a woman has tried to tie him down but he’s slippery. Some of the town’s speculations on why he doesn’t want to be married are funny.
“Maybe Walker’s just trying to come out of the closet.”
Walker isn’t gay or against marriage but he hates having his personal life put on display; especially during the towns annual Bachelor Auction. He refuses to have anything to do with it much to his grandmother’s dismay. Walker has some issues stemming from his parent’s marriage that have the thoughts of “forever” leaving him cold. When Sloan arrives in Indigo, Walker feels like he’s been hit with a 2X4 and Walker does what any other red blooded male does…he panics. She is everything and nothing he wants and he knows that pursuing her is wrong but he can’t help the pull he feels towards her.
The chemistry these two generate would melt a glacier. Their hot sexual banter reinforces the delicious tension that rolls off the pages.
“I refuse to be influenced by my subjects.”
Walker leaned down to press his lips against her ear as he settled his hands on her waist. “I can’t promise I won’t try to influence you.”
Her voice fell from her lips in a hushed whisper. “I wouldn’t be a very good reporter if I allowed myself to lose my objectively.”
“You can remain as impartial during the completion as you like Ms. McKinley. Just so long as you don’t remain impartial about this.” With a tenderness that belied the crazy, raging need that gripped him, he pressed his mouth to hers and plundered.
These two dance, bicker, and play with each other through out the entire story; adding plenty of humor and steaminess. There is almost a role reversal with Sloan and Walker as she slowly learns to think more about what she wants and Walker learns to think more about what others want. There are multiple sub plots that branch out from the main storyline. We learn more about the other two grandsons and the woman who may or may not led them down the aisle. We also learn how the completion started and the main reason Walker is so against serious relationships. There are many hints towards various possible couples and look forward to reading more about them and seeing how it all works out.
I love the secondary characters we meet. Such an eclectic, eccentric group. From Chooch and Hooch to Bear and Skate-seems everyone has a nickname in this town. They are portrayed perfectly for small town residents. Nosy, gregarious, and truly caring about everything going on.
The contest is hilarious and I would have loved more in-depth descriptions on everything these woman have to do to get their “man”. My favorite character is Walker’s secretary Myrtle. We don’t hear much from her but what we do is hilarious. I also enjoyed meeting Avery and look forward to reading her story.
One thing that that bothered was Walker’s ways of dealing with his growing feelings for Sloan. He didn’t want to get involved with her but gets growly and jealous when other men come around her. So he initiates their interactions then pulls away and seems to blame her for the way he feels. He hurts and confuses her through out the book and I was ready to slap him by the end. He really pulls a whammy on her at the end and I thought she deserved much more grovelling.
His huge secret is also a bit of a let down. I can understand his hurt but his reactions over it were over the top.
Even with Walker’s mulishness, the story is still a treat to read. The ending comes at a nice pace; wrapping everything up nicely and giving us a sweet HEA and little epilogue. There is also a nice lead into the next in the series, Come Fly With Me, which is Grier’s story. Expected release in November 2, 2012. Readers who love lighthearted and romantic small town contemporaries will enjoy Addison Fox’s Baby It’s Cold Outside.
Sapphire by Jeffe Kennedy Erotic Ebook October 24, 2011 Carina Press
M Taylor Hamilton is a successful business woman whose stern control and prowess in thSapphire by Jeffe Kennedy Erotic Ebook October 24, 2011 Carina Press
M Taylor Hamilton is a successful business woman whose stern control and prowess in the boardroom is legendary. She has no time for games in or out of the bedroom, much to her fellow business partner’s dismay. When he decides to take matters into his own hands Taylor must decide if she is willing to give up the one thing she holds most dear-her trust.
Sapphire is a dark erotic BDSM by Jeffe Kennedy. It flirts with the issues of control, trust, obsession, dominance, and submission. Two very strong players engaged in a battle over a woman’s heart and body. Heavy erotic scenes takes us deep into the psyche of both characters as we watch Adam lead Taylor through elaborate and extreme dance towards a relationship that is filled with both pain and pleasure. The meeting of Taylor and Adam is filled with so much innuendos and sexual promises that your almost breathless as you read their dialogue. Very sensual. I enjoyed watching the battle that wages in Taylor as she tries to reconcile and merge the two very different facets of her personality. This is very serious to her because admitting she needs someone is akin to admitting failure.
I admit to having some problems with this book though. Adam tells Taylor that the only way to be free is for Taylor to give up her rigid control. Yet the way he goes about it made me very uncomfortable. I felt Adam was obsessed with Taylor. He wanted to break her and he chose any and all ways possible. The constant threats of punishment contradicted the trust he wants from her. All I heard was, “I know you better than you know yourself and this is for your own good.” How can you trust someone who is willing to hurt you in order to get you to submit to them? I also felt that the safe word is actually a way for Adam to manipulate Taylor more. He has studied her for months. He knows she will suffer anything he will do to her in order to win. He set all this up as a battle of wills knowing what buttons of hers to push. I felt most of what he did was for his own pleasure and not hers. Especially some of the sexual play he initiates. I felt he pushed boundaries and crossed lines without making sure Taylor was ready for it. To me that is not a responsible Dom. He put his wants and needs before hers. And needed her to be his in every way.
Maybe I would have been more comfortable with it if they were already in a relationship rather than just starting. He does redeem himself a little in the end but I wasn’t convinced that this would be a healthy relationship for either of them.
Overall Rating: C-
I received arc copy from author. I was not paid nor received any compensation for this review. ...more
Favorite Quote: “The world we live in isn’t black and white…it’s always been shades of gray “
Tricks Of The Trade is the 3rd book in Ms. Gilman’s CSI like paranormal series-Paranormal Investigations. Heavy with criminal investigative lingo and procedures, this steady paced urban fantasy combines multiple criminal cases with personal crisis’s to keep the reader well engaged to the end. Innovative world building coupled with rich characterization continues to improve as we enter the third book of this series. The team has added a new member whose magical talent isn’t quite known yet but her administrative skills rock the office. Still not taken seriously by the Cosa Nostradamus or the human police force; the PUPIs do the best they can in a political climate that is stacked against them. Bonnie and her team are given to two separate crimes to investigate which while dividing the team’s skills, it brings them together in more ways then one. A fatae floater shows up in the river and a rich human’s break in has the smell of magic all over it. Add in Bonnie’s violent visions of the future, the sudden appearance of an ancient trickster and Bonnie and Ben’s merging and you have all the elements for a inventive paranormal mystery.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the investigation and subsequent handling of the robbery (it’s really diabolical) and the appearance of Robin the trickster, I did feel the fatae floater was an extra storyline that really didn’t do much to enhance the story. Rather is it used to illuminate the problems the trickster is causing for the team later in the story. We see more of Ian and what exactly his talents consist of. He often handles the political schmoozing that is required between the Cosa Nostradamus and his company so it was a treat to see him play a more active role in the plot. Ian’s crazy sister is also present and a deal Ian and she make when he asks for her help makes me wonder what Ms. Gilman has in store for this series.
Bonnie Torres continues to grow as a character with her easy going personality and increasing attraction to Ben. She begins to shed her more juvenile/free spirit aspects and starts to settle down. Though originally convinced the attraction is based on the merging of their talents, Bonnie and Ben both realize that the attraction was always there and the merging may be the catalyst that exposes it. A series of events solidifies this and I am very excited to see this move forward. The chemistry between them burns even hotter in this installment and it’s impossible to keep it from the rest of the team.
While the rest of the team is present and accounted for, we really don’t see as much of them as we did in the last book-Pack Of Lies. This story seems to revolve mainly around Bonnie, Ben, and Ian which leaves you sometimes feeling like you missed something when the scenes flash from the lead characters to the secondary characters without much warning. Plus, the switching back and forth between Bonnie and Ben’s POV caused some confusion for me.
Al in all Laura Anne Gilman continues to write a solid urban fantasy series that may not blow you away but it does entertain and ignite the imagination..
Talented wide receiver Cole Riley should have the world at his feet, but his antics on and off the field have made him a liability. His agent tells him to shape up or else he’s done. Image consultant Savannah Brooks has agreed to help Cole clean up his image but isn’t sure she can take the bad out of this aggressively sexy man. When the sparks start to fly, Savannah lays down a few rules; hands off. But even Sam can’t help but respond to the sexual appeal Cole has, especially when he turns that gorgeous gaze on her. When Cole decides that he wants Sam in his life and bed, can she resist or will she play to win?
First off, once again, let us discuss Jaci Burton’s cover models. ZOMG! I know I’m not the only one who is staring at the strings on those pants, hoping they will magically start to unravel. Le sigh.
Playing To Win was, to me, a deviation from her last four books. The harder edges are distinctly softer, the romantic “conflict” more emotionally based, and there is none of the heavy external conflicts that came in to play with the previous installments, making it a little less enjoyable for me. Of course, we still have Burton’s requisite smoking hot male lead, sassy intelligent female, a solid plot, and some heavy, heavy smexying everywhere in between. I enjoyed the way this story reveals itself to you. It starts out with a VERY sexy masturbation scene and just goes uphill from there.
Burton does a nice job of developing Savannah and Cole’s relationship while revealing them to us as individuals. Starting out as a business relationship, even with the intense sexual chemistry, Burton keeps a healthy balance between the romance and the main plot. Savannah draws out Cole’s personality; letting us and herself get to know the real Cole. She soon realizes that he is much more complicated than she gave him credit for and not at all as the media portrays him. Cole likes to keep his personal and business life separate but his aggressive personality works against him.
Even though this is told from Savannah’s point of view, I almost felt as though I got to know Cole’s character much better than Savannah’s. Savannah is a gorgeous, intelligent woman. She is also very private and that privacy is felt in the book. She, like Cole, likes to keep her personal and business life separate and I found it very interesting how she pushed Cole to reveal all his personal life to her yet struggled to do the same. She says and does all the right things but you notice right away that she is hiding something.
The sexual heat and playfulness in this book made it a fun, abet, HOT read. Ms. Burton has a way of writing intense scenes that are both sensual and raw and neither of her characters are shy about what they want. Thanks goodness.
When he slid his hand from her breast to her rib cage to her belly, she wasn’t out to object. In fact, she rolled onto her back and spread her legs, hoping he’d get the message. He lifted his lips and gazed down at her. “Something you want?” “Yes. Well, I have a list, actually.” His lips lifted in a devastatingly wicked half smile that made her clit quiver. “care to share that list with me?” “Your hand on my pussy would be a great start.” He glided his hand down, cupping her sex, using his fingers to rub over her sensitive flesh. she arched against him, reaching for his wrist to hold him where she needed him most. “Feel good?” he asked. She turned to look at him as he brought her right to the edge. “Yes.”
I love seeing old Riley’s and meeting new Riley’s. Their boisterous, nosy nature is offset by the love they feel for one another, though Liz continues to annoy me on a small level and I’m not sure why. They have no boundaries and will be up in your business in a heartbeat; offering advice, encouragement, and the proverbial slap upside the head when needed. Savannah LOVES the Riley’s and you sense that this family is what she wants and needs in her life.
As their relationship progresses, Savannah begins to fall for Cole and finds herself at odds with the feelings he invokes in her. She tries hard to keep their relationship strictly business but Cole pushes all her buttons and she finds herself wanting more but unable to admit that to herself. Here is where Savannah’s issues begin to surface. It’s all very low key though. Not her issues, but the reveal and resolution. As I stated earlier, this book is somewhat softer and more focused on the emotional issues of our hero and heroine. Savannah and Cole’s relationship has it’s ups and downs but Burton’s normally delicious tension wasn’t strong in here. I missed that. The main conflict and subplots are resolved easily and without much fanfare, and I felt like that was a weak point of the book.
I look forward to the fifth in the series, Thrown By A Curve, which revolves around Alicia Riley (Cole’s sister) and very HAWT, very bad tempered star pitcher-Garrett Scott.. Thrown By A Curve is set to release in March 5, 2013.
Favorite Quote: “ You can take that Tinkerbell shit and shove it up your ass. “
There are some spoilers from book 2 in here so proceed at your own risk.
If You Know Her is the conclusion to Shiloh walker’s exciting, nerve racking, explosive romantic suspense Ash Trilogy. She has led us on a merry chase as we watch a town terrorized by a serial killer scramble to stop him from claiming anymore victims. Though a fan of everything Ms. Walker writes, I am bias in my thinking that she absolutely kicks arse in romantic suspense. Not only does Ms. Walker deliver her trademark scorching hot love scenes and dynamic, personable characters in here but she goes above and beyond in creating a suspense that will keep you perched on the edge until the very end. Exciting pacing and a dramatic multilayered storyline will hold you hostage as the tension builds through the book, increasing with each new revelation. Ms. Walker gives us two wonderfully strong and charismatic protagonists in the form of Nia Hollister and Law Reilly.
Nia and Law first met with dubious results in If You See Her. Nia is the cousin of the first murder victim and comes to Ash to identify the body and try to figure out what happened. She was out of the country when her cousin was murdered and the guilt has her doing some investigating on her own. She is accosted by the town gossip and goes on a rampage, pulling a gun on Hope and Law, demanding they confess to her cousin’s murder. Law is instantly fascinated by Nia, and can’t stop thinking about her after she leaves.
“Stupid, he knew, being that hung up on a woman with that kind of reckless disregard. Even now he found himself wondering what that mouth of hers would feel like pressed against his. How she would taste. How she would feel if he pressed her up against a wall, then pressed himself against her…”
When she comes back to Ash, she instantly gravities to Law and they begin to work together to find the killer because neither of them believe the official story that Hope’s ex husband was the serial killer.
The sparks light the pages on fire from the moment these two first meet. The characterization of these two is so real in their personalities and actions. Both are intelligent, aggressive, independent loners. They have their own way of doing things and aren’t concerned in how others view them. I like that there were no huge hurdles or misunderstandings with their relationship to weigh their story down. The extreme steamy sexual heat these two generate will leave you exhausted as you watch them find their way in to each others arms.
“ …he wanted, so bad, to stretch her back out on the bed and learn every inch of her lovely body, first with his eyes, then with his hands, then with his mouth.”
What starts as lust develops into to an explosive love affair that is stunning to watch unfold. The romance balances nice with the main conflict-each a main component to the story and play off each other well.
Our villain comes alive in this installment. We learn of his reasoning’s behind his killing spree and the path he has chosen to take in this story. Ms. Walker did a fabulous job of hiding in him plain sight and while I had inking of who it might be, I wasn’t absolutely sure until she revealed it. His character is multi faceted and leaves you chilled as you realize the sheer magnitude of what he has done, hidden behind the normal facade he presents to the town. His narcissistic personality is so shocking in it’s duplicity that you can’t help but be impressed with him. It’s an interesting story line as we flash between his POV and the other character’s POVs. Other characters maintain their larger then life roles and continue to deepen the storyline. Our previous protagonists; Ezra and Lena, Hope and Remy continue to be central figures in this storyline as they join with Nia and Law to try and solve this case. I enjoyed the animosity that sparks between Hope and Nia. Law may think Nia is the cherry on his sundae but Hope isn’t so forgiving.
The ending is a roller coaster ride of mixed emotions as we take dangerous curves and stomach turning loops, flinging us towards an explosive confrontation that leaves no one untouched. Ms. Walker wraps up this series in a concise fashion that answers all our questions and leaves us with a HEA for our heroes and heroines. I can’t recommend this trilogy enough and proclaim it a must have for all romantic suspense fans. I don’t recommend reading it out of order. Ms. Walker’s unique set up and endings for the first two books make it almost impossible to understand what is happening if you do not start with book one-If You Hear Her.
Favorite Quote: “I truly had a knack for getting the shitty end of the stick. “
Note: There are some spoilers from book one below, so read at your own risk.
Recap from Shaedes Of Gray: Darian spent the first half of her life as an abused wife. When a friend of her husband’s appears on the scene, he frees her from her life of pain and transforms her into a Shaede – a creature able to transform from solid to shadow. Her lover keeps her well hidden, telling her that she and he are the only of their kind in existence. He disappears suddenly from her life, leaving her alone and unsure of her place in the universe. She becomes an assassin for hire and falls in love with her boss, Tyler. When she takes a job and finds out that she just tried to kill the King of her kind, she realizes her lover and maker lied to her. When Darien’s old lover reappears and attempts to use her to overthrow the king and take the throne for himself, Darien uncovers secrets, gains new powers and defeats her lover.
Blood Before Sunrise picks up where Shaedes Of Gray left off and once again submerges us into the dark and dangerous world that Darian lives in. Set in Seattle, this noir and Machiavellian Urban Fantasy will have you clinging to the edge of your seat. Darien’s past comes back to haunt her when she blatantly ignores everyone’s advice and sets out to find Raif’s daughter. I would classify this book as a character growth book. Especially for Darian. Having spent a majority of her life alone, she has a hard time allowing anyone in to help her. Her protective instincts are strong and they often blind her to the fact that she is guilty of doing what she adamantly hates being done to her. Her pit bull mentality causes a considerable amount of grief and pain but it is an experience she must go through if she is to grow beyond the boundaries originally set up for her character.
I enjoy Darian’s character. She is a perfect blending of what I love in my UF heroines. Smart and sassy with deeply buried vulnerability. She is so protective of those she loves and considers friends, you can’t help but cheer for her even as she does some things that make you want to shake some sense into her.
There is still small love triangle in here but I found it seems to be morphing into something different. She and Tyler, her boss, have acknowledged the attraction between them and are acting on it. Darian still learning about the jinn side of Tyler and what exactly their "bonding" entails. But her actions at the end of Shaedes Of Gray more then cement the fact that Darian loves Tyler. The sexual tension between Darian and Tyler is VERY hot and sensual and we get some nice smexy times in here. I like how Bonilla includes the romance storyline without making the story dependent on it. After this book, I find myself rooting even more Team Tyler.
Xander, the king of the Shaede nation is STILL a pain in Darian’s arse and she doesn’t hesitate to let him know that repeatedly. Watching these two together is not so much sexual to me as more of a battle of the wills. The chase matters more to Xander then the capture and I foresee a reluctant friendship developing. I don’t believe that Xander has ever had a female friend that didn’t involve some sort of sexual interaction and I look forward to seeing how he handles this. Rest assured though, Xander will always flirt and cross the line. Jerking Darian’s chain is probably the most fun he’s had in centuries.
A diabolically complicated secondary cast only heightens the excitement of this story. Raif remains a favorite character of mine. He has become an important part of Darian’s life. Their relationship is sibling like and no matter what happens, Darian knows Raif will always have her back. Anya is another favorite with her snarky jealousy of Diarian and bad fashion taste. We meet some new characters and learn some new information about old ones in here who further expand on the complicated world Darian is now part of. I am very interested in Moira’s brother and look forward to seeing more of both of them in the future. Tyler, Darian’s boyfriend, plays a huge part in here as their relationship is taken to new levels and decisions are made for better or worse. I felt for him. I could see what was happening and my heart broke as we see him and Darian struggle against external and internal influences.
The main conflict is a delicious blend of lies, manipulations, and deception. The nature and level of the duplicity Darian uncovers and yes, exhibits herself, is mind boggling. I won’t lie and say I didn’t want to smack her around a little in here but as I mentioned before, characters often have to experience adversity and heartbreak in order to grow. She makes some decisions in here that cost her, and she struggles with the price she is forced to pay. There were times when I became aggravated by the main plot as it is convoluted and it takes a while to get to the meat of it. It’s also hard to watch those you have come to love make careless mistakes.
This entire book is an emotional roller coaster ride of twists and turns that will keep you riding the edge to the end. The ending is a climatic shock that left me blinking in surprise as the villain’s motivations are revealed. The main conflict is resolved, but once again, Bonilla uses that to open another doorway, leaving us with unanswered questions and concerns. I look forward to the third book in this series, Crave The Darkness, set to release March 5, 2013.
Favorite Quote: “Do you kiss you mom with that mouth?”
“No, but I would tell her to go fuck herself with this mouth.”
At the end of A Bloody Good Secret, Secret McQueen killed a tribunal member, which automatically requires her to take the deceased place. Now that she is on the Tribunal, Secret finds herself playing more of an administrative role and being less active in the field. Something she misses very much. With her new supernatural powers becoming stronger and more unpredictable, she is also required to have a bodyguard. This keeps her and Holden rather close and Secret finds her attraction to him increasing. In Deep Dark Secret, Holden calls in his marker and asks Secret for help for a friend. Secret finds herself in the presence of the were-ocelot’s Queen, Genevieve, who is asking a favor. Her niece has gone missing and she wants Secret to find her. Secret is excited to finally be hitting the pavement; doing actual work. Secret realizes a serial killer is stalking paranormal females, taunting the police department with grisly clues. Her investigation leads her to her old boyfriend, Gabriel. Secret knows Gabriel couldn’t have done this and goes undercover looking for the real killer. A killer who’s gift is to die for.
Sierra Dean comes back with a hard one-two punch as she brings us another thrilling installment of her Secret McQueen series-Deep Dark Secret. A delightfully dark and humorous urban fantasy that pairs charismatic characters with engaging action filled plots that will leave you wanting more after you read the words, “The End.” Each installment continues to mature, further enriching the development of the characters in realistic fashion. The emotion and decisions they make aren’t always what we want, but we can’t deny they aren’t for the best. I wouldn’t recommend starting here if you haven’t read the previous books. This arc is long reaching and each book picks up where the last one leaves off. You’ll miss out on a lot of the build up if you skip.
Secret McQueen, half vampire and half werewolf, has had a very hard year. Gone are her bounty hunting days; circumstances have placed her in a tangible position of power on the Vampire Tribunal. Her powers are increasing and changing, leaving her feeling uneasy. Her love life continues to be one hot sexy mess and suddenly she is remembering things…things that may have been better left buried.
Though she lives with her werewolf lover Desmond, she is also in a relationship with Lucas, the King of the Werewolves. He’s pushing for a more permanent bonding for political and personal reasons and isn’t above tricking Secret to get it. Holden, oh sexy, sexy Holden, is also asking for a chance to see if their mutual attraction is anything more then just that. And then there is poor Desmond. *sigh* He always seems to get the shaft. He has Secret’s body but I’m not convinced he has her heart.
If I have any qualms about this series, it’s still the romance. After three books and a few novellas, the romance hasn’t advanced much beyond the initial stages. I don’t really sense any love between any of them. Except Desmond. I feel he loves Secret but I don’t get the same feeling from Secret. Secret’s love life is based on a soul bond and I still don’t understand it. I can’t wrap my mind around that it can over ride all your intentions and good sense. And Secret doesn’t have much sense concerning it. She gets mad but never says anything. There is one scene ( a major scene that changes everything) that really made me mad. While I wasn’t pleased with Lucas, it was Secret’s actions that left me cold. I expected him to act that way-but not her. There is a small, vindictive part of me, that wants Desmond to find a second “soul mate” too and stick it to Secret. But I’m petty like that. I think my problem is that love triangles bother me to begin with. It feels like cheating and I don’t really see a future in it unless it’s just for sex. It has an Anita Blake feel to it. However, clues in this book and hints from Ms. Dean lead me to believe the decision may not be hers for much longer and major changes are in the air.
The main conflict is quite macabre and chocked full of action and suspense as Secret follows a literal trail of blood and murder to a insidious villain who’s evil knows no boundaries. He plays a nasty game of cat and mouse with Secret and I found myself on edge, not sure if Secret would come out of this unscathed. Old friends come into play; we see the luscious Detective Taylor again, who is still under the impression that Secret stood him up and makes no bones about the fact he doesn’t like her. Holden does a fine job of playing her conscientious and I still loves him lots. They all offer advice, warnings, and show signs of keeping even more secrets from Secret as she fights to find Lucy and for her life. The ending is a dramatic affair with plenty of twists, turns, and shocking revelations that has me waiting impatiently for book 4. Even with my qualms concerning Secret’s love life, the main storyline and arc developments keeps this series strong and me a fan.
Favorite Quote: “You’d think by this point in my life I could no longer be shocked or embarrassed by what comes slithering out of her mouth, but somehow my mother always manages to top herself.“
Left Hand Magic picks up about 3 weeks after Right Hand Magic ended. Trust-fund baby Tate Eresby has made herself at home in Golgotham and in the arms of a sexy royal Kymeran prince. Tate had originally come to Golgotham, New York’s premiere paranormal underworld, because she needed a larger space to create her large metal sculptures. At the end of Right Hand Magic, we find out that Tate’s sculptures are “special” and a reporter’s article about that has resulted in Golgotham becoming a human tourist attraction. Not everyone is thrilled with this though. Humans, also called numps by the residents of Golgotham, don’t understand the residents or magic of Golgotham and tensions rise as prejudice and racism permeate the air.
Hexe does what he can to protect Tate and tries to convince her to head back to New York where she will be safe but she refuses to leave Golgotham or him. When Hexe’s evil uncle Easu begins a steady campaign to rid Golgotham of all humans, Tate gets caught in the middle and finds herself fighting for her love and her life.
Nancy Collins’ Left Hand Magic continues to build strength with its elaborate world building. We, along with Tate, learn more about this richly fascinating magical city that borders New York. Traditions, cultures, and history is further explored as Tate tries to fit in to her lover’s world. We see the problems that occurs when two worlds clash and two opposing police factions-The PTU (Paranormal Tactical Unit) and the NY police department-have to deal with it and each other. The story blends better this time around with the world building and the characters. A more emotional approach is taken in here and it reflects well on the story.
While I am still ambiguous to Hexe and Tate, I did feel that the secondary characters were better developed in this installment; adding more realism and a sense of anticipation to the story lines. More depth and personality is shown both in action and dialogue. Not to say I don’t like our protagonists because I do. It’s just there isn’t any real conflict or angst between them. They get along well and any problems are solved fast and amicably. Their romance is still giving me a YA feeling. It’s apparent that Ms. Collins chooses to highlight the world and the fantasy over the romance.
I loved seeing more of Hexe’s familiar, Scratch. A hairless sarcastic cat/demon who acts as though he would be very happy if Tate left and never came back. He adds some snarky humor to the story. We get more back story on Hexe’s mother, his father, and the reasons his uncle hates humans so much. We also see more of Tate’s parents who’s ties to Golgotham were a surprise. Tate does show some growth in here. She is more aware of her human limitations and acts wiser this go around.
The plot and sub plots are well paced and plenty of action keeps you on your toes. I found that we didn’t have the dead scenes or repetitiveness in here as was a problem in the first one. We are still getting some sub stories with random character introduction that doesn’t really add or deflect from the story but makes you wonder why they were added. The villain is known early on but I enjoyed watching how Ms. Collins weaves it all together for a climatic and interesting ending. Though this could be read as a stand alone, there is a continuing arc that might be confusing if your not starting at the beginning.
I enjoyed this foray back into Ms. Collin’s world and see that with each installment, the series is continuing to improve. I look forward to the next in the series.
Next Of Kin (Rebel Ridge #1 ) by Sharon Sala Romantic Suspense January 31, 2012 Mira
As a teenager, Beth Venable was dragged from her home and the man she loved when her family decided to flee for reasons unknown. Beth wrote Ryal for years , begging him to come get her, but never received a reply. When her parents died suddenly, Beth decided to stay in LA and continue to build her life there. When she accidentally witnesses a murder, she becomes the target of a ruthless mob boss who will do anything to silence the only witness to his crime. After her 3rd safe house is compromised and she barely escapes with her life, Beth knows of only one place she may be safe-Rebel Ridge, Kentucky. Beth knows no matter what happened in the past, her kin will hide and protect her. Her uncle, a truck driver, uses his contacts to bring her across country and Beth finds herself once more wrapped in the loving care of her clan.
Ryal Walker was devastated when Beth’s family disappeared without a word. He always believed that his relationship with Beth is what caused them to run. He wrote to Beth everyday until the letters began to arrive back unopened. He decided then to let her go and never looked back. When he is called upon by Beth’s grandmother to help hide Beth from the mob, Ryal never thinks twice and offers his and his kin’s help. Seeing Beth again reopens old wounds and feelings and soon Ryal finds himself falling in love all over again with her.
As Ryal and Beth slowly find their way back into each others arms, the mob has discovered her hiding place and through deception and trickery, are slowing advancing towards the mountains. But blood is thicker then water and soon the mob learns that the mountain takes care of it’s own.
Next Of Kin is the first Sharon Sala’s newest romantic suspense trilogy- Rebel Ridge. Set in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, Ms. Sala takes the theme of coming home again and surrounds it with a mixture of mystery, suspense, and romance. An engaging storyline coupled with a cast of energetic characters keeps the story moving briskly. Beth and Ryal weren’t quite as fleshed out as I hoped. Both were rather bland when compared to the rest of the characters. Beth starts out feisty and intelligent with a strong independent streak but once she calls her uncle and starts home it’s as if she loses pieces of herself along the way and I barely recognized her once she reunites with Ryal. Then the crying starts. Everything makes her cry. It became irritating towards the end. The chemistry between them was lukewarm and their reunion and subsequent romance didn’t even make a blip on my radar. It had a Christian Walton’s feel to it. Even the reasons for their being separated was settled quickly and without any fan fare.
What saved the book for me was the secondary storyline and the plot involving the villain. Realistic dialogue and action packed scenes made watching these players deceive and betray each other an exciting addition to the story. These characters were more personable and connected better with the storyline then our protagonists. Ms. Sala keeps us on our toes as we watch the villain slowly hang himself with a rope of his own making-especially when he realizes that who holds the end of that rope. The ending is satisfactory if not predictable.
Favorite Quote: “So basically you’re just attracted to me because I’m boring?”
Taylor Jones is having trouble dealing with the fact that he is irrevocaFavorite Quote: “So basically you’re just attracted to me because I’m boring?”
Taylor Jones is having trouble dealing with the fact that he is irrevocably in love with a fellow agent, Desiree Lincoln. He and Dez share one beautiful night of passion that had Dez hoping for a future with Taylor, but issues from his past make that impossible. When a mission results in her almost dying, Taylor hurts her more by pushing her away, citing that work and personal relationships don’t mix. Dez has had enough and quits the force to strike out on her own. A psychic that speaks to the dead, Dez works freelance to support herself. When Dez is called by a ghost to investigate his death and save a girl from a similar fate, she is shocked when Taylor arrives to help. Taylor doesn’t know why Dez is in his hometown, but the memories of the past scare him; especially if the ghosts from Taylor’s past start to talk to Dez.
The Departed is the second in Shiloh Walker’s intensely sensual and intriguing dark paranormal series, The Missing. The Departed, picks up a couple of years after the first book, also titled The Missing, ends. Though part of a series, it can be read as a stand alone. The Departed is a shockingly seductive psychological thriller that hooked me from page one. Shiloh Walker has a wonderful writing style that draws you in to her characters emotional pathways and lets you feel with them what they are experiencing. Romance and taut suspense go hand in hand as we follow a gritty and dark well plotted storyline down a twisting path of deception, betrayal, and madness.
Our hero, Taylor Jones, came across as a very cold and uncaring man in The Missing. The job always comes first. Everything else is fodder. He was so unlikable in The Missing, I was looking forward to seeing how Ms. Walker would redeem him in my eyes here. And redeem him she does. The bulk of the story revolves around Taylor and the reasons he originally started this special task force. His sister disappeared over 25 years ago and since then, Taylor has done everything he could to ensure every child, missing or dead, is found and given closure. A hard and emotionally closed man, Taylor has thick walls built around himself. He draws a strict line between himself and his employees; ensuring none of them ever met the real Taylor. Ms. Walker does a fabulous job of slowly bringing his walls down, one brick at a time, and introducing us to the real Taylor Jones. An intense, conflicted, and emotionally haunted man.
Dez Lincoln is the exact opposite of Taylor. Though her life was nothing more then a series of poverty and foster homes, Dez is an open friendly person who embraces life with joy. A snarky blend of humor and laughter that Dez embraces gives the book a respite from the overall somber feel of it. She loves Taylor but refuses to play his hot/cold emotional game. When she realizes that Taylor is even more closed off after their one night together, she decides that it’s better to leave the job then watch him leave her day by day. Though leaving him broke her heart, it doesn’t shatter or cripple her.
When Taylor sees Dez again after a year, the emotional ties that bind them are still there, as strong and frightening as ever. Taylor realizes that letting Dez walk away was the worst mistake of his life. She completes him and he’ll do anything he can to keep her from leaving again. But Dez doesn’t make it easy for him.
“Are you even listening to me?” “No.” Dez smiled. “I can’t say that I am. And you know what’s really wonderful about it? You can’t do much more then snarl and growl about it. After all, your not my boss, right?”
The romance between them is hot yet bittersweet. The chemistry between them smolders heavy in the background as they struggle to get past the hurt and pain they left each other with. It’s a major part of the storyline and complements the main arc. Their physical scenes are tasteful and satisfying. It was very easy to get caught up in the emotional currents of these two star crossed lovers as try to find their second chance.
The secondary characters are bold, viable additions to the story as they add layers to the suspense and mystery. Each one is a piece in the puzzle; they make up a solid foundation for our storyline to build upon. As with any good thriller, there are multi sub plots running through the main storyline and each one is a key to the final outcome. Ms. Walker does a fabulous job of maintaining these separate entities without overburdening us with unnecessary information or complicated scenarios. When it all comes together in the end, we are treated to an astounding finale that ties it all together, solid and tight, with no questions left unanswered. Though I figured out rather early who the villains were, the journey into their minds and reasoning was exciting as we are given an exclusive tour of the evil that exists in man. Be forewarned, there is some subject matter in here that may leave you feeling a little raw.
The Departed is a worthy sequel to The Missing and a must read for those readers who love their paranormal romances to be wrapped in dark emotional suspense and intrigue. I do hope Ms. Walker continues with this series.
After 100 pages I just really couldn't bring myself to connect with the heroine. I found her inability to grasp her situation annoying and the secondaAfter 100 pages I just really couldn't bring myself to connect with the heroine. I found her inability to grasp her situation annoying and the secondary characters were no better. The book felt like it was trying to hard to to be funny and the humor comes off forced and flat. This just wasn't for me....more
Favorite Quote: “That sexy Jesus thing again? You’re a filthy girl, you know that?”
Arcadia Bell is back and finding trouble once again in Summoning The Night. After almost being sacrificed by her parents in Kindling The Moon, Arcadia (Cady) is back to business as usual and getting her bar ready for Halloween. When the head of the Hellfire Club comes to her and Lon for help in stopping a serial killer from 30 years ago, they will have to use all the help they can get before the serial killer strikes again and forces Cady to reveal her biggest secret of all.
When I was offered Summoning The Night for review, I went ahead and bought Kindling The Moon because I was told it was a MUST HAVE in order to understand the arc and characters. I thoroughly enjoyed Kindling The Moon. Arcadia Bell is the perfect urban fantasy heroine with her quick mind and even quicker mouth. While she will always protect her friends, she is quick to ask for help when she needs it and not afflicted with the common UF heroine trait -I must save the world by myself. She is comfortable in her own skin and that is a treat to see. Lon, her sexy, sexy boyfriend is a demon and seems to fit perfectly with Cady. Though we don’t see as much smexy time with her and him as we did in KTM, I do like the fact that they have absolute trust in each other. Communication flows between them like water and I love that Ms. Bennett doesn’t use emotional conflicts in order to add pages to the book. I do like that regardless of their lack of trust & communication problems, we do get to see Lon’s alpha instincts come out a few times. RAWR!
Summoning The Night starts out reintroducing us to Cady, Lon, and his adorably irritating son, Jupe. Cady is still feeling her way around a relationship with an older man, but the sparks fly and you know that they are in it for the long haul.
“I don’t want any secrets between us.” I said. “Not the ones that matter, anyway. I keep secrets from everyone all day long. But not you. Okay?”
Jupe adores Cady and the feeling is mutual. She doesn’t try and pretend to be his mom which really makes the relationship between them more realistic. They genuinely like each other. This relationship plays a heavy role in the storyline as it intertwines with the main conflict and that is where I had some problems. Their relationships are so defined and permanent feeling that I feel like I missed something. The first book had them starting to date, while in here I feel like they are one step from saying I love you. I miss seeing the slow, steady build up to this step. While I don’t mind romance in my urban fantasies, I do like it to be more drawn out with a heavier emphasis placed on the plot.
I also found that Ms. Bennett holds the reins to two big storylines in here and seems to lose control of them as she attempts to correlate and reveal them. We spend a lot of time with Cady and Jupe; his storyline seems to fight for control against the main conflict and confused me as to what the focus of the story is supposed to be. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy Jupe and his problem because he is hilarious with his new found power and I found myself laughing at the ways he tries to use it. I just wish it had held less power. They do eventually connect and are used to bolster each other one in a way that makes sense, but my feelings of unease never quite left me.
The main conflict starts out fast and furious as we are introduced to the mystery surrounding the serial killer right off the bat. Cady doesn’t want to deal with the Hellfire Club after her last ordeal with them, but since Lon is a legacy member, she doesn’t want to make waves. We meet the current president, additional members, and get more insight to why Lon is on the outs with them. I found the mystery aspect to be extremely interesting. A series of murders committed years ago are starting back up with the same MO and no one is sure if it’s the same person or a copy cat. As Lon and Cady investigate, they find a more sinister connection that shows the killer is targeting the members kids for nefarious reasons. Unfortunately, I found myself drifting through the story as I watched Cady and Lon do more legwork & reading in order to discover who the serial killer is and his reasons for the killings. Not to say there is no action because there is. Exciting, suspenseful, unnerving action; but not as much as I would have liked.
Our secondary characters are just as personable and well developed as our protagonists. Cady’s friend and part owner of the bar is hilarious with her dead panned dialogue and “who really cares,” attitude. Bob, a frequent visitor to the bar who crushes on Cady hard, shows his true strength as he strives to help Cady. A new character is introduced; a dead dowser named Hajo. Hajo is both irritating and interesting. I appreciated that Ms. Bennett didn’t draw him into a love triangle with Cady and Lon, but I do hope we see him again. Jupe, of course, is still a brilliant over hyper fifteen year old that manages to get himself in trouble just by stooping over to pick up trash. Dare, the pseudo father figure to Lon, proves to have more than one card up his sleeve when it comes to Lon and Cady, and I look forward to seeing him learn the hard way just what Cady is made of.
The solving of the mystery is convoluted and the ending will leave you speechless and anxious when it’s all said and done. Summoning The Night is a true Urban Fantasy the takes us into new and unexplored world filled with mages, demons, and everything in between. Engaging characters and unique plot lines are sure to appeal to lovers of this genre.
Though I had some problems with this installment, there was still enough to hold my attention and look forward to the third installment of the series, Binding the Shadows (Arcadia Bell, #3), set to release June 2013.
Favorite Quote: “Who summoned you? I bet it was the mayor. He’s been showing signs of post traumatic stress.”
Drusilla Jaco is a junior wizard who stands as sentinel between the mortal world and the beyond in her beloved New Orleans. As hurricane Katrina hits and her mentor, Gerry disappears, DJ finds herself in over her head as boundaries weaken between the planes and evidence mounts that Gerry is a traitor. When the Elder Wizards council pairs DJ with a gun toting paranormal enforcer who is investigating a series of murders, DJ realizes that she will have to find Gerry before the Elders do if she wants to save his life and her own.
Royal Street is the first in Suzanne Johnson’s Sentinels Of New Orleans series. The story sets up right before Katrina hit New Orleans and Ms. Johnson does a nice job of building her world to illustrate the devastation and confusion that was the aftermath of that horrific hurricane. Using lush descriptions, news reports, and her characters personal accounts; we are given an intimate view of what they saw and felt in the aftermath when the levees collapsed. While the world building and premise promises a much anticipated urban fantasy, a fledgling wizard forced to deal with the supernatural entities that seek to enter her world, the actual story and characters failed to engage me at all. It’s not that the overall story was bad or good; it was just there. The story starts out incredibly slow for me. We do little more than watch our heroine do “meet and greets.” There is no suspense or anticipation as we are led through the various investigations. The plot and sub plots are laid out in a matter of fact fashion that left not much to the imagination. It wasn’t until well past the halfway mark that we begin to see some action as we march towards the conclusion.
Ms. Johnson spends a majority of the book flirting with a love triangle (maybe even a quad-angle) yet only tap dances around it, never committing to anything. I found the men in DJ’s life to lack any sort of characteristics that would have made them memorable to me. They were cookie cutters who did and said all the right things but with no flair or style. The only one who really stood out was Jean Lafitte and unfortunately, he wasn’t around enough to make a real difference. I found our heroine also didn’t inspire any confidence or memorable moments for me either. She seemed to suffer from a trap many UF heroines fall into-a complete lack of good sense. She jumped into the middle of dangerous situations without stopping to think things through, causing herself and others to be hurt. After the fourth and fifth time, I was hoping Ms. Johnson would kill her off and bring in someone else. Her dialogue was immature at times and while she didn’t immediately jump into bed with anyone, she also didn’t foster any real feelings towards them. Any flirting she does felt forced. I never felt she really connected to anyone in here.
Certain scenes within the book showed great promise in bringing humor, depth, and a greater understanding of the plot and Dj herself, yet they fall flat as Ms. Johnson only goes so far before she abruptly leaves and takes us elsewhere. There is one on particular scene where DJ learns some devastating news of her family’s past; yet the dialogue surrounding it is uninspiring as if they were discussing the weather.
All in all, while I enjoyed the time and consideration that Ms. Johnson brings to the set up and exploration of the city and its inhabitants, the plot and its characters failed to elicit even a spark of excitement as I labored my way through this story.
Favorite Quote: “ Let me in…let me in…LET ME IN… “
*A tiny recap from Dark Frost, so be warned, this could4.5 Stars Originally posted at Smexybook.com
Favorite Quote: “ Let me in…let me in…LET ME IN… “
*A tiny recap from Dark Frost, so be warned, this could spoil if you have not read the series*
Once again, I have entered the hallowed halls of Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy in her latest release, Crimson Frost, and found myself living every single moment as though I was a part of the storyline itself. By the end of book three, Dark Frost, Gwen’s relationship with Logan had grown in leaps and bounds, she discovered a new and scary aspect of her powers, but she inadvertently aided the reapers in releasing Loki. Crimson Frost starts out with the usual BANG when Gwen is arrested by the Protectorate for her role in helping to release Loki and is accused of being a reaper. The head of the Protectorate is none other than Linus Quinn, Logan’s father, which puts Gwen and Logan in an awkward position.
"Shocked gasps rippled through the coffee shop, and everyone looked at me. After a few seconds, the surprised stares shifted to horrified looks that quickly melted into harsh, accusing, angry glares."
I am a HUGE fan of Estep’s works. She is one of the few authors I have read who was able to cross from adult fiction to YA with no missteps or awkwardness in the transition. She has a wonderful, powerful voice that resonates through her characters. I absolutely adore this series. It continues to balance the normal everyday life of teenagers with fascinating evolving mythological world building. Steady pacing firmly engages you into the storyline while witty, snarky dialogue keeps you entertained. This is a wickedly fun series. We aren’t overwhelmed with intricate plots or long drawn out angst. Multiple subplots intertwine throughout but never confuse or isolate you from the main storyline. Heavily character driven, I find myself able to sink right back into Gwen’s world as though I never left with each new installment.
If Dark Frost was the game changer, then Crimson Frost is the large ante that is being placed upon Gwen to win this game. Her role as Nike’s champion has been solidified and she knows her mission is a heavy load bearing one that could eventually destroy her. She has to prove her innocence to not only the Protectorate but also the student body at Mythos Academy. Friendship continues to be a large aspect that the story is built upon. I loved the fact that her unusual group of friends continue to stick by her side, even at risk to themselves. We continue to see an emotional, mental, and metaphysical growth in Gwen that serves to heighten the anticipation of Gwen’s destiny. She has come along way from the social loner whom we met in book one, Touch Of Frost. She has instigated herself firmly into Mythos Academy with not only her improving warrior skills but also through some important friendships. Gwen is tested in ways that will leave in an emotional tornado and make it almost impossible to touch upon without spoiling. Lets just say that fans will NOT be disappointed.
"Every angry shout, every enraged scream, every bitter word twisted the invisible blade in that much deeper, making me want to vomit from the phantom pain."
The secondary characters remain a delightful addition to the story; continuing to elevate and evolve within it. Gwen’s Valkyrie bff, Daphne, has Gwen’s back through thick or thin. She has remained a constant in Gwen’s life. We are introduced to some new characters who situate themselves firmly into the arc and are used to address and resolve some past issues and bridge us towards the conclusion. We meet Logan’s father, Linus, and we learn some more of the story behind his and Logan’s separation. We also meet the young man whom Oliver met during the winter holiday. Estep not only introduces a new and exciting character for us to cheer for, but also paves the way for a secondary romance that I am thrilled with. Ms. Estep not only captures the unique individuality of each character but also forms a distinct place and position/action for them throughout the story. Though existing in a fantasy world, the realism of their actions and emotions only adds to the overall enjoyment. Gwen’s and Logan’s romance seems to finally be on track but circumstances will have you face palming and wondering why Estep hates us. Or maybe that was just me. Hmmm. Either way, it will leave you NEEDING the next book… NOW!
The main conflict is quite a Machiavellian journey of misdirection and deviousness as we follow Gwen and the clues to the end. High octane action, suspense, and intrigue will keep you glued to the pages as you watch Gwen fight for her friends, the academy, and her life. I was shocked by some directions the story took and found myself scrambling for purchase at the climactic finale. Ms. Estep leaves us to ponder what is on the horizon next for Gwen, Logan, and the rest of Mythos Academy as we wait impatiently for the fifth installment of this series-Midnight Frost-which is set to release in 2013. Crimson Frost has laid down the gauntlet and I am on pins and needles to see how Gwen and the students of Mythos Academy will keep Loki and the reapers from taking over the world. Estep’s Mythos Academy series is a must have for all YA fans who enjoys a rich blending of snark and serious in an incredible mythological world. I can’t wait for my next visit to Mythos Academy.
Having grown up in the violent, oppressive world of the Brood with his father being one of the worst offenders, Brand Geirson has no desire to accept his destiny and rule the clan. Brand walks away from the Brood and never looks back. When a brutal murder points back to the Brood, Brand finds himself having to embrace a destiny he fought against. He must become what he never wanted to be in order to save the only woman he ever loved.
Brand is a Brood, a wolf shape shifter. He turned his back on his world after he killed his father, their king, to stop the atrocities and bloodshed the his father used to ruled. Brand was so brutally tortured as a child, he keeps his wolf safety buried in fear he will submit to the rage and become just like his father. He now owns and operates a security firm and stays as far away from Brood politics as he can. When a human woman is found murdered at a site he provides security for; he recognizes the claw marks and knows a member of the Brood committed the murder. Brand knows he will have to enter back in to Brood in order to determine just how chaotic the clans have become. As Brand navigates his way through a dangerous minefield of exploding emotions and archaic rules, he finds himself at the mercy of those who have decided that he will claim his destiny-or die.
Broods of Fenrir is a dark and sinister urban fantasy that takes us back to a time when shapeshifters were beautiful, savage predators. They take what they want through blood and violence. The weak are viewed as prey to done whatever to. Fast pacing and a cast of charismatic characters makes for an engaging story. Using an interesting mixture of Norse mythology and legends, Ms. Moore creates a world that is real despite it’s paranormal origins with it’s never ending power struggles, emotional rampages, and general make up. This world is not nice. It’s not pretty. There are no soul searching, waxing poetic wolves in here. These are raw savage beasts who cling to their humanity through sheer willpower. They are wolves first and humans later. I found myself cringing during certain scenes and tearing up at others as we are shown just how violent and evil this society can be.
Brand is the ultimate tortured hero. Sexy, strong, ruthless with an underlying vulnerability that has him forever fearful that he will become his father. I liked that his protective streak was tempered by his rational side. His demands all come from an intense desire to keep those he cares for safe. Yet he is smart enough to know that a true strength comes from the ability to trust those around him and ask for help.
Dagny, daughter to the insane and manipulative Isobel, is nothing but a pawn in her mother’s quest for power. Sold into slavery, Dagny’s life has been hell on earth. Isobel’s turbulent past with Brand has her believing that she can mold him into a king that will obey no one-but her. When Dagny and Brand meet-the sparks fly. Dagny is the alpha female that Brand’s wolf has been looking for. The build up of this romance is dark and intriguing as Ms. Moore spends time shaping their emotions all in accordance to their culture. Brand offers Dagny the one thing she craves. The one thing she has suffered for all her life. Freedom and acceptance.
Our secondary characters (good and bad) are all just as richly designed as our protagonists. The woman in this book as just as strong and deadly as the men yet are shackled by cruel tradition. Alice is my favorite. Alice is Brand’s best friend whom Brand saved after she was brutally beaten by another Brood. He is over protective of her and at first you see Alice accepting this. Ms. Moore slowly brings Alice out of her shell and reveals the hidden strength this young and admittedly weak wolf has. She truly shines at the end and shows everyone that true courage is the ability to face what you fear most.
There are three story lines that run concurrently though out. The main conflict and the romance blend nicely together but an attached sub story is weak and underdeveloped. It’s resolution was predictable and fell flat for me. I also wished we could have explored more of the Brand’s history, Brood history, and the other clans that make up this world. The story is told in the present with background given sparingly and with the assumption you already know it.
The main conflict wraps up nicely with action, suspense, and a huge surprise that knock me for a loop. I enjoyed this foray into Ms. Moore’s world and look forward to visiting again.
Favorite Quote: “Your exactly the type of woman I’d spend the rest of my life trying to make happy.”
Tess Jennings, an event manager, has a secret. SheFavorite Quote: “Your exactly the type of woman I’d spend the rest of my life trying to make happy.”
Tess Jennings, an event manager, has a secret. She can see and talk to ghosts. As a child, she “died” in a terrible car accident but was revived and now possesses this remarkable gift. Tess tries to ignore these spirits and live a normal life but when she is contacted by a sexy dead cop who wants her help in solving his murder and a 5 year old crime, what’s a girl to do?
Kipp McGowen died trying to solve a young woman’s murder. When he realizes that Tess can actually see and hear him, he harasses her in the most delectable ways into contacting his old partner and revealing some clues he found before he died.
Tess realizes that Kipp needs her help to cross over and sets out with him and his partner to discover who killed Kipp and the young woman. The only problem? She is falling in love with her ghost and helping him may cause her to lose him forever.
I actually read Supernaturally Kissed when it was first released under another title. Loved it then and loved it now. A snarky, fun, well plotted mystery with some smokin’ hot paranormal romance between a girl and her ghost. Fast pacing with a well plotted storyline makes this an enjoyable read. I like the premise of a crime solving duo made up of a ghost and a medium. Our heroine, Tess Jennings, is a hilarious. Sweet, funny, and more then able to handle her own. Her blond happy girl next door persona hides a strong woman with a huge heart and shoe fetish. I loved her external and internal dialogue. She reacts and deals with things realistically but listening to her rationalize it is hilarious. She really has some of the best lines in here. She doesn’t want to help Kipp at first and her reasons made sense. She can’t help every single spirit that comes to her. She wants him to “go into the light” or where ever and leave her alone. But as she gets to know him and hear his story-she sets side her own misgivings and jumps in head first.
Kipp McGowen is one hunky ghost. Sexy, funny, and talks just dirty enough to have you wanting some extra paranormal visitors yourself. You can’t help but feel for him as he was murdered in the prime of his life and feels that maybe he’s still around to make up for the bad things he did while alive. He admits to being a player but Tess can see that it was his love and commitment to the job that made him a bad candidate for relationships. He’s very determined and once he puts his mind to something, there is no turning back. I loved how he uses every trick in the book at first get Tess to acknowledge him then convince her to help him. One scene has him describing every naughty thing he wants to do to her while she’s on a double date with her best friend. Since only she can see him, her friend keeps asking her if she’s alright and why does she look like she’s about to hump the bar stool. You’ll be howling as you watch her and Kipp fuss and flirt their way through out the story.
“I had the urge to knock this ghost up to the gates of Heaven myself.”
”If you know what’s good for you, you won’t say one fu*king word to me for…forever!” “I can’t talk to you ever again?” “I. Thought. I. Said. You. Couldn’t. Talk.”
The romance that blooms between Kipp and Tess is both sweet and spicy. Tess goes from lusting after a very sexy well built ghost to falling in love with a kind hearted incredibly heartfelt young man. She stops seeing him as a ghost and that part is both enchanting and sad. They know they can’t have a future yet it doesn’t stop the yearning they both feel.
Kip’s partner and friends add depth and more hilarity to the story from their first meeting with Tess and questioning her sanity to becoming close enough to her to admit that solving crimes gives them ‘stiffys’. Can you guess where her eyes went? Yup. I enjoyed the banter between Kipp and his partner Nick. Even though Kipp is dead, once Nick believes Tess, it’s like Kipp never left.
“Can I close the door?” “Huh? And your asking my permission because?” He rolled his eyes. “Has Kipp come into the room?” I laughed. He worried about something irrelevant. “You do realize he can walk through the door. He doesn’t need you to open if for him.” Zach’s jaw clenched. “I’m not making Kipp walk through the door.”
The ending is action packed and a bit nerve racking as the murderer outwits them all. The main conflict resolves itself perfectly and leaves just enough open so we have no doubts we will be seeing Tess and Kip in the future. I look forward to reading more about this crazy couple and their supernatural adventures.