A good start to a YA shape shifter series. Personable characters and an interesting storyline though I would have liked it to be a little less focus o...moreA good start to a YA shape shifter series. Personable characters and an interesting storyline though I would have liked it to be a little less focus on the characters and more on the conflict. By the end, I knew the cast like the back of my hand but the conflicts surrounding them were still fuzzy. (less)
I have read but opted not write a review for every story in this anthology.
Stolen Goods by Shannon K. Butcher. In a world poised on the brink of an alien take over, a man hires a renowned thief to help him recover a magical artifact that could spell the end of humanity if it falls into the wrong hands.
Stolen goods is a well written novella with a strong storyline, personable characters, and lots of action. Butcher gives our characters somewhat complicated pasts that are addressed in the story and adds to the faint sexual undercurrents flowing through it. The main conflict is ripe with tension and horror as Butcher gives us a front row seat to what we as humans have to look forward to if our couple doesn’t win this battle. Enjoyable all the way around and I hope Butcher writes more on this couple and their unique skills.
The Girl With No Name by Chris Marie Green. When a young lady awakens in a strange room with no memory and wearing a pair of unusual knee high boots, she finds herself playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse as she struggles to recover her memory and stay alive.
This is my first time reading Ms. Green but not my last. Green’s incorporation of nature, magic, and the price for using it is interesting, especially when applied to our heroine. The story reveals well as we start out in the unknown and each clue leads us deeper into the mystery that surrounds our heroine’s memory loss and the reasons she is running. Interesting side characters and a possible love interest let us know our heroine isn’t fighting alone. Fast pacing and a kick arse heroine made this a joy to read.
The Devil’s Left Boot by Faith Hunter. Two young witches take a missing person case from an old enemy. Their investigation leads them into the town’s past and into the arms of an insane vampire whose appetite for Christian Louboutin is only matched by her appetite for blood and chaos.
I like Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series so I was excited to read a novella that revolves around the witch family that Jane has a love/hate relationship with. Word of warning, this story exists mid series and may spoil those who haven’t read book four-Raven Cursed. Witches, vampires, and a baby goat provide action, suspense, and humor when these two witches find themselves in a quandary that only Jane can get them out of when they stumble on their town’s bloody past and become more in touch with the dark side of their magic.
High Stakes (Chicagoland Vampires, #8.5) by Chloe Neill. Cadogan House guard Lindsey adores her boss Luc but the chains of her past leave her unable to commit to a relationship with him. When her past comes calling, threatening her family, Lindsey travels back to her beginnings and lays some ghosts to rest for good.
Fans of Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire series have watched as Luc and Lindsey have danced around their attraction for years. Luc has done everything possible to make Lindsey his but with no avail. She is too stubborn and scared to give that much trust to one person. High Stakes is a short novella that finally tells us of Lindsey’s turbulent past and seems to hint at good things for her relationship with Luc.
Red Really Isn’t My Color (Black Wings, #2.5) by Christine Henry. The many greats grand daughter of Lucifer isn’t really big on family reunions or her family period but when Lucifer makes a request, she can’t refuse. Charged with recovering a pair of cursed red dancing shoes from the fairies leads Madeline Black into a battle with the Queen of Fae’s top assassin.
Having never read Christine Henry, this short story seemed the perfect way to ease myself into her series. Red Isn’t My Color plays off Hans Christian Andersen’s moralistic fairy tale-The Red Shoes. Mayhem follows our winged warrior as she confronts the Queen of the Fae’s right hand man and finds herself set up as a well shoed sacrificial lamb. Our heroine triumphs but is forced to use a side of herself that leaves her fearful of the consequences. A well plotted storyline with equal parts humor and that resolves fully but leaves faithful fans with hints towards the future.
Snakeskin (Trickster series, #0.5) by Rob Thurman. Making a deal with the Trickster can have unforeseen consequences as a customer learns the hard way.
Thurman’s Trickster series is a favorite of mine, right behind her Leandros series. The heroine, Trixa Iktomi, is a trickster; a semi divine shape shifter. Youthful in appearance and dangerous in reality; Trixa gives her customers what they ask for but often manipulates the results. In Snakeskin, a prequel set about ten years prior to book one, Trixa uses her skills to give a murderous black widow her heart’s desire. Humor reigns supreme as Trixa teaches a valuable lesson on the evils of greed.
Kicking It is a fun anthology that offers readers a variety of kick arse heroines in a collection of action packed stories by some of Urban Fantasies hottest authors to date. Though some stories are stronger then others, the collection as a whole is an engaging read sure to enchant.
Favorite Quote: She’s died twice while protecting her city…and she’d do it again to save the people she loves.
Many fans including myself were not sure this particular book would come into existence after we were informed the series had been dropped by Meding’s publisher. I was pleased to see Meding decided to publish on her own and bring her fans book five-Requiem Of The Dead. Meding does a fabulous job of bringing readers up to speed with brief recaps from throughout the series and especially, book four, Wrong Side Of Dead.
Requiem Of The Dead picks up not long after Wrong Side Of Dead. One important aspect to remember about this series is that everything takes place in a relatively short time period. Only a few months go by between book one and now. Insane scientist William Thackery is dead though his experiments, Halfies (the goblin half breeds) are alive and well, multiplying at an unheard of rate. The Watchtower (an alliance group formed of supernatural clans and the hunters) is severely understaffed due to the vampire’s withdrawal of their support and the Assembly’s internal strife. Evy and Wyatt, along with various other enforcers and certain human allies are now responsible for protecting the entire city. When a rash of vicious goblin attacks begin to cripple the city, all clues circle back to Evy and her killing of the Goblin Queen in retaliation for her part in Evy’s torture and death.
As if Evy didn’t have enough on her plate, she is also trying to help Wyatt deal with his new half breed status, find some missing werewolf teens, and discover who has the cure for the vampire infection that is eradicating their race. Politics play hard and loose as Evy finds herself once again having to place her life on the line to save everything and everyone she loves.
I am a huge fan of Ms. Meding’s Dreg City series. A dark edgy Urban Fantasy filled with nail biting action, suspense, and intrigue. The originality of the world and it’s characters is what keeps me hooked in this series. The lines between good and evil are blurred; giving credence to knowledge that sometimes heroes and villains are only separated by a single action. Smooth writing, fast pacing, and engaging dialogue keeps you on your toes to the very end. A convoluted storyline engages us as we learn of the many supernatural factions and the human warriors who stand between them and us. Betrayal and redemption continue to be underlying themes as we watch our heroine navigate through her convoluted life.
Evy is a force to be reckoned with. She has learned the hard way what blind obedience can do and that colors every decision she makes from here on out. Ms. Meding has allowed her to grow within the storyline at a steady comfortable pace. Evy has accepted the body she now inhabits and her love for her former handler, Wyatt. Ms. Meding does a wonderful job of voicing Evy’s emotions for her boyfriend and the friends she had made along the way. Harsh betrayals by those she thought were friends left a vulnerability in Evy that she is still struggling to come to terms with. They were her family and she misses that security though she has begun to build another family unit filled with various human and supernatural entities. Courage and loyalty are her strongest points as she continuously tries to save a world that has done nothing but throw her to the wolves from day one. She’s not completely forgiving though. She will never trust those who betrayed her again and will show no mercy should they get in her way.
Wyatt, Evy’s ex-handler and current lover, has dealt admirably with the blows that continually strike Evy and him. Though their relationship is still feeling it’s way due to past events, they reach a sense of peace in here that offers a much needed break. They have more than earned it. Throughout the series Wyatt and Evy have both sacrificed much to be together. We see in here how Wyatt’s life has become much more complicated after being infected by a lupa-werewolf. Now considered a half breed, he finds himself an anomaly in a unknown long game. Regardless of his own issues though, he is a constant presence and we are left with no doubt where his loyalties lie.
There is a deep emotional aspect in here that began with book four and continues on in here. Evy is once again tested in ways that would destroy a lessor person yet she triumphs, not through supernatural means but through her strength and courageousness. One aspect of this series that never fails to astound me is the lack of fear Ms.Meding has in choosing to show the violence of an unsteady world and the huge risks she takes in regards to her characters. Chances are taken and while some bets pay off (within the story), others don’t and we are left to bear witness to the outcome. Some scenes in here take an emotional toil on your heart yet there is a ray of hope that lets you know things will continue to get better. I will say I missed Phin tremendously. He is such a large part of the series and Evy’s life. I’m looking forward to seeing him again soon.
The main conflict and events leading up to it’s climactic resolution are a stomach dropping rollercoaster ride of thrills and chills. There are some rough spots in here that had me jittery with nerves as I tried to figure out exactly how this would resolve itself. But Ms. Meding wondrous sleight of hand tricks allows us an acceptable outcome while leaving some issues open to ensure more exciting adventures for Evy and us are on the way.
Action, suspense, intrigue, and just the right amount of humor and romance makes Ms. Meding’s Dreg City series a must read for all noir urban fantasy aficionados.
Jacelylyn, barista by day and hunter by night, uses her unique skills to keep the human population safe along with her partner and ex boyfriend, Finn. When a series of horrific murders shock their small town, Jax discovers this is the work of the furies; a trio of mythical goddess who are driven by vengeance. Jax has no idea who summoned them or why, but she’ll need all the help she can get to stop them before they destroy the town and everyone in it.
Vengeance Borne is the first installment of Amanda Bonilla’s newest series-Sentry of Evil. A noir urban fantasy/paranormal romance that mixes various mythologies with the supernatural and puts it all to boil in a small town setting. Set in the small town of McCall, Idaho, this mystical convention spot sees more than its fair share of supernatural problems from goblins snacking on the innocent to banshees screaming, heralding the arrival of death. Heavily character driven, the steady pace with its multiple character introductions and arc background information makes this book a set up for the series.
Jacelylyn (Jax) is a Waerd (hunter) of the Sentry, a secret organization that hunts supernatural evil. Taken into service at a very early age, Jax was forced into this life and is none too happy about it. Currently assigned to McCall, she works as a barista of a local coffee shop as the Sentry doesn’t pay her for her nocturnal services. Her partner, Finn, also works for the Sentry as a Bearer. Bearers are empaths with healing skills and always partnered with Wareds. He is also her ex boyfriend. Jax recently broke it off with him because he used his gift of empathy to manipulate her emotions and she was no longer sure what she felt was her own feelings or due to him.
Jax is a character who I feel has a lot of potential and room for growth in the future. Unfortunately, a majority of what we see from her introduction consists of her emotional conundrums concerning Finn and her hatred of her life. A large majority is dealing with her anger and frustration. I found her to be immature at times, though once you learn pieces of her backstory, you can understand why. She has a lot of internal anger that is justified. Her breakup from Finn has left her with an avalanche of emotions bearing down on her that she has a hard time handling since Finn has been muting them for years. It all makes sense but it overwhelms the action in the story
Finn left me feeling ambivalent. His portrayal isn’t flattering and his constant attempts to manipulate Jax emotionally into taking him back had a rapey feel to them. Trish, the head Bearer of the area, embodies one of those of types of characters that I both love and hate in the supernatural genre. The ones who only tell you only what they feel you should know and constantly harp on how the good of many outweighs the needs of a few. She is personified as the ‘wise grandmother/guardian’ and I have a feeling her role in Jax becoming a Waerd will be prominent.
I enjoyed meeting Micah the most. Micah took a temporary leave of absence from his life to try and get a grip on his increasing visions. Heading out west in his RV, he stops in McCall for gas and finds himself abruptly inducted into a life he is completely unprepared for. His reactions are spot on for one who finds himself falling down the rabbit hole and I liked his attraction to Jax. It felt natural. I liked how indignant he is on her behalf for the way she’s been treated but he doesn’t allow her to walk all over him. He also doesn’t accept anything just because he is told too.
The main conflict was interesting and pretty straightforward, though weak in areas. I figured out early on who was the villain, so to speak, as Bonilla heavily foreshadows. The action of the book is extremely low key until the last quarter of the book. The first three quarters are filled with meet and greets of various characters, setting up the plot elements, and laying the groundwork for the arc. I thought too much time was spent on Jax’s emotional problems and it took away from the conflict. There were some areas where I found myself confused. Banshees herald death but they never alerted Jax when the Furies struck. Also, Jax doesn’t do much to find the Furies or the person who summoned them. I was also a little dismayed at the way obvious Finn is handled in order to make room for Miach in the story and Jax’s life.
The ending is swift and to the point. The main conflict wraps up neatly and we are left with some open end questions to take us into book two. I liked the premise of supernatural guardians “forced” into service and am very interested in learning more about the Sentry and their true motives. I do hope Jax settles and book two gives us a better balance between the characters and the plot.
Favorite Quote: “I would have done as much for anyone. It just happened to be you.”
Elysian Fields picks up a few weeks after the events in River Road. Drusilla Jaco (DJ), is still recovering from the wounds she received battling an insane nymph. When she is called to the scene of a brutal murder, she discovers that a serial killer, known as the Axeman who terrorized New Orleans back in the early 1900’s, has come back from the dead to reign hell on the mortal realm. Further investigations reveal that an unknown necromancer summoned the Axeman and he is gunning for DJ. If DJ’s life wasn’t dangerous enough, she finds herself caught in the middle of a political disaster when the Elven Synod demands access to DJ for training purposes and a freak accident occurs that could spell the end of DJ’s career… and her life.
Elysian Fields is the third book in Suzanne Johnson’s paranormal urban fantasy Sentinel Of New Orleans series. An action packed series that effectively bridges the supernatural with the mundane. Set in an alternate New Orleans, supernaturals intermingle with humans; though most humans aren’t conscious of this. The series is based on Drucilla Jaco, a junior wizard who stands as one of the sentinels charged with standing guard over the supernatural borders in New Orleans. Placed in her position through circumstance, DJ is still in the process of learning to control her powers. We recently learned of DJ’s elven heritage which is already causing her problems in the form of a magic staff that everyone wants but no one can touch until DJ’s death. The series follows her through her life as she investigates supernatural affairs and deals with the inevitable chaos that seems to mock her every step.
“ I’m a chaos junkie…”
I wasn’t impressed with the first book in this series, Royal Street. I adored the lush world building and overall premise, but the character development and revealing of the storyline was not a smooth transition. River Road more than made up for all that and I found myself engrossed in the second installment. Elysian Fields presented as a worthy follow up to River Road but failed to deliver for me. Elysian Fields places heavy emphasis back on the romance of the arc; a romance that seems to evolve sluggishly. The conflict suffers in my opinion as very interesting multiple storylines circle and intertwine, none able to fully develop or flesh out as we are stuck in a lackluster and unappealing love triangle. This was a huge mistake I felt that occurred in book one and I’m dismayed to see it happening again.
I was disappointed in this latest installment as I feel Ms. Johnson’s Sentinel series is an enjoyable urban fantasy. Humorous and suspenseful, it keeps you fully engaged. Her voice resonates throughout and I feel she is an immensely talented writer. There is a nice balance between the magic and the police procedural investigative means DJ uses to solve the mysteries. The world building continues to expand and evolve, giving us more insight into this world of magic in a modern, mortal setting. Supernatural entities coexist with humanity in a comfortable relationship.
Thought the first two installments seemed more conflict based, this installment most certainly revolves around the main character, DJ. DJ. has a lot on her plate this go around. A supernatural serial killer, her elven heritage, and a love triangle that I had hoped would resolve itself by now. Alex Warin, her former mentor and now partner, has been wth D.J. from the beginning. The sexual tension between them has burned bright for years though both of them fear the fall. Some steps are made that lead the reader to believe a choice has been made but DJ’s impetuousness puts it back into the unknown. Alex himself also has a problem with all the problems that seem to follow DJ.. His need for order and control is constantly tested by DJ.’s motto of ‘it’s better to ask for forgiveness later than permission first’ attitude.
“Did it ever occur to you to that you might want to talk to me before making a decision like that? Did it not even pass through your mind that you’re not the only one this affects? Jesus.”
This was another area that I felt failed in execution. In River Road, there was a remarkable growth and maturity to DJ’s character. In here, it’s as if she regresses. We see her once again making decisions on the fly which in turn backfire every single time. She suffers from what I call Scarlett O’Hara syndrome. She’ll think about it tomorrow. Everything will be addressed tomorrow. She does suffer a traumatic event that affects her both physically and mentally but I felt the plot element was merely placed in the book in order to being in yet another man wanting to warm DJ’s bed. Quince (Rand) Randolph. Though in a relationship with DJ’s best friend, Eugenia, his actions show a marked preference to DJ; much to her dismay. While DJ is physically attracted to Rand, (as with almost every man she meets), DJ feels there is something off with him and knows he’s not being honest with her. Certain scenes prove that later in the book and DJ learns the hard way that you should always go with your gut.
“I had never felt so violated [...] I’m never going to forgive you for this. Never.”
The main plot is an intriguing mixture of mystery, suspense, and supernatural what not but as I stated earlier, romance overshadows it and I felt we only get the bare bones of the storyline. The merging of the Axeman plot with various external factors makes for a huge OMG moment that foreshadows future problems for DJ. I’m looking forward to the exploration of that storyline. We meet quite a few interesting characters (good and evil) whose agendas will bear watching in the future. We also see quite a few old faces. DJ’s sexy and very dead admirer Jean Lafitte provides some humor and drama as DJ is forced once again to place herself in his debt. Out of all the characters, he is my favorite. His and DJ’s relationship is probably the most honest one she has. Charming, flirtatious, and occasionally smarmy, he has gradually proven himself to be a true friend that genuinely cares for DJ’s well being. Not to say he won’t use her for his own gain, but at least he’s honest in his duplicity. Their emotional bond is the strongest in this series and helps to balance the many uneasy romantic threads that wind their way through the storyline.
The ending is quite dramatic in it’s reveal. Action packed with decisions made that will reflect on DJ’s future both romantically and magically. All the loose threads are gathered and tied off, effectively solving the mystery but leaving an opening to assure us this isn’t the last we have seen of it. While I continue to enjoy Ms. Johnson’s writing, I can’t help but feel that the romance is being pushed with a heavy hand into this series and rather than elevating it, it’s slowly suffocating the overall appeal.
Favorite Quote: “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…”
In attempts to repair the friendship with her bff, Mallory Carmichael, Merit heads to Saul's Pizzeria for an impromptu dinner date with Mallory. When a series of bombs go off, shattering their peaceful dinner, Merit and Mallory go out to investigate and find themselves in the midst of a riot. Keep Chicago Clean, a new radical anti vampire group, has bombed a nearby blood manufacturing plant. As the group continues their attacks on random targets, including a vicious attack on the Grey House, Merit and Ethan begin to suspect there is a more insidious plot afoot. Merit knows deep down that McKetrick is behind it all but unable to prove it.
If that weren’t bad enough, the General Presidium is up to their old tricks when it announces they have blacklisted Cadogan House as punishment for withdrawing from the GP, Cadogan HOuse is now persona non grata and any house that acknowledges them will suffer their wrath. As tempers and emotions flare, the battle for Chicago has become personal and Merit knows the worse is yet to come.
Biting Bad, the eighth installment in Neill’s Chicagoland Vampire series, starts out with a bang as it reveals the plot elements of the story. Fast pacing and high charged energy keeps the story flowing nicely as we learn of the new challenges Merit, Ethan, and the rest of Cadogan House are now facing. The world building remains inviting as Neill builds a balance that embraces both the supernatural and the mundane and build upon it. While I enjoyed the overall storyline, there wasn’t much arc advancement. There are quite a few loose threads still waving in the wind. A large amount of the book revolves around Ethan and Merit. They have settled into a comfortable routine that shows us they are both committed to the relationship and in it for the long haul. Sexy chemistry still burns sharp between them and I enjoyed seeing them interact on a sweet emotional level without all the drama that has infected them throughout the series.
“I have eternal life, “ he said. “but you are my undying passion.”
The mystery and subsequent investigation was interesting and filled with action and suspense though I got a deja vu feeling at times. I felt a strong similarity to the events in House Rules in the setup and execution of the story. There is lots of action but the revealing is lowkey. Everything comes together to easily without much conflict. Certain sub plots seem to go nowhere, offering no boost or advancement of the storyline and I wondered at their significance. We receive some ambiguous clues to the future and I for one am interested in seeing what Neill will build with those clues. I would have more inclusion of Gabriel Keene and his prophecy. That thread seems to have stalled but I’m sure Neill has great plans for us and Merit regarding that.
Engaging secondary characters and sustainable relationships remains a strong aspect in the overall enjoyment of this series. The dialogue remains sharp and witty, keeping you laughing at the most inappropriate times.
“Latte, half caf, extra hot, double foam, two shots, soy milk.” “I’m not really sure how I can follow that.”
Old and new enemies come into play as Merit and Ethan work on discovering the GP’s real agenda towards them and figure out who is targeting their kind. We see many old friends and get a small intimate looks at how their lives are progressing. Mallory is slowly becoming a strong presence again and I like that she and Merit are rebuilding their friendship. Neill makes a major concession regarding Mallory that bodes interesting for the future. Catcher plays a major role in this installment and I’m glad to see him and Mallory making progress in their relationship.
The ending wraps up this storyline, leaving a few open threads and a small cliffhanger to lead us into book nine, Wild Things, set to release Feb 2013. Regardless of some innocuous problems, I enjoyed Biting Bad. This series remains a dark humorous Urban Fantasy/PNR with plenty of action, romance, and snark. This is not a standalone though and I do not recommend starting the series here. This is a convoluted series that builds upon itself with each new book. The arc is long reaching with minor recapping.
**There will be two Chicagoland Vampire novellas released before Wild Things.**
I adore this series with it's dark violent premise and seemingly un repentant characters. Getting to see Terrible's crush on Chess from his POV is...more4.5
I adore this series with it's dark violent premise and seemingly un repentant characters. Getting to see Terrible's crush on Chess from his POV is a treat indeed and only wets my appetite for the next installment in the series. (less)
Favorite Quote: “If I wanted questions going unanswered, I could just watch Lost.”
Never has a book been so aptly titled than Secret Unleashed. Number six in Sierra Dean’s dark and wickedly sexy urban fantasy Secret McQueen series. In this installment, Secret learns some secrets that will leave her and readers reeling from the implications.
Recap from book five.
In book five, Grave Secret, Secret was challenged on many levels. She is forced to go to the Fae to retrieve her arsehat husband’s sister, is still trying to gain Desmond’s forgiveness, sleeps with Holden, investigates her bff for murder, and learns her mother will do anything to take the title of queen from her. And we learn exactly what anything entails. Also, as always, previously bad decision making on Secret’s part left her with a huge bill to pay…and she pays in spades here. The ending left us with a broken heart and Secret with a whole new appreciation for life.
Secret Unleashed starts off with the repercussions from Bridget’s death. As the key to keeping Secret’s nemesis, Alexandre Peyton in prison, Bridget’s death means his freedom. Secret finds herself being smothered by her friends and lovers as they seek to keep her safe while the Tribune tries to recapture Peyton. When a job goes bad and Secret lands in herself in jail, Sig has had enough and decides to send Secret to investigate a mystery for the California Vampire Tribune. Someone has stolen a valuable relic from them and they want it back. Piece of cake right? Not so fast. Before heading out to Cali, Secret learns some interesting and disturbing background information about the thief and why Sig is so interested in her. Grabbing Holden, Secret travels to California to begin her search for the missing relic. From there she uncovers a twisted mess of lies and deceptions that makes Secret long for the days when she was nothing more than an enforcer. I do want to note that 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 with almost no recap.
Secret Unleashed is a emotional roller coaster ride that ends with Secret at the proverbial crossroad. Either path she takes will result in danger and possible death. Dean provides us with some much needed answers but at the same time opens the way for new adventures. I won’t lie to you, this book is harsh. Secret is tested in ways we have never seen before.
I thoroughly enjoy the world that that Ms. Dean has created in her Secret McQueen series. From the beginning Ms. Dean has written an energetic and feisty urban fantasy with its wonderful balance of humor and suspense. Continuing world expansion and deepening character development keeps this series fresh and engaging. Non stop action and Machiavellian inspired plot lines will leave you wanting more long after you reach the end.
Emotions run high as Secret is manipulated through circumstances into a situation that may result in her becoming the hunted instead of the hunter. An action packed storyline is made even more exciting by being built around the Winchester House in San Jose, California. I visited there once and it’s absolutely incredible. And creepy. If you don’t know about this particular piece of history, you can read about it here.
The main conflict is ripe with suspense, action, and horror. The subplots begin to intertwine with the main storyline, feeding off one another to lead Secret into a situation so twisted that we aren’t sure she will survive this fight. But survival is what Secret does best, so when a new monster rears their ugly head and friends are caught in its grip, Secret’s guilt only serves to increase her anger over the entire episode. She warns all those involved that heads will roll by her hand. The ending will leave you shocked by the implications of what’s to come.
New friends are made while old friends reveal pieces of themselves that shock Secret and cause her some disconcertion. Trust is a fragile bond that stretches and in some places, brakes, leaving Secret to wonder who else has been lying to her. The romance isn’t as prevalent in here as it has been in the last few installments which I appreciated as it is my least favorite aspect of the storyline. Lucas has been persona non grata, especially after dropping his balls, errr, I mean THE ball in Grave Secret. Desmond and Holden are both at Secret’s side and while I like that they are trying not to push her, it cannot stay at this impasse. Decisions will have to be made. Plus, Lucas, the douche, still has a foot in the door as her husband and supposed soul mate so he can’t be dismissed outright. But he can be killed. *hint-hint*
Once again, Sierra Dean leaves us bloody and shell shocked as we follow Secret down the rabbit hole. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Secret in book 7-title and release date to be revealed.
Trish “Little Miss” Muffet has loved Nicky “Little Boy” Blue since she was snatched from Make Believe and sent to the Here and Now. But fate had different plans for the two of them and Trish resigned herself to crushing on him from afar. When she is attacked at a crime scene, she is shocked her rescuer is none other than Nicky. Nicky has been missing for two years after he was viciously attacked and his wife killed. Now a vigilante that goes by the moniker “the spider”, Nicky is taking down predators on his way to his ultimate target-Vlad Dracula-the man who ordered the hit on him and his wife. And he needs Trish’s help.
Trish doesn’t believe in Nicky’s renegade way of doling out justice, but she agrees Vlad needs taking down. As Trish and Nicky work together to capture the rogue vampire, the heat that has always simmered between them blazes into a smoldering inferno, but Nicky has no plans to remain in town after his job is done. With danger coming at them from all sides, Trish knows the only man who can save her is a prickly spider whose touch leaves her breathless. Can Little Miss Muffet convince Little Boy Blue to come sit on her tuffet with her or will fear of the unknown scare them both away?
When Nat from WickedLilPixie brought this book to my attention, all I could think of was, “Ugh, Once Upon A Time fanfic.” I did some investigating and saw I actually had the first two in the series on my ereader. After reading the blurb to book one, Red I was intrigued enough to give it a try. I devoured books one and two in one day and requested the third one ASAP. ReSine’s Transplanted series offers a unique look into the mythology of fairytales in this mixture of UF/PNR; twisting it all into a sexy dark funny story that kept me hooked. Though it has a bit of an OUAT feel to it in the overall premise, the similarities end there.
***MILD SPOILERS FROM PREVIOUS BOOKS AHEAD! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!***
Set in an alternative modern time, we learn in book one that Lavender Seelie, Cinderella’s fairy godmother, let her ego get the best of her and somehow managed to bring forth and trap certain fairy tale, nursery rhyme, and literary characters in our world. Unable to undo what she did, the characters rebuilt their lives and learned to survive in the Here and Now with the Ordinaries (humans). Each book focuses on one hero and heroine with a resolvable conflict and HEA ending. I wouldn’t recommend reading out of order, though. There is a continuing arc and characters and situations bleed over into each new installment.
Along Came A Spider is the 3rd installment of ReSine’s Transplanted series. Well-plotted and cast with strong and personable characters, Along Came A Spider is filled with taut suspense, delicious betrayal, dangerous antagonists, and a healthy dose of humor and romance. An engaging world that captured me from page one. A strongly character driven story, I love how ReSine expands on each character’s story, adding dimension and personality. For example, Snow White is a brothel owner after her prince divorces her and leaves her broke. The Three Little Pigs are shady house builders. Little Red Riding Hood is an enforcer/police officer for FMA-Fairytale Management Authority-a law enforcement agency. The Sandman is a drug pushing kingpin.
SeRine builds her world with a deft hand; achieving a nice balance between the story and her continuing evolving world. She introduces new characters and plot elements in a way that does not overburden the reader with unrealistic interpretation or facilitate the need for continuous explanations. The story is a perfect blending of seductive romance, non stop action, realistic main characters, secondary characters, and intriguing mystery. Well thought out and fast paced, it creates a satisfying arc of development for the main characters and culminates in two very different sort of conflicts – one that threatens the lives of Trish and Nicky and one that threatens their happily ever after.
I enjoyed getting to know Trish and Nicky better. We met them in previous books but this installment is one hundred percent their story. Trish is a coroner for FMA. Her special gift allows her to help solve cases involving murdered Tales. Nicky is a mob boss who uses loyalty and goodwill to keep his people happy and businesses successful. Both of them are intelligent, strong willed, and very independent yet with hidden vulnerabilities that makes them very loyal to their friends. They would both give their lives to save a friend. Trish is a bit girly girl but can more than hold her own when it comes to kicking arse and taking names. She and Nicky work well together. Having been given hints that they were attracted to one another from the beginning, their flirting and romance moves fast but at a realistic rate. No need to dance around, the chemistry is there and I like characters that act on it without playing unnecessary games. Their romance blends well with the plot lines, running smoothly underneath. Fantastic banter keeps the storyline moving at a brisk pace and injects livity into the drama surrounding them.
The secondary cast of characters are an eccentric and quirky bunch. We see old friends and meet some new friends. I enjoyed seeing what Red/Nate and Lavender/Seth are up to and where their relationships have taken them. Meeting Lavender’s family garners many laughs along with a few of Snow White’s skeevy dwarf doorman.
The main conflict wraps up nicely in a flurry of action and suspense. We are left with some interesting questions while setting up some new storylines. I was shocked by one particular event but liked the manner in which ReSine resolves it. All in all, Along Came A Spider is a satisfying read and I recommend this series to anyone who loves snark, humor, mystery, and steamy uncomplicated romance in their paranormal diet. I look forward to the next installment-title and release date to be announced.
Favorite Quote: “Life is often an illusion, Cicely. Illusion that is very real, very strong, but still-place the right amount of force on the right spot and it breaks.“
Night Vision, the fourth installment of Yasmine Galenorn’s dark and sensual fae fantasy, picks up right where Night Seeker ended. Well-plotted and cast with characters that are strong and personable, Night Vision is filled with taut suspense, delicious intrigue, and dangerous antagonists. While Night Seeker was the turning point of the series; very physical and action packed, Night Vision is the emotional aftermath. Galenorn spends more than half the book addressing the emotional changes Cicely is experiencing as she takes her place as the Queen Of Winter. We are taken deep into Cicely’s psyche as she struggles to overcome her fears of the future and her sorrow at what she is losing. A strong storyline with captivating subplots further drives this story towards the finale as Cicely, her wounded prince, and an obsessed vampire all fight for what they want.
Ms. Galenorn continues to evolve and strengthen her convoluted world with her own fascinating twists on supernatural mythology that first started in Night Veil. Detailed descriptions and scenes define this installment as Cicely meets the Winter Court and learns what will be expected of her as Queen. There is no turning back for her or Rhiannon. The arc remains a subtle presence as long running open storylines are finally closed for good. Galenorn is preparing for the end, leaving clues that will have long time readers wondering how she can end this series with our hearts in tact. The world continues to blend carnal passions, electrifying action, dynamic characters, and stark reality into a sensuous feast for the senses. Well plotted, it creates a satisfying development for the main characters and culminates in two very different sort of conflicts that will be decided in the final book.
I continue to enjoy Cicely Waters as a character. Loyal, intelligent, and strong willed, she has made choices that many would balk at making yet she made them without batting an eye. A perfect heroine whose strong moral code that shines against the manipulations of those around her. Born to a drug user with no knowledge of her father, her survival on the streets made her into the warrior we see before us. Her maturity has grown throughout the series, though she still has a vulnerable side that preserves her humanity. We continue to share an intimate connection with Cicely as her pain, her sorrow, and her triumphs become our own. It has been an exciting ride as we have watched her grow from a solitary figure to having friends, family, and a lover. She is still scared but she has learned to trust in herself and others. She has finally reached the point where she can share her life freely with her lover, Grieve, but her association with the Vampire Court will continue to shadow her.
Grieve and Lannan are the two men who are integral parts of Cicely’s life. Grieve, a former Fae Prince of Summer, has been a part of Cicely’s life since she was a little girl. Past installments show us that they are actually old souls who cheated death and found a way to reunite. Grieve’s love for Cicely is a physical entity. Their chemistry burns the pages with each small moment they are able to steal. Lannan, on the other hand, is a sado masochist vampire whose obsession with Cicely has only brought pain to their relationship. Cicely originally signed a contract with the Crimson Court and Lannon for help, but her rise to royalty dissolved the contract and left Lannon angry over the circumstances. In Night Seeker, she and Lannan formed a tentative truce that is reinforced in here, leaving us to wonder what new position he will hold in her life.
The cast of supporting characters are a vivid and dynamic group. Each one fully capable of holding their own story. I like that each have distinct, separate personalities and substories; ensuring they are never overwhelmed by our protagonists. The main conflict of the story is a whirlwind of intrigue, tension, and action, though for me it was short and I wish the two storylines had balanced better. As I stated earlier, more than half the book is spent watching Cicely and Rhiannon (to a much smaller extent), take the thrones and I felt the in depth descriptions and internal thoughts dragged the story down in certain areas. I also wish sometimes we could see other POVs besides Cicely’s. I would pay big money to know where Lannan is emotionally right now.
Regardless of my small issues, Yasmine Galehorn’s Indigo Court series is an addictive heady noir urban fantasy that stretches all your boundaries. I highly recommend. I am looking forward to Night’s End, set to release in July 2014, though I am sad this is the final book of series.
Favorite Quote: “I’m a virgin. But this is an old shirt.”
Charley Davidson is large and in charge in the fifth installment of Darynda Jones hilariously dark and sexy urban fantasy series. More sex (YEA!!!), more jokes, and even more ghosts will keep you glued to the pages as Charley tries to solve not one but two mysteries, follow a cheater, deal with the son of Satan living next door to her in a MUCH more fabulous apartment then hers and the fact her assistant Cookie seems to think she is suddenly Wyatt Erp.
I adore this series. If you read no other books this year, you must stop and pick up Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series. A wickedly funny, sexy, action packed roller coaster ride that will have you howling with laughter as you follow Charley and her over qualified, under paid receptionist/ bff Cookie into the exciting world of private investigation, coffee thievery, and boundary challenged ghosts. A strong character driven series, this urban fantasy takes you on a crazy laughter filled adventure with strong emotional storylines, multiple subplots, charismatic characters, and witty dialogue. Our heroine, Charley Davidson, is the Grim Reaper. She has spent her entire life solving mysteries; first for her father and uncle and then for herself. Once she began to accept her duties as the Grim Reaper, her life became much more interesting. She is still learning what her role in the universe will be but according to Reyes she is a portal to heaven that if breached will enable Hell to reign on earth. Not to put any pressure on her or anything.
I love Charley. She is an empowered heroine. Though she has supernatural powers, she still uses her mortal skills as a P.I. to solve cases. Jones continues to allow Charley’s character to mature and expand at realistic rates and I like the direction she is taking. She is learning to accept her role in life (both on the physical and metaphysical plane) and paying more attention to the world around her. Her skill sets are widening in some alarming and unexpected ways. Still wonderfully sassy and snarky, she balances business and pleasure with some of the most brilliant one liners out there. No one is safe from her mouth. I continue to love how she doesn’t take herself too seriously. It’s a great coping mechanism. Armed with coffee and her jeep, Misery, she jumps head first into the world and takes it by storm. Things heat up pretty quickly in here; more information is given on Charley and Reyes relationship. Jones settles a few open storylines, opening the way for new and more exciting journeys for Charley to embark on.
Plenty of dynamic secondary characters help round out the book, adding depth, thrills, and deception. Each one so well defined you can easily see them holding their own story. We see old and new in here, expanding on the storyline and provide clues towards the rest of the series. They are all as every bit as crazy as Charley. Garrett, still a grumpy butt, has been doing some investigating of his own and we learn exactly what happened to him when he died. Awkward. Charley’s family (her dad and Grace) are finally there for Charley and that goes far in repairing the damage they did. Ubie, of course, continues to watch out for Charley. His crush on Cookie is adorable, I hope Jones goes somewhere with that. The best platonic relationship in here still remains between Charley and her receptionist slash business partner slash bff, Cookie. The dialogue between them had me crying from laughing so hard.
This better be good,” she said. “It is. I need your assistance.” “I’m watching the first season of Prison Break. ” “Cookie, you’re my assistant. I need assistance. With a case. You know those things we take on to make money?” “Prison. Break. It’s about these brothers who—” “I know what Prison Break is.” “Then have you ever actually seen these boys? If you had, you would not expect me to abandon them in their time of need. I think there’s a shower scene coming up.” “Do these brothers sign your paycheck?” “No, but technically neither do you.”
They are two peas in a pod and the love between them is readily felt. Cookie is the only one who Charley truly believes will never let her down. Cookie doesn’t want anything from Charley and always has her back. They have a wonderful friendship that translates well in the storyline. I always enjoy the scenes starring Cookie and Charley. She is so crazy yet adorable you can’t help but laugh and cheer her on. She is a great sidekick for Charley.
“I don’t need a concealed weapons permit.” “It’s also about gun safety, Cook,” I said, holding up an index finger to put her in pause. “And if you carry a gun in a concealed way, you need a permit. The class is eight hours tomorrow and seven on Sunday.” She lunged for the phone again. She missed. “That’s my entire weekend. I had plans.” “A Vampire Diaries marathon is not plans.” She looked at me like I’d lost my mind. “Have you even seen the Salvatore brothers? Holy mother of ginger snaps. And I was going to make a pan of enchiladas for us to eat next week, too.” Gah! She knew that would hurt. I sighed in defeat. “Then clearly we are both making a huge sacrifice here.”
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the super sexy, muy yummy, supermodel hot son of Satan; Reyes. Om Nom Nom. Reyes has been a part of Charley’s life since she was born. Referred to as “dark and scary”, he paid a horrible price for trying to circumvent fate and arrange for he and Charley to live happily ever after. The sexual tension and chemistry between them singes the pages, enhanced by the sense of danger and threat of death that surrounds them both. More alone time together and communication on both sides brings about a remarkable and much needed advance in their relationship. Also…MORE SMEXYTIMES!!! He’s still a handful though.
“Is that what you think? That I follow you around to keep your ass out of trouble?” “If so, you’re not very good at your job.” A huge smile spread across his face. “True enough. So what’s eating you? Because, sadly, it’s not me.”
There are three storylines that twist and turn around each other, coming together and resolving themselves towards the end. None of them are related to one another yet they all blend together fantastically. The ending is a high speed chase of action, suspense, and quite a bit of drama as everything comes to a head and Charley is left once again holding the bag and trying to survive. We are left with a small “OMG” moment that will have fans chomping at the bit for book six, Sixth Grave From The Edge. My only issue with this entire series is that Charley names her body parts. I find it disconcerting for a grown woman to name her breasts, but that’s just me. It’s easy to ignore. Regardless, Ms. Jones’s Fifth Grave Past The Light is another winning installment and takes this series to a whole new level. I do not recommend reading this out of order as these books are not standalones.
A short but informative look at the events of Crimson Frost from Logan's POV.
Favorite Quote: “Tell her I’m sorry. Again.”
Spartan Frost is a light novella that falls between Crimson Frost and Midnight Frost and addresses the events from the hero’s POV, Logan Quinn.
In Crimson Frost, Logan was possessed by Loki and tried to kill his girlfriend, Gwen Frost. Guilt over his behavior and fear that Loki may once again possess him has sent Logan running from the academy and Gwen.
I enjoyed seeing what happened in the last few pages of Crimson Frost through Logan’s eyes. The entire series is told from Gwen’s POV so it was interesting to get Logan’s thoughts and feelings. Logan spends most of the book thinking about Gwen, giving us answers as to why he left without even saying good bye, and texting his friend Oliver to keep tabs on Gwen and get updates. He also uses the time to repair his relationship with his father, with whom he’ been at odds with for most of his life. While I enjoyed the novella over all, it isn’t much more than a brief look into Logan’s emotional state.. Those who follow the series will enjoy this brief interlude but it’s not a necessary component in advancing the arc of this series. I was a little confused as to why Gwen was on the cover. I would have preferred seeing Logan as it was his story.
Hot Blooded picks up where Full Blooded left off. Jessica McClain is now not only the female to be born into a pack in the last couple hundred of years, she’s also a full blooded werewolf who finds herself the subject of much supernatural interest as she is regarded as, “the evil apocalypse that will end their races.” When her mate, Rourke, is kidnapped by the evil goddess, Selene, Jessica finds herself making deals and robbing Peter to pay Paul in order to rescue Rourke and end Selene’s reign of terror once and for all.
Hot Blooded takes us back into Carlson’s highly energetic Urban Fantasy world of hot, sexy shapeshifters, nasty politically motivated supernatural factions, and now TWO prophecies that all revolve around the first female to be born into a wolf pack in hundreds of years-Jessica McClain. Heavily character driven, Carlson continues to build upon the existing world we were first introduced to and brings in more characters who expand the arc and the present storyline, giving us clues to future books. Carlson does a wonderful job of explaining supernatural politics and integrating them into the main conflict. A steady pace combined with humorous dialogue and action packed scenes keeps us moving along as we follow our protagonist, Jessica McClain, back into the fray of things. Jessica is her pack alpha’s daughter. She is also the first female to be born into the pack and her birth is shrouded in secrecy and a prophecy. Jessica continues to learn more about the original prophecy and the new prophecy that counteracts it. This new prophecy hints that she is to be the one who will rise above the multiple supernatural factions and act as lady justice’s sword, melting out punishment to those who seek to commit evil. This leaves the supernatural world up in arms, thinking she is seeking to exterminate them, and places a huge target on her back. As Jessica races to Rourke’s rescue with a team of unlikely allies, she soon learns that being enemy number one in the supernatural world is the least of her problems.
I liked this installment for the most part. Jessica remains an intriguing protagonist. Intelligent, strong, arse kicking, and funny-she is a worthy UF heroine. I did feel there were certain plot devices used that cheated the natural growth of her character though. With each battle Jessica encounters, she is given a new power in which to defeat it. Any adversity is quickly squashed. I also found that the battle scenes became repetitive and overwhelming, especially the last one with Selene. We spend an inordinate amount of time watching Jessica and the others argue on how to handle Selene and being forced to listen to Selene’s juvenile dialogue. I did enjoy Jessica’s growth in retrospect to her wolf, Jezebel. The additional power gains do serve to further merge Jessica and her wolf into one.
There is no advancement in her “romance” with Rourke. I put romance in quotes because it was only introduced briefly in Full Blooded before he was whisked away and it’s all based on the mating bond. In my opinion, they don’t spend enough time together to make me believe it is love or even lust. Jessica’s wolf is the one pushing Jessica towards him. I’m hoping book three gives us more time with them if only to show us that it’s worth the added storyline.
The secondary cast continue to be strong, personable characters who could each carry a storyline all by themselves. Cullum, Jessica’s dad, is probably my favorite. He truly loves Jessica and has no problem showing that love. I like that he isn’t portrayed as the stereotypical wolf alpha, only wanting to sell his kid to the highest bidder. Her brother remains a delightful mess and I like the relationship they have. Danny, our human pack mate, has a strong storyline in here and I like where Carlson takes him in regards to a possible romantic entanglement. Roy. Poor Roy. Why is Roy ever here? Jessica’s new “vampire” friends are a welcome addition and Carlson uses them to further educated us to the vampire court and the intricacies involved in dealing with it.
The ending wraps up the storyline from book one and opens up new ones with a cliffhanger. While I enjoyed this installment overall, I really wish Jessica had been tested more character wise without being given instant successes. Knowing right off the bat that a heroine can never be defeated, as this installment shows being a possibility, makes me a bit weary for the overall arc of this series. Heroines and heroes need to be defeated occasionally. They need to suffer and be able to drag themselves out by their own sheer grit and determination-not through a newly developed power that just happens to appear at the right moment. Regardless, I look forward to book three, Cold Blooded, as it’s set in New Orleans and hints and Jessica and Rourke spending lots of time together. Cold Blooded is slated to release October 8, 2013.
Favorite Quote: “I order you to never wear panties again.”
Grace Mercer’s unmatched wraith-killing ability made her the unofficial defender of a city shattered by supernatural catastrophe. So there’s no way she’ll allow the new regent of Seattle’s most powerful dragon shifter clan to “protect” her from a vicious evil stalking the ruined streets—and keep her from the freedom she’s risked everything to earn.
The world has shattered and darkness reigns as humans and supernaturals alike try to survive in this post apocalyptic world. Kira Brady continues her noir fantasy series that builds its dramatic world from Norse, Babylonian, and Native American legends. A faint victorian steampunk vive permeates the air as we reacquaint ourselves with the alpha shapeshifters and humans who direct and command the storyline. A heartfelt and emotional love story sits at it’s center, surrounded by a maelstrom high octane action, suspense, and mystery. The main conflict blends nicely with the plot lines and the characters’ dialogue is an engaging mixture of seriousness and snark. A smooth well plotted storyline will hook readers from page one.
We left Hearts of Darkness after Norsgad, former leader of the Drekar clan, opened the gates to Hell and unleashed chaos on the world. He died in his quest and now the world sits on the cusp of oblivion. Hearts of Shadow picks up six months later with a tattered world and the demi God Kingu seeking to reunite with his lover (The Babylonian god Tiamat’s Heart), and wanting revenge on those who separated and imprisoned them. Not yet corporal in form, Kingu and the wraiths he commands are slowly infiltrating the humans in Seattle, using them as fodder in his war. Leif, Norgard’s brother, is now the new regent of the Drekar clan. More comfortable in a lab coat then sitting on a throne, he reluctantly assumes the mantle to rule his clan. Leif was never comfortable with the cruelty his brother seemed to reveal in or the manner in which they have to survive; especially after he meets Grace.
Grave Mercier, nicknamed the reaper because death follows her, was slave bonded to Norsgad, and suffered greatly at his hands. Besieged by tragedy from an early age, she eventually found herself blood bound to Norsgad through lies and trickery. He may have owned her body, but he never owned her soul. Trained as a warrior, Grace had been working towards buying her freedom, but the war now has Grace using her formidable skills to fight the wraiths who have overrun the city and protect those who cannot protect themselves. With no thought to her own safety, Grace is a force to be reckoned with. When she inadvertently brings herself to Leif’s attention, she is disgusted by her attraction to him. She has painted Leif with the same brush as Norsgad and waits in anger and fear for him to use her as his brother did.
Leif sees Grace and is blindsided by her. She calls to a primitive part of him that he never knew existed. As he gets to know her better, he finds himself wanting to do everything possible to make her life easier. She invokes his protective nature to the point where Leif begins to take his new position seriously and we soon see him use his power to cajole and bully the other supernatural clans into working together for the good of the city.
Leif and Grace’s romance is slow building, becoming a crescendo of passion and pleasure that takes both of them by surprise. Brady takes her time, letting our hero and heroine get to know one another and learn to trust. I adored the patience and perseverance that Leif exhibits towards Grace. He knows she was severely mistreated by his brother and doesn’t trust him. Grace is the face of intelligence, beauty, and strength and Leif does everything possible to prove that to her.
The secondary characters continue to evolve, each revealing more of their personalities and solidifying their positions in this new world. Each are developed to the point of being able to hold their own story. We see old faces and are introduced to new ones. Brady published a novella after Hearts Of Darkness that offers a look into the past and at the animosity between the Drekar and the Kivati. It reveals and explains the mated pair who are reintroduced at the end of this book. Though the Kivati and Drekar still hate each other, we do see a tentative truce after the Unraveling. Corbette, leader of the Kivati, maintains a solid presence and his seemingly timid fiancee stands and shows her true colors to the clan. The overall premise in here continues to be that good and evil are subjective and redemption can be earned, even in your darkest hour.
Hearts Of Shadow is an excellent continuation to Hearts Of Darkness. No sophomore slump for Ms. Brady. She comes out swinging and hits a homerun for this reader with her fascinating mixture of magic, science and a climactic battle scene that sets the stage for book three, Hearts Of Chaos, which is set to release February 2014.
Favorite Quote: “A smart man would keep his mouth shut. I wasn’t always a smart man.”
In Low Town, where elves, fairies, trolls, werewolves, vampires and other manners of supernatural life are happily walking among humanity, everything has its price. Gage Powell just wants to run his tattoo parlor and live a quiet fuss free life with his girlfriend, but Gage has learned that the warlocks and witches who command the Ivory Towers are never going to leave him in peace. Gage was allowed to leave the towers only if he never used his magic for anything but self defense. However, circumstances cause Gage to break this rule time and time again.
Now, Gage is back and neck deep in trouble. Gage has managed to indebt himself and his employee Bronx to the dark elf mob boss, Reave. Reave has discovered Gage’s big secret and demands Gage’s help in exchange for not selling him out to the highest bidder. When Gage has problems with Reave’s latest request, Gage rebels, causing a chain reaction that leads Reave to include someone from Gage’s past in his plan to bring down the Towers. Now the Towers are after Gage, figuring his sacrifice is enough to quell any uprisings. But Gage isn’t one to hide when the going gets tough. With the help of some surprising allies, Gage finds himself once again having to make the choice between himself and the world.
Reluctant heroes are a favorite trope of mine and Gage Powell is the ultimate reluctant hero. The sole proprietor of the Asylum Tattoo Parlor and magical tattoo artist, Gage is forced to live under strict conditions. A former apprentice warlock who didn’t agree with the cruel indicts of the warlock/witch community, he escaped that world only to find himself under a death sentence. His life is contingent upon his promise to never use his magic in any shape or form except for self defense. As Gage struggles to remain under their radar, his altruistic nature often places him on the path of no return. He has a strong moral compass. He will fight to his last breath (which he proved in Angel’s Ink) to keep his friends and the world safe from injustice.
Dead Man’s Deal is the second installment in Ms. Drake’s Asylum Tales series. Similar to Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series, Ms. Drake pens an interesting story revolving around Gage Powell, a warlock whose life choices has left him persona non grata in the wizarding world. Fast pacing keeps the story moving at a brisk pace as Drake continues to expand upon her modern magical world and the characters inhibiting it. Plenty of action and mystery will keep you guessing as Gage once again finds himself stuck between saving himself or saving his friends.
“It’s amazing what we will do for love.”
Gage is an interesting protagonist. Somewhat of a loner, his time spent in the Tower taught him not to form lasting attachments to anyone. Yet he has managed in spite of that to gather a group of friends who mean the world to him. He has to keep a low profile yet is constantly placing his life on the line. As a former warlock, he feels responsible for the horrors the Ivory Towers have inflicted on the human and supernatural world. He has absorbed their crimes and seeks to make amends in the best ways he can.
“Despite my pretty claims of leaving the Towers and turning my back on that lot, I was still a warlock. If we went to war, I wouldn’t side with the Towers, but what could one warlock-in-training do against them? And would the rest of the world even welcome my help if we went to war?”
Though we are only in the second installment, I found Gage more open both emotionally and mentally. We are given a deeper look at his pain and suffering from his childhood and the vulnerabilities he carries inside of him. I also enjoyed the continuing romance between him and Trixie. It’s not emotional soul sucker that manipulates the reader into making it more then it is. They are stable, secure and it remains a small subplot, even when Gage makes a magnanimous gesture to insure Trixie remains out of the Summer King’s hands.
A strong personable cast continues to provide us with an eclectic mixture of good and evil personas. A group whose intentions are well hidden behind a devious mask of indifference, greed, and self interest. Drake is slowly drawing out their intentions through the arc, leaving Gage struggling to expose their true motivations. From Gage’s unsympathetic warden, Gideon, to a mercenary collector of magical properties, Gage is learning he has allies in the most unusual places. But Gage’s greatest asset continues to be his friends. Though Gage feels he doesn’t have many in his corner, he has more power guarding his back then he ever imagined.
Tears still streaked his cheeks, but there was a coldness in his eyes that made me glad he was on my side. “We will end this.”
I still have concerns with the overwhelming amount of conflict surrounding Gage. It’s hard to stay focused at times with the onslaught of new and recurring situations. I also can’t help but wonder why more aren’t stepping up to the plate in a visible manner to combat those in the Towers.
Dry humor and wit is sprinkled throughout the book as we learn more about Sophia’s state of being and meet some new friends. As stated earlier, there is a plethora of subplots in here that continuously cascade over you. As the story progresses, I feel Drake does a better job in this installment of tying them all together in a manner that makes sense. The world building is expanded upon and more background information about Gage’s childhood and the inhabitants of the Ivory Towers is given. The ending wraps up the main conflict nicely, leaving us with the next book’s storyline and faint feelings of dismay and hope mixed together.
Regardless of any misgivings, Jocelynn Drake’s newest Urban Fantasy series continues to be a whirlwind of action, intrigue, and suspense with a strong base of hope, love, and humor to keep readers firmly engaged in this adventure. I look forward to book three, title and release date to be announced.
Favorite Quote: “What are you planning to do next, Miss Marple?” “Miss Marple?” “I’ve promoted you from Nancy Drew.”
Fortitude Scott is not having a good life. At 26 years old, his degree in film theory hasn’t done much to advance his placement in life. He can barely afford his apartment, he works a dead end job as a coffee barista, and his girlfriend has decided to take a time out from their relationship so she can find herself aka to sleep with other people.
Oh, and he’s a vampire.
As the baby of the family, Fort has not made his transition to full vampirism so he retains a majority of his humanity and prefers to keep it that way. He eats regular food, enjoys the sun, and avoids his family at all costs. When a new vampire enters his family’s territory and young girls suddenly goes missing, Fort finds himself embracing his heritage.With no help from his nonchalant family who can’t imagine why he even cares about these girls, Fort begins investigating the missing girls with the help of a sexy and insane kitsune shapeshifter, Suzume Hollis. Fort knows he isn’t ready to take on this dangerous and deadly vampire and with the possibility that Suzume will split when things get too dicey, this mission may very well grant his fondest wish. To die a human.
Generation V is the first book in a quirky humorous new Urban Fantasy series by M.L. Brennan. Ripe with mystery, suspense, and a cast of eccentric characters that will have you laughing and rolling your eyes at their antics. A clever mix of dark humor and seriousness, you get an intimate front row seat as our hero, Fortitude Scott, tries very hard to retain his humanity and do what he feels is the right things to do in life. Fort is an interesting mixture of bravado and self deprecation. While he is not comfortable with being a vampire and has no real defensive skills, he is more than willing to go up against those stronger than himself to save a life. His internal dialogue will leave you rolling at his running commentary of his family, friends, and his life in general.
“If Chivalry looked like the guy who could put on pancake make up and play a vampire in a movie, I looked like the guy who would fetch that guy coffee.”
Brennan offers us a new and refreshing outlook on vampire lore and legend. In here, vampires aren’t made, they are born through interesting and somewhat horrifying means. Immortality is a myth; vampires age and die though they do have an extremely long life cycles. The normal advantages and restrictions granted vampires in most books is addressed but with a subtle twist that makes sense. It’s all very modern. Family is important and I like the way Brennan manages to convey that even while acknowledging that vampires will always be uncaring narcissistic beings. Brennan also avoids the whole different species conflicts by using the playful kitsune rather than the normal alpha “pack comes first” werewolves. I liked the exploration and explanation of Japanese culture and the legends behind the kitsune and how they came to America.
Heavily character driven, I enjoyed meeting the highly individualized slew of characters that inhabit this world. Well developed, personable, and filled with so much life; I found myself in awe of how easily they slipped under my skin. Plenty of dark humor infiltrates the conversations and dialogue, much at the expense of Fort. Though this is Urban Fantasy, there is a strong New Adult tone to it as this is definitely Fort’s coming of age story. Fort’s interactions with his family have a “human” feel to them that further differentiates this story from other vampire stories on the market. His mother, a centuries old vampire, looks like Barbara Bush and insists on monthly family dinners. While her age almost guarantees her humanity is gone, she does show signs of caring for Fort.
“I am sorry this hurts you so much, my darling. I don’t understand what it feels like to care for the lives or suffering of people you’ve never met. I will not break our oldest laws for you. But I am sorry for your pain.”
His older brother, Chivalry, is an enigma. While he was born during the Civil War, his love for the normality of life and Fort shows itself in some odd but well meaning ways. Fort’s older sister, Prudence, hates him with a passion for reasons not yet revealed. I find it hilarious for some reason that she’s a stockbroker and is attached to her Blackberry. Suzume, Fort’s shapeshifting bodyguard, is an amusing somewhat obnoxious handful and makes it her mission to shake Fort’s life up while guarding it. The villain, whom Fort is disgusted to see is nothing more the Euro trash, plays his part well.
While there is no romance in here, you get the feeling that somewhere in the future, Fort may find someone. The plot executes brilliantly with plenty of action that does not instantly grant Fort amazing supernatural powers in order for him to prevail. Multiple sub plots circle around, giving us background into Fort’s childhood and clues to future storylines.
I recommend this series to everyone who enjoys dark humorous non romantic urban fantasy and is looking for something new and fresh in an over-saturated genre. Word of caution though. As I mentioned before, this has a strong NA (New Adult) feel to it due to the age and attitude of hero and his sidekick.
Favorite Quote: “You gonna put on your big girl panties and fight with the boys, now?“ “Who says I wear panties?”
The Master of Natchez, Mississippi has a nasty problem on his hands. Rogue vampires—those who follow the Naturaleza and believe that humans should be nothing more than prey to be hunted—are terrorizing his city. Luckily, he knows the perfect skinwalker to call in to take back the streets.
But what he doesn’t tell Jane is that there’s something different about these vamps. Something that makes them harder to kill—even for a pro like Jane. Now, her simple job has turned into a fight to stay alive…and to protect the desperately ill child left in her care. (Goodreads)
Blood Trade picks up not long after Death’s Rival ended. Jane Yellowrock, skinwalker and vampire enforcer, is still incredibly angry that her employer and Master Vampire Leo Pellissier forced a bond on her beast with the help of his primo, Bruiser Add in her argument with Rick and her guilt over killing her best friend’s sister; Jane is suffering from severe depression. She decides that getting out of town for awhile would be good for her and when she’s offered a job by the Master Vampire of Natchez, she grabs her boys and jumps on it. His city is being overrun by plague carrying vampires who have gone rogue. When she arrives in Mississippi, she is contacted by an old “friend” who needs her help. Misha was raised in the same group home as Jane and is now carrying for a mutual disabled friend of theirs and her daughter, who is deathly ill. Misha wants Jane to help her with writing her vampire book, but she goes missing and leaves both her charges with Jane. As Jane struggles with the rogue vampires who are like nothing she has seen before and trying to find Misha, she discovers a link between the two which if not brought into check, could spell the end for everyone-human and supernatural alike.
Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series is a high octane Urban Fantasy that follows its own rules and keeps you guessing until the very end. Heavily character driven, each one is able to hold a story in their own right. I only wish sometimes that we could get more perspective from other characters, in order to explain their motivations better. As it is, we are only privy to Jane’s thoughts and interactions concerning other characters and as she is a bit of a fatalist, she only imagines the worse. A well plotted storyline dips back into the past as Hunter brings forth previous events to help explain what Jane is facing now. Explanations are expanded upon as we learn the history of the vampires (with a surprise angle) and the roles both the witches and Jane play in those origins and the outcome.
When the MOC of Natchez hired Jane, he conveniently forgets to tell her a few things. One, that the plague carrying vamps are morphing into super vamps-almost resistant to normal extermination. Two, there is witchcraft involved. Three, he asked for her specifically. When the link to witchcraft is discovered, Jane is forced to call the PsyLED, who sends her old boyfriend Rick, and Leo sends Bruiser in to help, unbeknownst to Jane. This forces Jane to examine certain feelings and resentments she wasn’t ready for. As stated earlier, Jane is furious and unbelievably hurt at Bruiser for his betrayal. And her unresolved feelings for Rick causes her to yo-yo from anger to sadness at the drop of a hat. Luckily, both Rick and Bruiser are more honest and forthcoming then normal, concerning certain events, but Hunter doesn’t give away much and there is still long way to go before this love triangle resolves itself. I did like that Jane doesn’t bury her head in the sand in this installment and we get more of her emotions concerning this fiasco. None of this situation though is helped by Jane’s Beast whose distinctly inhuman way of looking at relationships keeps Jane’s emotions on high alert. Beast wants Bruiser and Rick as mates and doesn’t see why she can’t have them both.
Secondary characters continue to develop and elevate the storyline; no two more than Eli and the kid (Alex). With their addition to the storyline, Jane (and Beast) finally has her pack. More than just employees, Eli and the kid watch Jane’s back with the same single minded determination they use to watch each other’s. Funny, sarcastic, kick arse, and with no hidden agendas concerning her, Eli and the kid are exactly what Jane needs right now. I especially enjoy the fact that Eli isn’t scared of Rick or Bruise. Bobby’s introduction also went far into expanding Jane’s emotional awareness in a way I greatly appreciated. I think if I had to pick a theme for this story, I would say family. Whether blood or not, family is an important part of your life and Jane is finally finding hers.
Multiple subplots intertwine through the main storyline and only towards the end do you begin to see the big picture these individual threads create. The ending is climatic with Jane forefront in all her arse kicking weapon welding glory. We are also clued into Jane’s next big adventure. I know long time readers will be happy to see at least one major loose thread that has coasted for a few books is tied up and I hope we see more of that addressed in book seven-Black Arts-release date to be announced .
Blood Trade is a well written installment and a fine addition to the Jane Yellowrock series. Readers, old and new, will appreciate the convoluted storyline and action packed plot. I don’t recommend starting here though. Though each book has a resolvable conflict, the arc is long reaching not much background from previous books is carried forward. My only bone of contention remains, as always, the love triangle. The lack of advancement in it is beginning to interfere with the main storyline.
Favorite Quote: “You advising me to lie back and think of England?”
Nikki Glass has begun to acclimate to her new life as an immortal descendant of Artemis. Living in the mansion with the other Liberi’s, Nikki is slowly making it her home but finds herself clinging stubbornly to her humanity, especially when it comes to killing for revenge. And revenge is what Liberi leader Anderson wants. He orders Nikki to track the former head Olympian, Konstantin, but Konstantin’s son Cyrus had made it perfectly clear that any retribution against his father will be considered an act of war. A war the liberi have no hope of winning. When a series of mysterious fires propels Nikki towards Konstantin, she finds herself drawn into an intricate game of cat and mouse that could spell disaster for her and all those she loves.
Add in her attraction to death goddess descendant Jamaal and Nikki isn’t sure if being immortal will be enough to keep her alive this time around.
Rogue Descendant, the third book in Jenna Black’s Nikki Glass series, is an action packed urban fantasy based upon Greek mythology. Fast pacing, well plotted story lines, dry humor, and engaging characters will hook you into this entertaining world that Ms. Black has written.The world building is simplistic in its construction yet each layer we uncover reveals a twisting mass of lies and half truths that it rest upon.
Heavily character driven, what I really enjoy about this story is the machiavellian and unapologetic makeup of the cast. There are no clear cut good or bad guys in here. There are just degrees of separation. These are demi gods. Powerful and deadly, each has a story begging to be told. They may not want to kill you, but to protect their secrets, they will. Nikki is still having a hard time fitting in with them because of all this. New to her immortality, her Nikki’s tight hold on her humanity separates her from the fold. She still doesn’t feel any real tangible connection with this new family and the events in this book only continues to highlight that lack of connection.
Nikki is still dealing with Anderson’s insane wife Emma whose jealousy has hit epic proportions. Though, Emma may have a legit reason for her craziness. Especially when some information concerning Anderson is brought to Nikki’s attention. She is also on Konstantin’s hit list and finds herself wondering if she will soon need a spreadsheet to keep up with who wants her dead.
The romance is still in the beginning stages, we are given a much deeper look at Nikki’s ongoing crush on Jamaal-a death goddess descendant. Going from enemies to frenemies is a common enough trope but Ms. Black handles it well in allowing the relationship to move at its own pace through the series, though I felt their relationship consists of one step forward and three steps back. Jamaal is so damaged and is also having problems with his death magic not liking Nikki. He tries to stay away from her and for good reasons but she is convinced she can overcome anything to be with him. There are also more scenes that show Anderson’s interest in Nikki maybe more than work related, though no love triangle is presented.
Anderson is still my favorite character in here and I REALLY want him and Nikki to hook up. They have some great chemistry together. Anderson and Nikki spend a lot of page time together and grace us with even more information about Anderson’s past and his reasons for keeping his heredity a secret. I enjoyed seeing more of the other Liberis and of course, Cyrus. He’s the perfect anti hero. He does bad so good. I do wish we could get some insight into Steph and Blake’s relationship from their POVs and I really can’t WAIT to see how Cyrus reacts to that development.
Deception and betrayal all combine together to create a main conflict that keeps you wondering as you learn the villain’s reasons behind the fires. Nikki’s humanity plays a large part in the decisions she makes in here, which causes some very tense moments for her and Anderson. The ending does a 180, leaving you wide eyed in shock as you realise that once again, Ms. Black has pulled a fast one on you.
A few issues did keep me from 100% enjoying this story. Though all the elements are here for the perfect story, I did feel this particular installment seems to coast. Nikki is more indecisive and immature; especially in her dealings with Jamaal and her sister. Dialogue rules this installment with small amounts of action included. Also, some of the decisions made by her and Anderson were questionable. The storyline stalled at times and by the end, I realized the arc had not advanced all that much. This book felt like a bridge; especially with the “OMG cliffhanger moment” is announced at the end.
Regardless of these issues, I look forward to book four, title and release date to be announced.
Favorite Quote: “Not having isn’t the torment. Having and losing is. “
Nate Powell lived a fulfilling if not sedate life as an inventor until he was kidnapped, experimented on and turned into a hybrid – half bloodhound and half vampire. He longs for death until a new arrival at Iron Creek peaks more than just his interest.
Diana is a rarity in the Bloodhound world as she is female. A fierce warrior who is unapologetic about her gender and sexual appetites, she is a conundrum for Nate. Her attraction to Nate is ripe with both need and exasperation as he pushes her away out of fear yet pulls her back to him in his need to protect her.
When the answer to rumors that someone is selling women to vampires as unwilling blood donors is dropped in their laps, Nate and Diana make plans to go undercover and smoke out this rogue bloodhound. Soon, the pull of the new moon heightens the attraction between Nate and Diana, sending it spiraling out of control. If Diana and Nate can survive this job…will they accept their destiny or consign themselves to a fate worse than death?
I absolutely ADORE Moira Rogers’s steampunk/ paranormal series-The Bloodhounds. In fact, I pretty much adore all their work. Diana’s Hound is an incredibly sexy, action packed story that will keep you glued to your e reader. Ripe with sexual promise and a tense storyline, this enchanting mixture of old and new sets the stage as we prepare to engage with our two explosive protagonists-Nate and Diana.
We first met Nate in Wilder’s Mate. He was Satira’s mentor and the man she risked everything to rescue. Nate was in a bad way when they found him and has struggled with his dual nature from day one. He now resides with the bloodhounds in Iron Creek and is attempting to expand upon the work started by the man who made the Bloodhounds-Epiham. His old world style gallantry makes him a delightful beta hero yet Diana brings forth his hidden alpha tendencies; which scares him.
Diana is a beautiful, intelligent woman who manages to maintain her femininity while being who and what she is in a man’s world. Turned into a hound as a young girl and losing her husband in the process, Diana is an interesting mixture of bravado and vulnerability. She wants Nate badly but won’t beg for his attention. As with most of Roger’s heroines, Diana is not a shy retiring heroine. She’s had a hard life but she has risen above it. She’s also very pragmatic and that struck a chord with me. She doesn’t hide from Nate nor what she feels and gives voice to it often.
Nate and Diana are perfect together. Loyal and intelligent; both seem to be holding their breaths-waiting for that something or someone to complete them. Unlike the other Bloodhound relationships, there is no marked alpha/beta hierarchy in this relationship. They are remarkably similar in temperament and it works well for them.
The dialogue between them is both humorous and seductive as they fit together well with just enough friction to keep it interesting. The chemistry is apparent from the beginning and a steady undercurrent flows between them, priming you for when they will go to the next level. The romance blends well with the sexual attraction to the point where you cannot be sure which came first.
The secondary characters add further suspense and mystery to an already explosive storyline. I loved the interaction between already established series characters. Old revelations are expanded upon concerning the Guild that take will take this series down new and exciting paths. What I really love about all of Moira Roger books is no character is used just as filling. Each one is imbibed with enough vitality that you want then to have their own story.
The plot is solid with plenty of suspense and action to keep you satisfied. I do like the villain(s) was more prominently featured in this one and the storyline is built upon layers that I await impatiently for answers to. All and all another brilliant read by the ladies of Moira Rogers that left me wanting to read more about these sexy, sexy Bloodhounds and the women who are their destiny.
Falling Blind (Sentinel Wars #7) by Shannon K. Butcher Paranormal Romance April 2, 2013 Signet
Favorite Quote: "…there is no way I’m dying now-not with you as the prize for surviving."
Cain, a centuries old warrior who has slipped into deep depression with the abandonment of his ward Sybil, finds his emotions reawakening when he comes upon a young wounded woman fighting for her life against demons.
Rory, who suffers from debilitating visions, has already escaped the vicious demons who held her captive once and will fight to the death before she allows capture again. Once Rory meets Cain and touches him, her visions disappear and she finds peace from the constant onslaught. Cain’s failure to protect his ward has left him feeling like a failure and unworthy to even consider Rory as a mate but as he and Rory spend more time together, he finds himself becoming more and more attached to her. When Rory is bitten by a demon who then uses her blood to attempt control of her, Cain and Rory work together to find the demons stronghold and destroy those who seek to subjugate her again.
The arc is set set on modern Earth, with a raging battle between good and evil is being fought right under our noses. Violence and romance go hand in hand as warriors called Sentinels fight to save mankind against the Synestryns while struggling to locate their mates before they die. Falling Blind is #7 in Shannon Butcher’s dark and gritty Sentinel series. A blending of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, Ms. Butcher gives us a series that intertwines new and old story lines to allow a smooth flowing storyline.The continuing progressive arc engages the reader and sets a fast pace for reading.
This installment focuses more on the main protagonists and their respective journey with the arc flowing softly along side, interjecting at key moments. Though I enjoyed the story overall, I felt the focus was too heavy on our protagonists which at times would cause the flow of the story to drag at times. We don’t get to spend hardly any time with the other characters and I missed that.
Rory and Cain, our hero and heroine are well matched. Both are strong, loyal, and independent. They both feel they have failed other people too many times and don’t deserve to be happy. I like that Cain, though an alpha male, quickly recognizes the strength that runs through Rory and respects it. The chemistry between them is apparently from first meeting though Butcher allows it to grow slowly and realistically. One problem that kept recurring was Rory’s stubbornness. She wanted Cain and accepted his help but every time something dramatic would happen, she would want to leave him. After the third time, it became irritating.
Ms. Butcher does grant us some past character cameos-however they are not as prominent as before. Those I enjoyed because that was really where the action played out. I continue to adore the rich depth and personality that Ms. Butcher uses to develop her characters. Ms. Butcher imparts diversity and individualism into both the characters and their dialogue. Light humor is sprinkled throughout which balances nicely against the overall seriousness of this series.
“Did you make this? “I did.” “You cook too? You know that is not playing far, right?” “What?” “Gorgeous men are supposed to be deeply flawed and relatively helpless. You’re neither, which gives you an unfair advantage over the entire man-loving population.”
Though all her characters continue to walk the gray line between good and evil, we see some very interesting changes in the landscape that I look forward to seeing develop further.
The ending is a taunt mixture of action and suspense with hints at what’s to come. It wraps up the main conflict nicely but leaves some open ended questions to help us transition into the next installment of this series; to be announced.
Favorite Quote: “Nose or cookies. Hard choice. But in the end, the cookies won.“
Meg Corbin is a cassandra sangue. A blood prophet who is able to see prophecies through the cutting of her skin. Held hostage and used for profit, Meg plots her escape from her cruel owner and finds herself in the clutches of an even bigger threat, Simon Wolfgard.
Simon Wolfgard is one of the “others.” A shapeshifter who rules his territory with sharp claws and teeth. He is not comfortable with having an unknown human in his territory, but Meg’s smell and secrets invoke his protective nature, so against his better judgment, he hires her as a human liaison for his people.
Meg soon ensconces herself into the other’s lives and hearts, but when Meg’s secrets come to light and Simon learns exactly what she is and the lengths some will go to control her again, he will need to decide if she is worth the war between themselves and the humans that she has brought to his door.
Anne Bishop has once again shown herself to be the Queen of fantasy with Written In Red. A deceptively complex urban fantasy that takes the sensitive issues of racism and abuse and wraps them in a vibrantly magical world with a realistic core. Teeming with intrigue, suspense, and hints of romance, Ms. Bishop’s world building skills continue to astound and enchant. I found myself unable to put this down once I started. While the story reads fast and the writing style easy to follow, the actual arc is complex with its multiple story lines and background information. The vivid descriptions and rich details drew me in and made me part of this world. Bishop’s writing style is like a fine wine that slowly releases its bouquet as it slides down our throat. The underlying tension ratchets up the suspense in the story, building to a climactic finale that left me satisfied but ready for the next installment.
I absolutely fell in love with Meg. She is not your usual Urban Fantasy heroine. Meg has none of the qualifications we are used to seeing. She is not a dangerous warrior, more than able to hold her own against greater odds. She doesn’t carry a magical weapon nor use a prickly attitude to warn everyone off. She is, however, courageous, forthright, and intelligent. Her greatest attribute and flaw is her caring nature. She would die to save someone she cares for. Having been raised in a secluded lifestyle with only pictures and lessons to teach her of the outside world, she is human in birth only. She has an innocence to her that gives this story a bit of a YA feel. She had me laughing with some of her reactions and the decisions she makes, trying to adapt to her new life and fit in with those around her.
Simon was a genuine treat to get to know. He is quite a surly and grumpy wolf. Meg appeals to him on many levels yet he is unable to rationalize it in human terms, so he is put out by what he cannot explain. Bishop’s take on shapeshifter culture is unique and unexpected. Bishop takes great pains to integrate their hierarchy, thought and speech patterns into the story. Especially concerning humans.
“It was so much easier when all we wanted to do was eat them and take their stuff.”
The others are just that; another species. Shapeshifters. Animals first with the ability to shift to human. They look at the world and its human inhabitants through the eyes of predators. Yet, there are sparks of humanity in them; more so in some than others. Due to their predatory nature, they choose to live in their own areas with limited interaction with humans. This is definitely for the safety of humans.
Meg’s interludes with the others is interesting, scary, endearing, and heartfelt at times. They are predators and it shows. Humor and horror walk hand in hand as Meg gets to know everyone and becomes an important part of their lives. In here we meet many secondary characters, both supernatural and human, who are all rich in personality and emotion. Their development and inclusion into the storyline is so flawless and smooth, I soon became involved in all of their lives. Sam has to be the most adorable (with the horses coming in a close second) and I both laughed and cringed at some of his and Meg’s adventures. Meeting the seasons was enlightening and vampires become even scarier when described by Bishop.
While there is a attraction between Simon and Meg, Bishop doesn’t push for an instant romance. The differences between Meg and Simon are just too great right now to allow for that and I don’t believe either of them quite understand the concept or even the emotion of love beyond being protective of a friend. Their attraction builds slowly as they get to know one another and learn to first trust, then become friends. It will be interesting to see where Bishop takes them in the series.
"He kissed her forehead and found the act pleasing for its own sake. And, he admitted as he licked his lips, it was enjoyable for other reasons. Meg wasn’t biteable, but he really did like the taste of her."
There were a few aspects I would have enjoyed seeing more of. Meg’s life before running away. Her reasons for cutting herself and the emotional and physical responses behind it are extremely interesting as were her flashbacks to living in almost slavery. I would have also liked to see more of the villain who held Meg all those years.
The ending is a dramatic, bloody affair that evolves the others from their previous way of life as they give way to their true nature and show us all what happens when one of their own is threatened. I wholeheartedly recommend Written in Red to everyone who enjoys a dark humorous Urban Fantasy that focuses more on the world building and plot lines rather than romance. Word of warning, you will race though this book and want more but unfortunately, the next installment (Murder of Crows) doesn’t release till March of 2014. You have been warned.