Chess needed to grow for the Downside Ghosts series to truly move forward, and Stacia Kane dThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Chess needed to grow for the Downside Ghosts series to truly move forward, and Stacia Kane didn’t disappoint. Sacrificial Magic pushes on Chess from all sides. She needs to evaluate her position at the Church of Real Truth and what the trust she’s earned there means. She fights her own nature to attempt a relationship with Terrible.
At the crux of Sacrificial Magic is Chess rebelling against her self-imposed isolation and self-hatred. She’s still the Chess who sees little value in herself, but she’s trying to reconcile that with the realization people might care for her as more than a means to an end.
As one of the Church’s debunkers, it’s not surprising when they ask Chess to take up a sensitive case. It’s not even all that surprising they’ve passed a case on to her that another debunker failed with – actually, he went missing after the case. But nothing is ever simple for her. Three books have proved that. The case has Chess spending a lot of time in Slobag’s territory among less-than-helpful witnesses who hate the Church for prohibiting their culture.
At the same time, Bump has his favorite Churchwitch looking into arson on his side of Downside – and it looks like ritual sacrifice is part of the problem. When more ritual murders pop up in Downside – on both sides of the drug territory – Chess has to solve things quickly. She doesn’t want Terrible thinking she’s spending time with Lex when she’s really working a case.
That’s just the tip of the Chess and Terrible drama. Kane gives us more insight into Chess’ trust issues and a much more expansive examples of her neuroses. Chess is someone who has never been truly loved. She’s never had a relationship where her partner wasn’t using her for something. Terrible caring for her simply for the strength of her being confounds Chess, and at the same time the possibility of losing it terrifies her. And, because she’s Chess, that means she does idiotic things to try and prove herself. This isn’t an easy relationship, but one that’s worth the trouble and necessary pain.
Chess will infuriate you. She will break your heart. She will surprise you. And by the end you’ll be both exhausted and sated. Sacrificial Magic is dark, and brings the requisite Downside craziness of sex, drugs and magic, but it’s also the most introspective of the novels to date. Clever plot twists, character surprises and brutally honest writing make Sacrificial Magic a must read.
And, because I know several of you want to know, “Chessiebomb” makes a return and Elder Griffin dispenses dating advice. No, really. It’s awesome.
Sexual content: Sex, sensual scenes and Chess contemplating the relationship of sex and trust....more
Readers of the Rhiannon’s Law series know J.A. Saare never pulls punches. Rhiannon makes massivThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Readers of the Rhiannon’s Law series know J.A. Saare never pulls punches. Rhiannon makes massive mistakes, awful things happen to her, the world spins out of control, everyone makes poor choices and the characters just have to deal. It’s what I like so much about the series. Nothing is easy in these books, and you can never take a sweet moment between characters for granted, because it all could change in the next chapter.
We come into The Ripple Effect a few weeks after the horrible misunderstanding (a.k.a. The Awfulness) between Disco and Rhiannon from the end of The Renfield Syndrome. He wants to apologize, wants to make things right and our girl Rhiannon isn’t having it. Their mutual friends are trying to make them get past this. Again, Rhiannon isn’t ready to forgive him.(I wouldn’t be ready either.)
The Ripple Effect is a book about consequences. And that’s a good thing. Every action has meaning, and everyone must endure as the results trickle in. First, turns out our boy Disco was sheltering Rhiannon from the real vampire world. That means his master is coming to visit and expects to see things a bit more violent and the humans much more subjugated. Imagine Rhiannon’s reaction to this. We find a link between demons and vampires and have to spend quality time at their place, which results in scenes horror fans will love and others will cringe at — but you’ll know who the bad guys are immediately.
As a result of the master vampire visiting, Rhiannon has to play dutiful girlfriend while in private still giving Disco the cold shoulder. This forces them — and Paine — to work out their issues, and to accept one another’s faults as best they can in a stressful situation.
Unrelenting and honest. Dark, deep and a touch dirty. If you like your vampires sexy and scary, The Ripple Effect is a must. Since it’s a Saare book, expect big changes in love, death and a heavy dose of violence — the kind that will captivate you early on.
As a long-time fan of Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, I can’t believe I’m about to sayThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
As a long-time fan of Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, I can’t believe I’m about to say this. Vlad, the hero of Once Burned, gives Bones a run for his money.
Readers of the Night Huntress series (first book: Halfway to the Grave) have met Vlad — as in the basis for Dracula, but please don’t mention it to him. We’ve seen him flex his master vampire skills — pyrokinesis and mindreading. But he’d never been one to make my knees go all gooey. Apparently that was just because we hadn’t had any time alone together.
Vlad is ruthless and incredibly loyal. These traits assure safety to those under his protection, and that means Leila. She’s clever and engaging as a heroine. I quickly liked her, and liked even more that she pushes Vlad’s buttons. A childhood accident has left her with preternatural abilities. First, anyone who touches her gets shocked with electricity. (Vlad can’t burn, so she can touch him. And she does.) Second, if she touches that person with her right hand, she’ll get a glimpse of his or her past/present/future. She can force these premonitions by touching objects as well.
Vlad understands just how valuable Leila would be to the vampire community. He protects her and encourages her to help him find others hunting her. The plot is twisty enough to keep you curious with a nice mystery element, but the core of Once Burned is Vlad and Leila.
The chemistry between Vlad and Leila is overwhelming and heart-stopping and real. He’s an incredibly protective alpha type. She’s a strong woman used to being on the run. She forces him to listen. He makes her quit running. And there is plenty of “mine” and blood and sexytimes.
If you want a can’t-put-it-down-even-to-eat paranormal romance, pick up Once Burned. Even if you haven’t read the Night Huntress books — which, really, you should — you will get wrapped up in Vlad and Leila’s story. Promise.
Chloe Neill said to trust her about the ending of Hard Bitten. Every fan was floored (and manyThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Chloe Neill said to trust her about the ending of Hard Bitten. Every fan was floored (and many justly pissed off) when Ethan died. And she promised it would be OK. Within the first couple chapters of Drink Deep, Merit is having dreams with Ethan in them. They feel real. They also happen to be nightmares where he’s torn away from her in some cataclysmic event. This happens a few times in the book. Not often enough to ever feel like Ethan is actually present.
Merit feels plenty of guilt about his death and ruminates on that, particularly as she grows closer to Jonah. In lieu of a partner inside Cadogan House to solve supernatural crises with she turns to the Grey House guard captain and Red Guard member. And he totally wants her to be over Ethan so they can get their smoochies on. The idea damn near gives her stress hives. He’s a hot guy and smart blah blah blah, but he’s not Ethan. No one is Ethan. And this, my friends, frustrates me. I expected to get some Ethan-related satisfaction at least by halfway through the novel, based on Neill’s word, and that wasn’t the case.
The GP has essentially taken over Cadogan House. Their representative goes so far as to ration blood (to vampires, yeah, I know), limit gatherings and put its guards in impossible situations. It’s painful to see the House beat down. They’ve lost Ethan and now they’re losing their identity one rule at a time. Mayor Tate is locked up, but his replacement is very anti-vampire. She’s calling for a registration act (which totally made me think of the first X-Men movie). And when supernatural badness descends on the Windy City yet again, she tells the public it’s all the vampires’ fault.
There’s magic at play, but with more bad press and protesters on the way, Merit has to try and solve someone else’s problem again. She works with Jonah, and gets alternately blamed and praised for the magical goings on that she has no control over. Mallory refuses to help her at all. Catcher is irritated but gives answers. Mostly, her sorcerer resources are damn limited.
I flew through this book, dying for answers. It kept me gripped to the pages, and engaged with the characters. I waited for this big reveal. Things had to be messy right? There was no way this could tie up neatly. And a few hundred pages in and we’d only had a handful of Ethan dreams. Where is Mr. Green Eyes?
I’m doing my best not to give this away for you guys, but Neill employed a deus ex machina. Suddenly it came together, and we get answers, but they just feel sudden and too easy. The resolution wasn’t worthy of the build up. Usually Neill tortures us and Merit. The resolution this time didn’t leave me sated.
Was it worth my Sunday afternoon to read Drink Deep? Totally, but the book left me conflicted. It’s heavy on politics, and was more a foray outside the tone and format of earlier Chicagoland Vampires novels. Additionally, the book just didn’t meet my expectations in terms of the Ethan part of the equation. Merit’s emotions were dead-on throughout the novel, but plot-wise we were still missing some key steps.
This review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club. A quick word of caution: We’re going to reference events in earlier books. If you haven’t readThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club. A quick word of caution: We’re going to reference events in earlier books. If you haven’t read earlier Night Huntress novels, there will be spoilers ahead.
Sometimes you run into an old friend at the mall to suddenly realize just how much you missed seeing them in your daily life. That’s how I feel about Cat and Bones, the lead couple in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series.
This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene FrostIt’s not like I didn’t know how much I love Frost’s sharp, often laugh-out-loud funny writing. Or how much I enjoy the feminine strength Cat exudes and the protective roughness of Bones. Nope, I just didn’t realize how ready I was for more of it until I started reading This Side of the Grave.
All the strong features of the Night Huntress series are prominent in this fifth installment. Cat and Bones are happily married, but dealing with the societal fallout of Cat’s transition to full vampire. One of the ghoul leaders is trying to use her as a rallying point to ignite war between the ghouls and vampires. In the meantime, he has ghouls taking out the weak and master-less vampires throughout the country.
The list of reasons I enjoy reading Frost’s writing is long and spans from her stellar world-building to her defined and endearing characters to her ability to pepper in humor amid death and darkness. The last was particularly strong in This Side of the Grave.
Example: Cat and Bones are meeting with a human who has become aware of the existence of vampires. Here’s a quick little exchange I’m sure you can appreciate:
Timmie gave Bones and me a speculative glance. “Before we go, I gotta know: If mind-reading abilities are real, there’s something else I wondered if fiction got right about vampires–”
“Ask me if I sparkle and I’ll kill you where you stand,” Bones cut him off with utmost seriousness.
We’ll spare you the spoiler-y details, but we’ll hint. With This Side of the Grave you may expect a curious encounter with a ghoul queen, an exciting reaction to new powers for Cat, lots of the undead, a bit of family drama and requisite time with Cat, Bones, Vlad and Mencheres.
In other words, drama, mayhem and vampires. All the things you’ve come to love from Night Huntress novels. ...more
Just go ahead and put Cynthia Hand on your auto-buy list now. Hit up Amazon and order UnearthlyThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Just go ahead and put Cynthia Hand on your auto-buy list now. Hit up Amazon and order Unearthly now, because — and we’ll put our rep on this one — the book is top-notch.
Unearthly by Cynthia HandClara is part angel. She’s still new to the whole thing, but when she begins having visions of a boy amid burning trees she knows something is up. Her mom (also part angel) is so excited, because her daughter is receiving her purpose. While Clara’s mom won’t reveal what her purpose is or was, she’ll work with her daughter to figure out what Clara is meant to do. First step: figure out where the vision is taking place.
It’s the second step that makes thing complicated for Clara and her family: move. Any teenager is going to hate picking up and moving away from their friends, but Clara has been assigned a task by God. You can’t really shirk that resposibility.
Clara quickly runs into the boy from her dreams, and he’s stunning. In addition to being gorgeous, Christian is also kind …and off limits. He has a girlfriend, and, you know, she’s an angel sent to probably save his life. Imagine meeting the boy of your dreams — to feel an amazing connection to him — only to continually be told there’s no hope and you should focus on your job. Frustrating doesn’t being to describe it.
Even as she begins to get closer to Christian, she finds another “not her type” guy grabbing her attention. What if her purpose is to be with Christian? Can can even want to be with someone else?
Add in a couple polar-opposite friends (one who knows way more about angels than Clara does), a resentful little brother, sometimes secretive mom and a popular girl who wants to rain hell down upon the girl catching Christian’s eye and you can see why being a part-angel teenager is complicated.
The beauty in Unearthly comes from choosing your destiny, learning to make the hard choices and knowing when your heart should rule those decisions.
I love an emotional ride. Good novels evoke genuine emotion in their readers. Great novels more often surprise readers by cultivating the unexpected response. Unearthly appears straightforward, but Hand’s writing so enamors the reader that one is confused, anxious and exhilarated as the plot coils tighter. At the end you’ll wonder how this delightful journey brought you here, and start begging for more. ...more
Bloodlines may be a separate series from Richelle Mead’s remarkable Vampire Academy, but it’This review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Bloodlines may be a separate series from Richelle Mead’s remarkable Vampire Academy, but it’s set in the same world with some of the same characters. It also takes place following the end of Last Sacrifice, the final VA book. If you read Bloodlines before finishing Last Sacrifice you’ll know some big things — who Rose ends up with, Moroi political stuff, a big Dragomir family secret, etc. If you’ve never read Vampire Academy, you can still completely enjoy Bloodlines. All that said, if you don’t want Last Sacrifice spoiled for you, skip this review.
Having met Sydney Sage in the Vampire Academy series, I wasn’t too sure if I’d want to spend an entire book with her. As an alchemist, her job is to keep the vampire world from interfering on humans. They are big on science and rules and firmly believe all vampires — both Moroi (living, good) and Strigoi (dead, evil) — are unnatural and wrong. The fact they can do magic creeps Sydney out. But we’d always seen Sydney through others’ eyes in Vampire Academy, and I have to say I loved her in Bloodlines.
Sydney is in a precarious situation. She’s spent more time with the vampires than most of her kind, and she’s started to see they aren’t all bad. She kind of, sort of likes a few. She chose to help them in Vampire Academy, and now is living the fallout. No one trusts her. There’s talk of sending her to a “re-education” camp, which no one every comes back from. But as she’s the most familiar with their kind, she’s tasked with protecting Jill, Queen Lissa’s little sister. Everyone is out to kill Jill because if Lissa doesn’t have a sibling, she can’t be queen. (Politics at play.) So, they’ve decided to hide Jill out at a human boarding school in Palm Springs. Along with her come Eddie, her guardian, and Adrian. He has a protective, brotherly outlook on Jill, whom he still calls “jailbait.”
In Bloodlines, Sydney must play along with the vampires, pretend to be sisters with one and is still supposed to hate them. The more time she spends with Jill, Adrian and Eddie, the more she understands them and sees their humanity. And she has to make sure no one else recognizes that she’s starting to care for the vampires, because if anyone knows the punishment would be severe. The shock of realizing the truths you’ve been raised with aren’t fact is hard enough, but to have to adjust to that while fearing the realization could end your life? Terrifying.
Adrian plays a big role in the book, and it’s rather beautiful. Sydney is one of the few who really sees Adrian as more than a walking mess. He’s still in agony over Rose breaking his heart. Thoughts of her pain him, and he’s actually trying not to be self-destructive for Jill’s sake. We get much more insight on the Moroi party boy. I think everyone’s always known Adrian had depth, but this is a new level, and I have a lot of hope for him in the course of the series.
There are glimmers of hints at future romance in Bloodlines, but this is really a story about people trying to figure out who they are and questioning what they expect from others — humans and vampires alike.
In addition to the big-time character development, there’s a bit of a murder mystery and a very sketchy, jerk of an Alchemist watching over Sydney’s shoulder. Bloodlines offers a smart heroine, redemption for a beloved Vampire Academy character and the kind of twisty plot one expects from Richelle Mead. Fun and engaging, Bloodlines is certainly a Vampire Book Club recommended read.
On a side note: There’s some set-up to have Sydney deal with body image issues. It feels logical being around size 0 Moroi girls. But I hated hearing her lament being a size 2. Really wish Mead had upped that a smidgen. I’m sure once we delve into it deeper, it’ll make sense that she’s focused on size 0 being perfection, but still hard to read.
I missed Ethan Sullivan. And after reading Biting Cold I want to leap on the stubborn and oh-soThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
I missed Ethan Sullivan. And after reading Biting Cold I want to leap on the stubborn and oh-so-sexy master vampire all over again. (I won’t because I so don’t want the wrath of a jealous Merit.)
I hadn’t realized how much I missed his cool control and wry wit. I actually came to enjoy Jonah in Drink Deep as a balance for Merit, but he is no match for Ethan. The dynamic between the Cadogan vampire and his sentinel pops on page. However, just because he’s back from the dead doesn’t mean things are easy for them. (Have they ever been?) Ethan has a realistic fear of hurting Merit due to the residual effects from the magic that brought him back. This forces Merit to finally take more control in their relationship. She no longer lets Ethan dictate when they’re on or “halting.”
Biting Cold showcases Merit’s growth as a character. She’s a stronger woman. Her confidence shines throughout the novel. She learned to exist in the worst case scenario without Ethan, and he’s returned to find her more capable than he realizes. Additionally, she isn’t in any rush to forgive Mallory for damn near destroying Chicago. Or for the other craziness she causes in Biting Cold.
When we started this journey in Some Girls Bite, Merit complained about her new lot as a vampire. In Biting Cold we finally see her as a truly powerful, capable woman. Hell, I’d let her lead a House, if I were in the GP.
Speaking of those bothersome vampire politicians, things are still jumbled within Cadogan. The GP isn’t pleased with them and refuses to reinstate Ethan as the Master of the house. (He did die.) Expect political tensions within the vampire world as well as with the fae. We see Claudia, the fae queen, more than once, and she continues to be a fascinating ancillary character.
Chloe Neill delivers another engaging plot, but better yet Biting Cold reminds us this urban fantasy series is about strong, well-developed characters. Ones we can get invested in and wish were real so we could indulge in a pizza and sing-along movie night at their place.
If you’ve been on the border about continuing Chicagoland Vampires, I encourage you to read Biting Cold. Neill has brought the series back to the core we fell in love with — and there’s a lot of Ethan. Shirtless. You do want to read about a Mr. Sexypants Vampire without clothing, don’t you?
Sexual content: Sex (and sexual frustration)...more
I couldn’t put down Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade for more than a few moments at a time. After reaThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
I couldn’t put down Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade for more than a few moments at a time. After reading the majority of the 450-page book in a single sitting, I looked at my husband and just mumbled, “Wow.” Following a curious look from my better half, all I could say was Nightshade is by far the best YA novel I’ve read this year. (Yes, better than Spirit Bound. Yes, better than The Iron Daughter.) It is just a phenomenal read.
Calla is the alpha of the young wolves in her pack, the Nightshade pack. They, and other Guardians (both wolf and human, able to shift at will), protect a sacred site in Colorado. But the time is coming for a new pack to be formed. Since her birth Calla has known she will be the mate of the Bane pack alpha Ren. That is tradition and her duty. She had accepted it. But much more is expected of Calla than Ren in terms of their pre-union behavior. She must remain pure — not even kissing Ren until she’s ‘his.’ He can do whatever with whomever without any consequences, and he does.
It all becomes more complicated when a human boy, Shay, enters Calla’s world. She’s drawn to him, but interacting with him is forbidden as are the strong, unfamiliar emotions Calla feels for Shay. He pushes her to find answers about who she is and why she follows orders, particular the one about being Ren’s mate.
The love triangle in Nighshade is gripping and, at times, overwhelming. The fact is Ren isn’t a bad guy. He wants Calla to want him because he cares for her. She has feelings for him, but also doesn’t believe she has a choice not to be with him. Shay offers her freedom and romantic love. He wants her to direct her own destiny. (It’s hard not to love Shay.)
Nightshade isn’t just another werewolf book. It isn’t just another teen love story. Nightshade is about women controlling their own lives, about being free to love, about investigating truth for one’s self… and it is utterly sexy without any sex.
Also, for those who want strong prose that keeps your mind working while devouring page-turners, Cremer’s word choices are beautiful. The writing is lovely alongside the powerful story....more
In Meagan Hatfield’s paranormal romance Shadow of the Vampire, Alexia is on the cusp of taking overYou can also find this review at Vampire Book Club
In Meagan Hatfield’s paranormal romance Shadow of the Vampire, Alexia is on the cusp of taking over the vampire horde from her mother. She’s powerful, but her mother’s adviser and fiance is far from excited about Alexia taking over. He leads the search for a crystal that will give the vampires total power.
The vampire’s enemies are the dragons who live high in the mountains. When dragon lord Declan is captured, Alexia is ordered to torture him for information on the crystal. Instead she falls in love. Something about him draws her to him over and over. He can’t resist her either, even though he came to vampires to take revenge for his parents’ deaths.
Hatfield writes vivid love scenes that keep readers rapt. Her attention to detail for all senses is notable and helps immerse the reader in the world she’s created.
The strong cultures of both the vampires and dragons help paint an intriguing world for the characters of Shadow of the Vampire. One that, despite the book’s flaws, I would be interested in seeing more of, with or without the same characters.
There were two things that held me back from truly enjoying Shadow of the Vampire. The first relates to characterization. We’re given good background on the characters in the novel. This, of course, is a big plus. The problem comes in when some of their reactions don’t ring true given said background. My real problem is that Alexia has been a victim of rape, yet early on reacts positively to the idea of being helpless during sex. Declan is sensitive to the idea and he’s mindful of not being overbearing in that way, which fits with his character (and what readers want from him), but Alexia’s reactions just don’t fit. Later, sure, but from the get-go? No, I felt like Hatfield was just placating readers’ enjoyment, mine included, of that type of interaction. The scene I’m referring to would have been great if I didn’t already have this knowledge about our heroine’s past.
Secondly, the book drags on a bit. Certain chapters, particularly toward the end of the novel, have prompt pacing but you had to work to get to them.
Shadow of the Vampire shows promise, strong characterization and Hatfield has the command of prose that can really grab readers, if you can get past the pacing issues. ...more
Cherie Priest has a knack for defying genre. For blurring lines. And for gritty and visceral noThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Cherie Priest has a knack for defying genre. For blurring lines. And for gritty and visceral novels. Bloodshot is no exception and — best of all — it takes badass to a whole new level mostly through main character Raylene.
You’ll often see Bloodshot pegged as a “vampire noir” — yeah, new genre. I may have it labeled under Urban Fantasy for Vampire Book Club purposes, but really the novel is part heist book part vampire drama with a touch of urban fantasy and hints at romance. (You get the picture a romantic angle may come into play down the road, but don’t be expecting a love story here. Raylene does not have time for love or attachments.)
Raylene is a vampire. She’s also a master thief and more than a little paranoid. Though, she’d say she’s careful. After one too many boring jobs, an intense piece of work fell in her lap. Raylene avoids her own kind — too many rules, too much drama — but once she’s heard Ian’s story she finds herself taking on a task that leads to federal agents raiding her house, break-ins at secret government sites, going on the run and spending time with one very impressive drag queen.
The big story will certainly be told in multiple books, but in Bloodshot I just really fell in love with Raylene. I love a strong heroine, and if nothing else Raylene is assertive and resourceful. Also, she sets a new bar for badass vampire chick. And I dig it.
Because of the genre-straddling Bloodshot does, it’s harder to peg who can appreciate it. But, of course, I’ll try. If you love Priest’s other works or if you love high-intensity urban fantasy but don’t mind hitting up several cities, then you will likely get wrapped up in Bloodshot....more
One of the reasons I recommend Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts books so often is the remarkable cThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
One of the reasons I recommend Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts books so often is the remarkable character development. Heroine Chess has hard edges, deep-seated issues and a big problem with seeing herself as valuable. While Kane provided more insight into Chess' past in Sacrificial Magic, this new prequel novella lets us to see what Chess was like before.
Not before the damage that pushed her to chemical dependency. But before the pills. Before the autonomy of living in Downside. Before love. Eighteen year old Chess is still working hard to prove herself worthy of being a part of the Church of Real Truth. She agrees to do a week of job shadowing with the Black Squad not because she wants to be one of their elitist club, but because she's frightened saying no will land her ass back in foster care. That she could lose it all.
The pressure of the job and the case she works to help solve -- while earning her dirty looks and nasty comments from the Black Squad team -- pushes her toward familiar coping mechanisms. Kane manages to help fans of the Downside series understand Chess a bit more by giving us this vulnerable view into her youth.
Also, there are ghosts, bitches getting in her way, reference to old religions and sex magic. Expect a trip or two to the City of Eternity in this one. (And, yes, it still skeeves me out.)
This quick read is great way to get insight into Chess before diving into Chasing Magic on June 26....more
When I think about Archangel’s Shadows, I can’t help but let out a happy sigh. Janvier and AshwThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
When I think about Archangel’s Shadows, I can’t help but let out a happy sigh. Janvier and Ashwini’s story was just what I needed from these two. Insight into Ash’s hardened edge. The unyielding support of Janvier. A nice dose of Cajun romance amid the snowy landscape of New York.
One of the reasons I love Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series so much is it brings together my favorite genre elements. I’m an urban fantasy girl. I like mystery and action and heroines taking charge. But, if you read this blog with any frequency, you know I also like a heavy dose of the sweet-and-sexy moments. The Guild Hunter series marries these two elements beautifully. We get to see Ash and Janvier on missions, saving lives, trying to track down a murderer, and when they’re in public they are fierce.
…but alone? It gets hot and steamy and Ash is kind of overwhelmed by it. Touch is such a tricky thing for her, but it’s a non-issue with Janvier. And does that man know how to touch. And bite. (Sexy vampire bite scene included in Archangel’s Shadows, you heard it here first!) Their romance is sweet and supportive and selfless. I really couldn’t get enough of them.
Personally, I like when Singh steps away from Elena and Raphael (as much as I love them) to give us new couples finding their mates—and getting better footing on who they are. It’s probably part of why I loved Archangel’s Blade, too. However, this story gives us more glimpses of the other couples. We get time with the other couples and plenty of teases about who might be next. I know you’re all shouting “Bluebell!” right now, but I found myself very curious about Naasir by the end of Archangel’s Shadows, which kind of shocked me. He says something about relationships and their secrets that is beautiful and intriguing and makes me wonder what’s in store for him a few books down the road.
In the meantime, Archangel’s Shadows delivers. High-stakes mystery, insight into both the Tower and Guild side of things, and make-you-weak-in-the-knees romance merge to make one indulgent read.
Jessica McClain could use more females on her side, and I’m game because after just one night wThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Jessica McClain could use more females on her side, and I’m game because after just one night with her—oh, Full Blooded was must-devour-at-once read—I need another book or three with her as the main character.
In Jessica’s world werewolves are par for the course. They’re also always male. Her dad is the Alpha of his pack. Her brother is ferocious, too. And, well, she grew up with them as the human sister. Werewolves aren’t supposed to have female children, but when she didn’t shift into a wolf at puberty, folk calmed down. She moved away, took an alias and became a P.I.
Apparently, she was just a late bloomer. At 26, Jessica shifted for the first time. The first female werewolf in existence. Maybe more. And it scared the crap out of everyone in the supernatural community. They need to try and hide it, because the supes think her turning is damn near a sign of the apocalypse. Only keeping that a secret isn’t all that easy, especially when you have a woman who fought so hard for her independence. Jessica’s not willing to be hidden away, and she craves the fight.
Quick writing and a heroine women will love make Full Blooded a delight to read. Jessica McClain manages to be one of the boys and fiercely independent. She’s at times girly, at others positively feral. The dynamic is engaging.
It doesn’t hurt that our Jessica might have a thing for a guy that should be sooooooo off limits. And readers will love him. I did. (See how I’m not telling you which guy it is? Spoiler-free review FTW!) Trust me, though, Jessica has excellent taste in men. Nom.
The plot thread opened at the end will leave you clawing for book two. Really. It may involve the aforementioned Captain Hottie. Despite that, the ending isn’t a burn the bridge cliffhanger, and I loved every bit of Full Blooded. You will, too. I know these things.
Sexual content: Sex and really epic kissing...more
This review was originally published at Vampire Book Club, where it was given 2.5 stars.
Right now you’re looking at that star rating and thinking whatThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club, where it was given 2.5 stars.
Right now you’re looking at that star rating and thinking what on earth happened. And that’s a fair question. I was over-the-moon excited for A Perfect Blood. The longer running the series, the more often we see waning character growth or tired plots, but I was sure The Hollows series was free of a shift into banality after reading Pale Demon. As a matter of fact, the last Hollows book was one of my favorites in the series and pivotal.
A Perfect Blood does not carry on the series growth in the way Pale Demon did. It misses the wry humor — though some of Jenks’ swearing is excellent this round — and Rachel has taken an emotional step back. Some of her inner turmoil is to be expected. She’s now a demon, and doing her damnedest to hide from the demon collective. By using charmed silver, she’s able to shut off her connection to their magic. Only that stunts her abilities, too.
Humans are being mutilated in ways that look to be demonic. Both Interlander and human agencies suspect Rachel, the only known demon on this side of the Ever After. They agree to let her, Ivy and Jenks in on the operations to catch the people behind it with the condition that if she doesn’t do so, they’ll just pin the whole thing on her.
The plot twists were clever enough. Quickly we learn a hate group is behind the acts, but that only further complicates things. Without the ability to use her magic to act, she’s getting beat up more and needing to rely on physical abilities much more. It’s nice to see Rachel kick some ass, but also painful to see her miss what a reader sees as obvious clues.
The book isn’t bad, but I more slogged through it than read it. Typically, Hollows books are a single-sitting read for me, but A Perfect Blood took a week. With identity issues and conflicted feelings about Trent (lots of thoughts about their one shared kiss juxtaposed to remembering Kisten) regresses much of Rachel’s recent emotional growth, especially in regards to Ivy.
I’m willing to call A Perfect Blood a breather book and keep my fingers crossed the next book will have her back on track, accepting her demon nature and maybe giving Trent a proper chance.
Sexual content: References to sex, lots of thinking about a past kiss
…and, no, I can’t believe I just had to give a The Hollows book less than three stars. ...more
Any author who can weave wit, subversive undertones and clever world building into a novel getsThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Any author who can weave wit, subversive undertones and clever world building into a novel gets my attention.
Cassie Alexander demanded my attention with Nightshifted. She took a scenario that could become very campy very quickly — namely a nurse working in the supernatural ward of a hospital — and molded it into a tale of self-strength, desperation and noble causes.
Edie works the crappy shift at the bottom-run hospital. She’s new to working on Y4, the secret ward for supernatural types. And she’s only doing to because the beings in charge agreed to keep her drug addict brother clean. Her work there finds her embroiled in vampire affairs, trying to save a child-like vampire girl.
But she’s not doing it because she wants to save the world. Just this one girl. Because something deserves to go right here. Atonement is Edie’s game.
Things on the romance front are awkward for her. She tends to be a one-night-stand type of woman, which is working just fine. Until it isn’t. And she meets a zombie — not the rotting kind, but a kind fireman. And he cares. And maybe she cares. And it’s complicated. And messy.
The merger of dark tone and wry humor make Nightshifted a must read for fans of Jaye Wells, Stacey Jay and Stacia Kane. I’m eager to read the next book, Moonshifted, to see how Edie progresses.
Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood was refreshing for me. It’s not light and it doesn’t sThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood was refreshing for me. It’s not light and it doesn’t shy away from creeping you out a bit. It tackles the ghost story and urban legend tale from a different angle.
The wry wit of protagonist Cas prevades the novel, and even when he’s scared the snark level remains high. He knows he’s putting on a front of being calm, but his confidence keeps Anna from being scary and instead remains rooted in character development and progressing the mystery plot.
Cas is a ghost hunter. His dad was a ghost hunter. And the family tree continues on thusly. His mom is a witch and does her best to be supportive of Cas killing ghosts. She helps clean his athame — the same one his dad used — while generally coming off as a cool mom. Cas has come to Thunder Bay to kill Anna. The legend is huge, a young girl who dismembers those idiotic enough to come into her house. She’s always seen in a simple white dress dripping with blood. Only no one really knows her story. There are bits and pieces, but just who killed Anna and why remain elusive.
Anna has killed everyone who entered her home since her death, but she doesn’t kill Cas. She can’t explain it either. She’s more powerful than any ghost he’s met before, and she doesn’t want to kill. Their loneliness unites them and while both fear one another — the goals are on the table: killing one another is what’s supposed to happen — there’s a sense of security when near each other.
Anna Dressed in Blood is part ghost story with chill-inducing descriptions, two parts murder mystery (not just Anna’s) and a touch of romance. The wry tone will draw you in, you’ll stay for the clever Cas and the enigmatic Anna.
A Brush of Darkness is dark, funny, plenty sexy and a little heartbreaking and surprisingly heaThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
A Brush of Darkness is dark, funny, plenty sexy and a little heartbreaking and surprisingly heartwarming. In short, it’s an urban fantasy must-read.
When I first read the back cover copy for A Brush of Darkness, I stopped at the words “miniature unicorn.” Let’s just say I fall firmly on “Team Zombie.” That’s still true, but the perverted magical creature in this novel is a complete delight. He’s tiny but ballsy and can’t seem to keep from playing in Abby’s underwear drawer.
The fact is there are a lot of elements that could make A Brush of Darkness fluffy — faeries, elves, mini unicorn — but the way this urban fantasy is laid out, you’ll see these beings in a new light. Sometimes cheeky, but nearly always with depth.
Abby’s boss Moira left four months ago with a note telling her to cover things. But this isn’t your standard work relationship. Moira is the faery equivalent of a justice of the peace — helping resolve issues between the Light and Dark paths (think angels and demons) — and mortal Abby is her contracted connection to this world, called a TouchStone. Here’s the thing, though, Abby is brand new to this whole TouchStone thing, and with Moira missing she’s stuck winging it. She doesn’t know about her abilities, what she’s supposed to do and just why Moira would leave her without telling anyone else.
Then Brystion walks in the door. The incubus is in need of help. His sister has gone missing and with Moira gone, too, Abby is his only resource for finding out who has taken her. Abby doesn’t want to deal with the emotional drama of being turned on by the walking sex god, but he’s delicious. To the reader, it’s quickly apparent that he is falling for her and she’s the one making things difficult. And I loved that. Abby’s game for a metaphysical sexual throwdown, but it’s not like she wants to fall for an incubus.
Allison Pang strikes the perfect balance between a dark, edgy plot and laugh-out-loud moments. Readers will be shocked by a heavy emotional blow one moment and uplifted by snappy one-liners the next. It’s a hard thing to do well, and makes A Brush of Darkness a must for fans of Jeaniene Frost and Kim Harrison....more
In Magic Bites‘ Atlanta magic is everywhere. And so are the shifterThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars
In Magic Bites‘ Atlanta magic is everywhere. And so are the shifters and the vampires. The Order keeps the peace on the magic end, but Kate Daniels would rather not deal with them. Despite her formidable magic abilities, Kate works as a mercenary instead. Doing jobs for money instead of being a part of the all-or-nothing Order. But when her mentor and key member of the Order is murdered, she finds herself investigating his death on their behalf.
He was found slain alongside a vampire, but both showed signs pointing to just about everyone. The shifters and the vampires now want in on the investigation because they’re sure the other is out to frame them. And the killer now has sights on Kate. She’ll be forced to pick sides, work with the powerful Lord of the shifters Curran, fight bloody battles and consider just who is she really.
Curran reminds me of Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. Not in actual behavior, but in that he’s one of those heroes you’ll see readers swooning over. Magic Bites doesn’t have a romance angle. (Though, it lays groundwork.) Yet, there is this undeniable magnetism that cloaks Curran through the novel. He’s powerful, loyal and a fierce warrior.
And Kate can stand up to him. The girl walks in to meet the Beast Lord of the city — the shifter so strong no one can beat him — and calls out “here kitty, kitty.” Inside she’s scared, but Kate knows how to put on a show of strength and always backs it up. She’s the kind of woman you’re proud to know, even when you’re shaking your head at her occasional misstep.
Magic Bites is a great start to a new series. While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it sets the stage for something great by setting up this world that could run parallel to our own and by allowing us time to get to know a full cast of characters. By the end of the novel all I could think about was the way Kate and Curran play off one another. I want to see that progress (and we all know it does). Kate will be formidable, and Ilona Andrews put us in place to see the beginning of the fireworks. ...more
Before we discuss Afterlife, the final Evernight novel, it’s important to remember where HourglThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Before we discuss Afterlife, the final Evernight novel, it’s important to remember where Hourglass (Evernight #3) left us. Claudia Gray did what we would have never imagined and let our lead characters die. Of course, in the paranormal world dead isn’t dead. Former half-vampire Bianca is now a wraith (aka ghost) and her nee vampire hunter boyfriend Lucas has been turned into a vampire, his greatest fear.
I spent the months since finishing Hourglass contemplating how Gray could turn things around. How can Bianca and Lucas move forward? Love can make people overcome insurmountable problems. So, in Afterlife, we find our star-crossed pair fighting for their love as their world comes crashing down.
Bianca has abilities most wraiths do not — she can manifest corporeal form and she can move from place to place with a thought — and the other wraiths want her help. Mrs. Bethany, the Evernight headmistress, is hunting wraiths. So many are captured and going mad inside Evernight’s walls as a result of her seek-and-destroy mission.
Dismissing the wraiths’ requests, she makes her focus Lucas and aiding his adjustment to vampiric life. Her goal is to help him retain who is amid his new bloodlust. And to keep him safe and make this process easier, there is only one place Bianca can take him: back to Evernight Academy.
Now Bianca is hunted. Lucas has to rely on Balthazar, the guy who wanted to be with his girlfriend, and his mom — the leader of the Black Cross — isn’t about to accept her newly vampire son back into the fold.
We’re keeping this one spoiler-free, so we’ll get to the point. Afterlife gives us just what we need: nonstop action, a realistic fight for love and lots of answers. We’re talking why Mrs. Bethany is the like that (oh, you’ll be shocked), why the wraiths wanted Bianca so badly and whether or not Lucas and Bianca will actually make it.
Gray managed to move this story along so quickly with enough turns for minor whiplash, and it works. It has the action I adored in Hourglass and emotional needs and secrets we were first introduced to in Evernight. We promise, Afterlife is a fitting end to the Evernight series....more
Shadowfever is intense. It’s not just that the stakes are high in this final book in the FeverThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Shadowfever is intense. It’s not just that the stakes are high in this final book in the Fever series — Mac’s trying to save the world. And it’s not just many of the character’s all-or-nothing outlook. Each chapter of Shadowfever ratchets up the stakes. Just when you think you have an answer and something starts to go our way, it gets worse. There is nary a moment when readers will not be gripping the book thinking either “no way,” “oh my God” or “what?!”
Basically, it’s nearly 600 pages of Karen Marie Moning mentally fucking with you. And, really, would you have it any other way? Barrons sure wouldn’t. He likes intensity, and when it comes to the man we met at Barrons Books & Baubles in Darkfever, he exudes intensity.
Alongside all that agonizing edge-of-your-seat stuff are answers piled on answers. Unfortunately, you also have to endure a lot of the wrong answers. Mac has to come to things in her own time, and some of the hard truths she learns will be unexpected.
The downside for me was the loose ends. I’m guessing — though I honestly haven’t read anything that says so — Moning is planning a spin-off that will take care of several gaps. The big picture is taken care of, but there were a couple things after the big emotional ride I took through the five Fever books that I wanted more finite closure on. On the upside: one of those things is NOT Barrons. You will get answers. Promise.
To avoid spoilers I’ll say you will get to learn who killed Alina, what is Barrons, Mac’s background, Darroc’s role and bunch more about the Fae. As to what those answers are, pick up the book....more
Damn you, Karen Marie Moning. I know you like cliffhangers. I know you like to torture your chaThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Damn you, Karen Marie Moning. I know you like cliffhangers. I know you like to torture your characters, but that ending? C’mon! (No, readers, I won’t spoil it for you. That would be mean. I’ll just say the ending reminded me of how everyone thought their DVR had cut off the finale of the Sopranos. It was that kind of ending.)
Frustration at the ending aside — and I am frustrated — I loved Dreamfever. If you haven’t read the earlier books, I’m going to reference events at the end of Faefever here in a second. You’ve been warned.
At the end of Faefever, Mac was attacked by Unseelie princes. Raped. And, as we all feared, she was turned Pri-ya. She was hollowed out and seeked only physical attention. She had been saved by Dani and the sidhe seers, but Rowena doesn’t trust her. Barrons saves her. Again.
Early on, things are a bit different because we have Dani narrating. MacKayla isn’t really up to it. I wasn’t much for it at first, but the kid grows on you. Eventually, Mac comes back stronger, but now the walls between the mortal world and Faery have come crashing down and we’re all left wondering if there is any way to save the world.
Expect unexpected alliances, breaking through wards, surprise trips to Faery realms without a fae in tow and evil at every turn. (We’re purposely avoiding details, because the plot is a constant surprise in Dreamfever and we’re not about to ruin it.)
Brutal, deep and leaving us with heaps and heaps of questions, Dreamfever is an undeniably great urban fantasy. Mac gets tiny answers, but gets even bigger questions in exchange. Is she destined to save the world or destroy it?
Now, we sit on the edge of our seat dying for answers to questions. The fifth and final Fever book, Shadowfever, comes out this January. We’re thinking pre-ordering it may be necessary....more
Merit has a chance to reinvent herself, and that would be great if she’d had a choice in the maThis review was originally posted to Vampire Book Club.
Merit has a chance to reinvent herself, and that would be great if she’d had a choice in the matter.
She’s fought her entire life to remain independent, to avoid being used as a political pawn. She’s one of the Chicago Merits. Her father is wealthy, powerful, buddies with the mayor and overall far more concern with collecting capitol and clout than the happiness of his youngest daughter. Her desire to spend her days in grad school working on a lit dissertation make her the scourge of the family. She doesn’t bother with the money, and lives her own life as apart from that realm as possible.
Until she’s attacked on campus by a vampire. Another swoops in and changes her. He saved her life, but she had never wanted to be a vampire. She was supposed to get to choose. That’s what they said when they’ve come out of the figurative coffin. Now she has seven days to decide if she’s going to swear her allegiance and submit to the Master vampire of one of the vampire Houses. (Think feudal England.)
Ethan is gorgeous, but egotistical and expects full loyalty and subservience from all his vampires. He and Merit clearly have chemistry — which both of them can’t understand and fight as much as possible. She’s already much stronger than many other vampires, and she has the power to resist his pull. Except for the overwhelming attraction.
Chloe Neill has crafted a stable of engaging characters in Some Girls Bite. Merit’s strong-willed, cerebral nature make her easy to root for as a heroine, but we also loved the biting dialogue between her and her best friend and roommate Mallory. Add in a cocky sorcerer named Catcher (one of my favorites in the novel), a seasoned cop grandfather, a sexy alt rock vampire suitor from another House and a young shifter, and you’ve got an ensemble fans of Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series can appreciate.
Merit spends this first Chicagoland Vampires novel coming to terms with being a vampire, developing her new skills, trying to decide if she can swear an oath to Ethan and trying to figure out why she’s attracted to such an asshole.
Some Girls Bite is a fun, often laugh-out-loud funny opener to what’s sure to be a great urban fantasy series. It’s a must for fans for Jeaniene Frost and Kim Harrison. Expect a well thought out world that flows easily, smooth prose, characters to care about and enough sexy boys to make you consider moving to Chicago. ...more
This review was originally posted as part of a review of the anthology Winter Wishes on Vampire Book Club.
Moira Rogers has a knack for putting togetheThis review was originally posted as part of a review of the anthology Winter Wishes on Vampire Book Club.
Moira Rogers has a knack for putting together characters who both challenge and bring out the best in one another. That’s the case in Freeze Line. Shane does his best to avoid his werewolf attributes. He lives far above the freeze line, where the earth is frozen and magic is weak. It can’t pull on his beast. He puts on a human front around the others in the nearby village, but for the most part lives a solitary life.
Then he finds Nadia on the side of the road. She’s not equipped for the frigid weather. He quickly learns she was kidnapped by humans wanting to torture and test on her because of her ability to use magic. The knowledge alone spurs his instinct to protect her. But the lack of magic in the earth is killing her. He agrees to take the woman south, to save her. The closer they get to the magic, the stronger she gets and the more wild he becomes.
He may be worried about his beast hurting her. His past tells him he can’t be trusted around others when his wolf takes over. Nadia is stronger than he knows, and the two can’t help but bond.
Freeze Line is a fun, quick romance read with the best paranormal elements of the three in the Winter Wishes anthology. Moira Rogers is able to focus on the ‘otherness’ is a complete way, even in the shorter form of novellas....more
Simply put: The Immortal Rules is Julie Kagawa’s best novel to date. She merges a strong herThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
Simply put: The Immortal Rules is Julie Kagawa’s best novel to date. She merges a strong heroine, two kinds of vampires (one dark and complex, the other zombie-esque), a fight for humanity and anti-authoritarian overtones in a masterful way.
Protagonist Allison begins this story as a human living in on the fringe of a vampire-run society. Humans can register with the vampires and in exchange for required blood donations, they get access to food. However, that means the vampires own you. Allison isn’t having that. As an unregistered, she needs to scavenge for food and fight to maintain her home. She live with three others and they work together to keep the group safe. But as things get tense, she’s willing to sneak outside the city walls into the ruins of suburbs to find food. That means dealing with the rabids. The rabids are mindless vampires attacking on sight. They’re quick and dangerous.
I don’t want to give Allison’s journey away, but as it’s included in the back cover copy, I’m going to tell you something that happens a quarter of the way in: Allison gets turned into a vampire. The one thing she hates. The thing she fights. The thing she wants to kill.
And the emotional journey of a young woman accepting her new reality as a monster and fighting to retain her humanity is done with power, care and blinding honesty. Kagawa writes Allie’s journey in such a way, you’ll imagine yourself fighting to keep the Hunger at bay and longing for someone human to still trust you.
This isn’t just any vampire story. Or just another YA dystopian novel. The Immortal Rules is a book that will gut you, warm you and keep you up until 4 a.m. just to get more of Allison’s story. (The hot boy doesn’t hurt either.)
If you like your books dark with young women worthy of admiration, The Immortal Rules will strike a chord with you. And even if you haven’t dived into the post-apocalyptic and dystopian trend, you need to read this one.
If you love an angst-y read, Blood Before Sunrise is for you.
Get wrapped up in yelling at the hThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
If you love an angst-y read, Blood Before Sunrise is for you.
Get wrapped up in yelling at the heroine making infuriating and dangerous decisions? You’ll love Blood Before Sunrise.
Enjoy seeing a heroine handing big tough men their asses in fights? Oh, you need Blood Before Sunrise.
In the Shaedes of Gray, heroine Darian discovered she wasn’t the only one of her kind. She started to learn not only who she is but also what she is. Just as she began to understand her new role as a Shaede — she can fade into shadow, nothingness in the dark — an ancient prophecy changed things.
Now Darian is something else, more. She can disappear in the light and the dark, feel the passage of time. And she’s powerful. She still trains with Raif, but he can’t keep up with her. She’s powerful and gets accustomed to the idea she’s the biggest, baddest thing on the block.
Not only does her ego put her in danger when trying to find Raif’s daughter and while she tries to determine what her new-found obsession with the passage of time means, but it wreaks havoc on her relationship with Tyler. He isn’t just her boyfriend, remember. Tyler is a jinn, and his job is to protect Darian. The only hitch is he has to obey her wishes. She’s worried about protecting him, and though she doesn’t recognize it, she behaves in a way that illustrates she doesn’t need his protection or want it. Expect big relationship drama on this front.
I love books that are an emotional challenge. Ones where by the end of the book the main character has truly grown. There’s no question we get that with Blood Before Sunrise. There are moments when you’ll grip your book and pretend to be shaking some sense into Darian. Don’t expect easy answers in this novel, but I can promise one hell of a journey with lush descriptions. Even when Darian is making poor decisions, I want to be her friend.
I’m going to admit to setting crazy high expectations for The Indigo Spell,This review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
So. This is awkward.
I’m going to admit to setting crazy high expectations for The Indigo Spell, and then being a little disappointed it didn’t hit that mark. Yes, there’s that bold four-star rating just a few lines up. This book is definitely worthy of those stars. No question. It’s well written and the character arcs progress in ways that I think are smart.
Here’s the thing, though, I’m a bit of a Richelle Mead fangirl. I love her novels because they take big emotional risks. That’s the trademark of her third books. In each series the third novel is the one that gives great hope, then takes it away and then teases better things to come. Shadow Kiss from her Vampire Academy series has a jaw-dropping twist. Succubus Dreams from her Georgina Kincaid series made me want to throw the book because my emotions were so tangled in the plot. I may have contemplated ways to climb inside a novel just to beat up Kiyo after reading Iron Crowned, the third book in the Dark Swan series.
As such, I went into The Indigo Spell expecting a good, solid angry cry. Awful things had to happen, right? Only they didn’t.
I devoured this book. It was a delightful read. The banter between Syndey and Adrian sparks and is incredibly engaging. This book gave us all the things we wanted as readers including some Adrian/Sydney kisses and subsequent Sydney freak-outs. It was fun. It progressed the series, but there wasn’t the kind of obstacle in their path that I’ve come to expect from Mead.
Maybe she’s changing her M.O. The ending of The Indigo Spell—no, I won’t spoil it—is a game-changer. Perhaps book four, The Fiery Heart, will bring the emotional one-two punch we’ve come to expect in book three. Regardless, I continue to love her well-crafted characters and snappy dialogue.
And, really, despite my confusion over not crying while reading The Indigo Spell, I can’t wait for the next book. I’ll adjust my expectations, though, so I can glom all over it properly.
Jocelyn Levi is a government agent visiting the Rocky Mountains investigating**spoiler alert** This review was originally posted on Vampire Book Club.
Jocelyn Levi is a government agent visiting the Rocky Mountains investigating cult activity. Instead she discovers vampires exist, and she’s destined to be the eternal mate to the one she met just hours ago.
Blood Destiny features two types of vampires, spawned from brothers. One line have souls, but still drink blood and work to balance light and dark. The other line are soulless and murder ruthlessly. Both sides are subject to a Blood Curse. As part of it, each “good” vampire is destined for one human woman in his lifetime. If she does not accept him, his life will be forfeit. This just happened to Nathaniel’s brother. They buried him the day he met Jocelyn, his destiny.
He needs to convince this woman, who he has just met, that they’re soulmates. And that she needs to accept him, love him (oh, and have his kids) in the next 30 days. For his part, Nathaniel seems to understand how insane it is to ask so much of Jocelyn. He wouldn’t force her, but he will do his damnedest to connect with her. The gods have destined them to be together, so he knows once she gives him a chance it’ll work.
Unfortunately, there are added complications with the soulless vampires killing his kind, werewolves arriving to hunt all vampires (and seek to claim Jocelyn, to boot) and the drama of a family of vampires. Nathaniel and Jocelyn’s relationship is reluctant, but definitely unique.
It took me a bit to decide which way to go on this review. Tessa Dawn can write. I like that she crafted a unique vampire mythology. And, I got wrapped up in the main plotline of the story. So, what is my problem? Well, I have two, actually.
First, I’m not one to place boundaries on where fiction can go. If a character’s history or development requires painful, traumatic experiences, I get that. Blood Destiny includes one fairly detailed rape scene and a second attempted rape featuring other characters. Neither are used for titillation, but I’m not sure one was necessary and both could have been done “off camera.” I don’t need the what-goes-where details, especially without the emotional ties that go with it.
My second beef is the big one, and it’s going to require some spoiler-action because it’s about an overall character development. The big part of the Blood Curse mythology that the novel is pegged surrounds the light or good vampires to bond, mate and have children with their destined human woman within 30 days following the blood moon. There is no question as to who their mate is — she’ll have their celestial sign marked on her wrist, etc. Provided all goes to plan, she’ll fall in love, agree to be the vampire’s one and only forever, be converted to a vampire, get pregnant and bear twins. One of those twins will be light (good) and the other dark (bad/soulless). Immediately thereafter, they are required to sacrifice the dark twin to appease the gods. He’ll just disappear, but they must hand the child off. When told this, no one in the story seems to think sacrificing a child is a big deal. Being destined and expected to be with this one guy bothers Jocelyn, but even when she’s pregnant and her twin boys are kicking in her womb she’s not freaking about the fact they’re going to essentially kill her child. I kept hoping that she’d be special and they’d let her keep both boys.
She does have the maternal “I need to keep him” moment right after his birth, but then the baby is passed off and she decides the innocent child must have messed with her mind. I don’t believe any woman could so readily accept the sacrifice of her child. You die for them. You put up a fight. And the fact that no one in the novel even really considers it as an odd or, you know, horrendous act killed the character development for me.
The overall concept of Blood Destiny is certainly intriguing and the prose well-crafted, the over-indulgence in sexual violence and oversight of character reaction to a major event took away from real enjoyment of the novel. This is one where if I were an editor, I would have cut back on a few scenes and had Dawn take a hard look at the characters’ reactions to all the Blood Curse mythology elements. With hard edits, the premise could have lead to something strong that wouldn’t leave readers feeling a bit itchy. As it is, I can’t suggest others pick it up....more