August is an insanely busy month for me, and I’m not referring to real life stuff. I’m talking about the sheer number of mustReviewed by: Rabid Reads.
August is an insanely busy month for me, and I’m not referring to real life stuff. I’m talking about the sheer number of must-read Paranormal titles that are in the pipeline. I found out about this book two weeks before it went on sale, and don’t tell the rest of the pretties that are currently sitting in my review queue, but they all got vetoed by Molly Harper, and her werewolves. More sex, and a co-author helped to sweeten the deal.
I know that we’ve only just met, however I straight up LOVED the characters! Galina is a strong, independent woman who’s out to prove that anything men can do, she can do better. Andrey was a great pick for her for a partner; he’s a heavy hitter in their operation, yet he didn’t stand in Sudenko’s way of accomplishing her goals. Konstantin & Nik were SO cute, and Irina was pretty bold for a human. All raving aside though, Alexei & Maksim can go suck an egg!
The story delivered way more than I’d bargained for with its romantic entanglements, crime syndicate style subterfuge, and family double-crosses. When I booted up my Kindle, I fully expected to feel uncomfortable reading this novel in public either because of uncontrollable giggling spurts, or graphic humping. And, although it wasn’t quite as funny as some of Jacey Conrad’s alter ego’s works, the booty calls were on fire thanks to Gia Corona’s Erotica background.
It was the plot that gave this title a leg up on the Paranormal Romance genre, and just on book 1’s in general. I liked the idea of Russian werewolf mafia, and thought that the authors intertwined all three elements to perfection. The point that I am trying to make is that FROM RUSSIA WITH CLAWS is the whole package; the Sudenko’s are a fantastic cast, the HEA provided immediate bliss, and the prospect that additional installments may be in the works is gravy.
FROM RUSSIA WITH CLAWS was Gia Corona & Jacey Conrad’s first full length team effort, and I’m definitely hoping that it won’t be their last....more
This book’s blurb had fun written all over it, and there’s nothing sexier than a werewolf with handcuffs, so Loribelle Hunt mReviewed by: Rabid Reads.
This book’s blurb had fun written all over it, and there’s nothing sexier than a werewolf with handcuffs, so Loribelle Hunt made an easy sale with THE SOUTHERN BELLE’S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT. I surmised that this story would be light on intrigue, and heavy on passion, but it was actually fully loaded with both which really worked in SOUTHERN MAGIC’s favour because what originally started out as an lazy Sunday fling now has the potential of being a lengthy affair. The Burke witches have pizazz!
Paranormal Romances routinely only incorporate enough world-building to put the plot into context, thus I was delightfully amazed by the amount of detail that the author opted to include. This series’ universe was lush and vast; from its affluence of supes, to the lore encompassing the Earthly & Terran plains, to the deeply rooted history of the Burke family. Hunt also made future installments hugely appealing with her simple yet efficient set-up, and by getting readers to rally to her secondary characters.
Witches are an acquired taste that I haven’t managed to completely adopt, however Scarlet and her relatives are definitely on the right track. It helped that she wasn’t merely a magic practitioner, but also a capable Guardian, and an all-around stand-up human being. One would have to be in order to take in her deceased sister / cheating ex-husband’s children. The extremes Burke goes to in order defend her town, and kin were enough to make anyone love her, including this witch-y naysayer.
The romance was understated, yet impossible to overlook; for one, the chief of police presented an imposing, but tasty figure, and two, they never had sex in a bed! The hood of a car scored big points, however first place goes to the lunchtime hook-up they had on his desk AT the station. It’s good to be alpha! I liked that these scenes didn’t drag on as they are wont to do in this genre, although Scarlet’s chain insta-O’s were a little too rapid fire to be convincing, but that’s par for the course in PNR.
THE SOUTHERN BELLE’S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT was deep fried fiction at its finest. ~4.5 Stars...more
Men in uniform is already a winning combination for the majority of romance readers, but then Paige Tyler went ahead, and sweReviewed by: Rabid Reads.
Men in uniform is already a winning combination for the majority of romance readers, but then Paige Tyler went ahead, and sweetened the deal by casting sixteen alpha werewolves as this series’ heroes. WOLF TROUBLE was an improvement on the first book thanks to its less foreseeable plot twists, stronger amorous components, and because the shifter aspects were explored in greater detail. I thoroughly enjoyed my second SWAT experience, and will, without fail, be back for thirds!
My two main criticisms of HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF were with regards to its lack of insight into the author’s wolves, and the overall cheesiness of the love story. Both of those issues were addressed in this installment, and as a result, I now have no problem committing to this series for the long haul. Tyler didn’t disclose all of her furry secrets, but she did provide an answer to my query about female werewolves, and explored it at length, so on that front I was completely satisfied.
This novel’s plot was more along the lines of what I’ve come to expect from the Romantic Suspense genre as a whole with its multiple threads—none of which were overly predictable—and a generous helping of action to help offset the steamier bits. The author excelled at weaving in the various law agencies’ procedures by tackling things like inter-department collaboration, and bringing all of their specialized training to the fore. This book lived and breathed SWAT.
Khaki and Xander’s relationship was a huge step in the right direction compared to the previous couples'; there were no eye rolling moments, and its progression felt more natural due to the female protagonist already being a cop… among other things. Yes, there were still a couple of things that were lost in translation, but it was normal men are from Mars, and women are from Venus stuff. The boss / subordinate dynamics also made the stakes more interesting to say the least.
WOLF TROUBLE was a sexy game of tug-a-war between two alphas, and a must read. ~4.5 Stars...more
I openly admit that I prefer the furrier parts of werewolf fiction, so it was pretty much a foregone conReviewed by: Rabid Reads (posting on Sept 24).
I openly admit that I prefer the furrier parts of werewolf fiction, so it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I was going to love AUTUMN MOON. The hero has never walked on two legs, and has been burning with the need to touch the female lead for over three hundred years. And, if that doesn’t reel you in; this series’ antagonists keep things plenty interesting, and there’s also mysterious powers at work with the potential to be total game changers.
Here’s another shocker for you: Cormack is my #1 CELTIC WOLF! I straight up adored his character; being human for the first time after centuries as a Bleidd is massive, and Jan DeLima seizes the opportunity to properly describe his transformation from start to finish. Cormack has to learn to walk, talk, and completely change his way of seeing the world. He’s also a special case where having a V-card makes sense, and I love it when it’s the alpha male who’s inexperienced.
Elen was a darned good protagonist as well, but then again all of this series’ heroines have been kickass. Her abilities are impressive, so right there you had me at “strong woman”. I also liked that the author succeeded in creating a MC that has an awesome connection with the natural world without going full on tree huger. Plus, it’s near impossible to find fault in someone who’s so intrinsically kind-hearted, that she’s capable of forgiving all offenders, even Mae.
The plot thread that revolved around Pendaran was horrible yet absorbing, and the new layer of Guardian lore was greeted with open arms by this reader. We learn of their true purpose, and Taliesin persists in torturing me with his secrets. The next couple was effortlessly prepped for the fourth installment, and largely I just thought that the story flowed better than the earlier volumes. After three novels, DeLima has the blending of Fantasy and Celtic mythology down to a science.
AUTUMN MOON stands on its own, so you have NO excuse not to hang with Cormack & Elen. ...more
We haven't gotten to see much of Alpha Elena, so it was great witnessing her knee deep in her newish role dealing with Pack politics, and the challengWe haven't gotten to see much of Alpha Elena, so it was great witnessing her knee deep in her newish role dealing with Pack politics, and the challenges that come with being not only the sole female werewolf, but also one in a leadership position. Kate frustrated me at times with her rebellious attitude, and independent streak; I had to keep reminding myself that she's only eight, and that her behaviour was age appropriate, and entirely understandable given present circumstances. All of my favourite furry Otherworld characters were out in full force, including the latest additions to the North American Pack as well as the current candidates. The twists involving the twins were totally squee-worthy, and this series' Big Bad tables a proposition that will leave me on edge until the next short is announced. Highly recommended, but not to be read as a stand-alone....more
Bowman & Kenzie’s relationship is near impossible to put into words; they got married to unite Shiftertown, but never forReviewed by: Rabid Reads.
Bowman & Kenzie’s relationship is near impossible to put into words; they got married to unite Shiftertown, but never formed a metaphysical connection even after fifteen years together, and a cub. The romance had a forbidden fruit / dead spark feel to it, however not because they can’t keep their hands off of each other, and live in constant fear of forming a link with someone else. Needless to say, it’s complicated, and that’s what made their story so gut-wrenchingly emotional. And, I haven’t even touched on the plot, action, or secondary characters yet! Yes lovelies, MATE BOND is in the running for my top werewolf read of 2015.
This was only my second encounter with Jennifer Ashley’s writing, and I was reminded once again why I NEED to one-click the rest of her SHIFTERS UNBOUND series ASAP. The world-building is top shelf, there’s an assortment of weres to fan-girl over—I’m partial to the wolves—and the dynamics between pack members, couples, and outsiders are exceptional. The author smoothly fuses humour, romance, and adrenaline while also going above and beyond in areas such as pop culture references, and mythology. I enjoyed the Guardian tidbits, and the DRESDEN FILES & IRON DRUID CHRONICLES hollas were just straight-up fun.
The protagonists are going to tie you up in knots with their crisis-of-the-heart, so brace yourselves for waterworks! Shifters place the mate bond above all things, and because Bowman & Kenzie have yet to form one, it’s expected that they call it quits if ever they find it with another. Both of them are tested in this book, and I was furiously cursing Ashley at certain points while mentally preparing myself for an ugly cry free-for-all. I loved the two leads, and how the author drove me into becoming wholeheartedly invested in the final outcome.
I liked how far reaching the story was from Ryan’s challenges as the son of an alpha, to Cristian’s problems with no longer being head honcho, and Gil Ramirez’s battle to find happiness. The villain’s depravity knew no bounds, just when I thought that his deviousness had reached its max, he pushed the envelope even further, and the last blow was godawful. Every minor thread was as all-consuming as the central plot was which made this novel seem as though it was superglued to my hands because I couldn’t pry it from my fingers.
LIFE AFTER THEFT – 4.5/5 One of the things that sets Kelley Armstrong’s OTHERWORLD stories apart is that she doesn’t only tellReviewed by: Rabid Reads.
LIFE AFTER THEFT – 4.5/5 One of the things that sets Kelley Armstrong’s OTHERWORLD stories apart is that she doesn’t only tell the “good” characters’ tales. The leads in this short were Hope Adams who happens to be an Expisco Half Demon and Lucifer’s daughter, and Karl Marsten, professional jewel thief extraordinaire and lifelong thorn in the Pack’s side. This was an entertaining read about one crook trying to con another (take a guess as to who comes out on top), and the protagonists’ struggle to be role models for their children when they both thrive on chaos.
FORBIDDEN – 5/5 This was a twisted novella that’ll leave you questioning who the real monsters are, and a great opportunity to learn about how Morgan joined the Pack. The author kept me in suspense, as she so often does, right up until the end about who the culprits were, and following Elena & Clay’s investigations just so happens to be one of my favourite pass times. I loved the brief look at Michaels’ challenges as Alpha-elect, and the mixture of werewolf / witch lore, and ritualistic magic.
ANGELIC – 4/5 Another story featuring the darker side of this author’s universe with Eve Levine and Kristof Nast as the stars. Savannah’s mom somehow got roped into doing the Fates’ dirty work in her afterlife, and this tale revolved around one of her missions. This was the first, and only appearance made by the Djinn in this series, so that was pretty cool, and I enjoyed watching Eve manipulate angels and demons alike. She’s such an awesome character to tag along with because she has zero qualms about being evil, and winning by any means necessary.
ZEN AND THE ART OF VAMPIRISM – 4/5 I had a decent idea where the plot was headed from the get-go, but you never know with Armstrong, so I didn’t count my chickens before they hatched. Zoe Takano is a secondary that plays a very minor role in the WOTO series, and pops up in a number of shorts, however little is known about her. This was a cute novella about two vampires trying to take over her home turf, and her non-violent way of getting them to think twice about their decision. The various Toronto landmarks that were highlighted during her guided tour of the city were a nice bonus too.
THE UNGRATEFUL DEAD – 4/5 Two entitled rich kids die in a car accident, and adopt the same snooty attitude as ghosts thinking that all necromancers must serve them. They bit off more than they could chew with one medium, and were then forced to seek out Jaime Vegas for help, only their definition of assistance was somewhat skewed, and they ended up getting exactly what they deserved. I liked how the protagonist tried to do the right thing until she realized why the other necro did what he did, and showed them why it’s important to stay on a Spiritualist’s good side.
COUNTERFEIT MAGIC – 3/5 Lucas & Paige remain at the bottom of the WOTO totem pole for me; don’t ask me why because I honestly don’t know. They are the straight arrows of this world which makes them stand-out like sore thumbs in a series where all of the other characters walk the line between light & dark. They’ve been married for eight years now, and this tale created unnecessary drama in their relationship in the form of potential infidelity. We did get some Savannah / Adam action in this one though, and the classic Cortez-Winterbourne investigation as well which saved it....more
GABRIEL'S GARGOYLES - 4 stars It was fun getting a glimpse of young Gabriel, although I can't say that he's much different 20 years later. He had to grGABRIEL'S GARGOYLES - 4 stars It was fun getting a glimpse of young Gabriel, although I can't say that he's much different 20 years later. He had to grow thick skin at a very young age, but I liked how he can turn any situation to his advantage—an excellent lawyer in the making! Bullies beat him up, so he steals their money, he hides an obvious stash of cash to keep his junkie mother from finding his real savings... I'm pretty sure I know who helped him out with his Xmas present for Rose, but that's not revealed until VISIONS, so I'll leave it at that.
THE PUPPY PLAN - 5 stars I've been dying to read a story from the twins' POV, so it was a real treat getting to spend some time inside Logan's head. This short is overflowing with cuteness, and I loved how being a parent hasn't changed Clay in the least, he tries to be responsible, but even his own kids aren't fooled. Armstrong still managed to weave a mutt problem into this tale while also delivering a magical Christmas moment. The bond between Kate & Logan was awesome; I can't wait to delve into it further in FORSAKEN this January!...more
March 20th couldn’t come soon enough as far as I was concerned because not only do I adore Sierra Dean’s writing and humour,Reviewed by: Rabid Reads.
March 20th couldn’t come soon enough as far as I was concerned because not only do I adore Sierra Dean’s writing and humour, but this spin-off series also promised more werewolf action than its big sister. I sometimes forget that SECRET MCQUEEN started out as 4-star reads, and didn’t wind up on my favourites pile until book 4, so when I loaded BAYOU BLUES up on my Kindle, my hope burned eternal. The story itself was tip-top, however like all younger siblings; I suspect that it’s going to take several installments for Genie to get out from underneath Secret’s shadow.
This novel had everything that I look for when I suss out Urban Fantasy titles: a resilient heroine, plot twists, budding romance, super-duper secondary characters, and dynamite paranormal elements. I wasn’t keen on the overdone anti-supe thread, although the author did modify it enough that the story didn’t suffer too much. The dialogue was shockingly snark-free; I missed the punchy one-liners that Dean’s other series is well-known for, and despite the odd funny bit, I found that the narrative was kinda stiff. I didn’t expect this spin-off to be a twin, but I did count on similarities.
Genie had some good, and bad traits; in the earlier chapters she was portrayed as doe-eyed, and naive, however as the book moved forward I found that she got her footing, and showed signs of being a protagonist that I could get behind. This installment transitioned her from spoiled royalty to fledgling leader; McQueen’s motivations were pure and well-intentioned, and it’ll be interesting to see how she handles Callum’s gift, her brother’s ambitions, and Pack politics. As a Princess, she needs to be more diplomatic than her sister, so Genie will doubtless be a different kind of heroine.
I was happy that the Church of Morning plot was dealt with in its entirety, and hopefully won’t be an on-going theme in this series, although I wouldn’t bet on it. Humans and supernaturals rarely coexist in harmony, but at least the author won’t be able to use this particular trope again. Still, it was an apt introduction to the new world order, and I enjoyed the smoke screens. I fully back Genie’s taste in men—Wilder Shaw, NOT Cash—and was crazy about fictional me’s debut even though it was short lived. I always knew that I wouldn’t last 2 seconds in UF!
BAYOU BLUES kickstarted my latest Sierra Dean infatuation!...more
ALPHA UNLEASHED tied in well with BRUJA, plus the full moon ceremony was a go and the werewolves outted themselves to humans,Reviewed by: Rabid Reads.
ALPHA UNLEASHED tied in well with BRUJA, plus the full moon ceremony was a go and the werewolves outted themselves to humans, so Aileen Erin definitely delivered on her promises. Tessa’s confrontation with Luciana was pretty terrific too. As a result, this book had an end-of-the-series vibe to it even though there was an author’s note promising otherwise, just not soon. All those pros notwithstanding, the five installment journey to get here could have been more proportionate instead of this race to the finish.
Tessa & Dastien finally get with the mating which was behind schedule in my opinion, and I wasn’t crazy about the way it went down. It was the werewolf equivalent of eloping, and after all of this talk about THE ceremony, I kinda felt cheated by the lack thereof. And, all of the “good stuff” happened off scene which was a bummer too, but it’s New Adult, so that quibble wasn’t taken into consideration in my rating. Still, Claudia & Lucas’ HEA was better.
Supes’ first public appearance is a common enough theme in Speculative Fiction, and personally I tend to give this particular thread a pass or a fail based on how well its impact on the world at large is described, and the masses reaction to the news. Erin did ok in both of these areas; however, the crunch to get ‘er all done in one installment took its pound of flesh from this fundamental element as well.
Luciana was the only character that was given enough room to fully do her thing. Her evolution as this series’ villain has been solid throughout, and the author really put the pedal to the metal in this novel; from the trail of carnage that the witch left in her wake, to the traps she set-up for the werewolves, and the unveiling of her ultimate objective. Erin may have teased us with lovemaking, but she swamped us with action!
ALPHA UNLEASHED was a good conclusion to Tessa & Dastien’s story....more
The ALPHA GIRL series, and I have had our ups & downs; I was worried that this magic driven installment might feel out ofReviewed by: Rabid Reads.
The ALPHA GIRL series, and I have had our ups & downs; I was worried that this magic driven installment might feel out of place amidst Aileen Erin’s werewolves, and that postponing Tessa & Dastien’s full moon ceremony (again) in favour of giving a secondary character their HEA was a mistake. BRUJA proved me wrong on both counts. Lucas single-handedly solved my first concern, and Claudia did the rest.
I liked that the author waited a bit before hightailing it to Peru. She set the stage for the why of De Santos’ trip with a brief recap, and some new information which did wonders for my opinion of this book’s protagonist because she didn’t blindly accept Muraco’s wild goose chase of a quest. The story did lack Peruvian authenticity though, so the setting change was barely noticeable unfortunately.
Claudia has been a useful ally in the witches vs. werewolves war, and after three volumes as a sidekick it was time for her to step outside of her comfort zone. I enjoyed witnessing her transformation from one of Luciana’s minions to future leader of the rebel coven. Her internal monologue exhibited the most growth, but by the conclusion of this tale it was apparent that Claudia was no longer a protégé.
There seemed to be a bit of a love triangle emerging until Erin finished painting her ugly picture of Matt, De Santos’ betrothed, after that unpleasantness he was hastily taken off the menu. The heroine’s connection with Mr. July was impossible to miss, as were the not so subtle furry bits. The outcome was easy to predict, although admittedly the shortage of romantic drama only made the plot stronger.
BRUJA was a quaint witch-y dalliance, but I’m ready for more werewolves!...more
This is the third four star review that I am writing for this series, so Elliott James is definitely consistent, but there coReviewed by: Rabid Reads.
This is the third four star review that I am writing for this series, so Elliott James is definitely consistent, but there comes a point when an extra boost is needed to renew fans’ interest in seeing the protagonist’s story through until the end, and PAX ARCANA has just about reached that fork in the road. I adore John Charming as a character, and the author has my number as far as humour goes; however the plot lines remain somewhat chaotic with secondaries coming and going as they please.
The blurb mentions “a long list of magical predators” and that adjective is an apt description because the hero is up against some pretty crazy supes, and the line-up is around the block. I’m talking maeres, chiang-shih… Ok, that’s all gobbledygook unless you’ve experienced FEARLESS for yourself, but needless to say, the Big Bads aren’t your everyday vampires, although there is one of those too. The world-building also extends beyond the supporting cast with a few eventful trips to Dreamtime.
John and Sig’s relationship is finally in a decent spot after opening with obsessive, progressing to non-existent, and now they are somewhere in the middle. I thought that James made great strides towards making their connection a complimentary part of the story as opposed to it overshadowing all of the other elements that go into these novels. The closing scene left me feeling a bit cheated in the romance department which in my opinion is preferable to the alternative, especially in Urban Fantasy.
I found that this installment was once again slightly less funny than CHARMING; this is the first time that I’ve gone with the eBook over the audio, so although I can’t say for sure without giving FEARLESS a listen, I strongly suspect that Roger Wayne’s narration does make a considerable difference. Nevertheless, the geeky references and jokes continue to entertain, and I really enjoyed the chat logs from the Swords and Wands video game meet-ups.
The PAX ARCANA series is holding steady, but sooner or later Elliott James is going to need to pick-up the pace....more