Eileen Wilks’ World of the Lupi is one of my favorite series, and I believe that it’s seriously underappreciated among fans of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. The heroine, Lily Yu, is the only female protagonist of Asian descent that I can think of in urban fantasy (if you know of any others, I’d love to hear about it!), and she is one tough chick. I love her relationship with werewolf Rule Turner, and if you’re a fan of J.D. Robb’s In Death series and its longstanding couple Eve Dallas and Roarke, I think you will enjoy Ms. Wilks’ series as well. With the exception of Night Season (book 4), which focuses on another couple, the series is devoted to Lily and Rule.
If you are new to the series, I highly recommend that you not begin with Death Magic. While you could probably follow along easily enough, you would be missing so much of the back story that I think it worthwhile to recommend that you start with book 1, Tempting Danger. (This review will contain spoilers for earlier books in the series, so consider yourself forewarned.) Watching Rule and Lily meet and fall in love is too much fun to miss, and Tempting Danger is one that I find myself re-reading frequently. Another favorite is book 5, Mortal Sins, because we get to see Rule interact with his charming 9 year old son, Toby, but my absolute favorite in the series was Book 7 – Blood Challenge. That said, Death Magic was an outstanding addition to the series, and I highly recommend it.
Death Magic deals with the beginning of the Lupi’s war against their enemy, the female goddess referred to only as the Great Bitch, and as such the novel is darker in tone than many of the others. Rule and Lily are back in Washington D.C., because they are testifying at Senate hearings. Lily is conflicted about her job, because Ruben Brooks, her superior at the FBI, informs her that he’s heading up an extra governmental organization to fight their enemy and invites her to join. Lily’s torn, because this organization violates all her beliefs about rule of law, but Ruben’s precognition has sent him visions of an apocalyptic future if they don’t manage to stop their enemy. Lily and Rule have had previous run-ins with this enemy, since she tends to operate throuth the anti-magic group Humans First. When the Senator questioning Rule and Lily at the hearings is discovered murdered and a witness places Ruben Brooks at the scene, Lily joins the official investigation. But just as the case becomes more involved, Lily begins to experience mysterious migraines and stroke-like symptoms. Can she continue the investigation while fighting a more formidable enemy?
Ms. Wilks’ novels are always complex and feature tight writing, and Death Magic is no exception. The world building in her books blows me away, particularly this one, since we learn more about the rules governing magic. How she manages to keep track of them all, much less invent said rules, never fails to astonish me. The secondary character of Cullen Seabourne, sorcerer and lupus, serves as our main source for this information, but I like that we learn about the world gradually through give and take with Cullen and other characters so there’s never an infodump.
The pacing of the novel is also well done. We have several plotlines running simultaneously with no confusion on the reader’s part. The threat hanging over all the characters of a possible apocalypse maintains the tension throughout the novel, but the last fourth of the novel really takes off with a white-knuckled race to the finish. While I was able to identify the traitor Lily and the others were looking for fairly early, I was surprised by the plot twist concerning Ruben. I did NOT expect that at all, and kudos to Ms. Wilks for a clever resolution to that situation.
My main complaint about Death Magic has more to do with my affection for certain secondary characters in the series than any flaws in the writing, which is stellar as usual. Cullen is one of my favorite characters, but because of the darker tone of this novel, we see less of his charm than usual. Also, neither Toby nor Benedict makes an appearance, and the absence of Lily’s Grandmother is very much felt. I’m not sure that their presence is necessary to advance the story, but as a fan of the series I missed them.
Overall this is an outstanding addition to the series. I enjoyed the deepening relationship between Lily and Rule, and I thought that the anger and resentment Rule felt towards the lupi’s Lady because of Lily’s health was an interesting development in his character. If you’re a fan of werewolves in any form, I highly recommend Death Magic and the World of the Lupi. (less)
I’ve been a fan of Jayne Ann Krentz in her various pseudonyms ever since my Mother-in-Law shared some of her Amanda Quick books with me, and I’ve really enjoyed her Paranormal Romances written under the name Jayne Castle. So I was thrilled when I saw her newest book, Canyons of Night (Book Three of the Looking Glass Trilogy), at Target last night, especially since it’s not being released until Tuesday, August 30. While Canyons of Night feels a little short, it was a pleasant return to the world of Harmony and the Arcane Society.
The book takes place on the island of Rainshadow and begins when three young tourists out for a ride decide to harass 15 year old Charlotte Enright. She’s an awkward girl with horribly nerdy glasses, but she manages to fight off her attackers until 19 year old Slade Attridge shows up and scares them off. Charlotte has a major crush on Slade, who’s the ultimate loner, and she’s thrilled when he agrees to show her parts of the Rainshadow Preserves after her ordeal. The next day he leaves to join the Federal Bureau of Psi Investigation, and Charlotte vows that the next time they see each other he won’t be treating her like a kid sister. Jump to fifteen years later and Slade is back on the island, as is Charlotte. Slade’s burned out from his job with the FBPI and working as the island’s Police Chief for 6 months until he can get his security firm up and running. Charlotte has just moved back to the island herself after inheriting her eccentric Aunt Beatrix’s para-antiques store, Looking Glass Antiques. When the body of a man who was stalking Charlotte in Frequency City appears in her store, Slade senses that his death is not from natural causes and begins an investigation. In the course of the investigation, the two begin an affair and must deal with their fears about their psychic abilities while putting off a few busybody neighbors.
I’ve always enjoyed Ms. Krentz’s writing, and it’s like coming to home to read one of her books. You can count on her having likeable characters and interesting plots, and Canyons of Night is no exception to that rule. Even if you haven’t read any of her other books set in the world of Harmony, you’ll easily be able to follow along. However, while I very much like the book, I do feel that this is the weakest book in the Looking Glass Trilogy, mainly because it is so short. It’s only 325 pages long, and you can really tell the difference between this and earlier books set in Harmony, such as my favorites After Dark and Silver Master. While the older novels may have a similar number of pages, the font is noticeably smaller and there is less space between lines, yielding more text and therefore allowing for more development of characters and plot.
As for the romance between the hero and heroine, Slade is a sexy alpha male and Charlotte is one of Krentz’s trademark quirky heroines. They clearly share a connection from their experience in the Rainshadow Preserves nearly 15 years ago. The two definitely set off sparks, but the romance follows the formula of Krentz’s recent books. Like several of her other newer heroes, Slade’s had a violent change in his psychic abilities that he fears will end in madness, while the insightful heroine manages to help him learn to accept and deal with the changes in his life. But Krentz does a good job of selling us on this formula, and I enjoyed their romance, despite hoping for more development.
As in her other books, the mystery is tidily resolved, but in this particular novel I could spot the villain a mile off, which was somewhat disappointing. The resolution of the conflict between Charlotte and the villain struck me as familiar as well, reminding me of how the heroine in Fired Up! , the first book in the trilogy, manages to extract herself from dangerous situations.
Another niggling complaint has to do with the title of the book, Canyons of Night. The phrase refers to a term that Slade uses to describe the lakes in the mysterious Rainshadow Preserves. I’m a bit conflicted about the use of the Preserves in the book, because they’re featured prominently in the story but our questions about them are never answered. I’m not sure why this was chosen as the title, since the actual mystery in the text doesn’t have anything to do with the Preserves. Several different characters venture into the forest at times and much is made of the fact that most who enter never return or return forever changed. However, the answers to the mystery of the Preserves is clearly intended for a future book. That we never learn about the danger that is clearly developing within the Preserves is a bit of a let-down.
All in all, I enjoyed returning to the world of Harmony and the Arcane Society, especially since we get to meet a new dustbunny, Rex, who likes to carry around an antique beaded clutch he stole from Charlotte’s store. Reading Canyons of Night is like catching up with an old friend, but I would have liked to see more development of Charlotte and Slade’s characters. They’re likeable but, because of the length of the novel and the somewhat formulaic nature of their romance, easily forgettable. (less)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars Source: Purchased at Target
I’ve read and enjoyed books by all these authors, but my favorites are easily Larissa Ione and G.A. Aiken, and their stories in this collection are also my favorites. I feel like this is one of the stronger anthologies I’ve seen lately, as all four of the novellas are well done.
My only criticism of the collection as a whole is of the cover. When I saw the early review of Supernatural at The Fiction Vixen, I assumed that the book was either self-published or only being released in eBook form, because the cover is NOT attractive. I was stunned (but in a good way) when I saw in Target in mass market paperback. Hopefully the cover won’t turn you off, because these four authors have written engaging novellas that fit in nicely with their different series.
Larissa Ione “Vampire Fight Club” Set in the world of Ione’s Demonica and Lords of Deliverance series, this is my overwhelming favorite of the stories. Nathan Sabine is a daywalker, a vampire who can walk in the sun. He runs Gladius, a blood arena for supernaturals, and when a hyena shifter dies in the arena, Nate thinks nothing of it. Unfortunately for him, the hyena survives his trip to Underground General long enough to tell his sister Vladlena (Lena) Paskelkov the name of the vampire club Thirst, the front for Gladius. Lena goes undercover at the club to avenge her brother, but she and Nate find themselves fighting their attraction to one another. The first few pages into the novella I wasn’t sure how it fit into Ione’s series, but that was quickly resolved and the rest was smooth sailing. Ione mentions in a short note to the reader that we’ll learn more about Nate’s Daywalker state in future Lords of Deliverance books. I can’t wait!
Alexandra Ivy “Darkness Eternal” I’ve read several of Ivy’s books in the Guardians of Eternity series, but it’s been a while and I’m not caught up on the series, so this novella was at times a bit difficult to follow. However, I enjoyed the story of Kata, trapped in a dark room for over 200 years by her evil vampire sister Marika. Kata’s daughter, Laylah, has convinced the vampires that Kata must be rescued, and the vampire Uriel does just that. When Uriel finds Kata, they learn that the two will need to travel to hell to save her life. While Kata has no desire to spend time with a vampire after being imprisoned by one for centuries, her time with Uriel convinces her otherwise. This was the most convoluted of the novellas, no doubt because I’m a little out of touch with the series.
Jacquelyn Frank “Kane” This novella takes place at the same time as Frank’s first book in the Nightwalkers series, Jacob, my favorite in the series. Unlike Ivy’s novella, however, you can easily follow along without having read any of the series. Kane is a mind demon, and Jacob’s younger brother. When Kane begins to stalk a human woman, Corrine, and then uses his abilities to manipulate minds to talk to her, demon enforcer Jacob intervenes, as demons are strictly forbidden from touching humans. Unfortunately, it turns out that Corrine is part druid, and Kane’s touch has begun the imprinting process, which requires that the two remain in contact to exchange energy. Kane’s enforced absence nearly kills her, but the two are reunited in time to save her life. My only complaint about this novella is that almost the entire story takes place in bed, with the two conversing. It drags a bit, but if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll enjoy learning how Kane and Corrine met.
G.A. Aiken “Dragon on Top” Shelly Laurenston writes about dragon shifters under the pseudonym G.A. Aiken, and her books always crack me up. This novella focuses on dragon shifter Ghleanna the Decimator, sister to Bercelak the Black. As a member of the Cadwaladr clan, Ghleanna is majorly kick-ass, but she’s recently been dumped by a less than worthy dragon, and she’s been wallowing in self-pity ever since. When Ghleanna’s sister-in-law, the queen of the Fire Dragons, decides to send negotiator Bram to arrange a treaty with the Sand Dragons, she decides that Ghleanna should accompany him. Bram has had a crush on Ghleanna for centuries, but she barely notices him, and she’s not thrilled to be babysitting another royal dragon. Bram manages to win her over, though, and the two make an interesting pair. You don’t usually see a beta male in the role of the hero, but Bram is a great example of one and a real sweetheart. Ghleanna is pretty rough and tumble, and the interaction between her and her brothers is a hoot. I think you can read this story without having read any of the books in the series, but you’ll definitely enjoy it more if you have.(less)
This is now one of my favorite of the Guild Hunter books. I love the Raphael-Elena story line, and while I enjoyed the books in th...moreRating: 4.5 out of 5
This is now one of my favorite of the Guild Hunter books. I love the Raphael-Elena story line, and while I enjoyed the books in the series about Dmitri and Jason, they just didn't draw me in the way these do. I've found myself re-reading sections of the novel already, so I know this will be on my keeper shelf.
If you haven't read any of the Guild Hunter books, you can start here, but I highly suggest you begin from the beginning.
The Royal House of Shadows series has been a bit unusual for me. Normally I only read series by one author, but this fall I decided to try two series that switch authors for each book in the series, with mixed results. I reviewed the third book in the Royal House of Shadows series, Lord of the Wolfyn by Jessica Andersen, and I enjoyed it, but I was really looking forward to the last book by Nalini Singh. She’s definitely written what I consider to be the strongest book of the four, but I was a little disappointed by the ending.
I actually read this series out of order, and while I normally don’t recommend that, I think you can follow the individual books in this series quite easily, because there are clear prologues that set up the action for each book. Lord of the Abyss reads quite well as a stand alone novel, although I felt it was a bit short.
Just to catch up on the premise of the series, the Blood Sorcerer has taken over the kingdom of Elden, but before he could murder the four royal children, their dying parents used the last of their magic to send the children to different realms for their protection. Lord of the Abyss is the story of the youngest of the children, Micah, who was only 5 years old at the time of the Blood Sorcerer’s attack. Now that 20 years have passed, the royal children have a deadline for all four of them to attack the Blood Sorcerer and regain control of the castle, or Elden will be lost forever.
Liliana is the Blood Sorcerer’s daughter, and the novel begins with her transporting herself into the throne room of the Lord of the Abyss, Micah. He’s responsible for transporting the souls who’ve been condemned to damnation to the Abyss. Liliana, like her father, is a blood sorcerer, but she fuels her magic with her own blood, rather than murdering the innocent as her father does. She’s come to the Abyss to convince Micah that now is the time to return to Elden, but she soon realizes that he’s suppressed his memories of his childhood.
Liliana convinces Micah to allow her to stay by offering to cook for him, and she takes advantage of the opportunity to tell him stories about his childhood so he’ll remember his past. Despite her physical ugliness and a limp, Micah is intrigued by the first woman to defy him and is drawn to her. As their time together progresses, they grown more and more attracted to one another. Liliana has to convince Micah to return to Elden, and she wonders what he’ll do once he realizes that she’s the daughter of his family’s worst enemy.
This is easily my favorite of the four books in the series. Liliana is a fascinating heroine, and despite her belief that she’s weak, she is actually a very strong woman, willing to fight for Micah and right the evil wrought by her father. Micah is a real charmer as well. He frightens everyone in the castle and the nearby village, but in his dealings with Liliana he’s tender and affectionate. I like that he has a strong sense of honor even though he’s been separated from his family for nearly 20 years, and he comes off as a bit spoiled, which made for several lighthearted moments. However, I was disappointed with the twist concerning Liliana’s character at the end, which I felt was unnecessary.
One minor criticism of the novel is that we don’t witness a reunion between the siblings. In each of the books the other siblings are mentioned, and there’s a brief reference to Micah’s brothers and sister towards the end, but we don’t see any interaction between them, which would have made this series-ending novel stronger.
However, this was a fun, short read, and (as always with Ms. Singh) I very much enjoyed her creative world building. The secondary characters were charming, and I loved the small creatures in the castle, while the monsters sent by the Blood Sorcerer were appropriately vile. This is easily my favorite of the series, and I definitely recommend it.
I received this book for review from the publisher through NetGalley.(less)
I won a copy of this book from the author on the Something Wicked blog, and I really enjoyed it! I think the premise of a paranormal MASH unit is real...moreI won a copy of this book from the author on the Something Wicked blog, and I really enjoyed it! I think the premise of a paranormal MASH unit is really clever, and it really worked well as a setting. The secondary characters were especially appealing, and you get a sense of the camaraderie between them.
Some other reviewers have mentioned that they didn't find this book to be as humorous as some of Ms. Fox's other books, and I would agree that it's not quite as slapstick as the others. The humor is definitely more subtle and less lighthearted, given the setting, but I certainly enjoyed the pranks the characters played on each other.
The romance was probably the weakest aspect of the book, but I found it very believable, given Petra's experiences in the past. I'm only concerned that there might be dificulties ahead after reading the blurb for the next book in the series!
Overall, I found this book to be very engaging. You find yourself drawn in almost immediately and will have a hard time putting it down. It's a very original take on the PNR, and I would definitely recommend it.(less)
I won a copy of this book from the blog The Qwillery.
I enjoyed this book, especially the historic setting (which you can see on the lovely cover). How...moreI won a copy of this book from the blog The Qwillery.
I enjoyed this book, especially the historic setting (which you can see on the lovely cover). However, I kept waiting for something to HAPPEN, and, other than the virgin heroine mating with the vampire king, not all that much happened. I kept thinking, "where's the conflict?" because there really wasn't much of a conflict to be honest. The vamp king was at first resistent to taking a mate, because he lost a mate over 300 years ago and it was a painful experience, but this resistence was overcome in a matter of hours!
That said, the chemistry is sizzling between the characters, and it was easy to read. I was drawn in from the beginning and time flew by while I was reading. This is clearly the beginning of a series, and I'm willing to try out the next book (my vote would be for Liam to find his mate), but I definitely have a few reservations.(less)
I was surprised by how quickly this book reads. I found the interdimensional rift idea intriguing, but less time is spent on it than I expected. I lik...moreI was surprised by how quickly this book reads. I found the interdimensional rift idea intriguing, but less time is spent on it than I expected. I liked the dynamic between Tobias the vamp and Nix the half-demon, and the human detective Dante makes for a fun sidekick.
I was a little disappointed at how quickly and easily Tobias and Nix resolved their relationship problems. The tension from the beginning of the book seemed to be all too easily forgiven.
That said, this was an action-packed pnr with lots of promise as a series. I'll definitely be checking out the next book!(less)
This is a very short novella (about 21,000 words) set in Ancient Egypt. While it’s a lovely story that I very much enjoyed, the romance fell a bit flat for me, probably because the length of the novella prohibited much character development. That said, I absolutely loved the Egyptian setting and was drawn in almost at once by the detail.
Merys is the great-granddaughter of a priestess of the Crocodile god, Sobek, and is fishing on the shore of the Nile near the god’s abandoned temple when a handsome stranger approaches. He introduces himself as Bek, but he’s actually the Crocodile god Sobek in the flesh. Sobek is fascinated by the charmingly innocent Merys, but he knows that the gods are not allowed relationships with mortal women. Despite this, he finds himself falling for the young woman and begins searching for a way for the two to be together.
There’s much to like about this novella, particularly its setting. Ms. Scott does an amazing job of immersing the reader in the culture and surroundings of Ancient Egypt without bogging you down in excessive details. The political organization of Egypt plays an important role in how the story unfolds in ways that I didn’t expect but very much enjoyed. I’m not at all conversant with Egyptian history, but the novella comes across as very well researched, and I like benefiting from that research in such a pleasant manner.
Because the novella is so short, there’s little time to develop the characters of Merys and Sobek adequately, which is why the romance suffers a bit, I think. Merys is portrayed as an innocent Cinderella type, forced to work as a servant for her evil stepmother, but we don’t learn much about her beyond that. Sobek begins as an arrogant god but soon becomes all too human in his dealings with Merys, which is forbidden for the gods of this pantheon. I feel like I would have enjoyed the romance between Sobek and Merys a bit more if we could have spent more time with the two of them together. I also would have liked to see Sobek’s personality changes develop slowly, but, again, the length of the text prohibits this.
Frankly, this was a quick read with a refreshing setting, and I would like to see more of Ms. Scott’s work because of how well she incorporated the setting and her research. I feel that this novella was very successful as a story that draws a reader in, but the romance needed a little bit more development.
I received this book for review from Carina Press through NetGalley.(less)
I've really enjoyed Ms. Feehan's various series, and after loving Water Bound, I couldn't wait to see where this new series was headed. Unfo...moreRating 3.5
I've really enjoyed Ms. Feehan's various series, and after loving Water Bound, I couldn't wait to see where this new series was headed. Unfortunately, this book had waaaay too much telling and not enough showing. I could skim through entire passages and not miss anything.
I did like the interaction between Stefan and his younger brother Lev in the book. Their relationship was the high point of the book, which is disappointing, since I really wanted to see more of the romance between Judith and Stefan.
The romance was more than a little lacking, since Judith and Stefan meet and WHAMMY they're in love/lust and it's meant to be. This came across as more than a little strange, since Judith had spent years on the run from a man with whom she fell in love with too quickly. There was a lot of inner monologue on Judith and Stefan's parts slowing the pace of the book. If they had spent more time interacting with each other or with the other characters instead of pondering their relationship, the book would have been much more enjoyable.
I did like that we get to see more of Judith's "sisters" and we see Rikki and Lev progressing in their relationship. HOwever, several hints are made about the Drake family and how they will react to Lev's presence when Jackson and Elle return from their honeymoon. I was hoping this would happen in this book, since it was hinted at in the first, but that was not the case.
Overall this was a lackluster addition to the series. (less)
This was a fun, sexy paranormal romance, and while it’s the second in the series, it reads as a standalone novel. I hadn’t read any of Stephanie Julian’s books before, but after checking out her webpage, I realized that this series is loosely connected to her Lucani Lovers series. You definitely don’t have to have read any of the other books to enjoy How to Worship a Goddess, but after finishing this book I’m looking forward to learning about some of the secondary characters’ backstory in her other series.
Lucy Aster was formerly the Etruscan Goddess of the Moon, Lusna, but as the number of her followers decreased over the years, she and the other goddesses of the Etruscan pantheon have lost much of their power. Centuries ago Lucy created the lucani, wolf shifters, and they still worship her and treat her as their mother, but she can feel her power slipping away. As a new threat to her and the other goddesses appears, it’s unclear if she retains enough power to protect herself. Brandon Stevenson is a member of the local minor league hockey team, and he keeps noticing Lucy in the stands at all his games. He finally manages to introduce himself, and the two begin a hot and heavy affair. But Brand’s more than he appears – can a tough hockey player protect a former goddess from her enemies?
I enjoyed the mythology in this book. It was fun to see a pantheon other than the Greeks or Romans, and I like how Ms. Julian uses Brand’s introduction to Lucy and her world as a way to bring new readers up to speed on the series without a huge info dump. I think the lucani backstory adds a nice twist to the werewolf legend, and the interaction between Lucy and her various “children” is intriguing and sets up several possibilities for future books in the series.
Brand and Lucy’s sexual chemistry is off the charts, pushing this novel close to erotica, but I think it’s well done. I wish that the numerous sex scenes had been more balanced throughout the book, as many take place early in the narrative, which could put off potential readers. There is a well-developed narrative, and the characters are engaging so I suggest that you keep reading even if the sex scenes seem a bit much at first. I do like that the hero and heroine develop a strong relationship, even if it begins as a potential one-night stand.
I wish that we had more information about Brand’s background, which I can’t discuss too much without spoilers. Suffice it to say that he’s definitely more than human, and while this explains some quirks from early in the novel, I expected a bit more exposition about his new-found abilities and relationship with his parents.
Overall, this was a smoldering paranormal romance with appealing protagonists and an entertaining premise. I’m not sure how often I’ll be re-reading this one, but it was a fun ride while it lasted.
I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher through NetGalley.(less)
Absolutely loved this book! Even if you haven't read any of the other Dirk & Steele novels, I think you can follow along without any p...moreRating: 4.5
Absolutely loved this book! Even if you haven't read any of the other Dirk & Steele novels, I think you can follow along without any problems. I always get a little nervous when I pick up her books, because she's not afraid to have really bad things happen to her characters (some have given me nightmares), but the writing is always outstanding and you'll remember the characters for a long time after you put the book down.
Eddie, the protagonist, has long been a favorite secondary character in the other books in the series, and I was thrilled to see him finally get his own book. I think Eddie and Lyssa's romance is one of the strongest I've read in Ms. Liu's books (Artur and Elena in book 2 are my favorites), and I highly recommend it. (less)
I think this is my favorite of the Friday Harbor series. I put off reading this because of the so-so reviews, but I really enjoyed it. I liked reading...moreI think this is my favorite of the Friday Harbor series. I put off reading this because of the so-so reviews, but I really enjoyed it. I liked reading about Alex's struggle with his alcoholism and Zoe's issues with her Grandmother. I also liked the ghost as a character, perhaps I've grown more accepting of the paranormal elements in Kleypas' books than I did with the last book in the series. My only complaint is that it was difficult to warm up to Alex. Eventually he won me over, but it took awhile. Still, I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance with paranormal romance. (less)
I’ve long been a fan of Heather Killough-Walden’s self published books. Most are priced at only $ 0.99, and she has a strong authorial voice with plots that tend to feature intriguing twists. So I was thrilled when I learned that Signet would be publishing her newest series, The Lost Angels. The first book in the series, Avenger’s Angel, just came out last week and is a paranormal romance featuring Angels, a trend that’s becoming more popular these days. While I’m disappointed that the book doesn’t add much new to the current flock of Angel-themed PNRs, overall it’s a solid first book in the series and an enjoyable read.
The premise of the book is that over 4,000 years ago four archangels were promised mates, or archesses, but when the females were sent to Earth for their protection, the archangels elected to fall to Earth to search for them. Uriel, the archangel of vengeance, is the first to find his archess in the person of Eleanore Granger, a woman hunted by a mysterious organization for her ability to heal others.
I like that this book sets up the series well while keeping our interest in the main couple. The other archangels, Gabriel, Azrael, and Michael are also searching for their archesses, though after 4,000 years they have nearly given up hope. There are a few hints that Gabriel’s archess has been discovered, setting up the next book in the series, but the archangels’ enemy, Samael, is overwhelmingly my favorite character in the novel. He’s an enigmatic villain, as he attempts to secure Eleanore’s interest and tells her half-truths in an effort to undermine Uriel. However, his friendship with Lilith and the archangels’ guardian Max’s interest in Lilith create interesting secondary stories that I’m looking forward to seeing developed in future books.
The book moves along well, but the second half definitely picks up the pace, as there’s a great deal more action taking place. True to Ms. Killough-Walden’s style in her self-published books, there are several unexpected twists that I really enjoyed. The final battle will keep you turning the pages, and I love that Eleanore is the one who saves the day, rather than the male characters. This is all the better because Eleanore really isn’t the kick-arse kind of female protagonist we’re used to seeing in PNR and UF, but she manages to surprise the males.
The romance between Uriel and Eleanore didn’t blow me away, to be honest. I’ve written elsewhere that I’m not a huge fan of the “fated mates” trope, and this series relies heavily upon that idea. At times the so-called good guys seemed more interested in trapping Eleanore into her “fated” relationship than in Uriel making a sincere effort to woo her. In fact, I felt that Samael set off more sparks with Eleanore than Uriel did (perhaps because he’s the forbidden bad boy?). So while I liked the couple together, the romance aspect of the novel felt a bit forced.
A minor complaint about the book is that it really doesn’t feel all that original. I’m not sure if that’s because there are so many angel related PNR/UF novels out at the moment or not, but despite that, the premise is strong and the characters intriguing enough to keep my interest. I’ll definitely read the next book in the series.
I was, however, very disappointed that Ms. Killough-Walden’s voice was so subdued in this novel. One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed her self-published books so much is how strong her authorial voice is. You could open any of her self-published books and know immediately that she was the author, which is a huge selling point. I’m not sure I could say the same for Avenger’s Angel.
All of my criticism of the novel can easily be resolved in future books, so I have high hopes for this series. Ms. Killough-Walden remains a favorite of mine, and I’m looking forward to seeing the other archangels find their archesses.
I received this book for review from the publisher through NetGalley.(less)
Very funny return to the world of Half Moon Hollow! Lots of fun, and because the heroine is from out of town, this would be an easy entry into the ser...moreVery funny return to the world of Half Moon Hollow! Lots of fun, and because the heroine is from out of town, this would be an easy entry into the series. (less)
Cry Wolf is Angela Campbell’s debut novel, and it’s a cute, sweet contemporary romance with a little werewolf tossed in to mix things up. I was hoping that this was the beginning to a series, given the ending (more on that later), but after checking out her webpage, I think it’s a stand-alone novel. Either way, you’ll definitely enjoy this book out just in time for Halloween.
Andrea Lockheart is a reporter for the tabloid The Naked Truth, and her editor has sent her to investigate rumors of werewolf sightings in Woodbine, South Carolina. She certainly isn’t expecting to run into Sean Hunter, former senior editor of her university paper. He’s the Woodbine paper’s editor now, and Andrea isn’t thrilled that she has to work with him, since he said some cruel remarks to her when they parted ways in college. She’d always hoped that their next meeting would involve some sort of acknowledgement of her stellar career, rather than his discovering her hanging upside down from a makeshift “werewolf trap.”
Sean doesn’t immediately recognize Andi Lockheart from college. This new Andi is stunning and clearly not interested in his help, but he owes her an apology after being such a jerk in college. Sean’s move to Woodbine to be with his sister and her kids is a far cry from writing for the New York Times, but he’s definitely enjoying the slower pace of his new life, especially since it allows him to spend time helping Andrea with her investigation. When Andrea experiences her own werewolf sighting, she and Sean begin to take the rumors more seriously and the two find themselves spending more and more time together. Can the two find a future together searching for the truth about the local werewolf?
I really enjoyed the romance in this novel. The majority of the book focuses on the relationship between Sean and Andrea, rather than the werewolf of the title, and that’s part of its appeal. Andrea is a compelling heroine with a difficult past. She’s a very talented and hardworking writer, despite writing about celebrities for a tabloid, and her shared past with Sean is an awkward one that threatens to undermine her hard won self-confidence when the two meet again. Sean is one sexy editor, and he manages to redeem himself from his being a total jerk in college. His focus on his family and concern for Andrea demonstrate that his changes are sincere.
The werewolf aspect of the novel was interesting as well. I like that Andrea starts out doubting the veracity of the claims and gradually begins to believe in the sightings as her investigation continues. I think making the romance the central focus of the novel was particularly effective, and the werewolf mystery starts to pick up about halfway into the book, which causes the pace to pick up.
Unfortunately, the werewolf mystery wasn’t completely resolved to my satisfaction, leaving us with a bit of a cliffhanger. I liked that the romance between Andrea and Sean was tied up nicely, but I wanted more explanation about the actual werewolf. Initially I assumed that this was the first book in a series, and we would learn more in subsequent books, but as I mentioned earlier, Ms. Campbell’s webpage indicates that this is a stand-alone novel, and her next book will be in a series set in a different world. Cry Wolf is only 87,000 words long, so there’s definitely room for more background about the werewolf, and the open ending definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the book.
Overall, however, this was a really sweet romance, and I very much enjoyed it. I liked Ms. Campbell’s insights into the world of journalism, and her experience writing in that world has translated well into fiction writing. I’ll definitely be looking for more of her work in the future!
I received this book for review from Carina Press through NetGalley.(less)
Gena Showalter and Nalini Singh are two of my favorite authors, so when Harlequin announced that they would be releasing a series of paranormal romances with the first and last books written by Showalter and Singh, I was thrilled. I was really disappointed in the first book of the series by Showalter, Lord of the Vampires, because it felt disjointed and rushed, but Lord of the Wolfyn was much better. Before reading the third installment of the series, I had never read anything by Jessica Andersen, but I’ll be looking for more of her books in the future, because this was a fun read, even if the phrase “wolfyn” had me cringing every time I read it.
If you haven’t read any of the other books in the series, you’ll be able to follow along with ease, as there’s a short prologue that sets up the back story. Also, each of the books is based on a fairy tale, with Lord of the Wolfyn based on the story of Little Red Riding Hood. In all of the books, the Blood Sorcerer (whom we have yet to meet) attacks the Royal Castle of Elden, killing the king and queen. The parents manage to protect their four children by using the last of their powers to send the children to different dimensions. Prince Dayn, the second son, finds himself in the realm of the Wolfyn, shapeshifters who are hunted in his realm of vampires. (Quick side note – I cringe every time I write the word wolfyn – surely there was a better name for the werewolves?) One of Dayn’s father’s last acts was to tell his son that when the time was right, they would send a guide to lead him back to the Castle of Elden. Once the guide arrived, Dayn would have four days to return to Elden and join his siblings against the Blood Sorcerer.
We then flash forward 20 years to the present in the Human realm where we meet Alfreda (Reda) Weston, red-headed cop. Reda’s in a bit of funk, because she froze when her partner was killed and has had problems with her self-confidence ever since. When she finally is able to recover a copy of an old version of Little Red Riding Hood that her mother gave her years ago, she purchases the book, little realizing that reading it would send her into the Wolfyn realm. And luckily for her, Dayn happens to be observing the portal that day, and he immediately recognizes her as his guide. Not surprisingly, Reda is more than a little freaked out at her new surroundings. Who wouldn’t be? First you’re reading a book, then POOF! you find yourself in another realm with some hottie telling you what to do. Happens to me ALL the time. Since Dayn desperately wants to be reunited with his family, he has to find a way to convince Reda to help him and in so doing give her confidence she’s lost since her partner’s death.
My absolute favorite aspect of this novel is that it is action-packed. The four day deadline adds suspense to the drama, since you’re wondering if Dayn will be able to convince Reda to help him in time to make it home before the four days are up. Additionally, there’s the concern that when he does arrive, he’ll be the only one of his siblings to have made it. We don’t witness any family reunions in the book, but the ending implies that the others are in fact in other parts of Elden, if not there during Dayn’s battles. I like that there was a resolution to the book, even if the overarching storyline about the Blood Sorcerer won’t be resolved until Nalini Singh’s book is released next month.
I also liked how the fairy tale was tied in with the story. The connection Reda feels with her dead mother and the book of Rutakoppchen with its wood carvings nicely tie the original tale of the wolf and the hunter in with the current plot. Andersen adds a nice twist to the legend by making the wolf in the novel a werewolf (or wolfyn), and Dayn’s connection to the wolfyn realm is an interesting one, especially since he’s hunting wolfyn in the prologue before being sent to the other realm.
Unfortunately Reda is not a strong heroine. I think that we’re supposed to sympathize with her because she’s experienced so much tragedy, but her actions at the beginning of the novel make her come across as really weak. When she does become more assertive, the change is abrupt, and I found it a little disconcerting. I enjoy reading novels that show a weaker heroine finding her own strength, but Reda’s change from wimp to warrior woman occurred during her transition from one realm to the other, which left her almost unrecognizable even to the hero when they met up again.
I think the book suffers a bit from its shorter length as well, because Reda’s character issues could have been resolved if they had been spread out over more of the book. Also, there’s a period when Dayn and Reda are separated, and I would have liked to have seen Reda’s actions during that time. When the two meet up again, she’s suddenly the more confident guardswoman that you would have thought a cop would be anyway. Since this change seems to occur while she’s ‘off-screen,’ I think including that time they’re apart would have tempered some of the issues I had with her character development.
However, I very much enjoyed the book. It was a fun, quick read, and the romance between Dayn and Reda was sizzling. I’m looking forward of the conclusion to the series, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Ms. Andersen’s books.
I received this book for review from the publisher through NetGalley.(less)
The writing duo that is Ilona Andrews could publish their grocery list, and I’d probably buy it. Of course, the reason I feel that way is because everything they write is stellar, and their newest release, the novella Silver Shark, is no exception. Back when I first started reading their Kate Daniels series, I went online and purchased all of their books, including the novella Silent Blade, which is the first in the Kinsmen series. I loved it, but it’s set outside the Kate Daniels world, so I figured this was a one-off and that was it. I was thrilled to learn that they were writing a sequel novella, and when they sponsored a giveaway on their blog, I and about 500 of their closest friends (heh heh) signed up. When the deadline passed and I hadn’t heard from them, I went ahead and paid the $2.99 for the novella at Amazon and devoured it, only to check my email and learn I’d won a copy. Oops. I don’t feel too bad about the 3 dollars, though, as it’s a great novella, and I can’t recommend it enough!
The world of the Kinsmen is very much sci-fi, which is not my favorite genre, but I really enjoy both the storytelling and the romance of this novella. Claire Shannon is a psycher, someone who can use telepathy to attack others’ minds. She lives on a grim mining planet fought over by two mining conglomerates. When the conglomerate she fights for is defeated, she pretends to be a civilian and is deported to Rada, a merchant planet that is run by kinsmen, which are mafia-type family organizations with psychic abilities. Claire’s hired to work as an administrative assistant for Guardian, Inc., a bionet (think psychic internet) security firm run by the Escana family. She becomes the personal assistant to Venturo Escana, owner, CEO, and a very powerful psycher. The two are clearly attracted to one another, but Claire’s psycher abilities must remain secret, or she’ll be returned to her home planet, which means certain death. When she’s approached by fellow refugees for help, she has to infiltrate the bionet, placing her new future in danger.
This novella is outstanding, thanks in large part to the world building. Clare’s home planet of Uley is industrial and bleak, and her new home on Rada is overpowering in color and exuberance. She notices the people of the province of New Delphi constantly smiling, and the women are dressed in brilliant colors, which is completely foreign to her. In fact, a fellow refugee informs her that her new red hair color is too bright, in an attempt to warn Claire that she’ll attract attention, something she would need to avoid on their home planet. The contrast with her stark experience on Uley is striking, and watching Claire try new foods and manners of dress will draw you in.
Claire’s ability to undergo overwhelming change and remain strong is highly appealing. She manages to hide her psycher powers against overwhelming odds, but when she’s asked by her fellow refugees to risk everything to save their children, she never hesitates to act on their behalf. Her loyalty to them and to Ven, whom she desires but believes she cannot have, is touching. Because of her past, she has no idea how to communicate her feelings for Ven and fears that doing so will jeopardize her new life. She’s an engaging character, because she’s both vulnerable and strong, and you really want everything to work out for her.
My only complaint is that the novella ends without our seeing the final showdown on the bionet. I would have loved to have seen the last battle, but the letter at the end from Ven’s aunt to his mother is a clever way to end the story and made me laugh.
If you’re looking for a short but satisfying read, you really can’t go wrong with this novella. I definitely recommend this one!(less)
This novel managed to really tick me off. I’ve really enjoyed Ms. Neill’s novels featuring Merit, the English Lit graduate student who was viciously t...moreThis novel managed to really tick me off. I’ve really enjoyed Ms. Neill’s novels featuring Merit, the English Lit graduate student who was viciously turned into a vampire, and Ethan Sullivan, the studly vampire master of Cadogan House in Chicago. I like the series because we get to see Merit develop as a vampire and a character. She has taken on the role of Sentinel, or protector of the house, and in Hard Bitten she gains confidence in her skills. Her contentious relationship with Ethan also matures and starts to show promise.
While you can pick up Hard Bitten without having read the earlier novels in the series and still follow along without too much difficulty, I recommend that you start the series from the beginning, because you will enjoy this novel all the more. Unfortunately, having read the series from the beginning, I had a lot invested in these characters, and the cliffhanger and stunning plot development made me so mad I was in a funk all day. Ms. Neill has stated on her webpage that the readers need to trust her, and that all will be explained in the fifth novel to be released in November, Drink Deep. Argh! (I should note that I HATE cliffhangers!)(less)
Loved this latest installment in the Psy-Changeling series! Because several of the couples from previous novels make numerous appearances in this book...moreLoved this latest installment in the Psy-Changeling series! Because several of the couples from previous novels make numerous appearances in this book, I'm not sure this would be the best place to begin reading the series.
Ivy and Vasic were a great couple, very steamy and really worked well together. I do wish the "gauntlet" on Vasic's arm hadn't been as big a part of the story. I thought the difficulties with the PsyNet were more than enough drama.
That said, I highly recommend this one if you're a fan of the series!(less)
I stayed up late last night to finish this book, and it. was. AWESOME. You know your favorite Indiana Jones movie? The one with all the heart-pounding action, romance, and a little magic? My friends, you must read The Rift Walker, because reading it is just like watching Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Last Crusade. You will not be able to put it down!
Any review of The Rift Walker will contain spoilers for the first book in the Vampire Empire series, The Greyfriar, so if you haven’t read the first book, you might want to read my review of it here. The Rift Walker can stand on its own, but you will definitely enjoy the book all the more if you’ve read the first in the series.
The Rift Walker picks up only three months after The Greyfriar ends. Princess Adele of Equatoria has returned to Alexandria after her ordeal in the north of Europe. Her story has become immensely popular in Equatoria, resulting in the publication of penny dreadfuls and plays depicting her kidnapping by vampires and subsequent rescue by the Greyfriar. Her American fiancé Senator Miles Clark is pressing her to set a date for their political marriage, but Adele lost her heart to the Greyfriar in his castle in Edinburgh, despite learning that the Greyfriar was in fact the vampire Prince Gareth. Senator Clark’s military expertise is vital to the humans’ plans to declare war against the vampires to the north, but his bravado and arrogance repulse Adele. She’s further horrified to learn that his plans for the north include fire-bombing as many humans in the vampires’ terrain as possible, as that will kill off their food supply and weaken the enemy. Her protests fall on deaf ears, and her father, Emperor Constantine II, orders their marriage within the next two weeks. When vampire Gareth learns that his brother Cesare plans to abduct Adele during her honeymoon, he travels to Alexandria and interrupts the royal wedding to whisk Adele away to safety. While the Equatorians and Adele’s husband Senator Clark give chase, the lovers seek a safe haven, little realizing that their actions have allowed Equatorian Prime Minister Lord Kelvin the opportunity to seize power.
Really, this book has it all. The action is non-stop, with several storylines running at once. The vampires are uniting under Cesare, and Gareth’s attempts to protect the humans while maintaining his secret identity as the Greyfriar are becoming increasingly less effective. Princess Adele is forced to acquiesce to her father’s demands that she fulfill her duty and marry the bellicose Senator Clark, despite her reports that the humans in the north need the assistance of the Equatorians. And it becomes clear that there are several different factions seeking to control Equatoria through Adele. Her mysterious teacher Mamoru is training her to use the powers she discovered in the north, and while these powers could spell the end to the vampires, they could also mean the end of Gareth, her love.
The constant action will keep you on the edge of your seat, and I kept wondering how the political intrigue could be resolved in one book, especially since there is a third book planned. I should not have doubted the authors, because the immediate situation was resolved while still maintaining the vampire threat. The various political betrayals and underhanded dealings will leave you gasping, but you’ll also cheer when the obnoxious Clark gets his comeuppance. The authors really draw you in with this aspect of the novel, because everyone seems to have their own agenda regarding Adele and her role as future empress and vampire killer. Some of Adele’s friends prove themselves more than trustworthy, while others make you wonder if more betrayal is yet to come.
Princess Adele definitely matures in this novel, and she is a heroine you will root for over and over again. In The Greyfriar she was still a young, idealistic girl forced to revise long-accepted truths about vampires and humans, but in The Rift Walker she faces difficult choices as future empress and as a woman. She wishes to be the best ruler possible but begins to realize that her love for Gareth might not have a happy ending, since he is the only vampire who values human life. Watching her transform into the empress of Equatoria is exciting and poignant, since we know any future with Gareth will be precarious at best, and the romance with the vampire prince is as touching as it is forbidden. Gareth is perfect hero material, and it’s a pleasure to witness his pride in Adele’s deft choices in the face of adversity.
The Rift Walker is an outstanding adventure that will leave you breathless. I couldn’t put the book down, and it’s going to be a long, long wait for the third installment! I thought The Greyfriar was one of the best books I’ve read this year, and The Rift Walker more than exceeded any expectations I might have had for a sequel. I highly recommend this one. Well done, Clay and Susan Griffith!(less)
I’ve long been a fan of Dee Tenorio’s contemporary romances, but a few months ago I was surprised to see that she had published a paranormal romance, Tempting the Enemy. It was dark and sexy, so I was thrilled to see that on Monday she released a sequel, Deceiving the Protector. As with the first in the series, this book is action-packed and filled with suspense and sexual tension.
Deceiving the Protector picks up about a year after the end of Tempting the Enemy. The alpha Pale Rysen and his psychic Sibile mate Jade have set up a safe haven for the shifters in the mountains of Southern California. In the first book the shifters were under attack as they traveled on the underground, and now the shifters who are travelling to the safety promised by Resurrection are under attack from a new enemy, a serial killer who’s able to hide his scent. Deceiving the Protector focuses on the alpha’s adopted brother, Jensen Tate, who has been sent by the Sibile to protect a lone shifter, Aurelia (Lia) Crawford. While Lia needs Tate’s help, she’s also desperate to avoid him, because the serial killer has been following her every move, placing any shifters she meets on the underground in danger. If she accepts Tate’s help, she could be leading him straight to the killer. But Lia’s drawn to Tate’s stubborn (and I do mean stubborn) strength, and, in spite of Lia’s surly demeanor, Tate’s attracted to Lia’s fierce nature. The two must work together to free Lia from the killer while fighting their attraction to one another.
This is not a light-hearted read. It’s definitely a dark and violent world, and Ms. Tenorio does an outstanding job of creating a terrifying villain. We’re introduced to the killer, Asher, in the prologue, and his appearance is truly fearsome. He’s dressed completely in black, with a horrifying mask and strange lenses in place of eyes. What makes Asher all the more frightening is the group that backs him – the mysterious Shifter Control Task Force. We learn through intense flashbacks that Lia was captured by the human-run organization and horribly experimented on. The nauseating experiments and Lia’s sense of hopelessness give the novel a darker feel than was present in the first book.
The sexual tension between Tate and Lia is complicated by both Lia’s upbringing and her twisted relationship with the killer Asher. Lia’s parents raised her and her sister Laurel as humans in an attempt to avoid the death squads hunting shifters. Since the humans have been hunting shifters for over a century, many of the shifters’ customs have been lost, and Tate has to explain the differences between mating and bonding to Lia. Until he does, Lia fears that the Shifter Control Task Force has managed to pervert her wolf nature and forever connected her to the horrific Asher. Lia’s ignorance about other shifters and mating also leads to a few misunderstandings with Tate, but in a way her ignorance is an advantage, since the Shifter Control Task Force is unable to learn as much about shifters during her incarceration.
Despite these complications, their romance is smoldering, with both hero and heroine presenting tough exteriors that hide vulnerabilities. Lia has managed to escape from the human authorities twice, but she’s torn between her feelings toward Tate and Asher’s blackmail demands. Her memories of the torture sessions are presented as flashbacks throughout the novel, which increase the tension for the reader because you begin to realize the terror that awaits her should she be recaptured. Tate’s haunted by memories of a former lover who slaughtered members of his family, leaving him unwilling to open his heart to another. Just as their relationship begins to unfold and they start trusting each other, danger threatens their lives and their love, at times leaving you in doubt as to their happy ever after. The suspense is skillfully drawn out, and the mix of action and romance is just right.
Tenorio’s world of hunted shifters and psychic Sibiles is an original take on the paranormal romance, and this second installment of the series was well done, but I do have one small complaint. Tate is supposed to be a lawyer, but I’m not sure why any profession is attributed to him since it was completely inconsequential to the action of the novel or the development of the romance. At one point when he’s ignoring Lia she reminds him that as a lawyer he should be used to answering questions, but other than that, it seems unimportant. I kept expecting his job to play some role in how the story unfolds, but it really didn’t. Also, I had to wonder how he would be able to disappear from work at odd times to help investigate any problems in the shifter underground.
The ending of the novel is both haunting and hopeful, which is difficult to achieve. I loved it, and Ms. Tenorio has allowed room for future sequels while tying up loose ends in this book. Given the dark tone of this novel and the deft handling of the suspense and romance, I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about the shifters at Resurrection.
I received this book for review from the Publisher through NetGalley.(less)
Originally, I thought that this book would be the first 2 out of 5 stars review for me, but after careful consideration, I think it’s more like 2.5 stars, because despite the many “Oh, puh-LEASE” and “You’ve gotta be KIDDING me!” moments, at least the writing flows smoothly and the pacing is well done. The premise of the book was intriguing enough for me to request the ARC from NetGalley, but I later realized that this is the tenth book/novella in the Draicon series. This makes me wonder if I would have had a different reaction to the book had I begun the series from the beginning. For these reasons, I’m bumping the rating up to a 2.5 from a 2. I can’t recommend that you spend money on it, but while I don’t consider it a good book, it wasn’t necessarily a bad one either.
The novel begins with Megan Moraine, shadow wolf, on the run with her two young cousins, Jillian and Jennifer. In this paranormal romance, Shadow Wolves are werewolves who can turn invisible. Years ago, they migrated to an island to escape persecution from other Draicon wolves, but when a few shadow wolves tried to out all werewolves to humans, the Draicons decided to imprison Shadow Wolves on the island. Megan has escaped from the island with her 7 year old cousins to return the girls to their father. When enforcer Gabriel Robichaux shows up at the restaurant they’re eating at, Megan fears that he’ll live up to his reputation as a brutal killer and murder the three shadow wolves. What she doesn’t realize is that Gabriel has been using his Enforcer role as a cover to secret Shadow Wolves to safety. Earning Megan’s trust becomes all the more difficult when the two realize that they’re destined mates. Can the two find safety while battling an overwhelming attraction?
This novel just didn’t work for me. As I mentioned earlier, the writing flows smoothly and the pacing is well done in the novel, so Ms. Vanak is clearly an experienced writer. Unfortunately, several of the tropes that appear throughout the book are my least favorite in paranormal romance. I’ve always been skeptical when the heroine is in extreme danger and yet notices how amazingly hot or sexy or overly muscled the hero is. Really? I just find that hard to believe, but even though Megan is exhausted and starving from being on the run with her 7 year old cousins, she feels an immediate attraction to Gabriel and sparks fly. I realize that my distaste for this trope is probably a personal preference, because I’ve complained about this to the DH when reading romantic suspense, and he finds it completely believable that under stressful conditions you would be attracted to someone. When I’m tired, I’m really cranky, not horny, (as the DH well knows) so I’ve never been a fan of the “the world’s about to end, let’s knock boots” trope. Also, I’m not a fan of the one true mate concept, and Gabriel and Megan are “destined mates.” To me the “destined mates” concept in paranormal romance feels like a shortcut that allows the author to skim over the romance and skip to the smexy times. So this just felt like one more coincidence among many that pop up throughout the book.
Speaking of coincidences, they occur so frequently throughout the novel that it strained my credulity more than once. There were several “deus ex machina” moments that felt heavy handed. The further I read the more incredulous I got, because special powers and creatures with different abilities seem to appear at random as needed. The three female shadow wolves were gifted with psychic powers that conveniently aren’t mentioned until just when the group needs them, and they would be attacked at random moments by creatures called morphs that can turn into anyone or any animal at will. I kept thinking, “Whaaaaat???? Where did this come from?” The appearance of Tristan, the Immortal Justice Guardian, really pushed my buttons. He appears at pivotal moments in the text when the plot seems to have stalled a bit and finagles events to achieve the happy ending for everyone. I was hoping that this was limited to this novel, but the same thing occurred in the novella “Darkness of the Wolf” that’s included in the book, so I’m guessing he’s a recurring character in the series. I found him to be incredibly frustrating, because just when the author seems to have written herself into a corner, he magically appears and straightens everyone out.
The biggest “Oh no, she DIDN’T” moment came when we learn that Megan’s a 26 year old virgin. Yes, they do occur, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility, but we learn that female Shadow Wolves are being sold to brothels and that Megan has had to fight off Draicon wolves repeatedly, so this just seemed a bit too old-school romance for me. Her being a virgin adds nothing to the plot or characterization whatsoever and strains belief. But the absolute limit for me was when Gabriel and Megan made love for the first time, and he tells her that he gets “bigger” after coming, and they’ll have to wait awhile before he can withdraw. After that I just had to put the book down and walk away, because it was just too ridiculous for words.
Clearly I was not a fan of this book. I first read the ARC at the end of July, believing that the book was releasing August 2, but when I realized it wasn’t coming out until August 23, I put off writing the review. Last week I decided to reread the book in order to refresh my memory for the review, but I just couldn’t finish it a second time. It felt too contrived and over the top. The novella included with the novel is completely in keeping with the style of the novel, so I just can’t recommend this book.
I received this book for review from the Publisher through NetGalley.(less)
This steampunk novel features an exciting world with vampires and magic, and the characters really stick with you long after you’ve finished the novel...moreThis steampunk novel features an exciting world with vampires and magic, and the characters really stick with you long after you’ve finished the novel. In 1870 the vampires organized and attacked the humans, causing the demise of western culture and forcing the humans to flee south. The novel takes place 150 years after the initial attack, known as ‘The Great Killing,’ and the humans are working together to begin a war to regain their territories in Europe and the former US. The technology of this steampunk world is entirely believable because of the devastation wrought by the vampire attack in the 19th century, and we learn about this technology mostly through the characters’ travel and battles with the vampires.
The novel begins with Princess Adele and young Prince Simon of Equatoria traveling to the border of their lands, only to be attacked and separated by vampires. Princess Adele is captured by the vampires, but a mysterious man called the Greyfriar attempts to rescue her. When his attempt is unsuccessful, she’s carried off to London by the vampires. Her father has arranged a marriage with an American war hero, Senator Clark, who arrives in Equatoria to meet his bride, only to learn that she’s been abducted by the vampires. He mounts a rescue attempt, not realizing that Princess Adele is taking care of that herself. In London, Adele meets King Dimitry, the senile leader of the vampire hoard, and his two sons, Cesare and Gareth, and witnesses the brutality of the vampires while learning that vampire politics are as complex as those of the human world. The novel ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but the arc of the story was resolved to my satisfaction, and I really enjoyed the romance between Adele and the Greyfriar.
The novel’s strengths are many. Both the protagonists and the secondary characters are well-rounded and the writers do an excellent job of switching points of view clearly. The Princess’ interactions with the various vampires in the former Great Britain force her to revise her opinions on vampire character, allowing her to develop as a woman and the future empress of Equatoria. She learns about prejudice and finds her own strength of character, all while beginning a romance. The mystery of who is Greyfriar is resolved fairly quickly in the novel, but Adele’s growing relationship with him allows the reader to realize along with her that vampires and their relationships are as nuanced as that of humans. The steampunk elements of the novel are integral parts of the fictional world and are seamlessly integrated into the action-packed narrative. This is the first of a trilogy and I’m really looking forward to the next installment, The Rift Walker, due out in September. (less)
I just finished Graveminder and now I won’t be able to sleep tonight, because it’s super creepy. Argh! So dumb!!! All joking aside, this book wasn’t q...moreI just finished Graveminder and now I won’t be able to sleep tonight, because it’s super creepy. Argh! So dumb!!! All joking aside, this book wasn’t quite the leap from my usual reading, since I like reading about the paranormal and romance, and this novel had both. It was hard to put down and I certainly recommend it, but do NOT read it right before bed. Did I mention it’s creepy? So here are the goods on the book. The action takes place in a small, idyllic town named Claysville, and this town takes excellent care of its dead. Graves are well tended and there’s a woman in the town who is the designated “Graveminder.” At the beginning of the novel, that Graveminder is Maylene Barrow, Rebekkah Barrow’s grandmother. When Maylene is mysteriously murdered, Rebekkah must return to Claysville for her funeral and discover the truth behind both Maylene’s death and her life. Byron Montgomery is the town’s current undertaker, and he and Rebekkah have had an on-again, off-again relationship for years. Neither Rebekkah nor Byron understands why her grandmother’s murder is not being investigated. It turns out that the living and the dead have an uneasy and longstanding bargain in Claysville, and the Graveminder and her Undertaker play important roles in keeping the town’s dead from rising from the grave and feeding on its citizens. Byron and Rebekkah have little time to discover the truth about the city’s contract with the mysterious Mr. D, and the parts they will play in this bargain, but they have to learn quickly to protect the living by keeping the dead in their graves. This book is hard to put down! The world Melissa Marr created is fascinating and I really enjoy the pacing of the novel. We learn the truth behind what’s happened to Maylene and the other dead in the town slowly as Byron and Rebekkah learn it. It’s not until the very end that we learn who is behind the killings in town, and I certainly admit that I didn’t see it coming. Also, the complicated relationships between past Graveminders and Undertakers and their children are heartbreaking and nuanced. The one failing (and in my mind it’s a doozy) is the character of Rebekkah. She seems to accept her new role as Graveminder fairly easily, but her relationship with Byron is problematic. I find her indecisiveness towards Byron to be downright cruel. He was her step-sister Ella’s boyfriend in high school when Ella killed herself. Rebekkah and Byron had been attracted to one another before Ella’s suicide, and afterwards whenever they acted on their mutual attraction, Rebekkah was unable to deal with the guilt. I can understand that to a point, but it drags on for too long, and Byron is far too willing to accept whatever Rebekkah wants to give him for my liking. As I said earlier, the book is fabulously creepy, and the lines between the dead and the living are blurry to say the least. I will be reading this book over and over again, just not at night! I hope this is the beginning of a new series, because even though Ms. Marr answers most questions that Rebekkah and Byron have, she leaves just enough open-ended for future novels. (less)