A WOMAN OUT FOR BLOOD Nicole Martin was only eight years old when the vampire slaves rose up in rebellion and killed her family. Now she devotes her life to finding a vaccine against vampirism, hoping to wipe out her memories—along with every bloodsucker on the planet. But there’s one thing she cannot destroy: her searing, undeniable attraction for the one man she should hate and fear the most . . .
A VAMPIRE OUT FOR REVENGE A member of the renegade vampire MoonBound Clan, Riker is haunted by demons of his own. When he recognizes Nicole and remembers how her family enslaved his loved ones, his heart burns for vengeance. But when he kidnaps Nicole and holds her in a secret lair, his mortal enemy becomes his soul obsession, his greatest temptation, and, perhaps, his only salvation—a hot-blooded lover who could heal him with her touch . . . or bury him forever. *Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: Ever since I picked up my first Ione book, I’ve been hooked. I’ll admit I was a little leery about the new vampire series (because I’m just a little burnt out on vampires), but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this book. I picked it up after I put the baby to bed, and found myself shutting down my eReader at 1 in the morning. The characters were so engaging, the world was so unique, and the romance was tumultuous, to say the least! I can’t wait for more in this series!
E: I have been addicted to reading about vampires since elementary school or junior high. I was attracted to the danger, the menace, the air of the forbidden, the subtle or overt sensuality, extra senses coming into play during “critical moments”, paranormal powers, and I could keep going but lately vampires appear watered down, missing their umph. I still have my favorite authors whose vampires still inspire the combination of fear and attraction but I have become increasingly wary of trying new ones out of disappointment. I have read her Demonica/Lords of Deliverance series and really enjoyed the spin she placed on demons, shifters, angels and the like so when I found out that she was starting a new series and that it involved vampires I had to give it a try. I am so glad that I did because Ione brought back everything that was missing and then some! I was so engrossed in the story that anyone who wanted my attention had to physically touch me because I didn’t hear or see anything that was going on around me. I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2.
Has: When I heard that Larissa Ione has started a new PNR series featuring vampires, I was very intrigued. I think she’s one of the best authors who writes in the genre and like E I was feeling a bit tired on Vampires. But I loved the rich and gritty tone of the Demonica series, I knew BOUND BY NIGHT would hopefully live to my expectations and it certainly did! The setting and premise behind the vampire mythos that Larissa Ione created was different and fresh and I loved how she set up a world where vampires were enslaved due to their abilities by humans. I felt this brought a fresh take to the mythos and I really liked how that was developed throughout the book, especially how it tied in with Native American mythology.
MinnChica: I absolutely adored Riker. He was strong and sexy and yet totally vulnerable at the same time. Dealing with the guilt surrounding his mate’s death was so wonderful to see, especially as Nicole had to deal with some of the same issues. I loved the way they started as enemies, that they were hesitant around each other, and gradually started a friendship, a partnership, and then so much more. The romance was absolutely brilliant, and the characters fabulous. Plus, Ione knocked it out of the park with the secondary characters. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!
E: Riker was a lot of fun. His thoughts, memories, guilt, and how he punished himself for years was very intriguing. I also liked how Nicole had her thoughts, memories, guilt, and fear of him personally not to mention as a species to deal with. Their interactions together were never quiet and peaceful yet each had a reluctance to permanently damage the other. I loved the scenes when Nicole decided to step up and either take what she wanted or to make a stand once and for all. One of my favorites was the “Thank you” scene. Like MinnChica I enjoyed the secondary characters as well. Not only am I looking forward to the next book but I really want Myne’s story. He was such an ass in the beginning but by the end of the book I was cheering for him.
Has: Oh man that scene *fans self* it was definitely up there in my favourite scenes in the book! I also really liked Riker, he stood out for me as a hero and I liked he didn’t have the hole element in the alphahole. Even though he was on opposing sides with Nicole, who was human and the company that she owned was responsible for the enslavement and torture of the vampire race – Riker never became unlikeable or overbearing when he interacted with her. And I liked how loyal and protective towards his clan but still hung-up over the death of his mate. It was a nice twist on the tables with Nicole who chases him and I really liked the scenes when she unapologetic seduces him and is open with her sexuality. That was so refreshing!
Nicole also really surprised me because I thought she would be more passive in dealing with the aftermath of her abduction. But I loved how defiant and smart she became especially when she learned of the truth of her family’s involvement with the company and its secret experimentation towards the vampires. She never fell into the TSTL pitfalls or being too whiny with the fate she ends up with. She focuses on the things she could change especially when she learns how badly the vampires are faring due to humans and helps them with her scientific background.
One of my favourite scenes in the book, is when she took charge in the lab where they were torturing the captured vampires and surprised Riker who let her lead. It cemented the romance for me because even though it was early days in their relationship, but I liked how Riker admired Nicole which helped to overcome his suspicious feelings about her and her past. Although I do think they fell in love a bit too quickly, their sexual and emotional chemistry was sizzling and vivid! And their love scenes – and I have to salute Larissa Ione over the Thank You scene was very very memorable!
MinnChica: All in all I thought this was such a wonderful and fabulous new series by Ione. I loved the world, the different take on vampires, and the cast of characters are so vibrant, that I can’t wait to read more. While I love all the Demonica books, I think this new series may have surpassed it in my mind. The world building is so fun and unique and I’m anxious to see how the clan resolves all their ongoing issues. The romance was so well done, each and every character was one I fell in love with even more, and I think I’ve found a new series that I’m going to be chomping at the bit to get! I give Bound by Night an A
E: I really enjoyed reading Bound by Night. Ione’s vampires had their share of suitable evilness, menacing ability, and sexuality yet they also had a caring side. I also enjoyed how the humans were portrayed from the vampire perspective. Both sides had some preconceived notions about the other which were in turn reinforced by behavior on both sides. As mentioned earlier I enjoyed the interaction between not just Nicole and Riker but also between the secondary characters. Ione has created a very fascinating world and characters that I am excited to continue exploring. I give Bound by Night an A.
Has: The supporting characters were also vibrant and colourful, such Myne and Hunter, as well as the eerie and scary leader of the ShadowSpawn clan who gave me the chills. The world that Larissa Ione was gritty and dark, and I loved the idea of the enslaved vampires and the conflict it brings when they try to break free from their enslavement. But the rich characters and mythology especially on the origins of the vampires made this a fantastic start to the series. I was left wanting more especially towards the end which promises to be a fun followup with Hunter, the leader of the vampire clan as the main lead.
Bound by Night for me was a great start for a brand new series. I felt that Larissa Ione’s take on vampires in this book, was different and added a new twist to the genre. But it had her trademarks of fast paced action, memorable characters, sexy chemistry and rich world-building. This is a new winner of a series for me!
Publisher: Seventh Star Press Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
I vividly recall making my way through my father’s collection of de Camp, Burroughs, Howard, and Moorcock. I found myself fascinated by the fights, the life and death struggle, the importance of keeping your word, the value of revenge or justice, and of course the spoils of war. As a result when I was given the opportunity to review Thunder on the Battlefield whose forward says it was inspired by some of those same authors I had to say yes. I decided to start with Volume Two because a key element of each story is Sorcery which with a little stretch could apply to Science Fiction/Fantasy. Each of these stories also has a person or people doing incredible things for love, ok so it might not be love for a significant other like romance usually included but love nonetheless. Therefore, if you follow my mildly twisted logic this does fit in with our SFR Month. Volume One with the central theme of Swords will be reviewed next month.
NEGOTIATION by Jeffe Kennedy This was unexpected. I found the choices the heroine made fascinating and logical given the options that were open to her. This was certainly an example of playing the long game instead of reaching for a quick short victory. I am super curious to see if/how she will get around one of the stipulations and the results. I think I need to check out this series because it looks like it contains some very interesting aspects.
THE FOURTH RULE by Alex Hughes Ooh the price of command, trust, stubbornness, errors in judgment, and how fickle the willingness to follow through hard times really is. This was a short very poignant story and I think it is a good thing the heroine is determined because she has a rough path ahead of her.
THE RUINS OF ST. LOUIS by Selah Janel Very fascinating world and adventure. Again, there was betrayal but there was also comradeship and adventure. I really enjoyed the twist at the beginning and the sense of hope as well as forbidden romance that was threaded throughout this novella. I need to find out if Janel has written more in this world with these characters because this really caught my attention.
MARK OF THE WARRIOR Steven Grassie Sometimes it is the battle we fight on our own that means the most. The hero’s sacrifice will never be known to those he sacrificed for but he knew why and that is what matters sometimes. A very touching story.
ANGELS OF SCRAWL by James R. Tuck And now I completely understand why one of our other reviewers enjoys Tuck’s writing. This novella really did take me back to the days when I first found several of the authors that Tuck mentions in his forward. I enjoyed the twists and the strength of family.
THE CHERUBIAN, THE LINDWORM, AND THE PORTAL by M.B. Weston A very interesting look at a perspective of how humanity is protected from outside evil. In this particular case it was without betrayal but still involved the pain of command and sacrifice for something other than self. In this particular case I do wish I knew more about this particular world before jumping into the battle. It took me a while to figure out that some of the main characters were angels and not people fighting.
GRINDING THE GEARS by Brady Allen This one also reminded me of the Conan stories but it was written more like someone recounting the story of a legend that then merged into the actual event complete with the hero’s thoughts/feelings. As a result, I had a hard time believing in the altruism of the hero. I really wanted to know what was it in for him.
BLACK ICE by S.H. Roddey Very interesting. Once again we have a heroine and sidekick battling against terrible odds to try to save her people even though she never quite fit the role they wanted her to take. She had a lot of trust and faith in her sidekick even though she was blatantly the more dominant of the two. There was a sudden about-face at the end that I am not quite sure I believe is a true change. The potential is there but at this stage I am taking that individual skeptically.
THE TWO FIRES by Steven S. Long: This was a different take on sorcery as power from the Gods. It took a couple of different aspects and combined them together. Well written but not my favorite because there was mention of errors made during the crusades but no attempt to rectify them. Only the certainty that the victors had the more powerful God. I did like the manifestation of power but I think I like the idea of the victors becoming a bit corrupted by the civilization they conquer. I also thought a certain individual changed his mind a bit too easily about providing troops.
ACROSS THE WILDS by D.A. Adams A very fascinating almost coming of age story. I enjoyed the drive that the hero had as well as everything he faced on his journey. The descriptions were very interesting and I enjoyed the different micro-ecosystems. This is another world that I hope the author either has or will continue to write in.
DARK GENESIS by Mark Taverna: Oh magic and the power and corruption that you bring. An intriguing take on what someone will do when their existence is threatened and then what they will do when they realize what they have done. Not an entirely pleasant story to read but very moving.
WHORE OF JERICHO by Steven L. Shrewsbury: Some serious twists in this story. I enjoyed the well thought out justice. The antagonists certainly had it coming. And the final twist was perfect. This really was a great way to end this anthology. It provided a link from the barbarians of the fictional past to a much more recent past.
Like any anthology, Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery had some stories I enjoyed more than others. I enjoyed reading it overall because it was both a nice change from what has become my usual reading and a reminder of what inspired my imagination as a child. I have also found some authors whose backlist I need to explore which always makes an anthology a win.
I give Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery a B (less)
Publisher: Berkley Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
The righting of an ancient wrong. A future foretold. The bands tattooed around her wrists are laced with a dragon’s green and more, destiny preordained…
Mind Thief. Gift Thief. Feared for an ability to seize another’s thoughts and powers with a touch, San Francisco tattoo artist Etaín is such an elf—and the time has come for her to learn it.
Close to the transformation and about to discover her place in a supernatural world, Etaín once thought intimacy and permanence were impossible. Now she’s bound to Cathal, the son of an Irish mobster. And claimed by Eamon, an Elven lord with powerful gifts of his own.
Eamon is determined to keep her safe—from others as well as herself. But a quest for justice is more than it seems, leaving their future to hinge on choice and magic. On promises made and dangerous bargains. This blurb came from the author’s website.
About a year and a half ago I read the first book in this series, Inked Magic, and thought that the world was interesting, characters intriguing but that it suffered from some flaws. However, I liked the importance of just the right tattoo and it had Elves so I attributed the flaws to the first-book-in-a-series syndrome. My decision was also aided because I have read other works by Strong and enjoyed them. So when Inked Destiny was available for review, I accepted. Unfortunately, I found myself slogging through the book. Inked Destiny takes place immediately following the events in Inked Magic. As a result if you decide to read this I strongly suggest that you read or reread the first one before starting because I didn’t reread and I found myself lost with the connections between characters outside of the primary three. Strong does not include much if any recapping of previous events, which works in some cases but in this particular complex world I needed a few reminders.
Etain, Cathal, and Eamon were still trying to figure out how to make their relationship work. Matters between them were complicated by Cathal’s doubts about sharing Etain, Etain’s evolving power as she changes, and Eamon’s ulterior motives and belief that he knows best. The power struggle was a continual theme even as outsiders tried to exploit the fissures in their bond. Their relationship was set against the backdrop of Elvish and Other politics, gang politics, and police politics all of which were tugging at their loyalties. I felt for a while that they were on an endless circle with Eamon wanting all of Etain and willing to accept Cathal, Etain wanting to be free but enjoying both men, Cathal wanting Etain and not really happy about Eamon. Things would appear to smooth out slightly then something would happen and the trio would revert.
Strong included a lot of different characters from a variety of sources: humans, gang members/leaders, police/federal government agencies, Elves and Dragons. I found myself confused at times wondering who worked for whom and what various characters were. Some individuals seemed to be Elves, or Halflings nearing transformation, or Dragons or something yet to be defined. Add in the various gangs and everyone had their own agendas and wanted to use Etain, Cathal or Eamon to accomplish them. It reached the point when I honestly stopped trying to keep track of the political subplots and just tried to focus on the primary and secondary love relationships. One of which I really hope works out but I am concerned given the latest developments.
I did find some things in Inked Destiny enjoyable. Strong usually provides intense smexy scenes and these were no exception. The relationship between Etain, Cathal and Eamon is M/F/M to this point and does not contain any BDSM but I did not find them lacking. The other thing that really intrigued me was the Dragon that visited Etain’s dreams and knew a lot more then he volunteered, even for a price. However, the things I enjoyed were outweighed by the issues I had with the majority of the story. Some might have been avoided if I had re-read the first book immediately before starting this one but I think I still would have struggled with all of the subplot lines. Given the issues I had with the first story and the fact that I had more with this one, I am afraid I will not continue reading this series.
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: 2 July How we got this book: ARC from the publisher
The adventure of a lifetime might just end in turmoil, but when it includes meeting your future mate, who gives a hoot?
A Novella of the Elder Races
For a librarian with a focus on rare magic books, Olivia’s new job is a dream come true. She has been hired as part of a team to help manage the safe transportation of the collection of books owned by the Vampyre sorceress Carling Severan. The fact that the library is located on a mysterious island in an Other land only heightens the adventure. Head of security for the expedition, Sebastian Hale is tired of his rootless life of adventure and finds himself attracted to the calm, beautiful librarian. But he is living a personal nightmare. He has been hit with a curse that is slowly taking away his sight, and he doesn’t know if he will survive the results.
But the powerful feelings growing between them, along with Sebastian’s inner turmoil, take a backseat when they learn there is a traitor lurking among their expedition team. With Elder Races politics and a priceless library on the line, they’ll have to rely on each other to survive the experience.
Warning: When a librarian who likes to nest meets an owl Wyr who has always lived for adventure, their romance won’t just be fly-by-night… The blurb came from the author’s website.
1. Thoughts on the Hero
MinnChica: I really liked Sebastian. He was a strong and steady hero, very Alpha without being a jerk. I liked his take-charge attitude, toward his job, his life, and Olivia. Despite the fact that he was dealing with some crazy changes in his life, he seemed to be pretty resigned to what was happening to him, and how his life was possibly going to change in the future. Although things looked bleak at times, Sebastian always seemed to be ready to charge forward, and live to the fullest. I loved that about him.
Has: I also loved Sebastian, not only I liked how he was portrayed, which had that quiet and brooding intensity. The moment he sees Olivia, and later with their first conversation was full of tension which was heightened due to his demeanor. I also loved the fact he was a hero who was short, without losing the alpha factor and that was refreshing because it is rare to read a romance especially a paranormal alpha hero who isn’t over 6 feet. Sebastian’s ‘curse’ was also fun to explore, I liked how that helped to give him a touch of vulnerability, although I wished this was expanded more because I felt it was glossed over a bit.
E: Sebastian was a lot of fun. He was a predator and therefore relatively Alpha but he was also suffering from a nasty curse. This particular curse if it continued would limit his ability to function in both shifted and human form and render him dependent upon others. A huge change for a person whose very life was centered around his unique abilities. Even with his personal struggles I loved how Sebastian didn’t have any issues setting his eyes on Olivia and deciding that there would be wooing. I also liked how he appeared a bit more “normal” than most alpha heroes but retained his sense of intensity. He didn’t have any issues dealing with Phaedra either. *grin*
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
MinnChica: I thought Olivia was so sweet and wonderful. It was obvious she had a tender heart and cared so much for every single person she met. She was soft and came across as very reserved, and yet Sebastian seemed to be able to bring out a level of confidence in her too. I loved her interactions with the other characters, especially Phaedra . They had some great moments together, working at becoming friends.
Has: Olivia was the perfect heroine for Sebastian because she was patient and observant. I also loved the little touches of humour when she was teleported into the meeting by Phaedra who forgot her luggage and then called the Djinn a ‘dimwit’. I really liked how Olivia came out of her shell when the attraction between Sebastian and her became tangible and I loved the scene when they shared their first kiss.
E: Olivia was also a lot of fun. It took a bit for her to emerge from her shell but when she was annoyed or feeling comfortable the little accents of her personality emerged. As both MinnChica and Has mentioned earlier I felt her interactions with Phaedra were great! I also admired how she maintained her professionalism despite a sometimes hostile working environment. I also had a huge soft spot for Olivia because she loved books and collections and some of my most numerous childhood memories come from time spent in libraries. She also provided a great foil for Sebastian because she was gentle but stubborn enough to keep him in check when necessary.
3. Favorite Scene
MinnChica: With a novella this short, it can be really hard to find a favorite scene, as they all have to be good and packed with meaning and substance. I think for me there were a series of moments that made up my favorite parts of the book, and that was the growing friendship between Olivia and Phaedra. From Phaedra transporting Olivia the very first time, mid-hug with Grace, to their short and funny chit-chat in the bathroom, to Phaedra’s overprotecting nature. Those were just a few key moments throughout the story that spoke volumes to me.
Has: Although I loved their first kiss, the climactic scene in the end was my favourite because it was suspenseful, tense and it really pushed Olivia and Sebastian’s feeling to the fore. I liked how Sebastian kind of lost his cool resolve but Olivia kept her cool head. It really summed up how they worked together as a couple and I would love to see more of that in the future.
E: Wow so many good scenes. I think I am going with an early conversation between Sebastian and Olivia when he said that he needed to be convinced that the two women, Olivia and Phaedra, were not going to cause problems on the trip. I thought that conversation showed Olivia’s complexity and cemented Sebastian’s interest in her as he discovered some unexpected depths.
4. Dislike about book
MinnChica: I think for me the thing I didn’t like about this book was the length. I would have loved to learn more about some of the books Olivia was packing away, and the business and friendship between Sebastian and his crew. I think Harrison does a wonderful job with secondary characters, and I would have liked to know more about Bailey and Phaedra. Unfortunately, given the length of the novella, that just wasn’t an option. However, that being said, the story itself was wonderful.
Has: I agree about the length – I think it was short, but I was satisfied with the romance and although I wanted more about Sebastian’s curse and how he dealt with it because I felt it wasn’t really in depth. However despite the restrictions of the length of the novella in not going into detail. I really liked how it ended.
E: My main complaint is really petty. I wished the humor that was evident in the first part of the book revolving around Phaedra continued throughout the book but I can see that necessity for seriousness and Phaedra wasn’t the star. I guess what this boils down to is that I really hope Harrison writes a story for Phaedra.
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
MinnChica: All in all I liked this Elder Races novella. While it didn’t have an item or theme to link together with previous (or future) novellas, it was still a wonderful story. I liked Olivia and Sebastian and their romance was so sweet. I do wish Harrison would have spent more time growing their relationship on the page though, as it felt like a lot of their bonding moments were done behind the scenes. I give The Wicked a B
Has: Overall, I really liked this installment, although it was short in length and there was some plot points that was glossed over, the romance was sweet and with a lovely touch of intensity. There was also some great scenes of humour which has become a fast trademark of Thea Harrison’s style. I can’t wait for Phaedra’s story because she is fast becoming a very fun and interesting character. I also give The Wicked a B.
E: I was super excited to hear that Harrison was going to start fitting in Elder Races novellas again. They are great to get a taste of the “ordinary” people and flesh out the world. I also enjoyed seeing a glimpse into the lives of some of my other favorite characters and how they were settling into a different existence. The contrast between Sebastian and Olivia was perfect because the contrast also provided compliments. I did figure out who the bad guy was in the very beginning but I did not expect the reason why. My reason was a bit more simplistic so it was great to see the twist that appeared and validated my enjoyment of the story to that point. I am also giving The Wicked a B. (less)
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
A Novella of the FBI Psychics
Can be read as a stand alone.
Destin Mortin’s psychic gift comes with an ugly twist—she excels at tracking down violent rapists. But it’s rough on relationships. Once, her partner Caleb was her everything: filter, shield, rescuer, lover. The only man who didn’t think her a freak. Then he walked away.
Destin turned her back on the FBI to work for a private agency, but now a particularly horrendous case has come up, and her boss wants her paired with only the best.
For Caleb Durand, leaving Destin was an act of self-preservation. Every time she flung herself headlong into dangerous situations, every time he nursed her through soul-crushing visions, he’d died a little more inside.
Now they are forced to work together one last time. Tragedy has changed them both, but Caleb knows if he lowers his shields for an instant, he won’t have an icicle’s chance in hell of resisting the temptation to lose himself in her wild power.
But to catch the rapist, it’s exactly what he’ll have to do. This blurb came from the author’s website.
I have read several of Walker’s FBI Psychics novels and enjoyed how she delved into both the cost and benefit of having a psychic ability to an individual. She also explored the hope, anger, frustration, grief, determination, and mingled pride/regret of the law enforcement individuals who go after people who commit a particular type of crime. In each she included a romance built on that quagmire of emotion and danger – grounding her characters in the here and now as they dealt with the fact that they were only human. So when I saw that she had a novella coming out from Samhain, set in the same world I had to try it. I enjoyed reading The Unwanted but I felt like there was a little something missing.
Caleb and Destin had a history, a very involved history that didn’t have a messy drawn out ending but a rather abrupt one. The past relationship and the method of its ending, five years before this story started, still reverberated inside both of them. When they were thrown together unexpectedly on a case tracking down a serial rapist in a small college town each had to face not only their open emotional wounds but the realization that the other person wasn’t as unaffected as they portrayed. While that did mean each had deep feelings for the other so the relationship wasn’t one sided, Walker used that to further explain why the earlier version of Caleb and Destin were unhealthy for each other which I thought was a very interesting take. Their emotional angst and journey provided a good way for me to avoid focusing too much of my attention on the victims. I was glad because the blurb did not exaggerate when it mentioned exactly what type of criminal Destin tracked.
This particular story did not have as much physical danger to the investigators, Caleb or Destin, as other books have with their respective investigators. The majority of the investigation involved Destin’s ability to see, much les detective work. As a result, I felt as if the investigation was a little offset from the story with the focus on the characters’ emotional journey instead of an even balance. I did not feel that that aspect detracted from the story at all because as I mentioned above I needed some distance from the crimes themselves. I thought it was very fascinating that in this particular story both the hero and heroine suffered from side effects of their psychic abilities because it balanced the scales of power between them. To me that was another indication that they completed or fit each other but both had to become mature enough to maintain their own separate identities and not merge into a blurred mess unable to function without the other.
I enjoyed seeing Caleb and Destin grow and heal over the course of the story, but I felt as if some things were left out or ignored. The first piece that I thought was missing started in the initial conversation Destin had with her boss when she mentioned suffering from extreme nosebleeds due to her visions yet I didn’t notice mention of one occurring during the story itself. I also thought the reason why Caleb and Destin were assigned this particular case but did not receive all of the information was a bit too much of a set-up. I thought there were other reasons to not get all the information in the beginning unless it is intended for some other event Walker has in mind for the FBI Psychics world. The last thing that bothered me about this story I will freely admit is probably a personal issue. The huge elephant under the carpet between Caleb and Destin was discussed and left with the acknowledgment that it would be dealt with when they were both ready. I really wanted step one of “ready” to occur in this story completely understanding that the cure would take years. I needed some movement forward because I felt like they were at step zero-point-five but on the other hand I was very glad to see the elephant at least addressed.
Overall I enjoyed reading The Unwanted, this novella provided a different take on the FBI Physics, their interaction, and the personal cost of their jobs. I felt the shorter length meant Walker had to choose between focusing on the characters or the suspense/mystery aspect of it and as a result this installment was much more character driven. I also found a few things that bothered me but they did not keep me from enjoying the story. I am curious to see where Walker goes with this novella format and if future stories will have the same character focus.
Publisher: Kensington Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
Here we go again …
Just when it seems life at Mythos Academy can’t get any more dangerous, the Reapers of Chaos manage to prove me wrong. It was just a typical night at the Library of Antiquities — until a Reaper tried to poison me. The good news is I’m still alive and kicking. The bad news is the Reaper poisoned someone else instead.
As Nike’s Champion, everyone expects me to lead the charge against the Reapers, even though I’m still hurting over what happened with Spartan warrior Logan Quinn. I’ve got to get my hands on the antidote fast — otherwise, an innocent person will die. But the only known cure is hidden in some creepy ruins — and the Reapers are sure to be waiting for me there … This blurb came from Goodreads.
I have been a fan of Estep’s Mythos Academy stories since I found them back in early 2012. Several have been reviewed here on the blog, most recently her e-novella focusing on Logan, Spartan Frost. Given the traumatic events of the 4th installment, Crimson Frost, and what Logan saw during his self-imposed exile I was super excited to read Midnight Frost. Unfortunately a few aspects did give me the “here we go again,” feeling as they were a bit predictable, but Estep also included several twists I was not expecting that greatly enhanced the tension and moved things forward.
Gwen wass still not fitting into Mythos Academy. Granted she wass no longer called a Reaper by her fellow classmates but they switched to whispering and taking pictures ever since word got out about her status as Nike’s Champion and therefore the target of Reaper attacks. The support structure that she painfully built contains a gaping hole from Logan’s absence that was taking its toll on her emotional stability. She also had to deal with the attention of the Protectors who are there to guard both her and the other inhabitants of the school. But a few positive things have remained consistent; Grandma Frost’s love, Daphne’s friendship, the Fenrir puppy, Nickamedes’ snide remarks, and Vic. After an innocent person falls victim to the Reapers, Gwen decided regardless of the threat to her personal safety, she was going to do what she could to save the person.
After the initial Reaper attack, it appeared as if things were going to slow down until Gwen and her group reached the ruins and started searching for the antidote but my guess was sadly mistaken. Estep continued to build on the initial confrontation by adding some unexpected Reaper attacks and some emotional blows for Gwen. Despite the pain she suffered, I enjoyed watching Gwen see that she wasn’t the only “misfit” and that maybe her life wasn’t as bad as it seemed. To me that was an important lesson Gwen needed to learn in order to continue to grow as a character.
Without being too spoilery I will say that Estep included some things that I think readers who have a romantic streak will enjoy **wink** along with Vic’s trademark way of providing some tension release with his running commentary. He really made me start laughing in this particular scene.
The sword gave a loud, jaw-cracking yawn and opened his eye. Then, he started blinking rapidly and moving his mouth up and down and wiggling his jaw from side to side. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“What do you think I’m doing? I’m trying to pop my bloody ear,” Vic said. “The change in altitude is killing me, I tell you. Killing me!”
I wanted to point out that the sword was the one who killed things, not the other way around, but I kept quiet. Finally, a minute later, something squeaked deep inside the metal, and Vic’s face relaxed.
“There,” he said. “All better. Now, time to take care of the jet lag. Wake me when there are Reapers to kill.”
His purplish eye snapped shut. I thought about shaking him awake, so he’d be as cranky and sleep-deprived as I was, but I decided against it. I didn’t want to listen to him complain all the way to…wherever it was we were going next.
The more I see Vic the more I wonder about his particular past and how he got his personality.
Despite the mild predictability in a few sections, I think Gwen grew a lot in this particular installment. While she still had a few “why me” moments she stepped up a lot and started to take charge of herself and her circumstances. I loved seeing her actually fight and not just react while attempting to stay alive until someone else could rescue her. She also spoke up to other people instead of hiding in her room or slinking away to sulk. It was almost like her experiences over the past book had put her through the crucible and what emerged showed definite signs of why Gwen was chosen as Nike’s Champion. With Midnight Frost Estep has penned another entertaining read. I almost feel as if this installment is a pivotal transition story but I will have to wait for the next one to find out. And BTW I think I find the “stone” statues just as unnerving as Gwen does and I can’t wait to see what their secret is.
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out now How we got this book: ARC from the author via Lit Connect
Chronicles of Eorthe, Book 1
Stranded in another dimension, on a primitive version of Earth, Dr. Susan Barlow needs to find a way to survive. There’s no electricity, no cities, and to her shock, no humans. Instead, she faces a population of werewolves, vampires and incubi. The people are vicious but she must find her place among them. And live.
An illness is killing Sorin’s pack. As alpha it’s his responsibility to save them, but it’s a battle this warrior doesn’t know how to fight. Then a blue light in the sky brings a creature he’s never seen. She calls herself human, but to him she smells like hope.
Sorin offers Susan a safe haven in return for a cure, but she’s not that kind of a doctor. She’s a doctor of physics, not a physician. Yet as they search for a cure to save a dying people, they find something special—each other.
But even with Sorin’s protection, Susan can’t help but wonder how long she can survive in a world without humans…
Warning: Feral shifters, power-hungry vampires, and a sole human female suffering culture shock. We got this blurb from the author’s website.
1. Thoughts on the Hero
Meka: Sorin is alpha through-and-through, ready to protect his pack who are dying off from a strange sickness that he cannot fight with tooth and claw. Reading about his emotional struggle with trying to understand if a Goddess sent Susan to them while juggling the responsibilities of his pack was like a sucker punch to the gut. He was steadfast, didn’t compromise on what he wanted, and was a caring alpha, something that his pack desperately needed.
It was refreshing to read a novel where the alpha hero was not in fact an alphahole and appreciated the insights that Susan had when it came to treating his pack. I felt like I could connect with him and that his struggles were very real. Watching him be so desperate to put his pack back together and prove that he was not abusive like his father made me a little misty-eyed.
I thought that Sorin was very caring and patient of Susan, who just went through the culture shock of her life, and helped her to acclimate to his world. When he found out that he really was falling for her, he was both sweet and tender as well as very protective of her, yet always gave her room to shine.
E: Overall Sorin grew on me. Towards the beginning I found him very much the martyr, almost too self-sacrificing but as the story continued and I learned his backstory I could understand why. He did start thinking and acting more for himself but he still kept his pack towards the front of his mind. Like Meka said, he was a pretty honorable individual who did everything he could to both mitigate and fix the results of his father’s rule. One of the things I liked about him was that he was willing to give a huge exception to Susan because she did not know werewolf culture. That was so completely opposite what she encountered with a different pack who treated her as if she was deliberately violating their norms. I also really liked him when he showed he was willing to work with others, including a rival-ish pack, to help rescue the captured women. He also demonstrated his ability to learn from and trust his formerly abused Omega to play a much greater role then that of a peacemaker. Soren did show a few flashes of assholish behavior but that was more of an anomaly. I did wish I had more time to see him interact with both his pack and Susan in less stressful conditions.
MiscJoy: I liked how Sorin approached being Alpha. He was primarily focused on healing his pack — both physically and psychologically. His personal needs came secondary. It was important to him to build up his pack members self-esteem and he didn’t let arrogance get in the way of seeking counsel from others regarding plans of action. He was secure in himself and his place as Alpha and didn’t feel the need to exert his dominance in a forceful way all the time. He simply was dominant; he didn’t have to keep proving that he was so. It was a refreshing change from how Alphas are typically presented in the genre.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
Meka: Susan made me jump up and cheer, but I’ll explain my main reason for that a little later. Upset about the fact that the military would be using DOUG, the dimensional traveling machine for their own nefarious purposes, she set it to self-destruct. I knew I was going to like her from that point on. She was thrown in to a world where there were no humans and she had no way of getting back home. She went from being calm to panicked and back to being calm again with a few moments of being ready to get the hell out of dodge no matter the stakes, but when she needed to, she held it together. She waffled between wanting to stay and wanting to go home, but I felt like that was a very realistic and understandable response. She was a smart cookie, and it was awesome to see her using her mind and her skills as she fought to acclimate herself to the world.
After the treatment that Susan received from one pack, she was none too eager to experience life with even more shifters, but when she found out the plight of Sorin’s group, she struggled to come up with a solution to assist them. Watching her care about Sorin’s well-being, as well as stand up for what she wanted was refreshing. Even when she had what I call a too stupid to live moment, she recognized it as such and totally owned it. She was sweet, endearing, and was not going to let Sorin pull the ‘I am alpha’ card on her.
E: Susan was more of a contradiction for me, sometimes I liked her and other time she really annoyed me. She was a combination of incredibly brilliant and clueless at the same time. She easily believed in vampires and werewolves but did not have any idea of how to interact with them. She remembered how to make penicillin but wasn’t concerned about the exchange of bodily fluids provided the other person wasn’t sick. Yet I enjoyed how she never really gave in a resigned herself to her fate but continued to struggle to make things the best she could. I also really loved her response to the military/government’s attempted takeover of her project. I just wish I had seen her stand up on a regular basis to someone besides Soren. While her ability to make medicine brought her a huge amount of respect from Soren’s pack, nothing was said about how/if that would transfer to any other pack so her lack of aggression concerned me but she was an interesting character. Full of both strengths and flaws but genuinely caring underneath.
MiscJoy: Susan was smart and resourceful and not afraid to take action. She had to think quick and adapt to an alien culture. I liked her selfless nature and the way she cared for the Apisi pack. On the other hand, she made some rather impulsive decisions that crossed into stupid territory — like running away from the Apisi pack without any planning, supplies or any thought about survival or means to defend herself — that seemed out of character.
3. Favorite Scene
Meka: Not sure what this probably says about me, but one of the most memorable parts of the book for me was early on when Susan was trying to be respectful of the alpha’s wife and ended up getting slapped for her trouble. After a rough day when no one was understanding her and she struggled to get accustomed to the way people expected her to do things only to be attacked, Susan had enough and she slapped the alpha’s wife right back. Not gonna lie, I did a cheer and promptly told my roommate that she needed to get this book when it came out. When the group ran while the alpha’s wife chased them, I laughed, hard. It was so comical and so awesome. It’s definitely one of the more stand-out scenes in the novel that shows Susan is no wilting flower.
E: I was torn between a few scenes but I think I am going to go with the one when Susan and Soren had a few days mostly to themselves out in the wilderness. They had the opportunity to get to know each other a bit and I got to see them interact together. It was by turns sweet, touching, intense, smexy, and a stark reminder of how much Susan will have to adapt to become comfortable in her new home. I wish they were able to spend more peaceful time together because that scene was what brought this story out of the physical lust and into emotional romance for me. It just needed more!
MiscJoy: My favorite scene was when Sorin, Ahote and Peder had to break into Benic’s castle. Peder came up with quite the unorthodox plan and I could only imagine the agony it wreaked upon the shifter’s senses. For some reason, I kept hearing the characters from The Princess Bride calling after them: “Have fun storming the castle!” Tee hee.
4. Dislike about book
Meka: I understand that when a series is starting off, there is going to be quite a bit of world-building that goes along with it. We as readers are just coming in to this world and don’t understand its rules or customs. It was nice in that we got to learn as Susan did, however, this is where the book began to fall apart for me. It was all too much, too fast and it felt disjointed. First we have to learn about the shifters and their rules, and then the vampires, and then incubi, and it just became very confusing to keep up.
There were a lot of great supporting characters, but they seemed to take center stage more than our hero and heroine. Every character had a motive and I cared about their stories. I hope they all get sequels, too. It was difficult for me to believe in Susan and Sorin’s romance because they never really had an opportunity to develop one. Everyone else’s wants, needs, and love lives kept stealing the show.
The book had smokin’ hot sex scenes, but I never felt like our hero and heroine ever got the chance to connect. Every time there was a sweet moment between them, the POV would switch to someone else, and I found it to be annoying.
The climax of the book was so convoluted that I found myself starting to check out. The resolution fell flat, and the epilogue left a lot of questions unanswered. I thought that Susan and Sorin were great together, but I feel like I really missed out on how great they could have been because there was not enough page time with them.
E: I found that Scent of Salvation had some parts that struck me as rather jarring. I thought the world-building was almost too complete for a first book in a series. It seemed like so much world-building went on that it detracted from the character interaction. As a result some of the supporting characters seemed rather formulaic and others at times outshone the hero/heroine. I also thought that having the default language for everyone set as English with only technicial/scientific terms a challenge to explain was a bit of a cheat. If everything followed the history path that Susan theorized I think there still should have been some serious language differences or communication issues among the different species and with Susan. But I did like Susan’s theory and I think it will be interesting to see how/if it plays out in future books.
MiscJoy: I think my main complaint about the book is the lack of depth. We weren’t given much if any focus on the character’s development — they were just presented in the story as fully formed and didn’t really go through a progression based on interior motivations. Plot points and conflicts just sorta happened and then were easily resolved without much consequence. The villain turned out not to be much of a villain. These issues meant the tension fell flat for me.
I thought the concept was interesting and the worldbuilding had promise, but certain aspects just didn’t jive for me. I struggled with the idea that this alternate history branched off from our history and yet continued to mirror our history instead of developing independent from it. Both dimensions spoke English (really?), but yet somehow the written form of it on Eorthe was unrecognizable as such. Time travel was supposedly impossible and yet, the major world events occurring on Eorthe were about two hundred years in our past. If that was the case, then what happened to the shifter’s native culture and why did everyone speak English? Either Eorthe and Earth developed in a sort of symbiotic parallel or they branched off and went their separate ways, but the resulting hybrid of these two ideas here just didn’t work for me.
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
Meka: Scent of Salvation is a fast-paced book with three-dimensional characters that make the book come to life. There are many laugh out loud moments and a great deal of adventure and emotional punches. With that said, the world building while intricate is entirely too much and other characters had more page time than I felt our hero and heroine did. I was not sold on the romance aspect of this book. It was a fun read, though, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I give Scent of Salvation a C.
E: While I though Scent of Salvation had some flaws I did find the premise and some of the theories fascinating. I have my hopes for the next couple in this series, but I think they will face some serious problems with the vampires and pack politics. I also found that reading this book, especially the beginning, made me want to watch the movie Stargate. Nicholas did seem to take some shortcuts but I think with as much of the world established by the end of this installment, later books can focus more on the characterization. I will admit that I absolutely loved how the vampires plans were derailed and how he realized what his single-minded focus cost him. I also give Scent of Salvation a C.
MiscJoy: I enjoyed the relationship that developed between Sorin and Susan. I liked how Sorin saw Susan’s strength in her intellect and her ability to serve the pack even if he wasn’t sure how the pack would accept her since, as a culture, they primarily saw value based on physical strength and dominance.
Even though I felt the story suffered from an overall sense of depth and some confusion in the worldbuilding, I do think that the writing style was quite readable. The author did a good job at writing an active narrative and kept the story moving forward at a good pace.
I enjoyed this a lot up until I had the impression that one of the heroes deliberately lied to the heroine. When she found out she was p*ssed but didn...moreI enjoyed this a lot up until I had the impression that one of the heroes deliberately lied to the heroine. When she found out she was p*ssed but didn't really make him grovel before she got over her anger. I felt let down by them both.(less)
Interesting and certainly fits the "Quickie" category. I think I prefer Burton's longer works so I get to see the emotional relationship grow between....moreInteresting and certainly fits the "Quickie" category. I think I prefer Burton's longer works so I get to see the emotional relationship grow between. I did enjoy the premise and how mistaken identity made things rather complicated.
Darn you Nicole! This was pushed on me by a friend and it was quite good. I was worried a bit about the heroine and how much crap she took from her co...moreDarn you Nicole! This was pushed on me by a friend and it was quite good. I was worried a bit about the heroine and how much crap she took from her countryman but she redeemed herself over time. I enjoyed seeing the clash of cultures and how things ended up starting to improve.
I am interested to see what other PNR Myles has up her sleeve.(less)
Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the author
It’s more than chemistry, more than love: it’s electric.
Remy Davis does her best to live in the now, never sure when she’ll be forced to run again. She loves her work at Buchanan Investigations—there’s no better place for a woman with her special talent for controlling electricity—but she knows better than to let down her guard. And then everything changes when a man from her past, the man she never stopped loving, reappears in her life.
J.D. never thought he’d see the girl he’d once loved, the woman he thought had betrayed him. The chemistry he and Remy once felt is as strong as ever. Old wounds need time to heal, but time is running out on second chances.
A villain bent on returning them to his twisted experiments has resurfaced. But this time J.D. won’t let Remy face the madman alone: he’ll harness every ounce of his abilities to rescue the one woman who turns electric in his arms.
PRODUCT WARNINGS There are misunderstandings, angst, and love lost and regained. Sparks fly when two special people with extraordinary abilities overcome science gone awry and some freakishly villainous bad guys. This blurb came from the author’s website.
**potential trigger warning – sadistic guard and evidence of violence and torture**
I have to apologize to Marie Harte. She provided me with this book a few months ago and I lost track of it during my real life complications. I am so sorry for the delay. I am glad that I spotted it when I was going back through my emails. Harte has written in several of romance’s subgenres and I tend to enjoy her writing. Several of her paranormal series stem from scientific experiments either gone wrong or gone too right with the subjects facing elimination or future experimentation from someone who wants to go beyond what is acceptable. In this particular case, there are two different companies, known for quietly solving problems, extensive security, and employing those who have a bit extra. While competitors, the two companies had different limits on the sorts of jobs they tend to undertake. One company tends stick within US laws while the other just doesn’t leave any evidence behind that they went around the laws. Each tried to get a leg up on the other by hacking into their systems to gain access to records kept on individuals, corporations, or other things of interest. The previous book ended up forging a connection between the two companies, but they continued trying gain an advantage over the other.
Remy and J.D. had a shared past full of nightmares, guilt, and young love. They were both subjects of her uncle’s torture and experimentation as he tried to perfect the idea of a human battery. Not just a battery that could store energy and power other things but could also transfer their energy to another storage facility for later use. His original lab was destroyed in a suspicious fire that left both J.D. and Remy almost dead. That night was the last time the two of them had ever seen each other. Over the ensuring years, after healing and doing what was needed for survival they separately managed to find a relatively stable job while keeping their power concealed. Each ended up as an IT expert for one of the two companies.
Then came a request for protection from a wealthy man who had a few financial ties to an individual who seemed to be Remy’s uncle. In order to bring him down for good and not risk him ensnaring any other people who had paranormal gifts, Remy and J.D. needed to work together. Their first meeting was an explosive one, literally as they were set up by their respective companies without any forewarning. As they were forced into closer and closer contact it became evident that the sparks would always fly, it was just a question of how far were they willing to trust each other.
I enjoyed several things about this story but I also had a few problems with it. I loved the interaction between the guys of the two rival companies. Between the telepathy, the precognition, the ability to send an electric shock, and psychometry, it was very difficult to keep a thought or a feeling hidden. The business discussions and negotiations always made me grin. I also enjoyed the teasing and taunting between the guys.
On the other hand, I had a very hard time buying into the insta-lust between Remy and J.D. Going from J.D.’s extreme reaction when he first saw her and basically tried to kill her to an intense sexual encounter the next time they were in the same physical location gave me whiplash. His back and forth continued a few more times until another person verified that Remy was telling him the truth. I also had an issue with how he decided to assuage his guilt and let Remy “apologize” for her actions through another sexual encounter. It was almost as if in his mind sex cured all. I also had an issue with Remy, she seemed a mostly passive character when it came to her relationship with J.D. She was always reacting to something he did or something he said and continually apologizing for her methods in saving his life. She didn’t have a problem standing up to anyone else, including her uncle and his henchmen, so her behavior around J.D. struck me as awkward. As much as she did to protect him, I thought that J.D. needed to prove he was worth her sacrifice instead of the other way around.
Love in Electric Blue had its ups and downs for me. I had a hard time buying into the romance and wished Remy and J.D. spent more time re-learning each other before jumping into sexy times. I did really like the final confrontation when they were forced to trust each other and to trust their co-workers. The slightest amount of doubt and everything would have been lost. The male bonding rituals were also amusing but they served to highlight just how isolated Remy was compared to J.D. I certainly enjoyed seeing the bad guys get what was coming to them especially a certain individual who took pleasure in the pain and misery of the unwilling volunteers. While I found a satisfying ending, I was disappointed by the emotional set-up and interaction outside of the sexy times between Remy and J.D. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the guys get dragged into love kicking and screaming I just hope I get to see more of the emotional connection in future installments.
Publisher: Kensington Publish Date: 25 Jun How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
I’m Logan Quinn, the deadliest Spartan warrior at Mythos Academy. At least I was–until the day I almost killed Gwen Frost.
Professor Metis and Nickamedes say that I’m fine, that Loki and the Reapers don’t have a hold on me anymore, but I can’t risk it. I can’t risk hurting Gwen again. So I’m leaving Mythos and going somewhere far, far away.
I know Gwen wonders what’s happening to me, whether I’m safe. I can’t tell her, but this is my story. . . This blurb came from Goodreads
Estep happens to be an auto-buy author for me. I fell in love with her Mythos Academy from the very beginning with her combination of present day, myths and legends, ancient bloodlines holding sway, intrigue, eternal politics, and boarding school. With each installment the tension and risk continues to increase. The events of the previous book, Crimson Frost, reviewed here took a few shocking turns.
In Spartan Frost, Estep decided to catch us up on Logan and his situation. This is a short e-novella from Logan’s point of view. It provides some interesting insights into his character and his struggles dealing with the events of the past. I was pretty sure that he was going to have some issues because several things happened that really shook his foundational beliefs. While I didn’t like the fact that Logan has to work through some things it was good to see him as having human flaws. I enjoyed seeing Logan’s thoughts and emotions as this novella progressed.
While this was a quick read, it packed a satisfactory emotional punch. I was very grateful when Estep did not reduce Logan and the aftereffects of his situation with an easy solution and fix everything by the end of the novella. In fact if anything I think she laid the seeds for potentially a more dangerous result. She also provided a tantalizing hint regarding a significant event that occurred back at Mythos that is making me super curious about the next installment. Spartan Frost demonstrated yet again why Estep is on my auto-buy list.
Roadtrip gone bad! I really enjoyed reading this and everything that could possibly go wrong. I also liked how the hero and heroine made the best of t...moreRoadtrip gone bad! I really enjoyed reading this and everything that could possibly go wrong. I also liked how the hero and heroine made the best of things and slowly became accustomed to each others' quirks and foibles. (less)
From the authors who brought you Wild & Steamy come three all-new tales of lovers who create their own heat, even when they’re surrounded by ice…
Speed Mating by Jessica Sims – Estrella may be going into heat, but she’s determined to remain in control. Just because she’s ovulating doesn’t mean she has to settle for just any man (or his beast). Her sexy alpha’s determined to find her a tiger to take care of her heat and father her child…but no one seems to look quite as good as the man in charge. Will giving in to her need for her alpha ruin her tenuous relationship with her clan or be a match made in heaven?
Conjuring Max by Carolyn Crane – The witches of the world ridiculed and rejected nerdy Veronica for trying to use newfangled computers to enhance old world spellcasting. Well, it’s 1984 now, and she’s perfected her spellcasting computer program. Hey, who needs friends when you can conjure virtually anything…or anybody? So when Veronica makes powerful new enemies, she conjures Max, a pitbull of a cop, to deal with the pesky hitmen who keep coming around. Maybe Veronica can finally get some peace and quiet so she can work on her computer. But tough-guy Max is in no mood to play lapdog to a gorgeous witch.
Wrecked by Meljean Brook – Elizabeth has spent the past five years running from her father; her father’s huntsman, Caius, has spent the past five years pursuing her. But when he finally catches up to her on an airship flying above Europe’s zombie-infested cities, Elizabeth discovers that Caius isn’t the only danger she has to fear—and now that he’s found her, Caius doesn’t intend to let her go…
*Blurb from Goodreads*
MinnChica: I absolutely love and adore all things Jessica Sims/Jill Myles/Jessica Clare. I think I could read the phonebook, if she wrote it. Meljean Brook has created one of the most imaginative and incredible worlds that I’ve ever come across. Mix it in with her sexy writing and I can’t turn down anything of hers either. While I’ve only read a novella or two of Carolyn Crane, I’ve liked what I’ve read so far, and will definitely need to add her books to my ever-growing TBR stack.
Speed Mating was probably my favorite in this book. It was light hearted, sexy and an all around fun read. It was also the shortest, which made me just a teeny bit sad. I love that Sims has a way of finding ridiculous situations for her heroes and heroines, and then a humorous and sexy way of getting them out of it. Poor Estrella was looking for both a father for her child and a man who didn’t repulse her. More than anything she wanted her alpha, and I loved that she was so scared of ruining that relationship by approaching him about mating. I loved the way they finally got together, and how much they were secretly crushing on each other. I can’t say enough good things about Sims writing and just how much I love her stories.
I give Speed Mating an A
Conjuring Max was a really unique and different read. I loved the idea of using computers to enhance magic, and how Veronica was able to create a program to help her conjure up anything she wanted. It was a really cool and fun twist on magic that I haven’t seen before. For me though, there was something lacking in the romance between these two. I’m not sure what it was, but I just didn’t find that I was totally invested in the relationship between Max and Veronica. I wanted to be, but there was just a little spark missing, and it caused my interest to wane a little throughout the story.
I give Conjuring Max a B-
Wrecked was another fabulous novella to add to the Iron Seas series. As I said before, Brook has created probably the most imaginative world I’ve ever read, and I absolutely adore everything she writes within this world. I loved getting the chance to see some of the zombies up close and personal, and getting the chance to see first hand what their deal is all about. I loved the idea of having the cat and mouse game between Elizabeth and Caius be the foundation of their romance. I was rooting for them all the way and glad to see them finally find their way to one another. PS: Brook does an amazing job creating some really creepy villains as well!
I give Wrecked an A-
All in all this was another fabulous anthology from these three powerhouse authors. I love getting the chance to catch up with both the Midnight Liaisons and Iron Seas series, and I’m anxiously awaiting both of these authors to release their next books. I can only hope these three continue to write together and give us more in the future!
E: It was a great surprise to see a review request of Fire & Frost appear and since it contains two authors whose writing I absolutely adore I couldn’t wait to read it. I have found that Brook and Sims/Myles/Clare have a way of drawing me into their worlds. Crane is a new-to-me author who provided a very interesting addition to this anthology.
Speed Mating was a lot of fun to read. I found myself laughing often at the sheer incompatibility of prospects, Estrella’s combination of determination and shyness, and the uber patience of her alpha. I adored how Sims included some of the things that are used in society today to meet potential dates and played on how challenging it can be to meet someone who is interested in more than just a quick hook-up. One of the other things I enjoy about Sims’ writing is that she is always includes at least one key friendship so we get to see additional facets of her main characters. I really can’t wait to see what Sims provides for the next installment in this particular world.
I give Speed Mating an A
Conjuring Max was a very interesting take on computers, math, and magic. It brought me back to the days when I first started studying computer science and I tried to explain email and the internet to my family. Eventually I gave up and said it was magic. They were quite willing to accept that explanation so I had an immediate connection to the magic aspect that Crane used. Even with my fascination I found this novella missing a few things. I did not understand why the Council and hired assassins were trying to kill Veronica so I spend most of my time reading trying to understand that aspect. The other thing I found missing was, like MinnChica, the connection between Max and Veronica. I think I never quite grasped the romance because this was a snapshot after all of their internal conflict had been resolved so I really didn’t see the emotional attachment.
I give Conjuring Max a B-
Wrecked is another great installment in Brook’s Iron Seas world. Each story adds more to the world building and explores new aspects while retaining the familiarity of the original set-up. She explores some very fascinating issues here that aren’t completely revealed until the latter parts of the story which I thought was great. This ended up being a great game of chase with each side having information that could drastically sway the actions of the other side. I loved how both Elizabeth and Caius went to extremes to right what they saw as a serious wrong. Without giving away too much, I hope, I absolutely loved the themes of individuality and redemption that Brook wove throughout the story.
I give Wrecked an A.
Overall this was a really fun anthology to read. I hope the three ladies continue to join together for these collections. They are all skilled in creating fascinating worlds and unusual characters who inhabit them. Fire & Frost contains something for everyone from shapeshifters, to computers augmenting magic, to steampunk the variety was refreshing! I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.(less)
Interesting installment in this series. I am admitting that I have quite a fascination with the Portal Demons and hope that one of them can star in a...moreInteresting installment in this series. I am admitting that I have quite a fascination with the Portal Demons and hope that one of them can star in a book of their own. It was good to see the entire group of folks back together and watch Dylan overcome his reluctance to the supernatural. I am also hopping that Strong writes the story of the heroine't twin sister...(less)
Got this because some of the characters play key roles in her new series. It certainly filled in the missing pieces there. Interesting world and chara...moreGot this because some of the characters play key roles in her new series. It certainly filled in the missing pieces there. Interesting world and characters. (less)
I got this just to read the Castle story because it ties into the first book of another series of hers. It was good altho I spotted some differences t...moreI got this just to read the Castle story because it ties into the first book of another series of hers. It was good altho I spotted some differences to this world from her world with her new publisher which does make sense. It was good to get an idea of some of the individuals who will pay crucial roles in that other series.(less)
While I liked seeing the different elite folks show up, I wasn't impressed by the local wolf pack. I also felt that given the reason Grif left with hi...moreWhile I liked seeing the different elite folks show up, I wasn't impressed by the local wolf pack. I also felt that given the reason Grif left with his sister, there was very little interaction between them or showing how she was doing and what was helping her heal.(less)
Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing Publish Date: Out now How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
The daughter of a Las Vegas hustler, Raven Sabatier grew up trusting nothing and no one—she doesn’t even trust herself to stay in one place for longer than a minute. When her quest to find out the secrets of her past leads her to the mountains of North Carolina, she’s set on a collision course with the one man she thought she’d never see again.
In Appalachia consulting on an archeological dig, Anthropologist Dr. Drew Deveraux comes face to face with the indomitable beauty who broke into his apartment a year ago, tilting his carefully cultivated world on its axis.
Engaged in a fight with their demons, both imagined and real, the last thing either of them expected to find was love. Together, they must unravel the mystery of Raven’s past and her connection with an ancient race of witches, in order to save their future—and all of the souls hanging in the balance.
This blurb came from the author’s website.
I was on twitter chortling with joy one afternoon because my sister gave me carte blanche to buy books for her kindle using her account. When I mentioned my reason for happiness and that I had to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, Lillie_80 who among her many other book related things, reviews for Romance Reader at Heart Novel Thoughts & Book Talk started mentioning titles she thought I should include. One of them was Fire on the Island Book 1 of the Vigilati series. I took a look at it and after reading the blurb I added it to my wishlist. As a result when we received a request to consider Blood in the Valley I eagerly accepted.
I did not have a chance to read Fire on the Island first but Hogan did a good job of providing back-story throughout Blood in the Valley that I was able to pick up the gist of the paranormal thread rather easily. The world that Hogan has created is fascinating. I liked the inclusion of magic, shape-shifters, ancient languages, and studious professors who were not afraid to get dirty. Hogan’s female characters also added a lot of depth and strength to the story and therefore increased my enjoyment.
Raven was a lot of fun to read. She trusted no one and was used to running a con to achieve her ends. Even her day job involved using skills she learned to break the law not uphold it. Raven’s habits served her well with most people she encountered her habits served her well but when she became involved with the Vigilati she had to learn to trust someone or risk losing everything she ever cared about. I loved her attitude, how she kept starting to run but never quit on a job. I also enjoyed how she kept trying to shake Drew’s composure but only succeeded when she wasn’t trying. I also enjoyed her stubbornness and loyalty towards those she felt deserved it.
Drew was also a lot of fun. He had some unexpected depths that reminded me a bit of Indiana Jones. His ability to go from eminent professor/scholar to down and dirty or sulking because someone figured out a puzzle before he did was very amusing. I loved his dedication to his friends and how determined he was to protect not just them but everyone he was around. One of the other things I liked about his character is that he didn’t play the expert at fighting/brawling and instead provided some of the brains of the group. I thought that was a pleasant change from the majority of what I read.
While I enjoyed reading Blood in the Valley I do have some lingering questions that might have been answered in Fire in the Valley or might not be answered until the next installment. I am very curious about the shape-shifters, this third family of ancient witches, and what the final battle/showdown will be like. Based on what I saw in Blood in the Valley it is going to require the assistance of the previous heroes and heroines.
I warned Lillie today that I was blaming her for my new series addiction. I will be going back to get and enjoy Fire on the Island while I wait for the next installment. Hogan has writing a very satisfying second book in the Vigilati series and created a world that captivated me. I found myself resenting every interruption while I was reading because I wanted to see what was going to happen next, with the romantic developments, the archeological dig, and the paranormal aspects. Hogan struck a wonderful balance between the different elements that satisfied both my romance reader and my paranormal/fantasy reader. Thank you Lillie for your twitter recommendation.
3.5 Intriguing world and characters. I like the Fallen and would like to see more of them. However, there was a huge amount of backstory not included i...more3.5 Intriguing world and characters. I like the Fallen and would like to see more of them. However, there was a huge amount of backstory not included in this book that was referred to both as events and characters. I felt like I was dropped into the middle of the series without knowing it. This is book one. I did check. That caused me some frustration while I was reading because I kept wondering if I had skipped pages.
Castle does have a vivid way of writing and blending a mixture of different types of Other in a single story that I have enjoyed in the past.
This was quite good. I am glad that I saw a friend reading it. Thanks Steph and gave it a try. Very different from other work by Pearce and I enjoyed...moreThis was quite good. I am glad that I saw a friend reading it. Thanks Steph and gave it a try. Very different from other work by Pearce and I enjoyed it. The world-building, mystery, reluctant attraction, politics, critters, and the complications of family.
I really hope that Pearce writes more in this world.(less)