Stacey Jay gives us a stronger, more determined Annabelle Lee in her stellar followup to Dead oThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Stacey Jay gives us a stronger, more determined Annabelle Lee in her stellar followup to Dead on the Delta. She’s still deeply flawed, but she’s trying to make changes.
She wants to drink less and care more — only working with her ex Hitch on an off-the-books FBI case, avoiding relationship talk with her on-hold boyfriend Cane and having more questions than answers about her new abilities and ties with the mafia-like invisible people makes that very difficult.
Annabelle is fighting to accept that she can do some very badass magic, but she can’t share it with anyone. She leaks the secret, the Big Man will kill her. So, when new abilities emerge she has to wonder if she’s crazy. And if she’s not, everyone would still think she is.
Relationship complications are piled on top of each other in Blood on the Bayou, but it’s not chaotic. It’s just real. Painful. Sexy. Brutal. Complicated. Real relationship drama.
The core of Blood on the Bayou is about trust. What we can expect from our lovers, from our family (surrogate or otherwise) and from our friends. What we’re willing to give to gain trust. Annabelle loses faith in others while they gain implicit trust in her. And then she has to reconcile it. Jay’s precise execution of Annabelle’s trust issues makes Blood on the Bayou a brilliant read. Plus, there are sexy Southern men without their shirts on and high-speed chases, possible drug-running and faerie craziness.
I read the back-cover of Blood Bound and wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into, butThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
I read the back-cover of Blood Bound and wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into, but it was a Rachel Vincent novel and that means must-read for me. I’m so glad I did — and I understand why there was so few brief explanations of the plot. It doesn’t fall in any category easily. Yes, it’s a paranormal romance, and there’s a supernatural element, but Vincent has created something new. And it’s brilliant.
Liv lives in a world where some people have enhanced supernatural abilities — of those covered in the book, all are mentally-focused. Liv is a tracker. With a sample of someone’s blood, she can find them. She worked for the police for a time, but the courts don’t yet admit evidence from trackers. Other trackers can find someone just by having his or her full name. In addition, we learn of others, most notably those with the ability to bind oaths. If you make a promise with a binder present, there’s no way out. Should you try to revert on your word, intense pain and eventual death follow.
Blood Bound explores just what would happen if you had to follow through — with no inhibitions, to the point of death — to keep your word. We tackle the theme from multiple sides, including the loyalty of friends, the potentiality of a bond of love and those oaths one will forever regret. Liv is called upon (without any choice) to track down and kill the murderer of a friend’s husband. And she’s tasked to do so with her ex-boyfriend Cam. And he would really like to know why Liv ran off on him six years ago. The answer may put them both in danger, but once reunited it’s hard to fight the deep feelings that bubble up again.
Cam and Liv’s relationship is intense and complicated. There’s nothing easy. He just wants her, wants her to admit she still loves him. Liv would prefer to pretend she’s not melting inside just by sitting the same car with him. And she’s done things she never wants him to know about. She wants to remain that ideal, and that is relatable. Liv wants to be good enough for Cam and wants to protect him, and — as is often the way these things go — it just makes things worse.
Blood Bound promises love with complications, breaking-and-entering, mystery and some kickass action sequences. Vincent contemplates the truth of promises and how one might exploit those oaths. Fans of Jeaniene Frost and Carolyn Crane novels should pick up Blood Bound.
Sexual content: Sex, references to prostitution...more
I never thought I’d compare a book to Interview with a Vampire, but that day has come. Alma KatThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
I never thought I’d compare a book to Interview with a Vampire, but that day has come. Alma Katsu’s The Taker is a tale of regret, unrequited love, darkness and that glimmer of hope that keeps us moving on. And while there is nary a vampire to be found, Lanny’s tale stung me in much the way Louis’ did in Interview.
When I said this is a story of regret, I meant it. Lanny is more-or-less immortal, and she’s recounting her life to one broken man willing to help her on a very bad night. And as she weaves her tale, mostly set in the early 1800s, the reader can see some of the mistakes coming. Lanny is in love, from before puberty, with Jonathan St. Andrew. He’s overwhelmingly handsome and charming, and his family owns the entire town. The girls love Jonathan, and he takes full advantage of that — and shares every detail with his best friend Lanny. While she pines. He’s rich, she’s poor.
A mistake causes her family to send her away, and this is where the tale takes a very dark turn. Lanny’s life is twisted. Abusive immortals, desire for love and learning a whole lot about sex for a girl raised in a Puritan village are all in store for her. No matter how long she stays away, or who covets her love, Lanny only thinks of Jonathan. Of how she wishes she could be with him.
Elements of magic, alchemy and immortality are at play in The Taker, but at its core it’s the story of a girl who learned too late that you can’t make someone love you back. Lanny’s tale is entrancing. At times this book reads much more like a historical than a paranormal, but I sank into this book. Prepare to be attached to every character, and have conflicting emotions about them all — especially Lanny, Adair and Jonathan. Love them. Hate them. Pity them.
The Taker was surprisingly dark and twisted, and yet beautiful and hopeful. It’s a journey, and you should take it.
Sexual content: Many references to sex, rape...more
Meljean Brook’s story is set in her Iron Seas wThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
“Blushing Bounder” by Meljean Brook (3 stars)
Meljean Brook’s story is set in her Iron Seas world, before the events of The Iron Duke. We get to learn how Constable Newton ended up in London and learn about his wife. He and the missus are Bounders — what the London folk call those who skipped to the New World when the Horde invaded only to return after the fact with the audacity to look down their noses at Londoners. Temperance and the Constable aren’t those Bounders, they just don’t know better. She’s constantly afraid of the bugs — tiny machines — that keep Londoners healthy. And the machines graphed on to their flesh (fancy prostheses), make her incredibly uncomfortable.
The crux of this story is Temperance’s belief that her husband tricked her into marrying him and is an all around bastard. (He’s not.) Both have a big sense of propriety and — to the shock of everyone — have only ever kissed. Once. The writing is, of course, on point, but it takes “Blushing Bounder” quite some time to build up. I kept waiting for the love or the action, and it took longer to get there than I’d hoped. I liked getting the insight into the Constable, though, and fans of the Iron Seas will like glimpses of other characters.
“Vixen” by Jill Myles (4 stars)
If you’re read much of Jill Myles’ books, you know the woman can bring the heat. Really, her story “Vixen” is the key to the Steamy in Wild & Steamy. If you thought the sex scenes in her Succubus Diaries books lifted your eyebrows, you are in for a treat. This story focuses a kitsune (a.k.a. were-fox) named Miko. She’s long fought her were-fox nature, which causes her sex drive to kick up every time a potential mate is around. It ruins relationships, because she needs more than one person. And she does not want to be like her mother, flitting from one man to the next. So, she moved out into the middle of nowhere. She avoids people and is able to run through the woods in her fox form. That is until the locals decide to start fox hunting. Miko’s mom sends two total hotties to her house as bodyguards.
Miko keeps the boys in line and teases the hell out of them by way of a cruel game of strip poker. Menage action is involved. “Vixen” is fun and very sexy. Romance readers will delight in it.
“Kitten-Tiger and The Monk” by Carolyn Crane (4 stars)
Carolyn Crane gives us serious insight into The Monk, one of the most dangerous and elusive members of the Disillusionists, in her story “Kitten-Tiger and The Monk.” Known for his ability to push his utter despair, loneliness and hopelessness into others, The Monk’s identity and location have always been kept secret. Sophia is riddled with guilt. She’s a memory revisionist, and she’s abused the skill. In politics she’s managed to create eye-witnesses to events that never happened, change history. And she did it to the one person she loved most, Robert. He’d been so talented, and she’d made him think no one wanted him. Stole away opportunities, because her goals took prescendence. And that choice haunts her. So, she seeks out The Monk. She wants to be rebooted. She wants him to fill her with despair so she can start over. And the one person who can lead her to him turns out to be Robert. And he’s on to her.
Expect an impressive amount of emotional upheaval for a shorter tale. Of the three stories, Crane’s “Kitten-Tiger and The Monk” has the most depth and had me clenching at my chest at the riveting ending. Maybe I just like heroes and heroines who hate themselves, then find redemption. Not sure, but those who like the darker love stories (and fans of the Disillusionist books) will enjoy reading Crane’s novella.
Sexual content: It is called Wild & Steamy… sex scenes, references to sex and a three-way....more
Dead on the Delta features a vivid world, one where people try to ignore how dark things have bThis review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Dead on the Delta features a vivid world, one where people try to ignore how dark things have become. It’s a place where fairies are real — they’ve mutated and want to feed on humans. When bitten by a fairy most people go insane, a handful die immediately and an even smaller percentage are immune. That’s Annabelle Lee. She’s immune. That means when something happens outside the iron grid that holds her little Louisiana town in from the tiny vicious creatures with the sharp teeth, Annabelle is the one heading out into the swamp.
It also means when little local girl’s body is found outside the wall, Annabelle has to be one on the scene. She’s not police, but she has to collect the samples and bring the girl in. And it’s horrific. Annabelle already has baggage with the death of little girls and a hard backstory that includes dropping out of medical school (eventually you’ll find out why, and it makes the tale sadder). She’s a tough woman, who no one would guess was ever raised as a debutante. She lives in a shotgun house, despite having more money than most in her town, and decides to use alcohol to cope with a particularly bad day.
One that only gets worse when the FBI show up after a small mixup on her end. Because one can never underestimate the ingenuity of people wanting to get high, there are those in Dead on the Delta who mix fairy poop with bleach to make Breeze …which they then snort or inject. It’s the fairy version of meth. And someone is definitely making it in her town.
So, now Annabelle is assisting on a murder, drug bust and trying her damnest to keep her ass out of a sling. But battling the big problems isn’t enough. No, she’s in a relationship with one of the top cops. Cane is fantastic. He’s loyal and he loves her. He’s also over her trying to pretend a year and a half relationship is “casual.” She’s thinking about running, because she’s still nursing the pain of a bad breakup six years ago. And, Mr. Bad Breakup Ex? Oh, he’s one of the FBI agents investigating her and her friends. Things are volitile for Annabelle. Mistakes are made. Lives are changed. And the struggle to figure out what’s best for her is utterly entrancing. Seriously, I read this nearly 400-page book in a single day. I kept setting it down — especially after Annabelle, Cane or Hitch did something frustrating — and then picking it back up wanting more.
The story is intense, the emotions, visceral, and Dead on the Delta is just damn good. Those who love flawed heroines not quite ready to own up to having problems, who love small towns with dark secrets and those who want to see fairies in a very different light must read Dead on the Delta.
Also, while Stacey Jay describes her fairies as tiny and humanoid, each time they attacked I kept imagining the tooth fairies from Hellboy II. Cute before they try to rip off your flesh.
Sexual content: References to sex, awesome makeout scene...more
Note: While there are no spoilers for Vanish, we’ll give away the ending of Firelight.
In Firelight, Jacinda longed to return to her Draki home. She wanted to fly, she wanted to be with her kind. But then she fell in love with Will. Though his family were dragon hunters, they were determined to make it work. And when Will’s life was on the line, she risked it all by shifting into a dragon to save his life. And, now in Vanish, she’s suffering the consequences. Will is safe, but Cassian — the Draki boy who Jacinda was supposed to marry — is toting her and her mother and sister back to the mountains. All the human hunters have had their minds shaded — they won’t remember what happened, but Jacinda will.
Things have changed in the village since Jacinda and her family fled. There’s an element of lock-down with curfews for everyone. Jacinda and her sister are separated, and once word gets out that Jacinda fell in love with a human, she’s ostracized. She endures all this in the hope of keeping everyone safe. She takes on menial tasks, plays nice with the elders, does what’s expected. And with every act her heart breaks a bit more. She’s encouraged to forget Will and take up with Cassian. And she just can’t forget Will, because he truly understood her.
While there’s plenty of action in this one — kidnappings, a secret rendezvous or two, threat of death, flying — the crux of Vanish rests on what we’re willing to do to protect the ones we love. Is it worth our happiness to keep others safe? Will making the unpopular choice really ruin everything? And, most of all, can real love endure?
Vanish both breaks the heart and mends it. It can be crushing, then give hope. It’s the emotional journey in Vanish that will hook you. Along with Jacinda, you’ll be longing for Will, be a bit conflicted over Cassian and worry over her mother. I flew through the book in a single-sitting, and finished wanting to email Sophie Jordan and beg for an early copy of book 3. Vanish is one of those YA romances done right — a blend of consequences and unyielding happiness and sorrow. Read it. Now. ...more
I did not want Body of Sin to end. I was actually sad when I hit page 378, because I wantedThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
I did not want Body of Sin to end. I was actually sad when I hit page 378, because I wanted more — more Lokan, more Bryn, more of the Underworld. Body of Sin was just that good.
Our hero and heroine are forced to come clean about who they truly are, what they mean to one another as they journey through the Land of the Dead together. Lokan awakes in purgatory alone. He’s given a guide to help him navigate the 12 Gates, and it’s his daughter’s mother Brynja. The two had fallen into a casual comfort while raising their daughter Dana, but when the immortal Lokan was murdered (using the term loosely, go with it) both are shocked to realize how it’s not just Dana that brings them together, but one another. Unfortunately, the person who killed Lokan will go after his daughter. As he’s the only one who can protect her, Bryn entrusts Dana to her brothers and enters the Underworld to guide Lokan back to the Topworld.
They have to work together, to strip away the lies, to be tested repeatedly in order to get back and keep Dana safe.
It’s a harrowing journey of self-sacrifice, transformation and love set to the backdrop of Egyptian mythology. The plot is gripping, the characters are endearing and the writing offers powerful visuals. Those who have read the earlier Otherkin novels may think they’ve picked a favorite character. You’re wrong. It is impossible not to be drawn to Lokan. Even in his confusion about who and what he is, he always has his priorities straight with Dana and Bryn at the top.
Brilliant use of Egyptian mythology, soul-exposing honesty and love as only Eve Silver can do it. Also, expect sizzling and plot-driven sex scenes and (unrelated) a ridiculous amount of snakes.
You could read Body of Sin without having read the earlier Otherkin novels. It will work on its own. However, the book does tell you who “killed” Lokan and how he ended up in Purgatory. That was all revealed in Sins of the Flesh, the third Otherkin novel. Please know that going in. The other books are remarkable reads, as well, and I highly suggest reading them.
I’m not sure anyone can’t be drawn in by John Matthew’s story. Even in earlier books his stoThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
I’m not sure anyone can’t be drawn in by John Matthew’s story. Even in earlier books his story ensnared me. As Xhex came into the picture in previous novels, I knew their potential to be electric was there. So, when it comes to the series, I spent the previous two books eager to get to Lover Mine.
I had planned this read of Lover Mine to be a palate cleanser. I had planned to read a few chapters, then slip back into my current read. I should have known that wasn’t going to be an option. Lover Mine is more reminiscent of early BDB novels in its pacing, and this means I got plenty wrapped up in the story quickly.
John Matthew and Xhex are so perfect for each other, it’s nice to see them get to interact more. And both are stubborn enough to fight the attraction, the emotional pull. Seriously, throughout the book I just wanted to sit these two down and encourage them to quit being dumbasses and look at the potential in front of them. And it’s that undercurrent that makes Lover Mine one you can’t put down.
A caveat, I skipped a few passages. I liked the scenes from Lash’s POV — getting the inside on the doings of the Lessers’ chosen boy — but his detailed description of possessions/threads/etc. got bypassed. As did scenes with the paranormal investigations team. (I read enough to know what it was about, and to get the plot twist with Xhex later.) I was too eager to get back to the Xhex/John Matthew or Qhuinn/Blay drama to read it all.
Lover Mine is one everyone waited for; we’ve wanted to see John Matthew all grown up. We wanted to see him get to protect his female who doesn’t really want or need protection. And I loved seeing Xhex challenge him, and accept the possibility that she might kind of like a guy wanting to protect her. Also, those who have hopes for Qhuay, this is when things start to take off. We shall all continue to wait for that novella. Bring it on, Ward, we’re really for Blaylock and Qhuinn to get their HEA.
There are a handful of books that I go on a recommendation binge with as soon as I read theThis review was originally published at Vampire Book Club.
There are a handful of books that I go on a recommendation binge with as soon as I read the last page. It happened with Unholy Ghosts. It happened with Nightshade. It happened with Blood of the Wicked. And, there’s no question about it: Kristen Painter’s Blood Rights is the latest book that I will be pushing on every reader friend. And this means you, too, VBC readers.
Painter has taken the familiar — vampires, crazy nobility, outcast mentality — and has given us something entirely new.
The Comarré, a special type of human, are similar to geisha in many ways. Their presence is a sign of wealth and status. Comarré are bred to feed vampires, never knowing their mothers and fathers, and trained to be polite and subservient to their future patrons. (There’s quite a bit more to them than this, but to say more would spoil some great twists.) Vampire nobility pay the Comarré’s house for the right to exclusively drink his or her blood. Chrysabelle was the most coveted Comarré, the one with the purest, most powerful blood. And she wanted out. Finding her patron dead, she fled.
A cruel vampire named Tatiana has her sights set on more power and Chrysabelle plays a role. She just needs to find her. We stop in on her point-of-view periodically, and the more you learn about her, the more you hate her. A true villain, worthy of the fear we see in those running from her.
Fleeing from the creatures Tatiana sics on her, Chrysabelle finds herself trying to adjust to the mortal world. She must work with a cursed vampire and his ragtag team for a chance at saving not only herself, but also her aunt. And while she wishes for true freedom, hard truths and dirty secrets keep getting in the way.
The tension between Chrysabelle and vampire Malkolm is gripping and intense. Their interactions brought to mind the strain of Ethan and Merit from the Chicagoland Vampires series. However, when it comes to Chrysabelle and Mal, both think they aren’t deserving of the situation. They both believe the other is rejecting them out of repulsion. There is a strong sense of duty, and both keep coming back together while internalizing a fear of disgusting the other. Given their respective backgrounds, anything else wouldn’t ring true.
Those who love heroines who surprise everyone, will love Chrysabelle. She’s supposed to be this demure thing, to be protected. Woman’s got blades on her at all times and the kind of power in a kick that will take out a steel door. She’s cunning and knows to hide her skills. It’s only through a bout of delirium that she first exposes her real fighting skills to Mal, taunting and taking the man out. She’s a woman who is used to being underestimated, and is reveling in the freedom to speak her mind and throw a blade or two.
Polarizing characters, murder, magic and the need for independence bring Blood Rights to another level. Expect this one to grab hold, pull you to the edge of your seat and leave you, jaw agape, begging for book 2, Flesh and Blood.