Archive | July, 2012

Review: Soul Weaver by Hailey Edwards

31 Jul

Soul Weaver by Hailey Edwards
Grand Central Publishing (Aug. 7, 2012)
ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9781455523467
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Sudden warmth ignited in his chest. “Do you feel that?” Love rushed through their bond until his head swam with the images she projected. “That’s me, loving you with everything I’ve got. I told you, we’re forever.”” (p. 237, e-galley)

Since the accident that nearly took her life, Chloe suffers from acute agoraphobia. Living alone above her family’s bookstore, she spends restless nights terrified by strange visions . . . until a mysterious stranger appears and offers her salvation. Chloe is drawn to the ethereal, gorgeous Nathaniel-but her haunted soul warns her there is more to him than meets the eye.

An archangel who roams Earth collecting souls of the newly departed, Nathanial is the sole witness to the accident that should have taken Chloe’s life. Seduced by the purity of her soul, he defies Providence by saving her life. But his attempt at kindness marks Chloe for damnation, and makes her an unwitting pawn in a game of unholy ambition. Now together they must fight the demons of Hell itself-for a love that defies the boundaries of Heaven and Earth.

Soul Weaver is the newest addition to the angel/demon section of paranormal romance books. It’s also book one in Hailey Edwards’ Wicked Kin series.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read the heroine was agoraphobic. It’s kind of hard to accept that by the end of the story she will have a Happily Ever After. There just doesn’t seem to be enough pages for her to overcome her mental illness, find love and defeat any other obstacles in her way. I also wondered about the world building. Would there be any since the heroine couldn’t leave her home?

What I found was a mixed bag of answers. The world building came from the villain and hero. We learn the paranormal mythology as we watch them interact with their superiors and “co-workers.” By watching them we see parallel worlds as rifts are slit in reality. We learn about angels, pits in hell and the fight for heaven, or as it’s known in the series Aeristitia.

Nathaniel, the book’s hero, is a soul harvester and a soul weaver. Soul harvesters are fallen angels who collect souls for the pits in hell. Those souls which are placed in the pits cannot be reborn. Nathaniel is no “regular” harvester. He fell after telling a lie while trying to protect his brother Saul. Nathaniel has a special position among the harvesters as weaver. When the angels fall they are stripped of their wings. Nathaniel uses collected souls to create a soul material to cover the bare bones which used to be wings. Nathaniel loves his nephilim nephew, as if the man were his own child.

The details about the hero show him to be a better human than paranormal creature. The very things that are acceptable and wanted in humans place Nathaniel in dangerous territory as a soul harvester. He is family oriented and looks to protect rather than maintain the big picture as an angel or soul harvester should.

The heroine, Chloe, was pretty uninspiring. I never really cared for her because she didn’t do anything. I realize she has a mental illness, but it makes for pretty boring reading when the heroine stays in her bookstore or her apartment above the bookstore for 80 percent of the book. Chloe wants more, but is incapable of grabbing it because she is very aware of her limitations. To be honest, I was more interested in Chloe’s new employee, Neve.

Neve is obviously in need. Her situation is danced around for a good portion of the story. Once more information about her is told I expected her story line to move. I just wanted it to do something. Instead it kind of fizzled out and there was no more about her. I’m hoping this is because she’ll be a main character in a following book, but it drew attention to another female character who was introduced and shown as a jealous woman then forgotten.

Soul Weaver was a slow-moving horse until it broke into a sprint during the last 20 percent of the story. The agoraphobic heroine becomes capable of a HEA with her fallen angel. I’m not sure if the love was based on personalities falling in love or souls which were connected. I guess in the end I don’t really care. I’m happy that two people found love, but I, myself, never fell in love with the story. It was okay, but not one that I’ll read again. I’ll definitely pick up the next book if it is about Neve or Nathaniel’s nephew. Otherwise, I don’t see myself doing more than checking the library for a copy if I’ve nothing else to read.

(BTW: Hailey Edwards is the author of a book called A Hint of Frost, which I enjoyed because it featured people with spider-like abilities.)

Review: Blade Song by J.C. Daniels

30 Jul

Blade Song by J.C. Daniels
Shiloh Walker, Inc. (Aug. 1, 2012)
ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9781617507779
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “It was odd, I decided. I had plenty of scars. Most of them unseen, though; scars on my heart that I’d carried for half of my life or longer.” (p. 247, e-galley)

Kit Colbana—half breed, assassin, thief, jack of all trades—has a new job: track down the missing ward of one of the local alpha shapeshifters. It should be a piece of cake.

So why is she so nervous? It probably has something to do with the insanity that happens when you deal with shifters—especially sexy ones who come bearing promises of easy jobs and easier money.

Or maybe it’s all the other missing kids that Kit discovers while working the case, or the way her gut keeps screaming she’s gotten in over her head. Or maybe it’s because if she fails—she’s dead.

If she can stay just one step ahead, she should be okay. Maybe she’ll even live long to collect her fee…

Need to know information: Blade Song is an urban fantasy ebook, not a paranormal romance. Don’t start reading it with the same expectations you have with romance.

Heroine: Abused as a child, her nightmares revolve around her family. Kit was trained as an assassin which means she has mad fighting skills. The reader meets her when she’s in her twenties and the owner of a private investigations business. She’s short on money and has a weakness for cases that involve children.

Men: Right off the bat it’s unclear who the hero will be. It could be a shapeshifter or a vampire. Both men are extremely masculine and alpha material. They are handsome men filled with immense power. I flip-flopped on who I wanted Kit to be with through the story until it became clear that there really was absolutely no love triangle. As I turned the final page of the book there was no confusion as to who the heroine would hook up with.

Villains: Bad people come in many forms in this story. There are the expected bad guys who are actively involved in the missing children story line. Then there is the unexpected bad guy. Wow. Daniels played me…and I liked it. How? Well, Daniels has two bat-shit crazy characters in Blade Song. One is female, the other is one of the possible heroes. I’m not telling who, but even knowing dude is scary crazy, I want more of him.

Violence: I like my violent urban fantasies and Blade Song is filled with it. The heroine gets her butt whooped, but never once did I think of her as a Sookie Stackhouse who couldn’t hold her own. Kit always managed to get quite a few licks in on whoever was harassing her at the moment. She also had friends in the right places. Friends who had her back.

In the end: Blade Song is a quick read. It’s one of those books you start reading and don’t want to stop until it’s finished. I did get a little annoyed with some of the repetition and hope the next book has a little less of it. The last thought I remember having as I turned the final page of the book was, “when does the next one come out.” I’ve read many books, but not all debut series instill that desire to watch characters grow. My main reason for wanting Night Blade is to follow the budding relationship Kit has with the hero. I expect it to be action packed, involve a good mystery and a little dose of smexiness.

Review: Shadow Rising by Kendra Leigh Castle

27 Jul

Shadow Rising by Kendra Leigh Castle
Grand Central Publishing (July 31, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9781455511648

Favorite Lines: “Sometimes. But you’re also warm, and funny, and sweet. You’re honorable in your own twisted way. And even when you’re awful, you’re interesting about it.” Her voice gentled. “I know you want me here, safe and tucked away and completely separate from the parts of your life you don’t want me to see. But I’m  not one of your prizes, tucked into that apartment you never visit. I can’t be happy that way. I want to see things. I want to live. I’m not interested in being left behind anymore.” (p. 200-201, egalley)

Ancient Secrets, Dark Passions . . .

As one of the Grigori, a noble vampire dynasty shrouded in mystery, Ariane has spent her life hidden away in the desert. Like all of her kind, she is a watcher, fated to observe, forbidden to act. Yet when her best friend Sammael vanishes, she defies all rules and flees her safe haven to bring him home.

A shape-shifting assassin for the House of Shadows, Damien Tremaine is hired to locate Sammael. His hunt for the wayward Grigori leads him to Ariane, the rogue vamp who stands between him and his bounty. Damien never lets emotion interfere with his work, but a single touch from the sexy, beguiling vampire shatters his self-control. Drawn together by their common goal, they begin an alliance of necessity that soon becomes one of desire. But when the secret at the dark heart of the Grigori comes to light, Damien and Ariane must make a choice that could bind them eternally . . . or tear them-and everything they care about-apart.

I like the violent, vampire-filled world of Kendra Leigh Castle’s Dark Dynasties series. I’m especially glad that each book can be read as a stand alone even though they are part of a series. However, I recommend you read Dark Awakening and Midnight Reckoning so you have a grasp of vampire politics and understand the rocky nature of the paranormal creatures in the Dark Dynasties series. Expect to meet the heroes and heroines of the first two books when you read Shadow Rising.

Characters: For once I’ve nothing negative to say about the hero or heroine. I enjoyed them both. Why? It’s really nice to see a heroine who accepts her hero and doesn’t try to change him. Often in romance we meet women who love their mate, but want him to do things differently. She might throw a fit at his reaction or try to get him to stop taking risks. That doesn’t happen in Shadow Rising . We are introduced to a woman who can pretty much save herself (most of the time) and who grows to love a flawed man while expecting only one thing of him. Ariane wants Damien to love her the way she loves him. He, on the other hand, doesn’t know how to let anyone love him which makes their relationship all the more satisfying when he does open his heart to her.

One of the things I like about the Dark Dynasties series is that the reader learns about the different bloodlines (aka vampire lines) of the U.S. We met the Ptolemy (slave owners and extreme bad vamps), the Cait-Sith (cat shifting vamps considered scum of the vamps), and the Lilim (new vamp bloodline which combines demon and Cait-Sith) in books one and two. The Ptolemy showed itself to be a violent, conquer the world mindset bloodline. It is powerful and devious in its attempts to maintain and gain power. Surprisingly–considering its roles in the previous books–the Ptolemy only make a small appearance in Shadow Rising. Each book showcases something a little different while mixing it with something known to us. For example, in book two we learned about werewolves and a Cait-Sith. Book three teaches us about the Grigori and mixes it with the know Cait-Sith.

We’ve met and learned about Vlad Dracul the leader of the Drcul bloodline in the first two books. But it wasn’t until I spent time with him in book three that I began to long for his story. I need him to be happy. There is so much to him that I’ll be pissed if he doesn’t get his own book.

A new evil is on the prowl and boy are all the creatures in the Dark Dynasties in danger. If you read Dark Awakening the secrets revealed in Shadow Rising about the Grigori bloodline make perfect sense.

I’m hoping we’ll continue to meet new people, kill some people we know and create happy ever afters. This series just gets better and better. I can’t wait to get my hands on books four, Immortal Craving. It’s heroine is Lily’s best friend, a human named Bailey “Bay” Harper and a mysterious vampire named Tasmin.

Review: Sin’s Dark Caress by Tracey O’Hara

26 Jul

Sin’s Dark Caress by Tracey O’Hara
HarperCollins/AVON (July 31, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780061783159

Favorite Lines: “Bianca followed him back to the body and dropped to a squat. Dark blond hair was tacky with drying blood that pooled around the dead girl’s head, and her lower abdomen was just an empty cavity.” (p. 6, egalley)

An ancient darkness has risen from the ashes . . . and terror has been loosed upon an unsuspecting world.

Forensic witch Bianca Sin has never seen anything like it: homeless teenage girls torn to pieces by dark magic in the cold shadows of the city. More terrifying still is the symbol written in blood on an alley wall—the unmistakable seal of the Dark Brethren.

Teaming up with NYPD homicide detective Lancelot McManus and an elite task force headed by the shapeshifter Oberon DuPrie, Bianca knows her worst fears have finally come to pass. A new war of annihilation is looming that will plunge the worlds of vampire, shapeshifter, and human into chaos—and two adversarial tribes locked in uneasy truce will need to take up arms together to save the children. Trust will be essential for Sin and McManus, as the hunt forces them to confront their deepest terrors.

For the ultimate evil is no longer approaching.

It’s here.

Tracey O’Hara’s Dark Brethren series gets better with each book. I didn’t fall in love with book one, Night’s Cold Kiss. It was okay, but I didn’t really think about it after I read it. Book two, Death’s Sweet Embrace, felt like a totally different series. I read it quickly, connected with some parts of the story and was entertained by the mystery. Sin’s Dark Caress is even better because it brings something I love. It is dark. Not horror dark, but heavier than the average romance. Evil permeates its pages, but it never lets you forget you are reading a romance. You may want to read the first two books in the series before jumping into Sin’s Dark Caress.

Characters: Almost all the characters are intentionally or unintentionally hiding something. Some don’t know–on a molecular level–who they are. Others are transitioning. Change is not always good and there is plenty of change happening in book three of the Dark Brethren series.

We met vampires and animalians (shifters) in the first two books. In Sin’s Dark Caress we get to know witches and the fae. Other paranormals are still around, but the focus of the book is witches. We also get to see the birth of a battle between good and evil.

Sin’s Dark Caress feels like the start of a new chapter for the series. The first two books had things in common, but for the most part they brought up a “case,” solved it and ended with a couple finding love. At the end of book three, I feel like future books will consistently get darker as the characters attack a worse and worse evil. I also expect to learn more about a couple of mobsters that intrigued me in Sin’s Dark Caress.

Review: The Warrior Laird by Margo Maguire

25 Jul

The Warrior Laird by Margo Maguire
HarperCollins/AVON (July 31, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9780062122889

Favorite Lines: “You are a beautiful lady who deserves a man of means who will take you to wife. Not a rogue who lost his head for a moment here in the moonlight. And so I do apologize, though I will ever regret the experience.” (p. 37, egalley)

Haunted by horrors of his childhood, Dugan MacMillan has sworn to protect his clan at any cost . . . even if he must search for a rumored treasure and kidnap a beautiful thief to do it.

The MacMillan laird has never crossed paths with anyone quite like Lady Maura Duncanson. After he saved her from certain death, the comely vixen had the audacity to disappear with his treasure map, his only key to restoring his clan. Dugan has no qualms about taking Maura hostage, especially when he learns she is to wed a wealthy old baron who will pay him a fortune in ransom . . . a fortune his people desperately need.

But, of course, Maura has no intention of returning to her despicable fiance. And the longer Dugan spends in the bewitching hellion’s presence, the less willing he is to surrender her to any man . . . at any price.

If you enjoy classic Scottish romance novels The Warrior Laird is the book for you. It takes a damsel determined to save herself and her little sister and pairs her with a laird who is just as determined to save his clan. The two battle their attraction for one another while on a treasure hunt which takes them across Scotland.

Maura comes from a vindictive family which wants to forget she ever existed. Her family is greedy though and offers her in marriage to a dirty old man. Dugan is the head of a clan which was demolished by Maura’s family. He just wants enough money to buy the land his clan is currently renting. His clan’s needs must come before his personal desires, just as Maura places her baby sister’s needs before her own wants.

The Warrior Laird is a slow burning romance with a dose of lust thrown in. It isn’t an instant jump into bed book, or I saw you across the room and knew I loved you story. Sure there’s instant attraction/curiosity between the hero and heroine, but there is no unbelievable interaction early on in the book to turn me off. It’s a good book for one of those days when you’re craving a historical romance set in Scotland.

Review: Night Forbidden by Joss Ware

24 Jul

Night Forbidden by Joss Ware
HarperCollins/AVON (July 31, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9780062018649

Favorite Lines: “The sight was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. The emptiness billowing inside her mingled with affection and love for Yvonne, and the quiet knowledge that she’d always be an observer rather than a member of a close-knit family. She’d always be a surrogate mother instead of one herself. She’d always have to be on her guard about letting anyone too close to her.” (p. 32, egalley)

The world is ash, destroyed, and now controlled by Strangers. Survivors live in constant peril. But in the heart of Envy, resistance grows . . .

Somehow Bruno “Fence” Washington survived the apocalypse—emerging from a Sedona cave into a strange and terrible new world . . . fifty years later. Now, scouring the ruined earth for answers about the malevolent Strangers, the former extreme sportsman encounters an Amazonian beauty who calls to his every desire, but whose secret could mean his end.

Ana grew up in the ocean, diving far beneath the waves to the remnants of a world she never knew. Try as she might she can’t resist the man who tempts her in ways she never knew possible . . . whose touch elicits truths she swore never to reveal. But the passion between them won’t be denied even though it means facing a new evil rising up from the roiling waters to blanket the world in unending night.

I love Ware’s dark post-apocalyptic world where her Envy Chronicles world is set. It’s violent, deadly and full of passion. Passion for survival and for the unexpected appearance of love. No one is undamaged. No one is who they seem to be. All you can be certain of is the appearance of the zombie like former humans wondering the earth and some form of a happy ending. Warning: Don’t try to jump into the series with this book or you will be lost.

Night Forbidden introduces a new aspect to the world: mer-like people, aka Atlanteans. They aren’t Disney merpeople either. They are the reader’s key to learning about the sunken city of Atlanta. Through the water-loving people the reader learns about the crystals which have been sought after throughout the series. We also get to revisit some of the main characters from previous books. One of them, Zoe, about drove me nuts. I wanted to smack that chick.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the book once I realized the heroine could breathe underwater. I’m not a fan of mermaid books. I should have known Ware wouldn’t let me down. I was fascinated with all aspects of the story. Now there is danger coming on earth and water. It added to the tension which was being built. I want more. Mostly I just want to read Remy’s story, but I’ve a feeling that will be the last book.

If you’re looking for a romance book that involves mutated people, zombies and world building which will suck you in, you’ve got to pick up Ware’s Envy Chronicles. Each book is better than the last and I can’t wait for the next installment to come out.


Review: Dragon Justice by Laura Anne Gilman

23 Jul

Dragon Justice by Laura Anne Gilman
Harlequin (July 24, 2012)
Trade: $14.95; ebook: $10.99
ISBN: 9780373803484

Favorite Lines: “Someone who came down looking for a romantic wooing–or at least some hot and heavy sexing–might have felt cheated at being cooped up in a dank subbasement listening to two guys bicker as they worked. I was, god help me, enchanted.” (p. 130, e-galley)

In my time with PUPI, formally known as Private, Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations, I’ve seen a lot. Learned a lot. And not all of it’s been good. But what we do-make people accountable for crimes committed with magic-is important work.

Still. Even I need to take a break every now and again. Or so I’ve just been told (ordered).

So hey, vacation. Maybe I’ll finally figure out what’s going on with the “special bond” between me and the bossman, Benjamin Venec. Venec seems to like that idea-he’s invited me down to join him on a jaunt to Philly. But no sooner do I arrive in the City of Brotherly Love than we’re called in to look at a dead body.

And that’s when life gets really complicated….

Warning: This book is part of Laura Anne Gilman’s Paranormal Scene Investigations’ series. Do not try to read it as a stand alone. Another thing: I don’t keep up with Gilman’s Retriever series, but its heroine popped up quite a bit in Dragon Justice. As did mentions of some major uprising that the Retriever prevented.

Each book in Gilman’s PSI series has built upon the previous book. From a company being built and friendships made to murders being solved, the series has increasingly gotten better. I wasn’t impressed with the first book. It was so-so, but not a must have book for me. By the time I turned the final page of Dragon Justice I actually liked one of the narrators.

Bonita Torres has grown in the two years she has worked for PUPI. She no longer jumps in bed with any man or woman who catches her fancy, but she’s not willing to open herself completely to the merge which connects her to one of her bosses, a man named Benjamin Venec. Their relationship is on the cusp of changing, but is waiting for them to both accept and allow the change.

Out of the four books in the series, Dragon Justice is the least focused on paranormal forensic techniques. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any, but the emphasis is placed on characters and their interactions. It’s plot driven which is why I enjoyed it.

I’ve got to tell you Dragon Justice doesn’t feel like the final book in the series. It has a conclusion, but there are many places Gilman can still take the characters. Major things happen in the book (some of which I’m not convinced is permanent). However, there’s a sentence which summarizes my feelings of the book as a whole.

“Fire in the sky, the deep, burning chasm of emotion, the hunger and anger…and the sense of something still waiting.”–p. 322

Hard to decipher? That’s on purpose. I won’t give the plot away! I simply felt like I was waiting for something major to happen the entire length of the book. That slight feeling of “bad to come” never paid off and I’m going to feel cheated if another book isn’t published to address that notion. Although according to Gilman’s website which was updated May 2012, I might just be left unsatisfied. She has only been contracted to publish four books in the PSI series.