Tag Archives: Magic

Review: Enchanted Ever After Robin D. Owens

2 Jan

enchantedeverafterowens


3 of 5 scoopers

Enchanted Ever After by Robin D. Owens
Harlequin/MIRA (Dec. 18, 2012)
Trade: $14.95; ebook: $10.99
ISBN: 9780373803477

Favorite Lines: “Change was scary and inevitable and could be embraced. Respect of others was important but confidence in yourself even more.” (p. 393, e-galley)

Kiri Palger knew the difference between reality—new house, hard work and not too many friends—and fantasy—the fun she had playing online games. So when the chance to work for the best gaming company in the world came up, giving her a chance to merge business with pleasure, how could she not apply?

Suddenly she has more friends, interesting neighbors and an intriguing love interest. But when the game begins to awaken something inside her, Kiri is shocked by the talents she never knew she had…and an evil she’d never imagined.

Her nice, safe life is imploding around her—and if she takes up the mantle of her powers, it will never be the same again….

Enchanted Ever After is book three in Robin D. Owens Mystic Circle series. The emphasis in this book is on water dwelling people and plays with the idea of merging video games/technology with magic to create something new. In this case it’s more Lightfolk. The danger comes from not knowing the intricacies of societies that are other than human and the Dark Ones (bad guys) who seek to destroy the Lightfolk.

Take a good look at the cover before you buy this one. I’m not a fan of water dwelling creature stories and that’s what this is. If I’d have known the book would be about merpeople and naiads I would have passed on it. I would have missed an entertaining story, but not one that I’d want to re-read.

The book is about Kiri, a human woman in the process of change. Not just transforming from human to magical, but at a changing point in all aspects. Her friendships are changing, she’s creating a relationship with a magical man, and she’s going after her dream job. Too bad the person I cared most about was Kiri’s love interest Lathyr.

He wanted to belong so bad, but because he isn’t pure merman he is sneered at and wanders from home to home. There is more there than the obvious and Owens slowly unravels Lathyr’s story. I thought there would be more to it and really don’t understand the reasoning of the creature who masterminded Lathyr’s nomadic lifestyle. It seemed rather silly.

Watching the couple lean on one another was nice and the story was pretty tame. There was nothing outrageous or that made me feel anything. I laughed out loud one time over the course of the entire story. I never cried or felt sad. I got irritated while reading Enchanted Ever After, but never invested in anybody. I felt detached and I blame that on Owens’ portrayal of the Lightfolk. Most of them are cold, even Jenni (heroine of book one and djinnfem) seemed untouchable.

Despite my inability to connect with the characters in Enchanted Ever After I had no problem reading it. When I finished I thought “okay, on to the next book.” I had no desire to re-read any passages. I finished and this review will finalize my thoughts on it. Book four won’t be an instant read for me. Although if the synopsis sounds good I’ll give it a try.

enchantednomoreowens1enchanted again owens

Review: Gilded by Karina Cooper

20 Dec

5 out of 5 scoopers

Gilded by Karina Cooper
HarperCollins Publisher/AVON (Dec. 26, 2012)
Mass market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780062127662

Favorite Lines: “Blood dries to an oily brown, like embedded dirt or forgotten paint. Beneath a month’s worth of dust, the color stained the floor in unshakeable evidence–I had not imagined everything. A body had fallen here. Bled out here.” (p. 13, e-galley)

In the gleaming heights of Victorian London, a world of deception awaits an unconventional Society lady whose taste for adventure makes her a most formidable adversary…

Though Society demands that I make a good marriage, I, Cherry St. Croix, have neither the time nor the interest. I am on the trail of a murder with no victim, a mystery with no motive, and the key to an alchemical formula that could be my family’s legacy.

Yet the world is not so kind as to let me pursue simple murder and uncomplicated bounties. Above the foggy drift, an earl insists on my attention, while my friends watch my increasingly desperate attempts to remain my own woman. From the silken demands of the Midnight Menagerie—to whose dangerously seductive ringmaster I owe a debt—to the rigorous pressures of the peerage, all are conspiring to place before me a choice that will forever change my life.

Tarnished introduced me to Karina Cooper‘s St. Croix Chronicles. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I never thought I’d come to love the historical urban fantasy series the way I find myself obsessing over it. I think you’ll know exactly what I mean after you read Gilded. Do NOT try to jump into the series with this book or you will be totally lost.

Gilded is told in the first person from Cherry’s point of view.

Opium addict and member of polite London society, Cherry St. Croix is still collecting money working as a bounty hunter of sorts in foggy London. She struggles to fit into a world where young women are trained to marry and raise children. It’s hard for her because she has a scientist’s brain and her family history–let’s just say it has her teetering into ostracized territory. Or it would were it not for the highly eligible bachelor Lord Cornelius Compton. He’s not the only man in her life. Her nights are often interrupted by Micajah Hawke, the Midnight Menagerie’s ringmaster.

The last book left me wondering who Cherry would choose to have a relationship with: society or the night. There were good points which could have swung her either way, but she makes a clear decision in Gilded. The repercussions of that choice will be played out in book three. I asked Cooper on Twitter when it would be released, but she did not yet know.

I wanted to punch some of the women for being vapid, eye-fluttering fools. I wanted to shake Cherry for making poor decisions. I wanted to scream and wail when I turned the final page of the book. I tried to put it out of my mind, but for days I replayed the events that culminated on the final pages of Gilded. I’ve got to know what will happen to Cherry. I’ve re-read a particular section in the final chapters several times and I guess that is how you know it was a good book.


.

Review: A Love Untamed by Pamela Palmer

19 Dec

2.5 out of 5 scoopers

A Love Untamed by Pamela Palmer
HaperCollins Publishers (Dec. 26, 2012)
Mass market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780062107510
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Her voice was music laced with acid. She ignored his outstretched hand, her eyes narrowing as she smiled at him, but there was nothing pleasant about that smile. Hawke’s words came back to him, that he’d have more luck taming a tornado, and it occurred to him that he might finally have come across a female who was immune to his charms.” (p. 15, e-galley)

The newest member of the elite Feral Warriors brotherhood, Fox is eager to prove himself on the frontlines of battle against the Daemons. When paired with the legendary Ilina warrior, Melisande, he expects the fierce beauty to quickly fall under the spell of his quite considerable charm. Instead, he finds himself spellbound by a woman who’s his match in every way.

Beneath Melisande’s brittle exterior lies centuries of pain and a violent hatred of all shape-shifters—a hatred that slowly crumbles after they’re caught in a deadly and cunning Mage trap and she glimpses a surprising depth in her far-too-seductive partner. Their survival demands unconditional trust—and their salvation surrender to a wild, untamed love.

After book six in Pamela Palmer’s Feral Warrior series I expected a lot from book seven, A Love Untamed. Unfortunately, I didn’t find characters I could relate too or care about.

The story focuses on the new fox warrior and the plot line which reared its head in the previous book. New warriors were being called but it wasn’t clear if they were solid, reliable warriors or the weakest of a line brought in to the fold due to black magic and destined to turn on the warriors. As the newest fox warrior Kieran is proud to be a feral warrior. Adored by the ladies, he is focuses on being the best warrior possible. When he sets eyes on the Ilina warrior Melisande he is immediately drawn to her.

Melisande has survived for thousands of years by being emotionless. She takes upon herself the responsibility of protecting her dying people through extreme measures. It comes as a shock when she meets Kieran and begins to feel again.

I’ve read every book in this series and while I loved some more than others, I wasn’t ready for the dispassion I felt for A Love Untamed. It should have been a hard, emotion filled book. Instead I found easy resolutions to big problems and a character that was too cold to connect to. Mel’s horrendous back story explained why she behaved the way she did, but I can’t forgive hundreds of years worth of cold-hearted deeds within the 192 pages that were on my nook. Not even the handsome hero (not that you can tell from the cover) did anything for me. There was nothing about him that made me want to scream for more.

If you’ve been reading the Feral Warrior series you will want to read A Love Untamed so that you’re up to date with where everyone stands in the group. There are scenes with a couple of the newest members of the FWs and an introduction to a new female character that look promising. I’m not finished with the series yet, but I think A Love Untamed is the weakest book in the series.


Review: Renegade by Nancy Northcott

6 Dec


3 of 5 scoopers

Renegade by Nancy Northcott
Grand Central Publishing (Nov. 6, 2012)
ebook: $2.99
ISBN: 9781455526659

Favorite Lines: “She was set to meet him, but by hell’s bells, he’d teach her not to boss him around. He’d saved her stubborn life. She should be on her knees, thanking him. Stripping for him. Spreading for him. He’d make her beg once he’d wiped that pained look off– Pained?” (p. 118, e-galley)

SHE FOLLOWS THE RULES

As the Collegium council’s top sheriff of the southeastern United States, Valeria Banning doesn’t just take her job seriously, she takes it personally. So when a notorious traitor wanted by the authorities suddenly risks his life to save hers, she has to wonder why.

HE BREAKS EVERY ONE OF THEM

As a mage, Griffin is sworn to protect innocents from dark magic, which is how he finds himself fighting side by side with the beautiful Valeria Banning. But when the council finds out the two have been working together, they’re both left running for their lives-from the law, the threat of a ghoul takeover, and a possible Collegium mole.

Looking for a book filled with magic? I was too, that’s why I picked up an e-galley copy of Renegade. It appears that it is the first book in Nancy Northcott’s Protector series and will be followed in May 2013 with a book called Guardian.

Renegade is a book about betrayal, redemption and love. Its characters avoid instant love in favor of a lust that builds to a fever pitch and overflows into love. Both main characters (Valeria and Griffin) are targets in an elaborate scheme that would see them dead so evil can prevail. This means the story is constantly moving as attack after attack occur while Val and Griffin explore their feelings for one another.

Mages and ghouls, and to a lesser degree, demons are the paranormal creatures who make appearances in Renegade.  We quickly get to know which are good and how dangerous each can be. I can’t say that the mastermind evil doer was a surprise, but the reasoning for the crimes committed was interesting.

Even though Renegade started with a bang I had a hard time getting into it. I think it’s because sometimes I want to read about specific things: vampires, shifters, surprise pregnancy, alpha aliens or stalkers. When I started reading Renegade I was on an alien romance kick. It took a while, but when I finally immersed myself in the magical world of Val and Griffin I liked it just fine. I wasn’t thrilled, but had I read it at another time I might have felt differently.

Books I Want: December 2012

1 Dec

The Cat’s Meow by Stacey Kennedy (TBA December)

thecatsmeowkennedyIn Charleston, Libby is an Enchantress—a witch gifted by the Goddess to conjure spells. When a magical presence is detected around a recent string of feline slayings, Libby must take the case to discover the reasons behind the odd deaths. Much to her displeasure, the coven has also sent the sexy warlock, Kale, to assist her.

While having the muscle around proves to be useful, fighting the
attraction between them is worse than a hex, especially considering Kale is keeping secrets. Libby has good reason to believe that Kale is there to evaluate her performance as a witch, and fears her job is on the line. But soon, Libby has bigger problems than the elusive warlock and career stability. Her spells are turning up clues that point to something far more sinister than slaughtered cats, leading her to a threat that could shake the very foundation of her world.

Now Libby lands herself in the midst of an uprising. She trusts no one and isn’t safe. Not from the warlocks stirring up trouble. Not from the worrisome rebellion she can’t escape. And certainly not from Kale who is weaving a very dangerous spell over her. Continue reading

Review: Deliver Me From Temptation by Tes Hilaire

29 Nov


2.5out of 5 scoopers

Deliver Me From Temptation by Tes Hilaire
Sourcebooks (Dec. 4, 2012)
Mass Market: $6.99; ebook: $6.99
ISBN: 9781402264375

Favorite Lines: “No person, no matter what sort of freaky shit he was into, would lie there and willingly let someone gnaw on his neck–and come back for more. Obviously their ME had been watching way too much True Blood recently.” (p. 131, e-galley)

Logan Calhoun is the last full-blooded Paladin, the future leader of a race of immortal warrior angels. The heavy responsibility of continuing the Paladin line falls to him, and the last thing he should do is get involved with a human. Then fate throws Jessica Waters, a homicide detective who doesn’t believe in fate or divine intervention, into his path. Her devotion lies in her Glock and a good set of handcuffs. Like Logan, she’s a warrior for her people, and she awakens within him something he’d never thought he’d feel. But she’s also as human as they come…

I got to tell you that Deliver Me From Temptation, book two in Tes Hilaire’s Paladin Warriors series, is not what I was expecting. I started it excitedly hoping for a quick fix on two secondary characters that I became obsessed with in Deliver Me From Darkness. Unfortunately hope dwindled to sadness by mid-book and I set the story aside for a while. Once I started reading it again with thoughts focused on Logan, who I really didn’t care for from the first book, and Jessica, a detective that I didn’t like, I was able to complete the story…barely.

Deliver Me From Temptation can be read as a stand alone, but different aspects of Deliver Me From Darkness (book one) are brought up to tie the two books together, along with the back story of the Paladins who have an angelic ancestry. Expect to see demons and vampires, as well as the paladins in this good vs. evil love story.

I wanted to like Deliver Me From Temptation, but I was bored. I disliked the heroine from start to finish. I didn’t really care about Logan and since Deliver Me From Temptation is a paranormal romance all about Logan and Jessica’s relationship, it doesn’t bode well for my feelings about the book. The story wasn’t bad, it just didn’t do it for me. In book one I got to see a world that straddled the paranormal romance-urban fantasy fence. That fence doesn’t exist in Deliver Me From Temptation. Every time I thought things were going to get dark it would leach into a gray that just didn’t deliver.

I was hoping to get more about Gabby who was introduced as a teen vampire prostitute in Deliver Me from Darkness, but that look was so quick that it didn’t even whet my palate. I’m pretty much to the point where I don’t see myself reading more of the Paladin Warrior series unless it’s Gabby’s story.

What others think:

Review: Angel in Chains by Cynthia Eden

20 Nov


4 of 5 scoopers

Angel in Chains by Cynthia Eden
Kensington (Nov. 27, 2012)
Trade: $14; ebook: $11.99
ISBN: 9780758267634

Favorite Lines: “You loved me once.”
This was it. The moment that she’d known would come. Jade stared him in the eyes, refused to let the fear take her, and said the words she knew would break him. “And now I love him.” (p. 290, ARC)

As a fallen Angel of Death, Azrael is cursed to walk the earth alone in search of redemption. One night, as he wanders the streets of New Orleans, he discovers a woman surrounded by panther shifters. No longer able to contain the anger simmering within, Az summons his dark powers and attacks, determined to protect this innocent human from certain death.

Only Jade Pierce is no delicate flower. She’s spent years learning to survive and fight the evil forces sent by her ex-lover who refuses to let her go. But after seeing Az in action, she figures she could use a little supernatural help. And so she plans a course of seduction guaranteed to arouse his interest and his angelic passions. . .

I’m not a huge fan of angel romance books, but Cynthia Eden‘s Fallen series is an exception. I started the series with book two, Angel Betrayed, and knew that I had to read Angel in Chains when it came out. Let me tell ya, I’m very glad that I did.

Az was a stickler for the rules every time he was shown in Angel Betrayed. He’s a cold and detached guy whose actions cross over into villainous. In Angel in Chains he’s a new fallen angel who has yet to come to terms with losing his wings and flat out refuses to believe he’ll never have them again. When he sees Jade, he is attracted to her, but sees her as his way back to heaven.

Jade’s been running from her ex-boyfriend for quite a while. The psycho killed her family and will kill anyone who gets close to her. He is the leader of the panther shifter clan with a whole lineup of shifters to send after Jade, but she keeps managing to slip away. When Az steps in to help her out, Jade tries to create some distance between them, but he refuses to let her handle the situation alone.

Jade is damaged and Az is damaged but together they have the power to heal. Watching Az and Jade fall in love and sacrifice what they valued most during the process made me want more. I wanted them to be happy and the fight and flight scenes kept me moving through the story. Angel in Chains was hard to put down.

If you’re looking for an action packed romance with an alpha hero who protects the woman he loves regardless of what it could cost him you’ve got to pick up Angel in Chains. It’s filled with sexy scenes, drama and great secondary characters. If there’s a book four, I’ll be reading it.

Review: How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren

13 Nov


3 out of 5 scoopers

How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren
Carina Press (Nov. 19, 2012)
ebook: $1.99 (38,000 words)
ISBN: 9781426894664
Excerpt

Favorite Lines: “Even through the sheet she sparked with energy, with life. He brought his other hand up and slowly raked his fingers from her palm to her wrist and down to her elbow.” (p. 16, e-galley)

The Beast

Scarred. Damaged. Living with a terrible secret. Agent of the Underlight Wesley “Hauk” Haukon has nothing left but the fight for liberty against the oppressive Order of Ananke. He’s starting to lose hope…and then he sees her.

The Beauty

Despite her night job as a burlesque dancer, grad student Jolie Benoit has always played the mostly good girl. That all changes following a scorching sexual encounter with a stranger whose face she doesn’t see. After she’s kidnapped by thugs and rescued by a man with a very familiar voice, Jolie becomes a pawn in a struggle she never knew existed.

Hauk knows he cannot have her, and resolves to protect his heart and his secrets. But as they work together and grow closer, he finds new reason to keep fighting. Dare he risk hope in a new life, one where Jolie can see past his ravaged face and where their friendship can grow into something more?

I knew from the get go that How Beauty Met the Beast was going to be a novella. I wasn’t sure how long 38,000 words would show on my nook. It turns out to equal 110 pages. For me, it was just long enough to whet my appetite and as soon as things started getting good the story was over. The good news is that it is part of a three story series and book two, How Beauty Saved the Beast will be released in February 2013.

I had a little bit of trouble staying in the world. I knew the hero was a member of an anarchist group called the Underlight. Then I read about him being a soldier who was disfigured fighting in Afghanistan. When you add in a steambike, metal leg/foot, and people who worship old gods (think Thor), you’ve got me thinking okay it’s a steampunk book. But then I considered the heroine who drove a Nissan coupe, has Celiac’s disease, and attended the University of Texas and felt like I was reading a contemporary romance. By the end I was thoroughly confused when it came to the world building, but satisfied by the introduction of two characters to one another and myself.

How Beauty Met the Beast is…different. It’s not bad, just not what I expected. The characters though, they are what hooked me. For example, it’s not the “norm” to have the heroine of a romance work as a burlesque dancer. The scenes in which she struts her stuff and belts out tunes before meeting the hero behind the animosity of a sheet hit home her adventurous nature. Hawk is introduced by his actions as well. The reader is shown Hawke on the run with a buddy and his willingness to sacrifice himself in order to protect his pal. We get to travel into his mind where he considers the reactions others have to his disfigured face and watch him have a healthy interaction with a beautiful woman before we are told the extent of the damage done to him. When the author gets descriptive and I’m able to visualize what this man looks like it’s too late to walk away thinking the man is “gross.” By then I’ve half fallen in love with the man.

Obviously there were parts of the story that I was invested in, however when the world which confused me is added to what felt like a third of one complete story, I’m left feeling so-so about it all. I like to read complete stories in one book. I think there are way too many series and trilogies floating around. Sometimes it’s necessary, but other times it feels like a reason to suck money out of readers. If the Tales of the Underlight trilogy unfolds the way I expect, the division will be a way to give the characters time to get to know one another. That’s understandable, but does nothing to absolve my irritation for a story that ends just when it starts getting good. That said, I don’t regret reading How Beauty Met the Beast and plan to read the next book in the series.

Review: Sentinels: Kodiak Chained by Doranna Durgin

6 Nov


3 out of 5 scoopers

Sentinels: Kodiak Chained by Doranna Durgin
Harlequin (Nov. 13, 2012)
Mass market: $5.50; ebook: $4.99
ISBN: 9780373885602
Excerpt
BONUS: The Gatekeeper by Heather Graham (novella)

Favorite Lines: “After a lifetime of feeling too bold, too strong, too much, Mariska quite suddenly didn’t quite feel alone anymore.” (p. 19, e-galley)

One mission. One night. One costly misstep….

A mighty Kodiak shifter, Ruger is more than a Sentinel warrior. As a Healer, he willingly risks everything defending the sick and helpless. But after an ambush nearly kills him, he can do only so much-until a sensual lady black bear shifter arrives to provide him backup….

In human form, she is called Mariska. Feisty and self-assured, she has finagled her present assignment helping Ruger chase down a rising new threat. The moment Mariska scents the heroic, battle-scarred grizzly she knows he will be her only weakness…and greatest desire.

Mariska will do anything to aid Ruger-even if confronting the enemy puts everything she holds dear in jeopardy.

I love bear shifters. They are in a category of their own and make me think of the ultimate cuddle buddy. Doranna Durgin’s shifter as pictured on the cover of Sentinels: Kodiak Chained is not the man I imagine as a bear shifter, but honestly I could care less about the cover as the shifter in the story was so much better.

Before I get much further, it’s important that you understand Kodiak: Chained is part of a series. I didn’t know that when I started reading it and boy did I pay for that lack of knowledge. I felt a few steps behind throughout the entire story. I knew I was missing something and no amount of explanation or back story insertion removed that feeling of missing vital information. In the middle of reading the book I visited Durgin’s website and found out that Kodiak Chained is book six in her Sentinels’ series. Had I know that I would not have read it without reading the previous books in the series.

For the most part Kodiak: Chained is a book about finding oneself and redemption. The hero is learning to readjust to new limitations. He had always been a powerful healer  but after an attack stripped that ability from him he has no choice but to re-evaluate his role as a guardian. He is paired with a female bear shifter who is trying to make a difference. Prior to transferring to Ruger’s team, Mariska was protected and coddled instead of given room to grow as much as she wanted. The route she chose made her untrustworthy in Ruger’s eyes and she works hard to redeem herself to him and those who love him.

The story has a nice pace and features a couple who could be good together from the moment they met in different circumstances. As the story unfolds we are shown a couple who pull together in the face of adversity and deserve a happy ending. I got over my initial dislike of the heroine and was happy with the obscenely evil villains. It’s never pretty when men and science try to match paranormal creatures and magic. Let me show you a few snapshots of this deliciously dark evil.

An Abert’s squirrel with gills, trying not to drown and trying not to rot in the unrelentingly watery environment it hadn’t been born to manage.–p. 72

He touched the crate where a bird with no beak flicked its tongue out at a cup of mashed seeds, its freakish little nostrils flat to the remaining face and twitching in distress.–p. 74

Kodiak: Chained is uncomfortable to read at moments and brings home the idea that men can be more monstrous than the most primal of paranormal creatures. It’s a paranormal romance that didn’t really work for me as a stand alone. I was happy to have a female bear shifter was sturdy but round in the right places as opposed to a sleek, cat-like woman. Kodiak: Chained is not my favorite book, but it is interesting which made me read it quickly.

Coming Soon: Shattered Souls by Delilah Devlin

29 Oct

Private Investigator Caitlyn O’Connell lost it all—her plum job as a detective for the Memphis PD, her partner and lover, and her own self-respect —to booze in an attempt to drown out the voices in her head. When her ex-partner drags her to a murder scene where she’s his only real lead, she knows it’s time to face her greatest fears and harness the inherited gifts she’s always rejected. That she’ll have a chance to prove she had damn good reasons for shutting Sam out of her life is just icing on the cake.

The last thing Sam Pierce wants is to revisit his painful relationship with Cait, but she’s the only lead he has. Sam doggedly follows Cait into a dark world filled with magick and unholy terrors as they search for killer wraiths and the demon who commands them.– Release date: Jan. 29, 2013