Dark Skye by Kresley Cole


ORDER A COPY: Dark Skye (Immortals After Dark)

Publisher: Gallery Books
Publishing Date: August 5, 2014
Hardcover: 384 pages

Rating: 5 Stars (Loved it!)


As a boy, Thronos, Lord of Skye Hall, loved Lanthe, a mischievous Sorceri girl who made him question everything about his Vrekener clan. But when the two got caught in the middle of their families’ war, tragedy struck, leaving Thronos and Lanthe bitter enemies. Though centuries have passed, nothing can cool his seething need for the beautiful enchantress who scarred his body – and left an even deeper impression on his soul.

Lanthe, a once-formidable sorceress struggling to reclaim her gifts, searches for love and acceptance with all the wrong immortal suitors. But she’s never forgotten Thronos, the magnificent silver-eyed boy who protected her until she was ripped from the shelter of his arms. One harrowing night changed everything between them. Now he’s a notorious warlord with a blood vendetta against Lanthe, hunting her relentlessly.

With their families locked in conflict and battles raging all around them, will Thronos and Lanthe succumb to the brutal chaos that threatens everything they cherish? Or will the fragile bond they formed so long ago spark a passion strong enough to withstand even the darkest doubts?


Romeo and Juliet have nothing on the tale of Lanthe and Thronos. Melanthe, the Queen of Persuasion and Thronos Talos, Knight of Reckoning and Prince of the Skye, should have been mortal enemies. Vrekeners have always sought to curtail the activities of the evil Sorceri. Lanthe and Thronos met as children and enjoyed an easy friendship. Thronos recognized Lanthe as his fated female and knew that someday their friendship would grow into something much more.

Yet it only took a moment of hate and fear to destroy their future. Thronos’s father, the King, brought his knights to murder Lanthe’s parents. Although they were only children, Lanthe and her sister, Sabine, used their powers to fight back and killed the King and his men. Believing that Thronos betrayed her, Lanthe turned her power of persuasion on him, and commanded him to jump out of the high tower and not use his wings to stop his fall. As a young Vrekener, Thronos had not yet come into his immortality. It is a miracle that he survived at all. His face and body bear the scars from the glass and his deformed leg and wing are physical reminders of the betrayal of that night.

Vrekener’s never abandon their hunt and a male never lets go of his fated female. She is his only chance for children. So for 500 years Thronos has been chasing Lanthe across worlds and dimensions, but she has eluded him every time. Now they have both escaped from the Order’s prison and Lanthe is still wearing the torque which dampens her sorceri powers. She can’t create a portal to escape and she can’t persuade Thronos to leaver her alone. After 500 years of the chase, he finally has her in his arms. Now that he finally has her, he needs to decide what to do with her.

There is a part of him that wants to torture her for the wrongs she has done him. While he tried unsuccessfully to capture her, he had to watch his fated female take male after male to her bed while Lanthe tried desperately to find true love. There is also a part of him that still yearns for the friend he lost and the family they should have had together. Is there is too much pain and betrayal between them to ever get past?

As Thronos tries to get Lanthe to his home in the sky, they will need to fight as a team, instead of each other, to survive the perils surrounding them. They each feel the loss of their past connection like an ache, but is it enough to get them past 500 years of betrayal and treachery and find the friendship they left behind?

THOUGHTS:
Thank you, Kresley Cole, for finally giving us the story we have all been dying to read.

I have been desperate for this story since we first met Lanthe and Thronos in Kiss of a Demon King. We were tortured further in Demon from the Dark, when we left off with Thronos capturing Lanthe. Being so desperate for this story, I was both thrilled and terrified when Kresley Cole announced that Dark Skye would be her next book. Thrilled that it was coming out and terrified that it would not be as fabulous a story as I needed it to be. I received a copy on late Friday afternoon and had it finished to Saturday afternoon and I am so happy to say that Thronos and Lanthe’s story will be on my list of top ten favorite stories ever.

My favorite part of this story was that Thronos gets pissed off every time Lanthe calls him a demon. Thronos is very black and white with his thinking and Lanthe forces him to see that life is mostly gray. He was raised to believe that Vrekeners were not demons, but Lanthe keeps pointing out everything that Thronos does that is demon-like.

“One more time, sorceress: I am not a demon! Vrekeners are descended from gods. We have purpose. His tone was harsher than he’d intended, because…because he had felt an affinity for the beast.

“I thought Vrekener horns were only for show,” Melanthe said with obvious glee. “Yours straightened when I began to undress.”

“I’m to take your word on that?” But how they’d ached!

“I’ll bet you have a demon seal. You won’t release seed until you’re inside your mate.”

“So I have a couple things in common with demons.” He ran his fingers throug his hair. “I also have fangs—does that make me a vampire? My eyes turn silver, so I must be a Valkyrie.”

Deny, deny, deny.

Much to his frustration, Lanthe is the only one who could challenge his rigid mindset and make him acknowledge the gray.

What I had disliked in the last two IAD books, Lothaire and especially, MacRieve, was that the heroes were sexually attracted to their heroines, but afterwards they acted disgusted by the fact that they gave in to those desires and touched a female like her. Before starting Dark Skye, I was afraid we would have more of the same especially since we are starting the story knowing that there is a lot of pain and anger between these two characters. The book starts off with a seething Thronos barely able to control his wrath against Lanthe. But we see as the story progresses that just having her with him is starting to calm him down. As his rage passes, we start to see that Thronos is naturally a calm and rational guy. He assesses each new danger or challenge before acting. Although we are still a long way from love, as he starts to think clearer he starts to work through his feelings of betrayal. He wants to get Lanthe home with him so that he can have a family since Lanthe is the only one who can have his children. Once he truly works through his feelings, he wants a family with her because she matters to him.

Thronos’s biggest issue is that Lanthe has been sexually active with many, many partners trying to find someone who will love her, and Thronos is a virgin. Vrekeners are very, very conservative and have a giant book of rules of what is taboo or an “offendment” to his people. Kissing Lanthe before they are married is considered an offendment so you can see why her promiscuity is a problem for him. By the time we get to anything really sexual, they are already working through their problems and Thronos is never in any way disgusted by what he wants to do with Lanthe, even when he is angry with her.

Lanthe has no problem with Thronos scars. She thinks they make him look warlord-y and sexy. But it is not until Lanthe takes a peek into Thronos’s mind and starts to see what happened between them from his point of view that she softens her heart and forgives him a little, but whenever he continues with the slut-shaming, he loses her again.

It is such a good story and there is such a gradual working through their issues which brings them a complete 180 from where we started that you almost forget how dark the story starts and how much seething hatred they had when we began.

All Immortal After Dark followers will be delighted with this next chapter in the series, and if you haven’t tried an IAD story, you are missing out on a truly fun and sexy series.

Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!!!


Favorite Scene:

So many scenes, which one to pick…

Lanthe hadn’t caught her breath since she’d entered, her captivated gaze taking in every detail.

Happiness coursed through her veins. How had clever Thronos found this place?

Though she was in a room full of gold, her attention veered to him, crouched on that shelf. The muscles of his torso flexed with his movements. His stern, intense expression and that gargoyle-like position made him look very demonic.

She’d never bedded a demon before. Huh.

Yet as she strolled the temple, his constant scowl eased. Without that scowl, he was…gorgeous.

There was no more denying it—or her attraction to him.

Some females might consider his scars unsightly. Lanthe though they made him look tough and warlord-y. Besides, who could care about them when those silver eyes were so compelling? When his warrior’s body seemed to have been sculpted from granite?

He’d once believed that she was “everything missing” from his life. Could he still feel that way? And why was she contemplating these things—instead of how to transpo this gold to Rothkalina or calculating karats?

Why did she have the urge to peer up at him with equal captivation? She surrendered to her impulse, turning to him. He seemed surprised by her perusal but held her gaze.

They were—dare she say it?—having a moment.

“You face me when surrounded by gold? Perhaps I rate after all?” The scowl returned, as if he was hardening himself. She wanted to cry, No, no, no, just a few more minutes!

“We had a deal,” he said. “I grow impatient.”

She could imagine—he’d waited so long to see her. And now she knew he’d already been struggling with his lust and curiosity when he’d been a young man.

A deal was a deal. She would take the sight of this gold into her, a memory to last forever. Unless I can return…

“Be about it, sorceress.”

Since she’d planned on enthrall him, this would be a good start, but the way he was crouching forward, as if on the verge of pouncing, made her hesitate. “If I do this, how do I know you won’t try to touch me? You’re not supposed to, right?”

“I only intend to look,” he said, though she could sense his aggression mounting.

“Uh-huh.”

“Do it, then.” When she still hesitated, he said, “Don’t feign shyness—I know you’ve done this with a horde of males before me.”

And just like that, her interest was checked. Though she was neither ashamed nor proud of the number of men she’d been with, his cruel jabs wounded her.

At least now she better understood his resentment. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to put myself in a sexual situation with you.”

He growled at that. “After your purported year of celibacy, I would expect you to be climbing the walls for any male’s attentions. And if I’m not mistaken, you’re in season.”

She flushed, lips thinning.

“I’ve heard tales of females like you.” At her raised brows, he enunciated the words, “Easy quarry.”

How could a maddened Vrekener hurt her so much?

Because he once looked at you with perfect acceptance, Lanthe. And she feared she’d been searching for that look ever since she’d lost it.

In order for her to be interested in a male, he needed to make her feel special—even if she knew it was a ruse. Despite Thronos’s mind-blowing body and heartbreaking past, he stood no chance. “Even we ‘easy quarry’ girls have standards. And you, Thronos Talos, are leaving me cold.”

He scoffed. “I could seduce you with ease. You’ve welcomed scores before me with only minuscule effort on their part. but I’ve no intention of taking you, nor even of touching you. Both are offendments. I only want to see my female.”

“You think you can resist seeing your mate naked?”

“You think I can’t?” A cunning light shone in his gaze. “You Sorceri like to gamble? To make bets? Then I’ll enter into a wager with you—my first.”

Dudley Do-Right makes a bet.

“If your body tempts me to touch it, then I’ll tell you how I found this temple and opened the door.”

“And if it doesn’t tempt you?”

“The blow to your enchantress pride would be reward enough.”

That is it! Now it was imperative to wipe that smirk off his face. “I’ll take your bet.” She thought she spied a flash of surprise in his expression. “No sex, though.”

He glowered, as if she’d suggested something ludicrous. “I’ll breed no bastards! Already my offspring will be half Sorceri. Do you think I’d allow the first to be illegitimate on top of that?”

Asshole! Only Thronos could ruin this: her, in a temple full of gold with a physically attractive male. He was like the anti-Sorceri—created to repel her.

Forget enchanting him! He didn’t deserve her beguilement. “I’ll remember this.”

“What?”

“That you kill joy wherever you find it.” She gave him her back as she unfastened the first of three clips on the side of her breastplate.

Had his breaths quickened?

She gazed over her shoulder, saw his claws digging into the gold shelf, his throat working. His voice dropped an octave when he commanded, “Off with it.”

She unfastened the second clip.

“That’s it,” he murmured, his words dripping with pent-up lust.

As she was undoing the last clip, she heard something from beyond the main cave, and paused. The sound came again, growing in volume—movement down the mountainside. Something big was approaching. “Thronos, what was that?”

“Heard nothing. Continue.”

“Come on, demon!” She began fastening the clips again.

“There’s nothing to fear out there!”

When the entire temple rocked, she snapped, “Oh, really?”

He made a coarse sound of frustration; then she heard the swoop of his wings. She whirled around to find him charging toward her, that determined look in his grave face.

His eyes appeared to have darkened, and she could swear his horns were straightening—just like a demon’s would when he became aroused.

In other words, Thronos doesn’t live here anymore.

Reaching for her, he bit out, “To tide me over.”

Til when?!

A roar sounded in the cave. Seeming to wake out of a daze, Thronos dropped his hands. And she could have sworn upstanding Dudley Do-Right grated “Fuck.

Friday Giveaway – Lay it Down by Cara McKenna


Happy Friday! Is your July racing by? I was delighted last Friday evening to receive a review copy of the latest in the Kresley Cole Immortal After Dark series, Dark Skye. This is a book I have been desperately waiting for for five loooong years. I downloaded it immediately and started reading, then I went back to the beginning and read it again. Soooo good! I’ll be talking about that on Monday.

I really have to get back to my TBR list and up soon will be the latest Cara McKenna novel, Lay it Down. I like Cara’s work because her stories and characters are always interesting. I am looking forward to getting into this one.

Just say Hi to enter.  Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, 18 years and older please.  Giveaway ends Thursday, July 24th.


Backbreaking days, wild nights, and the hard hum of steel between your thighs…

That’s a life well lived, according to the Desert Dogs—four friends who call Fortuity, Nevada, their badlands home.

Vince Grossier is the self-crowned outlaw king around here. But when Fortuity’s slick new mayor invites a casino development to town, greed isn’t far behind—and it claims Vince’s good friend as its first casualty. With the law turning a blind eye to the mysterious death, Vince must seek his own brand of justice. The pretty photographer hired by the developers might be the key to uncovering the truth. And she’s a temptation too good to pass up.

Finally free of a controlling ex, Kim Paget’s not looking to be taken for a ride—not on the back of some tattooed roughneck’s bike and definitely not in his bed. But when she uncovers evidence supporting Vince’s suspicions of murder, Kim must entrust her safety to a man whose body threatens danger of a whole different kind.


Chasing Mrs. Right by Katee Roberts


ORDER A COPY: Chasing Mrs. Right (A Come Undone Novel)

Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publishing Date: April 5, 2014
Audiobook: 5 hrs 27 min.
Narrator: Kasha Kensington

Rating:   3 1/2 stars


It was only supposed to last one night…

Roxanne Stokes doesn’t believe in love. She does, however, believe in the sexy-as-sin stranger who literally knocks her off her feet in front of a nightclub. The chemistry sparking between them takes her breath away, and she’ll do anything to ease the pain in his eyes…until she realizes the handsome stranger is her best friend’s older brother who’s just come home from war.

Ian Walser had no idea the gorgeous woman he slept with the night of his homecoming party was his little sister’s best friend—or that she’d be gone before morning. Roxanne’s touch soothes him in a way nothing else can, and he’s not ready to walk away from that yet. Not when spending time with her gave Ian a glimpse of everything he’s ever wanted.

When his sister unwittingly pushes them together, he sees his chance. But convincing a woman who doesn’t believe in love that she’s his Mrs. Right might be harder than any mission Ian’s undertaken. Good thing this soldier likes a challeng.


Ian Walser is just back from Afghanistan and is still trying to adjust to life back in the States. The last thing he wants to do is attend a homecoming party in a local bar. The noise and lights are not helping and neither is his mother’s attempts to force him to make huge life decisions since he got off the plane. Right now he just needs a little air. As he leave the bar he runs into the most attractive woman he has ever seen. Literally ran into her, over her and knocks her down. As he helps clean up her scrapes, he can’t help noticing that just talking with her and touching her is helping calm his shattered nerves. Their innocent flirting quickly turns things steamy between them, but after a night of incredible sex, Ian is surprised to awake to a note thanking him and leaving him $20 for cab fare. He isn’t sure if he wants to find her again to kiss her some more or yell at her for treating him like a whore.

Just when he’s trying to figure out his next move, he couldn’t be more shocked to find his mystery woman is his little sister’s best friend, and once again he finds himself calming just being with her. There is no way he is going to let her get away from him before he explores these feelings some more.

But one lesson Roxanne learned from her mother, and from the countless men in her life since then, was that
the feeling of falling in love is wonderful, but it never lasts and men will always walk away and leave you and like any addictive drug, the crash isn’t worth the high. Roxanne would rather just enjoy a one night stand then ever face the false high the falling in love would bring.

Ian knows that Roxy feels the same intense attraction for him so he can’t understand why Roxanne always seems to be running away from him. Ian’s time in the army has taught him patience and determination, and he will need to use all his cunning and skill, because he is not going to let Roxanne’s fears keep them apart.

THOUGHTS:
The audiobook was well narrated by Kasha Kensington. She had a very natural flow to her narration. She spoke clearly without overly enunciating or being stiff. Her speaking voice was pleasant and her dialog voices were distinctive for the various characters. This was one of the better narrations that I listened to lately. At only 5 1/2 hours, it was a quick story.

The story itself was enjoyable, but nothing spectacular. I like Ian, but got annoyed by Roxy’s continued, “I can’t date him.” “I’m not falling for that again.” She gives details on prior relationships, so obviously it is not that she only has one night stands. She has tried a relationship. So here is a man who she not only has strong chemistry with, but who she notes that he is better than most of the men she’s dated, and him she’s giving a hard time to.

And in a very typical plot point, just when Roxy is finally willing to give them a chance, Ian has a panic attack and decides she doesn’t need a man with all his issues and he breaks up with her. Now, it’s his turn to be annoying since you could have given your relationship and your recovery a chance before deciding you have too much baggage.

I’d break up with him simply because his mother is awful. Someone needs to give her a kick in the pants. There’s keeping the peace, and then there’s letting someone dictate your life. Ugh!

Although the story was entertaining, the storyline was very typical and Roxy held onto her “no dating” policy long after we were thinking “just give the guy a chance.” This was part of a series, and there is definitely a story with Ian’s friend who is also just back from the war, but we’ll see if his story pans out better.

Received a review copy from Audiobook Jukebox in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Scene:

He was a stranger. She would never see him again after tonight. With that knowledge freeing up the restraint, she leaned into him and laid her hand on his thigh. Just high enough that his entire body went still. Pretending she didn’t notice she said, “So, what do you do for fun?”

“Fun?”

“Yeah. You know that thing you do when you’re not working. Gardening? Zumba? Underwater basket weaving? You name it. Everyone has something.”

“I haven’t really had a lot of time for hobbies.” When she just stared, more than willing to wait him out, he sighed, “I spend a lot of time in the gym.”

Yeah, she could tell. There didn’t seem to be a soft spot on his body, though she was tempted to do a more thorough examination just to satisfy her curiosity.

“Do you wear spandex, grunt a lot and slap a lot of guys asses while you mutter encouragement.”

“Actually, I usually just run until my thoughts stop circling.”

There is was again, that hint of something darker. “Is that the only thing that helps?”

“I’ve been told that I should try meditating, but all the time sitting still and being alone with my thoughts…” He shook his head, “I like to sweat out my stress, and this helps.” He motioned between them.

Whoa. So she hadn’t only been imagining how he seemed to relax the more he touched her. Caution warned her to keep things light and flirty. “I bet you say that to all the pretty girls.”

“Only you.”

His low voice, paired with the smoldering way he was looking at her, damn near had Roxanne fanning herself. She scrambled for something to say that didn’t involve sex and now. What were they talking about? Oh right, exercise.

“I get it. The whole sweating it out thing. I do yoga. Concentrating on breathing and holding and perfecting the poses actually takes a lot more effort than you’d think. It’s my happy place.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard it’s great for that. I’m not exactly a yoga guy though.”

“What? You mean you don’t want to work on your flexibility? I’m so disappointed.”

His grin was quick and wicked, “The advantage to being the guy is that I don’t have to be as flexible as my partner does.”

Under the Final Moon by Hannah Jayne


ORDER A COPY: Under The Final Moon (Underworld Detective Agency)

Publisher: Kensington Books
Publishing Date: August 5, 2014
Paperback: 352 pages

Rating: 3 stars


It’s not the end of the world–until it is. Sophie Lawson may be a mere human with no special abilities except a strong immunity to magic. But the havoc she’s wreaked on the supernaturals who come up against the Underworld Detection Agency have earned her plenty of enemies. Still, a girl can’t freak out every time a horribly barbecued corpse is found with her business card in its hand. Or see a sudden glut of earthquakes, wildfires and three-headed dogs as just another day in California. But Alex Grace, her favorite fallen angel, is concerned–or saying he is to see more of her. Getting Sophie to see all the signs of the Apocalypse is an interesting way to heat things up. Or maybe what’s making everyone hot under the collar is the fact that all Hell is about to break loose. . .


Arsonists are lighting up San Francisco and they all have one thing in common, they all appear to be trying to bring forth Satan. When a vampire lights himself up, and just happens to be holding onto a card belonging to one, Sophie Lawson, Det. Alex Grace comes knocking to find out of Sophie knows anything about Daddy-Dearest trying to get in touch with her. Oh yeah, did we mention that Sophie’s Dad is Satan himself, and that as some celestial joke, the Vessel of Souls holding all the souls that haven’t traveled on to heaven has been hidden inside Sophie.

There is also a group known as the Grigori who are trying to kill Sophie before Satan can get the Vessel of Souls from her.

As if Firestarter vampires, three-headed dogs, Grigori and a home visit from Satan isn’t enough to keep Sophie snacking on chocolate pinwheels, she still hasn’t made any decision on her choices of men…Will or Alex?

Armageddon is coming is something you say, not something that’s actually happening on Tuesday, but as the signs start added up, it appears that Dear Old Dad might just be trying to come for a visit, but is he looking to spend time with his little girl, get Sophie to join the family business or just do a snatch and grab of the souls hidden inside her?

THOUGHTS:
This was the last book of the series and I can’t tell you how absolutely disappointed I was while I was reading it.

Poor Sophie, being the only human in a bunch of paranormals, usually ends up being beaten up and crying. Sophie had so many breakdowns in this story and a lot of them a constant pity party of “Why didn’t my Dad love me and come to the Father/Daughter dance” or “to my play” or “come to my graduation” or “what does he want from me now.” Most of her crying jags were with Alex and she ended up crying in his arms. This happened so many time that if I was listening to an audiobook, I would have assumed I messed up the download and was repeating scenes.

We also kept having scenes where someone was attacking Sophie and then they disappeared, never to be heard from again, and then someone else would attack her and again, that storyline just disappeared.  The story starts with fires, fires, fires everywhere…and then suddenly there are no more fires mentioned again. There were also several of the usual scenes where everyone was there to protect her, and then they all just stepped away giving the bad guy time to attack. “We’re here to protect you.” “No, I’m okay.” “Alright, see you tomorrow.” Knock, knock, Bad guy calling.

There was also many, many references to Satan being “a trickster” and I kept waiting for the big trick Sophie would do to fight him at his own game, but the ending happened so fast and ended up being pretty anticlimactic.

After listening to Sophie constantly bounce back and forth between Alex and Will for five of the six stories, in the end Sophie doesn’t pick one over the other so much as one leaves town, leaving her choosing the other by default. I think it would have been funnier after all these books of her lamenting which hottie will I choose, if they both left her at the end.

Although the humor was still there, the story itself seemed to just circled around and the plot was not very cohesive. For the last book in the series where she could have done anything that she wanted with the characters, it was totally disappointing.

Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Scene:

I heard the murmurings and a few stepped forward to pat me on the back or touch my arm gingerly, and I was basking in the warmth of this weird, horned, extended family that cared, and gave a damn whether I lived or died.

And then, the elevator dinged.

Alex was standing there and it was like the first time I’d ever seen him: his shoulders were thrown back, chin hitched one lock of wavy hair impishly falling over his forehead. His chest looked impossibly broad, Greek-God like, and when his badge winked from his hip, I felt my mouth water.

Once again, I was: Sophie Lawson, turned on in the face of danger.

Alex’s icy eyes cut across the waiting room until he saw me. I saw him suck in a breath, and I was ready to shimmy out of my panties—all the demons cared and Alex, toowhen the other elevator dinged.

We all waited, no one breathed, until the doors slid open.

Then I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.

Will was in the second elevator, leaning against the back wall and looking relaxed and comfortably cool, as though he were in an Abercrombie ad just awaiting his scantily clad co-model. His hazel eyes were slightly hooded in that “hey, baby, I’m holding a kitten” kind of way that made my heart bloom and ignited something low in my belly. Between the two of them I was a pile of supercharged horny goo while the whole of the world trembled on the precipice of holy hell.

As I clamped my knees together and gritted my teeth, I was fairly certain that my inappropriate sex drive was half the reason the city was vaulting toward our brimstony demise.

Both Alex and Will stepped out at the same time, each with a set of eyes fixed on me for a brief second before they glanced at each other. Then each seemed to get an inch taller. Suddenly, chests were puffed out and, I’m not entirely sure, but I’m fairly certain that arms were flexed. I would have paused to scrutinize further, but both made a beeline for me, talking at the same time.

“Wanted to make sure—”

“—you were okay down here.”

They stopped talking at the same time, too, glared at each other, then swung to face me and my army of Underworld associates.

“We’re all okay down here,” I said, feeling suddenly overwhelmed with domestic love and nearly throwing my arms around the armless zombie and the troll who had kicked me out from under the coffee table.

Peanut Goes to School by Thea Harrison


ORDER A COPY: Peanut Goes to School: A Short Story of the Elder Races

Publisher: Self Published
Publishing Date: June 30, 2014
eBook: 49 pages

Rating: 4 stars


Dragos Cuelebre is no longer the only dragon.

Dragos’s son Liam Cuelebre (a.k.a. Peanut) is springing into existence, reminiscent of the first of the Elder Races who were born at the beginning of the world. At just six months of age, he has already grown to the size of a large five-year-old boy. He can read, write in complete sentences, and his math skills are off the chart.

A white dragon in his Wyr form, Liam also holds more Power than almost anyone else. In an effort to give him a taste of normality, no matter how fleeting, his parents Pia and Dragos enroll him in first grade.

They hope school will help teach Liam how to relate to others, a vital skill that will help him control his growing Power. But school has a surprising number of pitfalls, and relating to others can be a tricky business.

When a classmate is threatened, Liam must quickly learn self-control, how to rein in his instincts, and govern his temper, because there’s no doubt about it—he is fast becoming one of the most dangerous creatures in all of the Elder Races.


Peanut, or Liam as we should call him since his is growing up so quickly, is becoming one of my favorite characters in this or just about any series.

Liam is the only a few months old, but as the first dragon since Dragos was created at the beginning of creation, no one is certain what to expect as far as powers or his unusual growth. He seems to have a blend of his parents personalities and abilities, but he keep surprising us all with new abilities of his very own. He even managed to sneak up on his Dad without his father sensing him, which his quite the feat.

On his first day of school, he is picked on by a few of the older boys as well as his teacher. He handles both instances with just the right mixture of intelligent thought, bravery and a little intimidation of his own. I am sure he will shine as a future leader in this series.

I can’t wait to see what else Liam’s unusual character will bring to the series as far as his adventures and his abilities. I just hope he doesn’t grow up too fast. I am not sure how I would feel about him growing up and getting his own love story when he is only, say two calendar years old.

Received an ARC from the  author in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Scene:

The tricky thing about using a cloaking spell is that cloaking spells are tricky.

Liam snickered to himself as he tiptoed around the patio furniture and changed into his dragon form. His dragon had grown to the size of an adult lion, and he had to be careful not to knock over furniture as he shapeshifted.

He also managed to hold on to his cloaking spell, which was a bit fat win. Dad had said Liam’s cloaking ability was one of the best he’d ever seen, although it was difficult to stay hidden while changing forms.

But since his dad could do it, Liam felt he would be able to it also. Eventually. Sometimes. If he kept practicing, pretty soon he should be able to stay cloaked all the time if he needed to.

Liam was playing his favorite game, Spy Wyr, which he had totally made up himself. When he grew up, he was going to be a secret sentinal. Uncle Graydon would send him out on missions, and when he returned after saving somebody, or maybe even after saving everybody, Mom and Dad would be really proud of him.

Of course, because it was undercover, Dad would have to give him medals in secret. Sometimes they might be silver or bronze ones, or when he did something amazing, they might be gold. Or maybe when he did something really outstanding, Dad would give him a sparkly medal with diamonds on it. Then Liam would have to find a super-secret place to hide them.

His dragon side like the sound of that. It made him feel growly and fine.

By day, Liam would be, oh, maybe a basketball player. Basketball players traveled a lot, so it would be a good cover, and besides it would be fun to play ball all the time, so that would be big fat win.

Hi, my name if Cuelebre, Liam Cuelebre. My code name is Double Oh Peanut, but you can call me Rock Star for short.

Dating a Cougar by Donna McDonald


ORDER A COPY: Dating A Cougar: Book One of the Never Too Late Series

Publisher: Self-Published
Publishing Date: March 10, 2011
Audiobook: 8 hrs 40 min.
Narrator:   Anne Johnstonbrown

Rating: DNF


After several decades of looking for true love and never finding it, aging model and lingerie designer, Alexa Ranger, has finally given up the search. A couple years ago, she got tired of the game completely and just stopped dating. Now friends and family keep her mostly content, so it’s shocking at 50 yrs old to find herself suddenly wanting a sex life again. It’s even more shocking to be attracted to a much younger man this time. She definitely thinks medically retired Marine, Casey Carter is sexy, but can’t get passed their twelve year age difference to even consider a fling. Not that it matters anyway, anything resembling a normal dating relationship is totally out of the question because Casey is related to and living with her daughter’s boyfriend. The very last thing Alexa needs is yet another talk-show worthy drama in her already complicated life, no matter how amazing Casey’s kisses make her feel.


Dating a Cougar is one of those free books that I downloaded from Amazon awhile ago and it sounded interesting enough to give it a try. I recently noticed that if you had already “purchased” the book, you could download the audiobook for only $1.99. Knowing I will never have the time to actually read this story, I spent my $2.00.

Although I am not certain how I feel about the story itself, I simply couldn’t listen to this narrator anymore. Her diction was perfect…too perfect.   Anne Johnstonbrown would probably be a perfect narrator for a copy of Jane Eyre or some other regency drama. I could listen to her perfect diction if I was listen to an old Duchess speak. But her narration is so proper and every word sounded out perfectly, it sounded very unnatural.  It wasn’t just the narration, even her characters all spoke properly. I was recently speaking with someone who said they sometimes listen to their Kindle narrate the story, but she never listened to an actual audiobook. I can’t do that with my Kindle app, but I can imagine how robotic that must sound. This narrator was only slightly better.

I am currently listening to a narrator whose narration is like listening to a TV news reporter, but when she speaks dialog, it is with a more natural flow.

Ms. Johnstonbrown didn’t have much of a distinction between voices either and her male character sounded more like teenage boy than an a hot ex-marine.

I have a digital copy of this book but I was not so enthralled with the characters that I feel the need to continue it right away. The premise of the story is a 50 year old dating a man who is 38. But she’s an ex-supermodel who looks better than most 35 year olds.  I wasn’t feeling the “rrrowr.”

This was not the first narrator who effected my feelings for a story, but it was the first time that I just couldn’t continue to listen anymore.

Friday Giveaway – Bound to Danger by Katie Reus


It’s Friday once again. Don’t the weeks go faster during the summer? I am working hard to try and catch up with reviews. I got a little behind. I have some good and some bad to share with you. Sadly, I think I have more bad to share next week. We’ll also start talking about audiobooks. I had to stop listen to one this week because the narrator was awful. I have a physical copy as well so I might pick up the story once I can clear her voice out of my head.

I just started today’s giveaway book, Bound to Danger by Katie Reus and it is going well so far.

This week’s question is – Do you always finish a book? If not, how long do you give it before you toss it out the window?

I can probably name the handful of books that I have put aside without finishing. It really has to be awful for me to just stop and walk away because there are always unanswered questions that will torment me. It is more apt to happen now since I have such a backlog of books to read than it did in the past. I did stop one recently after the prologue since it previewed the ending and it already lost my interest, as well as one paranormal book that I stopped after 5 pages since it was a next morning continuation and I was already lost.

Giveaway ends Thursday, July 17th. Open to U.S. residents, 18 years and older please.


At a benefit dinner, community activist Maria Cervantes overhears two men plotting a terrorist attack that could rock Miami to its core. But before she can alert authorities, she’s almost killed in a massive explosion—and wakes up in a hospital with no memory of what happened. As the sole survivor of the attack, she is now a person of interest to the NSA—and especially to Agent Cade O’Reilly. Because Maria is the one woman Cade has never been able to forget.

Years ago, they were closer than either was willing to admit—until Cade disappeared when Maria needed him most. Now he’s sticking by her, whether she likes it or not. Because the memories locked inside her mind could hold vital clues to the next attack. Because terrorists want her dead—and because he never wants to let her go again.


Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton


ORDER A COPY: Rusty Nailed (The Cocktail Series)

Publisher: Gallery Books
Publishing Date: June 24, 2014
Paperback: 320 pages

Rating: 5 stars


In this sequel to Wallbanger, the second book in the Cocktail series, fan favorites Caroline and Simon negotiate the rollercoaster of their new relationship while house-sitting in San Francisco.

Playing house was never so much fun—or so confusing. With her boss on her honeymoon, Caroline’s working crazy long hours to keep the interior design company running—especially since she’s also the lead designer for the renovation of a gorgeous old hotel on Sausalito. So with her hotshot photographer boyfriend gallivanting all over the world for his job, she and Simon are heavy-duty into “absence makes the heart grow fonder” mode. Neither has any complaints about the great reunion sex, though! Then Simon decides he’s tired of so much travelling, and he’s suddenly home more. A lot more. And wanting Caroline home more, too. Though their friends’ romantic lives provide plenty of welcome distraction, eventually Caroline and Simon have to sort their relationship out. Neither wants “out of sight, out of mind,” but can they create their own happy mid-ground cliché?


Simon “Wallbanger” Parker is still keeping Caroline “Pink Nightie Girl” Reynolds up all night banging on her walls, only now he’s banging on that wall with her. Simon is still traveling around the world and Caroline is still decorating San Francisco, and the relationship is working out well for them. Unlike the women Simon has dated in the past, Caroline enjoys some quiet me time, and reunions make the Simon and Caroline time all that much sweeter.

But as they countdown the days to the wedding of Caroline’s boss Jillian to everyone’s hot fantasy older man, Benjamin, and Mimi and Ryan are planning a wedding of their own, not everybody is happy in Wallbangerland. Caroline and Simon’s friends Neil and Sophia are on the outs and its making wedding planning rather rough going whenever they both arrive and the fights begin dragging their friends into the mix.

Caroline also gets quite the surprise. She gets a new office…so she can to do both her and Jillian’s jobs while Jillian is away on her open-ended-ticket honeymoon. Interior Design is one thing, but office manager on top of that is a job Caroline is not sure she will be able to handle. As if Caroline isn’t under enough pressure, she can’t help notice that Simon is leaving on less and less assignments, and even cancelling a few he had scheduled. Now that Caroline is around less and less, Simon is around more and more. And no time to bake is making Caroline a little cranky (and Simon a little hungry).

Caroline’s life is in chaos, with less and less wallbanging going around. Can Caroline and Simon try to adjust to their new relationship dynamic or is too much time together going to drive a wedge between them?

THOUGHTS:
I just love Alice Clayton and her quirky, fun humor. At first, everything is smooth sailing for Simon and Caroline. They are developing their own unique relationship. But when Jillian dumps all the responsibility for the design company on Caroline, she is meeting the task but she is also slowing cracking under the pressure. She sees Simon’s cancelling his travel plans and something to be concerned over and she is afraid of why he is doing that, but she’s also afraid to just ask him.

Simon has had no reason to put down roots anywhere since he lost his parents as a teen. So we, who are not going crazy along with Caroline, can see that Simon finally has a reason not to spend all his time away from home, but Caroline is in panic over what’s going on in his head.

I thought this story was filled with as many sweet moments as funny ones. One complaint I heard was that there was not enough tension in the story, but I thought just their adjusting to their relationship along with the increasing stresses being put upon them and Caroline’s mental breakdown, created an enjoyable story of these two people trying to become a couple while life is trying to pull them apart.

Oh, and how can I forget, Clive is back for more fun.  Meow!

Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Scene:

I hung up the phone. Because in my driveway was a white Mercedes convertible. With a red bow on it. What the actual fuck?

I parked the van, hurried up the walkway, opened the door, hurdled over a sawhorse like an Olympian, and dashed into the kitchen. Where I found Simon, on a ladder. Faded jeans. No shirt. Tool belt.

“Um, what’s that in our driveway?” I asked. He turned in slow motion, it seemed, and I noticed for the millionth time just how stunning he was. Sculpted arms, broad shoulders, skipping down to that sweet spot just above his bum. And a six-pack that, when he was really worked up, gave up a seven and eight as well. And then that V on either side that just seemed to slip into those jeans.

“Well, it was the funniest thing,” he started, climbing down off the ladder and setting down his belt sander. He gave great sander. “I was watching you drive off today in that ridiculous van and I though, my girl needs some wheels.”

“So you bought me a car?” I asked, confused. Brain was not liking some of these words, but every other part of me was liking the walking sex coming right at me.

I couldn’t let him just buy me a car, could I?  Oooh, he’s walking.

He crossed to me, slowly, and I walked backward as he advanced. Before I knew it, I was up against the wall. With a shirtless Wallbanger inches from me.

Now, for the record, when I went vaulting into the house, I was pretty sure what was going on. And what he’d obviously done. And I was pretty sure I was pissed.

Remember that.

Now think about how good he must have looked to make me forget how pissed I was.

“If you don’t like the color, we can go down and pick out another one,” he said, now only one inch from me. I could feel the heat from his body began to penetrate mine. Penetrate? Yes, please.

But wait, he can’t just buy me a car!

“Yeah, you can’t just, just buy me a, ummm,” I breathed, my words getting fuzzy as he leaned into me. There was so much tension in my body I was starting to vibrate like a tuning fork.

“Yes, I can just buy you a car. It’s a gift—get over it,” he replied, his brow furrowing as if he couldn’t understand why I was giving him shit about this. And at the very moment, I couldn’t tell you why either.

I’d never gone this long without having sex with Simon, not when he was in town. It was starting to get to me. And he smelled so good!

“But a car, Simone? I…uh…what is that cologne?”

“It’s polyurethane.”

“They should bottle that shit,” I breathed, my voice going husky.

“It comes in a can.”

“It’s really working for you,” I moaned as he dipped his head down and dragged his tongue right up my neck.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he murmured, burying one hand in my hair.

“Did you do this on purpose? This whole handyman fantasy? The tool belt? The abs? The—holy fuck.” I gasped when he took my hand and pressed it against his …drill bit.

“You came home early,” he explained, thrusting into his hand. “I like early.”

“Lucky me.” I sighed and dropped my head back against the wall. He took this to be a green light, because within seconds my shirt was ripped, my skirt was pushed up, and he’d wrapped my legs around his tool belt. “I liked that shirt,” I protested.

“You really care?” he asked, slipping his fingers underneath the lace of my panties. Slippery already, and he moaned at the first touch.

“Not really,” I marveled at his strength; I always had. The idea of being actually wall banged always seemed impossible to me. Until Simon. He was strong without being beefcake. And he could carry my body around like I weighted next to nothing, when that wasn’t the case at all.

“How much do you care about these?” he asked, tugging on the waistband.

“One guess.” I smirked.

Fall from India Place by Samantha Young


ORDER A COPY: Fall From India Place

Publisher: NAL
Publishing Date: June 3, 2014
Paperback: 294 pages

Rating: 4 stars


When Hannah Nichols last saw Marco D’Alessandro, five long years ago, he broke her heart. The bad boy with a hidden sweet side was the only guy Hannah ever loved—and the only man she’s ever been with. After one intense night of giving into temptation, Marco took off, leaving Scotland and Hannah behind. Shattered by the consequences of their night together, Hannah has never truly moved on.

Leaving Hannah was the biggest mistake of Marco’s life, something he has deeply regretted for years. So when fate reunites them, he refuses to let her go without a fight. Determined to make her his, Marco pursues Hannah, reminding her of all the reasons they’re meant to be together.…

But just when Marco thinks they’re committed to a future together, Hannah makes a discovery that unearths the secret pain she’s been hiding from him, a secret that could tear them apart before they have a real chance to start over again.


It has been seven years since Nate won the heart of Olivia in Before Jamaica Lane and we find Hannah Nichols all grown up and finishing her first year as a probationary teacher. Sunday dinner at her parents house has gotten even more crowded over the years with all her friends and family now bringing their children with them.

When Mum needs Hannah to clean out her old room so they have room for a crib, Hannah stumbles over her old diaries and a picture of the only boy she has ever loved, Marco D’Alessandro, and it sends her on a painful trip down memory lane. They first met when she was 13 and he was 15. The upperclassman protected her from some bullies after she missed her bus and afterwards he took it upon himself to walk her home each time she missed the bus. As they walked and talked, their friendship grew and Hannah’s schoolgirl crush deepened into a young woman’s first love. But it was the night that Hannah gave her virginity to Marco that tore her world apart. Marco walked away from her that night and returned to America taking her heart and all her girlhood dreams with him.

Hannah spends most of her free time with her new best friend, Cole Walker. After Marco left town, Hannah and Cole grew closer. Hannah only wishes that there were the kind of sparks between her and Cole as she felt with Marco. In fact, Hannah hasn’t found anyone who makes her feel even half of what she felt for Marco.

Morning over the loss of an old love is depressing enough, but to run into him once again after reliving the hurt knocks the wind out of Hannah. She never expected to ever see Marco again in Scotland, but when she finds out he returned more than four years ago, it shatters what is left of her heart. She felt abandoned before but now she can add betrayed to that list as well.

Marco has grown up during his time away from Hannah. The young man who felt unworthy of the beautiful, smart and too young Hannah is gone and the man before her hasn’t forgotten his own feelings and how much Hannah meant to him. He never planned to walk back into her life, but now that he has seen her again, Marco can’t stop his desire for a second chance to win the heart of the only woman he has ever loved. Both the boy he was and the man he is now, know there is no other love for him like Hannah and this time he won’t walk away from her.

But Hannah and Marco are both hiding secrets from their past that could destroy any future they can have together.

THOUGHTS:
I always have a hard time with a series when we have a young characters now grown like Hannah and Marco. It takes me a while to get with the program since part of my brain is still looking at the little kid they were. Seeing them as grown ups who have sex takes me a while. (Yes, my kids are in trouble.)  Just like in Until Fountain Bridge, Hannah uses her diary entries to fill us in on our past with Marco from before and after we left her in Nate and Liv’s story.

For the most part, I liked young Hannah and Marco better.   Being friends with Marco made Hannah more confident but she was always outspoken with the quiet and reserved Marco.   To Marco, Hannah’s friendship  and dedication gave him a comfort he couldn’t get from his own family.

Grown up Hannah was holding on too much to her feelings of anger and betrayal.  Marco had definitely matured and apologized and no matter that her family and friends all told her how good they were together and how she should give Marco a second chance, she kept jerking him around.  Marco would jump through hoops and Hannah wouldn’t stop her bitchy behavior.

Young Hannah was a very likeable character throughout the series and you can understand that her heartbreak could change her, but she needed to either decide to give the guy a chance or walk away.  I didn’t like that they kept having sex and she would toss him out, over and over again.   Take him back or lock your door.   Marco was a responsible and caring kid, who had self-esteem issues and he grew to became a responsible and caring man who finally thought that maybe he was worthy of Hannah.   Hannah continuing to jerk Marco around just knocked Hannah’s character down several pegs to the point that I almost had no more pity for her pain.

Cole Walker has grown up into an impressive man, and I am looking forward to his book which is next.

Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Scene:

My gaze snapped back to Marco.

A double date.

I was going to be sick. Or I was going to kill him. We were only a few feet from the table when we drew Marco’s gaze. His expression softening at the sight of me until his eyes dropped to my hand in Cole’s and that expression instantly hardened.

Seriously?

He was on a double date and I was with a friend and he was pissed?

“Marco.” Cole greeted him pleasantly. “Just wanted to come over and apologize for…well, you know…” My best friend looked at the pretty blonde at Marco’s side. “I hope I’m not interrupting your date.”

Marco’s eyes clashed with mine and I knew he was definitely irritated with Cole. “It’s not—”

“We shouldn’t have interrupted.” I was studiously avoiding Leah’s burning gaze as I tugged on Cole’s hand. “We’ll let you enjoy your dinner. Cole.”

Cole gave Marco a tight grin before sliding his hand around my waist and leading us to the waiting hostess. As soon as she delivered us to our table, Cole sighed and said, “You’re shaking like a leaf.”

“I’m trying not to kill somebody,” I said through clenched teeth. “Let’s just go home.”

“Fuck that.” Cole let the anger shine from his eyes. “He can’t do this to you.”

“He’s not. I am. I’m doing this to me,” I muttered angrily. “I’m sending him mixed signals, he’s sending me mixed signals. It’s a whole bunch of fucked-up mixed signals. And I really just want to go home before I end up doing hard time.”

Cole leaned into me, pressing his forehead against mine so I had nowhere to look but in his eyes or at my feet. I chose his eyes. “I’m sorry for taking you over there. But he knows that no matter how mixed up you are, underneath it all you love him. And he’s here on a bloody date? I wanted to shake him up, not you.”

“I’m fine.”

“You’re not fine. You’re trembling.”

“I’m trembling with anger. Cole—”

He cut me off by cupping my face in his hands and pressing a soft, sweet kiss to my lips. When he finally pulled back, I stared at him wide-eyed and more than slightly alarmed. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Reminding him he hasn’t won you yet and unless he fights harder he’ll lose you to someone else. He doesn’t need to know that someone will never be me, sweetheart.” He grinned unrepentantly.

I loved my best friend. Totally. I leaned up and pressed another soft kiss to his cheek. “You’re the best, but part of the reason I’m so messed up is because I don’t want him to fight harder. I want us to be over. I just don’t know how to let go.”

Cole leaned into me again, lips almost touching mine as he said quietly, “You need to stop lying to yourself, Hannah Nichols. You love him. You know you do. Otherwise you wouldn’t be in such a state.”

Before I could respond in the negative, a shadow fell over us and we pulled slightly apart to look at our right and into Marco’s furious face. Anger danced in his exceptional eyes and it was all directed at Cole. “You’ve got two seconds to move away from her before I fuck you up a million times worse than I did at the site.”

Death’s White Horses by Marc Rainer


ORDER A COPY: Death’s White Horses: A Jeff Trask Crime Drama

Publisher: Createspace
Publishing Date: March 18, 2014
Paperback: 312 pages

Rating: 4 stars


In “Capital Kill,” he went after a ruthless local serial killer. In “Horns of the Devil,” he faced some of the deadliest gangs in the western hemisphere. Now federal prosecutor Jeff Trask is back on the case, after a series of drug overdoses places investigators face to face with Los Zetas-the most dangerous of the Mexican drug cartels.

What begins as an investigation of local heroin trafficking soon turns into something far more serious. The cartel will do anything to protect its cash flow-including a series of attacks against Trask’s team that cement Los Zetas’ status as one of the most ruthless criminal organizations of the century.

Inspired by actual events from Mexico’s cartel wars, “Death’s White Horses” is Marc Rainer’s third book featuring federal prosecutor Jeff Trask. While showcasing the challenges faced by law enforcement on both sides of the border, it also highlights the deadly consequences seen on either end of the US-Mexico drug trade.

With more than three decades of experience as a federal prosecutor, Rainer combines the excitement of a high-stakes thriller with the pinpoint accuracy and realism that has earned him a widespread audience in the field of law enforcement.


The death of a powerful Senator’s daughter is only the beginning of a line of victims in this newest novel by Marc Rainer. We soon find several dead prostitutes from overdoses of a new, stronger brand of heroin which is now being manufactured in Mexico. While Jeff and his team try and locate who is distributing this newest drug to the City of Washington D.C., we also are brought directly into the battle in Mexico between their Marines and the various cartels who are fighting for dominance of the drug trade.

Major Luis Aquilar and his team are trying their hardest to save the innocent people who are getting caught up in the fights between the cartels. They also need the fight against their own police and prison officials who have been bribed or threatened into the pockets of the local drug lords.

This is a fight being fought on each side of the border, in Mexico with guns and in the United States with laws, as both try to win a war against the drug dealers as well as the suppliers.

THOUGHTS:
In this latest novel, Marc Rainer proves to us that there are no victimless crimes. Every cellophane baggie of drugs purchased in the United States is covered with innocent blood. Maybe you can’t see it, but it certainly is there. The cartels in Mexico (and certainly elsewhere) are only concerned with production, distribution and profits. That can mean fighting for routes and clientele in gun battles between the various groups for control of a region, and innocent bystanders be damned.

While this was a intriguing story, where this story lacks in my opinion is that Marc pulls some punches in his story telling this time. What I love/hate about this author is that he puts his characters directly in the line of fire and not everyone walks away. So we end up with a personal stake in each case where we might lose an important member of our team. In this case, while Jeff and his team are investigating the overdose death of a Senator’s daughter and several prostitutes due to a very strong new batch of heroine coming out of Mexico, there is no real direct threat to them for most of the investigation. Half of this book takes place in Mexico with Jeff’s counterpart, Major Luis Aquilar, the leader of the Mexico’s Marines in his fight against the cartels. The strongest point to be made in this story is the daily danger to the poor people living among the drug cartels. Unfortunately, what is happening in Mexico is mostly told in third person reports to Aquilar as he arrives at the various town and sites of carnage. Marc would have made more of an impact in this part of his story in tossing in a stronger first person view of more of the attacks.

Case in point, there is a scene which is described that the cartel abducted three busloads of people trying to get to the U.S. border and diverted them to a town. The cartel then separated the young men from the older men and made the young men fight gladiator-style with machetes and hammers. The winners were then given a choice to join the cartel or be killed. The older men were made to lay down in the road and were crushed to death by one of the buses. The younger and prettier women were taken to the surrounding buildings to be raped and then murdered. This would be had far more impact to the reader if told in a first person by, for example, the one surviving female who was being kept by one of the cartel members, and by making one of the young men made to fight her husband. By telling most of these incidents in a third party report, or through the eyes of the perpetrators, we lost the fear, pain and personal attachment to the crime being inflicted and we could separate ourselves from the horror of what was happening.

By narrating these attacks in a third person narrative, Marc has taken away the usual aspect of danger which keeps the excitement level high in his previous stories. More often than not, I hear people talk of international incidents and there is always someone who suddenly doesn’t care when they find the devastation is not here in their own backyard. I believe a little shock value which would have gone a long way in hammering home the point in this story that what we are doing here in the United States (buying the illegal drugs) has far reaching detrimental effect on some innocent person who has lost their home, their family or their life for your victimless crime and just because they are not a face you see every day, doesn’t make their death any less horrific.

It was an interesting story and although I generally don’t want horrific details shoved into my brain, this story kept us back a little too far from the reality of the violence which is happening to truly make the impact that I think Marc Rainer was going for in his narration.

Received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Scene:

“There were two survivors. One younger man, one woman. Their stories were consistent, both with each other and with the three Zetas who were willing to talk after we arrested them and applied some persuasion. The victims were on buses headed for Reynoso. The buses were diverted from the main road by Zetas who blocked the highway with SUVs. They were holding automatic weapons, probably assault rifles. They boarded the buses and forced the drivers to drive to the ranch here. The men were split into two groups. Those that appeared to be able-bodied were paired up and forced to fight to the death, gladiator style, using sledge hammers and machetes. The survivors were invited to join the Zetas. Those that agreed to do so were spared. Those that refused were shot.”

“What about the others?”

“The older men and those who appeared to be sickly were bound and forced to lie on the roadway. A Zeta then held a gun to the bus driver’s head and forced him to drive the bus over them. After he did so, he was shot as well. Some of the women suffered the same fate. The prettier ones were taken to some of the buildings where they were raped first. Then they were shot as well. One of the survivors was being kept by a Zeta for more abuse, but we found her before she was killed. The dead were pushed into these pits and covered up.”

Aquilar shook his head. The smell of decomposing flesh still hung in the air even though the last of the bodies were removed. “How many Zetas have you rounded up?”

“More than eighty.” Torres looked at the ground before returning his gaze to Aquilar. “I have to confess something, Major. After first speaking to the witnesses, we were able to arrest about forty Zetas. They were spread throughout San Fernando, sleeping drunken thugs occupying deserted homes. I had our men form a circle, and I told the Zetas to pair up inside the circle. I had them strip naked, and told them that they were going to fight to the death with their bare hands, and that only the winners would be allowed to survive. I told them that the survivors would then have to rape each other, and that any who refused would be shot.”

Aquilar stared at his subordinate. “Did that happen? Did you force them to kill and rape each other, Capitan Torres?”

Torres shook his head. “No, sir. I fired one shot to command them to start fighting, but fired another and stopped it after a few seconds. I’m sorry, Major. I was blinded by anger, and just wanted those degenerates to experience some of the same terror they’d caused.”

Aquilar nodded. “At least you stopped it before you completely lowered yourself to their level.” He looked around the pits, smelling the stench. “If I had been here a few days earlier, I might not have stopped it myself.”

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