Monthly Archives: October 2011

Under Attack by Hannah Jayne

Under Attack (Underworld Detection Agency, #2)

ORDER A COPY: Under Attack (Underworld Detective Agency)

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Company
Publishing Date:  November 1, 2011
Paperback: 322 Pages

Rating:  4.5 stars

She’s one of the Underworld Detection Agency’s best. But her job is really starting to bite . . . Sophie Lawson is a human immune to magic, which comes in handy for helping paranormal beings transition into everyday life. But fallen angel Alex Grace and his search for the Vessel of Souls is one curse she never saw coming. Suddenly an unexplainable string of killings and destruction has evenSan Francisco’s demons fearing for their immortal lives. And Sophie isn’t about to trust Alex’s all-too-vulnerable charm or his secret agenda. Now their hunt is revealing dangerous secrets about Sophie’s past, and a malevolent power hellishly close to turning one irreverent human into the ultimate supernatural weapon. . .

Sophie works for the Underworld Detection Agency along with her best friend and (vampire) roommate, Nina.  Sophie is quite surprised when her missing love and fallen angel, Alex Grace, pops back into town.   Alex wants Sophie’s help finding the Vessel of Souls.  If he can locate the Vessel, he can return to heaven and reclaim his wings.  Sophie will do anything to help Alex, even if it means losing him forever.

This was my first official “Urban Fantasy” book so maybe I don’t understand the genre.  I have noticed some not so flattering reviews of this story and personally I don’t understand it.  I thought the characters were so much fun that by page 21 I already downloaded the first book in the series, Under Wraps.  I spent this whole book either giggling or laughing out loud.  Sophie and her friends are a bunch of smartasses (my kind of people).    It was full of one liners and little zings. 

“Ooh, spooky.  A woman gets her coffee and then mysteriously leaves the coffee shop afterward.  How chillingly bizarre?”

“Remind me again why we’re friends?”  I asked.

“Because I pay half the rent and you can’t kill me.”  Nina grinned, her fangs pressed against her lower lip.  “So what happened after that?  Oh, let me guess – you found Excalibur in your blueberry scone?”

“Fine.  Then I won’t tell you that I ran into a hot fireman.”

Nina dropped her pen and her eyes went big and round.  I thought I saw a bit of drool at the side of her mouth.  “A fireman?  Really?”  Her eyes narrowed.  “I love fireman.  They taste so smoky and good.”

From the cover of the book I thought Sophie was an Agent/Cop for the Underworld Detection Agency.  She’s not.  She’s a clerk but that does lead to many interesting conversations with several of the supernaturals in need of assistance.

…processing the last demon request—a notice of intention to cease terror—offered by a fanged creature with an unfortunate underbite.

“You understand that by giving up your right to terrify, you are also giving up all under-bed, dark-corner, and closet access?”  I mumbled.

“I just don’t want to be the boogyman anymore.  I’m hoping to get this underbite worked on and I can’t get a dentist to even look at me without a cease notice.”

My one complaint is that Sophie cries a lot in this book.  She did have a lot of issues to deal with, and she was getting her ass kicked a lot.  Since she is only human, I am sure it hurt.  So I took off ½ a star for too many crying  jags.  Man up, Sophie, you’re making the humans look bad.

Again, maybe I do not understand the genre of Urban Fantasy.  It certainly was no Lord of the Rings adventure.  But it was a very entertaining and quick moving story with delightful and enjoyable characters.  It was so much fun to read!  I can’t wait for the next story coming out in May 2012.

Received copy courtesy of Kensington Books. Thank you!

Favorite Scene:

Alex and I shared some steamy moments and every glance or touch of his skin electrified me.  This moment was no exception—but he was bad news.  Fallen angels always are.  And his whole disappearing/reappearing thing really got on my last nerve.

And then I realized I was naked.

I sunk lower into the water, pushing the bubbles over my girly bits and glowering at Alex who looked at me, that obnoxious, adorable half-smile still playing on his lips.  He helped himself to a cookie.

What are you doing here?”  I snapped.

He chewed thoughtfully.  “I needed to talk to you.”

“I have a phone.  Or an e-mail address. Or, hell, a carrier pigeon.  Do you always have to show up in the bathroom?”

“I needed your undivided attention.”

I raised an annoyed brow.  “Or you needed a naked-lady fix.  And did you lose your ability to knock along with your wings?”

He grinned, took a swig of my wineglass. “Ooh.”  His blue eyes looked up, raked the ceiling.  “Is that an oh-eight?  It’s buttery.”

“Get out!”  I screamed, pointed a sopping bubble-laden arm at the bathroom door.  “I’m not going to talk to you while I’m naked.”

Alex’s grin widened. “So you are naked…?”

“I’m in the bathtub,”  I snarled.  “What did you expect?”  I was sitting forward now and vaguely aware of the cool air touching my breasts.  I hunkered down in the water again.  “You’re a pervert.”

Alex shrugged, finished my wine, and poured himself some more.  “Hey, I’m no angel.”

Claimed by Rebecca Zanetti


ORDER A COPY: Claimed (Dark Protectors)

Publisher: Brava/Kensington Publishing
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Paperback:   341 Pages

Rating:  5 Stars

A Daring Rescue

Emma Paulsen is a geneticist driven by science. But she’s also a psychic, so when a dark, good-hearted vampire frees her from the clutches of the evil Kurjans, she realizes he must be the man who’s been haunting her dreams. But with a virus threatening vampires’ mates, Emma may discover a whole new meaning of “lovesick”. . .

A Deadly Decision

As King of the Realm, Dage Kayrs has learned to practice diplomacy. Still, it’s taken three hundred years to find his mate, so he’ll stop at nothing to protect her—even if it means turning his back on his own kind. . .

In the world of the Dark Protector series, Vampires are born, not created.  Vampire genes are strong but they only create more male vampires.  The vampires must then find their mates among “gifted” human females; empaths, psychics, etc.  When the human females are mated to their vampires, their DNA structure is changed. This changed DNA creates a “mating allergy” in any male who simply tries to kiss a mated female.  Since gifted human females are rather rare, Kurjans (another and certainly less attractive race of vampires) have created a virus which destroys the mating bond, thereby alleviating the danger of the mating allergy, and allowing the Kurjans to steal the mates of the vampires for themselves.

Emma Paulson is a brilliant geneticist with a strong psychic gift.  She was unaware that the cure for cancer she was working on was actually the Kurjan’s virus.  When Emma realizes something is not right about her research, she takes her findings and runs.  Until that moment, she was unaware of vampires, Kurjans and the world of the supernaturals.   She also learns that her sister, Cara, and her niece, Janie, were not only living with the vampires, but that her sister was now mated to a Vampire and pregnant with a vampire son. 

Dage Kayrs is the King of the Realm.  He has been for the last 325 years.  He is the most powerful vampire and he maintains peace among the supernatural allies and protects them from the Kurjan scourge.   The one thing he wants most in this world is to find her, his mate.  The woman he has been dreaming about for centuries.   When he first meets Cara, she looks so similar to the woman in his dreams.  He soon realizes that her sister, Emma, is the woman he has been searching for all these years.

Dage rescues Emma from the Kurjans who have captured her and were sending her to the leader of the Kurjans to be mated to him.  Dage brings Emma home to see to her sister.  Shortly after Emma arrives, Cara and several others are infected by the virus, right under the noses of the Vampires.  There is a traitor in their midst. 

While Emma is in a race to find a way to reverse the virus to save her sister and her unborn child, Dage is trying to reinforce his allies for the coming Kurjan war.  He allows an old friend, Caleb Donovan, and his people to return to the Realm after 150 years of banishment.  Caleb was banished to avoid a war with the Demons.  Now that Caleb has returned, the Demons don’t believe in by-gone will be by-gone and they have given Dage a week to denounce Caleb before the Demon’s declare war on the Realm.   Can Dage fight a war on two fronts, find the traitor and save the females from the virus, all while trying to win the heart of the stubborn Emma?

The science introduced in the changing DNA and the effects and development of the virus add a unique and very interesting aspect to this series which keeps it from being just another vampire story.  Add to that the impending war between the Vampires and the Kurjans.  This all makes for a very exciting series. 

Rebecca Zanetti’s writing is both brilliant and frustrating.  While her stories are gripping and intriguing, this is a continuing saga and not all questions will be answered at the end of this story.   If you are thinking about reading this series, I would recommend starting soon.  Since it is a continuing story line, the further into the series we get, the harder it will be to just pick up the latest book. 

Received copy courtesy of Kensington Books.  Thank you!

I do have one thing to say to one of the characters:  Emma – You have a conversation with the very powerful King of the Realm where you both confess you have been dreaming of each other half your lives. You’re about thirty, he’s around 350. He’s been dreaming of you for two hundred years. Not just someone special, but you specifically for two hundred years!!! Did you really think your speech of I’m not doing that mating thing. I’m here to see my sister, then I’m out. was really going to go over well? Did you think he was going to give you a hug, and a Thanks for last night. Call me next time you’re in town. REALLY?? Although the ensuing power struggle was titillating to the rest of us, you don’t have to be a brilliant geneticist with psychic abilities to know that you weren’t going to make it to the door.

Favorite Scene:

A tingling set up through her veins as if carbonation mixed with her blood. Nerves flared to life in her extremities.

No. Anger and dread pooled near her solar plexus. “Did you mark me?”

He stiffened behind her. “Of course not. I said I wouldn’t.” Thick arms tightened their hold on her waist and his breath stirred her hair. “Tonight, anyway.”

She ignored the not-so-veiled treat as well as the renewed desire beginning to hum throughout her pores. “I feel different. Powerful.” What the hell had he done to her?

He shrugged. “You’re my mate, love. Your body knows that, even if you don’t. The marking is only one part of the process.”

The mattress dipped and she found herself on her back, her gaze held captive by his. “I told you I won’t be forced into this by fate.”

He nodded and his lips whispered against her. “Yes, you did. But I’m not fate.” He nipped her lip. “I’ll give you time, Emma. But if you think I’m letting you go, you’ve misread me.”

Cinderella and the Sheikh by Teresa Morgan

Cinderella and the Sheikh

ORDER A COPY: Cinderella and the Sheikh (Hot Contemporary Romance)

Published:  April 6, 2011
Self published – ebook

Rating:   3 stars 

 She’s about to get charmed…

Libby Fay’s safe little life as a waitress at a posh New York boutique hotel implodes when Sheikh Rasyn Al Jabar, black-eyed and seductive, crashes into her world and swears that he loves her.

The powerful sheikh will do anything to prevent becoming the ruler of his North African homeland, including marrying a woman who is inappropriate to be queen. When he sees the beautiful, bubbly waitress, he knows that she is the perfect wife to help him avoid the throne—all he has to do is make her fall in love with him.

All her life, Libby has longed for the same loving, equal partnership her parents had—something she couldn’t possibly have with a forceful sheikh who ignores all her objections. But Rasyn seems to be able to charm her into anything, including his bed. Soon, she finds herself on a plane to Abbas, transported into a fairy tale come true.

Unfortunately for Libby, a Cinderella is the last thing this Prince Charming wants.

Sheikh Rasyn ibn Bakr ibn Rahman al Jabar is the next heir to the throne of Abbas.  An honor he does not want.   He believes his cousin will be a much better king so he devises a plan to find a foreign wife, a commoner, and a woman so wrong that he will be passed over as heir.

Libby Fey is a waitress in the Hotel Scheherazade an exclusive hotel which caters to rich foreign dignitaries.  She has been warmed to avoid getting entangled with the VIPs.  But no matter how hard she tries, the prince keeps pursuing her.

After a night of seduction and passion, the prince proposes, stating his undying love for her, and take her home to Abbas.  But his plan backfires when Libby starts to win over the hearts of the people of Abbas.

There is no doubt that Rasyn is using Libby to achieve a goal.  He makes it known to the reader from the beginning that Libby is the means to an end.  He uses his natural gift of persuasion to convince her of his love for her, and how she needs to come with him to his home country and give him a chance to win her love.  He is not a very likeable character, although he is charismatic and sexy, he is selfish and childish.  I found that every time I started to like him a little, he reminded us that his intentions are self-centered and all for the end goal of getting him off the throne. 

Although Libby is a much more likeable character and she wants to help people (like when she visits the orphanage), I don’t understand how she was convinced to go to Abbas.  Her constant mantra was that “she won’t let him into her heart” which I thought would turn into “I’m falling hard,” but everyone keeps asking her, if he’s trying so hard to make her fall in love with him, why hasn’t she.  Although she keeps jumping into bed with him, she doesn’t really let him into her heart.  She spends all her time telling herself that they are incompatible and they will never be as happy as her parents so she doesn’t want to risk anything. Again, if she didn’t believe him, didn’t think they were compatible and wasn’t going to give it a try, why bother going with him.

You would also have to wonder why, after her initial blunder in royal society, and when she doesn’t stick to her decision to go home, why she doesn’t then make more of an effort to learn the job of a princess, i.e. social customs of the area, etc.   She allows herself to be talked into staying since her blunder was what Rasyn was trying to accomplish, but while she is there she doesn’t try to learn more about Rasyn or the life he is supposed to be offering her.

After Rasyn realizes he was falling for her along the way, even he comments that “you let everyone else into your heart, from the servants to my uncle, but never me.”

This was a quick read and the story held my interest, but there was no real draw between the characters since he was faking his affection and she wouldn’t risk her heart. 

Received copy courtesy of the author. Thank you!

Favorite Scene:

Libby put her napkin over her mouth to cover her smile.

Rasyn’s face darkened.  “Don’t do that.  A man wants to see his beauty’s smile.”

The wine was definitely going to her head.  Or maybe it was the close contact of a prince determined to convince her that he loved her.  “Does a man want to see his beauty snort champagne through her nose?”

“Every day.”  Rasyn laughed, a warm sound that filled the room.  When  he laughed like that, she forgot that he came from a long line of royalty, forgot that the price of the suit he wore would pay her rent for a year, and she forgot that only that morning, she had wanted to avoid him more than anyone on the planet.  And she nearly forgot that she was putting her precious job at risk.

Libby looked away, unable to stand the sincerity in his gaze.  The food had been amazing, the wine better.  Rasyn’s stories of his home had painted an exotic portrait of a magical place.

“Dance with me.”  Rasyn rose from the table.

Not a good idea.  Danger signals flashed in her head.  They were nearly as loud as the desire throbbing in her pulse. 

“I shouldn’t…”  But it was too late for warnings.  Her fingers were already settling into his open palm.

Chills went through her as he caressed her knuckles with his thumb.  “I will never ask anything more of you.”

“That’s what you said about dinner.”

The corner of his mouth lifted in a lopsided smile.  “I lied.  Come, dance with me.”

Lord of the Abyss by Nalini Singh

Lord of the Abyss (Royal House of Shadows, #4)

ORDER A COPY: Lord of the Abyss (Harlequin Nocturne)

Publisher:   Harlequin Nocturne
Release Date:  November 22, 2011
Paperback: 288 Pages

Rating:  5 Stars

Once upon a time…the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden. To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance. Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs…and time is running out.…

As the dark Lord who condemns souls to damnation in the Abyss, Micah is nothing but a feared monster wrapped in impenetrable black armor. He has no idea he is the last heir of Elden, its last hope. Only one woman knows—the daughter of his enemy.

Liliana is nothing like her father, the Blood Sorcerer who’d cursed Micah. She sees past Micah’s armor to the prince inside. A prince whose sinful touch she craves. But first she has to brave his dark, dangerous lair and help him remember. Because they only have till midnight to save Elden

He is the Guardian of the Abyss.  The Lord of the Black Castle.  He remembers nothing of a life before he was The Guardian.   All fear him but one woman.  She looks him in the eye and challenges him.  She is not pretty, but she intrigues him.

Liliana is the daughter of the malicious Blood Sorcerer, but he has never been able to bend her to his evil ways.  She is a blood sorceress in her own right and she has seen the future.  If the youngest prince, Micah, is not there with his brothers and sister to lay siege to the castle, the royal children of Elden will fail.

Liliana travels to the Black Castle to help Micah remember who he is before time runs out and Elden is lost forever.

This is the final book in the Royal House of Shadow Series.  Each of the four books in the series are written by a different author.   The books each feature the four children of the King and Queen of Elden who are murdered by the Blood Sorcerer and their kingdom stolen.  Before they die, they bespell their children with one spell to protect them and one filling them with a lust for vengeance.  Each child is also gift with a magic timepiece.

I have to ask – did anyone else spend four books hearing Billy Crystal from Princess Bride saying “Have fun stormin’ da castle!”  Anyone? – Ok, just me.

storming castle

I was charmed by the story of Liliana and Micah and this was definitely my favorite story of this series.  I truly enjoyed how Nalini Singh approached the character of Micah.  There is a wonderful scene in the book where Micah tells Liliana that she needs a bath and then he proceeds to tease her with a game of keep away with the soap.   At this point Liliana makes an observation that Micah went from being a little boy to being The Guardian, since he was held in a sort of limbo until he was old enough to become The Guardian.   Because of this, he never had an opportunity to play with others, pull a girl’s hair, or just simply have fun.  So she plays along with him.

Of course, he still makes demands and gives orders since he is the Guardian, and that is all he knows, but it is wonderful when he drops the facade and he acts boyish.  It is not often you see such an intimidating figure acting so young and innocent.  I truly enjoyed Micah and Liliana together.

These were four very good stories that all read well on their own and were all very enjoyable.  All together they may a great adventure.  Definitely worth reading.

Received ARC from courtesy of Harlequin.  THANKS!

Spoiler Alert — Can’t hide it so jump to the Favorite Scene!

****I do have two complaints about the series.  After you have read all four stories, come back and we’ll talk.

The first being the watches.  We didn’t really need them and they didn’t really add much to the story.  This all focused on 20 years after the Blood Sorcerer took over the castle.  They could have used a prophecy of the returning children or an astrological occurrence such as an aligning of the planets.   The magical watches didn’t really do much for the story.

The second issue I had was that in the end, the Blood Sorcerer was defeated by Liliana and Micah alone.  After four books, I was so excited waiting for the four siblings to meet up outside the castle and together (with the new significant others) they would defeat the Blood Sorcerer.  So it was disappointing after all of the build up of bringing them all together to the castle at the same moment that we barely even saw the four of them together and mostly just in references in the epilogue.   Come on!!  It was disappointing. ****

Favorite Scene:

He was crouching with is arms on the edge of the bath, so close that she could’ve learned over and caressed his face with her lips –oh, dear.  Swallowing the insane urges that told her to react to him as a woman reacted to a man who looked at her as if she were some particularly delicious treat, she pushed herself through the water until her back hit the wall.

It still left them far too close, no matter that the bath was huge.  “Where’s the soap?”

He held up a hand, brought the square bar to his nose.  “Smells pretty.”

She was being taunted again.  “Give it to me.”


Frustrated beyond bearing, she splashed water at him, remembering too late that he was a man of power, of strength that could hurt.  He drew back in startlement, but when the water hit him, there was no anger.  Instead, he wiped the droplets off his face and…smiled.

Her mind simply stopped.

He was beyond anything she had ever imagined as a child when she’d dreamed of being saved by the lost heirs of Elden.

And he was inhaling her soap again, as if it was the best thing he had ever smelled.  Would he do the same with her if she bathed with that soap?  Biting her lower lip, she pressed them together in an effort to find control.  Liquid with shocking desire or not, she didn’t want the Guardian of the Abyss sniffing at her.  He would only hate her all the more when he discovered whose blood ran in her veins.

That thought should’ve chilled her, but then he held out the soap…only to snatch it back when she went to reach for it.  She froze.  He held it out again…a little further away.  Though she knew his game, she kept playing—until she was back where she’d started, face-to-face with him at the very edge.  “Give me my soap,” she whispered, “and I’ll tell you a tale of three princes and a princess.”  She deliberately left out the name of the kingdom of Elden.  That struck too deep, and might make him refuse to hear what she had to say.

He hesitated.  “Come closer.”

“This is close enough.”


Blinking at the masculine demand, she reached out to grab the soap.  He moved it out of reach so fast that she almost rose up after it, forgetting that she was very, very naked.  “Do you want me to be clean or not?”  she asked, dropping back down.

His expression turned thoughtful.

The skin on her shoulders tingled from the intensity of his gaze, she folded her arms under the water.  “Fine.  No tale, then.”

He leaned on the rim, satisfaction in the curve of those lips she wanted to taste so badly her toes curled.  “You have no clothes.”  A silken reminder.

Her mouth fell open at the way he was telling her she was effectively trapped until he decided to let her go.

Gentlemen Prefer Voodoo by Angie Fox

Cover Image

ORDER A COPY: Gentlemen Prefer Voodoo

Publisher: Bookends Literary Agency
Publishing Date: September 7, 2011
e-book only: 70 pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Voodoo priestess Amie Baptiste usually leaves the spells for the customers until one night, in her loneliness, she gives in to temptation. Amie weaves a spell to call “the perfect man for her.” ….But she should have been more specific since her ideal man apparently died in 1811. Dante Montengro has been haunting St. Louis Cemetery Number One, waiting for his true love to call him back to life and end his wandering ways. Emerging from the cemetery: Hot, human and very much alive Dante’s first stop is Amie’s voodoo shop.

When the drop-dead sexy zombie appears at Amie’s door she has only one thing in mind and that’s to put him back into the ground. That is, unless he can convince her to try a few other things…

When Amie Baptiste decides to try a love spell for herself, she wants the perfect man for her.  That night he appears at her door.    He gorgeous, and naked and until very recently, he was dead.  It appears her perfect man died about 200 years ago. 

But Amie’s not as convinced as Dante that a Happily Every After is meant for them, and he’s not happy when she tries to send him back in his grave. 

Dante has three days to convince Amie to give a zombie a chance before its “ashes to ashes” for him.

First of all, in case you were wondering, he is not a “gooey” zombie.  Dante comes back all gorgeous and hot and without any “graveyard breath” since the first thing he does in lean in for a make-out session.   If this was a common occurrence, more Zombies would be able to move up in the monster genre to leading man status. 

This was a nice little short-story, and a break from the usual paranormal vampire/werewolf hero.  What makes this one stand out was the addition of Isoke, Amie’s Kongamato (a mythical, pterodactyl-like creature).  Isoke is so happy to see Amie dating (zombie or not) he keeps leaving her good luck presents, mostly dead rats.  He is delightful and funny.

Although I am usually disappointed by short stories, I found one to be cute, charming and a quick break for the usual fare.

Favorite Scene:

Dante leaned in to kiss her and Amie was about the close her eyes when the tree above them shook.  A giant black rat hit every branch on the way down and thwumped at their feet.

“Isoke!” she shrieked.

Then she noticed the gold band tied to the rodent’s tail.

“My apologies.”  Isoke flapped his wings as he settled on a high branch.  “I saw you heading for the church and wanted you to be ready.” 

Lord of the Wolfyn by Jessica Andersen

Lord of the Wolfyn (Royal House of Shadows, #3) (Harlequin Nocturne, #123)

ORDER A COPY: Lord of the Wolfyn (Harlequin Nocturne)

Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Paperback: 288 Pages

Rating: 4 stars

Once upon a time…the Blood Sorcerer vanquished thekingdomofElden.

To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance.

Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs…and time is running out.…

For practical Reda Weston, nothing could explain how reading a sexy version of “Little Red Riding Hood” catapulted her into another realm—face-to-fang with the legendary wolf-creature who seduced women. A wolf who transformed into a dark, virile man….

Dayn cursed the Sorcerer that turned him wolfyn and damned him to a lonely fate. As a beast, he mated with women to gain strength.

Strength he needed to rescue his royal parents. But as a man, he craved Reda’s heated, sizzling touch. With little time left, Dayn had to either embrace his wolf to save his kingdom…or fight it to save his woman

This is the third book in the Royal House of Shadow Series.  Each of the four books in the series are written by a different author.   The books each feature the four children of the King and Queen of Elden who are murdered by the Blood Sorcerer and their kingdom stolen.  Before they die, they bespell their children with one spell to protect them and one filling them with a lust for vengeance.  Each child is also gift with a magic timepiece.

Prince Dayn was the hunter of the family who protected Elden from dangerous creatures, including any wolfyn who became trapped in the Kingdom realm.  The Queen’s protection spell sends Dayn into the realm of the wolfyn to wait.  Before he dies, his father, the King, tells him through mindspeak that Dayn will stay where he is until a guide is sent for him and then he has 4 days to get to his siblings in Elden to storm the castle or all will be lost.  

Reda Weston was a police officer who’s partner was killed during a robbery.  She blames herself for his death because she froze in panic instead of creating a distraction that could have saved his life.  Reda is searching for a book which her mother had given to her as a child, a dark version of Little Red Riding Hood.  Once she locates this book, it is a catalyst and opens a vortex which takes her to the wolfyn realm. 

Dayn realizes immediately that she is the guide his father spoke about and which he has been waiting 20 years to bring him home.  He convinces Reda to go with him to find the next vortex portal so he can get to his siblings and kill the blood sorcerer.

The one big issue with different authors in a series is making sure everyone is following the same rules.  In LOTW, I don’t remember reading anything about Dayn having a timepiece, which is supposed to be a main premise of this series.  We do have an explanation of his spending 20 years in the kingdom of the Wolfyn waiting for his guide to show.  Nicolai lost 20 years trapped as a prisoner.  In the fourth book, Micah is only 4 when the King and Queen are killed, and obviously we need to make him old enough for his own HEA.  But apparently, I am not the only one who can’t figure out Breena’s age or the time difference in Lord of Rage.  Several reviews also indicate a discrepancy in that story. 

So far I am not impressed with the Queen’s idea of safe places to stash her children; one was sent to a sex-slave market, another send to the kingdom of beserkers who are known for taking what they want, and now Dayn is sent into the kingdom of the wolfyn who HATE vampires.  He has to hide that little bit of information for 20 years to stay alive.

The story of Dayn and Reda moves quickly through the beginning of the book, then we hit a snag when both characters realize they haven’t learned anything and are repeating past mistakes, now with each other.  Things get a little awkward between them.  Then things really awkward between them when Reda finds out Dayn is hiding more than just the fact that he’s a prince and a vampire.   Reda tries to flee back home, but gets trapped in the vortex and a disembodied voice convinces her she needs to help Dayn get to his siblings and then she can return home.   The story improves from there after Dayn and Reda move past their issues and work together.

Received an advance copy from, courtesy of Harlequin Books.

Favorite Scene:

Dayn yanked her up and against him and propelled them both to the main trunk; then he spun them and pinned her against the tree with his body, in case she was still thinking about trying to run.  Instead she burrowed both hands beneath his jacket to wrap her arms around him and grab fistfuls of his sweater as she buried her face in his chest and clung, shaking.

And if things had been entirely wrong in his universe only a few moments earlier, now they suddenly seemed very, very right.  She fit seamlessly against him and warmed him where he had been so cold.  She was safe.  She was unhurt.  And she was in his arms.

She’s your guide, dumbass, snarled a very human-sounding voice of reason.  And you’re supposed to be remembering your damn priorities.

But wasn’t his guide a priority?  He didn’t know what role she was supposed to play in his journey, but was beginning to suspect it wasn’t nearly as simple as merely showing him where to go.  For now, though, it was enough that she hadn’t left him stranded in the wolfyn realm, hadn’t fallen to her death.

“Shh,”  he said against her temple, letting the subtle flowers-and-spice sent of her curly hair fill him with a touch of the feminine whimsy he had gone so long without, “I’ve got you.  You’re okay.”

She sucked in a shuddering breath.  “But you’re, you’re…”

“Not a threat to you, I promise.”

Lord of Rage by Jill Monroe

Lord of Rage (Royal House of Shadows, #2)

ORDER A COPY: Lord of Rage (Harlequin Nocturne)

Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne
Publishing Date: September 20, 2011
Paperback: 288 Pages

Rating: 4 stars

Princess Breena had been dreaming of her warrior lover when she was ripped from her Elden castle and thrown into a strange, dangerous realm. Lost and alone, she prayed for survival and vengeance for her stolen kingdom. She found both in a woodland cottage…in a dark bear of a man.

The golden-haired beauty had eaten his food and slept in his bed when Osborn found her. Though he wanted to awaken his virgin princess to carnal pleasures, Breena wanted more—including his warrior skills. Skills the once-legendary mercenary had long buried. Now Osborn had a choice—risk his life or deny his princess her fairy-tale ending.

This is the second book in the Royal House of Shadow Series.  Each of the four books in the series will be written by a different author.   The books each feature the four children of the King and Queen of Elden who are murdered by the Blood Sorcerer and their kingdom stolen.  Before they die, they bespell their children with one spell to protect them and one filling them with a lust for vengeance.  Each child is also gift with a magic timepiece.

The Queen’s spell has thrown Princess Breena into the far realm of the Ursa warriors, Beserkers who harness the power of the bear.  What Breena doesn’t realize at first if this is where she will find her dream warrior who she has been meeting in lust-filled dreams.   Breena and Osborn recognize each other immediately, but Osborn knows she brings trouble and he and his young brothers are the last of their race.  He wants her gone in the morning, at least his brain does.  His heart and his body have other ideas.

As a pampered princess, all Breena trained for was dancing and being married off by her father for a lucrative allegiance.  If Breena can’t get Osborn to fight for her and her kingdom, she wants him to train her to fight, and Osborn has some interesting ideas of how she can pay him back.

This was a quick read and very enjoyable story.   I was concerned at first about Osborn.  He was harboring lots of guilt and self doubt as the only survivor the night his people were attacked.  He felt unworthy of Breena and every time he started giving in to his desires for her, he stopped and seemed to be angry with Breena.  Blaming her for his desires.   He did get over it and finally realized that even though she was “meant for someone better than him,” he was going to fight to keep her for himself. 

I gave it 4 stars since there wasn’t too much action to the story.  It is certainly not necessary to have a lot of action to make a good story, but considering this is supposed to be an adventure to reclaim a kingdom, in this case there should have been a little more.  There wasn’t much to the time with Breena and Osborn than the training Breena did with Osborn, and their dance around their feelings for each other.  It was a good story, but not much of an adventure.   

The one thing I don’t yet understand is that in Book 1, Nicholai was unaware he was kept prisoner for 20 years.  This time issue was of course necessary since the youngest sibling of the story was only about 4 when the castle was taken.  We need to age him into his 20s for his story.  But Breena’s story didn’t make any indication of lost time.  So will we find Breena and Osborn 20 years in the future when all the siblings come together to storm the castle or was she wandering the forest for 20 years before she finds Osborn??

Favorite Scene:

“Remember how we are together in my dreams?”  she asked, refusing to let him push her hand away.  “How perfect?”

He could make love to her in that fantasy world she created as they slept.  Yes.  He could caress every part of her body.  Brand her with his touch.  Drive into her as his body demanded.  And he could hold her.

Yet no matter how amazing their coupling would be in the dream, Osborn knew he would wonder and crave the real thing until he was mad.

“Those dreams were lies,” he told her, his teeth clenched.

“Aren’t you even curious?”

Hell, yes, he was curious.  Curious if she’d meet his gaze when he joined his body with hers.  Ached to learn the feel of her softness as she welcomed him into her.  Dying to know—

“Lies,” he said again.  Just to stay sane.

Her hand dropped and her expression turned sad.  “If it makes you feel any better, sometimes those lies I shared with you were the only thing I really looked forward to.”  Breena turned on her heel and walked away from him.

The blood pounded in his head.  Those dreams were the only thing that brought anything even approaching happiness into his life.  Until he found her sleeping in his bed.

A Vampire for Christmas by L. London, M. Hauf, C. Pineiro, A. Morgan

A Vampire for Christmas (Includes: Sweetblood, #2.5)

ORDER A COPY: A Vampire for Christmas: Enchanted by Blood\Monsters Don’t Do Christmas\When Herald Angels Sing\All I Want For Christmas (Hqn)

Publisher: Harlequin
Publishing Date: October 18, 2011
Paperback: 384 Pages

Overall Rating: 5 stars

All they want for Christmas is you…

It’s the time of year for twinkling lights on trees and kisses under the mistletoe. Yet the passing of another year means nothing to the stunning immortals who lurk in the shadows of the new-fallen snow.

And they don’t care if you’ve been naughty or nice.

Let four fanged lovers open your eyes to a passion you never dared to imagine. After all, there’s no place like home for the holidays—and these dazzling vampires can’t wait for an invitation.

First of all I have to say for four “vampire” stories, the fact that they involve vampires seemed incidental.   These stories felt more like a love stories to me – ok, ok, if you ignore the memory wipes and the vampire teeth, blah, blah – but you know what I mean.  In all these stories the vampires seemed to not like that side of themselves and tried to suppress their “evil” natures. 

These were four very well written short stories with wonderfully characters.  I think you will find them quite enjoyable, whether you are into the paranormal romance or you simply like a nice romance.

Enchanted by Blood by Laurie London – One year ago, Trace and Charlotte were in love.  But Trace had to erase Charlotte’s memory after she witnessed a vicious vampire attack and he couldn’t allow her to know of their existence.  Anyway, relationships between vampires and mortals were frowned upon and if he were to take his place on the Governing Counsel, he needed to abide by those rules.

One year later, Trace saves Charlotte from a vampire attack.  She doesn’t understand why she trusts this stranger so much or why she’s so attracted to him.  Now that Trace has Charlotte back in his arms, will he have the strength to let her go again.   But not everyone is happy for them.  Someone wants what Trace has, and they are more than willing to kill for it.

I liked Trace and Charlotte right from the beginning.  Their chemistry was off the charts.  Since there was a history between them, their story didn’t feel rushed or forced. 

This was a very enjoyable story and I will be putting Laurie London’s Sweetblood series on my list of books to read.  I have already downloaded her Hidden by Blood which was a Free Nook Book as of the date of this post. 

Rating:  5 stars

Monsters Don’t Do Christmas by Michele Hauf – Young vampire Daniel Harrison would have thought that getting your butt handed to him by a pair of werewolves was the most embarrassing thing to happen, until he gets rescued by a human –  and a woman to boot.   How humiliating. 

Until that moment Olivia Adorata, didn’t know supernaturals existed, but then again, she raised to keep an open mind.  She was not surprised that “monsters” exist since she considers herself one too.  A rising star, she is normally surrounded by all the trapping that go with the stardom, but the week before Christmas she goes back to her old apartment to enjoy a quiet week of vacation.

Can a vampire and celebrity have any type of relationship?

Although I don’t understand why Olivia considered herself a monster, it was a nice story and again, very enjoyable characters.  Apparently I had already downloaded Michele Hauf’s Kiss Me Deadly at some point, I will have to make sure to get to it soon. 

Rating:  5 stars

When Herald Angels Sing by Caridad Pineiro – Damien has lost his love for the second time last Christmas.  He doesn’t know why she keeps coming back to him, but he does know that her death is always his fault.  What he doesn’t know is that Angelina is no ordinary woman.  She’s a guardian angel.  Heaven and Hell are fighting for Damian’s soul, a vampire who won’t kill.   

His enemy, Pedro Ramirez, has made a deal with Satan that if he gets Damien to kill, he will get not only great power but he gets to keep Angelina for himself.

Can Angelina finally get Damien to control his temper before it is too late for him?

It took me a while to warm up to Damien in this story.  Although he is declaring Angelina as his great love lost, at the time when Angelina is killed the first time, he is rather callous and he’s just using her.  When she is reincarnated a second time, there is more of a relationship between them, but considering how he treated her the first time, I am surprised he was drawn to her a second time and so strongly.

Because I eventually warmed up to Damien and Angelina, I got to enjoy the rest of the story.  

Rating:  4 stars 

All I Want for Christmas by Alexis Morgan – Eagan McHale is a police officer in a special unit of supernaturals.  He is staking out a neighborhood where teens are ending up dead from blood loss.  He suspects the killer is a young vampire.  He doesn’t want to stand out as a stranger in the neighborhood, so he heads toward the local diner.

The diner is run by Della Breit.  A woman who has an open heart and a free meal for those who can’t afford one.  When she mistakes Eagan for someone down on his luck, he realizes that trading odd jobs at the diner for food is the perfect cover.  Except the only warm meal Eagan wants is Della.  He just needs to keep his hands, and fangs, off her long enough to solve his case.

Again, a pair of very likeable characters, including several great subcharacters, and it didn’t take a great leap to figure out what was going to happen when Della cuts herself badly in the kitchen and Eagan rushes to her rescue. 

Rating:  5 stars

Received an advance copy from, courtesy of Harlequin Books.

Favorite Scene:

This scene if from All I Want for Christmas.

“Wait a minute, young fellow! You and Della are standing under the Mistletoe. Don’t tell me you’re foolish enough not to take advantage of that! When I was your age, we relished such moments ‘Tis the season after all.”

Eagan wasn’t sure which he was having a harder time processing: being called young fellow by a man who had to be decades younger than he was or that he was going to have to kiss Della in front of everybody. There was no way to avoid it without hurting her feelings and alienating most of her friends.

As far as the lady herself, she’d backed up half a step. He suspected she was about to chastise Harry for putting both of them in such an awkward position. He could let her go ahead, shifting the attention back to the old man.

But maybe this was the one opportunity he’d ever had to find out if Della tasted every bit as sweet as she looked. Evidently, his curiosity was running hotter than his common sense because he held out his hand with a wink and waited for the lady to take the dare.

Della focused on Eagan’s hand for several seconds before she could work up enough courage to look him in the eye. To make matters worse, her friends were chanting “Kiss him! Kiss him!”

It didn’t help that last night she’d dreamed about what it would be like to be held in those powerful arms and how that straight slash of the mouth would feel. Well, now was her one chance to find out if her subconscious had come close to the reality.

Placing her hand in Eagan’s somehow carried more weight than it should have. The palm-to-palm connection between them sparked and sizzled. When had the room gotten so hot? Eagan tugged her closer, wrapping her in his embrace firmly enough to say he meant it, gently enough not to leave her feeling trapped.

“Shall we dazzle them?”

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

ORDER A COPY: The Hunger Games

Publisher: Scholastic
Publishing Date: September 14, 2008
Hardcover: 374 pages

Rating: 5 stars

In the ruins of a place once known as North Americalies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love

Katniss Everdeen lives in a world of poverty.  District 12 as a whole survives on coal mining, and is the most forgotten district in the Nation.  After the death of her father, Katniss learned to hunt with a bow and arrow to feed her mother and sister.  When her 13-year-old sister’s name is drawn to fight in the Hunger Games, Katniss doesn’t hesitate to take her place.  Will Katniss’s hunting skill be enough to help her survive?  District 12 has only had one winner in the 73 prior Hunger Games.  As if her chances to survive aren’t bad enough, she is being sent to fight against Peeta Mellark, the boy who’s act of kindness was a poignant memory for her.  Will she be able kill him?  Will they even survive long enough to decide that? 

The first half of the book sets up world that Katniss lives in and after her selection as a contestant, we get the backstage tour of the “show,” because that is how the Games are treated by the people of the Capitol.  The contestants are dressed, interviewed and paraded before the cameras so that the people of the Capitol and Districts can bet and live the thrill of the Games.

The Games themselves will leave you on the edge of your seat.  Katniss’s fight to survive against all odds, not just against the other contestants, but the traps set up by the Capitol for the entertainment of the viewing audience, will leave you breathless.

Favorite Scene:

I’m in a daze for the first part of Peeta’s interview.  He has the audience from the get-go, through; I can hear them laughing, shouting out. He plays up the baker’s son thing, comparing the tributes to the breads from their districts.  Then has a funny anecdote about the perils of the Capitol showers.  “Tell me, do I still smell like roses?”  he asks Caesar, and then there’s a whole run where they take turns sniffing each other that brings down the house.  I’m coming back into focus when Caesar asks him if he has a girlfriend back home.

Peeta hesitates, then gives an unconvincing shake of his head. 

“Handsome lad like you.  There must be some special girl.  Come on, what’s her name?”  says Caesar.

Peeta sighs.  “Well, there is one girl.  I’ve had a crush on her since I can remember.  But I’m pretty sure she didn’t know I was alive until the reaping.”

Sounds of sympathy from the crowd.  Unrequited love they can relate to.

“She have another fellow?”  asks Caesar.

“I don’t know, but a lot of boys like her,”  says Peeta.

“So, here’s what you do.  You win, you go home.  She can’t turn you down then, eh?” says Caesar encouragingly.

“I don’t think it’s going to work out.  Winning…won’t help in my case,” says Peeta.

“Why ever not?” says Ceasar, mystified.

Peeta blushes beet red and stammers out.  “Because…because…she came here with me.”

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)

ORDER A COPY: Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)

Publisher: Scholastic
Publishing Date: September 1, 2009
Hardcover: 391 Pages

Rating: 4 stars

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark won the annual competition described in Hunger Games, but the aftermath leaves these victors with no sense of triumph. Instead, they have become the poster boys for a rebellion that they never planned to lead. That new, unwanted status puts them in the bull’s-eye for merciless revenge by The Capitol. Catching Fire maintains the adrenaline rush of Suzanne Collins’s series launch.

Katniss and Peeta survived the Hunger Games, but there is no life of leisure for these winners.   The President is not happy about their little ploy, and he’s holding Katniss personally responsible for embarrassing the Capitol.   He has no qualms about taking his unhappiness out on all of District 12.

Worse, the rebels want to use Katniss as their symbol of the rebellion, putting her further under the scrutiny of the Capitol. 

Sadly, the nightmare is not over for Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch.  The Capitol is planning something special for this year’s 75th Hunger Games.  Something that will teach the people once and for all that they can’t fight the Capitol’s will.  This year’s contestants will be drawn from the winners of the prior Hunger Games and make no mistake, this time there will be only one winner!!

We are again be drawn in the horrors of the Hunger Games.  After all the trouble they have caused, the Capitol wants to make sure that the Katniss and Peeta don’t succeed this time. 

When Katniss and Peeta return to District 12, it is not the beginning of the happy ending.  Their romance is being scrutinized, as are the everyday happenings of District 12.  Rules that have been ignored for decades are being enforced.  Anything to bring pain to Katniss and her people.  Katniss can’t decide whether she should be with Peeta or Gale, as each will be hurt by her decision.

When Katniss and Peeta begin their champions tour of the Districts, they see first hand the oppression of the Capitol which is only stronger now since the failure at the Games and the rising of the rebellion. 

Then comes the shocking announcement that to celebrate the 75th year of the games, they will be choosing from the prior winners, Katniss and Peeta know that their chances are slim.

Again, a gripping tale of survival against all odds.

I tell him everything.  About the president’s visit, about Gale, about how we’re all going to die if I fail.

His face sobers, grows older in the glow of the red taillights.  “Then you can’t fail.”

“If you could just help me get through this trip—“  I begin.

“No, Katniss, it’s not just this trip,” he says.

“What do you mean?” I say.

“Even if you pull it off, they’ll be back in another few months to take us all to the Games.  You and Peeta, you’ll be mentors now, every year from here on out.  And every year they’ll revisit the romance and broadcast the details of your private life, and you’ll never, ever be able to do anything but live happily ever after with that boy.”

The full impact of what he’s saying hits me.  I will never have a life with Gale, even if I want to.  I will never be allowed to live alone.  I will have to be forever in love with Peeta.  The Capitol will insist on it.  I’ll have a few years maybe, because I’m still only sixteen, to stay with my mother and Prim.  And then…and then…

“Do you understand what I mean?”  he presses me.

I nod.  He means there’s only one future, if I want to keep those I love alive and stay alive myself.  I’ll have to marry Peeta.


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