Monthly Archives: May 2012
ORDER A COPY: Haunted, a Paranormal Romance (Spiritus Series, Book #2)
Publishing Date: April 12, 2012
eBook: 127 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Alastor came at me then, forcing me back against the wall. He was so solid that I could feel his weight against me. I could feel his frozen breath on my face….He ran his hand up my arm, over my shoulder, and rested at the base of my throat. His blue eyes glittered dangerously.
Becca has accepted the horrors of her past life, and emerged with her ghostly love Alastor at her side. But her happiness is short lived when she realizes that balancing her past and present won’t be easy…
Becca has already decided that it’s Alastor that she loves, but now, as their uncommon relationship limits Becca’s future, Alastor must decide if he’s willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for Becca’s happiness….And will Becca’s sanity survive?
I was truly excited when I saw that Book 2 of the Spiritus series was out. I had enjoyed the characters in Spiritus and I thought it was a well written story and I was frustrated when it ended leaving me hanging until the next book. (See my review of Spiritus.)
I will tell you that Haunted was also a well written story, but personally I was disappointed. I know that the storyline of a woman and her ghost-husband-from-a-previous-lifetime is one of those–just not gonna have a happy ending type story, but I liked the characters of Alastor and Becca.
Spiritus left us on the afternoon of Becca’s graduation of high school. Alastor had disappeared for Becca’s own good but we do catch a glimpse of his watching over her from afar. Haunted picks up with Becca at age 23, and she is currently being held for observation in a psychiatric ward. Alastor obviously didn’t stay away for long, and although he is “living with” Becca up in her room again, he has (once again) come to the conclusion that Becca needs to move on with living her life. This time Alastor is pushing Becca toward Jonah, and although Alastor talks about her having a life, he is hanging on as the secret third wheel in the relationship. Since Alastor is the man Becca wants, it comes off as Becca is just going along with whatever Alastor wants like a puppet and although she doesn’t dislike Jonah, she showed more interest in him in Book 1, than in this story where they actually have a relationship.
Further, I didn’t like the aspect of the psychiatric ward and spending half the book viewing Becca through the eyes of the psychiatrist trying to help her over her delusion. I was never left with the question after reading Spiritus of whether or not she was crazy. We even have that moment when Alastor makes himself solid and Becca’s friends see him (see my favorite scene from Spiritus). If I was left wondering if she was loosing it, then I would have found this intriguing. If Spiritus was intended to be written in a “maybe she’s just crazy” story, then I missed that entirely.
I gave this story 4 stars since the writing was well done, and Book 2 builds on the story where Book 1 left off. I can’t fault the author because it didn’t go where I personally imagined it should. Not her fault, just my fault for jumping ahead.
Dana indicates where she will be leading us for Book 3, which will be the final story in the series, and I am looking forward to see how she concludes the story of Alastor and Becca.
Received ARC from the author. Thank you.
Go to Interviews to find out more about Dana Michelle Burnett and her Spiritus series.
“What did the boy want?” Alastor asked as he swept around me.
“I don’t want to talk about him,” I whispered, trying to focus on the sound of Alastor’s voice and the feeling of him swirling around me.
Suddenly, Alastor was standing behind me. I could feel his icy lips hovering near my cheek.
“I also prefer not to talk about him,” he said with a frosty sigh. “But you seem upset.”
I walked towards my room, ready to shut the door to the outside world. “Alastor, I’m fine.”
He appeared in the doorway then, smiling and looking very real and very solid. He leaned against the frame and crossed his arms. His illusion was so strong; I could almost hear the cloth of his shirt scraping against his skin.
“You always were a terrible liar.” He said, moving aside so that I could walk past him.
I went over to the bed and sat down, “It’s nothing, he is just so annoying.”
“He is just a boy,” Alastor soothed, moving beside me and brushing my face with his chilling touch. “Think nothing more of him.”
“That’s fine with me,” I whispered as I closed my eyes and gave myself over to his touch.
“But I’ll tell you one thing, when I have a daughter; I’m going to warn her how annoying guys can be.”
A blast of cold air pushed against me and shook the walls. Alastor exploded out into the air, swirling around me frantically. I spun around, wanting to move away from him, but not knowing for sure exactly where he was.
“Alastor, what’s the matter with you?”
“You know that is not possible.” He said from everywhere, vibrating the air and causing books to fall from the shelves.
He came closer, hovering just over my head, brewing and churning like a thunderstorm.
“You said when you have a daughter and you know that is not possible between us.”
Blushing, I looked up into the empty air, “I didn’t mean it like that.”
Alastor’s ghostly breath blew against my neck, “Oh, my darling, I think you did.”
ORDER A COPY: The Noctuary
Publisher: Damnation Books
Publishing Date: December 1, 2011
eBook: 56 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Struggling writer Simon Ryan’s life has gone to Hell.
Shadows are pouring into his reality and his words are not his own anymore. He has been chosen to become a scribe for some of the worst creatures of the Underworld–the ones whose sole purpose is to torment human souls–The Dark Muses.
As Simon writes he falls deeper into the abyss and before long he has no sense of what is real. With the help of another scribe, old and mutilated, Simon comes to discover that his writing can mould people and places–that he can write things out of existence.
To become a scribe he has to pass a test and the Muses offer him a chance to rewrite his horrible past. All Simon has to decide is how the story ends.
The Noctuary is a short story in the genre of Horror. Simon Ryan is a writer who has had a traumatic childhood. His dark writings have attacked the attention of one of the Dark Muses from Hell. To prove to Simon his potential writing powers, Meknok gives Simon an opportunity to re-write his childhood in exchange for becoming a scribe for Meknok. Simon learns that trying to re-write your past and control your life is a lot harder then the stroke of a pen.
As a long time fan of Stephen King, I have read many, many of these bizarre story concepts, and I will admit at the end I had to stop a moment and think about the story as a whole. For a short story, it is broken up into two parts: one where Simon meets the dark muse who is trying to tempt Simon to write dark stories for him; and the second part is where Simon tries to re-write his past. Both parts of the story were very well written, and show that Greg can write various types of horror stories, one being the creepy, boogeyman hiding in the closet type, and the almost scarier, dangerous human with no moral compass and their only pleasure is in the fear and pain they cause others.
It was an intriguing story and gives us a taste of Greg Chapman’s writing talent.
My only issue is that this short story is only 56 pages, but is listed on Amazon for $4.50 which seems very, very steep for a short story.
Received review copy from the author. Thank you.
“Your father…” he says, sneering.
My father—what about my father? How does Meknok know about my father?
“I know your very soul, Simon, sometimes I feel it is my own.” He touches my face and traces the marks where he scratched me. “I know your past, your pain. You have lost so much that it shattered your soul; made you perfect for me.”
“But what does that have to do with my father?”
“He is to blame for your life as it is now,” Meknok says. “In some ways, he should be glorified for his actions, but in others he should be cursed and his time will come, be certain of that. But what if you could change things, my young scribe?”
The Muses lean in; they seem more attuned to what Meknok is saying. I ask him again to explain.
“You can change events—for better or worse—with a stroke of a pen! Imagine it! The power to change your past, present and future!”
Is he saying I can change what happened to me and my sister and mother—that it could be as if it never happened? I remember Schiller’s words to me when I found Christina’s corpse in my bed; how he said I wrote her horrible death and it was so.
“Rewrite your life, Simon,” Meknok snarls. “Either damn it or save it but be it your choice.”
ORDER A COPY: Kiss of the Goblin Prince: Shadowlands series
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publishing Date: May 1, 2012
Paperback: 352 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Trapped for centuries in the bleak Shadowlands, Dai clings to his humanity with a thirst for knowledge. But now he’s free of the goblin curse, and some would say he knows too much—he can make nature bend to his will, influence the minds of others, and command magic. Yet love eludes him. Then he meets Amanda, a single mother with a sick daughter whom he feels compelled to protect. But could she possibly place her trust in the kiss of a goblin prince?
In Book #1, Goblin King, due to the love of Eliza, Roan, the Goblin King, was finally able to break the spell which doomed Roan and his brother, Dai, to live in the shadowlands. The curse was put on the brothers by a druid priest almost 2,000 years ago. They were cursed to live in the shadowlands, slowly losing their soul to the greed for gold which would turn them into goblins.
Kiss of the Goblin Prince tells the story of Dai, the Celtic prince of the Decangli. This story is a bit dark since the lives of both Dai and Amanda are both filled with trauma and they stumble a bit trying to overcome their pasts and their fears.
Amanda is the sister in law of Eliza, and Eliza’s brother Matt was killed shortly after he and Amanda were married, and which was shortly after she found out she was pregnant. Although her daughter is now seven, she has never worked past the trauma of watching her newlywed husband drown trying to save another surfer. Amanda is too focused on her daughter Brigit, who is slowly suffocating from chronic asthma, to realize that her life is passing her by. Once she meets Dai, he starts to re-awaken desires, both physically and a desire to move on with her life. Unlike several other stories that featured widows who mourned their husbands until the hero shows up in town and suddenly they toss off their grief and try to jump the hero, Amanda’s realization that she has stopped living her life was a gradual reawakening and she had to work hard to move past her fears and guilt of moving on without the husband she barely knew. The daughter Brigit was cute but underused as a character.
This story mainly focuses on Dai and his trying to adjust to returning to being a man in the fixed realm. Dai was taken as a teenager from his father’s lands by the Romans to ensure that his people would not rebel against Rome. Dai was a prince kept as a slave in the house of a cruel General. He only escaped the life of a slave when he was cursed to the shadowlands. Dai had spent most of his almost 2,000 years in the shadowlands learning magic in an attempt to break the druid’s spell. Dai is trying to work past his hatred for the Roman General and trying to get used to being a man again. He also is being blocked from retreiving his library of magic books by The Birch, who have been holding his books of magic in the fixed realm, so he is trying to relearn magic in this world by trial and error.
This story also deals with the premise of reincarnation and how our lives are continually connected to the same people, as well as the fact that unless you deal with whatever issues you have, you will constantly try to work past the same issues over and over in your future lives.
This is not a quick, light read, nor is it a sexy thriller. This is a very interesting and dark story, and it is truly compelling to watch these two well written characters work through their fears and try to connect with each other.
Received an ARC from the netgalley.com, courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.
“It must be time for cake.”
In the doorway Amanda stood watching them, her face unreadable. Dai drew in a breath ready to defend himself. Would she mention the kiss he’d stolen or let it go?
“Is it time for cake, Mom?”
“It must be since it’s Dai’s birthday and he said it was.” Amanda gave her daughter a smile.
Brigit picked up her bag and ran into the kitchen.
Amanda’s green eyes assessed him. Where there’d been heat now there was confusion. Every time he looked at her lips he would remember and hunger. He’d have to live like a starving man again. He was used to that, but he didn’t want her thinking he was a cad.
“I…” What did he say? “I should’ve asked first.”
She shook her head. “You shouldn’t have stopped.”
“You shouldn’t have pushed me away.” If she hadn’t, he was sure they’d still be standing in the garden and he’d be cursing himself for not being able to walk away.
Her gaze flickered over him. “I didn’t.”
Then she closed the distance and placed her hand on his chest the way she had in the garden and right over the talons. His breath hitched in his throat. This wasn’t a good idea. He covered her hand with his not wanting her to pull away. She was close enough he could smell the cold still clinging to her skin, feel it seeping through his shirt and into the talons that bound him to the past. He wanted her to reach in and rip them out regardless of the price. The talons scrabbled as if unable to keep a hold of his heart.
For a heartbeat neither of them moved.
Then her tongue moistened her lip. He tracked the movement. Was she waiting to be kissed again? But Amanda leaned in and kissed him.
His hands moved to her hips and drew her close. Her body against his offered all the temptation he’d denied himself out of fear. With Amanda those old doubts wilted. Her touch was every kindness he’d forgotten could exist.
Her lips brushed his for only a second before she pulled back and looked up at him smiling. “They’ll be waiting.”
Let them wait.
ORDER A COPY: Bound By The Night (A Vampire/Werewolf Romance)
Publishing Date: April 30, 2012
eBook: 250 pages
Rating: 4 stars
For the last fifteen years, vampire queen Iona has been dead to the world. Trapped under the power of a brutal curse, she has been helpless. A prisoner, locked within her own still body. Then alpha werewolf Jamie O’Connell fights his way to her side. After defeating the guards that surround her, Jamie gives Iona his blood…and she rises.
The world has changed a great deal in the last fifteen years, and Iona has changed, too. Once known as the Blood Queen because of her dark reputation, she now finds herself longing for the blood of only one man…only he isn’t just a man. She wants the blood of her werewolf—Jamie’s blood. But Iona doesn’t realize that Jamie has been keeping secrets from her. Very dark, dangerous secrets. And Iona may have traded one curse for another.
Now that he has Iona, Jamie vows to never let her go. He needs his Blood Queen in order to defeat his enemy, he needs her to make his own beast stronger, and…he just needs her. Jamie has risked his life to claim Iona, and he won’t let anything break their bond. Not time. Not spells. Not even a wild and reckless vampire queen.
This story starts out following the sleeping beauty fairytale. The Blood Queen, a very old and powerful vampire, has been under a spell and has been put in a state of “sleep” by a power hungry witch. She is awakened by a kiss, or rather in this case, by the blood of an alpha werewolf. Jamie is attempting to control her through a blood link and use her to exact revenge against the werewolf who not only killed his family and most of his pack, but who helped the witch bind the spell to trap the Blood Queen.
I want to start by saying this was a good story and can’t find a better way to enjoy $1.00. It truly pains me to have anything but glowing reviews for my favorite authors and I don’t want to say anything negative about the story since it was enjoyable and well written, but compared to the other three self-published “Bound” stories that Cynthia Eden published, this one was just missing something. I also believe this was the longest of her Bound series, and therefore, it should have had more than a very predictable story.
Usually Cynthia’s werewolves have me sitting up and begging, but this story was just lacking something. It was good, and please don’t interpret that as bad. It just wasn’t awesome. It was a quick afternoon read, and for only $1 it was certainly a bargain.
The beast was gone. On the ground, Jamie sprawled as a man. Bullet holes were in his chest. Her eyesight was perfect in the dark, probably even better than his, and Iona saw that he appeared to be bleeding in rivulets of silver.
Liquid silver? Was that the weapon of choice against werewolves these days?
Jamie’s claws drove into his own chest, and he yanked out a handful of silver. A brutal move that had the breath freezing in her lungs. Then he did it again, to the other bullet hole.
“Can’t…get it all…” His voice was barely human. “Liquid…in my blood…”
Yes, it would be. Unlike a solid silver bullet, the liquid silver would pour through him.
She realized that his head was in her lap. Iona didn’t remember sliding her knees under him. Why had she even come to check on him? The shooter could still be out there. The shooter could come for her.
She should run. Leave. Hunt.
Not lean over him and brush the hair from his forehead, but, sure enough, she saw her own trembling fingers sliding through that thick, dark hair.
What is wrong with me?
“If I die…” It certainly looked like the wolf was close to death. Jamie growled, then managed, “So…do you…”
She gazed down at him. She knew what others said about her. She was evil. Wicked. Without a soul.
And maybe some of those stories were true. But in this one instance…
Iona brushed her lips over his. A soft kiss. Gentle. Their first kiss.
It seemed strange to have it here, with blood around them.
It seemed strange to have the kiss after she’d already taken his blood.
But maybe it was fitting.
The kiss was light, but she enjoyed the taste of his lips almost as much as she’d enjoyed his blood.
Perhaps the werewolf could prove to be addictive to her.
And, maybe, she’d show him just how addictive she could be.
Her mouth lifted from his, a few inches. “What makes you think…” Iona asked him quietly, “that I would let you die by any hand other than my own?”
ORDER A COPY: Tangle of Need
Publishing Date: May 29, 2012
Paperback: 432 Pages
Rating: 5 stars
Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past–one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.
For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.
Their coming together is an inferno…and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.
In this 11th installment of Nalini Singh’s, Psy-Changling series, the air crackles with tension as the PsyNet is the verge of civil war. Councilor Harry Scott has been missing in action since Sienna Laurens, an X-Psy, brought forth a raging fire and destroyed most of the Psy army to protect the changelings. While the Psy try to recover and determine whether or not Harry was killed in the fire, other leaders of the Psy are making power plays for supremacy and they do not care how much of the NetMind and it inhabitants must be sacrificed to emerge as the victor. When a plan comes to light that might claim tens of thousands, the Psy turn to their enemy, the changelings, to help keep their world from collapsing.
In the background of this story, the SnowDancers are celebrating the recent changes in their pack, including a new life created by a mated pair, and the mating ceremony of their Alpha, Hawke, with Sienna Laurens. The joy felt by the pack on this momentous occasion is tempered by a little envy. Lone Wolf and pack Lieutenant Riaz Delgado found his mate a year ago. He felt the wondrous pull of the mating bond. But Riaz meets a harsh reality when he finds out that the woman is already happily married, and bond or no bond, he would not bring himself to claim a mate who was already in love with another.
He has returned to the SnowDancer territory to lick his wounds surrounded by his pack family, and to get on with a future that will not include a life mate. His attraction to Adria Morgan feels like a betrayal to a woman whom he can never have and it tormenting and frustrating his inner wolf.
It has been awhile since Adria walked away from a long-term relationship which never included that precious mating bond. When Adria and Riaz decide to give into their mutual attraction to simply fill the loneliness that they both suffering, their attraction builds into more, a mutual respect and desire to spend time with each other.
Although most romances featuring plain-old humans involve taking that uncertain chance at love with another person, it is a very hard decision in the world of shifters to risk giving your heart to someone to whom you can only be second choice to their one true mate.
While sneaking peaks into the mating bond shared by Hawke and Sienna as they prepare for their bonding ceremony, we are given the contrast of an unprecedented pairing of two changelings who are trying to create a life outside of a mating bond and the uncertainty of whether the bond they create will be as strong as natural instincts, and the risks involved to heart and soul.
What is quite compelling in this story, while most Were and Shifter stories involve the use of a “mating bond,” Tangle of Need focuses on second chances outside of the mating bond and gives us a taste of the decisions and fears suffered when circumstances force changelings to live without that bond and whether love can be achieved naturally between two primal, dominant wolves without the magic of that sacred bond.
This was my first Psy-changling story, it didn’t take long to pick up the nuances and the who’s who from the prior stories so don’t think you have to start at Book 1, but you probably will want to. The characters presented were so richly written it was easy to be swept away with the story.
I have only read a few Nalini Singh stories, but I so love the intensity of her characters that I already want to add her to my list of favorite authors and I want to carve out some time to try her Guild Hunters series.
Received ARC from Penguin Books. Thank you!
Having finished his sandwich, he turned to grab his water, saw hers. “Eat the rest.”
Already on edge, she bristled. “Since when do you get to give me orders?”
Eyes of pale gold met hers, lashed by black silk. “Since I realized you have a tendency to not eat properly.” Picking up the sandwich, he held it out.
She took it, place it back down. “Don’t try to control me.”
Riaz’s voice was a deep rumble. “I will not let my woman mistreat herself. Eat the sandwich or we’ll be here all day.”
Her throat choked up, until she couldn’t speak, every part of her hotly conscious of the hand he’d placed once more on her thigh. A couple inches higher and he could slide that big hand to cup her with the same intensity he’d done last night, in the hushed dark of her bed. The rough heat of his body so close, the dusky bronze of his skin an invitation to her lips, it stole her mind, made it impossible to think.
Pushing aside his hand, she brought her legs up to crouch on the boulder—then jumped off the other side. “Maybe I’ll eat the sandwich later”—her heartbeat punching into her throat—“if I feel like it.” This had nothing to do with the sandwich, they both knew that.
Narrowed eyes. “You really want to challenge me over this?”
His tone raised her wolf’s hackles…and shot adrenaline through her body. “You know, why don’t you eat it, since you seem to like it so much.” With that, she turned and sauntered into the forest, ensuring her hips swayed in a way designed to further arouse his most dominant instincts.
Riaz stared into the trees where Adria had disappeared, his wolf at snarling attention. If she thought he’d just let her go after that kind of provocation, she had no idea who she was dealing with. Taking the sandwich, he wrapped it up in the paper bag and slid it into the pocket of his jeans. It was going to be squashed all to hell by the time he ran her down, but his empress would damn well eat it.
A grim smile on his lips, he was on his way into the forest when a small body barreled into his legs. “Whoa!” grabbing the pup, Riaz set him upright.
But the boy wobbled, his face screwed up in a childish effort not the cry.
“Hey.” Crouching down, Riaz checked the pup over, discovered a sprained ankle. “Come on, little buddy.” He took the boy into his arms. “We’d better go see Lara.”
The distraught pup attached himself to Riaz like a limpet and wouldn’t let go until his mother arrived at the infirmary, by which time Adria had a fifteen-minute head start. However, Riaz was a lieutenant and one of the best trackers in the pack. It took him only two minutes to pick up the crushed berries and ice and wild musk of her scent, another thirty seconds to realize two very important things.
One, Adria had run full-tilt the instant she was out of his sight; and two, she’d made an attempt to cover her tracks, so she clearly understood the consequences of the gauntlet she’d thrown in his face. His blood turned hot, the chase suddenly a very adult game…until her tracks, no longer concealed in any way, showed that she’d slowed down to a walk.
He bared his teeth.
Adria thought he’d given up. That was her second mistake. Her first had been to taunt him in the first place. Stalking her in silence, he tracked his quarry to a natural pool fed by two streams, taking care to remain upwind. A pile of discarded clothes lay on the bank, but that wasn’t what drew his eye.
Sleek and wet, she rose up out of the clear water, reaching back to squeeze the excess moisture out of her hair.
No more running, my stubborn, beautiful soldier.
Our winner for the copy of Devil’s Kiss courtesy of Kensington Books was Wanda! Congratulations and enjoy!
ORDER A COPY: Demon’s Bride (The Hellraisers)
Publisher: Zebra Paranormal Romance
Publishing Date: May 1, 2012
Paperback: 352 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Hell to Pay. Leo Bailey may have been born to poverty, but ruthless business sense and sparkling intelligence have made money worries a thing of his past. It doesn’t hurt that the Devil himself has granted Leo the ability to read the future.
But even infallible predictions are a déclassé commoner’s trick to some members of the ton. They’ll never see Leo as their equal—one good reason to prove himself their better. And a noble marriage is an obvious start.
Bookish Anne Hartfield, daughter of a baron, is hardly the flashiest miss on the marriage market. But her thoughtful reserve complements Leo’s brash boldness in an attraction neither can deny. A whirlwind courtship sweeps Anne and Leo into a smoldering marriage before either can believe their luck. But happiness built on Leo’s dark powers can’t last. Soon, Anne will have to save her husband…or lose her heart.
Leo Bailey was born the poor son of a saddler. He used his brains and his determination to crawl out of poverty, but that is not enough for Leo. Leo gladly makes a deal with the devil for the ability to see the future and the financial ruin of his competitors, so he can not only grow his own wealth, but to take down those of the aristocracy who will always look down on him no matter how much money he acquires. He makes his deal with the devil with no thought as to what the cost may truly be to him.
Leo also knows the only way into the ranks of the aristocracy for someone like him is to wed a nobleman’s daughter. He chooses quiet Anne Hartfield, the daughter of a Duke who is on the verge of poverty. Except once the marriage night approaches, Anne is overwrought with nerves. Since Leo’s parents were a love match, he doesn’t want to force himself on his new wife as his aristocratic brethren would have done. So Leo offers to wait on the consummation of their marriage until they have had an opportunity to get to know each other.
As Leo and Anne get to know each other and their mutual respect grows, Leo cannot believe how lucky he is in his choice of a wife, and as the love grows between them, Leo knows that he cannot allow Anne to ever know of his about his deal with the devil, but can one hide that much sin. The epic fight for Leo’s soul begins once Anne claims his heart.
I looked several times at Devil’s Kiss when it came out and I kept wavering back and forth whether I wanted to read what was Book 1 of this series. When I read the back cover of this one, I immediately put it on my TBR list. This was a great story and the most interesting part is that at the beginning of this story, the hero and heroine from Book 1 begin as our antagonists. As we soon learn, they are truly the protagonists as they are trying to save the souls of the Hellraisers, all five of whom have made a similar deal in trade for different powers granted from the devil. With the help of Whit and Zora, Leo and Anne fight the demons to reclaim Leo’s soul before it is too late and the darkness consumes him.
Anne starts out in our story as a very shy woman, but she grows into a powerful and determined heroine as our story goes on with the Leo support, and as the love and respect grow between them. Sadly, we see the foundation created between them torn apart once Anne finds out the truth about Leo, especially considering the darkness was so deep in Leo. Although he knew he couldn’t let Anne find out about his powers, it took a looonnng time for him to figure out that he needs to let go of that power in order to reclaim his soul and rebuild that foundation with his wife.
Fabulous story! I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Received ARC copy from Kensington Books.
“Tomorrow.” He advanced on her, stalking her, yet she did not back up in fear. She met him straight on, until their bodies were less than an inch apart. “You teach me how to dance.”
“You have taken a sudden interest in it.”
He shook his head. “If anyone partners my wife, it will be me, and no other.”
Color stained her cheeks. “Dancing exclusively with one’s spouse is considered unfashionable at best. Gauche at worst.”
“Don’t. Bloody. Care.” He brought his mouth down on hers. Her lips were soft, silky. And eager.
Her fingers threaded into his hair, holding him close, as she met his kiss. In the span of a day, already transformation had begun. For she knew him now—not perfectly, not entirely, just as he still did not fully know her—but this, the touch of lips to lips and the consuming of each other, this was known and explored further.
His blood was fire, his body instantly awakened and aware. He gathered her close and hated the elaborate cage of her gown, for he could not feel her completely, locked as she was in stays, panniers, and petticoats. The rustling of her silken dress sounded louder than a tempest. It maddened him, suggesting the movement of her body beneath her clothing.
He walked her backwards, until the wall met her back. Pressed himself against her. This primitive need—it overwhelmed him. Never had the hunger for a woman been greater, the demand to take, and to give, in return.
Hellfire, he wanted her. Like this. Now.
ORDER A COPY: Temptation & Twilight (Brethren Guardians)
Publishing Date: June 19, 2012
Paperback: 384 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Iain Sinclair, Marquis of Alynwick, is certain there is a special hell for him. An unrepentant rake, he holds nothing sacred – except for beautiful Elizabeth York. For years, Alynwick has tried to forget the woman he loved so well, and treated so badly. A woman who could hold nothing in her heart for him except hatred.
All of society believes Elizabeth, blind daughter of a duke, to be a proper young lady. But no one knows of her wanton affair with Alynwick. When Lizzy learns of her ancestor’s ancient diary – filled with exotic tales – she longs to uncover the identity of the unnamed lover within and hesitantly allows Alynwick, who claims to have knowledge of the “veiled lady,” to help her solve the mystery.
Eager to be Lizzy’s eyes, Alynwick brings the seductive text to life, and each night it takes greater effort for her to forget his betrayal. With each whispered word, her resolve gives way, without her knowing that a centuries-old secret will lead them to a present-day danger.
The final chapter of the Brethren Guardian series, focuses on Iain Sinclair, the Marquis of Alynwick. The Brethren are decedents of the Templer Knights charged with hiding several religious treasures, including the Holy Grail.
Iain is an unrepentant womanizer and rake…or is he? Iain is about fight a duel for being caught in a compromising situation with the wife of Lord Larabie. Being caught in the compromising position was all part of the plan. He and his fellow Brethren believe Lady Larabie knows the villain, Orpheus, and will introduce Iain to the man who has been a danger to them, their families and the secrets they hide. But as possible death looms over his head, there is only one thought that fills him. He wants to see Elizabeth again and apologize for the wrongs he did to her a dozen years ago. He also wants her to know that she is always in his thoughts and if he survives the night, he wants to start anew with her. When he walks into the room and sees Elizabeth’s hand on the arm of the Earl of Sheldon, he looses his head and attacks him and drags Elizabeth out of the room. He then learns what he fears most, that Elizabeth has no desire to forgive him or to ever see him again.
Lady Elizabeth York might have lost her sight, but she has not lost her mind. It is one thing to be young and innocent and allow yourself to be seduced, used and tossed away by a cad like Iain Sinclair, but she is almost 30 and does not intend to be fooled again by his tempting touches and sensual murmurs. If only she can get her treacherous body to agree.
As the fight for Elizabeth’s affections begins, the hunt for Orpheus heats up. The real question will be does Orpheus fall into the hands of the Brethren or will the Brethren fall into the trap set by Orpheus.
I was unaware when I chose this book that it was the third of a series, but I had no trouble catching up with the happenings of the series. I was simply intrigued with the idea of a sightless heroine and how that would be addressed. With all the reading that I do, I am always amazed when a story can keep me in the dark until the final reveal. Every time I thought I had Orpheus nailed down…not him!! Who is lying? Who can be trusted? This story twists and turns so much, and admitted in the end, I was bug-eyed…screaming “What!!” I did not see that coming. Very well done!!!
Elizabeth was a remarkable heroine. Even though blind, she was headstrong and independent. Iain’s inner monologue was amazing in his feelings for Elizabeth and his true desire to make up for his past actions and how much he loved and admired her and how desperately he wanted a future with her.
Here’s the catch – Iain is not much of a sharer of his feelings, and every time Iain got near Elizabeth he turned into a drooling beast in heat. Don’t get me wrong, many of Iain’s attempts as seducing Elizabeth left me fanning myself to cool down, but story wise, Iain would have been better off declaring at the beginning that he intended to seduce her into an offer of marriage. Poor, blind Elizabeth was trying so hard not to be made a fool again and be used and tossed aside by a master scoundrel, she kept pushing him away and getting more angry. If only he started his seduction with the forewarning that he wanted a lifetime with her, things wouldn’t have been so frustrating for both Iain and the audience.
When they finally got to the point of discussing what had happened between them in the past and how it affected both their lives, it was heartbreaking, and when Iain finally confesses to Elizabeth and kissed her goodbye knowing that in finally confessing the truth, he would loose her forever, I was teary eyed.
With the exception of Iain’s dog in heat attempts at seduction, this a well written, captivating story.
Received an ARC from netgalley.com, courtesy of Harlequin Books. Thank you.
Elizabeth’s cheeks were pink, her pure skin glowing in the sunlight that streamed through the window. Her voluptuous curves were encased in a dark blue, form fitting coat edged in black bear fur, her delicate hands covered in black kid leather. In one hand she carried a book, the oxblood-coloured leather spine of which was cracked and peeling with age.
Atop her head she wore a jaunty little hat with blue and black roses, and a beguiling black veil that only added to the sensual mystique of Elizabeth York. Angel on the outside, succubus on the inside. Damn it, how the demon within him wanted her with a ruthless, dangerous need that completely consumed him.
Before he faced death on Grantham Field, Iain had been able to bury that need. To use the savage control and discipline his father had made him acquire to bury his feeling for Elizabeth where they could never be found, or disturb him. But something had changed that night. Like Pandora’s box, the long-ignored feelings had sprung free from their hiding place, bringing chaos and fury, and a sickness that clung to him. Every thought, every decision was made with a purpose to reunite him with Elizabeth. For the past few days he’d felt as though every breath he took as for her. Always her. Only her.
And now here she was, robbing him of breath and speech, and the brutal self-control that hid everything he was. Elizabeth had done this, taken a wild, snarling wolf and turned him into a damnable, drooling lapdog!
Before, the very idea of allowing himself to fall so easily, to be vulnerable to another human being, would have sent him lashing out, reeling against feeling anything. Surprisingly, he did not feel angered by the fact that Elizabeth had softened his hard edges, but rather he was grateful for it. It had been a long time since he’d allowed himself a modicum of truth in regards to his feelings, but in this, he had to be honest. He had never stopped caring about Lizzy and her well-being. Had never stopped desiring her. Had always loved her, knowing she held nothing inside for him but a seething hatred he all too well deserved.
Iain had always feared his love for her, feared examining his feelings about loving another—so fiercely, and not having the same feeling reciprocated. She could have no idea what it was like to lie in bed at night and ache for another, to love only the one other on earth and know that person did not feel anything in return but contempt. Did she know how lonely he was? Could she imagine his guilt, regret, the hatred he held for himself and his actions twelve years ago? Could she fathom that he, the Mad Marquis, the Aberrant Alynwick, could harbour such deep sentiment, a love that would cross oceans of time, even lifetimes? A love that would never die?
Would she believe him if he told her all this? If he exposed his feelings to her, and in doing so, exposed himself to her ridicule and rejection?
How did one take such hatred and turn it into love? As she stood before him, he pondered that, questioning how he could take something dark and forbidding and make it pure and desirable. He’d give away his fortune, his title, all his earthly possession for one chance to make Elizabeth see it—his worth. His love.
He didn’t know how to pray. He was not a man of religion and faith, despite his vocation as a Brethren Guardian, but he swallowed hard, closed his eyes and silently pleaded Please, give me one more chance to earn her forgiveness. Let me love her well, like I should have all those years ago. One more chance at redemption, and I shall do whatever You ask…
ORDER A COPY: Invitation to Scandal
Publishing Date: May 1, 2012
Paperback: 310 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Plagued by scandalous rumors, Rheda Kerrich will stop at nothing to restore her reputation and make an honest living for herself—and she’s determined to do it without a husband. But times are hard, and smuggling is a risky though profitable trade. So when a dashing agent for the English government catches her in the act, she desperately resists his charms and conceals her illicit profession. Until she realizes he may be the key to her ultimate freedom—and unbridled passion…
Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore, has never had trouble beguiling the ladies of Kent. When his search for “Dark Shadow,” a cunningly elusive smuggler, leads him to alluring and headstrong Rhe, her objections to his amorous advances merely incite a tantalizing game of cat and mouse. Soon, they’ll find the very secrets driving them apart could ensnare them in a love they can’t escape.
Miss Rheda Kerrich is secretly known by the local villagers of Deal as the smuggler, Dark Shadow. Rhe gives the smuggled goods to the local widows to sell to support themselves since many of the men have died at sea. With her own smuggling profits, she has paid off all of her father’s massive debts and is managing to run of the estate. Now that her brother’s is old enough to step up as the head of the household, Rhe is hoping to end her life as a smuggler and concentrate on her horse breeding which will allow her to remain an independent woman.
After years of watching her mother’s unrequited love for her unfaithful father, a man who tossed away his fortune on mistresses and leaving nothing for his family, Rhe has vowed never to enter into matrimony, and the whispered scandal that surrounds her, keeps her away from those prospects anyway.
Rufus Knight, the Viscount Strathmore, is investigating the smuggler known as Dark Shadow. He believes Dark Shadow is a traitor who is smuggling more than just goods to France. If he can bring Dark Shadow to justice, he may be able to clear his father’s name. The Strathmore name has been stained since his own father was wrongly accused of treason, and it has been Rufus’s sole mission to clear the family honor.
When Rufus arrives in Deal and finds Rhe trapped by a barrel of smuggled brandy, he decides to seduce her for information to find the notorious smuggler.
The story itself was very exciting with several antagonists that we knew and several that we did not. There is even an intriguing set up for the next novel.
I liked the character of Rheda. She was smart, headstrong and determined to fulfill her dreams, no matter what she had to do. She even refused to use her neighbor and friend for his title and fortune after her father’s death when he proposed to her, refusing to taint his good name with her scandal. She opted for smuggling rather than the loveless marriage.
My hesitation on this story was the character of Rufus. Rufus is determined to clear his family name. He has a well-bred daughter of a friend picked out to be his future wife; a woman who is mousy and quiet and who could not possibly cause any further blemishes on his family honor. YET – Rufus is a well known womanizer, so much that even Rheda who never spends time in society and lives in the country knows exactly who he is and his well-earned notorious reputation. Soooo, I guess it is okay to be man-whore in regency England and still clear your family name, as long as you have a proper wife picked out?? Not only has Rufus been traumatized by his father’s scandal, but he also fell in love with a woman who turned out to be working for the wrong side, and who stabbed him and left him for dead.
When he first sees Rheda she is in an old dress so he assumes she is a local girl and since she looks in her early 20s, he assumes she must be willing to join him for a little “fun,” and he takes a lot of liberties with her, putting his hand up her dress to massage the feeling back into her legs, “oh and as long as I’m here” keeps reaching up; and even going as far as pulling the front of her dress down and playing with her breasts. Seems that that is okay to do when you’re a Lord, even though the local girl keeps saying “stop it!” When he finds out who Rheda really is, he quickly believes all the whispers around her, basically because he wants to get her in bed and he certainly doesn’t want to marry a woman surrounded by scandal. So to get what he wants, it is better for him to believe she a wanton woman so his behavior towards her is okay.
Whenever they take a step forward in the story, Rufus then takes two steps back constantly reminding himself of the last woman he trusted and no matter how much he appreciates Rheda’s spirit or her determination, he is still just looking to get under her skirt and he looks down on her and jumps quickly to the wrong conclusion.
I had high hopes for this story when I started, but the downfall in this story is the character of Rufus. He isn’t my idea of a hero. I would like a chance to read Invitation to Ruin and the next story due out in this series since the other characters were great and the mysteries of who was the real danger to Rheda and the Town was intriguing. Rufus’s attitude rubbed me the wrong way.
Received ARC from Kensington Books.
“How is it that I find you in the middle of a field with a barrel, obviously full of something, brandy perhaps, and pinned against this oak tree?”
She struggled to form a reply that wouldn’t sink her deeper into trouble. “Just unlucky, I guess.” This time she could not hide her grimace.
“Don’t be flippant. I can see you are in considerable pain. I’m here to help you.”
Her mouth dried. Lord Strathmore’s considered gaze roamed her person before he lowered his eyes to study the heavy cask, obviously trying to work out how to move it without causing her additional harm.
He was very close. He smelled of sweat, leather, and dust, decidedly masculine. He glanced at her and caught her stare. Gloved fingertips gently brushed her hair off her cheek. She turned her head away, but not before a pleasant shiver swept down her back. He did own the most arresting eyes. They declared his interest was decidedly back on her. He was pressing his advantage. She held her breath and prayed his fingers would not roam elsewhere.
She blushed at the effect his proximity was having on her. She had thought him a big man when he sat upon his stallion, but standing next to her, she realized he was enormous, well over six feet and all muscle. He stood taller than Daniel, and her brother was considered a tall man.
He crouched down and gripped the barrel with two large hands. “I look forward to a reward for my services.”
“A ‘thank-you’ will suffice.”
His lips curved into a wicked grin. “Surely, rescuing a damsel in distress is worth more than mere words?”
She tried to calm her racing heart lest he see how his threat unsettled her. She needed to shift his thoughts in a different direction. “I do not have any coin on me.”
He looked up at her. “You have very succulent lips. A kiss from them would be worth any amount of coin.”
She pressed back against the tree. His eyes betrayed him. He was trying to distract her. He was purposely taking her mind off the pain to come.
“That is not funny.” She scowled at him.
His laugh was rich and deep. And infectious.
“You think I am jesting,” he replied.
ORDER A COPY: Blood Secret
Publishing Date: March 27, 2012
Paperback: 313 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Lucy Drake is prepared to do all she must to save her family from financial ruin, even if that means giving herself as a sexual plaything to the Duke of Greystone for two weeks. Desperate to keep her ability to shape-shift into dragon form a secret, she has no idea that Greystone, too, has secrets.
A vampire highly skilled in the ways of erotic pleasure, he plans to seduce the knowledge of his missing nephew’s whereabouts from Lucy. Once he has his nephew back, he is sworn to destroy all shape-shifting dragons, including Lucy and her family. But after fourteen nights of sexual delights, will he defy his oath and give in to love with the woman of his dreams?
Since their father’s death, Lady Lucy Drake’s brother, the new Earl of Wrenshire, seems determined to leave this family in ruin. When Lucy learns that her brother’s gambling has gotten himself into debt to the notorious rake, the Duke of Greystone, she does the only this she can to save her younger sister for being married off to a lecherous, old man, she goes to the Duke and offers her innocence to the Duke in exchange for her brother’s debts. But when she learns that the debts are much larger than her brother indicated and the Duke wants more than just her innocence in exchange for the small fortune owed to him, he wants Lucy to be his sexual plaything for two weeks. She has no choice. She can’t turn him down. The question is—is her heart pounding in dread over her downfall or with excitement over the gorgeous and seductive Duke.
Sinjin knows that Lucy’s family has been holding his nephew hostage for the last year. He has been trying to ruin her brother, amounting his debts to force the Earl to return the boy to his family. When Lucy shows up at his door, the proposition of seducing the information from the beautiful Lucy is a much more enjoyable way to get the information he needs. Although Sinjin is aware that Lucy is a dragon-shifter, she is not aware that he is a vampire and a dragon slayer. It is his duty to slay Lucy and her family after he retrieves his nephew, a small fact that he is planning to hide from her until he has finished with her.
But Sinjin never anticipated Lucy’s kind heart and once she learns of the hurt that her family has put Sinjin through, she will do everything to help him retrieve the boy and bring him home where he belongs. Can Lucy’s kindness and gentleness teach Sinjin that not all dragons and evil and need to die? Will the dragon-slayer become her protector and if he tries, will they all be sentenced to die for betraying the Slayers’ Code?
I read a few pages of this book on the Kensingtonbooks.com website, and I was interested enough with this story that although this comes under the category of erotica and not paranormal romance, I asked for a review copy. I have read a few stories where the “plot” was just a jumble of words between sexual scenes. And YES there are many, many steamy scenes here, but in addition the characters were wonderful, the story was well written and absorbing, and I couldn’t wait to see how the story ended.
There was a natural development of the affections and mutual respect of the main characters and there were several antagonists that kept you guessing the mysteries in the plot.
Unless you truly have an issue with the more erotic fiction, I would definitely recommend this story to you. I enjoyed watching the developing relationship between Sinjin and Lucy (oh what a lovely name) and I was so sorry to get to the end of their story.
Received ARC from Kensington Books. Thank you.
“You do understand what you are offering me, don’t you?” he asked.
“Yes.” Somehow, she found her voice. “But I thought it would happen tonight. I thought it would be one night. Then I could sneak home and no one would have to know.”
“I will accept your proposition, Lady Lucy, but not on those terms.”
Panic turned her voice to a high-pitched squeak. “What do you mean?”
“There are my conditions, my dear. I will tear up your brother’s vowels, forgive his debt to me of thirty thousand pounds,–“
“Thirty thousand,” she cried, “He told me it was five!”
An expression of sympathy tugged at the duke’s handsome mouth. “It was thirty. And I will forgive every penny of it if you spend a fortnight with me, here, in my house, as my partner in carnal pleasure.”
Lucy had never fainted. Not once. Not even the time when her life had been in danger. But the room seemed to take flight around her now. Her brother owed this peer an absolute fortune. She took deep breaths. She put her hand behind her and gripped the chair to steady her. Her hand curled hard enough that her fingers punctured the velvet. Unfortunately, there were times she could not quite control her unusual, remarkable strength. She must restrain it now. She could not let the duke know she was not a normal lady, at all. That she, like the rest of her family, could change her shape and transform into a dragon.
She fought to regain control while one thought whirled in her head. The duke was wiling to forgo thirty thousand pounds to take her to bed. Sex for a—
A fortnight. Had he truly said a fortnight? “I—I think two weeks is a bit unnecessary, Your Grace.”
Slowly, he stripped off his right glove without a word. She was so struck with shock, she couldn’t help but gape at the slide of black leather over his hand. He revealed tanned skin and long, elegant fingers.
“Nonsense,” he said, as he removed his left glove. He laid both of them on the arm of a chair. “I don’t doubt, at the end of two weeks, my concern will be convincing you to leave.” He gave a careless gentlemanly shrug. “If you want to save your family, you will contact whoever is now the head of your household. You will inform them you will be away for a fortnight. Have them send any clothing or …feminine things that you will require.”
“You want me to stay here? For two weeks? You mean night and day? Constantly? Every minute?”
With one deft motion, he pulled off his cravat. This he also dropped on the arm of the chair. “Exactly. For what I intend to do to you, I need time, my dear. Besides, I can hardly send you home with rope burns on your wrists, can I?
The velvet in the chair back beneath her fingers tore with a soft rrrip, the frame gave an ominous crack. She released the chair. “You have no need to tie me up,” she declared. “I am going into this willingly. You don’t need to restrain me and have your wicked way with me.”
He laughed. The impossible, annoying man laughed at her.
“This is impossible,” she cried. “I cannot stay with you for a fortnight. I cannot…live with you. Here.”
He undid his waistcoat and removed it. He stood in his shirtsleeves, and she couldn’t stop staring at his broad shoulders, the bulging of muscles at his arms, his broad chest.
She shook her head, trying to put sense back in it. “What are you doing?” she gasped. “Why are you taking off your clothes?”
He shrugged and tugged the hem of his shirt out of his trousers. “You are offering sex in return for a debt. Sex is best enjoyed when both partners—or all participants—are naked.”