Category Archives: Magic

Under the Final Moon by Hannah Jayne


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

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

Rating: 3 stars


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Favorite Scene:

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

And then, the elevator dinged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wanted to make sure—“

“—you were okay down here.”

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

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

Make You Mine by Macy Beckett


ORDER A COPY: Make You Mine: The Dumont Bachelors

Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Publishing Date: May 6, 2014
Paperback: 352 pages

Rating: 4 stars


For ninety-nine years, every man in the Dumont family has remained a perpetual bachelor. Residents of Cedar Bayou, Louisiana, whisper about a voodoo hex cast upon the family, sabotaging each man’s chance at marriage. In truth, the Dumont men have their own player personalities to blame, and Marc is no exception. As captain of his family’s riverboat, he’s broken hearts up and down the Mississippi. That is, until his high school crush strolls onboard…

Allie Mauvais rocks the boat when she fills in as pastry chef. She hasn’t seen Marc since senior year, when rumors flew that her great-great-grandmother was the one who cursed the Dumonts. After two weeks on the water, neither can deny the attraction that still burns between them. But to truly reach Marc’s heart, Allie must show him that the hex isn’t real, and it’ll take more than her mouthwatering sweets to prove it. Will Allie’s love be enough to finally make Marc hers?


It was Allie Mauvais’s grandmother who first cursed the Dumont men so they would never be able to find love and commit to one woman. Marc’s father is the perfect example of this powerful curse. He has five children with four different women and now another one on the way with his new girlfriend.

Marc tried never to cross paths with Allie, even going as far as changing to the other side of the street when he sees her. She might be beautiful to look at, but he is smart enough to be afraid of Cedar Bayou’s own Voodoo Queen. Everyone knows that every lonely heart stops by the Sweet Spot to pick up Allie’s delicious pastries as well as a gris-gris for love.

Marc has just inherited his family’s riverboat, and as the new captain, he has enlisted all his step-brothers and step-sister and even his Pawpaw to help out as the crew on his first excursion. He has even hired the famous and temperamental Phil Regale to be the chef for the two weeks cruise. Everything is all going according to plan until his pastry chef calls in sick, and the agency sends a last minute replacement, Allie Mauvais.

When odd things start happening, his crew starts to point toward Allie, but the more she is attacked, the more Marc appreciates how she rises above the accusations and is the first to make suggestions and offer a helping hand.

Once he stops thinking about voodoo and curses, he starts to feel the pull between himself and Allie. Except every time he acts on the attraction, something else goes wrong. Can they finally break the Mauvais’s curse on the Dumont men and find a happily ever after or is bad mojo just to powerful to let love grow?

THOUGHTS:
I really liked all the characters introduced in this new series. Allie and her big sister, Shannon, are delightful and Marc’s dysfunctional family has pulled together and created their own strong family bond even though their shared father can’t commit to anyone, including his children. There are several background stories, including the next one which involves Allie’s sister Shannon and Marc’s brother Beau who have a history of their own which didn’t not end well between them, but both are still pining for the other. I will be reading Make You Remember when it comes out.

The only thing that disappointed me was that Allie herself doesn’t believe in the family’s voodoo magic. It isn’t just that she doesn’t use it (although it seems to be hinted that she has powerful magic), but she doesn’t believe at all that her family has any powers. It seemed like a let down. I liked that for the most part, Allie used psychology to figure out what people were looking for, but again, disappointed that she didn’t believe in the magic.

Great and fun new series.

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


Favorite Scene:

He flapped a hand and poured her another shot, waiting until she downed that one, too. “I’m all keyed up. I need to unwind first.”

At least they agreed on one thing. Marc needed to blow off some steam, and Allie was happy to help—they were even in the perfect place for it. “Then let’s play a game.”

Marc glanced over her shoulder to the rows of dormant slot machines and empty roulette tables in the darkness. He pressed his lips together as if weighing her suggestion and finding it intriguing. “What’d you have in mind?”

“Well,” she began. “You’re probably tired of poker.”

He nodded in agreement. “Especially the Texas variety.”

Which left blackjack, but then they’d have to take turns representing the house, which didn’t sound like much fun.

“I don’t know a lot of cards games,” Allie admitted. “We could play Go Fish.” She’d meant it as a joke, but Marc’s lips tugged in a wide smile that drew out the cleft in his chin. He seemed to take it seriously for a moment, then laughed in a low, masculine chortle that turned her thoughts from gaming to sinning.

“Haven’t played that in a while,” he said, nudging another tequila shooter in her direction. “What should we wager?”

“Do we have to bet?”

“Of course,” he said. “That’s half the fun.”

In general, Allie didn’t carry much cash, and what little she had was in her suite. “I don’t have any money on me.”

“That’s okay. I don’t want your money.”

She glanced around the bar for ideas, then pointed at a bowl of salty snacks. “We could play for pretzels.”

“Pretzels?” He scoffed in offense. “What are we, twelve?”

Allie scowled at him. “Well, what do you want?”

His gaze took a slow trip down the length of her body, from shoulders to toes and back up again. Her skin heated as she began to understand the stakes he had in mind. “I wouldn’t object to seeing what you’ve got on under those clothes.”

Reflexively, Allie darted a glance at the strong contours of Marc’s chest, barely visible as shadows beneath his white dress shirt. Truthfully, she wouldn’t mind seeing what he was hiding either. “Are you suggesting we play Strip Go Fish?”

He answered by toasting her with his Coke and eyeing her shot in a silent message to drink up.

“Right here in the casino?” she added.

“The door’s locked, and the cleaning crew isn’t scheduled to come around till third shift.” He nodded to a dark corner on the opposite side of the room. “We can sit back there if you want. That way nobody will spot your bare naked backside through the glass doors.”

Allie pointed at him. “I think you mean your bare naked backside.” Which she was going to enjoy ogling–immensely.

“Sugar, you’re going to be very cold, very soon,” he teased. “So you’d better take another shot.”

“I will have another, but only to prove I can still trounce you half-drunk.”

She tossed it back, then slid off her bar stool, feeling warm and floaty as she led the way to a round table in the corner. Marc found one of those battery-operated candles that mimicked a flame’s flickering glow and set it on the table, so he could “see what he was winning.” They continued their Go Fish trash talking until they’d found a pack of cards and settled in their chairs.

“Wait,” Allie said while Marc shuffled the deck. “First we should make sure we’re starting out with the same number of clothes.” She counted her polo shirt, bra, skirt, panties, and clogs. “I’ve got five.”

“Are we counting socks and shoes as one item?”

She shook her head. “Separate.”

“Then I’ve got six.”

He quickly remedied the injustice by unbuttoning his dress shirt and pulling his arms free. Beneath it, he wore a white T-shirt that fit him like a second skin, stretched unmercifully tight across his broad shoulders. Even in the dim light, his bunching chest drew Allie’s eye and watering her mouth.

She swallowed hard. “That’s better.” So much better.

Marc caught her staring and faked a stretch to show off the inside curves of his biceps, then turned it up a notch, flexing them so they strained the hem of his T-shirt sleeves. A hint of dark ink peeked at her from beneath the fabric.

Oh, heavens. Allie loved a good tattoo, especially on a properly muscled body. She wanted to see all of it…and hunt for more.

“You’re not distracted, are you?” he asked with a smirk.

“Not one bit,” she lied. “Prepare to lose your other shirt, Captain.”

How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying) by Kerrelyn Sparks


ORDER A COPY: How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying) (Love at Stake)

Publisher: Avon
Publishing Date: April 29, 2014
Paperback: 384 pages

Rating: 3 stars


Vampire Zoltan Czakvar is on the hunt for the truth about his father’s death. He’s been searching for a very long time—since 1241, in fact. And he is not about to give up, even when he’s attacked by a woman with striking blue eyes and a hell of a right hook!

Neona is also on the hunt. She’s looking for a mate, and she thinks muscled Zoltan will work just fine. After all, men are good for only one thing. Soon, though, she realizes there’s more to this handsome vampire than just sexual prowess. But she’s keeping a secret from Zoltan, something so big that it will rock the vampire world.

Can their new found love survive . . . even if their passion means the destruction of her world?


Zoltan Czakvar has been a vampire and Coven Master for over 800 years, and his day to day has become so routine…meetings, castle tours. The only excitement in his life right now is Howard’s wife, Elsa and her crew are renovating some of the more rundown areas of his castle in Transylvania.

Even though he has always known about vampires (it is Transylvania, after all), Zoltan never aspired to become one. It was only after his mother died, and his father was killed, that Zoltan sought out his sire. He needed to find who had killed his father, but after years of searching, he hadn’t found any answers and he needed to stay strong, young and healthy until he had some answers. That was in 1241. Zoltan is pretty sure whoever the assassin was is long dead, but he still stares at the arrow on his wall and dreams he would someday find an answer.

When Russell shows up at Zoltan’s castle carrying an arrow that has the same markings on it, Zoltan follows Russell back to Asia. But Tibet was the last place, he expected to find his father’s killer. Zoltan spent his time searching most of eastern Europe, but never expected someone to come halfway around the world to kill a man in Transylvania.

What he finds in the small village in the hidden valley in the Himalaya creates more questions than answers, including why do some of these warriors have the ability to talk to animals just like Zoltan and his mother could. This small group of warrior women are protecting some secret. Something important enough to kill anyone getting close enough to their valley to protect. When Zoltan tries to approach Neoma outside of the village walls to get some answers, she attacks him, but not with plans to kill him…at least not right away. Neoma wants Zoltan to father a child for her, and then she promises to release him after he gets the job done. As a vampire, Zoltan can’t father children, but he is not sure that this is a good time to mention that little bit of information. Not if he wants to live another day.

And Zoltan needs to survive if he wants to solve the mystery of what these women are protecting and what they had to do with his father’s death. As Zoltan starts to lose his heart to Neoma, he is begins to fear that she might have had been responsible for his father’s death…800 years ago.

THOUGHTS:
I can’t explain to you how much it pains me to say bad things about one of my favorite authors, but I didn’t like this story at all. I read several glowing reviews of the story so maybe it is just me.  Once I thought about the series, I find that the stories I don’t like as much involved other mythical creatures rather than just the vampire/human, vampire/shifter and shifter/human romances. Among my non-favorites are Connor’s story with the fallen death angel; Howard’s story and although I like Elsa’s job on the renovation show, I wasn’t into her and the Aunt’s and their mystical powers, and now Zoltan and his warrior girlfriend.

Things I found distracting about the story included the fact that although Neoma was taught English at some point in her life, it has been decades since she spoke English with anyone, and yet she had no problem jumping right into a conversation with Zoltan.  Plus, she was born and lived in this hidden valley for a long, long time, but she had no problem following slang and not being freaked out by Zoltan’s sat phone, etc. They still cook over an open fire in a single clay pot but she didn’t question him making a phone call? I know that I am reading a vampire book, but characters and the story plot need to be conceivable within the world she created.

Without ruining the plot for anyone, I was bothered by a big “what comes first: the chicken or the egg” problem with the story plot and the ending leaves some big questions for the future of the series.

So after weeks holding onto my ARC copy until this popped to the top of my TBR list, I was so disappointed in this story. So after I have a good cry for saying mean things about Kerrelyn Sparks’ hard work, and I am going to sneak in a re-read of Roman’s or Gregori’s story (my favorites) to remind myself why I like this series so much.

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


Favorite Scene:

He eyed the woman. She was sitting quietly beside him, biting her lip. Nervous. That was a good sign. He didn’t want to think that she did this sort of thing often. “Did I hear you correctly? You want my seed?”

Her cheeks flushed slightly, but she looked him in the eye. “Yes.”

“Was this your plan all along? Knock me out, tie me up, and rape me?”

She winced. “It’s not rape.”

“What else would you call it when you forcibly plan to take my seed?”

“I figured you would be willing.”

“To be raped?”

She grimaced. “It’s not rape as long as you agree.”

“What if I don’t agree?”

She looked dumbfounded for a moment. “I thought men always were agreeable.”

His hands fisted tightly around the rope as an unexpected surge of anger skittered through him. How many agreeable men had she found over the years? Probably plenty. What red-blooded male wouldn’t agree to letting a beautiful woman ravish him in the woods? Dammit.

He took a deep breath. Stay in control. “Before I can consider your offer, I have to know exactly what you expect of me.”

Her gaze drifted to his groin. “I thought it was obvious.”

“On the contrary, there are numerous issues that must be addressed.” Thankfully, her gaze returned to his face. He didn’t want her to notice the growing bulge in his pants.

She frowned. “Issues?”

“Yes. For instance, how long will I be required to performed? Will I receive compensation for any injuries incurred during the act?”

Her eyes widened. “Injuries?”

“It happens. I’ve been known to get terribly wild. Fortunately, you appear to be in excellent health, so you should survive the ordeal. Do you mind signing a waiver?” He enjoyed the growing expression of horror on her face. “Which position do you want to use? Or do you prefer multiple positions? How many times to you wish to climax?”

Her mouth dropped open. Then she shook herself and glared at him. “Ten.”

He blinked. Was she calling his bluff? “Ten what? Positions or climaxes?”

She hesitated a second, then lifted her chin. “Both.”

He stifled a laugh. She wasn’t letting him get the better of her.

Jerk, the leopard grumbled. Stop playing cat and mouse with her.

Zoltan glanced up and spotted the cat lounging on the branch of a nearby oak tree. You were supposed to leave.

It thumped its tail on the branch. I’ll leave when I feel like it.

Does she jump men like this every night? Zoltan asked.

What do you think? The leopard narrowed its eyes. Look who’s jealous now.

I’m not— Was he? Zoltan pushed that thought aside and turned back to the woman. “Are you sure you can handle ten climaxes?”

She shrugged. “Are you sure you can deliver?”

He smiled, enjoying the way she stood up to him. “I’ll do my best. But it might take an hour or so, depending on–“

“Oh, no!” We must be quicker than that. No more than five minutes at the most. In fact, we had better start right away before Freddie and the others find us.”

Another jab of anger shot through him. “Freddy? Who the hell is he?”

“Freddie’s not–“

“Not tied to a tree, is he? Was he last night’s five-minute conquest?”

Her mouth dropped open.

How jealous can you get? The leopard eyed him with disdain.

I’m not! Shit. He was. Jealous of the unknown lovers of a woman he’d barely met. He must be going insane.

Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts

Shadow Spell (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #2)


ORDER A COPY: Shadow Spell: Book Two of The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy

Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publishing Date: March 25, 2014
Paperback: 320 pages

Rating: 4 stars


With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken…

A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss.

Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle.

Plenty of women have found their way to Connor’s bed, but none to his heart until now. Frustratingly, Meara is okay with just the heat, afraid to lose herself—and their friendship—to something more. But soon, Connor will see the full force and fury of what runs in his blood. And he will need his family and friends around him when his past rolls in like the fog, threatening an end to all he loves.


When we finished Dark Witch, the three O’Dwyer cousins, Branna, Connor and Iona along with their friends, Meara, Boyle and Fin, had cause the evil Cabhan a great deal of pain, but they were not successful in killing him.

A few months have past and Cabhan is back and wielding a shadow spell which keeps him lurking and protected in the shadows and where he has started making sneak attacks on our witches in an attempt to destroy their circle. When he almost succeeds in dealing a death blow to Connor, Meara and Connor realized that they have stronger feelings toward each other which have been lurking beneath the surface for some time. As Connor’s interest in Meara grows, Cabhan takes more a notice of her as both a weaker target of attack (since Meara has no magic) and also as a way to destroy Connor.

After several attacks are directed at Meara, the group decide that they need to stop waiting around to defend against Cabhan’s attacks and prepare their own offensive. After they manage to wound Cabhan in one of his shadow attacks, they have his blood to use against him in a spell of their own. But will it finally be enough to destroy the evil which gives Cabhan his power?

THOUGHTS:
This was of course my favorite type of story – friends to lovers. Can’t help it. Love them! There no shocker that since this is book 2 of a trilogy, we will not defeat Cabhan in this book, and although I am interested to see how they defeat him (and I believe there is a strong hint how they will ultimately succeed), what I am really, really dying to find out the story behind Branna and Fin.

We have had hints that they fell in love as teenagers and many hints that they still hold strong feelings for each other (especially poor Fin) but that once Branna learned that Fin was a blood descendant of Cabhan, she turned him away. She is still resentful of the fact that they became lovers before Fin allowed her to see the mark on his body showing his was Cabhan’s descendant. So she felt deceived and she has been slightly untrusting of him and allowing him to participate in their circle. I think Fin was just hoping that if Branna loved him enough, she wouldn’t turn on him once he told her, but it didn’t work out for poor Fin. Personally, I can’t wait to see the sparks fly between them in Book 3.

If you are reading this series, come back when you are done and we’ll talk about the possibilities of how to defeat Cabhan.

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


Favorite Scene:

“And what are you going to do about Alice?”

“Hmmm?”

“Alice Keenan, who’s signaling her churning lust across the pub like one of those flag people.” She waved her arms to demonstrate.

“A pretty face, for certain. But not for me.”

Meara put on a look of amazement, sent it around the table. “Are you hearing that? Connor O’Dwyer saying a pretty face isn’t for him.”

“Wants a ring on her finger, does she then?” Finn asked, amused.

“That she does, and as that’s more than I can give, she’s not for me to play with. But it is a pretty face.”

He leaned toward Meara. “Now, if you were to snuggle up here, and give me a kiss, she’d think, ah, well he’s taken, and stop pining for me.”

“She’ll have to pine, as other foolish women do.” She scooped up more chicken. “My mouth’s occupied at the moment.”

“You put it on mine once.”

“Really?” Iona pushed her plate aside, leaned in. “Tell all.”

“I was but twelve.”

“Just shy of thirteen.”

“Just shy of thirteen is twelve.” she feigned stabbing him with her fork. “And I was curious.”

“It was nice.”

“How could I tell?” Meara countered. “It was my first kiss.”

“Aw.” Iona drew in a sighing breath. “You never forget your first.”

“It wasn’t his.”

Connor laughed, gave Meara’s braid a tug. “It wasn’t, no, but I haven’t forgotten it, have I?”

“I was eleven. Precocious,” Iona claimed. “His name was Jessie Lattimer. It was sweet. I decided we’d get married one day, live on a farm, and I’d ride horses all day.”

“And what happened to this Jessie Lattimer?” Boyle wanted to know.

“He kissed someone else, broke my heart. Then his family moved to Tuscon, or Toledo. Something with a T. Now I’m going to marry an Irishman.” She angled over, kissed Boyle. “And ride horses all day.”

Her eyes sparkled when Boyle linked his fingers with hers.

“Who as your first, Branna?”

The minute the words were out, the sparkle changed to regret. She knew. Of course she knew even before Branna flicked a glance a Fin.

“I was twelve as well. I couldn’t let my best friend get ahead of me, could I? And like Connor for Meara, Fin was handy.”

“That he was,” Connor agreed cheerfully, “for he made sure he was where you were ever possible waking minute.”

“Not every, because it wasn’t wasn’t his first kiss.”

“I practiced a bit.” Fin tipped back in his chair with his pint. “As I wanted your first to be memorable. In the shadows of the woods,” he murmured, “on a soft summer day. With the air smelling of the rain and the river. And of you.”

She didn’t look at him now, nor he at her. “Then the lightning struck, a bolt from the sky straight into the ground.” She remembered. Oh, she remembered. “The air shook with it, and the thunder that followed. We should have known.”

“We were children”

“Not for long.”

Mind over Monsters by Jennifer Harlow

Mind Over Monsters (A F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation, #1)


ORDER A COPY: Mind Over Monsters (A F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation)

Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publishing Date: October 8, 2011
Paperback: 280 pages

Rating: 5 stars


Beatrice Alexander is no ordinary schoolteacher–she can move objects with her mind, an embarrassing skill she hasn’t yet mastered or embraced. After nearly killing her brother by accident, she joins the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad, the Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals. This top-secret branch of the FBI combats ghosts, ghouls, and other monsters threatening humanity.

With her teammates–among them a handsome former-detective werewolf and an annoying Don Juan vampire who’s dead-set on seducing her–Beatrice investigates her first case. Disgustingly dismembered bodies have turned up, bearing bite marks of the undead. Someone–or something–is raising a horde of hideous, bloodthirsty zombies. Armed with Bette, her trusty machete, Beatrice takes on the master of the flesh-devouring corpses, who’s guarding a horrifying secret.

Featuring a team of monster hunters with unique paranormal abilities, the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation series combines humor, suspense, and supernatural crime-fighting.


Beatrice Alexander is an ordinary elementary school teacher, that is normal and ordinary for a teacher who is psychokinetic and can raise the furniture in her room during a bad dream. Two things have happened that will change Beatrice’s life. First, she saved a student from being run over by knocking him down,…and lifting the car over their heads (no one noticed, right?) and she almost killed her brother during an argument. Her brother—half-brother—may have been the first person to call her a freak, but that doesn’t mean she really wants him dead.

Now she has been approached by the FBI branch, F.R.E.A.K.S. (Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals). They want her to come train to focus her ability and join their squad which investigates unusual occurrences—which usually involve attacks by vampires, werewolves, ghouls, witches, zombies or some other nasty that goes bump in the night.

Her team mates include a blind man who can see ghosts, a teenager teleporter who can walk through locked doors (especially helpful when her parents used her for heists), a pyrokinetic who looks like a supermodel, and Carl, a psychometor. But the two men who are making Beatrice crazy is the hot and sexy team leader, former detective now werewolf, William Price, (Is it too soon to ask if we can name our first child, Elizabeth?) and flirty vampire, Oliver Montrose (If he’s talking, he’s flirting.) It appears that Will and Oliver can’t get along, and when both men set their sights on Bea, the tension between them escalates.

Beatrice’s first assignment is a suspected animal attack, but when she accidentally links her powers with Carl, they relive the victim’s last few moments of a zombie attack. But someone has to be pulling the zombie strings, and they need to look for a necromancer who is raising the dead. The first thing to do is to try to connect the victims and see who had a grudge against them both.

As they get closer to their killer, he raises the whole cemetery and attacks the Town. Beatrice grabs a machete and starts hacking. Ok, maybe it would have been better to ease into the job more slowly.

THOUGHTS:
I really love these characters. I had an opportunity read Book 3 last year and have been waiting for an opportunity to read the first two of the series.

Beatrice is adorable and she fell for Will from the first moment she saw him. I love that the hot, sexy werewolf blushes when they are alone and they both start getting a little nervous. Although the hotter choice for Beatrice is Will, Oliver is hysterical with his flirty banter with Beatrice. In this first story, Beatrice is more annoyed with Oliver than friendly toward him. Their deep bond of friendship develops towards the middle of the second book. So in this first story, Oliver is intrigued by Beatrice since he has slept with all of his teammates and Beatrice is immune not only to his flirtation, but to his vampire persuasion. This is what allows a connection to grow between them instead of Oliver’s usual “wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, it’s time to move on” approach.  Even if his original purpose was simply to sleep with the woman that Will obviously wants, once he gets to know Beatrice, his own love for her grows.

As much as I like to see Beatrice and Will’s relationship grow, Beatrice spending time with Oliver is just so much funnier.

Last year’s review of Book #3, Death Takes a Holiday


Favorite Scene:

“What should we look for?” I ask.

“Evidence of a ritual,” Will says. “Most necros need to perform a ritual to raise the dead. A salt circle, dead animals, blood, charms.”

“There is no evidence of anything like that at the fresh crime scene,” Oliver says. “Do you honestly believe there will be anything at a two-week-old one?”

“Just look,” Will commands. “And make a list of the corpses you think were raised. There could be a pattern. Two teams. I’ll—“

“I will take Agent Alexander,” Oliver cuts in.  Oh, goody.

He glances at me, but I just glare. “Fine,” Will says, looking away. “Stay in radio contact. We’ll meet back here in half an hour. You take west, we’ll take east. Any trouble—“

“We will scream like little girls,” Oliver finishes. “Come on, Trixie.” He begins towards the cemetery.

Will grabs my arm before I can take a step. “If he gives you any trouble…”

I yank my arm away. “I can handle him, thank you very much.”

His lips purse. “Listen, I’m sorry I didn’t wait for you. I just wanted to—“

“Can we have this conversation later?” I click on my flashlight, pointing it right into his eyes. “I have to follow the bloodsucking vampire into the dark, creepy cemetery.”

So I do. My partner waits by a black tombstone with that smirk on his face. “Lover’s quarrel?”

“Shut up, and let’s get this over with.”

“For you, Trixie dear, anything.”

I trudge down the small hill, sweeping my flashlight over the graves as I pass. Grass, grass, grass, grass. I walk and sweep in silence for a few minutes, Oliver is staying a short distance behind me. I swear I can feel his eyes on my butt. Grass, grass fresh dirt. “Found one.” Putting the flashlight under my arm, I find my pad and scribble down her name and date of death. Jane Etheridge, dead three months. “No signs of salt or dead animals. Do you smell blood?”

“No. And I would not bother looking for any type of ritual. I do not think our necromancer has need of one.”

“All the books say a blood sacrifice has to be performed.”

“My dear, when you have been alive as long as I have, you come to learn there is no such thing as ‘always.’ People are never predictable. I believe that our necromancer is one of the most powerful puppet masters living today.” He walks to the next grave, then the next. “More times than not, a necromancer requires power and focus to animate the dead. The blood adds power and the ritual helps him focus on the task. The one we are pursuing has all the focus and power he needs, hence no salt circle to protect him and no dead chickens laying about. Here is another one.”

I jot down the name and date. Another recent corpse. We start walking again. “Then why are we looking for signs of one?”

“William has no imagination. His mind is placed squarely in a box with no use for the outside. All black or white. Not an ideal characteristic for a lover. I, on the other hand, live in a world filled with gray, blues and especially reds.”

I stop walking but he strolls on. “Eww. Are you really hitting on me in a cemetery? Because that is wrong on so many levels.”

“Some find cemeteries highly erotic.”

“And some people sleep with sheep.”

“Touché. I will try to contain myself until we reach the parking lot.”

“You can try afterwards too.”

Unclaimed by Sara Humphreys

Unclaimed (The Amoveo Legend, #5)


ORDER A COPY: Unclaimed (The Amoveo Legend)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publishing Date: December 3, 2013
Paperback: 320 pages

Rating: 3 stars


Tatiana Winters loves the freedom of her life as a veterinarian in Oregon. It’s only reluctantly that she agrees to help cure a mysterious illness among the horses on a Montana ranch—the ranch of the Amoveo Prince. Tatiana is no ordinary vet—she’s a hybrid from the Timber Wolf Clan, but she wants nothing to do with the world of the Amoveo shifters.

Dominic Trejada serves as a Guardian, one of the elite protectors of the Prince’s Montana ranch. As a dedicated Amoveo warrior, he is desperate to find his mate, and time is running out. He knows Tatiana is the one—but if he can’t convince her, he may not be able to protect her from the evil that’s rapidly closing in.


Tatiana Winters and her twin brother, Raife, were raised by the same foster mother as Layla Nickelsen. All three are half-human/half-Amoveo and they promised to protect each other from the Amoveo and stay out of their world. Even though Layla has since found happiness with her Amoveo mate, William Fleury, Tatiana was doing everything to avoid the Amoveo male who is seeking her in her dreams. She refuses to let fate dictate who she can love. She just wants to stay quietly in her Oregon home, caring for sick animals. It is only her love for Layla that can get Tatiana to agree to go anywhere near the home of the Amoveo Prince to determine if someone is trying to kill the Prince’s horses.

Once Tatiana arrives on the property, she immediately realizes her error. The man she has been trying to avoid in her dreams is standing right in front of her and from the look in his eyes, he knows exactly who she is. He might be tall, dark and gorgeous and he might be making her tingle in all the right places, but she is not fool enough to think that an Amoveo male like Dominic is going to agree to some hot sex and let her walk away from him.

Dominic is finding his loyalties being torn between his duty as guardian to the Prince and protecting his mate now that he has found her. Although he may war between his own duty and his desire to claim his mate, he is not going to let an opportunity to be with Tatiana pass him by. Just when Tatiana is ready to submit to a night of passion in Dominic’s arms, they all find themselves in the midst of a war but with the enemy hiding in the shadows, it is hard to protect the ones you love when you don’t know if you are being attacked by an enemies or someone you thought as a friend?

THOUGHTS:
I have enjoyed this series. I have enjoyed the characters Sara Humphreys has created and some of the interesting twists that she has introduced. I even enjoyed the new characters introduced in her new vampire series. This book just rubbed me the wrong way.

I will start by reminding you that in the last book, Undone, the Amoveo were fighting the humans who wanted to wipe out the Amoveo “animals,” but now they had the Purists, who didn’t want the half-breeds mating with the full-bred Amoveo and polluting the bloodlines to contend with. The Purists were kidnapping selected full-blooded Amoveo women and trying to impregnate them with sperm from full-blooded males to help increase the dying Amoveo population. Mariana was rescued from this facility before she was experimented on, but upon rescuing the women (most of whom died from bearing children not from their mates) they also found Steven (from Book #1 and #2) and his mate who had been experimented on and impregnated with his sperm.

Steve and Courtney are a big part of this story. From conversations with the author, I thought I understood that Steven’s story would be the last of the series. I honestly checked Goodreads twice to see if I had missed Steven’s story. It wasn’t until the very, very end that I understood why they were introduced as a couple before their own story was released, but it bugged me the entire story that this couple was focused on without having their story. By the time I understood why, I had been annoyed by this the entire time I was reading.

I was also pretty confused by why the Prince and his family, especially during a time of civil war, only had two guards for his entire property. His prior guard, Dominic’s sister, left for the purist cause. Although all the characters from the prior books showed up to help defend against the assault, they were not as powerful as some of the Purist leaders and number-wise, a civil war shouldn’t come down to about 9 guys on each side. That’s not a war, that’s a baseball game.

We also find out that the purist are all fighting in rags and living in the woods since their research facility was destroyed. What the heck? These purists were made up of some of the more powerful families and being shifters, who live longer than humans, and has plenty of time to amass a fortune. That not-very-secret facility must have cost a pretty penny if they were all poverty stricken now that it was destroyed.

There were too few good guys defending the Prince, including the Prince doing his own fighting, and too many enemies with too many issues. On top of all the chaos, we are trying to balance the romance storyline where the Dominic and Tatiana sizzled when they came near each other, but neither one wanted to upset their lives with the commitment of mating,, even though by not mating they would both lose their Avoveo powers.

All of her stories, this one just didn’t grab me.

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


Favorite Scene:

Tatiana strode toward the back of the cabin and tugged open the glass sliders. She stepped out onto the small deck and leaned on the railing. Dominic’s gaze skimmed up her well-shaped legs, which were bronzed from the summer sun, then wandered along the curve of her hip and up her toned arms.

Images of her naked body curled around his flooded his mind…

“Can we swim in that pond?” She looked at him over her shoulder and smirked as she caught him checking her out.

“What?” He blinked and shook his head, but those images of her still wandered through his imagination. “I’m sorry. What?”

“Dominic?” Smiling, she looked back out to the mirrorlike body of water in the distance. “That pond? Can we swim in it?”

“It’s not a pond, actually. It’s a swimming pool.” He moved closer so he stood next to her, but not close enough to accidentally touch her. “It’s a freshwater swimming pool complete with heat in the winter and lights at night. Salinda had it designed to look like a pond so it wouldn’t ruin the natural landscape.”

Heat radiated form her body, and even amid the thick summer air, he could feel it rippling over him like a siren song. Calling him. Daring him to touch her again. Tempting him to break the stupid deal he made with her, throw her on the ground, and kiss her silly.

Why did he make that deal? That was the dumbest fucking move ever.

Dominic tightened his grip on the railing and squared his shoulders against the all-consuming urge to stroke that gorgeous skin. Instead, he focused on the setting sun and grit his teeth against the driving physical need to connect with her.

“Are you alright?” Tatiana’s voice, soft and delicate, drifted over him with the breeze.

“No,” he said, his voice tight with restraint. Dominic looked down into those huge brown eyes, and he knew he was a goner. “I’m not alright. Not at all.”

Without thinking he brushed a lock of dark hair off her forehead, and as her warm skin rushed beneath his fingertips, a wave of static electricity rippled up his arm and shot through his body. Her eyes widened, and those red lips that tasted like cherries, parted temptingly as she sucked in a slow, quivering breath.

“I’m doing my best to be a gentlemen and keep my word,” he whispered as he trailed one finger along her jawline. Her body wavered closer, her eyes searched his for answers, but none came as the ripples of nerve tingling electric slowed. “I have a feeling I’m going to welsh on our deal.”

“I think we should try to stay clear of each other,” Tatiana murmured. She nodded slowly. Her tongue darted out, moistening her plump lower lip.

“It’s really the best way to handle this situation. Neither of us wants a mate, so the smart thing to do would be to forget it. We still have free will. Don’t we?”

Tatiana inched nearer in spite of what she was saying. Her hand brushed his as it curled along the weather wood railing, and that same zapping sensation fired through his body. An odd buzzing filled Dominic’s head as their energy signatures whipped through the air like an invisible tornado, dancing around them like a whirling dervish. The buzzing reached a crescendo, and with one final pass, their energy waves merged with a jolt.

Tatiana cried out in surprise and stepped back, but Dominic linked one arm around her waist and pulled her up against him. Her hands gripped his shoulders, and although she didn’t push him away, she gaped at him like a deer in the headlights.

“Wha–what was that?” She asked breathlessly, her voice edged with fear. “I don’t think I can handle this.”

“I’m no entirely sure, but I think our energy signatures merged, and we’ve imprinted on each other. There is one thing I am sure of.” Dominic kissed the corner of her mouth and murmured against her cheek. “The only woman I’m looking to handle…is you.”

A Cursed Moon by Cecy Robson

A Cursed Moon (Weird Girls, #2.5)


ORDER A COPY: A Cursed Moon: A Weird Girls Novella (A Penguin Special from Signet Eclipse)

Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Publishing Date: December 3, 2013
Paperback: 217 pages

Rating: 4 stars


Meet the furry big brother that the Wird sisters never had…

Bren is a cocky, brash hound of a werewolf who loathes the idea of belonging to Aric’s pack—much less finding a mate. But Bren’s hotheaded behavior lands him in the doghouse when he defies Aric’s authority in front of his pack, bringing up a sore subject that’s bound to make the Alpha wolf’s blood boil…

Luckily for him, no one can stay mad at Bren and his wild charm for long. And when some frightening ghosts launch a hostile paranormal takeover, Bren will team up with Celia to take down the evil ghouls before they hurt someone they both love…


Bren is a lone wolf—or werewolf that is. He has been without a pack since his parents died when he was a kid and the elder’s wouldn’t allow him to join his father’s pack. Bren is okay with that because his “pack” consists of the people who matter to him: his roommate, Dan and Celia Wird and her sisters. They are the only people he can count on, the only people he can trust, and the only people he would die to protect.

And to protect those he loves against the growing danger from the demons and the witches of The Tribe that keep calling together the evilest of supernaturals, he would even agree to join Aric’s pack, even though the pure-blooded bastard broke Celia’s heart.

That doesn’t mean he is going to play by Aric’s rules like a good little pup. Bren’s mouth has a habit of writing checks his ass can’t cash and mouthing off to an alpha-were might not always be the best way to show that you are willing to be part of the pack.

When their friend Dan is kidnapped by soul-sucking ghouls, Bren has to quickly decide if he can trust the pack or will he and Celia go it alone to find Dan before it is too late.

THOUGHTS:
As the Weird Girl series is told by Celia’s point of view, this was interesting to read from Bren’s perspective. He gives us some insight into his friendships with Dan and Celia and why he they mean so much to him. We also learn why he is a lone wolf and why he likes it that way.

This story continues on from where we left off after A Cursed Embrace. There is plenty of action since the witch is now calling forth cursed souls and will try to possess bodies and they keep showing up around Bren and Celia.

It was an enjoyable addition to the series and gives Celia’s friends a little more depth to their characters. I don’t know what I enjoyed more: watching Bren torment his roommate Dan or Celia, Bren mouthing off to Aric, Bren riling up Aric’s new fiance or the always entertaining disapproving neighbor, Mrs. Mancuso.

Received an ARC courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Scene:

I jumped out and ambled toward the blue Colonial. Mrs. Mancuso, the girls’ elderly neighbor, was sweeping her front steps by the light of her lawn jockey’s lantern, a freak-ass little statue with bright red pants and a lazy eye. Despite the late hour she brushed her little broom back and forth with quick precise motions, even though any sap could have eaten off of the wooden steps as they were. She was probably bored, and lonely. The Wird sisters seemed to be her only form of entertainment.

She buttoned the top of her coat to protect her frail body against the cold. As a were, I’d keep the majority of my strength and reflexes till my dying day. Little old humans like her didn’t have that luxury. I grinned with my new set of chompers and winked her way. “Hey, sex-uh lady.”

Mrs. Mancuso smiled and tucked her neck skin into her brown wool scarf. “Oh, Brendan, you’re such a good boy to flirt with an old lady.” She furrowed her penciled in brows and glanced over at Celia’s former home sweet home. “Too good a boy in fact to be hanging out with those Wird girls.”

I nodded in agreement. “Don’t worry, Mrs. M, I’m trying to help them see the light. I plan to spend the next few hours reading to them from the Bible. They’ll come around, just leave it to me.”

The front door of the Wird house crashed open. There stood Celia—five-foot-three inches of long lethal muscles in skinny jeans and a tight white long sleeved T-shirt. The breeze picked up, sweeping her long mane of brown curls around her face. She pushed her hair out of the way, exposing her narrowing green eyes. Her supersized hearing had obviously picked up my chat with their not-so-favorite neighbor.

I waved. “Hey, Ceel. What’s wrong? Still mad I made you cancel your porn subscription?”

It was really hard not to laugh at her reaction. Celia subscribing to porn was like me joining a Justin Bieber fan club—so not happening. Her eyes shot open only to narrow further at Mrs. Mancuso’s stiff, reprimanding middle finger.

Celia stormed to the edge of her front porch, and while a wide driveway separated both houses, I still caught her golden skin reddening beneath the whitening glare of her porch light. “Mrs. Mancuso, I do not have a porn—“

“Harlot!” Mrs. Mancuso shot back. She lifted her broom defensively, daring Celia to cross the driveway and step foot on her property. Celia pinched the bridge of her nose. In a Mancuso/Celia Wird smack-down, Mrs. M won every time. Not that Celia couldn’t crush her like a fistful of berries, but because Ceel didn’t pick on those weaker than her, no matter how much they annoyed her.

I placed my hand on Mrs M’s shoulder. “It’s okay, honey-bunches. I won’t stop until the sin is washed from her wanton soul.”

“Bren, that’s enough out of you.”

Mrs. M patted my arm, ignoring Celia. “You’re a good boy, Branden,” she said once more.

She flipped Celia off again before shuffling into her house.


A Cursed Moon includes a preview of the upcoming Weird Girls novel Cursed by Destiny! 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-cursed-moon-cecy-robson/1115590116?ean=9780698144293

http://www.amazon.com/Cursed-Moon-Novella-Penguin-ebook/dp/B00DD76J0W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380909593&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Cursed+Moon

AUTHOR BIO:

Cecy (pronounced Sessy) Robson is a full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the Great Northwest. A member of Romance Writers of America, she attributes her passion for storytelling to the rough New Jersey neighborhood she was raised in. As a child, she was rarely allowed to leave the safety of her house and passed her time fantasizing about flying, fairies, and things that go bump in the night. Gifted and cursed with an overactive imagination, she began writing in May 2009. Her Weird Girls Urban Fantasy Romance series is published with Penguin Random House’s Signet Eclipse and released to stellar praise from multiple reviewers including: Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today, and Romantic Times. THE WEIRD GIRLS: A Novella, SEALED WITH A CURSE, and A CURSED EMBRACE are now available. A CURSED MOON: A Novella, releases December 3, 2013, followed by CURSED BY DESTINY, January 7, 2014.

LINKS:

Website:          www.cecyrobson.com

Twitter:           https://twitter.com/cecyrobson

Facebook:        http://www.facebook.com/Cecy.Robson.Author

Goodreads:     http://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomCecyRobsonAuthor


Dark Witch by Nora Roberts

Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, #1)


ORDER A COPY: Dark Witch: Book One of The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy

Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publishing Date: October 29, 2013
Paperback: 368 pages

Rating: 4 stars


With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.

Ireland.

County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.

Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.

When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package.

Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive.


Iona Sheehan has come to Ireland to find an acceptance and an understanding which she has never before known. As the only child of very cold parents, Iona has never known the love and closeness of family. The only time she came close is when she would spend time with her gramdmother, Nan.

It was Nan who told her the stories of her ancestor Sorcha, the Dark Witch, and how she gave her magick to her children and gave her life and her blood to destroy the sorcerer, Cabhan, who would steal her family’s magick with his dark powers. But Sorcha knew if she was not strong enough to destroy Cabhan, it would fall to her children and their descendants to combine their magick and kill Cabhan. Sorcha’s three children have animal familiars: a horse, a hawk and a dog.

When Iona arrives at the door of her cousins Branna and Connor O’Dwyer, she is surprised to find herself so welcome into their home and into their lives. They arrange for Iona to move in and find her a job at the local stable working for their good friend Boyle McGrath. Iona has always had such a way with horses that she knows what they are feeling.

But by coming to Ireland and meeting Branna and Connor, Iona has closed the circle of the three–the three descendants of Sorcha and Iona must quick learn to polish up her magick because Cabhan has been waiting for 750 years to face the three again and take their combined magick so that he may return to corporal form. The three witches, and their friends, will be facing a vicious darkness and they need to finally destroy Cabhan because their failure is just too frightening to contemplate.

THOUGHTS:
As with any Nora Roberts novel, it was a easy read, the characters were likeable and it was a well written story. I think by default, a Nora Roberts novel probably gets a five star rating as compared to most authors.

My only real issue here is that the whole premise of the story is very similar to her Circle Trilogy which I had greatly enjoyed. I am also noticing a trend in her trilogies: the first book is new acquaintances, the second book is friends to lovers (always my favorite premise), and the third usually involves a couple who fight their attraction since book #1.

There is no question that Nora Roberts knows how to write a good story. Nora is to romance what Stephen King is to horror. But it is not a good thing when I am being pulled out of the story to note that “this is just like that trilogy” or “these two remind me of _______.”

If you are a fan of romance with a paranormal twist or simple a fan of Nora Roberts, you will definitely enjoy this story. There’s no question of her talent as an author. I just think Nora needs to shake up her storytelling a bit since they are starting to get a bit predictable. With a discounted price tag of about $10, a reader shouldn’t feel like they already read the story.

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


Favorite Scene:

Then she came to the roan mare with the big, poignant eyes, the long white blaze down her nose, and knew without being told.

“You’re Darling, and that’s just what you are.”

Even before Boyle stepped up beside her, the mare turned her head, big eyes warming, body quivering. Not in fear, Iona thought, but simple delight.

She’d smelled him, sensed him, before he came into view. And it was love twined with utter devotion that had the mare stretching her neck so her head could bump his shoulder, light as a kiss.

“That’s the girl.” He all but crooned it, and Darling whickered, turned her head for his hand.

He opened the stall door, eased in. “I’ll just check the foreleg while I’m here.”

“It’s better,” Iona said. “But she remembers how much it hurt. She remembers being hungry. Being afraid. Until you.”

Saying nothing, he crouched to run his hands up the foreleg, down again as Darling nibbled playfully at his hair.

“Do you have an apple in your coat pocket? She’s pretty sure you do.”

It was…disconcerting, to have his horse’s thoughts translated to him, but he rose again, slid his hands along Darling’s flank.

Iona thought if a horse could purr, she would have.

While Aine had astonished her, so much beauty and grace, Darling tugged her heart with her simple, unabashed devotion.

They knew, she and Darling, what it was to yearn for love, or at least genuine understanding and acceptance. To wish so hard and keep for a place, for a purpose.

It seemed they’d both gotten that wish.

Then Boyle reached in his pocket for the apple, into another for his pocketknife. Iona felt Darling’s pleasure in the treat, and more, that it would be offered.

“You’re filling out well, my girl, but what’s a bit of an apple, after all?” She took it neatly, eyed the second half as she ate.

“This one’s for Winnie, if she behaves with her student.”

“You saved her.” Iona waited while he stepped out, closed the stall door. “She’ll never be anything but yours.”

Iona reached up to stroke; Darling stretched her neck again.

“She’s not skittish with you,” Boyle noted. “That’s progress. She’s still a bit nervy with strangers.”

“We understand each other.”

When Darling angled her head so her cheek pressed to Boyle’s, and when he took the half apple out of his pocket, and fed it to her, Iona knew she was done.

“I’ll get another for Winnie. You haven’t had enough of them in your life.”

“That’s done it,” Iona muttered. “I’m good at getting mad, mostly when it’s justified. At least I think so. But I suck at staying mad. I just can’t hold on to it, it’s so heavy. Then add in me standing here watching this mutual love affair, and I can’t do it. So I’m finished being mad at you, if that matters.”

Under a Spell by Hannah Jayne

Under A Spell (Underworld Detection Agency, #5)


ORDER A COPY: Under a Spell (Underworld Detection Agency)

Publisher: Kensington Books
Publishing Date: August 6, 2013
Paperback: 416 pages

Rating: 4 stars


Sophie Lawson was seriously hoping life at the UDA would get back to relative normal now that her boss Pete Sampson has been reinstated. Unfortunately, her new assignment is sending her undercover into a realm where even the most powerful paranormals fear to tread…her old high school. Being a human immune to magic is no defense against soulless picture-perfect mean girls—or a secret witch coven about to sacrifice a missing female student. And Sophie’s Guardian, uber-proper Englishman Will, is determined to convince Sophie he’s the kind of temptation she should indulge in permanently. Now, as the clock ticks down to apocalypse, he and Sophie will have to summon every trick in the book to battle devilish illusion, lethal sorcery—and betrayals they’ll never see coming…


Sophie Lawson has to face her biggest fear since arriving at the Underworld Detection Agency and it’s not zombies or vampires or even a fallen angel looking for the Vessel of Souls, it’s—returning to high school and once again facing the dreaded cool girls.   High school was a nightmare for an awkward and shy Sophie with no sense of style and crazy, no-tame red hair.   She would rather face a rabid werewolf then the homecoming queen, but her boss, Pete Sampson, isn’t giving Sophie a chance to say no.

Another girl has gone missing at Sophie’s old high school and while the police have no concrete leads, the UDA believes that a coven of witches is working out of the school and they are trying to bring something forth with human sacrifices.  As the only “breather” at the UDA as well as someone who is immune to magic, it is up to Sophie to go undercover as the new substitute teacher.

As if returning to high school and facing some childhood demons isn’t enough to throw Sophie into a tailspin, Sophie’s friend and personal fantasy, fallen angel Det. Alex Grace is leading the police investigation, but he wants no help from Sophie.  In fact, Alex has decided to “distance himself” from Sophie and it’s breaking her heart.  

As Alex once again leaves Sophie spinning, right into the arms of the waiting Will Sherman, will he eventually regret  letting her go.  Sophie has to pick up her broken heart for now because she only has a week to find the missing girl.  On the night of the seventh day, the moon will be perfect for a sacrifice. Sophie needs to be the hero and stop the Coven from killing the girl and opening a door, but to where?

THOUGHTS:
I love the Underworld Detection Agency. Poor Sophie can never get a break, but she is always surrounded by friends who let her know just how much her life sucks.

Although it wasn’t bad, this was not my favorite story of the series. Some of the plot was a little predictable. There certainly wasn’t enough Alex in the story, who was acting bizarre since the end of the last story. In the last story, Alex and Will are just short of peeing on Sophie to mark their territory and both (especially Alex) are notably laid back in this story.

There seemed to be a hint at the very end that the next story might involve Sophie’s father. We’ll just have to wait and see.

As always, Nina has a new project and this time she wants to be the director of a promotional video for the UDA. See the link below for the video she produced. :)

The Underworld Detection Agency.

Received an ARC from netgalley.com courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Scene:

“We need to go back in the building.”

Will looked at me, eyebrows disappearing into his sandy hair. “Back into the high school? Why? We’ve checked it over twice.”

I sucked in a slow, deep breath. “I don’t think I was ready to see anything.”

Will’s brow furrowed and he pressed his lips together.

I rushed on. “I didn’t want to see anything there except for what I knew–in my head, in my–what is it? Repressed memories.”

Will reached across the center console and took my hand tenderly in his. He cocked his head slightly and blinked the honey-amber of his eyes warm and inviting. “You’ve never repressed a thing in your life, love.”

I snatched my hand back and grabbed the door. “Are you coming or not?”

We stood in front of the glass double doors and stared, somehow both waiting for the ultimate evil to come barreling toward us or for a commercial break. The school remained silent, the double doors cloudy and revealing nothing, and there was no pause to regroup or offer some sort of cheery distraction. My heart was thundering in my ears and Will had been uncharacteristically silent the whole walk from parking lot to school entrance. A wind kicked up and a handful of skeletal leaves and garbage brushed past us.

“Ready?” I asked, my fingers closing around the administration key Principal Lowe had offered me.

Will shrugged and attempted to look nonchalant, but his eyes never left the keyhole. “I guess.”

I unlocked the door and stepped aside, waiting for Will to push it open.

“What?” he asked.

I gestured. “You always open doors for ladies.”

He cocked a brow. “I didn’t know gender roles held firm even in the face of unspeakable danger.”

I steeled my body and tried to sum up confidence I didn’t feel. “What are you so worried about? You said yourself we’ve checked the place twice already and found nothing.”

Will pushed open the door for me and I hesitated before stepping through. “Yes, but that was before your whole ‘I see dead people…if I care to look’ routine.”

I huffed, crossing my arms in front of my chest. “I don’t see dead peple. I mean, I’ve seen dead people.” I shuddered. “I’ve probably seen more dead people inthe last two years than most people will see in their whole lives.”

Will glanced at me before slapping a flashlight into my hand. “You’re not the best at putting people at their ease, you know?”

I flicked on the flashlight and shined the yellow bulb toward Will’s face. “Hey, you’re the Guardian.”

He slung an arm over my shoulder. “And if there’s a team of fallen angels lurking around this place, then you’re in luck.”

“Otherwise?”

Will flashed his light down the blackened hallway. “Otherwise? You’re on your own.”

“What a relief,” I groaned.

“They don’t pay me enough.”

I rolled up on my tiptoes and glanced through the windows into darkened classrooms that looked as benign as they had during the day–desks in neat lines, unoccupied by witches, hobgoblins, or any other manner of creepy-crawly; stacked textbooks; glossy posters reminding girls to stay off drugs.

“I ask again,” Will said as we approached the last room. “What exactly are we looking for?”

“I don’t know, exactly. Just keep an eye out for anything that seems…off.”

Will swung his light toward me, and I was enveloped in a bright yellow glow. I rolled my eyes.

“You’re funny.”

The Wicked by Thea Harrison

The Wicked (Elder Races, #5.5)


ORDER A COPY: The Wicked (A Novella of the Elder Races)

Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publishing Date: July 2, 2013
eBook: 105 pages

Rating: 5 stars


The adventure of a lifetime might just end in turmoil, but when it includes meeting your future mate, who gives a hoot?

A Novella of the Elder Races

For a librarian with a focus on rare magic books, Olivia’s new job is a dream come true. She has been hired as part of a team to help manage the safe transportation of the collection of books owned by the Vampyre sorceress Carling Severan. The fact that the library is located on a mysterious island in an Other land only heightens the adventure.

Head of security for the expedition, Sebastian Hale is tired of his rootless life of adventure and finds himself attracted to the calm, beautiful librarian. But he is living a personal nightmare. He has been hit with a curse that is slowly taking away his sight, and he doesn’t know if he will survive the results.

But the powerful feelings growing between them, along with Sebastian’s inner turmoil, take a backseat when they learn there is a traitor lurking among their expedition team. With Elder Races politics and a priceless library on the line, they’ll have to rely on each other to survive the experience.

Warning: When a librarian who likes to nest meets an owl Wyr who has always lived for adventure, their romance won’t just be fly-by-night.


Olivia Sutton is a librarian as well as a witch. When Olivia’s friend, Grace Andreas, set her up to meet Carling Severan, former leader of the Nightkind, to be part of the expedition to return to the Other land to retrieve Carling’s extensive collection of magical books, Olivia thought she was setting off for the greatest adventure of her life. Going to an Other land and getting a rare view of Carling’s vast collection of mystics books, including ancient Egyptian papyruses, is a dream come true for a witch-librarian.

She couldn’t know that that adventure would include a gorgeous Wyr named Sebastian Hale would was heading up the security team, and who would turn her world upside down in the most incredible way.

Nor did she realize that she would actually be making friends with a oddball Djinn.

But she also couldn’t know that Julian Regillus, the current Nightkind King and Carling’s child, would do everything he could to stop Carling from getting those books.

This will definitely change Olivia’s life, as long as she can survive the adventure.

THOUGHTS:

I really enjoy Thea Harrison’s Elder Races series and this was a great short short which I read in an afternoon. Sadly, it reminded me that I missed the series since catching up with Oracle’s Moon. This story also gives us a quick update with Grace Andreas and the Djinn Khalil from Oracle’s Moon and how their lives have changed since Oracle’s Moon.

Like all series, there are characters and stories that I liked more than some others, and even though it was a very short story, I really enjoyed the characters of Olivia and Sebastian. Olivia was smart and thoughtful, and willing to give an almost childlike, annoying and temperamental Djinn a chance, and Sebastian who quickly sees how special and unique Olivia is and will fight to keep her. The story also highlighted several times how one moment can change everything. i.e.

And the job remained just has he thought it would, mind numbingly routine.

Right up to the moment a human witch–a librarian–appeared in a whirlwind of Power and called a Djinn a dimwit.

Witnessing that little scene was like having a switch thrown in his head. Just like that, after five years of a dangerous, growing ennui, he came back online, sharper and clearer than he had ever been. Engaged again. Interested.

My only problem with this story is the same problem I had with Carling’s story, Serpent’s Kiss, and that is the magical library is underused as a plot point. She has a library filled with magical books, some with light magic and some filled with dark magic which literally call to you to tempt you to come open them and investigate the magic inside, and no one is opening these books. WHAT??? Have someone open the wrong book. Release some dark magic. Cause Chaos. Magical Mayhem. There’s a whole lot of plotline being ignored in the form this magical library.

A quick check shows that Thea Harrison has a new novel due out in November featuring Harpie, Aryal and another novella in December featuring Dragos again. Yay! I want to see the dragon baby again.

Received ARC from netgalley.com, courtesy of the publisher. Thank you.


Favorite Scene:

The protective bubble that Phaedra had drawn around Sebastian’s cabin popped, and a few moments later Bailey pounded twice on the door.

“They’re finally gone,” Bailey called through the barrier. “The fucking fuckers.”

Sebastian raised his voice, the deep timbre vibrating against Olivia’s cheek. “It’s about time. Ill be right out.”

Olivia wasn’t ready to let go of him. The hard length of his body against hers, the feel of his arms around her, all answered some kind of urgent question that she hadn’t even known she was asking. Reluctantly, she lifted her head from Sebastian’s shoulder, and they looked at each other.

Then, moving with deliberation, he cupped the back of her neck, drew her forward and kissed her. When his firm, mobile lips met hers, she felt another much-needed answer. Her lips parted and he dove into her mouth deeply with his tongue, stunning her with the swiftness of his invasion.

Her world whirled in a kaleidoscopic tilt. She hadn’t expected the kiss. She was still amazed that he had confided in her, and that they had embraced.

She hadn’t expected this.

His mouth was set, hard and demanding. Still kissing her, he pushed her back and back, and she complied until she came in contact with the wall. His body covered her. He took her wrists, pinning her arms over her head and shoved one muscled, jean-clad leg between hers. His movements were so aggressive, so surprising, a shaken moan broke out of her. Dear God, he had an erection. The hard length of it pressed against her hip.

He lit her world on fire. Everything burned with incandescent light.

She wanted to touch his hair to find out if it was as soft as it looked. She wanted to touch him. Her fingers opened and closed in fists. The hard shackles of his hands prevented her from touching him the way she needed to. All she could do was squeeze his leg between hers, arch against his body and kiss him back, so she did, while her heart took off on a manic gallop, running as fast as it could straight toward him.

His breath came and went rapidly, his wide chest working like a bellows. He drew back and stared at her, his strange, golden-amber-and-black-gaze fierce. Along with the muscles of his lean body, the lines of his face has sharpened.

The realization crept in that she stared at an entirely dangerous man, and she had no idea what he would do next.

“You could always just lock the door,” she whispered. Goodness, the things that fell out of her mouth on this trip.

His face blazed. Looking utterly barbaric, he ground his hips against hers. It tore a ragged cry out of her, because she had never felt like this before, never. Not with any of her dates or former lovers. Normally she was a calm, considering person, a bit of a nerd if she were to be quite honest, but now a strange, crazed creature had taken over her body.

“Yo!” Bailey pounded on the door again. “The crew’s starting to arrive.”

He bared his teeth. He looked utterly savage. “I said I’m on my way!”

“Take your time,” said Bailey. The other woman sounded extremely cheerful. “Just letting you know.”

He hissed in the direction of the door. “Go the fuck away.”

Olivia had focused her attention on the rapid pulse beating at the base of his strong jaw. She muttered, “Would you mind if I bit you?”

Wait, who just said that?

He released one of her wrists to yank his fingers violently through is speckled hair. “God. Damn. Yes. I mean no, I don’t mind. Yes, you should bite me. As many times as you want.” He thrust a stiffened finger under her nose. “We’re going to continue this very soon. got that, Olivia?”

She nodded drunkenly, staring at the finger. He kissed her again, swiftly and hard, and then with a growl he shoved away from her and the wall and strode out of the cabin.

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