Category Archives: Werewolves

Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs


ORDER A COPY: Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson

Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publishing Date: September 2, 2014
Paperback: 450 pages
Narrators: Lorelei King and Alexander Cendese

Rating: 5 stars


Shifting Shadows is a collection of short stories from the World of Mercy Thompson. Some feature Mercy and her friends and some do not. Patricia Briggs has a wonderful storyteller and she has created an interesting world of Urban Fantasy. These stories give you a taste of her Mercy Thompson series, as well as several stories that don’t feature characters from her Mercy Thompson series so you can simply enjoy the stories and see if Patricia Briggs is for you.


The Mercy Thompson series are told in the first person by Mercy. A few of these stories are fill in scenes from her books that didn’t fit since there were told by Mercy. So it gives you extras views but it will give spoilers if you haven’t reached those stories yet.

We also get to spend time with Warren and Kyle as well as Ben.  It is nice to get a little deeper into these characters. Ben is challenged to not swear for a month and it is quite entertaining to see him almost struggle to speak without his expletives.  There is a back story on Samuel and Ariana.

As you can probably guess, Alpha and Omega is the novella which began the Alpha and Omega spinoff series.  We never spent much time with Charles in any of Mercy’s book but we kind of knew him as Bran’s scary powerful and unsocial son.  I hadn’t jumped on his spin off but now I have picked up the first three audiobooks in this series and am looking forward to those.

The remaining stories involve vampires, ghosts, witches and fae which will all follow the world building rules which is presented in the Mercy Thompson series.  These were all very entertaining stories.  It reminded me of Stephen King novels when he would give you a full back story on a character who was just crossing the street (and about to be killed), but by the time King killed off the guy, you were so intrigued and invested in this guy you were sad he died.   I enjoyed these little peeks in the windows of others who live in Mercy’s world.

I found it interesting that Patricia Briggs gives a brief description of what prompted the story or what guidelines she was presented in the previously published stories. For example, for the story Gray , she needed to write a story featuring a color and a holiday. It is interesting the stories that are created for the different anthologies that these stories were originally part of.

THOUGHTS:
I am a big fan of Patricia Briggs’ writing and Mercy Thompson and friends. So I enjoyed all the stories presented in this collection. If you are looking for a new paranormal/urban fantasy author, this would be a great way to check out Patricia’s work without making the full commitment to an entire series.

I have listened to this entire series by audiobook. Lorelei King brings Mercy and the gang to life for me.  She has a very natural narration style and gives voice to a cast of characters.  This was my first time listening to Alexander Cendese, but I thought he did a wonderful job narrating for Samuel and for David.

Received a review audiobook from Brilliance audio in exchange for an honest review.


 

Previously Published Stories

  • Alpha and Omega The first novella about Anna and Charles, which led to a whole spin-off series.
  • Gray An vampire buys the home where she lived with her husband, which has fallen into disrespair. She begins remodeling the place, only to find that old and beloved ghosts still linger.
  • Fairy Gifts Mining towns are rough and human life is cheap. In the turn-of-the-century Butte Montana, a young man, turned to a vampire, struggles with his nature and eventually finds a measure of redemption in an unlikely place.
  • Seeing Eye White witches are rare, and seldom as powerful as their morally-compromised counterparts. In this story, a blind witch teams up with a werewolf on a mission.
  • The Star of David Being a werewolf can wreck havoc on family relations. This is a story of how murder and deception can bring a family together . . .
  • In Red, with Pearls Warren is a werewolf, and a private detective. This is a noir-flavored story about some truly terrible neighbors and why you should always treat a werewolf nicely.

New Stories

  • Silver This is probably the only depressing story I’ve ever written, and it was a hard story to write. This covers how Bran and Samuel were first made into werewolves, and how Samuel first fell in love with the Ariana. Of course, as we learned in Silver Borne, things have to take a tragic turn.
  • Outtake One After the tragedy of Silver, I had to remind myself that with long life comes the opportunity to overcome the past, and forge a better future. Samuel and Ariana have another chance at love, and they’re determined to make it work. This is an outtake from Silver Borne
  • Roses in Winter A young girl survives a werewolf attack, and is transformed into a werewolf. When she wasn’t able to control the wolf, she was moved to Bran’s pack. The law is absolute: if a werewolf cannot learn to control the wolf, they must be destroyed for the safety of all. With hope fading, Asil intervenes.
  • Redemption Ben’s got a quick temper, and a quicker tongue. He’s also made a bet that he can stop swearing for a week, and it just might change his life.
  • Hollow A wealthy recluse is haunted by a terrible ghost, and asks Mercy for help. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Outtake Two A bit that I wrote in Adam’s viewpoint for Night Broken.

Favorite Scene:

This is from Alpha and Omega:

“I think maybe you are the key to Leo’s mystery.”

She couldn’t help a snort of derision. “Me? Leo needed a new doormat?”

He leaned suddenly forward, knocking his chair over as he swept her off of her own and stood her on her feet. She’d thought she was used to the speed and strength of the wolves, but he stole her breath.

As she stood still and shocked, he prowled around her until he came back around the front and kissed her, a long, dark, deep kiss that left her breathless for another reason entirely.

“Leo found you and decided that he needed you,” he told her. “He sent Justin after you, because any of his other wolves would know what you were. Even before your Change, they’d have known. So he sent a half-crazy wolf because any other would have been unable to attack you.”

Hurt, she flinched away from him. He made her sound special, but she knew he was lying. He sounded like he was telling the truth, but she was no prize. She was nothing. For three years she had been nothing. He made her feel special today, but she knew better.

His hands, when they came down on her shoulders, were hard and impossible to resist. “Let me tell you something about Omega wolves, Anna. Look at me.”

She blinked back tears, and, unable to resist his command, raised her eyes to glare at him.

“Almost unique,” he said and gave her a little shake. “I work with numbers and percentages all the time, Anna. I might not be able to figure the odds exactly, but I’ll tell you that the chances that Justin picked you out to Change by sheer chance are almost infinitesimal. No werewolf, acting on instincts alone, would attack an Omega. And Justin strikes me as a wolf who acts on very little else.”

“Why no? Why wouldn’t he have attacked me? And what is an Omega?”

It was evidently the right question because Charles stilled, his former agitation gone. “You are an Omega, Anna. I bet that when you walk into a room, people come to you. I bet complete strangers tell you things they wouldn’t tell their own mothers.”

Incredulous, she stared at him. “You saw Justin this morning. Did he look calm to you?”

“I saw Justin,” he agreed slowly. “And I think that in any other pack he would have been killed shortly after he was made because his control is not good enough. I don’t know why he was not. But I think you allow him to control his wolf—and he hates you for it. You should not be ranked last in your pack.” His hands slid down her shoulders until he held her hands. Oddly that felt more intimate than his kiss had. “An Omega wolf is like the Indian medicine men, outside of the normal pack rankings. They had to teach you to lower your eyes, didn’t they?  To submissive wolves, such things are instinctive. You, they had to beat down. You bring peace to all those around you, Anna,” he said intently, his eyes on her. “A werewolf, especially a dominant wolf, is always on the edge of violence. After being shut in an aircraft with too many people for hours, I came into the airport craving bloodshed like a junkie craves his next fix. But when you came up to me, the anger, the hunger left.”

He squeezed her hands. “You are a gift, Anna. An Omega wolf in the pack means that more wolves survive the Change from human to wolf because they can find control easier with you there. It means that we lose fewer males to stupid dominance fights because an Omega brings a calmness to all those around him. Or her.”

There was a hole in his argument. “But what about earlier, when you almost changed because you were so angry.”

Something happened to his face, an emotion she didn’t know him well enough to read, except to know that it was strong.

When he spoke it was with the visible effort, as if his throat had tightened. “Most werewolves find someone they love, get married, and spend a long time with their spouse before the wolf accepts her as his mate.” He dropped her gaze and turned away, walking across the room and giving her his back.

Without the warmth of his body, she felt cold and alone. Scared.

“Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way,” he told the wall. “Let it rest there for now, Anna. You have been through enough without this.”

“I am so tired of being ignorant,” she spat, suddenly hugely angry. “You’ve changed all the rules on me—so you can damned well tell me what the new rules are.” As abruptly as the anger had come, it was gone, leaving her shaky and on the verge of tears.

He turned and his eyes had gone gold, reflecting the dim light of the room until they glowed. “Fine. You should have let it be, but you want truth.” His voice rumbled like thunder, though it wasn’t very loud. “My Brother Wolf has taken you for his mate. Even if you were nothing to me, I would have never allowed such abuse as you have suffered since your Change. But you are mine, and the though of you hurt, of being able to do nothing about it, is an anger that even an Omega wolf cannot easily soothe.”

High Moon by Jennifer Harlow

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ORDER A COPY: High Moon (A F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation Series) (Volume 4)

Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publishing Date: September 16, 2014
eBook: 234 pages

Rating: 4 stars=story – 1 star=series ending


This was a great series with an adorable, self-deprecating heroine and her two very interesting love interests. A big part of the fun was the flirty banter between Beatrice and (vampire) Oliver, while Beatrice chased after serious and sexy team leader (werewolf) Will. Unfortunately, once Beatrice finally catches Will, we lose all the Oliver banter while Oliver sulks in the corner. Beatrice also learns that there are some serious issues to deal with once you catch your man who has his own PMS from hell every full moon.


Beatrice is a woman who knows what she wants and for the last year, she has wanted the love of her F.R.E.A.K.S. team leader, werewolf William Price. She doesn’t care that he gets furry and chases his tail once a month. She has their future children already named, she just needs Will to acknowledge his own feelings for Beatrice. The few kisses they have exchanged tell her that Will isn’t as immune to her as he tries to make her believe. But no matter what she does, Will keeps pushing her away. Yet a slipped “I love you” will bring about a change to her future that she might not have been as ready for as she thought she was.

Not everyone is happy for Willitrice. The team is once again fracturing over what their new relationship will mean to the team. The biggest casualty to this new romance is Beatrice’s friendship with partner and BFF, vampire Oliver Montrose. Oliver and Will have been enemies and reluctant teammates for decades, but their animosity to each other exploded over their mutual feelings for Beatrice. Oliver was aware that Beatrice was in love with Will. She cried on his shoulder many a night over Will. But watching her unrequited mooning is different than watching the smooching lovers.  Knowing he lost her to a man whose “condition” could cause Beatrice to be ripped to shreds if they aren’t careful is making him act irrationally.

In between kissing Will and arguing with Oliver, Beatrice and the team are still on duty. Their latest case takes them to the woods of Appalachia Summit State Park in North Carolina. Part of a leg is found by hikers, but where is the rest of the body? When evidence shows several werewolves hunting in the woods, the team knows that are trying to find a sadistic pack hunting humans for sport. It also looks like this pack is being lead by a female werewolf who is using magic to keep her pack in an perpetual state of lust for her.

Local packmasters join the hunt for the rogues and we can add them to the list of those who are not happy to find Will cavorting with a Beatrice. Bea is having a hard enough time dealing with the fact that her dream relationship with Will is suddenly speeding ahead faster than a two-man luge and it seems no one is in their corner.  Although to be fair she does have to admit that she and Will have been a bit…distracted on this latest case and maybe they aren’t being fair to the rest of the team.

It seems that finally getting the man of her dreams might be the worst thing that has ever happened to Beatrice. Now that she has him, will she have to give him up in the name of public safety?

THOUGHTS:
My inner girly-girl was squealing with joy when we finally get Will to admit his feelings for Beatrice. Between being down about himself about being a real monster…a deadly werewolf, and the fact that he was not able to save his wife when they were attacked all those years ago, Will is always carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. If it was up to him, he would continue to live in a constant state of self-punishment. But we knew that there was a buzz in the air from the moment he met Beatrice, and that any anger toward Beatrice was focused more on her relationship with Oliver, especially when he thought that they were sleeping together. So after Book 3 when Beatrice told him she would get him to admit his feelings for her, I waited on pins and needles not sure if there would be a Book 4 or if Jennifer Harlow was ending the series as a trilogy and leaving us hanging.

There is part of me that now wishes she has left us with the three book series imaging what would happen upon Beatrice’s return. You will note that although I gave the story a 4 star rating, I gave the series ending only 1. The investigation and story were as good as her other books. It was odd to read big, strong, dangerous Will Price texting “Love U. Love U. Love U.” messages. I think I would have lost all respect if there was a “Shmoopsie” in there.

I like that Bea was the one to finally watch over the caged Will while he changed to werewolf at the next full moon. We finally got to see the change happen.  Everything went as I imagined it would, including Will’s freak out when an angry Oliver (his nemesis) shows up to confront Bea when he finally learns that Will and Beatrice became a couple while he was in his death sleep.

Investigation aside, what was really missing in the story was the great rapport between Bea and Oliver. Oliver freaks out that he lost Beatrice to Will and becomes the psycho vampire everyone has been warning her about since she got there in Book 1. Beatrice is the only person Oliver has cared about since…ever. He behaves very badly upon learning the news and Beatrice refuses to speak to Oliver until he can apologize and be happy for them. So instead of the usual fun, flirty banter, we barely hear from Oliver at all unless his is yelling and pointing out how dangerous it is for Beatrice to be with a werewolf. I missed Oliver. I missed Oliver/Beatrice a lot.

I gave the series ending a 1 simply because I have never been so upset and absolutely angry finishing a story before in my life. I was going to let a friend borrow my Nook on her vacation because she too is a big fan of the series. I texted her as soon as I finished and told her I would not allow her to read it until she returned so she would not ruin her vacation.

After she finally read it she texted me this:

the book was  :D then it went to  :) to  :| to   :(    to  :'( :'( :'(

I always enjoyed this series as a fun and entertaining series. Beatrice is very self-deprecating and Oliver is flirty and charming. Even the serious Will you knew was grumpy because he wanted Beatrice but had his “woe is the werewolf” thing going. There are some paranormals and Urban Fantasies that you know take themselves very seriously, for example, The Black Dagger Brotherhood and Mercy Thompson. Maybe the author always intended her series to be dark, but I couldn’t help but enjoy the fun parts of the series. The ending was so dark and awful I am still angry about it a month later. I tried to re-read one of the prior stories just to enjoy the camaraderie but it was so tainted by the ending, I couldn’t continue.

There is no doubt in my mind that the author was simply done with this series.  I am so sorry she felt that way. I would have read these stories for several more years and enjoyed the characters she created. I truly wish I had a talent for writing. I would hit the fan fiction sites and carry on writing my own saga of the F.R.E.A.K.S.

We don’t know why an author chooses how their characters will react, but even if Jennifer Harlow wanted to walk away from the F.R.E.A.K.S., she didn’t need to be so gruesome. I could think of several different endings which could have left us maybe without a perfect Hollywood happy ending or simply one open to use our own imagination.

For paranormal lovers, I would still highly recommend the first three books in this series. As far as High Moon, you will have to read it at your own risk.

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


Favorite Scene:

Watching the man you love suck face with a gorgeous woman is not the best way to start a birthday. Welcome to my world.

He sits at a back booth, lips and every other body part pressed against that succubus, appearing to love every second and caress, the rat bastard. And how can he not be? The evil slut queen of doom has everything I don’t. Long, straight hay-colored hair, big blue eyes, big breasts, long lean legs, tight body all encased in a skintight black dress clinging to her perfect curves that only a plastic surgeon could ever recreate on me. I’ve envied women like her all my life, and now that succubus has my future husband in her enticing clutches. Literally. An actual succubus is clutching his soft brown hair and kissing him as if her life depended on it. Which I guess it does—as she feeds off sexual energy to live—but still. Does he have to frigging enjoy the whole experience so much?

Howdy. The jealous, insecure, emotional wreck before you is Special Agent Beatrice Alexander of the covert branch of the FBI known to the underworld as the F.R.E.A.K.S. We fight the monsters under your bed: the vampires, the ghosts, and the soon to be decapitated succubi of the world. Those terrors in horror movies? Real. Trolls, zombies, even giant snakes. Killed them all so the citizens of American can go about their normal lives. Why am I so lucky? Because technically I’m one of them. I can move anything with my mind. It’s called tele or psychokinesis. I can carry in groceries or stop hearts without lifting a finger. And let me say doing the latter is mighty tempting right about now.

The man having his tonsils examined by the succubus is my teammate Special Agent Will Price. He’s technically a monster too, at least once a month. He’s a werewolf, not that I hold that against him. After all us freaks can’t help who or what we are. We’re actually a lot alike everyone else. Though Will did literally eat my last boyfriend. The psycho was trying to kill me at the time, so I gave Will a pass on that. But this…

Will shifts in his seat to get closer to her. They haven’t broken apart in over forty-seven seconds. Forty-seven! He’s kissed her longer than he’s ever kissed me all three times combined. I don’t care that she’s more or less bewitched him. I don’t care that its all for a case. My hands ball into fists, fingers digging so deep in my own flesh it hurts. A cool hand touches mine. I look away from this nauseating PDA toward the hand’s owner. My friend, the delectable Oliver Montrose gazes at me, his gray eyes warning me not to put into action what I’ve been contemplating. Namely storming over there and cold cocking that female dog with the butt of my Glock. Though she so deserves it. In Virginia Beach alone she’d been linked to two deaths. Two young seamen were found naked and dead in their own beds of apparent heart attacks after going home from a club with a hot blonde. Who knows how many others she’d sucked dry over the years?

For those not in the monster killer business, a succubus is a woman who Hoovers up the life-force from her lovers, much like a vampire feeds off blood. Now, I don’t begrudge a life form getting whatever they need to live. I watch Animal Planet. Sometimes it’s kill or be killed. But a succubus doesn’t need to kill anymore than a vampire does. A little can go a long way. Some people are just evil. And right now evil has Will in a head lock.

“Whatever course of action you are contemplating inside that beautiful head of years, I suggest you forget it post haste,” my vampire friend warns. His hand remains heavy on mine, a reminder about restraint. We don’t want to blow our cover. While Will plays doctor, Oliver and I sit at the bar, just another couple enjoying the Virginia nightlife. A few stools down, Agents Rushmore and Wolfe, in their chic Ralph Lauren polo shirts and buzz cuts, nurse ginger ales, and keep their eyes locked on the same booth. Chandler is lucky enough to be out in the parking lot waiting for the signal to take her down. Darn you, innocent bystanders. Darn you.

Lord, I hate clubs. They’re loud, crowded, expensive and filled with hormone crazed men and women with no sense of shame or decorum. I’ve lost count of how many strange crotches have rubbed up against my backside while “dancing.” I’d only been a handful of times before I joined the F.R.E.A.K.S., and now it seems as if I live in one. Why preternaturals feel so at home in these places is beyond me. I guess to them it’s nothing but a smorgasbord. Easy picking. Everyone’s mind is so filled with sex and booze they forget basics like safety and common sense. And now Will has joined their ranks.

“I wasn’t contemplating anything,” I snap, downing my screwdriver. “I’m not bothered by them. Not a bit. It’s work. We’re working. Another drink, please! Now! Now!

“That is not a wise idea, my dear.”

“Wise is so overrated,” I mutter.

I glance back at the couple. Still making out, still…oh, no she isn’t! Her graceful hand slides up Will’s thigh, resting on the bulge in his pants. At first she just traces the outline with her fingertip, and then rubs against him with her whole harlot hand. He doesn’t push it away.

Rage boils over. Involuntarily I leap up, every inch of me tense and ready to rip her shining hair out at the roots. Before I’m totally upright, a hand on my shoulder presses me back into my seat. “No.”

“But she—“

No,” Oliver says as if I’m an ill-behaved dog.

“But he—“

“No.”

Torture.

Wanted: Wild Thing by Jessica Sims


ORDER A COPY: Wanted: Wild Thing (Midnight Liaisons)

Publisher: Pocket Books
Publishing Date: August 26, 2014
Paperback: 354 pages

Rating: 4 stars


The final book in a romance series set in a “fun, sexy world” (USA TODAY), where paranormals seek love through a dating service called Midnight Liaisons.

Ryder is hiding a dark secret from her coworkers at Midnight Liaisons. Every time she’s sexually attracted to a man, her dragon side breaks through. Not exactly man-bait! But she needs to lose her virginity before her twenty-fifth birthday, or she’ll become a dragon forever.

Her solution? Big, hunky Hugh, the appointed guardian of her chastity. He’s clearly hot for her, but he has powerful reasons to resist Ryder. Can temptation—and love—possibly find a way?


Ryder Sinclair has a wardrobe like Baby Spice and flirts with anything in pants. She is a human working nights at Midnight Liaison, the paranormal dating service, or at least she lets everyone think she’s your average, everyday human. Ryder is actually a changeling and if a man touches her skin with sexual intent, he triggers her changeling side. She has had to pretend food poisoning and run out the back door on more dates than she can remember.

When she was a teen, a half-Fae fortune teller once told her that if she finds The One she can keep the change at bay, but she must do it before she reaches her twenty-fifth birthday. If she remains a virgin at her twenty-fifth birthday, she will change into her changeling form permanently. So Ryder has become a flirting-machine trying to find that one man who can touch her without triggering her changeling side. With only a month to her twenty-fifth birthday, she is getting pretty desperate to remain human.

Ryder doesn’t realize that life can get so much worse than growing scales and sprouting horns until the night a Fae prince shows up in her office with his brutish bodyguard and let’s her know that he is the one who brought her to the human realm to be raised in safety after replacing her for her parents’s human child. He is excited that her change is almost complete and his investment will soon come to fruition. Ryder is a very rare and valuable changeling in the Fae realm and he plans to use her for breeding litters of valuable baby changelings that he will sell to rebuild his family’s fortunes.

Becoming a full-time monster isn’t enough of a horrific future to worry about, and now a Fae prince wants to turn her into a brood mare. He has also sent a bruiser to insure that she doesn’t loose her virginity before her transformation is complete. Since she can’t get out from under the watchful eye of Hugh, she’s going to have to give him an eyeful and convince him that taking her virginity is a better prize than whatever the Fae prince has promised him.

Hugh is holding firm to his vow, but he has never come across the Queen of Flirting who is desperate to remain human. This shifter might have a will of iron, but he doesn’t know what he’s up against when Ryder turns up the charm.

THOUGHTS:
This was a fun story. This was my first Jessica Sims novel but I was gifted by Pocket Books with a few of other novels in the series, and I also picked up one novella which was free the other day on Amazon, so I would like to try the rest of the series. The Goodreads info says it is the last in the series, but the author’s website is declaring that as a rumor. She has a good cast of characters and this latest novel brings in a few more. I would think is it premature to walk away from such a promising series. I do want to read Marie’s story, who is Ryder’s BFF. She is as obnoxious and snarky as I like my heroines.

Although I haven’t read the other books in the series, Ryder does work with and talk about the other characters from the series and I got the idea that this story differs a bit from the others. The other stories involve shifters and some humans and even they think changelings are a myth. This story also involves Hugh who is brought over from the Fae Realm and he calls himself a Primordial while the Fae call him a Long-Tooth. From this and Ryder’s initial description, it is not hard to guess that Hugh is a saber-toothed tiger shifter. He and his men are kept in a primordial land where they don’t even wear clothing. So everything here is new and dangerous to Hugh.

I was a bit stressed for Ryder since the Fae Prince was planning to use her to breed and sell her offspring like she was a puppymill. He would swing by and check her progress, make her strip down and make her change for him so he could check on his investment. But to thwart his plans, she needed to lose her virginity and if she did that, Hugh would lose his prize which was women/mates for himself and the men of his tribe who have no women there. So for Ryder to win, Hugh’s men would lose out. This was a problem even Ryder struggled with.

There were some really funny part of this story where, in Ryder’s attempt to seduce Hugh, she puts on porn for him which started with a pizza delivery guy showing up and getting an extra special tip. This becomes a bit of a running gag in the story, including Hugh telling his men that there are women who will have lots of sex with you if you give them food. Ooooo!

I was a little disappointed that Ryder’s “dragon” form. As it is described it makes her more of a Sleestak with crumpled wings like a newly emerged butterfly than anything dragon-like. (If you got that reference, you are old like me.) As the last month progresses, her scales become more luminescent and her claws nicer, etc., but she is always very humanoid and she never becomes a dragon as they are usually described. Hugh might have thought she was beautiful, but me…not so much.

This was cleverly written and entertaining and a series I want to look into further.

Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Scene:

“Perhaps you should leave her alone.”

“My job is to remain at her side and protect her virginity.” Hugh snarled in Brad’s face. His big hand clamped down on my shoulder again.

Despite the fact that we were in a side room at the restaurant, several people in the next room turned to look over at us, overhearing Hugh’s words.

“Oh, my God,” I moaned. “You did not just say that out loud in a crowded restaurant.”

“And if she doesn’t want it protected?” Brad asked.

“Yeah,” I said, pushing Hugh’s hand off my shoulder again.

“Then I will protect it for her,” Hugh said. “Against her will if I must.”

“You can’t make me leave,” I hissed at him. “This is a public place.” I was safe from him here.

Hugh leaned in to me, his face close to mine. “I am sorry for what I am about to do.”

“Do? What–“

His hand moving to the back of my neck, he leaned forward and pressed his mouth to mine in a startling, fierce kiss. his lips mashed against my own, and his scent was in my nostrils, his body pressed to mine.

Then, just as quickly, he pulled away. I stared up at him, dazed.

“Now, we leave,” Hugh said.

I blinked, trying to process all of this. Kiss? Leave? What?  He grabbed my hand in his and dragged me toward the doors of the restaurant.

I immediately tried to jerk away, realizing what all this was about.

He was deliberately activating my changeling side. Hugh knew that if my curse kicked in I’d have no choice but to leave with him. Anger burned inside me, but it was quickly swallowed up by the transformation spiraling through my body. My monster coiled and reared, and I felt my skin shiver with awareness. Anger at Hugh blossomed, then quickly turned to fear when others started to look at us.

Damn him! I stopped struggling and gave everyone a cheerful wave, practically running with Hugh as he stomped toward the parking lot. I had to make things seem like they were normal, or else someone was sure to follow us out due to concern for me. And that was the last thing I wanted—if someone followed us, they’d get a glimpse of my scaly side.

It was evident to me that the change was going to come whether I wanted it or not. Even now, I could feel the throb in my shoulder blades that was the onset of my wings, and my gums ached from where my fangs were about to pop.  My grip tightened in High’s, and I knew the pressure I was exerting would soon be intense.

But if that didn’t communicate my anxiety, nothing would.

As soon as we got to the parking lot, I bolted, dashing away from Hugh. He let me, and I continued on, racing for my car. My hand fumbled to find my keys, but claws were sprouting and my muscles were clenching, and it was impossible for me to concentrate. Pain erupted, throbbing through my body.

Too late. Before I could even open the door to my vehicle, my legs gave out. I crouched, huddling around myself as my changes tore through me.

Hugh crouched low next to me. His hand smoothed down my back, ignoring the fact that it was lumpy and muscles were seething. “I am sorry Ryder.”

“You…suck…” I whispered between gasps, my hands clenched tight as my tail ripped out of my back. I gave a small cry of pain, only to have it swallowed as he pulled me to his chest, Muffling my cries as he held me close.

“It grieves me to do this to you,” he murmured and his hand stroked my hair even as he cradled me tight.

I fought him for a moment, but feebly. The transformation was happening, and I couldn’t stop it any more than I could stop him from holding me close.

And what was worse? With every stroke of his hand on my hair, I didn’t want him to stop holding me.

A Curse Awakened by Cecy Robson

A Curse Awakened Cover


ORDER A COPY: A Curse Awakened: A Weird Girls Novella

Publisher: Loveswept
Publishing Date: August 19, 2014
eBook: 94 pages

Rating: 4 stars


Discover Cecy Robson’s sensational Weird Girls series—or return to where the magic first began—with this eBook original prequel novella about four sisters coming to grips with their unique supernatural powers.

Celia Wird shouldn’t possess the ability to transform into a tigress. Her three sisters should never be able to burst into flames, heal wounds, or transform common objects into deadly weapons. And yet they do.

Before they were born, the Wird Sisters were cursed by a spell that was intended to destroy them, not endow them with extraordinary powers. The sisters’ magic is untamed and explosive at best, and time is running out for them to take command.

Vampires have targeted Celia’s sweet, tragically human ex-boyfriend Danny. The sisters rush to his aid, but in order to take down the vamps, first they must face their dark past and break a spell that’s screwing up their powers. Except this curse wasn’t meant to be broken . . . and the witch who cast it isn’t done toying with them yet.


When Celia receives a phone call from her ex-boyfriend Danny that he and his father are being attacked by vampires, Celia’s need to protect won’t let her walk away from them. But getting into a war with a crazy vampire mistress who has claimed Danny’s father as her new pet, isn’t what she needs right now on top of packing up to move to their new home.

Yet it is Danny who realizes that the sisters’ powers have been bound by a witch and if they can locate and destroy the witch’s alter, they will be able to control their gifts, rather than having them always backfire.

Knowing they need all their strengths to go up against a powerful family of vampires, their first stop is to their old neighborhood to find Tia Griselda’s alter and break the spell. If they can take on a powerful witch and survive, maybe they will have what it takes to take on a mad vampire, or maybe it would be just smarter to get out of town before they make some very powerful enemies.

THOUGHTS:
I enjoyed this novella which focused more on the sisters together. Although all of the Weird Girl stories are enjoyable, they are told in the first person and in the last few stories Celia is spending more time with either Misha or Aric. While those plots bring their own enjoyment, it is fun to see the sisters working, or in this case fighting, together.

This novella also gives us a better understanding of the curse which gives the sisters their powers.

This is an enjoyable series and I am looking forward to the next installment.

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


Favorite Scene:

(Tiny scene. It made me laugh.)

I leaped from the elevated lot and landed in a deep crouch in the sand, perfectly poised and ready to haul tail across the beach.

Until my sisters and Danny landed in a heap on top of me and I ate about half a cup of sand.

They rolled off me, moaning while I hacked out the nasty mess. I scraped the excess with my nails while drooling like a dumbass. “Oops. Sorry, Celia.” Emme mumbled.

Souls of the Damned by E.S. Moore


ORDER A COPY: Souls of the Damned

Publisher: Kensington
Publishing Date: June 19, 2014
Paperback: 240 pages

Rating: 4 stars


Kat Redding would love to take a break from the gruesome, dangerous work of hunting down rogue vampires and werewolves, battling for innocent lives. But there’s no peace for Lady Death. Until Kat’s young charge, Sienna, appears on her doorstep, escaped from the shadow-paradise of Delai. Sienna is weak, confused, desperate–human in the utmost. If Kat is going to have any hope of breaking the hold of Delai, she’ll have to infiltrate the walls around the false sanctuary. And the only way she can do that is to trade in her battle-hardened, bloodthirsty vampire’s body–for Sienna’s human form.

With no weapons but her wits, Kat has to trust a demon, defeat an angel, and wrestle with her own rebel soul–because with all the fear and death she’s conquered, no one has ever offered her another day under a warm yellow sun.


Kat has tried several times unsuccessfully to find Delai. She promised Sienna that she wouldn’t leave her there to the mercy of Levi. Sienna doesn’t even know that Levi isn’t a man.  He’s an angel. But angels are not the heavenly, kind of creatures we have all been brainwashed to believe they are. Levi is no better than the demon Beligral who has marked Kat and her human friend, Ethan.

So imagine how surprised Kat is to come home one night to find Sienna sleeping in her bed. Beligral helped break Levi’s bond long enough for Sienna to escape Delai, but what Kat can’t figure out is why?  The only thing she is sure about is that Beligral wants Kat to send Levi back to his own realm, and he’s willing to make Kat human in order to accomplish that.  But then again when negotiating with a demon, there is always a catch, to make her human, Beligral will swap Kat and Sienna’s souls.

Kat isn’t willing to make Sienna suffer vampire hunger and rage no matter how much Kat would like to be human. But she didn’t count on Levi being able to call Sienna and the only way to keep Sienna from running back on her own would be to lock her in a cage for the rest of her life.

With no other way to save Sienna from returning to Delia, Kat agrees to the soul swap. If she can make it back out alive, will she have the strength to give Sienna back her body, or will the lure of once again being human be too much of a temptation for Kat to resist.

THOUGHTS:

**Some spoilers***
I knew when I picked this book up that it was a storyline focusing on the Twilight Zone town of Delai. I didn’t enjoy that storyline when it was presented in Book 2, but I understand and the author (1) isn’t writing just for my personal pleasure, and (2) he has to wrap up this loose thread since Kat isn’t the type of character to abandon an innocent young woman after promising to come back for her.

E.S. Moore left us reeling at the end of Book 4 with an ending which will bring big changes, but we couldn’t really get into what’s going to happen yet because we had to wrap up the Delai storyline.   Kat’s character had improved in Book 4 and she was continuing with her personal growth in Book 5. Kat hates being a vampire and wants to be human again, but even with how tempting it was to take Sienna’s body, she didn’t give in until she had no other choice. Sienna was being force back to go back and she wasn’t strong enough to have been able to stop Levi herself.  Once she takes Sienna’s body and becomes human again, Kat comes to realize how much weaker humans are, how much slower, eyesight, etc. So maybe the time spent in Sienna’s body will help her re-think her deep desire to be human again.  Kat has made many enemies and becoming human again would make her too weak to protect herself and her friends for the powerful Supes who would be gunning for her.

Now that the Delai storyline is dead, Kat still has to deal with the new threat by Countess Basset who wants Kat to walk away from her old life and move into her House and for Kat become her full-time assassin. She also has creepy, gross Adrian, the psycho werewolf Alpha, who wants Kat to mate with him (ewww) still stalking her.  He wants Kat to pass on a message of Jonathan that he wants Jonathan to join his House. I think he just wants to keep on eye on Jonathan because he knows that there are feelings between Jonathan and Kat.

(Little more spoilers)  The big positive in this story was that we got some Jonathan and Kat (as Sienna) action. What do I mean by that? After Kat switches bodies with Sienna, she realizes she might not come back and she goes to see Jonathan for possibly the last time.  They have sex (Yay!) and Jonathan is suddenly out of his funk (not surprising).  He doesn’t know what Kat is up to, but obviously he wants to see more of her when she comes back. Knowing she won’t be keeping Sienna’s body if she survives, Kat starts with the “we can’t mix vampires and werewolves” BS fear she keeps falling back on, and Jonathan pleads that they not go backwards in their relationship now that they finally have taken a step forward.

Now I don’t know if this was intentional by the author or not, but Jonathan and Kat/Sienna have sex.  I’m gonna guess that no condom was used since Jonathan is currently displaced and in a funk and probably not thinking about sex.  I am sure Kat/Sienna didn’t show up with one and since Sienna has been living in Delai, I’m gonna guess she isn’t taking birth control to control her cramps which is the lame excuse in several books.   Is the author just glancing over this oversight or will Sienna start the next novel suddenly feeling out of sorts or nursing a case of the “flu” and asking Kat what she was doing with Sienna’s body while she was out? Additionally, Kat’s BFF Ethan has a crush on Sienna.  I don’t think he’s gonna be happy to find out Kat got his new love knocked up with a half werewolf baby.  That would make awkward breakfast conversation.  We’ll have to see if that turns into something in the next book.

I’m still in on this series for now and since we’ve gotten rid of the Delai storyline, we can concentrate of Kat extricating herself from the clutches of both the vampire Countess and Adrian the creepy werewolf.   I must admit that I fear for my beloved Jonathan now that he and Kat have upped their relationship.   I said all along she should mate with Jonathan since she was so attached to him and that would get Adrian off her back.  Now that there is a relationship between them (including sex) will Adrian kill Jonathan or simply threaten Jonathan’s life to get Kat to mate with him (ewww!).   If Jonathan’s gone, I’m out.  :(  He’s my favorite character here.

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


Favorite Scene:

The sound of birds chirping woke me. I stretched and sat up in bed, somewhat dazed. Sometime during the night, I’d been moved so that when I woke, my head was on the pillow and a blanket covered me. I’d somehow slept through it, which wasn’t like me at all.

With a yawn, I rose and sludged my way across the dark bedroom, into the bathroom. I flipped on a light and jumped back in surprise when I saw my face.

Sienna stared back at me. It was strange knowing I was looking into a mirror and yet, not recognizing the face as my own. I ran my fingers down my cheek, stretching the skin as if I thought it might slough off, revealing the same old face I was used to.

“This is fucking weird.” Even my voice didn’t sound right.

I turned away from the mirror with a grimace. Smells and sights were muted from what I knew. I couldn’t hear as well as before either. It made me feel as if I was wrapped in cotton, or crippled, perhaps.

And then there was the whole washing thing. I really didn’t want to see Sienna naked, but if I was stuck with this body for any length of time, there was no helping it. I doubted I’d be able to go to Delai, find the summoner, kill him, and then get back to switch bodies before I started to stink.

I quickly stripped out of Sienna’s clothes, stepped into the shower, and tried to wash her body without actually touching anything. It’s my body now, I reminded myself. I needed to start thinking of it that way so that if I came across a situation where I need to react quickly, I didn’t try to act like the vampire I once was. That would only get me killed.

Once I was clean, I dried off and hurried into my room to get dressed, pointedly not looking in the mirror as I passed. There wasn’t much that fit me right, but I managed to find an old T-shirt in the back of my closet that wasn’t too big and a pair of shorts that worked well enough once I strapped on a belt.  I felt like a little girl playing dress-up with her mom’s clothes.

The sound of birds continued. My eyes were drawn to the sound.

My heart in my throat as I crossed the room to the window. The blinds were taped to the wall so that no light could penetrate them. Heavy curtains hung over them for added protection. Ever so slowly, I pushed the curtains back and pulled the blinds away from the window.

Light struck me square in the face. I cringed back, expecting to feel burned and weak, but instead, the sunlight on my skin felt warm and comforting. I opened the blinds wider and looked out on a sunlit world I never thought I’d see again.

Tears sprung suddenly to my eyes, so I closed them. The sun warmed my flesh, sent my heart soaring. While I couldn’t see it directly, the sunlight lit up my eyelids so that they seemed to glow bright pink.

With a cry of pure joy, I spun and ran out of my room. I was crying hard now and couldn’t make myself stop. I didn’t know if it was the body or if I was just that overjoyed about what I’d felt. Either way, my emotions were getting the better of me. And right then, I didn’t care. All I wanted to do was feel the sun directly on my skin, revel in the light of day for the first time in a very, very long time.

I threw open the front door and ran out into the yard, heedless of anyone that might be lurking in the surrounding trees. I spread my arms wide as I raised my face to a sun that shone so bright, so strong, it was a wonder the entire world didn’t burn. A breeze played across my skin, warm and reassuring. I fell to my knees and cried.

“Could you remember what it was like before now?”

Jeremy’s voice startled me, but I refused to rise. I shook my head and smiled into the sun.

The world smelled different during the day. Even with my weaker sense of smell, I could tell. It was as if I’d walked into another reality entirely. Everything was so strange, and that included myself.  It was all I could do not to be overwhelmed.

Jeremy didn’t move from where he stood a few feet back. I had a feeling I’d woken him with my shout before I’d run from the house. He was probably out here making sure no one took advantage of the idiot girl.

I finally rose and turned to face him. He looked tired, but oddly happy. The sun did strange things to his face, made him look older somehow. I’m not sure if it was that the shadows were thinner here or if it was how the lines of worry were more defined in direct sunlight.

“I’m glad you got to see this,” he said, scanning the trees. “I think if vampires could actually come out and spend sometime in the sun, they wouldn’t be so goddamn pissy all of the time. That big orange ball up there has a soothing effect on people, you know?”

I nodded, but didn’t trust myself to speak just yet. The waterworks had shut off, but I still felt full to bursting. I wanted to scream and run naked through the trees, to feel the grass beneath my toes. If it wasn’t for the fact that there might still be werewolves camped out there and that it wasn’t my body I’d be exposing to the world, I very well might have done it.

Vampire Trouble by Sara Humphreys


ORDER A COPY: Vampire Trouble (Dead in the City)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publishing Date: July 1, 2014
Paperback: 320 pages

Rating: 4 stars


Shane Quesada, a four-century old vampire sentry, is known for cold, unemotional precision when hunting rogue vampires.

Maya Robertson is a youngling vampire who will not be controlled—and to prove it, she rejects Shane’s protection—only to find herself in over her head with an alpha werewolf.

Soon, a war between the coven and the werewolf clan ignites, and Maya and Shane flee to Louisiana, where their passion for each other grows—as does Maya’s power. When she finds herself at the center of the conflict, will she finally trust Shane with her life—and her heart?


Maya Robertson has been a vampire of only five years. She is a young vamp by immortal standards and like any other youngster, she has a problem keeping herself out of trouble. She does exactly what she is told not to do, she gets angry when she is told to behave by her maker and she likes to play with her food.

On the night of her turning, she was raped, beaten and left for dead in an alley. Since Olivia turned her, she has been plagued with nightmares of the night of her death. The constant feeling of powerlessness makes her seek out some control of her life. She often feeds from the type of men who would take advantage of a weaker female and then she toys with them. She is not happy when Olivia gives an order that they are not to hunt for awhile. Werewolves have come to town unannounced and uninvited and that can only mean trouble.

Of course, the first thing Maya wants to do is get a closer look at these werewolves. When she is almost attacked by one, it is 400-year-old Sentry, Shane Quesada, who steps in to take Maya by the hand to help the baby vampire grow up.

He knows that Maya’s best defense against the dreams is to fight off her attacker in her dreamscape, and in reality, to be able to fight off the werewolves who are now seeking her out. He takes Maya away to train her in self-defense and weapons. He know that once Maya feels confident enough that she can take care of herself,  she will finally be able to move beyond the past which still haunts her.

THOUGHTS:
This is an enjoyable series and a quick read for anyone who likes paranormal romance. Understandably, Maya has issues with men when the story begins. We know from the first book that Maya likes to glamour and play with the human men she feeds from. We learn in the beginning of this story exactly why she does it. Still you do want to shake Maya in the beginning because she makes emotionally motivated decisions without thought. She is told to stay away from the werewolves, so of course she takes a new job at a club where they are hanging out. She is told not to trust them and to stay away from them, so of course she agrees to go to their hotel suite alone with the pack. *shake, shake, shake*

I liked Shane a lot until he starts to have the “I’m getting too obsessed with Maya to do my job” talk with himself, just after Maya starts to trust him, and we see her start to mature. Then it is our turn to start shaking Shane for being stupid.

This is the second story of the series and brings the second pair of Bloodmates to the series.  The supernatural world is already having a summit to discuss Olivia and Doug who are the first Bloodmates in forever.  The supe world is concerned about the fact that they can walk in the daylight, and have also created a child. Tensions are high as they await the birth of Olivia’s child, and with the supernatural world up in arms about what their bond could mean to the future of the supernatural world, a second pair is going to ratchet that concern way up.

Overall it was an enjoyable story and a good addition to the Dead in the City series.

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


Favorite Scene:

“I knew you like to watch.” Her voice, quiet and edged with bitterness, cut into the silence of the night. Maya spun around and stormy, dark blue eyes latched onto his. “Do you get off on that?”

“You are the one who challenged me to follow you.” Perplexed by her obvious anger at his presence, Shane knit his brows together. He inched closer, his gaze wandering over her face, memorizing every curve. “Or did you forget?”

Maya’s eyes widened with every inch of personal space that he invaded, yet she didn’t retreat. “I remember telling you and everyone else that I’m tired of having my every move monitored.” She placed her hands on her hips and met his challenging stare. “You’re a sentry and supposedly some badass warrior, but you’re spending the last hours of your night spying on me? What’s your deal? Are you trying to get brownie points with Doug and Olivia? Do you get some kind of bonus for following me around and messing with my life?

“Hardly.”

“Then what’s your damage, dude?”

“Actually”—Shane tilted his head slightly to one side and folded his arms over his chest—“that was going to be my question for you.”

“What?” Maya blinked and took a step back. “Me? What are you talking about?”

“Yes, you.” Shane leaned closer and his voice dropped low. “Why do you insist on hunting but barely feed on your prey?” Maya said nothing and took another step backward, but Shane persisted. He dropped his hands and continued moving toward her, even though she moved farther away.

“You only hunt men, and from what I’ve observed over the past few months, your taste in human men is…Well, let’s just say it’s questionable. You don’t just hunt, Maya. You court, seduce and lure them in much the way one would with a lover, and yet you clearly don’t love them. In fact, I’d say it’s quite the opposite.”

“I like the hunt.” Maya tilted her chin defiantly but gasped when she backed right into the trunk of a massive oak. “What’s wrong with that?” she whispered through trembling lips. “Besides, what would a stodgy old vampire like you know about love?”

“Nothing.” Shane place his hands against the tree on either side of Maya, caging her in. He leaned in so his face was just inches from hers. “I know little of love but I’m well schooled in hunting, whether it’s to feed or in battle. It’s not what you’re doing that intrigues me, Maya, but why you’re doing it.”

“I-I’m hunting, like any other vampire does.” Her voice lowered to a whisper, but the anger and defiance had been replaced by fear and uncertainty. “For the blood.”

“No.” Shane shook his head slowly. Brushing a lock of blond hair off her face, he ran his thumb along her jaw. Her skin was warm and smooth beneath his. Although vampires felt cool to the touch to humans, they felt warm to other vampires because their body temperatures were the same. Although Maya’s flesh seemed hotter and more enticing than any Shane had encountered.

He tiled her chin, forcing her to look him in the eye, and to his surprise, she didn’t resist. “If it were only about blood, youngling, then you would simply glamour a human, feed, and release him. No.” Shane traced the line of her full lower lip with the edge of his thumb, and sadness tugged at whatever was left of his heart. “We both know there is much more at play here than the need for blood.”

“Then spill it.” Maya’s features hardened, and her hands balled into fists at her sides. Dark blue eyes glittered up at him with fierce determination. “What is it that you think I’m after?”

Memories of Maya being dragged into the alley and the look of pure terror and helplessness in her eyes came roaring back—and in that instant he knew. He felt like a fool for not realizing it the moment he’d woken from the dreamscape. When the realization dawned, something deep inside him shattered into a million tiny pieces.

“Power,” Shane whispered. His fangs burst free, and Maya let out a gasp of pleasure. “Control.” He placed a gentle kiss at the corner of her mouth. “Domination.”

Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston

Bite Me (Pride, #9)


ORDER A COPY: Bite Me (The Pride Series)

Publisher: Brava
Publishing Date: March 25, 2014
Paperback: 382 pages

Rating: 5 stars


Livy Kowalski has no time for idiots. When you shapeshift into a honey badger, getting through life’s irritants is a finely honed skill. Until she gets stuck housing her nutso cousin and dealing with her dad’s untimely and unexplained demise.

That’s where Vic Barinov comes in—or his house does. Vic can’t step outside without coming back to find Livy devouring his honey stash and getting the TV remote sticky. It gets his animal instincts all riled up. But he’ll have to woo her at high speed: all hell is breaking loose, and Livy is leading the charge.


Livy Kowalski is petite, shapely, vicious and all Honey Badger in Shelly Laurenston’s latest book in the Pride series.

Livy’s family is disappointed by her. From the cradle she has been taught by her family how to steal, how to pick locks, how to appraise valuables and instead of stealing art, Livy wants to waste her time  creating it. Her art is everything to Livy but with a big show coming up, and she feels like her art has dried up and if a dry spell isn’t bad enough, somehow she has been dragged in to shoot the wedding of Bo Novikov and Blayne Thorpe. Artist to wedding photographer, could things get any worse.

Oh, but they can. Someone let her cousin Melly out of prison a few months early. It seems you can get good behavior even if you fake your own kidnapping to get more attention from your boyfriend. And now Melly has decided to move into Livy’s place for now. So going home is not an option.

And that’s why Vic has found Livy hiding up in his kitchen cabinet eating the rest of his honey. He wouldn’t mind so much if she used the key he gave her, but she keeps digging holes into the side of his house and the shifter-contractors are starting the jack the price up for fixing them.

Vic is more like his laid back bear father than his tiger mother, and like most hybrids, he has a few quirks of his own. But it’s his laid back nature that makes him able to roll with Livy’s volatile and usually violent nature. She’s not one for sharing anything–emotions, feelings, thoughts…honey, yet Vic is always there when she needs him.

Vic has been sent to find Frankie Whitlan, the man who has been organizing shifter hunts.   He asks Livy to use her B&E skills to break into Allison Whitlan’s apartment to see if her father has contacted her. Livy finds something in that apartment that has her seeking out the family that she usually avoids, but Vic can’t get her to open up.

After weekend trip to the bear town of Honeyville (yeah, they know it’s quaint) to gorge on some gourmet honey and do a little jousting (yes, I said jousting), Livy finally confesses what she found in that apartment and it is enough to anger every shifter so that they agree to work with the honey badgers to bring in Whitlan to finally face shifter justice.

THOUGHTS:
What I love best about Shelly Laurenston’s shifter series is how true to the animal nature she keeps the characters. The bears are either laid back or loners or aggressive, depending on the type of bear. The cats are sultry and protective. The wolves stick with packs. The honey badgers are all petite and aggressive and nothing says party like a backyard full of poisonous snakes.

I love the introduction of Vic’s new partner, Shen, who is very laid back and always snacking on bamboo.

This book could be read as a stand alone, but there are many past characters who show up in this story that you won’t understand the relationships if this is your first Pride book. We even get a surprise Smith showing up.   And it is more fun when you understand that the Smith’s are the hillbilly/moonshine running wolf pack vs. the rich and powerful Van Holtz wolf pack vs. the prodigy-filled jackal family.

There is a lot of wit mixed in this paranormal series and the pack, pride or clan being featured has a lot to do with how the story goes.

Shelly Laurenston offers a lot of fun for anyone looking for a lighthearted paranormal series.

Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Favorite Scene:

(Livy and Vic attend a Renaissance Faire in the bear town of Honeyville, and Livy decides to work out some of her aggression by jousting.)

Livy stared up at the horse one of the faire employees held for her. She glanced over and said, “You can’t be serious.”

“These are horses bred for two things. Handling the weight of big guys in armor…and not panicking at the scent of shifters. Helping some tiny feminist trying to prove something was not on our list of things to accomplish during the breeding process,” he finished.

Livy looked under the horse and asked, “Huh. What’s this? It looks bad.”

The faire employee bent down to see what Livy was looking at and that’s when she rammed the pummel of her sword into the employee’s tibia. She heard something snap, and he went down with a roar onto one knee. Before he could fall back, Livy climbed onto his shoulders and mounted the horse that was way too big for her.

She looked down at the now-sobbing bear. “Thanks for the help.”

Vic walked into the prep area and stopped when he saw her.

“Have you ever ridden a horse before?” he asked.

“No. There were horses at the private school I went to. Riding lessons were mandatory and were part of our gym grade, but every time I got close to them, the horses tried to stomp me into the ground. Eventually, I had to be excused.”

“But now you’re going to ride one that’s too big for you so you can…joust?”

“That’s the plan.” Someone put a lance in her hand. It was heavy and too long, but livy held on to it. “How do I look?” she asked again.

“Suicidal.”

“If you’re going to be negative…”

Livy moved around in the saddle.

“What?” Vic asked.

“I wish I didn’t have to wear this armor. It’s making my skin itch.”

“Take that armor off, female, and still try to joust, and I’ll beat you to death myself.”

Livy nodded. “Subtle.”

“I’m not subtle. Never said I was subtle. Worried you’re about to do something stupid? Yes. That is accurate.”

“Honey Badger’s up!” someone called out.

“I’m up.” Livy stared at the back of the horse’s head. “You can go now,” she told the beast.

Vic dropped his head into his hands.

Chuckling, she tapped the sides of the horse’s flanks with her heels and rode to the field. True, she might not have ridden the horses at her fancy private school, but that didn’t mean the gym teacher wasn’t a bitch who hated Livy so much she made the fourteen-year-old sit and watch the others for the entire period. At the time, Livy hated Mrs. Webb, but at the moment, she’d discovered a new found appreciation.

Once Livy was led into position, she looked around at the crowd. The faire was surprisingly big and had a lot of attendees. Even the cats from the town next door came to the Honeyville Annual Renaissance Faire.

And apparently the joust was the most popular attraction; the makeshift arena was already packed, with the audience continuing to grow.

“Honey stick?”

A seven-foot older grizzly stood next to her, his face obscured by an enormous beard and long brown and gray hair. Another hippie, she was guessing. Like Rita.

Livy took the offered honey stick, bit off the tip, and sucked out the honey inside while the grizzly studied her a moment before asking, “I know you honey badgers are tough and all, but you do know that we’re going to crush your tiny little body into the dirt, don’t ya?”

“Yeah. I know that.”

“You don’t mind?”

“Not as much as I probably should.” She shrugged. “Trying to work out some issues.”

“Ahhh. I see.” The grizzly leaned in. “Well, me and the guys had a thought. You see, the reason we have this first night of jousting is because we always have to work through the cats from next door before we can get to a good rousing joust with the rest of us. The felines bring a lot of money to this faire, so we put up with ‘em. But it gets a bit boring.”

Livy again looked around at the audience, which was still growing…with bears.

“You want me to take out the cats…don’t you?” Livy asked.

“Cat humiliation and bear entertainment all rolled in one. Think you can do that?”

“What do I get out of it?” Because at the end of the day, Livy was still her mother’s daughter.

“Year’s supply of your favorite honey from Rita’s story?”

Livy immediately thought of the cinnamon-infused honey and she sort of shuddered. A good shudder, though. A delicious, honey-filled shudder.

“I’m in.”

The grizzly patted her leg. “Have fun, sweetie.”

Livy planned to…

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson, #8)


ORDER A COPY: Night Broken (A Mercy Thompson Novel)

Publisher: Penguin Group
Publishing Date: March 11, 2014
Hardcover: 352 pages

Rating:  5 stars


An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right.

Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.

Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.


Mercy has fought vampires, grey lords, demon-vampires, river devils, fae queens, government mercenaries, but this time she might be facing the one enemy she has no power to fight – Adam’s ex-wife.

Adam receives a call from his ex-wife, Christy. Her new lover has turned out to be a psychotic stalker and she thinks he killed a man she had dated. She needs Adam’s help and protection and she wants to come ‘home.’

Not all of Adam’s pack has welcomed Mercy with open arms and now the line is drawn between those who support Mercy and those who would rather see Adam take Christy back. Christy is demanding and manipulative. She knows when to use tears to get the protective wolves in her corner, and if Mercy fights back, she will come off as jealous and petty. Mercy might be losing the pack to Christy’s half-truths and gourmet cooking, but she’ll be damned if she’ll let Christy try to take Adam back. Christy walked away and now Adam is Mercy’s, for better or for worse.

When Christy’s stalker can’t get to her, he arrives at Mercy’s shop ready to take away Adam’s love since Adam is responsible for keeping him from his. In a fight for her life, Mercy learns that there is nothing human about Christy’s stalker and there just might be nothing that Adam and the pack can do to protect either Mercy or Christy.

THOUGHTS:
I have spent the last few weeks immersed in the world of Mercy Thompson-Hauptman and I am heartbroken that I have caught up with the series. It will be a year before I will be back again with Mercy, Adam, Stefan and the gang. *sob*

Here Mercy have to deal with Adam’s ex-wife (Jesse’s mom) who comes racing back to Adam for protection, a man she divorced because she couldn’t deal with his being a werewolf.   Now that werewolves are out in the open, Christy is happy to shout that she was the ex-wife of pack Alpha, Adam Hauptman, and even without the stalker, she might come back so she could share the spotlight with Adam since he has become such a familiar face.   Poor Mercy is avoiding her own home because can’t stand Christy and she can’t even hit her with the walking stick.   Speaking of the walking stick (who is making an appearance on this cover), the fae have come looking for the walking stick that Mercy gifted to coyote after  it seemed to be getting a little blood thirsty.  Opps…now she has a week to try and find coyote to get it back.

In this story Mercy finds out she has a half-brother, another one of coyote’s children, and Gary Laughingdog is no fan of coyote. In fact, he tells Mercy not to do anything interesting which will catch coyote’s attention and she might just be able to live a long and healthy life. Since trouble always finds Mercy, we know that’s not going to happen. Like Mercy, Gary turns into a coyote and sees ghosts, but he also is cursed with ‘seeing’ and foresees what is coming for the pack.

The fae are still on lock down and the reservation is still ‘missing’ after the fae confrontation with the government, so Mercy can’t get any help from Zee or Uncle Mike.

Mercy once again escapes death, but as the only non-immortal in the group, she takes a hell of a beating. Since she has had one in every book, there soon won’t be a bone she hasn’t broken. We do learn that half-brother Gary is much, much older than he looks so Mercy can look forward to a long and happy life with Adam if she can stop getting her ass handed to her by more powerful preternatural creatures.

We do learn for certain that Stefan has been hiding the fact that he still has a bond with Mercy, which we find out from creepy vampire-boy, Wulfe, who wants just a taste of Mercy’s blood in exchange for some information that the pack needs.

I do have several questions about the series, but I haven’t been able to finagle an interview with Patricia Briggs. One of those questions would be ‘How the hell did Adam ever wind up married to Christy?’ That pair just doesn’t go. She is manipulative and maybe before she realized Adam was a werewolf, his looks and money were enough of a draw.  She hates that he is werewolf and I haven’t figured at what point in their relationship she found this out.  And how did an alpha werewolf have a wife who wasn’t his mate? Questions, questions, questions, but not enough to detract from the enjoyment of the story.

I still think Olivia Wilde would make an incredible Mercy, but I haven’t been able to pin down the perfect Adam.  If anyone reads this series can think of a perfect Adam, let me know. :)

We will have to wait another year to find out what else Patricia Briggs has planned for Mercy and the gang.

This is a definite must read series for the paranormal lovers out there.

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


Favorite Scene:

Christy went right for Adam as if none of the rest of us were there.

“This is your fault,” she said viciously. “I felt so horrible, bringing my troubles here, and it was your fault.”

“Careful,” I murmured, but she didn’t pay any attention to me–which was foolish of her.

“I should have known when Troy was killed.” It took me a second to figure out who Troy was, I’d never heard the name of her boyfriend who’d been killed. “The only time bodies start appearing around me is when there are werewolves involved,” she continued.

“Juan Flores isn’t a werewolf,” I said, but again I spoke quietly, and she didn’t appear to have heard me.

Adam didn’t say anything. He took a deep breath and just–accepted what she said. It was the first time I’d ever seen a real fight between them. Watching him as she spewed guilt all over him, I realized that he enjoyed our fights almost as much as I did. When we fought, he roared and stalked and fought back. He didn’t let his face go blank and wait to be hit again. Being willing to accept responsibility for the well-being of others was part of being Alpha, part of who Adam was, and she was very, very good at using that against him.

Tears leaked artfully down her face. “I tried. I tried, then I had to run. But I can’t get away from you, can’t get away from the monsters. They follow me wherever I go, and it is your fault.”

Adam wasn’t going to defend himself. Honey wrapped her arms around her stomach and turned away. Honey believe herself to be one of the monsters, too, and so Christy’s venom spread over Honey as well.

Enough.

“Adam didn’t make you go sleep with some complete stranger because he was handsome and rich,” I said coolly, but this time at full volume. There wasn’t a wolf in the house who hand’t heard Christy, so they could listen to me, too.

“Stay out of this,” she snapped at me, wiping futilely at her cheeks. “This isn’t your business.”

“When you blame Adam, whose only fault that I can see is that he has poor taste in wives, you made it my business,” I told her.

Honey cleared her throat. “You do know you are one of his wives, right?”

I raised an eyebrow. “Happily, he doesn’t know how bad off he is with me–and I intend that he never will.”

Life came back into Adam’s eyes with a wicked glint, and I saw a hint of his dimple. Better, I thought, better.

Christy knew she’d lost control of the scene. Her eyes narrowed at me, and she lost the tears. “Juan came after me because of Adam.”

“You slept with a complete stranger,” I said. “Not Adam’s fault you”–Jesse had come down the stairs, with Ben and Darryl trailing behind her, so I didn’t call Christy a slut–“made a poor choice.”

“He was a friend of my best friend,” she said. “Rich, charming, and handsome, he wasn’t a ‘complete stranger.’ I had no way to tell that he was monster.”

“You didn’t know enough about him for Warren to find him. You didn’t know where he lived, what country he was from. I bet you didn’t even check to see if he was married or not before you chased after him. How long did you know him before you hoped into bed with him? An hour?”

It probably wasn’t fair to use what Jesse had told em about her mother’s dating habits against Christy, but she hadn’t been playing fair, either. The tears had been cheating, and when she’d realized just how many of the pack had started to filter into the kitchen behind her, she would doubtless use them again.

“He approached me,” she said defensively–not to mention falsely.

“Are you stupid? How long did you live with the wolves?” I asked her incredulously. “You do know that most of the people in this room can tell that you are lying, right?”

Stupid. She wasn’t stupid, just self-absorbed and unwise. She didn’t like people thinking badly of her, so she lied.

To Catch a Vampire by Jennifer Harlow

To Catch A Vampire (A F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation, #2)


ORDER A COPY: To Catch a Vampire (A F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation)

Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publishing Date: September 8, 2012
Paperback: 288 pages

Rating: 5 stars


Mission #2 brings sizzling kisses and deadly vengeance.

Beatrice Alexander is still adjusting to life as a secret special agent, wiping out zombies and other supernatural threats. Now, a new case requires partnership with her annoying and gorgeous vampire co-worker Oliver. To infiltrate the goth vamp scene in Dallas, Texas, they must go undercover as a married couple and, Oliver’s convincing public affection has Bea swooning in her bustier and fishnets. Clubbing with the undead turns bloody when Oliver’s old enemy, the vampire lord of Dallas, turns up.


Beatrice has been working for F.R.E.A.K.S. for a few months and she’s enjoying learning investigation from her fellow agents…ok, she likes spending time with hot, sexy Team Leader/werewolf Will Price. But Will is on vacation spending time with the some werewolf alphas doing who know what: marking trees, killing deer…hmmm, let’s not think to much about that. Bea misses him and although he calls her to get updates, it’s just not the same.

When the boss, Dr. George Black, calls her into his office to tell her she’s being sent on a special assignment…just her and the annoyingly flirty, vampire pain-in-the-butt Oliver Montrose, Bea isn’t too certain she is ready for undercover work, especially being alone with Oliver. She is really starting to wonder when she is told they are going undercover as husband and wife and the bustier and fishnet stockings which make her look like an Elvira reject are part of her disguise. Not only is the hotel one that caters exclusively to vampires and their friends, and which is run by a gorgeous (of course) vampire Marianna, an old friend of Oliver’s, but she’s getting really suspicious of his motives and his need for Beatrice to be the one to accompany him when she sees the four poster bed they will have to share.

She agrees to stay on the mission because she wants to help find out if there really is a vampire cabal who are responsible for all the missing people, and put a stop to them. At least she thought the cabal was her biggest concern until she finds out Will knows she’s missing from the mansion and she’ll soon have to face an angry, jealous werewolf who thinks she snuck off for a vampire tryst with her co-worker. She’s just not sure who’s fangs she needs to be more concerned about: Marianna, the cabal, Oliver or Will’s.

And just when they think the danger is past, the local Lord is holding a centuries old grudge against Oliver and thinks Beatrice is the perfect lure for his trap.

THOUGHTS:
These characters are so much fun. I love the fact that every time Beatrice calls the mansion with an update on the case, the others are saying odd things like “do us all a favor and be careful.” We find out this because Will has found out Beatrice was on a mission with Oliver and no one will tell him where they are and he is furious. He gives a dozen excuses for why he’s unhappy, but you know it boils down to jealousy since Will and Oliver don’t get along and both want Beatrice.

This is also the mission where Oliver and Beatrice eventually bond and Oliver goes from being an annoyance to Beatrice to their being best friends (which also annoys the hell out of Will).

It also shows that although Oliver is sexy and flirty with Beatrice, Beatrice does finally get a look at true vampire nature which is cold and brutal although Beatrice does hold her own.

I do so hope there will be a Book 4.


Favorite Scene:

“What do you want, Freddy?”

“You seem a clever woman. I believe you already know the answer to that.”

I do. “He’s not that stupid. It’s obviously a trap. He won’t come.”

“You do not think he cares enough for you to risk his life?”

I don’t know. “He’ll know what you have planned. He’ll send someone else, most likely one of my fellow federal agents. If you let me go right now, maybe the men with guns won’t storm this place and shoot you on sight.”

“I am well aware of your affiliation with the F.R.E.A.K.S., Agent Alexander,” he says with another smile. “However, if you recall your vampiric law, by assaulting me last night during a legally sanctioned duel, I can by all accounts shoot you on sight and your organization could not lay a finger on me. I have no desire to harm you, mind you, but I will if your lover does not show his cowardly hide here this evening, Once again, I ask: Do you think he will?”

The exhaustion isn’t strong enough to mask the fear anymore. My heart rate doubles. “I really don’t know.”

He’s satisfied with the answer, giving me a half smile. “He was always selfish. Never gave any thought to others, your lover.”

“For the nine hundredth time, he isn’t my lover,” I say through gritted teeth. “We’ve never even really kissed, okay?”

Freddy pulls up a chair to sit beside me. He crosses his legs and holds his hand on his knee. “And yet he showed such devotion last night.”

“We’re friends. That’s what friends do for each other. You should get some.”

“I learned the heart-wrenching way what closeness with others brings,” he said coldly. “Misery. Contempt. Even those we hold above all others, whom we never thought could harm us, are not above betrayal. I choose mine carefully now. And as this current situation shows, you should have as well.”

“They really hurt you. Oliver and Jules.”

“Oh, yes,” he says, eyes haunted. “More than words can express.”

“Oliver told me a little about it. They ran off together?”

“Yes. He swanned in and seduced the love of my life in less than a fortnight. I thought I could trust them, my blood brother and lover.” He wrings his hands. “Jules paid for that betrayal at the hands of executioners, and now two hundred years later, so will Oliver.”

“It was forever ago,” I say. “How can you still be—“

“If you knew the first thing about true love, you would not make such an asinine statement. I ache for Jules every day. Part of my soul died when Jules did,” Freddy says, as if each word physically hurts.

“I’m sorry,” I say, meaning it.

“Thank you,” he says, patting my bound hand. “I would have understood if they were truly in love, but Oliver just used him as he does all. Poisoned him against me. He—“

Huh? What? Did he just… “Wait,” I say, holding up my hands as high as they would go, being tied down and all. “Whoa. Did you just say him? Who is him?”

“Jules. Julian.”

If this were a cartoon, my head would spin around with steam coming out of my ears. “Jules is a dude?” I ask, flabbergasted. “Oliver stole your boyfriend? A man? With a…” Holy heck.

“You seem surprised,” Freddy says, puzzled.

“Um, yeah! He hits on anything with boobs! I’ve never seen him even look at another man that way Women, yeah, like…all the time. Non-stop. It’s just…huh.” Oliver’s bisexual. Didn’t see that one coming, and I’m from Southern California.

“He always favored women over men. That was why I thought nothing of a minor flirtation between them. The many times I have looked back on it, I suppose I should have suspected, especially after the night we were all in bed together. He and Jules–“

“Wait! Whoa. You two slept together? All three of you? At the same time? How does that even work? Where does everything go? Who—“

Freddy chuckles. “How innocent you are, Agent Alexander.”

“Stop laughing! I just found out one of my good friends is bi and into threesomes! It’s a lot to take in!”

Freddy continues chuckling. “You know, I finally do believe you and Oliver have not made love. Quite a shame. I will say one thing in his favor, he was quite a lover. Tender, yet rough all at once. I am sorry you will not have a change to experience it before I gut him.”

Freddy stops smiling, as do I. Vivisection is a terrific mood killer.

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.”

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