Series: Kate Daniels #6.5, SPI #0.5, Psy-Changeling #12.5
Published by Tantor Audio on November 25th 2014
Genres: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Length: 13 hrs 14 min
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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[box style=”rounded” border=”full”]We usually grab an anthology because if features an author or series that we are already familiar with. I believe that the job of the other authors in an anthology to bring a story exciting enough to entice a reader to read more of their works. I have been disappointed in the past where the authors absolutely failed to entice me to check out their series, but not here. I chose this because I am a fan of Nalini Singh’s Psy-changeling series. After reading this I have picked up an audiobook of Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series and I have already read the first book in the Lisa Shearin SPI Files and have started Book #2.[/box]
Secrets at Midnight by Nalini Singh – I like the psy-changeling series, and the last few novels and at least the next one have been focused on the psys and how the change in the psynet is changing the world as we know it. This novella stars Bastien Smith, brother of Mercy, a leopard changeling. Bastien has located the scent of his mate in the city, but he has trouble tracking it. It is both human and changeling and yet separate which is confusing to him. He keeps coming across it and trying to track her, but the scent keeps disappearing, which is impossible unless she were a telekenetic psy. His mother has noticed Bastien’s moodiness and has just the thing to cheer him up, a dinner party with many, many unmated females.
It is by chance that Bastien meets Kirby after leaving the party but he still cannot get any answers to the compound nature of her scent. She knows she is human. She appears to be human. But she has an underlying scent of a changeling. She also appears to be sick and alone in the city, just having moved to San Francisco from the southeast. Bastien is not about to allow her out of his sight so he takes care of her.
Kirby is unaware of changeling matings but she is as drawn to Bastien as he is to her. Orphaned at as a toddler and raised in group homes, Kirby has had no one in her life and is not used to relying upon anyone but herself. She is afraid to get too attached to Bastien but she just can’t resist the temptation.
It is not long before they find out that Kirby’s debilitating stomach pains aren’t caused by the flu, but by her inner cat trying to get out. Traumatized by the death of her parents on the night of her first shift, Kirby has been suppressing her cat since childhood. She needs Bastien’s help to figure out how to change before her inner cat rips her apart.
Magic Steals by Ilona Andrews – I loved this story but was slightly disappointed when I finished. I really liked Ilona Andrews’ writing style and I really enjoyed Dali and Jim. I was disappointed to find out that Dali and Jim are part of the Kate Daniels series, not the main characters. They were featured in another novella, Magic Dreams, which I am going to try to find.
In the Kate Daniels’ world, magic flows like a tide and is changing our world. When Magic is up, electricity and combustion cars don’t work, so you need a car that also runs on magic. Magic doesn’t like tall buildings so skyscrapers are tumbling down. A sorcerer is powerful when the magic is up, but he is weak and helpless when the tide stops. I found this a very interesting premise for a series and can see where it makes things very complex and interesting at the same time.
Dali is Indonesian and has a white magic to balance out any black magic. She is also a vegetarian who turns into a white tiger. Depending on the type of black magic being used whether it is Asian, Western or European, depends on how she needs to fight it. I like when she was writing spells out in calligraphy on post it notes and attaching them to the aberration to dispel it. The ancient spells and the use of modern post its was quite clever. Again, it was a very interesting concept in a story.
Dali is scrawny, average looking and severely near-sighted. Dali is in love with Jim and they just started dating after they met in Magic Dreams but Jim is strong, gorgeous, and the local alpha of all the different type of cats. Dali is afraid that she is not pretty enough or strong enough to be an alpha’s mate, and fears that she will lose her heart to Jim when he has to walk away from her.
The writing here is very lighthearted and fun at times. “Every time he says he was my boyfriend, I had to fight the need to go, “Wheee! he said he was my boyfriend.”
Dali is sent to find out why a neighbor has gone missing and Jim goes with her to protect her. Their investigation leads to the strip mall where the neighbor’s business was located to find that all of the owners have been cursed. Jim and Dali need to find out what is so special about this property that someone would kill for it.
I have picked up the audiobook for Book #1 of the Kate Daniels series and although I am disappointed that Dali and Jim are not the main characters of the series, the world building and writing-style are interesting enough for me to give it a try.
Lucky Charms by Lisa Shearin – This is a prequel to the SPI Files series. The main character is Makenna Fraser a small-town southern girl on her first day with SPI (Supernatural Protection and Investigation) in New York City. Mac isn’t really a supernatural. She’s human…mostly. Mac is a seer. She can see through the magic and veils that the supernaturals use to hide themselves from the regular humans and other supernaturals. She knows that her new boss is called the Dragon Lady around the office, but she isn’t sure if everyone knows that she really is a dragon.
She is partnered with another human, former NYC police officer, Ian Byrne. It is more of a body guard/babysitting detail since seers are few and do not have their own magic protection. Makenna really hasn’t even had any training, and someone needs to protect her from all the bad guys she’s be pointing out to the other agents. Especially since her three predecessors have all been killed for doing just that.
We only get to meet a few of the agents on her team while they attempt to find five horny leprechauns who have come to New York City for a bachelor party. They can disguise themselves as regular humans and have slipped away from their SPI bodyguards in order to go wild in NYC. Mac is brought out to see through their magic so they can take these drunk leprechauns home before goblins can catch them and demand three wishes. Her very funny descriptions of the strip clubs that they have to investigate, including the one with the medieval theme and the strippers dressed up like Disney princesses, are priceless.
Ian Byrne comes off as annoyed with his new partnership, but it is more concern for sending an untrained Mac out onto the streets while she paints a target on her back for thwarting the bad guy’s ability to veil themselves. I also like their co-worker/driver, a russian werewolf named Yasha, who backs them up. He has an odd sense of humor which plays well with Mac’s. I like his T-shirt collection. Here it was: “Don’t run, you’ll only die tired.”
I found myself laughing out loud many times during this story. She has a unique explanation of the major deciding factor of why so many supernaturals moved to the human world — indoor plumbing. “for a Seeley royal, their chamber pot might be gold, but they’re still pissing in a pot. My grandma Fraser told me that the big influx to our world was kicked off by the invention of the flushable toilet. Heck. I’d cross over for indoor plumbing.” Mac was a journalist but could only get a job in NYC at a tabloid rag. Her very accurate stories about werewolves, demons and the like caught the attention of SPI who offered her a job as their new seer. She is happy to have an exciting new job, which included major medical and a real good dental plan. When she gets freaked out she just reminds herself “Breathe, Mac. Just breathe. Full medical coverage. Full medical coverage. It’s a good thing.”
I enjoyed this one so much that I have already picked up and read book #1 in the series (which we will talk about tomorrow) and I downloaded Book #2 which was just released back in January.
The Beast of Blackmoor by Milla Vane – This appears to be Milla’s first published story. It takes place in a medieval setting, which is not usually something I enjoy (Lord of the Rings is one of the exceptions to that rule), but I did find myself enjoying the story regardless.
A young knight named Kavic stumbled into a temple of the goddess Vela. He asked her to give him a quest and in return he demanded 10,000 men to help him reclaim his lands in Blackmoor from the vile Baron who has taken the castle and is tormenting his people. If she would do that for him, maybe he would worship her. When Vela turns him away, he takes back his offering and pees in her offering cup instead. Goddesses don’t take well to those kind of things, so she curses him to be a pariah and tells him when he see the woman in red, she will herald the end.
Fast-forward about five or six years, and Mala comes to Blackmoor on a quest for Vela. If she can tame the Beast of Blackmoor, Vela will send her the strength of 10,000 men to protect her land from the Destroyer who is returning. When Mala crosses into Blackmoor, she sees a warrior protecting a caravan of travelers from zombie animals called revenants. She rushes to the aid of the warrior to save the travelers. Garbed in her red cloak of Vela, Kavic knows that the end is coming. He also knows Mala by her face, since he has been dreaming of her every night since he was punished by Vela.
Through persistence, Mala convinces Kavic to join her on her quest until they both come to realize that the Beast to be tamed isn’t the one tormenting the villages, but Kavic himself. No matter how much he wants Mala, he won’t be collared and leashed again.
Normally I wouldn’t have chosen this type of story but I did find myself enjoying it.
I listened to this anthology on audiobook. This audiobook was narrated by Angela Dawe who narrated the rest of the Psy-Changeling series. Although her narration has a bit of a stuffy newsreel feel to it, her voices, accents and intonation when presenting dialog is wonderful.
Received a review copy courtesy of Tantor Audio in exchange for an honest review.
This is from Lisa Shearin’s Lucky Charms —
I resumed scanning the club for leprechauns. “If they’re here, how do we get them out?” I asked Ian, trying not to move my lips. “Do you have a plan?”
Being SPI’s top agent meant you didn’t walk into a goblin den without a plan, but being the control freak I was, I wanted to know precisely what that plan was–and how it involved me.
When Ian didn’t respond, I turned toward him and was hit with my partner’s heated gaze.
My hand suddenly took on a life of its own and lowered my sunglasses. “Is the mostly naked hostess behind me?” I whispered.
“No.” With that, Ian reached over and hauled me right off my tuffet, across his lap, and kissed me like he was diving for lost treasure.
I saw twinkly lights that didn’t have a damned thing to do with the star-strewn ceiling. Realizing I’d forgotten to breathe, I panicked and inhaled all the air in a ten-table radius through my nose.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“We’re being watched,” Ian held me tight, keeping me right where I was. “And listened to,” he breathed against the curve of my ear.
If it’d been anyone else, I’d think he was taking advantage of the situation to get some on-the-job action. Ian must have been doing it to preserve his cover.
His lips at my throat. “The mics have been turned on in our table.”
Microphones in the tables? My karaoke analogy was closer than I’d thought.
Though the mic wasn’t all that had just had its switch flipped. I’d just developed tingles in all of my favorite places. Apparently being borderline molested by a gorgeous, dangerously hot, monster-hunting secret agent was a huge turn-on for me. Who knew?
“We’re being spied on?” I breathed against his earlobe, and felt him shiver in response. One point for me.
“A guest–or more than one–has apparently asked the management if you’re available.” His lips skimmed the side of my neck, up and down with maddening slowness. “They’re trying to find out. I’m making it clear that you’re with me. My job is to protect you. I’m doing my job.”
And a damned find job he was doing.
Air must have been in short supply again. I was starting to pant. “Protection? so that’s what the kids are calling it now.”
“As long as it’s obvious you’re with me, you’re safe. That innocent librarian look of yours is attracting the wrong kind of attention. It’s almost as hot to these people as a schoolgirl costume.”
I was hot? I pulled back as much as I could, which with Ian’s arms locked around me was about an inch.
“It’s a challenge to every man in here.” Ian’s hand was sliding up my thigh, his breath hot against the hollow of my throat. “Like waving a red flag in front of herd of bulls.”
Ian Byrne was making me crazy. His lips and hands were doing more to short-circuit my brain than a baker’s dozen of naked male fairies could hope to do on their best night. Either the man was one hell of an actor, or maybe he didn’t mind being my partner as much as I thought.
My hormones didn’t care one way or another; they stood up and cheered for the Peeping Tom who was spying on our table, whoever or whatever it was, and encouraged him to keep up the good work.
God, I loved my new job.