Category Archives: Magic
ORDER A COPY: A Cursed Bloodline: A Weird Girls Novel
Publishing Date: November 18, 2014
eBook: 370 pages
Rating: 4 stars
The excitement never ends for Celia Wird, and by excitement I mean attempts to kill her. In this story, even friends become enemies. With no one at her back, she will still risk everything to get back the one friend she still has in the world and to protect the man she loves but can’t have.
I originally made the mistake of classifying this series in my brain as paranormal romance. The first book was lighthearted and funny. But make no mistake, this is an Urban Fantasy series. The difference (I feel) between the Urban Fantasy and the paranormal romance is how dark the story gets and how deadly it gets to the characters. In an Urban Fantasy it is not unusual for major characters to be killed and the main characters to get mauled. Although Celia transforms into a tiger, she is not a were and does not have a were’s healing ability. If it was not for her sister’s ability to heal, Celia would have been long dead.
ORDER A COPY: Blood Magick (Cousins O’Dwyer)
Publishing Date: October 28, 2014
Paperback: 304 pages
Rating: 5 stars
This book is the final book in the trilogy. Although this gives us the big final battle with Cabhan, I was all about the Romeo/juliet love story between Fin and Branna from the beginning and was excited to finally get their story. CONTINUE READING
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
ORDER A COPY: A Curse Awakened: A Weird Girls Novella
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.
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.
(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.
ORDER A COPY: The Cage King: A Novella of the Entwined Realms
Publisher: Romantic Geek Publishing
Publishing Date: August 11, 2014
eBook: 135 pages
Rating: 5 stars
USA Today Bestselling author Danielle Monsch invites you back to the magic of the Entwined Realms with The Cage King. Esh is the undisputed ruler of the underground fight scene, but five years ago a decision not to fight cost him his best friend and the woman he loves. Now Nalah is back, a member of the Guild and in need of his help to get into the greatest cage match in the New Realms. Oh he’ll help, but it will be on his terms, and Nalah had better get ready because when Esh fights for something, he always wins.
Esh, Nalah and her brother Jac were three street kids who banded together and created their own family. They took care of each other and protected each other.
But Five years ago Nalah walked away from Esh. He refused to fight in her brother’s place and her brother lost his life. Esh let her down and she walked away from him and was found by The Guild. They trained her to build mental shields and helped her control her abilities.
Now The Guild needs her to find one of the artifacts stolen from their vault. And in order for her to find it, she needs the help of the one man who she never expected to see again. Nalah needs to get to the underground fights and the Guild wants her to get Esh, The Cage King, to accept his invitation to the Underground Tour and take Nalah with him.
Esh knows that Nalah will find a way to get there without him, but she walked away from him once. He’s not allowing her to walk away again. Especially not into a dangerous situation without him to protect her. He’ll help the Guild recover their missing magic treasure and the only thing he expects is return is Nalah. She was everything to him…she still is and he won’t lose her again.
I love the Entwined Realms series. The Cage King is like a magical Mission Impossible. The Guild always seems to be two steps ahead and even though it seems like things are going wrong, they end up exactly where the Guild wanted them to be.
Nalah and Esh are definitely a couple meant to be together, and although it is heartbreaking that Jac had to died, I think Nalah and Esh needed that time apart in order to grow and to appreciate each other. They wouldn’t have gotten to the place they ended if they had just continued together from kids to teens to adults.
We can understand Nalah pain and heartbreak at losing her brother and her feeling that Esh could have done something to prevent it and she feels he failed her. Then we see the same scenario with Esh’s view, trying to protect Nalah and Jac, losing Jac and Nalah disappearing and him not knowing what happened to her and it is heartbreaker to see what Esh went through. Nalah (and the readers) are given a good shake up after Esh has been portrayed as being to blame for everything.
Although this is only a novella, it is all part of the build up of the items stolen from the Guild and all the baddies who are trying to get their hands on everything.
Great series. Great characters. Can’t wait to read more.
Those gorgeous dark-brown eyes were wide with surprise as he rolled her under him. No reason why they should be. He told her this was where she was going to be for the duration of the Tour.
“Esh,” she started, and in response he pushed his hips against her pelvis, rubbing hard against her.
Her mouth parted. A long, deep breath met the movement while her eyes went half-lidded. Her hands went to his shoulders, her fingers half digging into the muscle, her arms both pulling him closer and pushing him away.
His Nalah was conflicted? Well, he was going to put an end to that real quick. By the end of the Tour she was going to be back in his bed and standing by his side, where she belonged now, and where she’d belonged these last five years before she’d run away.
To the Guild. Of all fucking people, she had gotten involved with the Guild. He growled, the need to mark her as his and not theirs growing in him, and he lowered his mouth to her throat.
She panted and moaned as his lips and teeth ravaged the sensitive skin below her ear, the sounds tightening his belly and ratcheting up his arousal. He wanted her to make those sounds all night, he wanted her hoarse tomorrow and embarrassed because everyone would give her a knowing look each time she spoke. He sucked the dark skin into his mouth, wishing the small bruise would show.
How had he lived without this these last years? She even smelled the same, summer nights on the beach. He told her that after their first kiss, and she laughed, saying they’d never been near the ocean in their lives.
Didn’t matter. That was what she reminded him of. Her scent was always a mix of citrus and salt where her eyes and skin glowed under moonlight. She was wondrous, his escape from a shitty life, and always had been. Her eyes alight with pride as he fought in the ring, making him a hero and a warrior instead of a thug. Or how she never stopped teaching him or acted like he was too stupid to be bothered with.
He nipped her, a little harder, teeth a little deeper into her velvety skin, and her answering moan had his cock beating against the zipper of his jeans, demanding to be let out.
“Esh, let go,” she whispered, those long fingers still digging into his upper arms.
She wasn’t saying anything he wanted to hear, so he concentrated on licking the tang from her skin and listening to that tiny hitch in her breathing.
“Warned you.” And before his brain processed, Nalah shifted, using her leg to dislodge him while those fingers twisted his body and had him on the floor.
She got off the bed and now stood above him, hip cocked to the side and fists on them, her eyes sparking in an all-too-familiar way, one that used to mean he was sleeping on the cough that night. “Damn, woman, who taught you that?”
“Who do you think? I might not be a warrior, but do you think I’d let myself be totally vulnerable?”
She was vulnerable. Any of Beylor’s men could have her on her back with either a sword in her belly or them crawling on top of her in five seconds flat. But right now, with her foot that close to his balls, he wasn’t going to point that out. Instead he rolled and got to his feet, watching her watch him the entire time.
There was appreciation mixed with the earlier anger, the way she followed the bunching of the muscles in his thighs and his arms. Nalah wasn’t immune to him any more than her was to her. “Why’d you stop me?”
“Again, why do you think? I’m not here to be your personal amusement. Already told you.”
He snorted. “When have you ever been that? If that’s all I considered you good for, do you think I’d be here?”
That stopped her, her mouth closing, her face scrunching up in a V of confusion. She collapsed on the nearest chair, her arm draped across the table. “You and I need a little clearing of the air. Cards on the table?”
Yeah, that didn’t promise a good time. He shrugged, going to sit across from her.
She waited until he was settled before she began. “Why did you agree to do this?”
Talk about denial. He met her gaze, held it, until she was near fidgeting but still didn’t look away. “You aren’t stupid. You know why. I’m not changed.”
At that, Nalah did look away, out a window that overlooked the nearby forest. “It’s been five year,” she said, her voice as low as he’d ever heard from her.
“So? Fuck does five years mean? You’re it for me, always have been. Knew it as soon as you looked at me with those big brown eyes and I told you so back then. Told you the same before we came here, though you wanted to pretend that wasn’t what it meant. If it won’t change in fifty years. why do you think five years is some magic number?”
She swallowed the movement doing little to hide the slight quiver of her chin. “‘Cause I haven’t been around.”
He snorted. “Yeah, like that changes shit.”
ORDER A COPY: Under The Final Moon (Underworld Detective Agency)
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publishing Date: August 5, 2014
Paperback: 352 pages
Rating: 3 stars
It’s not the end of the world–until it is. Sophie Lawson may be a mere human with no special abilities except a strong immunity to magic. But the havoc she’s wreaked on the supernaturals who come up against the Underworld Detection Agency have earned her plenty of enemies. Still, a girl can’t freak out every time a horribly barbecued corpse is found with her business card in its hand. Or see a sudden glut of earthquakes, wildfires and three-headed dogs as just another day in California. But Alex Grace, her favorite fallen angel, is concerned–or saying he is to see more of her. Getting Sophie to see all the signs of the Apocalypse is an interesting way to heat things up. Or maybe what’s making everyone hot under the collar is the fact that all Hell is about to break loose. . .
Arsonists are lighting up San Francisco and they all have one thing in common, they all appear to be trying to bring forth Satan. When a vampire lights himself up, and just happens to be holding onto a card belonging to one, Sophie Lawson, Det. Alex Grace comes knocking to find out of Sophie knows anything about Daddy-Dearest trying to get in touch with her. Oh yeah, did we mention that Sophie’s Dad is Satan himself, and that as some celestial joke, the Vessel of Souls holding all the souls that haven’t traveled on to heaven has been hidden inside Sophie.
There is also a group known as the Grigori who are trying to kill Sophie before Satan can get the Vessel of Souls from her.
As if Firestarter vampires, three-headed dogs, Grigori and a home visit from Satan isn’t enough to keep Sophie snacking on chocolate pinwheels, she still hasn’t made any decision on her choices of men…Will or Alex?
Armageddon is coming is something you say, not something that’s actually happening on Tuesday, but as the signs start added up, it appears that Dear Old Dad might just be trying to come for a visit, but is he looking to spend time with his little girl, get Sophie to join the family business or just do a snatch and grab of the souls hidden inside her?
This was the last book of the series and I can’t tell you how absolutely disappointed I was while I was reading it.
Poor Sophie, being the only human in a bunch of paranormals, usually ends up being beaten up and crying. Sophie had so many breakdowns in this story and a lot of them a constant pity party of “Why didn’t my Dad love me and come to the Father/Daughter dance” or “to my play” or “come to my graduation” or “what does he want from me now.” Most of her crying jags were with Alex and she ended up crying in his arms. This happened so many time that if I was listening to an audiobook, I would have assumed I messed up the download and was repeating scenes.
We also kept having scenes where someone was attacking Sophie and then they disappeared, never to be heard from again, and then someone else would attack her and again, that storyline just disappeared. The story starts with fires, fires, fires everywhere…and then suddenly there are no more fires mentioned again. There were also several of the usual scenes where everyone was there to protect her, and then they all just stepped away giving the bad guy time to attack. “We’re here to protect you.” “No, I’m okay.” “Alright, see you tomorrow.” Knock, knock, Bad guy calling.
There was also many, many references to Satan being “a trickster” and I kept waiting for the big trick Sophie would do to fight him at his own game, but the ending happened so fast and ended up being pretty anticlimactic.
After listening to Sophie constantly bounce back and forth between Alex and Will for five of the six stories, in the end Sophie doesn’t pick one over the other so much as one leaves town, leaving her choosing the other by default. I think it would have been funnier after all these books of her lamenting which hottie will I choose, if they both left her at the end.
Although the humor was still there, the story itself seemed to just circled around and the plot was not very cohesive. For the last book in the series where she could have done anything that she wanted with the characters, it was totally disappointing.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I heard the murmurings and a few stepped forward to pat me on the back or touch my arm gingerly, and I was basking in the warmth of this weird, horned, extended family that cared, and gave a damn whether I lived or died.
And then, the elevator dinged.
Alex was standing there and it was like the first time I’d ever seen him: his shoulders were thrown back, chin hitched one lock of wavy hair impishly falling over his forehead. His chest looked impossibly broad, Greek-God like, and when his badge winked from his hip, I felt my mouth water.
Once again, I was: Sophie Lawson, turned on in the face of danger.
Alex’s icy eyes cut across the waiting room until he saw me. I saw him suck in a breath, and I was ready to shimmy out of my panties—all the demons cared and Alex, too—when the other elevator dinged.
We all waited, no one breathed, until the doors slid open.
Then I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.
Will was in the second elevator, leaning against the back wall and looking relaxed and comfortably cool, as though he were in an Abercrombie ad just awaiting his scantily clad co-model. His hazel eyes were slightly hooded in that “hey, baby, I’m holding a kitten” kind of way that made my heart bloom and ignited something low in my belly. Between the two of them I was a pile of supercharged horny goo while the whole of the world trembled on the precipice of holy hell.
As I clamped my knees together and gritted my teeth, I was fairly certain that my inappropriate sex drive was half the reason the city was vaulting toward our brimstony demise.
Both Alex and Will stepped out at the same time, each with a set of eyes fixed on me for a brief second before they glanced at each other. Then each seemed to get an inch taller. Suddenly, chests were puffed out and, I’m not entirely sure, but I’m fairly certain that arms were flexed. I would have paused to scrutinize further, but both made a beeline for me, talking at the same time.
“Wanted to make sure—“
“—you were okay down here.”
They stopped talking at the same time, too, glared at each other, then swung to face me and my army of Underworld associates.
“We’re all okay down here,” I said, feeling suddenly overwhelmed with domestic love and nearly throwing my arms around the armless zombie and the troll who had kicked me out from under the coffee table.
ORDER A COPY: Make You Mine: The Dumont Bachelors
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Publishing Date: May 6, 2014
Paperback: 352 pages
Rating: 4 stars
For ninety-nine years, every man in the Dumont family has remained a perpetual bachelor. Residents of Cedar Bayou, Louisiana, whisper about a voodoo hex cast upon the family, sabotaging each man’s chance at marriage. In truth, the Dumont men have their own player personalities to blame, and Marc is no exception. As captain of his family’s riverboat, he’s broken hearts up and down the Mississippi. That is, until his high school crush strolls onboard…
Allie Mauvais rocks the boat when she fills in as pastry chef. She hasn’t seen Marc since senior year, when rumors flew that her great-great-grandmother was the one who cursed the Dumonts. After two weeks on the water, neither can deny the attraction that still burns between them. But to truly reach Marc’s heart, Allie must show him that the hex isn’t real, and it’ll take more than her mouthwatering sweets to prove it. Will Allie’s love be enough to finally make Marc hers?
It was Allie Mauvais’s grandmother who first cursed the Dumont men so they would never be able to find love and commit to one woman. Marc’s father is the perfect example of this powerful curse. He has five children with four different women and now another one on the way with his new girlfriend.
Marc tried never to cross paths with Allie, even going as far as changing to the other side of the street when he sees her. She might be beautiful to look at, but he is smart enough to be afraid of Cedar Bayou’s own Voodoo Queen. Everyone knows that every lonely heart stops by the Sweet Spot to pick up Allie’s delicious pastries as well as a gris-gris for love.
Marc has just inherited his family’s riverboat, and as the new captain, he has enlisted all his step-brothers and step-sister and even his Pawpaw to help out as the crew on his first excursion. He has even hired the famous and temperamental Phil Regale to be the chef for the two weeks cruise. Everything is all going according to plan until his pastry chef calls in sick, and the agency sends a last minute replacement, Allie Mauvais.
When odd things start happening, his crew starts to point toward Allie, but the more she is attacked, the more Marc appreciates how she rises above the accusations and is the first to make suggestions and offer a helping hand.
Once he stops thinking about voodoo and curses, he starts to feel the pull between himself and Allie. Except every time he acts on the attraction, something else goes wrong. Can they finally break the Mauvais’s curse on the Dumont men and find a happily ever after or is bad mojo just to powerful to let love grow?
I really liked all the characters introduced in this new series. Allie and her big sister, Shannon, are delightful and Marc’s dysfunctional family has pulled together and created their own strong family bond even though their shared father can’t commit to anyone, including his children. There are several background stories, including the next one which involves Allie’s sister Shannon and Marc’s brother Beau who have a history of their own which didn’t not end well between them, but both are still pining for the other. I will be reading Make You Remember when it comes out.
The only thing that disappointed me was that Allie herself doesn’t believe in the family’s voodoo magic. It isn’t just that she doesn’t use it (although it seems to be hinted that she has powerful magic), but she doesn’t believe at all that her family has any powers. It seemed like a let down. I liked that for the most part, Allie used psychology to figure out what people were looking for, but again, disappointed that she didn’t believe in the magic.
Great and fun new series.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
He flapped a hand and poured her another shot, waiting until she downed that one, too. “I’m all keyed up. I need to unwind first.”
At least they agreed on one thing. Marc needed to blow off some steam, and Allie was happy to help—they were even in the perfect place for it. “Then let’s play a game.”
Marc glanced over her shoulder to the rows of dormant slot machines and empty roulette tables in the darkness. He pressed his lips together as if weighing her suggestion and finding it intriguing. “What’d you have in mind?”
“Well,” she began. “You’re probably tired of poker.”
He nodded in agreement. “Especially the Texas variety.”
Which left blackjack, but then they’d have to take turns representing the house, which didn’t sound like much fun.
“I don’t know a lot of cards games,” Allie admitted. “We could play Go Fish.” She’d meant it as a joke, but Marc’s lips tugged in a wide smile that drew out the cleft in his chin. He seemed to take it seriously for a moment, then laughed in a low, masculine chortle that turned her thoughts from gaming to sinning.
“Haven’t played that in a while,” he said, nudging another tequila shooter in her direction. “What should we wager?”
“Do we have to bet?”
“Of course,” he said. “That’s half the fun.”
In general, Allie didn’t carry much cash, and what little she had was in her suite. “I don’t have any money on me.”
“That’s okay. I don’t want your money.”
She glanced around the bar for ideas, then pointed at a bowl of salty snacks. “We could play for pretzels.”
“Pretzels?” He scoffed in offense. “What are we, twelve?”
Allie scowled at him. “Well, what do you want?”
His gaze took a slow trip down the length of her body, from shoulders to toes and back up again. Her skin heated as she began to understand the stakes he had in mind. “I wouldn’t object to seeing what you’ve got on under those clothes.”
Reflexively, Allie darted a glance at the strong contours of Marc’s chest, barely visible as shadows beneath his white dress shirt. Truthfully, she wouldn’t mind seeing what he was hiding either. “Are you suggesting we play Strip Go Fish?”
He answered by toasting her with his Coke and eyeing her shot in a silent message to drink up.
“Right here in the casino?” she added.
“The door’s locked, and the cleaning crew isn’t scheduled to come around till third shift.” He nodded to a dark corner on the opposite side of the room. “We can sit back there if you want. That way nobody will spot your bare naked backside through the glass doors.”
Allie pointed at him. “I think you mean your bare naked backside.” Which she was going to enjoy ogling–immensely.
“Sugar, you’re going to be very cold, very soon,” he teased. “So you’d better take another shot.”
“I will have another, but only to prove I can still trounce you half-drunk.”
She tossed it back, then slid off her bar stool, feeling warm and floaty as she led the way to a round table in the corner. Marc found one of those battery-operated candles that mimicked a flame’s flickering glow and set it on the table, so he could “see what he was winning.” They continued their Go Fish trash talking until they’d found a pack of cards and settled in their chairs.
“Wait,” Allie said while Marc shuffled the deck. “First we should make sure we’re starting out with the same number of clothes.” She counted her polo shirt, bra, skirt, panties, and clogs. “I’ve got five.”
“Are we counting socks and shoes as one item?”
She shook her head. “Separate.”
“Then I’ve got six.”
He quickly remedied the injustice by unbuttoning his dress shirt and pulling his arms free. Beneath it, he wore a white T-shirt that fit him like a second skin, stretched unmercifully tight across his broad shoulders. Even in the dim light, his bunching chest drew Allie’s eye and watering her mouth.
She swallowed hard. “That’s better.” So much better.
Marc caught her staring and faked a stretch to show off the inside curves of his biceps, then turned it up a notch, flexing them so they strained the hem of his T-shirt sleeves. A hint of dark ink peeked at her from beneath the fabric.
Oh, heavens. Allie loved a good tattoo, especially on a properly muscled body. She wanted to see all of it…and hunt for more.
“You’re not distracted, are you?” he asked with a smirk.
“Not one bit,” she lied. “Prepare to lose your other shirt, Captain.”
Publishing Date: April 29, 2014
Paperback: 384 pages
Rating: 3 stars
Vampire Zoltan Czakvar is on the hunt for the truth about his father’s death. He’s been searching for a very long time—since 1241, in fact. And he is not about to give up, even when he’s attacked by a woman with striking blue eyes and a hell of a right hook!
Neona is also on the hunt. She’s looking for a mate, and she thinks muscled Zoltan will work just fine. After all, men are good for only one thing. Soon, though, she realizes there’s more to this handsome vampire than just sexual prowess. But she’s keeping a secret from Zoltan, something so big that it will rock the vampire world.
Can their new found love survive . . . even if their passion means the destruction of her world?
Zoltan Czakvar has been a vampire and Coven Master for over 800 years, and his day to day has become so routine…meetings, castle tours. The only excitement in his life right now is Howard’s wife, Elsa and her crew are renovating some of the more rundown areas of his castle in Transylvania.
Even though he has always known about vampires (it is Transylvania, after all), Zoltan never aspired to become one. It was only after his mother died, and his father was killed, that Zoltan sought out his sire. He needed to find who had killed his father, but after years of searching, he hadn’t found any answers and he needed to stay strong, young and healthy until he had some answers. That was in 1241. Zoltan is pretty sure whoever the assassin was is long dead, but he still stares at the arrow on his wall and dreams he would someday find an answer.
When Russell shows up at Zoltan’s castle carrying an arrow that has the same markings on it, Zoltan follows Russell back to Asia. But Tibet was the last place, he expected to find his father’s killer. Zoltan spent his time searching most of eastern Europe, but never expected someone to come halfway around the world to kill a man in Transylvania.
What he finds in the small village in the hidden valley in the Himalaya creates more questions than answers, including why do some of these warriors have the ability to talk to animals just like Zoltan and his mother could. This small group of warrior women are protecting some secret. Something important enough to kill anyone getting close enough to their valley to protect. When Zoltan tries to approach Neoma outside of the village walls to get some answers, she attacks him, but not with plans to kill him…at least not right away. Neoma wants Zoltan to father a child for her, and then she promises to release him after he gets the job done. As a vampire, Zoltan can’t father children, but he is not sure that this is a good time to mention that little bit of information. Not if he wants to live another day.
And Zoltan needs to survive if he wants to solve the mystery of what these women are protecting and what they had to do with his father’s death. As Zoltan starts to lose his heart to Neoma, he is begins to fear that she might have had been responsible for his father’s death…800 years ago.
I can’t explain to you how much it pains me to say bad things about one of my favorite authors, but I didn’t like this story at all. I read several glowing reviews of the story so maybe it is just me. Once I thought about the series, I find that the stories I don’t like as much involved other mythical creatures rather than just the vampire/human, vampire/shifter and shifter/human romances. Among my non-favorites are Connor’s story with the fallen death angel; Howard’s story and although I like Elsa’s job on the renovation show, I wasn’t into her and the Aunt’s and their mystical powers, and now Zoltan and his warrior girlfriend.
Things I found distracting about the story included the fact that although Neoma was taught English at some point in her life, it has been decades since she spoke English with anyone, and yet she had no problem jumping right into a conversation with Zoltan. Plus, she was born and lived in this hidden valley for a long, long time, but she had no problem following slang and not being freaked out by Zoltan’s sat phone, etc. They still cook over an open fire in a single clay pot but she didn’t question him making a phone call? I know that I am reading a vampire book, but characters and the story plot need to be conceivable within the world she created.
Without ruining the plot for anyone, I was bothered by a big “what comes first: the chicken or the egg” problem with the story plot and the ending leaves some big questions for the future of the series.
So after weeks holding onto my ARC copy until this popped to the top of my TBR list, I was so disappointed in this story. So after I have a good cry for saying mean things about Kerrelyn Sparks’ hard work, and I am going to sneak in a re-read of Roman’s or Gregori’s story (my favorites) to remind myself why I like this series so much.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
He eyed the woman. She was sitting quietly beside him, biting her lip. Nervous. That was a good sign. He didn’t want to think that she did this sort of thing often. “Did I hear you correctly? You want my seed?”
Her cheeks flushed slightly, but she looked him in the eye. “Yes.”
“Was this your plan all along? Knock me out, tie me up, and rape me?”
She winced. “It’s not rape.”
“What else would you call it when you forcibly plan to take my seed?”
“I figured you would be willing.”
“To be raped?”
She grimaced. “It’s not rape as long as you agree.”
“What if I don’t agree?”
She looked dumbfounded for a moment. “I thought men always were agreeable.”
His hands fisted tightly around the rope as an unexpected surge of anger skittered through him. How many agreeable men had she found over the years? Probably plenty. What red-blooded male wouldn’t agree to letting a beautiful woman ravish him in the woods? Dammit.
He took a deep breath. Stay in control. “Before I can consider your offer, I have to know exactly what you expect of me.”
Her gaze drifted to his groin. “I thought it was obvious.”
“On the contrary, there are numerous issues that must be addressed.” Thankfully, her gaze returned to his face. He didn’t want her to notice the growing bulge in his pants.
She frowned. “Issues?”
“Yes. For instance, how long will I be required to performed? Will I receive compensation for any injuries incurred during the act?”
Her eyes widened. “Injuries?”
“It happens. I’ve been known to get terribly wild. Fortunately, you appear to be in excellent health, so you should survive the ordeal. Do you mind signing a waiver?” He enjoyed the growing expression of horror on her face. “Which position do you want to use? Or do you prefer multiple positions? How many times to you wish to climax?”
Her mouth dropped open. Then she shook herself and glared at him. “Ten.”
He blinked. Was she calling his bluff? “Ten what? Positions or climaxes?”
She hesitated a second, then lifted her chin. “Both.”
He stifled a laugh. She wasn’t letting him get the better of her.
Jerk, the leopard grumbled. Stop playing cat and mouse with her.
Zoltan glanced up and spotted the cat lounging on the branch of a nearby oak tree. You were supposed to leave.
It thumped its tail on the branch. I’ll leave when I feel like it.
Does she jump men like this every night? Zoltan asked.
What do you think? The leopard narrowed its eyes. Look who’s jealous now.
I’m not— Was he? Zoltan pushed that thought aside and turned back to the woman. “Are you sure you can handle ten climaxes?”
She shrugged. “Are you sure you can deliver?”
He smiled, enjoying the way she stood up to him. “I’ll do my best. But it might take an hour or so, depending on–“
“Oh, no!” We must be quicker than that. No more than five minutes at the most. In fact, we had better start right away before Freddie and the others find us.”
Another jab of anger shot through him. “Freddy? Who the hell is he?”
“Not tied to a tree, is he? Was he last night’s five-minute conquest?”
Her mouth dropped open.
How jealous can you get? The leopard eyed him with disdain.
I’m not! Shit. He was. Jealous of the unknown lovers of a woman he’d barely met. He must be going insane.
ORDER A COPY: Shadow Spell: Book Two of The Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publishing Date: March 25, 2014
Paperback: 320 pages
Rating: 4 stars
With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken…
A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss.
Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle.
Plenty of women have found their way to Connor’s bed, but none to his heart until now. Frustratingly, Meara is okay with just the heat, afraid to lose herself—and their friendship—to something more. But soon, Connor will see the full force and fury of what runs in his blood. And he will need his family and friends around him when his past rolls in like the fog, threatening an end to all he loves.
When we finished Dark Witch, the three O’Dwyer cousins, Branna, Connor and Iona along with their friends, Meara, Boyle and Fin, had cause the evil Cabhan a great deal of pain, but they were not successful in killing him.
A few months have past and Cabhan is back and wielding a shadow spell which keeps him lurking and protected in the shadows and where he has started making sneak attacks on our witches in an attempt to destroy their circle. When he almost succeeds in dealing a death blow to Connor, Meara and Connor realized that they have stronger feelings toward each other which have been lurking beneath the surface for some time. As Connor’s interest in Meara grows, Cabhan takes more a notice of her as both a weaker target of attack (since Meara has no magic) and also as a way to destroy Connor.
After several attacks are directed at Meara, the group decide that they need to stop waiting around to defend against Cabhan’s attacks and prepare their own offensive. After they manage to wound Cabhan in one of his shadow attacks, they have his blood to use against him in a spell of their own. But will it finally be enough to destroy the evil which gives Cabhan his power?
This was of course my favorite type of story – friends to lovers. Can’t help it. Love them! There no shocker that since this is book 2 of a trilogy, we will not defeat Cabhan in this book, and although I am interested to see how they defeat him (and I believe there is a strong hint how they will ultimately succeed), what I am really, really dying to find out the story behind Branna and Fin.
We have had hints that they fell in love as teenagers and many hints that they still hold strong feelings for each other (especially poor Fin) but that once Branna learned that Fin was a blood descendant of Cabhan, she turned him away. She is still resentful of the fact that they became lovers before Fin allowed her to see the mark on his body showing his was Cabhan’s descendant. So she felt deceived and she has been slightly untrusting of him and allowing him to participate in their circle. I think Fin was just hoping that if Branna loved him enough, she wouldn’t turn on him once he told her, but it didn’t work out for poor Fin. Personally, I can’t wait to see the sparks fly between them in Book 3.
If you are reading this series, come back when you are done and we’ll talk about the possibilities of how to defeat Cabhan.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
“And what are you going to do about Alice?”
“Alice Keenan, who’s signaling her churning lust across the pub like one of those flag people.” She waved her arms to demonstrate.
“A pretty face, for certain. But not for me.”
Meara put on a look of amazement, sent it around the table. “Are you hearing that? Connor O’Dwyer saying a pretty face isn’t for him.”
“Wants a ring on her finger, does she then?” Finn asked, amused.
“That she does, and as that’s more than I can give, she’s not for me to play with. But it is a pretty face.”
He leaned toward Meara. “Now, if you were to snuggle up here, and give me a kiss, she’d think, ah, well he’s taken, and stop pining for me.”
“She’ll have to pine, as other foolish women do.” She scooped up more chicken. “My mouth’s occupied at the moment.”
“You put it on mine once.”
“Really?” Iona pushed her plate aside, leaned in. “Tell all.”
“I was but twelve.”
“Just shy of thirteen.”
“Just shy of thirteen is twelve.” she feigned stabbing him with her fork. “And I was curious.”
“It was nice.”
“How could I tell?” Meara countered. “It was my first kiss.”
“Aw.” Iona drew in a sighing breath. “You never forget your first.”
“It wasn’t his.”
Connor laughed, gave Meara’s braid a tug. “It wasn’t, no, but I haven’t forgotten it, have I?”
“I was eleven. Precocious,” Iona claimed. “His name was Jessie Lattimer. It was sweet. I decided we’d get married one day, live on a farm, and I’d ride horses all day.”
“And what happened to this Jessie Lattimer?” Boyle wanted to know.
“He kissed someone else, broke my heart. Then his family moved to Tuscon, or Toledo. Something with a T. Now I’m going to marry an Irishman.” She angled over, kissed Boyle. “And ride horses all day.”
Her eyes sparkled when Boyle linked his fingers with hers.
“Who as your first, Branna?”
The minute the words were out, the sparkle changed to regret. She knew. Of course she knew even before Branna flicked a glance a Fin.
“I was twelve as well. I couldn’t let my best friend get ahead of me, could I? And like Connor for Meara, Fin was handy.”
“That he was,” Connor agreed cheerfully, “for he made sure he was where you were ever possible waking minute.”
“Not every, because it wasn’t wasn’t his first kiss.”
“I practiced a bit.” Fin tipped back in his chair with his pint. “As I wanted your first to be memorable. In the shadows of the woods,” he murmured, “on a soft summer day. With the air smelling of the rain and the river. And of you.”
She didn’t look at him now, nor he at her. “Then the lightning struck, a bolt from the sky straight into the ground.” She remembered. Oh, she remembered. “The air shook with it, and the thunder that followed. We should have known.”
“We were children”
“Not for long.”
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.
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
“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.”