Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Storm Force by Susannah SandlinStorm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
e-book: 342 pages
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release date: June 18, 2013

Series: n/a

Source: Review copy from Bewitching Book Tours

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

As leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets beautiful chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine.

Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target?

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know i enjoy Susannah Sandlin/Suzanne Johnson’s work. Needless to say, when I heard she was writing a new paranormal romance that’s a loose offshoot of her Penton Legacy vampire novels, I was quite excited, especially since it was being released as a Kindle serial. But then I couldn’t get it because I lived in Canada so I had to wait until the full novel was written to get my hands on STORM FORCE. But I’m happy to report that STORM FORCE is a nice paranormal romance with a lot of suspense added in. It actually reads like a paranormal suspense novel that just happens to have supernatural characters in it, which is just my cup of tea.

One of the neatest things about STORM FORCE is that the lead couple have an unusual power dynamic. Mori is more than human and is consequently more physically powerful than Kell. It’s a pairing that’s less commonly seen in the genre and it was kind of refreshing to watch this alpha Ranger man deal with the fact that his romantic interest is being sparked by someone who could throw him out a window if she was in the mood. Thankfully, he knows that her strength doesn’t make him weak because I hate those characters who can only see others’ strengths as detractions. I adore strong women — in fiction and in real life — and I can’t stand it when people react badly to capable women.

Rant aside, I also like how much this novel stands alone. You don’t have to be familiar with the Penton Legacy books to read STORM FORCE so if the blurb appeals, you should pick it up. STORM FORCE reads very well as a stand-alone novel and you’ll quickly be sucked into the mystery of who set the bomb and why they’re framing Mori for it. The answer is unexpected — and revealed early enough in the novel that you’ll get to see the ramifications, which is great. Knowing the who and they why really up the stakes and it makes STORM FORCE a roller coaster of a novel.

There are also some nice humorous moments in STORM FORCE. One of my favourite characters is Robin, an eagle shifter with a lot of attitude. I really liked her boldness and also the fact that she was an eagle shifter since we don’t see a ton of avian shifters in the literature. I do hope she gets her own novel at some point because I’d love to spend more time with her.

If you’re looking for a suspenseful paranormal romance, look no further than STORM FORCE. Sandlin has created a great story with a compelling cast and you’ll be hooked from the first page!

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Jenn

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Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, #7)Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Ace Hardcover
Release date: March 5, 2013

Series: Mercy Thompson #7

Source: Personal shelf

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book depository

Mercy Thompson’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman—the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack—has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more…

After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They’ve all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

Mercy has always had a way to get herself into trouble, but this time around it’s her husband and mate Adam who’s in trouble, and she gets to play hero. Don’t get me wrong, playing hero isn’t easy either and Mercy gets her fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, but who would’ve thought little Coyote would be the key to save both the werewolf pack and the local vampire seethe?

The Mercy Thompson series is one of my favourites urban fantasy out there, and this instalment didn’t disappoint. My only complaint would be that it was over way too fast. I don’t know if it’s Patricia Briggs’ writing style or if the word count on her novels isn’t that high but it always feels likes it’s too short. Especially since we have to wait quite a while between releases. I’m telling you, I can’t get enough of Mercy and her friends!

This time around the plot revolves around the whole pack being kidnapped by pseudo government agents and Mercy’s quest to find and free them. She has to call on old friends to accomplish her mission and I enjoyed seeing them again. The novel is, per usual, filled with heart-pounding action and keeping-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense. I blindly followed our hero every step of the way, and didn’t quite grasp the intensity of the betrayal until the final unveiling. 

Mercy’s world is really rich and entertaining  and with each book I feel like coming back home. I just love it! The lore is entertaining with werewolves, fey, witches, vampires and a single coyote involved. Each race has it knack and Mercy always does her best to walk the line and profit from each strength and trying not to make too many enemies. The ambiguity is maddening hehe.

I really like this series and I strongly suggest you give it a shot, starting with Moon Called. Frost Burned being the 7th books in the series, I can feel it coming to an end and I’m already saddened by the prospect of not visiting Mercy’s world anymore, but I’m really impatient for the next book called Night Broken.

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Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh

Caressed By Ice (Psy-Changeling, #3)

Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: September 4, 2007

Series: Psy-Changeling #3

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository 

Nalini Singh explores new heights of sensuality, returning to the world of the Psy – where two people who know evil intimately must unlock the good within their icy hearts…

As an Arrow, an elite soldier in the Psy Council ranks, Judd Lauren was forced to do terrible things in the name of his people. Now he is a defector, and his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins – cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna…

Brenna Shane Kincaid was an innocent before she was abducted – and had her mind violated – by a serial killer. Her sense of evil runs so deep, she fears she could become a killer herself. Then the first dead body is found, victim of a familiar madness. Judd is her only hope, yet her sensual changeling side rebels against the inhuman chill of his personality, even as desire explodes between them. Shocking and raw, their passion is a danger that threatens not only their hearts, but their very lives…

Brenna and Judd couldn’t be any more different. He, an ex sanctioned and trained psy killer, she, victim of a psycho psy serial killer. She shouldn’t attracted to him, he is dangerous and could very well be the end of her, especially since he is a Tk psy, same as her attacker. And he shouldn’t feel anything period. Not for her, not for anybody else either, the control of his abilities is at stake. Then how come they can’t seem to stay apart?

I must confess, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of Judd’s story because he never really touched me in the previous books, but I have to say, he has really grown on me! He has a lot more to offer than even he knows and Brenna has a way to drag the tiniest bit of emotions out of him.  She used to be a sweet and lovely girl but after her abduction and mind rape she isn’t the same. She refuses to be sheltered and won’t take no for an answer. I loved that despite everything she was strong and determined and her stubbornness felt different than your typical badass heroine because she’s been to hell and back. Their relationship felt real and tangible because their passion was slow boiling, not rushed, and culminated at just the right moment. I truly enjoyed it.

While the romance was the main interest, the action part of the plot also kept me involved. The wolf pack is under attack from inside and out. They have a killer in their midst, and they have to discover him before he gets to Brenna. There’s also an unknown party trying to turn the different changeling packs against each other. While I never believed those attempts would succeed, I have to mention how original the attacks were. I also liked Judd’s personal vendetta and I hope we discover more about this side plot in the following books.

After reading book two I was hoping for a pairing that wouldn’t be female psy with male changeling and I was pleased to have a male spy and female changeling duo. It felt very different because while the female psy were lenient to their emotions, Judd was completely opposed to it. He reacted very differently and I was glad for this new perspective.

I really enjoyed this novel and the conclusion felt right. I was glad Judd and Brenna found an original solution to work-out their issues and I’m anxious to know more about Protocol I and the psy-changeling issues. I was late to join this series but I strongly urge you to give it a try. I can’t get enough!

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Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh

Visions of Heat (Psy-Changeling, #2)

Visions of heat by Nalini Singh

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Release date: March 6, 2007

Series: Psy-Changeling #2

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Hailed as a major new talent in paranormal romance, Nalini Singh takes us deeper into the world of the Psy and the changelings in her latest extraordinary novel, where a gifted woman sees passion in her future–a passion that is absolutely forbidden by her kind. In danger from fellow Psy, Faith NightStar’s fragile sanity will be tested by an all-consuming passion for a changeling who can take the form of man or jaguar.

Used to cold silence, Faith NightStar is suddenly being tormented by dark visions of blood and murder. A bad sign for anyone, but worse for Faith, an F-Psy with the highly sought after ability to predict the future. Then the visions show her something even more dangerous-aching need . . . exquisite pleasure. But so powerful is her sight, so fragile the state of her mind, that the very emotions she yearns to embrace could be the end of her.

Changeling Vaughn D’Angelo can take either man or jaguar form, but it is his animal side that is overwhelmingly drawn to Faith. The jaguar’s instinct is to claim this woman it finds so utterly fascinating and the man has no argument. But while Vaughn craves sensation and hungers to pleasure Faith in every way, desire is a danger that could snap the last threads of her sanity. And there are Psy who need Faith’s sight for their own purposes. They must keep her silenced – and keep her from Vaughn . . .

Faith has been sheltered her whole life. Truth be told, she’s way too valuable to her psy-clan for it to be otherwise. Who would risk the security of a woman whose abilities are worth billions of dollars? Vaughn couldn’t care less about the money though, his jaguar is insane for this untouchable woman and is ready for anything to mark her as his own. Will Silence conditioning stop them from being together?

Visions of Heat is the second novel in the Psy-Changeling series and I loved it just as much as I did the first book. Faith lived in a very different environment than Sascha did and it was interesting to see this new facet of the Psy world. Faith is a F-Psy, a being able to foresee future. She was trained to foresee important business trends and make money for her clan. Removed from her family at 3 years old, her conditioning started, and she was the best of her field. The inhumanity of the situation was utterly shocking, yet completely in line with Psy attitude.

A chain of unexpected events brought Faith to question her beliefs and reach out to Sascha for answers – the only person out of the Psy-net – and only being she thinks she can trust. I totally loved how Faith unconsciously prepared for this moment, months in advance, even though she had no idea what was coming her way. It really shows the magic of her talents. What I liked most about her was her strength even though she’s been protected and controlled her whole life. She is determined to do the right thing and will stand up for herself.

Her meeting with Vaughn was delightful and I enjoyed seeing to two of them together. Even though they’ve lived very different lives certain aspects brings them together and their bond is really strong. I liked how Vaughn challenged Faith every step of the way, yet he was always there to catch her if she fell. He respected her strengths and supported her in her weaknesses. He was just perfect for her.

The pace established by Nalini was just right and kept me engage the whole time. I liked the way she highlighted the contrast between both worlds and how she took us deeper into Psy territory. The discovery of another Psy killer brings interesting elements to the table and I can’t wait to see where this will bring us in the following novels.

The conclusion brought peace to Faith’s troubled mind and I was surprised by a particular turn of events. Her father proved to be more than I thought and I find myself extremely curious. I hope we’ll see more of him in the future!

This novel might be an older release, but it’s a great opportunity to prompt you to give this series a chance if you haven’t yet. The twelfth book of this series releases this summer, so it’s a great opportunity to read each novel one after the other! I already have Caressed by Ice waiting for me and my only wish is that we see a different combination of main characters. The first two books were female Psy with male Changeling so I hope for something different the next time around!

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Slave To Sensation by Nalini Singh

Slave to Sensation Nalini Singh review

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genere: Paranormal romance
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: September 5, 2006

Series: Psy-Changeling #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Tynga

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository 

Dive into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind—and none of the heart…

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of “rehabilitation”— the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was….

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion—and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities—or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation…

A while back, ok a long time ago… Jenn dared us to read Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh and I finally took her dare! I love Nalini’s Guild Hunter series (which is an urban fantasy and not paranormal romance) so at long last I decided to give the Psy-Changeling series a try and I’m really glad I did.

The story takes place in the 2080s and three races inhabit the earth. Humans, Changelings and Psys. Changelings are all kind of shifters, the likes we know, and are overlooked by the Psy, who see them as animals. The Psy are a race that eliminated all emotions through a severe protocol called Silence, which started a hundred years ago. The Psy are telepathically linked via the PsyNet and it’s vital to them. They have all kinds of mind powers and they strive to lead the world and their sense of superiority is suffocating. Despite the strong sci-fi element this race brings, the novel really reads like a romance.

Slave to Sensation’s storyline revolves around Sascha a Cardinal Psy (the strongest there is) and Lucas an alpha panther. Sascha has issues though, even though she has an amazing potential, her abilities never developed and despite her mother being a woman of power, Sascha is a cast-out, feeling deeply flawed. See, she can feel but nobody can know or they would destroy her mind. Nobody less than perfect is allowed to live in the Psy world. Her struggle to hide from everyone was really touching and I felt really compassionate toward her. Her sensory exploration was highly compelling and I truly liked her. Her growth would’ve been impossible without smoking hot Lucas and I love him that much more for his influence.

The Panther as a secret agenda. A Psy serial killer is on the loose and he is determined to stop him, whatever it takes. He plan to use Sascha to get information, but he didn’t plan to fall for the unfeeling (or so he thought) psy. His attraction to her was a great aspect of this novel, because even though he felt a spark as soon as he met her. He didn’t fall into her bed with limitless passion as so many paranormal romance couples do. There was a compelling ascension in their relationship and I savoured it. There was this scene when Lucas bring her to Tamsyn’s house for the first time and Sascha meets the woman’s son. It was so endearing, I felt all mushy inside lol.

The like the storyline beginning to end and there wasn’t a boring moment to speak of. Nalini Singh did a great job to keep the readers engage with the romance, the suspense of the murder investigation and the introduction of such original lore. The murdered wasn’t a surprise for me, but I liked how they managed to catch him and I found the romance conclusion to be quite satisfying.

All in all, I loved the beginning to this series and I’m about to start reading the second book, Visions of Heat, right away. Fans of Gena Showalter’s Alien Huntress series will love Slave to Sensation, I’m sure of it!

 Read an excerpt

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Demon’s Curse by Alexa Egan

Demon's Curse by Alexa Egan Demon’s Curse by Alexa Egan

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 400 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release date: December 26, 2012

Series: The Imnada Brotherhood #1

Source: Review copy via Edelweiss

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

A rising star on the Covent Garden stage, Bianca Parrino believes she has everything she wants. Independence. Wealth. And a life finally free of her violent, abusive husband. But when her close friend, Adam, is murdered and Bianca is suspected in his death, she is unwittingly drawn into the search for his killer and soon must question everything she believes—about her friend, about herself, and about a world she never knew existed.

A member of the mysterious race of shape-shifting Imnada and part of an elite military unit, Captain Mac Flannery gathered intelligence during the Napoleonic wars. As a result of a savage massacre, Mac and the men he served with are cursed. Now one of them has been found murdered, and Mac suspects the existence of the Imnada has been discovered at last. His only link to unearthing the truth is the beautiful actress who turns up unexpectedly at Adam’s funeral.

Before long, Mac has more to contend with than Bianca’s overt mistrust, his ill-fated attraction to the haughty and beautiful actress, and his ongoing search for an end to the curse. Because Adam’s killer is back, and Mac is next on his list.

I love a good Regency romance every once in a while and so I couldn’t wait to give Alexa Egan’s series a try. On the whole, I enjoyed it, though it did have some flaws.

To start with the good stuff, though, I have to say how much I loved the setting and world building. Alexa Egan has created a very cool world and the mythology is nicely explored without overloading the reader. In this world, there are the Imnada, a race of shapechangers decended from aliens, and there are the Others, who are fey (at least as far as I can tell). The Imnada and Others are engaged in an ancient blood feud which have forced the Imnada to live in secret. Mac Flannery and three fellow Imnada and soldiers in the British military are cursed by a dying Other, and are forced to shift every evening, as soon as night falls. As a result, they’ve been exiled from their people because they’re considered tainted. It’s a pretty crappy lifestyle and they’ve all dealt with it in the own ways. They come back together after one of their number, Adam, is murdered, and learn that Adam has found a cure for the curse. Mystery, danger, and romance ensue, in ways that really kept me interested.

There’s also a really interesting subplot that revolves around the politics between the Imnada and Others. The Imnada have been in hiding for generations but there are some Imnada who want to reveal themselves and make a truce with the Others. It’s a divisive topic and I really got into this plot line. I hope there’s more of it in future novels in the series.

In terms of characters, things are less well done. I thought Bianca was an excellent heroine. She’s smart, a bit battered by life but still plucky. I instantly empathized with her and really enjoyed how her story was revealed. I also liked Mac, though not as much as Bianca. He’s a damaged guy with a ton of baggage, mostly having to do with being exiled. He deals with some of his problems over the course of the novel but some of this resolution felt a bit forced to me. Some of the supporting characters were also quite memorable but others were a bit murky. For example, I had some difficulty separating Mac fellow exiles from one another for a large part of the novel because they felt underdeveloped, though this was generally resolved towards the end as they accrued more page time. There are also some reveals about certain characters (who shall remain unnamed to avoid spoilers) that were big surprises, which I usually love. Except in this case, I felt like I’d missed out on a really good chunk of story, to the point where I started wondering if there was another novel before this one involving these characters. I also found the main baddy to be a bit flat. We’re told her motivation, we’re shown her bad deeds, but I didn’t find her to be a compelling foe.

Despite my issues with some of the characters, I did enjoy DEMON’S CURSE and plan to try AWAKEN THE CURSE, an e-prequel that’s available now. If you’re looking for a Regency romance with a brave heroine and an interesting supernatural landscape, you should keep DEMON’S CURSE in mind.

P.S. If you’d like more info about the series, you should check out this awesome interview with Alexa Egon on Literary Escapism!

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Jenn

Otherkin by Nina Berry

Otherkin by Nina Berry


Book Stats:

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
ARC: 294 pages
Publisher: K Teen
Release date: July 31, 2012

Series: Otherkin #1

Reviewed by: Lili

Source: Publisher

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

I thought I knew myself. Then I met Caleb.

Dez is a good girl who does as she’s told and tries not to be noticed.

Then she rescues a boy from a cage, and he tells her secrets about herself.

Now inside her burns a darkness that will transform her.

Everything is about to change — and neither Caleb, nor the Otherkin, nor those who hunt them are prepared for what Dez will unleash.

I was really looking forward to this book, so it’s really unfortunate that I have to admit that this book was rather disappointing. While it did tell the tale of a female shifter trying to come to terms with her powers, I felt as if I drifted through Dez’s story in a bubble—immune to feeling anything. I didn’t find myself connecting with any characters, and instead I was just along for the ride. I was immersed in a story full of characters with names that made me cringe, but I was somehow detached from the story all the same.

This story literally just jumps right into things. Within the first two pages, Dez shifts for the very first time. Similar to Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, you hop right into the action from page one, no back-story to the character(s). While I know that some readers like to immediately get down to business, I am a reader that likes to know a little about the characters so that I can feel for them. Because I literally knew nothing about Dez besides the fact that she believed herself to be a good girl within the first two pages, I felt very removed from her character through the remainder of the book. I often found my eyebrows knitting together when the tiger in her awakened dangerous thoughts about killing or maiming people. Even more surprising, such a good girl accepted this dark world so easily. But then I realized that this was a reoccurring theme throughout the novel. It seems like every time something should have freaked a character out, they just accepted it and moved on, no questions asked. It was slightly frustrating because it seemed so unrealistic.

The romance in the novel seemed incredibly forced as well. Unfortunately, I have to diagnose OTHERKIN with an extensive case of insta-love.  Caleb—one of the few normal names!—was a very hot and cold character, but he was attracted to Dez from their very first meeting. He has a lot of secrets, which made him separate from her for a while, only to steal her away for kisses against his better judgment before he retreated back into his make-believe world where he did everything in his power to ignore her. It felt like they skipped the whole flirting phase then he was talking about Dez naked half the time. And, of course, when their lives are in the utmost danger he tells her that he loves her. Needless to say, I think I liked the supporting cast of shifters—Siku, November, Laurentia, and Arnoldo—more than the main characters because they were not surrounded by cliches.

There was one line in this book that I found to be very irksome as well. Taken off of page 110, it reads: “Shifting heals everything—tattoos, piercing holes, scars where losers like London like to cut themselves just to feel alive.” After reading this line, my mood soured for the remainder of the book. I find this line to be very offensive, but it hit home more because someone I know did struggle with cutting before, and it truly hurts to know that you can’t help. I thank the heavens everyday that she’s so much happier now, but she wasn’t a loser, she was just somebody who was temporarily lost in life. The character mentioned did it all because she had a persona of self-hate complete with a bad dye job and fake piercings. The context that this was used in the book almost seemed like it’s okay to do such a thing because the cuts disappear when you shift. Well, in the real world, the cuts will never heal and this is a growing problem among my generation. I support the education of the seriousness of such a thing, but I do not appreciate when such a serious topic is used in such a non-serious manner.

Aside from my lack of connection to the characters and my personal problem stated above, I didn’t mind this book. Once the action picked up and I settled into this unique plot, I did find myself flipping pages and easily finished it in one sitting. The end of the book is incredibly suspenseful. It was an okay read. Didn’t blow me away, but it had a decent enough plot. The writing is great and I can easily see this book being a hit with a lot of people. In fact, I already know a lot of people liked it, but this is one of those books that just wasn’t for me despite how much I looked forward to it.

Blade Song by J. C. Daniels

J. C. Daniels Blade Song Blade Song by J. C. Daniels

Book Stats:
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
E-book: 257 pages
Publisher: Shiloh Walker, Inc.
Release date: August 1, 2012

Series: Colbana Files #1

Source: Review copy from author

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

Kit Colbana—half breed, assassin, thief, jack of all trades—has a new job: track down the missing ward of one of the local alpha shapeshifters. It should be a piece of cake.

So why is she so nervous? It probably has something to do with the insanity that happens when you deal with shifters—especially sexy ones who come bearing promises of easy jobs and easier money.

Or maybe it’s all the other missing kids that Kit discovers while working the case, or the way her gut keeps screaming she’s gotten in over her head. Or maybe it’s because if she fails—she’s dead.

If she can stay just one step ahead, she should be okay. Maybe she’ll even live long to collect her fee…

Shiloh Walker (a.k.a. J. C. Daniels) is one of those authors who’s been on my radar for a while but I’ve never actually tried, but with BLADE SONG, I could resist no longer! I’m a sucker for strong heroines, daunting tasks, and clever dialogue and BLADE SONG has all this and more.

Kitasa Colbana is one of my favourite new characters of the year. She’s got all the hallmarks of a great urban fantasy heroine — martial skills, a dark past, a strong sense of honour, a quick mind — and she lives in a very interesting world. In Kit’s world, humans know about the creatures that go bump in the night and some people even flock to Orlando, Kit’s town, to see what the local shapeshifer population can do. There’s even an Assembly of Non-Humans who ostensibly run the non-human populations. As part of a dying race, Kit’s not really on the humans’ radar but the other supernaturals know her, though they may not know what she is: half-human and half-aneira (or half-Amazon). The aneira have some really neat abilities: they can go invisible, they can sense what other supernaturals are, they can call their weapons to them, and weapons speak to them. In short, their skills give them the ability to be the best assassins, thieves, and hunters. These aren’t the abilities we normally see in urban fantasy and I love that J. C. Daniels brings us a heroine with a slightly different flavour. Especially since, being a half breed, Kit was despised by her aneira family, though she’s been making her own way in the world since she ran away from her family, and doing quite well up until this point.

Enter this case and Damon, the cat who brings it to her. He starts off as a major d-bag (there really is no other word for it) but he really grew on me — and Kit — over the course of BLADE SONG. Damon oozes alpha male for most of the story and it makes him a good if exceptionally frustrating partner for Kit. He and Kit remind me a lot of Kate and Curran from Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series. Their relationship has that same tug-of-war feeling and the leads in both series exhibit similar traits. This doesn’t mean that BLADE SONG is a remake of MAGIC BITES or anything like that. It’s supposed to be a compliment: both worlds are filled with strong characters, creative world building, and plots that will keep you hooked. It just so happens that both of the female protagonists are hell-on-wheels with swords and both men are cats who come off as jerks but end up being quite irresistible. =)

I really enjoyed the main plot line of BLADE SONG. It starts off with a sort of simple mission: to find a missing shifter kid. And then it spirals into a larger mystery, involving a bunch of missing non-human kids. I loved the way the plot unfolded. I was hooked just as soon as Kit was and I was so wrapped up in the story I didn’t even want to guess who the bad guy was. I wanted to discover it along with Kit. It’s a well written mystery and I read BLADE SONG in a single evening because I needed to know who was behind the missing kids and what was going to happen to him/her when Kit and Damon figured it out.

BLADE SONG has everything I love in an urban fantasy – plucky heroine with major skills, broody love interest, high stakes, fast-paced action and great dialogue. The intensity keeps up throughout the entire novel and I’m absolutely dying to see where Kit goes next after the events of the final pages. I’d recommend this book wholeheartedly to fans of the Kate Daniels series, not just because they’re both about fierce ladies with swords but because they’re both strongly written stories with a lot of heart.

Read an excerpt (scroll down)

You can also check out our exclusive Kit Colbana short story or this free story on Tor.com.

Jenn

Fury of Ice by Coreene Callahan

coreene callahan - fury of ice - tynga's reviews - @StephLrx

Fury of Ice by Coreene Callahan

Book Stats:

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 431 pages
Publisher: Montlake Romance (Amazon Publishing)
Release date: June 5, 2012

Series: Dragronfury #2

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: Personal e-shelf

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Homicide detective Angela Keen thrives on the city’s rough streets. But when she becomes the prize of all prizes in the dragon-shifter world due to her “high-energy” status, she gets more than she bargained for. Kidnapped by Lothair of the Razorback clan, Angela barely survives captivity before managing to escape. Hurt and alone with nowhere to hide, she faces certain death when Lothair uses the trace energy she leaves in her wake to hunt her down. But before he can reach her, a mystery dragon-shifter intervenes and saves Angela’s life.

Now a guest of the Nightfury clan, Angela regains her strength as her rescuer, Rikar, the last living frost dragon, gradually breaks down her mistrust. Surrendering to her desire for Rikar, but still uncertain of her feelings, Angela goes against his wishes and agrees to be used as bait to lure Lothair into the open. As the battle commences, the true struggle comes from within: Will Angela return home to the life she loves, or forsake it all to be with Rikar?

Dragon, dragons, and more dragons! I’ve been reading so many books about dragons lately, and I’ve become obsessed with them since reading book of this Dragonfury series, Fury of Fire. Although, not as exciting as its predecessor, FURY OF ICE succeeded in feeding my new addiction, and has me wanting more.

Obviously, these dragons aren’t your normal fire breathing dragons. Actually not all of them breathe fire. Some breathe ice, while others acid or venom. But one thing’s for sure—all the “good dragons” are very hot and very sexy men, when not in dragon form, of course. Some of these good dragons have formed a group and they call themselves the Nightfuries. They have more or less vowed to protect humans from their dragons enemies, known as the Razorbacks. Obviously, the idea of good vs. evil isn’t a new one, but the war between the two groups of dragons gets hotter and hotter as each ruthless battle is fought.

The thing I love the most about these dragons, is their dedication to their mate. Their natural instinct to care for and protect their female makes me want a dragon of my own. This and the fact that they form some sort of brotherhood really reminds me of J.R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Obviously, the two stories are very different, but the feel and the flow of both series is quite similar. So if you enjoyed one, I highly recommend the other.

This second book of the series primarily concentrates on the story between Rikar, a frost dragon and Angela, a homicide detective. You would think being kidnapped by the Razorbacks would make Angela afraid of dragons, but on the contrary, she and Rikar develop a very intense relationship. I really appreciated Angela’s doubts about this new relationship because it makes her seem so much more realistic, and as a strong female character, it reminds us that she’s still human, despite her her battle ready attitude.

When every book in a series has different main characters, I really appreciate when an author doesn’t forget about the previous main characters. In FURY OF ICE, Coreene Callahan kept us updated on Myst and Bastien’s relationship, which burgeoned in the previous book. Even after this sequel, their story still isn’t quite finished since the “mystical” bond between mates still hasn’t really been explained. Myst’s life is in jeopardy and the author is definitively keeping her readers on their toes by omitting such tantalizing information.

FURY OF ICE will take you on a chilly ride of dragon fights and dragon passions. Great characters makes this story worthwhile and the easy flow of dialogue and action has kept me interested until the very end. I’m just glad book 3 is only a few months away because I think I’m running out of good dragon-romance books to feed this new addiction of mine.

If you’re interested, check out what Coreene Callahan does when she’s not writing and see her top 10 Reasons to Take a Dragon-Shifter Camping.

0stephsig

Bear Meets Girl by Shelly Laurenston

Shelly Laurenston - Bear Meets GirlBear Meets Girl by Shelly Laurenston

Book Stats:

Reading level: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Trade Paperback: 407 pages
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Release date: March 27, 2012

Series: Pride #7

Reviewed by: Stéphanie

Source: ARC provided by the publisher

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

He’s big, burly, and way smarter than your average shapeshifting bear. He’s also about to get trapped by own his game. . .

Lou Crushek is a reasonable, mellow, easygoing kind of guy. But once someone starts killing the scumbags he works so hard to bust, that really gets under his fur. Especially when that someone is a curvy she-tiger with a skill set that’s turning Crush’s lone-bear world upside down–and bringing his passion out of hibernation. . .

As a member of an elite feline protection unit, Marcella Malone has no problem body-dropping anyone who hunts her kind. But Crush is proving one major pain in her gorgeous tail. The only reason she’s joined forces with him is to track down the wealthy human who’s got her entire species in his ruthless sights. It sure isn’t because Crush’s stubborn and contrary attitude is rubbing Cella in all the right ways…

This is the first book that I’ve read from this series. Now usually, I’m not one to read a series out of order but this book sounded too intriguing to wait until I’ve caught up with the series. After a little investigating, I realized that, from book to book, the main characters are always different, so it bothered me even less to jump in so far into the series. I’m glad I decided to read it right away because it was an enjoyable paranormal romance. It’s exactly what I was in the mood for so it was perfect.

However, I must admit that it took me some time to really get into the book because this shapeshifting world is unlike any that I’ve encountered before, and it was a bit complicated. Especially with its many shapeshifting law enforcement agencies like The Group, the KZS and the BPC. Oh, and sometimes the regular NYPD. I’m sure by reading the previous books, I would have gotten a smoother introduction to all these agencies but, like I said, I was a bit to excited to read this novel.

Especially when I realized that the main female character, Cella, was in a pro shapeshifting hockey league. And a co-ed league on top of that. Awesome! Obviously, in real life, you would never see a female play in the NHL but as a shapeshifting feline, she was able to play with the boys and excel at what she did, which is bash every one that gets in her way. Since I’m a huge fan of hockey, I became a huge fan of Cella, just because of what she did for a living (she did have an other job as a sniper for the KZS, but I won’t go into details). Sure, Cella has an annoying and rowdy character at times but her fierceness and dedication made up for everything. I also really admired her dedication to raising her daughter. Everything was planned so that she could give her daughter the best of everything, and that was really touching.

Cella might not have been my favourite female lead but I did fall in love Crush, the typical stand-up cop, always doing the right thing kind of guy. I just wanted to give him a big hug since he seemed so huggable as a shape-shifting polar bear. Just reading about his size and muscles made me swoon. He was the boy next door with an immovable and strong, serious character, and was obsessed with everything hockey. He might have been broody from time to time but that’s what made him so charming.

I admit the storyline did not move much beyond the romance story but we did encounter a serial killer that hunted shape-shifters just for fun and cruelty. But what the book lacked in the mystery/action department, Shelly Laurenston made up for it with the romantic tension. Cella’s habit of calling Crush her pretend boyfriend was entertaining since, as readers, we all knew he’d end up being her real boyfriend eventually. The relationship between those two was interesting and amusing. Their playful banter and quick dialogue was funny and natural. I could actually imagine the characters in my mind, going at it with words (and with their fists, most of the time, since lets face it, they are shape-shifters). Like the title hints, this really is a “boy meets girl” story. Although, I must admit, not every “boy meets girl” story has an awesome hotel room scene that includes handcuffs. That was pretty hot.

Despite the lack of storyline beyond the romantic plot, I really did enjoy the book. It might have been predictable and unrealistic on occasion, but I will absolutely continue reading this series. I kind of regret not having read the previous books before. It would have given me a lot more background information about the secondary characters and the different shifter groups. However, trust me when I say it can be read as a stand-alone. The author gives us enough information and since the story mainly revolves around Cella and Crush, I never got lost in the romantic plot. I would suggest this book to anyone who enjoys a good romance, especially those of you who are  true hockey fans.

Excerpt

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