Tag Archives: great series

Love’s Complicated

Last week I posted my review of Storms, the initial installment of Wendi Kelly and Deborah Dorchak’s new paranormal shifter series Tau’s Pride.

Schemes set into motion in Storms build momentum in the second book, Sacrifice.

The Pride (Not Pack. Did you catch that? Cause the change is ruffling lots of feathers and fur!) are flipped again as Regina and sexy angel Sebastian consummate a love that’s been simmering since even before Regina’s birth. The consequences of this union promise to reverberate throughout the shifter universe. If that’s not big enough news, Regina and her bodyguard Jon also have an important moment. If all of this “free love” makes you squirm, you’re not alone. Some of Regina’s most trusted mentors and confidants question whether she’s gone too far over to the “feline” way of being, with a serious loss of the special bonds conferred by the Wolf’s monogamous nature.

Regina accepts the validity of the question–she just doesn’t know what to do about it. Since the Dream Walk back in Legacies, a law of love that is greater than any particular species custom has asserted itself, and she feels compelled to honor it. Judging from what happens at the end of Sacrifice, this proves to be a wise impulse, but it has its costs. Harry for one, now transformed beyond anything he or we could have imagined, seems an outlier in this situation right at the point where he’s decided he wants to be more a part of his marriage and his family.

The final battle of Sacrifice is complex, brutal and resolves (to the degree that anything can resolve midway through a paranormal saga) in a most unexpected and satisfying manner. Weirdly enough, I’m especially concerned about a couple of the “villains” I’ve become attached to. I fear Kelly and Dorchak may have done too good a job with their characters–here I am rooting for the wrong side!!!!

Buy Tau’s Pride: Sacrifice on Amazon

 

One Saga Leads to Another

I have had the pleasure of featuring the writing team of Wendi Kelly and Deborah Dorchak, authors of the Bonds of Blood & Spirit shifter series several times. If you’d like to check out my interview with the pair and reviews of the books, you can start here.

Storms opens after the epic battle that ended Kelly and Dorchak’s Bonds of Blood & Spirit saga and launches the sequel series Tau’s Pride.

The forces of darkness have been beaten back, but only just. As Regina, Cole, Harry and all our other favorite players welcome Regina and Harry’s daughter, enemies are already mobilizing a new attack. The details are sketchy–the authors keep their plot machinations pretty quiet, dropping only tantalizing hints here and there. In the meantime, we follow developments both inside and outside the Pack’s compound.

For instance, Harry’s recovery after nearly being burned to death during the battle isn’t as complete as everyone believes. And then there’s hunky Xander, a fairly new addition to the saga, who is on a search for the sister he’s been separated from since childhood. His story becomes irrevocably entwined with the fate of the Pack (Or is it Pride? Ah…therein lies a big part of the conflict. Just what is this new ordering that has emerged after the Legacies Dream Walk?) as multiple story lines converge. Shifting roles and strained bonds cause all manner of drama and conflict. The end, rather than bringing resolution, brings only more change that drives the action forward into the next installment.

Kelly and Dorchak do a great job juggling their huge cast and also balancing action and character development. They are skilled at creating characters who are more than appearance suggests. Baddies turn out to have compelling soft spots and good guys potentially tragic blind spots.

Storms is an explosive beginning to what promises to be another epic shape-shifting adventure.

Buy Storms

Tau's Pride Saga, Book I, STORMS

Cover of STORMS, book one of Tau’s Pride.

Home Again

It gives me such pleasure to discover a new favorite author or a book that I know I will read a second or even a third time. I find myself talking about it to everyone I run into, and if I find out they already love that author or have read the book, it’s an extra rush.

Lending a favorite book out…it’s hard. I am possessive of my collection. Especially in this era of the e-book. If I have a genuine physical copy of a book, it’s because I either fell in complete and utter love with the Kindle edition, or found I had a hard time letting go of a library copy.

I must be growing up or something, because lately I have been lending out Tim Farrington’s books like crazy. Seriously. These books are making a round robin of the members of my Centering Prayer group. I’ll lend my copy of The Monk Downstairs to M and when she brings it back to the next meeting tell her, “Oh, just give it to K.”

It’s working out. All my babies have come home.

My latest prodigal is Tim Farrington’s The Lazarus Kid. It’s the THIRD novel he’s written about Mike Christopher, a former monk building a new life in San Francisco. The Monk Downstairs  is followed by The Monk Upstairs . They are spectacular. I also featured his debut novel The California Book of the Dead on this blog last week. There are a couple more novels of his and a wonderful memoir. I hope to talk about them in the near future.

Farrington has a gift for creating characters you wish you could meet for coffee. They’re by turns generous, selfish, compassionate, thoughtless, silly, and incredibly deep. Deep is also the word I’d use to describe the major themes in his work–finding the extraordinary in the mess of the ordinary, fundamentally flawed people living out their own highly idiosyncratic idealism, and the human search for the transcendent. Good stuff!

ONE NIGHT OF SCANDAL by Elle Kennedy

An ex-fighter turned nightclub owner struggles against his attraction to his best friend’s ex.

One Night of Scandal (After Hours, #2)

One Night of Scandal

When I read the first book in the After Hours series ONE NIGHT OF SIN I fell for Elle Kennedy’s well-developed characters and wildly effective scene setting. ONE NIGHT OF SCANDAL delivers the same excitement. Reed Miller and Darcy Grant have a lot of chemistry. Reed is a grump and emotionally shackled by his bad-boy past. Darcy is pretty wholesome, even if she does enjoy the occasional walk on the wild side.

The relationship develops against the backstory of a possible drug problem at the club. This plot line starts in book one and carries on through all three of the After Hours books. At this point, the club is in definite danger of being raided, so Reed is preoccupied with finding the dealer before the whole business goes under.

Darcy and Reed’s relationship has a great balance of romance and drama. The misunderstanding at the end is a little too engineered. There are enough real issues between the characters that complicate matters, so it was a little disappointing that Kennedy got so melodramatic at the end.

On the whole an entertaining experience.

ROAD TO VICTORY by Piper Davenport

* I received a copy of this book in return for a fair review

The troubled daughter of a wealthy family fights for love and for her future when old secrets bring brand new heartache.

Road to Victory (Dogs of Fire Book 5)

Road to Victory

Kimberly Church has struggled for years to create a stable life after a nightmarish childhood. Every so often her demons rise and she spirals out of control and into hard drinking and promiscuity. Luckily, she has plenty of friends to catch her when she crashes. Now that her best friend is married to a leader of the powerful Dogs of Fire Motorcycle Club, sometimes poor Kimmi has more eyes looking out for her than is comfortable. One set belongs to Aidan “Knight” Quinn. He’s lost from the moment he sees her, but she does everything she can to keep him away.

Aidan is determined to get to the truth behind Kimmi’s outrageous behavior. A shared love of horses offers a bridge and, slowly, they cross it. It seems like Kimmi’s personal life–and her riding–are about to reach new levels of fabulous. Then her ugly past turns into a terrifying present as someone threatens Kimmi and her beloved horse.

I’ve read all of Piper Davenport’s Dogs of Fire books. This is a good one. Kimmi’s character arc is a big one. She transforms from all hard edges and erratic emotion, into a grown woman prepared to face the terrible facts of her “privileged” childhood. Along the way, she puts Aidan through hell. There were times I found it hard to believe he’d stick with her, but Davenport is an expert at creating honorable yet believable heroes.

I did have two issues with the book. First, the pacing lags near the end of the middle when Kimmi and Aidan’s horse interests take them on an international journey. I can’t say more without ruining the plot for you. This section goes on a bit too long and the tension, so wonderful until then, suffers. Things pick up again once the couple returns home. Second, the climax, which should be pretty scary, falls flat. Just when Kimmi should be in maximum danger, she’s left on the sidelines. Kimmi needed to be the star in that final “bring the creep in” scene and it should have been from HER point of view, since this guy has tormented her for decades.

On the whole, though, ROAD TO VICTORY is exciting and entertaining.

Jackson & Washington’s DIAL L FOR LYNDA

* I received a copy of this book in return for a fair review.

Best friends turn detectives when one is arrested for the murder of her boss.

Dial L for Lynda (Linda & Lynda Detective Agency Book 1)

Dial L for Lynda

Having read a lot of Tracey Jane Jackson’s work, I was excited to learn that she was collaborating with Amanda Washington and branching into a new genre. DIAL L FOR LYNDA is a funny, sexy, well-plotted mystery. It might seem surprising to find wealthy, stylish Addison Allen’s best friend since childhood is a financially-strapped girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Harley James has been a hard worker from an early age and earned herself a scholarship to a pricey private school, which is where she met Addison and her twin brother Asher. They’ve been close ever since, though not as close as Asher would like. Harley keeps him at arm’s length as she tries to build a career that makes her feel more on his social/financial level. It’s her job that becomes the problem when she’d fired by her lecherous boss and then he ends up dead outside her apartment.

Jackson and Washington give us amusing, well developed characters who manage to get into all sorts of oddball scrapes as they try to find the real killer. Asher, a serious, sensible lawyer is a great foil for his emotionally overwrought sister. Whereas Asher tries to help Harley by becoming her legal advocate, Addie actually tries to get herself arrested so she can keep Harley company in jail over the weekend until a Monday bond hearing. And that’s just a taste of the lengths this wacky blonde will go to in order to protect her bestie. Though it doesn’t hurt that the lead detective is a tasty morsel who inspires all sorts of fantasies.

The comedy, mystery and romance are kept in fine balance. Jackson and Washington do a great job leading us through the tangled motives of the real killer, who came as a surprise to me, but is completely believable. Two small issues. The first was with Addie and Asher’s parents. They are a little too cliche “rich and snooty.” I would’ve liked more nuanced characterizations. Also the Linda/Lynda link seems a little forced. Even the authors can’t really explain the logic behind it. Harley’s middle name is Linn, and Lynda is the name Addie and Asher give to their GPS systems. Addie also uses it for a special phone line to throw off unwanted suitors.

Name confusion aside, DIAL L FOR LYNDA had me laughing out loud and reading way past my bedtime. Can’t wait for the next one.

A DANGEROUS HUNGER by J.S. Scott

When a reclusive academic’s work on demons lands her in danger, she must accept the protection of a sentinel demon with an appetite for food and romance.

A Dangerous Hunger (The Sentinel Demons, #2)

A Dangerous Hunger

This was my least favorite of J.S. Scott’s The Sentinel Demon series. The chemistry between Dr. Talia Maris and Drew Winston never quite gets going. The book starts out with some excitement as Drew plots to capture his elusive charge. It’s kind of cute how he finally manages to lure her into his clutches. But the relationship never really takes off. Drew is the least smoldering of the three heroes in the series. There’s nothing particularly unique about him. Talia is a more fully developed character–and she has a great cat.

The underworld introduced in A DANGEROUS BARGAIN is explored and it’s pretty scary. But the bad demons (the “Evils”) aren’t as big a threat as in the first book, where they caused all sorts of trouble.

The book entertains but it doesn’t sweep you away.

A DANGEROUS BARGAIN by J.S. Scott

A sentinel demon must protect his soul mate from his enemies.

A Dangerous Bargain (The Sentinel Demons, #1)

A Dangerous Bargain

There’s a lot of sexual tension between Zach Winston and Kat Larsen. The premise of Scott’s fictional universe–that sentinel demons were created to protect humankind after the gods of Mt. Olympus retired to the Elysian Fields and left people unprotected from the evil demons who desire to prey on them–is interesting and well thought out. So is the concept of “Radiants”–the fated mates that are the keepers of the sentinels’ souls.

The fast pace and a carefully placed twists kept me reading. Also, for once, the bad guys (“Evils”) of the series are actually pretty scary. I get a little tired of amazing heroes fighting powerful foes who turn out not to be so powerful after all. Scott’s baddies turn up when you least expect it and cause lots of chaos.

Zach’s brother demons are interesting–especially Hunter. When I finished this book, I immediately downloaded the other two. In fact, last week I posted my review of A Dangerous Fury, Hunter’s book. It’s the third in the series and my favorite, so it jumped to the head of the review line.

Excellent paranormal romance.

Review: THICKER THAN WATER

A young woman’s hard-won future with her new husband is threatened by an enemy from her past.
Thicker than Water (Book 3 of The Grayson Trilogy)
Thicker than Water

All of the characters we’ve come to love from The Grayson Trilogy are back as author Georgia Rose sets them off on new paths and also resolves longstanding mysteries. Rose gives us a meaty plot set firmly in Emma’s point of view, which allows us to experience events as if we’re there living through them. Departing from past installments, though, THICKER THAN WATER features a secondary POV, one which pops up at the most unexpected times and offers a tantalizing hint of rough waters ahead for our friends at the manor. I love how ambiguous this personality is at first. There’s a darkness surrounding him, sure, but his intentions are not quite clear. When he does step into the light, not only does the game between Emma and her enemies turn on its head, but a slew of questions dangling from the previous novels are suddenly answered. Yet even these filled-in blanks don’t lead to closure for Emma. Instead they free a deluge of pent-up emotions that are almost as big an obstacle to her happiness as the gang of Russian criminals out to kill her.

The other side of the close focus on Emma’s POV is that we can get caught up in her day-to-day activities to the point that the pacing of the narrative slows. I think it took a little too long for the suspense/danger element of this episode to come into play, but in return we do get plenty of deep character development. Plot vs. character is always a difficult battle. Throughout The Grayson Trilogy Georgia Rose shows a knack for this balancing act.

THICKER THAN WATER delivers the romance, suspense and, especially, the final satisfaction readers of this series pine for.

Review: BLOOD FEST–CURSING FATE

* A review of the first book in Pepper O’Neal’s Blood Fest series, Chasing Destiny, appeared HERE  yesterday. Also, to enjoy my interview with the author, which took place a few months back, click HERE.

Blood Fest: Cursing Fate

Blood Fest: Cursing Fate

A young tiger shifter escapes from a Lithuanian brothel only to risk her hard-won freedom (and her life) when she returns to put an end to the operation.

I received a print copy of the first book in this series, BLOOD FEST: CHASING DESTINY, from the author and loved it so much I immediately downloaded CURSING FATE and read it straight through the night. Almost everything works in this book. From page one, we care intensely about Tabby and the three youngsters she takes with her when she breaks out of sexual bondage and travels across Europe to the safety of England. She heads there because it’s the home of her only living relative. Chase Alcott–now Fernwood–is the heroine of CHASING DESTINY.

Before she can meet Chase, Tabby must face the leader of the local Weretiger pride. Drake Gatos and Gray, his second in command, were in book one, and it’s great to see them play a more central part in the action. The romantic tension between Tabby and Drake is palpable. The erotic aspect builds more slowly. This is good call by author Pepper O’Neal, as it aligns with the horrific nature of Tabby’s background. Total trust between the pair takes even more work. Tabby has a plan to destroy the brothel once and for all, and she knows overprotective (and kind of overbearing) Drake will try to leave her out of the mission.

Drake is a little thick-headed about things. For me, the only rough spot in the book was watching his missteps with Tabby. I know it was all in the service of telling an exciting story. But he’s such a dolt at one point, that it wasn’t only Gray who wanted to beat the stuffing out him.

It’s a testament to O’Neal’s skill at creating believable characters that the INSANE secret plan Tabby and Chase come up to destroy the brothel seems reasonable. Of course, the operation doesn’t go quite as they imagined, which means lots of action and suspense for readers. It also provides a chance to meet up with Danyer, head of the Los Angeles pride. He’s a favorite of mine from book one, and I hope he eventually gets to star in a Blood Fest book.

The climax is a nail biter. Even better, we’re left with a brand new mystery. Why does Echo, one of the female weres Tabby saved, beg the others not to contact her family now that she’s free?

Book three, where are you?????