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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong

Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (353 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Cholla

Savannah Levine is in terrible danger, and for once she's powerless to help herself. At the heartbreaking conclusion of Waking the Witch, Savannah swore that she would give up her powers if it would prevent further pain for a young orphan. Little did she know that someone would take her up on that promise.

And now, witch-hunting assassins, necromancers, half-demons, and rogue witches all seem to be after her. The threat is not just for Savannah; every member of the Otherworld might be at risk. While most of her fellow supernaturals are circling the wagons at a gathering of the council in Miami, Savannah is caught on the road, isolated from those who can protect her and unable to use her vast spell-casting talent, the thing she counts on most. In a story that will change the shape of the Otherworld forever, Armstrong gathers Elena, Clay, Paige, Lucas, Jamie, Hope, and other beloved characters, who soon learn that the greatest threat to supernaturals just may come from within.

What’s a witch to do when she’s lost her powers? That’s the question Savannah Levine is asking herself at this very moment. When you’re one of the most dangerous and powerful witches alive, being without your spells is a very dangerous position to be in. Especially when someone’s trying to kill you.

Savannah has really grown up over the course of the series. Back when we first met her, she was angry and afraid and arrogant. Despite the fact that she still has some anger issues and a bit of an attitude, she handles herself much better than in the early days. She’s taken the tragedies of her life and uses them as fuel for the good she’s trying to do now. The loss of her spells really hits her hard in this book and leaves her somewhat at a loss for awhile. I really like the young woman she’s grown into.

Her relationship with the half demon Adam grows ever stronger throughout the course of this story. While I hated the dissent between the two of them during the middle portion, I appreciated the real world way in which they both handle themselves, especially when things get difficult and awkward. It makes me both wonder and hope that Savannah’s attraction to Adam will be revealed in the next book so that she can have her happy ending.

Kelley Armstrong’s never-ending cast of characters makes for a wonderful world full of surprises, adventure, and always that helping hand when you need it the most. Despite the fact that each book usually centers on a different character, you’re sure to run into someone familiar along the way as well. This, along with her flowing, easy style of writing, is why I enjoy this series as much as I do. There’s always something new and exciting waiting just around the corner, but you also always have an old friend there to hold your hand while you experience it.

Perchance To Dream by Empress LaBlaque

Perchance To Dream by Empress LaBlaque
Publisher: Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Genre: paranormal, contemp
Length: Short Story (40 pages)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Lavender

From the moment he enters her successful café, Professor Porter Briggs is smitten by the essence of owner Audra Talton . Focused on her work, Audra unknowingly ignores him. Porter craves her affections with relentless desire, and in his dreams, leaves his body to steal her soul away.

Plagued with vivid dreams she cannot explain, Audra willingly gives herself over to the passionate encounters in the ethereal arms of a hauntingly familiar man.

There are some unusual ways to find love, and Audra’s encounter with Porter proves this. In a descriptive tale about a woman not searching for, but finding romance, readers will be entertained while brought along an interesting adventure.

Audra owns a café. She’s a busy woman who’s not concerned with furthering her love life; though her employees nag her about it. Her motivations are established, and this is good, even in stories as short as this one. The reader gets to know her a little.

A man with a sexy voice keeps calling her on the phone, and she keeps ignoring him, annoyed. It’s weird but surprisingly intriguing. Suspense and interest are created when she agrees to meet him finally. She waits in her café all day for him to come. When will he arrive, and what will happen during this face-to-face encounter?

Cool supernatural things happen. It seems time travel is one of them, but this is implied and not verified or explained.

Audra experiences some steamy situations with a supernatural lover. Is he the guy on the phone with the sexy voice?

She finally meets that guy. Of course he’s handsome and charming. He has a beautiful car from the 1930s. They go to dinner in a vintage restaurant. There’s an old man in the story too, and it seems he’s connected somehow with the young, sexy man Audra meets. One can start to formulate interesting things…time travel, the old car, the vintage restaurant…Sadly, these connections are never truly addressed. They could have made a really cool situation come to light.

At the end, Audra’s attitude shifts a bit too suddenly, and so does Porter’s. He goes from, “I don’t even know you” to “Love of my life” in a flash and I was left with unanswered questions.

I enjoyed this story and saw a enormous potential in it. If it were lengthened and unanswered questions explored, it could have been really something. Still, it’s an enjoyable read.

Opalite Tianna Xander and Viola Grace

Opalite Tianna Xander and Viola Grace
The D.A.R.E. Project Book Four
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (82 Pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Foxglove

Opalite has struggled to keep her self-contained while she travels and retrieves lost humans. Meeting up with a shackled dragon male has upset her attempts to keep her life under her control. When her association with him gets the attention of her handlers, the humans charge her with manhandling one of their own. Defending herself would be hard enough with one witness on her side, but alone against the humans, what chance does a dragon swan have?

The D.A.R.E. Project series is a delightfully sweet and lightly sensuous series, with magic and dragons, and women working to save the world.

The D.A.R.E. Project was a wonderful idea, but the cost became too much to consider. When the people on Earth captured Eiwyn, a dragon swan pregnant with four daughters, they take the four embryos and split each into five females. Opalite has been doing retrievals for a while now, but on one of her recent missions, she finds a group of humans being held against their will.

After making sure they all get through the portal to safety on Earth, she finds a man chained to a wall, tortured and semi-conscious. After freeing him, he tells her he is Kros, a dragon. He takes her away and tries to convince her to be his mate. He also tells her that her three missing sisters are alive and well.

When Opalite returns to the lab, she is sent on another retrieval, and although it goes well, she is accused of imprisoning and torturing the man she rescued. Can Opalite clear her name of the false charges? Will she ever have the freedom she so desperately wants? Will Kros find her and help her reunite with her sisters?

I like this world created in the minds of Tianna Xander and Viola Grace, and the characters are all unique and well crafted. These are all softly romantic and yet there is just enough spice to intrigue the senses.

Opalite is strong and smart, and longs to be free: free to walk in the sun, and be just who she is. She misses her sisters, but doesn’t think they have gone mad, as the scientists claim. She is also a pragmatic woman-when taken before a group of dragons determined to be her mate, she immediately claims to be Kronos’ mate, averting possible fighting and problems. She is determined that she won’t be controlled anymore, and he is the only male so far than she can feel anything for. I liked seeing Opalite grow into the strong and independent dragon swan she was meant to be.

Kronos, or Kros, is strong, handsome and has a few tricks he can use to help in a pinch. He is attracted to Opalite, and works very hard to convince her that he will never hurt her or take away her freedom. I liked that he was willing to be patient and wait for her to choose him, rather than force any issues.

There are a couple of sub plots here, involving the case against Opalite, and the quest to reunite with her sisters. I was delighted that I got to see how the sisters were doing with their mates, and was intrigued to see what they were up to. I was happy to see that the villain in this one was treated to what he deserved, and that Opalite and Kronos were able to get their well deserved happy ever after.

A Log Cabin Christmas Anthology

A Log Cabin Christmas Anthology by Margaret Brownley, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Kelly Eileen Hake, Liz Johnson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Liz Tolsma, Michelle Ule, Debra Ullrick, Erica Vetsch
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Holiday, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (448 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Aloe

Experience Christmas through the eyes of adventuresome settlers who relied on log cabins built from trees on their own land to see them through the cruel forces of winter. Discover how rough-hewed shelters become a home in which faith, hope, and love can flourish. Marvel in the blessings of Christmas celebrations without the trappings of modern commercialism where the true meaning of the day shines through. And treasure this exclusive collection of nine Christmas romances penned by some of Christian fiction’s best-selling authors.

The days of log cabins have passed by the wayside, but this collection of short stories will take you back to the 1800’s, and into tough times, loss and love, and more. Let’s step into the past…

Each of the authors in this anthology is a recognized author who writes Christian themed stories. These stories have biblical references but they don’t overwhelm the story. Each story is set in a different location with each family having their own challenges to survive in an undeveloped land in a cabin they built for themselves.

The authors offer you characters who have to be strong to survive. They lose spouses in child birth, due to illness, or death by accident. Women can’t be alone in that day and age, and their choices are not always what they might want for their hearts. These stories have sadness in them, but each ends on a positive note with hope for the future.

The authors do a good job of showing the complex relationships between men and women. There are misunderstandings, fearing to accept or declare love, trying to deal with the children in the family, and then living in a one or two bedroom log cabin is enough to get on anyone nerves. There are different nationalities, odd family units, dangers from animals and Indians, and more. The authors are very factual about living back in the 1800’s. It wasn’t easy, but a well-built cabin and someone to love makes it a lot better.

This book would make a nice Christmas gift. It’s a book that would be fun to read each Christmas season, just pack it away with your Christmas ornaments. The stories are short enough they would work for reading aloud, too. I really enjoyed reading it. Why not give it a try yourself?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (386 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewer Flower Name: Camellia

Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men. It is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn’t belong here. So far as he can tell, there’s nothing in this place but spinsters…and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It’s a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram’s makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle…but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

Sparkling with humor and sizzling with sex, A Night To Surrender pulsates with the wants and needs of females and males—needs not the same and on a collision course. A hodgepodge of men assembled to form a militia in a quiet seaside village wreck havoc on Spindle Cove that has a motto of “Tranquility is the soul of our community” and where young, gently-bred ladies come to get themselves sorted out.

When black powder explosions, a sheep “stampede”, and wagons loaded with army supplies show up along with Lieutenant Colonel Victor Bramwell, his wastrel cousin Colin, and Thorne, Susanna Finch rallies all her considerable abilities to keep the ladies’ retreat intact and on schedule. The village depends on the money the ladies bring into Spindle Cove.

The Queen’s Ruby Inn is a temporary home for the ladies, whether sickly, scandalous, shy, disenchanted with marriage, too enchanted with the wrong men, or just misfits in the rules-ridden society of early nineteenth century England. Twenty-five-year-old Susanna, the daughter of the only gentleman in area, nurtures the ladies and helps them to realize their self-worth and take pride in their accomplishments. Her organizational skills, healer abilities, business sense, and abundance of energy are instrumental in keeping the village economically healthy and aesthetically pleasing. Her inner hurts, needs, and woes stay locked away until Bramwell invades her territory. Theirs is a romance not to be missed.

Lt. Col. Victor Bramwell, seriously wounded in battle eight months ago, is healing and wants his command back. But his superiors ignore his requests. His last hope is his father’s old friend Sir Lewis Finch, an eccentric inventor of weaponry who is a Royal Advisor to the Prince Regent who could get Bramwell back to his command.

Sir Lewis has his own agenda and gets Bramwell elevated, not back to his command, but gets him a title. By royal decree Bramwell is now an Earl—Lord Rycliff—and owner of a dilapidated castle high on a ridge overlooking the village in one direction and overlooking the channel on the other side where the northern coast of France is only fifty miles away. He is supposed to raise a militia of twenty-four men to defend this area of the coast—NOT Bramwell’s ‘cup-of-tea’.

Colin, Bramwell’s ne’er-do-well cousin, is horrified. A pretty village with no taverns and overrun with unbiddable, educated, man-eater ladies is just too much. While his irresponsible mischief propels the plot along at top speed, it often brings about distressing outcomes, but sometimes there is humor that tickles the funny bone.

The secondary characters are a diverse lot that add a wealth of emotions to the conflicts. The lamb named “Dinner” is not to be overlooked. He does his part to make this a delightful story.

Tessa Dare enchants with her skillful use of humor and her breathtaking love scenes. The awakening of Susanna’s passion and Bramwell’s deep-seated needs is beautifully revealed by Ms. Dare. She does a super job of showing how love reaches beyond weaknesses and flaws to bring out the best of people. She blends differences like Bramwell saying, “You’re mine” and Susanna saying, “I claim sole possession of my body, my heart, and my soul. And, tonight I choose to share them all with you”, in unique fashion. She melds these attitudes together to create a strong, delicious mixture that proves to be just what is needed for a happy-ever-after.

Locked In Silence by Shiloh Walker

Locked In Silence by Shiloh Walker
Grimm’s Circle Book 5
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (138 Pages)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Foxglove

Dying is hard enough. Coming back to life is brutal.

Grimm’s Circle, Book 5

Vanya has been hunting and killing demons ever since one of them scarred her face and killed her sister. Correction—since she was forced to kill the demon possessing her sister.

Then some sort of angel offers her a deal she can’t refuse—that if she becomes one of them, she gets to kill even more demons. Tonight, she’s made that choice. The death she smells on the air will be her own—and she welcomes it.

Silence feels a darkness is looming. Change—something he has every reason not to welcome. The deeply hidden memories that robbed him of his past, of his own name, render him unfit to teach anyone the ways of the Grimm. Yet here he is in the dankest sex club in town, waiting to assume his charge—after he stands by and watches her die.

When Vanya awakes, their complicated, dangerous dance begins. And so does something else—a searing need that blisters along their unexpected mental connection. Silence shouldn’t be drawn to his student, but once they touch, he can’t think of a reason to stop. Even though acting out their darkest desires puts them in more danger than they realize.

Shiloh Walker has once again added to her Grimm’s Circle series. I love this world, with its dark side, and its wonderful sense of honor and duty.

Vanya is a hunter, but not for the usual prey. She hunts and kills demons, like the one that possessed her sister. That was the first demon she killed, and she has the scars to show for it. But it wasn’t her last, and one day, she was made an offer to join with a group whose one goal is to stop demons from harming humans. Only one little thing with this offer: Vanya has to die to become one of the Grimm, but she is willing to do what it takes.

Silence doesn’t like change, but he feels it coming. As one of the Grimm, he spends every day stopping the demons roaming the streets. When Will drops in to tell him he will be training the next Grimm, Silence is not sure he can do it. He has lost his past, his name, and even his voice in the centuries since he was human, and thinks Will is making a big mistake.

When Silence meets Vanya, the attraction is immediate, and once again he worries. How can he teach this woman, when he has no voice? But then the most intriguing thing happens-Vanya can hear his thoughts, and he can hear hers as well. For the first time in centuries, Silence can ‘talk’ to another person, but he also has to fight his growing need to make Vanya his in every way. Can Silence train Vanya in the ways of the Grimm? Will their growing attraction get in the way of their duty to protect? Or can these two find a way to be together and still carry out their mission?

The characters are, as ever, well crafted and multi-faceted people. The Grimm’s Circle series is fairy tales your mom never read to you, with the dark and gritty side of life coming through, and they are not for the faint of heart.

Vanya learned about demons when one possessed her sister, and she is determined to live the rest of her life eliminating every one she can. When Will offers her the chance to become one of the Grimm, a group of ‘guardian angels’ protecting the human race, she feels she has nothing to lose but her fragile life, and accepts. She is determined and strong, and ready to take her place as a Grimm. I liked watching Vanya grow into her new role, and enjoyed her interaction with her trainer, Silence.

Silence is not happy to be chosen to train Vanya, but he also knows that it is futile to refuse. He is strong and loyal, and yet vulnerable deep inside. He has been used and abused in his past, and has been robbed of his past, his name and even his voice. In spite of this, he is still on the side of good, and has spent his life as a Grimm tracking down the demons that threaten humanity. I liked watching as his heart and mind opened up to new possibilities with Vanya, and I enjoyed his delight and surprise as he found he could ‘speak’ with Vanya.

This is a story filled with edge of your seat action, scorching hot passion, and a couple of heart-rending moments to it. The journey that Vanya and Silence embark upon takes several intriguing twists and turns, and at times it seems like these two will never get along. As with all of the Grimm’s Circle books, one challenge was in trying to figure out what literary character was being depicted by Ms Walker’s characters, and this one was harder than most. I didn’t have a clue until near the end of the story, and then it was a wonderful surprise. There are a couple of things I recommend with this: tissues and lots of iced drinks.

Haunting Passions by Maureen McMahon

Haunting Passions by Maureen McMahon
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave - Blush
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (125 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Orchid

Stacey Christian and Peter Mansfield join forces to help solve the mysteries surrounding Lady Katherine O’Flannery’s Irish castle—mysteries of hauntings, suicide, desertion, embezzlement and revenge. Skepticism turns to incredulity and finally terror as Stacey and Peter come face to face with a reality that neither could ever have imagined. Their complicated romance only adds to the mounting tension.

Ghostly castles and mysterious tales from the recent past... put them together and you have Haunting Passions.

Stacey and Peter meet after several years apart. Their romance fizzled out, but Stacey still feels something for Peter and eagerly accepts his offer of a stay at his aunt’s haunted Irish castle. This could be exactly the subject she needs for the magazine article she’s writing. Peter has been called in to find out why the fortune his uncle left to his sister has disappeared.

After a slightly chilly welcome to the castle, Peter starts his search of the records and then follows the lead to Dublin. Stacey wanders about the countryside and the castle. She is warned by all that the ghost of Victor haunts the west wing and the cove where he died.

Annoyed at Peter’s repeated absences, she decides to search for the meaning behind the ghost stories. Despite her disbelief of the supernatural, as she digs deeper into the mystery she begins to wonder if she’s out of her depth.

A slightly shivery romantic tale that picks up pace as it gets deeper into the story. Secrets hidden from the present, mysterious servants and friendly neighbors make their appearance in Haunting Passions. The introduction of the scenery in the Irish countryside really made me feel as if I’d been there. My main concern was I guessed the end of the story after only reading a third of the book. I’m not sure if it was because I’ve read similar stories in the past, but it certainly dampened my reading enjoyment. However, this could just be me.

Haunting Passions does have mystery, suspense and ghosts and the story rolls along seamlessly. A little bit jerky due to the romantic interest keeping a low profile, but the story recovers smoothly and continues at a fast pace. A good read with only a touch of romance.

To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell

To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (433 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

When Ellie Kendall loses her husband Jamie in an accident she feels her world has come to an end. But life has to go on and eventually she’s ready for a new start – at work, that is. She definitely doesn’t need a new man, not while she has a certain secret visitor to keep her company...

Entrepreneur Zack McLaren seems to have it all, but the girl he can’t stop thinking about won’t give him a second glance. Why can’t she pay him the kind of attention she lavishes on Elmo, his time-share dog?

Having moved to an exclusive flat in North London, Ellie becomes friendly with neighbour Roo who’s harbouring a secret of her own. Between them, can both girls sort out their lives? Guilt is a powerful emotion.

But a lot can happen in a year in Primrose Hill...

Like a late afternoon rain at the end of a hot summer day, Jill Mansell’s To the Moon and Back lifts the spirit, brings a smile, assails the senses, and reaffirms that love is the greatest of all healers. Like a fresh poured glass of champagne, the story sparkles and bubbles and makes one glad to be sharing a vicarious experience with the lifelike characters.

Even with the heartbreak of death and love deferred, the story has an undercurrent of hope, humor, and a zest for life that sweeps the reader into Ellie Kendall’s world as she deals with life after the death of Jamie, her much-loved husband.

Ellie’s coping mechanism is conjuring up Jamie so they can talk. Even their talks have a special humor that they shared when he was alive. After fifteen months of emotional isolation, Ellie begins the slow process of having meaningful interactions with people again and the reader gets to share this new awakening of the vibrant, intelligent, and caring Ellie.

The many characters that roam the pages of To the Moon and Back help Ellie to find true self-awareness and they enrich her life with fun, purpose, friendship, and love. Tony, Jamie’s father the Hollywood actor who seems the quintessential upper-class Englishman, stays close to Ellie and helps her as much as she will allow. Their shared love for Jamie, their grief and memories bring comfort to them both. Todd, Jamie’s best friend, eases back into Ellie’s life after months of strained feelings. Todd walked away unscathed from the accident that killed Jamie.

Ellie changes jobs to escape her fellow workers who continue to feel sorry for her and seem to tiptoe around as if on eggshells when she is near, seemingly afraid they will say or do the wrong thing. They always look at her with pity. Even though they mean well, Ellie is not comfortable around them, she needs a new start.

In a new upscale neighborhood that Tony talked her into moving to, she meets the funky dressing Roo Taylor who proves to be a good friend even though she is impulsive, wild, and has a bad track record with men. Her type of logic brings fun and action to events as the story zips along. Her idea of doing good-works for her redemption is hilarious.

Zack McLaren, Ellie’s new boss, opens up a whole new world for Ellie. The sexual tension and determination to not renege on their original agreement makes for delightful reading.

The many sub-plots keep the story bubbling with conflicts, heartaches, fun, and emotional rollercoaster rides. Not to be missed are the connection with Tony and the artist Martha, the love/hate relationship of Roo and Todd, the Joe and Kaye Kelligan’s story. Of course, Elmo, the time-share dog does his share to enchant.

Jill Mansell makes the story live and breathe with metaphors like “Fear coagulated like cement in her chest”, “like two balloons inviting a hedgehog along on a night out”, “like a toddler’s out-of-control tantrum”. Her imagery engages the senses and pulls one into the action and her humor makes it all sparkle while her foreshadowing keeps one turning pages to see if what happens is what the hints suggest.

Ms. Mansell is a master storyteller who creates characters with unique personalities that captivate the reader’s imagination and heart. She tells a story that totally engages the emotions while it makes its way to a happy-ever-after. GOOD READING!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade

Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade
Publisher: Hyperion, and imprint of Disney Book Group
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult
Length: Full Length (272 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Orchid

After being sent back from the light, Alona Dare - former homecoming queen, current Queen of the Dead - finds herself doing something she never expected: working. Instead of spending days perfecting her tan by the pool (her typical summer routine when she was, you know, alive), Alona must now cater to the needs of other lost spirits. By her side for all of this - ugh - “helping of others” is Will Killian: social outcast, seer of the dead, and someone Alona cares about more than she’d like. Before Alona can make a final ruling on Will’s “friend” or “more” status, though, she discovers trouble at home. Her mom is tossing out Alona’s most valuable possessions, and her dad is expecting a new daughter with his wicked wife.

Is it possible her family is already moving on? Hello! She’s only been dead for two months! Thankfully, Alona knows just the guy who can put a stop to this mess. Unfortunately for Alona, Will has other stuff on his mind, and Mina, a young (and beautiful) seer, is at the top of the list. She’s the first ghost-talker Will’s ever met—aside from his father—and she may hold answers to Will’s troubled past. But can she be trusted? Alona immediately puts a check mark in the “clearly not” column. But Will is - ahem - willing to find out, even if it means leaving a hurt and angry Alona to her own devices, which is never...

Will’s father could see ghosts and he has inherited this ability. He uses this skill to try and help people solve their problems and pass over to the other side.

Alona is a ghost. Not just any ghost. At school Alona was the leader of the “in” crowd while Will was the oddball. Killed in an accident, she followed the light, but returned for reasons both she and Will have yet to fathom. Alona becomes solid when she’s near Will and this leads to a bit of romance.

Ghost hunters cross Will’s path stirring Alona’s jealousy. She disappears in a huff, but finds she has more urgent personal problems than the hunters. Upset and desperate to get Will’s attention Alona does something completely outrageous. Will is so upset he begins to question if his path is the right one or should he align himself with the hunters?

Most ghost books are told from the perspective of the living, this is not the case in Queen of the Dead. Both living and dead have their say and show how they see the world. Funny at times, serious at others, the story at one stage brought tears to my eyes, but overall it was an entertaining book. Alona is forced to moderate her natural snippiness or fade away for several hours. Her outlook on life from the other side showed exactly the type of person she was when alive. Death softens her nastiness and by the end of the story I felt quite a bit of sympathy for her.

Will, on the other hand, is an indecisive person. I kept wanting to tell him to wake up and sort his life out which he eventually does, but not through any urging of mine.

I liked this book. Lighthearted but with a serious side. I note this is a series and presume Alona died in the first book. It will be interesting to see how the author continues the these books. Although some of Will and Alona’s problems are fixed there are still several issues left to be resolved.

Never Been Bit by Lydia Dare

Never Been Bit by Lydia Dare
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (363 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rting: 5 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

The glittering world of high society is the playground for the rich, titled, and reluctantly undead…

Alec MacQuarrie’s after-life has become an endless search for pleasure in an effort to overcome his heartbreak and despair. Wandering through the seedy world of London’s demimonde, he’s changed into a dark and fearsome creature even he doesn’t recognize until he stumbles into a magical lass he knew once upon a time and sees a glimpse of the life he could have had.

But the ton is no match for one incorrigible young lady…

After watching each of her coven sisters happily marry, Sorcha Ferguson is determined to capture a Lycan husband of her very own. When she encounters Alec, she decides to save her old friend from what he’s become, all while searching for her own happily-ever-after.

Over his dead body is Alec going to allow this enchanting innocent to throw herself away on an unworthy werewolf, but that leaves him responsible for her, and he’s the worst monster of them all…

If I was a puppy, I’d be wagging my tail hard enough to knock someone down. I am excited to share the news that the youngest member of the Coig not only gets her man but the ending was simply delightful and so adorable, if it had cheeks, I’d pinch them.

Sorcha is the cute one. I’m not talking about in looks, though the hero is certainly smitten with them. I’m referring to her sunny personality. I have to give credit to Ms. Dare for her consistency. For me, that’s a major point because I’ve read many books where a reoccurring secondary character totally changes in personality, or dialogue or actions from what a reader was expecting as soon as they become the main focus. I do understand that the difference in perspective will alter the voice of the story somewhat, but I’ve been let down before – to the point where I wondered who I was reading about because certainly it’s not the same person. Ms. Dare had Sorcha be her regular, endearing and chipper self. Her innocent charm is intact and her enthusiasm for all things wolfie made me giggle numerous times. Being upbeat and an eternal optimist doesn’t mean Sorcha is a ditz, or daft or weak. She has a temper, she has courage and she has determination. She’s also intuitive at times which takes her fellow characters by surprise at interesting points in the tale.

The most entertaining element of Never Been Bit is the romance. Sorcha and Alec have known each other all their lives. They see with eyes of the past and their roles in it. But a lot has changed over the years. Both Sorcha and Alec have experienced things that made them grow up, be aware of the wider world and take a stand on certain issues, all while setting goals for their lives. The one thing they both wanted and thought unattainable ended up being found in the depths of their own hearts – in each other.

That whole process of cluelessness, awakening and then pursuit was alternately heartbreaking, hopeful and many times hilarious. Okay, a lot of it was hysterical. I had the best time reading this book because they truly were great together. I loved their dialogue with each other, the plots and plans and the things that went awry. I enjoyed watching their feelings stir and their passions flare. And I got the greatest kick out of Caitlin, one of the heroine’s best friends, and her machinations to interfere but not actually interfering. It was a delicate dance of friendship that drove Sorcha nuts. She knew that Caitlin knew something but couldn’t get a hint out of her. But you know what they say, actions speak louder than words and I’m not saying a peep more.

Unlike the previous books in the series, the main conflict and the only one that mattered was getting Sorcha and Alec together. They were their own worst enemies. The culmination was like a family reunion. Hurts were soothed, friendships were strengthened and/or renewed and a most wonderful and heartwarming happily ever after unfolded to my immense delight. There were even some unexpected surprises that tickled my fancy that made the book so much richer and well rounded. The editing was perfect, the dialogue thoroughly entertaining and the characters, both main and secondary, are great together, giving the tale a robust and natural feel to it.

Never Been Bit is saucy and dazzling with a sweet romance full of fun culminating in a sigh-worthy happily ever after. I can’t think of a better book to recommend to my friends because it’s so full of love and laughter. Of all the stories about the women of the Ciog, Sorcha’s romance is the one I liked best. I was so thrilled with Alec’s redemption and awakening. I enjoyed the heroine’s adorable quirks and her charming schemes. I think the hero and heroine make a wonderful couple and I believe the happy ever after to be a strong and solid one. My satisfaction is due to the talents of the author. Ms. Dare has written another winner and I couldn’t be happier. Readers of paranormal romance or romance in general are in for a treat because it’s just that good.