Archives for February 2011

Review: Moon Called

Reviewed by Jen

Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifter, a walker.  She can transform herself into a coyote at will. Mercy was raised by werewolves, though her kind of shifter magic is different.

She has connections with several factions of the supernatural community.  She works as a mechanic at a shop that used to belong to the gremlin Zee.  She lives next door to alpha werewolf Adam.  And she has friendly relationships with a human cop and a vampire.

Our story kicks off when a young werewolf named Mac wanders into Mercy’s shop. She gives him some work and gets pulled into his problems.  Mac was turned against his will and experimented on by other wolves. Now, they’re after him. So Mercy reaches out to Adam, hoping to help Mac.  But things go bad quickly, when the bad guys raid Adam’s home. They hurt the alpha badly, kidnap his daughter Jesse and kill Mac.  Mercy has to take Adam back to Bran, the werewolf leader who helped raise her… and it forces her to come to terms with a past and a man she left behind.  Samuel is Bran’s son and his unresolved relationship with Mercy makes things even more complicated.  Samuel joins Mercy and Adam as they work to unravel the plot of the nefarious wolves and try to rescue Jesse.

I love the world-building here.  It’s richly layered, without being too complicated to understand.  There is a broad cast of characters, but they are so clearly defined, they are easy to keep straight.  The author has set the foundation for a great love triangle between Mercy, Adam, and Samuel. But don’t expect a romance novel.  While it is character driven, this book is all about the action.  There is solid resolution, but it’s easy to see how more books could follow –and exciting to see how all the relationships will progress.  Mercy is a great lead character. She has many gifts associated with her shifting. But what is really special about her is her ability to use her head.  She thinks things through more than most UF heroines –and she is willing to look weak to be strong.

4 1/2 stars.

Click to purchase: Amazon
Moon Called
by Patricia Briggs
Release Date: January 31, 2006
Publisher: Ace

Series Reading Order: Mercy Thompson (& Alpha and Omega)

This is the reading order for the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs:

The Alpha & Omega series runs concurrent, in the same world. The first story in the series coincides with events in the 1st Mercy Thompson book:

*Denotes novella/short story

Review: Kiss of Darkness

Reviewed by Jen

Loribelle Hunt puts a new spin on supernatural species in the Paranormal Romance, Kiss of Darkness.  Winter was a human woman who lost her husband to a demon attack about 60 years ago. In her rage and vengeance, she joined a group of demon hunters who draw their strength from merging with demon souls.  She has fought the good fight ever since. But now the demon inside her is growing stronger and soon she won’t be able to control it –until she becomes bonded to a mate.

Lucky for Winter, she meets Marcus in her time of need.  He’s a nightwalker… a vamp who feeds on energy instead of blood.  And he is her destined mate.  He lends her his strength and the support of his people as a demon uprising begins killing off members of her organization.  The romance between them is pretty solid and develops at a good pace.  I was happy with the love scenes, though I could do with a little less of Marcus pushing for dominance.

I really enjoyed the secondary characters, Gia and Dupree.  Each had their own love story brewing and I found myself interested in seeing where their stories would lead.  While the book had resolution, there were big threads left unresolved… screaming for a sequel. If this book continues in a series, I would definitely read to find out what happens next. If not, shame on the  author for leaving us hanging.  4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Kiss of Darkness
by Loribelle Hunt
Release Date: January 24, 2011
Publisher: Carina Press

Review: Moonlight Warrior

Reviewed by Jen

It’s always such a pleasure to discover a new author. Yes, yes, I know Janet Chapman isn’t a new author; but she’s new to me –and I really like what I see.  Kenzie Gregor is a Highlander from centuries past. He has spent years in the form of animals, most recently a panther, but he’s now a man with a mission. He is a soul warrior: destined to help other souls find their true path. He has recently moved to Midnight Bay with an old Druid priest and a dragon named William (one of the aforementioned lost souls.) He quickly crosses paths with Eve, a divorce’ who is down on her luck and living with her mother Mabel.  Kenzie has unwittingly bought their home out from under them. But he feels a connection to the women and allows them to stay in the house.

He fights his attraction to Eve, fearing his fight against dark magics could put her in danger. But he’s fighting a losing battle. Meantime, William develops an unlikely friendship that might help him find the man buried within him.

I really liked this book, which I’ve learned is a spinoff of Chapman’s Highlander series.  But speaking from experience, I can tell you that it stands strong on its own, even if you’ve never read them.  The sex scenes are steamy without being raunchy. And I most certainly enjoyed seeing a heroine in her early 30s instead of her early 20s.  I’d definitely recommend this one. 4 1/2 stars.

Review: Midnight Caller

Reviewed by Jen

Wow. This book isn’t as all what I thought it would be. From the summary of the story, I expected an urban fantasy. Instead, I got a mystery/thriller. It was pretty good, just nothing like I expected.

Trevor is an FBI agent with a traumatic childhood. He has tracked a serial killer back to his hometown of New Orleans.  Once home, he not only works to find the killer, dubbed the Vampire, but also to reconcile with the brother and sister he’s been away from for so long.  The hunt for the Vampire turns into a game of cat-and-mouse, as the killer targets Trevor with carefully laid clues and taunts.

The Vampire also has a marked interest in Rain, a psychologist and radio talk show host. He targets her on the air, making sick sexual references and talking about her mother, a long dead rock singer.  The Vampire’s calls put Rain on Trevor’s radar and the two grow close, quickly.

All at once, we see Trevor & Rain come together, as the mysteries of Trevor’s past unfold; the tragic history of Rain’s mom comes to life; and twisted machinations of the Vampire come to a head.  I liked the romance. The love scenes were pretty good. And I never suspected who the Vampire was before it was revealed.  My only nitpick was the whole supernatural thing.  Is the Vampire really supposed to be a real vampire or a deranged sicko?  The doubt was especially annoying to me since I thought this was supposed to be a paranormal off the bat.  I never got a satisfying resolution, even as the book came to an end.  Overall, a pretty good romantic suspense. 4 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Review: The Devil’s Temptress

Reviewed by Jen

Life is complicated for Lady Alienore. She had big dreams of running her family’s estate after her father’s death. But her brother had other plans. When he tried to marry her off to an old, nasty scoundrel, she ran for the royal court.  She took refuge with her godmother, the queen, and become her grace’s counsellor.  She hopes to gather royal favor to get her lands back and escape the claims of her would-be husband.

At court, she meets a dark man, known only as the Raven. He has a terrible reputation, especially compared to Alienore’s virtuous one.  But circumstances throw them together. And their attraction quickly proves too powerful to ignore.  Alienore has to navigate royal intrigue and work to regain her lands, while at the same time, try to figure out if Raven is really the dastardly blackheart his reputation suggests.

I had high hopes for this book. Whoever wrote the back cover summary needs a raise, because it sold me 100%.  Once I got to reading, it was ok.  There were a lot of characters to digest and for the first 1/3 of the book,  I struggled to keep all the men straight.  The sexual tension was pretty good between our lead characters but it took a long time before anything happened between them. And when it did, I felt like we scrimped a little on the details. (If I’m going to wait that long, I want a good payoff!)

The ending was happy, albeit a bit predictable. Overall, it was a fairly good historical romance that was a little light on the steam. 3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Review: This Side of the Grave

Reviewed by Jen

It’s been a long wait for a new Cat & Bones book.  And though I was glad to be back with two of my favorite characters, it didn’t quite enthrall me as much as the previous installments. Don’t get me wrong, the Night Huntress series on a bad day, is still leaps and bounds ahead of most books on their best days.  Some of the dialogue was laugh-out-loud funny.  I love our characters and great world Jeaniene Frost has built around them.  But noticeably absent in this installment is any tension between Cat and Bones.  Of course, at a certain point it is laughable to think anything can come between these two. But the tension present in every book before this one helped make them explosive.  Here, we had one memorable sex scene, which frankly had me more distracted by the practicality of the abundant use of hot wax, than allowing me to really get into the moment.

The premise for this story is that the ghouls are still pushing the idea of war against the vampires. And Cat is their rallying point, with the unusual talents she has manifested. She and Bones go back to New Orleans to consult with Marie Laveau who boosts Cat with some black magic mojo.  In the meantime, Cat reaches out to her network of friends to try to stop the war from happening.

To me, the threat just didn’t seem as in-your-face as in times past. I never felt real danger.  I was only really moved with the surprising storyline surrounding Don.   And other than with him, I didn’t feel the same connection I usually do with the supporting characters.

I don’t want to sound like I’m disparaging the book, because I did enjoy it…. just not as much as the ones that came before. 4 stars.

Review: Eternal Kiss of Darkness

Reviewed by Jen

Jeaniene Frost knocks another one out of the park, with her second Night Huntress World book. This one features the ancient Egyptian vampire Mencheres.  He is essentially the uber-vampire, with powers beyond measure. But ever since he had to help kill his wife Petra, he has lost his ability to see into the future. And he fears that it’s a portent of his death.  Not only that, he feels like he has nothing really left to live for –and he’s ready to commit suicide-by-ghoul, when a human named Kira intervenes.  She witnesses the ghouls attacking Mencheres and steps in to stop them and nearly dies in the process.  Once the danger has passed, Mencheres tries to wipe her memories of the supernatural from her mind, but he can’t.  So he brings her home, while he tries to figure out a way to erase her knowledge.

Of course, our couple is attracted to each other off the bat.  But keeping their hands off each other is the least of their problems. An old enemy of Mencheres is after him, trying to usurp his powers. And he sees Kira as a golden opportunity to break Mencheres’ spirit and force him to transfer his ancient gifts.

I loved this book. I didn’t think I’d care for Mencheres, but I did.  Frost can write sexual tension like nobody’s business.  And when our couple finally got around to doing the deed… W.O.W. In addition to the great romance and action, we also get the treat of time spent with Vlad, Cat & Bones.  I can’t wait for the next book; this series never lets me down.   5 stars.

Review: First Drop of Crimson

Reviewed by Jen

Jeaniene Frost has created such memorable characters beyond Cat & Bones in her Night Huntress books that I felt like I already knew Charles and Denise before their spinoff story even began. Charles is a vampire, who also goes by the name Spade. He is best friend to Bones, while Denise is Cat’s human best friend.  She lost her husband Randy in that zombie attack at the end of At Grave’s End. It’s been a year, but she still suffers from PTSD and wants nothing to do with the supernatural world.  But the demon targeting members of her family missed that memo. Raum (the demon) is searching for one of Denise’s ancestors who welched on a deal with him decades ago. Vampires are hiding him. And if Denise doesn’t produce him, she and the rest of her family are toast.

When she can’t reach Cat & Bones, she calls Charles. He agrees to help her on her mission. And from the get-go he is fighting a serious attraction toward her. It goes against everything he stands for to have feelings for a human, since his last love was a human who died horribly. Now, he only dates other vampires.  Adding a little more urgency to the search, Raum has infected Denise with part of his demon essence, which taints her blood and is changing her physiology.

I loved this book.  The relationship build between Charles & Denise was great; the sexual tension and eventual payoff, off the charts. We got to see some old favorites like Mencheres & Ian — and even got a little face time with Cat & Bones.  At first, I was annoyed that Jeanienne Frost was going the way of the spinoff, when I love Cat & Bones so much, but if they’re all this good, I’m happy to stand corrected. 5 stars.

Review: Destined for an Early Grave

Reviewed by Jen

It occurred to me as I finished the last Cat & Bones book, with a love like theirs, how can Jeaniene Frost create any measurable tension between our beloved main characters? I mean, we’ve already had our “Bones is dead” grief –and we’ve established Cat would never stray. So what could possibly come between them?  The answer: Cat’s first husband.

It seems that a vamp named Gregor has a little bit of Mencheres’ ability to see in the future. He caught a glimpse of the power Cat will wield and decided to take her for himself, before she ever met Bones.  She was only 16 and she has no memory of their time together, because Mencheres erased it from her mind. The only reason she knows Gregor even exists now, is because he has been using his powers at the “Dreamsnatcher” to come to her in dreams.  Now, Gregor is demanding Cat to return to him.

This story is full of twists and turns that take us from New Orleans (to visit Marie Laveau) to Bavaria to wherever the heck Vlad lives.  We get more angst in the relationship between Cat and Bones than we have had in any other book.  And for the first time, I questioned whether they really could be driven apart.  We see a major change in Cat; one with serious, unexpected fallout. And we lose a beloved character.

It was another great installment in the Night Huntress series. And I’m again left wondering, what the heck will happen next? 5 stars.

P.S. I love Vlad and his relationship with Cat.  I can’t wait for his spinoff story!