Review: Moonshadow by Thea Harrison

Reviewed by Jen

Every so often I am reminded how much I truly enjoy Thea Harrison. I have not loved every single one of the Elder Races books equally, but I absolutely adored this one. This is actually something of a spin off, set in the world of Elder Races but outside of the ongoing story line. So if you’ve never tried those books, this is a fantastic place to jump in.

The heroine is an American police consultant recovering from a shooting. Her entire future opens up when she learns she may be heir to a mysterious castle. All she has to do is figure out a way in. So Sophie travels across the pond, hoping to unlock the mystery and change her life. [Read more…]

Review: Shadow’s End by Thea Harrison

shadows endReviewed by Jen

I feel like I have been waiting for Graydon’s book since the beginning of the series. He’s such a good guy, always there for Dragos and Pia, not only as a Sentinel, but as a friend. We’ve caught a glimpse of Gray with his heroine, Beluviel, during a big battle in Lord’s Fall, but there was no way to know how deep their feelings went. After all, she was the Lady of the Elven demesne, married to the High Lord for centuries. But here, Thea Harrison takes us back to their beginnings to see how they fell in love all those years ago and what drove them apart. [Read more…]

Review: Shadows at Midnight by Amanda Bonilla

shadows at midnightReviewed by Jen

I feel so many things right now. Angry. Sad. Frustrated.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved this book. I fell back into the series like I never left. It moved so quickly and effortlessly, I blew through the pages. I fell in love with the characters all over again. And it all blew up at the 97% mark. Blew. Up. Hence …the feelings.

The beginning of the book drew me in right away. Darian is in the clutches of the evil Padma. She is being brutally tortured, both mentally and physically. Amanda Bonilla does a great job juxtaposing the horrors with Darian’s fond memories of Tyler. The flashbacks helped bring back how much I have longed for these two to have a happy ending. And it makes their reunion all the more sweet when it finally happens. [Read more…]

Review: Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler

jinn and juiceReviewed by Jen

As a fan of the Jane True series, I went into this book with certain expectations. I know Nicole Peeler can suck me in to her stories, make me laugh, and light me up with sexual tension. And from the beginning of this book, all the way until the end, I kept waiting for those things to happen. Only to be disappointed. This isn’t a bad book. It’s creative with a diverse cast of characters and a different focus and feel than most urban fantasies on the market today. It just didn’t ever flip the switch to make me connect –to care– about what was happening. [Read more…]

Review: Against the Dawn by Amanda Bonilla

against the dawnReviewed by Jen

I am such a fan of this series.  And I am so glad Amanda Bonilla decided to continue with Darian’s story. Crave the Darkness left us in a dark place.  Darian had been manipulated by an incubus and nearly raped.  She and Ty were apart.  Xander wanted her for his own, and he was ready to drop the ax on Tyler for attacking him at a party.  The battle was won, but the characters we cared about were shredded.  We needed an opportunity to rebuild and Against the Dawn gives us that chance. [Read more…]

Review: Crave the Darkness

Reviewed by Jen

Shadow. That’s how I started out; all I was again. A casting of mottled dark.  The real me, the me that knew happiness and light left with him.

This was a tough book to read.  I mean, what can you expect with an opening like that?  The ending of Blood Before Sunrise was a real kick in the gut. And as we begin a new installment in the Shaede Assassin series, Darian is still feeling the burn.  Her beloved Tyler has left her and she has sunk into a debilitating depression.  But her friends refuse to let her wallow any longer.

Raif and Xander pull her back into the Shaede world, pushing her to lead a protection detail for Anya.  The two women have never gotten along, but Anya is pregnant and someone has been threatening her life.  Darian has to pull herself together to keep the woman alive, while working to identify and eliminate the threat to her life.

Meanwhile, Tyler returns.  But he’s not alone.  Is the beautiful woman with him Darian’s replacement?  Of course, that is Darian’s immediate assumption.  She doesn’t deal with her fears in any healthy kind of way, unfortunately.  I hated watching her suffer –and make unwise choices.  But though Darian is growing, she is still emotionally stunted and her reactions are in keeping with the experiences that have made her into who she is.

I know this all sounds like a giant downer and you may be asking why you should subject yourself to such torture.  Well, because it’s delicious torture, that’s why.  Well, mostly.  Darian has been through so much.  I am desperate for her to find some happiness.  And while I have never taken Xander seriously as possible contender for a love triangle, I actually found myself… softening toward him.  My love for Tyler has been seriously tested.  Whether intentional or not, he is the root of Darian’s pain and he could take it away at any time.  So why doesn’t he?  It fills me with so much angst.  Angst I could only feel about characters I have become utterly invested in.  I think if I were not able to read more of their story, my head would pop off.  Or implode.

Amanda Bonilla delivers a fairly big shocker in the story.  And despite all of the emotional turmoil, she keeps the story moving fast with plenty of action.  The ending… wasn’t what I wanted and there is much left… dangling.  But Bonilla promises this won’t be the end of the Shaede Assassin world, so I will try to remain calm.

If you haven’t read this series, this is not the book to start with.  Go back to the beginning and pick up Shaedes of Gray.  It’s good stuff.  If you’re already a fan of the books, you won’t want to miss this one, even if it’s hard on your heart.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Signet Eclipse

Click to purchase: Amazon
Crave the Darkness
by Amanda Bonilla
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Signet Eclipse

Review: The Djinn’s Dilemma

Reviewed by Jen

This story started out really strong for me.  I am pretty sure it had a lot to do with the hero.  Rukh is a sexy half-djinn assassin who ends up falling for his mark.  Sarah is nothing like the scum he is usually hired to kill.  She is a good person with a bright aura. And he realizes that he must figure out why she has been targeted if he going to be able to save her life.

Ruhk is very, very sexy. He’s also broody, with just the right amount of angst.  I like that Sarah is willing and able to not only accept her attraction to him, but to reach out and grab what she wants.  The sexual element between these two burns up the page and I was 100% on board until a little past the half way point of the story.  That’s when I felt like it kicked into overdrive.

Once Rukh decided to come clean, the pacing started to feel too rushed. Sarah accepted everything so quickly and made arrangements so fast it made my head spin.  Then, the climax happened without nearly enough build.  And the big reveal on Sarah’s heritage felt like it came out of nowhere.  I felt like this story could have been so much better if it had been more developed, especially in the second half.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did.  Especially the sexy times. I just think a little more of a build toward the events in the conclusion could have gone a long way to making it better.

Rating: B-

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Djinn’s Dilemma
by Mina Khan
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne

Review: Lost to the Gray

Reviewed by Jen

What could be better than getting a first person POV story from one of your favorite heroes?

This novella in Amanda Bonilla’s Shaede Assassin series gives us a closer look at Tyler than we have ever seen before. It’s set immediately after the events of Blood Before Sunrise.  (So new readers, be aware this is not a story for you. Go back and read Shaedes of Gray. Now.) Ty is really hurting over what Darian did to him in the last book.  And through his narrative, we feel it too.  He’s struggling over his anger and feelings of betrayal, all the while, still loving her fiercely.

In the meantime, Levi the bartender has gotten himself in a mess of trouble, and it’s life or death. So Ty needs to put all that delicious angst on the backburner, while he helps Levi out of a jam.  It’s a pretty interesting and fast moving plot.  But honestly, it’s not why anyone is going to be reading the story.  We’re reading it for that insight into Tyler, and we get it in spades.

Perhaps the best parts of the story for me, are flashbacks of Ty and Darian.  First and foremost are his memories of how they met and how he bound himself to her.  Great scenes, that both explained a lot and opened up a couple of new doors.  And then, we’ve got an awesome love scene from the time Ty and Darian were happy together.  In BBS, I wished for more opportunities to see them this way: happy, sexy, and in love. And it’s even better with Tyler’s thoughts and feelings front and center.

If all of that isn’t enough to reel you in (what’s wrong with you?) –then let me give you one more little tidbit.  The ending goes a long way to explain Ty’s behavior in the upcoming Crave the Darkness. Yes, you could read the next novel and still understand what’s going on, but this will you some perspective to help understand some things which are a little hard to stomach.

They say it’s always darkest before the dawn. Read this one and bask in the memories! Tyler + Darian = 4eva!!

Rating: B+

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Lost to the Gray
by Amanda Bonilla
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Penguin

Review: Blood Before Sunrise

Reviewed by Jen

If you are a fan of Urban Fantasy and you have not tried the Shaede Assassin books, you are really missing out.  These books bowl me over with fantastic world building and characters I care deeply about.  This book took me on a wild ride that kept me on the edge of my seat until the big emotional finish that left me shredded.

The story picks up several months after the events of Shaedes of Gray.  Darian is happy and in love with Tyler.  Together with Raif and Xander’s men, they are searching for the Oracle who escaped at the end of the last book.  Things get more complicated once they find her and she reveals that Raif’s daughter is alive and she knows where to find her.  Raif can’t allow himself to believe it’s true but Darian can’t ignore the possibility.  So she makes it her mission to find the girl who has been lost for centuries.

At this point, a ton of stuff starts piling up on Darian’s plate.  She starts having terrifying dreams and visions filled with cryptic prophesies she can’t understand.  The Oracle gets placed in the custody of supernatural law enforcement, forcing Darian to make an unsavory alliance to get access to her again.  Plus, there is something seriously wrong with Ty.  He is flying into jealous rages, losing his self-control. And he says there is a problem with their bond.

It’s really all too much for Darian to take on at once. She tries. But her actions merely accentuate her character flaws.  She is impetuous and over confident. She is unable to trust in others, to allow them to help her.  And it’s in her inability to reach out and share her burdens that she makes terrible mistakes and some Very Bad Decisions.

I do believe Darian’s heart is in the right place, though. So while she frustrates me, I still empathize with her.  I love, love, love Ty, even though he is batshit crazy at times.  I spent the entire book in constant fear that Darian would break her bond with him “for his own good.”  –And Raif.  He’s such an interesting character and I adore his relationship with Darian. I understand why she feels so loyal him.  Xander, eh, I could take or leave.

Amanda Bonilla opens up her world even more in this story, taking us inside the Fae world, and explaining more about what makes Darian so special.  It’s… different.  Unique.  My only beef is one Darian shares toward the end of the book, which is Why the Hell didn’t anyone tell her what she was?  If two relevant characters would have just taken a moment to explain things, it would have saved everyone a lot of pain and heartbreak.

Yes. I said heartbreak.  I feel hollow in my chest, dammit.  How am I going to wait until March for this all to be fixed?  (Are you listening Amanda Bonilla? This must be fixed. Or I am breaking up with you.)

Rating: A-

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Blood Before Sunrise
by Amanda Bonilla
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: Signet Eclipse

Review: Devil’s Gate

Reviewed by Jen

I have read all of the novellas associated with the Elder Races series. I’ve enjoyed them, but they’ve always felt disconnected from the full length books in the series.  Until now.  “Devil’s Gate” is kind of like a magnet that picks up a bunch of bits and pieces from just almost every novel and novella that’s come before and successfully cashes in on the richness of the established world-building.  And I liked it.

Remember that Medusa medical examiner?  She’s our heroine. And Carling’s vampire lawyer dude?  That’s the hero!  Seremela and Duncan now work for Carling and Rune in their new business venture. The two are friendly and each is attracted to the other.  When Seremela’s niece goes missing, Duncan steps in to help her find the girl and bring her home.  As the trip throws them together, they finally stop hiding how they feel for one another.

The missing niece is the girl who lifted those tarot cards off of Claudia in “Natural Evil.” And she has run off to “Devil’s Gate,” a magic infused area where humans and Elder Races are flocking to make a quick buck.  She gets in pretty big trouble, and some of the beings there are tied into the Dark Fae political plot from Storm’s Heart and the djinn community of Oracle’s Moon.  It all fits in together so smoothly. It really is a treat for fans who have read all the books.

Much of the focus is on the adventure, and the romance isn’t too deeply developed. But knowing that these two already had an established relationship of a sort, it makes it easier to accept it when things move quickly at the end.  I like how Harrison maintains the “otherness” of her characters, yet makes them so easy to relate to emotionally. And the sex.  The lady writes some great sex.

Now I am hungrier than ever for Lord’s Fall. More please.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Samhain

Click to purchase: Amazon
Devil’s Gate
by Thea Harrison
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Samhain