Review: Shatter by Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott

shatterReviewed by Jen

I have to admit, I wasn’t stoked about reading Snow’s book.  I’m really not big on rough sex or dark heroes with a penchant for pain. I enjoyed the first book in this series, though, and I’ve never been disappointed by Jocelynn Drake, so I decided to try it anyway. And I’m glad I did. Because this book didn’t cross the lines I thought it would and the authors actually turned my expectations on their ear. So… yay. [Read more…]

Review: Shiver by Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott

shiverReviewed by Jen

I’ve read plenty of books by Jocelynn Drake and I’ve got to tell you, she is showing a side here that I have never seen before. Shiver is a m/m romantic suspense, and it is super sexy. The story centers on Lucas, an alpha self-made millionaire and his pseudo-family of damaged, yet, engaging friends, as they take on a threat to Lucas’s life.  The solution starts with a bodyguard. A sexy, captivating, Romanian bodyguard who Lucas can’t stop fantasizing about.  The only problem is, Andrei is straight. Or is he?

Well, obviously not. Or at least not entirely. And before you start thinking this is a gay-for-you story, it’s not really. Both our heroes are actually bisexual. It’s just that Andrei never realized just how hot a man could make him until he met Lucas. [Read more…]

Review: Inner Demon by Jocelynn Drake

inner demonReviewed by Jen

I will never understand for the life of me why an author would choose to end a series this way. Generally, I am not a big fan of serials, but I am a fan of Jocelynn Drake. I have enjoyed her Asylum Tales books (and the Dark Days series before that.) I was actually excited to see what she would do to resolve Gage’s issues, so serial or not, I knew I would be reading.

It’s actually a good thing that this story was released in sections, because that allowed me to tell you how much I enjoyed the beginning and was captivated through the middle. Only to be so thoroughly disappointed at the end. [Read more…]

Review: Demon’s Vow by Jocelynn Drake

demon's vowReviewed by Jen

Jocelynn Drake really ramps things up in this second installment in her three part serial finale of the Asylum Tales. Before you pick this one up, make sure you have read “Demon’s Fury” first, because we jump right back into the action on page one.

Here, we follow Gage as he returns to the Ivory Tower where he spent nine years of his life, training as a warlock.  Inside, the danger jumps to a whole new level.  It’s tied in with the dark power that protects Gage’s basement and Lilith. It’s very cool.  On top of that, Gage and Gideon finally face off and throw down, which I absolutely loved watching. The serial killer stalking the pregnant woman is still going strong, too.  Gage is essentially running on fumes. [Read more…]

Review: Demon’s Fury by Jocelynn Drake

demons furyReviewed by Jen

Jocelynn Drake gives her Asylum Tales series a send-off with a three part serial that begins here, with “Demon’s Fury.”  It makes me sad that this is end for Gage and his crew, but at least we’re getting a real conclusion for his story.

The action picks up just a couple of months after the events of Dead Man’s Deal. Gage is adjusting to life as a Guardian and trying to figure out how he is going to tell Trixie about the deal he made to survive.  These few chapters introduce us to two murder cases he must solve: one involves a killer with a foreign magic; the other is driven to kill by a super-charged alpha-tattoo. [Read more…]

Review: Dead Man’s Deal

Reviewed by Jen

I liked Angel’s Ink, as well as the two novellas published so far in this series. But I’ll tell you, this story is where the series really hits its stride.  Maybe it’s because we’ve gotten past all the introductions and establishing the characters.  But more than that, it features a fast moving plot and unpredictable course of events.  With great world building and a fantastic sympathetic hero, it’s a book I didn’t want to put down.

As the story begins, Gage is being forced to work for Reave, the Dark Fae crime boss. Reave knows Gage is a warlock and is using the information to blackmail him.  That’s problem number one.  Problem number two: the Summer Court is in town, putting Trixie in danger. The Light Fae king still wants her as his consort; now the Queen is demanding a meeting.  Problem three: someone has figured out the locations of the Dark Towers, putting the warlocks in kill-mode, and painting a huge target on Gage, a rouge who knows all their secrets.

All three problems not only put Gage in great danger, they threaten the people he loves as well.  Reave uses Bronx as leverage.  The Fae are a threat to Trixie.  And the Towers, well… the Towers are a threat to everyone.  Poor Gage is being pulled in so many directions, it’s a wonder that he can remember his own name, yet he rises to the challenge.  He makes tough decisions.  He shows he is resourceful, loyal, powerful, fallible, and brave.  You couldn’t ask for a better hero.

One of my biggest issues with Angel’s Ink was that I found the romance too easy –kind of anticlimactic.  I worried the Gage/ Trixie relationship would be a lame plot point this time around.  Jocelynn Drake avoids this by not making it a plot point at all.  Gage and Trixie simply are a given.  And making it a non-issue was the best possible course of action. So many other things were going on, I didn’t have time to bemoan a lack of romantic tension.  The book is filled with too many other kinds of tension.   The kind that kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what life would throw at Gage next.

Beyond that, I really enjoyed learning more about Gage’s backstory and his family.  I loved, loved, loved Gideon. (What a treat to see how his character has developed!)  I think my female hormones went in overdrive reading about Gage and his connection to the baby Squall.  I suffered watching him struggle with all he had to sacrifice for the greater good.  And the ending –while not really a cliffhanger– has me itching to see where the story will go next.

Very well done. Would definitely recommend.  (While this may work ok as a standalone, it would be better if you read Angel’s Ink first, if you haven’t already.)

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Harper Collins

Click to purchase: Amazon
Dead Man’s Deal
by Jocelynn Drake
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Harper Voyager

Review: Blood by Moonlight

Reviewed by Jen

This anthology features three PNR/UF stories all loosely tied to Halloween.  The stories are pretty short… the total number of pages was a little over 100 pages.  Here’s how they break down:

Of Monsters and Men – Jocelynn Drake takes us back inside her Asylum world for a new adventure of Gage and Trixie.  This short story is set after the events of Angels Ink.  And it’s really designed to show just how deeply Gage has fallen in love.  Jack –the werewolf who Gage turned in a chihuahua in the novel– is in need of help.  The Winter Court of the Fae is about to unleash the Wild Hunt on his pack.  He knows Gage has the juice to stop them. But when Trixie is threatened, we see just how far Gage will go to keep her safe.

I enjoyed revisiting this series and I like seeing this edge to Gage.  I’m not completely invested in the romance, but I really like the world building –and the fact that hero is not all black or white.

The Ghoul Next Door – This short is from new-to-me author Terri Garey. It follows the efforts of an angry witch (Cassie) as she tries to drive the new owner out of her family home.  She has no idea, though, that James has his own powers and his own reason for living there.  And it doesn’t take long before she realizes that there is a thin line between love and hate.

I liked the writing in this one and the story was pretty good. My only beef is the speed that these two go from enemies to soul mates… and that is saying nothing about the make-out sessions while being held hostage.   The romantic resolution is just too rushed to really satisfy.

Trick or Treathen – Jenna is a human, desperate to rescue her sister –who has been kidnapped by a sadistic master vampire. Her only hope for help is through another master vamp, Treyne, who has she has become friends with over the past several months.  Now, she’s tired of waiting, so she tries to force Treyne’s assistance. What ends up happening instead, is that she lights the powder keg of sexual attraction that has been brewing between them since day one.  They are on the verge of sealing a bond between them that neither wants… or do they?

I had a couple of problems with this one.  First of all, I felt like I was jumping into an established series, the way the past between the hero and heroine was characterized.  I’m glad they have a history –don’t get me wrong– because it gave a basis to all the feelings these two have over a short number of pages.  The quick about-faces they do would have been even worse without it.  I didn’t like the small time jump at the end.  But on the plus side… the sex was well done in this story, IMO.  And while it was a different vampire world, it felt similar in tone to the first Blood Rose book I read from Caris Roane not too long ago.

Overall Rating: C+

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Blood by Moonlight
by Jocelynn Drake, Terri Garey, Caris Roane
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Publisher: Avon

Review: Angel’s Ink

Reviewed by Jen

I like this new Urban Fantasy world from Jocelynn Drake.  It’s different.  Supernaturals live openly among humans, but the magic-wielding witches and warlocks are set apart from everyone else.  They are powerful, ruthless, and consider themselves gods.  No one can stop them.  No one even dares to question them.

Gage changed that.  Primed to be a warlock from childhood, he turned his back on it all.  He refused to look at humans as chattel and left the Ivory Towers behind to become a tattoo artist.  Of course, he’s not only pushing ink, his tats are imbued with special potions that give the recipient a little something extra, from good luck to love spells and beyond.  He remains under the watch of the warlocks, though. If he uses his magic for anything other than self-defense, he’s a dead man.

Gage has a little trouble clamping down on his gifts, but he tries. He wants to keep the new life he has made for himself: his tattoo parlor and his two employees and best friends Bronx and Trixie.  Of course, to call Trixie a friend may be a little bit of an understatement. He is head over heels for the beautiful elf in hiding.  He knows she has secrets, but as he learns why she is on the run, the two of them become closer and closer.

Things are going on along pretty well for Gage until a woman dying of cancer comes into his shop, asking for a special tattoo. She tells him she wants wings on her back, saying it may be closest she ever comes to being an angel.  Gage is touched by her story and ends up mixing a powerful potion that inadvertently makes her immortal.  He must spend the rest of the book trying to clean up his mistake, all while trying to help Trixie out of her problems, and staying away from his old warlock mentor who is hellbent on killing him.

If it sounds like there is a lot going on, that’s because there is. The book is faced paced and kept me engaged from beginning to end.  I love how easily Drake slips in the details of the world-building. There are no big info dumps, but I always felt like I understood what was going on.  I liked Gage, and though I am not used to a male first person POV in my Urban Fantasies, it was easy to slide into his head.  He is a good guy, but he’s not a perfect guy. He’s powerful but he’s not infallible.   He is impetuous and he makes some bad choices, but I think that’s part of why I like him.

I felt like the relationship between Gage and Trixie was a little… easy.  I think I would have liked the chance for a little more tension to grow between these two.   But romance and deep feelings take a backseat to the action in this book.  It’s not superficial, but it’s not emotionally gripping. It’s fast and exciting.

When all is said and done, I feel like we got a solid resolution, but the door is left wide open for the future of Gage and his crew.  I look forward to see what is coming for them next.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Harper Collins 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Angel’s Ink
by Jocelynn Drake
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager

Favorites From… Jocelynn Drake

Jocelynn Drake

When I was invited to take part in this blog, my first thought was “I don’t have to pick just one, do I?” Impossible. How do you pick just one favorite book? Or even one favorite author? When I read, the book has to match my mood, so I am going to provide some of my favorites according to my mood.

As an Urban Fantasy/Vampire author, I tend to have read a lot of Urban Fantasy and I try to sneak back to some of my favorites when I am between projects.

When I am in the mood for urban fantasy, but need lighter reading I generally turn to one of two favorites: Kerrelyn Sparks (Love at Stake series) and Lynsay Sands (Argeneau series). Both series are centered on vampires, but it’s the lighter side. Both are firmly in the paranormal romance genre and both wonderful authors have made me laugh out loud when I was reading them. For the Love at Stake series, I love her Scotsmen and I am so looking forward to her new book coming out this fall featuring a were-bear named Howard. For the Argeneau Series, I think Lucian might be my favorite, but all the guys are pretty cool.

When I’m in the mood for dark, brooding, angry vampires, I fall to J.R. Ward and the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I am still getting caught up on the series, but these men are seriously sexy, damaged, and addictive. Also, Christine Feehan can spin a great dark vampire in her Carpathians series. Favorites males: Rhage or V for Ward and Gregori for Feehan.

For just straight urban fantasy (minus the romantic elements), it is Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series. Kadrey’s writing is dark, gritty, and highly addictive. The Sandman Slim series centers on a character back from Hell and ready for revenge. The fourth book in the series (Devil Said Bang) just came out on August 28, so you’ve got plenty to read. Do yourself a favor – check out this series! For another great urban fantasy series, look to Simon R. Green’s Nightside series. This is some seriously strange but awesome reading. Nightside is a world unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

When I need a break from the weird, I will occasionally dip over into historical romance. I don’t do a lot of reading in this genre, but I tend to fall back on some old favorites. I love Johanna Lindsay, Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series, and Amanda Quick. I also love to pick up the odd Pride and Prejudice spin-off book (love Elizabeth and Darcy).

When I need a shot of epic fantasy, I turn to Raymond Feist. He is the first author to ever make me cry while reading, and when I re-read the book 20 years later, I cried again. He creates characters that live and breathe.

And when I need some saving, I go to my enormous stack of Batman graphic novels. When the world gets ugly, just cuddle up with Bruce Wayne. Trust me, Bruce can fix it all.

A big thanks to Jocelynn Drake for sharing all of these fantastic recommendations! I asked Jocelynn to be a part of this feature because I loved her Dark Days series (and the finale, Burn the Night, was one of my favorite reads last year.)  The books follow an ancient Vampire named Mira with the unique power to control fire… and her love/hate relationship with the fascinating vampire hunter Danaus. Jocelynn is also launching a new series this month called the Asylum Tales.

Here is you chance to win one of her recommendations. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter to win a signed copy of Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt. US only please.

Be sure to check out all of the Favorites From My Favorites posts and giveaways this month, by clicking here.
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*”Favorites from…” photo: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos  

Review: The Asylum Interviews: Trixie

Reviewed by Jen

With this novella, Jocelynn Drake gives us a short slice of life for Gage Powell, the narrator and main character of her new Asylum series. Much like “Bronx,” this story shows us the events that help set up the  full length novel, Angel’s Ink.  The first novella showed us how Bronx entered Gage’s life and came to work at his tattoo parlor. This one shows how Trixie does the same.

Let me backtrack a bit. Gage is a tattoo artist who creates magical tattoos for his clients. He was once a warlock in training, but he had to give up his magic to escape from the shady life that was waiting for him.  I tell you this, but the background info plays very little into this story. It’s basically about Gage’s attempts to save an old girlfriend from the master vampire who is abusing her.  Trixie is friends with his ex –and just like that, a connection is born.  Despite the title, this book is not about Trixie – just the events that bring her into Gage’s world.

I read this one after reading Angel’s Ink (out of order… bad Jen.)   But I liked seeing the origins of Gage’s relationship with Trixie.  I enjoyed revisiting this world. And I like Gage’s voice. It’s not all that often I read an Urban Fantasy in a male POV.

The story starts out strong, with a little romp in the closet and keeps good pacing throughout.  It was fun and entertaining.  It also works as a standalone.

Rating: B

*ARC Provided by Harper Voyager

Click to purchase: Amazon or Enter to Win
The Asylum Interviews: Trixie
by Jocelynn Drake
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager