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Inquisitor (Witch & Wolf Book 2) by R J Blain

inquisitor“I have no idea what’s awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing.” ― Albert Camus, The Plague

“No one thinks of how much blood it costs.” – Dante Alighieri

“Can you please ask James to return to the lab?”
“I’m afraid that’s not possible, ma’am,”
“Why?
“He just locked himself in containment and started howling.” –
R. J. Blain, Inquisitor

When you are as old as Allison Victoria Mayfield Hanover, you realize that only are few things are truly immutable.  Blood and violence, horrors and hatred. And that one solid, totally immutable, truth of the universe: Everything eventually dies. Except, perhaps, for Victoria. Ah, but you see, someone wants, very much, to see Victoria dead. And they will do anything, kill anyone, to make sure that happens.

Which is a really crappy attitude when you realize who Victoria is. You see, she is the owner of Marrodin, one of the largest companies in the world. A company which goes out of its way to pay a hire those who have ‘special’ needs. You know the sort. Witches. Wolves. Single mothers.

Victoria is living in Atlanta as Allison Ferdinan these days, playing at being an accountant. Too bad money couldn’t buy me a life. Of course, sometimes what you wish for actually comes true – and too often in bad, very bad, awful sorts of ways. It started out as a simple favor for a client/friend, Mark. Let’s dress up and go to a party. You can be my fiancée!

Whoa. Hold the Phone!

Gack. Killing Mark in Central Park really probably isn’t the best idea. But what was a really Bad Idea? Yeah. You got it. Going to a Halloween party as the fake fiancée, only to find out that your fake mother-in-law-to-be is a real witch. No, I mean it. A Real. Witch. And if you want to drop the W and add a B, well, please feel free.

But the party isn’t the only thing wrong in Allison’s world. Pretty soon it seems the whole world is out to kill her. And when whoever it is that hunts her begins going after her employees, well, let’s just say that Allison/Victoria won’t let it stand.

Here’s a hint. Don’t tick off an ancient werewolf. You won’t like the outcome.

I loved this book so much I stayed up way too late into the early morning hours reading when I had to get up early the next morning. In fact, I liked it so much, I immediately downloaded the next one and started on it the next night. I am not saying there aren’t issues inherent in the writing. There are some continuity and relationship logic issues that were frustrating – but you all know how picky I am about that sort of thing. I still think you should at the very least pick it up on Kindle Unlimited for free the way I did. And I look forward to hearing what you think. This isn’t just another Paranormal – great character development, world building and a marked lack of the sort of sloppy writing that is so common in Urban Fantasy makes this series well worth the precious reading time if you like strong women characters. There are several between these pages!

About the Author

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn’t playing pretend, she likes to think she’s a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband, and obeys the commands of Tsu Dhi, the great warrior fish.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.

Legal Wolf’s Mate by Eve Langlais

legallwolf“You’re my lawyer, or maybe not. I’m really beginning to rethink this whole idea.”

“Ah yes, because you’d rather take your chances with your public defenderre, who has advised you to what? Oh, that’s right, plead guilty.” – Eve Langlais – Legal Wolf’s Mate

Fabian Garoux absolutely, positively, without a doubt, is not a sucker for a sob story. No. Really. After all, he is an attorney . . . (Argh!!! Run Away! Run Away!!!!) But when the best friend who found you running around naked in the woods after you were changed against your will, (And ate a rabbit. Raw. Eww.) asks for your help, well, it is hard to say no. Especially when the guy who is apparently framing the ‘Damsel in Distress’ for murder is the very scumbag who turned you against your will!

After all, revenge really is best served up cold with a side of “Got’cha!”

Set-ups, betrayal, revenge, and the most deliciously wicked ending, evah! made “Legal Wolf’s Mate” an actual thrill ride rather than the formulaic Paranormal Romances that are so common today. Oh, and don’t forget the Bounty!

Megan starts out seeming like a downtrodden simpleton, and I pretty much went “Huh? Who wrote this again?!” but as the story progressed, she became more and more interesting. Then more interesting. Then . . . well, you are going to have to read it to figure things out!

I received this book from Eve Langlais in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

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Review: Dead Spots By Melissa F. Olson

Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard, #1)

“Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.” ― Shannon L. Alder

Scarlett Bernard is one pragmatic lady. Of course, she has to be considering her job is supernatural crime scene cleanup. As in, get in, clean up the mess, steal the body, and book the hell out of Dodge before the cops arrive. She is truly good at her job, and her boss, the cold and distant Dashiell, Master Vampire of the city, may be scary, but he pretty much allows her to do her job without interference. But then, the worst happens.

She gets caught. Caught by a newly minted detective, Jesse Cruz, just after she arrives at a scene more bloody and grotesque than any she has ever seen. What happens next is fast paced action with terrific world building and interesting characters. I first read the book back in 2012, and enjoyed it then. This time I listened to the Audible edition narrated by Amy McFadden (one of my favorite narrators) and, as sometimes happens, I liked it even more as I listened. Scarlett is a strong character with a well-developed, though brutal, background and is likeable. She isn’t perfect, but that is what makes her interesting. She has taken horrific hits in her life – but the one she walks into later on is absolutely devastating and Olson does a rather wonderful job of writing the horrors of betrayal. I would have liked her to be more mature in her interactions with others – her tendency to cope a nasty, self-serving attitude at times was a downer. I am hoping that the next books will show growth in her as a character (especially since I own them all). Her behavior isn’t as horrendous as other female characters in the genre, but I am hoping for more maturity in upcoming works.

There are some things that were irritating. The Dreaded Love Triangle. Irritating! Not only do love triangles make me retch, this one felt stilted and unnecessary, dragging down the storyline. Also, the POV switches between characters and from first to third person erratically and unnecessarily. Irritating, but not as irritating as the lurrve (titter titter, Groan) triangle. Olson’s take on werewolf psychology was more interesting than a lot of other books in the genre, and her friendship with the Alpha and Beta were more realistic than many others. The Alpha isn’t as ‘Alpha’ as in other books (thank the Goddess!) and the tortured Beta was very realistically portrayed in the vein of “I never wanted this in the first place.”

So, flawed, it isn’t perfect by any means, but I still enjoyed it as much as I remembered, and Amy’s narration was, as always, spot on.

Review: Beneath The Blood Moon by R.J. Blain

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“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” -Buddha

The chaining of Fenrir cost the god Tyr his right hand” – Völuspá,  translated to English in The Poetic Edda,  Henry Adams Bellows, 1923

 Free On Kindle!

Sara Watson thought her life was bad enough as it was. Working as a stripper and part time Vegas showgirl, she tries to hold down four part time jobs, go to college, and still pay the rent and eat. They say Vegas is a hard place to live, and she knows all about that. But even the hell of her life is better than the hell she ran from in New York. A father that beat and controlled her, a life with no meaning. At least now, if she can get through school, she can start a real life on her own – fake ID or no fake ID.

Yes, life was hard. But nothing as hard as being kidnapped along with her best “friend” (though the idea of friend is Las Vegas equates to ‘what can I get out of you for doing you the favor of being your friend) and dragged out to the desert by her ex ‘I’m-a-cheating-POS’ boyfriend who has tracked her down to Las Vegas to bring her back. Or kill her. Whichever works.

Telling him to get stuffed, taking her beating and broken ribs, then crawling out into the desert to die on her own and free is gutsy enough. I gained a ton of respect for her at this point, though I already respected her for keeping her moral compass (unlike her crappy friend) and going against said ‘friend’ and not going full-on prostitute made me respect her. Yep. She is one tough cookie, with more internal fortitude than any man her age I have ever known. But after the ex and the girlfriend finish doing the nasty and track her down as she crawls across the desert, then turn into wolves and begin eating her alive (literally), even weirder things happen. And suddenly, Sara’s life is more hell than she could have ever imagined.

Let’s get serious here. First, I really, REALLY wanted to give this book five stars with a bullet. Sara is tough and strong, yes. But she isn’t unbelievable, and she has a heart of gold and a strong sense of right and wrong – and did I mention the heart of gold? Then she meets four other women who are an absolute joy. Tough, take no prisoners women with a fetish for guns, not taking any crap off of anyone, and their husbands (pretty much in that order). There is romance, but no sex scenes, which was completely refreshing (if you are an erotica-only lover, skip this one). The story is fast, suspenseful, sometimes terrifying, and kept me totally immersed in the story. The characters are wonderful, the world building is unusual (living in the world as we know it, but with their own governance, etc.) Some of the scenes literally brought me to tears. That’s the good.

The bad came after I had a chance to come down off my ‘reader-high’ and start thinking about what I would write in my review, and realized I couldn’t give it a five at all. The story is complex, and kept my attention throughout, but there were some issues that a really good content editor could have solved. Ms. Blain has a brilliant mind for writing paranormal suspense, but she isn’t organized. She has a few different threads moving through the book, which is fine, I really enjoy books that are more than one-note songs, but she literally dropped the ball about midway through, dropping one of the more interesting story lines and never going back to it. No wrap, just dropped. Poor form. The book is quite long, 564 pages, and I was never bored or wanting to skip pages as I do with some longer books, and her descriptive narrative and conversational style was enjoyable, but dropping the story line, which I was invested in, shows a lack of organization. Editing for word usage, spelling, and dropped words was OK, but not good. Someone put effort into beta reading for that sort of thing, but the continuity is what killed it.

Overall, I will still recommend the book. The story and pace kept me up all night long (literally, yawn) and then the minute I rose I went right back to it and stayed with it to the end. Give this woman a good content editor, or just a whiteboard to write down all of her threads to make sure she ties them all up at the end and a couple of really good beta readers and she will be a force to be reckoned with in the world of Paranormal Suspense. Recommended, but could be better.

 

The Bite Back Series Is On Audible – and Book 5: Angel Stakes Is In Print!

Sleight of Hand: Bite Back, Book 1 | Mark Henwick
Sleight of Hand: Bite Back, Book 1 Special Price:$1.99

I will admit it. I am CRAZY for every word Mark Henwick writes. And in this case, the same goes for the Audible series. The first book is narrated by Kimberly Henrie, the other three by Julia Motyka. Mark is working on getting the fifth book, Angel Stakes, narrated, but timing issues are pushing out the audio edition for a bit. But not to worry, it  will be here before you know it, so I would suggest grabbing the first four right away! Especially as the first is on Audible.com at only $1.99! My review of Sleight of Hand is here.

But, there is MORE!

Angel Stakes, book 5 of the series, is out on eReader and paper now.

25264434In Cool Hand, book four of the series, Amber’s world is edging closer and closer to war. As I wrote in my review:

As the story continues to wind tighter and tighter, and war becomes inevitable, Amber and her kin, her friends, and even her enemies, walk the razors edge – the edge of death, sorrow, pain and loss – and the brutal fires of a world war between humans, Athenate, were, and adept.

And now, the war is here. First, within the halls of the Athenate assembly in Los Angeles as the Basilikos faction does its best to rip apart the assembly and push its plan of world domination into place. Uh, guys? You know the humans have things like atom bombs, right? Amber is carrying around her own bomb as well. After the fight in Carson National Park, she is barely holding onto her sanity as the possibility of her going feral becomes a very real possibility. She must find her way through the darkness in her mind,  keep her people safe, and at the same time fight off the Basilikos and their plans to use her for their own gain.  The world is spinning out of control, and it will take a concerted effort on the part of many – Athenate, were and human – to stop the world from descending into utter chaos. Everyone has an agenda, everyone has secrets. This time we are playing for Angel Stakes. And this time? The bad guys have the edge.

I was a beta reader for Mark for Angel Stakes but that in no way influences my determination that Mark Henwick is brilliant!

 

The Dowser Series by Meghan Ciana Doidge on Audible.com!

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic: Dowser Series #1 | Meghan Ciana DoidgeThe Dowser Series is out on AUDIBLE!! Wooo Hooooo!
Here is my review of the first in the series, Cupcakes, Trinkets, and other Deadly Magic:

Meghan, Meghan, Meghan! I am expecting cupcake stocks to sail through the roof, and a run on cupcake ingredients at local markets just from reading this book. Whee!!!

OK, listen to this . . . Bliss in a Cup – peanut butter-iced fudge cake (did I say fudge cake? OMG wait a sec, I have to go get a towel . . . whew, there)  Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Sex in a Cup – chocolate butter icing with a wallop of cinnamon and cocoa in the batter. Or, this particular favorite of mine, Buzz in a Cup – mocha fudge cake with mocha butter icing . . . oh, yes, I could go on, but I might swoon from pure overload. . .

Jade is a sweetheart. A nice young half witch, half human (maybe. . . ) with a nasty tempered foster sister, a wild earth witch grandmother, and a cupcake bakery. A very popular cupcake bakery with a reputation for ‘magical’ tasting cupcakes. She has a quiet life, happy with her baking, her trinket making and her quiet, apparently fulfilling life.

Then, of course, things change. And not in a nice way. Poor Jade. Life will never be the same. Apparently she isn’t who she thought she was. But then, who is she?

Cupcakes, hot werewolves, cupcakes, mystery, oh, did I mention cupcakes? Yummy, luscious, delicious, chocolate, fudge. . . Oh. My. Goddess. The hardest thing about reading the book? First, I am dying for cupcakes now. And second? Hurry! Hurry! Write the next one, Meghan! Please!

Highly recommended.

Now, all the books (except for #5, which isn’t up yet, but I am sure it will be!) are on Audible for your listening enjoyment. And the first book is only $2.99! So grab your copy while you can at that price, because you are going to want to buy them all!

Back to Nocturne Falls with “The Werewolf Meets His Match”

The Werewolf Meets His Match (Nocturne Falls, #2)I first visited Nocturne Falls with the first book in the series, The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride. I didn’t know what to expect, but I found it in one of my email ‘freebie’ newsletters, and it sounded like fun, so what the heck?

It was, in a word, a Blast. I loved the town of Nocturne Falls, where Halloween is 365-days-a-year. What better way for witches, weres, vamps and all the other supernaturals to live their lives without fear of notice by the norms?

The books are $4.99 a piece, and with my tiny book budget and the plethora of less expensive books out there I hadn’t picked up another. But I finally broke down and bought The Werewolf Meets His Match and it was just as much fun as VMOB.

Hank Merrow, sheriff of Nocturne Falls and alpha’s heir, has always known that he would probably have to enter into an arranged marriage. Just part and parcel of being in his position. Sigh. But when he is notified that, not only is he going to have to have an arranged marriage, but it is to one of the bloody Kincaid Women (HORROR!) the temptation to back out of the whole deal is strong. But Hank is a good man, an honorable one, and his people don’t need another war. So, Suck it up, Buttercup, and marry the heathen already. Only, things may not be just exactly what they seem . . .

Ivy Kincaid’s first intro to Hank is from the other side of jailhouse bars. Well Hank isn’t really surprised by that. She is a Kincaid after all. But Ivy is just full of surprises. And the more Hank learns, the more he begins to think that things just may not be as bad as he expected. And when Hank learns Ivy’s secrets, he will soon discover that, lawman or not, some things are worth killing for.

I adored Ivy, her charming secret, and goofy, lovable Hank and his family. If you haven’t tried this series, check out the first one, it is only .99 on Amazon. Bet you get hooked as well! This one gets five stars. I adore Ivy, and her story made me want to stand right beside her and fight. Someone give me a map to Nocturne Falls – I want to live there!

Review: Gray Back Ghost Bear (Gray Back Bears #3) by T.S. Joyce

Gray Back Ghost Bear (Gray Back Bears, #3)Who would have ever thought I would find Trailer Park Bears fascinating? Well, the way T.S. Joyce writes them, you simply can’t put the books down!

The Trailer Park Bears truly do live in trailer parks. Broken-down singlewides, parked in the middle of the forest, where Dragon Shifter Damon Daye has brought them in to clear trees devastated by bug infestations. The TPB’s series is actually more than one series. The first tells the story of the Saw Back Bears, this second series is all about the Gray Backs. While the Ashe crew, the stars of the Saw Bears series, is the “A Team” of lumberjacks, well, the Gray Back crew is, as Alpha Creed puts it, “The C Team”. Rowdy, constantly battling, and constantly covered in blood, the Gray Backs are a misfit band of dominant bears. Broken dominant bears. Creed the alpha, Matt the man-ho, Clinton and Jason the goofballs. And then there is Easton, a bear so broken he can’t stand to live close to the others – and can’t seem to stop fighting, even when it might mean his death. A broken clan with a brutal and savage history, they are the clan that nobody wants to mess with.

Book one was Matt’s story. Book two took us deeper into Creed’s story. Gray Back #3, Gray Back Ghost Bear introduces us to Georgia Ames, a KickAss park ranger hired by Damon Daye to protect his forests, and his crews, from interlopers. Georgia knows alll about brown bears, from her stint in Alaska – where she learned to be terrified of them. Now, she is to protect them? Sigh.

Then, she meets Jason, a bear shifter who is apparently mad as a Hatter, and a group of broken bears in a broken down trailer park. Suddenly, there is a great big target on her back, and spending time with Jason may just spell her death.

This one steps up from the slightly disappointing second in the series. I loved Willa from the first book, and Georgia is another favorite. She may be terrified of bears after Alaska, but she never backs down from doing what she needs to do to protect her charges. She is a great character. Oh, and Jason is pretty OK too…. 😉 The next book is Gray Back Broken Bear (Gray Back Bears #4).

Kill It With Magic (Lillim Callina Book One) by J. A. Cipriano – Young Adult

Kill it with Magic by J.A. CiprianoHere’s the thing. I don’t normally like “YA” books. Hey, been there, done that, didn’t even want the flipping “I lived through being a teenager” T-shirt. But I was looking for a Whispersync book, I had downloaded this book from a “freebie” email, and though there was no description on the “About this book” on my Kindle, the first couple of paragraphs grabbed my attention and made me laugh.

“What kind of a tip do you give someone you’ve just blown up? That’s the thought that ran through my mind as I frantically rummaged through my pockets for something, anything to give the delivery boy I’d just blasted into the brick wall outside my tiny apartment.

It wasn’t my fault, I swear. It’s not like my day planner reads: brush teeth, shower, get dressed, blow up delivery boys.” – Lillim Callina

You have to admit, that is pretty darn humorous, right? So, I paid my $1.99 for Whispersync, popped on my headphones, and wandered into my studio to work on my art. Let’s face it – that is a LOT less money than paying for a full Audible Edition! And you can simply stop listening and start reading any time you want.

Score.

Come to find out, Lillim Callina is actually sixteen – but you wouldn’t know it from reading her. Well, actually, actually she is something like six years old. Yeah, weird, huh? You see, Lillim is a reincarnation of one ass-kicking, name-taking female with a nasty streak and some deep, dark secrets. Throw in a ton of magic, a spectacularly sped-up growth rate, a mother who thinks that the perfect way to ‘teach’ her toddler “Vampires Bad!” is to tie her to a tree outside a cave full of blood-suckers right at sundown (OK, I just thought my egg donor was a raving lunatic!) a dragon turf war, and a truly pissed-off werewolf king (Well, OK. She did accidentally get his son kidnapped as a pawn in the aforementioned dragon turf war. Sigh.) Add to that various and sundry other weird, hideous and downright loco monsters, and this was a riot wrapped in a Dresden-esque ass-kicking on steroids. Lillim appears to be sixteen, but her thought process are wildly skewed by the memories from her eight former lives – especially the previous one – making her a clever mix of teenager and burned-out middle aged woman.

This is non-stop action, with plenty of blood and blades to go around. Lillim is quite interesting, though I had a bit of a problem with just how often, and just how severely, she got herself beaten to a pulp and still walked away. The author goes to great pains to write her as a mortal creature in a world filled with immortal monsters – but it stretches belief when every time she turns around she is being slammed into brick walls by dragons, set on fire, and basically subjected to brutality that should have killed her. Over, and over, and over again. Still, the book was amusing, the story itself is unusual – not as formulaic as is so common these days – and Lilllim is an interesting character with a striking backstory.

Overall, I don’t regret the time I spent with the book. If you are a fan of YA, I recommend it. If you aren’t a fan, you still might enjoy it – I did.

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