Sunday, March 31, 2013

Wolf With Benefits-Shelly Laurenston

Wolf With Benefits

Shelly Laurenston

Kensington Brava, Mar 26 2013, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758265227

Leaving his extended pack family home in Smithtown, Tennessee, wolf shifter Ricky Lee Reed obtains a job at his cousin’s security company in New York. He is assigned to protect jackal-shifter Toni Jean-Louis Parker, a member of the Carnivores hockey team.

After dealing with siblings and other pain in the butt family members, neither is in the mood for a serious relationship, but both feel the intense attraction as they tour the country together while she plays hockey. Ergo they agree to no strings benefits. However, as they fall in love, her pack’s latest woes place Toni Jean and Ricky Lee on center ice.

The latest Pride romantic urban fantasy (see Big Bad Beast and Bear Meets Girl) is the usual fast-paced and jocular yet complex storyline that grips readers from the first hip check to the final hat trick. Although over Rocky Top, series fans will enjoy this fun amusing shifter romance where females might beat you up as much over chocolate as a slur.

Harriet Klausner

With All My Soul-Rachel Vincent

With All My Soul

Rachel Vincent

Harlequin Teen, Mar 26 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210664

Avarice the hellion knows he has time on his side as he seeks Kaylee Cavanaugh by assaulting her loved ones. Kaylee struggles not to break but is under pressure because she knows she is the cause of what is happening to her friends, family and her high school. She considers giving up especially when her adversary abetted by his allies (Envy and Vanity) murders her BFF Emma.

Instead, Kaylee and Emma attend the latter’s funeral as the former found a body to host her friend’s soul. When Avarice attacks another of her loved ones, filled with out of control rage, Kaylee vows no more. Feeling locked in by her anger, she plans to take the war to the enemy even if it results in her final death as she expects will occur especially after encountering the last essence she wants to meet at this critical moment.

This is a terrific finish to the action-packed Soul Screamers third urban fantasy trilogy (see If I Die and Before I Wake); as the irate heroine decides with all her soul to go after her adversaries though she needs to let go of her current avenging attitude to calmly plan a counterattack. Although the storyline opens up a bit choppy, fans will enjoy the climax as Kaylee learns you can’t save everyone but will risk her existence to insure as many of her loved ones are safe.

Harriet Klausner

Alizel’s Song-Bill Pottle

Alizel’s Song

Bill Pottle

Ellechor Publishing House, Mar 3 2013, $16.99

ISBN: 9781937844882

Alizel the lowest Unranked angel muses over how fifteen billion years after the event, man stated: “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth”; not relatively long after that, man called it the Big Bang though it was not big and there was no bang as there was no air. The mission-less angels, even the highest rank Seraphim Luciferel, was confused as to why He created another world besides Heaven. The official word from the Seraphim was to trust in the Father as all will soon be revealed.

Zebub the Virtue sadistically hurts Verin the Virtue in a duel until Cantos the desk keeper armorer, accompanied by a Principality and a Power, ends the match. An Irate Verin destroys Cantos and the Principality while Zebub does likewise to the Power. The vanished angels end in Containment; while their destroyers fly away free and witness Alizel cries for the first time not in joy. The first murder in Heaven is the genesis of a revolt. When the new realm includes an entity made in God’s image, Luciferel takes over leading the rebellion against the Father. Not long afterward (in heavenly time), those angels ridding themselves of God’s Energy forge a mission to destroy Man, who quickly abuses free will to commit sin.

Alizel’s Song is a deep “memoir” as Bill Pottle provides a superb retelling of Genesis and much more. Fast-paced, this profound biblical thriller grips the reader from the onset with all the angels, even those that remain loyal, in shock with what the Father has wrought. The unranked angel escorts the audience on a tour of Heaven while describing key events in those early days as Big Bang scientific theory converges with Creationism.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Passion’s Prey-A.C. Arthur

Passion’s Prey

A.C. Arthur

St. Martin's, Mar 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312549121

FBI Agent Xavier Santos-Markland the Topetenia jaguar-shifter works the deadliest predator cases mostly in the Washington D.C. area. He drops in at Athena’s topless where he watches Caprise Delgado perform an exotic dance that has him and the other patrons drooling. Though his senses are overwhelmed by his desire, Xavier realizes Rogue shifters, who abandoned the Etica code of ethics and deserted one of the five tribes to most likely join drug dealing Topetenia Sabar Tavares’ gang, are nearby. With no explanation, he escorts the hybrid dancer to safety where their mutual attraction is temporarily satiated though each craves more.

Xavier knows Caprise conceals something that frightens her from him. He offers his help but she rejects his aid, which angers and frustrates him as he fears for the woman he knows is his life mate. Her stalker continues to threaten her; as this hybrid killer also claims Caprise as his mate.

The latest Shadow Shifters romantic urban fantasy (see Temptation Rising and Seduction’s Shift) is an action-packed entry; as A.C. Arthur expands her realm by introducing other tribes and a new hybrid. The lead couple is a nice pairing of flawed feisty mates though their first encounter following her performance seems very doubtful; while the psychotic villain adds sinister tension to an exciting triangle of life and death.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Lost-Vicki Pettersson

The Lost

Vicki Pettersson

Harper Voyager, Mar 19 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062064653

Five decades ago someone murdered private investigator Griffin Shaw and his wife Evie; the case was never solved. On the bottom rung of the celestial ladder, Griff assists the purebreds by collecting the souls of murder victims; in exchange for his cooperation he has permission to investigate the homicides of him and his spouse. Recently, he met Las Vegas reporter Katherine "Kit" Craig when he was to collect her soul; but he broke the rules by failing to do so as he fell in love with the mortal after Anas clipped his wings due to defiance (see The Taken).

A new deadly drug eats away the flesh of the krokodil users. An obsessed Kit believes she and her beloved angel need to prevent further deaths, but Griff must collect the soul of krokodil user Jeap Yang, which angers his mortal girlfriend. Kit interferes, which leaves her vulnerable to fallen angel Scratch. Still, as is her personality, she leads the charge against the powerful Marielitos Cartel.

The second Celestial Blues bittersweet romantic urban fantasy (see The Taken) is a strong tale starring a hard boiled 1950s detective with a soft boiled heart and the “Impossible Dream” reporter “… willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause”; as defined by her and not heaven. With the angelic hierarchy seemingly real, fans will enjoy this super thriller; as the cold case murder mystery, Scratch and the drug war deftly come together.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Dark Heroine: Dinner with a Vampire-Abigail Gibbs

The Dark Heroine: Dinner with a Vampire

Abigail Gibbs

Morrow, Mar 5 2013. $14.99

ISBN: 9780062248732

Seventeen year old Violet Lee knows being alone at one in the morning in Trafalgar Square is not a smart move, but clubbing with her BFF Ruby felt wrong after Joel. Violet soon knows there is something worse than being alone at one in the morning in Trafalgar Square when over thirty males with sharpened canes and something else arrive. Prince Kasper Karn kills Claude Pierre, the leader of the thirty men; he and five other teens slaughter the rest of Clan Pierre’s hunters in a flash. Though in the shadows and at a distance beyond normal hearing, Kasper hears Violet whisper jerk; he takes her prisoner though he cannot fathom why he abducts this human Girly instead of either killing or ignoring her.

Kasper gives Girly a choice to either convert from Human to vampire or remain his guest indefinitely until they kill her as her kind can never go back. However complicating matters for His Highness is when he learns who her powerful father is; as murdering Violet is no longer an option if a cross-species war is to be avoided as her dad knows of the existence of his kind.

This is an exhilarating young adult paranormal romance in which the vampire brood is closer to Stoker’s vision than that of Meyer’s. Violet seems insensitive as her stomach never reacts to the blood and gore, and too strong as she never soils her panties upon learning what kidnapped her. Still readers will root for her to come out on top especially against the prince of abusive arrogance.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow Of Freedom-David Weber

Shadow Of Freedom

David Weber

Baen, Mar 5 2013, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451638691

The Manticore’s fleet defeated the invincible armada of the Solarian League that had encroached into the Star Empire’s sector with plans with plans to seize the strategic wormholes. However, Tenth Fleet Commander Michelle Henke knows she and the rest of the military have no time to bash in the glory of a stunning victory, The Solarian Office of Frontier Security continues to cause havoc in the Talbott Quadrant especially along the frontier. While all types of warfare continue unabated, the threat to destroy Manticore and its allies remains stratospheric; as does the hostility with the Mesan Alignment. Manticore turns to former enemy People's Republic of Haven as hopefully an ally.

At the same time, the Mobius Liberation Front informs Manticore that they have begun the liberation rebellion to overthrow the brutal reign of President Lombroso, but need the help from the Star Empire as previously negotiated and promised. No one in Manticore authority ever heard of the MLF so the assumption is the diabolical clever Mesan Alignment is using subterfuge to destroy the bonds between the Star Empire and the smaller under fire independents at a time the fleet cannot divert resources away from the fight against the Solarian League.

This is an engaging Honorverse science fiction thriller with a Cecil B Demille cast distracting from the exciting outer space naval encounters and fascinating political machinations; Henke (not Harrington) loosely is the nearest individual to being the prime player. The storyline also provides a different perspective from events told in A Rising Thunder and Mission of Honor so that the audience knows several key outcomes. Still Shadow Of Freedom is well written and shows the logistical problems of fighting a multi-front war.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Spellcaster’s Grimoire-Mark All

The Spellcaster’s Grimoire

Mark All

ImaJinn, Feb 28 2013, $14.00

ISBN: 9781610261210

In Maynard, Georgia, bestselling author Trish Sinclair writes her third tome on recreational witchcraft. Her sources have been the local coven, which has angered all except leader Benton Moorcroft although he is upset that she mentioned the Spellcaster’s Grimoire in book two; as he wanted its existence kept secret with almost everyone believing the tome destroyed.

Benton arrives at Trish’s house to warn her that evil witch Kate Cavanaugh is coming to claim the Spellcaster’s Grimoire; for Trish to obtain help from loner warlock Aidan McCarthy, and for her to run. Instead of Aidan the loser, Trish heads to coven member Sondra Patton with Kate in pursuit. Sondra and other coven members tell her to fix what she wrought by using her manipulative skill before Kate gets the book and the crystal that will enable her to kill all the witches, but also assigns novice Rain Devereaux to assist. The two women race to Aiden’s home with Kate chasing after them. The powerful raging Kate confronts the two pathetic female practitioners and the drunk.

The latest Witches of Milton County (see Mystic Witch) is an exciting fast-paced urban fantasy starring four flawed individuals in a coming of age story. Trish has no confidence in her skills while Rain has too much as both never seem to succeed yet must; Aiden is a sop due to an ugly magical incident he shared with Kate years ago while came out of that life changer thirsting for more power. Fast-paced and filled with confrontations and a simmering back burner romance, readers will enjoy this entertaining thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Wolf's Surrender-Kendra Leigh Castle

The Wolf's Surrender

Kendra Leigh Castle

Harlequin Nocturne, Mar 5 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373885664

The violent shifter stalks Mia D’Alessandro, who runs in fear knowing her attacker toys with her as entrepreneur Jeff Gaines already bit her once. Blackpaw werewolf Nick Jenner finds the frightened woman and takes her to the safety of his pack. However, he fears for Mia’s well-being since the feral wolf already bit her, which means she could turn murderous if Gaines is not killed as Blackpaw assumes the rogue will not mentor her through her first shift.

However, Nick soon learns why Gaines wants Mia; the vile werewolf knows Mia is an Unseelie and wants her dark blood. Knowing how easily a shifter can turn malevolent from firsthand experience, Nick distrusts the female as Unseelie are dark essences though to his chagrin his guest has his heart palpitating at hyperspeed.

The Castle mythos makes for an enjoyable fast-paced werewolf romance. The lead triangle is fully developed with readers anticipating the confrontation between the good Nick, the potentially bad Mia and the ugly Jeff.

Harriet Klausner

Keeper Of The Moon-Harley Jane Kozak

Keeper Of The Moon

Harley Jane Kozak

Harlequin Nocturne, Mar 5 2013, $5.50

ISBN: 9780373885657

In Los Angeles, a serial killer targets Elven females by deliberately infecting them with the deadly scarlet pathogen. Among those carrying the death sentence in their blood is new named Keeper, Sailor Ann Gryffald.

She and shapeshifting club owner Declan Wainwright investigate the homicides while hiding how they feel about their partner from the other. Sailor has wanted Declan for seemingly ever, but assumed he did not reciprocate her desires as he showed no indication otherwise; likewise Declan did the same in spite of his long time attraction to her. However, as they team up to hunt down a lethal psychopath terrorizing the Elven populace and keep the Otherworld species from exploding in rage, the werewolf and the elf no longer conceal their attraction to one another.

The first Keepers L.A. is a thrilling action-packed romantic urban fantasy. Though the romance at times surpasses the hunt for the predator, the stars are a fascinating pairing of two individuals hiding their need for one another; but forced to work together, each confesses their feelings as lust turns to love.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Calvert the Raven in the Battle of Baltimore: Flying Through History-J. Scott Fuqua

Calvert the Raven in the Battle of Baltimore: Flying Through History

J. Scott Fuqua

Bancroft Press, Mar 4 2013, $7.99 (trade), $17.99 (hardcover)

ISBN: 9781610880787 (trade); 9781610880770 (hardcover)

At school in Baltimore, Daniel studies the boring War of 1812 musing how he will stay awake reading this ennui fight while also wondering why no cameras were invented to at least take still photos. His teacher writes “Terrible” on his report.

Calvert the raven shocks Daniel when he speaks to the lad saying he will prove firsthand that history is exciting. He takes the skeptical student back to 1814 Baltimore where the British army and navy attack Fort McHenry. Explaining to the stunned child that history is fluid as there is a distinct possibility that this time the Star-Spangled Banner may not wave comes morning.

The first Flying Through History tale is a superb historical (with speculative elements like time travel and anthropomorphism) as the illustrations enhance a deep look at the battle that led to the National Anthem. Elementary school students will want to sear back in time with Calvert as he makes his case that history is thrilling using “empirical experience”.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Libertine-Saskia Walker

The Libertine

Saskia Walker

Harlequin HQN, Feb 26 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9780373777396

In 1715 Chloris Keavey desperately needs to produce the heir soonest or her ruthless spouse Gavin Meldrum will kick her out of their Edinburgh home. Maura Dumbar sends Chloris to Saint Andrews to seek a fertility spell from coven leader Lennox Taskill. The witches are fearful as Maura works for their influential enemy council member Tamhas Keavey.

To his chagrin as he loathes humanity for burning his mother at the stakes, Lennox is attracted to his newest client. She feels the same way about the powerful witch. As they begin a tryst, Tamhas decides he will sleep with the married cheating woman who has sold her soul to the devil. To eliminate his rival, Tamhas proclaims Lennox a witch deserving the fate of his mother.

This is an exciting, enticing eighteenth century erotica paranormal romance. The storyline contains intriguing relationships with Chloris as the foci of three competing males (the good, the bad and the ugly). Although sex rules the heated storyline, fans will enjoy Saskia Walker’s return to 1715 Scottish love and witchcraft (see The Harlot).

Harriet Klausner

Beauty Awakened-Gena Showalter

Beauty Awakened

Gena Showalter

Harlequin HQN, Feb 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373777433

His beautiful cold Mommy Cornelia hated him and sliced off his wings as a small boy before sending seven year old Koldo to live and preferably die with his even eviler father. He survived his father’s torture though psychology Koldo is damaged due to parental loathing and abuse. Koldo joined the on probation Angels of the Dark army led by Commander Zacharel (see Wicked Nights) whose brutal combat against demons has led to human collateral damage.

Koldo meets twins Nicola and Laila Lane while on an operation. Each sister suffers from chronic heart conditions with Laila dying; both also have been used as sustenance by demons. When Nicola has a concussion, she begins to see demons. Her only hope for her and her sibling to survive resides with the wingless avenging angel Koldo who she finds overwhelmingly attractive.

The second Angels of the Dark romantic urban fantasy contains refreshing unique romance as the embittered lead male (Freud would have had wet dreams fulfilled with Koldo as a patient) is the virginal one though their tryst comes across somewhat limpid. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment readers meet young Koldo and never slows down as this offshoot of the Lords of the Underworld saga provides fans with a grim exciting thriller starring a traumatized male whose heart was pulverized when his wings were clipped.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 8, 2013

Edge of Dawn-Lara Adrian

Edge of Dawn

Lara Adrian

Delacorte, Feb 26 2013, $25.00

ISBN: 9780345532602

Mira witnessed her beloved Breed Kellan die in a warehouse explosion. The veiled child, whose eyes prophesize the gazer’s future, grew up that day with a loathing of the rebels. Over the next eight years, she became a warrior and now is a captain in the Order who believes in killing first.

When Mira crosses the line of acceptance on an assignment, her superior punishes her with a fluff task that her boss knows she will hate but do well. Mira serves as bodyguard to award winning human inventor-scientist Jeremy Ackmeyer while he attends the GNC Summit. However, the task goes wrong when rebels abduct her and Jeremy while scheming to blow up the conference. Seeking a way to expedite herself and her charge, Mira is stunned when she meets the leader of the kidnappers.

Two decades have passed since the human masses became aware of the Breed (see Darker After Midnight); Lara Adrian refreshes her romantic urban fantasy saga with new issues of surviving the coming out party. Yet the threats from rebels and humans, who both demand the top rung of the food chain, remain palatable. Readers will enjoy watching how the children as adults become the warriors still led by Lucan as the Order’s next generation takes over though the paradox of prophesy means the journey not the outcome matters. Lara Adrian is one of this reviewer’s top ten authors.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wicked Kiss-Michelle Rowen

Wicked Kiss

Michelle Rowen

Harlequin Teen, Feb 26 2013, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210640

In Trinity, New York teenager Samantha still seeks Stephen the Gray who stole her soul with his Dark Kiss turning her into the Gray Girl. At the same time Sam joined the Nightwatchers of angels (Bishop, Zach and Connor) and demons (Kraven and Roth) struggling to prevent the evil Gray Natalie deployed from destroying Trinity. Sam also needs to understand why the brothers from opposite poles Bishop and Kraven loathe each other. Cassandra the angel joins the Nightwatchers to Sam’s jealous chagrin as the newcomer and Bishop seem to hit off.

Deciding she is in the way with her hunger for soul gathering growing out of control, Sam leaves on a solo quest to regain her stolen soul. On her trek, further complicating Sam’s equilibrium is when she runs into the high school queen of mean Stephen’s ex-girlfriend Jordan who blames the Gray Girl for her losing her boyfriend. They team up to investigate a string of recent suicides, but conclude the Grays are not the cause but something as insidious.

The second Nightwatchers teen urban fantasy is an enjoyable thriller that explores the meanings of good and evil through the actions and thoughts of the fully developed team. The angst is cranked to high as several players show their immaturity by hiding key information until sh*t soils their underwear and too many Hail Mary miracles occur. Still Wicked Kiss is an exciting refreshing angels and demons thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Mountain Echoes-C.E. Murphy

Mountain Echoes

C.E. Murphy

Harlequin Luna, Feb 26 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9780373803514

Shaman Joanne Walker still grieves the loss of her estranged mother when FBI Agent Sara Isaac tells her that her dad vanished in the mountains of the Cherokee Qualla Reservation in North Carolina. She flies from her mom’s funeral in Ireland where she was called Siobhan Walkingstick (see Raven Calls) and drives from Atlanta to a place she vowed never to return when she left as Joanne Walkingstick a decade ago. As Joanne heads to the mountains, she wonders how she will cope when she meets her son Aidan who she left behind to reside there with his adoptive family.

Upon reaching her destination, Joanne learns that Aidan’s biological father Lucas has also disappeared and even the Elders have not prevented the malevolence from growing. As she begins her search, Joanne prefers not use her shaman skills but fears she has no choice as increasingly she concludes an evil has assaulted the Appalachians leaving the great chain weeping in pain as only a select few like Joanne can hear. Soon after her unwelcome arrival, Joanne’s former boss at Seattle PD and now love interest Captain Mike Morrison arrives.

The latest Walker Papers (see Demon Hunts and Spirit Dances) is another great entry as the heroine learns you can go home to face your past. Fast-paced, and perhaps the most complicated tale in this super series, fans will relish the Urban Shaman returning to her native roots that she fled almost ten years ago to fight an evil using time as a weapon of mass destruction.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Turn of Light-Julie E. Czerneda

A Turn of Light

Julie E. Czerneda

Daw, Mar 5 2013, $20.00

ISBN 9780756407070

Marrowdell lies at the vortex of two worlds. The townsfolk recognize the uniqueness of their village belonging to both the magic and mortal realms yet also not part of either. Amongst the unique villagers, Jenn Nalynn stands out. She yearns to leave her hometown to see the worlds, but having been born in the Verge where the two realms overlap at A Turn of Light sunset, she cannot venture forth; a “turn-born” like her is the anchor to keeping the magic and the mortal from converging into releasing forces that would end two realms.

Though her father Radd, older sister Peggs and the rest of her family try to be there for her, she feels alone as she has all her life except for an invisible friend Wisp; sent there to keep Jenn from taking even one step outside of Marrowdell. As the Great Turn occurs, Jenn approaches her nineteenth birthday with the objective of seeking true love as she believes a husband will show her the world outside the Verge. She tries to create a mate only her invisible friend Wisp becomes the solid man Wyll. Then there is the other newcomer who has come to the village.

This is a terrific fantasy due to a strong cast and a deeply created location. Jenn’s dilemma brings a coming of age premise, but the superb storyline is much more as dreams may be misplaced but never totally gone especially when spring brings new hope after a dismal winter. Readers will relish visiting Marrowdell as Julie E. Czerneda deftly moves from science fiction to fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Children of Kings-Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah Ross

The Children of Kings

Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah Ross

Daw, Mar 5 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9780756407971

Mentored by his renowned grandmother Linea Storn-Hastur, the Keeper of Comyn Tower, Prince Gareth Elhalyn fears he will never live up to the accomplishments of his teacher or his famous grandfather Regis Hastur. However, his biggest worry comes from his concern that his inheritance is the legendary Elhalyn insanity.

Dreaming of freedom, he talks with his grandmother who encourages him to travel as a trader. Gareth heads to the feral Dry Towns where few will recognize a powerful Comyn lord. As a trader in Cathon, Gareth hears rumors of Dry Towners beyond Shainsa armed with Compact forbidden deadly Terran blasters. Gareth knows this is plausible even though the Terran Federation withdrew from their planet after a bloody interstellar war (see THE ALTON GIFT); as the outsiders considers the lost colony part of their empire and will arm enemies of the ruling party. He also concludes his mission is to verify this at a risk to his life as he heads to the most dangerous area of the most outlawed sector on Darkover; Dry Towners never pledged adherence to the Compact or the laran Comyn Lords.

The Children of Kings is a fresh Darkover tale due to the protagonist’s venture into a rarely mentioned location (see The Shattered Chain by the late Marion Zimmer Bradley) as the Dry Towns and their residents want nothing to do with the Comyn lords. Gareth is a terrific though somewhat typical Darkover hero as he struggles with his fears going insane while trying to learn the truth and if substantiated to find a way to prevent a deadly disaster. Darkover fans will relish Deborah Ross’ strong saga into a lawless lethal land.

Harriet Klausner