Archive for December, 2010

Secrets and Shadows-Shannon Delany

December 31, 2010

Secrets and Shadows

Shannon Delany

St. Martin’s Griffin, Feb 2011, $9.99

ISBN: 9780312609153

 

Jessie Gillmansen struggles to adapt to all she has recently learned about what she thought was were beings from horror movies and novels being real. This new reality occurred when she discovered werewolves exist.  She and Pietr Ruskova are apparently a mated pair but she has no time to pursue what that means as she has bigger issues than howling male hunks to contend with.

Jessie tries to negotiate a deal between the Ruskova werewolf pack and the CIA.  Her efforts seem futile, as progress is snail slow.  However, she is taken aback when Pietr begins behaving as if he no longer wants her.  Not one to be left out in the cold, Jessie debates whether to give Pietr one more chance or turn to Derek. She is soon in danger when the CIA apparently betrays her with only one male protecting her.

This is an engaging fast-paced young adult werewolf urban fantasy starring a heroine who has come a long way since entering Pietr’s world (see 13 to Life).  Though with all that has happened to her readers would expect a besieged Jessie to show more moxie rather than the Perils of Pauline.  Yet she still holds the entertaining tale together as she feels pulled from all sides with no one to turn to while dealing with agents, beasts and a boyfriend.

Harriet Klausner

The Demon Trapper’s Daughter-Jana G. Oliver

December 31, 2010

The Demon Trapper’s Daughter

Jana G. Oliver

St. Martin’s, Feb 1 2011, $9.99

ISBN: 9780312614782

In 2018, Atlanta is like much of the country and the world in economic ruin.  The residents follow the Golden Rule of do unto your neighbor before they do unto to you as survival is the only game in town.  Adding to the misery index is Lucifer’s demonic minions are everywhere causing pain and suffering.

Seventeen years old Riley Blackthorne understands how miserable life has become.  Her mother died from cancer while she and her dad Paul owe so much they have no chance of escaping their debts.  However, like her father, Riley becomes a demon trapper joining the guild as an apprentice (while also attending school); as a way of bringing in income though from her hard childhood she always wanted to join her dad on the job.  However, when a demon kills him, she has no choice but to keep working handling Grade One demons.  However a Grade Five hellish killer attacks her as Lucifer targets Riley when she is most vulnerable while she grieves her loss.

This is a great opening urban fantasy as Jane G. Oliver deftly blends the creation of her mythos with non-stop action.  The fast-paced story line starts at an incredible pace and never decelerates as the armchair audience needs to wear seatbelts.  However, even with this faster than light speed, Atlanta and the heroine are fully developed while the support cast (a peer she romantically likes, her father, other trappers and demons) enhance the setting or the star.  Readers will enjoy a joy ride around Atlanta escorted by The Demon Trapper’s Daughter.

Harriet Klausner

Kiss At Your Own Risk-Stephanie Rowe

December 31, 2010

Kiss At Your Own Risk

Stephanie Rowe

Sourcebooks, Jan 1 2011, $7.99

http://www.sourcebooks.com

ISBN: 9781402241956

It is one week and counting before Trinity Harpswell will finally break the Black Widow Curse.  Nothing will stand in her way as she feels a sense of relief with the countdown occurring.

Blaine Underhill and three friends (Nigel, Jarvis and Christian have been tortured in the Den of Womanly Pursuits by Death’s evil Granny Angelica the witch for a century and a half.  They escape, but Christian fails to get away as his lover betrayed him to the malevolent witch.  Believing the motto no comrade left behind and fearing the level of torture Christian will face, Blaine wants to mount a rescue, but he knows for him and his comrades that is suicide.  They turn to Trinity to balance the odds.  Trinity wants to say no as this is a bad time for her; worse she is attracted to Blaine, which she knows activates the curse that leads to her murdering her beloved and joining Angelica on the dark side; that is if she doesn’t kill the evil witch too.

The first Soulfire jocular urban fantasy is an over top satire that hilariously lampoons the sub-genre (including Stephanie Rowe’s own comedic Goblet of Eternal Youth tales – you will never look at a pretzel the same way) with amazing cross-breeding species, killing star-crossed lovers and trained killer warriors relaxing with knitting.  Fast-paced readers who appreciate humorous urban fantasy will know already Ms. Rowe is one of the best as affirmed by her latest tale of love and misdeed.

Harriet Klausner

Blackveil-Kristen Britain

December 31, 2010

Blackveil

Kristen Britain

Daw, Feb 1 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9780756406608

On the surface Sacoridia seems like a powerful country ruled by the just benign King Zachary.  However, appearances can be deceiving because there is danger from within and without.  To the north in the lands not occupied by Sacoridian troops, descendants of Arcosia led by Mornhavon the Black invade as a first step in preparation for their war on Sacoridia. They now call themselves Second Empire.

The D’Yer wall has been breached, enabling the evil denizens from primordial Blackveil Forest to enter Sacoridian.  Before the Long War Blackveil was once known as Argenthyne, home to the immortal Eletians who now live in Eletia.  Besides kingdom headaches, Zachary and Green Rider messenger Karigan G’ladheon love each other, but know they have no future as he must marry his betrothed Lady Estora out of duty to his county.

Six Eletians want to return to the Blackveil to see their former home.  Zachary wants six Sacoridians to accompany them; Karigan is one of the chosen.  The Eletians are on the same mission that Second Empire is on; it will be a disaster if their leader Grandmother prevails.  Meanwhile the King is poisoned and a conspiracy begins by someone close the throne.

The latest Kariagan epic fantasy (see Green Rider, First Rider’s Call, and The High King’s Tomb) is a terrific entry loaded with subplots that provide the reader with both the big picture of the world of Kristin Britain and the small scale happenings that impact the larger scope.  The key to this grand epic is the movement back and forth between the Second Empire threat, the Eletians, the danger to the Sacoridians in Blackveil and to the king is done smoothly although few of the subplots are completed.  With a strong diverse cast (a trademark of Ms. Britain), fans will welcome the return to Sacoridia as the focus is on evil oozing Blackveil.

Harriet Klausner

Much Fall of Blood-Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Dave Freer

December 29, 2010

Much Fall of Blood

Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Dave Freer

Baen, Jan 25 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439134160

The Byzantine Empire shuts down the trading route between the Mediterranean and the east by closing the Dardanelles.  Golden Horde leader Jagiellon invites the western states to use a Roman land route.  Accepting the invitation, Prince Manfred with his bodyguard Eric of Iceland leads diplomats from the Holy Roman Empire and the Venetian city-state to meet the Golden Horde leader.  On the trip they encounter exiled Khan Mongol and his warrior sister Bortai.

Countess Elizabeth Bathody pretends to befriend Prince Vlad of Valhalia after liberating him from his incarceration by King Emeric of Hungary.  However, when the opportunity is right, she plans to use his blood to enhance her already vigorous demonic power and as bait to capture the inhuman beasts lurking nearby.  Instead these werewolves enable Vlad to escape from the malevolent female who he rejects as evil.  Vlad and his dragoons unite with Manfred and his Knights of the Holy Trinity, and Bortai and her Mongol horde to fight Jagiellon and his Golden Horde; while immoral Hungarian King Emeric and his magical forces wait to take out the winner.  The demon god Chernobog encourages deadly chaos with the only hope for Manfred and his allies rests with blood magic that Vlad fears though is enticed. 

The third Heirs of Alexandria alternate historical fantasy (see The Shadow of the Lion and This Rough Magic) is a terrific entry as humor and romance enhance the magic and military prime themes.  The story line is fast-paced with multiple subplots that deftly come together over the course of the tale although to much good luck happenchance on the hero’s side as the continent seems very small detracts from an overall fine entry in a wonderful saga.

Harriet Klausner

On the Hunt-Gena Showalter, Shannon K. Butcher, Jessica Anderson, and Deidre Knight

December 26, 2010

On the Hunt

Gena Showalter, Shannon K. Butcher, Jessica Anderson, and Deidre Knight

Signet, Feb 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451232434

 

“Ever Night” by Gena Showalter.  When she turned eighteen, Rose Pascal magically leaves her bedroom with its electronic gizmos for a world of thicket woods.  There she meets nasty Vasili who calls her a mouse before explaining she is a Dimension Walker.  He sends her home though he normally kills Walkers.  Over the years on her birthday she returns while her parents think she is crazy.  Eventually his little mouse becomes a roaring lioness that Vasili falls in love with; but he and his people hunt her kind.

“The Collector” by Shannon K. Butcher.  In St. Louis, demon Hunter Neal Etan meets antique dealer Viviana Rowan when she agrees to give him an artifact that allegedly will cure his friend’s paralysis.  They touch and each feels the attraction.  However, her life becomes threatened when the artifact vanishes.

“Crystal Skull” by Jessica Anderson.  In the Mexican rainforest, archeologist Natalie Albright finds her excavation abruptly stopped by officials because they fear she has demons.  She is stunned by what she considers superstitious inanity until strange beasts arrack her after she and her team find the crystal skull.  Only her ex husband JT can possibly keep her safe from the ancient evil that stalks her.

“Red Angel” by Deidre Knight.  Nightshades demon team leader Jamie Angel has had problems with his family’s acceptance of Kate Rabineau, a freaking vampire, who is now engaged to Dillon Fox.  Thus when he falls for Kate’s best friend Sunny Renfoe, Jamie is aghast because he knows she is not human, but what “Sunshine” is he has no idea.

These are four well written exciting romantic fantasies though the novella format limits lead couple development.

Harriet Klausner

Blood of the Rose-Kate Pearce

December 26, 2010

Blood of the Rose

Kate Pearce

Signet, Feb 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9780451232489

 

In 1530 Rosalind Llewellyn is part of a Druid family of royal loyalists protecting King Henry VIII from the vampire threat.  Her actions on their last mission to kill a rogue vampire led to her engagement to Druid slayer Lord Christopher Ellis (see Kiss of the Rose) over the ire of her companion Rhys Williams and others in her clan.

She planned to avoid the court where she almost died and to stay away from her betrothed as she has succeeded for a year, but is called back as a new more seditious threat to the monarch has arisen.  Anne Boleyn has bewitched King Henry and shockingly Christopher too.  Rosalind fears that the two powerful men are enchanted by a vampiress.  She must act to break the spell out of loyalty to her King and out of love to her man, but must proceed with caution as she has no proof whether the apparent next Queen is a social butterfly compared with the pious Spaniard she apparently will replace or Undead.

The latest Tudor Vampire Chronicles is an engaging second chance at love historical thriller.  The story line is driven by the heroine who is pulled into two directions by her Druid dallying beloved and her Druid family.  However, the fresh entertainment comes from the real personage as the lead couple, her family and readers will wonder whether Anne and her brother George are vampires and if yes will she be staked or crowned. 

 

Harriet Klausner

Siren’s Surrender-Devyn Quinn

December 26, 2010

Siren’s Surrender

Devyn Quinn

Signet, Feb 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451232922

 

Gwen Lonike rejected her mermaid heritage as she prefers to run her By the Sea Hotel in Port Rock, Maine though she laments to the Goddess over the lack of good help.  FBI Special Agent Blake Whitaker arrives as a guest for at least one night.  The Boston based Fed was obviously a local at one time as he wants to get to Little Mer Island where Gwen’s sisters and one brother-in–law Ken Randall reside.  Following a seemingly paranormal lead, Whitaker wants to question Randall over the disappearance of archeologist Jake Massey leading an undersea expedition and what happened in the Mediterranean last month (see Siren’s Call).

Jake survived his former fiancé Tessa Lonike’s attempt to kill him.  He seeks revenge ignoring what he planned for her and her sisters that led to her assault.  Instead since Tessa accidentally opened the sea-gate, Queen Magera has crossed over.  She wants the gate reopened so her army can cross when she takes over the Mediterranean, but only Tessa can do that.  Gwen knows she must help her siblings with the threat while also preventing Whitaker from knowing what they are.

The second Dark Tides romantic fantasy is a terrific thriller that will have readers heeding the Siren’s call.  Although Jake remains a weak caricature of a villain, the regal demanding Queen brings counter depth to the strong lead couple and her family.  Readers will relish this engaging coastal Maine tale as besides the action, the romance seems doomed as each has issues with his relationships with his ex and his son at the forefront.

Harriet Klausner

Visions of Magic-Regan Hastings

December 26, 2010

Visions of Magic

Regan Hastings

Signet, Feb 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451232465

 

Although not at fault as it was an avaricious coven that almost destroyed the world in their power grab centuries ago, Torin the Eternal Guardian and his peers were forced to wait centuries impatiently for the magic to reawaken so that he would finally be with his reincarnated witch.  Like a cosmic joke the Reawakening has begun a decade ago in Long Beach, California.  A warrior he seeks his mate.

The power seekers use the reemergence of witches as a social divide issue.  Witches are hunted and burned as obscene pariahs.  Lincoln Middle School teacher Shea Jameson’s aunt was executed as a witch, so her niece scampers from one locale to the next.  Upset by what one of her students said happened to her mom, when a mugger tries to steal her purse using a knife, she reacts by calling for fire.  Immediately, those in the school parking lot become a mob calling her witch.  Torin saves her but she is now hunted.  He knows she is his destiny, but as they team up with other such pairings, they must erect a potentially lethal artifact while the government leaders send mercenaries to hunt them down.

The first Awakening urban romantic fantasy uses the premise that government and other patriots act by ignoring the First Amendment rights under the guise of national security; which in real American history has occurred.  Using that theme of a race hunted down i.e., Japanese-Americans sent to camps during WWII), Regan Hastings provides a powerful but dark thriller.  The story line is fast-paced with deep characterizations that make the Awakening of magic seem real.  However, it is the underlying social issue of burning the Bill of Rights that makes this a terrific cautionary tale; mindful of Benjamin Franklin’s warning: “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security”. 

Harriet Klausner

Bonded by Blood-Laurie London

December 25, 2010

Bonded by Blood

Laurie London

Harlequin HQN, Jan 18 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373775446

For a living motorcycle riding Mackenzie Foster-Shaw searches for appropriate off-set movie locations.  The film scout currently is in the Pacific Northwest seeking a special old looking cemetery.  After four previous locales that seemed wrong, she reaches the remote Bear Creek Pioneer Cemetery.  Kenz thinks this is the right spot, but as she takes her first of several photos, she notices the stone has no name.  Thinking of Munch’s painting she hears a noise and searches for the animal that appears hurt; only to find a wounded man.

Human predatory Darkblood vampires shot Guardian Dominic Serrano with a silver bullet.  Dominic realizes that the photographer is special due to her rare sangre dulce blood type that is like cat nip to vampires.  Dominic ponders how to keep his healer safe from vampires and his enemy Lord Pavlos who plans to use those whose veins flow with sangre dulce.  He knows he must also keep his distance since they are Bonded by Blood but takes her to his team’s Underground Seattle headquarters.

Vampire romance readers will embrace author Laurie London with her first Sweetblood urban fantasy as the audience will easily believe in the paranormal living under Seattle.  Action-packed with two strong protagonists and a solid support cast especially the villain; fans will enjoy a trip to London realm as this is a sensational opening act.

Harriet Klausner